Weird news you can’t improve: Feral hogs find and destroy cocaine worth $22,000 hidden in woods

As a former journalist, and a fan of weird news, it’s rare for a story to fully combine (a) dangerous wild animals, (b) stupid criminals and (c) illegal drugs.

Usually, those sorts of ingredients turn into a different sort of weird news story, a Florida Man-style escapade with the possibility of somebody winning a Darwin Award.

But this time, it’s just comical.

I’ll post the link to the story below, but since we’re talking inverted pyramid journalism, you already get the key details.

Feral hogs find and destroy cocaine worth $22,000 hidden in woods

More importantly: What makes this story so good?

A total surprise

I’ve never heard of wild hogs finding and eating cocaine. Pretty sure you haven’t, either.

With so many sources of news online or in print, and the ability to search the Interwebs for old stories, truly new and unique stories like this rarer than a Kardashian born with an allergy to TV cameras.

Your typical weird news story about dangerous wild animals has them doing typical animal things. You know, a bear getting into your house to raid the fridge or swim in your pool. Stuff you can totally understand and predict. If you were a bear, wouldn’t you munch the nom-noms and then take a nice swim? Course you would.

Nobody, not even a crack team of screenwriters in Hollywood sitting in the desert after hitting a bong incredibly hard, would ever come up with feral hogs eating a stash of cocaine in the woods.

Karmic payback

We are wired to think of things in terms of stories, to root for heroes and hope bad guys fail.

This is a case were bad guys fail in a spectacular and funny way.

Oh, you thought hiding the cocaine in the woods was smart? GUESS WHO ATE IT ALL.

A growing problem

Feral hogs are no joke. Go ask farmers in Texas.

Over in Italy, where this happens, the population of wild pigs just doubled. Not from a few hundred roaming the woods like a four-legged Robin Hood and his band of merry, hairy buddies, sniffing around for truffles or Peruvian blow. We’re talking about TWO FREAKING MILLION feral pigs.

That’s not a little problem. That’s the first five minutes of the horror movie known as DAWN OF THE DEAD, CAUSE THE COKED UP WILD HOGS ATE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

Need to shorten that title, but you get the idea.

Here’s a crazy video compilation of when wild pigs attack hunters. I don’t blame the pigs for fighting back. It just shows you how quick and tough they are. Now imagine two million of them in the woods.

 

Zombie chicken breast wakes up, walks off restaurant table

Usually, a great weird news story takes a number of delicious ingredients that work together. 

  • First, you need a person, typically a man, often from Florida.
  • Second, there’s usually some substance abuse: alcohol, meth, cocaine, LSD, magic mushrooms–or, if you’re in West Virginia, wasp spray. Yeah, I’m not making that up. Vodka and crank? Old and busted. Wasp spray is the new hotness, though it might make you may curl up and die like a foamy yellowjacket.
  • Third, your average, intoxicated Florida Man has a hard time crafting his own weird news masterpiece without other actors on the stage. You need a dangerous wild animal, explosives, firearms, motor vehicles, illegal fireworks or a silly crime, like trailer park residents dressing up like ninjas to rob 7-Elevens. 
  • All this builds up to a crescendo of cray-crazy, with our anti-hero giving Mayhem a flirty look in a dive bar before buying her cheap tequila shots, making out in the parking lot and winding up half-naked in the dumpster, which happens to be on fire.
  • Finally, the typical weird news story ends with a 911 call with the police and paramedics arriving to (a) clean up the mess and (b) document the insanity. Mug shots!

Rarely do you get a great weird news story with a single ingredient so amazing that it stands alone, creating a supernova of stupidity and wonder, a blast of white-hot insanity so pure that it needs no help whatsoever from either the great state of Florida or the most powerful intoxicants on planet Earth.

This is one of those cases.

I’ve heard of headless chickens walking around after farmer’s lopped off their noggins. Seems half-mythical, half-believable, and I only believe because a family member saw it growing up and has refused to eat chicken ever since.

HOWEVER: here’s video proof that chickens have zombie powers. This freshly slaughtered chicken breast tries to fly off the restaurant table.

Here’s video proof. And yes, this is the best version of the video, with some decent science paired with silly muzak.

Undead tree stump

Here’s a bonus: there’s another zombie story in the news today, and this one is actually more important than entertaining.

Scientists in New Zealand found an undead tree stump.

Why should we care, aside from the fact that this sounds like the first three minutes of a B horror movie?

