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Lead Story

In December a jury in Ellsworth, Wisconsin, deliberated for three hours before ruling against Stewart Blair, who sued his friend Maurice Poulin for injuries incurred when Blair tripped over a snowplow blade. Blair claimed that Poulin passed gas in his face, startling Blair and causing him to fall. As the jurors ceremoniously exited the courtroom, the foreman audibly passed gas as he walked by the judge.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

Police in Sao Paulo, Brazil, arrested master thief Robson Augusto Araujo in August and confiscated a stash of his business cards that included his firm name, “Thefts and Robberies, Ltd,” his job title, “Thief,” and the legend “325iS,” the model of BMW he specialized in stealing. The address on the card was fake, but the cellular phone number was real.

In August police in Chandler, Arizona, confiscated a videotape that was allegedly made by four teenage boys known as the Insane Skate Posse. The tape, designed to recruit new members for their gang, showed the boys having fun smoking marijuana, drinking beer, destroying a parked car, and making harassing phone calls.

In July the Catholic Church in the Netherlands announced they had reached an agreement with cellular telephone companies to sell them space on church steeples for antennas.

The New York Times reported in October that Kimberly-Clark Corporation had received a patent for synthetic feces, considered crucial for testing diapers and incontinence garments. Technicians had concluded that substances such as mashed potatoes, peanut butter, and canned pumpkin pie mix were inadequate because they separated into liquids and solids more quickly than feces.

The People’s Insurance Company of China recently began offering a marriage insurance policy in which a couple that divorces forfeits all premiums paid, but a couple that stays together 25, 40, or 50 years stands to gain substantial dividends.

Albert Einstein’s ophthalmologist, Dr. Henry Abrams of Loveladies, New Jersey, announced in December that Einstein’s eyes, which he removed during the scientist’s autopsy in 1955 and has stored in a safe-deposit box ever since, were for sale. Abrams said he expected they could bring $5 million.

Vermont Business Magazine reported last spring that the Holstein-Friesian Association, which exports pedigreed dairy cattle, gets shipments quickly to their clients in Europe and Saudi Arabia by delivering the cattle in Federal Express planes.


Sensitive people: Brenda L. Hunter, 31, of Zion, Illinois, allegedly shot her brother because she didn’t like the kind of cheese he was putting on their chili dinner. Michael R. Waggoner, 37, of Knoxville, Tennessee, allegedly shot a man five times in a bar because he thought the man had asked, “Have you got a light, baby?”; the man actually said “buddy.” Anthony Foti, 35, of Missasauga, Ontario, was charged with severely punching and kicking an elementary school principal because a teacher was wearing a skirt that was too short.

The Charlotte Observer reported in June that a Sanford, North Carolina, man drove to city hall wearing only a towel to complain that his water had just been shut off in the middle of his shower. After city officials pointed out that his account was overdue and that two warnings had been mailed, the man stood in line, paid his bill, and drove back home to finish his shower.

In June at a Denny’s in Liberty, Ohio, police officer Bradley L. Sebastian, who was tired of waiting for his food, stormed into the kitchen, held his service revolver to the cook’s head, and told her he would kill her if she didn’t hurry up. In August in Oklahoma City a Hardee’s restaurant worker, angry that a drive-through customer continued to complain about the delay in his order, stripped off his headset, ran to his car, grabbed his gun out of the trunk, and threatened the customer before fleeing.

WKID, a Christian-oriented radio station in Vevay, Indiana, was burglarized and set on fire in September, probably by a man who became angry earlier in the day when a DJ refused to play his request, “Don’t Take the Girl” by Tim McGraw.

Miscellaneous Eloquence

In January following a jury’s recommendation that Charles Scott Robinson be sentenced to 5,000 years in prison for each of six counts of rape of a three-year-old girl, which the judge ruled were to be served consecutively, Oklahoma City prosecutor Pattye Wallace said, “I don’t know if we’ll get more 30,000-year sentences or not, but [this one] was deserved.”

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/Shawn Belschwender.