News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

Happy New Year

News of the Weird extends greetings for a happy and blissfully less weird 2021. While you're welcoming the new year, enjoy some of our favorite items from 2020.

Coping

Seattle dad and self-described travel enthusiast Steve Simao attracted a following after his daughter, Annisa, called him out on her TikTok account for his purchase of a pair of first-class leather seats taken from a Delta MD90 Jetliner, complete with an air safety card. Simao, who is vice president of sales at Windstar Cruises, found the seats on eBay in November, reported The Washington Post, and has had fun scratching his itch to travel with them ever since, sending his daughter videos of her mother "bringing food to the (tray) table and him just sitting there enjoying it," Annisa said. Delta CEO Ed Bastian has taken notice and given the three Simaos round-trip, first-class tickets to anywhere in the United States. Hawaii is high on their list. [The Washington Post, 12/8/2020]

Florida

A woman who would not leave a St. Petersburg, Florida, Mobil gas station was arrested for trespassing on Oct. 14, The Smoking Gun reported. Melinda Lynn Guerrero, 33, was also charged with providing a false name to law enforcement after she repeatedly said her name was "My butt just farted." Officers were familiar with Guerrero from a series of arrests over several years, and her last name is tattooed on her back. They noted she may have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs. [The Smoking Gun, 10/16/2020]

Creme de la Weird

Kazakh bodybuilder, actor and self-described "sexy maniac" Yuri Tolochko announced his marriage to his beloved, a sex doll named Margo, on Instagram on Nov. 25 and shared with his followers their wedding video, in which the joyous couple, wearing a tuxedo and a full-length wedding dress, exchange vows and welcome friends and loved ones to a reception after the ceremony, The Sun reported. The groom identifies himself as pansexual and able to fall in love with "a character, an image, a soul," and said the two became engaged a year ago, after he rescued her from some unwanted attention in a nightclub. "Couples need to talk less and connect more," Tolochko said. "Margo and I realized that it takes more than words to have a conversation." [The Sun, 11/25/2020]

A 2020 Metaphor

An Amazon delivery driver in Nuthall, Nottingham, England, is out of a job after Sharon Smith, 53, discovered him defecating in her back garden in late July. Smith said she saw the man run toward her garden and went to investigate. "I asked what the heck he was doing," Smith told Metro News, "and he just remained pooing whilst asking me what my problem was -- the cheek of it." The driver told police he wasn't feeling well and was desperate, and he didn't realize he was in a private garden. Smith agreed to not press charges as long as he cleaned up the mess and his employer was informed; Amazon promised a gift voucher as a goodwill gesture. [Metro News, 8/4/2020]

Revenge

An unnamed man in Cairns, North Queensland, Australia, posted notices offering a $100 prize to the person able to best impersonate Chewbacca from "Star Wars," but the contest turned out to be a hoax designed to harass the woman who dumped him. The posters listed the woman's phone number and invited contestants to call and deliver their best Chewbacca roar. The woman, identified only as Jessica, told 9News: "I'm getting phone calls at really strange hours of the night. ... I thought it was quite funny, actually, a good joke." However, she drew the line when the ex abandoned his car, without tires, in the driveway of her home, blocking her in. "The police ... are going to do something about it," she said. [9News, 7/23/2020]

Must-See TV

Police in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, arrested Robert Lee Noye, 52, on Feb. 17 and charged him with first-degree harassment and false imprisonment after his victim told them Noye kidnapped her and forced her to watch the 1977 historical miniseries "Roots" "so she could better understand her racism," The Gazette reported. He allegedly told her if she did not sit for the entire nine-hour series about slavery, he would "kill her and spread her body parts across Interstate 380 on the way to Chicago." [The Gazette, 2/17/2020]

