Joshua Jack of Auckland, New Zealand, received an e-mail from his bosses at an ad agency informing him that he was expected at a "redundancy meeting" to discuss his future at the company. Kindly, the New Zealand Herald reported, they suggested he was welcome to bring along a support person, such as a friend or family member. "Sensing the bad news, I decided I'd need the best support person available," Jack wrote on Facebook, "so I spent $200 ($127 U.S.) to hire a clown." As the co-workers discussed Jack's exit, the clown blew up balloons and folded them into animals. He mimed crying when Jack was handed his final paperwork. Jack said his bosses found the humor in the situation, and he has already landed another job.

News you can use

It's springtime in Australia, which means if you're headed outside, you'll want to carry a big stick. September and October are the height of magpie swooping season, when nesting magpies are known to attack walkers, runners and bike riders in defense of their young. While they're only 12 inches long or so, 7 News reported, the black-and-white birds can cause a lot of pain with their sharp beaks. This year a man who was attacked as he rode his bike veered off the path and crashed, later dying of head injuries. "They're never trying to hurt anyone or be malicious," ornithologist Gisela Kaplan said. "It's all about risk assessment."

The dog did it

Thomas Barnes, 58, got an unpleasant surprise in his bill from DirectTV in August after his dog, Marino, jumped up on Barnes' bed and pressed a remote button that mistakenly ordered pay-per-view from the Hustler channel. Barnes immediately called to explain, and was assured that the charges would be removed. But the X-rated content remained. After making a second call and getting no resolution, Barnes paid his next bill — minus $70. Then his service was canceled altogether. Finally, Barnes complained to the Federal Communications Commission, which prompted a call from DirectTV, promising a credit on his next bill. "There's a problem when there's a mistake and you expect me to pay for the mistake," Barnes told the Raleigh News and Observer.

There's a rule for everything

Followers of Emily Post who are floundering with the rules for making toast ... er, getting toasted will want to pick up the new book from her great-great-granddaughter, Lizzie Post. According to the New York Times, "Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis, From Dispensaries to Dinner Parties" offers tidbits of advice for a variety of situations, to wit: Don't eat all the munchies. Avoid words like "pothead" and "weed," which can have negative connotations. Tip your "budtender" well, as he or she probably makes minimum wage. "Etiquette," Post reminds us, "can be so easy."

Extreme measures

Erik Villasenor, 22, of Sylmar, Calif., really didn't want to go to the Los Angeles County Fair on Sept. 15 with his parents. So he thought it was appropriate to send an e-mail to fair staff around 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 13, with an alarming warning: "Hello, I was told that someone was planning on doing a mass shooting on Sunday at the fairgrounds. I just wanted to inform you guys already." Naturally, Fox News reported, Villasenor's e-mail set off a chain of events involving the police department, FBI and anti-terror liaisons. Villasenor admitted to authorities that it was a hoax and was arrested a few hours later.

News of the Weird is compiled by the editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication. Send your weird news items to