GENDER BENT 


Eccentric British rock musician Genesis P-Orridge (born Neil Megson) and his wife and partner, Lady Jaye Breyer, are gradually transforming themselves surgically into gender-neutral human beings ("pandrogynous") resembling each other, so that eventually they will be indistinguishable, to demonstrate how overrated gender is as a point of reference. (For example, he wore a lace dress at their wedding, and she dressed as a biker guy, with moustache, and for Valentine's Day 2003, each got breast implants.) P-Orridge told SF Weekly in October that their goal is to jointly become a third person, distinct from either of them.

OUTLOOK NOT SO GOOD

In November, former mayor Diana Cortez of La Grulla, Texas, and the town's former bookkeeper pleaded guilty to taking $53,700 in federal community grant money and spending it all on psychic consultations. And in August, the St. Louis (Mo.) Regional Chamber and Growth Association fired psychic David Levin after seven years' service, during which time it paid him $1.4 million in fees and expenses. Levin's business card read "executive coach," and the association president admitted Levin had "uncanny" abilities, but Levin prominently attributed his astuteness to his spiritual powers, which he said he has in common with his wife and 15-year-old son.

FOR DEDICATED FOLLOWERS

Showstopping designs for women during October's Fashion Week in Paris this year included (according to a report in London's Daily Mirror) a formal, plastic, nearly transparent bag, about 3 feet by 4 feet, designed to be worn over the head (from Dutch designers Viktor and Rolf); a set of deluxe armor plates, resembling football shoulder pads, and a helmet (from Alexander McQueen); and an outfit seemingly consisting of more than a dozen foot-long black tied bows extending from the shoulders to below the waist (Viktor and Rolf).

MILKY WAY

Mr. Ilker Yilmaz, 28, of Istanbul, inspired to bring pride to Turkey by achieving a Guinness Book world record, decided to challenge Canadian Mark Moraal's 8.7-foot mark for squirting milk out of his eye. In October, exploiting what he called an anomaly in his tear gland, he sucked milk up his nose and pinched it 9.223 feet out of an eye socket in front of several witnesses and is now awaiting official recognition.

WE PLAY IT DIFFERENT

In one of the stark reminders of regional language variations in the United States, a game resembling horseshoes is fast becoming a pastime in the Midwest that likely would not be so popular under the same name in the South. In this game, contestants throw beanbag-like bags of corn toward a platform that has a hole in the center, trying to score points (in the hole, on the platform or knocking your opponents' bag off the platform). Some refer to the game as Corn Toss, but the more popular name, according to a September report in the Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch, is Cornhole.

LAWS OF IRONY ENFORCED

Friends tried to persuade a 37-year-old man at a party near Greenville, Mich., in September that he was too drunk to drive home safely, but the man became enraged; in the ensuing brawl, the man was clubbed in the head with a flashlight and died. And parent Deborah Meister, 46, was charged with assault in Anchorage, Alaska, in September following a public meeting on school policies at Central Middle School; according to police, Meister roughed up an assistant principal because she thought he had been too cavalier about the problem of student bullying.

HONESTY WORST POLICY

It was one of the classics, but it happened anew, in Bloomington, Ill., in October. Donald R. Hilger was arrested and charged with robbing 11 local businesses over the previous two weeks. He was picked up shortly after a robbery of a Jewel/Osco store, and police brought two of that robbery's witnesses by the arrest scene to see if they could identify him. According to police, however, as soon as the employees spotted Hilger, Hilger pointed at one of them and blurted out, "That's the one I robbed."

GUIDED BY VOICES

Among the unsuccessful 2004 write-in presidential candidates, according to a November report on NJ.com: Jack Grimes of Maryland, who admires the leadership methods of Saddam Hussein but would rely on telepathy and astrology to make tough presidential decisions; Sterling Allan of Utah, who alphabetized and then numbered every word in the Bible and said that the codes he produced told him to return the United States to the gold standard, among other insights; and Randy Crow of North Carolina, who says that despite a government-implanted chip in his brain, his administration would crush the "Omega Agency," which steals from people, which staged the Sept. 11 attacks and which may have the ability to vaporize everyone.

TERMINAL CASE

A 47-year-old tribesman from Vietnam, who had relocated to a U.S. government-sponsored Montagnard community in North Carolina to escape persecution, got homesick and headed back to Vietnam in September. However, he lost his papers and is now stranded at Los Angeles International Airport because no country will issue him a visa, in a dilemma reminiscent of that of Merhan "Alfred" Nasseri, who has been chronicled several times in News of the Weird since 1988 (and in the recent movie "The Terminal") and who remains at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. The tribesman is convinced that his only chance of repatriation will be lost if he leaves the airport, but at press time, he was continuing to examine options while making his home in an airport chair.

BATHROOM BUSINESS

Katherine Williams was kicked out of the public library's community flea market in Spring Hill, Tenn., in October because she offered for sale a yellow duck-shaped bath sponge, larger than a football, that happened to vibrate (to the delight of her child, she said); city officials (who were apparently focused on the word "vibrate") concluded that it must be a sex toy and said her booth violated the town's adult-business law. And archaeologists excitedly announced in October that in examining ruins on the Wittenberg, Germany, property of 16th-century philosopher Martin Luther, they discovered the stone toilet on which he composed the manifesto that launched the Protestant Revolution. Luther suffered chronic constipation and thus spent much of his days on the toilet.

More by Chuck Shepherd

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