News of the Weird

Lead Story

Synergy!: In October the pharmaceutical division of Japan Tobacco, the world's third-largest cigarette company, bought the rights to lung-cancer vaccines now under development by the U.S. firms Cell Genesys and Corixa. Now under one roof are the cause, treatment and potential prevention of lung cancer.

The Continuing Crisis

The loneliest number: Randy Phillips graduated from Riverside Christian School in Andalusia, Iowa, in May, the only member of his class. (For his senior trip, he invited two juniors along.) And an Associated Press report in August on Granby, Vermont (population 90), noted that the town had only one reported crime the previous year: Someone wrote a farmer a $300 check for six piglets, but it bounced, and no one can find the man. (The same farmer said that earlier in 1999, a woman paid cash for more piglets but shorted him, and that that might be the only crime this year, but it won't be counted because he didn't report it.)

Upcoming Events

People With Too Much Time on Their Hands

Celebrity mother Jacqueline Stallone, previously known as a mere astrologer, recently began specializing in "rumpology," the study of a person's character and future based on the contour of his or her butt. Stallone does not conduct hands-on examinations, but rather gets subjects to sit on sheets of inked paper and make impressions ("maps"). The left cheek supposedly indicates natural talents and personality; the right cheek shows reality versus potential.

Medium Suzane Northrop announced that she will lead a weeklong, contact-the-dead cruise out of Miami in March, "NowAge 2000," with guests getting free channeling, plus seminars and workshops on psychic powers. Asked about whether the channeling guests will bother the recreational cruisers on board, organizer Cindy Clifford said: "Tough luck. There are people who go on cruises and wind up with the entire Iowa state bowling league."

The Hardy Blind

Bruce Edward Hall, 48 and blind, was arrested in December and charged with robbing a First Tennessee Bank in Memphis. Hall had pretended to be a customer and was escorted to a teller's window by a guard as a courtesy before presenting the teller with the holdup note. And Leon Grigsby Martin, 33, blind and carrying a white cane, was arrested in Muskegon, Michigan, in September and charged with robbing two stores of a total of $340. (He got only $20 from one clerk, who might have tricked Martin into believing he was giving him higher-denomination bills.)

Also, in the Last Month...

Shopper Bryan Cote parked his $2,000 bicycle at the Salvation Army store in Concord, New Hampshire, and a clerk sold it for $15. A group of Albanians demanded that the U.N. Mission in Kosovo put its mascot stray dog, Unmik, to sleep because he is "Serbian." The founder of Cliffs Notes, the aid for the reading-averse, funded an endowed chair in English at the University of Nebraska. A Barbados pet-shop owner was arrested by Customs in Miami trying to smuggle in 55 tortoises (value $75 each) in his pants.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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