The Weird Week in Review

Party-crashing Cows

A backyard party in Boxford, Massachusetts turned ugly when a herd of cows arrived uninvited. A police officer responding to a call about loose cows saw the herd head into a backyard, with the sound of screaming soon following. The beasts chased people away and then turned over their abandoned beers and lapped them up. Cows even rooted through a recycling bin of beer cans. The owner of the livestock was located and he and a few friends rounded up the cows and took them home.

Marvel Creates Superhero to Help 4-Year-Old

Anthony Smith suffers from hearing loss, but did not want to wear hearing aids, because super heroes don't wear them. His grandmother, Lou D'Allesandro, contacted Marvel comics and asked if any superheroes had hearing problems. They responded that Hawkeye, one of the Avengers, once wore a hearing aid. But that wasn't the end of it. Inspired by Anthony's story, the creative staff at Marvel created a new superhero named Blue Ear and sent artwork by Nelson Ribeiro showing Blue Ear detecting trouble with his super-powered hearing aid. Anthony has since started wearing his own "blue ear."

A Man, a Zebra, and a Macaw Walk Into a Bar...

Jerald Reiter of Cascade, Iowa, was arrested Sunday night for drunk driving with a blood-alcohol level of .148. Police had stopped him to check on the welfare of the passengers in his truck: a zebra and a macaw. Reiter's 3-month-old zebra is named Pee Wee and his macaw is named Izzy.

Reiter, 55, told The Des Moines Register that the zebra and parrot are like friends to him and they often spend time indoors and ride in his vehicles. The animals visit neighbors, and the parrot has been on trips to the local feed store, Reiter said.

On Sunday, after doing chores and eating dinner, Reiter said he decided to take the animals to the Dog House, where he thought they’d be allowed.

“I said, ‘Let’s go for a ride. I ain’t been away from the farm for almost two months because I’ve been planting corn and everything else,’” he said. “So I opened the door, the zebra jumps in, the macaw loves to go for a ride, so we went for a ride.”

Reiter says at no time did he leave the animals in the truck alone. He said when police arrived, he was leaving the bar after being told the animals couldn't come in.

Man Saves Son, Gets Ticket

Frank Roder was on an excursion along the Rahway River in New Jersey with his son Aiden. As he was parking the car, the 5-year-old opened the door and ran toward an embankment with a 35-foot drop. Roder immediately jumped out of the car to catch the boy. As he did, his Jeep rolled into the river. Roder caught Aiden just before he reached the edge, but the Jeep was already gone. For his efforts, Rofer was rewarded with his son's safety -and two traffic tickets! The first ticket was for failing to apply the parking brake when he left the vehicle, and the other was for failure to produce an insurance card. Roder had insurance, but his proof was in the Jeep at the bottom of the river.

Bear Pulls Man from Outhouse

Despite what you've heard about what bears do in the woods, this one went straight for the outhouse. An unnamed 65-year-old man was in the outhouse at a campsite near Sioux Lookout, Ontario, when a bear came through the open door and dragged him out! A friend who was also camping came and shot the bear. The man suffered bites to his head and neck, and numerous slashes from the bear's claws. The two campers drove to the  nearest area with cell phone service, then to a hospital. The injured man is undergoing treatment for rabies.

Court Case Could Force Quebecois to be Married Against Their Will

In Quebec, where over a million people are unmarried but cohabiting, such couples are legally recognized as "de facto spouses," but the law put them under no obligation to each other if they break up. However, a "palimony" case involving an unnamed billionaire and his de facto spouse of ten years could end that. The couple split in 2002, and her case for support was appealed until she won in 2010. That decision set a precedent for every de facto couple in Quebec.

The sums of money involved make Eric and Lola’s case somewhat absurd to the average Canadian. But it could shape the lives of the 1.2 million Quebecois in de facto couples, making them as good as married, even though neither of them exchanged rings or asked the other person’s permission to spend their lives together.

The Quebec government has appealed the decision of the Supreme Court, which will rule on the matter in July.

Suitcase of Puppies All Find Homes

Last month, a litter of six puppies was found enclosed in an abandoned suitcase in Toledo, Ohio. The case enraged animal lovers, and the man found to be the dogs' owner was identified because the suitcase still had his identification tag on it. He pleaded no contest to animal cruelty charges.

Since then, the puppies, known as the Suitcase 6, have been in the care of the Toledo Area Humane Society, which received over 1,000 inquiries to adopt them from all over the country. Of those, 132 people with approved applications were entered into a lottery, from which six new homes were selected, for five of the puppies and the mother dog. One puppy was adopted by its foster family. The dogs are all settling in to their new homes.

