My Most Fascinating People of 2013

Another year has passed, and Barbara Walters has unveiled her “Most Fascinating People of 2013.” We will have to wait a few days to find out who is number one, I can tell you that she is fascinated by a twerking teenager, a four-month-old baby (Prince George) and a family with lots of bad facial hair. In my personal opinion these people are annoying, cute and over-exposed … in that order.

Here are some really, truly, eye-popping-ly fascinating people to end the year:

I like celebrities as much as the next person, so I was intrigued when this item came over the AP wire: “Steven Seagal adopts stray dog in Romania.”  The story is both more and less than the headline promises. Apparently the Romanian Parliament is in the process of euthanizing 64,000 stray dogs following the mauling death of 4-year-old boy. That’s a lot of stray dogs! But Steven “showed his soft side” by adopting a “black puppy.” The good news for the puppy: You’re not going to die. The bad news: You’re not going to live in a mansion in L.A. Mr. Seagal is paying the shelter $18 a month for your room and board. The identity of the lucky dog was not released.

One more celebrity. Brooke Shield celebrated her birthday back in June by releasing (insert drum roll here) a list of “25 Things You Don’t Know about Me.” I know. Maybe we don’t want to. Still, I had to look. I fell asleep before I finished the list, and you’ll sympathize when I tell you that number one was “I get shots because I’m allergic to my dog.” I think even Prince George can do better.

Ilda Boccassini fascinates me because how can someone with the gumption to stand up to half a country, quiver at empty threats. Here’s the story: Ms. Boccassini prosecuted Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for paying for sex with an underage “dancer.” I’m guessing she wasn’t a ballerina. Anyway, lots of people in Italy liked Berlusconi and didn’t care about the dancer so they were mad at Ilda. Someone mailed her a “threatening letter and two bullets.” A great uproar ensued. Uh, Ilda? Hello? You need a gun to make the bullets work.

Readers of this blog know how much I enjoy university studies. I was fascinated by Clemson University student Nathan Weaver’s “turtle project.” In this groundbreaking study, young Nathan set out to “help turtles cross the road” so of course he set a fake turtle in the middle of a busy street to see what would happen. You know what happened. The fake turtle got run over. According to Mr. Weaver, some drivers “swerved and deliberately ran over the animal.” Except it wasn’t an animal, it was a piece of plastic that looked like a turtle. Nevertheless, the headline was a classic – “Turtle Project Takes Dark Twist.”

James Edward Wellborn, Jr. – First of all, when the media refer to you by your first and middle name, man, you’re in trouble. In the case of James Edward, he broke into someone’s house and stole their TV, and if he’d stopped there, James Edward might still be enjoying a life of crime. But no. He also took a pet lemur. A lemur is a monkey-like creature with golden eyes. Only his lawyer knows why James Edward grabbed the lemur and gave it to his sister to take care of.  Unfortunately for James Edward, his sister freaked out when she realized it was stolen and insisted he give it back. But as any self-respecting thief knows, you don’t just give something back, you sell it back. Everyone knows this … except the victims. They called the police.

Jamie Jeanette Craft will go down in history for the least successful get-away ever. Why? She tried to flee the scene of an accident in a battery-powered Fisher Price Power Wheels. The police caught her.

You ever wonder how low people can go? Try this: Fernando Martin Vicente was fined 5,400 euros “for fielding athletes with no disabilities at the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney in order to win medals.”  Vicente had argued that “If someone wants to cheat, it’s difficult to detect. It’s easy to pretend you have little intelligence but the opposite is difficult.” (Mr. Vicente himself might be the exception to this rule.) So of course with a team packed with “intelligent” people, you’re probably thinking they dominated the Paralympics. Not so. They finished third.

I’m glad this happened in England, because if it happened in America everyone in Europe would be calling us rubes. Anyway, a British boat captain, Colin Darch, was scheduled to appear at the Parkham Women’s Institute to talk about pirates. I should say the Parkham women devote themselves to “crafts and good works.” To get into the spirit of the evening, the ladies dressed up as pirates with eye patches and fake parrots on shoulders and swords and such. Only problem: Captain Darch was there to talk about his recent run-in with Somali pirates.

You’ve probably run across the occasional news story about the 100-year-old bottle of wine. I always wonder if it’s any good. Unfortunately there’s only one way to find out. Open the bottle and drink it. So I’d like to think John Saunders was doing the world a favor when he (allegedly) drank $102,000 worth of the vintage whiskey he was guarding. He very thoughtfully drank four cases of the 100-year-old brew, leaving five cases for the rest us (providing we can afford it). It’s nice to see the common man enjoying some of the finer things in life, although his public defender insists Mr. Sauders is innocent.


In the honored position as most fascinating people of 2013 are the Sworn Virgins of Albania. Being somewhat isolated and in the mountains and all, Albanians have not been schooled in the fine art of feminism so they came up with a unique solution to providing support and protection to man-less households in an area plagued by “blood feuds and honor killings”: the Sworn Virgins of Albania. These ladies take a vow of celibacy and become the heads of their households. They are allowed to wear pants and cut their hair. “They smoke, work and swagger about town with the other men.” They are addressed as “uncle” and referred to as “he.”

You know why I liked the Sworn Virgins of Albania best, don’t you? The other fascinating people tickled my funny bone, but the Sworn Virgins … they sparked my imagination. How about novel about a woman who sacrifices everything, even her identity, to care for her family. Or maybe a romance. Or espionage. But that’s me.

Happy Holidays to all!

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