Bizarre Stories: Fan Death

A murderer waiting in your room so
it can kill you when you fall asleep?

Among the bizarre history, places, events, animals, etc. that this planet and the people on it have to offer are what we call urban legends. Urban legends may have some basis in fact, be a result of mass hysteria or stem from misinformed reporting, as is the case with so-called fan death. This interesting urban legend has no basis in fact. Because this is demonstrably true, this urban legend is more bizarre than most. At least Chupacabra has obscurity to hide behind. No one can conclusively say it is not true. However, fans are located on every continent and it is easy to prove that they do not kill people.

In South Korea and, according to some sources -- Japan, electric fans can kill you if you leave them on overnight in a closed room. The excuses for this silly idea range from "it causes hypothermia" to "it chops air particles into pieces so you cannot breathe." Given that fan blades cannot chop particles -- most of them cannot even chop a finger -- it is easy to say that is not true. As for the hypothermia claim, most reported fan deaths happen in South Korea in the summertime. Anyone who has tried to use an electric fan to cool his or her room on an 85-degree Fahrenheit night can tell you that is not happening.

Fans in South Korea now have timers on them to stop them after a person has fallen asleep. The interesting thing about this is that all of the "fan deaths" that are reported in South Korea, from what we could find, occur at night. People surely leave fans on without a timer during the day in South Korea. Why are they only dying at night? The most popular theory is that these people are actually dying from heat-related causes. Heart conditions, lung conditions and other medical issues coupled with extreme heat, of which there is plenty in South Korea during the summer months, can and do kill people. They say elderly are more susceptible to fan death. The elderly are also more susceptible to heat-related death. Timers and death scares can conserve electricity. Case closed?

Bizarre Facts: Adolf Hitler Liked to Paint

Adolf Hitler -- what is not bizarre about that man? Every time you think you know everything there is to know about the most hated man in history, there is something to surprise, such as his attempt to become a painting student. The little factoid discussed here is only bizarre if you really think about it. After all, Hitler is not the only man to have been both insane and a mediocre artist. Had he been a touch less homicidal, he may have been an artistic genius, but I digress. What is bizarre about Hitler's attempts at art are how ridiculously popular they were during the Third Reich. 

Hitler went to Vienna to study painting, but was turned down by the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna -- twice. They told him that he was not suited to be a painter, in so many words. At their suggestion, he then considered architecture. However, as a high school dropout, he was unable to study architecture. He spent some time painting, despite his rejections, but met with very little success until . . .  he became a crazed, murderous tyrant.

During the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler's art was quite popular and reproduced extensively. Therefore, there are countless examples available for our perusal today. I would like to be able to say that it is worth viewing. However, it seems his critics are not biased due to his reputation. He really had only mediocre talent at best.

One of Hitler's many portraits of buildings.

Mary and Jesus Painting attributed to Hitler.

Bizarre Places: Wright's Underwater Billiards Room

Thursley Lake by David Leeming
The statue atop the dome and the outbuilding
leading to the underground room are pictured here.
James Whitaker Wright was a man who made a fortune in the mining business. He did what many such men do and built frivolous structures with his money. He purchased an estate on a park that is now known as Witley Park. His home there was nothing short of a mansion. Beside it was a man-made lake that still exists today, though the mansion burned down in 1952. However, the bizarre structure that Wright built there still stands, though some believe it to be legend. It is a billiards room, located beneath the lake.

There is a small outbuilding on the lake. Inside of the building, which is now reportedly locked and access to it restricted by the current owner, is a metal spiral staircase. At the end of the staircase is a tunnel, which leads to J. Whitaker Wright's more than one hundred year old billiards room. On the ceiling of the billiards room is a glass dome that, while once a fish observatory, is now covered in algae and only lets in a dim light from above. On the lake, there is no evidence of this dome, save a statue that sits at its peak. Urban explorers love the eerie abandoned room that is likely dangerous to enter. Its state is not the only eerie thing about it, though.

J. Whitaker Wright made some shady business moves that landed him in court for fraud. People lost money and they were not happy with him. Though he seems to have been a popular man, he was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison on January 26, 1904. That was also the day he died. Almost immediately after he was sentenced, Wright swallowed cyanide at the Royal Court of London.

After Wright's death, his estate was purchased by Lord William Pirrie. Lord Pirrie was one of the designers of the RMS Titanic. He was supposed to be on the ship when it sank, but he got sick and cancelled. Between him, Wright and the billiards room, this is one bizarre story for the books.

Bizarre Events: The June Bug Epidemic

June Bug (Public Domain Image)

The June Bug Epidemic was a case of mass hysteria that occurred in a North Carolina textile mill in 1962. Several workers came down with an illness that made them dizzy and nauseous. There was also vomiting. Because there were some June bugs in the mill, they began to believe that the bugs had bitten them, causing the illness. While some of the workers may have been bitten, there is no illness connected with the bite of June bugs. By the time the event had reached its peak, 62 of the mill workers had come down with the mysterious illness. The CDC investigated the case and reached the conclusion that it was mass hysteria.

While mass hysteria is more a diagnosis of elimination than anything, it is nearly certain in some cases. In the case of the June bug Epidemic, the victims all worked closely together. No physical reason for the symptoms, such as a virus, was detected. All of the victims had the same or similar symptoms. All of this on top of the fact that the symptoms matched some of those associated with mass hysteria led to the diagnosis of it.

Mass hysteria occurs when a group of people is convinced they are ill because of the symptoms of one or a few. It is presumed that there is at least one truly ill person in some cases, but that the illness only spreads through the convictions of the others. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and dizziness. These are also symptoms of acute anxiety. If a person becomes convinced that they are going to "catch" what someone else has, they may develop anxiety. If this happens to enough people in a given area, mass hysteria results.

Bizarre Creatures: Gef

Gef was, well, no one is really sure what Gef was, if anything. The story and name are just bizarre enough to warrant mention. However, the only thing we are sure about it when it comes to Gef is that he was talked about, by the family that introduced him to the media and the media.

Gef was an entity, an animal, of some sort that a family who lived in the British Isles claimed lived in and around their house. The Irving family, who lived on a farmhouse called Cashen's Gap on the Isle of Man, claimed that Gef first appeared in autumn of 1931. Now, before you start thinking this is some ghost story, read on. Gef did not make the pages of That is Bizarre by being a run-of-the-mill ghost.

There were three members of the family, a 13-year-old girl and her parents. Oddly, some sources say the girl was the most connected with Gef and others say it was the father. Either way, the whole family seems to have experienced whatever or whoever Gef was, if only a shared hoax or delusion. Whatever happened in that farmhouse started as scratching sounds, like an animal nesting, according to the Irvings. It sounded like a creature was leaving in the walls of the back of their farmhouse.

Over time, the creature sounds started to include the barking of a dog and the gurgling of a human infant. As if that is not creepy enough, the Irvings say the creature progressed to speaking -- as in speaking human words to the Irvings. Among some of the notable things that Gef said to the Irvings are the following:

"Vanishing . . . " he would reportedly say sometimes before ceasing to speak.

He claimed he was a mongoose named Gef, though James Irving (the father) initially called him "Jack."

When claiming he was a mongoose, Gef also said he was roughly 79-years-old and from New Delhi.

When the family attempted to photograph him, though they say he hid most of the time, he said he was horrifying, in so many words. He said if they saw him, they would turn to stone or a pillar of salt.

He called himself a "clever mongoose," the "ghost of a weasel" and an "earthbound spirit." 

He said, "If you knew what I know, you'd know a hell of a lot." 

Gef once pretended he was poisoned.

The being supposedly spied on neighbors and reported to the Irvings, even though the Irvings did not tell him to.

According to a contemporary newspaper, he was told the Irvings that he would follow Voirrey (the daughter) wherever they took her, after they got scared and had her sleep in their room with them.

Voirrey said he swore a lot. However, accounts of him seem to indicate that he was easily angered, often simply conversational and somewhat egotistical, assuming he existed.

