Top 21 “Bizarro” News Stories of 2021

On New Year’s Eve, we like to count down the most bizarre headlines of the year. With everything we’ve seen and experienced in 2021, we thought a little levity was the perfect way to end the year.

21 | Lost Hiker Ignores Calls from Rescue Team

A hiker lost on a mountain in Colorado ignored repeated calls from rescuers — later explaining that they had been unfamiliar with the phone number. The hiker had apparently wandered off the trail and spent the night looking for it.

After 24 hours lost, they found their way out and made it to their car, officials said. The person apparently didn’t know that a search team had been looking for them.

“The subject ignored repeated phone calls from us because they didn’t recognize the number,” rescuers wrote on Facebook.

“If you’re overdue according to your itinerary, and you start getting repeated calls from an unknown number, please answer the phone; it may be a search and rescue team trying to confirm you’re safe!”

20 | Camels Banned from Beauty Pageant

More than 40 camels have been disqualified from Saudi Arabia’s beauty pageant for receiving Botox injections and other cosmetic enhancements. The organizers of the pageant, the Camel Club, were cited as saying that they were “keen to halt all acts of tampering and deception in the beautification of camels” and promising to “impose strict penalties on manipulators”.

They described how Botox was injected into camels’ lips, noses, jaws and other parts of their heads to relax muscles; collagen fillers were used to make their lips and noses bigger; and hormones were given to boost muscle growth. Rubber bands were also used on animals to make body parts bigger than normal by restricting the flow of blood, they said.

Some 33,000 camel owners from as far away as the US, Russia and France are participating in the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, which is the largest in the world and lasts 40 days.

19 | Woman Hit by Flying Turtle

A 71-year-old woman riding with her daughter on Florida’s Interstate 95 suffered a gashed forehead Wednesday when a turtle smashed through the windshield of their car, striking her, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

The daughter pulled over and got help from another motorist. According to a 911 recording, both were surprised by what they found.

“There is a turtle in there,” the man can be overheard saying.

“A turtle!” the daughter exclaimed. “An actual turtle?”

“I swear to God this lady has the worst luck of anything,” the daughter told the 911 operator as she tended to her injured mother.

The turtle, on the other hand, had the best luck of anything — it just had a few scratches on its shell and was released back into the nearby woods, Port Orange police Officer Andre Fleming said.

You can listen to the 9-1-1 call here: 

18 | Swedish Yule Goat Set Ablaze

This story is a little bit different from the others; It’s happened before.

A giant straw “Yule goat” in the Swedish town of Gävle was torched Friday night for the first time in five years, bringing back the long-running tradition of arson that’s led to the holiday symbol being set ablaze for decades.

The Gävle Goat is a 42-foot-high, 3.6-ton statue made of wood and straw erected in the town square each Christmas season. It’s a giant version of the small Yule goats that Swedes traditionally place around their homes during the holidays, a ritual tracing back to pre-Christian pagan festivals, according to Reuters.

Gävle’s first giant goat was built in 1966 as a marketing ploy. It was burned down on New Year’s Eve that year by unknown vandals.

During its 53-year-history, the goat has survived the Yuletide season unscathed only about 15 times. It was placed under 24-hour security in 2016 and managed to remain protected from arson and other attacks until this year.

Undeterred, the Gävle goat has vowed to return. “Nooo, it’s literally the worst feeling to go down in flames,” read a post from its official Twitter account. “But the comeback is always stronger than the setback.”

Making a pun on the Swedish word for billy goat, the incinerated effigy then promised “I’ll be bock!”

17 | Isolated Bolivian Tribe Has Healthiest Brains on Earth

In June 2021, researchers published a research study which showed that the brains of the Tsimanè Tribe in Trinidad, Bolivia, were notably healthier than any other brain in the world — and that their lifestyle could potentially reveal the cure to diseases like Alzheimer’s.

