News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Since July the Totenko Chinese restaurant in Tokyo has been offering an all-you-can-eat luncheon buffet (that regularly cost $16 per person) to the first 30 diners per day at the price of about 30 cents per minute, measured by a time clock that diners punch when entering and exiting. Other restaurants have copied the idea in recession-torn Japan, according to a December Wall Street Journal report, and some have found that diners stay longer when alcoholic beverages are included on the per-minute menu.

*Tim Cridland, touring as Zamora the Torture King in an entertainment show in which he endures massive pain, told the Riverfront Times (St. Louis) in December that he broke from the Jim Rose Circus over "artistic differences." Among Zamora's feats: the traditional skewers through the cheeks and neck; swallowing swords and fire; jumping up and down barefoot on broken bottles; and his occasional piece de resistance, swallowing a length of twine, then having it removed from his stomach with a scalpel and forceps during on-stage surgery.

Latest Highway Truck Spills
*Among the cargo spilled in tractor-trailer accidents in 1998: 25 tons of pudding (West Virginia, September); 2000 cases of beer (Michigan, July); four tons of flour (Ontario, August); several tons of noodles, which expanded in the rain (Maryland, July); 20 tons of cheese, which caught fire (Wales, October); $45,000 in quarters (Illinois, June); 50,000 one-dollar bills (Kansas, November); 500,000 honeybees (Washington, October, and another four million in Wisconsin in November); 12 tons of garbage (Rhode Island, March); 6700 gallons of animal fat (Ohio, May); and 20,000 gallons of liquid detergent (elsewhere in Ohio, ten days later).

*Among the really gross highway truck spills of 1998: a load of frozen dough that thawed and rotted before it could be scraped up (Massachusetts, September); 22 tons of mad-cow-tainted blood (England, September); a load of hog intestines and cow heads (Ohio, November); and sewage (Rhode Island, April; Texas, September; and a slow spill in New York in July that coated five miles of roadway just north of Albany).

The Weirdo-American Community
*Tyrone V. Henry, age 26, was arrested in September in Tucson, Arizona, and charged with possession of child pornography. Police said they were led to Henry's home after six female University of Arizona students complained that a man supposedly conducting a test of facial cream, using a substance they say tasted like semen. Police, however, said they do not have enough evidence to charge Henry on the face-cream-testing charges.

*Canadian author Robert Lannon was arrested in October in Acton, Ontario, and charged with making death threats against his estranged brother, Art, in the form of several unvarnished references to Art's being murdered in Robert's new novel, The Return of the Family Idiot. Robert's lawyer, however, said in December that he expects the case to be dropped as soon as the authorities focus on the standard disclaimer near the title page, which states that any resemblance between a character and a real person is "strictly coincidental."

-- By Chuck Shepherd


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