Johnson Bottom, Kentucky:
In December 1996, Phillip Johnson, then 32, of Johnson Bottom, Ky., shot himself in the left shoulder with his .22-caliber rifle, "to see how it felt," he told ambulance personnel. On October 2, 1997, an ambulance crew was again called to Johnson's home, where Johnson was bleeding from another left-shoulder shot fired by a ..22-caliber rifle. A source told the Inez Mountain Citizen newspaper that Johnson said the December shooting "felt so good," he had to do it again.

Rome, Italy:
The government of Italy revealed in September that it had recently asked a court in Rome to take jurisdiction of a lawsuit it plans to file against Youssef al-Magied al-Molqi, who was convicted of the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking and murder. The government says that when Al-Molqi failed to return to an Italian prison from a pass last year, he embarrassed the country, and now it wants to sue him for the harm to its international image and for betraying the trust of jail officials. (Al-Molqi is still at large.)

Vatican City:
At the Vatican's request, Brazil's leading religious artist, Claudio Pastro, is at work giving the image of Jesus Christ a makeover designed to update it for the third millennium. According to an October Knight-Ridder news service report, the new image will be of a serene and victorious Jesus (rather than a suffering one) and will have traces of Asian, black, and Indian features in his face.

New Britain, Conneticut:
Daniel Lima filed a lawsuit in New Britain, Conn., in May against the Minnichaug Golf Course for at least $15,000 in damages after being hit in the nose by an errant shot. The errant shot was by Lima, himself, as his fairway drive hit a yardage marker, bounced back, and hit him in the face.

Detroit, Michigan:
In June in Detroit, Mich., coach Robert L. Wiggins Jr., whose teenage Pony League baseball team was eliminated in a playoff game, filed in federal court for a temporary restraining order and $75,000 in damages, claiming his team should have won and thus remained in the tournament. Wiggins offered to present testimony from parents and spectators that several of the umpires' calls in the third inning were wrong and that his team should thus have won 12-8 instead of losing 10-9.

Kalamazoo, Michigan:
Heart surgeon Charles Butler, 54, won a $3.96 million jury verdict in October in his lawsuit against Wal-Mart for injuries he suffered in a store parking lot. Butler tripped over a trailer hitch while walking to his car, hurting his spine so badly that he now suffers trembling hands, ending his career. Wal-Mart pointed out unsuccessfully that the trailer itself was 18 feet long and six feet high and contained a large commercial barbecue grill, and that a person so unobservant as not to notice that must surely be facing a waning career as a surgeon.

Greenup, Kentucky:
Edward Caudill, 32, filed a lawsuit in September in Greenup, Ky., against Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, claiming its personnel hastened his father's death from an auto accident in 1996 by not giving him blood, allegedly because the man's wife said not to on religious grounds. The wife herself died from her injuries about four hours after the husband. Because Caudill's father died first, his estate was inherited by the wife (and on her death, by her family) and not by Caudill. Caudill pointed out that his father had never signed any document declining life-saving procedures and thus that the hospital was legally required to try to save him.

Stockholm, Sweden:
Several newspapers in Stockholm, Sweden, reported in March that a prostitute's $200 lawsuit against a client who failed to show for an appointment was ordered to trial by an appeals court. (The engagement would have been legal under Swedish law, but a lower court had nonetheless rejected her claim.) In April, the parties settled out of court.

Britt, Iowa:
At the annual national hobo convention, held this year in August in Britt, Iowa, Minneapolis Jewel was elected queen of the hobos for the third time. The king was a fellow from Helena, Mont., known as Frog. Said Jewel, about the changing demographics at the convention: "The oldtimers are dying out, the ones who rode the steam trains. So it's nice to see these younger kids coming in."

House Springs, Moussri:
In October, sheriff's deputies in House Springs, Mo., near St. Louis, reported that someone launched a Civil War-type cannonball that crashed into the trailer home of Leonard and Kathy Mickelson, lodging in a bathroom wall. Authorities did not immediately know if the cannonball was thrown, catapulted, or fired from a cannon.

Tyler, Texas:
Texas and Cheerleaders, Again: In September, a federal grand jury in Tyler, Tex., indicted the wife of a high school principal for writing and mailing a death threat. According to the indictment, the wife, Tamela Ellis, sent school Trustee Ginger Motley a note warning her to stop criticizing the school administration or Motley's daughter, who is a cheerleader, would "never [live long enough to] cheer at her first football game."

Johannesburg, South Africa:
According to a Times of London report in August, trains in Johannesburg, South Africa, are being systematically equipped with fans to blow away the increasingly common cannabis smoke. Frequently, cannabis smokers take over the front car of a train in order to blow smoke playfully through the keyhole into the train engineer's cab. Earlier in August, one driver had to stop a train for almost an hour because he was rendered dizzy by the smoke.

Toronto, Ontario:
According to a news report in the June issue of the magazine of the Ontario College of Nurses, one of the College's members was suspended for six months recently for "vulgar and offensive" behavior. According to the report, she perhaps accidentally broke wind while working in the presence of a patient's wife, who took offense. However, the discipline committee found that the nurse compounded the problem by asking the wife if she "wanted more" before passing gas directly into her face.

Ohio:
Road Rage Lite: Danny L. Jones, 44, described by co-workers at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles as "Mister Rogers friendly," was charged in August with aggravated menacing for using the office computer to track down motorists who offended him and writing them nasty letters. Typical threats, should the driver not mend his ways: Jones will "poke your eyes out" or "cut your head off and hand it to you on a platter" or "dispose of you like trash." Said a Bureau spokesperson, "From what I hear, [Jones] was a [keep-] to-himself-type person.


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