News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

LEAD STORY -- Weird Chemistry

In Lawrence County, Tennessee, law enforcement officials are confronting the fallout from a new drug known as "Wasp" (crystallized wasp repellant mixed with methamphetamine). To wit: On Dec. 18, as the Johnson family baked Christmas cookies in their Lawrenceburg kitchen, Danny Hollis, 35, walked into their home and asked for help. NewsChannel 5 in Nashville reported Hollis poured himself a glass of water from the sink before grabbing a knife and cutting across his throat. Teenage son Canaan Johnson said Hollis then ran up to the second floor, heaved an oak dresser down the stairs, and jumped out a window onto a gazebo below, seriously injuring his neck. The Johnsons, meanwhile, had retreated to their car, where they called 911. Hollis chased the car down the street, but got hung up on a barbed wire fence, then stripped naked to free himself and climbed a nearby tree, where officers found him, according to police reports. Hollis fought them off by allegedly throwing his own feces at them, as they tased him out of the tree. Hollis was booked into the county jail on numerous charges. [NewsChannel 5, 1/4/2018]

Oooh, Wise Guy, Eh?

Khaled A. Shabani, 46, a hairstylist in Madison, Wisconsin, was arrested on a tentative charge of mayhem and disorderly conduct while armed after an altercation with a customer on Dec. 22. Shabani scolded the 22-year-old customer for fidgeting, then taught him a lesson by using the "shortest possible attachment" to "run down the middle of the customer's head," reported the Wisconsin State Journal, and "leaving him looking a bit like Larry from 'The Three Stooges,'" police spokesman Joel DeSpain said. Shabani also clipped the customer's ear with scissors. "While it is not a crime to give someone a bad haircut," DeSpain noted, "you will get arrested for intentionally snipping their ear with a scissors." Shabani said the snip was an accident, and his charge was later reduced to a ticket for disorderly conduct. [Wisconsin State Journal, 12/28/17]

Bright Ideas

-- Polk County (Florida) Sheriff's officers responded to an unusual 911 call on New Year's Eve: Michael Lester, 39, of Winter Haven, started off by telling the dispatcher, "Umm, I'm drunk. I don't know where I'm at. I'm just drunk driving." The dispatcher urged Lester to pull over and park, but he explained that he was driving on the wrong side of the road near a Publix and wondered where the police were. WTVT reported that officers finally caught up with Lester, who helpfully explained he'd had several beers, hadn't slept much and had taken methamphetamine earlier in the day; he was jailed on a DUI charge. Officers later posted on their Facebook page that "in this particular incident, nobody was hurt, so we couldn't help but LOTO (that means we Laughed Our Tasers Off)." [WTVT, 1/5/2018]

-- Disgruntled driver Matthew Middleton, 49, of Peterlee, England, spotted a speed camera near Hartlepool Rugby Club in October and decided to take a stand. He got out of his car and stood in front of the camera, blocking it, until police arrested him. Middleton further antagonized the officer by calling him a "pig" and giving his name as Elvis Presley. "They acted like what I did was the crime of the century," Middleton told Metro News. "I know I shouldn't have done it. People have just been laughing about it ... well, apart from my wife." Middleton was fined about $54 plus court costs for his antics. [Metro News, 1/9/2018]


Bertha Vickers of Morgantown, Mississippi, turned 100 on Jan. 9. To celebrate, she bagged a deer. "I was sort of shaking until I got ready to shoot," Vickers told the Clarion Ledger. "I didn't think it was all going to go right." Vickers still lives in her home and mows her own lawn, tends a garden and hunts for squirrels. "I don't know why everybody is making such a big deal about it," she said. "It was just a doe. I would love to kill a buck." [Clarion Ledger, 1/5/2018]

Least Competent Criminal

When Dustin Johnson, 22, of Minot, North Dakota, tried to steal $4,000 worth of merchandise from a local Hobby Lobby, he failed to take into account that shopping carts don't have snow tires. The Grand Forks Herald reported that over a seven-hour period on Jan. 3, Johnson filled a cart then fled the store -- where the cart became stuck in snow in the parking lot and flipped over. Johnson fell down, then got up to run, leaving behind his wallet with photo ID matching the shoplifter's description. Minot police caught up with Johnson at his home. [Grand Forks Herald, 1/4/2018]

Extreme Climate News

It may be cold where you are, but it's hot in Broadford, a small town about an hour from Melbourne, Australia, where on Jan. 5, the highway began melting. Temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit and higher reactivated an ingredient in the road surface, turning it into a sticky mess on the Hume Freeway, 9News reported. Motorists were warned by Victoria police to avoid the right lane and expect delays over a 10km stretch. Officials also put in place a fire ban and urged people to stay indoors until the heat abated. [9News, 1/5/2018]

Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

Christians in a Portuguese village carry on a curious tradition during Epiphany: They encourage their young children to smoke cigarettes. Vale de Salgueiro locals told Fox News that nobody is sure what the smoking symbolizes, but the centuries-old tradition persists. And Portuguese authorities don't intervene, despite the fact that the legal age to purchase tobacco in Portugal is 18. Writer Jose Ribeirinha researched the tradition and said that since Roman times, villagers in the region have done things that were out of the norm during winter solstice celebrations. [Fox News, 1/7/2018]

The Litigious Society

Siera Strumlauf and Benjamin Robles of California, and Brittany Crittenden of New York, saw their complaints go up in steam on Jan. 5 when U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers dismissed their lawsuit against Starbucks for underfilling its lattes and mochas. According to Reuters, the judge cited lack of evidence brought by the plaintiffs, who accused the coffee chain of fraud by making its cups too small and instructing baristas to skimp on ingredients and adhere to low "fill-to" lines on milk pitchers. The suit also claimed milk foam should not be counted toward advertised volumes, an opinion Rogers said reasonable customers do not hold. Starbucks and the plaintiffs had no comment. [Reuters, 1/7/2018]

Weird Science

Researchers have discovered that 99 percent of green sea turtles born in the northern parts of Australia's Great Barrier Reef are now female. Sea turtles' gender is determined by the temperature at which the eggs are incubated, and warmer temperatures reduce the number of male hatchlings. The author of a new study, marine biologist Michael Jensen, told The News York Times the shift in gender suggests climate change is having a more dramatic effect on sea turtle populations than scientists realized. "We're all trying to wrap our heads around how these populations are going to respond to those changes," he said. Researchers warn that continued global warming will threaten the persistence of these populations. [New York Times, 1/10/2018]

Animals Gone Wild

Postal workers in the Rocky River suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, were unable to deliver mail to about two dozen homes for three weeks in December and January after being attacked by aggressive wild turkeys. Local ordinances prevented the city from eliminating the birds, so residents were asked to pick up their mail at the post office. Rocky River Mayor Pam Bobst encouraged residents to stop putting out bird food, hoping that would discourage the turkeys from hanging around. "There's a lot of bird feeders over there, so there's a food source in that area," she told The USPS said several carriers were pecked, but no serious injuries had been reported. [, 1/6/2018]

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