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David Lynch's Amazon T-Shirt Shop is as Surreal as His Movies
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images
Dominique Faget, AFP/Getty Images

David Lynch, the celebrated director behind baffling-but-brilliant films like Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive, and Twin Peaks, is now selling his equally surreal T-shirts on Amazon.

As IndieWire reports, each shirt bears an image of one of Lynch’s paintings or photographs with an accompanying title. Some of his designs are more straightforward (the shirts labeled “House” and “Whale” feature, respectively, drawings of a house and a whale), while others are obscure (the shirt called “Chicken Head Tears” features a disturbing sculpture of a semi-human face).

This isn’t the first time Lynch has ventured into pursuits outside of filmmaking. Previously, he has sold coffee, designed furniture, produced music, hosted daily weather reports, and published a book about his experience with transcendental meditation. Art, in fact, falls a little closer to Lynch’s roots; the filmmaker trained for years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts before making his mark in Hollywood.

Lynch’s Amazon store currently sells 57 T-shirts, ranging in size from small to triple XL, all for $26 each. As for our own feelings on the collection, we think they’re best reflected by this T-shirt named “Honestly, I’m Sort of Confused.”

Check out some of our favorites below:

T-shirt that says "Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"
"Honestly, I'm Sort of Confused"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a sleeping bird on it
"Sleeping Bird"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt that says Peace on Earth over and over again. The caption is pretty on the nose.
"Peace on Earth"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a screaming face made out of turkey with ants in its mouth
"Turkey Cheese Head"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an odd sculpted clay face asking if you know who it is. You get the idea.
"I Was Wondering If You Know Who I Am?"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an image of a sculpted head that is not a chicken. It is blue, though.
"Chicken Head Blue"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with a drawing of a lobster on it. Below the drawing, the lobster is labeled with the word lobster. Shocking, I know.
"Lobster"

Buy it on Amazon

T-shirt with an abstract drawing of what is by David Lynch's account, at least, a cowboy
"Cowboy"

Buy it on Amazon

[h/t IndieWire]

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8 Projects That Reenvision the Traditional Cemetery
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Globally, nearly 57 million people died in 2016. If you happen to be a cemetery caretaker, you might be wondering where we managed to put them all. Indeed, many cemeteries in the world’s major cities are filling up fast, with no choice left but to tear up walkways, trees, and green spaces just to make room for more graves.

In response to these concerns, a variety of visionaries have attempted to reimagine the modern cemetery. These plans tend to fall into one of two camps: Biologists and environmentalists have brainstormed alternate methods for disposing of bodies, some of which are said to be better for the planet than the traditional methods of burial and cremation. Meanwhile, architects have looked at ways of adapting the burial space itself, whether that means altering a traditional cemetery or creating something new and more ephemeral. Here are just a few of the creative ideas that have emerged in recent years.

1. VERTICAL CEMETERIES

As cemeteries started running out of ground to dig, it was only a matter of time before they started building up. There's been a lot of talk about skyscraper cemeteries in recent years, although the idea dates back to at least 1829, when British architect Thomas Willson proposed a 94-story mausoleum in London.

"The vertical cemetery, with its open front, will become a significant part of the city and a daily reminder of death’s existence," says Martin McSherry, whose design for an open-air skyscraper cemetery with layers of park-like burial grounds was one of the proposals presented at the Oslo Conference for Nordic Cemeteries and Graveyards in 2013. Another recent plan by architecture students in Sweden suggested repurposing a cluster of silos into a vertical columbarium (a place to store urns). Brazil’s Memorial Necrópole Ecumênica was one of the first places to implement this vertical concept back in 1984, and at 32 stories high, it currently holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest cemetery.

2. REUSABLE GRAVES

For much of human history, graves were often reused, or common graves were dug deep enough to accommodate multiple bodies stacked one on top of the other. “Our current cemetery design is actually a pretty new thing,” Allison Meier, a New York City cemetery tour guide (and Mental Floss writer), tells us. “It wasn’t normal for everyone to get a headstone in the past and we didn’t have these big sprawling green spaces.”

Now that many urban cemeteries are filling up, the idea of reusing plots is once again gaining popularity. In London, it’s estimated that only one-third of the city’s boroughs will have burial space by 2031. In response, the City of London Cemetery—one of the biggest cemeteries in Britain—has started reusing certain grave plots (the practice is legal in the city, even though grave reuse is outlawed elsewhere in England).

