Like millions of Americans and bumfuzzled people around the world, I have been focused on our new president and the build-out of his administration. Never in my lifetime have we experienced anything quite like it, and it is difficult not to be riveted to the news, no matter what one’s partisan political leanings may be. Every day is new and different and sometimes alarming.
That being said, the world is still turning, and news is happening outside Washington, D.C. and Palm Beach, Florida.
Some of that news is truly weird.
The world learned last month of the murder of a man identified as North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un’s half-brother at a Malaysian airport. News reports were murky at best but implied that a man — maybe the half brother and maybe not — was showered with some sort of poison, perhaps poison darts. Then the story veered from strange to bizarre when The Guardian reported that one of two women suspected in the attack thought she was participating in a comedy “prank” show. The 25-year-old Indonesian woman was paid to convince men to close their eyes, and then she and the other suspect sprayed them with a water gun. It is not clear how a lethal substance got into the water gun, but the woman and a man are under arrest in connection with the murder by poison, or whatever.
Meanwhile, the other woman is nowhere to be found, after moving hotels and borrowing scissors from a front desk clerk, apparently to cut her hair, which was found by hotel housekeeping. The Guardian also reports that North Korea is demanding the return of the man’s body, citing his supposed nationality, but Malaysian authorities are holding on to it until they determine the man’s actual identity and cause of death.
How weird is that?
It is not, however, the only weird news so far in 2017. The Huffington Post chronicles such stories, some of them falling into the “don’t try this at home” category. Here are a few samples.A hair-freezing contest in Canada’s Yukon province, where the outdoor temperature rarely reaches 25 degrees Fahrenheit, offers a $700 cash prize for the best-frozen hair photo. And how exactly do contestants freeze their hair for a winning pic? That area of the Yukon is blessed with many hot springs, so contestants jump into pools fed by the warm water, wet their hair, pop up until their hair begins to freeze, and then coax it into the desired style.
Other stories include a 39-year-old Mexican attorney who was born without arms setting a new Guinness World Record. The woman lit 11 candles in 60 seconds with her feet, breaking the previous record of 7 candles. She also writes, cooks, talks on the phone and does her hair and makeup with her feet.
Someone — it is hard to imagine who — has purchased Adolf Hitler’s personal travel telephone for $243,000. A photograph of the phone shows a battered red device, old style, of course, engraved with the Fuhrer’s name and a swastika. In addition, someone else purchased for a mere $24,300 a porcelain dog, said to have been made by slave labor at Dachau concentration camp. A Maryland auction house sold the items. Sales of such items are banned in many European countries, including France, Germany, Austria and Hungary, and prominent auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s do not sell Nazi artifacts.
From the stupid criminal department comes this doozey. A Michigan woman faces jail time after she bragged about beating a random Breathalyzer test on Facebook of all places. Apparently, it had not occurred to the 22-year-old woman, already on probation for a DWI conviction that her friends are not the only people on Facebook. Law enforcement officers scroll it, too.
Then there is a former sculptor for Disney who is trying to crowd fund production of a 4-inch, anatomically correct troll doll of Donald J. Trump, complete with flowing yellow tresses and a cellphone in his hand. We will go no further on that one.
Finally, much closer to home, residents of Calabash, that fried seafood heaven on North Carolina’s southern coast, are intrigued by sightings of “Donny,” an orange alligator. Apparently, Donny is not the only one. Another orange gator has been spotted in Hanahan, South Carolina. Wildlife officers in our neighboring state say not to worry. The odd color may come from where the crawling critters spent the winter — perhaps in a rusty pipe. Since alligators eventually shed their skin, these two guys will likely be green again at some point.
You really cannot make up this stuff.