James kept a record of the Gef happenings, which stopped after he died and the family moved. He wrote of Gef throwing things without being in the room. He wrote of small glimpses the family had of the creature, which they said looked like a small rodent. Evidence of the creature's existence include the family testimony, reports of testimony from visitors to the Irving house, indirect testimony of "belief" in the creature from neighbors and media reports that survive to this day.

There are several theories regarding what Gef was, the most obvious being a poltergeist and a hoax. There is, of course, the possibility that it is all true, though that is obviously unlikely. What is interesting is that young Voirrey reportedly maintained that Gef was real publicly until her death in 2005.

Top Five Bizarre Exorcism Movies

The rare few moments I spend watching television rarely affords me a glimpse of anything actually inspirational. In other words, most of what makes it to That is Bizarre has nothing to do with television. However, a movie preview caught my eye the other day and made me think how utterly bizarre exorcisms are and how dramatizing exorcisms make them even more bizarre. The inspiration for this post came from the preview for the upcoming movie "The Devil Inside." While I would love to add the movie to this list, I have not seen it yet, so I will have to stick to exorcism movies with which I am familiar.

Note: There was a barrage of rip-off exorcism films after the release of The Exorcist in 1973. These movies were relatively bizarre, but only in their blatant attempts cash in on the first film's success. This list will contain none of the '74-'75 rip-off films. 

5. Exorcist: The Beginning

"Exorcist: The Beginning" is the prequel to the 1973 The Exorcist film based on William Peter Blatty's novel of the same name. It deals with the priest who exorcised Regan in the original film and his first encounter with the demon who had possessed Regan. What is bizarre about this film is actually one scene that involves Father Merrin descending into the annals of an ancient church. At one point, he is stuck in a tunnel in the Earth that can only manage on person - one way. In this tunnel, he is faced by the demon. It was one heck of a way to portray a face-off with a demon and why this is in the number 5 spot on this list.

4. The Last Exorcism

"The Last Exorcism" is a refreshing exorcism film, in that it is filmed like a documentary. That is what makes it bizarre. However, the film itself is a little over the top, even for this genre. It basically takes a skeptical reverend and makes a believer out of him with the help of a cult-like group and a demon baby. It's ultimate cheese.

3. The Exorcism of Emily Rose

"The Exorcism of Emily Rose" is a film loosely based on the real life exorcism of Anneliese Michel. While the supernatural subject matter is not believed to be true by all, the suffering of the girl in the film is undeniable. She goes through many of the hardships that Anneliese suffered, just in a more dramatic light. There is a lot of bizarre antics in this film, from rapid-fire demon talk to contorting young women.

2. Exorcism of Anneliese Michel

"The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel" is an actual documentary. Creepy, right? It discusses the topic of the multiple exorcisms of Anneliese, who died as a result of either her alleged possession or the exorcism that was meant to cure it. The documentary includes audio from Anneliese's actual exorcisms. They are not for the faint of heart, nor are photos of the girl as she died. She was starved and very sick by the time she eventually expired.

1. The Exorcist

"The Exorcist" takes the number one spot on this list because it took the genre to a whole new level. Filmmakers have yet to outdo it, even with advances in moviemaking technology. This film included rough special effects that somehow managed to be the most disturbing thing most people had ever seen. The movie created a sort of hysteria about exorcisms that would have been laughable if the film was not so darn creepy.

Bizarre Websites: Historic Mysteries

Some sites do not essentially cater to the bizarre, but, by way of an interesting niche, come up with some wonderfully bizarre topics. There are few quality sites like this out there, but many average ones. You find many sites that have interesting sounding topics, but cover the topic poorly or simply sound made up.

It is easy to tell which sites are flying by the seat of their pants by researching the topics they cover independently. If you come up with four different sites that contain the information and each has a different version, including the site you are investigating, chances are you are reading malarkey. The best way to tell if a site conducts thorough research and can cover bizarre topics well is to check for an unbiased tone and references to sources used to create the content on the site. One site where you can find this is Historic Mysteries.

Historic Mysteries is a site that covers everything from disappearances to UFOs. The best part is that coverage of dubious topics, such as UFOs, is done in an unbiased manner. This isn't a site that caters to those who prefer the idea of UFOs so much that they deny facts that do not support their conclusions. This is a site for people who are looking for good information on historic topics that are fun to read.

History is filled with exciting mysteries, some sad and some compelling. Many of the topics covered on Historic Mysteries really make you wonder what happened. The facts are there for the perusal of readers, but the conclusions are open or they would not be mysteries. Mystery enthusiasts will love this site. History enthusiasts will love it as well. Bizarre enthusiasts will certainly find topics to entertain.

Bizarre Places: Clapham Wood

Clapham Wood is a forest in West Sussex, England that is linked to several supposed phenomena. There are unproven stories that a Satanic cult operated in the woods during the latter half of the 20th century. There are countless reports of UFO sightings, though those reportedly happen in both the woods and Clapham Village. Other phenomena reported in the woods include animal disappearances and human deaths.

While the stories of Clapham Wood are bizarre and the area has developed a bizarre reputation, it seems that the stories may be the only bizarre thing about Clapham Wood. As far as the UFOs are concerned, there is no way to prove that any of these UFOs were really sighted and, if they were, that their origins were otherworldly or supernatural.

Another phenomenon reported in Clapham Wood is much like the UFOs, unable to be proven. Some people have claimed that a strange mist engulfs parts of the woods as they walk through it. To read of the stories, one would assume that those who saw it found it to be unrelated to the weather, given that they found it strange enough to report.

A less strange occurrence in Clapham Wood, given its reputation are reports that people get the sense something is following them through the woods. These can easily be linked to paranoia concerning the stories that have surrounded the forest since the 1970s. It is natural that some people would feel scared in Clapham Wood. The alternative is that something really is following them, which would explain why some people feel like they are being pushed in the woods when there is nothing occurring to explain the feeling.

At least four dogs have allegedly vanished in Clapham Wood. One returned so ill that it had to be put down. Another one was found mangled and dead. The thing with these reports is that they have been happening since 1970, the most recent occurring in 2011. Dogs do tend to get lost in the woods when they are unleashed. There may be nothing unusual going on here at all. It is entirely feasible that the domesticated animals were attacked by other animals.

The most alarming stories regarding Clapham Wood involve the deaths of five people -- four according to some sources. Apparently, three lone men disappeared at different times and were found days to years later. A couple also disappeared -- just a woman in some versions -- and were later found dead. The man was sexually assaulted according to Wikipedia. The woman was sexually assaulted according to other sources. There are no reports of sexual assault in the other cases, though decomposition reportedly made autopsy difficult. These deaths were allegedly attributed to a serial killer named Tim Withers who was jailed for the crimes. It should be noted that this writer could find very little regarding Tim Withers and it was all related to Clapham Wood. It seems odd that there is nothing else out there about this supposed serial killer.

One must conclude, with the evidence available, that there is nothing so bizarre about Clapham Wood, save its reputation. What is odd here is that there seems to be widespread speculation about this forest with very little evidence that anything is amiss.

Bizarre People: Victor Lustig

Construction phases of the Eiffel Tower

Victor Lustig was a Hungarian con artist whose cons were so bizarre as to be brilliant, at least before he was caught. Predictably, he irked his girlfriend, who ratted him out for counterfeiting money in the United States. However, before he was locked up in U.S. federal prison for the remainder of his life, he was pulling off cons across the globe.

One of Victor Lustig's strangest cons landed him the nickname of "The Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower -- Twice." This sobriquet is not quite accurate. He only succeeded in selling the Eiffel Tower once and it was during a time when the Eiffel Tower was a failing landmark that was not supposed to stay up forever. It was not the international icon that it is today. Still, it was not exactly hiding out in a corner of Paris, either.

In 1925, Victor Lustig convinced a group of scrap metal dealers to come hear his sales pitch for the Eiffel Tower. He told them that he, as a representative of the French government, was charged with selling the Eiffel Tower. Because it was falling apart and expensive to repair, the government wanted to get rid of it. After another meeting, he was able to convince Andre Poisson to buy it. The man never alerted the authorities because he felt pretty stupid. That left Victor open to try the stunt again. The second time, one of his prospective victims caught on and turned him in. Lustig got away, though.

