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News of the Weird 

Death becomes him: England's Mentorn production company announced in September that it was finalizing a deal with Channel 4 TV in London for a series in which a terminally ill man would volunteer for what Mentorn called the "ultimate makeover" (the postmortem reconstruction of his body in "plastination," to demonstrate how changes could have improved the quality of his life). Among the possibilities: adding ribs, making knees back-bending, adding a back-up heart and redoing the trachea to better keep food out. The show would be staged by artist Gunter von Hagens, whose Body Worlds exhibit consists of vivid dissections and reconstructions of body parts.

No free parking: Police in Irvine, Calif., told the Los Angeles Times in September that, based on a recent crackdown, they were stunned at the high number of abuses of handicapped parking placards. Among those caught were a teenage girl parked at a Weezer concert three months after her grandmother died and who with a straight face said that she was her grandmother ("So you're 80 years old?" asked officer Kyle Oldoerp).

The tooth hurts: Business was booming in August for unlicensed street dentists in Lahore, Pakistan, according to a New York Times reporter, who witnessed several patients' gruesome sidewalk experiences (forced on them because one-third of Pakistanis earn less in a month than even the lowest-priced licensed-dentist procedure). Tools of the trade include ordinary pliers, wire-cutters, metal files, a container of moonshine (to rinse tools off) needle-point probes (to inflict a distracting pain elsewhere in the mouth), and a red plastic sheet (so the blood won't stand out so much). Also plentiful in the street-dentists' "offices": dust and vehicle exhaust.

Weird Workplaces: According to the Beijing Morning Post, the government in Chengdu, China, shut down a food-processing plant in August after discovering that workers routinely pulled the bones out of chicken feet with their teeth. Workers first boiled the feet in water, then made three slits in the foot with a knife, pried open the skin with their fingers, and removed the bones with their teeth. The fastest workers could go through a foot every five seconds.

In Meriden, Conn., in August, music store owner Jeff Caillouette, 35, was charged with sexual assault for allegedly forcing a then-15-year-old employee to let Caillouette spank him, supposedly as punishment for various workplace mistakes. At one point, when the kid caught Caillouette in a lie, he requested and received permission to spank the boss, which he did at first while the boss was clothed but later on his bare buttocks. During the time of the alleged assaults, Caillouette was the band director at a local high school.

In August, the historic Shugborough Home (Staffordshire, England) announced a job opening for a hermit to live temporarily in a cave on the grounds (running water not available) and scare away trespassers; an administrator was said to be astonished at the large number of applications. Also in August, the Landmark Trust, which manages the remote Lundy Island off the southwest coast of England, announced a job opening for a shepherd for the island's 600 sheep and various rare wildlife; the island receives birdwatchers but has no nighttime electricity.

Least Competent People: Cheverly, Md., juror Levon Adams, 25, skipped out during deliberations in a September carjacking trial, and when sheriff's deputies brought him back to the courtroom the next day, he told the judge that he left because the other jurors were becoming aggressive with him. Adams told the judge that he was the only holdout against a guilty verdict and told the jurors that no matter how much evidence there was against the defendant, he could not convict him because Adams was not present at the scene of the crime and thus did not actually see the defendant do it.

Send your Weird News to newsweird, or go to 2002 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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