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MAGPIE STEALS AND EATS PENSIONER'S ARTIFICIAL TOE
A magpie has stolen and eaten the artificial toe of a 73-year-old man in Holland. Jan Vervoort had put his prosthetic toe on a table while he enjoyed a foot bath in his garden. But he had to go back inside to answer the telephone and, while he was away, the bird flew down and snatched his toe. Vervoort, from Eindhoven, told reporters, "While I was answering the call I saw the magpie fly onto the table where I left my toe. "He took it in his beak and flew away with it. I ran after him but he settled in a high tree. I hoped he would drop the toe but he kept on picking and picking at it. I couldn't find one piece of it." Vervoort said he is now in the market for a new artificial toe.

WOMAN CONVICTED FOR PAYING TICKET WITH FECES
(Oregon, AP) - Debra Angeline Schwarz contends it wasn't her fault the ticket stinks. She's been found guilty of paying a $350 traffic fine with an envelope half-filled with feces. Prosecutors in Lake County, Oregon, say Schwarz's money order was accompanied by what witnesses called at "brown, pasty substance" that really smelled. Schwarz testified she had given the money order to someone else to mail. But her story wasn't convincing enough. Schwarz was convicted on a number of charges including criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

ADVERTISING INVADES YOUR PIZZA
(New York, Wireless Flash) - An inventor hopes to be rolling in dough with his latest product: A machine that embosses words on pizza crust. Inventor Rich Errera has come up with a product that makes it possible to turn pizzas into billboards and he hopes to sell the idea to Pizza Hut. Errera thinks Pizza Hut will probably bite because not only will they be able to advertise themselves, they could advertise things like upcoming movies. Errera plans to debut his "Gourmet Impression" at The Pizza Expo industry tradeshow in Atlantic City.

BEST MAN TAKES OPPORTUNITY TO PROVE IT
(Greece) A bride-to-be suffered a nervous breakdown the night before her wedding on the Greek island of Crete when she discovered the groom, dressed in her wedding gown, in the arms of his best man. The future husband and wife were celebrating at separate parties when the bride's friends asked to go see the wedding dress at the couple's home. When they arrived, they found the gown-clad groom in a passionate embrace with the best man. The young woman has been treated at a clinic, and the wedding has been canceled.

WOMAN PHONES FOR HELP WITH PICKLE JAR AND GETS SEX CHAT LINE
An elderly woman calling a help-line for people having problems with pickle jars was connected to a sex chat line. Alice Morrison from Fayetteville in North Carolina wasn't happy with the way her canning lids were sitting on her sweet pickle jars. She called the consumer help number and was told by a recorded, raspy voice that she was about to hear "sexy introductions from callers" and that for $1.99 a minute she could "join the fun." "I'm 71 years old," she told the Fayetteville Observer. "I assure you, I wasn't looking for any hotline." The paper reports that officials from the company that makes the lids, Alltrista, have fielded plenty of confused and sometimes angry calls from across the country. About a year and a half ago, Alltrista decided to consolidate two canning companies, Ball and Kerr, under one help line. Kerr's old number was returned to the phone company, which gave it to a phone sex company. Callers who dial the number that used to be for canning product questions are now instructed to hang up if they are younger than 18. If they punch one to continue with Intimate Connections, they are then asked for credit card or calling card numbers to access the racy talk.

MAN MAKES THREE PHOTOCOPIES OF HIS BUTTOCKS
(Missouri) - Police arrested a man who allegedly dropped his pants in the crowded lobby of the St. Louis County Courthouse and made photocopies of his buttocks. Police found Daniel Everett holding two copies he had already made. He was making a third. "What did I do? What did I do?" witnesses said Everett asked police. Everett, an immature 38, told police that the copies were intended as a practical joke for his girlfriend.

BRITISH CONFIDENT OF STEAMING TO EXTREME IRONING WIN
(Germany, PA News) - The first Extreme Ironing World Championships got under way in Germany with the British team confident of clinching the title. Some 12 members of the Rowenta UK Extreme Ironing squad are in Munich for the inaugural tournament of the fledgling sport. They are part of a 70-strong contingent from 10 countries gathered in a muddy field in the village of Valley to combine the often mundane household task with "extreme" pursuits such as rock climbing. Competitors are being tested on their abilities to cope with five arduous ironing tests on a variety of fabrics and in different environments ranging from rocky to forest, urban and water. They will be judged on their creative ironing skills as well as the creases in the clothing.

