Once again, we've read the rags, watched the boob tube and surfed the wild world-wide web to gather some of the most ridiculous stories of the year.
We note with some concern that the stories seem to be getting crazier at the same time that Americans seem to be getting more sensitive.
Let's talk crazy: You've got a Phoenix man who set his 5-year-old granddaughter loose in the desert with a cocked pistol while he went to get a cheeseburger. You've got an Arizona congressman terrifying young schoolchildren with talk about nuclear weapons and suicide bombers. You've got an investigation into a Tucson prostitution ring that took years—and revealed that TPD officers were among the clients who were getting their nightsticks polished.
And, of course, you've got anything that comes out of GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's mouth.
Without further ado, here's our list of 2015 achievements that are as dubious as they come.
A BRILLIANT EXAMPLE OF GOP LATINO OUTREACH
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump launched his campaign by saying that undocumented Mexican immigrants "have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with us. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."
IT'S RAINING BLUNTS!
A Nogales family awoke to find that a 23.8-pound marijuana bundle had fallen from the sky overnight, crashed through their carport and made a hole in their German Shepherd's hard plastic doghouse. "Thank goodness (Hulk) is a wanderer at night and was not in his house," Maya Donnelly told the Nogales International. The bundle either fell from a smuggler's ultralight airplane or was catapulted across the border.
BALD AND IN CHARGE, FEARLESS FRANK STRIKES AGAIN
Through his independent group, Revitalize Tucson, former state Sen. Frank Antenori sent robo-calls to 10,000 Tucson phones in an effort to defeat City Councilman Paul Cunningham in his reelection bid. Antenori's calls referred to Cunningham as a "sexual predator," a reference to a 2012 episode in which the councilman was not criminally charged.
AUNT BEE SCORES BIG AT THE BOARD OF REGENTS CASINO
After $99 million in state funding cuts to Arizona's university system, the Board of Regents approved substantial raises for the three school presidents. UA's Ann Weaver Hart received a $25,000 boost in base pay, a $20,000 housing allowance increase, and a merit bonus of $115,000.
Regent Mark Killian said all state university presidents were "way underpaid." Hart's total annual compensation is $665,500 a year.
A LITTLE LEAKAGE FOCUSES THE DEVIOUS MIND
A study at Cal State Fullerton instructed research subjects to lie on questions asked of them by a panel. Before the interview, half the students drank 700 milliliters of water, the other half 50 millileters.
The groundbreaking result? The subjects who really, really needed to pee lied much more convincingly.
A GLORIOUS FU**ING FIRST
While perusing a 1310 document from the city of Chester, British historian Paul Booth discovered the oldest written use of the F word in English language. Referring to an outlaw, the mention referred to him as Roger Fuckebythenavele, probably a nickname.
"I suggest it could either mean an actual attempt at copulation by an inexperienced youth, later reported by a rejected girlfriend," Booth said. "Or an equivalent of the word dimwit, i.e. a man who might think it was the correct way to go about it."
Fox News celebrity-journalist Geraldo Rivera donated $500,000 for a park that will bear his name along UA's Greek Row. The 72-year-old former fraternity member graduated from UA in 1965.
ARIZONA: THE FIX IS IN
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey hired a firm to come up with a catchphrase to redefine the state's often-lousy image. Scottsdale-based Heasley&Partners got the contract through competitive bidding and it's purely coincidence that the company did the same work for Ducey when he was chief executive of Cold Stone Creamery.
CLANTONS FINALLY SHOOTS EARPS ON STREETS OF TOMBSTONE; VIRG WEEPS
During a Helldorado Days show on Tombstone's Allen Street, gunfight reenactor Tom Carter mistakenly shot his friend and fellow actor Ken Curtis in the abdomen with a live round. Another round grazed a bystander and a third struck a business 680 feet away. The guns are supposed to shoot blanks.
JUST ANOTHER EXERCISE OF SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS
A man attending the Phoenix Crossroads of the West gun show was shot in the torso after his friend accidentally discharged a recently purchased semi-automatic pistol.
THE DEVIL MADE SPARKY DO IT
Tempe Councilman David Schapira was injured after ASU mascot Sparky jumped on his back during a September football game. Schapira, who had recently undergone back surgery, filed a $96,000 claim against the university, according to the Associated Press.
GRANDFATHER OF THE YEAR
Paul Rater was arrested by Maricopa County sheriff's deputies after he left his 5-year-old granddaughter alone in the desert with a loaded pistol that had been cocked into a ready-to-fire position. Rater told deputies he left the girl so he could go have a few drinks and a cheeseburger.
