From glory holes and monoliths to UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster, 2020 has been uniquely deranged. Here’s a look at the year’s weird news stories.
Elon Musk launched his Tesla Roadster into space, humanity demanded to drink the mummy juice, Bigfoot’s erotic exploits became political, and other 2018 oddities.
If you’re reading this, you and I have both somehow managed to survive another difficult year fraught with danger. Kids were eating tide pods. Lettuce tried to wipe out humanity. Cursed mummy juice was unearthed in Egypt, followed by the world’s oldest cheese – complete with life-threatening disease.
But it was also a magnificent year for human achievement as we landed InSight on Mars to probe the red planet’s core, set out in search of Loch Ness Monster DNA, blessed assault rifles for Jesus, elected a Bigfoot erotica enthusiast – as well as a dead brothel owner – in the midterm elections, and discovered why trying to bring the word of God to uncontacted tribes on forbidden islands is probably a bad idea.
In 2018 we laughed, we cried, we launched a $200,000 car into space just to prove we could.
Here are some of the strangest news stories of the year:
Tesla in Space
Starman and Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster over Earth
In a stunt to prove SpaceX could deliver large payloads to space, Elon Musk launched his own personal Tesla Roadster aboard the maiden flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket on Feb. 6, 2018. At the wheel was a mannequin in a spacesuit named Starman.
Starman is currently blasting David Bowie’s song “Life on Mars?” on loop as he careens through deep space, though as Space.com notes, “Starman cannot hear the famous tune in the airless void.”
As a nod to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, the Roadster’s entertainment display reads, “Don’t Panic!” A copy of the book is in the glove compartment. A Hot Wheels Roadster with a miniature Starman is mounted on the dashboard. A message on the car’s circuit board reads “Made on Earth by Humans.” The car also carries a plaque with the names of everyone who worked on the project, and a copy of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy on a 5D optical disc donated by the Arch Mission Foundation as a proof of concept for high-density long-lasting data storage.
The location of Starman and Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster in Mars’ orbit on November 2, 2018
The Roadster reached the orbit of Mars on November 2nd. “Next stop, the restaurant at the end of the universe,” SpaceX tweeted.
Starman will eventually loop back around toward Earth on it’s heliocentric orbit. According to an orbit-modelling study, he will be within a few hundred thousand kilometers of Earth again in 2091. Within the next few tens of millions of years the car will likely slam into either Venus or Earth, with a 6 percent chance of hitting Earth in the next 1 million years. If it lasts that long.
You can track Starman’s location at whereisroadster.com
Months later, however, we learned that while Musk can put a car in space, it seems he couldn’t build a useful solution to rescue the soccer team that became trapped in Thailand’s Tham Luang cave in July.
More science oddities from 2018:
- Did AI crack the Voynich manuscript?
- Plagiarism software finds new source for 11 of Shakespeare’s plays
- Russia launches world’s first floating nuclear power plant
- New research suggests octopuses came from space
- Scientists bring severed brain back to life
- NASA announces organic matter has been found on Mars
- Computer chip will tell you when you have BO
- Facial recognition toilet paper dispenser in public bathroom
- Virgin Galactic flies to the edge of space for the first time
- Strange waves rippled around the world and no one knows why
Jeremy Bentham, who died in 1832, finally came to America.
Bigfoot Erotica Gets Political
Members of the Cult of Weird community are no strangers to the genre of erotic fiction that involves humans copulating with monsters, cryptids, and other mythological creatures. The rest of the world, however, was enlightened earlier this year when Virginia congressional candidate Denver Riggleman released the cover art for his upcoming book The Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him.
Riggleman proudly shared the cover on his Instagram page, which featured a sketch of a sasquatch with a long black censor bar over his genitalia.
Riggleman’s opponent Leslie Cockburn quickly took to Twitter, calling Riggleman a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica” and the headlines gloriously spread like wildfire.
Sadly, it seemed the excitement quickly faded, and was all but forgotten by election day in November.
Until Denver Riggleman won.
That’s right, Virginia elected a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica” to congress.
Another hilarious anomaly of the election was the revelation that Dennis Hof, recently deceased owner of the Moonlight Bunny Ranch brothel, was elected in Nevada.
More cryptozoological oddities:
- Fap for the Mothman
- Beast of Bray Road documentary
- Monster hunter offers £50,000 for proof of Bigfoot and Nessie
- California woman petitions court to recognize Bigfoot as a species
- Search for unknown DNA in Loch Ness
- Behold the mighty Assquatch
- Christians claim Bigfoot is really just the Devil
- Loch Ness monster sounds like Darth Vader
- Man shot at after being mistaken for Bigfoot
- Internet blames Godzilla for missing Japanese island
Suspicions that Mark Zuckerberg may be a robot or lizard person were confirmed in 2018 during congressional hearings about Facebook’s breach of privacy through third party apps.
