Headline writers had a lot of fun with this story. Ruth Shepler was an Iowa barmaid who had a signature bar trick which involved pouring a bottle of beer into a glass while the glass was balanced on her ample "frontage." She could reportedly balance up to four glasses simultaneously.
But when the IRS heard about this, they decided that her trick was really a cabaret show, which meant that she should have been paying cabaret taxes for the previous three years (1952, 1954, and 1955). And they demanded these unpaid taxes, which by their calculations amounted to $44,694.
Shepler hired a lawyer to fight the IRS. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any news reports that tell how her case turned out.
The San Mateo Times
- May 25, 1956
News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M403, December 28, 2014
Copyright 2014 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
Cliche Come to Life: For her Advanced Placement World History class at Magnolia (Tex.) West High School in December, Reagan Hardin constructed an elaborate diorama of a Middle Ages farm--which her dog ate on the night before it was due. Veterinarian Carl Southern performed the necessary scoping-out on “Roscoe,” extracting the plastic chicken head, horse body, sheep, and pig, along with wire that held the display together. Warned Dr. Southern, “Don’t put anything past your dog. We all say my dog would never eat” this or that, “and that’s the main thing he’ll eat.” [KHOU-TV (Houston), 12-11-2014
The Entrepreneurial Spirit
Meg C Jewelry Gallery of Lexington, Ky., introduced a limited line of Kentucky-centric gold-plated necklaces and earrings in June (recently touted for Christmas!)--each dangling with genuine Kentucky Fried Chicken bones. All stems were picked clean from KFC wings, washed, dried, sealed with varnish and conductive paint, copper-electroformed, and then electroplated with 14k gold. Small-bone necklaces go for $130 (large, $160), and earrings for $200 a pair--and according to Meg C accessorize anything from jeans to a lady’s best little black dress. [Louisville Biz Blog, 12-10-2014
“Ethical” fur designer Pamela Paquin debuted the first of her anticipated line of roadkill furs recently--raccoon neck muffs (“I can literally take two raccoons and put them butt to butt [so they] clasp neck to neck”) that will sell for around $1,000. Raccoons yield “luscious” fur, she said, but her favorite pelt is otter. The Massachusetts woman leaves her card with various New England road crews (“Hi, my name is Pamela. Will you call me when you have roadkill?”) and does business under the name Petite Mort (“little death” in French, but also, she said, a euphemism for a woman’s post-orgasm sensations). [Washington Post, 12-5-2014
Not too long ago, “generous” job perquisites were, perhaps, health insurance and little more, but Silicon Valley startups now race to outdo each other in dreaming up luxuries to pamper workers. A November Wall Street Journal report noted that the photo-sharing service Pinterest offers employee classes in the martial-arts “muay thai” and in August brought in an “artisanal jam maker” to create after-work cocktails--a far cry from most workplaces, which offer, perhaps, a vending machine downstairs. (Several companies have hired hotel-concierge professionals to come manage their creative add-ons.) Not every perk is granted, though: Pinterest turned down an employee’s request to install a zip line directly to a neighborhood bar. [Wall Street Journal, 11-21-2014
(1) Jose Manuel Marino-Najera filed a lawsuit in Tucson, Ariz., in December against the U.S. Border Patrol because a K-9 dog had bitten his arm repeatedly during an arrest. Marino-Najera, illegally in the U.S., had been found sleeping under a tree near the Mexican border, holding 49 pounds of marijuana. (2) Ms. Emerald White, owner of four pit bulls declared “dangerous” by Texas City, Tex., after they mauled a neighbor’s beagle to death, filed a lawsuit in November against the grieving neighbor. White said she had been injured trying to restrain her dogs in the skirmish, which had been facilitated by the neighbor’s failure to fix their common fence. [Associated Press via AzFamily.com, 12-11-2014
] [Galveston Daily News, 11-15-2014
Not As Sturdy As They Used To Be
Some students at Harvard, Columbia, and Georgetown law schools demanded in December that professors postpone final exams because those lawyers-in-training were too traumatized by the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City, which cost them sleep and made them despair of the legal system’s lack of integrity. (Critics cited by Bloomberg Business Week suggested that lawyers who cannot function at a high level in the face of injustice might fare poorly in the profession.) [Bloomberg Business Week, 12-9-2014
