Some loony things transpiring


December may be no loonier than other months, but you’d never know it from the news. Here are a number of peculiar items from 2019’s final month that will amuse you. They sound like fake news, but they claim to be genuine.

Police in Franklin, Mass., caught one of their own stealing Christmas toys intended for underprivileged children. Lawyers for the accused, a therapy dog named Ben, announced that the canine would not be charged and that he would be allowed to keep the purloined playthings. An FPD spokesperson said, “They had to be replaced anyway because Ben slobbered all over them.” 

Two of those devil-may-care cruise ships, the Carnival Glory and the Carnival Legend, collided while trying to dock in Cozumel, Mexico. Cruise directors on both ships wished a happy day ashore to those passengers not paralyzed by fright.

National Public Radio, with a straight face, reported that Miguel Wattson can light up a Christmas tree unaided by the power company. Miguel, who lives at the Tennessee Aquarium, is an electric eel.

NPR’s Paolo Zialcita reported that some London residents had criticized London’s Trafalgar Square Christmas tree, an annual gift from Norway, calling it “sparse, uneven and sad.” Meanwhile, in Rome, Italians nicknamed a civic Christmas tree “Spazzolone,” which translates to “toilet brush.”

Before sunrise on Christmas Day, a North Carolina couple heard ominous noises in their darkened home. Suspecting an intruder, they dialed 911, and then hid in a closet. Forsyth County sheriff’s deputies responded and heard a “strange, rustling noise” emanating from a downstairs bathroom. Guns drawn, they burst into the chamber and subdued the suspect. The perpetrator was a robotic vacuum cleaner.

On Christmas Eve, a python stowed away on a plane bound for New Zealand from Brisbane, Australia. Kiwi biosecurity officers, who extracted the sizeable snake, denied rumors that they had decapitated it with a shovel but admitted to “humanely euthanizing” the reptile.  

A news report claimed that Ben Workman of Provo, Utah, has implanted microchips in both his hands, allowing him to perform modern feats of sleight-of-hand such as unlocking his Tesla with a gesture. Other chips permit him to log off and on his computer and to manipulate other electronic devices, using technology similar to Apple Pay. Workman also uses a chip embedded in his left hand to perform magic tricks. He says that family members installed most of the chips, but the “Tesla key” chip required the help of a piercing studio.

Mississippi gamblers will be thrilled to learn of a Maryland man’s unlikely success in the world of scratch-off lottery tickets. The 72-year-old Harford County man won $50,000 in October and followed that with a December win of $20,000. Handicapper Otis Mulholland, who runs the Appalachian State and Ole Miss desks for a Las Vegas casino, said, “You’ve got about as much chance of doing that as finding an elephant in your Crackerjack box.”

An Associated Press report says that the city of Wausau, Wisc., banned snowball fights in 1962. Actually the statute forbids throwing projectiles, but eager-beaver strict constructionists ruled that it applies to snowballs. After 57 years, the city fathers and mothers are reconsidering the ban on snowballs—which almost every year shows up in columns like this one and portrays Wausau as holiday headquarters for the Scrooge family.

You can’t make this stuff up. Happy New Year!

William Jeanes is a Northsider.

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