Tis Wednesday and I do believe I hear a familiar sound in the air… tis a man’s voice and it’s coming from that crooked circus tent in the distance. Let’s see if we can sneak a little closer for a better look… … … There… It’s pretty shoddy workmanship and no mistake. Misshapen, mismatched patches of cloth all sown together with thick, jute twine, I’m surprised the thing holds together at all. And look, look at the rickety sign above the entrance, ‘Weird Wednesdays’ it reads. I wonder what that’s all about. Shhhhhh… be quiet, someone’s coming out. The crazy eyes, the twisted moustache, the ostentatious top-hat; this must be fellow that was making all the racket earlier. Let’s listen in to what he has to say…
‘Step right up, step right up!! Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls prepare to be marvelized; prepare to be flaberstounded; prepare to be… dumfoundicated! You are about to encounter a selection of the weirdest, the strangest and the most grotesque of oddities ever glimpsed by the eyes of man. You will laugh, you will cry, you may even shriek in terror, but I promise you, you will leave this tent a changed person: And all for the price of an admission ticket!’
Hmmm… Sounds interesting, but I’ll be damned if I’m paying him anything. Let’s see if we can sneak round the back and get a glimpse…
Yes fellow weird watchers it’s that time of the week again… time for another ‘Weird Wednesday’!
Weird Goings On
Rectum.. Damn near killed him!
We begin this week’s round up of weird goings on in a rather anal-retentive fashion. Meet Christopher Scheller, 18, an American teenager who embarked on a crime-spree that was anything butt average. On December 1st 2013 Chris crashed his car into a tree in York County Pennsylvania. Found to be over the legal alcohol limit, he was taken to the local police station for processing where, while in custody, he began to complain of ‘discomfort’. Transferred to the nearby York hospital, he was subjected to an X-ray scan which revealed several ‘foreign objects’ secreted in a rather… sensitive area. Initially reluctant to have them removed, Chris finally relented when the pain became too much. In the end Surgeons removed: four bracelets, four necklaces, eleven ladies rings, a socket wrench and a bag of synthetic marijuana from Chris’s rear end. It turns out that Chris had been moonlighting as a house-breaker and when he crashed his car he decided to insert his latest stash where the sun don’t shine… being found out was, it seems, nothing but bum luck.
In a similar tale of cavity concealed woe, a Chinese man was recently admitted to hospital in the city of Fuzhou, Fujian Province, complaining of abdominal pains. The medical-staff were surprised when X-ray scans revealed a bottle and a wire coat-hanger floating around his midsection. Although the patient initially claimed he had no idea how the objects got there, he eventually admitted to performing the insertion himself. Apparently, when he was unable to remove the bottle the poor fellow attempted, unsuccessfully, some DIY surgery. Eventually surgeons were able to remove the items… We’re certainly scraping the ‘bottom’ of the barrel this week
One Stone Baby
X-rays can reveal the strangest things, as was the case in Bogota Columbia late last year, when an unnamed 82 year old woman visited her local hospital. Complaining of stomach pains, doctors suspected a routine case of gastroenteritis, but requested X-ray scans anyway. They were shocked to find that the woman had a baby lodged in her abdomen: a baby made of stone. Measuring eighteen inches and weighing four pounds, it turns out the ossified foetus had been carried by the woman for nearly forty years and would have been 32 weeks old at the time of its death.
Lithopedon, or ‘stone baby’ (example above) is an extremely rare medical phenomenon which is caused when a foetus develops, then dies, outside its mother’s uterus. The body, unable to eject or reabsorb the child’s remains, coats them in calcium as a way of protecting itself. A side-effect of this is that the foetus is mummified in stone. It is not unusual for the mother to remain oblivious to her condition until decades later. Although Lithopedon was first described by the tenth century physician Albucasis, less than four hundred cases have ever been reported.
