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Sunday December 21st 2014

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News of the Weird 6/9/11

By Chuck Sheppard

In Chinese legend, tea leaves picked by fairies using not their hands but just their mouths yielded brewed tea that would bring prosperity and cure diseases, and now the historic, picturesque Jiuhua Mountain Tea Plantation (in Gushi, Henan province) has promised to hire up to 10 female virgins to provide the equivalently pure and delicate tea leaves, picked with the teeth and dropped into small baskets worn around the women’s necks. According to an April report in London’s Daily Mail, only virgins with strong necks and lips (and a bra size of C-cup or larger), and without visible scars or blemishes, will be considered for the equivalent-$80-a-day jobs (an almost unheard-of salary in China, especially for agricultural field work).

NOTE: Last month, News of the Weird reminded readers, with examples, that bizarre human adventures repeat themselves again and again. Here are a few more recent selections of previous themes:

• The person in the news most recently for slipping and falling on a banana peel might be Ida Valentine, 58, who filed a lawsuit in February against the 99 Cents Only chain after slipping on one while shopping in its store in Fontana, Calif., in April 2010. The fall, she said, left her with a herniated disk and tissue damage.

• News of the Weird has reported several times on the confusion many art gallery visitors reveal in evaluating “abstract impressionist” pieces when they compare them to random scribblings of toddlers (and animals, such as chimpanzees and elephants). In April, academic researchers at Boston College reported that, indeed, gallery patrons correctly differentiated serious works from squiggles only about 60 percent to 70 percent of the time. Commented one survey subject, apparently realizing his confusion: “The chimpanzee’s stuff is good. I like how he plays with metaphors about depth of field, but I think I like this guy (Mark) Rothko a little bit better.”

• The powerful suction of swimming pool filters can trap not only toddlers against the drain but a grown man in excellent physical condition, according to a lawsuit filed in May by the family of the late John Hoy Jr., who drowned when unable to pry himself loose from the vacuum drain of a hot tub at the Sandals resort in Nassau, Bahamas, in 2010. (The most notorious drain-pegging of all time was perhaps a 1994 incident at a Scottish Inn motel in Lakeland, Fla., when a 33-year-old guest’s penis became stuck in the drain, apparently as he was testing the filter’s suction. That story did not appear in News of the Weird, but several sources cite a July 1994 story in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.)

• British welfare benefits are being reduced in two years, but for now, work-shunning parents who blithely navigate a series of government “support” payments can make a nice living for themselves. Kathy Black, 45, of East Hanningfield, Essex, with 16 children by six fathers thus qualifies for the equivalent of at least $1,000 a week (the take-home pay of someone earning the equivalent of $68,000 a year), and child support from one of the fathers adds even more to her account. Black’s second husband, her 17-year-old son and her 22-year-old daughter spilled secrets of her irresponsibility to a Daily Mail reporter in February.

• Least Competent DIY Homeowners: Reports still frequently emerge of homeowners battling household pests, yet only creating an even worse problem (as if the pests ultimately outsmart them). In recent cases, for example, Robert Hughes tried to oust the squirrels from his townhome in Richton Park, Ill., in March, but his smoke bomb badly damaged his unit and his neighbor’s. (Firefighters had to rip open the roof in the two units to battle the blaze.) Two weeks after that, in Mesa, Ariz., a man set his attic on fire trying to get rid of a beehive with brake fluid and a cigarette lighter.

• Beauty contests for camels are very big business in Saudi Arabia, as News of the Weird reported in 2007, but the first one in Turkey (in Selcuk) was held in January and featured considerably lower-market camels. (The Turkish winner had been purchased for the equivalent of $26,000; a Saudi camel once won $10 million in a single show.) Judges supposedly look for muscle tone, elegance of tail wag and tooth quality, according to a January Wall Street Journal dispatch. Charisma is also important, according to one judge. “Camels,” he said, “realize that people are watching them (and) are trying to pose.” “Some will stop, open their back legs, and wave their tail, or (throw) their head back and moan … this is the kind of posing we (judges) are looking for.”

• From time to time, someone visiting his bathroom looks down and finds eyes of a critter staring back at him from the toilet bowl. In March, Dennis Mulholland, 67, of Paisley, Scotland, encountered a 3-foot-long California king snake hiding in the bowl after escaping from elsewhere in the building. In December a woman in Edmond, Okla., had a similar experience with a squirrel, which, hypothesized police, might have crawled through a sewer drain.

• “Personal body orifices,” as storage units for contraband, seem more than ever in vogue. Recent inventories made by police of suspects’ vaginas included LSD in aluminum foil and marijuana in two sandwich bags (woman in Englewood, Fla., January); pills (woman in Manatee County, Fla., February); heroin (woman in Scranton, Pa., March); a fraudulent driver’s license and credit card (woman in Lee County, Fla., May); and pills and a knife (woman in Fort Myers, Fla., May). Rectal safe-keeping included a man with a baggie of marijuana (Louisville, Ky., March); a man with a marijuana pipe (Port St. Lucie, Fla., May), and a man with 30 items inside a condom (Sarasota, Fla., February), including a syringe, lip balm, six matches, a cigarette, 17 pills and a CVS receipt and coupon.