Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd writes the syndicated column News of the Weird.

Recent content from Chuck Shepherd

News of the Weird

The periodic Christian Nudist Convocation took place in July at the Cherokee Lodge nudist camp in Tennessee, and, according to a dispatch in Nashville Scene, the group evokes skepticism not only from most Christians (who dislike the flaunting of naked bodies, even if innocently done) but from most Cherokee Lodge members, who see them as too intense for naturism's laid-back attitude. One CNC attendee acknowledged that many Christians would not approve of Cherokee Lodge, but to him "[I]t's Jerusalem." Another compared his work at nudist camps to missionary work: "[S]ome people get sent to Africa, some people get sent to South America and the Lord was like, 'I want you to go to nudist resorts.' And I'm like, 'Wow, what an assignment.' "

Updated: September 26, 2007, - 05:43 PM

News of the Weird

Brian Blair, now a county commissioner in Tampa, Fla., asserted in a 2002 lawsuit that he had been forced into retirement from his previous career as a professional wrestler after he tripped over a tray of dishes and hurt himself at a Carrabba's restaurant. Blair announced in August that a settlement had been reached with Carrabba's, and thus he would not explain (according to a deposition cited by Carrabba's attorneys) how the "career-ending" injury allowed him to keep lucrative wrestling dates in Japan months after he fell, or how he registered a .089 blood-alcohol reading that evening even though he admitted to only one sip of wine, or how a sober professional wrestler accustomed to being thrown across a ring could be hurt so badly by a simple fall, or how a politician who generally abides a pro-business, anti-lawsuit philosophy could have initiated such litigation.

Updated: September 19, 2007, - 05:42 PM

News of the Weird

Until a Florida appeals court ruling in July, Mark O'Hara, 45, had been in prison for two years of a 25-year mandatory-minimum sentence for trafficking in hydrocodone, based solely on the 58 tablets found in his possession in 2004, even though his supply had been lawfully prescribed by a physician. The state attorney in Tampa had pointed out that Florida law did not mention a "prescription" defense to trafficking, and even though O'Hara had lined up a doctor and a pharmacist to testify, the jury wasn't allowed to consider the issue. After the appeals court called the case "absurd" and ordered a new trial with the prescription evidence allowed, the state attorney still refused to drop the case.

Updated: September 12, 2007, - 04:21 PM

News of the Weird

Ric Hoogestraat is married to Sue and works at a call center in the Phoenix area but spends 30-plus hours a week inside the online Second Life video game, pretending that he is the digitally drawn Dutch Hoorenbeek, a 6-foot-9, muscular babe magnet who lives on his own island. That unnerves Sue, according to an August Wall Street Journal profile, especially since Dutch recently "married" a digital woman and set up housekeeping with their two digital dogs. (The real-life creator of the new Mrs. Hoorenbeek has never met Ric and says she never will.) Dutch and his wife spend hours shopping and motorcycling together, leaving Ric little time for Sue. "Is this man cheating on his wife [meaning Sue]?" the Journal asked. Lamented Sue: "You try to talk to [Ric] or bring [him] a drink, and [he] will be having sex with a cartoon."

Updated: September 05, 2007, - 05:27 PM

News of the Weird

East Dublin, Ga. (in July), and Athens, Texas (in August), sponsored their own versions of Redneck Games, with events such as mud-pit belly-flopping, seed-spitting and making armpit music (Georgia), as well as (in Texas) "redneck horseshoes" (played with toilet seats), a Spam-and- jalapeno-eating contest, a mattress chuck, men bobbing for raw animal parts in tomato paste, and the ever-popular coed butt crack contest. Wrote the San Antonio Express-News: "There was something strangely arresting about watching 10 serious-faced guys grind away at pink bricks of Spam while Steppenwolf's 'Born to Be Wild' boomed from the loudspeakers."

Updated: August 29, 2007, - 05:34 PM

News of the Weird

Kyle Krichbaum, 12, of Adrian, Mich., has had an obsession with vacuum cleaners since infancy, when he was mesmerized by the whirring, said his mother. For years, he says, he has enjoyed vacuuming so much that he does the house up to five times a day, with one of the 165 new and used vacuum cleaners in his collection. Said a former teacher, "It's not that he didn't like recess. He just preferred to stay inside vacuuming." Older sister Michelle, interviewed for a July CBS News profile of Kyle, spoke for all of us: "He's constantly vacuuming. I'm just like 'Why, why, why, why, why, why?' I don't understand."

Updated: August 22, 2007, - 05:01 PM

News of the Weird

Australian Jeffrey Lee is the last surviving member of a clan that controls the Koongarra uranium deposit near Kakadu National Park (east of Darwin), and federal law requires his permission for the French energy company Areva to extract the estimated 14,000 tons, perhaps worth the equivalent of $4.2 billion (U.S.), but Lee vows never to sell because "if you disturb that land, bad things will happen."This is my country," he told the Sydney Morning Herald in July. "I'm not interested in money. I've got a job. ... I can go fishing and hunting. That's all that matters to me."

Updated: August 15, 2007, - 10:39 PM

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