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Hospitable restaurants, double lives and more

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LEAD STORY: Through the years, News of the Weird has reported on restaurants around the world with singularly quirky themes and signature dishes, such as the one in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, that seats all diners on toilets and the Beijing restaurant whose cuisine features animal penises. Last year, a group of doctors in Riga, Latvia, opened Hospitalis, a medical-themed restaurant whose dining room resembles an operating room, with "nurse" waitresses bringing food on gurneys, accessorized with syringes and forceps in addition to knives and forks, and with drinks served in beakers and test tubes. Hospitalis' signature dish is a cake with edible toppings that resemble fingers, noses and tongues.
            
BRIGHT IDEAS: It was thought to be the backwoods version of an "urban legend," but the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department reported in March its first documented case of a deer hunter's attempt to avoid detection after shooting a doe (instead of the permissible buck) by gluing antlers onto its head. Marcel Fournier, 19, used epoxy and lag bolts, said a game warden, but the finished product looked awkward because of the angle of placement and the mismatched size of the antlers. (Fournier was jailed for 10 days and fined, and had his license revoked.)
    "It was initially just an experiment," said the 26-year-old, Sebastopol, Calif., midwife apprentice who last year talked her boyfriend into photographing her cervix for 33 straight days so that she could chart its physical changes while monitoring her own mood, libido and body temperature. It was not easy, she told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat in February. "It's so dark in there [that] even with [a lamp shining on it], the camera wouldn't focus." The boyfriend made it work, however. "He's a very talented guy." Eventually, the photos made it to the Internet, with her cooperation.
            
COMPELLING EXPLANATIONS: Christos Kokkalis, 19, allegedly doing 65 mph in a 30 mph zone, was charged with assault in Framingham, Mass., in March, for reacting badly to a pedestrian's hand gesture suggesting he slow down. According to a police report, Kokkalis swerved across a street into the man's path, drove by, turned around and did it again. The report said Kokkalis denied fault, claiming that his car "turns on its own" because of an "alignment" problem.
    Herman Rosenblat, whose best-selling "memoir" of his Holocaust love affair with his wife was yanked off the market by the publisher when parts were proven false, insisted to ABC News in February that he never lied. Of his heartbreaking, well-worn story that his non-imprisoned future wife lovingly tossed apples to him over a fence at his concentration camp (which physically could not possibly have happened, according to historians), Rosenblat said: "It wasn't a lie. [E]ven now, I believe it, that she was there and she threw the apple to me. In my imagination, it was true."
    In March, Dominique Fisher, a "tattooist," received a probation-type sentence by Britain's Burnley Crown Court despite having carved her name and other marks with a box cutter on her new lover's body while he was passed out. She and Wayne Robinson had been on a four-day drinking binge, and he panicked when he sobered up. However, Fisher said that Robinson knew all along that she did tattoos and told him, "I thought you'd like it."
            
IRONIES: Angel Galvan-Hernandez, 26, facing a long prison term after being convicted in a Seattle court, begged the judge in February to execute him, that he'd rather die "a thousand times" than be jailed. The reason, he said, was his fear of being raped in prison because of his petite frame and his history of being attacked as a youth. He admitted that he was a coward, "but I just don't want to be raped." His crime: He had pleaded guilty to raping two women. (He got 20 years.)
    What We Say, What We Do: 1) About 200 members of the Service Employees International Union launched a protest campaign in March, accusing their employer of improper layoffs, unlawful bans on union activities, and reclassifying workers to disempower the union. The employer of the workers is the national SEIU office, where they are staff members. 2) A federal arbitrator ruled in March that an employer had, for years, "willfully" violated the Fair Labor Standards Act in exploiting workers by failing to pay overtime. The guilty employer: the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
            
FINE POINTS OF THE LAW: 1) New Zealand's Employment Relations Authority ruled in February that a worker who, in a fury, tells his boss to "stick his job up his arse," has not officially resigned unless he follows up the incident with a formal notice. 2) Two competitors vying to sell the same type of iPhone application (arrays of sounds of breaking wind) are embroiled in a trademark dispute, according to a March Denver Post report. The developers of Air-O-Matic's "Pull My Finger" claim that InfoMedia's "iFart" application improperly uses "pull my finger" in its own marketing. InfoMedia said that the phrase is generic and not trademarkable.
    From an advertisement in the News Reporter of Whiteville, N.C., placed by attorney C. Greg Williamson on Jan. 5, 2009, to give legally required pre-adoption notice to the unknown father of a girl (about whom the mother apparently recalled very little): The father "was about 5 feet 7 inches tall, with a light brown complexion and 'funny' shaped eyes," and the "date and place of conception" was in December 2002 "at a house in Bolton, N.C., thought to be the second house on the left after turning left on the street just past Bubba's Club as you head east from Lake Waccamaw." Under state law, that man had 40 days from the placement of the ad to challenge the adoption of the child, now age 5.
            
RECURRING THEMES: Criminals Not Keeping Low Profiles: 1) Motorist Christopher Cadenhead, 39, was stopped in Osceola County, Fla., in January for having an expired tag. Inside his car, police found 200 pounds of marijuana. 2) Jose Melendez, 54, and his wife and daughter were stopped by Douglas County, Neb., deputies in January after their RV was driving on the shoulder of Interstate 80. Cover-story discrepancies among the three occupants as to where they were headed and which "relatives" they were "visiting" aroused a deputy's suspicion, and a search of the vehicle revealed $2.5 million worth of cocaine under a floorboard.
            
UNDIGNIFIED DEATHS: Karma: 1) A 25-year-old man who was a passenger in a car driven by a drunk friend was killed in Houston in February when he was thrown from the car in a crash. That incident came seven months after the victim had, himself, been charged with DUI in a crash that killed two people. 2) Two brothers driving a stolen car and being chased by police on Interstate 70 near St. Louis in November were killed when they accidentally crashed into another car. That car, also, had been stolen.
            
A NEWS OF THE WEIRD CLASSIC (SEPTEMBER 2003): In March 2003, the double life of wealthy Tampa construction magnate Douglas Cone, 74, surfaced when, following the death of his socialite wife, Jean Ann (with whom he lived Thursdays through Sundays and had three kids), he quickly married his socialite paramour Hillary Carlson (with whom he had lived for years in a second mansion 20 miles away as "Donald Carlson," Mondays through Wednesdays, and had two kids). Cone's philanthropic contributions (donated in both his names, though "Mr. Carlson" never appeared at events), and both women's dedicated community service, made the "four" of them prominent figures in Tampa. (The consensus among the families' members, according to a St. Petersburg Times report, is that Hillary knew; Jean Ann might not have; and others did not.)
© 2009 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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