When does a boy become a man? It’s an eternal question. Where I’m from it’s on your eighteenth birthday. Although it was some time ago, I remember that night well. My Dad, in comically clandestine fashion, snuck me away from the family festivities to a dingy, local pub. There he bought me my ritualistic ‘first pint’. ‘Son’ he proudly proclaimed ‘you’re a man now.’ The watered-down lager didn’t magically transform me, I didn’t suddenly sprout a beard like a bramble bush, nor did I stop getting ID’d at the liquor counter, but it was still an important moment. Swift, painless and mildly embarrassing as it was, it represented my parents recognition that I was no longer a child. For the adolescents of the Satere-Mawe tribe of the Brazilian rainforest, however, coming-of-age is a rather more painful experience. In order to prove their manhood the tribe’s youth are made to put on a pair of gloves woven from leaves. While that doesn’t sound too excruciating, the gloves come with a wicked surprise. Tied into the leaves are hundreds of Bullet Ants (stingers facing inwards). To put this into perspective, you should know that, according to the ‘Schmitt sting pain index’, the Bullet Ant has the most painful sting of any creature in the animal kingdom. Some have compared the effects of a single sting to being shot; hence the ant’s name. Boys from the tribe are expected to keep their hands in the gloves for a full 20 minutes, a process which will be repeated 20 times before they can finally call themselves a man. Check out Discovery Channel’s Steve Backshall as he attempts the agonizing ritual…
Things that go Bump
Island of the Dolls
Nothing in the world can be creepier than a room full of dolls. My mother used to collect china dolls and I remember being totally spooked every time I ventured into her room. All those lifeless, little glass eyes following me, watching me, judging me… yeesh, it gives me goose flesh just thinking about them. So imagine a whole island dedicated to the little critters. Isla de las Munecas (the Island of the Dolls), located about seventeen miles South of Mexico City is one freaky place. Hanging from the island’s trees are the decapitated heads, disremembered torsos and separated limbs of thousands of discarded dolls. The island began attracting its eerie inhabitants after Julian Santana Barrerra, a local hermit, discovered the body of a young girl drowned in a nearby canal. In an attempt to ward off evil spirits he began collecting unwanted dolls, which he left for the dead girl. Over time the collection mounted until the whole island was covered in broken doll parts. It is now a popular, if rather macabre, tourist destination. Why not take the tour in the video below:
Weird Science & Nature
I’ll have the Xerox Burger Please
Unless you’ve been living under a rock then you’re likely to have heard of 3D printing, the space-age technology that allows you to produce carbon-copies of three dimensional objects. Once the reserve of secretive science laboratories world-wide you can now purchase a 3D printer for personal use for around £300. You can then download schematics for all manner of legal and illegal objects from the inter-web. What you may not have heard of are 3D food printers… that’s right 3D food printers. If you’re like me then you’re fairly lazy in the kitchen. My idea of cooking normally consists of shoving a ready meal into my microwave. Imagine then, if you will, a machine you can program to produce any dish you want on demand. Such technology may not be far off.
3D food printing works on the same principle as traditional 3D printing, only instead of polymers, plastics and metal shavings, it lays down layers of organic material. So far results from 3D food printers have been fairly mixed and have tended towards simple foodstuffs. The Chef Jet (pictured above), one of the first commercially available 3D food printers, prints customized sweets. However, things look as if they’re about to get a whole lot more complicated in the near future. An American start-up company called Modern Meadow has begun to develop a form of 3D printing called ‘bioprinting’. Bioprinting involves the use of living stem-cells which are laid down by the printer as a type of ‘bio-ink’. What this amounts to is a machine that can produce raw meat, without actually having to kill an animal to do so. The old vegetarian argument; ‘I just don’t want to eat something that had a face,’ will no longer apply. Modern Meadow are currently focussing on using the technology to produce hamburgers. But before you stop your regular jaunt to McDonalds, you should know that each patty currently costs a whopping $300’000, bringing a whole new meaning to the term ‘expensive tastes’. Check out a 3D food printer in action in the video below:
Weird Object of the Week
This is one to make my fellow males wince. It may look like a medieval torture device. Indeed, once you hear its application, it may even sound like a medieval torture device, but this curious object was very much in use by the medical profession, right the way up to the early 20th century. Named the ‘Jugum penis’, it was prescribed to patients who suffered from ‘night-time emanations’. The unfortunate gentleman would don this piece of hardware on his own hardware in the hope that it would improve his moral rectitude. In the past it was believed that pleasuring one’s self was a dangerous business. Indeed, the eighteenth century Swiss doctor Samuel August Tissot suggested that such activity was worse for a man’s health than smallpox. Consequentially, all manner of bizarre and vicious looking medical instruments were designed to protect the gentleman’s ‘moral health’ and relieve him from temptation. Sorry Mr Doctor, I think I’ll look after my own health thank you very much!!!
So, my erstwhile companions, we’ve evaded the ringmaster and peered inside the circus tent. Strange things we have seen, sights and sounds beyond the wildest bounds of imagination. We are each of us changed in our own way. Perhaps we ought to have heeded his warning; perhaps we should never have allowed curiosity to get the better of us… then again, perhaps not. Either way, I’ll see you all next Wednesday for further weirdness.
Over and out.