Weird Wednesday

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Good day fellow weird watchers. As you might expect, I’ve spent this week traipsing the highways and byways of the internet, searching out the world-news equivalent of road kill. Those stories which, while interesting, are simply not mainstream enough to survive for any length of time on the fast-paced motorway of public interest. Of course, they get their moment in the headlights, so to speak, though soon enough they are cruelly squashed beneath the wheels of the next media juggernaut to pass by; discarded to rot at the side of the road. I take pity on these forlorn anecdotes. I see them for the beautiful and peculiar things they once were. I scrape them up; I take them home and I perform a strange sort of narrative taxidermy upon them. In my little internet archive I pose and preserve them, so that a more discerning audience (you that is) can admire their glassy-eyed perfection, forever…  Okay, enough of the creepy metaphors, on with the show!

Weird Goings On

Where Did our Mango Go?

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Purpose built tourist attractions are often designed to reflect the character of the local area. Such was the case in the Australian town of Bowen, in Queensland. Bowen, known as the ‘Mango capital of Australia’, chose to celebrate its close affinity with the fruit by commissioning a giant Mango sculpture. Weighing some ten tonnes and stretching to three stories in height, this monstrous mango was the apple of Bowen’s eye… that was until recently. On the 24th of February CCTV footage (see below) revealed a mobile crane on route to the scene.

The next morning the mega-mango had disappeared.

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The fate of the fruit was, for 24 hours at least, the subject of fevered speculation. Perhaps a gang of thieves had seen the sculpture as a particularly juicy prize. After all, it was valued at $90’000. Fortunately, the following day the mighty mango was discovered, intact, hidden in some bushes behind the local tourist information centre… It was later revealed that the whole incident had been an elaborate hoax, perpetrated by none other than the restaurant chain Nandos. A Nandos spokesperson commented that they would “take good care of the mango and would return it to its rightful position soon(ish).” See how they did it in the video below:

Return of the Living Dead… Part Two

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A couple of weeks ago I reported on the case of Paul Mutora, the 24 year old Kenyan man who was found alive and breathing in a funeral home after being pronounced dead. Well, it appears that resurrection is becoming a bit of a trend. On the 26th of February Walter Williams a farmer from Lexington Mississippi was pronounced dead in his home. Placed in a body bag, he was taken to the nearby Porter and Sons funeral home for embalmment. Given up for dead, onlookers were amazed as 78 year old Walter made an unexpected come back. According to the town’s coroner Dexter Howard: “We got him to the funeral home, and into the embalming room and noticed the kicking, and he began to breathe.” It is suggested that Walter, who is currently convalescing in hospital, was declared dead after his pacemaker temporarily stopped working. According to family members he is just happy to be alive.

 The Living Doll Diet

If you’re like me and are in need of shedding a few pounds then you’ve got a few options. First you can take the hard route and fight the flab in the gym; second, you can continue to enjoy food and count the calories by adopting one of a bewildering array of dietary options, or third you can ‘subsist on light and air alone.’ Wait… back a step… subsist on light and air alone?

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That’s right, meet Ukranian model Valeria Lukyanova, a self-proclaimed ‘living Barbie doll’. Valeria, who has undertaken thousands of dollars’ worth of surgery to maintain her doll-like looks, has declared that she is to take on another of her plastic pin-up’s characteristics… the ability not to eat. The dietary regimen she is set to adopt is popularly known as ‘breatharianism’ and involves its adherents taking nil by mouth. Instead of food and drink breatharians claim to exist solely on “cosmic micro-food”. I guess this means they must simply wander around with their mouths open like emaciated, two-legged, filter feeding whales. Check out the video clip below:

Weird Nature

Tongue Tied Fish

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It’s just as well fish don’t indulge in French kissing because doing so might lead to a nasty surprise. The little fella popping out of the fish’s mouth in the picture above is Cymothoa exigua a.k.a, the ‘Tongue eating louse’. A parasitic crustacean, the Cymothoa enters its victim’s mouth through its gills. It then attaches itself to the unfortunate creature’s tongue, which it drains of blood, leaving little more than a stump. The dirty deed done, the louse remains in the fish’s mouth and takes the place of the tongue. That’s right; it becomes a part of the fish’s anatomy. After adopting its new role – as a body-part with a mind of its own – the ‘tongue eating louse’ continues to live harmlessly in its victim’s mouth, feasting on blood and fish mucus. At present it is the only known example of a parasite which functionally replaces a host’s organ. Although they’re relatively harmless to humans (they can give a nasty bite), that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from adding Cymothoa into the pantheon of cinematic nightmare creatures. The 2012 film The Bay (trailer below) feature some super-sized tongue eaters who develop a penchant for human hosts.