This may not surprise our regular readers, who know that processed foods, environmental toxins, and poor exercise habits are the leading causes of disease and premature aging. 

Remarkably, the brain volume of westerners between middle age and old age was found to be a whopping 70% smaller than those from the Bolivian tribe. Researchers also found that this atrophy seems to be rooted in inflammation, which for the Tsimanè people comes from parasitic or gastrointestinal infections and from poor diets in the western world.

“Our sedentary lifestyle and diet rich in sugars and fats may be accelerating the loss of brain tissue with age and making us more vulnerable to diseases such as Alzheimer’s,” said lead author Hillard Kaplan, professor of health economics at Chapman University. “The Tsimané can serve as a baseline for healthy brain aging.”

16 | Pack of Blue Dogs Discovered in Russia

When Alekseï Ganine posted the above image to Russian social media platform Vkontakte, onlookers were just as confused as him. He had been wandering around the town of Dzerzhinsk in February 2021 when he encountered a pack of blue dogs near a shuttered chemical factory — and hoped to get some answers.

Fortunately, the weird news story became a little less alarming when regional officials chimed in. The dogs were found near the now defunct Dzerzhinskoye Orgsteklo network of chemical factories which went bankrupt in 2015. It was quite likely that exposure to certain chemicals led to the bizarre results in the dogs’ fur.

“Homeless dogs are running around the area,” said Andrey Mislivets, the bankruptcy manager of Dzerzhinskoye Plexiglas. “Perhaps, in one of the buildings, they found some kind of chemical residue — copper sulfate, for example, and rolled in it.”

15 | Man Grows Magic Mushrooms in His Blood

While research has shown psilocybin in “magic mushrooms” to be incredibly effective at treating numerous mental health issues, the substance is meant to be taken orally. Unfortunately, one unidentified Nebraska man decided to boil them down and inject them — to near-fatal results.

A bipolar opioid addict, the Nebraskan had stopped taking his medication in an attempt to wean himself off. A subsequent manic-depressive episode during which he read about the benefits of magic mushrooms saw him embark on the intravenous decision — which led to organ failure within days.

Before doctors flushed his system and placed him on a course of antibiotics, they took a blood test and discovered the staggering truth. He had tested positive for Psilocybe cubensis, which confirmed the man injected himself with mushrooms — which had begun to grow in his blood.

After 22 days in the hospital, the man was able to make a full recovery. 

14 | Egypt Suffers Scorpion Storm

The Arabian fat-tailed scorpion prefers the arid climates of African and Middle Eastern deserts. It isn’t used to tropical weather or storms, one of which tore thousands of these critters from their nests in Aswan, Egypt, in November. Unleashed unto the city, they stung 450 people — killing three.

The record storms saw Aswan officials suspend schools and warn people to stay indoors. For a region that usually sees less than half an inch of rainfall per year, the flooded streets and power outages were terrifying — only for an army of Aswan scorpions to hospitalize helpless citizens.

The biblical downpour continued with torrential rainfall, hail, and dust storms. Residents told to stay inside during power outages were left blind to their crawling intruders, while doctors found themselves dealing with the unexpected emergency.

13 | Demi Lovato Sings to Ghosts Traumatized by Sexism

Pop star Demi Lovato has been exploring her interest in supernatural life recently in her new docuseries Unidentified with Demi Lovato. In Vulture City, Arizona, Lovato and her team visit an abandoned brothel where they believe they encounter a ghost. 

The singer asked the ghost (which she calls Carmen) about extraterrestrials and UFO sightings, and then sent her two partners from the room. Using a machine designed to make noise when ghosts are talking, she determined that Carmen has been traumatized by sexism.

Lovato then began to sing to the ghost, after which her ghost-detecting machine beeped three times. 

Lovato and her team decide that the beeps represent a standing ovation from the ghosts in the Vulture City brothel. “That’s the coolest standing ovation I’ve ever had,” she remarked.

