In March, a jury in Los Angeles listened to nine psychiatrists testify, along with other witnesses who openly described their sex lives, before finally deciding that neither party in the shrink-vs.- shrink contest was all that emotionally healthy. Dr. David Martorano had sued the UCLA psychiatry department, blaming a loss of promotion on a failed affair with his supervisor, Dr. Heather Krell, who denied the affair, especially Martorano's claim of oral sex in a parked car. Krell's witnesses "diagnosed" Martorano with narcissistic personality disorder and being "addicted" to having women fall in love with him. The jury concluded that Krell did have the affair, but did not sexually harass Martorano or sabotage his promotion. Government in action
• In February, when housing officials in Loebau, Germany, ran out of small apartments for low-income residents, they decided to put them in quarters that were larger than regulations allowed. However, the officials made the residents close off some rooms to stay within the allotted space and said inspectors would make regular visits to see that no one cheated.
• Fire officials in Crystal River, Fla., stopped the planned performance in January of Jesse Aviles, "The Human Bomb," who was set to lie face down across two bar stools at the Oar House Restaurant and Lounge and have himself blown across the room by explosives. According to Oar House, the performance was canceled for the lack of permits. City Manager Andrew Houston, asked by the St. Petersburg Times what kind of permits might be necessary for a person to be exploded from a barstool, said, "I have no earthly idea."
• Garri Holness, 39, is one of the Britons in a bad place at the time of the July 2005 subway bombings, and he suffered the loss of a leg, for which government programs compensated him with more than 100,000 British pounds (about $190,000). That is more than 10 times the amount of government compensation (in 2005 pounds) received by each of the two teenage girls from a vicious 1985 gang rape that Holness was convicted of participating in (and for which he served seven years in prison).
• Hurricane Katrina trailer fiascoes: In March, while FEMA was busy evicting the last Katrina victims that it had housed in trailers, it also disclosed that it has been stuck with 8,000 mint-condition trailers that have sat vacant for 18 months now in a field near Hope, Ark., because the agency hasn't been able to give them away (to government agencies, as federal law requires). (Also, WWL-TV in New Orleans reported in March that area hospitals continue to be overcrowded while specially equipped medical trailers, which were ordered just after Katrina hit and which took eight months to arrive, continue to sit unused.) Big-time crime
• Marshall Wolbers, 56, was arrested in Lake Bluff, Ill., in February after he had allegedly ripped off almost two dozen spas in the Chicago area over the last year by luxuriating in massage and pedicure services, etc., but skipping out on the bill. Said one specialist on nails, to an Associated Press reporter, "I just want to look at him (a 300-pound man), like ‘You jerk, you didn't even tip me. You made me rub your gross feet and listen to you for an hour and a half.'"
• Police blotter: (1) A woman in Bozeman, Mont., complained in March of "strange noises" from "underneath her house," being made by "people from the ‘Underworld.'" She told police that her house had been "replaced" "in the middle of the night" and that the original was being stored at an undisclosed location. (2) Brook Akins, 34, was arrested in January in a Salt Lake City suburb after calling 911 12 times in five hours to complain of a toothache and demand to speak to someone who could help him. Signs of the times
Ariel Milby explained her ostentatious sweet-16 party (televised in February on MTV) by pointing out that her dad owns his own oil company. "I love oil," she said. "Oil means shoes and cars and purses." "(Oil) smells like money. ..." But it's not just 16-year-olds who are spoiled. Reuters reported in January that New York City party designers get $25,000 and up for kids' birthday and coming-of-age bashes, including one 60-guest celebration for a 1-year-old, who of course slept through the whole thing. (In December, at a spare-no-expense birthday party for a 7-year-old girl in Coral Gables, Fla., a cougar brought in to dazzle the kids attacked a 4-year-old, who required hospitalization.) Creme de la weird
Passions: (1) Entomology doctoral student Rebecca O'Flaherty of the University of California, Davis is a specialist on maggots, even to the point of creating "maggot art" (dipping them in paint and letting them writhe around on the "canvas"), though she doubts her passion is helping her land a teaching job. She told McClatchy newspapers in February that she admires the swiftness and elegance of maggots' ability to devour. (2) Clarence Horner's hobby, apparently, was collecting tombstones, in that upon his death in 2006 in Lincoln, Neb., authorities found 47 of them in his rented storage locker. Least competent criminals
(1) Andre Henry was convicted on 27 criminal counts in Philadelphia in February (e.g., bank robbery, threatening witnesses and police officers), despite his cocky attitude on the witness stand. After the prosecution played back a recording of Henry confessing his crimes to a wire-wearing inmate, Henry was unfazed, quickly declaring that the confessor was really Henry's "twin brother" (except that the prosecutor easily showed that he doesn't have one). (2) A 17- year-old was arrested in January in Sheboygan, Wis., and charged with stealing a snowmobile from the Sheboygan Yamaha lot. However, the next morning, even before the dealer realized the vehicle was missing, the boy had brought it in for service. Update
Apparently, the remote village of Yaohnanen, on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, is preparing to celebrate the 86th birthday in June of their god, Prince Philip of Great Britain (an adoration mentioned in News of the Weird last year). The natives believe the prince is the son of an ancient spirit that resides on a nearby mountain, but so far have been content merely to display a well-worn picture of the prince. Though he has never visited, he did somehow pose for a photograph around 1980 while holding a traditional pig-killing club, which especially delighted the tribe. News that sounds like a joke
(1) Biologists at Germany's University of Jena announced in January that they were terminating a research project on animal movements after three years because they were tired of waiting for a sloth named Mats to leave his perch. (2) In March, the Pascha brothel in Cologne, Germany, introduced an early-bird special for seniors age 66 and above, offering services for half-price between noon and 5 p.m.