News that Matters
Thursday April 17th 2014

On Sale:

Follow the Blog

Archives

News of the Weird 8/11/11

by Chuck Shepherd

For years, many traditional funerals in Taiwan—especially in rural areas or among working classes—have included pop singers and bikinied dancers, supposedly to entertain the ghosts that will protect the deceased in the afterlife. According to a recent documentary by anthropologist Marc Moskowitz, some of the dancers until 20 years ago were strippers who did lap dances with funeral guests, until the government made such behavior illegal.  Contemporary song-and-dance shows, like the traveling Electric Flower Car, supposedly appeal to “lower” gods who help cleanse the deceased of the more mundane vices such as gambling and prostitution (compared to the “higher” gods who focus on morality and righteousness).

Can’t Possibly Be True Tennessee State Rep. Julia Hurley apologized in July and said she would pay for the refinishing of her desk in the legislative chamber after it was revealed that she had carved her initials in it during a January session. “It was like one in the morning on the last day of the session,” she told WSMV-TV. “I wasn’t thinking straight.”  Rep. Hurley, 29, who has a daughter, 14, unseated a nine-term incumbent legislator in 2010 with a campaign that touted her time as a Hooters waitress. “If I could make it at Hooters,” she wrote in the restaurant’s magazine, “I could make it anywhere.”

Unclear on the Concept Georges Marciano, co-founder of the clothing company Guess? Inc. and ostensibly in no trouble with IRS, nonetheless demanded in 2009 that the agency audit him over the previous several years. IRS turned him down, and he sued the agency in federal court in Washington, D.C., but in July, a judge rejected the case, declaring that federal law and the U.S. Constitution do not give anyone a “right” to demand that IRS collect more taxes from them. (Marciano perhaps hoped for IRS to uncover cheating by his former employees and accountants, whom he thought were stealing from him. Paying higher taxes might have been worth it if the agency had made it easier for him to sue any cheaters.)

Helping Disaster Victims: (1) In May, following near-record floods in fields south of Montreal, Quebec, farmer Martin Reid made sure to apply for his fishing license because he had learned the hard way that when his land gets flooded, he cannot remove the fish washed onto it unless he is a licensed fisherman. After flooding in 1993, Reid and his father failed to secure a license and were fined $1,000. A second offense brings a fine of $100,000. (2) Two weeks after the catastrophic April tornadoes hit Alabama and neighboring states, Bailey Brothers Music Co. of Birmingham offered to help. To soothe those suffering depression and grief from devastating property losses, Bailey Brothers sponsored weekly drum circles.

Police Blotter In June in the Houston suburb of Alvin, Texas, a petite, 42-year-old Walmart customer came across three men running out of the store carrying shoplifted beer. She decided that it was up to her to take a stand because, as she said later, she was “sick of the lawlessness.” The woman (whose name, coincidentally, is Monique Lawless) chased the men, climbed onto the hood of their getaway car, even jumping up and down on it, to delay their escape. The three were eventually arrested: Sylvester Andre Thompson and his brothers Sylvester Durlentren Thompson and Sylvester Primitivo Thompson.

Recent Confusing Headlines (1) If Yogi Berra Wrote the Headline: “Woman Missing Since She Got Lost” (Chicago Sun-Times, 5-17-2011). (2) Please Explain: “Teen Dies of Shaken Baby Syndrome” (Chicago Tribune, 3-9-2011). “Man With Clown Nose in New Cumberland Poses No Serious Threat” (Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa., 7-3-2011). (3) Run for the Hills: “Return of the Giant Carnivorous Hermaphrodite Snails” (Yahoo News-LiveScience.com, 6-3-2011). (4) Not What You Think: “Showboat Casino Hotel to Become First Dog-Friendly Casino in Atlantic City” (Press of Atlantic City, 2-3-2011) (Guests’ dogs can be admitted to the floor, but dogs are still forbidden to play poker.)

People With Issues The usual furtive restroom photographer is male, but sheriff’s deputies in Plantation, Fla., arrested Rhonda Hollander, 47, in July and charged her with several misdemeanors and a felony stemming from an episode in which she allegedly followed a man inside the men’s room at the West Regional Courthouse and snapped photos of him at a urinal. Hollander insisted she had violated no law, and indeed the charges against her were only for conduct after she was confronted by deputies (when she continued to take pictures as they led her away). Hollander is actually Judge Hollander, who works in the building as a traffic magistrate.