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2018: A Space Idiocy

Looking back on a year that took us into the outer limits

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THEY BURIED THE LEAD: WHY WAS HE EATING ALONE AT A RESTAURANT ON A SATURDAY NIGHT?

Former Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton was robbed outside the Thai Rama restaurant near Camelback Road. As he headed back to his car, a man approached and asked for money, then pulled out a hatchet-like weapon.

Stanton handed over his wallet and ran back to the restaurant.

"The main thing is I'm OK," Stanton told the Arizona Republic. "I'm a public servant, so there wasn't much money in my wallet."  

DO YOU WANT FRIES WITH YOUR EXPLOSIONS?

In what was likely an ammunition smuggling attempt gone awry, the Nogales International reported that a Chevy Cobalt with Sonoran plates and loaded with ammo caught fire outside the Pilot Travel Center in Rio Rico, setting off a series of explosions and sending people ducking for cover.

A worker at the Wendy's drive-thru window said the detonations lasted 10 minutes and were very loud. "I just kept working and it kept getting worse and got to the point where I was trying to take orders and I couldn't hear anything at all." 

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IT WAS THE HOT AIR BALLOON, U.S.S. RAUL GRIJALVA

Two pilots flying across southern Arizona reported seeing a large, unidentified object fly over them. An American Airlines pilot said the object "had a big reflection" and was going in the opposite direction of his plane. The UFO was above 40,000 feet, too high for commercial drones. But aviation experts couldn't rule out experimental aircraft or balloons.

ONE HELL OF A POP

An explosion last December caused almost $500,000 in damages to a building leased from Pima County by World View Enterprises, which plans to offer customers balloon rides into outer space. The company was testing a balloon when static electricity caused it to erupt into a ball of flame. The shockwaves knocked pottery off walls more than a mile away. The company has hired a safety director to keep it from happening again. 

THE COP IS NOW WORKING CROSSWALKS OUTSIDE A KINDERGARTEN

Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus was in uniform when a patrol officer pulled him over at Broadway and Alvernon for running a red light. The chief, who got a warning, insisted the light was yellow when he entered he intersection

The Arizona Daily Star had to make a records request to get a video of the incident, which showed Magnus saying the officer did the right thing. 

THE ASSMAN COMETH

Signs touting failed Corporation Commission candidate Rodney Glassman were defaced by someone who scratched out the GL of his last name, leaving him, Rodney Assman.Contacted by a radio station, the Assman said on air: "I actually was reading the article while in bed with my wife and I rolled over and I told her, 'How did all these people find out? It was something I thought was just between the two of us.'"

DUCK, DUCK, GOOSE

Maryland hunter Robert Meilhammer was knocked unconscious by a dead goose falling from the sky. Meilhammer and two others fired from a blind at a flock of Canada Geese, sending one of them hurtling to the ground at an estimated 50 mph.

The dead goose hit him in the head, causing injuries to his face and reportedly knocking out two teeth. An investigator said that when Meilhammer finally came to, he "didn't know too much besides his name." 

THE KID SHOULD RUN FOR GOVERNOR

Heeding the pleas of 11-year-old Jax Weldon, Arizona's House Government Committee unanimously endorsed the idea of naming the Sonorasaurus the "official state dinosaur." The massive, 27-foot-tall, 49-foot-long creature roamed Arizona a hundred million years ago. The very intelligent Mr. Weldon told lawmakers he'd been interested in dinosaurs since age 2.

SCARIEST TRUE STORY OF THE YEAR

A Texas man almost died after being bitten by the severed head of a rattlesnake. Milo Sutcliffe was doing yardwork at his home near Lake Corpus Christi when he found a 4-foot rattler and chopped off its head with a shovel.

When he reached to pick up the remains, he was bitten by the severed head. Sutcliffe began having seizures, losing his vision and bleeding internally. He required 26 doses of antivenom, where a normal patient gets two to four.

