Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Did She See Us?

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In January, police arrested John West, 20, and Ashley Sorensen, 20, in Auburn, Calif., after the twosome allegedly swiped the tires and rims off of a woman’s car. The pair supposedly placed the tires and rims inside their car and drove off, before violating a cardinal rule by returning to the crime scene to see if the owner had called the police. She had, and a deputy standing in her driveway recognized the pair's car from the woman’s description.

 Fine Points of the Law

 On successive days in January in Sheboygan, Wis., 17-year-old Alan Jepsen and 17-year-old Norma Guthrie were charged with sexual assault for having consensual sex with their respective 14-year-old, opposite-sex companions. However, Jepsen was charged with a felony that carries a maximum term of 25 years in prison, while Guthrie was charged with a misdemeanor that carries a maximum term of 9 months in prison.

Compelling Explanations

 Australia's Queensland Rail agency disclosed in January that it would quickly offer refunds to passengers on a Cairns-to-Brisbane train that crashed just outside of Cairns, but reiterated at the same time that it would not pay refunds to survivors of a November 2008 Brisbane-to-Cairns train crash that killed two and injured nine. The difference, according to a Queensland Rail general manager, was that the 2009 trip was just getting underway from Cairns when it crashed, while the 2008 trip was "95% over" by the time the deadly crash occurred (and thus, the survivors had basically reached their destination).

 Oops!

 In January, Scott Coy and Darren DeMeio, assistant coaches for the football team at Westminster College (New Wilmington, Pa.), were in Nashville, Tenn., for a coaches' convention. They ended up being seriously injured while roughhousing in their hotel room at 4 a.m. The men, who weigh a combined 525 pounds, crashed through the double-paned window in their fourth-floor room and fell to the ground in their underwear.

Least Competent Criminals

 Not Ready for Prime Time: In January, a man who demanded a bank's money in Nicholasville, Ky., left empty-handed after an employee at the counter informed him that the building is now a regional water-district office and not the bank that used to be there.

Recurring Themes: Dogs Causing Trouble

  • On the Open Road: A 70-pound pit bull jumped on a car's gearshift at a carwash in Pryor, Okla., in November, sending the car out of the bay, where it briefly circled the lot. And a boxer-Shar-Pei mix similarly jostled the gearshift of a van in Port Jefferson, N.Y., in November, sending it through the front window of the Cool Beanz coffee shop.
  • On the Firing Line: Oregon State Police said a gunshot into a boat on Tillamook Bay in November was probably caused by a Labrador jumping on a 12-gauge shotgun while the boat was unattended. And a 19-year-old man had several toes shot off on a hunting trip in January in Forrest City, Ark., when his dog jumped on a shotgun in the front seat of his truck.

 Ironies

 (1) The $500,000 top prize in Alaska's January statewide lottery, to benefit the organization Standing Together Against Rape, was won by Alec Ahsoak, 53, who is a twice-convicted sex offender. (2) Sweden's Hallands Nyheter newspaper reported in January that a police officer had endured four operations at a private clinic in Gothenburg to correct a birth condition that made one leg shorter than the other, but operations on the longer leg cut off too much, so it is now shorter than the leg that used to be the shorter one.

 A News of the Weird Classic (October 1993)

 The Baltimore Sun reported in June 1993 that New York City artist Todd Alden had asked 400 art collectors worldwide to send him samples of their feces so that he could offer them for sale in personalized tins. "Scatology is emerging as an increasingly significant part of artistic inquiry in the 1990s," Alden said. A 30-gram tin of the feces of Italian artist Piero Manzoni, canned in 1961, sold for $75,000. Subsequent to this story, News of the Weird periodically tracked the fluctuating price of the several Manzoni tins, including Tate Britain's 2002 purchase for $38,000 (which was more than 100 times the price of an equivalent amount of gold). A colleague of Manzoni revealed in 2007 that his tins probably contained just plaster, but a Tate curator pointed out the irrelevance of the physical content of the art.

  2009 Chuck Shepherd