Another interesting con of Victor Lustig's was selling fake counterfeit machines. This was before he got into real counterfeiting. He would load up a fake machine with three one-hundred dollar bills, tell his victim that the machine took 6 hours to create a single bill, demonstrate the fact and then get away with 18 hours to spare. The victim would give him 30 grand, wait 12 hours for the machine to spit out the other 2 hundreds and then another 6 hours to find out that it really could not "print" anything.

Perhaps the most daring of all Lustig's cons was the Capone con. Victor Lustig convinced Al Capone to give tens of thousands of dollars to fund a non-existent stock deal. Lustig was not stupid enough to walk away from Al Capone with that kind of money. Instead, he waited a bit and then returned the money, saying that the deal had fallen through. Al Capone gave him five grand as a reward for being honest, thus fulfilling Lustig's daring con.

In the end, Lustig was sold out by his girlfriend, who found out he was fooling around with another con man's mistress. He was a smooth talker, but he could not talk his way out of the fling or federal prison. He died a prisoner in 1947.

The Lead Masks Case

Among the most bizarre topics in the world are countless deaths. The saying, "Dead men tell no tales." describes the reason for this quite clearly. Without a witness or clear forensic evidence, anything odd at the scene of death is relegated to the ranks of the bizarre and unexplained. Such was the case the death of two electronic technicians in Brazil in 1966. The circumstances of their deaths are unknown. Objects found near their bodies are strange and unexplainable.

On August 20, 1966, Jorge da Costa Alves found two dead men on Vintem Hill in Rio de Janeiro. Later investigation ascertained that the two men were last seen by a bartender who sold them a bottle of water on August 17. They are presumed to have died later that day, meaning they were on the grassy hill for roughly three days when Jorge found them. There are rumors that UFOs were seen over the hill that night, but there is no evidence of such, apart from alleged witness testimony.

Naturally, Jorge contacted the police who did a search of the area and the bodies. The two men were dressed in suits and wore raincoats. They were also wearing lead masks, which would have protected them from radiation. These masks were not full-face masks, but more the shape of a masquerade mask, with no eyeholes, of course. There was also a notebook that contained the following notes, translated from Portuguese: Be at the agreed place at 16:30 [4:30 p.m.], 18:30[6:30 p.m.] swallow capsules, after effect protect metals wait for mask signal. There was also an empty water bottle and two towels near the bodies, which were next to each other.

There were no injuries at first glance and no injuries found during autopsy. Some sources say that the organs were too far gone for toxicology. Others say that testing was done, but turned up nothing. Others still say that radiation testing was done and found nothing at first, but that radiation turned up during a second round of testing. What all sources agree upon is the outcome of the investigation. The cause of death is unknown.

The evidence at the scene leaves us more questions than it answers. Why were these men on the hill? Was this the specified location or is it where their bodies were dumped? What substance did they consume? Were these capsules the cause of death or were they meant to protect them from something? Why in the world were they wearing protection from radiation? Were they conducting an experiment that went wrong? Were they part of a larger team that wrote them off as collateral damage? Were they meeting aliens up on the hill? No one knows and it is likely that we never will.

Bizarre Sites for Your Enjoyment

That is Bizarre is about bringing bizarre stories, events, people, places, animals and even plants together in one place so those who are interested in the wacky can get a dose of WTF? every time they visit. As a lover of the strange, I have come across numerous websites that are dedicated to much the same thing as That is Bizarre, though often in a different way. Some of them post wacky people, bizarre pictures, insane stories and much more. Because I enjoy them, I assume the people who enjoy this page enjoy them as well. Therefore, this post is about sites like this that will make you laugh, cry or give you something to talk about, at the very least.

People of Wal-Mart

People of Wal-Mart is a site that posts pictures of people looking, acting or embracing bizarre in Wal-Marts everywhere. The first time I came across this site, I sat up for hours laughing my butt off. Hopefully, you will enjoy is as much as I do.

Bad*ss of the Week

Writing about bizarre stuff is not something I do exclusively for That is Bizarre. I love history, so I write about bizarre history for anyone or any site that will let me. In my research for several history articles, I came across Bad*ss of the Week. The people featured on this site have gone above and beyond the norm and are examples of how bizarre sheer bad*ssery can be.

Damn Interesting

Damn Interesting is a site much like this one, though it is more in depth than blog posts allow. Here, we're all about synopsis. You want quick facts and dirty details, we deliver. If you want to know the mechanics behind something bizarre, this site typically delivers.

If you know of any other sites that cater to lovers of the bizarre, feel free to drop links in the comments section. If they fit the criteria, we'll fit them into this post for people seeking such sites. Enjoy your browsing!

Bizarre Places: Bubbly Creek in Chicago, Illinois

Bubbly Creek Headwaters, Courtesy of the USGS

Of all the polluted waterways in the United States, Chicago's Bubbly Creek ranks among the most bizarre. It is a dead end branch of the Chicago River that is officially the South Fork of the South Branch of the Chicago River. It is nicknamed Bubbly Creek due to a consequence of horrendous levels of pollution that have been dumped into it -- bubbles. It is about 1.3 miles of near stagnant evidence of the absolute need for environmental regulations.

The reason for the pollution in Bubbly Creek is the former negligence of Chicago's stockyards that were situated by the creek, particularly the Union Stock Yard. Roughly 100 years ago, an untold amount of waste was openly dumped into the creek. Among this waste were the unused portions of animal carcasses, such as blood, intestines and fat/grease. As the waste decomposed, it released bubbles of gasses, including methane and hydrogen sulfide. Bubbly Creek was essentially farting the smell of rotten eggs. It is not quite a bubbling witch's brew, but one can easily imagine the awful stench it emitted and still sometimes emits to this day.

According to Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," the creek was so polluted that it used to catch fire. Grease congealed at the top, hair lined its edges and it was an environmental nightmare. Today, the meatpacking pollution does not continue, but the issue of Bubbly Creek is merely one of a number of water pollution issues Chicago is dealing with, such as the dumping of raw sewage into waterways, including the Chicago River and, in turn, Bubbly Creek. It is a wonder anyone lives there.

Bizarre Disappearances: The Crew of the Katz II

Airlie Beach Harbor courtesy of Vmenkov

The Katz II was (or is) a private yacht whose 2007 crew met with a similar end to the crew of the Mary Celeste. That is to say, no one is quite sure what happened to them. The story is slightly less suspicious than the story of the Mary Celeste, given that there were only three men on board the Katz II. Nevertheless, the lack of clues, disappearance of the crew and discover the boat are very much the same, save the more modern equipment on board the Katz II.

The Katz II was found adrift near the Great Barrier Reef on April 18, 2007. The Katz and three friends -- all experienced -- left Airlie Beach only three days earlier. Upon boarding the vessel, authorities found food set out on the table, equipment still turned on, the yacht's entire store of life jackets, the engine running and a laptop still turned on. There was even a coffee mug still on deck. The only thing that was not there were people and there was no sign of them.

A rescue effort went underway immediately. However, it appeared, judging by a video made by the men and other clues, that the men had gone missing the very evening after they left. That meant nearly three days in the open ocean without life vests, if they had fallen overboard. That meant three days lead, if they met with foul play. They were never found.

The investigation came up with no signs of foul play. Everything was in perfect working order, save a torn sail. There was no sign of a struggle, no blood to be seen, etc. There was also a pistol on board that had not been removed from its hiding place or been fired. It is generally thought that something happened in which one or more of the men fell off or intentionally got off the boat. Then, a rescue operation by the other man or men ensued in which catastrophe struck and the remaining man or men went overboard as well.

Filming Police is Legal: Bizarre Fact: You May Still be Arrested for it

There has been a bizarre trend in the United States of citizens being arrested under a law that does not exist. This supposed law prohibits people from doing surveillance -- taking photos and video -- of police officers as they go about their duties in public areas. It is a misinterpretation of other laws that prohibit obstruction of justice, recording audio without a person's knowledge and doing surveillance on private property. In the two former cases, you can be arrested. In the latter case, you can be arrested for trespassing. However, you cannot legally be arrested for filming anything you see on public property or your property, for that matter.