FEELING NO PAIN

An analysis of federal data by the Arizona Republic found that Mohave County, which includes the town of Kingman, Arizona, had more opioid prescriptions than people in 2016. The county had 127.5 opioid prescriptions per 100 residents. Arizona's overall rate was 70.2 per 100.

THE GENERATION THAT TIME FORGOT

Some schools in the UK are getting rid of traditional clocks, saying they cause too much stress for students during exam time. The reason? Teenagers can't tell time.

"They are used to seeing a digital representation of time on their phone, on their computer," says Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary at the Association of School and College Leaders. "Nearly everything they've got is digital, so youngsters are just exposed to time being given digitally everywhere."

IT ENDED WITH AN AMPUTATION AND SOME OXYS FOR THE HURT FEELINGS

Douglas Ferguson was charged with attempted second-degree murder for an episode in Bristol, Tennessee, in which he tried to kill his son with a running chainsaw. His son responded by running Ferguson over with a lawnmower requiring the amputation of one of his father's legs.

NOTE TO SELF: YOU'RE A WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING. WOULD YOU LIKE TO MEET LATER?

Outgoing U.S. Rep and failed Senate candidate Martha McSally was caught praising her own Facebook video with the comment, "Great video quality! Thank you for your service!" McSally blamed the error on a district staffer who intended to praise the video on his own account, but accidentally did so on the Congresswoman's.

MONKEY BUSINESS

The discovery of a human hand sticking out of the dirt in a wash in Rio Rico caused a major stir in that small community near Nogales. Thinking they were investigating a homicide, Santa Cruz County Sheriff's department investigators began processing the scene and saw fur on the wrist. They soon realized the hand wasn't human, but part of a gorilla costume.

HE GOT HIS KHALILS CROSSED

On CBS's broadcast of the Arizona-Utah basketball game in January, new UA football coach Kevin Sumlin expressed excitement about his team, saying the Wildcats had "a great leader coming back in quarterback Khalil Mack."

At the time, Khalil Mack was a linebacker for the NFL's Oakland Raiders. Sumlin meant to say he was excited over returning quarterback Khalil Tate.

PERMANENT DOUBLE-SECRET DETENTION

The Arizona Daily Star reported that TUSD publicly acknowledged for the first time that it kept a secret "Do Not Hire List" that dated back decades and contained as many as 1400 entries.

The school district admitted that some former employees were blacklisted, wrongfully and probably illegally, because of personality clashes with supervisors, poor evaluation scores and such sins as using all their vacation time.

Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo told the Star the list probably started as an honest effort to keep unfit teachers out of the classroom, but became a free-for-all where administrators, principals and assistant principals could add people to the list with no oversight.

THE SNAKE SPIT OUT HER FLASHLIGHT AND SANDALS

An Indonesian woman who was last seen tending her vegetable garden died after being swallowed whole by a 23-foot-long python. Searchers found her belongings in the garden, including sandals, machete and a flashlight, and were horrified to find the python 50 yards away with a severely bloated belly.

The snake was cut open to remove the victim. One villager said, "It looked like a horror movie."

THOSE DARN HUMAN ANIMALS ARE AT IT AGAIN

Animal rights supporters demanded that Tucson Unified School District no longer call its two-day rodeo break a rodeo break, because rodeos allegedly abuse animals. They suggested Old Pueblo Days or Heritage Days.

Activist and UA professor Kim Kelly said, "In a city where 'Be Kind' has become the unofficial motto, isn't it time for us to extend this concept to ensure that all Tucsonans, and those who come to visit us, human-animal and non-human-animal, are treated with kindness and respect?" 

HOLY CRAP

A study by 9Round Kickbox Fitness found that one in four Americans can't get past 9 a.m. without cussing, and the majority swear long before 11 a.m. Financial worry was the major source of stress for 56 percent of those surveyed, while 52 percent said that slow wi-fi sent them into the stratosphere.

