A painful break-up 


Tim Cridland, touring as Zamora the Torture King in an entertainment show in which he endures massive pain, told the Riverfront Times (St. Louis) in December that he broke from the similar but better-known Jim Rose Circus over "artistic differences." Among Zamora's feats of pain: the traditional skewers through the cheeks and neck; swallowing swords and fire; jumping up and down barefoot on broken bottles; and his occasional pièce de résistance: swallowing a length of twine and then removing it from his stomach through on-stage surgery using a scalpel and a pair of forceps.

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Eat the clock

Since July, the Totenko Chinese restaurant in Tokyo has been offering the all-you-can-eat luncheon buffet (regularly about $16) to the first 30 diners a day at the price of about 30 cents a minute, measured by a time clock that diners punch when entering and exiting. Other restaurants have copied the idea in recession-torn Japan, according to a December Wall Street Journal report, and some have found that including alcoholic beverages on the per-minute menu tends to get people to stay longer.

What a dump

Among the cargo spilled in tractor-trailer accidents in 1998: 25 tons of pudding (West Virginia, September); 2,000 cases of beer (Michigan, July); 4 tons of flour (Ontario, August); tons of noodles, which expanded in the rain (Maryland, July); 20 tons of cheese, which caught fire, producing fondue (Wales, October); $45,000 in quarters (Illinois, June); 50,000 $1 bills (Kansas, November); 500,000 honeybees (Washington, October, and another 4 million in Wisconsin in November); 12 tons of garbage (Rhode Island, March); 6,700 gallons of animal fat (Ohio, May, which was cleaned up with liquid detergent); and 20,000 gallons of liquid detergent (elsewhere in Ohio, 10 days later).

A bug's half-life

In September, red harvester ants in the soil at the Hanford nuclear complex near Richland, Wash., were discovered to be radioactive, as were flies and gnats swarming around ordinary garbage around Hanford the following month. Hanford managers feared that additional contamination might be spread by local mice, insects and vegetation such as tumbleweeds.

Unhealthy glow

Tyrone V. Henry, 26, was arrested in September in Tucson, Ariz., and charged with possession of child pornography. Police said they were led to Henry's home after six female University of Arizona students complained of a man who claimed to be conducting a test of facial cream, using a substance that (according to the women) tasted like semen. However, the police said they do not have enough evidence to charge Henry on the facial-cream tests.

Fortune teller

Ms. Fareena Jabbar, 37, was arrested in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in October and charged with trying to pass a U.S. $1 million bill -- which is a denomination that does not exist. To assist her scheme, Jabbar supplied a "certificate of authenticity" that was signed by officials of the "International Association of Millionaires."

Breeding contempt

At an Annapolis, Md., City Council meeting in October, 23 people spoke against a proposed ordinance restricting ownership of pit bulls (to those age 25 and older and with at least $500,000 in liability insurance), including a representative of the United Kennel Club in Michigan, who said the bill "has no place in America" because it is "no less than racial prejudice."

Repeat offenders

Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but that now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: The customer dismissed from a bar or restaurant or store who decides to express his anger by driving his car right through the establishment's front door, as done by Joe Stephens, 48, at a Lima, Ohio, tavern in December. And the careless error made by home heating-oil delivery drivers who see a formerly used fuel spout on a house next door to the one they are supposed to deliver to and thus mistakenly pump a couple of hundred gallons of oil into somebody's basement, such as happened to Steve and Christy Barrie of Tacoma, Wash., in December.


Speaking of News Of The Weird

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