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Wide World of Weird

June 26, 1998

A weekly roundup of unusual news stories from around the globe, compiled from Times wire services:

The Suspect Had a Glazed Look: Two New York cops who staked out a Dunkin' Donuts shop recently in hopes of catching a serial doughnut-store robber have nabbed their suspect. The twist: His last name is Duncan--and on the police sheet, they at first spelled it Dunkin.

He also had an accomplice: 43-year-old Howard Johnson.

A New Viagra Hazard: An 89-year-old Florida man has been charged with attempted murder for allegedly clubbing a 34-year-old woman with a crowbar after she rejected his Viagra-charged advances.

If Godzilla Smoked . . . : Veteran Cuban cigar-roller William Collejo has just the thing for aficionados who enjoy a long smoke: a 14-foot cigar. Drawing on more than 40 years of experience, he hand-rolled the monster Havana cigar, believed to be the longest in the world. The Guinness Book of World Records makes no mention of the longest stogie.

Caveat Edna: Women across the country named Hazel, Edna and Ethel have been getting unusual phone calls from stranded grandsons asking them to wire money to repair a broken-down car.

Police say the "grandson" is Daniel L. Rohlfs, who allegedly called women with old-fashioned names in hopes of finding gullible elderly victims who would believe his story and send money. It paid off. Police say eight women in five states--including California--sent Rohlfs $7,000, which was used to buy crack cocaine. "He apparently learned this in prison," a detective said. Even after being arrested May 18, Rohlfs was charged with calling a 93-year-old and getting her to send enough money for bail.

Dance Fever Falters: For 151 years, dancing was against the rules at Baylor University. When the Southern Baptist school lifted the ban two years ago, many students welcomed the beginning of a new era on campus. But Baylor is still not much of a place to trip the light fantastic. There have been only five on-campus dances since the first groundbreaking soiree in April 1996. And one was just for alumni. Administrators say repealing the ban has proved to be mostly symbolic.

Sounds Like a Stupid Poll to Us: A new Harris poll says Americans think doctors have the most prestigious profession. Scientists and teachers ranked second and third, respectively, while union leaders scored the worst, earning a rating of "very great prestige" from just 16% of people and "considerable prestige" from 28%. Second-to-last place went to journalists behind lawyers and members of Congress.

Rock-a-Bye Baby: Environmental activist Julia Hill celebrated her sixth month of living in an ancient redwood tree, saying she had no plans to abandon the protest any time soon. Hill, 24, has been perched atop a Northern California redwood she calls "Luna" since Dec. 10, to save it from the chain saws of Pacific Lumber.

News McNuggets:

* A food consultant says it won't be long before Venezuelan cacao bean growers offer "estate grown" chocolates with "incredible chocolate flavor"--and incredibly high prices. Venezuela is already producing regional types of chocolate with "enormous flavor differences." When larger growers mimic the "estate bottled" wine classification system that the French originated, prices are likely to be high.

* About 500 of Sri Lanka's estimated 2,500 to 3,000 elephants are used to load logs onto trucks or live at Buddhist temples throughout the country, according to Reuters.

* Wide World of Weird is published on Fridays. Off-Kilter appears Monday through Thursday.

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