News of the Weird / Pro Edition (December 26, 2011)

News of the Weird/Pro Edition
You're Still Not Cynical Enough

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
December 26, 2011

NOTE: Chuck is a part-timer this week. In place of Pro Edition, here is this week's standard News of the Weird column, which by the way sometime in February will begin its 25th year (signifying 1,249 weekly editions--and a remarkable lack of imagination on career flexibility by Chuck).

WEIRDNUZ.M246 (News of the Weird, December 25, 2011)
by Chuck Shepherd

Lead Story

* When Tattoos Aren't Nearly Enough: In some primitive cultures, beauty and status are displayed via large holes in the ear lobe from which to hang heavy ornaments or to insert jewels or tokens, and BBC News reported in November that an "increasing" number of counter-culture Westerners are getting their lobes opened far beyond routine piercing, usually by gradually stretching but sometimes with a hole-punch tool for immediate results. The hard core are "gauge kings (or queens)," showing a "commitment" to the lifestyle by making holes up to 10mm (3/8") wide. (Cosmetic surgeons told BBC News that they're already preparing procedures for the inevitable wave of regretted decisions.) [BBC News, 11-21-2011]

NOTE: So much "weird" news just involves different people caught in the middle of the same old weirdness. For this week and next, check out recent Recurring Themes (plus important Updates of previous stories):

* Larry Walters made history in 1982 with perhaps the most famous balloon ride of all time--in an ordinary lawn chair, lifted by 45 helium-filled weather balloons--soaring to over 16,000 feet in southern California before descending by shooting the balloons one by one. In 2008, gas station manager Kent Couch of Bend, Ore., made a similar lawn-chair flight and had scheduled another, for November 2011, to float over now-allegedly-peaceful Baghdad, to raise money for Iraqi orphans. (Couch subsequently postponed his flight until March 2012 to give the charities more time to organize.) [Los Angeles Times, 11-4-2011; The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.)-AP, 11-17-2011 (well, try this Huffington Post link)]

* Corruption in some Latin American prisons has allowed powerful criminals to buy extraordinary privileges behind bars. News of the Weird's report on Venezuela's San Antonio prison in July described the imperial reign of one drug lord-inmate, who presided over a personal armory, a local-community drug market, and private parties (and with his own DirecTV account). In a surprise raid in November on a prison in Acapulco, Mexico, the usual drugs and weapons turned up, but also 100 fighting roosters for daily gambling, along with a prisoner's two pet peacocks. [The Guardian (London)-AP, 11-8-2011]

* The lives of many choking victims have been saved by the Heimlich Maneuver--even one received inadvertently, such as the one a Leesburg, Fla., motorist gave himself in 2001, after gagging on a hamburger, then losing control and smashing into a utility pole. As he was thrust against the steering wheel, the burger dislodged. In November 2011, as the mother of 8-year-old Laci Davis drove her to a Cincinnati hospital after a locket stuck in her throat and caused her to double over in pain, Mom hit a pothole, which jarred Laci and dislodged the locket loose into her stomach (later to come out naturally). [WCPO-TV, 11-11-2011]

* It seemed a rare event (first reported in 1994 but initially regarded as an "urban legend"). However, twice now recently, workers have played a particularly dangerous prank on a colleague. A month after the recent News of the Weird story about Gareth Durrant's lawsuit in England against co-workers who had inserted a compressed-air hose into his rectum, a carpenter's assistant in Nicosia, Cyprus, was jailed for 45 days for pulling the same stunt on his colleague, rupturing his large intestine. [, 11-17-2011]

* Sometimes professionals who overbill for their hours go too far, claiming obviously-impossible schedules, such as lawyers News of the Weird reported on in 1992 and 1994 (one, a Raleigh, N.C., lawyer, submitted one client bills averaging nearly 1,200 hours a month--even though a month only has 744 hours). New York City officials said in October 2011, however, that it's quite possible that city prison psychiatrist Dr. Quazi Rahman actually did work 141 hours one week, including 96 straight (because of a shortage of staff and because he could properly nap during his shifts). They ordered him to return only a tiny amount of his $500,000 in overtime payments for the last year. [New York Post, 10-2-2011]

* Ten years ago, the fashionable bulletproof clothing industry was in its infancy, with Miss Israel creating a stir at the 2001 Miss Universe pageant with a bulletproof evening gown. Since then, technology and design improvements (along with more rich people!) have enabled leading stylist Miguel Caballero of Colombia to add to his fashion line. The New Yorker reported in September 2011 that Caballero had made a bulletproof dinner jacket for Sean Combs and kimono for Steven Seagal, and that Caballero clothes are available in strengths of bullet-stopping, from "9mm" to "Uzi." [New York Daily News, 9-20-2011]

