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.

Florida Man: Why one state is the absolute mecca for weird news

As a reformed journalist, I have a lifelong fascination with weird news—an addiction that a single state tries hard to satisfy.

Every. Single. DAY.

No other state can hold a candle to Florida.

It’s the only state with its own Fark tag, with so many weird news headlines starting with “Florida man” there’s a Twitter handle that endlessly tweets out insane stories starting with those two words.

I could not love Florida more for this.

Here’s a sample of recent Florida headlines, lovingly curated by fark.com:

Florida Man enters Jacksonville store and chases people with live alligator

Florida teacher quits to become full-time grocery shopper and doubles his salary

Key West mayoral candidate takes a personal cell phone call during a debate. From God

Florida man charged with identity theft after impersonating Backstreet Boy

17-year-old gets attacked by snake while mowing lawn. Gives sage advice: “watch out for snakes”

Police say Florida man planned his suicide for years, making it look like murder by using a weather balloon to carry away the gun

All this craziness packed into a single state begs the question: Why does Florida Man live in Florida?

Theory # 1: Deadly wild animals up the wazoo

Alligators, sharks, pythons invading the Everglades—and those are just the apex predators. You’ll find crazy stories about rabid racoons, bat infestations and all sorts of animal disasters and shenanigans. Yes, that’s the proper spelling. Take note.

Few other states boast the biodiversity needed to generate this much mayhem.

Theory # 2: Dumb criminals

A weird news story’s power gets squared when a stable genius criminal does something truly idiotic only to have karma delivered by the local wildlife.

One great example: man commits a robbery at night and the cops chase him … so he makes the brilliant move of hiding in a nearby pond, where an alligator has him as a midnight snack.

Theory # 3: Paaaaarty time

Florida is seen as a tropical getaway, a place where you go to party on spring break or to retire in the sunshine.

Alcohol and drugs are a common ingredient in weird news stories. Florida gets far more than its fair share of dumb criminals doing dumb things after getting hammered or high. Sometimes both.

Theory # 4: The power of convergence

Every great weird story is a combination of factors, usually (1) men who are (2) drunk or high, doing something risky involving (3) crime, (4) firearms, (5) explosives or (6) wild animals who can kill you.

It’s like baking a cake. Even if most states have an ingredient or two, they don’t have all six, not in the quantities that Florida does. It’s a giant state, one of the biggest, with more people moving there all the time and all those pythons in the Everglades busy laying eggs when they’re not fighting alligators. The weird news will only grow with time.

VERDICT

Florida is an interesting, dynamic place, a semi-tropical paradise that also happens to be home to some of the craziest stories you’ll ever see. We love you, Florida Man—don’t change a thing.

31 brand new animal species discovered by amateur naturalists

As a pookie, it felt perfectly natural to learn about gorillas, pythons and such from hour-long documentaries starring a kind, grandfatherly gentlemen bankrolled by an insurance company in Nebraska.

Today, we fire up the interwebs to watch 2-minute videos with Randle losing his mind as he extols the insane bravery of honey badgers–or some random man with a killer Morgan Freeman impression narrates how the cuttlefish do.

I still love animals, documentaries and documentaries about animals. So it warmed my heart to learn of 31 brand new species discovered by amateur naturalists, ordinary people who wouldn’t dream of bestowing their finds with 47-syllable names derived from Latin.

Here’s the list, with actual photographic evidence of each new species:

1. Arrow Pigs

arrow pig

2. Murder Logs

murder log

3. Danger Noodles

danger noodle

4. Disco Chickens

5. Puppers (aka Doggos or Floofs)

6. Murder Torpedoes

7. Cat Bears

8. Sky Puppers

9. Long Horses

10. Sea Raviolis

11. Holiday Chickens

12. Torpedo Puppers

13. Catsnakes

14. 

14. Spiky Floofs

15. Tyrannosaurus Deer

16. Wobble Sticks

17. Leather Tanks

18. Freedom Gliders

19. Night Squirrels

20. Beach Chickens

21. Subwoofers

22. Danger Water Cows

23. Pantless Thunder Geese

24. Panda Whales

25. Fluffy Tree Rats

26. Danger Zebras

27. Nopes

28. Sea Catsnakes

29. Formal Chickens

30. Hot Moose

31. Death Floofs

Redemption: Vets behind bars helping other vets by training service dogs

friendly friday friendly dog meme

Just a beautiful story by Matt Lorch at Q13, and this prison is in my county. I knew about this program, and some folks who’ve helped with it. This story does them justice.

A four-minute+ piece is crazy dang long for TV news. Good on Q13 for going deep with this one.

We need more stories like this that show the power of hope and redemption.

Robert Hardy was the epitome of elegant humor

Robert Hardy was a great actor, who played many roles–but I’ll always remember him as Siegfried Farnon on the BBC adaptation of ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL.

This was before BBC caught up with Hollywood in terms of production values and budgets. The sets looked cramped and shabby, and the cinematography is nothing special.

But none of that mattered, because the acting and the story was always, always good.

My favorite stories from that book revolve around Tricki-Woo, the pet dog of a wealthy woman.

The actors who played James Herriot and Tristan Farnon were well-cast, especially Tristan.

But whenever Siegfried was in a scene, Robert Hardy dominated it without overshadowing the other actors. He made them better. And he’ll be missed.

SILENT NIGHT by Chewbecca, just because we can

Not bad. Not bad at all.

If you haven’t seen it, check out their other videos, especially the ones where Batman and Superman are just in a cafe, drinking coffee and roasting each other. Beautiful.

Also: saw ROGUE ONE on opening night and will dissect it later, then open up giant veins of speculation on how Snoke is actually a royally pissed off Mace Windu and Rey is the granddaughter of Palpatine.

The killer beside you

knife

The first murderer I ever met was tall and awkward, with curly hair. But this was sixth grade, and we were all a bit awkward. Every one of us.

This kid didn’t grow up to stalk the streets and slay prostitutes until the TV stations gave him a nickname.

He didn’t buy an AR-15 and shoot up a lecture hall or a nightclub.

This boy became a killer that same year.

One day he was in school. The next day he didn’t show up, and the next, and the next, until we finally learned the truth: he’d been charged with murder.
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