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Archive for September, 2014

Man Wakes From Coma Speaking Fluent Mandarin Chinese

Ok, so those of us searching for real-life super-human abilities have comes to terms with the unlikeliness of it. I mean, since irradiating oneself (or getting bitten by something irradiated) has disappointingly proven to only lead to fatal  tumors instead of wall-crawling or smashing abilities, we must face the facts that comic books have lied to us. No super-powers for us.

...but wait, what’s this?

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Meet Australia’s Ben McMahon. Ben was just your everyday High School student until one day he was bit by a radioactive car crash…well, ok, he was IN a car crash. After spending a week in a coma that doctors were unsure he would pull out of, Ben woke up…changed. Even though a native English speaker, Ben woke up unable to speak anything but very fluent Mandarin Chinese.

“Most of it’s hazy, but when I woke up seeing a Chinese nurse, I thought I was in China,” said McMahon. “It was like a dream. It was surreal. It was like my brain was in one place but my body was in another. I just started speaking Chinese – they were the first words that left my mouth.” It took Ben a few days but his English came back to him. However, he didn’t lose a whit of his new ability.

Ben has gone on to conduct Chinese tours of Melbourne, hosts a local Mandarin TV show, and now is attending University in Shanghai. While he briefly studied the language in school, it wasn’t anywhere near enough of a study to explain his new verbal skills. And Ben isn’t the only one.

Multiple people in the past have woken up from brain injuries with new fluency in a language, musical or mathematical prodigy skills or even super-strength and the ability to fly.

Ok, not those last two. But here’s hoping. I’m going to go home and construct my catapult next to my brick wall now in prep. Anyone out there good at sewing spandex?


(NSFW) City Wants its Giant Naked Satan Statue Back

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It was a week ago that Vancouver made the news when an anonymous artist erected (ahem) a life-size statue of Lucifer next to the Sky Train tracks. Distressing enough to some merely having a big Satan hanging out in a public place, it was specifically the ‘hanging out’ part that raised eyebrows. This devil didn’t want to hide anything much less his, erm, arousing prowess.

It wasn’t exactly surprising that the city took the statue down almost immediately after its mysterious appearance, but what IS surprising, is that the city apparently wants him back. Some residents are petitioning the city to return the turgid terror. “The statue was not a piece of City commissioned artwork and consequently it has been removed,” said City of Vancouver spokesperson Sara Couper on Tuesday. But the petition is already up to 1,000 signatures and….growing.

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It seems doubtful that the city will concede, no matter how many folks decide they want the statue re-erected. Maybe the silent creator will put a topless angel up next. Keep your eyes up here.


Columbian Con-Man Lives Like a King as an “Ambassador” for Several Months

Jeison Neck Jair Garcia is far from the first to assume a false identity to live a life of luxury, but he further illustrates just how easily duped we all can be. Much like the famous Frank Abagnale that Steven Spielberg’s film “Catch Me if You Can” was based on, Jeison took advantage of how trusting people can be by asserting with some fake documents that he was actually a diplomat from Lebanon.

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Using only two pieces of documentation, one identifying him as Ambassador of the Republic of Lebanon, and the other issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Jeison kept up the facade for several months, only coming under suspicion when an Army Commander Colonel heard him speak perfect Spanish and wondered why someone from Lebanon could speak so natively.

Until the game was up, he was put up in the best hotels, had dinner paid for at expensive restaurants, presented himself for lectures at Universities, had honored meetings with dignitaries from various cities, and was part of talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with other real diplomats and honored guests. “I came to the city in February and last year he had already come up with his false identity as an alleged specialist in human rights,” said the Colonel who discovered the ruse. “He gave talks at universities, municipalities, and the government. He presented himself as a minister of Lebanon and participated in conferences on the Arab conflict. His accent generated many questions, so with support from the Criminal Investigation Task Force, we started an investigation.”

