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To Absent Friends 

A weekly roundup of international news oddities.

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To Absent Friends
During the 2014 World Cup, five friends in Durango, Mexico, made a pact to travel to the 2018 tournament in Russia. They saved their money, bought a bus, painted it in Mexico's colors and booked passage for themselves and the bus on a ship going to Spain, where The Daily Mail reported, the friends planned to drive the bus to Russia. But just before they boarded the ship in April, one of the five, Javier, told his friends his wife had put the kibosh on his trip. So the remaining four did the next best thing: They made a cardboard life-size cutout of Javier, looking grumpy and wearing a shirt that says, "My wife didn't let me go," and set off for Russia. The cardboard Javier has been very popular at the soccer venues, attracting female admirers, appearing on the big screen, crowd-surfing and being photographed with fellow football fans from all over the world.

Anger Management
In North Port, Fla., a witness watched on June 17 as 75-year-old Helena Molnar beat an unnamed man with a water jug after he watered her plants. When he emptied the rest of the water in the jug on her plants, she went inside her house and returned with a different weapon, which the witness didn't see but said "made a different sound" than the water jug. According to WWSB TV, North Port police arrived to find the victim soaking wet, with blood drops on his shirt. Molnar was charged with battery.

Undignified Death
Samen Kondorura was joined by dozens of male relatives mourning his mother's death in North Toraja, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, on June 15, as they carried her coffin to a lakkean, a wooden stilt structure where dead bodies are stored during traditional funeral ceremonies. But as they hoisted the coffin up a bamboo ladder, The Jakarta Post reported, the ladder broke and the coffin fell, striking people in the crowd, including Kondorura himself, who suffered a severe head injury and died on the way to the hospital.

Art Makes a Statement
At the Royal College of Art's annual London fashion show in June, one graduate unveiled a unique approach to accessorizing garments: crystallized bodily fluids. Alice Potts displayed a pair of ballet shoes decorated with crystals formed from sweat, along with a fake fur adorned with urine crystals. Potts told Reuters the "more natural materials" could offer environmental benefits not possible with traditional plastics.

• To kick off an exhibition focused on the opioid crisis at his Stamford, Conn., art gallery on June 22, gallery owner Fernando Alvarez and artist Domenic Esposito placed an 800-pound, 11-foot-long steel sculpture of a bent and burned spoon in front of the headquarters of Purdue Pharma, makers of OxyContin. Purdue has been the subject of lawsuits alleging deceptive marketing and, therefore, responsibility for opioid addiction and overdose issues. "The spoon has always been an albatross for my family," said Esposito, whose brother has struggled with drug addiction for 14 years. The Associated Press reported police arrested Alvarez for obstructing free passage and confiscated the spoon as evidence.

Awesome!
On June 23, firefighters of Engine 642 of the Henrietta, N.Y., Fire District went the extra mile after responding to an accident in which the injured driver was a pizza delivery man, according to Fox News. "Once the patient was cared for and loaded into the ambulance, the crew decided to finish the delivery so the pizza wouldn't go to waste," the fire department posted on its Facebook page. "If it's not delivery it's Di ... Fire dept?!"

Oops!
James J. Rynerson, 38, was being held in the Mesa County (Colorado) Jail in May after being charged with menacing, disorderly conduct and trespass. But on May 21, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported, sheriff's deputies at the jail released him, having mistaken him for Marvin March, 35, a different inmate. Jail staff gave Rynerson March's belongings, and he wore March's leather jacket as he signed March's name to the release papers and left the facility. Rynerson's wife was startled to see her husband in the garage at their home, and after he explained what happened, she convinced him to go back. She "personally drove him back to the Mesa County Detention Facility," the report noted, and he was back in custody by 11 p.m., with new charges, including escape and forgery, added to his list.

• A woman in Wenling, China, was so thrilled to be driving the Ferrari 458 she rented on June 21 that she recorded herself while waiting at a stoplight: "First time driving a Ferrari. This truly is the most amazing feeling." But within minutes, reported The Daily Mail, she swerved out of control, striking a metal traffic barrier and a BMW X3, destroying the front end of the $660,000 Ferrari and deploying its airbags. Neither the driver nor her passenger was injured in the accident.

Recurring Themes
In this week's installment of foreign objects stuck in body cavities: Mr. Li of China's Guangdong Province went to the doctor on June 15 at Pingshan Hospital in Shenzhen after feeling discomfort and pain in his ear. Using an otoscope scan, the doctor discovered a live cockroach burrowing into the 52-year-old man's ear canal. "It's still alive, still moving," the doctor can be heard on video saying, according to The Daily Mail. She cut the roach into pieces to remove it and disinfected Li's ear with alcohol in case it had laid eggs.

News That Sounds Like a Movie
When Juan Ramon Alfonso Penayo, 20, of Santa Teresa, Paraguay, failed to return after leaving his home June 14, his family assumed the worst. The town lies on the border with Brazil, reported the BBC, and is a hotbed of illegal drug activity. Police found a charred body three days later and called Penayo's family, who, despite being unable to identify the remains, accepted that it must be him and proceeded with funeral arrangements. As they mourned over his casket during the wake, Penayo walked nonchalantly into the room. The body in the casket was returned to the morgue, and Penayo's family celebrated his return.

Suspicions Confirmed
Visitors crowding into a Vancouver, Canada, street festival on June 17 were invited—at $38 a pop—to try a new health craze: Hot Dog Water. The drink is marketed as a gluten-free, Keto diet-compatible, post-workout source of sodium and electrolytes, and every sleek bottle, which promises to help with weight loss, also contains a hot dog. It's also a prank. Hot Dog Water CEO Douglas Bevans told Global News the product was dreamed up as a response to the "snake oil salesmen" of health marketing. In small print at the bottom of the sales sheet is this disclaimer: "Hot Dog Water in its absurdity hopes to encourage critical thinking related to product marketing and the significant role it can play in our purchasing choices." Touché.

Send tips to weirdnewstips@amuniversal.com

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