CLOSE
Original image
Getty

The Karaoke Song That Kills

Original image
Getty

We’ve all gotten talked into doing karaoke at some point or another, or maybe it’s one of your secret passions (I’m not judging). Whatever circumstance leads you to the stage on karaoke night, here’s a tip: Avoid “My Way” by Frank Sinatra. It doesn’t matter if it’s Rat Pack night. It doesn’t matter if you happened to wear your best fedora. It doesn’t even matter if you could be a voice double for Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. If you value your life, do not allow yourself to be seduced by “My Way” when you see it in the selection book—it’s literally a killer.

In 2007, a man was performing the song in San Mateo in the Philippines when a security guard loudly informed the singer that he was off-key. When man continued to croon, the guard pulled out a .38 caliber pistol and shot the performer in the chest, killing him.

Freak occurrence? Nope. Since 2000, at least half a dozen people have been murdered after (or while) performing the Sinatra classic. Dubbed the “‘My Way’ Killings,” the strange phenomenon has gotten so bad that some bar owners have removed it from the selection list entirely.

Theories abound as to why this particular song seems to evoke such violence. It could be that the song is just so Sinatra that anyone else who sings it is bound to pale in comparison. It could be, according to singing school owner Butch Albarracin, that the lyrics inspire “pride and arrogance in the singer, as if you’re somebody when you’re really nobody.” Pop culture expert Roland Tolentino believes it’s all about location—these killings have all occurred in the Philippines. “The Philippines is a very violent society, so karaoke only triggers what already exists here when certain social rules are broken,” he said.

While the “My Way” Killings do seem to be limited to a certain locale, karaoke rage seems to happen all over the world. My advice: The next time you find yourself with a microphone and a screen of lyrics in front of your face, opt for something—anything—other than Sinatra.

Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
arrow
History
Mata Hari: Famous Spy or Creative Storyteller?
Original image
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nearly everyone has heard of Mata Hari, one of the most cunning and seductive spies of all time. Except that statement isn't entirely true. Cunning and seductive, yes. Spy? Probably not. 

Margaretha Geertruida Zelle was the eldest daughter of a hat store owner who was quite wealthy thanks to some savvy oil investments.  When her mother died, her father remarried and shuffled his children off to various relatives. To escape, an 18-year-old Margaretha answered an ad in the paper that might have read something like this: "Dutch Colonial Army Captain Seeks Wife. Compatibility not important. Must not mind blatant infidelity or occasional beatings."

She had two children with Captain Rudolf MacLeod, but they did nothing to improve the marriage. He brazenly kept a mistress and a concubine; she moved in with another officer. Again, probably looking to escape her miserable existence, Margaretha spent her time in Java (where the family had relocated for Captain MacLeod's job) becoming part of the culture, learning all about the dance and even earning a dance name bestowed upon her by the locals—"Mata Hari," which meant "eye of the day" or "sun."

Her son died after being poisoned by an angry servant (so the MacLeods believed).

Margaretha divorced her husband, lost custody of her daughter and moved to Paris to start a new life for herself in 1903. Calling upon the dance skills she had learned in Java, the newly restyled Mata Hari became a performer, starting with the circus and eventually working her way up to exotic dancer. 

To make herself seem more mysterious and interesting, Mata Hari told people her mother was a Javanese princess who taught her everything she knew about the sacred religious dances she performed. The dances were almost entirely in the nude.

Thanks to her mostly-nude dancing and tantalizing background story, she was a hot commodity all over Europe. During WWI, this caught the attention of British Intelligence, who brought her in and demanded to know why she was constantly traipsing across the continent. Under interrogation, she apparently told them she was a spy for France—that she used her job as an exotic dancer to coerce German officers to give her information, which she then supplied back to French spymaster Georges Ladoux. No one could verify these claims and Mata Hari was released.

Not too long afterward, French intelligence intercepted messages that mentioned H-21, a spy who was performing remarkably well. Something in the messages reminded the French officers of Mata Hari's tale and they arrested her at her hotel in Paris on February 13, 1917, under suspicion of being a double agent.

Mata Hari repeatedly denied all involvement in any spying for either side. Her captors didn't believe her story, and perhaps wanting to make an example of her, sentenced her to death by firing squad. She was shot to death 100 years ago today, on October 15, 1917.

In 1985, one of her biographers convinced the French government to open their files on Mata Hari. He says the files contained not one shred of evidence that she was spying for anyone, let alone the enemy. Whether the story she originally told British intelligence was made up by them or by her to further her sophisticated and exotic background is anyone's guess. 

Or maybe she really was the ultimate spy and simply left no evidence in her wake.

Original image
Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images for IMG
arrow
crime
German Police Tried to Fine Someone $1000 for Farting at Them
Original image
Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images for IMG

In Berlin, passing gas can cost you. Quite a lot, actually, in the case of a man accused of disrespecting police officers by releasing a pair of noxious farts while being detained by the police. As CityLab reports, Berlin’s police force has recently been rocked by a scandal hinging on the two farts of one man who was asked to show his ID to police officers while partying on an evening in February 2016.

The man in question was accused of disrespecting the officers involved by aiming his flatulence at a policewoman, and was eventually slapped with a fine of 900 euros ($1066) in what local media called the "Irrer-Pups Prozess," or "Crazy Toot Trial." The errant farter was compelled to show up for court in September after refusing to pay the fine. A judge dismissed the case in less than 10 minutes.

But the smelly situation sparked a political scandal over the police resources wasted over the non-crime. It involved 18 months, 23 public officials, and 17 hours of official time—on the taxpayers’ dime. Officials estimate that those two minor toots cost taxpayers more than $100, which is chump change in terms of city budgets, but could have been used to deal with more pressing criminal issues.

[h/t CityLab]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER