Category Archives: Weird things

Strange things in the news part 9: deadman’s pacemaker kickstarts him back to life

Here are a few wacky thing I stumbled across recently:

A funeral home in Mississippi were preparing to embalm a man when he kicked his way out of a body bag. The local coroner suspects that the man’s pacemaker may have stopped, then started working again by itself.

A woman on a tourist bus in Iceland ended up in a search party looking for herself for three hours, before she realised she was the one they were looking for. She’d gone to the bathroom at a tourist spot and changed her clothes.  The other passengers didn’t recognise her in her new clothes and started a search for her.

A Japanese man was so drunk that he fell under a train, which cut his leg off. He was so drunk he slept through it.

And an American evangelical preacher has called for comedian Bill Maher to be flogged for blasphemy.

Ever wondered how  Cosmo magazine  gets around censorship in Middle east? Answer: it’s not easy, but it’s funny. More here .

An American sociology professor has been surveying his students for twenty-five years on whether they have a close friend of the opposite sex. Twenty five years ago it was one in ten, Today almost all have. That might not be funny, but I think it represents a change for the better.

And finally, an American student in Germany had to be freed by the fire brigade after getting himself stuck in a statue of a vagina.

So have you seen anything weird on the news lately? If so fell free to add a note or a link.

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Yossarian slept here: when your father betrays you

Catch-22, original book cover, from Wikimedia
Catch-22, original book cover, from Wikimedia

Would you feel betrayed by this? Imagine that your father, a famous author, wrote a novel that was clearly based directly on your own family, that it was negative in tone, that it described all his dissatisfaction with his wife, and that he included slabs of conversation that you (the daughter) actually had with your father.

That’s what Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22, did in his novel Something Happened. Heller worked on the novel for 13 years. When his daughter read the proof, she was shocked.  In the book, the writer talks about his unnamed family members, recounting their faults, and how unhappy he was with them all. He talks about his efforts to intellectually out-fox his daughter. One chapter was entitled, ‘My Daughter is Unhappy’. His daughter, Erica asks, “was this a statement or a goal?”  When she asks him why he’s done this, he replies, “What makes you think you’re interesting enough to write about?” What more devastating retort could a father make to his daughter?

In addition, Heller had an affair, which involved flying his lover in the same plane as he and his wife when they went to speaking engagements, and booking the lover into the same hotels. Yes, that’s right- he was carrying on with the lover under the same roof as his wife. When his wife Shirley employed a private detective agency and confronted him with documentary evidence such as credit card bills and photographs, he denied it, and told the rest of his family that Shirley was going crazy and needed a psychiatrist. When Heller was in hospital, Erica walked in on the lover at her father’s bed. Heller calmly introduced them. (The daughter by this time already knew the lover’s name and what she looked like.) After that, Heller reverted to denying the person ever existed. This is strange behavior indeed.

The book gives an insight into what Heller was like as a person, and the answer is, ‘not very  nice, really.’ Still, the book is an insight into one of the twentieth century’s best-known writers. It’s well worth reading. Just be prepared to have some illusions shattered. Geniuses can be petulant, vicious and vindictive in their family affairs.

On another note , my novel, Fire Damage, a terrorism thriller, is now available as a paperback, here. It’s also available as a Kindle on Amazon US and UK. It’s based on the real-life Japanese religious cult, Aum Shinrikyo, which released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway system. 

The world is getting stranger: that piranha ate my kid’s finger!

Here’s a collection of strange things I’ve come across recently.

A family in Chicago thought their pit-bull had eaten one of their daughter’s finger. When the doctors said it wasn’t a dog injury, the father went home, gutted one of the family’s two piranhas and found the finger. Seriously? They have a toddler and a pit-bull and two piranhas?

In Britain, a team at Bristol University  has developed  a chewing gum called Rev7. It’s water soluble and  won’t stick to footpaths (sidewalks).  London Mayor Boris Johnston is strongly in favor. He’s tired of the cost of cleaning gum and other “adhesive” objects off the  streets.

Motorist Flora Burkhart  has been charged in Van Buren, Arkansas, for rear-ending another vehicle and then fleeing the scene of the collision because she didn’t want her ice-cream to melt.

Two cops in New Mexico, Ernest Armijio and Brian Bernal,  aren’t allowed to carry guns  because of their law-breaking history. One because of a dispute over child support arrears, and the other because of domestic violence.

Some things in life are too quaint for words. I learned this week that Britain has a public office called  “Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary”. What does it do? Conducts reviews of how well the regional police forces in England and Wales are doing their jobs. But it’s a cute title, isn’t it?