PERHAPS HE SHOULD HAVE REVIEWED THE INSTRUCTIONS A LITTLE MORE CLOSELY
Phoenix resident Christen Reece, 23, was out shooting guns in the desert with a group of friends after a night of drinking when he decided to demonstrate how the double-safety on his handgun would prevent the gun from discharging. He held it to his temple, pulled the trigger and shot himself in the head.
"You know, there's not really a lot to the story other than don't drink and shoot guns," Jim Molesa, chief deputy of the Navajo County Sheriff's Office, told the Phoenix New Times.
REP. BOOGEYMAN SPEAKS TO CHILDREN
While speaking to a class of second and third graders, Congressman Matt Salmon asked them if they knew what nuclear weapons were and wondered if they were aware that "there are schools that train children your age to be suicide bombers?"
Salmon later apologized to parents who were disturbed by his comments, according to the Washington Post.
Web companies used unflattering photos of former Arizona governor Jan Brewer in ads that read: "Divorced for being too old, see her revenge makeover."
"It's obviously a very distorted and unflattering photo, and it's hurtful and it's wrong," Brewer told the Arizona Republic. "I want whoever is behind the use of this image to cease and desist and do so immediately or it will leave me with no option but to pursue legal recourse against them. No matter where I go, where I travel, people bring it up,"
YOU REALLY CAN'T BE CAPTURED IF YOU WERE DRAFT DODGER
GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, who told a biographer that his time at a military boarding school was very much like serving in the actual military, dismissed Arizona Sen. John McCain's time as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton during the conflict.
"He's not a war hero," Trump said. "He's a war hero 'cause he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK?"
THAT'S SURE TO BRING DOWN TEEN PREGNANCY RATES
In reaction to a biology textbook that informed students that contraception could prevent unwanted pregnancies, the Gilbert School Board required students to place a sticker in their books saying that the district "supports the state of Arizona's strong interest in promoting childbirth and adoption over elective abortion. The District is also in support of promoting abstinence as the most effective way to eliminate the potential for unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you have questions concerning sexual intercourse, contraceptives, pregnancy, adoption, or abortion, we encourage you to speak with your parents."
WE CAN START THE CLASS WITH A DISCUSSION OF NEO-NAZIS
A white nationalist group launched a crusade against ASU professor Lee Babout after they learned he was teaching a class exploring "the problem with whiteness."
IS UNIVERSITY OF PHOENIX STADIUM CONSIDERED A CHURCH?
State lawmaker Sylvia Allen suggested that lawmakers should consider a law requiring Arizonans to attend church on Sundays.
"How we get to back to a moral rebirth of this country, I don't know, since we are slowly eroding religion at every opportunity that we have," Allen said. "Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth."
OUT OF BOUNDS
Former NFL star Warren Sapp was busted in Phoenix following the Super Bowl for soliciting a pair of prostitutes who later alleged that he assaulted them during a dispute over money.
Wildlife rescue workers pulled a 44-pound beaver from Tempe Town Lake.
On Nov. 18, The Arizona Daily Star published a story about the arrest and booking into Pima County Jail of Tucson lawyer Christopher Raboin on a charge of second-degree murder. Two days later, the paper published a guest column on the U.S. role in Afghanistan, written by the incarcerated suspected killer.
In a published apology, Editor Bobbie Jo Buel explained that the paper's crack staff edited the column on Nov. 13 and no one connected the name in the arrest story to the forthcoming column.
I ASKED FOR A TRIM AND HE SHAVED MY LEGS
The Massachusetts commission against discrimination awarded a legally blind barber $100,000 after concluding he was wrongly fired. Joel Nixon has limited peripheral vision and trouble seeing at night. Tony Morales of Tony's Barber Shop in Norton, Mass., fired Nixon after he tripped over a customer's legs and over a chair in the waiting room.
THE SKY WILL STAY RIGHT WHERE IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH
Aiming to erase the border fence in Nogales, artist Ana Teresa Fernandez painted a 30-foot portion of it sky blue, saying the color would blend with the sky and make it nearly invisible. She said the wall had become a symbol of pain for those unable to cross it. "It's not erasing the border, it's pulling the sky down to us," said the 34-year-old.
WE'VE BEEN TRIGGER WARNED. WE NEED A SAFE SPACE
To build bridges in a region they believe is divided along an artificial and militarized border, an artists' group placed 28 tethered balloons along a two-mile stretch of the U.S.-Mexican border in Douglas. The balloon exhibit, called Repellent Fence, was installed by the self-described indigenous artist collective, Postcommodity. The pretty balloons hover 50 feet above the ground.
WE COULDN'T AGREE MORE, THE BASTARDS
On her 109th birthday, Jessie Gallan told CNN the secret to long life was walking, having a bowl of porridge every day and staying the hell away from men. Gallan, who has never been married, said men are more trouble than they're worth.
