Photo of barrage balloon from America from the Great Depression to World War II, at the Library of Congress.
News of the Odd, March 2003
|Naked Man Dies in Confrontation with Cops|
The Oakland, California police department and California Highway Patrol have confirmed the death of an unidentified man who engaged in a struggle with police under an overpass. According to a police spokesman, two blasts of pepper spray and several blows with a wooden baton had no effect on the man, who was running naked down the street in front of Kaiser hospital, climbing poles, yelling to himself, and jumping on cars. Police say they never hit the man in the face, nor put any sort of hold on his neck. Sergeant Lou Cruz said that the man's "activity and demeanor were consistent with someone under the influence of some kind of narcotic."
(Oakland Tribune, March 31, 2003)
Shovel-Wielding, Underwear-Clad Man Wreaks Havoc
A man clad only in his underwear has been arrested for causing some £75,000 (almost $120,000) damage to shop fronts along the main streets of Cardiff, Wales. According to the South Wales Police, Andrew Roxberry, an unemployed man with 217 prior offenses, smashed two windows in one shop with a bottle, then, "Having gained the appetite for breaking windows, he picked up a shovel used by workmen and went on to smash 43 windows in total at a further 22 shops." Security cameras recorded his destructive orgy, which ended only when the police arrived. Roxberry has refused to speak since his arrest.
(BBC, March 28, 2003)
You Only Had to Ask
The tugboat was moored in the Khawr abd Allah River, which separates Kuwait from Iraq. A British team boarded it on the first day of the war, looking for mines or other explosives, but found nothing. An American Coast Guard cutter checked it later in the day, and it came up clean. The next day, two Australian inflatables went out to run one final check. They did something neither the Americans nor the Brits had considered: They asked whether there were explosives on board. According to one of the Australian officers, they asked, "So, mate, have you got any weapons or explosives on board?" The tugboat captain "drew a picture showing how the 45-liter steel drums lined up on the deck had been welded together and then split down the middle to make a hinged shelter for dozens of mines," and said, "Explosive! Explosive!" pointing to the drums and a raft towed behind the tug.
Ships carrying humanitarian aid cannot proceed upriver to the port of Umm Kasar until the channel is cleared of mines. The river is being checked by an Australian warship, six British minesweepers, a Sea Stallion helicopter, a Polish ship and a US coastguard cutter. The port itself is being cleared by divers and two trained dolphins.
(The Age, March 27, 2003)
Canada Man Charged with Sex in Museum Barn
A visitor to the Canada Agriculture Museum, in Ottowa, was arrested after museum employees found him receiving oral sex from a cow and her calf. David Sutin, a spokesman for the museum, said, "His, I would characterize it as nervous, behaviour during previous visits had us keep an eye on him and then with what happened yesterday we thought it was prudent to call the police." The incident allegedly occurred in a public barn, but no other museum patrons witnessed it. He has been charged with two counts of bestiality, one count of committing an indecent act and one count of mischief.
(Canoe, March 27, 2003)
World's Largest Rubber Band Ball is Giant Flop
Tony Evans, of Swansea, Wales, spent five years creating the world's largest rubber band ball. Six million rubber bands, many of them sent to him by well-wishers and fans, went into its construction. It weighs 2,600 pounds. And Tony wondered, What would happen if I dropped it? Thanks to Ripley's Believe It or Not, now he knows. Nothing much. The producers of the Ripley's television show flew Tony, his wife and his ball to America, where they toured the country and then dropped the ball from a plane, a mile up, over the Mojave Desert. Twenty seconds later, there was a puff of dust, and the ball, slightly smaller now, lay beside a 9-foot crater in the desert floor. Thousands of rubber bands were scattered around the hole, but the ball had, spectacularly, failed to bounce.
Tony, who has raised more than £1,000 ($1,500) for charity by asking people to sponsor individual bands in his ball, says he is not disappointed. "I couldn't keep the ball in the house anyway," he explained, "and it was a great experience going to America." Ripley's has offered to purchase the ball, which is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records, for inclusion in its museum.
