Wednesday, April 28, 2010

News of the Weird

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Breakfast of Champions

This year computer hardware engineer Toshio Yamamoto, 49, celebrates 15 years of tasting and cataloging all of the ramen (instant noodles) he can get his hands on—including the full list of ingredients, texture, flavor, price and "star" rating for each—for the massive 4,300-ramen database on his website. He recently expanded his website with "hundreds" of video reviews and re-reviews of many previous products (in case the taste had changed, he told journalist Lisa Katayama, writing in April on the popular blog Boing Boing). Yamamoto said he used to eat ramen for breakfast seven days a week, but recently cut back to five. "I feared that if I continued at that pace, I would get bored," he said.

Compelling Explanations

  •  In January, on behalf of California, the State Historical Resources Commission (SHRC) formally claimed about 100 items of property on the surface of the moon. The items had been left behind during the Apollo 11 landing in 1969, and the SHRC noted that California companies were instrumental in that mission. (Only the moon surface itself is off limits to ownership claims under international law.) Among the items declared are tools, a flag, bags of food and bags of human waste left by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.
  • In Toronto, Louis Woodcock, 23, testified at his trial in March that he was not involved in a 2005 gunfight that took the life of a woman caught in the crossfire, despite being seen on surveillance video near the woman and holding his hand inside his jacket until gunshots rang out. He said he often kept his hand inside his jacket to keep from sucking his thumb, which is a habit he picked up in childhood and that did not go over well on the street. (The jury convicted him of manslaughter.)

Ironies

  • Karen Salmansohn, 49, prominent author of self-help books for women with relationship and career problems, including Prince Harming Syndrome and How to Make Your Man Behave in 21 Days or Less Using the Secrets of Professional Dog Trainers, filed a complaint in March against Mitchell Leff. Salmansohn said Leff had strung her along for months with promises of marriage and a baby, but abruptly cut off support when she became pregnant. Said Salmansohn, "I'm a self-help book author, not a psychic."
  • Former Major League Baseball star Lenny "Nails" Dykstra recently started accepting clients for his investment advice service, charging $999 a year, according to a March Wall Street Journal report. His website discloses that while Dykstra is "NOT (his emphasis) a registered financial adviser, [his] proven track record has caught the attention of many.” (Dykstra filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in July 2009 to stave off more than 20 lawsuits against him for entrepreneurial ventures gone wrong. In November the bankruptcy judge denied him the right to reorganize his debts, converting his case to Chapter 7 liquidation.)

Creme de la Weird

In March in Polson, Mont., officials charged Brent Wilson, 53, with attempting to illegally acquire ownership of someone else's house. Wilson had attempted to register the title as property located on the "third planet from the sun" and as a conveyance from God, in a transaction that has yet to take place (scheduled for the year 6012). Authorities believe Wilson might have fallen for the elaborate teachings of a scammer who conducts seminars on how to outsmart the law governing foreclosures. Wilson was also charged with breaking into the house illegally and changing the locks. Said the recording supervisor of Gallatin County, "I can't explain why people do what they do."

A News of the Weird Classic

In October 2003, 12,000 visitors descended on West Point, Ky., for the Knob Creek Gun Range Machine Gun Shoot. The weekend event, billed as the nation's largest, features a separate competition for flamethrowers. Especially coveted is "The Line" (the waiting list is 10 years long to be admitted), where 60 people get to fire their machine guns into a field of cars and boats, and during which a shooter might run through $10,000 in ammunition. Among the champions: Samantha Sawyer, 16, the top women's submachine gunner for the previous four years. One man interviewed by the Louisville Courier-Journal said he met his future wife at a previous Shoot, noting he was impressed that "she could accept flame-throwing as a hobby."

2010 Chuck Shepherd

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