Jeison defended himself saying that he hadn’t really hurt anyone and a judge agreed: he was later released. Considering this was his second time to pull an identity con and get off scott-free (he posed as a relative of a famous Colombian musician to get special treatment) I suspect this might not be the last scam we’ll see from Mr. Garcia. But he’s got about six more identities to assume before he can approach Abagnale’s record of 8. Myself. I’m hoping he does. I always wanted to see a sequel to “Catch Me if you Can”.


Possessed Microwave Terrorizes Family

Mechanical devices being affected by the supernatural isn’t exactly a new thing. There’s probably scads of reportedly possessed cars out there and I’ve even heard tell of some computers and TVs. But a microwave is new.

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But hey, whatareyagonnado? A man needs his Hot Pockets in the morning, heated up by the flames of Satan or no.

“It started with random beeping. One time it went off like the food was done, and when I looked over, the damn thing was still going and said 6:66,” says home owner Bill Michaud, of the oven that has been freaking out his family in Louisville, Kentucky. “It turns on by itself. It turns off by itself, too. It’s like it’s messing with me,” added his wife Betty. “No matter how many times I popped the door shut, the minute I leave the room it pops open again. One night, really late, I walk into the kitchen and I’m about to open the fridge, and the microwave door flies open, lighting the whole kitchen up in a horrible, scary lightning-blue color. It’s like it wanted to electrocute me.”

The family found the microwave in the attic of the house when they moved in and although it seemed to work fine at first, soon it started having these spooky problems. So what do you do with all that frozen food? How do you  deal with the ghost in the machine?

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The family contacted the Kansas Ghost Hunter group. led by founder Kevin Young, who quickly confirmed the problem, “The Michauds didn’t want to go without a microwave, or risk upsetting the spirit by taking it out of the house. We obtained permission to stay the night and study the phenomena in its natural environment,” said Young. “My wife, who is also on my squad, is highly empathic. As we warmed up TV dinners in the microwave, she sensed a presence. As soon as she mentioned it, the microwave started beeping repeatedly. The door flung open, and my Hungry Man dinner went flying across the room. We pressed the off button. We unplugged it. It beeped several times after we cut off the power. Of course our digital recording became corrupted, which often happens when there is such strong energy.”

So it was time to call in the big guns…

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No, not dear, departed Zelda Rubenstein, but paranormal investigator, and self-proclaimed authority on mechanical-possession, Carl Richards: “I followed the situation that the Michauds were facing from the beginning, as they posted their disturbances on Facebook. I keep an eye on all local ghost-hunter hobbyists and groups,” said Richards. “The EMF readings confirmed this supernatural manifestation is a poltergeist. I have seen poltergeists occupy washers, TVs, electric heaters, but this is the first time I have seen microwave possession first-hand.”

Richards affirmed that getting rid of the microwave wouldn’t solve their problem either (although I probably would have gone there first before called paranormal investigators) as “the malevolent presence does not strictly ‘live in’ the microwave. Getting rid of the machine will not solve the problem. It has the ability to travel throughout the electrical wiring in the house.” So what was his solution?

Ignore it.

“It is best not to engage the being,” continued Young. “Try not to be fearful. Always remain calm. If you’re facing a poltergeist in your kitchen devices, just ignore its outbursts, and it will not be able to feed off your energies.”

The family still uses the microwave, “Now we just ignore it like we would ignore a child’s temper-tantrum, and it still randomly shuts off or zaps from time to time, but nothing really serious. It still heats up our leftovers like a champ, too.” I think I’d switch to a conventional range. And I’d DEFINITELY ask for my money back. I mean, if you pay an exterminator to get rid of cockroaches and they say, “Hey, just try to pretend like they’re not there” and then handed you a bill, I’d be pissed. Call the damn Pope or something. Or at least Bill Murray.


NSA “Loses” Originals of Redacted UFO Files

I would have gone with ‘my dog ate them’.

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Believe what you will about extraterrestrial life visiting our planet, our government doesn’t want us to know…something. The fight to get the National Security Agency to release files about UFOs goes back to the 70’s when the Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) headed by lawyer Peter Gersten was trying to use the Freedom of Information act to see the documents. The NSA refused and the group sued. Now, if there was nothing to see, why so secretive?

