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News of the Weird 5/2/13

By Chuck Shepherd

Well-Earned Retirement In March, twin sisters Louise and Martine Fokkens, 70, announced their joint retirement after more than 50 years each on the job—as Amsterdam prostitutes. (In February, the minimum age for prostitutes in the Netherlands was raised to 21, but there is no maximum.) The twins estimated they had 355,000 client-visits between them, and Martine noted that she still has one devoted regular who she’ll have to disappoint. Louise, though, appeared happier to hang up her mattress for good because of arthritis. The sisters complained about the legalization of brothels in 2000 (with East European women and pimps out-hustling the more genteel Dutch women) and ensuing taxation (which required the women to take on more clients).

Cultural Diversity “Traditional Taiwanese funerals (combine) somber mourning with louder, up-tempo entertainment to fire up grieving spirits,” reported BBC News in February. They are tailor-made, in other words, for Ms. Liu Jun-Lin, 30, and her Filial Daughters Band with their acrobatic dance routines because Liu has the reputation as Taiwan’s most famous professional mourner. After the musical festivities, Liu dons a white robe and crawls on her hands and knees to the coffin, where she “performs her signature wail.”

• Imagine the Person Who First Suggested This: The newest beauty-treatment rage in China, according to Chinese media quoted on the Inquisitr.com website in March, is the “fire facial,” in which alcohol and a “secret elixir” are daubed on the face and set ablaze for a few seconds, then extinguished. According to “ancient Chinese medicine,” this will burn off “dull” skin—and also alleviate the common cold and reduce obesity.

Latest Religious Messages New York City Councilman Dan Halloran was charged in April with aiding state Sen. Malcolm Smith’s alleged bribery scheme to run for mayor—thus bringing Halloran’s extraordinary back story light as the first “open” pagan to be elected to office in the U.S. Halloran converted in the 1980s to medieval Theodish, whose outfits and ceremonies resemble scenes from Dungeons & Dragons—horns, sacrifices, feasts, duels using spears and public floggings. (The Village Voice reported in 2011 that Halloran was the “First Atheling” of his own Theodish tribe of 100, called New Normandy, but Halloran said in April that today he is merely an “elder.”)

• The Lord Works in Strange Ways: At least 11 people were killed and 36 injured on March 15 in Tlaxcala, Mexico, when a truck full of fireworks exploded as Catholic celebrants gathered. Rather than remain in the safety of their homes, they had been moved to honor Jesus Tepactepec, the patron saint of a village named after him.

Weirdo-American Community The man who was “citizen of the year” in Waynesville, Ohio, in 2006, businessman Ron Kronenberger, 53, was charged in January with belt-whipping one of his tenants on his bare buttocks—though he had a good reason, he said, because the tenant was late again with the rent. A magistrate said he intended to drop the charge in six months if Kronenberger stayed out of trouble, but in March, a man who worked for Kronenberger filed a lawsuit accusing him of spanking him on four occasions, using a belt and a paddle.

Least Competent Criminals Questionable Judgment: The Narcotics Task Force of Jackson County, Miss., arrested Henry Ha Nguyen, 41, in April as operator of a large marijuana grow house—a facility that would normally reek of the distinctive pot fragrance. However, Nguyen had thought of that and tried to mask the smell, but chose the alternative scent produced by buckets full of what appeared to be human feces. {in}