Muslim clerics complain of the commercialization of the holy city of Mecca during the annual hajj pilgrimages, but for Pope Francis' visits to New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, shameless street vendors and entrepreneurs already appear to be eclipsing Mecca's experience. Merchants are selling, among other tacky items, mozzarella cheese statuettes of the pope ($20), a "pope toaster" to burnish Francis' image on bread, a Philly-themed bobblehead associating the pope with the movie boxer "Rocky," local beers Papal Pleasure and YOPO (You Only Pope Once) and T-shirts ("Yo Pontiff!" and "The Pope Is My Homeboy"). The Wall Street Journal quoted a Philadelphia archdiocese spokesman admitting that "you kind of have to take it in stride."


A Chinese woman identified only as Zeng was detained and stabilized at Beijing Capital International Airport in August after being found dazed on the floor at a boarding gate. She had attempted to fly with a bottle of expensive cognac (Remy Martin XO Excellence) in her carry-on — a violation of Chinese regulations barring liquids over 100 ml (the cognac was 700 ml, selling for about $200 in the United States) and was presented with the ultimatum to give up the bottle or miss the flight. She decided to drink the contents on the spot (but was subsequently declared too drunk to board).

'Another thing, Dad ... '

Michael May, 44, was arrested in Lincoln County, Ky., in August after the Pilot Baptist Cemetery near Stanford reported that he had tried to dig up the grave of his dead father "in order to argue with him," according to Lexington's WLEX-TV. May told officers his dad had died about 30 years ago. (Alcohol was involved in the decision to dig.)

Backwards trade?

In July, Mexican customs officers detained an American and a Mexican on the bridge between El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, with 13 pounds of marijuana the two allegedly were smuggling into Mexico to sell. (The month before, Juarez officials arrested another El Paso woman with a kilo of crystal meth allegedly destined for Mexican sale.)

Read News of the Weird daily at Send items to