WHAT'S THE BUZZ? TROUBLE ON THE FUZZ
A 300-page Department of Public Safety report detailed the suspected involvement of nine Tucson Police personnel with the illegal massage businesses, By Spanish and Daisy's Delights.
TPD began investigating the businesses in 2011, but the potential involvement of TPD employees wasn't discovered until 2015. Commenting on the four-year slow roll, Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor, who retired this month, initially cited budget cuts to the vice squad and later retracted that, acknowledging that cuts weren't the reason. "It was a reallocation of staffing," he said.
So many cops banned,
Shown the door.
But what took so long, Villaseñor?
Four years you looked,
Just couldn't get a handle.
Do we need to wonder,
About the real scandal?
Budget cuts, you said,
Give us a break,
Wanted us to think,
Everything was Jake.
Nothing to see here, folks
Let's move this thing along
Fuhget about the hos
Rub me clean, doll,
You missed a spot,
The chief worked hard on this
We kid you not.
Toss me a towel,
Say, where are my pants?
Don't look now,
It's the cover-up dance.
NOW THAT'S WHAT WE CALL "GETTING OUT THE VOTE"
A judge sentenced Nicole Solomon to 3 ½ years in prison for a 2012 incident in a Mesa, Arizona, parking lot in which she ran over her now ex-husband Daniel after learning he didn't vote for Mitt Romney for president.
With Nicole piloting the family Jeep, she chased Daniel around the parking lot. When he bolted from behind a light pole and tried to get away, she struck him, fracturing his pelvis.
Daniel said, "Learning to trust people, to love again is going to be very difficult for me."
THE KING AND I
At the Belmont Stakes, Nogales-born trainer Bob Baffert received a $200,000 fee just for allowing a man dressed in a Burger King outfit to stand near him during American Pharaoh's victorious run. Baffert declined Burger King's offer of $100,000 to have their mascot stand near him at the earlier Kentucky Derby.
The Triple Crown winning trainer earns an estimated $10 million a year.
In a letter responding to three high school girls, incarcerated Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, 85, told them his life "was wasted and spent foolishly, brought shame and suffering on my parents and siblings and will end soon."
The vicious mobster added: "I only know one thing for sure: If you want to make crime pay, go to law school."
DUMP A BUCKET OF METAMUCIL IN THERE AND STAND BACK
Drug bundles blocked a cross-border sewer line causing a home on Morley Avenue in Nogales to flood with up to three feet of raw sewage. The line runs along the Nogales Wash and carries 10 million gallons of sewage per day from Mexico to a treatment plant in Rio Rico.
Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies arrested a Pennsylvania man on suspicion of traveling to Arizona to have sex with a horse. Michael Crawford, 68, allegedly posted an ad on a website soliciting a willing horse owner and was introduced to two charming ponies in Tolleson.
When deputies took him into custody, Crawford allegedly said he'd engaged in acts of bestiality since 1970.
FLYING BLIND ;
An inspector general's report concluded that the Homeland Security Department's Predator B drones flown along the border by Customs and Border Protection were "dubious achievers." The program cost far more than the government estimated, helped in the arrest of a fraction of those trying to cross illegally, and flew fewer hours than the government claimed.
IF YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY, CHARLIE, JUST SAY IT
When Hollywood madman Charlie Sheen heard that reality star Kim Kardashian had snubbed an autograph-seeking 6-year-old girl, he went on a twitter rampage, writing: "Newsflash – you suck! You are lucky that ANYONE cares about your gross and giggly bag of funk you dare call an ass."
LET'S SEE: OVERSIZED, HAIRY, NOT QUITE WALKING UPRIGHT. WAIT, IT'S DONALD TRUMP!
The Arizona Department of Transportation touched off an uproar by posting on its Facebook page a photo of mysterious animals roaming near a highway. The caption read: "We might've spotted a family of Sasquatches on SR 260 near Heber this afternoon. What do you think?" Rumors flew as the photo was shared more than 3,000 times.
Responding to complaints about a bad odor on remote property in New River, north of Phoenix, sheriff's deputies found more than 100 animals, including alpaca and zebras. When confronted, homeowner Rene Mikkel ripped the aluminum tab from a soft drink can and swallowed it. The tab lodged in her throat and she was taken to a hospital.
"This attempt at suicide was an act to prevent her from going to jail tonight," said Sheriff's spokesman Joaquin Enriquez.
GREEN GRASS, BLUE SKY, HIGH AS A KITE
Jon McLane, 31, leader of a downtown homeless encampment, was arrested on marijuana charges at Veinte de Agosto Park. Five other suspects were arrested as well, as Tucson police responded to complaints from people walking to work and nearby business owners saying they saw the use and sale of drugs in the park.