The tree stump is only alive because its roots are interconnected with other trees, all to share water and nutrients. Scientists say if this is a common practice, they need to rethink how they see forests. Instead of individual plants and trees, they may be more like a community, helping each other out and protecting against drought and erosion.

With WATERWORLD becoming prophecy, this news is actually a big deal. I’m all for anything that protects against drought and erosion. 

Zombie chicken breast, you’re spectacularly weird and wonderful.

But undead tree stump, you’re important and might help save the only home we have. 

Amazingly weird headline–Man in underwear arrested at animal shelter after fighting invisible nemesis

Oh, you might think I’m embellishing that headline, that I’m gilding the weird news lilly. Nope. 

Here’s a direct link, which is only one word different, and it’s a word that only adds to the fun of the story.

Police: Man in underwear arrested at animal shelter after fighting invisible nemesis

See? The headline is completely accurate, sourced to the police, and the police report adds even more weird news goodness:

  • He was throwing things at passing motorists
  • He told police he hadn’t slept for a week
  • He also told police that his heart was not beating

If I made this all up, and put it in a short story or novel, you’d laugh me out of the room. 

But if I said this took place in Florida, you’d nod your head and add it to the long list of Florida Man headlines. So maybe the weirdest thing about this weird story is it happened in Kentucky, instead.

Here’s to you, Kentucky Man–you may be a pioneer, one of the first to truly challenge Florida Man, but I hope you’re not the last.

 

Top 10 creepy sea creatures — and why creatures are a staple of our weird news diet

Odd creatures aren’t just a staple of weird news stories.

They’re a huge box-office draw. Name a blockbuster or billion-dollar movie and it’s almost a sure bet that they feature fantasy or alien creatures.

Think about it: AVATAR, STAR WARS, the Harry Potter series and the lame Harry Potter prequel series, STAR TREK, MEN IN BLACK, any of the 5,832 Marvel movies, LORD OF THE RINGS and the lame Hobbit prequel series that should have been one flipping movie.

Yeah, there are cute fluffy creatures sometimes. Yet just about every giant hit has a zoo’s worth of Ewok’s, orcs, space elves or cybernetic raccoons with a gun fetish.

So what gives a creepy sea creature, man-eating forest monster or elephant-sized wild hog such power to fascinate us?

Let’s break it down.

WILL THIS MONSTER SEE ME AS A SNACK?

That’s the most visceral attraction, a caveman instinct we can’t get rid of: paying close attention to obvious threats.

And yes, a healthy chunk of weird creatures–whether they live in the sea, the mountains or your local forest–tend to be predators with humans possibly on the menu.

IS IT FASCINATINGLY DISGUSTING?

There’s some crossover here. Many of the things that can totally go nom-nom-nom on us–like leeches, lampreys, giant squids and alligators–can’t be called cute.

A bunch of non-threatening weird animals are only interesting because they’re so bizarre and repellent, like the blob fish.

THIS CAN’T BE REAL

Other strange creatures get our attention because we can’t believe they’re not CGI.

How do Christmas Tree Worms really eat? Do lampreys have eyes or are they just a wormy eel thing with giant teeth?

THE FLORIDA MAN TEST

Weird news stories typically involve people in groups (usually men) late at night plus alcohol or drugs and the following optional ingredients: firearms, dangerous wild animals, explosives, 7-Elevens, the police. Oh, and the state of Florida, a state that generates so many weird news stories that headlines starting with “Florida Man” and ending with bizarre mayhem are truly a thing.

So whether or not an odd creature gets featured in a weird news story may hinge upon it passing the Florida Man Test, as in: can a Florida Man use this creature to generate a headline?

Two great examples: alligators, pythons and sharks.

Florida Man has robbed a 7-Eleven late at night, hid from the cops in a pond and been eaten by a gator. An entirely different Florida Man carried a live gator into a gas station and used it to steal beer or money, or beer and money (I forget, wasn’t there, sorry).

Pythons have overtaken the Everglades, and may be impossible to eradicate. They’re devouring local animals and even trying to eat the gators.

Sharks are another common element in weird news, with Florida Man getting arrested for dragging a shark behind a boat.

One unlucky Florida Man has hit the weird news lottery, getting bit by a shark, punched by a monkey, bitten by a snake and struck by lighting. No joke.

VERDICT

I salute you, weird sea creatures that should not exist, and I hope global warming doesn’t bring too many of you within range of Florida.

