Believe It Or Not
DECEMBER will see the centenary of Ripley's Believe It Or Not - that collection of oddities and freakiness worldwide that made its debut as a newspaper cartoon but has since featured in books, TV shows and "odditoriums" in various places.
To mark the centenary another book, A Century of Strange, is to be launched next week, featuring freaky photos and bizarre facts about the strangest people, animals and other oddities.
Huffington Post has been given a glimpse of the book's contents. They include:
· Ashley Glawe, of Portland, Oregon, had a decorative hole gouged in her earlobe. This attracted the attention of her pet snake, Bart, who tried to slither through but got stuck halfway. Doctors had to numb her ear and stretch it to allow Bart to wiggle free.
· Steven Warden, a hair salon owner in Cambridge, Ohio, has been gluing hair from clients into a giant ball. The ball has hit 44kg and keeps growing.
· The head of a serial killer preserved in a jar. In 1841 Portugal executed its very first serial killer, Diogo Alves, who killed about 70 people in a three-year period. After Alves' execution, his head was preserved in a jar. It's currently on display at the University of Lisbon's Faculty of Medicine.
· A dish of fruit bat stew. Bats are considered a delicacy in various Asian and Pacific Rim countries, but gourmets in Palau, Micronesia, prefer to serve them whole in a steaming bowl of broth.
· An ET Honey Bun. Danielle York, of Manchester, New Hampshire, had a sweet encounter with internet fame when she bought a Walmart honey bun that looked eerily like ET, the extraterrestial.
· The Spaghetti Doughnut. A Brooklyn restaurant serves savoury doughnuts made from spaghetti. Based on a traditional Neapolitan recipe called frittata di spaghetti, or spaghetti pie, you can get them in flavours ranging from red sauce to carbonara, zucchini and Bolognese.
· 3-D Graffiti. Portuguese artist Sergio Odeith paints optical illusions on different surfaces, including 90-degree corners.
· A two-headed shark foetus. This was discovered off the Florida Keys and later sold for $10 600 (R150 000) in an e-Bay auction.
o A face-hugging Bat Fly. This was discovered by researchers in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park. The fly feeds on the blood of bats.
· A Sun Artist. Colorado artist Michael Papadakis uses mirrors and magnifying glasses as paintbrushes to burn drawings onto wooden canvases. This art form is called heliography, and the images he creates range from romantic scenes on fence posts to landscapes of city skylines.
· A mutant dancer. Los Angeles-based dancer Solto Esengulov morphs his body in ways that seem impossible. Some of his moves include flipping onto the top of his head, bulging his shoulder blades out of his back, and displacing his abdomen while seemingly moving his rib cage up and down.
That last entry- the mutant dancer – seems very much like the late-night party trick performed on the bar counter by one of the damsels of the Street Shelter for the Over-Forties, here in Durban. Except it's not her shoulder blades that bulge. The rib cage moving up and down is nothing short of sensational.
The pickled head of the serial killer is certainly unusual. But otherwise, you might be saying, it's a bit tame. Fruit bat stew? A honey bun that looks like ET?
But this was just a taster. The shocking, scary stuff is still to come. I have it on good authority that agents for Ripley's Believe It Or Not have been very active in these parts over the past year or so, recording details of the Gupta saga, Ethekwini Council, the prosecution rate for corruption and all the rest.
My sources tell me A Century of Strange will be a sensation that leap-frogs us over the White House and Downing Street for top place in Believe It Or Not. We're on our way back!
An Englishman, an Irishman, a Scotsman, a priest, a nun, a rabbi, a Pole and Van der Merwe walk into a bar.
Barman: "What's this? Some kind of joke?"
I LOVE such mirth as does not make friends ashamed to look on one another next morning. – Izaak Walton