2002's Strangest Stories

Another year ends. Did you have a happy Nov. 31st?

Maybe you didn't notice that thousands of calendars senators and congressmen bought to send to their favorite constituents had an extra day.

Did you catch that the last relative of the man who inspired Count Dracula tried to form his own country — and that scads of followers in a small German town supported him?

Did you pray for peace when Graceland declared war on Elvis impersonators?

Before we close the book on 2002, lets look back on some of the stranger events.

1. My Son's a Fruit — Unless you are a tree, you shouldn't name your kid "Apricot."

Still, parents are giving their children peculiar names these days — sometime apparently naming their children after their favorite food, such as Gouda and Bologna. A Wolf Files look at Social Security records from 2000 (the most recent year available), revealed six boys named Timberland (as in the boot), 49 named Canon (spelled like the camera), and 27 Blue (as in little boy).

Among girls, there were 29 named Whisper and another 24 named Unique. Of course, my mother told all four of her children they were unique.

2. World's Best Joke Stinks — Did you hear the one about the British scientists that claim they found the world's greatest joke? After a year of government-financed research, the British Association for the Advancement of Science examined 40,000 wisecracks. Here's the real punch line — the one they think is best isn't funny. The joke begins "Two hunters are out in the woods" and goes downhill from there. The Wolf Files contacted some of comedy's top roast masters. "If the British are spending money on this, God knows what else they're spending it on," said the Daily Show's Lewis Black.

Phyllis Diller said it a little more simply, ""If that's the best joke in the world, then I've never had a face-lift."

3. Happy Nov. 31 — Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November — but not if you go by thousands of calendars senators and congressmen bought to send to their favorite constituents. It lists an extra shopping day to shop for Christmas gifts — Nov. 31.

It seems that the nonprofit organization that supplies much of Capitol Hill with calendars — the U.S. Capitol Historical Society — made a major blunder this year and didn't realize it until 650,000 copies of the "We, the People" calendars had been printed.

Rather than discard the calendars, Rep. Howard L. Berman, D-Calif., sent them out to his constituents, noting, ""To err is human — even for Americans."

4. Gambling Ghouls — Is nuclear war inevitable? Want to bet?

Death pools — a ghoulish twist on college basketball tournament pools — are nothing new to the Internet. Participants typically throw a few dollars into a pot and guess when various newsmakers will die for cash prizes and bragging rights. Now, thrill seekers are taking this morbid game to an all new level with the Indo-Pakistani Death Pool. All you have to do is guess the exact time the first nuclear bomb is detonated. It's that easy. Let's just hope nobody wins.

5. Professional Pigs — Gluttony is not just a growing health problem. Now, it's a sport, complete with a sanctioning body and championship matches all over the world, where fans watch their champions devour hot dogs, pizza, pickles, matzo balls and chicken wings in mass quantities.

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