Weird Wednesday

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So what’s for dinner this Wednesday?

Recipe for ‘Weird Soup’:

2 ‘Weird Goings’ on, finely chopped.

1 Portion of ‘Weird Nature’, lightly broiled.

2 ‘Weird Place’ cutlets thinly sliced.

1 cube of ‘Weird Object’ stock.

Mix ingredients together in a consommé of peculiarity, boil for twenty minutes, and serve… no slurping now!

Weird Goings On

Body Shock

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North America has had a brutal winter this year, heavy snowfall and record low temperatures have meant misery for millions of our cousins across the Atlantic. So you may be wondering what the fellow in the above picture is up to wandering around in his underwear. No he’s not an extreme religious ascetic; no he’s not a corpse frozen solid; he is a statue… and a controversial one at that. The work of New York based sculptor Tony Matelli, ‘Sleepwalker’ is a painted bronze sculpture currently on display outside Wellsley College, a prestigious, women-only, liberal arts college in Massachusetts. Skilful though its execution may be, the life-like work of art has prompted more outrage than admiration, with 300 students signing a petition for its removal. H. Kim Bottomy, the college’s president, explains the reason for the petition:

“[T]his highly lifelike sculpture has, within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community… While it may appear humorous, or thought-provoking to some, it has already become a source of undue stress for many Wellesley College students.”

However, not everyone has had such a negative reaction, Sarah Wall-Randell, an English Professor at the college stated:

“I find it disturbing, but in a good way… I think it’s meant to be off-putting — it’s a schlumpy guy in underpants in an all-women environment.”

Whatever you might think of his work, I think this piece is a testament to the artist’s naked ambition… sorry, I couldn’t resist it.

Bodies From the Ice

A changed man: Jonathan Conville lived for the challenge of mountaineering.

The following is a rather poignant story which reveals both the hazards of taking up mountaineering as a hobby and the danger presented to the world by global warming. A recent article in the Observer newspaper focussed on the story of Jonathan Conville (Pictured above), a British soldier and climber who died in 1979 while attempting to scale Mount Matterhorn. His body was never recovered. That is until August 2013, when a rescue helicopter pilot spotted his remains jutting out from a melting glacier. Jonathan’s remains were identified and given back to his family who, after 34 years, were finally able to give him a proper burial.

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Jonathan’s story highlights a phenomenon which is becoming more and more common as global warming melts ice-caps and glaciers throughout the world; the appearance of long lost human remains. Of course, everybody is familiar with Otzi (pictured above), the 5’000 year old ‘Iceman’ whose body was recovered in 1991 from its frozen tomb in the Otzal Alps. Though, perhaps a more startling and certainly more gruesome find, was made in 2004 when a local climber discovered the perfectly-preserved bodies of three First World War soldiers hanging upside down from a glacier in the Italian Alps (Pictured below).

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As the ice recedes and the frozen parts of our world reveal their secrets, who knows what other macabre treasures might lay, simply awaiting discovery…

Weird Nature

Bristol Crocodile

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The crocodile, a savage and terrifying beast, capable of tearing its prey limb from gory limb. The crocodile, subject of countless swampy nightmares. The crocodile, enduring nemesis to the late, great Steve Irwin. Fortunately, in the UK, the closest we’re likely to come to such a creature is in a nature documentary or in the reptile house at the local zoo… or is it? Reports have begun circulating that a six foot specimen is currently on the loose in Bristol. The rumours started when a panicked bus driver flagged down a police car on February 3rd. The bus driver reported that he had seen the monstrous amphibian as he passed under a bridge. Although initial searches turned up a blank, a second sighting came in on the February 6th, this time by mother of three Kelly Grey, who stated that she spotted the croc swimming in the river Avon. All zoos in the area have confirmed that their resident crocs are accounted for, so where could the animal have come from? Nature expert Adam Britton commented:

“Assuming it is a genuine sighting it would almost certainly have to be an escaped or released pet. Quite a few people in the UK keep crocodilians.”

So, an escaped pet, eh? But could it pose any threat to humans? Well, according to Andy Carbin of Bristol Zoo it might:

“If it was in the water to be honest with you it would eat anything that it came across.”