The NSA monitor all kinds of communications and it’s entirely possible that some of this information was included in said files, which would explain, for awhile anyway, why they didn’t think the general public should get their hands on them. But during the case when the Chief of the Office of Policy for the NSA submitted a 21 page document to the judge as to why the files should remain secret, the judge concurred: “The public interest in disclosure is far outweighed by the sensitive nature of the materials and the obvious effect on national security their release may well entail.”

So what does that mean?

Even this document was all but entirely redacted when released, even the version the CAUS lawyer got to see.

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In 1997, new laws made it more difficult for the NSA to hold onto the files so a considerably less redacted version of the document as well as 156 UFO documents were released…sort of. The UFO documents pretty much whited out anything of real interest and still, UFOlogists found themselves in a holding pattern waiting to see what the government knew about extraterrestrial life (assuming that’s what they were actually hiding).

Recently John Greenewald, a UFO and government secrecy researcher has been petitioning the NSA for release of the unredacted versions. The NSA responded with…’we lost them’. Apparently they pretty much destroyed the existing documents by whiting out the majority of them on the last round and now the originals are MIA. I kinda half-way believe this. Government inefficiency (sometimes downright incompetency) is certainly a thing of public record and I’m sure the documents weren’t where they thought they were. But I can’t believe they looked real hard either. Maybe we’ll never know the truth now, but in the wake of paid mis-informationalists coming forward like Richard Doty and probably some less-than-strictly-legal behavior during the cold war they’d most likely still not really be circulated, it’s hard to say whether the documents really hold the UFO secrets some like to believe.


Wednesdays are also weird at the Alamo Ritz!

The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is right down the street from the Museum of the Weird and just to show how much we love ’em, if you and a friend are heading down to check out their “Weird Wednesday” screenings at 10 pm (ish), you can get your friend into the Museum of the Weird for free! How, you ask? Show up early to pick up your ticket (at least an hour) and bring it into the museum. Show it to the staff, buy an admission for yourself, and your friend gets in with you for free!

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With special guest host Matt Lynch of Scarecrow Video

But this movie is everything. One of the great buddy films, if not the greatest. One of the great L.A. detective films, beating even THE LONG GOODBYE to some of its best elements. And one of the great “Last of a Dying Breed” movies, up there with THE WILD BUNCH. Does anyone like Shane Black movies (LETHAL WEAPON, MONSTER SQUAD, LAST BOY SCOUT, etc)? This is the best one of those, too, even though he didn’t have anything to do with it. HICKEY & BOGGS is a pitch-black, funny-as-hell buddy neo-noir dirge that follows its two way-down-and-way-out partners (Robert Culp, who also directed, and Bill Cosby) as they try to get their hands on a bag of stolen mob money, or at least just figure out where their next meal is coming from. Little-seen for decades and rarely screened, HICKEY & BOGGS fully deserves to be canonized. (Matt Lynch)


Indian Woman Marries a Dog to Lift Evil Spell

Sure, we’ve all ended up in some relationships with dogs (well, I have anyway) but this is a pretty literal interpretation of the word.

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18-year-old Mangli Munda was lovely in her full wedding attire The groom was escorted in style, chauffeured no less, to the ceremony, himself decked out in full attire. But he’s a dog. Mangli wasn’t exactly thrilled about it, but that’s what ya do in rural India when you’re born under a bad planetary alignment.

“I am marrying a dog because the village elders believe that my evil spell will be passed on to the dog,” she explained. “After that is done, the man I will marry will have a long life.” Apparently, the alignment in question that Mangli was born under can lead to her spouse having a shortened lifespan. “My villagers say that many girls like me have followed this ritual and they have gotten rid of their evil spells and are living happy lives now,” she said. “I will marry a man one day. It is the dream of every girl to marry a prince charming. So I am also waiting for my prince.”

This isn’t an uncommon ritual. “Many weddings like this have taken place in our village and also the other neighboring villages,” said Mangli’s father. “This is a custom we thoroughly believe in.” They even treated the marriage completely seriously, following all marriage customs and spending a traditional amount of money on it. “We respect the dog as much as we would respect a normal groom,” Mangli’s mother explained, “But that is the only way we can get rid of her bad luck and ensure the benevolence of the village.”