Fine Points of the Law
Gregory Graf, 53, has apparently escaped eligibility for death row in Pennsylvania despite confessing to murdering his stepdaughter in an attempt to have sex with her (an “accompanying” felony which ordinarily would qualify him for “capital murder”). However, since Graf had videotaped himself in the act (as evidence recovered in December shows), he proved that the sex occurred after she was dead and thus that he was guilty instead of an accompanying misdemeanor (desecration of a body). [Morning Call (Allentown), 12-5-2014
Caitlyn Ricci, 21 and estranged from her divorced parents, availed herself this year of a quirky New Jersey law that requires divorced parents to provide for their children’s college educations (even though Caitlyn was a toddler at the time of the divorce, chose a more expensive out-of-state college, and already had a blemished community-college record). Mom Maura McGarvey (who claims to be specially hard-hit by the tuition bill) and Dad Michael Ricci are helping sponsor “corrective” legislation--because, generally, parents are not required to pay for college (but in New Jersey, divorced parents are). [Associated Press via Philly.com, 12-14-2014
The Continuing Crisis
Historians at the Wellcome Collection museum in London placed on display in November their rendition of the “orgone energy accumulator” developed in the 1940s by psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich, who thought it could stimulate orgasms for those who sat inside one. (The device is thought to have inspired the “Orgasmatron” in the Woody Allen movie “Sleeper.” Among 1950s-era “testers,” Albert Einstein is said to have panned it, but not author J.D. Salinger.) The museum’s curator tried to lower expectations--that visitors should expect a historic sex “education” and not a sexual experience. [Daily Mirror, 11-6-2014
The Miracle Drug
Meth--Is There Anything It Can’t Do? (1) Keith Berfield, 56, was arrested outdoors in Port St. Lucie, Fla., in October, nude except for the metal ring around his testicles, praising “spiritual” “things in the sky.” (2) Brittany Thompson, 26, was arrested in Oklahoma City in November, lying near a busy intersection holding ordinary rocks that she described as “diamonds” that God sent her to gather. [TCPalm.com (Stuart, Fla.), 10-28-2014
] [KOCO-TV (Oklahoma City), 11-26-2014
Messages Not Received: (1) John Biehn, 39, in court in Rockville, Conn., on December 15th on an old DUI charge, was released on bail but managed to get arrested (and released on bail) three more times in two towns over the following 11 hours--twice for DUI and once for shoplifting. (2) On November 30th, an allegedly intoxicated Dwayne Fenlason, 48, drove his pickup truck into a ditch in Pomfret, Vt., bringing a DUI citation--and then subsequently drove an SUV to the scene to pull the truck out (earning a second DUI), and then an all-terrain vehicle to the scene (and a third DUI). [Denver Post, 11-27-2014
] [WCAX-TV (Burlington), 12-7-2014
(1) Sherwin Shayegan (the man revisited here three months ago for his longtime habit of demanding piggyback rides from high school athletes) was arrested in December in Maryland on charges from Virginia’s Fauquier and Loudoun counties, where he had mingled with players at boys’ high school basketball and hockey games and in locker rooms, acting “creepy” and getting ejected. (2) At about the time News of the Weird updated Indonesia’s “Sex Mountain” ritual four weeks ago, the governor of Central Java banned the practice because of the “shame” it brings to Indonesia. (Because prostitutes now flood the area, however, the Jakarta Post doubted that the ban would be respected by would-be “pilgrims,” who believe that sex with strangers brings prosperity.) [Fauquier.com, 12-10-2014
] [Vice.com, 12-7-2014
A News of the Weird Classic (March 2011)
The Feral Professor: Tihomir Petrov, 43, a mathematics professor at California State University Northridge, was charged in January  with misdemeanors for allegedly urinating twice on the office door of another faculty member with whom he had been feuding. (Petrov was identified by a hidden camera installed after the original puddle turned up.) Petrov is the author of several scholarly papers, with titles such as "Rationality of Moduli of Elliptic Fibrations With Fixed Monodromy." [Los Angeles Daily News-AP, 1-27-2011]
Thanks This Week to Steve Dunn, Alan Graham, Gaal Shepherd Crowl, Jan Wolitzky, Bruce Leiserowitz, Gerald Sacks, and Brian Wilson, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.