Despite the above, it happens all the time. Police are arresting people, confiscating their film and, at times, even deleting it. Unless there is reasonable suspicion that you are breaking a law, police cannot so much as detain you without your permission. So, why is this even a problem? Well, that is a good question and what makes this situation so bizarre. There seems to be no doubt whatsoever as to the legality of filming police officers in public, yet police and even lawmakers in some areas try their best to change that. Without completely eradicating the First Amendment, it is impossible. There is also the little matter of police working for us, not the other way around.

According to the ACLU, they are working hard to protect those who are wrongly charged with a crime that does not exist. They United States judicial system is hard at work clarifying this issue as well. The First Circuit Court of Appeals found in the case of Simon Glick vs. John Cunniffe, Peter J. Savalis, Jerome Hall Brewster and the City of Boston that, "The  filming  of  government  officials engaged  in  their duties  in  a public  place,  including  police  officers  performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [first amendment rights]. Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting "the free discussion of governmental affairs.""

Here are some tips from the ACLU about what to do if you are wrongly detained for filming police officers. Remember, if the police officer does not know you are taping him or her and you are picking up their voices, you can be charged with violating wiretapping laws, if they exist in your state.

Bizarre Insects: Dinocampus Coccinellae

An unsuspecting ladybug.
One of a number of parasitoid wasps -- Dinocampus coccinellae -- stands out amongst other parasitic wasps because they parasitize the cutest bugs -- maybe the only cute bugs -- on the planet. Dinocampus coccinellae parasitize ladybugs. I know; it is not pleasant. Apparently, ladybugs with seven spots are the favorite of these ladybug killers. Those with two or ten spots are the safest. In fact, Dinocampus coccinellae never infest them.

The monstrous demise of ladybugs at the hands -- figuratively -- of Dinocampus coccinellae begins with the insertion of a single egg into the bug. The wasp larva hatches within the bug and begins to destroy any other larvae or eggs in its way. Next, it steals the nutrients the bug has until finally it eats the fat cells and reproductive organs of the ladybug.

While the wasp is graduating from one living feast to the next, it is going through several stages of its life cycle. There are four stages in this carnival of horrors before it gets worse. Eighteen to twenty-seven days after the egg is deposited in the ladybug, the resulting larva destroys the nerves that control the ladybug's legs, rendering it paralyzed. It then digs a tunnel out of the bug and makes its cocoon under it and betwixt its legs. The body of the still living victimized bug is now protection for the larva while it undergoes the next stage of transformation.

After roughly one week, the wasp emerges ready to propagate its species. Most of these wasps are females, but that does nothing to hinder their reproductive prowess. In fact, it makes them more efficient as these wasps reproduce asexually. They can insert eggs into 100 or more ladybugs in their lifetime without ever encountering a male Dinocampus coccinellae. They are perfect, deadly breeding machines.


Bruce, Anne, The Wasp Life Cycle, retrieved 9/24/11,

Bizarre Weather: Ball Lightning

An engraving from the 1800s showing ball lightning.

Ball lightning is an unexplained weather phenomenon that is seen all over the world. Some people do not believe it exists. However, according to the National Geographic article Ball Lightning: A Shocking Scientific Mystery, as many as 1 person in every 30 thinks they have witnessed this phenomenon. Conservative estimates put those numbers at between 1 and 150; still nothing to sneeze at.

Ball lightning is what it sounds like, a ball of what appears to be electricity. It appears to occur most often, or always, near the ground, where it bounces around like a drunken version of Tinkerbell. According to some sources, it is powerful enough to melt glass and thin metal, such as window screens. It does not have as much of a record of being fatally dangerous as "normal" lightning, but it may be potentially deadly.

Over the course of written history, roughly 10,000 eyewitness accounts of ball lightning have been written. The stories are similar enough to suggest that these people are seeing the same thing. It seems unlikely that something that does not exist would have so many witnesses, pictures and reliable accounts. (Be careful if you search for pictures of ball lightning. Many online photos of "ball lightning" are not ball lightning at all. It does not strike as "normal" lightning does.)

Scientists have no idea what ball lightning is or how it happens. Because of this, it is nearly impossible to study. It lasts for roughly 10 seconds and not knowing how it is made makes it impossible to reproduce. Unless ball lightning starts appearing around scientists a lot more than it has been or scientists are able to replicate it, it is likely that we will not find out what this oddball lightning is for a long time to come. All theories are mere conjecture based on what we know about the world and electricity.

Bizarre Weather (Kind of): Fire Whirls

Fire tornadoes, fire whirls, fire devils, creepy spiral fire finger shooting up from the ground, whatever you call it, a fire whirl is a freaky phenomenon. They are upside down tornadoes that whip fire around instead of air. However, they are caused by air currents, but the obviously necessary ingredient is fire. These little devils can be more than 3,000 feet tall, spin at about 100 miles per hour and last for up to 20 minutes. Don't worry, though. That is only the worst-case scenario and you have to be caught in a heck of a wildfire to experience something like that.

Just to convince you to stay away from large fires, as if you needed convincing:
Courtesy of the U.S. Government

Courtesy of the U.S. Government

Bizarre Weather: Megacryometeors

When it comes to bizarre weather, megacryometeors are as bizarre as it gets. Sure, raining animals and invisible tornadoes are bizarre, but we have an idea what causes them and we typically have an idea that it is raining, even if it is raining something odd. Megacryometeors are impossible to predict, appear for no apparent reason out of clear skies, are capable of injuring people and their origins are completely unknown.

The best possible description of a megacryometeor is a huge chunk of hail appearing out of a clear blue sky. They have been known to cause property damage and small impact craters in the ground. These icy meteors can weigh between one and more than one hundred pounds. They are not meteors in the sense that they come from space -- as far as we know -- there is just no better name for them because they do not seem to originate from clouds and neither do meteors.

There are several theories out there that provide potential explanations for megacryometeors. One is a little gross, if you ever happen to be hit by a megacryometeor, but no worries, it has been proven wrong. For a long time, people thought that these ice balls might actually be waste from airplane toilets. Testing of megacryometeors shows that there is no evidence of human waste or toilet sanitation chemicals in them.

Another theory is that megacryometeors are ice chunks that forms on aircraft and then drop to the ground. The problem with this is that researcher and planetary geologist Jesus Martinez-Frias studied a bout of megacryometeors in Spain and found instances where planes were not known to be overhead at the time of the incident. There are also reports of megacryometeors from before there were aircraft.

Megacryometeors may also be simply forming high up in the atmosphere. There simply is no way to prove or disprove that, as there have only been roughly 50 reports of megacryometeors in the past 11 years. That slims down the risk of being hit with one -- thank goodness.

Bizarre Websites: Photo of the Day by Jamie Livingston

Bizarre websites? The internet has more of them than anything else. However, there are very few bizarre websites that are both bizarre and worth the time it takes to look at them. Photo of the Day at Hugh is just such a site. It combines simple creativity and motivation with life, friendship, love, music, illness and death all through the medium of Polaroid photographs taken by a man named Jamie Livingston.

The website spans 18 years of Jamie Livingston's life and there is one photograph for almost every single day of that time period. As you scan through the photos, you see such humorous things as a man dressed as an eyeball monster thing in a suit, such heartwarming things as friends and children playing music and such romantic things as a woman's face next to a ring she clearly just received. It also shows the wedding that ensues -- Jamie and this mystery woman. Most of the photos are of people, but there are also some snowmen, television sets, random urban landscapes, etc. It is really interesting to see.

While the website is certainly a testament to how the mundane can be interesting art, it is also a testament to a man's life. You see, Jamie Livingston died of brain cancer or a brain tumor in 1997. His friends run the site, which contains photos of his surgery scars, medication and his last days in the hospital. To be honest, the site is bizarre in the way that it shows something like this and in the way that Jamie kept up such a project for so long. However, it also shows that Jamie looked like a pretty cool guy to chill with. It's too bad he isn't still taking photos.

