Lead Stories

World’s greatest athletes: According to the company supplying condoms for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Olympic officials have requested 51 condoms per participant for the 17-day event. One athlete interviewed by the London Daily Telegraph said, “Three a day sounds too many.”

Five people were indicted in Texas in August for kidnapping a pig. The animal, which had just appeared in a livestock show contest in Houston, was spirited away to another show in San Angelo, where it won first place, worth $4,000. Under the rules of the first contest, all losing pigs automatically became the property of a slaughterhouse.

No Spin Doctors in Alberta

In May a judge in Red Deer, Alberta, sentenced Nelson Dicks, 32, to 21 days in jail for making a false claim on an unemployment insurance form. Dicks, a first-time offender, received the unusually harsh punishment after he told the judge that times were hard and that he might be forced to illegally apply for benefits again, provoking the judge to ask him, “So you’ll lie again?” Responded Dicks, “You’re damn right.”

More Punishment Needed

In August Douglas Illingsworth, 83, had his driver’s license suspended for a year by a court in Barnsley, South Yorks, England, after tying up traffic several times by driving less than 15 miles per hour on thoroughfares. And in Dale City, Virginia, in June, a 30-year-old motorist was beaten with a steering wheel locking device at a traffic light by a 33-year-old woman who was incensed that he had been driving too slowly.

Don’t Step in the Feng Shui

In May residents in the village of Qiongshan in Guangdong province, China, blew up a brand-new bridge on a main route because they believed it had been constructed in violation of the principles of feng shui. New York feng shui authority Eliza Arekelian told the London Independent that scaffolding collapsed in Times Square in July partly because the nose of a Concorde jet on a nearby billboard was pointing the wrong way. And Newsweek reported in May that business was booming for New York City “smudger” Eleni Santoro, who charges real estate agents $200 an hour to erase the negative energy from a property.


Just before an April angling tournament in Appling, Georgia, Verdell James, 70, sneezed his $300 dentures into Thurmond Lake and had to fish them out. And in July near Calgary, Alberta, a 19-year-old man being pursued by police after he hijacked a car dumped the car and hid out in some tall grass in a field but blew his cover when he couldn’t suppress a sneeze.

Weird Science

Nissan’s quality-assurance director at its plant in Sunderland, England, announced in July that the company had developed a substance based on the most destructive forms of bird poop throughout the world to test its cars’ paint jobs. Said the director, “It looks like the real thing: it’s white, it’s viscous, and it smells horrible.”

In July in the remote Australian town of Ravensthorpe, recently arrived doctor Steve Hindley saved the life of 23-year-old football player Hayden McGlinn, who had suffered a rapidly hemorrhaging head injury. Dr. Hindley cleaned off a rusting brace-and-bit drill from a woodshed and made a hole in McGlinn’s temple to relieve the pressure, which allowed time for him to be sent to a hospital in Perth.

Physicist Juan Atanasio Carrasco announced in August in Guijuelo, Spain, that he was using CAT-scan technology to determine how salt makes its way through delicate Iberian hams as they’re cured.

Mrs. Xian’s delight: In March China’s Xinhua news agency reported that surgeons at a military hospital in Chongqing had successfully removed the two smaller of 32-year-old farmer Xian Shihua’s three tongues, enabling him to eat and speak comfortably for the first time in 20 years. The tongue he was born with is 13 inches long (about 6 inches is normal); the other two (about 3 inches each) had grown in during adolescence.


News of the Weird reported that in January of this year the executor of the estate of the late Larry Lee Hillblom (founder of DHL, the international courier service) agreed to pay $90 million each to four Pacific Islands teenagers if they could prove paternity using Hillblom’s DNA. Shortly afterward, the children’s lawyers reported that not only had all of Hillblom’s belongings disappeared from his house in the Northern Mariana Islands but that the house had been sanitized to such a degree that not even a single hair could be found from which they could extract his DNA. In June a former Hillblom associate was identified as a suspect in the cleaning.

Thinning the Herd

In September at a bar in Porto Heli, Greece, British vacationer Daniel Littlewood, 23, died after boasting to a female companion that he was impervious to pain; he had instructed her to place a Swiss Army knife against his abdomen while he leaned into it, but he miscalculated how much force to use. And in August Ivory Coast army colonel Pascal Gbah, 49, shot himself to death while testing a “magic” belt that the manufacturer (Gbah’s cousin) said would protect the user from gunfire.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611.

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