“Vulture City is known for these ghosts that lived in an old brothel, and so we set-up those machines and I decided to sing for them, and they went off when I finished,” the singer said.

“I’ve never had a standing ovation from ghosts, but I’d like to think they were standing.”

If this sounds too crazy to be true, you can see for yourself: 

12 | Invisible Sculpture Sells for Thousands

How can you make $18,000 disappear? Buy an “invisible sculpture.” That’s really what someone just did. They purchased an imaginary piece of art that doesn’t exist in any tangible form for very real money.

The recent popularization of NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) has been strange enough, but this piece of “art” is especially bizarre given that it is literally nothing.

Italian artist Salvatore Garau has sold his “Buddha in Contemplation” which wouldn’t be especially notable if not for the fact the only thing worth contemplating about it is how he managed to sell it at all. Because this “invisible sculpture” isn’t real. 

AND this isn’t even the first time the artist has sold thin air for a thick profit. This piece is Garau’s third invisible masterpiece this year. In February, he installed an invisible sculpture titled “Buddha in contemplations” in Milan, said ArtNet. 

The piece is marked by a square of tape on a cobblestone street. “Rather than invisible sculptures, I would define them as immaterial sculptures. My fantasy, trained for a lifetime to feel differently the existing around me, allows me to ‘see’ what apparently does not exist,” Garau told reporters.

Apparently, none of his buyers have yet realized that the emperor is, in fact, naked.

11 | Fruit Loop Pizza

An Iowa pizzeria has revived a unique, sweet pie that seemingly violates the Geneva Conventions: They sell a Froot Loops and cheese pizza. The pizza is produced by Fong’s Pizza and is listed on the restaurant’s menu in the breakfast section as “Loopy Fruits Pizza.”

The pizza, which is listed as “Loopy Fruits Pizza” on their menu, consists of a sweet cream cheese sauce base topped with mozzarella and, of course, a layer of Froot Loops along with a drizzle of Greek yogurt and condensed milk.

“We wanted to provide an option that we thought would be fun for children because of the suburban market. But also, we love doing things that are just off-the-wall,” the restaurant’s co-founder Gwen Page told the outlet. “Like what can we do to give people that truly unique experience? That’s what we strive for at Fong’s.”

We’ll give them one thing: the pizza (if you can call it that) is certainly unique. At TTAC, we support your right to decide what to put into your body. But if you’re asking for our advice, we’d recommend passing on this monstrosity.

10 | Man’s Skin Falls Off After COVID Shot

A 74-year-old Virginia man broke out into a scarlet red rash after getting Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine. What began as a slight ‘discomfort’ under Richard Terrell’s arm four days after his vaccination quickly escalated into an itchy, swollen flush covering most of his body.  

“It all happened so fast. My skin peeled off,” Terrell told reporters. By March 19, he sought a dermatologist’s help, and the doctor sent him to an emergency room. 

His doctors at the ER ultimately ruled that Terrell’s scary skin condition was indeed an extremely rare side effect of the vaccine, caused by the frenzied activation of his immune system.   

Perhaps the most bizarre part of this story is Terrell’s other reaction. After the ordeal, he says he’s still glad he got the shot and encourages others to do the same. Yikes. 

9 | United States Congressman Suggests Changing the Moon’s Orbit

Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas made an argument about climate change at a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday that appeared to elicit confusion from a government official and ridicule on Twitter.

During the Natural Resources Subcommittee hearing, Gohmert appeared to draw a connection between the moon and Earth’s orbit and solar flares to climate change. In questioning US Forest Service Associate Deputy Chief Jennifer Eberlien, Gohmert asked if the National Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management could change the orbits of the moon and Earth.

“I understand from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the BLM, you want very much to work on the issue of climate change… We know there’s been significant solar flare activity, and so… is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit, or the Earth’s orbit around the sun?”

Professor Brian Brettschneider of the University of Alaska Fairbanks was able to answer the congressman via Twitter: 

“We cannot change the Earth’s or Moon’s orbit. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.”