Recently, I came across the Finnish and Russian habit of swimming in frozen, or near-frozen rivers and lakes.   Apparently they punch a hole in the ice and jump in, often wearing ordinary swimwear rather than wetsuits.  How do you stop the ice freezing up again on you? Keep a pump in the water to keep it circulating.

So would anyone else care to contribute  anything odd you’ve come across in papers, on the net, or seen personally? The stranger the better!

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My novel ‘Fire Damage,’ an action thriller, is available on Amazon Kindle, at:
The novel is based on the Japanese religious cult Aum Shinrikyo, which released Sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway system in the 1990s.
If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the app to read it on your computer or phone from here:

Star Wars Monopoly: yes, grown-ups play it!

I have just returned from a meeting of the Melbourne Science Fiction Club, (the oldest science fiction club in the Southern Hemisphere) where the club had a “board games” night. I ended up on a table playing – you guessed it – Star Wars Monopoly.

Princess Leia

Star Wars Monopoly is much like real Monopoly. Instead of Park Lane and various locations around London, you buy properties from the Star Wars films. You can have Tatooine, Endor, or the Imperial Palace. Instead of houses, you buy little replicas of the Millennium Falcon to put on your properties and collect more rent. And yes, these were adults I was playing with.  The characters you move around the board can include Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and R2D2. I just had a crummy old Imperial Storm Trooper. I haven’t played Monopoly for 40 years, but soon remembered you have to keep a balance between buying properties and having enough cash on hand to pay the rent when you land on someone else’s properties. You can be asset rich but cash poor, and that’s not a good position to be in. I noticed that it’s “go to jail”, not “go to gaol”, and I wondered: did the original Monopoly have British or American spellings?

On another table, people were playing chess with Star Wars figures. The King was the Emperor, and Darth Vader was the Queen. That took some figuring out. Why wouldn’t Leia be the queen? I also noticed that one of my fellow players had a “Lord of the Rings” wedding ring. He had the elvish inscription about “one ring to bind them all” engraved on his band.

It was an odd night, and bought back childhood memories of playing with another family in my neighbourhood. My friend’s little brother got very upset  when he discovered  that someone had given him three tens for a fifty because he was too young to read the numbers and do the arithmetic. When he complained to his mother, she ordered the game closed down and everyone was sent home.

So what about you? Have you  ever played  a grown-up kids game? What was it ? What memories did it bring back?.

The world is getting stranger – marijuana from a vending machine.

Well, according to news items, a club in New Zealand  has a vending machine that dispenses 1 gram bags of marijuana for NZ$20 (about US$15) for “medicinal” purposes. The club is owned by the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Normal).

Cannabis Skunk Plant

Photo from http://www.cannabis-pictures.com

This no doubt poses the police with a dilemma. Who could they charge with selling the drug? To know this, I’d guess they have to know who stocked the machine, and who collected the cash. If these activities are done when the club is closed, and the police can’t see, who do they charge? Police in the town  of Waitemata are said to be “monitoring the situation.” (New Zealand, town names are often hard for non-Kiwis to pronounce, but I’m guessing this is pronounced Why tay-mah-ta). The club founder, Dakta Green, wants to open “Daktories” in every town in the country. (Think about that for a second. His name is  Dakta??? What the hell were his parents thinking??

It opens up all sorts of other possibilities. New Zealand has recently had some devastating earthquakes and a tornado. Imagine some residents of country towns  sitting through the next cyclone, staring into space and giggling, as the sheet metal and glass shards fly around their heads. Earthquakes and tornadoes are terrifying things. I hope that doesn’t happen.

Why not introduce them onto Australian beaches? “Shark alert? What Shark? No worries mate. She’ll be right.” Instead of “Throw another shrimp on the barby,” it would  be “have another joint, cobber.” Or up in Northern Australia where fresh water crocodiles have a habit of eating tourists who ignore the “don’t swim here” signs, it might produce some even greater effects. Does a crock who ingests a stoned tourist get any of the relaxation benefits of the dope from the tourist? After all, you are what you eat.

Or what about American schools where guards use metal detectors  and search students for guns as they go into schools. Trade in your gun for some dope. Get another gram before Math class.

Maybe they should have tried this before those republican nomination debates that began last year. Michelle Bachman and Mitt Rommney with a couple of grams each in them?

“Yeah, No worries. You’d make a great president , Michelle.”

“You too Mitt.”

“Newt, wanna be my Vice President?”

“No sweat, as long as we get one of those vending machines into the White House. Foreign Policy is a real drag. It would be a lot nicer of we could have a real drag as we decide it.”

The world could be a more relaxed place if every country had a “Daktory” in every town and suburb.

“You want me to stop building nuclear missiles?” says Kim Jong-Un. “Hey dude, like, give me a thousand of those pot machines and I’ll do anything you like.”