Bizarre Plants: Amorphophallus Titanum

Amorphophallus titanum
Credit: U.S. Government
Here at That is Bizarre, we have posted some interesting plants, from those with grenade like seed action to those that reek of carcasses. Amorphophallus titanum is another of those plants that smell awful, but that is not the only bizarre aspect of it. From its size to its name, it is quite the bizarre plant. In Sumatra, where it is endemic, it is known simply as "Bunga Bunkai." Nothing too bizarre there, but its Latin name mentioned above translates to "giant misshapen penis." It seems some people think this plant looks like a malformed sexual organ. It really does not, but we still love the name.

Amorphophallus titanum starts out as a root tuber that can weigh up to 200 pounds. From this tuber grows a plant that looks like a huge unshucked ear of corn. This part of the plant can grow up to several inches in a single day and some say can grow up to 10 feet, though it certainly can grow more than six. Once the plant is ready to bloom, it does so at night and it smells nasty. Some compare the stench to rotting meat. It also gets extraordinarily hot at this point and emits steam.

Once the spathe spreads (like a flower petal blooming), it can be up to four feet in diameter. The smell it omits is not to attract prey, but rather to pollinate. The male "flower" traps insects by closing its spathe around them. Next, it sticks pollen all over the hapless bugs. When it is done, it sets the bug free. Later, the bug will pollinate female Amorphophallus titanum. The male and female flowers of the plant open at different times, presumably to prevent same plant or male plant pollination. Once the female is fertilized, she produces red olive-sized fruits and dies within days.

The death of the female plant does not spell the end of Amorphophallus titanum. The root tuber grows a single leaf that eventually grows into an up to 20-foot tall plant that looks like a tree, but is not classified as such. At the top of the "tree," the resulting leaf blooms can be up to 16 feet around. It is not quite as eye catching as the green ear of corn that blooms into a burgundy and green flower, but it is life and it continues the cycle of the Amorphophallus titanum so it can produce stinky flowers again later.

Bizarre Culture: Japan's Inventive Ways of Committing Suicide

Seppeku Ritual
Sokushinbutsu, seppuku and kamikaze are inventive ways Japanese people have devised to kill themselves. Japan is notorious for that. It seems like an odd way to stand out among other nations, sure, but suicide just seems to be a major part of Japanese culture. Even today, after Sokushinbutsu, seppuku and kamikaze pilots have become history, the people of Japan have turned an eerie forest -- Aokigahara -- into suicide central. Why Japan seems to be a haven for the depressed and insane is anyone's guess. We know some forms of suicide are considered honorable there and we know the country has a long history of it, so it could be that history of patriotic and ritual suicide has paved the way for a softer stance on the action. Who knows? What we do know is that Japan sure has some bizarre suicides.

Sokushinbutsu is perhaps the most grotesque of the bizarre Japanese suicide stories on this list. That is because it involves the slow and painful death of Japanese monks who literally turn themselves into mummies whilst they are still among the living. First, they exist off a very scant diet for up to three years. They also exercise to lower their body mass. Next, came a phase of drinking non-lethal doses of arsenic. This goes on for yet another three years. At the end of the six years, the monks would then entomb themselves. They had a bell with them that they would ring once a day. When it stopped ringing, the monks were dead. After a period of a few years, their coffins would be opened by fellow monks. Those who did not rot had succeeded in mummifying themselves. At least twelve of these mummies still exist today. Thankfully, the practice has been illegal for more than 100 years.

Seppuku or "hara-kiri" is a samurai's suicide. If the samurai were in a position to be captured, he would kneel or sit and then stick a knife or short sword into the left hand side of his stomach. Then, he would drag the blade to the right, effectively disemboweling himself. This could also be done by disgraced samurai in lieu of execution. Another version of seppuku, done similarly, is oibara. Oibara is committed when a servant's master dies. Kamikaze is similar in that it is a warrior's death, but it took place among Japanese pilots in World War II. They would drive their planes into targets, both to prevent capture and to achieve glory.

Today, suicide is still all too common in Japan. Aokigahara forest is a popular place to do it. In fact, it is second only to the Golden Gate Bridge in popularity, when it comes to offing yourself. According to some sources, an average of 30 people kill themselves in the forest every year. Some years, that number is more than one hundred. They actually need to have patrols to find the dead bodies and return them to their families. This happens once a year. Apparently, an economic recession and insufficient mental health care play a role in the alarming number of annual suicides in Japan, which, we agree, is not bizarre at all, just sad.

Bizarre Facts: A Children's Poetry Writer is a Bad*ss Song Writer

Johnny Cash was the king of cool with his dark clothing, devil may care look and every man's sound. His music career spanned decades and his music is still popular today, after his death. His songs have themes of jail time, drug use, love, rock n' roll and hard times. He was the bad boy's (and bad girl's) answer to the wholesome Elvis Presley. Sure, Elvis Presley gyrated, but his lyrics were Bible verses compared to Cash's lyrics.

It seems bizarre then that one of Johnny Cash's songs was written by a man who is also popular for such lines as, "And it gives me a scare, to know he's in there, that Polary bear, in our Frigidaire." That's right. The man who brought us "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and "A Light in the Attic" is the very same man who brought us Johnny Cash's humorous and rough song "A Boy Named Sue." That man is Shel Silverstein.

"A Boy Named Sue" is a song about a boy whose father left him when he was a baby. The one thing his father ever did for him was to name him Sue. Well, Sue grew up being picked on so he started getting mean. When he got older, he decided to hunt for his Dad and kill him. When he finds him and the two fight, his father reveals the reason he named him Sue -- so he would grow up tough. Sue sees his father's point and thus the song ends. It has a funny twist like one would expect from Silverstein, but it also has the grit and barroom etiquette that one would expect from Johnny Cash.

If you take the time to get to know all of Silverstein's work, his contribution to the career of the Man in Black is not surprising. He was not just a children's poetry writer. He wrote a number of songs and was even a singer in his own right. However, at first glance, the scenario is as bizarre as can be. It's kind of like finding out one of the writers of Nickelodeon's "Eureka's Castle" was a 60's folk singer who was most definitely on drugs when she recorded her music. That is true, by the way. Those whacky artists.

Not as Bizarre as You Might Think: Self-Experimentation

Self-experimentation is the act of testing out an idea, substance or action on oneself, instead of using a test subject. The very phrase conjures up images of mad scientists conducting dangerous experiments on themselves, either in the name of science or in the name of gaining some super power. This connection largely stems from such literature as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Green Goblin comics and The Invisible Man. In all of these stories, the situation went horribly wrong. In reality, self-experimentation tends to be less dangerous than all of that and has actually led to some great discoveries. That is not to say that it is without its dangers, but it is far less bizarre than our imaginations would tell us.

Something about self-experimentation that you probably don't think about when you hear the phrase is that most of us have done it. The whole concept is wondering if something works and then testing it on yourself. Something as simple as switching shampoos regularly to see if your hair feels better when you don't use the same product all the time is a self-experiment. Of course, these are scientific experiments in the loosest sense of the term, but it is the same concept. That's really not all that bizarre.

As for actual scientists, whether mad or not, there have been relatively few instances where self-experimentation has gone horribly awry. Carl Scheele -- a chemist -- died from ingesting his concoctions. The cause of death is presumed to be mercury poisoning. Another self-experimenter won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. None has gotten superhuman powers from their experiments, which is a bummer. Many self-experiments don't even involve ingesting things -- though some have discovered psychedelic drugs that way. Some psychologists purposely mess with themselves just to see what will happen. Thankfully, that helps the rest of us crazies when we need help. Therefore, let's take self-experimentation off our list of bizarre things and leave room for all the truly bizarre things out there, like poisonous grenade throwing trees.

Bizarre Videos: Spike and Mike's Don't Have a Cow Man

When it comes to Bizarre Videos, no one gets weirder than Spike & Mike. In fact, some of their work is unbearable to watch. The following is one of their tame, though tasteless videos. It is a good example of how bizarre this animation really is. However, if you decide to delve further into the world of twisted cartoons, don't say I didn't warn you.

Bizarre Fact: You Can Get Two Legs Chopped Off for the Price of One

The day one needs a limb removed from their body is presumably a very bad day. Not much else could make it worse. Sure, surgery complications, infection or anesthesia are all concerns. However, it is not as if that is much worse than having your leg or arm chopped off. Oh, but it can get worse. What if you wake up and the wrong leg is gone or both of them are gone instead of one?

