News of the Weird

Urine trouble

On Feb. 23, a woman asked a clerk at a convenience store in McKeesport, Pa., to "microwave something for me. It's a life-or-death situation." The clerk complied, but when she realized that the item might be a severed penis, she called police. The woman later explained that it was a dildo-shaped container of urine because she had to be drug-tested for a job and needed urine heated to "body temperature." Unexplained in subsequent press accounts was why she stored the urine in that type of device. She was charged with criminal mischief for contaminating a microwave food oven.

one too many beanballs

Former Major League Baseball all-star Darren Daulton, 44, told the Philadelphia Daily News in February that he now understands dimensions of reality that few of his fellow Earthlings know. He first experienced this power after delivering a game-winning hit in the 1990s and breaking into tears after the game, discovering that "I didn't hit that ball. Something happened, but it wasn't me." Later, Daulton said, he was "awakened" to realms beyond those covered by the five senses. Things will become clearer on Dec. 12, 2012, at 11:11 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time, he said, because that's when the world will end.

smothering relationships

Twice in a two-week period, couples were found asphyxiated and enjoined in sexual positions in cars whose engines had been running in closed garages. A New York City couple, ages 28 and 21, who had been dating about a month, died in March, and a Milwaukee, Wis., couple, ages 23 and 17, died in February in a car whose engine had quit (though still with plenty of gas) because the concentration of carbon monoxide had prevented oxygen intake to the engine.

streaming images

The publisher Powerhouse Books (and its imprint Rosen Editions) is preparing for the imminent release of photographer Ellen Jong's Pees on Earth, a series of shots of Jong urinating in prominent public spots around the world. Jong is a mainstream professional whose non-urinary work has appeared in Vogue and other publications.

Turn On, Tune In, Drop Off

A 27-year-old woman was arrested in League City, Texas, in February after police discovered her 6-year-old daughter wandering around her empty school yard on a Saturday morning. The woman said she dropped the kid off, as usual, but that she was distracted and didn't realize it was Saturday.

Ruff life

During President Bush's recent trip to India, 17 Secret Service Labradors and German shepherds accompanying him (each with its own police "rank," such as "lieutenant") were housed in five-star hotels in Delhi, according to local press stories (Delhi police dogs, assisting in the same missions, went home to kennels). Faring less well was one of the three teams of search-and-rescue dogs assigned to find Hurricane Katrina victims, which had to be sent home in March because of a hotel-booking snafu, for which FEMA and Louisiana officials blamed each other.

veiled criticism

In March, New York Times fashion writers noted that the decision of several designers to shroud runway models' faces in various ways during the annual Paris Fashion Week in February and March must be sending some message. Among the devices designers used: masks (making some models resemble "Hannibal Lecter in drag," according to one critic), woven basket-like coverings and burqa-type swaddling. Guesses on designers' motives included a reflection of general world gloom; tributes to the plight of Muslim women; and designers' fear of beautiful faces distracting from their designs.

Stealing home

Increasingly, police departments and government offices (customs agencies, NASA, even the FBI) rely on state-of-the-art investigation support from the Target Corp. (as in Target department stores), according to a January Washington Post report. Target's world-class forensics lab in Minneapolis is the first choice by many departments for examination of surveillance tapes and other evidence, and it was Target in the mid-1990s that finally moved agencies to coordinate previously incompatible databases of criminals (treating the felon population as a nationwide "inventory control" problem). A Target executive said he works for "a high-tech company masquerading as a retailer."

Cheating death

In March, students at Mount Saint Vincent University in Bedford, Nova Scotia, persuaded the administration to prohibit professors from using any plagiarism-detecting aid, to avoid (said the student union president) a "culture of mistrust." And students at Banja Luka University in Bosnia-Herzogovina protested in February the economics faculty's decision to install surveillance cameras during exams. "Cheating in exams," said one student, "is a part of our Balkan mentality, and it will take years to change students' (attitudes)."


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