A New York appeals court ruled in July that a 53-year-old plastic-surgery patient who had undergone 12 operations in seven years could sue her doctor for malpractice -- despite having consented to all of the procedures -- because she may suffer from the mental disorder that causes a person to think his or her body is ugly. (Doctors contacted for comment by the New York Observer wondered if any of their patients are totally free of the disorder.) The complaining patient has had work done on her nose, eyelids, chin, eyebrows, flanks, thighs, knees, breasts and stomach.
Illinois farmer Dan Aeschleman recently put his land to a more lucrative use: attracting foxes and collecting their urine, which he sells in pump-spray containers ($11.95 for 16 ounces) to other landowners who want to ward off nuisance animals by simulating the "presence" of a predator. According to a September report in The Pantagraph newspaper of Bloomington, Ill., the tricky part of Aeschleman's 10,000-gallons-per-year business is getting the nondomestic foxes to urinate in an orderly fashion and then collecting the results. How he does it remains a "trade secret."
Are we there yet?
According to Martinsville, Ind., prosecutors, Judy Kirby, 31, intentionally killed four of her 10 children in March after she drove into oncoming traffic for more than two miles and struck a minivan (also killing three of its occupants). Her doctors say they will testify at her upcoming trial that Kirby suffered from postpartum depression and should not be punished. And Jeane Newmaker, 46, was charged in Golden, Colo., in September with child abuse for agreeing to a mode of "therapy" that ended with four practitioners squashing her 10-year-old, adopted daughter to death. The "therapists" were "rebirthing" the child -- supposedly to compensate for abuse suffered at the hands of her biological mother -- by getting her to simulate escape from the womb. She was accidentally suffocated, despite making more than 50 pleas for help during the 70-minute session.
Fowl and outside
A highlight of the East Finley Summer Festival in Claysville, Pa., in July was the return of the popular "chicken-flying contest" after a 10-year hiatus. As explained by the Observer-Reporter newspaper of Washington, Pa., chickens are placed in ordinary mailboxes, which are then abruptly opened with a toilet plunger. Somehow, the opening of the mailboxes sends them flying hundreds of feet; the longest flight wins first prize. During chicken-flying's hiatus, festival sponsors said, cow-patty bingo was offered in its place, but did not prove nearly as exciting.
Common sense takes a back seat
Singapore's leading newspaper published a how-to guide to having sex in cars, in support of the government's campaign to raise the birth rate. The mayor of a French resort town, which has no cemetery vacancies and a restrictive land-use law, prohibited dying except by people with burial space (Le Levandou). And an off-duty police officer reporting for an MRI while armed had the superpowerful magnet suck his gun away and slam it against the machine, causing one round to fire into a wall (Rochester, N.Y.).
According to an April Los Angeles Times report, medical imposter "Dr." Adam Litwin roamed the UCLA Medical Center with impunity for six months last year, chatting it up with "colleagues" and keeping himself busy. He was discovered only when a pharmacist reported an irregularity in a prescription. And "physician's assistant" imposter Gary Lee Stearley received excellent reviews from several doctors at Mercy Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pa., in June before being detected; Stearley had previously "worked" at hospitals in Seattle, Richmond and Washington, D.C.
Read this, or we'll knife this dog
In a July Knoxville News-Sentinel report, Sevier County (Tenn.) sheriff's dog Kysor was praised as so faithful that he withstood a stab wound to the head from a fleeing suspect -- a blow delivered so hard that the knife's blade broke off -- in order to maintain his grip on the man. After the attacker plunged the knife in, he tried to sic his own dog on the weakened Kysor. According to a deputy, "He whistled for him, but his dog wouldn't come."
The TNT was under the Playboys
In June, a federal grand jury in Springfield, Mo., indicted Todd Morman Murray, 27, on charges that he stole 45 pounds of explosives from a chemical plant and "hid" them in his children's playhouse.
In San Clemente, Calif., in June, a young man who was walking close to a railroad track suffered a broken arm when a passing train violently knocked his surfboard out of his hands. And in Trevor, Wis., the same month, an inebriated man's life was saved by his wife, who pulled him from the path of a speeding train; he had lingered on the tracks to make an obscene gesture at the conductor.
The money didn't change him
According to news reports in July and August, the dismal life of Mack W. Metcalf, 42, of Florence, Ky., has included frequent drinking binges, charges of DUI and other traffic violations, drug selling, eviction for failure to pay rent, and a debt of $31,000 in back child support. In July, Metcalf won a $34 million lump-sum jackpot in the Kentucky Lottery. Shortly after he was paid, he handed a woman $500,000 as a gift, only to later realize that he had been drunk when he offered the charity. Metcalf has sued to get the money back.