The 5 Weirdest news stories of 2017

5. Fish nearly kills fisherman
The 5 Weirdest news stories of 2017

It's safe to say that if the average person were asked to list all of the potentially life-threatening things that could happen while fishing until they absolutely couldn't think of any more, they might never arrive at "fish jumping down your throat." Yet this is the wildly improbably scenario that befell an unnamed 28-year-old man who had been enjoying a relaxing day of fishing on the south coast of England, right up until the time a 6-inch Dover sole — which he was pretending to kiss for a photo — gave a mighty flop and sprang right into his mouth, then proceeded to wriggle its way down his throat and into his chest.

As reported by the Telegraph, it took all of two minutes for paramedics to arrive on the scene — by which time the unfortunate fisherman had already stopped breathing and gone into cardiac arrest. It took them six tries, but they somehow managed to yank the fish from the man's throat. Amazingly, he was revived in the ambulance and later made a full recovery. And now, for the really weird part: in 2016, it was reported that a 47-year-old man died after having nearly the exact same thing happen to him. So anglers, take note: wear a muzzle or something on your next trip because the fish have figured out how to pay you back.

4. Drug lord nabbed on the way to beard contest
The 5 Weirdest news stories of 2017

Gal Vallerius was a Frenchman with an awesome name and a secret: he lived a double life as "OxyMonster," an administrator for a Dark Web narcotics emporium. His site was particularly popular in the States, and U.S. authorities had been meticulously building a case against him, just waiting for him to set foot on American soil. According to The Guardian, they got their chance when the drug lord just couldn't resist making a stateside appearance for the World Beard and Moustache Championships.

You see, Vallerius had a magnificent, enormous, naturally bright-red beard that was every bit as awesome as his name, and he and his beard intended to take home the title. Instead, he was met at the Atlanta airport by some bummer cops who were totally harshing his buzz about all the hardcore drugs he'd been selling to Americans. They hauled him off to Miami to face a list of narcotics charges probably even longer than his beard. Shocked competitors couldn't help but be glad Vallerius wouldn't be attending. "I don't know anything about what other stuff he did," said one, "but as far as his beard goes, it's really awesome."

3. Baby questioned on suspicion of terrorism
The 5 Weirdest news stories of 2017

As you may be aware, the United States has become a bit paranoid about letting people into the country in recent years. Travelers to the U.S. must typically fill out what's called an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) form, and since this form originated with the U.S. government, it gets pretty hilarious. For example, one yes-or-no question just lays it all out there: "Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?" If you're wondering if anyone has ever checked "yes" and what would happen if they did, get ready for the monumentally stupid answer.

Sixty-three-year-old Englishman Paul Kenyon was traveling with his 3-month-old grandson Harvey. Perfectly innocent. If you've ever traveled with an infant, you know they can be a bit of a distraction. Filling out the ESTA on Harvey's behalf, Kenyon accidentally checked the wrong box in response to that question, resulting in his infant grandson being hauled in to the American Embassy to face questioning related to his terrorist activities by straight-faced officials. Speaking with The Guardian, Kenyon seemed amazed that they "didn't appear to have a sense of humor over it at all," and deadpanned that "if you were a terrorist, I suspect you'd not be ticking yes on the ESTA form anyway." As for Harvey, we presume he stated in an unnaturally deep voice that he had been foiled this time but that soon he would show us, oh yes, he would show us all.

2. Ted Cruz 'likes' porn clip on Twitter
The 5 Weirdest news stories of 2017

Whatever your political leanings, we can probably all agree on the fact that Texas Senator Ted Cruz is a little awkward. The kind of awkward that earns him YouTube videos with titles like "Ted Cruz Cringe Compilation 2016" and provokes (lighthearted) speculation as to whether he's actually from planet Earth. This is probably why the internet completely lost its mind when Senator Cruz found himself in another awkward situation: in the middle of one night in September, his verified Twitter account "liked" a tweet from an account called "Sexuall (sic) Posts" featuring a hardcore porn clip.

The gaffe was reported far and wide, and Cruz promptly sprung into damage control mode, telling the Washington Post, "It was a staffing issue and it was inadvertent," and assuring CNN's Dana Bash in an interview that "It was not me" and that "the staffer … feels terrible." We're actually inclined to take the Senator's explanation at face value if only because "porn preference" is at the top of the list of things we really don't need to know about our elected officials.

1. Hollywood sign vandalized, radically
The 5 Weirdest news stories of 2017

The iconic Hollywood sign has a long and weird history because it's located in Hollywood, which is only tenuously connected to the reality the rest of us live in. After California voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in November of 2016 (which is only surprising in that it took this long), one guy was so psyched about it that he decided to celebrate with a ridiculous New Year's prank: according to the The Hollywood Reporter, he hiked up the mountain in the dead of night, and used two strategically-placed tarps to turn the O's into E's, and residents awoke to the first day of 2017 surprised to find that they now lived in "Hollyweed."

The Guardian later reported that the prank had been the work of local artist Zachary Cole Fernandez, who turned himself in to police after realizing that he had almost certainly been caught on the sign's security cameras, which he had failed to take into account on the night of the prank for some unknown but possibly green and stinky reason. Of course, this was only after giving an interview to Vice about it, which he seemed to figure might cause some trouble: "Sometimes in order to create that conversation, you have to be OK with the consequences," he said, adding, "I'm very proactive about marijuana." Yes, we gathered as much.

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