Better homes and shanties 

"I may be homeless," Chester Goode, 46, told a Miami Herald reporter in April, "but I'm the most stylish homeless person you'll ever meet." The interview took place in Goode's black-fabric-walled, tarpaulin-roofed space in the woods off 18th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a domicile decorated with framed impressionist paintings, potted palms, fluted vases, decorative baskets, a crystal decanter and a faux-antique phone (which was unconnected at the time of the interview). A former nurse, Goode says he is driven by the need for quiet: "Boom boxes, teen-age children, I just can't handle them."

Sweating the small stuff

In Canton, Texas, a 13-year-old boy was sentenced to 25 years in prison in December for killing his parents, who had refused to let him take part in a church field trip. And a 23-year-old Grand Haven, Mich., man obsessed with the film "The Blair Witch Project" pled guilty in January to strangling his girlfriend after she insisted the movie was a work of fiction.

A lot to think about

In December, Graham Gund began work on a third version of his new multimillion-dollar house in Cambridge, Mass., tearing out its foundation for the second time. He had decided that he really wanted the home to look like its first incarnation, which he had bulldozed as it neared completion eight months earlier.

What price glory holes?

In February, the British gay-rights organization OutRage stepped up its effort to end inferior treatment of homosexuals by submitting recommendations for reform to the Home Office. Among the proposals was a plea for the government to legalize sex in the cubicles of public rest rooms.

Casual Day goes too far

According to a December Orange County Register story, Mark W. Dziga of Long Beach, Calif., filed an employment-discrimination lawsuit against his former company, Boeing International, for firing him because he chose to work in the nude on Thanksgiving Day 1998. Dziga thought he was alone in the office at the time, but a security guard turned him in for violating the company's dress code. His suit charged that his subsequent termination was illegal in that Boeing should have provided "reasonable accommodation" to his religion of shamanism.

The Charmin was too easy

Police called to a Giant supermarket in Yardley, Pa., in January arrested Samuel Feldman, 37, and charged him with one count of criminal mischief. Authorities suspect, however, that the incident was merely the capper to a three-year spree in which Feldman squeezed, smashed and poked packages of bread and cookies that he found in various area supermarkets, ruining more than $8,000 worth of goods. After the mysterious squeezer had struck more than 100 times in the Yardley area, Giant installed a hidden camera; according to police, Feldman was arrested the third time his food-fondling activities were caught on tape.

Let off with a good scalding

In December, the wife of a Cambodian undersecretary of state was accused of pouring five liters of acid on her husband's 18-year-old girlfriend. And in October, a 43-year-old woman in Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y., was charged with assault for allegedly taking a samurai sword to a woman she found in bed with her husband, slashing off two of the adulteress' fingertips.

No guts, no glory

In December, a 36-year-old Pontiac, Mich., resident who was being questioned by police for playing his stereo too loud was instead arrested on an outstanding DUI warrant. The 280-pound man snapped his handcuffs off, creating a jagged edge that he used to cut a hole in his stomach so he could pull his organs out to throw at rescue workers. "Reaching in and then tugging on stuff, and I mean tugging," is how Sheriff's Sgt. Matt Norman described the man's attempts.

Driven to distraction

In March, the New Haven Register reported that Tufts University student Carl Sciortino Jr. was leading a campaign to persuade the school to allow gays and lesbians to have roommates of the opposite sex. According to Sciortino, forcing same-sex roommates on gays could lead them to develop romantic feelings toward their cohabitants, which would interfere with their schoolwork. Some local gay and lesbian leaders do not support Sciortino, fearing that his argument undermines the cause of gays' serving openly in the military.

The frugal gourmets

In February, prominent French chef Jean Bardet had his restaurant (located in the city of Tours) eliminated from the prominent "Michelin Guide 2000," based on charges that his superior regional vintages were actually cheap supermarket wine and that he had vastly inflated the uniqueness of his sea bass, veal, cheese and asparagus. Also in February, Quebec inspectors temporarily shut down the Comme Chez Soi restaurant in Granby after it was caught re-serving customers' discarded tartar sauce, cole slaw, bread and fondue. The items in question came not only from Comme Chez Soi dinners, but from take-out meals that were left behind in a motel owned by the restaurateur.

Speaking of News Of The Weird

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