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Chuck Shepherd's hilarious "News of the Weird" column runs in newspapers nationwide. It is also distributed via E-mail a few weeks after each column's appearance in print. The E-mail version will be presented on this page (unedited, except for HTML formatting) as a service for my users. If you enjoy this column, send me a note and let me know!

("News of the Weird" is Copyright 1998 by Universal Press Syndicate). Onward to this week's goodies!

WEIRDNUZ.553 (News of the Weird, September 11, 1998)
by Chuck Shepherd

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* Beyond Global Warming: According to two physicists from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, whose work was reported in an August issue of The New Scientist, Hell is certainly very hot (833 degrees Fahrenheit), but so is Heaven (about 450 degrees). The researchers used passages in the Bible reporting that "brimstone" (sulphur) boils in Hell and that Heaven contains "sevenfold" the light of the sun for seven days.

* Among the street theater performances at New York City's International Fringe Festival in August: a 45-minute satirical bigoted rant against hunchbacks from Nebraska; a six-person troupe performing Eugene Ionesco's "Bald Soprano" play continuously, 24 times in 24 hours; and "Brown and Blue," an "ode to excrement," celebrating not its dirtiness but, according to the performer, "what a simple way it [presents] to look at things."

* About 25 employees of the meticulously-maintained Boston Public Library had grown so close to their work that they had to use the city's grief-counseling services in August after a burst water main flooded a building and soaked 50,000 cartons of books. Said a library executive to a Boston Globe reporter, "It's a process just like when someone dies." One employee complained of nightly panic attacks in which she recurringly dreams of the flooding but cannot save the books.

Bottom of the Gene Pool

* Police in Bonita Springs, Fla., charged Randall James Baker, 45, with aggravated battery in August for shooting his friend Robert Callahan in the head and sending him to the hospital. A Sheriff's spokesman said Baker and Callahan had a playful tradition between them of trying to shoot the little button off the top of any baseball- type cap either of them acquired, but that this time, alcohol played a bigger role than usual.

The World Series of Selfishness

* Vying with David Cash (widely reported in the media recently for refusing to stop his best friend from killing a 7-year-old girl in a Las Vegas casino and then taunting his critics by pointing out that his notoriety has helped him meet women): Young director-actor Vincent Gallo, who savaged Robert DeNiro and other actors in a Hollywood Reporter interview in August, and added, "I like that girls recognize me from my work because it's easier to talk them into fellatio." Also, Scott Johnson, father of one of the Jonesville, Ark., middle-school shooters, criticized authorities after his son's sentencing hearing in August, pointing out that the youth camp to which little Mitchell was headed had a poor reputation and (through his attorney) that school officials shared the blame for the shootings.

Recent Feeble Reactions

* Tony Faulks, 39, convicted in July in Sioux Falls, S. Dak., after police found the $1,300 in marked bills from a robbery in his underwear: He said he doesn't trust banks and thus always keeps his money down there. And Mr. Siut Cheng, attempting to get out of a speeding ticket in July while hauling a van full of lobsters: The best he could think of, allegedly, was to offer the New Jersey trooper a bribe of five lobsters. And former Nazi camp guard Jack Reimer, testifying at his citizenship revocation trial in New York in August, answering charges that he fired his gun into a group of Jews in Trawniki, Poland, in 1941: He shot them, but he thought they were already dead.

Wedding Bell Blues

* The Hindustan (India) Times reported in July that a bride called off her wedding in the town of Hapur, near New Delhi, because she was upset that the groom had begun drunkenly insulting everyone in sight. All was not lost, however: A guest at the wedding immediately proposed to the woman, and the new couple were married later that evening. And in August in Heraklion, Crete, according to a stringer for London's Guardian newspaper, another wedding was aborted when the bride caught the groom the night before sharing the soon-to-be conjugal bed with his best man.


