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News of the Weird

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Inside celebrity lives:
Next in the England-to-U.S. TV Pipeline: The newest reality TV show scheduled by London's Channel 5 for 2003 is a celebrities-in-detox series, in which marginally known entertainment personalities go to an island for a week to undergo enemas and colonic irrigation, with full camera coverage. A station spokeswoman told The Independent, "The celebrities will have to survive for a week on oral enemas, which basically means drinking things like olive oil. They'll also be analyzing their own poo."

Volunteer vanity:
Some callers to Boston's major homeless shelters became angry that their requests to help out this year on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day were rejected because the shelters have too many volunteers on those days (yet too few on the other 363 days a year). A Boston Globe reporter found that volunteers even try to cajole officials to bump them up the waiting list (170 on one shelter's list, which started accumulating names in August), but express disappointment at suggestions that they help at less "popular" (and less prestigious) suburban shelters.

Flatulence management:
"It was like a Blazing Saddles routine, because every time these [management] guys would move on their seats, you could hear flatulence." (spoken by a participant at a September labor-management session in San Francisco, describing a union man's prank of having placed a small flatulence-sound-producing device under the table during a Pacific Maritime Association negotiating session with the dockworkers union, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle)

Cell scam:
James Sabatino, already serving time in a Putnam County (N.Y.) prison for attacking a federal officer and having recently served time in England for a telephone-based scam, had his telephone privileges removed because Putnam officials said he spent almost eight hours a day on prison phones, for five months, before they caught him in another scam. According to officials cited by the New York Post in November, Sabatino called phone companies and convinced them he was doing movie shoots and needed dozens of cell phones quickly (and was able to order about a thousand activated phones, delivered to places arranged by his girlfriend, without spending a penny).

Least competent people:
Capt. Van Fussell, a Florida Highway Patrol district commander in Venice, Fla., accidentally shot himself in the foot as he was holstering his Glock pistol while taking his annual firearms test in November. (He'll have to take it over.) And the previous week in Brooksville, Fla., homeowner Jimmy Batten walked in on Sean Todd Duval, 26, who had apparently broken in to steal Batten's guns. Batten was puzzled that Duval did not try to run away, but the reason was that minutes earlier, Duval had accidentally shot his left middle toe off with one of the guns and was so despondent that he told Batten: "Finish me off. Go ahead and blow my brains out."

Undignified deaths:
A 46-year-old non-swimmer drowned in his apartment house pool during an attempt to overcome his fear of the water (Galesburg, Ill., October). A 21-year-old student accidentally strangled himself with his belt, which he had looped around a door handle in a contraption to keep his head from nodding off during a marathon study session (Bangkok, Thailand, July).

2002 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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