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News of the Weird

(c) 1999-2001 , Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

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Woody Allen Joke Come to Life: Shirley Anderson, 71, is suing her son Ken, 46, in Vancouver, British Columbia, for parental support -- even though she and his father had abandoned him when he was 15 (having one day just picked up and moved and, as in Mr. Allen's joke, "left no forwarding address"). An archaic 1922 law in British Columbia obligates adult children to support "dependent" parents, and in 2000, Shirley sued, demanding $350(Cdn) per month each from Ken, who is a trucker, and his four siblings (three of whom were at least 17 when the parents left and not considered "abandoned"). A judge awarded token interim support pending a final resolution, which after years of paperwork and delay was to come in early August but has been postponed once again. [Vancouver Sun, 8-4-10, Montreal Gazette, 7-24-10]

The Continuing Crisis

We Have Rules! A team of anglers from Hatteras, N.C., had first place wrapped up in the prestigious Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament in June, salivating over their $1,231,575 prize money (including a bonus for single-largest catch), when judges discovered that one member of the Hatteras crew, Peter Wann, had not gotten a $30 North Carolina coastal recreational fishing license before their boat pushed off that day. Under the rules, the entire team was disqualified, and the runner-up, from Cape Carteret, N.C., got the money. [Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.), 6-26-10]

They Don't Make "Drug Lords" Like They Used To:

Widely feared Jamaican drug kingpin Christopher "Dudus" Coke was arrested in June and extradited to New York City after being picked up wearing women's clothes and a 1970s-style Afro wig too small for his head (with a pink wig on standby). The Jamaica Observer reported that Coke wet his pants as he was arrested. [Daily Mail, 6-24-10; Jamaica Observer, 6-27-10]

Longtime South African drug lord Fadwaan "Fat" Murphy, speaking at a bail hearing in January in Cape Town, disclosed that he was born a hermaphrodite and has a separate identity ("Hilary"), which became relevant when arresting officers discovered that Murphy was wearing a strap-on penis. Nonetheless, he insists he is a man: "I look like a man. I talk like a man. I am a man." [Sunday Times (Johannesburg), 1-10-10]

"(A) new high point" in electoral politics in Philadelphia occurred this spring, according to the publisher of Philadelphia Gay News, when openly gay state Rep. Babette Josephs "outed" her primary opponent Gregg Kravitz as straight. According to Josephs, the heterosexual Kravitz was posing in Josephs' gay-friendly 182nd District as bi-sexual. Kravitz said he is "attracted" to both men and women and found Josephs' comments offensive. [Philadelphia Inquirer, 4-22-10]

Charmed Lives:

Recently while visiting her childhood home of Bishop, Texas, Joan Ginther won a Texas lottery drawing for the fourth time, taking home a $10 million first prize to lift her career Texas lottery winnings to $20.4 million. (By then, she had already moved to Las Vegas.) [WMAR-TV (Baltimore)-Scripps Howard News Service, 7-2-10]

At the other end of luck, British farm worker Mick Wilary, 58, was hospitalized in April after machinery crushed both his legs. According to the Daily Telegraph, Wilary has also had his ankles broken (twice), ribs cracked, finger cut off, head split open, collarbone broken and fingers broken, and been stabbed, and been frequently kicked by livestock. [Daily Telegraph, 4-12-10]

Thinking Large:

Northern Ireland farmer William Taylor introduced his prototype Livestock Power Mill recently and claimed that the world's 1.3 billion cattle, using treadmills for eight hours a day, could produce 6 percent of the world's electricity requirement. (The cow must keep walking to avoid sliding down an incline.) [Popular Science, 4-16-10]

California gubernatorial candidate Douglas Hughes proposed this year to solve the state's child-molestation problem by developing an island 30 miles off the Santa Barbara coast to contain the state's pedophiles, who would, according to The Daily Caller, "write their own constitution, build their own infrastructure and maintain a society." [Daily Caller, 5-21-10]