8 | Bride Dies at Wedding, Groom Marries Sister Instead

Siblings share 50% of their DNA, but that does not make them interchangeable. This may have been useful to Mangesh Kumar on his wedding day. The wedding rituals were already underway at the bride’s house when she complained of feeling uneasy and collapsed. 

She was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead on arrival, having suffered a heart attack. This would be devastating news for any man, but Kumar rebounded in record time

Without missing a beat, the nearly widowed man promptly asked the bride’s parents for permission to marry their other daughter (his deceased bride’s younger sister). The parents agreed, and the marriage took place that night… all while the bride-to-be laid in state in the next room!

Kumar’s nearly and new brother-in-law at least acknowledged the oddity of the event, saying “It was a bizarre situation as the wedding of my younger sister was being solemnized while the body of my dead sister was lying in another room.”

7 | Man Found Dead Inside Paper Mache Dinosaur

Police in Catalonia are investigating the death of a man who is thought to have become trapped inside a large dinosaur statue while trying to retrieve his mobile phone. A spokeswoman for the regional police force said the death of the 39-year-old man was not being treated as suspicious.

“A father and son noticed that there was something inside and raised the alarm,” she said.

“We found the body of a man inside the leg of this dinosaur statue. It’s an accidental death; there was no violence. This person got inside the statue’s leg and got trapped. It looks as though he was trying to retrieve a mobile phone, which he’d dropped. It looks like he entered the statue headfirst and couldn’t get out.”

The only logical explanation is that the man dropped his phone while trying to take a picture with the dino. It seems the dangers of social media have NOT been overstated.

6 | Parrot Swallows Small Fortune

A pet parrot underwent emergency surgery after swallowing its owner’s diamond necklace.

Vets recovered 21 gems, each weighing 0.2-cts from the bird’s stomach. It had pecked them one by one from the necklace.

The parrot, an eight-month-old sun parakeet from Bangkok, Thailand, called Frosty, was attracted to the glitter of the diamonds in the owner’s jewelry box.

The owner realized something was wrong when the bird lost its appetite and looked weak. 

Vet Dr Kuntita Paveenasakorn, who treated Frosty at the Animal Space Hospital, Bangkok, said: “This kind of bird is attracted to things that glitter. We see this kind of situation a lot, but this case was strange because the parrot ate lots of valuable diamonds.”

5 | Police Issue Amber Alert for Horror Doll

Texans were alarmed when an Amber Alert showed up on their phones for an abducted 5-year-old. They were even more alarmed when they realized that the missing child – and accused abductor – were both fictional dolls. 

The Texas Department of Public Safety has apologized after mistakenly issuing an Amber Alert that said the killer doll featured in the 1988 horror film “Child’s Play” was a suspect in the kidnapping of his 5-year-old son, Glen Ray, who was featured in “Seed of Chucky.”

The emergency alert described Chucky as a 3-foot, 1-inch-tall doll wearing “blue denim overalls with multi-colored striped long sleeve shirt wielding a huge kitchen knife.” The alert was mistakenly sent out three times last week to Amber Alert subscribers. The agency said it was a test malfunction.

The falsely accused Chucky told Texas police that he forgave them, promising to be their “friend til the end.”

4 | Fat Squirrel Gets Stuck in Bird Feeder

Gluttony is one of the 7 Deadly Sins, but it’s rare that the consequences of overeating are so pronounced. A woman in the United Kingdom recently made an unpleasant discovery when she went to check on her garden bird feeder. 

Apparently, another type of animal tried to get at the food and found itself caught in a very uncomfortable position.

A squirrel became stuck inside a squirrel-proof bird feeder. The feeder is designed with a metal grate covering it, so that birds can fit through and get at the food inside. Somehow, the squirrel had worked its way inside the grate, only to find itself wedged against the metal and feeding tube inside.

