The Weird Week in Review

Drunk Driver Speeds in Wrong Direction

Victims of near-misses say it was a miracle that no one was hurt when a woman drove 18 miles north in the southbound lane of Washington State's I-5 expressway. Pamela Drawsby of Olympia, Washington, was arrested after police set a spike strip to stop her vehicle. She was observed driving up to 100 miles per hour at 2AM -against all oncoming traffic. Amazingly, there were no collisions as other drivers swerved to avoid the northbound vehicle. The 60-year-old Drawsby was found to be intoxicated on a combination of alcohol and prescription medication.

Sweden's Silliest Place Names

We've read about strange and sometimes embarrassing place names in Britain and the U.S., but English-speaking tourists often don't know when a place name in another language is, shall we say, unusual. Thanks to the English-language site The Local, we have translations for the strangest-named places in Sweden.

People outside Uppsala, for example, can take a stroll in the terrain of Djupröven (Deep Arse), and outside Gothenburg one can enjoy a swim in any of the Yellow, Small or Big Arse lakes (Gula Röven, Lilla Röven, Stora Röven).

A somewhat cuter name but still perhaps not the first pick to put on your resumé, is Kattsjärten in Värmland. The Local's translation for this (hopefully) unusual name is Cat's Bottom.

But that's just the beginning. Check out Sex Swamp, Snot Bog, and more.

Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop Arrested

A 30-year-old man in Madison, Wisconsin found a way to get his 15 minutes of fame. Jeffrey Drew Wilschke had legally changed his name in October to Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop. That makes a great headline in itself, but Zopittybop-Bop-Bop was arrested last Thursday after neighbors complained of "excessive drug use." Police recorded quite a few charges, including carrying a concealed weapon, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, and probation violations. When Zopittybop-Bop-Bop was taken into custody, he told police he would "get even with them."

Couple Married for 86 Years

Karam and Kartari Chand of Bradford, England, recently celebrated their 86th wedding anniversary. They married when Kartari was just 13 and Karam was 20. According to passport information, Karam is now 106 years old and his wife is 99. They married in 1925, and now believe they could be the longest-married couple in the United Kingdom. The couple lives with one of their eight children. The Chands also have 27 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.

Don't Pay Your Taxes, Get "Dumped"

Authorities in Patna, the capital of Bihar state in India, thought they had found an appropriate punishment for a shop owner who owed back taxes. They sent three truckloads of garbage to be dumped in front of Avinash Kumar's store! Kumar owed the local government 164,000 rupees ($3,175). Neighboring business owners complained about the smell, and municipal workers later retrieved the garbage. After the public outcry, city officials say they do not intend to use this method of punishment again.

New Clue in Glenn Miller's Disappearance

As a young man in the 1940s, Richard Anderton watched planes as a hobby. In small notebooks, he jotted down details of all the planes he observed overhead Woodley, Reading, England, at the airfield where he worked. A recently-discovered entry shows that Anderton had observed the plane that carried bandleader Glenn Miller on December 15, 1944, on a flight to France from Bedfordshire when it disappeared. No one knows what happened to the plane to this day, but Atherton's notebook confirms part of the path it took.

It was not until his brother, 77-year-old Sylvan Anderton, brought the books into the BBC's Antiques Roadshow TV programme 67 years later that the entry came to light.

"I'd had them for about 28 years and really didn't do anything about it," said Mr Anderton, who grew up in Reading but now lives in Bideford, Devon.

"I knew there was a connection because he'd cut out an article from the Daily Express in 1969 about Glenn Miller's disappearance and he'd put it in the pages in the notebook for 15 December 1944."

The Glenn Miller Archive at Colorado University has confirmed the new information, and will include it in their official report.

Man Rescued from Sewer Faces More Trouble

An unnamed man in the town of Montmélian, France, dropped his wallet into a sewer opening in a parking garage and went to retrieve it. He then became stuck, with his head in the pipe and his legs sticking out of the manhole. The man spent the entire night like that until a passer-by called emergency services in the morning. After he was rescued, police figured out what he was doing when it happened. The man didn't have the chance to hide the fact that he had been draining the oil from his car into the the sewer. This is a form of pollution that could bring a fine of up to €76,000 ($97,000) and two years in prison.

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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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