Nearly three and a half of every leg amputation will involve the wrong leg. Yep, you heard that right. At least three out of every million people who have had a leg removed have had to have both legs removed due to surgical error. You could wake up in the recovery room, only to realize that you have to go through yet another amputation or that you got one more than you expected.

There is a lot of discussion on how this is a really low number. Sure, it is a really low number if we are talking about something silly like three in one million amputees get hives after surgery. We're talking about whole healthy limbs being chopped off by negligent doctors! Yeah, three in a million is three in a million too many.

Bizarre Fact: Spine Misalignment Can Reduce Strength

The spine is the center of all our motions. Spinal injuries can make it difficult to move parts or all of our bodies. There are nerves there that can create pain in the spine area as well as areas far removed from the spine. The spine is more than just a series of vertebrate. It is a complicated body part that makes life livable for human beings. This is common knowledge, but did you know that setting your spine off kilter, without even injuring it, can make your arms weaker?

Do this experiment. Stand with both feet flat on the floor and your arms extended to the sides. Have a friend push down on one or both of your arms. Resist this pushing. You should be able to give a fair bit of resistance. Even if you cannot, it is about to get worse. Place a thick object, such as a phone book or other thick book under one foot. Stand with weight on both feet and your arms extended to the sides. Now, have your friend push down on one or both of your arms again while you resist. You may still be able to resist, but your ability to do so should decrease significantly. Once you are standing with both feet flat on the floor again, your strength will return.

Why does this experiment work? Well, the general consensus is that standing with one foot higher than the other sets your spine out of its normal position. Your brain gets the message that your spine is compromised and puts all its resources into making sure it isn't injured. This means less strength in your arms. Your brain knows to do this without you telling it to. Pretty neat, right? Well, that may not be the best or most in-depth description of the mechanisms behind spinal misalignment, but I'm not expert. I just know the kids think it is amazing. I do too, to be honest.

Bizarre Plants: The Sandbox Tree

When it comes to bizarre plants, the sandbox tree tops the list. It is dangerous. It is creepy looking. Best of all, it has its own arsenal of exploding projectiles. Luckily, it only exists in tropical areas where only the most audacious, or misinformed, dare to tread. It is native to tropical regions in the Americas, though it is also found in Australia and Africa, because people there are just daring enough to introduce this plant into their countries.

Sandbox trees can grow to be more than 100 feet tall. Their bark is smooth, but the lengths of these trees are covered in sharp spikes that prevent animals from climbing up. Another defense they have against curious animals is a creamy juice that seeps out of the trees. Some natives make poison darts and hunt fish with this toxic juice. The sap is an ingredient in the hallucinogen Ayahuasca. Just touching these trees or chopping them down can cause severe skin and eye irritation.

The seeds and seed pods of the sandbox tree are the most dangerous aspects of it. The seed pods are shaped like pumpkins. When they fully mature, the pods explode, splitting along the pumpkin like grooves. The outside becomes shrapnel and the inner seeds shoot out into the forest. The explosive force is actually enough to cause injury to anyone unlucky enough to be standing nearby.

As if the seed grenades were not enough, the sandbox tree's seeds taste good and that is bad. Eating a portion of one of these seeds is enough to cause vomiting and they are laxatives as well. Imagine following ex-lax with ipecac. Eating two or more of these seeds can lead to far worse consequences. You can become delusional while you crap and vomit all over the place. You may even start convulsing and die. Talk about defenses, the sandbox tree is the Fort Knox of the botanical world.


A Tree With Exploding Seed Pods, retrieved 7/17/11,

Hura Crepitans: Sandbox Tree, retrieved 7/17/11,

Bizarre Hoaxes: The Amityville Horror

The Amityville house haunting is a multifaceted hoax involving both facts and fiction. The facts themselves are horrific enough. The hoax that followed capitalized on that horror. That in itself is not bizarre. It is a common enough occurrence, as disgusting as that may be. What is bizarre is that people continue to believe the hoax to this day, largely due to the novels and films that have come out of the story. That, and the fact that the confession of this hoax goes ignored by horror and film fanatics, not to mention those who are still capitalizing on it.

The story behind the Amityville house-haunting hoax began in November of 1974. One evening in November of that a year, a man called the local police and told them that he was inside 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. He said that four people had been shot. He had been led to the house by a young man who entered a local bar and said, "His mother and father are shot," in the words of the caller. That young man was Ronald DeFeo, Jr. or "Butch."

The caller was wrong; there were six people dead inside the house. Every member of Butch's family was dead. His mother and father were shot dead in bed, as were his two younger brothers, aged 9 and 12 and his two sisters, aged 13 and 18. The murders had occurred around 3 a.m. that morning, more than 12 hours earlier. Butch went to work that morning, visited with friends and eventually went home. All the while, he made a show of calling home and receiving no answer. As it turned out, he knew damn well why he was not getting an answer. He had gone from room to room in his family home, shooting his entire family while they slept. How the whole family slept through the shootings is still a mystery. Butch used no suppressor.

The house at 112 Ocean Avenue lay empty through Butch's questioning. He was originally not a suspect. He simply talked so much that he implicated himself and eventually admitted to the murders. Eventually, it became clear that no DeFeo's were returning to the house. The house was sold to the Lutz family about a year after the murders. They later claimed that they were terrorized in the house for nearly a month. Demonic entities, unseen forces breaking doors, oozing slime, swarms of insects, cold spots, etc., you name it, they claimed it happened in 112 Ocean Avenue. They collaborated with a writer who told their story in "The Amityville Horror."

In later years, it became clear that some of what they said made no sense. A priest -- Father Pecoraro -- whom they said blessed the house, but was forced out by a demonic voice, said that he saw and heard nothing unusual at the home. The nail in the horror hoax's coffin came when Butch DeFeo's lawyer came out and said that he and the Lutzes concocted the story together. For the Lutzes, it was a way to make money, and make money they did. For William Weber -- the lawyer -- it was a means of getting a retrial for Butch. Butch is still in prison.

Next time you watch an Amityville movie or read an Amityville horror story, don't add to the bizarre factor of this story. Instead, think about how much better the words "based on a true story" sound than "based on a made up story."

Bizarre Crimes: Craigslist Diaper Man Gets His Diaper Changed

Man in diaper by ShinyFan
When it comes to bizarre, criminals are at the top of the heap. Some of them do the oddest things to get what they want and let's face it, what some of them want is bizarre in and of itself. Obviously demented and violent crimes aside, because That is Bizarre would turn into a crime site if we included the multitude of abhorrent crimes that humans have committed, there are some crimes that make you want to chuckle in a "What the hell is wrong with the world?" sort of way. The following crime is just such a crime. One can only guess the intention and feel relieved at the outcome.

One day in New Hampshire, a presumably helpful and kind nurse was looking for a job on Craigslist when she came across one that looked promising. The ad was from an elderly man who said he needed someone to take care of his son. His son was an adult who had been in a car crash. He needed too much care for the elderly man to handle. This kind nurse thought the job was right up her alley.

The nurse arrived at the home for an interview, only to find the man who had taken out the ad was not there. Someone else was, though -- a 23-year-old man whose diaper needed changing. Rather than leave him sitting there, she changed his diaper for him and left without an interview or meeting the man who had taken out the ad. She thought for sure that she would get a return phone call. One would think that her show of compassion was enough to get her the job. However, no one called and she started to feel weird about the situation, so she called the police.

The police went to the Craigslist diaper man's house only to find a perfectly healthy 23-year-old named Eric Carrier. Eric, for reasons one can only guess, had put out the ad himself, donned a diaper, soiled it and waited for a nice female nurse to come along and wipe his bum. Now that is one bizarre fetish and one inventive way to cater to it.

In an odd way, the story is rather funny. The problem is that the outcome could have been very different. Eric had that woman at his mercy. Her guard was down because she thought she was working with an invalid. We can chuckle because of how it turned out, but he really did abuse her kind nature and it could have turned out much worse. It really makes you think twice about doing anything kind for strangers. Then again, who among us would change the diaper of a total stranger we met on Craigslist? Perhaps our kind nurse needs to watch the news more often.