(icWales, March 27, 2003)
Child Saves Kitten from Python
Marlie Coleman, a 6-year-old girl from Cairns, Queensland, has become the youngest person, and the first female, ever to receive the RSPCA Australia's Humane Award, for her bravery in snatching her kitten from the coils of a scrub python. The Humane Award is given to a person who has risked his or her personal safety to rescue an animal. Previous winners have been honored for such feats as dragging a dog from a burning house and being hit by a car while rescuing a koala.
Marlie was outside when a python slithered into the yard and attacked her kitten, Sooty. She grabbed the snake, and it let go of the kitten, but sank its teeth into Marlie's lip. Marlie's mother, Shakira, heard her daughter screaming and rushed outside to find the little girl standing by the barbeque with a snake attached to her face, sobbing, "Snake tried to eat Sooty." Shakira pulled the snake off and rushed Marlie to the hospital. Marlie still bears scars from the attack, but Sooty has recovered completely from her injuries. The snake was unharmed, and fled the scene.
RSPCA Queensland chief executive officer Mark Townend said, "The RSPCA does not want to see children place themselves in danger. However, this little girl, who was only five at the time, showed exceptional bravery. Marlie performed a selfless and courageous act on behalf of her kitten friend and she has captured the spirit of animal welfare."
Scrub pythons are non-venemous, but they can grow to nearly 10 feet, and have long, sharp teeth. They feed upon small, warm-blooded animals, and will bite if they feel threatened.
(news.com.au, March 27, 2003)
Toupee-Stealing Hawk Forced to Retire
Harry the Hawk, a popular performer from Thorp Perrow Arboretum, in Yorkshire, will not being doing any more live displays. Tom Graham, who owns Harry, cited a string of incidents that culminated in Harry stealing, and attempting to eat, an audience member's toupee. The toupee debacle was the result of a "bunny dummy" stunt, in which a piece of brown fur is thrown into the audience for the hawk to retrieve. Harry landed on a man in the audience, then took off with the man's toupee clutched in his talons. By the time we got the toupée off Harry, it had a bald patch. The crowd thought it was part of the act but the owner was a bit disgruntled, Graham said. Previously, Harry had punctured a bouncy castle, and walked through an ice cream vendor's stock. "He just became too mischievous and was doing his own thing," Graham explained. "He was losing his fear of people. But he has been a brilliant bird over the years. He is certainly a character." Harry will now be retired to the Arboretum's breeding program, after 15 years in the spotlight. One presumes he will enjoy his new career.
(The Sun, March 27, 2003, and Ananova, March 25, 2003)
Man Gives Weapons to Priest
A Catholic priest in Italy was receiving the confession of a man who suddenly handed him a bag. "I'd like you to take these as well," he said. Inside, the priest found two handguns, two hand grenades, and 18 bullets. He immediately handed the weapons over to the police. Due to the sacrament of the confession, the priest cannot reveal what, if any, crimes the man may have confessed to, but says that, ''I am just happy that he wanted to change his life, return to the Church and that he came to us for help.'' A police spokesman has said that the weapons have been sent to a ballistics lab for testing.
(Ananova, March 27, 2003)
Researcher Describes Bi-Sexed Finch
John Wingfield, an ornithologist at the University of Washington, has published an article in the journal Nature describing his work with a half-male, half-female finch born at Rockefeller University, in New York. The finch's body was evenly split between male and female, with a testis on the side sporting the bright colors of the male finch, and an ovary on the side dressed in the drab plumage of the female. Its brain, too, was divided; the male half was larger, to accommodate the male's library of complex songs. It sang like a male, and mated with a female finch, but was unable to fertilize her eggs.
Wingfield's research suggests that the differences between male and female brains are affected by more than sex hormones, as both halves of the finch's brain would have received hormones from each of its gonads.
The unlucky finch was euthanized when it was less than two year old.
(Sci-Fi Today, March 26, 2003, and Nature, March 25, 2003)
Man Electrocuted by Homemade Sex Toy
A 65-year-old man in Spain has been killed by an experiment in erotic electricity. Police entered his apartment after a female acquaintance reported him missing, and found him dead, with an "adapted voltometer" attached to his genitals. He apparently suffered a heart attack when he administered an electric shock to himself. Police say that the television was on, and there was a pornographic movie in the VCR. Foul play is not suspected.
