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Wide World of Weird

October 02, 1998

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

Clinton's Favorite Fill-Up Spot?: Enterprising gas stations in western China have taken service to new heights by offering sex with a tank of gasoline.

Some of the 1,000-plus filling stations in the region have been luring motorists with the services of prostitutes along with petrol and diesel oil, an industry publication said. "Sometimes there is no clear dividing line whether the customers come for gas or sex, but the sex service is based on the condition that you have to buy petrol first," said China OGP, which is published by the official Xinhua news agency.

A Bong in a Manger?: A New York man was arrested Tuesday on charges of possessing a stolen statue of the infant Jesus that had been turned into a marijuana pipe.

He Didn't Snore, Either: Margarita Sanchez's husband didn't speak to her for eight days. She thought he was angry, but he wasn't. He was dead. The 83-year-old man died in bed more than a week ago, but his wife slept next to him every night for eight days before realizing it, the Mexican government news agency said.

Vacuum Boy Fades Into Dustbin of History: Nearly a year after 8-year-old Morgan Wilburn's love of vacuums made him an overnight celebrity, his fame is fading. But that's the way he wants it. Among other things, it allows him to enjoy his 42 vacuum cleaners without constant interruption.

The boy's rise to stardom started last fall, when an article about his hobby appeared in the Roanoke (Va.) Times.

Soon the family got daily calls, and Morgan made appearances on "Good Morning America" and "The Rosie O'Donnell Show." A German TV crew even came to film him. Now, the calls have slowed to a trickle, but Morgan's fame has had its lasting benefits. One vacuum company added to his collection and gave him a savings bond for college. And his love life improved. When he was on Jay Leno's show as part of a segment on kid collectors, he met an 8-year-old Michigan snake fanatic. Now she's his girlfriend.

Prison Chic: For $69, you too can look like an escapee from the Milwaukee County Jail. George Keppler has created a line of blazing orange jumpsuits with the words "Milwaukee County Jail" stamped on the back. And they're selling like hot cakes, he said.

But county Sheriff Lev Baldwin said the shirts are dangerous. He asked Keppler to stop making the mock jail wear because of an incident last month in which a bus driver thought a man wearing the shirt was an escaped inmate. Authorities detained the man for several hours while deputies conducted a head count at the jail.

Athletic Chihuahuas and Ferrets: Ms. Dream, a 9-pound pet pooch, has been crowned the world's fastest Chihuahua. The compact canine beat out a pack of 64 competitors to take the third annual Chihuahua World Cup at Gulf Greyhound Park in Texas.

Meanwhile, competition was fierce at the Ferret Olympics, also in Texas. Some 200 ferret fans came out to see which pets would win awards for tipping over the most plastic cups, holding the longest kiss with their owners or doing the best weasel "war dance."

News McNuggets:

* Bare-knuckled political fights are to be expected. Bare-breasted candidates are not. Paula Sage, who is running for a judgeship in Oklahoma, is offering a $50,000 reward for information on who is distributing fliers that show her naked from the waist up. Sage said the photo was taken during a 1990 Halloween party by a former friend who now is her opponent's secretary.

* A British TV ad for blue jeans featuring the "apparent death" of a hamster set a national record for complaints, Britain's TV watchdog commission said.

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

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