CATS IN PAC-12 LITTER BOX
UA Athletic Director Greg Byrne boasted that the graduation rate for the school's athletes had increased 14 percentage points since 2009. But at 75 percent, according to the NCAA's most recent stats, UA still had the lowest graduation rate in the Pac-12 conference.
With a rate of 82 percent, even ASU beat us.
WHAT'S WITH THIS CAT?
Following his 2013 arrest in L.A. for possessing 100 pounds of illegal fireworks, former UA basketball star Gilbert Arenas finally agreed to a no contest plea to avoid jail time. He was fined $41,240 and ordered to complete 10 days of community service to learn fire prevention. In 2010, Arenas and another player pulled guns on one another in their NBA locker room.
TERRORISM THEATER: TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES AND ENJOY THE SHOW
Undercover agents working for the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security were able to successfully conceal mock explosives and weapons from Transportation Security Administration screeners 67 out of 70 times. That failure rate—more than 95 percent—caused Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to reassign the acting administrator of TSA.
GREAT DEALS, A CORN DOG, MAYBE SOME CRANK
Police found a meth lab inside a Walmart restroom in Muncie, Indiana. The active lab was inside a backpack, which had to be dismantled and the restroom thoroughly decontaminated.
BLUTO BLUTARSKY LIVES!
The Delta Sigma Phi fraternity was banned from the UA campus for locking new members in a room with vodka and vomit buckets and giving them 15 minutes to drink up. The Arizona Daily Star reported that at least two members passed out, several vomited and one lost control of his bodily functions.
WHEN POTHOLES ATTACK!
In July 2012, Ken Baarson thought he could ride his bike through a puddle on East Pima Street near North Sonoita Avenue. But the puddle turned out to be a deep pothole that launched him over the handlebars, breaking his spine in three places. Baarson sued the city and this year won a settlement of $225,000.
THOSE SNEAKY SUCCULENTS
Residents of Paradise Valley, Arizona, became suspicious when they saw workers on ladders installing roadside cameras in fake cactuses. After inquiries, Town Manager Kevin Burke said the cameras would read license plates on stolen cars or vehicles subject to Amber alerts.
Burke didn't want the public notified about the cameras until they were installed and "everybody was on the same page." He denied they were meant to be secret.
THE THINGS YOU SEE ON THE STREETS OF TUCSON
A man driving out of Tucson saw what he thought was a kangaroo bounding along the side of the road and stopped to get videotape. The animal, actually a wallaroo, a smaller member of the kangaroo family, was one of two such animals that had escaped from their owner. The marsupials were named Boomer and Bouncy.
COME TO THINK OF IT, I'M STARTING TO ITCH ALL OVER
Plague was discovered in prairie dog fleas collected in Picture Canyon northeast of Flagstaff. The area is popular among hikers.
A board of inquiry found that the "non-typical force option" used by Marana cop Michael Rapiejko to subdue a suspect was reasonable. The officer used his patrol car to ram into Mario Maranda Valencia, who had allegedly robbed a 7-Eleven, set fire to a church, broke into a home, stole a car and swiped a rifle from Walmart.
On a wild dash cam video that went nationwide, the officer's car can be seen striking Valencia, who went flying through the air like a hapless trapeze artist.
In speaking to the Daily Beast about Ivana Trump's long-ago and now-retracted rape charge against ex-husband Donald, lawyer Michael Cohen allegedly exploded in a classic rant against the reporter:
"I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we're in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don't have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. So I'm warning you, tread very f---ing lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be f---ing disgusting. You understand me?
"You write a story that has Mr. Trump's name and it, with the word rape, and I'm going to mess up your life... For as long as you're on this frickin' planet... You're going to have judgments against you, so much money, you'll never know how to get out from underneath it."
A CIVILIZED REPTILE
Nathaniel Buck Harrison, 38, of Oracle, was charged with numerous crimes after he broke into a home and beat the owner with a board, fired a gunshot through a speaker and tried to get a rattlesnake he'd brought with him to bite the homeowner. Harrison believed the man had ratted out a friend, sending him to prison. The rattlesnake declined to cooperate in the biting plot.
The City of Tucson announced it plans to double its graffiti abatement budget next year to handle 650 graffiti complaints per month. The mayor and council allotted an additional $880,000 to eliminate the unsightly and depressing gang markings that are increasingly visible across the city.
DOES EDWARD SNOWDEN KNOW ABOUT THIS?
City Attorney Mike Rankin told a Superior Court judge he would not turn over documents relating to how Tucson uses a device purchased in 2011 that enables the tracking of cell phone users. The fight began with a public records request by freelance writer Beau Hodai, who wanted to know how and where Tucson has used the device, known as StingRay.
Rankin said the documents would compromise sensitive law enforcement work and national security.