The Weird Week in Review

One-armed Monkey Kills 80 Chickens

Li Chun, farmer in Menghai, Yunnan, China found an injured monkey and adopted it, although the monkey had to have an arm and a leg amputated. It became a household pet. Now there's the problem of "monkey see, monkey do." The monkey watched Li crack eggs, and then went to the hen house and cracked every egg it could find. It saw Li slaughter a chicken, and now the monkey has killed around 80 chickens! No word on what Li plans to do about his overly-helpful house pet.

Don't Store Your Gun in the Stove

Antoine Boutte of College Park, Georgia was in the habit of storing his gun in the bottom of his gas stove. Last Saturday, he forgot the loaded .40 caliber Smith & Wesson was there and fired up the stove to cook a meal. The gun's magazine melted in the heat, and bullets started going off like popcorn. The damage may have been confined to the stove, if no one had opened the oven door.

Boutte's friend, Christopher Henderson, opened the stove "to see what was happening," the police report said.

That's when part of a bullet casing flew out of the stove, hitting Henderson in the stomach, police said.

Henderson was taken to a hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Superheroes Need Super Support Groups

Every day, more and more people are donning costumes and roaming the streets performing acts of kindness or heroism. These real-life superheroes now have an organization to turn to when they need help. Superheroes Anonymous is there to help understand and empower superheroes. The group helps heroes find their inner powers and encourages them in their quest to make the world a better place. However, SA discourages vigilantism, and asks its members to leave crime fighting to the police. So far, Superheroes Anonymous has two chapters, in Portland and New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Not Your Everyday Money Laundering

In some places, US bank notes are considered filthy lucre. So filthy, in fact, that they have to be washed. This isn't what you normally think of when you think of money laundering; this is actual soap and water washing in Zimbabwe. Since Zimbabwe dollars are near-worthless, other currencies are used instead, and American dollars are preferred. Not only do they stay in circulation longer than in the US, they are carried in shoes and underwear, and they change hands a lot. The recommended method is hand washing, but washing machines are also used. Those who know say chemical dry cleaning will cause the ink to fade.

Spicy Curry Could Curb Methane Emissions

The problem of the methane from livestock farts and burps puts a significant amount of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Researchers at Newcastle University say that adding curry spices to livestock feed could reduce those emissions.

Research has found that coriander and turmeric - spices traditionally used to flavour curries - can reduce the amount of methane produced by sheep by up to 40 per cent.

Working a bit like an antibiotic, the spices were found to kill the methane-producing ''bad'' bacteria in the animal's gut while allowing the ''good'' bacteria to flourish.

Spices also help an animal digest its food more efficiently, which could reduce the amount of feed needed. Coriander was the most efficient spice in the experiment, followed by tumeric and then cinnamon.

Woman Celebrates 130th Birthday

Antisa Khvichava celebrated her 130th birthday yesterday in Sachire, Georgia. She worked as a tea and corn picker until she was 85 years old, then retired and now lives with her grandson, who is now 40. Khvichava's birth certificate was lost long ago, but has Soviet documents that state that she was born in 1880. Family, friends, and neighbors vouch for her age. Suspiciously, Khvichava's son is 70 years old, which would mean Khvichava was 60 years old when she gave birth to him.

Wine Vending Machines Appear in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania now has vending machines from which you can buy a bottle of wine -IF you are sober enough for an automated breath test, have a valid driver's license proving your age, and don't mind having your picture taken by a machine. If that sounds too complicated, you should know that wine vending machines are a plan to make it easier for people to buy a bottle, because of the complicated liquor laws in the state. Not everyone is convinced that the vending machines are a good idea. Some say the machines will not be effective enough in keeping underage drinkers from using them. At the same time, others say the machines will be too difficult to use. However, customers have given the machines thumbs ups in early surveys.

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Karl Walter, Getty Images
When the FBI Investigated the 'Murder' of Nine Inch Nails's Trent Reznor
Karl Walter, Getty Images
Karl Walter, Getty Images

The two people standing over the body, Michigan State Police detective Paul Wood told the Hard Copy cameras, “had a distinctive-type uniform on. As I recall: black pants, some type of leather jacket with a design on it, and one was wearing combat boots. The other was wearing what looked like patent leather shoes. So if it was a homicide, I was thinking it was possibly a gang-type homicide.”

Wood was describing a puzzling case local police, state police, and eventually the FBI had worked hard to solve for over a year. The mystery began in 1989, when farmer Robert Reed spotted a circular group of objects floating over his farm just outside of rural Burr Oak, Michigan; it turned out to be a cluster of weather balloons attached to a Super 8 camera.

When the camera landed on his property, the surprised farmer didn't develop the footage—he turned it over to the police. Some local farmers had recently gotten into trouble for letting wild marijuana grow on the edges of their properties, and Reed thought the balloons and camera were a possible surveillance technique. But no state or local jurisdictions used such rudimentary methods, so the state police in East Lansing decided to develop the film. What they saw shocked them.

A city street at night; a lifeless male body with a mysterious substance strewn across his face; two black-clad men standing over the body as the camera swirled away up into the sky, with a third individual seen at the edge of the frame running away, seemingly as fast as possible. Michigan police immediately began analyzing the footage for clues, and noticed the lights of Chicago’s elevated train system, which was over 100 miles away.

