News of the Weird
xxxNews of the Weirdxxx Bizarre but true stories about real people collected by syndicated columnist Chuck Shepherd.
Most of the year, civil aviation engineer Joseph Ngoupou and his wife (a budget officer at the World Bank) live the life of a suburban Washington, D.C., couple taking up golf on weekends. But two or three times a year, Ngoupou travels to Cameroon, where he is, by heredity, a village chief, responsible for resolving disputes among his 3,500 subjects. According to a September Wall Street Journal dispatch, his impoverished village has no electrical service or running water and lies five miles of barely passable road from the nearest town, and the isolated villagers are eager to cede Ngoupou authority as the ultimate wise man, to decide, for instance, the fair price of a bride’s dowry or the proper restitution for the theft of plums.
Sometime next year, if all goes well, Brett Holm of Chaska, Minn., will begin selling his Season Shot, an improvement over current shotgun shells because its pellets dissolve on contact in the game meat and, more important, automatically flavor it for cooking. Holm told the Chanhassen (Minn.) Villager newspaper in August that he will initially offer lemon pepper, mesquite, Mexican, and Creole flavors, but, he said, chemists are at work right now to expand the selection.
In Dafen, a suburb of Shenzhen, China, more than half of the world’s cheap oil paintings, including knock-offs of masterpieces, are hand-produced by laborers at up to 30 per day, earning them the equivalent of $125 to $400 a month. Germany’s Der Spiegel reported from Dafen in August that a “reasonably skillful copy of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ sells for (about $50). Buy 100, and the price goes down to (about $33 each).” One painter remarked that when a large order arrives (for instance, from Wal-Mart), he may have to paint the same thing 1,000 times, earning perhaps the equivalent of 40 cents each.
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa FL 33679 or [email protected] or go to www.NewsoftheWeird.com.) NEWS OF THE WEIRD