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The Odd Truth, May 17, 2005

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's Joey Arak.

Lingweenie: Not For Dinner

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - The response from the "vocabularians" was so "ginormous" that the lexicographers let out a "whoot."

"Confuzzled?" You must be a "lingweenie."

The editors of Merriam-Webster dictionaries got more than 3,000 entries when, in a lighthearted moment, they asked visitors to their Web site to submit their favorite words that aren't in the dictionary.

Some of the proposed words even gained multiple submissions so the editors came up with an unofficial Top 10 list.

First place went to "ginormous," bigger than gigantic and bigger than enormous, followed by "confuzzled" for confused and puzzled simultaneously, and "whoot," an exclamation of joy. A "lingweenie" -- a person incapable of making up new words -- placed 10th.

Besides the Top Ten, some loyal Mary Poppins fans submitted "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," which is in the Oxford English Dictionary, Bicknell said. He also spotted "a number of Harry Potterisms" among the entries.

Hitchcock Gets The Last Laugh

HOUSTON - Like a scene from the horror movie "The Birds," large black grackles are swooping down on downtown Houston and attacking people's heads, hair and backs.

Authorities closed off a sidewalk after the aggressive birds — which can have 2-foot wingspans — flew out of magnolia trees Monday in front of the County Administration Building.

"They were just going crazy," said constable Wilbert Jue, who works at the building. "They were attacking everybody that walked by."

The grackles zeroed in on a lawyer who shooed a bird away before he tripped and injured his face, Jue said. The lawyer was treated for several cuts.

It appears that the birds are protecting their offspring. On Monday a young grackle had fallen out of its nest and adult birds attacked people who got too close, Jue said.

Another bird attacked a deputy county clerk.

"I hit him with a bottle," said Sylvia Velasquez. "The other birds came, and one attacked my blouse and on my back."

Two women came to help her after she fell to the ground, and the birds attacked them as well. The group escaped by running into the building.

The great-tailed grackles are native to Mexico and South Texas but have spread to Houston. The males have long tails and are black with an iridescent sheen. They are 15-18 inches long and have a wingspan of 15-25 inches.

Hospital's Mystery Piano Man

LONDON - He won't sing them a song, but a mysterious man is turning out to be the "Piano Man" for the staff at a British hospital.

The tall blonde man was found in a soaking wet suit and tie and wandering the streets of a coastal town more than a month ago. Since then, he's refused to talk -- but has played lots of classical piano.

The man doesn't seem to be a virtuoso. The hospital's chaplain says the patient has played a small number of tunes over and over.

The staff says he's been crying lately and is very anxious, but relaxes at the piano.

They've released his picture and a drawing he made of a piano -- in hopes some family will recognize him.

Court Rules On Broken, Um, You-Know-What

BOSTON - Make love at your own risk. That's the gist of a ruling from a Massachusetts state appeals court. A man only identified as John Doe in court papers sued a former lover. The man contended the woman suddenly changed positions during sex, fracturing his you-know-what. The man had emergency surgery in September 1994 and says he's been unable to satisfactorily perform since. The court papers say he hasn't responded to medication or counseling. The appeals court ruled the woman isn't legally responsible for her boyfriend's injuries. A lawyer for the man says they may file an appeal.

Our Kind Of Scientific Study

BOSTON - Imagine, getting to drink free beer and watch TV -- all in the name of science. Doctor Scott Lukas says he didn't have any trouble finding volunteers for his research project on a Chinese herb and alcohol. He set up a makeshift apartment in a lab at McLean Hospital in a Boston suburb. He outfitted his research pad with a TV, recliner and refrigerator stocked with beer. Lukas recruited 14 men and women in their 20's, all heavy drinkers. They drank brewskis and watched the tube while researchers monitored their alcohol consumption. Lukas says those who also took the herb "kudzu" drank nearly half as much as those who didn't. Lukas says the research could be useful in curbing binge drinking.

Vegas Takes The Cake

LAS VEGAS - The latest sin in Sin City could be gluttony. Las Vegas celebrated its 100th birthday over the weekend with a giant cake. Some 600 volunteers helped to make the cake. It weighed 130,000 pounds and was more than 100 feet long. Organizers expect the Guinness people to soon confirm their cake as the world's largest. But a new record would be bad news for folks in Fort Payne, Alabama. They hold the current record, a 128,000-pound-cake created in 1989. That cake was to celebrate Fort Payne's centennial.

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