No worries for the dog; he’ll continue to live on as the family’s pet, probably a little baffled about the big day but no worse for wear. Mangli hopefully will go on to find a man who isn’t intimidated by her dating history.

 


Bigfoot Alert! Reports Say The Beast Hanging at a Playground

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Hey, even Cryptids need a place to take their kids. Apparently in Vicksburg, Missisppi it’s a rusty old abandoned playground. Maybe it’s because it sits so close to some dense woods, but David Childers, an investigator for the Delta Paranormal Project, encountered something distinctly Bigfoot-ish running off into the woods:

“I don’t know what it was, about 6 feet tall. And it just bolted off through the woods. It was definitely a shaggy coat to it, like a grayish-brown color. When it made the noise that spooked me, I looked over, and it looked like it stood up and just bolted off.”

Almost a year later, another man, Peyton Lassiter, found a nine inch by six inch print that human-like ridges:

There are only two species that have that. Number one, humans and primates. Bears don’t have fingerprint-like impressions on the skin of the foot, so that kind of changes the game a little bit. I have no knowledge of what made it, and I didn’t see what made it, but it’s very intriguing.

Turns out, Vicksburg has had a few sightings of Ape-men in the distant past, so it’s not completely odd to have a Bigfoot sighting here. Check out the video for more:


Indonesian Villages Take Their Dead For Makeover Days

I know it’s not unusual to have trouble letting our loved ones go when they pass away, but this seems to be taking it a bit far.

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The Indonesian people known as the Toraja have a yearly ritual called MaiNene, translated as “The Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses” where every August families dig up the bodies of their dead relatives, wash them, groom them, put them in fancy new clothes, and walk them around their villages. According to their belief system, a polytheistic animistic religion called aluk, or The Way, they believe that death doesn’t happen suddenly, so much as it is an extended process as the souls gradually work towards the afterlife (Puya). If a person was killed away from home, the family will go to the location they died and walk the corpse all the way back to their village to help as part of their progression towards Puya. The yearly ritual is because they believe once a year the souls must return to their home village…and who wants to wake up in a coffin with the same clothes you’ve been wearing for the past year?

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The Toraja have many elaborate rituals involving death, from extensive death feasts (normally just for noblemen) that can last days and attract thousands, to a gigantic water buffalo slaughter (where children catch their spurting blood in bamboo tubes), to elaborate hanging graveyards where colorful corpses decorate the faces of cliffs.

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Death is the great mystery and every culture seems to have its own set of rituals (or many different rituals) to honor the passing of their loved ones. The Toraja seem to make us all look overly succinct (except maybe the ancient Egyptians) when it comes to lengthy, elaborate ritualism. To be fair to them, they used to also have lengthy, elaborate life rituals, but they have diminished since non-members of their religion were prohibited from attending the life rituals (but not the death ones) and Dutch missionaries converted a lot of the locals to Christianity.  Which is a whole ‘nuther discussion.

You can go see all of this for yourself. Ever since a National Geographic special covering the funeral of a rich nobleman in 1976 and a museum tour in North America of Torajan art, the area has become a huge tourist attraction for folks who’ve been to Bali and want to see more of the ‘primitive and wild’ Indonesia. There was even a cycling tour through it in 2012. Maybe not as ‘primitive and wild’ as it once was, but Tana Toraja is still unlike anywhere else on Earth.


Completely Black (and I mean, ALL black) Chicken worth 2500.00

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I had to be careful with the tags on this post, as I didn’t want to get the wrong kind of traffic with ‘big black c%&k’. But regardless, the Ayam Cemani Chicken of Indonesia is a rare bird indeed and is black in pretty much in every way. Black feathers, legs. toenails, tongue, meat, bones and organs; even their blood, while not exactly black, is a much darker tone than normal.

