Top five weird news stories for 2007

It’s been a wild, woolly year for weird news, and our warped, slightly cracked cup has runneth over. After examining all the stories, obsessing over the blog stats, and giving the WeirdIts ninja monkeys a handful of darts and a few old newspapers, it’s time to reveal the top five stories of the year!

5. Mr. Toilet’s throne home. This heartwarming story of a man and his dreams of living in a two-story, toilet-shaped home captured the imagination of people everywhere, especially those doing the pee-pee dance while waiting in line at the mall bathroom. While Mr. Toilet created the ultimate commode as an activist message about lack of sanitary facilities around the world, he’s also boosting South Korea’s tourism trade by allowing tours through his drain domain. Hmmm, wonder if the animated film ‘Flushed Away’ is in all the DVD players?

4. Dog saves owner with paws of life. A golden retriever insures a lifetime of premium dog food by applying his own Heimlich maneuver to his owner, who was choking on a piece of apple. Seeing his owner’s distress, he pushed her to the ground and ‘jumped up and down on her back,’ forcing the errant fruit outward, according to the grateful dog lover. Other than a few paw-shaped bruises, the owner survived the ordeal intact, and her doctor said that the dog likely saved her life. Toby received a commendation for his actions, and his owner probably received a recommendation to stick with applesauce.

3. Attack of the turkeys! Massachusetts was invaded this year by large, feathered bullies wandering the streets of several towns. Once hardly seen across the east, wild turkeys got busy with their own bad selves and began a re-population boom. While talking trash may step up your game, talking turkey to these fowl felons would just earn you a winged beat-down. As they move back to take their old territory, the birds have discovered a new hobby: chasing joggers. Animal control advised trying to establish ‘turkey dominance’ by whacking the flappers with a broom or a purse if people felt threatened, but perhaps the best course of action would have been an APB: suspects are not armed, but considered delicious.

2. Artists carve out secret space in mall. Sure, everyone needs their own space, but leave it to artists to create that space with stealth and style. Eight artists from a local co-op in Rhode Island created their own small apartment, hidden away in a mall parking lot. The room was decked out with a sofa, chairs and tables, along with essentials like a waffle iron and Sony Playstation. Lacking any plumbing, the artists would dart out to use the mall restrooms during their multi-week stays at the perfect pad as they studied ‘mall life.’ The percentage of artists who used the secret lair to impress women is unknown, but we all know it had to have happened, because the room went undiscovered for four long years. When their sweet digs were discovered, the leader of the co-op ultimately received probation for trespassing. While the mall guards didn’t discover the room for years, thieves did, and stole the Playstation last year.

1. Monkey on the lam! Oliver, a white-faced capuchin monkey, escaped twice this year from his home at the Tupelo Buffalo Park. The light-fingered lockpicker garnered national headlines during his initial six-day escapade, then made another break for freedom less than a month later. He was found the next day, and park officials believe he had followed train tracks to a neighboring yard. The tiny hobo-wannabe now has Gitmo-level security with locks and chains all around his enclosure, and a new status as folk hero: the park now sells Oliver t-shirts, currently the most popular uniform with the WeirdIts ninja monkey staff. With this year’s adventures culminating three escapes in six years, everyone’s just waiting for this hairy little Houdini to hit the road again next year. C’mon, OliverFest 2008!

Artists truly living in hole in the wall

While someone’s couch is often the harbor of last resort for many artists, a few got together and created a secret apartment in a mall parking garage in Rhode Island. How cool is that? I admit I love the idea of unusual living spaces, and I give these guys a standing ovation for combining hidden performance art with a roof over one’s head.

They built a wall to hide the digs, which were furnished and even had a video game system.  After four years of the good life (some leases don’t even last that long!) they were busted; after a trespassing charge, the apartment will quietly fade away, but I’ll bet that their sectional sofa will show up again in a space you wouldn’t expect. Wal-Mart stockroom, anyone?