Tom Fearon

Professional communicator in Canberra

2012: The Year in Weird

Tom Fearon looks back at the most head-scratching headlines of the year

Dec. 27, 2012

As we prepare to bid the year farewell, Metro Beijing rewinds the clock to bring you a month-by-month breakdown of the best weird, freaky and entirely true news bites of the past 12 months. We've scoured the archives to bring you the best of the bizarre.


Crazy cat lady avoids court

Cats: man's other best friend.

Cats: man's other best friend.

If watching The Simpsons has taught us anything, it's that crazy cat ladies aren't to be messed with. Aside from their intimidating feline arsenal which they hurl at strangers without hesitation, elderly suburban women who hoard dozens of cats are just plain creepy.

A neighbor of 76-year-old Cui Meishan, who owned dozens of cats, attempted to sue the cat lady on January 7 for creating a disturbance.

Cui kept her army of strays on the balcony of her Tuanjiehu apartment since 2006. One of her neighbors complained that the cats urinated around the compound and created a lot of noise. Chaoyang district court turned the case down, possibly because the clerk delivering the summons was pelted with cats.


People go bananas over monkey

A rhesus monkey sparked primate panic at Dongdan Park.

A rhesus monkey sparked primate panic at Dongdan Park.

It's a jungle out there in Beijing at the best of times, but people had extra cause for concern on February 27 when a rhesus monkey was spotted in a tree outside Dongdan Park. A group of onlookers, clearly none of whom had skills in hostage negotiation, surrounded the tree and suggested that they catch it and eat its brain. Monkey brains are considered a delicacy in many parts of China, even if hot pot restaurant giants in Beijing have yet to include the dish on their menus.

The desperate monkey remained in the tree until a middle-aged man captured him. It is unclear who the man was or where he took the animal, but we can only hope he had a heart as admirable as the monkey's brain.


Technocrats bring sexy back

Already tormented by the grim fact that men far outnumber women in China, nerdy single men received some welcome news on March 27 when they found out brains are more desirable than brawn. Chinese women see engineering or tech students as the most marriageable men, according to a poll on Baihe, an online dating service.

Male students in these majors top the list of young men from 17 colleges that female voters said they would marry, despite their image of being "nerdy and boring."

The rise of geek chic could explain the lensless glasses craze this year, but the more likely explanation for nerd worship could lie in the fact most of China's leaders are themselves technocrats.


Mugger blames job interview for crime

Finding a good job isn't easy in this economy, but every now and again, one comes along that's a steal.

A mugger arrested on April 18 said he attacked his victim because his prospective employer had instructed him to do so during a job interview. The man surnamed Ma said he was told he would get a job if he could mug a person, but alas, all he ending up getting was a criminal record.

It's possible organized crime has become so organized that gangs now have human resources departments, but police didn't seem to buy Ma's story.


Nude photo plot busted

In case you didn't know it already, it's a bad idea to pose in nude photos for your partner. When the relationship sours, they are going to come back to haunt you as one woman found out when her ex-boyfriend, surnamed Li, tried to blackmail her by threatening to release nude photos.

Li, from Xicheng district, was arrested on May 27 and charged with trying to extort 60,000 yuan ($9,456) from his ex to pay for his wedding to his new love.

Li had kept the photos, taken while they were going out, and threatened to post them online unless she paid up. Hopefully, Li resisted pulling out his camera while consummating his marriage with his new wife.


'Evil nanny' sues boss

Evil isn't found in lairs belonging to super villains stroking hairless cats. It actually comes from spiteful nannies, if you believe a woman surnamed Shi who described her house servant as "an evil nanny" in an online statement.

The nanny surnamed Zhang proved she can clean up more than just dirty households, seeking to clean out part of her former employer's bank account, too. Zhang filed a 30,000-yuan ($4,710) libel suit against Shi on June 4 in retaliation to her "evil" slander that accompanied claims Zhang gave Shi's baby sleeping pills and stole from her from January to February 2011.

In the spirit of the punishment fitting the crime, we can only hope the judge punished Shi by forcing her to watch every episode of American TV comedy series The Nanny to endure the truly "evil" nasal voice of actress Fran Drescher.


Suicidal woman falls for cop

A jumper was saved by a gallant policeman in July.