It was the first clue in what would become a year-long investigation into what they believed was either a cult killing or gang murder. When they solved the “crime” of what they believed was a real-life snuff film, they were more shocked than when the investigation began: The footage was from the music video for “Down In It,” the debut single from industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, and the supposed dead body was the group's very-much-alive lead singer, Trent Reznor.

 
 

In 1989, Nine Inch Nails was about to release their debut album, Pretty Hate Machine, which would go on to be certified triple platinum in the United States. The record would define the emerging industrial rock sound that Reznor and his rotating cast of bandmates would experiment with throughout the 1990s and even today on albums like The Downward Spiral and The Slip.

The band chose the song “Down In It”—a track with piercing vocals, pulsing electronic drums, sampled sound effects, and twisted nursery rhyme-inspired lyrics—as Pretty Hate Machine's first single. They began working with H-Gun, a Chicago-based multimedia team led by filmmakers Eric Zimmerman and Benjamin Stokes (who had created videos for such bands as Ministry and Revolting Cocks), and sketched out a rough idea for the music video.

Filmed on location among warehouses and parking garages in Chicago, the video was supposed to culminate in a shot with a leather-jacketed Reznor running to the top of a building, while two then-members of the band followed him wearing studded jumpsuits; the video would fade out with an epic floating zoom shot to imply that Reznor's cornstarch-for-blood-covered character had fallen off the building and died in the street. Because the cash-strapped upstarts didn’t have enough money for a fancy crane to achieve the shot for their video, they opted to tie weather balloons to the camera and let it float up from Reznor, who was lying in the street surrounded by his bandmates. They eventually hoped to play the footage backward to get the shot in the final video.

Instead, the Windy City lived up to its name and quickly whisked the balloons and camera away. With Reznor playing dead and his bandmates looking down at him, only one of the filmmakers noticed. He tried to chase down the runaway camera—which captured his pursuit—but it was lost, forcing them to finish shooting the rest of the video and release it without the planned shot from the missing footage in September of 1989.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the band, a drama involving their lost camera was unfolding in southwest Michigan. Police there eventually involved the Chicago police, whose detectives determined that the footage had been filmed in an alley in the city's Fulton River District. After Chicago authorities found no homicide reports matching the footage for the neighborhood and that particular time frame, they handed the video over to the FBI, whose pathologists reportedly said that, based on the substance on the individual, the body in the video was rotting.

 
 

The "substance" in question was actually the result of the low-quality film and the color of the cornstarch on the singer’s face, which had also been incorporated into the press photos for Pretty Hate Machine. It was a nod to the band's early live shows, in which Reznor would spew cornstarch and chocolate syrup on his band members and the audience. “It looks really great under the lights, grungey, a sort of anti-Bon Jovi and the whole glamour thing,” Reznor said in a 1991 interview.

With no other easy options, and in order to generate any leads that might help them identify the victim seen in the video, the authorities distributed flyers to Chicago schools asking if anyone knew any details behind the strange “killing.”

The tactic worked. A local art student was watching MTV in 1991 and saw the distinctive video for “Down In It,” which reminded him of one of the flyers he had seen at school. He contacted the Chicago police to tip them off to who their supposed "murder victim" really was. Nine Inch Nails’s manager was notified, and he told Reznor and the filmmakers what had really happened to their lost footage.

“It’s interesting that our top federal agency, the Federal Bureau of [Investigation], couldn’t crack the Super 8 code,” co-director Zimmerman said in an interview. As for Wood and any embarrassment law enforcement had after the investigation: “I thought it was our duty, one way or the other, to determine what was on that film,” he said.

“My initial reaction was that it was really funny that something could be that blown out of proportion with this many people worked up about it,” Reznor said, and later told an interviewer, “There was talk that I would have to appear and talk to prove that I was alive.” Even though—in the eyes of state, local, and federal authorities—he was reportedly dead for over a year, Reznor didn’t seem to be bothered by it: “Somebody at the FBI had been watching too much Hitchcock or David Lynch or something,” he reasoned.

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Pierluigi Luceri, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Two Human Toes Were Stolen From an Anatomy Exhibit
Pierluigi Luceri, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Pierluigi Luceri, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A 28-year-old New Zealand man walked into an anatomy exhibition with 10 toes and walked out with 12. We don't know why or how he did it, but the man stole two human toes from a Body Worlds display in Auckland last month, The New Zealand Herald reports.

The unnamed man appeared in court Monday and pleaded guilty to improperly interfering with the corpse "of an unknown person" and purloining two toes, which alone are valued at about $3800. The motivation for the human remains heist wasn't stated. (Fulfilling a dare seems a likely explanation, or maybe he's just a fan of The Big Lebowski.)

Whatever the reason may be, the story has a happy ending, at least: The digits have since been returned to their rightful place in the "Vital" exhibit, which explores the human body in motion. "Vital," which will remain open in Auckland until July 13, is one of several traveling exhibitions curated by Body Worlds. Two other Body Worlds exhibits are currently on view in the U.S., including "RX" (showcasing the effects of disease) in Toledo, Ohio, and "Animal Inside Out" (an "anatomical safari") in Richmond, Virginia.

The bodies, all of which are donated for exhibition purposes, are preserved via plastination, a process that "replaces bodily fluids and soluble fat in specimens with fluid plastics that harden after vacuum-forced impregnation," according to the Body Worlds website. More than 16,000 people around the world have signed up to donate their bodies after their deaths.

[h/t The New Zealand Herald]

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