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News of the Weird 

Fight Club: A June Associated Press dispatch from Macha, Bolivia, reported on the most prominent of the country's annual Tinku festivals. On a midnight in May, as thousands gathered to drink and dance, the men eventually began to fistfight in a bloody ritual that tribal leaders say is healthy and spiritual, even though some men are beaten badly and occasionally someone dies (which, legend says, is good for crop fertilization). Villagers say the one-night fighting answers feuds and insults built up over the year and fosters brotherhood. The Bolivian government has tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the violence in recent years.

Weird India: On June 15, according to Dr. Chittaranjan Maity, the medical education director of the state of West Bengal, a 13-year-old boy began producing quarter-inch-long winged beetles in his urine after eggs hatched in his body. And a few days earlier in the Hooghly district of West Bengal, according to a report in the Press Trust of India, a 9-year-old girl was "married" (in a non-binding ceremony) to a stray dog, which tribal custom requires in order to protect a child whose first tooth appears on the upper gum.

Familiar Injuries, Big Bucks: If you reach for a door while a person on the other side pushes the door toward you, you might get your fingers jammed. It happened to Cedrick Makara, 56, in a restroom stall at his New York City office building, and in May, a court awarded him $3 million for ruptured tendons in his thumb that caused him to miss work for six months. Michael Machetti, 31, filed a lawsuit in Riverside County, Calif., in April against Bullseye Tattoo and its owner, charging that the tattoo removal he had done on his neck had infected him with the flesh-eating disease necrotizing fasciitis. Machetti said he went for the removal because co-workers had complained about the familiar two-word obscene phrase (the second word: "you") on his neck, and he wanted it replaced with the apparently more acceptable "666."

Half mast: Justin Scheidt filed a lawsuit in May against the Showgirl III strip club in Fort Wayne, Ind., for "serious and permanent injuries" to his groin area received after he consented to take the stage with several dancers during their show. Scheidt, as a climax to his bachelor party that night, complied with the women's requests and lay on his back with his legs around the dancers' pole, after which they began climbing the pole and sliding down squarely on his groin. Scheidt went ahead with his wedding but said he was unable to consummate the marriage because of his injuries.

Ped-estrian: In Newport Beach, Calif., in May, Trenton M. Veches, 32, was convicted of 22 counts of lewd conduct, with the "sexuality" involved consisting merely of sucking the toes of boys aged 6 to 10. Veches' attorney said the behavior was weird but not legally "lewd" because Veches touched only the feet and in fact was not physically "aroused" himself, but an expert witness for the prosecution said people can be sexually stimulated without showing arousal.

Hide and seek: Last year, News of the Weird reported on a bulimic Japanese woman who periodically buried plastic bags of her vomit in a remote area under cover of darkness. In April 2003, authorities in Madison, Wis., finally solved a two-month mystery in which an unidentified "smelly, rancid, green slime" (according to a Wisconsin State Journal reporter) in plastic bags was being dumped in garbage cans along Hammersley Road. Neighborhood patrols finally spotted the dumper, a self-described bulimic. A medical authority interviewed by the Journal said some bulimics believe that if the evidence is removed, the illness might not be a problem.

Also, in the Last Month: A 29-year-old man was hospitalized in fair condition after he playfully put a 4-inch-long fish in his mouth (not realizing the fish would head for the only opening, his esophagus) (Macomb, Ill.). At La Mesa Junior High School (where students can be expelled for carrying even squirt guns), the yearbook came out with a quarter-page ad for the National Rifle Association (Santa Clarita, Calif.).

2003 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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