Thursday, July 22, 2010

News of the Weird

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Lessons From Ozzy

"Why are you still alive?" is the question that doctors often ask Ozzy Osbourne, the hard-rock singer and reality-TV star, who says he is now clean and sober after a lifetime of almost unimaginably bad habits. In June, he announced two new ventures: undergoing a three-month process of genetic mapping (to help doctors try to learn why, indeed, he is still alive) and becoming a "health advice" columnist for London's Sunday Times. At various points in his life, according to the now-cholesterol-conscious, vegetarian Osbourne, he drank four bottles of cognac a day, smoked cigars like they were cigarettes and took 42 prescribed medications, not to mention the many "backstage" drugs that he could not even identify. Osbourne also has a Parkinson's-like genetic tremor, was once in a medically induced coma after an accident and endured anti-rabies shots after famously biting into a bat on stage ("I thought it was a rubber toy," he said).

Ironies

  • An intense lightning storm on June 14 around Monroe, Ohio, destroyed the iconic 62-foot-high statue of Jesus (the "King of Kings" structure of the Solid Rock Church) alongside Interstate 75. While some townspeople mourned, it was also noteworthy what the lightning bolts completely missed: the large billboard, on the other side of the road, advertising the nearby Hustler Hollywood pornography store.

  • Over the years, according to a June Chicago Sun-Times report, Republican Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois has freely used "swagger and braggadocio in talking about his 21 years of military service" as qualification for office. When reporters pointed out one contrary fact after another about his record, Kirk explained, "I simply misremembered it wrong." He admitted that, contrary to his numerous public statements, he was not actually "in" the Iraq Desert Storm war; did not actually "command the Pentagon war room" when he was assigned there as a Navy Reservist; and was not actually once the Navy’s "Intelligence Officer of the Year." He is, however, an actual GOP candidate vying for the U.S. Senate seat once held by Barack Obama.

  • Earlier this month, Douglas Ballard and Joseph Foster pleaded guilty to charges related to selling fraudulent loans in exchange for bribes while they were senior vice presidents of the Atlanta-area faith-based Integrity Bank. The bank opened in 2000, touting Christian principles, giving Bibles to new customers and encouraging prayer at employee gatherings.

Brotherly Love

Tony Chrum, 38, was the one apprehended for allegedly buying $160 worth of cocaine from a man who turned out to be a police informant in Lincoln County, Mo., in May, but his brother, who is Winfield, Mo., police officer Bud Chrum, 39, was the mastermind. According to police, Bud said he needed to replace 2 grams of cocaine from the police evidence locker because he had accidentally spilled something on it, and Tony agreed to help.

Least Competent People

Christian Hernandez, 22, making his big-time bullfighting debut at Plaza Mexico in Mexico City in June, ran from the ring trembling in fear at the first sign of his bull. He was then coaxed to return to the ring, but once again fled and immediately submitted his resignation. Though Hernandez was contrite ("I didn't have the ability. I didn't have the balls."), he was arrested for violating his contract and released only after he paid a small fine.

A News of the Weird Classic

The West Tennessee Detention Facility (Mason, Tenn.) made a video pitch for California inmates, hoping some would volunteer to be outsourced under that state's program to relieve overcrowding. The hard-timers should come east, the video urged, because of West Tennessee's "larger and cleaner jail cells, 79 TV channels, including ESPN, views of peaceful cow pastures, and [an opportunity to experience] the ‘Dorm of the Week,’ [with its inmates] staying up all night, watching a movie and eating cheeseburgers or pizza," according to a March 2007 description in Nashville's Tennessean. "You're not a number here," said one inmate. "You come here, it's personalized."

2010 Chuck Shepherd