Weirdest news of 2009
Updated: 22 hours 12 minutes ago
Buck Wolf Senior Correspondent
The United States may be facing shortages in fossil fuel, clean drinking water, jobs and fathers loyal to their families, but we've got an everlasting abundance of weird news – our last great natural resource.
I'm leaving Octomom, the White House party crashers, Balloon Boy's parents and other wannabe reality TV wingnuts off my list of 2009's Weirdest News, simply because these media whores lust for publicity, no matter how negative. Why play their game?
Besides, when Jon and Kate bombard us in a full multimedia attack, it's not weird. It's just plain wrong.
Here now are the stories that pinged the dial on my weird-o-meter, not just from the United States, but from around the world.
1. Driving Furniture While Intoxicated: Not satisfied with falling off a stool like other drinkers, Kile Wygle of Ohio equipped his bar seat with a lawnmower engine. After downing 15 beers one night in June, he was spotted zipping down a public street on his motorized bar stool at 38 mph. He would serve three days in a driver education program.
Not to be outdone, Dennis LeRoy Anderson of Minnesota was arrested after a night of heavy drinking when his motorized La-Z-Boy slammed into a parked car. He, too, pleaded guilty.
Amid the controversy, an indignant La-Z-Boy company declared any lounge chair equipped with headlights, side-view mirrors and a steering wheel couldn't possibly be a La-Z-Boy.
You could still make news, however, for a DUI in a conventional vehicle. After seven or eight brandy and cokes, Mary Strey of Wisconsin called 911 to report herself driving drunk. Police pulled her over, gave her a Breathalyzer test and found she was right. Her 911 tape was an instant classic.
2. Busted Justice: When British retailer Marks & Spencer started charging more for brassieres size DD and up, Beckie Williams of Britain – herself a size G – led the "Busts 4 Justice" protests. Her 17,000-member Facebook group brought M&S to its knees. By June, the policy was dropped and the store reported that sales had shot up to two bras per second – up by half a bra!
This undoubtedly was good news to 28-year-old Sheyla Hershey of Houston – owner of a surgically enhanced, 38KKK bosom – who announced in February that she wanted to keep augmenting herself until she overtakes 36MMM-sized Maxi Mounds for the world record.
In a much more compelling women's health story, Allison Henry of Kenmore, Wash., began speaking about her own personal tragedy, telling the world, "My vagina fell out."
3. Moonwalk Like an Ancient Egyptian: The death of Michael Jackson launched many strange tributes, none stranger than the crowds gathering at Chicago's Field Museum because they thought they could see the King of Pop's face in a 3,000-year-old statuette, complete with catlike features, unnaturally large eyes and a disfigured nose.
4. Antisocial Media: A teen in Staten Island, N.Y., walking down a sidewalk and texting, fell into an open manhole. Within hours, she was tweeting about it.
At a Sao Paulo prison, instead of scheming on how to break out, inmates began smuggling in cell phones by carrier pigeon. By now, there must be an app for that.
5. Urine Luck: In one of the stranger save-the-Earth campaigns, a Brazilian environmental group asked people to save water by peeing in the shower -- a move that could save 1,000 gallons of water annually, or so the group claimed in public service announcements.
6. Horsing Around: One interspecies roll in the hay is bad enough. Get caught twice and you must be Rodell Vereen, who had to register as a sex offender after his first man-on-horse conviction in 2007.
Two years later, he was charged with the same offense ... with the same horse, a mare named Sugar. The 50-year-old was sentenced to three years in prison, and the judge forever banned him from going near a stable.
In a page out of "The World According to Garp," a secretary involved with her boss bit off his ***** while performing oral sex in a car after it was rear-ended. She coughed up the tip of his partially eaten appendage and followed him to the hospital, where it was reattached.
In another brutal chomp, Vince Shlomi – otherwise known as TV's "ShamWow Guy" – got his tongue bitten by a woman described as a "$1,000-a-night prostitute." The Miami hotel room fight resulted in both parties getting arrested. Criminal charges were dropped, but the woman in question vowed to sue Mr. Slap Chop.
