Having a cow 


Cow-patty bingo games continue to be the rage at state fairs and charity fund-raisers, despite a recent protest by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals at an event at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. In the game of patty cakes, a field is divided into squares, money is bet on each square, and a winner is declared by which square receives the first cow deposit. But in February, PETA accused organizers of the Florida Southern event both of physical abuse -- feeding the cows laxatives, which the organizers denied -- and emotional abuse, because it is such a "demeaning" and "silly" game.

Talk isn't cheap at Enron

Among the absurdities touching Enron Corp. was a report by a former employee, broadcast by NBC News, that the company ran a mock trading floor in its Houston headquarters, furnished with desks, large flat-panel computer screens and teleconference rooms, for the sole purpose of making visitors believe the company furiously traded commodities full-time. In reality, revealed the employee, the equipment was only hooked up internally. The employee "traders," who appeared to be frantically placing orders, were merely talking to each other.

The Domino theory

In February, a workplace-dispute murder in Menlo Park, Calif., was facilitated by the killer's phoning in a pizza order to Domino's and waiting until the delivery man innocently got the victim to open the door and present himself as a gunshot target. After the shots were fired, according to a neighbor who was interviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle, the pizza deliverer fled in fear. But a few minutes later another Domino's man arrived, gathered up the left-behind pizzas and resumed the delivery route.

Not quite the Special Olympics

In March, Lee Damron, 48, and Richard Cavalier, 59, dueled over a handicapped parking space in front of Oak Hill Hos-pital in Spring Hill, Fla. Damron used a sword which he carried with him, and Cavalier used a registered 9 mm handgun. The wheelchair-bound Cavalier prevailed, the gun being mightier than the sword.

Easy targets

Thomas Mitchell was convicted of shooting his girlfriend in Galveston, Texas, in February; she had uttered the name "New Jersey" to him, which he said was one of four names that totally enrage him. The other unmentionable names: Wisconsin, Snickers and Mars bar. Meanwhile, in Albuquerque, N.M., Leon Watson, 22, was arrested for severely beating his 2-year-old son. Watson said the kid had given him a "mad-dog" look reminiscent of gang members staring down their rivals.

Rocking the boat

The Federal Court of Canada decided in February that Hugh Trainor was entitled to veterans' benefits for service during World War II despite the fact that he had been ruled medically unfit to become a member of the armed forces. The court ruled that Trainor's boat ride from Prince Edward Island to his physical exam at the recruiting-station in Nova Scotia qualified as service because it was dangerous, in that German submarines were thought to be operating in the Atlantic Ocean at the time.

The cost of freedom

A 73-year-old woman in Geneseo, Ill., was trapped by a spring-loaded newspaper vending machine in a Wal-Mart for 20 minutes until an employee volunteered to put another 50 cents in the machine to free her. ... A 23-year-old man in Bend, Ore., who was shot in the leg, cut the bullet out himself with an X-acto knife and sold it back to the shooter for $200 to hinder the prosecution's case against him. ... A protester in Amsterdam shot himself to death after taking 18 hostages and forcing a standoff with police in the former world headquarters of Philips Electronics; the man had been upset at misrepresentations about the quality of picture he would receive on his 16-by-9-inch television screen.

Laugh lines

Ted Hudson was arrested in Casper, Wyo., in January for allegedly setting up a secret video camera in his boss's bathroom and catching the boss's wife showering. He tried to tell the boss it was just a practical joke. ... Deputy sheriff Gabriel Bruno was arrested in January and charged with placing feces in the sinks of two Rhode Island Superior Court judges. He told told authorities it was just a practical joke. ... And, in March, Idaho state Rep. Kent Higgins presented two colleagues who are early-childhood-education advocates with an "award": an old, swastika-adorned photograph of an Aryan child from the Nazi Germany breeding-scheme collection. He later told stunned legislators that it was just a little joke.


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