The Weird Week in Review

Inmates Attempt Escape Disguised as Garbage

Sidney da Cruz and Carlos Pereira, two detainees at the Delegacia de Furtos jail in Curitiba, Brazil, had a great idea. They stuffed themselves into two garbage bags, along with some garbage, and hoped to be taken out and dumped with the rest of the facility's trash. However, prison guard Cleverson Mineiro walked by the garbage bags, lined up in a hallway, and saw a couple of them shaking. The plot was foiled. The local police chief said the plan was doomed to fail, as the thin bags would never be able to remain untorn under the weight of a grown man. Police and guards took photographs of Cruz and Pereira while still in their disguises.

The Fish That Fell from a Tree

A woman in Vancouver found a fish in her backyard. It had fallen out of a tree. Really. Cindy Wilkinson tells of a voice message she got from her friend Jan Bailey on Monday.

"She said, 'The strangest thing just happened. A fish just fell out of our cedar tree on to the ground.'" Bailey, who lives near Third Street and St. David's Avenue, had seen the fish make a dive worthy of an Olympian in her backyard. Her husband went out to investigate, and found the piscine drop-in covered in cedar needles but - incredibly - still alive.

It was an unusual looking fish, reddy orange and about 25 centimetres long. Bailey hauled out an old aquarium, filled it with water and put the fish inside. Then she called Wilkinson, who promptly called Lynda Taylor, another friend who knows her fish and has a big koi pond.

"I said, 'There's a fish that just fell out of a tree,'" said Bailey.

The women did their research and determined that the fish, now named "Lucky," is a Midas cichlid, and was most likely carried off by a heron or other large bird, then dropped alive into the tree. They would like to reunite the fish with its original owner.

Missing Lego Piece Found in Boy's Nose

Six-year-old Isaak Lasson of Salt Lake City, Utah, had been suffering from sinus problems for three years. Doctors had examined him and prescribed antibiotics to no avail. Last week, a new doctor thought he saw something stuck in the boy's nasal cavity. A specialist was enlisted to remove the object, which was covered in fungus. It was a small Lego piece - that had been stuck there for three years! Isaak remembered putting spaghetti up his nose when he was younger, but had no idea he'd been carrying around a Lego piece in his schnozz all that time.

Cow Rescued from Fifth Floor

In the Siberian village of Lesogorsk, Russia, a rescue crew was called to extract a cow from the fifth floor of an apartment building. The cow had apparently run up the stairs to escape an amorous bull that had chased her out of the pasture. The bull was lingering at the bottom floor of the building. Emergency workers told a Russian news agency that the cow had to be pulled downstairs and outside with a rope, as she had no desire to leave the safety of the building.

Don't Dial 911 During Your Own Crime

Justin Kryzanowski of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was arrested on drug charges after police received a 911 call from his phone. The 24-year-old had accidentally dialed 911 while in the middle of a drug deal. Dispatchers heard the entire conversation as Kryzanowski went about his business. The proceedings were also recorded, as all 911 calls are.

Bears Consume 100 Cans of Beer

A mother bear and three cubs are the suspected culprits in the vandalism of a cabin near Jarfjord, Norway. The owners arrived to find a wall of the cabin had been knocked down, the furniture wrecked, and every scrap of food in the cabin consumed. Including 100 cans of beer. Authorities are concerned that the bears may return to the area, looking for more goodies.

Arizona Penguins to be Left Homeless

The historic Eastman Gin in Phoenix, Arizona, is going to be dismantled. The town council has allocated $70,000 for the demolition of the 84-year-old gin.

Town officials say the cotton gin, which operated until 2005, is structurally unsound and filled with roosting penguins. They're concerned that the town will be liable if someone is hurt inside.

It's possible that the quote was supposed to say "pigeons," but one week and quite a few comments later, the story has not been altered.

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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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