Lead Story

“It was one thing to believe in the sexuality of the cello, but it was an entirely different thing to express those beliefs in front of an audience,” said Jesse Hale in September of her experience as part of the CJ Boyd Sexxxtet, a group of like-minded cellists (plus other instrumentalists) that tours the country performing experimental music in the nude. Hale, a music major at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, told the school’s paper that she’d “always had the desire to play naked” and that she’d been doing so since sixth grade.

Election Roundup

The Utah attorney general’s office announced on election day that it would investigate voting complaints in Daggett County, where the estimated 2005 population was 943 but 947 voters were registered this year. Meanwhile, balloting for the mayoral race in Waldenburg, Arkansas (population 80), finished in a two-way tie at 18 votes each; Randy Wooten, who came in third with zero votes, said he knew he had voted for himself and would decide whether to file a protest. At a polling station in Lysowice, Poland, where elections were also held in November, an official became upset over alleged irregularities, gathered a pile of unused ballots, and locked herself in a toilet stall until police talked her out. And two weeks after finishing more than a million votes behind incumbent senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, Libertarian candidate Steve Osborn requested a recount of ten precincts.

Government in Action

In November officials in Powys, Wales, sent a warning letter to the local Black Mountains Smokery recommending that it change the name of its Welsh Dragon Sausages to make clear what kind of meat is in them. (It’s pork.) And USA Today reported in October that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had revised its grant guidelines to allow federal funding of abstinence education programs aimed at unmarried adults up to age 29.

Fetishes on Parade

The Guardian reported in October that a magistrates’ court in Liverpool, England, had issued a temporary order forbidding 45-year-old Akinwale Arobieke to “touch, feel or measure the muscle area of any person, or request . . . any person to carry out squat exercises.” Also in October, in Melbourne, Australia, 30-year-old Rodney Petersen pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft but still faced more than 100 further charges of theft and stalking. According to police, Petersen, formerly a courier of lost airline luggage, regularly removed head and pubic hairs from women’s bags; in a search of his home and van officers reportedly found at least 80 labeled hair samples, plus notebooks containing the names and personal information of 365 women.

Cultural Diversity

News of the Weird reported in 1995 on Jukka Ammondt, a Finnish professor who performed the songs of Elvis Presley in Latin. He’s still at it, and according to an October BBC News report a surprising number of Finns share his fondness for the ancient language: the Finnish EU council Web site provides a Latin version of its newsletter, and a news broadcast in Latin on national radio–the only one in the world–draws about 75,000 listeners each week.

Police Blotter

From the Morning Sentinel of Waterville, Maine, November 10: “6 p.m., a woman said she suspected someone had sabotaged her washing machine. A police investigation concluded that an imbalanced laundry load had caused the shaking.”

Least Competent Criminals

Amateurs: A 17-year-old boy was arrested for attempted burglary in Lynnwood, Washington, in October after a home owner said she saw him trying to open the back door of her house by reaching through the dog door; allegedly he was still trying when police arrived. According to KOMO TV, it was the second time in five months he’d been caught employing this method, and investigators pointed out that experienced burglars tend to avoid houses with dog doors because they often indicate the presence of a dog. And in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in November 21-year-old Leah Jarolimek was arrested for forgery after allegedly trying to pass a $20 bill that was blank on one side.

Snakes to People: Put Us Down

An unidentified 48-year-old woman died of a snakebite suffered during a November service at East London Holiness Church in London, Kentucky, apparently becoming the latest very unsuccessful practitioner of snake handling. (A neighbor of the church who claimed to have seen such activity there before told the Lexington Herald-Leader, “I don’t have no dealings with those snakes. But they seem to handle them pretty good.”) And according to an October police report, officers responding to a domestic disturbance call in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, were held at bay by a 36-year-old woman brandishing five poisonous snakes. (She and her husband reportedly operated a pet store.) The snakes bit her repeatedly on the face and arm, causing her to bleed and swell up, and eventually police subdued her with a Taser; she spent three weeks in the hospital and was charged with reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.

Send your weird news to Chuck Shepherd, Chicago Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611 or to weirdnewstips@yahoo.com. © 2006 Chuck Shepherd

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