 

The Exploding Whale and the explosion of weird news

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy called Oregon, the local Empire decided to used tons of explosives to blow up a whale on their beach. It did not go well. But it was a prophecy, foretelling the explosion of weird news we see today.

Why is the exploding whale footage such a harbinger of things to come?

Maybe I just like to use the words harbinger and prophecy in nearby sentences.

Maybe I’m a trained journalist who loves to collect, analyze and dissect weird news stories.

And maybe, just maybe, I have a theory that explains the whole glorious Florida Man-style mess.

A Grand Unified Theory of Weird News

First: Weird news is omnipresent.

You’ll find it on an Oregon beach, in the middle of Alaska or on every acre of this land I call Florida.

There are strange people and bizarre bits of mayhem anyplace you look.

While my wife was in law school, I worked in this small-town paper in a place you can’t pronounce.

And listen, you would not believe the amount of mayhem I witnessed and wrote about, and not because the little town was a war zone.

Massive floods, with houses floating down the river. At least two serial killers. Political scandals. A man who died when a mobile home fell on him as he installed it. A sniper who shot at me (and everybody in sight) until the county sheriff deputies rolled up in a tank.

Here’s a little taste: The killer beside you

But if you look, there are always crazy stories happening locally.

Second: Weird news is not related to the crime rate.

This seems counter-intuitive. Criminals and criminally idiotic people make up the majority of weird news. 

Take away petty crime and Florida Man stories would wither and die.

Yet the numbers are nuts, when you look at them. Crime is down and has been going down for years.

Things were actually wilder and crazier before today’s explosion of weird news. I mean, the late ’70s and early ’80s were Animal House.

You just didn’t know about every single thing that happens like you do today. Why is that?

Third: Weird news lives on the interwebs

Without the speed and reach of the Series of Tubes, you’d never hear about 99.9 percent of weird news.

Before, the only real way crazy news would spread was by newspapers, so feeding your need for Florida Man stories would require serious resources. Because your local paper would not devote a full page to random wire stories about crazytown happening far away.

There are entire sites devoted to the daily collection and curation of funny and bizarre stories. 

Fourth: Weird news is intensely visual

This is the most essential ingredient. As a writer, it’s hard to fully describe the insanity of what you see.

Photos help.

Video is better. There is no substitute.

This is why Russian dash cam footage goes so viral. It’s raw, it’s real and the cameras are on all the time, so they capture all kinds of crashes and cray-cray.

Fifth: Smart phones, smart phones and more smart phones

Now that everybody has iPhones or Samsungs in their pockets, weird news is constantly being not only captured, but shared with the world.

All day and night. Everywhere.

You don’t need to have a TV crew on site, or watch the broadcast at 11 p.m.

So get out there and keep your phone handy. Florida Man doesn’t just hang out in Florida–he’s everywhere you look.

Why the Hot Duck of Central Park went so viral

There’s nothing unusual about seeing a duck paddling around the ponds of Central Park–or any pond, lake or stream. But one duck has caught the attention of Gotham and the world.

Check out the video:

OK, that is one spectacular duck, and it’s nice to see a weird news story that doesn’t involve Darwin Award winners or Florida Man.

So why did this story spread so far and wide?

Amazing images drive coverage 

The shots are amazing. It’s far, far easier to get media coverage when the visuals rock–and a lot tougher when you have zero visuals.

TV stations live and die on good visuals. And this duck makes for great shots. 

Once you get TV coverage, that drives newspaper, radio and web stories, too.

Plus it’s a lot easier to share a story that has all kinds of videos on YouTube already, whether shot by an NYC station or amateurs using their iPhones.

Mysteries make people curious and give a story legs

Nobody knows how the Hot Duck got to Central Park in the first place. This species of duck isn’t native. It should be halfway around the world in Japan, where these ducks are common.

Was it a pet somebody let go or an escapee from a zoo?

How far could a duck fly, if it wanted to?

Another mystery happened when the Hot Duck disappeared. Did it get eaten, trapped, run over by a car or sucked into the engine of a Boeing 787? People care about this duck now, and they got worried.

Turns out the duck took a side trip. Maybe he went on vacation.

Then when he returned, that was a big happy story, too.

Unlikely animal friendships are always a good story

The Hot Duck has good manners, making friends with the local ducks and some of his biggest human fans.

If he was a loner, or a jerk, this story wouldn’t have legs. People would root for the evil show-off duck to beat it.

His good manners make you root for the Hot Duck, to hope he keeps on making friends and thriving.

