Pensacola, Florida
Friday March 24th 2017

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News of the Weird 3/16/17

By Chuck Shepherd

Entrepreneurial Spirit Perhaps there are parents who (according to the Cinepolis movie chain) long to watch movies in theaters while their children (aged 3 and up) frolic in front in a “jungle-gym” playground inside the same auditorium. If so, the company’s two “junior” movie houses (opening this very week in San Diego and Los Angeles) may bring a new dimension to “family entertainment.” Another view, though, is that the noise (often “screaming”), plus the overhead lighting required for parents to monitor their tykes’ equipment-usage, plus the planned $3-per-ticket surcharge, will soon create (according to the Guardian critic) a moviegoing “apocalypse.”

Can’t Possibly Be True (1) The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in January granted IBM’s 2010 application for a patent on “out-of-office” email message software (even though such messages have, of course, been ubiquitous for two decades) after the company finally convinced examiners that its patent had enough software tweaks on it to qualify. (Critics, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, laughed at the uselessness of the tweaks.) (2) Also in January, the office granted Daniel Dopps a patent for “adhesive vaginal lipstick,” which his Mensez Technologies claims can cause the labia minora to tighten so strongly as to retain menstrual fluid until the woman can deal with buildup in privacy.

News of the Pretentious Why live with a cat if one cannot take it out for some wine together? The Apollo Peak in Denver and the Pet Winery in Fort Myers, Florida, serve a variety of the real grape to humans and nonalcoholic proprietary drinks for the kitties to enjoy tableside (or underneath). “Pinot Meow” ($12) in Denver and “Meow and Chandon” ($15) in Fort Myers, are specialties—basically watered catnip, according to a February New York Times report (so the felines can also get buzzed). The wine outing is the human’s preference, of course, with a loftier cachet than the “happy hour” most cats might prefer (say, a “sardine bar”).

Wait, What? Anglers fighting to preserve choice spots on the fishing pier on Sebastian Inlet, north of Vero Beach, Florida, have taken to tossing lead weights and other items at “competitors,” especially those who approach the pier to fish directly from their boats. Such territory marking by the “piersters” includes, according to a February report in Florida Today, perhaps a version of classic mammal behavior, like strategic urination and hurling their feces at the waterborne invaders.

Government in Action Illinois has problems: a $130 billion unfunded pension crisis, 19 months without a budget, the lowest credit rating and highest property taxes in the country, and the murder rate in Chicago. However, at least the state house of representatives is not standing by idly. In February, it moved to designate October 2017 as Zombie Preparedness Month (basically, adding “zombie invasion” to the list of mobilizations for any natural disaster and urging residents to stockpile food and supplies for up to 72 hours).

Bright Ideas A councilman in Overtornea, Sweden, introduced a bill (a “motion”) that workers be given paid “sex breaks” during the business day in order to improve well-being and, thus, job performance. The primary beneficiaries would be married, fertile couples, but all workers would receive the benefit. And employers, said Councillor Per-Erik Muskos, would have to “trust” their employees because some surely would “cheat” (by not having sex!).

Wrong Place, Wrong Time “Life’s full of peaks and valleys, man,” Californian Georgiy Karpekin told a reporter, but Jan. 18 seemed all valley. Karpekin has both a pickup truck and a car, and as he was leaving Sacramento City College that day during violent storms, a falling tree crushed the truck. When he got home, he learned that the same storm had taken down another tree—on top of his car. (Karpekin, insured and uninjured, called himself “the luckiest guy.”)

Readers’ Choice Miami defense lawyer Stephen Gutierrez caused quite a spectacle on March 8 when, representing a man accused of arson, he rose to address jurors, and his pants appeared to catch fire. He insisted afterward that a malfunctioning e-cigarette caused smoke to billow from his pocket, but observers had a field day with metaphors and “stunt” theories.

A News of the Weird Classic (June 2013) Chengdu, China, barber Liu Deyuan, 53, still provides traditional “eye-shaving,” in which he holds the lid open and runs a razor across its inner surface. Then, using a thin metal rod with a round tip, he gently massages the inside of each lid. Liu told Chengdu Business Daily in April (2013) that he had never had an accident (though the reporter balked at volunteering for him), and a highly satisfied customer reported afterward that his eyes felt “moist” (surely the easiest part of the story to accept) and his vision “clearer.”