News of the Weird

Lead Stories

According to a December Boston Globereport from Xi'an, China, the Three Brothers Scorpion Restaurant claims to be the first in the country to reintroduce the 18th-century fascination with the scorpion into domestic cuisine, based on the health benefits. Scorpion venom (reduced in potency by a six-month process of preparation) is believed to aid against fever, chills, skin problems, immune disorders, bad kidneys and possibly tumors. Other favorite dishes of the Three Brothers are silkworm larvae, cicadas on sticks and poisonous tree ants.

Erik Sprague, 27, a doctoral student in philosophy in Albany, New York, has undergone several body modifications (teeth sharpened, tongue forked, forehead bumps implanted, "scales" tattooed) in order to appear like a reptile, according to December wire service reports. Sprague, described as an "excellent" student by a professor, told reporters that he knows of four other people who have made such "single-theme conversions" (as a zebra, tiger, leopard and a giant puzzle called "The Enigma"). He will appear on the TBS show Ripley's Believe It or Not this month.

Cultural Diversity

Latest from Weird Japan: Nonordained "pastors" in Tokyo are exploiting the Japanese fascination with Christian weddings (1 percent of Japanese are Christian, but 70 percent of all weddings are), according to a September Reuters news service report; the fake ministers' justification: The Bible condemns holy marriages of a believer to a nonbeliever but does not mention marriages of two nonbelievers. And in May, a Times of London story reported the frequent installation in Nagasaki and other cities of "unwanted-dog postboxes" into which pets can be directly placed for pickup if the owners tire of them.

Our Animal Friends

In July police in Dhaka, Bangladesh, rescued two spider monkeys that were chained up in a drug seller's house. To reduce human intervention in drug sales, said police, signs ordered customers to pay the monkeys in either of two denominations, which the monkeys could distinguish by color, after which the monkeys would fetch the appropriate quantity of drugs from their hiding places.

Least Competent Criminal

Ski-mask-wearing Floyd Brown, 24, was charged with robbing a Holiday Inn in Anchorage, Alaska, in November, apparently oblivious of the 40 police officers just off the lobby in a law-enforcement training conference (advertised on the marquee out front).

Unclear on the Concept

After protests in October, Grand Canyon University, a small Christian college in Phoenix, canceled its scheduled "Assassins" fund-raising game, in which gun-carrying players pay for the privilege of shooting colleagues with Nerf darts, with the last one standing getting a restaurant certificate. Many students originally failed to connect the game to recent school violence, such as the freshman woman who told a reporter, "This is a Christian university, so we know the difference between right and wrong."

 
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