DOUBLE BOGEY WOMAN

When former U.S. Open champion golfer Lucas Glover returned home after not playing well in the Players Championship near St. Augustine, Florida, his wife Krista greeted him with insults and, allegedly, a beating. Krista Glover, 36, was arrested and charged her with domestic battery and resisting arrest.

According to the police report, Lucas Glover told deputies that when he doesn't play well in a major event, Krista allegedly "proceeds to start altercation with him and telling him how he is a loser and a p—-y, how he needs to fire everyone, and how he better win or her and the kids would leave him and he would never see the kids again."

TRY THE DECAF, COACH

Believing that officials working the Arizona-Oregon basketball game in January had erred in awarding a loose ball to the Ducks, UA coach Sean Miller threw a fit on the sidelines, stomping around, folding his hands behind his head and looking at the ceiling.

After the game, the coach said: "I almost had an out-of-body experience. I couldn't remember where I was. I thought I was having a stroke in the locker room. Then I came to my senses. Because I just saw the ball go off them. No officials are perfect, but that's one they probably missed." 

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BRIDE-ZILLA

Amber Young, a 32-year-old Arizona woman, was arrested for allegedly driving under the influence while on her way to her wedding—at 10:30 on a Monday morning.  Marana Police say a video of the episode showed Young telling the arresting officer she was headed to her wedding and the white frock she was wearing was her wedding dress. But Young's attorney alleged that Marana police made up |the story, saying the dress was a sundress and that she was not getting married or even engaged.

CHIPS AND SALSA WITH AN ARACHNID ON THE SIDE

A market restaurant in Mexico City added to its menu a $27 tarantula taco made with the Mexican Red Rump Tarantula, a protected species. Authorities responded when the restaurant posted a video on Facebook showing a chef torching one until it blackened.

WE GO WHEREVER THE NEWS IS

A new newspaper opened for business in Uranus, Missouri, calling itself the Uranus Examiner.

NEVER SPANK THE HIPPO

The Los Angeles Zoo investigated a video of a man who appeared to spank a hippo. The video showed a man cautiously approaching a four-year-old hippopotamus named Rosie before reaching out and slapping her on the buttocks and then jumping for joy while running away.

SOMEHOW THE OTHER ONE GOT BIGGER

Former porn star Mia Khalifa was watching a Stanley Cup hockey game when a stray puck struck her, deflating her left boob. Khalifa expected to undergo surgery saying, "I'm 80 percent sure it ruptured an implant. The good news is, I got a game-used puck from a Capitals Stanley Cup playoff game. Worth it." 

DO WE MISS RICH-ROD YET?

UA head football coach Kevin Sumlin is in ninth place with the lowest salary among Pac-12 football coaches. His annual salary of $2 million is tied with that of Arizona State's Herm Edwards. Washington's Chris Peterson is the highest paid coach in the conference, earning a base salary of $4.37 million.

BUT THE LUGGAGE WOULD UP IN FRANCE

A baggage handler on an American Airlines flight that originated in Kansas City fell asleep while working in the forward cargo hold of a Boeing 737-800 and was discovered when the plane landed in Chicago. The handler admitted to being drunk while working. He was sent back to Kansas City and no charges were filed.

ON OUR DESSERT MENU, WE HAVE APPLE PIE, ICE CREAM, CHOCOLATE CAKE OR NOSE CANDY

Police at the Guadalajara airport found 120 grams of cocaine tucked into tortas being shipped to California. The packaging around some of the tortas had been cut open and small bags of the drug stuffed inside.

NO MILK BONES FOR A WEEK

Sonny "Tex" Gilligan, a 74-year-old Las Cruces, New Mexico, man was hunting jackrabbits in the desert near his home when his dog shot him in the back. The dog, a 120-pound Rottweiler named Charlie, was in the backseat of Tex's truck when his paw hit the trigger and the gun fired, sending a bullet through the seat. Tex suffered a few broken ribs and a shattered collarbone. 