The chicken gets its strange coloring from a genetic trait called fibromelanosis, a rare mutation believed to have its origins in Asia. But despite the high price point (2500 smackers) you know some folks still will shell out the cash to eat ’em.

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You can ever order your own pair for breeding now in America, assuming you don’t mind waiting awhile and laying down a hefty deposit. But I mean, come on. There’s a reason they’re called the “Lamborghini of poultry”.


Jack the Ripper Identified with DNA! … well, maybe

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Of course it’s click bait for all demos… AMATEUR RIPPEROLOGIST SOLVES JACK THE RIPPER MYSTERY. Every tabloid, newpaper, website, has been running something on this story, and I can’t be surprised; I clicked on the first one I saw. And the second. And after reading several reports on it, I realized that maybe this case isn’t exactly as airtight as hyperbolic headlines would have us believe.

Here’s what happened: a businessman named Russell Edwards watched the movie “From Hell”, spent some ‘mad money’ on a shawl allegedly found near Catherine Eddowes body, and had the cloth tested for DNA. Blood and semen on it was submitted to mitochondrial DNA testing and it matched a descendant of suspect Aaron Kosminski. Edwards also claims other testing matched descendants of Kosminski’s sister.

So that’s it. We have a winner (?) Kosminski looked good for the Ripper anyway, since he lived in the Whitechapel district, had severe mental illness, well known misogyny and the Ripper crimes stopped after he was committed.

But hold up, Ripperologists…this ain’t over till it’s over (and it probably never really will be, unless we invent time travel).

–First, why is Edwards submitting his findings to The Daily Mail (a tabloid) instead of a scientific journal?

–Second. why has there been no attempt to present the evidence for testing to other scientists? So far, we’re going just on the word of Edwards and Dr. Jari Louhelainen, a senior molecular biology lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University.

–Third, Mitochondrial DNA isn’t exactly a reliable indicator when we’re talking about how many people handled the scarf, and how many people share the DNA coding after such a sizable divide in time.

This is just getting started. Check out more detailed explanations of these reasons and more at Mysterious Universe.

And I always assumed it was David Warner.


Why Not Spend That Vacation Hunting Werewolves?

Come on now. Zombie walks and the like are so 5 years ago. Why not go classic and contact the UK based company Chili Sauce who’ll kit you out in paramilitary gear, give you basic training, and set you and your team up against a crew of bloodthirsty werewolves?

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You’ll be placed in the darkened forests of Droitwitch, England and given the premise for your horrific evening:

Deep in the heart of the countryside, near Birmingham, Farmers have reported unusual losses of livestock, and missing person reports are flooding the local papers. Rumors surfaced of a Special Ops team disappearing 24 months ago – the only clues left were a garbled radio message, and a mangled corpse.

An early morning drop off at the location starts your day (if you chose the shorter few hours option) or the long, long evening (if you went for the big werewolf kahuna package). The basic military training course includes being taught how to use automatic weapons, shotguns, explosive booby traps and more: all skills you’ll need to survive the night.

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The official page says you’ve got a ‘slim chance of survival’, but hell, you knew that when you accepted the mission. But who knows, maybe you’ll get an easy one.

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HAHAHAHA! No, just kidding, you’re totally gonna be werewolf chow.


The Drunken Shakespeare Theater Company

The Bard’s plays have always been subject to reinterpretation. Both theatrical and film productions have set his works in a variety of different time periods, adapting the material to the new settings appropriately. Even my high school did a performance of “The Taming of the Shrew” set in the 1950’s. But The Drunk Shakespeare Society in NYC have found an angle I’m not sure the bard would have approved of.

drunk-shakespeare-550x355The idea is that both the performers and the audience is kinda drunk and the alcohol weaves its way into the storyline, often even involving the audience interactively with the group, getting to change the story, demand the performers all take shots, and even play limited roles themselves. Weirdly, there’s multiple groups doing this now, going from bar to bar and performing famous scenes from Shakespeare with their audience in tow, often baffling patrons at the bars in question with their sudsy renditions.

