In some primitive cultures, beauty and status are displayed via large holes in the earlobe from which to hang heavy ornaments or to insert jewels or tokens, and BBC News reported in November that an “increasing” number of counterculture Westerners are getting their lobes opened far beyond routine piercing, usually by gradually stretching but sometimes with a hole-punch tool for immediate results. The hard core are “gauge kings,” showing a “commitment” to the lifestyle by making holes up to 10 mm (three-eighths inch) wide. Cosmetic surgeons told BBC News in November that they’re already preparing procedures for the inevitable wave of regretted decisions.
Larry Walters made history in 1982 with a balloon ride in an ordinary lawn chair, lifted by 45 helium-filled weather balloons. He soared to over 16,000 feet in Southern California before descending by shooting the balloons one by one. In 2008, gas station manager Kent Couch of Bend, Ore., made a similar lawn-chair flight and had scheduled another for November 2011 to float over Baghdad to raise money for Iraqi orphans. Couch subsequently postponed his flight until March to give the charities more time to organize.
Corruption in some Latin American prisons has allowed powerful criminals to buy extraordinary privileges behind bars. News of the Weird’s report on Venezuela’s San Antonio prison in July described the reign of one drug lord-inmate, who presided over a personal armory, a local-community drug market and private parties. In a surprise raid in November on a prison in Acapulco, Mexico, the usual drugs and weapons turned up, but also 100 fighting roosters for daily gambling, along with a prisoner’s two pet peacocks.
The lives of many choking victims have been saved by the Heimlich Maneuver–even one received inadvertently, such as the one a Leesburg, Fla., motorist gave himself in 2001, after gagging on a hamburger, then losing control and smashing into a utility pole. In November 2011, as the mother of 8-year-old Laci Davis drove her to a Cincinnati hospital after a locket stuck in her throat and caused her to double over in pain, Mom hit a pothole, which jarred Laci and dislodged the locket loose into her stomach (later to come out naturally).
It seemed a rare event (first reported in 1994 but initially regarded as an “urban legend”). However, twice now recently, workers have played a particularly dangerous prank on a colleague. A month after the recent News of the Weird story about Gareth Durrant’s lawsuit in England against co-workers who had inserted a compressed air hose into his rectum, a carpenter’s assistant in Nicosia, Cyprus, was jailed for 45 days for pulling the same stunt on his colleague, rupturing his large intestine.
Sometimes professionals who overbill for their hours go too far, claiming obviously impossible schedules, such as lawyers News of the Weird reported on in 1992 and 1994 (one, a Raleigh, N.C., lawyer, submitted one client bills averaging nearly 1,200 hours a month–even though a month only has 744 hours). New York City officials said in October 2011, however, that it’s quite possible that city prison psychiatrist Dr. Quazi Rahman actually did work 141 hours one week, including 96 straight (because of a shortage of staff and because he could properly nap during his shifts). They ordered him to return only a tiny amount of his $500,000 in overtime payments for the last year.
Ten years ago, the fashionable bulletproof clothing industry was in its infancy, with Miss Israel creating a stir at the 2001 Miss Universe pageant with a bulletproof evening gown. Since then, technology and design improvements have enabled leading stylist Miguel Caballero of Colombia to add to his fashion line. The New Yorker reported in September 2011 that Caballero had made a bulletproof dinner jacket for Sean Combs and kimono for Steven Seagal, and that Caballero clothes are available in strengths of bullet-stopping, from “9 mm” to “Uzi.”
Rumors that daring youth are inserting tampons soaked in vodka into body orifices to speed alcohol delivery have been around for at least 10 years. Curiously, the only regular-sourced news stories come from TV stations in Phoenix (KNXV-TV in 2009 and KPHO-TV in 2011), and the “urban legends” source Snopes.com calls the whole idea far-fetched. Nonetheless, in November 2011, a school resource officer told KPHO that there are “documented cases” and that “guys,” too, engage by inserting the tampons into their rectums. Dr. Dan Quan of the Maricopa Medical Center cautioned against the practice, warning of the dangers of mucosal irritation.
Anti-government survivalists engaged in high-profile standoffs have made News of the Weird–most recently the story of Ed Brown and his wife and supporters, resisting a federal tax bill, holed up for nine months in the New Hampshire woods near Plainfield in 2007. (The Browns were arrested by a U.S. marshal who tricked his way inside.) The longest-running standoff now is that of John Joe Gray, 63, and his extended family in a 47-acre, fortified compound in Trinidad, Texas. Gray has said he feels free on his land and warned authorities “better bring plenty of body bags” if they try to re-arrest him.