AR-MA-GEDDEN HIGH!

In a blockbuster report, the AP obtained records showing that U.S. Air Force airmen charged with guarding nuclear missiles bought, distributed and used LSD and other mind-altering drugs as part of a ring that operated undetected for months at a remote Wyoming base. 

Fourteen airmen were disciplined, with six convicted in courts-martial of LSD use or distribution or both. AP reported that none of the airmen were accused of using drugs on duty.

THE POST-APOCALYPSE WORLD HAS ARRIVED

Authorities in Tijuana, Mexico, found a pack of street dogs fighting over a discarded human head. The incident occurred over a weekend in which the violent city, fought over by warring drug cartels, saw 18 homicides. 

RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP

An investigative report by the Mexican newspaper El Universal revealed startling information about Mexico's deadly Sinaloa drug cartel. The organization has more aircraft than Aeromexico, the country's largest commercial airline, and operates 4,771 clandestine airstrips in the mountains of Mexico's northern states.

The report came days after another story saying authorities had intercepted in the Pacific Ocean a cartel-owned submarine carrying 967 kilograms of cocaine hidden in packets of football cards.

BOMBS AWAY!

When Mexican police investigated the landing of two drones at the home of Gerardo Sosa Olachea, secretary of public security for the state of Baja, California, they found that one was equipped with two fragmentation grenades fastened with adhesive tape. The attackers were probably close by and fled when the grenades failed to detonate. Olachea said big drug seizures likely led one of the cartels to attempt retaliation.

HE'S GOT A POINT

When cops pulled him over, Vero Beach, Florida, resident Earle Gustavus Stevens, 69, told the officer he was not drinking while driving, but only swigging from a bottle of Jim Beam when his vehicle was stationary at stop signs and red lights. Stevens, who allegedly reeked of alcohol, failed sobriety tests and was arrested.

BACKSTROKE

Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte was cited for careless driving in Gainesville, Florida, after he called 911 to report that he'd "rear-ended the people in front of me." TMZ reported that the episode occurred hours after he'd drunkenly kicked in a door at a hotel. Lochte's agent said he had an alcohol problem and planned to get treatment.

SMILE, YOU'RE DEAD

A study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care found that more than 250 people died while taking selfies from 2011 the 2017. The cause is usually drowning, being hit by a vehicle or falling. The study talked about stories in which people have fallen just after taking their selfie, leaving only the ghostly photo of themselves seconds before their demise. 

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STAY BACK, THE BABY'S TEETHING

A man reached into a tank at the San Antonio Aquarium, grabbed a 16-inch-long horn shark, put his prize into a sanitation bucket, and then dumped his catch into a stroller before exiting the building. The thief, working with two others, attempted to sell the fish on Facebook for $300.

RODENT WITH A BOARDING PASS

Orlando Police removed a woman from a Frontier Airlines flight when she refused to get off the plane with her emotional support squirrel. The wheelchair-bound woman gave cops and airline officials the single-digit salute as she was being rolled off the plane. No word on whether her squirrel liked the airline peanuts.

SADDLE UP, RIDE TO THE BACK OF THE PLANE, DISMOUNT, TAKE A LEAK, AND RIDE BACK TO YOUR SEAT

Southwest Airlines has OK'ed a policy allowing people to carry miniature horses on board as trained service animals. 

BETTER CALL SAUL

Border Patrol agents found a 500-foot-long tunnel used to move hard drugs from Mexico underneath the border near the Arizona town of San Luis and into a Kentucky Fried Chicken on the American side. Agents discovered an 8-inch hole in the concrete floor of the empty Kentucky Fried store.

ALIEN ABDUCTION DOESN'T DEFINE HER. BUT THESE ANTENNAE STICKING OUT OF HER HEAD DO

Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, running for the U.S. House from Florida, claimed she was inducted by space aliens as a child. The Republican candidate said she was taken aboard a spaceship as a young girl by blonde extraterrestrials who resembled the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro.

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