Chuck Shepherd's News of the Weird
"My ultimate dream is to be buried in a deep ocean close to where penguins live," explained Alfred David, 79, known in his native Belgium as "Monsieur Pingouin" (Mr. Penguin), so named because a 1968 auto accident left him with a waddle in his walk that he decided to embrace with gusto. (His wife abandoned the marriage when David said he wanted to make the name change official; evidently, being "Mrs. Penguin" was not what she had signed up for.) Mr. Pingouin started a penguin-item museum that ultimately totaled 3,500 items and created a hooded, full-body black-and-white penguin outfit that, according to a September Reuters dispatch, he wears daily in his waddles around his Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek.
- "Snakeman" Raymond Hoser, of Park Orchards, Australia, was about to be fined in August for violating his Commercial Wildlife Demonstrator License—by failing to keep at least 3 meters' distance between his venomous snakes and the public—when he hit upon a defense: He would prove that he had de-venomized the deadly taipan and death adder snakes by allowing them to bite his 10-year-old daughter on the arm. Though both bites drew blood, the girl was otherwise unhurt. Said Hoser, "If they'd been venomous, she'd have been dead in two minutes." He was fined $12,000 and had his license suspended, pending further review.
- For this year's 10-year remembrances of Sept. 11, many cities recalled the tragedy with monuments and public events, including Washington Township, N.J., about 20 miles from ground zero. But when a large commemorative plaque was unveiled, it provoked immediate outrage. The only names on the plaque did not belong to victims, but rather to the mayor and the five council members who approved the plaque. "It made my blood boil," said one retired police officer. Republican Mayor Samir Elbassiouny later apologized for the decision. The names have been removed.
People Different From Us
Urban farming is growing more popular among city dwellers committed to eating locally sourced foods. For many, that involves gardens in backyards. For Robert McMinn and Jules Corkery, it means raising three chickens in their one-bedroom apartment in New York City, so that they can have a supply of fresh eggs. "I don't think it's the ideal situation," McMinn told the New York Daily News in October. But he noted that the hens are cute. “They're fun to (watch) run around,” he said. “They're excited when we come home." On the other hand, he noted, "They poop everywhere."
Least Competent Criminals
Bank Robbers Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) Thomas Love, 40, was arrested in New Castle County, Del., in October after walking out of a WSFS Bank empty-handed. According to police, Love had presented a demand note to a teller, who couldn't make out the writing and handed it back with the request that it be rewritten, provoking Love to flee. (2) In October, Henry Elmer, 56, was arrested in Yuma, Ariz., where he had just sat down to enjoy a beer at the Village Inn Pizza Parlor. Police identified Elmer as the man who moments earlier had robbed the Wells Fargo bank in the same block and "fled" the few steps to the Village Inn (which is also just across the street from the Yuma Police Station).
A News of the Weird Classic
In January 1994 at the Lake Como Fish and Game Club near Syracuse, N.Y., Brian Carr beat out three-dozen competitors in the annual ice-fishing derby with 155 catches. The temperature that day was minus-30 degrees Fahrenheit, and prize money for the top three anglers was, respectively, $8, $6.50 and $5.
© 2011 Chuck Shepherd