(World Online , March 26, 2003)
Homicidal Dancer Convicted, Sentenced
The 21-year-old Norwegian ballet dancer who denied killing the dead prostitute found in his apartment has been sentenced to 15 years "preventive custody." The sentence may be extended if the court feels that he continues to present a danger to society.
The dancer admitted to picking the woman up, but said that she had died suddenly; fearing he would blamed for her death, he decided to dismember her body. At the last moment, though, he panicked and called his mother instead. The autopsy concluded that the woman was probably strangled, but that she might have died from a heroin overdose.
The court examined the dancer's journals, which chronicled an obsession with "death, murder, mutilation of corpses, necrophilia, serial killers, violent pornography and more," notes detailing methods for picking a victim, committing murder, and disposing of the body, which the dancer said he must have written, since they were in his handwriting, and evidence of his correspondence with British serial killer Dennis Nilsen, whom he calls his "best friend."
The dancer's mother says that her son has always had an active, if morbid, imagination, fuelled in part by his admiration for Michael Jackson's Thriller video.
(Aftenposten Norway, March 26, 2003, and related articles)
Pedophile Surprised by Cops
David C. Budina, of South Florida, was arrested Saturday when he arrived at the home of a 14-year-old girl he intended to have sex with. He had emailed her a nude picture of himself, after getting her address from a 16-year-old girl. She notified her parents, who called the police. A sheriff's department investigator deputy sat with her while she set up a date via instant messaging. Budina slipped into the house, carrying a camera, two condoms, and a lint roller, and knocked quietly the girl's bedroom door. It was opened by a sheriff's deputy. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office has said they have no idea what Budina intended to do with the lint roller. He is being held on a $135,000 bond, for transmission of material harmful to minors.
(Sun-Sentinel, March 25, 2003)
Man Eaten by Bed
A man in Germany had to be rescued after he became stuck in his folding bed. He was trying to pull a blanket out of a drawer built into the side of the bed when it suddenly folded up, trapping him inside. Neighbors eventually heard him screaming and called police, who managed to extricate him from the bed. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.
(Ananova, March 25, 2003)
Love Hurts. So Do Knives.
A woman from Westchester, New York is in police custody after a "bizarre" sex game went terribly wrong. Police say that Sheila Davalloo, 33, and her 36-year-old husband, Paul Christos, were playing a game involving handcuffs and a blindfold, when Shiela got a paring knife from the kitchen and stabbed Paul in the chest. Deputy Police Commissioner William Rehm says he isn't certain whether that was part of the game or not. Paul begged his wife to take him to the hospital, and she finally agreed, but stabbed him again when they got to the hospital parking lot. Passersby heard them arguing in the car, and someone called 911. Paul underwent surgery for stab wounds to the chest and back; Shiela fled, but was quickly apprehended. She is being held without bail.
(Newsday, March 25, 2003)
Unidentified Flying... Cat?
Investigators in Norway believe that the UFO sighted in Lardal recently was most likely a dead cat. A number of peope reported seeing a fireball that exploded in the sky and then drifted to earth. After the sighting, investigators found the charred body of a cat near some electrical lines. It appears that the cat climbed the power pole and touched a live wire, electrocuting itself and creating a sensation in the nearby town.
(Ananova, March 25, 2003)
Children Attacked by Headless Corpse
A group of children in Wales are receiving counselling after a headless corpse fell on them from above. The children were playing under a bridge near their suburban homes, when the body of a man in his 50s plummeted from the sky. The man had apparently hanged himself, with a wire noose, from the 40-foot-high bridge; when he dropped, the noose decapitated him. His head was found nearby.
(The Sun, March 25, 2003)
Drunk Driver Caught Grazing in Field
Police in Belgium have arrested a man they found grazing in a field. Witnesses said they saw Jurgen Tersago crawl out of his car and into the field. When police arrived, Tersago was down on his hands and knees, grunting like a pig and munching grass. A subsequent test revealed that his blood alcohol level was over the legal drink-drive limit. During his drunk driving trial, he told the judge, "I like eating grass, especially when I'm drunk. It tastes like spinach." He was fined £680, about $1000, and had his driving priveleges suspended for 45 days.