Across continental Europe, however, it's not uncommon for graves to be "rented" rather than bought for all eternity. In countries like the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, and Greece, families can hold a plot for their loved one as long as they continue to pay a rental fee. If they stop paying, the grave may be reused, with the previous remains either buried deeper or relocated to a common grave.

Meier says she isn’t aware of any cemeteries in New York City that have started reusing their plots, though. “That’s a tough thing for Americans to get on board with because it’s been a normal practice in a lot of places, but it’s never been normal here,” she says.

3. A FLOATING COLUMBARIUM

A rendering of a floating columbarium
BREAD Studio

Ninety percent of bodies in Hong Kong are cremated, according to CNN, and niches in the city's public columbaria are at a premium. The average wait for a space is about four years, sparking concerns that Hong Kongers could be forced to move their loved ones' ashes across the border to mainland China, where more space is available. (A space at a private columbarium in Hong Kong can be prohibitively expensive, at a cost of about $128,000.) To address this issue, a proposal emerged in 2012 to convert a cruise ship into a floating columbarium dubbed the “Floating Eternity.” Designed by Hong Kong and London-based architecture firm BREAD Studio, the columbarium would be able to accommodate the ashes of 370,000 people. Although it's still just an idea, BREAD Studio designer Benny Lee tells CNN, "A floating cemetery is the next natural step in Hong Kong's history of graveyards."

4. UNDERWATER MEMORIALS

An underwater lion sculpture and other memorials
Neptune Reef

Land may be limited, but the sea is vast—and several companies want to take the cemetery concept underwater. At Neptune Memorial Reef off the coast of Key Biscayne, Florida, human ashes are mixed with cement to create unique memorials in the shape of seashells and other objects of the client's choice. The memorials are then taken by divers to the ocean floor and incorporated into a human-made reef designed to look like the Lost City of Atlantis. Eternal Reefs, based out of Sarasota, Florida, offers a similar service.

5. SPACE MEMORIALS

Not a water person? Try space instead. Elysium Space, a San Francisco-based company founded by a former software engineer at NASA, offers a couple of “celestial services.” At a cost of nearly $2500, the Shooting Star Memorial “delivers a symbolic portion of your loved one’s remains to Earth’s orbit, only to end this celestial journey as a shooting star,” while the Lunar Memorial will deliver a "symbolic portion" of human remains to the surface of the moon for a fee of nearly $10,000. Another company, Celestis, offers similar services ranging in price from $1300 to $12,500.

6. HUMAN COMPOSTING

Shoveling soil
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Critics of burial and cremation say both are bad for the environment. To address the need for a memorial method that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, waste resources, or release carcinogenic embalming fluid into the soil, a number of eco-friendly options have emerged. One such innovation is the “mushroom burial suit," a head-to-toe outfit that's lined with mushroom spores designed to devour human tissue and absorb the body's toxins. Another company, Recompose, espouses human composting—a process by which a corpse would be converted into a cubic yard of soil, which could then be used to nurture new life in a garden. The procedure isn’t legal yet, but the company plans to work with the Washington State legislature to make it available to the general public before eventually rolling it out nationwide.

7. DEATH AS ART

Many innovative proposals have emerged from the DeathLAB at Columbia University, including a plan to convert human biomass (organic matter) into light. The design—a constellation of light that would serve as both a memorial and art installation—won a competition hosted by Future Cemetery, a collaboration between the University of Bath’s Centre for Death & Society and media company Calling the Shots. John Troyer, director of the UK-based center, says they're working on raising funds to install a concept piece based on that design at Arnos Vale Cemetery in Bristol, England, but any usage of actual biomass would have to be cleared through the proper regulatory channels first. According to DeathLAB, the project would save significant space—within six years, it would more than double the capacity of the cemetery orchard where the memorials would be installed.

8. VIRTUAL CEMETERIES

As virtual reality technology gets more and more advanced, some question whether a physical cemetery is needed at all. The website iVeneration.com, founded by a Hong Kong entrepreneur, lets users "create virtual headstones anywhere in an augmented reality landscape of Hong Kong, including such unlikely places as a downtown park," as Reuters describes it. In Japan, one online cemetery allows the bereaved to “light” incense, share memories of their loved one in comments, and even grab a virtual glass of beer. Similarly, an app called RiPCemetery created a social network where users can craft a virtual memorial and share photos of the deceased.

However, Troyer says he doesn’t believe technology will ever usurp the need for physical spaces. “A lot of the companies talking about digital solutions talk about ‘forever’—and that’s very complicated with the internet, because the virtual material we create can easily disappear," he told the The Guardian. "The lowly gravestone has been a very successful human technology, and I suspect it will last … I would go with granite.”

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