Pairs With a Nice Chianti

The Design Museum in London has included a "DIY meal kit" featuring steaks that could be grown from a diner's own human cells among the nominees in its Beazley Designs of the Year exhibit. Developers of the Ouroboros Steak envision that an individual will be able to harvest cells from their own cheek and feed them with serum derived from donated blood that has expired, Dezeen reported. After about three months, the steaks would be fully grown. "People think that eating oneself is cannibalism, which technically this is not," said Grace Knight, one of the designers. Researcher Orkan Telhan added, "Our design is scientifically and economically feasible but also ironic in many ways," he added. [Dezeen, 11/13/2020]

Frontiers of Farming

Cockroach farms are not new in China, where the bugs have long been used in Chinese medicine, but a new facility near the eastern city of Jinan is gaining attention as a way to deal with food waste while producing organic protein supplements for animal feeds. In four industrial-sized hangars, Australia's ABC News reported, rows of shelves are filled with food waste collected from restaurants through an elaborate system of pipes. A moat filled with roach-eating fish surrounds each building to keep the roaches from escaping. "In total there are 1 billion cockroaches," farm manager Yin Diansong said. "Every day they can eat 50 tonnes of kitchen waste." Said project director Li Yanrong, "If we can farm cockroaches on a large scale, we can provide protein that benefits the entire ecological cycle." [ABC News, 9/19/2020]

Scheme

Residents in the upscale neighborhoods of Woodway and Edmonds, Washington, have been visited recently by people carrying official-looking documents who knock on doors, tell homeowners they own the property and "they're there to repossess the home and want the people to vacate the premises," Edmonds police Sgt. Josh McClure told KIRO. The group identifies itself as Moorish Sovereign Citizens, McClure said, who "believe that they own all of the land between Alaska and Argentina." So far, the people have cooperated with police and left after being told they are trespassing. [KIRO, 11/25/2020]

The Last Straw

After four of his neighbors complained to police about "Lawnmower Man's" loud and excessive use of his riding mower, Pasco County (Florida) Deputy Michael O'Donnell arrived at Robert Wayne Miller's home on Dec. 24 to assess the situation. But Miller, 57, wasn't cooperating. When O'Donnell approached the property, which displayed "No Trespassing" signs, Miller revved the engine of the mower in response. Then O'Donnell tried to get him into the patrol car so he could issue a citation, but Miller refused. "I've had four people come out and tell me that they can't take it anymore," O'Donnell told Miller. Dwaine White, who lives across the street, told The Washington Post that the mower isn't even capable of cutting grass. "He'll run that tractor all night, and it echoes all over the neighborhood," White said. Finally, Lawnmower Man went inside his home, where he was ultimately arrested for disturbing the peace and not complying with a law enforcement officer's command. If convicted, he could spend 18 months in jail and pay a $1,500 fine. [The Washington Post, 12/27/2019]

Creepy

Srinivas Gupta, a businessman in Koppal, India, and his wife, Madhavi, were building their dream home when she died in a tragic car crash in 2017. But in many ways, she is still with Gupta -- especially now that he has installed a life-size wax statue of her in the home. Madhavi's likeness is in a seated position, clothed in a pink sari and gold jewelry. "The planning for the house was all done by her and we couldn't imagine entering this new house without her," Anusha Gupta, one of the couple's daughters, told CNN. At a housewarming party on Aug. 7, friends and relatives posed with Madhavi on a couch and posted photos to social media. The family says they will keep the statue in their courtyard: "She used to enjoy the outdoors," Anusha said. [CNN, 8/12/2020]

Animal Farm

A Polish pig farmer in his 70s who had been missing since Dec. 31 is believed to have been eaten by his livestock, Fox News reported. Lubin District Prosecutor Magdalena Serafin told local media the farmer's remains, consisting of bones and skull fragments, were found by a neighbor, who called police after spotting the bones while fetching water from a nearby well on Jan. 8. The farmer's animals were roaming freely in the yard, and officials indicated it was clear that the pigs had feasted on him. They suspect he died of a fall or heart attack. [Fox News, 1/17/2020]

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