Ramblings & ephemera

Ray Bradbury on an encounter that changed his life

From Sam Weller’s interview of Ray Bradbury in “The Art of Fiction No. 203” (The Paris Review: Spring 2010, No. 192): Circuses and carnivals were always passing through Illinois during my childhood and I was in love with their mystery. One autumn weekend in 1932, when I was twelve years old, the Dill Brothers Combined […]

Who would ever think that it was a good idea?

Image via Wikipedia Read this article about Paul Krassner’s experiences with the Manson Family & note the emphasis I’ve added – is this not the greatest sentence out of nowhere you’ve ever seen? How in the world did that ever seem like a good idea? From Paul Krassner’s “My Acid Trip with Squeaky Fromme” (The […]

David Foster Wallace on David Lynch

From David Foster Wallace’s “David Lynch Keeps His Head” (Premier: September 1996): AN ACADEMIC DEFINITION of Lynchian might be that the term “refers to a particular kind of irony where the very macabre and the very mundane combine in such a way as to reveal the former’s perpetual containment within the latter.” But like postmodern […]

Denver International Airport, home to alien reptilians enslaving children in deep dungeons

From Jared Jacang Maher’s “DIA Conspiracies Take Off” (Denver Westword News: 30 August 2007): Chris from Indianapolis has heard that the tunnels below DIA [Denver International Airport] were constructed as a kind of Noah’s Ark so that five million people could escape the coming earth change; shaken and earnest, he asks how someone might go […]

50% of people infected with personality-changing brain parasites from cats

From Carl Zimmer’s “The Return of the Puppet Masters” (Corante: 17 January 2006): I was investigating the remarkable ability parasites have to manipulate the behavior of their hosts. The lancet fluke Dicrocoelium dendriticum, for example, forces its ant host to clamp itself to the tip of grass blades, where a grazing mammal might eat it. […]

Interesting psychological disorders

From Lauren Davis’ “Delusion or Alien Invasion? Disorders That Make Life Seem Like Scifi” (io9: 27 September 2008): Capgras Delusion: You believe a loved one has been replaced with an exact duplicate. … Reduplicative Paramnesia: You believe that a place or location has been moved to another site, or has been duplicated and exists in […]

Lost her ability to play piano after she regained sight

From Oliver Sacks’ “The Case of Anna H.” (The New Yorker: 7 October 2002: 64): I was reminded of a blind woman, a contemporary of Mozart and a most remarkable pianist, who, it is said, could no longer play after she regained some sight.

After a stroke, he can write, but can’t read

From Oliver Sacks’ “The Case of Anna H.” (The New Yorker: 7 October 2002: 64): I recently received a letter from Howard Engel, a Canadian novelist, who told me that he had a somewhat similar problem following a stroke: “The area affected,” he relates, “was my ability to read. I can write, but I can’t […]

People being rescued run from their rescuers

From Les Jones’s email in Bruce Schneier’s “Crypto-Gram” (15 August 2005): Avoiding rescuers is a common reaction in people who have been lost in the woods. See Dwight McCarter’s book, “Lost,” an account of search and rescue operations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In one chapter McCarter tells the story of two backpackers […]

Micro-nations

From George Pendle’s “New Foundlands” (Cabinet: Summer 2005): Call them micro-nations, model countries, ephemeral states, or new country projects, the world is surprisingly full of entities that display all the trappings of established independent states, yet garner none of the respect. The Republic of Counani, Furstentum Castellania, Palmyra, the Hutt River Province, and the Empire […]

Living in a cave behind your house

From Reuters’s “Chinese fugitive leaves cave after 8 years” (5 October 2006): A Chinese man wanted by police on gun charges has given himself up after hiding in a cave constructed at the back of his house for eight years, the official Xinhua news agency said. The 35-year-old man from the southeastern city of Fuzhou […]

Dead five years before he was discovered

From Reuters’s “Body found in bed 5 years after death” (4 October 2006): Austrian authorities have discovered the body of a man who apparently died at home in bed five years ago, a Vienna newspaper reported on Wednesday. The corpse of Franz Riedl, thought to have been in his late 80s when he died, went […]

A prison completely run by the inmates

From Mica Rosenberg’s “Guatemala forces end 10-year prisoner rule at jail” (The Washington Post: 25 September 2006): Guatemalan security forces took over a jail run for over 10 years by inmates who built their own town on prison grounds complete with restaurants, churches and hard-drug laboratories. Seven prisoners died when 3,000 police and soldiers firing […]

Your job? Waiting in line for others.

From Brian Montopoli’s “The Queue Crew: Waiting in line for a living” (Legal Affairs: January/February 2004): ON CAPITOL HILL, a placeholder is someone paid by the hour to wait in line. When legislative committees hold hearings, they reserve seats for Congressional staffers, for the press, and for the general public. The general-public seats are the […]

Kaspar Hauser

From Damn Interesting’s “Feral Children“: One of the more mysterious cases is that of Kaspar Hauser, who was discovered in Nuremberg, Germany in 1828. He was unsteady on his feet, held a letter for a man he had never met, and only spoke the phrase “I want to be a horseman like my father is.” […]

3000 ravers, dancing in silence

From The Sydney Morning Herald‘s’ “Clubbers to get into the silent groove“: For those seeking tranquillity at Glastonbury Festival, a dance tent packed with clubbers is not an obvious sanctuary. But this will be the silent disco – 3000 festivalgoers are to be issued with headphones this year so they can turn up the volume […]

A cared-for mummy

From “Mummified woman died naturally“: A woman whose mummified body was dressed in a white gown and placed in front of a television for 2½ years died from heart disease. … Officials never suspected abuse or foul play after finding Johannas Pope, 61, in her Madisonville home Jan. 4. Pope told her caretaker, Kathy Painter, […]

What would it be like to feel no pain?

From CNN’s “World without pain is hell, parent says“: Roberto is one of 17 people in the United States with “congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis,” referred to as CIPA by the few people who know about it. … Other abnormalities quickly surfaced. Roberto was severely susceptible to heatstroke on hot summer days. His parents […]

Dead for a while

From BBC News: A man lay dead in his flat for 15 months before his body was found. Recording an open verdict into the death of Derek Perkins, 63, coroner Dr Nigel Chapman said he had never known a body to be undiscovered for so long. The exact date of Mr Perkins’ death is unknown, […]

A repulsive jumbo shrimp

From The Honolulu Advertiser: Health experts are not sure what is causing Mantis Shrimp found in the muck of the Ala Wai Canal to grow larger than their normal size, but one thing is clear, they say: You shouldn’t eat anything out of the canal. State Department of Health signs posted along the canal warn […]