By Paul Majendie
LONDON (Reuters) - Humming sex toy shuts Australian airport. Taiwanese man tries to convert lions to Jesus, gets bitten.
Talking toilet orders German men to sit down. Chinese get busy signal on Beijing suicide line.
Judging by the bizarre headlines that greeted readers around the world, 2004 was a bumper year for the weird and wacky.
Canadian guide dog barred for only answering its master's commands in French. Japanese boy writes apology in blood for dozing in class.
The list is endless, living proof that truth is all too often stranger than fiction.
A vibrating sex toy chucked into a rubbish bin at an Australian airport sparked a security alert that only ended when an embarrassed passenger came forward to claim what was identified as "an adult novelty device."
A fervent evangelist who leapt into the lions' den at Taipei zoo and shouted "Jesus will save you" was lucky to escape with just a bite in the right leg when he tried to convert the king of beasts to Christianity.
Feeling suicidal in Beijing? Then be patient.
Nine out of 10 Chinese calling into a suicide-prevention hotline were greeted by an engaged signal.
When it comes to quirky ideas, man's ingenuity knows no bounds.
A German inventor came up with a best-selling gadget that berates men if they try to use the toilet standing up, telling them: "Put the seat back down right away, you are definitely not to pee standing up."
The Germans have been accused of being a deadly serious people with a severe sense of humor failure.
But several surreal tales that would not look out of place in a Monty Python sketch prove they can laugh at themselves.
German police arrested a flasher who stumbled over his dropped trousers during an aborted attempt to flee.
A cost-cutting German theater was berated for using just four dwarves instead of seven in their Snow White show.
A survey revealed that most German men wear the wrong size condoms. Germans said they find smelly co-workers to be the most annoying aspect of their jobs.
Britain had its share of oddities too.
UK nursing home staff were so proud of a 105-year-old woman who had smoked since the age of 15 that they cremated her with a packet of her favorite cigarettes in the coffin.
A British train conductor stamped and carefully returned the ticket of a slumbering passenger without realizing the man was dead. A South African radio reporter went a little more live than he anticipated when he was mugged on air for his cellphone while transmitting from a squatter settlement.
Romance certainly had its rough patches in 2004.
A Norwegian court acquitted a man accused of raping a sleeping woman after he said he was also asleep at the time.
All three wives of a 67-year-old Iranian man took overdoses in an unsuccessful triple suicide bid after the youngest wife sparked jealousy by buying an expensive pair of boots.
A Malaysian man shot his wife dead after he mistook her for a monkey picking fruit behind their house.
A Spaniard tried to have his wife charged with domestic abuse because she refused to have sex with him on five consecutive nights.
Two Italians with the nicknames Bull Shark and Nurse Shark donned bubble-helmet immersion suits to get married in a shark tank.
But from Latin America to Africa, tainted love turned twice to tragedy.
A Mexican man killed his lover in a drunken, drugged fight and then cooked the man's body in tomato and onion sauce and ate it over three days.
And a Zambian man hanged himself in shame after his wife rushed into their house to investigate a noise and found him having sex with a chicken. The chicken was slaughtered afterwards
Who would have thought the world was just as weird as our local tabloids?