Thursday, July 29, 2010

News of the Weird

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The Beauties and the Beasts

The dating website BeautifulPeople.com, which allegedly limits its membership (600,000 people worldwide) to include only attractive people, announced recently that it would sponsor a companion egg and sperm bank at which its members could sell their services for a fee. However, according to a quote by website founder Robert Hintze in Newsweek in June, homely customers are welcome to make purchases. "Initially, we hesitated to widen the offering to non-beautiful people. But everyone—including ugly people—would like to bring good-looking children into the world, and we can't be selfish with our attractive gene pool."

Least Competent Criminals

Questionable Judgments: (1) Austin, Texas, police issued an arrest warrant in June for Jose Romero, who they say robbed a Speedy Stop clerk after demanding money and menacingly pointing to his waistband, which held a caulking gun. (2) Steven Kyle took about $75,000 worth of merchandise from Cline Jewelers in Edmonds, Wash., in June, but as he left the store, employees shouted to passers-by, several of who began to chase Kyle. Almost immediately, Kyle dropped his (fake) gun and the jewelry and fell to the ground exhausted. Kyle later revealed that he had only one lung.

Thinning the Herd

(1) Police in Houston said the man who was killed when he jumped from an 18-wheeler that was aimed at a freeway pillar on July 6 was part of a two-man scheme to defraud an auto insurance company. Police said it was the other man who was originally scheduled to drive but that, citing the danger involved, he (wisely) backed out. (2) Inmate Carlos Medina-Bailon, 30, who was awaiting trial on drug-related charges in El Paso, Texas, escaped in July by hiding in the jail's garbage-collection system. Medina-Bailon's body was found later the same day under mounds of trash in a landfill.

Armed and Clumsy

Men Who Accidentally Shot Themselves Recently: Robert Stewart, 55, a police academy instructor, during class (Liberty Township, Ohio, April); Lazaro Flores, 50, practicing quick-draw maneuvers at his girlfriend's house (Cape Coral, Fla., January); Michael Webb, 22, showing friends how to disarm a gunman (Camp Lejeune, N.C., February); Michael Randall Jr., 19, outside a convenience store, preparing to rob it (Athens, Ga., December); Vincent Medina, 19, using his waistband as a holster, which led to a hit in the groin (Fontana, Calif., June); and Brandon Boyce, 24, also using his waistband as a holster—and also hit in the groin (Omaha, Neb., July).

Weird Lives

Life Imitates a Drew Barrymore Movie: Michelle Philpots of Spalding, England, and her husband, Ian, have adjusted to Michelle’s anterograde amnesia (the result of two car crashes decades ago), which robs her of short-term memory and forces her to re-learn her life every day. According to a June profile in London's Daily Mail, that includes Ian having to convince Michelle that the stranger in her bed every morning is her husband, which he sometimes does by showing her their wedding photographs.

Career Downgrade

(1) In May, Jim Janson, a 20-year veteran "carny" (who ran the games of chance at Canada's traveling Bill Lynch Shows), graduated from the law school at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has set out on his new calling. (2) Downgrade Cut Short: Eduardo Arrocha, whom “News of the Weird” mentioned in 2008 when he was "Eak the Geek," the "Pain-Proof Man" at New York's Coney Island Circus Sideshow (eating light bulbs, putting his tongue in a mousetrap, etc.), completed his first-year studies at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan but decided not to return and said he would concentrate on publishing his poetry.

A News of the Weird Classic

ThePhiladelphia Inquirer reported in June 1992 on the local "Silent Meeting Club," consisting of people who gather at various spots around town and make it a point not to speak to each other. Founder John Hudak said his inspiration was the observation that people often feel obligated to talk when they really have nothing to say, such as at parties. Hudak said he wondered how nice it would be "to have a group of people where you wouldn't have to talk." Hudak was interviewed at lunchtime in a downtown park, with several of his fellow members nearby, not talking.

2010 Chuck Shepherd