Our annual roundup of the year's strangest news and most dubious accomplishments

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Law and order

Jonathan Lee Riches, dubbed the most litigious man in the world, hit Missoula courts for the first time when Riches v. The Twilight Zone, et al reached Molloy's courtroom. The suit accused a lineup of classic television personalities of brainwashing and mind control. "These defendants created me, and as a kid growing up in front of my t.v. spending hr's upon hr's [sic] watching the defendants tricked my mind into believing I live a fantasy life," read Riches' injunction.

Talk about dropped signals

Montana's AirTEL customers woke up on Saturday, Feb. 21, with zero bars of service on their cellular phones after the company abruptly pulled out of the state. Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock filed a complaint against the company in June to secure refunds for customers who prepaid for that service.

Fighting to protect the innocent—and hoofed

A Philipsburg resident purposefully got himself ticketed for violating the town's horse ordinance in hopes of receiving a court trial, claiming a city law that prevents hoofed animals in town is unfair. "I don't think it's right," said Buster Butler, "because I've been around horses all my life." Butler refused to offer the names of the ticketed horses because he didn't want to incriminate them.

In sickness and in health —or, maybe, in jail

Frenchtown resident Jordan Iddings made headlines for a November bachelor party that, according to police, involved Iddings sexually assaulting a woman (he allegedly groped her, then punched her in the face after she slapped him) and head-butting a Missoula police officer. Iddings pleaded not guilty to the charges and a trial is set for April 19. According to public records, he and his fiancée still married on Dec. 19.

Making a forest out of a twig

Cosmetic giant Mary Kay Inc. claimed in a May press release that it had "completed the total reforestation of the Bitterroot National Forest." The company's Compact Recycling Program did supply 200,000 trees to the Bitterroot, but it hardly reforested the entire 1.6 million acre region. "I might not have worded [the press release] that way," said Nan Christianson, public affairs officer for the forest.

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Lost connection

In an effort to "permit high standards of living and a wide sharing of life's amenities," Yellowstone National Park finalized its wireless communications plan in April, outlining where it can expand service for cell phones and Internet access inside the park.

Maybe they watched online from Yellowstone

Exactly zero people attended a live satellite feed of Michael Jackson's star-studded memorial service at Missoula's Carmike 10. The cinema chain offered seats free of charge to the first 185 in attendance.

Is "small-town charm" a euphemism?

The Tiger Woods affair(s) veered toward Missoula when Kalika Moquin, a marketing manager for a Las Vegas nightclub and former Garden City resident, popped up as an alleged mistress. An anonymous friend of Moquin told E! News, "They've been friends for three years. I think he was attracted to her small-town charm."

Going where no rock has gone before

NASA started collecting ground rock this summer from the Stillwater Mine in Nye, Mont., because it includes a key ingredient that mimics the makeup of the moon's south pole. Once melted, the synthetic space dirt will help NASA as it prepares to establish a permanent base on the moon by 2024.

Don't hate the playa, hate the game

Footloose Montana, an organization working to eliminate trapping on public lands, blames part of the trapping issue on hip-hop culture. "The pelts a trapper does sell are probably adorning a fur coat worn by a rapper wannabe in some urban center far from Montana's high mountains," reads the group's website. "Hip hop culture, which embraces fur garments as status symbols, is driving fur prices higher and encouraging trappers to deploy more traps than ever on Montana's public lands."

Local is as local does

The Missoula Sustainable Business Council's "Think Local, Buy Local" campaign, which aims to preserve "the unique character of our community" and maintain "the special history and culture of Missoula," listed the Patagonia Outlet in Dillon (a national outdoor clothing and gear company) and ValPak of Missoula (a local branch of the national direct marketing firm) within the campaign. The council later removed both businesses from its "Buy Local" effort.

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