The year's biggest sex slob, however, had to be Adam Manning. Like a perfect dad-to-be, he was at his girlfriend's side as she was in the hospital to give birth. Then, while she was in the throes of labor, he allegedly grabbed the maternity nurse's breasts. He was in a Utah county jail when he was informed that he'd become a first-time father.
7. Ridiculously Fertile: For years, Julia Grovenburg and her husband tried to conceive. Then, like a miracle, it happened not once, but twice. The Arkansas woman somehow managed to conceive a second child while pregnant with her first.
The phenomenon, known as "superfetation," is so rare, doctors know of only 10 other cases. And unlike the Octomom, she did it without medical assistance.
The year's most remarkable working mom has got to be Chilean weightlifter Elizabeth Poblete, who didn't realize she was pregnant when she went into labor Dec. 8 during a training session.
Poblete, ranked 12th at the 2008 Olympics, had been on a strict diet and intense exercise regime, the sort that causes some female athletes to stop menstruating, and called the birth a "complete surprise."
8. This Is Your Brain On Drugs: Acea Schomaker had some explaining to do when a Pennsylvania sheriff caught him stuffing his cat into an extra-large, homemade bong. The 20-year-old was apparently trying to mellow out the kitty. "I know for sure this isn't the first time someone has done this," he told The Associated Press. "I'm just the first one to get caught."
9. Excuses, Excuses: A Belgian teen claimed she fell asleep in a tattoo artist's chair and woke up with 56 stars plastered over her face. The artist claimed she was a willing participant. And days later, she admitted that she just didn't want to tell her folks the truth about her ear-to-ear makeover.
In Britain, a man who strangled his wife successfully argued in court that he had a nightmare about fighting an intruder and accidentally killed her in his sleep. A heavyset Florida man was less successful when he tried the "too fat to kill" defense while on trial for killing his former son-in-law.
This year's lamest excuse, however, belongs to Keith Griffin of Florida. When police found more than 1,000 images of child porn on the 48-year-old man's computer, he simply blamed his cat, who has a nasty habit of jumping on his keyboard when he's not in the room. At least that naughty kitty didn't eat his homework.
10. Nude Coffee Kerfuffle: When 29-year-old Erick Williamson got busted in his own home for drinking his morning coffee in the nude, civil libertarians suddenly had a whole new war to fight.
It seems that two women and a 7-year-old boy spotted Williamson sipping java au naturel while they cut through his yard on the way to a park. Prosecutors contended that Williamson was "intentionally naked" – lingering near windows just trying to be seen – and a jury convicted him of indecent exposure.
The judge did not fine or sentence him. But Williamson is still vowing to appeal. He told The Washington Post that the case was about "personal freedom," and to stumble out of bed for some morning joe in the raw is "very liberating."
11. Google Worship: Search engine optimization – a fancy way of saying "whoring yourself in any way possible to rank high in an Internet search" – became an obsession in 2009, not just for media companies and retailers, but for municipalities.
The French coastal town of Eu announced that it would consider changing its name because people looking for the vacation haven on the Web are instead bombarded with information on the European Community, also known as the "EU."
Over the centuries, Joan of Arc and William the Conqueror passed through the historic village. But in the age of SEO, maybe it makes more Google sense to be known as "Eu-en-Normandie" or "Ville d'Eu," two of the proposed alternatives.
12. Moo-ving Research: Farmers have long been trying to get cows to produce more milk. Finally, this year, scientists at England's Newcastle University gave us a solution: talk to the animals.
Researchers Peter Rowlinson and Catherine Douglas studied the practices at 500 dairy farms and found that cows with names produced one to two pints of milk more a day than cows that weren't given names.
"Even if a herdsman gave a cow a number instead of a name, that cow just seemed to be more agitated around milking time," said Rowlinson. "It just seems that cows with names are happier cows."
Why didn't we know this earlier? Nobody, it seems, ever asked a cow.
Some of these were pretty funny