The Weird Week in Review

Tokyo's 'Oldest Man' Found Mummified

Sogen Kato had been on record as the oldest man in Tokyo, so it was only natural that city authorities wanted to wish him well on his 111th birthday. However, the family would not let anyone in to see the man. Suspicious welfare officials asked police to investigate. When the police gained access to Kato's bedroom, they found he was dead -and had been dead so long that the body was mummified! Relatives said Kato had voluntarily confined himself to his room 30 years ago and had became "a living buddha". However, the family received about $109,000 in pension payments for Kato in the six years since his wife died. The family is under investigation for fraud.

Missing Cat Turns Up 620 Miles from Home

A house cat named Timothy disappeared from his home in Brisbane, Australia nine months ago. The cat had a microchip implanted. This week, the RSPCA in Townsville, Queensland picked up three stray cats, only one of which had a microchip. It was Timothy! The two-year-old cat had mysteriously traveled more than a thousand kilometers from his home. He was clean and in good health, which may lead one to think that he caught a ride to Townsville instead of walking the distance, but after nine months, no one can say how he got so far from home.

New Home for Conjoined Twins

At 58, Ronnie and Donnie Galyon are the world's oldest conjoined twins. A couple of weeks ago, they moved into a new home that was custom-built for their needs, including extra-wide hallways and a custom-built bed to accommodate their physical structure. The Christian Youth Corps Inc. arranged for the home to be built, with Brentwood Builders donating their services. When the project was publicized, further donations came in to cover building materials and furnishings. Volunteers came to the Dayton, Ohio site to help out. The new house is attached to the home of their younger brother and his wife, who have been caring for the twins for years, but no longer have to drive four miles to see them.

Bear Breaks Into Car, Goes On Joy Ride

Police in Larkspur, Colorado investigated a complaint of a car with the horn blowing for 45 minutes in the middle of the night. They found the car, with a bear inside it. What's more, the bear had driven the car there! Ben Story had parked his car the night before and did not lock it. And there was a sandwich inside.

Ben's father, Ralph, said the bear hit the shifter and the car rolled backward about 125 feet, off the driveway, down an embankment and into some trees on Eagle Road near Tenderfoot Drive.

"So this bear opened the door on his own. Somehow the door closed behind him. He panicked and started thrashing around, hit the shifter and put the car, took it out of park," Ralph said. "It rolled back, down over the hill, and down into here, and stopped. The four way flashers were on. It's like he knew what was going on, and kept hitting the horn."

Police declined to open the car door, and finally freed the bear by tying a rope to the door handle so they could open it from further away. The bear wandered off, leaving the vehicle's interior shredded.

Bear Steals Teddy Bear

In other bear-acting-human news, a woman in Laconia, New Hampshire arrived home as a bear was helping himself to the family's belongings. The bear had eaten pears and grapes and drank from a fishbowl, spilling the fish. Mary Beth Parkinson said the bear also took a child's teddy bear from the house, which they later found in the backyard.

Parkinson said she thinks the garage door going up scared the bear out of her kitchen on Tuesday. She said the bear apparently took advantage of the open outside door. She said she arrived in time to save the fish.

"There was one fish left in here (and) one flipping on the counter," Parkinson said.

A bear had been spotted in the neighborhood a few days earlier as well. Parkinson says her two young sons are now careful to lock the doors before leaving or going to bed.

Ansel Adams Photos from Garage Sale Worth $200 Million

Rick Norsigian's hobby of bargain-hunting at rummage sales has paid off big time. Ten years ago, he bought a couple of boxes of glass photographic negatives for $45. Experts in photography, forensics, handwriting analysis, and other fields have examined the 65 negatives and believe them to be pictures taken by nature photographer Ansel Adams in the early part of his career before he became famous in the 1940s. The value? Possibly $200 million dollars! Norsigian would like to sell them eventually, but for now the plates are going on a tour of universities and museums.

Update: Some now think the negatives were taken by Earl Brooks.

Woman Fined for 'Defaming Husband's Manhood'

Vandana Gurjar filed for divorce from her husband Hemant Chhalotre in Madhya Pradesh, India. Her grounds for the action included Chhalotre's impotence. That was a mistake. He turned around and sued Gurjar for defamation, and she was ordered to pay him 200,000 rupees (£2,747)! He claimed that her revelation of his impotence ruined his reputation and his chances for remarriage. One supposes that a charge of cruelty or adultery might have been better for his ego, if not his reputation.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
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.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
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]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios