Lead Stories

On January 1, 32-year-old John Guth and 24-year-old Jeff Tweiten parked themselves outside the Cinerama multiplex in Seattle, announcing that they intend to wait there until tickets go on sale for Star Wars: Episode II–Attack of the Clones, scheduled for release on May 16. Tweiten said that he’s engaged in an art project on “waiting for something” and that he’s keeping a log of his experience. “I’m becoming very aware just how long an hour is,” he said. The distributors have not even confirmed that the film will be shown at the Cinerama.

Earlier this month prosecutors in Greenbelt, Maryland, finally charged 55-year-old Josephine Gray with the murders of her first and second husbands, in 1974 and 1990. Law-enforcement officials have long been stymied by witnesses who disappeared or recanted, claiming that Gray would use voodoo on them. One relative of Gray’s second husband said that Gray could control the man as long as he was eating her cooking but that he returned to “his old self” when he ate elsewhere. Other relatives said a spell she once cast on the first victim caused him to scratch his face to shreds.

Our Civilization in Decline

Thailand’s minister of tourism said a 27-hole golf course would be built at the juncture of his country, Laos, and Cambodia, with nine holes in each nation, though the territory was heavily mined by the Khmer Rouge; the minister believes golfers will fly in from all over the world for the challenge.

Can’t Possibly Be True

Last December in New York City a jury found 37-year-old Elbert Marcel Mitchell, a crack addict with a long rap sheet, guilty of raping an 81-year-old woman and strangling her to death with a dog leash. His defense attorney, Valerie Van Leer-Greenberg, insinuated during the trial that the victim had paid her client $20 for kinky sex, consenting to the strangulation as part of an erotic game.

James McClurken, a heart surgeon at Abingdon Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Pennsylvania, was performing a routine bypass operation on 70-year-old Donald Morehouse when he discovered an old wound caused by an object entering and exiting the heart. Morehouse had taken a slug in the Korean War but was told by doctors that it had missed the heart; in fact it had passed through so quickly that the wound closed with no ill effects.

Last November the Wilmington Morning Star in North Carolina reported that a state inspector, using new guidelines from the state’s Early Childhood Environmental Rating System, had downgraded the Kids Gym Schoolhouse day-care center after finding nine plastic toy soldiers in a play area. “These figures reflect stereotyping and violence,” wrote the inspector, “therefore credit cannot be given.”

Last August the corrections department for the District of Columbia admitted that a deaf-mute man suffering from serious mental illness was detained for 669 days on a misdemeanor charge (ultimately dropped) because it had lost his file. Jail records show that the man never had visitors, not even the required public defender. The department director said it was “kind of unbelievable to me.”

Least Competent People

On October 30, 2001, the police blotter in California’s San Jose Mercury News reported that a mysterious bag of white powder had been found in the waiting room of Good Samaritan Hospital the previous week. “The area was evacuated and the bag was secured by hospital staff and security personnel. Before the fire department or police department arrived, a security guard smelled and tasted the powder.” The guard determined that it was not anthrax.

No Longer Weird

Added to the list of stories that were formerly weird but now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (49) The hit-and-run driver who’s oblivious to the victim (or parts of the victim’s vehicle) being embedded in the grille or windshield of his car (Pueblo, Colorado, in November). And (50) the criminal suspect cornered by a police dog who manages to bite the dog before it subdues him (Virginia Beach, Virginia, in December).

In the Last Month

In Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, a 28-year-old Japanese woman was found frozen to death in the snow six days after she showed up in Bismarck, North Dakota, searching for the money buried by Steve Buscemi in the movie Fargo….A court ordered a Tokyo hospital official to pay a colleague about $2,350 for verbally assaulting him at a board meeting, calling him “an idiot” or “a moron” 74 times….And an environmental official in Kagoshima, Japan, was arrested for threatening to knife a bar owner if he didn’t start sorting his garbage as directed by law.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.