* In July, three men linked to the Republic of Texas separatist group were arrested in Brownsville, Tex., and charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. According to the FBI, they had threatened several state and federal officials, with their most ambitious plan to shoot President Clinton with a modified Bic lighter (propelling air instead of propane) firing a hypodermic needle, out of which would be shot a cactus thorn that had been dipped in anthrax or botulism. The attorney for one of the men called the alleged plan so "cockamamie" that the government should not take it seriously.

* Thomas Stanley Huntington, 52, pleaded no contest to fraud in Aztec, N. Mex., in June in a scheme to sell "California Red Superworms," which he swore could eat up nuclear waste. He told buyers (who paid $125 a pound) that a nearby radiation-waste cleanup plant would buy all the worms they could breed, but it was left to the state attorney general to inform the buyers that worms can't do that.

* In April, Hong Kong kitchen worker Yung Kwong-ming, 34, was ordered into mental health counseling for his scheme of offering a teenage girl a free gynecological exam provided she immediately give him a urine sample and her underpants. Incredibly, his first try was successful, but a second young woman he pulled the scheme on called the police, who set up a sting.

* Herb Cruse, 77, was arrested in Charlotte, N. C., in August and charged with extortion against the Carmike Cinema chain for a fanciful scheme in which he claimed to have put his aunt's cremated remains into a popcorn machine at a Carmike outlet and threatened to expose the theater for selling "cannibal corn." Cruse told reporters in after his arrest that (1) he didn't really do it, but (2) he did put some ordinary ashes into a Carmike popcorn machine several years ago because he was mad at the company, and (3) he mailed the company a letter of apology in March 1998. However, federal prosecutors said he had contacted the company again recently to try to extort money and cited a flyer in a theater parking lot reprising the "cannibal corn" story and inviting aggrieved patrons to sue the theater.

Least Competent Criminals

* Four teenagers were charged with misdemeanors in Oxford, Ohio, in August for egging the houses of city officials in a dispute over the town's water tower. Police identified the boys by looking at the surveillance video at the town's only grocery store and locating the scene the day before in which four kids happen to buy a large quantity of eggs.

Recurring Themes

* Several times in its 10 years, News of the Weird has reported convictions of young women who dressed as young men (including bandaged their breasts) in order to date and to have sex (in the dark, obviously) with presumably heterosexual young women. In June, Angela Marie Hoyle, 22, was sentenced to six months in jail for her 10-month relationship with a 14-year-old girl in Gastonia, N. C., during which she used a strap-on device to have sex. Said the victim, "I [hadn't ever] had sex or did anything with another person, so I thought [this way] was normal."

No-Fault Infanticide

* Tanya Denby, convicted in Newport News, Va., in August of beating her three-year-old daughter to death by excessive punishment: "I can't see my baby anymore, but she's in a much better place. I'm glad God took her." And Patricia Wells, indicted in April in Camden, N. J., for aggravated manslaughter after six kids (including one of hers) died as the van she was driving (at 70 mph in a 25 mph zone with no license and a .151 blood-alcohol level) crashed: "It was the children's time to go, and God wanted those children."


(Revised September 1, 1998)

NEWS OF THE WEIRD, founded in 1988, is a nationally syndicated newspaper column distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, Kansas City, Mo., 816-932-6600. The unexpurgated columns are also distributed free, by e-mail, anywhere from four to twelve weeks after publication in newspapers (depending on how busy the volunteer Webmaster is). Subscribe by sending a blank message with the Subject of Subscribe to For more information on the mailing list, and to read archived columns from the last six months, go to To word-search specific News of the Weird stories from the past six years, go to the Universal Press Syndicate site at Please do not contact Chuck Shepherd about the mailing list.

THE COLUMNS: The date on the column is the suggested newspaper publication date. Each story in News of the Weird comes from a daily newspaper or the equivalent (no supermarket tabloids, no first-person stories), usually within 4-20 weeks of the newspaper publication date, and a reader who would like the citation to a story should write Chuck at

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PAPERBACK BOOKS: There are 5 News of the Weird books in print, available at large bookstores or via (which does not pay for this plug). Search under Chuck Shepherd.

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