So, don’t go swimming then… Far from being panicked at the monster in their midst, Bristolians seem to have taken the mystery crocodile to their hearts, naming it Chris. A fake Twitter account was even set up for him, where ‘Chris the Croc’ laid out his intentions:

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Weird Places

Forest of Suicides

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We’ve all been to a place where we get that feeling; the feeling that you’re being watched; the feeling that you’re occupying space where terrible things happened; the feeling that something just isn’t quite right. Often that sensation can be so strong that the memory lasts with us for the remainder of our days. At times, we may convince ourselves that we’ve forgotten; only to awake, sweating in our beds, as we encounter that place once more in our nightmares. If you’re of a nervous disposition and like to avoid that sort of thing, then you may wish to give the Japanese forest of Aokigahara a miss. Located at the base of Mount Fuji, its name translated into English means ‘Sea of Trees’ and it is one eerie location. Renowned for its unsettling silence, the 35 square kilometre forest is the second most common suicide spot in the world (behind San Francisco’s Goldengate Bridge). Each year, up to a hundred unhappy souls make the Sea of Trees their final place of rest. So common is suicide within the forest that local authorities have installed signs pleading with visitors to think again and seek advice from friends and family. More morbid still are the annual ‘suicide hunts’, carried out by local volunteers.

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Japan, of course, is a country very much in touch with its spiritual roots and it is believed that the spirits of the angry dead, or Yurei, haunt the forest. Whenever a body is found, park rangers remove it to a station with a special room dedicated to housing suicide corpses. It is believed that if such a corpse is left alone at night the angry spirit will awake and the body will reanimate. This being the case, the park rangers take turns at sleeping in the corpse’s chamber… not a job I fancy!!

House of History

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I love collecting objects; old objects. When I was young, there was an abandoned farm house not far from where I lived. Nobody knew how long it had lain neglected and rumours persisted that the property was chock-a-block full of valuables from a bygone age. Of course, no-one, at least no-one I know of, ever had the nerve to actually investigate, but the idea of a time-capsule house remained, for me, an attractive one. Well you can imagine my excitement when I heard of the Maison Mantin. Situated in the central French city of Moulins, the Masion once belonged to the eccentric antiquarian and industrialist Louis Mantin. Mantin, who amassed a priceless collection of weird and wonderful artefacts from around the word, commissioned the house in the 19th Century to serve as a private museum for his collection. Upon his death in 1905, he bequeathed the property to the city, on the agreement that it would remain untouched for a century before being opened to the public as “a specimen of a bourgeois home of the nineteenth century.” In accordance with his wishes, the building remained empty for over a hundred years, its panoply of objects in the same pristine state in which he left them.

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Mantin’s writing desk

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Fencing Frogs

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A Stuffed Puffer Fish

Its hundred year term served, the house and its objects have been on public display since 2010.

Weird Object of the Week

‘Holy Davidson’

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Hell’s Angels, dare devilry, Evel Knievel; motorcycles are a dangerous form of transport and, as such, have long been associated with the forces of darkness. Whether it’s demonic drivers, á la Ghost Rider, or possessed hardware, as in I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, popular culture loves to paint bikes and bikers as one step away from perdition. Today’s ‘Weird object of the Week’ provides the exception to the rule. Behold: the Holy Davidson. Now, this may look like your regular, run of the mill, Harley Davidson Dyna Super Glyde, but there’s more than just break-horsepower coursing through that engine… there’s the power of God himself; courtesy of Pope Francis I.

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This Holy Hog, which was originally a gift to the supreme pontiff from the Milwaukee based manufactures, recently sold at a Bonhams charity auction for a staggering €241’500 (pre-sale reserve was only €12’000). The lot came complete with his holiness’ signature on the tank, as well as his blessing. A matching leather jacket given to El Papa also sold for €57’500. All proceeds will go to the renovation of a soup-kitchen in Rome. It is unknown whether the 77 year old pope ever hit the road on his Harley, but you can be sure that the anonymous buyer is now well on the road to paradise.

So my friends, I hope you enjoyed your hearty meal. We try never to serve the same thing twice… there should always be a surprise or two floating in your broth, a juicy morsel, filled with ambiguous flavour. Join me again next week for further tasty delights.

Over and Out

Andy G

 

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