Top Weird Stories of 2001

The Year's Strangest Stories — Starring Osama Bin Muppet

By Buck Wolf

Dec. 24, 2001 --   Life did imitate art. 2001 really was a space odyssey.

After Sept. 11, everyone seemed lost. Nothing mattered but the great tragedy.

The Wolf Files went on hiatus. Strange little news stories only served as a reminder of a shallow and insubstantial past life.

Then President Bush and other leaders began urging us to go back to work, take vacations, resume our daily routines. If we didn't, we'd be "letting the terrorists win."

Suddenly, writing weird news for became a patriotic duty. The Wolf Files returned in mid-October, and found anti-American protesters in Bangladesh marching with pictures of Osama bin Laden side by side with a decidedly sinister rendering of Bert, the Sesame Street muppet.

What got into our felt-headed friend? Was it the uni-brow jokes? The conical head? Did someone sing the "Rubber Ducky" song one too many times?

The world was still weird, and the weird news would go on. Here now are the 2001 Top 10 Wolf Files. Next week marks the 200th installment of this column. My thanks to management, my editors — and anyone who's reached the bottom of this page without asking, "What is this gobbledygook?" Happy holidays.

Top 10 Wolf Files of 2001

1. Osama Bin Muppet — The Internet has long known of "Evil Bert." Web sites have pictured him with Hitler, Charles Manson and just about every wrongdoer. But what were bin Laden fans doing with Bert at a post-Sept. 11 rally?

Earlier in the year, The Wolf Files looked into several Hollywood urban legends, including rumors that Bert and Ernie were gay.

2. Vacations in Space — 2001 seemed a fitting year for the start of the space tourism industry. It began when billionaire financier Dennis Tito took a vacation that was truly out of this world. Several major resorts are now considering orbiting hotels, with enthusiasts bragging about how great sex will be at zero gravity. The Rochester Institute of Technology in New York even offers a course in space tourism.

3. A Life in the Toilet — The National Association for Continence estimated that Americans spend about an hour a day in the bathroom. That's about two weeks a year. But don't think that's a complete waste of time. America is, by far, the leading innovator in the evolution of toilet paper.