Fellow humans, you will now excuse me as I lubricate my organs.
Alien Encounters in Wisconsin
I attended the 30th anniversary gathering of UFO researchers, contactees, and tinfoil hat enthusiasts at a local hotspot residents claim to be the “UFO capital of the world.” Here, in the weird backwoods of Wisconsin, strange activity has been recorded for decades around Long Lake and a nearby glacial formation called Dundee Mountain, where some believe a UFO base is housed.
I wrote about that experience right here.
Also, Mark Borchardt (of American Movie fame) made a documentary about it.
Tide Pods and Other Stupid Human Tricks
This is probably my favorite meme of all time. Flat Earth cats is a close second.
Yes, we rang in 2018 with the startling revelation that kids were eating laundry detergent in a viral stunt known as the Tide Pod Challenge. This landed many in the hospital, and there were over apparently 100 calls to Poison Control about it in January 2018 alone.
Thanks to the miracle of the internet, we can sit back and watch natural selection in action.
More stupid human tricks:
- Charlie Daniels warns Taco Bell about Illuminati
- Truck driver plows over Nazca Lines
- Flatulence on plane causes emergency landing
- China cracks down on funeral strippers
- Pennsylvania church blesses AR-15s for Jesus
- Woman gets formaldehyde instead of saline, embalmed alive
- Wisconsin man eats his 30,000th Big Mac
- Woman tears out her own eyeballs outside church
- People are getting plastic surgery to look like Snapchat filters
- Jumping soccer fans trigger earthquake in Mexico
- Guy serves tacos made from his amputated leg
- Petition to change the day Halloween is celebrated on
- Kenyan official says gay lions ‘must have seen gay men behaving badly’
- Missionary killed trying to bring word of God to uncontacted tribe
- Women are sending love letters to man who murdered his family
- Barney the Dinosaur is now a tantric sex guru
Catch all the saints in Follow JC Go
Follow JC Go, A Pope-approved mobile game inspired by Pokemon Go has players searching for Catholic saints.
Killing for Slenderman
Morgan Geyser, one of two Wisconsin girls who attempted to murder their friend for Slenderman during a birthday sleepover party when they were 12 years old, was sentenced to 40 years in a state mental hospital.
More crimes headlines:
- Clumps of frozen body parts found in body broker’s warehouse
- Pakistan gang stealing spinal fluid for black market
- Family believes Alcatraz escapee is still alive
- Man stole toes from Body Worlds exhibit
- Investigators claim to know real identity of D.B. Cooper
- John Lennon’s killer denied parole for 10th time
- Mummified human corpse filled with bees, wasps, and a squirrel found hanging from tree
- Stolen ruby slippers recovered after 13 years
- Murder man’s body discovered when fig tree grew from seed in stomach
- Remains of 11 babies found in ceiling of Detroit funeral home
- Workers find 1,000 teeth in wall
- Banksy painting self-destructs after selling for $1.4 million
Polish funeral parlour Lindner came under fire when they revealed the 2019 editions of their annual calendar of nude women with coffins would also include a male model.
Rare Look Inside Haunted House
Investigators inside the Tallmann house, 1988
In 1988 a local haunted house in Horicon, Wisconsin made international headlines when the Tallmann family fled their home in the middle of the night. The bizarre case of the haunted bunk bed aired that October in a chilling episode of Unsolved Mysteries. The episode was filmed inside the home with permission by the new owners, but the actual bunk bed blamed for the horrific things the family endured had never been seen.
I marked the 30th anniversary of the haunting by sharing recently discovered photos of the bunk bed and other locations where things happened that were taken during a paranormal investigation of the Tallmann house in the weeks after the family abandoned it.
More paranormal news:
- David Bowie miraculously appears in bathroom sink
- Vatican is training more exorcists to keep up with rising possession cases
- Jesus appears on horseshoe crab shell
- Evil spirits terrorize small town through WhatsApp
- Psychic predicted David Bowie’s exact date of death in the 1970s
- Possessed child calls 911
- Woman who’s had sex with 20 ghosts gets engaged to one
- Woman marries the ghost of 300-year-old pirate
- But ghost pirate marriages never last
I tracked down the grave of John “Babbacombe” Lee, England’s notorious “Man They Could Not Hang” who escaped a death sentence for murder and died anonymously in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Curse of the Red Mummy Juice
In July a black granite sarcophagus and massive alabaster head were discovered by a construction crew in Alexandria, Egypt. Measuring two meters by three meters and weighing over 30 tons, the sarcophagus is the largest ever discovered in Alexandria. It dates to the early Ptolemaic period – about 323 BCE, leading some to believe it could contain the remains of Alexander the Great. And, of course, it was probably cursed.