MYTH DISPELLED: SHOE SIZE, PENIS SIZE NOT LINKED
(New York, Reuters) - Despite eons of speculation to the contrary, two British scientists have laid to rest the idea that a man's shoe size is in any way correlated to the size of his penis. Their scientific study found no link between the two variables, according to a report in the British Journal of Urology International. "This myth has now been dispelled," Jyoti Shah of St. Mary's Hospital in London told Reuters Health. "There is no point using shoe size to obtain indirect measurements of penile length." To date, there have only been two studies that evaluated the relationship between the size of a man's foot and the length of his penis, according to Shah and colleague Dr. N. Christopher of University College Hospitals. While one study showed a "weak correlation" the other showed no correlation--but this study relied on men self-reporting their own penis length and shoe size. In the current study, the researchers studied men visiting a urologist for various reasons. Because it wasn't feasible to measure the length of the erect penis, the researchers measured the penis when gently stretched. "There is a strong correlation between stretched penile length and erect, and thus it is not necessary to obtain erect lengths," Shah said in an interview with Reuters Health. "The correlation is so strong that the results can be extrapolated to erect penises." In all, 104 men had their penis measured and had their shoe size recorded. The investigators found no correlation between shoe size and penis length. "The supposed association of penile length and shoe size has no scientific basis," they conclude in the report. Is there another body part that accurately estimates the size of a man's penis? "There are suggestions from the literature that hand span, finger lengths or nose size...may be predictive," according to Shah. "I have some ideas that I am currently putting together as a research proposal," the researcher added. "There must be some part of the body that is predictive of penile length...the search continues."

FAMILY GOES AHEAD WITH WEDDING WITHOUT GROOM
A Romanian family refused to cancel an expensive wedding just because the groom was in a coma and got his brother to stand-in instead. The Carasel family from the village of Turceni had invited dozens of friends and relatives from across the country to the celebration. They did not want to cancel it even though hours earlier their son Gabriel had been involved in a serious car accident. Standing in for his brother at the celebrations Dumitru Carasel said, "Gabriel will marry his bride when he recovers, until then we should celebrate."

POT LUCK STRIKES FOR UNTRAINED BABY
(Germany) A toddler who fell from a first-story window was saved from injury by his fully-laden diaper, which burst on impact, German police said. The child, only 20 months old, hit the ground on his rump. Experts said the splattered diaper had acted like a car airbag, absorbing the shock. While alone in a room, the boy had crawled onto a window sill of his apartment in Korschenbroich, near the western city of Neuss, and leaned against a window where the catch was open. He was unhurt.

MUSEUM SOLD HUMAN SKULL
(England, AP) - One British museum has lost its head. Staff at the York Dungeon museum of horrors said recently they are trying to trace a visitor who was accidentally sold a human skull in the museum shop, where the grisly item was used as a prop. Manager Helen Spence, said the skull had been put on a bookshelf during refurbishment of one of the exhibits and presumably sold as one of the replica skulls that are offered to visitors. "It was an unfortunate mistake. We know who it is who bought it and we just want to trace them," she said. Staff members hope a credit card company will be able to contact the purchaser, believed to be a woman who bought the skull for her son for Christmas. Spence said the skull has been at the museum for as long as anyone can remember and no one is sure where it came from. York Dungeon owns another human skull that is believed to have come from a pit where victims of the medieval plague were buried.

WIFE ALLEGEDLY BITES HUSBAND TO DEATH FOR SEX REFUSAL
(California) - A Modesto man has died after his wife held him down and bit him repeatedly when he refused to have sex with her, police said. Kelli Pratt, 45, was booked on suspicion of elder abuse, domestic violence and assault on a police officer. Homicide charges were pending the outcome of toxicology results, said Sgt. Al Carter. Those tests are not expected for several weeks, but they could show whether the bites created an infection that killed 65-year-old Arthur Pratt. Authorities said he died Sunday at Doctors Memorial Center in Modesto, six days after the attack. His skin was riddled with more than 20 deep tooth marks, which may have contributed to the ailing man's death, Carter said. "He was able to dial 911 that night," Carter said. "We have a tape recording of him screaming while she was biting him. When officers arrived, he was screaming that he'd been assaulted. She fought with the officers and tried to bite them, too." Pratt is being held on $50,000 bail. "I've seen cases where dogs have bitten kids, and blood loss or infection led to death," Carter said. "I've never heard of anyone being bitten to death before."

