Football Team Killed by Lightning

This bizarre story is as much sad as it is strange. It comes out of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the late 1990s, like so many sad stories. However, this is not the kind of tragic tale that one would expect from a war zone, as the DRC was at the time and still is in many ways. This is about the sudden and immediate death of an entire football (soccer) team in Basanga on October 28, 1998.

The report came out of Kasasha soon after the group of 11 men in their 20s and early 30s died. There are definite missing details, but that is not surprising given the other news coming out of the area at the time. The incident took place when the now deceased team and Basanga's team got together for a game. Suddenly, lightning struck, killing the entire visiting team and burning 30 other individuals. Not a single member of the Basanga team was so much as singed.

Shrunken Heads

Authentic shrunken head MOS London
Photo in the public domain
In all of our forays into all that is bizarre, we have yet to touch on tribal, old-school oddities. In pondering this unfortunate lapse, I could think of nothing better to introduce this topic to this blog than shrunken heads. This is no legend. People can and often did shrink heads -- human heads. To be honest, I'm trying to start this off with a witty pop culture reference and am finding it tough. I'm sure I have seen them in movies, but I must have blocked it out. Beetlejuice? Indiana Jones? Ah, well. Let me know in the comments if you can think of any shrunken heads in film.

To give you an idea of what exactly a shrunken head is, apart from the obvious, I'm going to partially describe the process. You can refrain from telling me that I do not have it all quite right because I'll be darned if I'm going to write a recipe for shrinking heads. My love for the bizarre has its limits. Of course, shrinking a head involves the removal of the head. Then, the skin is taken from the head. This is what becomes the shrunken head through a process of drying and sewing a la Ed Gein. So, if you are thinking how odd it is that a skull shrinks like that, perish the thought. The skull is presumably given to the village witch doctor for use as a mortar with a femoral pestle or tossed aside like trash.

Thankfully, you do not have to worry about your head being shrunk. Well, you don't have to worry too much. It seems that the ever-frightful Amazon and the Nazi party are the only areas/groups responsible for shrinking heads in history. However, the cutting off and collecting of heads is pretty universal throughout all of the cultures in history. It's a madman thing.

If you want to see one of these macabre creations, many museums have them.

Bizarre Creatures: Haast's Eagle

In light of a new viral video that is apparently a hoax, but still very creepy, we are going to talk about a creature that is scarier than a horror movie monster. You may have seen the video of a boy nearly being carried off by a predatory bird. While it may not seem feasible, it really is. Golden eagles in particular are savage and strong, but there are few existing birds that pose a danger to very small children. However, less than a thousand years ago, New Zealand was home to a bird that would have made you poop your pants if you were unlucky enough to see it coming before it dive bombed you -- the Haast's Eagle.

The Haast's eagle was a dinosaur of a bird. It stood up to six feet and weighed about 35 pounds. You might scoff at the idea of a 35-pound predator. If you can read, you likely outweigh it. Let us not forget that this is 35 pounds of predatory bird with a sharp beach and four-inch talons. You cannot fight it. It can fly. You probably will not see it when it decides to eat you. It can dive at a speed of up to 60 miles an hour. That means you probably will not be able to fight it once it plows into you anyway. Imagine being hit by a car on the highway and then trying to fight it. Well, a car that eats people.

The Haast's Eagle had a nasty reputation as a baby snatcher. It would dive bomb Maori and make off with the smaller ones. Yes, according to their stories, which are not even as old as the Bible, people were once carried off by eagles to be eaten. Thankfully, the King Kong of birds did not know that native New Zealanders are absolutely insane. They killed off the Haast's eagle and all of its favorite flightless meals around 1400 CE.