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10/19/2006

Columns > News of the Weird

NEWS OF THE WEIRD

 

King for a day

Most of the year, civil aviation engineer Joseph Ngoupou and his wife (a budget officer at the World Bank) live the life of a suburban Washington, D.C., couple taking up golf on weekends. But two or three times a year, Ngoupou travels to Cameroon, where he is, by heredity, a village chief, responsible for resolving disputes among his 3,500 subjects.

According to a September Wall Street Journal dispatch, his impoverished village has no electrical service or running water and lies five miles of barely passable road from the nearest town, and the isolated villagers are eager to cede Ngoupou authority as the ultimate wise man, to decide, for instance, the fair price of a bride’s dowry or the proper restitution for the theft of plums.

Pets with attitude

In August, Alexandria, Ind., dentist David Steele proudly showed off to an Anderson Herald Bulletin reporter the two gold crowns he had fitted on his 1-year-old Persian cat, Sebastian. Though he said the crowns were ostensibly to strengthen Sebastian’s teeth, the reporter said that their prominence suggested “a hip-hop star’s guard-cat or a movie villain’s pet.” Steele also put a gold crown on his Boston terrier.

Shoot to grill

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 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.

passenger-side blues

In Carlisle, Pa., Derek Randall Pittman, with a .237 blood-alcohol reading, was ticketed for drunk driving, even though he said that all he did was hold the steering wheel momentarily while his friend in the driver’s seat took a bite from his sandwich. However, that was enough to be “operating” the car, said a judge at a hearing in August.

Questionable judgment

Richard Brooks, 50, was injured in a September incident in Concord, Calif., in which he became enraged at a group of bikers and drove toward them in his car, waving a pool cue with his left arm. It wasn’t the bikers who injured him, though. Brooks got out, still in a rage, walked around behind his car, and was backed into because he had left the car in reverse gear. The collision knocked him into traffic, but some of the bikers pulled him to safety.

And Brian Hoyt, 46, was arrested in Framingham, Mass., in August after he, riding his bike the wrong way on a busy street, headed straight for a police cruiser, forcing the driver to swerve. Said police Lt. Paul Shastany, later, Hoyt appeared to be “playing a game of chicken with the officers.”

Frankenweenie

Surgeons have reattached many penises (in the cases of accidents, self-mutilations or angry wives’ vengeance), but the first successful transplant of the organ, to the point in which blood and urine flow were regenerated, was performed this summer in a 15-hour procedure at Guangzhou General Hospital in China.

Although the patient was left functional, he and his wife, two weeks later, citing “psychological” reasons, ordered the new organ removed. (A formal report is to appear this month in the journal European Urology.)

Touched by an equine

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.

Fine Points of Law

A superior court judge in Reading, Pa., overruled a county court judge in August and declared that Miller Genuine Draft is, indeed, beer. (The county judge had said that the prosecutor had failed to show that MGD was on the state beer list, but the superior court judge said there was other evidence that MGD is beer.)

Rain man on a bender

In September, police in Madison, Wis., said Milo G. Chamberlain’s blood-alcohol content was .425, which experts said is attainable only by those either dead or in a coma, but he was picked up for 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.

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