(Ananova, March 24, 2003)
Joyriding Teen Killed with Shovel
A teenager in Winnepeg, Canada was killed in a bizarre game involving a shovel and a stolen car. Fourteen year old Roger Ledger and his friends stole a Chrysler Intrepid, and began to play a game in which someone would throw a shovel through the open window of the car each time the driver brought it around the block. During one round, the shovel hit Ledger in the head, killing him almost instantly. His friends panicked and fled. Police found Ledger's body in the abandoned car the next morning. Criminal charges will likely be filed.
(AZCentral, March 24, 2003)
"Stolen Baby" Case Takes on a New Twist
Melinda Kelley, who over the weekend called 911 to report that her car had been stolen with her infant son inside, now faces charges of filing a false report, and of burglary. Kelley has admitted that she broke into a home in Glenville, New York, then forgot where she parked her car. She called the police, claiming that her car had been stolen while she was shopping in nearby Scotia. The car, and the baby, were found a short while later, but Kelley's wallet had been stolen while the unlocked car was parked.
(News 10, March 24, 2003)
Bird Takes DNA Sample for Police
Police in Minnesota say they may have a bird to thank for obtaining a DNA sample from a suspect in a sexual assault. The unidentified victim described how a man entered her home around 2:30 AM, came into her bedroom, jumped on top of her, and put a pillow over her face. During the ensuing struggle, she was able to push the pillow aside for long enough to see his face and his Minnesota Vikings jacket. Then, she heard her attacker say, "Ouch." Suddenly, he threatened to kill her bird and left the apartment. Police arrived after a neighbor who had heard her screaming called 911. They found blood on the sheets, and also on the bird's beak. "The beak on this bird looks to be pretty sharp. I wouldn't want it biting me," said Stan Johnson, a sheriff's department investigator. The blood will be compared to a sample taken from Kaai.
(Star Tribune, March 22, 2003)
Dead Cat Closes Bridge
The Fred Hartman Bridge and Houston Ship Channel were closed for nearly an hour while authorities inspected a mysterious box. A tugboat operator had called the Coast Guard to report that someone in a small boat had placed the box on one of the bridge supports. The boat was stopped, and the package x-rayed. It turned out to contain a dead cat. The cat's name, and its dates of birth and death, were written on the side of the box. Coast Guard spokesman Rob Wyman praised the operator for reporting the incident. "This is a great example of exactly what we have been asking the maritime community to do. We are very pleased it worked out the way it did," Wyman said.
(Houston Chronicle, March 21, 2003)
UFO Watcher Claims Saddam Has Alien Technology
Bre, a UFO expert from New Zealand, says President George Bush launched an attack against Iraq this week to keep Saddam Hussein from using the technology he acquired when an alien spacecraft crashed in Iraq in 1998. He said that normally, the president of the United States would not have a high enough security clearance to have been told about Saddam's secret weapon. "You have to have MK Ultra clearance, before you are given access to such things as reverse engineering alien technology," he said. But former President George Bush Senior was once head of the CIA, and he told his son what he knew about Iraq's alien technology. One of Bre's American correspondents claims that former President Bill Clinton also knew Saddam's secret. She told Bre in an email that Clinton decided against attacking Iraq in 1998, after Saddam expelled the United Nations' weapons inspectors, for fear he would use alien technology against the American military.
(Stuff, March 21, 2003)
Drunken Burglar Asleep at His Post
A bar owner in Romania has caught a thief who passed out after sampling several of the pub's expensive liqueurs. He had entered the building from the roof, and pocketed what money he could find, then turned to tippling. After tasting some whiskey, and a few other drinks, he fell asleep, and the owner found him in the morning. He called the police, but not before presenting the sleepy felon with his bar tab, which amounted to about £60, or $93. Police say the man had robbed another bar the day before. He faces three or more years in prison.
(Ananova, March 21, 2003)
Dead Drunk in a Dryer
A woman in Lake Carmel, New York called the police when she saw what appeared to be a human leg sticking out of a dryer at her local laundromat. When the cops arrived, they found that the man wasn't dead, merely drunk. He said he was walking home from a nearby bar, and ducked into the laundromat to get warm. Police say there's no law against sleeping in a dryer, so no charges will be filed.
