Mental Floss

The Weird Week in Review

Miss Cellania
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President Barack Obama remarked to People magazine that he found the decorative snowmen arranged around the White House yard to be creepy. Staffers took that information and used it to prank their boss. They moved the four snowmen from the Rose Garden to the outside of the Oval Office—where they were positioned to stare into the windows. The president took the prank in stride, even posing for a photo of the snowmen startling him.


British Border Force officers went through a truck that was delivering Pepsi from Bulgaria. It was inspected before leaving a ferry from the Netherlands to Kent, UK. Among the cases of canned Pepsi, they found 17 kilograms of cocaine, with a street value of around £700,000. The truck driver, who has dual Macedonian/Bulgarian citizenship, was arrested and released on bail.


Last Saturday morning, Bruce Atkinson of Apollo Bay, Victoria, Australia, found a koala on his porch. He noticed it was covered with burrs. Atkinson offered the creature a bowl of water, but the koala swatted it out of his hands. So Atkinson got a pair of gloves and a brush.

He carefully approached the koala and let it sniff at the hair brush before attempting to brush the prickles out. "I just gently poked the brush at some of the burrs," he said. "Within seconds it decided, 'this is alright, I'll have more of this.'" Mr Atkinson said he was amazed at how benign the previously aggressive koala became once it was having its fur brushed. He said he was able to remove most of the burrs and then collected some gum leaves for the koala, which hung around his house for the rest of the day.

For a koala, he turned out to be pretty good at communicating his needs to the human. Atkinson posted a video of the de-burring operation at the Otway Community Facebook group.


A license plates that says "HO" might be offensive because of its slang connotations, while the phrase "Ho-Ho-Ho" automatically makes one think of Santa Claus's jolly laugh. So what does "Ho Ho" imply? Alabama resident Dave Reid, who looks like Santa Claus, has had two "Hos" on his license plate for six years. But this year, the DMV rejected his vanity plate request. Reid took the story to the local media, and the backlash prompted state officials to relent and renew the vanity plates for Reid's 1999 Toyota 4Runner.


Montreal's municipal Christmas tree has its own Twitter account, but it's not because the city is proud. The tree is skinny, the trunk is crooked, the top is flat, and the decorations are logos for Canadian Tire. The initial idea was for the city to erect a tree taller than the one at Rockefeller Center in New York. Tree company Sapin MTL found a lovely tree at 24 meters, taller than any New York tree had been. But then Rockefeller Center put up a Christmas tree that was a record 28.6 meters tall—so the Montreal tree company had to find a taller one fast.

Facing a Nov. 30 deadline for unveiling the tree, the Sapin crew had to hurry. The tree was harvested, placed on a special flatbed truck and brought to Montreal under police escort within 72 hours. But a tight schedule and a tight budget meant that some corners were cut — and so was the tree. Somehow, the tree that reached the closed-off section of St. Catherine Street where the market is held measured just 26.8 metres tall, 1.8 metres short of the one in Rockefeller Center. Pelletier’s brother Philippe, another principal in the company, said a bit sheepishly Friday that they had simply settled for the tallest tree they could find in time.

After the initial shock, the people of Montreal are coming around to embracing their distinctive tree, missing branches and all.