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The Odd Truth, Sept. 24, 2004

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum.

Me, Myself And They

BRANSON, Mo. - They do this and they do that. Now the anonymous "they" has a face. Andrew Wilson has legally changed his name to "They." That's it. No first name - just They. The Branson, Missouri, inventor even has a new driver's license with his new name. He says he did it for laughs. They has 14 patents including Ground-Effect lighting, used to create a neon glow underneath cars. Now all "They" needs is to find a mate named "Them."

Charges Stick In Vaseline Case

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. - It looks like the charges will stick in a bizarre case of Vaseline vandalism in Binghamton, New York.

A Virginia man is accused of covering virtually every surface in a motel room with petroleum jelly.

A grand jury has indicted Robert Chamberlain on a charge of felony criminal mischief in connection with last spring's incident.

He was arrested after a cleaning crew discovered the TV set, furniture, carpeting and everything else in Chamberlain's motel room had been slathered with petroleum jelly.

Police say when they tracked him down at a nearby motel, Chamberlain was covered from head-to-toe with the stuff.

A manager at the Motel Six says it took more than a month to clean up the mess.

Sinead: Please Ye, Stop Bothering Me!

DUBLIN, Ireland - One-time pop sensation Sinead O'Connor was back in the news Friday - by taking out a full-page ad in the Irish Examiner newspaper pleading for people to stop making fun of her.

O'Connor, who shot to international fame in 1990 with her biggest hit, "Nothing Compares 2 U," claimed she'd been "consistently ridiculed, lashed and called mad" for decades, particularly in her native Ireland.

"I don't think there can be any person male or female from this country who has been as consistently lashed as I have been and always am no matter what I set out to do," she complained during her 2,000-word essay, published in the Irish Examiner newspaper.

"If ye all think I am such a crazy person why do ye use me to sell your papers?" she wrote, adding, "Please, I just want to be a little old lady now, and not be all controversial and not be bashed and called crazy and laughed at when I open my mouth to sing or speak."

During her early career, O'Connor was known for her skinhead-style haircut and attention-seeking stunts. She refused to let "The Star-Spangled Banner" be played before a concert in New Jersey and ripped apart a picture of Pope John Paul II on live television in a protest against the Catholic Church.

O'Connor has continued to court headlines with unusual decisions and occasional essays published in local newspapers.

She was ordained a priest in a breakaway Catholic sect in 1999, but subsequently stopped referring to herself as Mother Bernadette Mary and said she'd found the celibacy rule impossible to follow.

The 37-year-old singer, who has two children, resurfaced on Ireland's airwaves Wednesday when she told the national RTE radio network about her campaign to stamp out head lice in children.

The spread of head lice is a chronic problem in Irish schools, but some commentators sarcastically noted her group's e-mail address, "nittwit," and poked fun at her appeal for Ireland to stage a "national delousing day."

Runaway Groom

MONTERREY, Mexico - Four women were briefly detained for allegedly seizing a man they were trying to force to marry a former girlfriend he impregnated, police said Thursday.

The 22-year-old man told police the 16-year-old ex-girlfriend, her mother, sister and aunt approached him Tuesday outside the food processing plant where he works and forced him into a taxi.

The man told local television stations that the four women then took him to their house and told him they wouldn't release him until he married his former girlfriend, who is four months pregnant.

His relatives told police he had been kidnapped, and the four women were detained when they tried to collect his birth certificate and $150 to pay for the civil marriage. They were released Wednesday after prosecutors found "no elements" to charge them with kidnapping, said Fernando Martinez, a spokesman for the attorney general's office of Nuevo Leon state, where Monterrey is located.

Under Nuevo Leon state law, statutory rape charges apply when women between 13 and 18 years of age are "seduced" or "tricked" into sex. But no formal complaint had been filed.

Cat Fight, Squared

BANTAM, Conn. - Talk about a cat fight! A Connecticut psychiatrist is facing charges in a dispute over an award-winning cat. Authorities say Doctor Joan Schmugler argued with breeder Sharyn Hauck over which of them owns Moses, a rare five-month-old Bombay cat. According to police, Schmugler scratched and bit the breeder, and choked the cat during the fight. Moses is doing fine. But Schmugler has been charged with assault, disorderly conduct and cruelty to animals. She's due in court next month.

Hungarian Hamlet Offers Land For Half A Penny

BUDAPEST, Hungary - A penny for your thoughts, and half a penny for your land.

In an effort to lure new residents and ensure its survival, the eastern Hungarian hamlet of Tetetlen is offering plots of land for half a cent to anyone willing to build a home and settle there within four years.

It's an offer many Hungarians apparently couldn't refuse.

"It's been a complete madhouse," town clerk Izabella Egri Jenei said Friday in a phone interview. "We've had more than 80 inquiries in just two days, and we'll probably have to hold a drawing to allocate the plots."

The town, whose population is just 1,500, has 8.6 acres to sell at the bargain basement price. Officials say more than 40 families could settle on the land, each with about 2,625 square feet, or about a fifth of an acre.

Most of the residents of Tetetlen, about 125 miles east of the capital, Budapest, work on farms or commute to jobs in nearby cities like Debrecen and Puspokladany.

While unemployment in eastern Hungary stands around 12 percent, or twice the national average, Jenei said there were plenty of opportunities for future Tetetlen residents.

"There are large pig, turkey and chicken farms nearby, and bigger cities are 15-30 minutes away," Jenei said.

The town, which can trace its roots back to 1441, has had some famous residents over the years. Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt stayed for a few weeks in 1884, and in the 1930s famed British-German actress Lillian Harvey bought the castle built there by the Zichy family, a Hungarian aristocratic dynasty.