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News of the Weird


Forget the horrifying clown from “It.” The newest inhabitant of your nightmares is a giant “fatberg” in the sewer system beneath the streets of London. A fatberg is created by a buildup of fat and grease combined with used diapers, sanitary napkins and wipes. This one is almost the length of three football fields and weighs more than 140 tons. Matt Rimmer with London’s Thames Water said the current glob is “a total monster and is taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove, as it’s set hard.” He said it’s basically like trying to break up concrete. [Metro News, 9/12/2017]

Wait, What?

Entrepreneur Miki Argawal, 38, of Brooklyn, New York, was a hit at this year’s Burning Man gathering in Nevada, where she pumped breast milk and offered it to fellow attendees to help with hangovers or use in lattes. She even tried some herself, saying it tasted a bit like coconut milk. She estimated that 30 to 40 people tried her milk. “The fact that any part of that could be seen as taboo … it’s time that conversation changes,” Argawal said. [United Press International, 9/7/2017]

Least Competent

Terror suspect and Uber driver Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 26, of Luton, England, was detained in London on Aug. 25 after using his navigation program to direct him to Windsor Castle. But the technology led him astray, and he pulled up outside The Windsor Castle pub in Windsor. After realizing his mistake, Chowdhury headed for London, where he parked his car next to a marked police van outside Buckingham Palace, brandished a 4-foot-long sword and yelled “Allahu Akbar.” Chowdhury was charged in the Westminster Magistrates Court with one count of preparing to commit an act or acts of terrorism. [The Telegraph, 8/31/2017]

Bright Ideas

An unnamed man in Plymouth, Minnesota, went to extraordinary lengths and wasted two days of police investigators’ time just to get a few days away from his wife, police Sgt. Keith Bird said. The woman reported her 34-year-old husband missing on Aug. 28 and showed police a text from him saying he had been kidnapped. The kidnapper demanded a paltry $140 for his return, and the wife agreed, but the kidnapper said she could wait for the husband to receive his paycheck. Eventually police caught up with the husband, who insisted he had indeed been kidnapped but asked officers to stop investigating. “He’s fine,” said Sgt. Bird. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 9/2/2017]

Life Imitates TV

Paul J. Newman of Rensselaer, New York, was sentenced on Sept. 6 to 2 1/3 to seven years in prison after pretending to be a licensed and registered architect, after an investigation the New York attorney general’s office dubbed “Operation Vandelay Industries” in a nod to “Seinfeld.” Newman’s charges included larceny, forgery, fraud and unlicensed practice of architecture. He will also have to pay more than $115,000 in restitution to his victims. [Albany Business Review, 9/6/2017]

Sweet Revenge

After arguing with a security guard about the high price of parking, a woman in Benxi, Liaoning Province, China, left her car in front of the entrance gate to a housing community on Aug. 22. But people have to get in and out, so a crane was employed to lift the car onto the roof of the security building next to the gate. Onlookers can be heard laughing in a video of the incident. The car was later lowered to the ground using the crane. [United Press International, 8/23/2017]

The Price of Vanity

Neven Ciganovic, 45, of Croatia was undergoing the latest in a series of plastic surgeries (this one a rhinoplasty) in Iran when he “reacted badly” to the general anesthesia and developed a painful, long-lasting erection, known as priapism. As he recovered in a Serbian hospital, Ciganovic was denied painkillers and was only relieved of the condition after another surgery, although he says it will be months before he is fully recovered. The tattoo-covered Ciganovic is hoping his latest nose operation will improve his looks enough to launch him to international stardom. [Metro News, 9/8/2017]

Unusual Hobbies

— British tree surgeon Gary Blackburn, 53, moved to Germany 32 years ago but holds a soft spot for Britain. So when the Brexit vote passed last year, “I decided to make my own little Britain here in Germany,” Blackburn said from his home in Kretzhaus. His exhibition includes a demilitarized Centurion tank (decorated with poppies and white doves, to symbolize peace), red telephone boxes and a life-size model of Queen Elizabeth. Neighbors have complained about the tank parked on his lawn, but so far officials have not demanded that Blackburn remove it. [Reuters, 9/5/2017]

— Farmer Jeremy Goebel of Evansville, Indiana, has honored the late actress Carrie Fisher with a corn maze planted in the shape of her iconic character, Princess Leia from “Star Wars.” He planted the maze last spring using a GPS device, and it was scheduled to open in early September. “I’ve always been a ‘Star Wars’ fan and I just wanted to pay tribute to Carrie Fisher,” Goebel said. [Evansville Courier & Press, 9/6/2017]

Why Not?

In Santa Fe, New Mexico, tens of thousands of people gathered at a city park on the evening of Sept. 1 to revel in the burning of the effigy Zozobra, a six-story monkey puppet filled with handwritten notes about anxieties and problems they hoped to send up in smoke. Locals dropped their notes in a “gloom box” at a shopping center, with subjects ranging from an ill family member to hurricane victims to government corruption. The tradition began in 1924 and was named for the Spanish word for upset or worry. [Associated Press, 9/1/2017]

Errant Butt-Dials

The New York court system’s former spokesman David Bookstaver, 59, is under investigation after accidentally admitting to a New York Post reporter in August that he “barely shows up to work.” The incident happened after Bookstaver had talked with the reporter on his cell phone. Without realizing it, Bookstaver redialed the reporter’s number, and the reporter listened in as Bookstaver talked with two other people about how little he works. The court system’s inspector general is working with the district attorney’s office on an inquiry, and two county officials are calling for Bookstaver to repay $149,900 of the “ill-gotten” taxpayer money. [New York Post, 9/7/2017]

Dumb Luck

Forklift driver Arron Hughes, 28, of Ruthin, Wales, England, has claimed the distinction of being the first person to successfully swim across the Hoover Dam reservoir on the border between Nevada and Arizona. The dam, which provides electricity and water to Las Vegas, has sucked in and killed 275 other swimmers. But Hughes, on a 37-hour bender during a bachelor party with 10 friends on Aug. 10, jumped in on a day when nine of the 10 hydroelectric turbines were not operating. “I just thought, let’s do it … so told the lads I was off. Got sucked in, well pushed by, the flow of the dam, so had to swim hard,” Hughes noted. “It’s a hell of a sight to see the dam from underneath.” He credits his fearlessness to his Welsh upbringing. “I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie really,” he said. Still, he couldn’t escape the police waiting on the other side when he pulled himself out of the water. They fined him and sent him on his way. [Daily Post, 9/11/2017]