Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Helen on Train Wrecks

Why is it that sometimes in life we can't NOT look? I'm not talking about car accidents on the highway. If people are hurt, I don't look unless I can help. I'm talking about train wrecks in the proverbial sense, like News of the Weird. I'm probably weird, but every time I see this column, I have to scan it, even though what's printed there often angers or disgust me, and definitely has me shaking my head. Here are a few interesting tidbits from the online site.

- Sometime next year, if all goes well, Brett Holm of Chaska, Minn., will begin selling his Season Shot, an improvement over current shotgun shells because its pellets dissolve on contact in the game meat and, more important, automatically flavor it for cooking. Holm told the Chanhassen (Minn.) Villager newspaper in August that he will initially offer lemon pepper, mesquite, Mexican, and Creole flavors, but, he said, chemists are at work right now to expand the selection. [Chanhassen Villager, 8-3-06]

Mmmm, numsters!

- In September, police in Madison, Wis., said Milo G. Chamberlain's blood-alcohol content was .425, which experts said normally is attainable only by those either dead or in a coma, but he was picked up, quite conscious, allegedly causing a disturbance at a Marathon gas station, where he reportedly got into a fight with a gas pump before being restrained by passersby. Police said Chamberlain responded to each of their questions only by rattling off strings of numbers of no particular pattern. [Capital Times (Madison), 9-23-06]

The .425 is a percentage of alcohol to blood, correct? How the hell was this guy even breathing?

- Alfred Thomas Steven, 69, was arrested in the La Purisma Mission park in Lompoc, Calif., in September, and cited for trespassing and animal cruelty for attempting to satisfy himself sexually with a horse. According to police, Steven apparently had anointed himself with olive oil and coated his nude body in feed grain or oats, and then lay down so that the horse would nibble and lick him. Deputies said he told them that it was a longtime fantasy. [KSBY-TV (San Luis Obispo, Calif.), 9-6-06]

Oh ... My ... God!

- In a September raid, sheriff's deputies in Vista, Calif., seized jars of urine from the home of a suspected methamphetamine user. Deputies said the user appeared to be saving his own urine in order to extract, and reuse, the meth he had already used. A Drug Enforcement Administration agent said he was unsure whether the practice was widespread. [North County Times (Escondido, Calif.), 9-15-06]

Would this even work? And aren't you glad I didn't post a picture for that one?

- The 30-year-old traditional festival of eel-"bowling" in the fishing village of Lyme Regis, England, was canceled in July after complaints from an animal rights activist that it was disrespectful to eels. In the ritual, teams of anglers stand on platforms and swing a giant (but dead) conger eel, attached to the ceiling, to see who will be the last person standing. Said a spokesman for the charitable event, which raises money for lifeboat crews, "But it's a dead conger, for Pete's sake. I shouldn't think the conger could care one way or another." [Reuters, 7-29-06]

How'd you like to get smacked in the face with that sucker?

- An August Los Angeles exhibition by photographer Jill Greenberg featured 27 2- and 3-year-old kids crying, scenes that Greenberg provoked by offering each one a lollipop and then snatching it away. She admitted that the photos were "upsetting" but denied critics' accusations of child abuse. [Guardian (London), 7-26-06]

I don't know why I think that one is so funny.

- In August, police in Mumbai, India, decided to get a professional opinion from the local JJ School of Art as to whether a downtown video and photographic exhibition was obscene and should be closed down. (The school's opinion of the show, "Tits, Clits and Elephant Dick," has not been reported.) [Times of India, 8-7-06]

I did find a couple pics of elephant you-know-whats, but I didn't want to offend anyone further! Oh, what the hell.

- Kuwait Times reported in April that food inspectors shut down the Hawally bakery in Kuwait City after finding dough stored in a toilet, which the owner explained was so that the humidity would keep it moist. [Kuwait Times, 4-4-06]

Remind me not to eat next time I'm in Kuwait.

Check out the rest at http://www.newsoftheweird.com/.

Do others read News of the Weird, or am I really that strange? Do you have your own weird news? Family, friends, co-workers, they all do silly things. Come on, spill it. We won't tell.

What about getting ideas for stories or books from newspaper articles. That ever happen to anyone?


Debra Dixon said...


My husband is addicted to news-of-the-weird! Always has been. They've got a column of it in one of the local weeklies.

We try not to do anything which would land us in news-of-the-weird, but we do love it. And we are also fascinated by the Darwin Awards, which are awards for the folks who've died in ways that make you wonder how they could be that stupid and still have managed to get out of bed the morning they "accidented" themselves to death.

It's mind boggling.

Helen Brenna said...

Oh, oh, Deb. I just checked out the Darwin Awards website. You may have gotten me hooked. Check these out.

Speaking of pumping gas, this is unconfirmed, but a Pittsburg woman told a gas station attendant that she had spilled some gasoline, and wouldn't pay for it. He indicated disbelief, whereupon she said, "Look I'll prove it," and tossed her cigarette into the puddle. The gas ignited -- proving her point, but landing her in court in 1993 for inciting a catastrophe.

12 August 2006 | An Indiana man grabbed a roll of duct tape, fastened a large mortar-style firework to his football helmet, and lit the fuse. Astoundingly, the 21-year-old survived this party stunt with a concussion and burns. His helmet, however, was destroyed.
Reference: wsbt.com, AP.

scrapperjen said...

I'll look for some but LOVE these weird news stories - they always crack me up!

Betina Krahn said...

Helen, I always try to read "News of the Weird," but here in the Sunshine State. . . mostly that's just business as usual. It seems the flakes of the nation like warmth and sunshine as much as the saner contingent.

Recently, a 93 year old man plowed into a pedestrian who went through his windshield and drove home with the guy half in his car. . . because he had no idea what to do. I pray they took the old gaffer's license, but I can't be sure. Old guys have a helluva union down here.

;) Betina

Candace said...

I've never seen News of the Weird but I do love reading those Darwin Awards. If only because nothing I do can ever be (or, has never been, so far) that astoundingly dumb.

We do have weird news in my family--or we used to when the oldest of my brothers was a kid. When he was about eight he tied and the four corners of a bedsheet to his wrists and ankles and jumped off the roof of the barn. Surprised the hell out of him when he didn't float gently to the ground! He survived with no serious injuries and went on to do many other boneheaded things before he finally developed some common sense.

And, yes, I did once get the idea for a story from the newspaper. It was from one of those Sunday supplement sections; the story was about a 90-something woman who had been the first licensed limo driver in Texas. That led to a course in limo driver training, which led to my 4th book, "For the Love of Mike" (so not my original title, BTW.)

One interesting tidbit I learned from the course... What are the two things nearly everyone wants to do in the back of a limo? Yes, have sex is one. Going through the driver-thru at MacDonalds is the second.

Helen Brenna said...

I KNEW someone would have a story. That's a good one, Candace. Brothers are great fodder for stories.

My brothers found a big O ring, used as some kind of seal on something (my dad owned a truckstop when I was growing up). They cut the thing in half and tied the ends to 2 different trees. Used it as a human sling shot. Still can't believe no one got killed with that thing?

Betina, my grandpa drove until he was 94. I stopped letting my kids get in the car with him after he pulled into a restaurant parking lot and had no clue he's hit the car next to him!