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News of the Weird 10/27/11

by Chuck Shepherd

“My ultimate dream is to be buried in a deep ocean close to where penguins live,” explained the former Alfred David, 79, otherwise known in his native Belgium as “Monsieur Pingouin” (Mr. Penguin), so named because a 1968 auto accident left him with a waddle in his walk that he decided to embrace with gusto. (His wife abandoned the marriage when he made the name change official; evidently, being “Mrs. Penguin” was not what she had signed up for.) Mr. Pingouin started a penguin-item museum that ultimately totaled 3,500 items, and he created a hooded, full-body black-and-white penguin outfit that, according to a September Reuters dispatch, he wears daily in his waddles around his Brussels neighborhood of Schaerbeek.

Least Competent Criminals Bank Robbers Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) Thomas Love, 40, was arrested in New Castle County, Del., in October after he had walked out of a WSFS Bank empty-handed. According to police, Love had presented a demand note to a teller, who couldn’t make out the writing and handed it back, provoking Love to flee. (2) Henry Elmer, 56, was arrested in Yuma, Ariz., in October where he had just sat down to enjoy a beer at the Village Inn Pizza Parlor. Police identified Elmer as the man who just moments earlier had robbed the Wells Fargo bank in the same block and “fled” the few steps to the Village Inn (which is also just across the street from the Yuma Police Station).

Questionable Judgments “Snakeman” Raymond Hoser, of Park Orchards, Australia, was about to be fined in August for violating his Commercial Wildlife Demonstrator License—by failing to keep at least three meters’ distance between his venomous snakes and the public—when he hit upon a defense: He would prove that he had de-venomized the deadly taipan and death adder snakes by allowing them to bite his 10-year-old daughter on the arm. (Though both bites drew blood, the girl was otherwise unhurt. Said Hoser, “(I)f they’d been venomous, she’d have been dead in two minutes.”)

• For the 10-year remembrances of Sept. 11 this year, many cities recalled the tragedy with monuments and public events, including Washington Township, N.J., about 20 miles from ground zero. A large commemorative plaque was unveiled, but provoked immediate outrage because the only names on it were not victims’ but only the mayor’s and those of the five council members who approved the plaque. Said one retired police officer, “It made my blood boil.” (Mayor Samir Elbassiouny later apologized and ordered a steel overlay to obscure the politicians’ names.)

People Different from Us “Urban farming” is growing more popular among city-dwelling progressives committed to eating local foods, but that usually involves gardens in backyards. For Robert McMinn and Jules Corkery, it means raising two chickens in their one-bedroom apartment in New York City—just to have a supply of fresh eggs. “I don’t think it’s the ideal situation,” McMinn told the New York Daily News in October. However, he said, the hens are “cute. They’re fun to (watch) run around. They’re excited when we come home.” On the other hand, he said, “(T)hey poop everywhere.”

Fine Points of the Law A judge in Nice, France, ruled in September that Article 215 of the French civil code (defining marriage as a “shared communal life”) in fact requires that husband and wife have sex. A husband identified only as Jean-Louis B. had evidently lost interest years earlier, and his wife was granted a divorce. Apparently emboldened by her victory, she then filed a monetary claim against the husband for the 21-year-long lack of sex, and the judge awarded her 10,000 euros (about $13,710).