(AZCentral, March 21, 2003)
Man Loses Finger Showing How He Lost Thumb
Keith Sanderson, a British machine operator who sliced off his thumb with a guillotine machine at a kitchen worktop factory near Newcastle lost part of his finger when he tried to demonstrate to his bosses how the first accident happened. The company, which admitted to breaching the the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974, has been fined. "It was a regrettable and unfortunate incident," said a company spokesman. "Keith has not yet returned to work but he has the option of coming back to work with the company."
(IOL, March 20, 2003)
Smelly Potato Closes ER
An emergency room near Minneapolis, Minnesota had to be closed while the postal insectors and the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI investigated a suspiciously foul-smelling white envelope at a post office downtown. The hospital was treating a postal employee who was complaining of a "headache and burning sensation," which he believed was related to handling the envelope at work. The envelope, which was addressed to U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), turned out to contain a small slice of rotten potato and a note which read, "Have a french fry." "We assume it is a political statement having to do with the House changing French fries to Freedom Fries" said Postal Service spokesman Jim Ahlgren said. The note was not threatening, and there is no law against mailing rotten food; officials do not, therefore, plan to take any further action.
(Star Tribune, March 19, 2003)
Unidentified Human Remains Identified as Director of Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love
A body discovered in the Mississippi river, near St. Paul, Minnesota, has been positively identified as Tim Lee, cofounder of the Outward Spiral Theatre Company and managing editor of Lavender Magazine. Lee, who had been receiving treatment for depression and anxiety,was reported missing on October 28. His body was found March 17. The death is presumed to be an accidental drowning.
(Star Tribune, March 19, 2003)
Saint Peter Loses Keys to Heaven
A 13th-century statue of St. Peter has lost its right hand, which held the keys to heaven. The statue stands at the entrance to the grottoes under St. Peter's Basilica, where the Saint is supposed to be buried. Vatican officials first suspected vandalism in the the disappearance, but now believe that the hand was stolen.
(SF Gate, March 13, 2003)
"Extra-Terrestrial Culture Day" Proposed
Rep. Dan Foley, R-New Mexico, has introduced a bill that would designate the second Thursday in February as "Extra-terrestrial Culture Day" in the United States. He says he would like the U.S. to recognize "the many visitations, sightings, unexplained mysteries and technological advances... of alien beings" in New Mexico. Roswell, New Mexico is famous as the place where an alien space ship supposedly crash-landed in 1947. Every July, a week-long festival in Roswell commemorates the event; Foley would like to see its benefits spread to the rest of the state. "If we can capitalise on something that did or did not happen in 1947 then it can help the entire state," he said. He also admitted that the bill was introduced in an effort to lure film companies to Santa Fe.
(BBC, March 12, 2003)
"Telegrams" to the Dead
Paul Kinsella, a freelance cartoonist from New Athens (pronounced NOO AY-THUNZ), Illinois, has launched a new service he calls "Afterlife Telegrams." For $5 per word, anyone who wishes to can send a message into the Beyond, by means of a terminally ill messenger. Kinsella doesn't keep any of the money; it is used to pay the messenger's medical bills, and he promises it will be refunded if the messenger fails to die within a year. So far, only one messenger has signed up--he is a family friend suffering from necrotizing pancreatitis, which causes the pancreas to destroy itself. When asked why he volunteered to carry a message into the afterlife, he said, "I've known Paul since he was a little boy and I don't have anything to lose doing it . . . Why not?" The message he will carry is from a Washington Post humor columnist who sent it as a punchline for his column. Kinsella admits that some messages may not get through. According to the service's website, "Reincarnation could cause a problem. By the time the telegram can reach the addressee, he could already be back on Earth," or, "The afterlife could be so chaotic and confusing that it might be impossible to find a specific person. We cannot [even] rule out the possibility that there could be no afterlife at all." And sending a telegram might not even be necessary. "It could also be that the addressee is now omnipotent and knows everything anyway." Kinsella does wonder why the service has not proven to be more popular, but according to an online psychic he consulted, most people would rather get messages from the afterlife than send notes to their dearly departed.