It’s just a sweet little story that makes people smile. Kind of like red pandas, genetically engineered by mad scientists to be the most heart-melting animals ever.

P.S. If you’re interested, here are 21 facts about Mandarin Ducks.

Real geniuses dressing up as ninjas to rob gas stations

ninja

For some reason, criminal geniuses like to (a) dress up like ninjas when they (b) rob a gas station. There was a rash of trailer park ninjas robbing 7-Elevens in Florida, which is very on point for Florida.

Then a gas station robber in Utah used a Klingon sword, which is both bizarre and epic, since those things are ginormous and impossible to conceal. Even weirder: the clerk who got robbed knew the actual name of that Klingon sword-like object and told the cops how to spell it or whatever.

So what’s the hidden connection between gas stations and ninjas? Maybe the not-so-hidden fact that gas stations seems to decided they are ninja superstores, with a glass case full of $9 throwing stars, $16 nunchucks and ginormous fantasy knives with three blades or whatever. Maybe these criminal masterminds get the idea to rob the place at 2 a.m. when they’re in line at 6 p.m. to stock up on Mountain Dew, Cheeotos and insanely cheap weaponry.

Either way, this combination makes for a constant stream of weird news stories, a river that I promise you will never run dry. Because gas stations and retail stores get targeted so often, they all have cameras recording 24/7, which means there’s tons of footage.

P.S. The last clip might be my favorite. Though it’s cheating to dress like a ninja while using a gun, this dude dressed up like a NINJA TURTLE to rob a store. Can you top that? No. 

 

Weird news headline of the century: Don’t Mess With Nana–Grandma Mayor Shoots and Kills 580-pound Alligator to Avenge Death of Miniature Horse

texas grandma kills alligator avenging death of her miniature horse

This is the finest bit of weird news I’ve seen in forever, featuring a giant alligator, a missing miniature horse and other bizarre ingredients, all adding up to deliciously gonzo weird news.

Strangely, this story doesn’t happen in Florida, despite the monstrous alligator. 

And the woman who slayed the beast, Judy Cochran, is actually a great-grandmother and the new mayor of her town.

Here’s the setup: years after her miniature horse went missing three years ago. Prime suspect? This giant alligator.

Except you can only hunt alligators in a 20-day window in September, and this was a big, big beast.

So she called in a professional, who tried all sorts of baited hooks this Godzilla-thing ignored, including pork liver.

Here’s the first bit that gives me joy: The bait that actually worked was a “well-seasoned raccoon.”

Cochran was at work in city hall when the gator got hooked, so the pro had to keep the beast on the hook until she finished up the for the day, grabbed her rifle and avenged her miniature horse with a single shot.

The alligator won’t go to waste. It’s head and tail are headed to the taxidermist, while the hide will turn into boots and the meat will get eaten.

Not sure if you can barbeque gator or not. Guess we’ll find out.

 
 
 
 
 
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🚨GATOR ALERT🚨: The mayor of Livingston took down this 12-foot, 580-pound monster! 🐊(These pics are unbelievable!) #alligator #Livingston #bigteeth

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Why the best weird news stories involve glorious karmic payback

If something really crazy happens, like the recent story from Georgia involving the heist of $98,000 worth of ramen noodles, then yeah, that’s weird news.

But it’s not the BEST kind of weird news, because that’s all there is to it.

If something crazy happens and it’s randomly tragic—say, lightning hits an innocent old man on his nightly walk with a faithful dog—that may be weird, and rare, but it’s not a good weird news story, either. Because it’s simply sad.

The very best weird news stories involve three separate ingredients: (1) somebody being a complete idiot in (2) a completely surprising and unusual way, with (3) karmic payback that’s on par with their special brand of idiocy.

Here are the major forms of Weird News Karmic Payback along with examples.

P.S. Warning: there’s bad language in these videos.

1) Pranks that backfire

A good-natured prank that works is funny. An evil prank that backfires is funny cubed.

2) Road ragers gets served

Most of us drive to work, which means we spend more time than we want dodging drivers who are texting, smoking, eating Big Macs or texting while smoking and eating a Big Mac.

Self preservation? Perfectly understandable. Road rage, where you use your car as a weapon, or get into a real fight? Not cool.

So when I see an example of a road rager getting the business, either from a cop or by karmic payback, it warms my heart.

3) Picking on a rare pupper, kitteh or wild animal

Animals are involved in weird news stories all the time. It’s unexpected for the world’s top predator to have the tables turned.