An RSPCA worker named Ruth arrived at the scene to help free the squirrel. “This greedy boy must have gone in – even though this is a squirrel-proof feeder – and obviously, he had such a good feed he got wedged and was unable to exit. Luckily his predicament was spotted, or he could have endured prolonged suffering,” she explained. 

Rule of thumb: If there’s a cage around the food, leave it be.

3 | Scientists Potty Train Cows

Scientists in Germany have hypothesized that training cows to use the toilet could help combat climate change. The ammonia from cows’ urine turns into the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide when it’s mixed with soil.

Researchers attempted to teach 16 cows to use the toilet, dubbed the “MooLoo”, at a farm owned by the Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology.

The animals were placed in the MooLoo pen and were rewarded with food for urinating. After this, they were then placed in an area next to the MooLoo and rewarded for walking into the pen and urinating. Those who urinated outside of the MooLoo were sprayed with water for three seconds.

As part of the third stage of training, the distance from the toilet was extended, and the rewards and punishments continued. By the end of the 10 training sessions, researchers found that 11 of the animals were successfully toilet trained.

Researchers say that capturing 80% of cattle urine in a model like the MooLoo could lead to a 56% reduction in ammonia emissions. 11 cows down, 999,999,989 to go.

2 | Woman Charged with Felony Embezzlement for Rented VHS

An arrest warrant, felony embezzlement charge and 20 years of turned-down jobs – all over a Sabrina the Teenage Witch videotape. The criminal history was slapped on Texas resident Caron McBride after she failed to return the VHS copy of the 90s sitcom over 20 years ago.

She only found out the truth when she tried to change her name on a driving license after getting married. Her name was used to rent the VHS (remember those?) in a store called Movie Place in Norman, Oklahoma, on Valentine’s Day in 1999.

It was not returned after the agreed 10-day period. The prosecution in the case said Ms McBride had “willfully, unlawfully and feloniously embezzled” a tape, which it valued at a rather startling $58.59.

The store apparently closed in 2008, part of the countrywide disappearance of the rental video industry, which was wiped out by streaming services, but the felony charge remained. McBride said she called the Cleveland County District Attorney’s office in Oklahoma, where an official told her the charge “was over the VHS tape”.

“I had to make her repeat it because I thought, this is insane,” she said. “This girl is kidding me, right? She wasn’t kidding”.

McBride said she suspects the words “felony embezzlement” led to her rejection from at least five jobs without explanation over the past 20 years. “It’s a serious issue. It’s caused me and my family a lot of heartache financially because of the positions I’ve lost because of those two words. Something’s got to give,” she told KFOR.

The case has now been dropped, but McBride still needs to get the record expunged.

1 | “Heart Attack Grill” Displays Remains of Deceased Customer

There’s a restaurant in Las Vegas called Heart Attack Grill that serves massive burgers that go by names like the “Triple Bypass” and even the “Quadruple Bypass”: towering sandwiches topped with 8 to 32 ounces of beef, clocking in with as much as 8,000 calories per serving.

The burgers—which contain three or four meat patties, at least 12 slices of bacon, and processed cheese, among other fixins—have actually been linked to customers going into cardiac arrest while eating them.

And even though the owner, Jon Basso, sports a doctor’s coat, and the servers wear a nurse’s uniform, excess is obviously the name of the game at the Heart Attack. But now, Basso has added a whole other kind of marketing tool to the restaurant’s offerings: the cremated remains of a past customer

“He died of a heart attack at my restaurant, and I am putting that bag clearly on the table,” Basso said. “I wish that Burger King and everyone else will do the same thing.”

Basso says that his point in displaying this past customer’s cremains is simple: He doesn’t buy into fast-food chains’ claims that you can eat healthily at their restaurants. “Do I want others to die at my restaurant? No. Actually, I want to wake up one morning and open the door and have no one ever come in again, because maybe the world would have learned the truth,” he said. 

“I say it boldly: Don’t come to my restaurant — it’s bad for you and will kill you.”

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