Fort Bragg, N.C., declared an emergency Oct. 30 when one of its soldiers had the bright idea to arrive for a Halloween party on base dressed as a suicide bomber, with realistic-looking canisters in a wired vest. Gates to the post (headquarters of Army special forces and airborne troops) immediately went into extended lockdown, and a bomb-disposal team was called. The soldier’s name was not released.

Ewwww, gross!

Blackhead whisperer: Upland, Calif., dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee is a social media cult figure with a massive audience on YouTube, where her cyst- and pimple-popping videos (charmingly, soothingly narrated) have garnered 170 million views. (The “Popping” community, on the site, has more than 60,000 members.) Lee admits longing for “the perfect blackhead,” which to her apparently means one that is photogenic and slides out easily from its snug epidermal home. Several “Popping” fanatics told a Washington Post reporter that watching the videos is therapy for anxiety, but one fan apparently gets his “therapy” by submitting videos of his own — unsoothing — oil-laden bursts.

While hopeful Italian surgeon Dr. Sergio Canavero seeks funding to perform the first ever head “transplant” (with a patient already lined up), Australian Dr. Geoff Askin recently successfully “reattached” the head of a 16-month-old boy badly injured in a traffic accident. The toddler’s head was described as internally “relocated” and reset onto the vertebra, using wire and rib tissue to graft the head back in place. (Nonetheless, the operation was widely regarded as a “miracle.”)

‘Police Squad!’ lives on

Hugo Castro, 28, wanted for questioning in October in San Jose, Calif., after his girlfriend was stabbed to death, helpfully presented himself at the county jail. The sheriff’s deputy listened — and then suggested Castro go find a San Jose police officer. (Castro did, and the deputy was subsequently reassigned.) In Greenland, N.H., state police laid down spiked “stop sticks” in November to slow down a fleeing Joshua Buzza, 37. Buzza was apprehended, but not before he managed to avoid the sticks while goading the drivers of three squad cars over them (flattening several tires).

Great art!

A 33-year-old Frenchman erected a stone table with benches over his mother’s grave marker so he and friends could enjoy munchies and wine as he “talked” to her. A homeowners’ association in Winter Haven, Fla., petitioned Steven Chayt to remove the 24- by 12-foot chair he built in his backyard as an art project — especially because of the hole in the seat — making it, said one neighbor, “essentially a toilet.”

Finer points of the law

Daniel Darrington was spared a murder conviction in October even after admitting intentionally shooting Rocky Matskassy at point-blank range to “relieve his suffering.” The jury in Melbourne, Australia, decided that Matskassy, in pain from an earlier accidental shooting, was indeed already dead when Darrington shot him. However, under the law of the state of Victoria, it is still “attempted murder” because Darrington believed that Matskassy was still alive when he pulled the trigger.

Wait, what?

Even though Darren Paden, 52, confessed almost immediately upon his 2013 arrest for a 10-year, 200-plus-episode pattern of sexual abuse of a girl that began when she was 4, many Dearborn, Mo., townspeople, astonishingly, turned on her and not him. Paden, volunteer fire chief in the 500-person town, is apparently a beloved neighbor with a lifetime of good deeds, leaving the victim, now 18, largely “ostracized” and called a liar, according to an October Kansas City Star report. Even some who accept that crimes were committed fear excessively punishing a “good man” (who, in one example offered, saved a man from being stomped to death by a cow). Nonetheless, in October, the judge sentenced Paden to 50 years in prison.


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