* Rumors that daring youth are inserting tampons soaked in vodka into body orifices to speed alcohol delivery have been around for at least 10 years. Curiously, the only regular-sourced news stories come from TV stations in Phoenix (KNXV-TV in 2009 and KPHO-TV in 2011), and the "urban legends" source calls the whole idea far-fetched. Nonetheless, in November 2011, a school resource officer told KPHO's Elizabeth Erwin that there are "documented cases" and that "guys," too, engage by inserting the tampons into their rectums. Dr. Dan Quan of the Maricopa Medical Center cautioned against the practice, warning of the dangers of mucosal irritation. [KPHO-TV, 11-8-2011]

* Anti-government survivalists engaged in high-profile standoffs have made News of the Weird--most recently that of Ed Brown and his wife and supporters, resisting a federal tax bill, holed up for nine months in the New Hampshire woods near Plainfield in 2007. (The Browns were arrested by a U.S. marshal who tricked his way inside.) The longest-running standoff now is probably that of John Joe Gray, 63, and his extended family in a 47-acre, well-fortified compound in Trinidad, Tex., southeast of Dallas. They have lived ascetic settlers' lives since Gray jumped bail in 2000 on a traffic charge. Gray has said he feels free on his land and warned authorities "better bring plenty of body bags" if they try to re-arrest him. [Houston Chronicle, 5-22-2011]


* Unlicensed "surgeon"-castrator Edward Bodkin re-surfaced recently after more than a decade under the radar. He was sentenced to four years in prison in 1999 in Huntington, Ind., for unauthorized practice of medicine (removing the testicles, with consent, of five men). Bodkin was arrested in August 2011 in Wetumpka, Ala., and charged with possession of child pornography, but authorities also recovered castration equipment, videos of castrations, photos of testicles in jars, and a form contract apparently used by Bodkin to obtain the consent of men going under his knife. [Wetumpka Herald, 8-15-2011]

* In January 2009, the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services removed three kids from the home of Heath and Deborah Campbell in Holland Township, apparently after becoming alarmed that the Campbells might be white supremacists. Though a court later concluded that the kids had been "abused," the Campbells told the New York Daily News in October 2011 that the state acted only based on the names the parents had given the kids--Adolf Hitler Campbell, who was then 3, and his then-1-year-old sisters, Honszlynn Hinler Jeanne Campbell and JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell. The Campbells have consistently denied that they are neo-Nazis. [New York Daily News, 10-26-2011]

* It is almost No Longer Weird that Western chefs attempt to get as exotic as they can serving plants, insects, and obscure parts of animals in their dishes that are usually only experienced by cultures far removed from America. Jennifer McLagan's recent book on how to cook animals' "odd" parts describes various recipes for cooking hearts, heads, tongues, and ears, and guesses that the next big thing in Western eating will be testicles. "[S]teaks and chops are like bulletproof to cook," she said "Any idiot can cook a steak, right?" [Daily Mail (London), 11-23-2011]

* Thomas Beatie was big news in March 2008 when he and his wife Nancy decided to start a family, except that Thomas, not Nancy, took on the child-bearing responsibilities. (Thomas, born a female, had his breasts removed but retained his reproductive organs.) Thomas got pregnant, appeared on "Oprah," and subsequently had three children (who mugged delightfully for the cameras on the syndicated TV "The Doctors" in October 2011). He also revealed on the show that it might be time to get his tubes tied, as each pregnancy requires him, irritatingly, to abandon his male hormone regimen. [Radar Online, 10-30-2011]

Thanks This Week to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

     Posted By: Chuck - Mon Dec 26, 2011

RE: Bullet RESISTANT clothing 3 points
1-NOTHING is bullit PROOF
2-An uzi IS a 9mm
3-In the security industry there is an OLD saying "those who discuss their bullet RESISTANT vests paint targets on their HEADS"
Posted by Tyrusguy on 12/26/11 at 10:22 AM
'Mucosal irritation', that's how - woohoo!
Posted by done on 12/26/11 at 09:43 PM
ear gauging- This looks disgusting and I just do not get it.

S. American prison- Corruption in S. America, surely not.

air hose gag- Not funny.

testicle remover- Why do these guys want it done?

children's names- "What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

vodka tampons- ouch, it buuuuurrrrrrns!
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 12/26/11 at 11:11 PM
@Scotty: I've not read Chuck's posts yet but the answer to your questions is; just act like there is a 1/1,000,000 chance he'll get some "lovin'" and he'll do anything.
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 12/27/11 at 12:24 AM
Balloons over Baghdad Yo! Larry, could you drop something off for me?

Bullet Proof Uzi sounds neeter.

The Campbells If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck then odds are it's a duck.

Weird Food Oh, gee, do you mean to tell me that someone would actually eat a testicle?

He-She Where's P.T.'s ghost when you need him?
Posted by Expat47 in Athens, Greece on 12/27/11 at 12:42 AM
Patti - The reason to remove testicles is to give them to a wife. Who can then give them back only when she says so. It is the whole basis of marriage, at least so I've heard.
Posted by Mini Viking on 12/27/11 at 11:42 AM
lol MV!
Posted by Patty in Ohio, USA on 12/27/11 at 11:45 AM
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