Archaeologists opened it anyway.
“The sarcophagus has been opened, but we have not been hit by a curse,” Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of Egypt’s antiquities ministry, told the media.
While there may have been no immediate curse, an foul stench filled the hole when the lid was lifted, causing the the crew to flee while it aired out. Sewer water had been leaking into the sarcophagus, making a rancid red stew of human remains.
When the liquid was drained, the skeletal remains of three individuals were found inside. One of the skulls was found to have fractures caused by a sharp object, indicating they had possibly been soldiers.
Almost immediately after the announcement, someone launched a change.org petition to “let people drink the red liquid from the dark sarcophagus” so they could assume its power. To date it has been signed by almost 35,000 people.
Soon after, the world’s oldest cheese was discovered in a 3,200-year-old tomb. It was contaminated with Brucella melitensis, which can cause a nearly fatal disease called brucellosis.
And of course people wanted to eat it.
More archaeological oddities:
- Lost city emerges in rural Kansas field
- ‘Hunger stones’ with dire warnings have been surfacing in Europe
- ‘Vampire child’ burial discovered at ancient Roman site
- World’s oldest intact shipwreck discovered in Black Sea
- Mystery of lederhosen mummy solved
- Neanderthal child eaten by giant prehistoric bird
- 500-year-old skeleton wearing leather boots found in Thames
- Medieval man replaced amputated arm with knife
- Ancient shark fisherman buried with extra limbs
- Mass child sacrifice found in Peru
- ‘Holy Grail of Shipwrecks’ found worth $17 billion
- Priceless artifacts lost in Brazil museum fire
- But the collections were preserved by Google virtual tour
- Bones ’99 percent’ likely Amelia Earhart
- Heads on stake found at 8,000-year-old burial site in Sweden
Those we lost in 2018:
- Sideshow king Ward Hall dies at 88
- Coast to Coast AM host Art Bell dies at 72
- Stephen Hawking dies at 76
- Adult content on Tumblr dead at 11
- The Man from the Train
- The Penguin Book of Hell
- Mystery of the Exploding Teeth
- Born to be Posthumous
- Hell’s Princess
Here’s to a new year full of many more strange headlines.
Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments below.
A roundup of the weirdest news and most popular posts from Cult of Weird for 2017.
2017 has been a ridiculously strange year. There have been countless Mothman sightings reported in the Chicago area. Not one but two famous mustaches were discovered intact in their graves during high-profile exhumations. A mysterious photo was discovered that seems to offer clues to the whereabouts of Amelia Earhart after her disappearance. Hugh Hefner died. Charles Manson died. Luke Skywalker died. And, most recently, the US government admitted it has been studying UFOs for the last decade to assess the threat to national security.
It’s been an interesting year here at the Cult of Weird hive, as well. Every attempt I made to get out from under the crushing weight of the walls around me, and the stagnant routines I was drowning in…lead me to some new bit of irresistible weirdness.
I stumbled into a cemetery founded in the mid-1800s on the property of a family who believed the dead taught their daughter to play the piano. In Wisconsin Dells, the “water park capital of the world,” I came face to face with the mummified head of German serial killer Peter Kurten, the Vampire of Dusseldorf. I met filmmaker John Borowski and had a fascinating conversation about the exhumation of H.H. Holmes for the History channel series American Ripper. And, crossing a big item off my bucket list, I saw Stephen King with his son Owen in Milwaukee during their fall tour to promote their new novel Sleeping Beauties.
Also, my sister, along with my favorite Irishman (and soon to be brother-in-law, congrats, you guys!) took Cult of Weird on the road with an October trip to Salem on Friday the 13th.
Salem Witch Trials Memorial
Here are the most viewed posts and weirdest moments of 2017:
Lizard Man Sightings During the Eclipse
In all seriousness, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) warned citizens in the path of totality during this year’s solar eclipse to be on the lookout for lizardmen, even tweeting a map of locations where they have been spotted in the past. “SCEMD does not know if Lizardmen become more active during a solar eclipse,” the agency explained, “but we advise that residents of Lee and Sumter counties should remain ever vigilant.”
Pentagon UFO Study
The US government admitted it has been studying “anomalous aircraft that were seemingly defying the laws of aerodynamics” and that, according to Intelligence official Luis Elizondo, who ran the secret program, there is “very compelling evidence that we might not be alone.”
19th-Century Girl Identified
Researchers discovered the identity of a young girl found buried beneath a home in San Francisco, left behind when the city’s cemeteries were moved to Colma.
Serial Killer H.H. Holmes Exhumed
The grave of H.H. Holmes, America’s “first serial killer,” was exhumed to prove whether or not he conned his way out of his 1896 execution.
