Weird news

Latest from Japan

A June Wall Street Journal dispatch from Tokyo reported the trend of "serial divorce": Young married women desiring to keep their maiden names on official documents circumvent Japanese law by momentarily divorcing when a government document is needed, and then usually remarrying their husbands immediately afterward.

And cosmetics firms' sales of products to reduce or mask the odor of "noneal" are booming, according to a March New York Times report. Noneal is a chemical released in greater quantity as people age and in super-hygienic Japan creates the unpopular "old man's smell."

Nun sense

In May, Italian female basketball star Fabiana Benedettini, 30, surprised her family and the sports world by abruptly taking vows as a nun and joining the Santa Margherita of Cortona sanctuary.

Also recently becoming nuns in Italy: a marchesa, Ginevra Rossi di Montelera; a hotel heiress, Maria Luisa De Angelis (who abandoned her husband and children in the process); an industrial heiress, Idina Ferruzzi; a volleyball all-star, Maria Teresa Ciancio; and, at least joining a convent temporarily, a porn star, Luana Borgia.

Police blotter

In March, according to a Dallas police report, pro hockey goaltender Ed Belfour, desperately trying to avoid a public intoxication arrest, offered two patrolmen $100,000 to forget the whole thing, and by the time they were set to haul him to the station, Belfour had vomited all over himself and upped the offer to $1 billion.

I do; I don't

In June, the Civil Status Court in Alexandria, Egypt, ruled that the Islamic requirement for divorce (after certain preconditions are met, the husband tells the wife three times, "I divorce you") must be spoken in person and not delivered by e-mail. At press time, a similar question was at issue in a divorce case in United Arab Emirates.

Religious spirits

An April New York Times dispatch from Zhdanovo, Russia (just north of Mongolia), reported on the cultural use of vodka as holy water in that Buryat region, whose predominant religion is shamanism. Mongol devotees sometimes sip vodka during the entire 90-minute services, which brings, according to one shaman, "moral calmness" and the improved ability to "talk to god" (although shamanism includes more than 100 gods).

First things first

Catholic priest Charles Mentrup, 41, was stabbed by a parishioner during confession in May; he survived but refused to identify the man who did it because of his vow of confidentiality. And at Christmastime 1999, a drunken guest disturbed the Cistercian monks of Caldey Island (Wales) by singing Welsh hymns and carols while they were celebrating their 12 hours of "Great Silence," but no one moved to quiet the guest because, after all, the monks could not speak.

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