You can check out a video at the link of one of the groups, Shotspeare, teasing their performance. The shows often feature drinking games with the audience and even karaoke with the performers. Which begs the question: what’s left to do that we haven’t found a way to infuse with drinking? Look for this to appear in other cities soon as well, as it seems to be a big hit in NYC. Can’t believe Austin, TX didn’t come up with it first.

 


Welcome to Hell, Pennsylvania

The town of Centralia located in the mountains of central Pennsylvania, was once a busy town filled with people, banks, a theater, their own school district, you know…town stuff. That is, until hell rose from the depths and took over.

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Ok, yes, I’m being rather hyperbolic here, but the town was hellish enough to serve as inspiration for the film adaptation of the “Silent Hill” video game, as well as feature prominently in a number of horror novels. What turned this prosperous little community into a smoking ruin?

In 1962, and nobody knows exactly how it started, the extensive abandoned coal mines under the town caught fire. And NOTHING could be done about it. The streets cracked open, fire and burning steam poured out, eventually making the town all but unlivable. By 1981, things had gotten out of control. Sinkholes were opening up, toxic carbon monoxide gas was billowing out of the cracks in the road…something had to be done. In 1984, Congress allocated money to relocate the residents and most of them gladly accepted the offer. By today the town has ten (stubborn) residents and all but a few of the original buildings are gone.

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You can still visit the town, more hellish in the winter as the heated steam is that much more visible in the cold weather. The roads are undrivable, cracked so wide open and covered with graffiti. Strangely the graveyards remain immaculate; former residents pay to keep their loved one’s final resting places in good shape. It does one speculate as to why more horror movies don’t get filmed there. Looking for a Hellmouth? We got your Hellmouth.

 


The Museum of the Weird Recommends: “Dr Mütter’s Marvels”

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Many of our website’s/museum’s fans are no doubt familiar with Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum. Started from the collection of oddities donated by Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter in 1858, the museum has since grown significantly and attracted a wide range of visitors, from medical students, for whom the museum was originally intended for, to seekers of the strange and unusual.

The museum’s collection houses such strangeness as a nine foot human colon that belonged to a sideshow act named “The Human Balloon”, the Hyrtl skull collection (gathered to disprove the claims of Phrenologists that skull shapes dictated personality), the conjoined liver from famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng, a two-headed baby, and many more genuine examples of the medically weird. But who was Dr Mütter and how did he figure into the history of medicine?

Such is the subject of the new book “Dr Mütter’s Marvels” by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, who also wrote an award winning (but still unproduced screenplay about the good doctor. And I mean, good doctor, as opposed to most of the rest of his peers performing medicine in the early to mid-19th century.

Dr Mütter was a compassionate man who went abroad to Paris to study and found a medical community that was both appalling and inspiring. Some of the most advanced surgery in the world was practiced there but there was no consideration for patient care outside of the surgery itself; patients were routinely shipped home immediately after their surgeries, considerably endangering the delicate subjects. There were many contradictions, for example: while Paris had two hospitals for treating those sick with Syphilis, but one of them required all patients to be publicly whipped before and after their entrance to the hospital.

When Mütter returned to America with what he had learned, already formulating ideas on advancing medicine and patient care, he was met with much hostility from a medical community that resisted change with arrogance and ego. Nevertheless, Mütter became one of the first plastic surgeons in America, revolutionizing treatment of those with deformities, burns and scarring with his new treatments, many of which are still in use today.

He butted heads with many contemporaries over his insistence on proper pre and post surgical care of patients, his early adoption of modern anesthesia, as well his insistence that doctors thoroughly wash up before treating patients. It’s hard to believe today, but doctors of the time, thinking even more of themselves than they do today, considered that a ‘gentleman’s hands are clean’ by default. Ever heard that old joke about God thinking he was a doctor? Ugh.

Mütter’s story is a fascinating, and long overdue to be told, one that Aptowicz infuses with charm and can’t-put-it-down readability. The man who is best known for his sizable collection of bizarre medical oddities should really have been known for bringing humane practices to modern medicine.

01.winters_cristin_aptowicz_Skull copyCristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

Buy “Dr Mütter’s Marvels” right here!