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Sunday August 18th 2019

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News of the Weird 6/1/17

By Chuck Shepherd

Smooth Reactions (1) Police in Cleveland are searching for the woman whose patience ran out on April 14 awaiting her young son’s slow haircut at Allstate Barber College. She pulled out a pistol, took aim at the barber and warned: “I got two clips! I’ll pop you.” (She allowed him to finish up —more purposefully, obviously—and left without further incident.) (2) Barbara Lowery, 24, was arrested for disorderly conduct in Cullman, Alabama, in May after police spotted her standing on a car, stomping out the windshield and smashing the sun roof. She said it was a boyfriend’s car, that she thought he was cheating on her, and that she had spent the previous night “thinking” about what to do, “pray(ing) about it and stuff.” (However, she said, “I did it anyway.”)

Update The impending retirement from public life of Britain’s Prince Philip, announced in May, has likely quashed any slight chance he will visit the Imanourane people on Tanna (in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu)—tragic, of course, because Tanna’s Chief Jack and his followers continue to believe Philip descended from their own spiritual ancestors and has thus dominated their thoughts for the last seven decades. In fact, when Tanna was in the path of Cyclone Donna in May 2017, the Imanourane were quickly reminded of Philip’s continuing “powers.” (Philip has never visited, but Tannans have long prayed over an autographed photograph he sent years ago.)

A News of the Weird Classic (October 2013) The story of Kopi Luwak coffee has long been a News of the Weird staple, begun in 1993 with the first reports that a super-premium market existed for coffee beans digested (and excreted) by certain Asian civet cats, collected, washed and brewed. In June (2013), as news broke that civets were being mistreated — captured and caged solely for their bean-adulterating utility—the American Chemical Society was called on for ideas how to assure that the $227/pound coffee beans had, indeed, been expelled from genuine Asian civets. Hence, “gas chromatography and mass spectrometry” tests were finally developed to assure drinkers, at $80 a cup in California, that they were sipping the real thing.

People Different From Us In March, an electrician on a service call at a public restroom in Usuki, Japan, discovered a crawlspace above the urinal area, which had apparently been a man’s home (with a space heater, gas stove and clothing). Investigators learned that Takashi Yamanouchi, 54, a homeless wanderer, had been living there continuously for three years—and had arranged everything very tidily, including the 300-plus plastic two-liter bottles of his urine. (It was unclear why he was storing his urine when he resided above a public restroom.)

No Longer Weird News that was formerly weird but whose patterns more recently have become so tedious that the stories deserve respectful retirement: (1) On May 5, an elderly woman in Plymouth, England, became the most recent to drive wildly afield by blindly obeying her car’s satellite navigation system. Turning left, as ordered, only to confront a solid railing, she nonetheless spotted a narrow pedestrian gap and squeezed through, which led to her descending the large concrete stairway at the Mayflower House Court parking garage (until her undercarriage got stuck). (2) Police in East Palestine, Ohio, said the 8-year-old boy who commandeered the family car and drove his sister, 4, to the local McDonald’s for a cheeseburger on April 9 was different from the usual underaged drivers in that he caused no problems. Witnesses said he followed traffic signals en route, which the boy attributed to learning from YouTube videos.