A jumper was saved by a gallant policeman in July.

Beijing police are here to serve and protect the city, even if that means offering a soft landing to jumpers attempting suicide. A woman surnamed Peng leapt from the second floor of a residential building in Beiqijia township, Changping district, at 2 am on July 4 after negotiations from the ground with policeman Shen Guohua broke down.

There was no time to grab a bed sheet or trampoline like in the movies, so Shen took the noble action of opening his arms to catch the damsel in distress.

Peng survived the fall unscathed, but Shen was knocked unconscious after her feet hit his head. Hopefully, Peng did the right thing and offered Shen a cup of tea for his troubles after he regained consciousness. Shen was shaken, but returned to work the next day.


To pee or not to pee?

When you gotta go, you gotta go. So it was for a young boy who urinated into a paper cup held by his father at the Xiabuxiabu hot pot restaurant in Wangjing, Chaoyang district, on August 2.

A customer snapped a photo of the scene that triggered public discontent over the boy's parents and the restaurant. Staff at the restaurant, no doubt adhering to the policy of the customer always being right, did not intervene and later admitted that they failed to properly handle the issue.

Unfortunately, hot pot is a form of cuisine that requires constant surveillance from diners. When nature calls, sometimes going to the restroom just isn't an option - unless, of course, you don't mind overcooking your mutton.


Drunk flies off the handle at airport

Let's face it - airport layovers suck. Often there's little to amuse flyers grounded at Beijing Capital International Airport when flights are delayed. Sometimes the best way to pass time is to get buzzed by sipping baijiu, which is conveniently sold in pocket-sized bottles.

A man surnamed Xu probably should have spent his downtime browsing duty-free stores, however, instead of getting drunk, arguing with airport staff and kicking ad billboards in a September 2 scuffle.

Employees called police, but Xu came out swinging again for round two by hitting, kicking and scratching officers before he was subdued and detained.

Xu, who was going with his daughter to college in Wuhan, Hubei Province, ended up booking a 20-day holiday behind bars for his behavior.


Subway screens vulgarity

Chinese curses accidentally made their way onto passenger information screens on the Beijing Subway.

Chinese curses accidentally made their way onto passenger information screens on the Beijing Subway.

Beijing subway platforms are lined with monitors that offer commuters very little useful information other than the time. The next train comes in two minutes? Great, we didn't know that.

But employees of Line 5 were left red-faced on October 8 after all passenger information screens at stations showed a phrase including Chinese curse words.

Passengers posted pictures of the screens on microblogs, which read: "Wang Peng, your sister." We're not sure who Wang Peng is, but we can reveal that "your sister" is a Chinese way of cursing somebody.

Rather than actually turning off the screens, subway employees added to the hilarity by pasting newspapers on them to cover up the rude phrase. Both the hacker and the identity of Wang Peng remain at large.


Mum isn't the word

Single men and women across the country often hire "spouses" for Spring Festival to appease parents worried about why their son or daughter has yet to married. For beggars, hiring accomplices is also a common tactic.

A young man was arrested November 4 after the chengguan (urban management officers) discovered he had hired a fake mother to go begging with him on Fangyuan Xilu, Chaoyang district.

The man tried to solicit money from passersby as he cried about his tragic life. He claimed his father was missing and his "mother" was suffering from liver cancer.

However, the man abandoned his "mother" and ran when officers approached the pair. When she was questioned, the woman admitted the beggar had paid her a 30-yuan "service fee" for her to pose as his mother.


Police target jaywalkers

Jaywalkers getting busted. Photos: CFP

Jaywalkers getting busted. Photos: CFP

Why did the jaywalker cross the road? To get to the wrong side of the law and get slapped with a 10-yuan fine by a Beijing traffic police officer.

Jaywalking, also known as "Beiwalking" in this city, has long been a necessary evil among pedestrians wanting to get where they're going in Beijing. But alas, no longer.

Beijing police announced on December 10 that they would target badly-behaved pedestrians and drivers who affect the city's traffic order, including those who block emergency lanes.

In a crackdown that can only be compared to shooting fish in a barrel, traffic police busted 19 jaywalkers in just 30 minutes on Huizhong Lu, Chaoyang district.

See the original article here.