LEAD STORY: Procter & Gamble announced in October that it will once again create and host a public restroom for the holiday season in New York City's Times Square as a promotion for Charmin tissue. Last year's installation was merely specially outfitted toilet facilities, but this year P&G will upgrade by hiring five bloggers ("Charmin Ambassadors") to "interact" with the expected "hundreds of thousands of bathroom guests" and write about their experiences with Charmin tissue on the company's website (and include "family-friendly" photographs). P&G is calling the campaign "Enjoy the Go."
COMPELLING EXPLANATIONS: "Therapeutic" Sex: 1) The U.S. Tax Court ruled in September that William Halby, 78, owes back taxes because he improperly tried to deduct $300,000 over a five-year period for "medical" expenses that were merely purchases of sex toys and pornography and payments to prostitutes. Halby said the activities relieved his "depression," in that he had no other sexual outlets. The court reminded Halby (a retired New York tax lawyer) that prostitution is illegal in New York. 2) James Pacenza, 60, of Montgomery, N.Y., who was fired by IBM in 2003 after he continued to visit an Internet sex-chat room during work hours, renewed his challenge to the termination in September, telling a federal appeals court that his Internet sex "addiction" is a result of post-traumatic stress disorder from combat in the Vietnam War.
Robin Magee, a law professor at Minnesota's Hamline University, was charged with state income tax evasion in September for failing to file in 2007 and for filing returns for 2004, 2005 and 2006 only very recently. Magee told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that she was "unable" to file on time because she has "extreme" attention-deficit disorder. Among the lapses of attention, according to prosecutors, was Magee's claim of eight tax exemptions, even though she is single and has no dependents.
Parenting Made Simple: The father of the baby is only 13 years old, but his own dad told reporters in Manchester, England, in October that the kid "will make a good father" and "is taking his responsibilities very seriously." He is "mature for his age" and "knows what he's about." The new dad said he plans to quit school and work full-time to support the child and the 16-year-old mother (though the earning power of a 13-year-old is uncertain).
IRONIES: The French-speaking citizens of Quebec, said to feel chronically underappreciated in English-speaking Canada, might have received a boost in spirits in September when the Canadian military ordered its airmen assigned to the North American Aerospace Defense Command to learn French. However, the contract was awarded to French instructors of a company in the United States, which many Canadians feel is even more chronically overappreciated.
THE LITIGIOUS SOCIETY: With lawsuits piling up on Bank of America during the current economic downturn, Dalton Chiscolm found a new angle. In September, he sued the bank in federal court in New York City for inadequate customer service concerning his checks' routing numbers and asked for damages of "1,784 billion, trillion dollars" plus an additional "$200,164,000." Judge Denny Chin gave Chiscolm 30 days to better explain his complaint but dismissed it finally on Oct. 23. (BBC News reported that the first amount, which is 1,784 followed by 21 zeros, is more money than exists on the planet.)
LEADERSHIP IN ACTION: New Jersey's Least-Savvy Politician: In a courtroom in October, Atlantic City (N.J.) Councilman (and Baptist minister) Eugene Robinson, 67, explained that he had no intention of having sex that night in November 2006 when a prostitute tricked him into a motel tryst (as a set-up by his political enemies). "I was waiting for God to send me the [woman] that's [destined] to be my Christian wife," he said, and since he hadn't had sex "since 1989," he said he thought this was the chosen woman. Robinson, now in poor health, did not run for re-election.
In his campaign for election to the school board in Birmingham, Antwon Womack, 21, issued biographical materials claiming to be 23 years old; to be a graduate of a local high school and of Alabama A&M; to be a bona fide resident of Birmingham; to be properly addressed as "Dr."; and to have chaired three previous political campaigns. After inquiries by the Birmingham News, Womack acknowledged in August that none of those claims is true. However, he defended his campaign and his principles: "My values are not lies. It's just [that] the information I provided to the people is false."
SOMETHING IN THE DARWIN WATER SUPPLY? During a three-week period in September and October, three couples in the Darwin, Australia, area aroused police attention for having uninhibited sex in public. On Sept. 13, a 29-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman were fully engaged in their vehicle (stolen, said police) at a gas station in full view of passers-by. They persisted, ignoring a police officer's order to stop. Two weeks later, an intoxicated couple taken into custody by police were seen having sex by the motorist following directly behind the police paddy wagon. On Oct. 6, 25 miles south of Darwin, a 33-year-old man was charged with reckless driving after he crashed his car into a concrete drain while having sex with a 34-year-old woman in the front seat. (The woman later denied the charge to a reporter from the Northern Territory News.)
LEAST COMPETENT CRIMINALS: Michael Spagnola, 38, of Colden, N.Y., was charged with DUI in October after a sheriff's deputy stopped Spagnola's car and noticed the man climbing from the driver's seat into the back. Spagnola then told the deputy (from the back seat) that, though he had been drinking, he was not the one driving. However, the deputy noted, there was no one else in the car.
Cesar Lopez, 29, was arrested at the Turkey Hill Minit Market in Lebanon, Pa., in October when he emerged from a restroom looking for something inside the baseball cap he was carrying. A police officer noticed that a small baggie was stuck to the top of Lopez's forehead and speculated that Lopez had stowed the baggie (found later to contain marijuana) inside the sweatband of the cap but that when he removed the cap in the restroom, the baggie remained stuck to his head.
NO LONGER WEIRD: Adding to the list of stories that were formerly weird but which now occur with such frequency that they must be retired from circulation: (91) The apparently irresistible urge of curious men to tinker in workshops with live ammunition, such as the attempt by a 57-year-old man in Charleston, W.Va., in August to drill through a bullet to make a keychain ornament. (The resulting explosion tore up his left hand, but he was not expected to lose it.) (92) The "Lysistrata"-style organized withholding of sex by wives in male-dominated Third World countries as a means of influencing their husbands' behavior. (However, in Kenya, one husband fought back in May by filing a lawsuit in Nairobi High Court against the women's group whose recent strike was somewhat successful. The man asked for compensation for his "anxiety" and "sleepless nights.")
A NEWS OF THE WEIRD CLASSIC (AUGUST 1999): The New York Times disclosed in June 1999 that about 2,000 obsolete, unfunctioning fire hydrants remain in place in New York City, each dry for almost 20 years, whose only purpose is to allow the city to collect fines from motorists who park too close to them. Supposedly, a contractor will begin removing them soon, but since that costs about $6 million, the project may be delayed.
© 2009 CHUCK SHEPHERD
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