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Wide World of Weird

April 24, 1998

A weekly roundup of unusual news stories from around the globe:

Back From the Dead: The next time Peter C. Gentry dies, he'll have to prove it. In 1991, the 41-year-old financial planner was arrested in Virginia for driving drunk, but died a few months later in an L.A. car crash. Or so said the death certificate sent to Virginia. But in July 1995, Gentry was arrested for driving drunk again, this time in Maryland. He "died" again before going to court--this time of "Denzor hemorrhagic fever" in Zimbabwe.

In November 1995, the Maryland cop who arrested Gentry in July saw him swerve and run a stop sign. "Aren't you supposed to be dead?" the officer asked. Gentry was convicted and served about a year in jail. Now he's charged with forging his death certificate. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Coke vs. Pepsi: A Georgia high school is collecting a $500 prize from Coca-Cola Bottling Co. for coming up with a creative marketing idea, even though its plan was foiled by two students who wore Pepsi shirts. The award "had nothing to do with the shirt thing," a Coke spokesman said. The school made news for suspending two youths who revealed their Pepsi shirts as students stood in formation to spell "Coke" for a photograph. School officials later expunged the suspension from their records.

Sole Man: Smelly shoes could soon be history, thanks to a British inventor who hated the stench of his grandsons' old sneakers. Peter Chown devised a way to neutralize odors with a deodorant system built into the heel cavity. Tiny holes let the deodorant flow into the shoe from a refillable reservoir in the heel.

Ski Florida?: Sultry Miami may not be the first venue that springs to mind when one thinks of skiing. But a New York land developer hopes to build a domed winter entertainment complex, including a pair of man-made mountains covered with snow, on a subtropical island owned by the city. Cost: $300 million.

His Number Came Up: Pol Pot's death was a boon to some lucky Thai lottery punters. After hearing of the reviled dictator's death, villagers in a province near Cambodia scrambled to put their money on number 73, Pol Pot's age at death. Uncannily, they were right. When the lottery result came out that evening, 7 and 3 were the last two digits of the first-prize ticket. Underground bookies in Thailand usually take bets from millions of punters on what the last two digits of the winning ticket will be. "'The bookies were wiped out as there were so many people who won the underground lottery," a local paper said.

His Conscience Resurfaced: A man who stole a canoe in Iowa 25 years ago repented on Easter weekend, sending a long-overdue $150 to pay for the pilfered boat. "His timing was right," said Dale Wagner, 54, the owner of the canoe. "And I've forgiven him."

Hee-Haw Hogs: A Florida farmer claims country music soothes his pigs. But two neighbors and a golf club filed lawsuits last week against him and another pig farmer, claiming their loud music disrupts golfers and turns away prospective homeowners.

S&M Noodles: The agency that watches Britain's television ads says a commercial for a product called Pot Noodles should not run during kids' programs. The ad shows a male prisoner being punished by a sadistic female guard for eating Pot Noodles. The prisoner is seen doing push-ups naked in the prison yard, as the guard shoves his face into the muddy ground with her boot.

News McNuggets:

* Rome's school lunchrooms will offer vegetarian menus Thursday as a tribute to the late Linda McCartney.

* A Nigerian snake charmer has been charged with causing the death of a 10-year-old boy who was bitten by his cobra.

* Wide World of Weird is published every Friday. Off-Kilter appears Monday through Thursday.

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