Bizarre Plants: Rafflesia Arnoldii

Photo Courtesty of Henrik Hansson Globaljuggler
Rafflesia arnoldii is a parasitic plant that has the biggest flowers known to man. They can grow almost three feet across and are bright red in color. There are a few bizarre things worth discussing about these plants. The first are their huge flowers. The second is that rafflesia arnoldii smells disgusting, like rotten meat.

The flowers of rafflesia arnoldii are large, as mentioned above; they are also heavy. Some specimens weigh as much as 15 pounds. These large flowers only open occasionally. They stay open for roughly five days at a time. While successful pollination of these flowers is not common, flies are attracted to the flower for pollination, nonetheless. The rotting meat smell of the flower may be for this very purpose.

The rotting smell of these flowers might smell like food to flies. That brings them around to feed, but there is nothing in the flower to feed upon. There is only a disgusting smell coming from an otherwise beautiful flower.

Rafflesia arnoldii's live in tropical Asian rainforests. So, if you ever find yourself wandering through such a place -- highly likely, I know -- and smell rotting flesh, go toward it. Look at it this way, if it is something dead, the carnivores already have something to eat. If it is rafflesia arnoldii, you'll get a great picture. That is, if you like to bring a camera with you on your casual strolls through the rainforest.

Bizarre Events: Zombie Walks

Kids at a Zombie Walk Courtesy of Mark Marek Photography
Have you ever found walking down the street boring and wished that you could elicit a little fear everywhere you go without having to actually be dangerous? Have you ever wanted to participate in charity walks, but found the lack of blood involved disheartening? Well, That is Bizarre knows just how you can spice up your leisurely strolls or find charity entertaining. Cover yourself in gore -- fake, of course -- tear up some old clothes and wear them. Nudity is too scary for the public. Maybe blacken your teeth or make fake blood pour forth from your mouth. Next, just go for a walk.

All right, you shouldn't just dress like a zombie and walk around by yourself. It is no fun scaring small children if you don't have a posse. Besides, you are less likely to get arrested if you are part of a gang of harmless zombies. If you're alone, you just look like a nutcase. These groups are called zombie walks. These people go around Dawn of the Dead style through the streets reminding us why zombie flicks are almost never frightening. The best part is, sometimes this is done for charity. Want to raise money for sick children while scaring healthy ones? Zombie walks are the thing for you.

Yes, zombie walks are bizarre and possibly a little nerdy, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. However, if you are going to do a zombie walk, make sure you are following the local laws and don't give people heart attacks. If someone looks genuinely frightened, don't lick your lips and run toward them. Fear can be dangerous and you don't want to be sued or hurt anyone, especially in the name of charity. It is a little counterproductive.

Bizarre Videos: Ferrofluid in Action

Ferrofluid is fluid that becomes magnetized when it is near magnetic fields. Because of this, the liquid is able to be sculpted, in a manner of speaking. Learn more about ferrofluid here. Watch it in action in the video below.

Bizarre Places: Hotel Kakslauttanen in Finland

Aurora Borealis Over Bear Lake.
Hotel Kakslauttanen is located in Finland. Oh, it also in the Arctic Circle. Why is it in the Arctic Circle? Well, so guests can see the aurora borealis, of course.

The Hotel Kakslauttanen, apart from being very difficult to pronounce, has some bizarre features for its guests. It is home to an ice bar, an ice chapel and a snow restaurant. The former two are built every winter for guests, perhaps even the latter as well. Their website is not clear on this. It also has log cabins, husky "safaris," - as if anything in the Arctic Circle should rightfully be called a safari - and ice fishing. All of this sounds like some rather chilly winter fun, but it is not too bizarre. The most bizarre thing is one of the options guests have for rooms.

There is an area of the Kakslauttanen called the "Igloo Village." The Igloo Village is home to some traditional igloos, icy snow on the outside and warm on the inside. It is also home to some seriously revealing igloos that, while allowing you a look at the northern lights from the comfort of your room, allow you to see out and other guests and random wildlife to see in. These igloos are made entirely of glass. It is not as if they are far from one another, either. Sure, it is cool to lie in bed and watch the aurora borealis I bet. It is probably not very cool to have a Yeti staring in at you. (Yes, I am aware that Yetis live in the Himalayas. Just picture it anyway.) The one redeeming feature is that it is probably too freaking freezing for anyone to bother spying on you.

Bizarre Books: Gadsby by Ernest Vincent Wright

Wright had to tie down the e on his typewriter.
In 1939, a man named Ernest Vincent Wright published a more than 50,000 word novel. He called the novel Gadsby. There is nothing bizarre about a man publishing a 50,000-word novel or even doing it in 1939, when there were arguably more pressing matters in the world. What is bizarre about Wright's novel is that the whole thing is devoid of the letter 'e.' Of course, one could argue that there are es on the cover of the novel, but that would be downplaying the massive, bizarre achievement behind that cover.

The novel is a narrative about a man named John Gadsby who is intent on reaching the youth of his hometown and helping them make a difference. It is a full novel with developed characters, plot and setting. There is a beginning, middle, climax and end. The only thing it is lacking is the letter e.

Writers have all kinds of tools for disciplining themselves in their writing. This may be one of the most bizarre, but it very likely taught Mr. Wright a lot about the nuances of language and the importance of certain letters. Of course, it may also have taught him that no letter is important. The English language, after all, has several words for every thing expressed by language. All he had to do was pick the ones that did not have es. I make it sound easy, right? You try it.

5 Random Bizarre Facts

Dollar bills have hidden meaning and drugs.
History is filled with random bizarre facts, so instead of focusing on one fact for this article, we're going to cram five random facts into it. Everything from historical people to the bad habits people have with money is fodder for That is Bizarre. As long as people keep acting stupid and random stuff keeps happening, there will be plenty more of these facts articles to come.

Bizarre Fact #1: A Random Revolutionary Death

James Otis is arguably the man who popularized the idea of no taxation without representation in the years leading up the American Revolution. It was not necessarily his brainchild, but a speech he gave in a court case pointing out the unethical and unlawful use of Writs of Assistance put it in the forefront of the minds of his contemporaries.

After he gave that speech, James Otis started to get a little batty. This was made worse after he was beaten for his rebellious writings. He was forced to live under the care of his sister as a helpless insane person. However, this did not stop him from sneaking out of her house, stealing a rifle and walking to fight in the Battle of Bunker Hill. He survived the battle and walked home. In 1783, he was struck by lightning whilst standing in the doorway of a friend's house in Andover, Massachusetts.

Bizarre Fact #2: Hitler Was Time Magazine's Man of the Year in 1938

Most people regard Time Magazine's Man of the Year (now Person of the Year) as an honor bestowed on heroes, particularly of the United States. These people typically have positive motivations, achievements and have done some good in this world. Such is not the case with the Man of the Year of 1938. The magazine chose rising dictator - the Fuhrer, as he was known then - Adolf Hitler.

Today, we would be shocked to see such a man's face on the cover of Time Magazine in what should be a place of honor, with an article that is decidedly ambiguous when it comes to the evil he was obviously capable of. At the time, he was not the virtually universally hated man that he is today. However, that is most likely not the real reason the article was ambiguous. We know that Adolph Hitler was an imposing figure of the time and the magazine was right in predicting that he would make "1939 a year to be remembered." They were wrong in their ambiguity, as nearly the whole of the United States was. He was a tyrant and monster, but the U.S. did not want to be involved. His bad habits, if they could be called such, were a taboo topic at the time. He was not painted in a good light by Time, but they weren't being completely honest, either.

Bizarre Fact #3: For Roughly 20 Years, Ivy League Students Were Made to Pose Nude for Photos upon Entering College

This one is a mystery. There are claims that the reason for this bizarre fact was that the schools were testing posture between the 40s and the 60s. That is kind of an odd excuse when you know what was in the pictures. Allow us to elaborate.

