News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

LEAD STORY -- Bright Idea

Joshua Jack of Auckland, New Zealand, received an email from his bosses at an ad agency informing him that he was expected at a "redundancy meeting" to discuss his future at the company. Kindly, the New Zealand Herald reported, they suggested he was welcome to bring along a support person, such as a friend or family member. "Sensing the bad news, I decided I'd need the best support person available," Jack wrote on Facebook, "so I spent $200 ($127 U.S.) to hire a clown." As the co-workers discussed Jack's exit, the clown blew up balloons and folded them into animals. He mimed crying when Jack was handed his final paperwork. Jack said his bosses found the humor in the situation, and he has already landed another job. [NZ Herald, 9/13/2019]

News You Can Use

It's springtime in Australia, which means if you're headed outside down under, you'll want to carry a big stick with you. September and October are the height of magpie swooping season, when nesting magpies are known to attack walkers, runners and bike riders in defense of their young. While they're only 12 inches long or so, 7News reported, the black-and-white birds can cause a lot of pain with their sharp beaks. Last year, a toddler was nearly blinded, and this year a man who was attacked as he rode his bike veered off the path and crashed, later dying of head injuries. "They're never trying to hurt anyone or be malicious," ornithologist Gisela Kaplan said. "It's all about risk assessment." [7News, 8/26/2019]

The Dog Did It

Thomas Barnes, 58, got an unpleasant surprise in his bill from DirectTV in August after his dog, Marino, jumped up on Barnes' bed and pressed a remote button that mistakenly ordered pay-per-view from the Hustler channel. Barnes immediately called his service provider and explained the snafu, and he was assured that the charges would be removed. But the X-rated content remained, so after making a second call and getting no satisfaction, Barnes paid his next bill -- minus $70. Then his service was canceled altogether. Finally, Barnes complained to the Federal Communications Commission, which prompted a call from DirectTV, promising a credit on his next bill. "There's a problem when there's a mistake and you expect me to pay for the mistake," Barnes told the Raleigh News and Observer. [Raleigh News and Observer, 9/1/2019]

There's a Rule for Everything

Followers of Emily Post who are floundering with the rules for making toast ... er, getting toasted will want to pick up the new book from her great-great-granddaughter, Lizzie Post. According to The New York Times, "Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis, From Dispensaries to Dinner Parties" offers tidbits of advice for a variety of situations, to wit: Don't eat all the munchies. Avoid words like "pothead" and "weed," which can have negative connotations. Tip your "budtender" well, as he or she probably makes minimum wage. "Etiquette," Post reminds us, "can be so easy." [New York Times, 7/8/2019]


Gerry Moore's goal with his latest project is "making people smile," and it's working. The Pensacola, Florida, man built a "boat car," a hybrid vehicle that looks like a boat on top but motors along the street on the chassis of a Ford Expedition. Moore's wife, Karen, said her husband completed the project in three days and made sure it was street legal before taking it out on the road. WEAR TV reported on Sept. 10 that the vehicle is a "permanent convertible," but Moore keeps a scuba mask and snorkel on board in case they get caught in the rain. [WEAR, 9/10/2019]

Seems Like a Theme

-- After Hurricane Dorian moved away from the U.S. southeast coast, a couple from Summerville, South Carolina, strolled out to Folly Beach to see what had washed up. Their efforts were rewarded when they stumbled on two cannonballs from the Civil War. "When we first found the one, my girlfriend thought it was a rock," Aaron Lattin said. "But when I started to dig around it, it was very round. ... We came back the next day and we found the larger cannonball tucked away in the brush, and that's when we contacted authorities." WCIV reported that after Hurricane Matthew in 2016, 16 cannonballs were found in that same spot. "The whole Charleston area is exactly where the Civil War began, so to find something causes you to look back and realize what a big part of history that was, it's very exciting," Lattin remarked. [WCIV, 9/10/2019]

-- Jeff Eastham, hired to remove a dead tree on a historic property in Independence, Missouri, in early September, was surprised when a small Civil War cannonball fell out of one of the branches. The property is the site of the Overfelt-Johnston house, which served as a hospital during the first Battle of Independence. Owner Randall Pratt told KMBC that it wasn't the first cannonball they'd found on the property: "When the property was restored in 1980, there was a cannonball that had been shot into the wall, just to the left of the upstairs window," Pratt said. In addition to the newest munition, a half-dozen old chains were found embedded in the tree. Pratt said he would keep the cannonball to display in the historic home. [KMBC, 9/12/2019]

Hair Fetish?

In the overnight hours of Sept. 17, thieves targeting Prime Trading Hair and Wigs in Miami Gardens, Florida, rammed the front door repeatedly and eventually made off with $70,000 to $80,000 worth of wigs, some worth as much as $800 apiece, reported WFOR. Business owner Rakib Hossain said the thieves "knew where the expensive products were, and they knew everything about the stock room." Thankfully, he was insured for his losses. In a strange twist, the burglary at Prime Trading follows a similar incident two weeks earlier, right across the street at Subi Training Inc., where criminals stole up to $100,000 worth of products including many wigs. [WFOR, 9/17/2019]


In their booking photos, Aaron Seth Thomas, 31, and Megan Lynn Mondanaro, 35, are both sporting sly little grins, and no wonder: After they were detained near midnight on Sept. 13 for drunk bicycling in Fernandina Beach, Florida, the couple passed the time in the back of the patrol car by stripping down and having sex. Nassau County Sheriff's deputies pulled Thomas, who was fully naked, out of the car, but he escaped, The Florida Times-Union reported. He was later found hiding behind an ice cream store nearby. The two were charged with lewd and lascivious exhibition, threats against public officials, attempted escape, resisting arrest with violence, exposing sexual organs and theft, along with DUI. [Florida Times-Union, 9/16/2019]

Extreme Measures

Twenty-two-year-old Erik Villasenor of Sylmar, California, REALLY didn't want to go to the Los Angeles County Fair on Sept. 15 with his parents. Evidently, his determination was great that he thought it was appropriate to send an email to fair staff around 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 13, with an alarming warning: "Hello, I was told that someone was planning on doing a mass shooting on Sunday at the fairgrounds. I just wanted to inform you guys already." Naturally, Fox News reported, Villasenor's email set off a chain of events involving the police department, FBI and anti-terror liaisons. Villasenor eventually admitted to authorities that it was a hoax and was arrested just a few hours later. [Fox News, 9/16/2019]

Oh, the Stupidity!

Tyler Uher -- whom Ohio University has explicitly confirmed is NOT a student at the institution -- suffered numerous injuries on Sept. 13, after he climbed an electric pole near the Athens, Ohio, campus to the cheers of a raucous crowd below. At the top, Uher, who had been drinking, grabbed a live wire, which sent sparks flying and set his hand on fire, reported the Daily Mail. He then lost his footing and fell to the ground, about 30 feet below. One witness was shaken: "I thought he was dead. There's no explanation for him living." His injuries included three broken leg bones, four breaks in his back, numerous burns and other fractures. Uher's sister, Danielle, started a GoFundMe page to help pay his medical bills, but some weren't having it: Comments included, "What in the name of God were you thinking?" Athens police said that Uher may be charged with criminal mischief. [Daily Mail, 9/16/2019]

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