News of the Weird
Bizarre but true stories about real people collected by syndicated columnist Chuck Shepherd.
The latest version of China’s periodic Animal Olympic Games, with 300 hardly voluntary participants, was held at the Shanghai Wildlife Park in September, to the consternation of animal-rights activists around the world. London’s Daily Mail reported that chimpanzees played basketball and lifted weights, a bear in a tutu navigated an obstacle course, sea lions high-jumped, and an elephant took on spectators in tug-of-war. Photographs of a kangaroo boxing a garishly-dressed man were posted on the Web sites of China Daily and CBS News.
At least three Christian wrestling associations are active in the southern United States, staging matches using traditional pro-wrestling gimmicks (angelic “babyfaces” vs. creepy “heels”; the “injured” star who gamely takes a mauling but wins through sheer determination). In one pointed adaptation, the bad guys strap “Wrestling for Jesus” star Chase Cliett onto a large cross in the ring and beat him bloody, but he is resurrected after a good-guys’ “run-in” from the dressing room. Wrestling for Jesus and Ultimate Christian Wrestling (both based in Georgia), and Texas’ Christian Wrestling Federation, set aside some time each show for their muscular roughnecks to evangelize among their rowdy fans, according to an Associated Press report.
New York filmmaker Andy Deemer, impressed by reports that 40 to 45 new religions emerge every year in America, offered a $5,000 fee earlier this year for a wannabe messiah to start one and let Deemer chronicle the formation step-by-step, from creation of the philosophy to the soliciting of disciples. Of 300 applicants, Deemer chose 35-year-old musician Joshua Boden, based on Boden’s God-optional, feel-good narrative that he called “the Church of Now,” based a bit on Buddhism and Taoism (according to an August New York Times profile). Among the prophets that Deemer passed by was Damian Phoenix, whose religion centers around an insect-like creature, “Arkon,” and a world of alien parasites that negatively influence people (that is, until Phoenix heals them).
(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