4) Bully gets a beatdown

This is a primal, powerful story. Bullies are everywhere, and we expect them to win.

The more a victim seems smaller, meeker or weaker, the better it is when they actually beat the bully.

5) Criminal stupidity leads to instant justice

Crime is bad enough. Being uniquely stupid while committing a crime? Better.

Cherry on top? All of this happening in Florida.

Why rare puppers and kittehs dominate the Series of Tubes

The internet of today has four basic building blocks:
(1) memes with dogs wearing Christmas sweaters and such;
(2) videos of cats knocking objects off counters;
(3) recruiting posters for the Empire that reddit fanboys spent waaay too much time drawing; and
(4) videos of Alex Jones ripping his shirt off as he screams about Hillary and Mueller and the Illuminati meeting in the basement of a pizzeria to put chemicals in our water to turn our free American frogs COMPLETELY LIBERAL AND IRREVERSIBLY GAY.

I want to talk about the dog and cat part, because reddit will get bored with Empire recruiting posters and Alex Jones is now broadcasting his insane rants and brain pill pitches exclusively to MySpace or whatever.

Rare puppers and kittehs are forever, though.

Why is that?

Three reasons.

The first deals with how the furballs are alike, and the other two are because of how different they are.

Reason Number 1) Dogs and cats completely own the sweet spot of adorable and skilled

As a father, I know why toddlers are so entertaining.

Human babies are adorable but unskilled. They don’t do much.

Teenagers have the opposite deal: adult-like skills, yet they generally try hard to be tough and cool instead of adorable.

Toddlers, though, are illegally cute while doing and saying surprisingly funny things all day.

It’s the same with dogs and cats: forever child-like and cute, but skilled enough to surprise us, get into mischief and be entertaining.

Plus, dogs and cats are so common and intertwined in our lives that there will never be a shortage of photos, gifs, memes and videos with them, especially dogs and cats PLAYING WITH TODDLERS, which is just adorbs cubed and so unfair that it’s cheating.

Reason Number 2) Cats are cute balls of fur, claws and pure evil

Yes, they cuddle us. When they feel like it.

Mostly, though, cats only do what cats want, which is typically (a) laying around to conserve their energy so they can get to the real business of (b) sneaking up to attack other life forms, (c) knocking every object that’s not nailed down from your dining room table and kitchen counter and (d) randomly whacking owners or other cats in the face, just because.

Having owned cats, I believe deep in my soul that cats are pissed off by the fact they’re not remotely big enough to kill us. Not that they WANT to murder-death-kill us. Their inability just gives them existential angst.

So yeah, turn on a camera when a cat isn’t napping and you’re guaranteed to catch them being little vandals, if not felonious rogues.

Reason Number 3) Dogs are loyal, lovable goofballs

A big reason dogs are vastly different from cats is they’re pack animals and therefore can actually be domesticated, not just tamed like cats. Dogs actually have social manners.

You can tame just about anything, if you raise it from birth and it imprints on you. Cats, bears, cougars, whatever. (No, not sharks, worms or trees. Come on. Let’s just talk mammals.)

But animals you tame will never truly be domesticated like dogs, goats, horses, cows and other pack animals. Check out GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL by Jared Diamond. He’s explains the heck out of this in an interesting, world-altering way. Seriously. Wouldn’t have modern civilization without domesticated plants and animals.

What makes dogs internet gold is their pure joy, their ability to be trained and how hard they work to be loyal and useful.

Dogs understand they’re part of the family, the park, and that means contributing. Doing their part. Protecting the pups and toddlers. Guarding the pack’s territory. Helping out.

Their mischief tends to be misdemeanor level versus the felonies committed by cats.

Sometimes, I look at our Hound of the Baskervilles and marvel at the fact there’s a jet-black wolfbeast sitting there, 100 pounds of muscle and teeth just waiting for the latest orders from me, who he treats like some kind of all-powerful wizard he’s thrilled to be a sidekick for–and that he takes his job of guarding the house seriously enough that I have no doubt he’d take a bullet for me or the fam. That’s loyalty. The silly dog went right after a bear one morning in our backyard. Except I don’t think he sees that as silly, but as his duty, just like he knows we take care of his food, control the lights and temperature and make the big metal horses come alive or go to sleep according to our whim.

The videos of dogs that hit me in the feels the hardest are when they’re overcome with happiness and tippy taps–or diligently trying to copy and please us.

For that, I have to go with Team Dog, despite having owned cats for longer. Because loyalty and love wins out.