News of the Weird

Lead Story

According to a February Wall Street Journal report, the annual "Milk Bowl," featuring competition between college teams for the national championship of dairy sniffing, crawls with corporate recruiters seeking to sign the nation's top flavor-evaluation talent, at starter salaries of up to $40,000. Mississippi State's three-person squad won the 1999 contest in October, winning "ice cream" (by coming the closest in agreement with professional judges as to sensory quality), finishing second in "cheddar" and "yogurt," third in "cottage cheese" and "milk," and fifth in "butter."

Undignified Deaths

A 58-year-old man was killed when his small construction truck accidentally fell into a 25foot-deep hog-manure lagoon near Laverne, Oklahoma, in December (though divers could not find the body in the muck for 18 days). The same fate befell a 23-year-old man in December when his out-of-control pickup truck smashed through a fence in Orono, Maine, and landed in a 400,000-gallon tank of raw sewage. And a 57-year-old man accidentally asphyxiated in Duluth, Minnesota, in December; his body was found stuck head-first in a sump drain in his basement.

People Who Are Not Like You and Me

In January, Bobby G. Olson, 34, pled guilty to vehicular homicide for an incident in rural Breckenridge, Minnesota, in 1998. Olson and another man were arguing in a bar over who had the more powerful pickup truck, and the two left to settle things by chaining their trucks together and having a tug of war. Olson won by default when the other man's truck slid into a ditch, rolled and, when the man was ejected, came down on top of him.

Police Blotter

Two undercover policewomen running a prostitution sting in Dothan, Alabama, in October declined to arrest a pickup-truck-driving john, around age 70, despite his three attempts to procure their services. He first offered to give the women the three squirrels he had just shot, but they ignored him (too much trouble to store the evidence). A few minutes later he added to the offer the used refrigerator in his truck, but the officers again declined (same reason). On the third trip, he finally offered cash: $6, but without the squirrels and refrigerator. The officers again declined.

Texas bomb squad follies: In November a patrol officer in San Antonio confiscated two live bombs and nonchalantly took them across town in his squad car to the drug property room, having mistakenly identified them as elaborate marijuana bongs. Two weeks later police in Cedar Park (near Austin), responding to a check-cashing store's report of a "pipe bomb," sent only an animal control officer to the scene because the 911 operator had instead understood "python."

Joshua Marete Mutuma, 32, was arrested in Modesto, California, in November on suspicion of impersonating his wife. Mutuma's wife had a restraining order against him, and Mutuma arrived at the courthouse dressed as a woman with a long black wig and five o'clock shadow, attempting to have the order dismissed, and responding to the clerk's questions in falsetto.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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