FOOTBALL SEATS MARK MAN'S GRAVE
(Pennsylvania) - Paul Wellener's family found the perfect marker for his grave: two blue plastic seats from the Three Rivers Stadium auction. Wellener, a lifelong football fan and a Pittsburgh Steelers season ticket holder for 42 years, died unexpectedly in March, 2002. Wellener's son, Paul, and widow, Mary Ann, bought three pairs of stadium seats for $2,100 at an auction and knew they had found the perfect gravestone.

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Police Sniff Out Shoe Fetish in Man's Attic
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POLICE SNIFF OUT SHOE FETISH IN MAN'S ATTIC
(Tel Aviv, Reuters) - Israeli police have arrested a computer programmer who gets his kicks by stealing and sniffing the shoes and socks of female colleagues. Police found 205 pairs of ladies shoes, as well as socks and items of underwear, hidden in the attic of the 33-year-old married man, a spokeswoman for the Sharon region police department said. "He would take the keys of his co-workers, make copies and then go to their houses when they weren't home," the spokeswoman said. "We also found ladies underwear, but mainly it was shoes and socks." The man was caught after 14 women reported missing shoes. A private investigation agency planted one of their own female detectives as a new employee at the high-tech company where the man worked. The police spokeswoman said the man got sexually aroused by smelling the shoes and that he swapped stories and shoes over the Internet with others who have the same fetish.

MAN SUES OVER UNSAFE SODA
A man whose son was crushed to death by a soda vending machine has filed a $500,000 wrongful-death lawsuit against the company that manufactured the machine. The 27-year-old man apparently rocked the machine, which fell, pinning him against a wall and crushing his chest. The father decided to sue after learning that his son's death was not an isolated incident. "The penalty for jiggling a machine to get a quarter out or a free Coke shouldn't be death," said the man's lawyer. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found that between 1978 and 1995, at least 37 deaths and 113 injuries resulted from falling vending machines, which can weigh 1,000 pounds.

TEEN INJURED AFTER SETTING OWN SHORTS AFIRE REPEATEDLY
(Illinois) After setting his shorts on fire to prove his courage, a Roselle teen ended up at Sherman Hospital in Elgin Saturday suffering from second-degree burns, police said. The 16-year-old Roselle boy and two friends, a Roselle 16-year-old and an Elgin 15-year-old, smeared their shorts with gasoline and took turns lighting each other in the back yard of an Elgin home, Elgin police said. Then they would drop down to the ground, roll and attempt to extinguish themselves, Elgin police said. "They continued to do this for three rounds," said Elgin officer Mike Sullivan. "The shorts were drenched in so much gasoline that they were unable to extinguish it anymore. To the best of our understanding, it was some kind of a challenge." The Roselle teen suffered second degree burns from his waist down, Sullivan said. He was treated and released. No charges were filed. "Each one of them participated by their own free will," Sullivan said. "Being totally stupid is not a crime."

X-RAY CONFIRMS SNAKE SWALLOWED DOG
(Ohio) - The Humane Society of Delaware County found a small dog reported missing by a resident of this Columbus suburb--inside a 10-foot Burmese python. Now police would like to find the owner of the snake. Terry Doodan found the snake, with a telltale bulge in its middle, under the basement steps of her home while she was working on renovations. The humane society X-rayed the python and confirmed it had swallowed the dog. The snake apparently escaped from a Powell home but police haven't been able to identify the owner. Misty Bay, humane society director, said the snake could grow to about 25 feet long. Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia.

ROBBER ATTEMPTS LIMO GETAWAY
(Illinois, AP) John Pope, 39, ordered a limousine to pick him up from his hotel in Moline after he robbed a bank Tuesday in the western Illinois community, police said. Unfortunately for Pope, his driver was a retired police officer. The driver, Don Madsen, of Moline, tipped off police that he had a suspicious passenger when he picked Pope up from the hotel. Madsen later got a call on his cell phone from one of his old colleagues, who warned that his passenger was suspected in a bank robbery. Madsen used cryptic language to indicate his location and state troopers found him at a LaSalle truck stop where they arrested Pope. Pope is accused of robbing a Moline bank just before he paid Madsen $335 in cash for a ride to Chicago. He is being held at the Rock Island County Jail on an armed robbery charge.

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