News of the weird: 12/23

By Chuck Shepherd

Language of love

People advertising for love interests via online dating sites have apparently become picky about how they describe their sexuality. To the usuals (male, female, gay, heterosexual) have been added recently (as reported by NPR in December after surveying OkCupid.com) “asexual,” “androgynous,” “genderqueer” (evidently not the same as “gay”), “queer” (not quite “gay,” either), “questioning,” “trans man,” “transsexual,” “transmasculine,” “heteroflexible” and “sapiosexual” (turned on by “intelligence”). Still, some users of the site found the choices inadequate. One young woman described her sexual orientation as “squiggly,” and the reporter cited others who thought highly of that term.

Bright ideas

Britain’s Home Office revealed in November (by releasing archived documents from 1982) that among the contingency suggestions for worst-case nuclear attack on the country was commissioning “psychopaths” to help keep order. They are “very good in crises,” an advocate wrote, because “they have no feelings for others, nor moral code, and tend to be very intelligent and logical,” and thus could do quite well at containing the vigilante survivalist enclaves that might develop in the event parts of the kingdom became lawless. (After an apparently thoughtful debate, the suggestion was not agreed to.)

Great Art! At a recent art show at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo, Italian artist Sven Sachsalber, for his provocative piece, brought in a large haystack on Nov. 13, dropped a needle into it, and gave himself two days to find it. Late the next day, he picked it up. (Palais de Tokyo calls itself an “anti-museum par excellence.”)

Ironies

(1) Three homes on the Pacific Ocean near Grayland, Washington, were washed away by violent rainstorms in early December, but the residents had seen it coming. The longtime local name for the area is “Washaway Beach.” Said one, “I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but I had hoped it wasn’t this soon.” (2) In November, an airline’s advertising staff created the catchy slogan (to attract impulse travelers), “Want to go somewhere, but don’t know where?” and convinced management to send it, via Twitter, to the airline’s thousands of followers. (Spoiler: The airline was Malaysia Airlines, whose Flight 370 still has not been found.)

Hide the Show Program Inside the Porn: A theatrical producer in Madrid found a way around Spain’s recent steep sales tax increase on certain entertainment venues (sports, movies, live theater): It sold back issues of vintage pornographic magazines for the equivalent of $20 – with a “free” ticket to its latest stage production by noted director Pedro Calderon de la Barca. (A show ticket would carry a 21 percent tax, but a pornographic magazine is still taxed at 4 percent.)

Compelling explanations

Creative: Eric Opitz, 45, who was indicted on 13 counts of fraud in Philadelphia in October, had explained that the reason he needed human growth hormone (that he would resell) despite being 6-foot-3, 450 pounds, was that he was really a dwarf and feared he would recede if he stopped the medication.

Bungling Cinematograhers: Zak Hardy, 18, and Terrill Stoltz, 41, were arrested recently in separate incidents and charged with photographing women in bathrooms without their permission. Hardy, caught in a public restroom in June in Exeter, England, pointing his phone from one stall to another, explained that he was just trying to see whether his phone was waterproof. Stoltz professed his innocence, as well, claiming the camera he set up in his ex-girlfriend’s bathroom in Billings, Montana, was solely to have a photographic record of him when he cleaned his chickens in the bathtub.

The new normal

An Oceanside, California, couple was surprised in November to discover that buying a purebred bichon frise on credit meant they were only leasing the dog for 27 months and would have to make a 28th payment to actually “own” Tresor. Furthermore, the lease, under a “repo” threat, required “daily exercise,” “regular bathing and grooming” and “immediate” disposal of Tresor’s “waste.” A spokesperson for the store, Oceanside Puppy (which works with four finance companies), told the San Diego Union-Tribune the arrangement is fairly standard now for expensive pets.

First-World problems

(1) NBC’s “Today” show reported in December the “heartbreak” parents are feeling when they learn that the supposedly unique name (“wonderful, distinctive, rarely heard”) they had given their infant in the last year or two (e.g., “Mason,” “Liam,” “Lily”) actually appeared on BabyCenter’s annual list of most popular names of 2014 (6th, 3rd and 8th, respectively). (2) After hearing tenants’ complaints, the New York City Council is now considering a regulation requiring landlords to post notices if a common area or amenity is unusable for 24 hours or more – which applies of course to elevators and laundry rooms, but would also extend to any air hockey or foosball facilities in the building.

Copyright 2014 Chuck ShepherdDistributed by Universal Uclick

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Chuck Shepherd
Copyright 2015 Chuck Shepherd. Distributed by Universal Uclick

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