Avoiding Marriage, the Hard Way: A female lawyer from Puri, India, in her mid-30s told The Times of India in July that she recently underwent gender-reassignment surgery in part to avoid the male-female marriage that her parents were arranging for her: "I did not want a family life which is being forced on girls in our society." [The Times of India, 7-4-10]

The Power of Books: Speaking to the city council of Crestview, Fla., in July, the founder of the local "Protect Our Children" citizens' group said her son (whose age was not revealed) had "lost his mind" when he looked through the violent Japanese "manga" graphic novel he found on open stacks in the Crestview Public Library. "Now," she said, "he's in a home for extensive therapy." [Northwest Florida Daily News, 7-6-10]

It's Never Sunny in North Korea

North Korea's World Cup adventure began auspiciously with a hard-fought 2-1 loss to a superior Brazil team, leading the government to release photographs of the North Korean coach supposedly receiving long-distance telepathic strategy signals during the game from Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il. With the country's hopes up, the team was embarrassed in two subsequent games and dispatched from the tournament. Back home in July, the players were paraded into the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, where for six hours, they were publicly denounced and taunted. Coach Kim Jong-huh is said to fear an eventual violent end. [United Press International, 6-23-10; Toronto Star, 7-30-10]

Just before the World Cup matches, North Korea issued a public demand for compensation, blaming the United States for almost every single misfortune suffered by the country in the last 65 years. Its official news agency assigned the U.S. responsibility for 5 million people injured, kidnapped, missing or killed -- as well as for economic damages resulting from U.S.-led trade sanctions. According to the news agency, America can atone for the losses by sending North Korea $65 trillion. [Agence France-Presse, 6-25-10]

Perverts on Parade

James Burden, 55, was convicted of indecent exposure in Scotland's Falkirk Sheriff Court in June based on a March incident when a neighbor looked out her window before dawn and saw Burden, naked, smoking a cigarette and masturbating while bouncing on her family's outdoor trampoline. Burden said he did not know anyone would be watching at that hour. [STV (Glasgow), 6-2-10]

In New Zealand's Auckland District Court in June, Judge Mary Beth Sharp dismissed an elderly male juror from a trial involving sexual abuse because the man disclosed, under questioning, that he had worn a condom under his clothes in the jury box because the testimony was making him aroused. [New Zealand Herald, 6-4-10]

Least Competent Criminals

Justin Johnson, 21, was arrested in Bloomfield, Ind., in July after failing to get a Bloomfield State Bank branch to cash his bogus check for $1 million, which he presented to a teller in the bank's drive-through window. Optimistic, he had handed over his driver's license for ID along with the check. [Greene County Daily World (Linton, Ind.), 7-27-10]

Scot Davis, 52, was charged with robbing the All in the Family bar in Des Moines, Iowa, in March. Davis, a contractor who is friends with bartender Gladys York, had spent the evening at the bar passing out business cards before leaving. Said York, when Davis re-appeared carrying a .22-caliber rifle and demanding money, "Scot, What the (expletive)?" Said an officer, "This is not the hardest case our detectives have ever had to investigate." [Des Moines Register, 3-20-10]

A News of the Weird Classic (October 1989)

Ron Kravitz, 22, filed a lawsuit in June (1989) against Mickey Mantle Sports Productions Inc., for injuries he suffered the previous September while watching a company baseball video in his den to improve his base-stealing technique. While attempting to "beat" Tom Seaver's pickoff throw to "first base," he crashed into a table, resulting in torn ligaments and a severed tendon, which he thought somehow was the production company's fault. [Baltimore Sun, 6-5-89]

Thanks This Week to Tim Allen, Beth Biggs, Andrew Davis, John Ellwood, Sandy Pearlman, and Bruce Leiserowitz.

(And for the accomplished and joyous cynic, try News of the Weird Pro Edition, at


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