Clown Motel for Sale
The haunted clown motel was put up for sale.
The main ingredient in the Yukon’s famous Sourtoe Cocktail, a real mummified human toe, was stolen.
Lost Chapel of Bones
A lost Chapel of Bones still remains beneath the ruins of an ancient church in Malta.
Man Eaten by Python
A man who went missing in Indonesia was eaten by a 23-foot python.
A brutal 1928 case of demonic possession became the inspiration for William Peter Blatty’s novel The Exorcist.
A piece salvaged from the ruins of the cabin used in Evil Dead 2 was sold on ebay.
World’s Largest Ouija Board
The world’s largest Ouija board is on the roof of the haunted Grand Midway Hotel.
Restoration of a famous diorama at the Carnegie Museum revealed a real human skull had been used in the 150-year-old display.
Salvador Dali’s Mustache
When the tomb of Salvador Dali was exhumed to retrieve DNA samples for a paternity case, the artist’s surreal mustache was found intact.
Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot Film
Purporting to show a female sasquatch walking along the banks of Bluff Creek in Northern California, the controversial Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film turned 50.
Heilung Live at Castlefest
Watch this spellbinding performance of neopagan band Heilung from the Castlefest 2017 festival in the Netherlands.
The Torryburn Witch
Using photos taken before the skull was lost, the face of the Torryburn witch was digitally reconstructed.
Greatest Show on Earth
After 146 years, the Greatest Show on Earth came to an end with the final performance of the Ringling Bros. circus.
Vampire of Dusseldorf
The mummified head of Peter Kurten, a depraved serial killer who was beheaded in 1931, is on display in the water park capital of the world.
Lost in the Catacombs
Two teens were rescued and treated for hypothermia after being lost in the Paris catacombs for three days.
Only 333 bodies were recovered from the Titanic disaster. Those that were disfigured too badly to be identified were thrown back in. What happened to the rest?
Ouija in Class
A Milwaukee teacher was suspended for using a Ouija board in the classroom.
Deemed a blasphemer, 19th-century amateur scientist Andrew Crosse believed he had accidentally created life in a laboratory experiment.
Death in Venice
Funeral gondolas, flooding graves, and an island of bones: What the floating city of Venice does with its dead.
That time a band of beatniks exorcised the grave of Senator Joe McCarthy.
A sacred piece of St. John Bosco’s brain was stolen from an Italian basilica.
Searching for Amelia Earhart
Forensic cadaver dogs used to search for the remains of Amelia Earhart on the remote island of Nikumaroro.
Families and police make plea to end treasure hunt, as another dies searching for Fenn’s hidden treasure chest.
Jeremy Bentham’s Head
Jeremy Bentham’s preserved head went on display for the first time in decades.
Historic Torture Devices
The history of the Nuremberg torture collection, the largest collection of used torture devices ever assembled.
The Silver Bridge disaster, known for the bizarre rash of Mothman sightings preceding it, happened 50 years ago.
Amelia Earhart Photo
This photo seems to show Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan on a Japanese dock after they disappeared.
Hip Bone of St. Nick
A bone fragment believed to be from the tomb of St. Nicholas has been dated to the correct era.
Tower of Skulls
Archeologists unearthed a legendary 16th-century tower of skulls in Mexico City
At nearly 9 feet tall, Robert Wadlow is the tallest person to have ever lived.
Ed Gein’s Grave
This artist creates detailed dioramas of dark moments in history using miniature skeletons.
Odd Fellows Skeletons
When the Odd Fellows moved out of their lodges, sometimes the skeletons in their closets got left behind.
Lizzie Borden’s Mansion
The Victorian mansion Lizzie Borden lived in until her death in 1927 is for sale.
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Our top 9 posts of 2017 include Lizzie Borden's Victorian mansion, the mummified head of German serial killer Peter Kurten, a diorama of a Capuchin crypt by @historybones, a skeleton waving in the window, Burying Point cemetery from our expedition to Salem in October, Krampus candles from @divine_excess_, the graves of an influential spiritualist family in Wisconsin, the Victorian Book of the Dead by Chris Woodyard, and the Cult's own seance bunny. #cultofweird
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Best Weird Books of 2017
Here are the top 10 most popular books of 2017 from the Weird Book Club:
- The Victorian Book of the Dead
- Understanding Cemetery Symbols
- 199 Cemeteries to See Before you Die
- Atlas of Cursed Places
- The Butchering Art
- Morbid Curiosities
- Beyond the Dark Veil
- From Here to Eternity
- Paperbacks from Hell
Rienzi Cemetery, January 2017
Here’s to a weird new year! May 2018 be supremely bizarre.