First-term U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho of Florida is already among the House's most conservative members, but his Republican primary challenger claims to be even more so — but with a quixotic, longtime hobby as a costumed, role-playing "gamer." Challenger Jake Rush (in his day job, a lawyer) portrays supernatural characters as a prominent member of the national Mind's Eye Society and Florida's Covenant of the Poisoned Absinthe, including a vampire named "Chazz Darling," who, according to a Yahoo message board, once left an explicit, body-parts-bloodying threat to a role-player with whom he had been feuding. (The Florida political report SaintPetersBlog broke the story — and was quickly criticized, less by Rush's political defenders than by the indignant "cosplay" community, feeling mocked.)
Government in action
A scandal erupted in 2013 at Minot (N.D.) Air Force Base when missile-launch specialists were charged with cheating on proficiency tests, but additional documents uncovered by the Associated Press in March 2014 show that the problem was worse than originally reported. The overall missile-launch program, run by "missileers," was judged "substandard" — the equivalent of an F grade in school — and "rehabilitated" in the eyes of Air Force officers only because the 91st Missile Wing Command's support staff (cooks, drivers, clerks, etc.) scored very high and brought the command's overall performance to the equivalent of a D.
The tax software company Vertex reported in March, via the Tax Foundation, that tax-hating American states have somehow organized themselves into nearly 10,000 sales/use-tax jurisdictions with distinct rules, coverages or exemptions. Ironically, states criticized as tax profligates sometimes have the simplest systems (e.g., one set of rules covering the entire state, such as in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.) while states regarded as refuges from intrusive government often have the most complicated (e.g., 310 different jurisdictions in Utah, 587 in Oklahoma, 994 in Iowa and 1,515 in Texas).
British artist Millie Brown, 27, profiled in January in London's Daily Mail, creates Jackson Pollock-style canvases by vomiting on them after ingesting colored soy milk. Brown (whose work hangs in London's Ripley's Believe It or Not! showcase) said she fasts for two days prior to public performances and, as the show starts, times her ingestions so that the proper hues don't prematurely mix in her stomach. Her appearance, at work, in a Lady Gaga music video brought her a somewhat larger audience. Said the understated Brown, "I am able to challenge people's perceptions of beauty."
Although Douglas Lydic, 29, escaped from a patrol car in December in Commodore, Pa., while handcuffed (and was soon re-captured), prosecutors declined to charge him with fleeing since he was merely being "detained" at the time. However, they did charge Lydic with theft of the handcuffs.
Four State Police troopers rushed to a home in the town of China, Maine, in January, alarmed by 911 calls about an assault in progress (according to neighbors who reported raucous screaming). Trooper Thomas Bureau found that the suspected "crime scene" was the home of a pig farmer, who showed troopers the pen out back in which a male had been placed with five sows "in heat" and that the squealing (either by the sows or the beleaguered male) was not unusual.
Michael Moore, 61, who had left home in a huff on March 4 after his wife accused him of excessive drinking, was arrested later that night in Hobe Sound, Fla., after more drinking at a bar. He suggested to police that he knew he was drunk, but had taken the wheel to try to "drive it off."
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