These photos, some which contain presidents, other political figures and famous people were of students completely nude. The only other noticeable thing about these photos is that the people pictured in them had pins sticking out of their backs, apparently to take note of their posture. The problem is, there are no pins from the waist down and they are not wearing underwear. Why the hell would they need to be nude for these photos? No straightforward answer has been forthcoming.

The first of these mysterious photos found after the fact were burned to protect the privacy of those involved. However, there were several Ivy League schools involved, meaning more photos. Who knows how many are out there from Harvard, Yale and others? It is embarrassing to think there could be nude pictures of U.S. Presidents out there, with pins sticking out of their backs, being forced by the very schools that molded them into presidents to stand thus while their pictures were taken.

Bizarre Fact #4: Hoarding Can Kill You

The Collyer brothers were hoarders who lived together in a mansion filled with what we would call junk. Both Homer and Langley Collyer were shut ins. They lived in New York together in their mansion, which eventually had no heat, no running water and boarded windows. Homer went blind over time and Langley took care of him.

These were no run of the mill hoarders, though. At least, Langley was not. Langley collected all of the junk in the house to keep other people out. He formed it into a maze that only he could navigate. Homer didn't need to, as Langley took care of him. He booby trapped it, making it so that no one could interfere with his quiet home life. However, it backfired on him. Homer was found starved to death in the mansion on March 21, 1947. The police had to find Langley, but first they had to remove a reported 19 tons of trash from the front hallway of the mansion. Among the trash in the mansion were such fine items as silk and 14 pianos. Nineteen days and more than 100 tons of trash later, Langley was found under a pile of debris after the odd combination of jackets, a burlap sack and other miscellaneous items he was wearing caught on one of his booby traps. He had died from either suffocation or the impact of the junk. He was spared that slow death that killed Homer.

Bizarre Fact #5: There is a lot of Cocaine Use in the United States

This fact is short and simple. A study showed that there are traces of cocaine on 90% of the United States' paper money. This most likely comes from people who have cocaine on their hands and handle money and from people using the bills to snort the illegal drug. Think twice about putting your hands near your mouth after touching money.

Well, we have learned not to let crazy men stand in doorways, that even bad men make good press, that you should not let your college make you pose nude, no matter how ivy their league is, that you shouldn't booby trap your own house and that you have probably touched cocaine, whether you like it or not. Oh, and for those of you who like it, you will not get high from sniffing at your money, so don't try it. It is also illegal to destroy currency, in some cases, so don't do that trying to get at the drug, either. In fact, it is best if you stop using cocaine so the rest of us don't have to hand our children drug-laced milk money.

The Longest and Most Bizarre Diary in the World

Robert Shields wrote his diary on several typewriters.

Robert Shields is the author of what is assumed to be the world's longest diary. It may also have the most words with an estimated 37 million of them. He kept this diary for roughly 25 years, writing in it every five minutes. There is nothing bizarre about the fact that this man kept a diary, though his diligence was rather strange. There is also nothing seedy, lurid or horrible in the diary. However, the contents of the diary are what make this diary so bizarre.

Every five minutes, for 25 years, Robert Shields wrote down everything he did, seriously, everything. He wrote about his shopping, his mail, his health and even about using the toilet. He kept track of his temperature, his blood pressure and even taped such strange things as nose hair into the diary. Slowly, but surely, his diary became what is very probably a very boring, very long tome. He thought, perhaps narcissistically, that his diary would somehow be useful to scientists. More on that in a minute.

Robert Shields started his diary in 1972. Ten years before his death in October of 2007, he was forced to stop by a stroke. For a while, he convinced his long-suffering wife to continue the odd habit for him. She kindly complied, but tired of it quickly. Spouses get enough of their significant others without having to write about them every five minutes. Seriously, imagine that you have to write about what your spouse is doing every five minutes. That is enough to ruin your marriage. It is bad enough having to watch someone do mundane things without having it then dictated to you while you write it down. Can you say purgatory?

So, back to the nose hair science. A few years before he died, Robert Shields donated his diary to the University of Washington. For some reason, they took it. However, there was a stipulation. The diary cannot be read or the words within counted for 50 years. He commented at one point that scientists in the future may want to do DNA tests on his nose hair. Washington University has received requests from scientists all over the world to be the first to test the nose hair, in case it reveals something about humans that was heretofore unknown. All right, that last bit was sarcasm.

Bizarre Video: Defies Explanation

This is That is Bizarre's first bizarre video. You will be happy to know that it is not in English. All right, maybe you won't be happy, because if you can read this, you speak English. I have no idea what language is being spoken in this video. Yes, I realize I could easily find out, but what is the fun in that? Besides, the bizarreness of this video transcends language. At one point, I am pretty sure a carton person is beating up a bowl of cereal. If you have any interpretations of just what is going on in this bizarre video, please tell me in the comments. Enjoy.

Bizarre Creatures: Hairy Frogs

By Gustavocarra
Hairy frogs, also known as "horror frogs" are African frogs that possess two very bizarre physical attributes. Nearly every member of the frog genus Astylosternus possesses these bizarre features. Science has yet to explain either of them fully.

Male hairy frogs produce strange masses of arteries and skin when they are breeding. These snarls of gross yuck appear on external parts of their bodies and look like hair. They seem to have some connection with the biological function of breeding. However, it is uncertain what that connection is. Scientists who study hairy frogs have postulated that they may be mechanisms to increase oxygen intake during breeding time. It may also be to help them breathe underwater.

The second bizarre attribute of hairy frogs is what got them the epithet "horror frogs." These frogs have claws on their back feet that look like cat claws. However, it appears that they are very different. When the frog has need of these claws, bones break and release the claws, which puncture the skin on their way out. Furthermore, they are purely bone, which cat claws are not.

Unfortunately, at this time, frogs are going through mass extinctions. Thus far, no one has come up with a plan to stop it or even a reason that it is happening on such a large scale. If we want to study hairy frogs further to find out why they have these strange features, we have to protect them. Just how we are going to do that is anyone's guess.


"Horror Frog" Breaks Own Bones to Produce Claws, retrieved 5/23/11,

The Jedi Census Phenomenon

In 2001, a strange, rebellious movement began via email. People were encouraged to put "Jedi" on their census forms under religion. Most of these emails claimed that a certain number of people writing Jedi on their census forms would make Jediism an official religion. This is only partially true. It does not make it an official religion according to the government. It simply means that the census bureaus in country's where this would take place would be forced to allow Jedi as an option or find some other way of classifying these people. As it turned out, it worked and census bureaus had to figure out the problem.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.K., Scotland, Canada, Australia and New Zealand marked themselves down as Jedi. Jedi had the fourth largest number of followers according to the census in the United Kingdom. Just why so many people marked their religion down as such is not entirely clear. It may have been in protest to the census itself or in protest to having to mark down a religion. To some, it may have just been a joke. Whatever it was, it has made an impact on census' in English-speaking countries ever since.


Jedi Makes the Census List,

Bizarre Sounds: The Taos Hum

Imagine if you woke up one day and there was a distracting background humming noise invading your ears. Imagine that only you, or a select few, can hear it. Imagine that doctors can find no problem with your hearing or ears. That is what people who can hear the so-called Taos Hum have to deal with. They hear a sound that can interfere with their lives, making it difficult to sleep and think. The worst part is that no one knows where the sound is coming from or how to stop it.

The Taos Hum is named after Taos, New Mexico. Some people there can hear the noise, but it is not relegated to Taos alone. In fact, there are numerous places around the world where the noise plagues a select few people who can hear it. While the noise can come and go, it is relentless when it is affecting "hearers."

The sound of the Taos Hum has been described as the far away sound of a diesel engine. People who have lived near a highway know that this sound may seem distant enough to be ignored, but that is not the case when you are trying to sleep or concentrate. Imagine doing your taxes with the sound of diesel engines in the background.

While it is generally accepted that the Taos Hum is not caused by mass hysteria, it goes unrecorded and unexplained. People who hear the noise do not hear it everywhere. They hear it in the area where they live and in outlying areas. It gets worse when they are indoors or in a vehicle. There is not much research on people passing through hum areas, but it is possible that some sensitive people pick it up on their travels. Hopefully, these people will lend insight into whether it is best for people who suffer from the Taos Hum simply to move to another area.