Weird Medical Case Book

Eye’ll believe it when I see it…

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Every once in a while everybody’s eyes play tricks on them. Tiredness, hunger, drugs or alcohol, each can be held to blame for occasional hallucinations. Fortunately, it is usually fairly easy to tell when we’re seeing something which is not really there. Imagine though, if you had to contend with such visions each and every day of your life… could you then tell the difference? Ask somebody suffering from Charles Bonnet Syndrome. CBS is a condition common to people suffering degenerative eye diseases. It occurs when a section of a person’s vision is obscured, leaving a ‘black spot’. In such situations the mind can, on occasion ‘fill in the blanks’. According to the Royal National Institute of Blind People:

Current research seems to suggest that, when you are seeing real things around you, the information received from your eyes actually stops the brain from creating its own pictures. When you lose your sight, however, your brain is not receiving as much information from your eyes as it used to. Your brain can sometimes fill in these gaps by releasing new fantasy pictures, patterns or old pictures that it has stored. When this occurs, you experience these images stored in your brain as hallucinations.

The condition is named after the 18th century Swiss philosopher Charles Bonnet who first documented it in his aged grandfather. The visions it can lead to can be weird in the extreme. The RNIB reports that:

At times, the hallucinations will fit alongside the background you are looking at, giving them an understandable feeling of being real, like seeing cows in a field when the field is actually empty or seeing a fence across the pavement. At other times, they will seem totally unreal, like seeing fantasy images such as dragons.

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In 2004 Paul Deveraux, a correspondant for the Fortean Times, interviewed Don, a long term CBS sufferer. According to Don:

He would see… image(s) as if projected onto walls or other surfaces. He could sometimes make out a small face inside the aperture… A similar effect was the occurrence of a “pool of pale grey light” which would often appear a few yards in front of him when he was walking along. Faces would also appear within this strange pool of light.

Don described how over time his visions became more and more complex. One such hallucination was particularly vivid:

When seated at breakfast and looking out of his window into the garden, he had on several occasions seen a kind of illumination within which not just one but a number of figures appeared, walking in a column. They were, seemingly, all male, some wearing hats, others caps. They would silently advance towards the window then turn to the right near the garden shed, but one figure would often break away from the others at this point and come right up to the window as if peering in at Don, before it too moved out of sight to one side.

As Don’s experience suggests, the intensity and duration of CBS visions can vary considerably depending on how advanced the sufferer’s associated eye condition is. It is not restricted to the elderly; anyone with severe sight impairment can be subject to CBS. Unfortunately, although visions are never constant, there are no known cures. The RNIB provides a helpful list of hints and tips on how to deal with different types of visions; see: http://www.rnib.org.uk/eyehealth/eyeconditions/conditionsac/Pages/charles_bonnet.aspx for more information.

Weird Object of the Week

Something Sure to Shut You Up

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Have you ever met anyone who just knows how to pull your string, press your buttons, yank your chain, a person who, no matter what, simply will not ‘leave it alone’? I think we all have. Now imagine you are married to that person and you live in a world where divorce isn’t an option; what do you do? Well, in 16th century Scotland husbands who felt their wives nagged too much could apply to have them placed in a ‘scold’s bridle’. Otherwise known as ‘the branks’, this horrific torture device – which was used in Scotland and England up until the 18th century – was clamped onto the unfortunate woman’s head in an effort to literally keep her tongue tied. A metal plate, covered in spikes, was then inserted into the mouth, preventing the ability to speak or eat, while causing copious blood-loss and excruciating pain.

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This punishment was not reserved solely for nagging spouses, gossips, breachers of the peace and suspected witches all felt its steely embrace. As if having your tongue skewered weren’t enough, the offender would often be paraded through their town or village and beaten. Bridles often took on ornate shapes so as to maximise the victim’s public humiliation; the example above, which comes from Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum has a rather fetching moustache and a pair of ass’s ears.

Well folks, you’ve viewed my collection of stuffed stories and pickled parables, I hope they were to your satisfaction. Check back next week to see what else I’ve dragged back from the roadside.

Over and Out

Andy G

 

 

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