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News » News of the Weird

Niche Marketing

A weekly roundup of international news oddities.



Niche Marketing
Say you have a new baby. Say you're overwhelmed with love and sleep deprivation, and say you've been auditioning names for months, to no avail. Future Perfect, a web startup, will happily accept your $350 fee to "email you a customized list of names," plus 15 minutes of phone time with one of its consultants. "Working your way through thousands of alphabetized names can be a useful exercise for some," the website explains, "but the lists we provide are personalized, hyper-curated and unique to each client's specific criteria." They'll even help you name your pets! WABC reports that Future Perfect offers less-expensive packages as well, such as a $100 "namestorming session."

As members of New Life Baptist Church in Advance, N.C., prepared to merge with a nearby congregation, they removed the handmade steeple from their building, intending to return it to church member Mike Brewer, who made it. But a passerby who saw the steeple at the curb on June 5 thought it was intended for garbage pickup and took it home, sparking a different kind of steeplechase, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. Church pastor Matthew Pope called it a clear misunderstanding: "The person assumed we were throwing it out. She ... didn't want it to go to the dump." The unwitting steeple thief saw a post about the missing structure on Facebook from Pope's wife and returned the steeple five days after its disappearance.

In Saint Petersburg, Russia, motor enthusiast Konstantin Zarutskiy unveiled his newest creation in early May: a Bentley Continental GT sedan refitted with heavy-duty rubber tank treads instead of regular tires. He calls the resulting vehicle "Ultratank" and is hoping to get permission from the local government to drive the car on city streets. Zarutskiy tells EuroNews his Ultratank is very easy to drive, although creating it took him seven months as he faced a number of technical challenges. We'd like to see him parallel park it.

• Hundreds of divers set a Guinness World Record on June 15 at Deerfield Beach, Fla., where they met to perform an underwater cleanup. Fox35 reported that 633 divers collected 9,000 pieces of debris on the ocean floor during the event, which was organized by Dixie Divers. The previous record, 615 divers, was set in the Red Sea of Egypt in 2015.

Francesco Galdelli, 58, and Vanya Goffi, 45—otherwise known as the Italian Bonnie and Clyde—were arrested on June 15 at a luxury villa in Pattaya, Thailand, after years of avoiding Italian authorities for various scams and frauds. The Telegraph reported that Galdelli had confessed to posing as George Clooney and opening an online clothing business "to trick people into sending money." The two would also sell fake Rolex watches online, sometimes sending packets of salt to their customers instead of wristwatches. Clooney testified against the couple in 2010, but they fled Italy before being arrested there. Galdelli was arrested in Thailand in 2014, but soon escaped after bribing prison guards. The pair will be returned to Italy for trial.

Last Wishes
Laurence Pilgeram, who died in 2015 in California, paid Alcor Life Extension Foundation $120,000 to preserve his body indefinitely at minus 196 degrees Celsius in the hope of being brought back to life in the future. But a month after his death, his son, Kurt Pilgeram of Dutton, Mont., received a box containing his father's ashes. The company sent all but the elder Pilgeram's head, which is stored in liquid nitrogen at its facility in Arizona. "They chopped his head off, burned his body, put it in a box and sent it to my house," Kurt told the Great Falls Tribune. He is suing Alcor for $1 million in damages and an apology—plus the return of his father's head. "I want people to know what's going on," he said. For its part, Alcor says its contract was with Laurence Pilgeram and that it met that agreement. The company contends Kurt is trying to get the life insurance money that paid for Alcor's services. The trial is expected to begin in 2020 in California.

German Instagram "influencers" Catalin Onc and Elena Engelhardt have faced a digital dressing-down after they set up a GoFundMe page requesting donations for a bike trip to Africa. They want to raise about 10,000 euros for the jaunt, but some people aren't on board. Onc and Engelhardt live with Onc's mother, who supports them by working at two jobs, The Independent reported. They posted on their Instagram page: "Some will just tell us to get jobs, like everyone else and stop begging. But when you have the impact we do on others' life (sic), getting a job is not an option. A normal job at this point would be detrimental." Commenters let loose on the couple: "Get a job and treat your mum, she shouldn't be funding her grown son to wander the world like a lost boy." And, "You're not impacting anyone's life, you are just a couple of freeloaders trying to get holidays paid for by mugs."

Bright Ideas
A Domino's pizza delivery driver in London was the unwitting victim of a prank on June 6 when he tried to deliver four large cheeseburger pizzas to Buckingham Palace, for "Elizabeth." At the security gate, he was stopped by two armed police officers, who checked to make sure the queen had not, indeed, ordered the pies. "The next thing the copper said was, 'Sorry, sir, Elizabeth is the name of the queen—and she lives at Buckingham Palace. I think someone is winding you up," a source told The Sun. The original phone order had promised cash payment at delivery. Store manager Zsuzsanna Queiser said the "pizzas seemed to go down pretty well with the police officers on duty. Next time, Your Majesty."

• In the Colombian city of Buenaventura, violence and corruption are on the rise, and after the shocking June 1 murder of a 10-year-old girl, the local bishop devised a plan to purge the city of evil. Monsignor Ruben Dario Jaramillo Montoya will perform a mass exorcism, and to help him, he has enlisted the National Navy, which will fly a helicopter over the city to distribute holy water on its inhabitants. The ritual is scheduled in mid-July during annual patron saints festivities. "We want to ... see if we can exorcise, drive out these demons that are destroying the port," the bishop told Caracol Radio.

Compelling Explanation
You think you hate your job? Last year, in April, Eli Aldinger, now 23, told police officers in Bothell, Wash., he intentionally drove his Toyota Camry into two different groups of pedestrians in order to "get out of going to work." Aldinger, who worked in food service at McMenamins Anderson School, first hit a woman who was crossing the street with her husband, admitting to police that he sped up to 35 or 40 mph so he could "hit her before she made it across the road," reported the Bothell-Kenmore Reporter. A bit farther on, he swerved to hit another pedestrian—but declined to strike a third, believing that would have been "a bit excessive." He stopped when he spotted a police car and told the officers he was looking forward to "spending a few years in a room." On May 31, he got his wish: Aldinger will spend 14 years in prison for assault.

Let the Buyer Beware
Kerville Holness of Tamarac, Fla., thought he'd scored big when his $9,100 bid for a $177,000 villa in South Florida was accepted. The home was part of an online auction in March of properties that had been foreclosed on. Only later did he find out he paid thousands of dollars for a 1-foot-wide, 10-foot-long stretch of grass between two driveways. Now the first-time bidder wants Broward County to void the deal and return his money. "It's deception," Holness told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "There was no demarcation to show you that it's just a line going through (the villa duplex), even though they have the tools to show that." Officials aren't sure why the strip of land was put up for auction separately from the properties on either side of it, but they say they can't refund Holness' money.

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