Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Odds & Ends

By Devin D. O'Leary

JANUARY 19, 1999: 

Dateline: Vietnam--Police searching for a missing man in northern Vietnam believe that a local resident accidentally boiled up his bones to make a traditional medicine. The unidentified resident allegedly stumbled across the scorched skeleton of the missing man at the site of a recent forest fire in Phu Tho province, northeast of Hanoi. Thinking they were the remains of a large monkey, the man brought the burned bones back to his home and rendered them into a "glue-like substance." Forensic tests performed on a skull found at the home prove that the bones were human. Police now strongly suspect that they belong to the missing man, who may have committed suicide by self-immolation.


Dateline: Philippines--Police in Manila have found a new way for Santa to deal with people who have been naughty--by whipping out his .44 Magnum. Over the Christmas holiday, undercover police officers dressed like Santa Claus were stationed throughout the Filipino capital. Each was dressed in the familiar red costume and was packing a semi-automatic pistol. The Sgt. Claus patrol was intended to combat the increase in purse snatchers and pickpockets at Manila malls during the holidays.


Dateline: Texas--If you're thinking of dumping that dried-up Christmas tree and you happen to live in Corpus Christi, then you'd better think twice. Over the next six months, the city's solid waste department plans to hide dozens of cameras in trees, bushes or atop buildings to catch illegal trash dumpers in the act. City officials estimate illegal dumpers toss out about 70,000 tons of furniture, construction material, household trash, yard waste and other garbage each year.


Dateline: Connecticut--For the second year in a row, operators of Connecticut's commuter train line into New York drafted a special 120-member task force to deal with their number one problem on New Year's Eve--rivers of alcohol-fueled vomit. Last year, instead of merely mopping up the aftermath of the drunken holiday, the Metro-North Commuter Railroad began distributing motion sickness bags to its tipsy passengers. The derisively dubbed "puke patrol" was on hand again this year to direct "confused" passengers, to watch for criminal activity and to hand out the holiday barf bags. An estimated 30,000 passengers made their way home from NYC celebrations after midnight.


Dateline: Ohio--While Times Square reveled in Dick Clark and wall-to-wall disgorge, tiny Port Clinton, Ohio, rang in the New Year in their own unique way. Instead of the Big Apple's famed lighted ball, the self-proclaimed "Walleye Capital of the World" celebrated the last moments of 1998 by dropping an 18-foot fiberglass fish from a crane. The 500-pound fish--nicknamed "Wylie"--took 160 hours to create and had eyes made out of two glass casserole dishes. Some 6,000 people gathered in Port Clinton to watch the fish drop.


Dateline: Pennsylvania--Philadelphia residents two weeks ago gobbled up the world's largest Philly cheesesteak. At 365 feet, 7 inches, the humongous hometown sandwich was longer than a football field. Local residents were hoping that the record-breaking lunch would also break a losing streak for the Philadelphia Eagles football team. It did not. After fans at Veterans Stadium devoured the 1,790-pound cheesesteak, the Eagles lost their 13th game this season, breaking another record--for most losses in a season.


Dateline: New Mexico--Speaking of record-breakers: Carlsbad, N.M., resident Kevin Cole earned himself a place in the Guinness Book of World Records by blowing a 7 1/2-inch strand of spaghetti out of his nose. Cole nabbed the record at a Dec. 16 competition when he bested the former world record holder, Matt Welch, by a starchy 2 inches. "It's not very often that Carlsbad gets put on the map like this," Cole proudly told reporters.


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