(Chicago Tribune, March 11, 2003)
Sheep's Head Cracks Fan's Head
Norwegian death metal band Mayhem is being sued by a fan who claims a sheep's head flew off the stage during a recent show in Bergen and fractured his skull. The group was dismembering the sheep as part of their stage act. The victim, Per Christian Hagen, says "My relationship to sheep is a bit ambivalent now. I like them, but not when they come flying through the air. I have a headache now." He has filed involuntary assault and battery charges against the band, which has offered him free tickets to a future concert.
(Ananova, March 10, 2003)
Stolen Diamond "Slides" Home
A diamond stolen from a jewelry store in downtown Chicago has been recovered. According to police, after Peter Mannix, 40, asked to see several diamonds at the store, "He picked one up and then started coughing and covered his mouth to cough. Then he returned the diamond. But it wasn't the same diamond. It was a piece of junk. He tried a switch. And the jeweler started screaming. They held him until our guys got there." When the police arrived, though, they discovered that Mannix had swallowed the stone. This created a problem. As Pat Camden, a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, phrased it, "We've got a suspect with a large 3-carat diamond in him, but he can't be charged until that diamond is recovered and it hasn't yet, completely," Camden said. "They say it's about $40,000 worth of diamond, lodged in his lower intestine, according to the X-rays. Three carats is a lot of carats. It's a big stone." Doctors advised against giving Mannix laxatives, fearing that the diamond could damage his intestines if its path was forced. Instead, they suggested that the police feed him regularly. The officer responsible for inspecting the contents of Mannix's toilet was also put in charge of his new diet of "sliders," those notoriously soft, steamy, bite-sized burgers from White Castle. "Just regular sliders," said one cop. "Onions, with everything, no cheese." Four days later, the diamond emerged, and Mannix was charged with theft. He is being held on $60,000 bail.
(WMAQ-TV, March 10, 2003)
Ronald McDonald Hanged
A Ronald McDonald statue stolen from a bench outside the Ronald McDonald House in Billings, Montana on March 5 has been found hanging from a tree. The statue disappeared sometime between 1:30 AM, when the mother of a child staying at the home remembered seeing it, and 10 AM, when a tearful 3-year-old noticed the big yellow clown's absence. It was found the next day, dangling from a tree limb with a noose around its neck. The Ronald McDonald house provides free lodging to the families of children undergoing medical care.
(Billings Gazette, March 8, 2001)
(It's an old story, but the picture was too good to pass up)
Scottish Shop Girl Smothered in Beans
A young woman working in a shop in Edinburgh went to the police after a man who claimed he was raising money for Comic Relief poured baked beans and other foodstuffs over her bare feet, then took pictures of the mess while she sat with eyes closed and tried to guess what he'd doused her with. She wasn't harmed in the odd assault, and no money was taken from the store; she wasn't even alarmed at first. It was only after her friends pointed out that the man was "obviously a complete weirdo" that she phoned the police. A spokeswoman for Comic Relief said, "This man did not ask for money. If he was doing this for charity, I imagine he would have asked for money. We never encourage people to carry out fund raising projects on strangers."
(BBC, Reuters, March 7, 2003)
Little Girl Mistakes Used Condom for Balloon
A man in Calgary has described to city officials how his 4-year-daughter, Amber, walked into the house last year with a used condom and asked, "Daddy, can you blow up this balloon?" "She had a condom at her mouth that was filled with sperm. The rest was history from there," said Kevin Lavoie. The Lavoie family home is in an area frequented by prostitutes. Amber is still being tested for infectious diseases; her father is working with the Block Watch to fight prostitution in the neighborhood.
(Canada.com, March 7, 2003)
|*Indicates a dead link which has been removed.|
All content is © 2002-2003 Chia Evers, unless otherwise noted, but may be freely copied and redistributed, so long as proper credit is given and all links to this site are left intact. News of the Odd and Today in Odd History are Chia Evers. All other logos, trademarks and news photos are the property of their respective owners. Permission to reproduce articles posted on this site may be obtained here.