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Death
Status: Self-fulfilled prophecy
When Sandeep was born, an astrologer predicted that he would have a short life. Recently another astrologer, on TV, seconded this prediction. In despair (whether because of the second prediction, or for some other reason, is not clear), Sandeep took his own life, thereby fulfilling the prophecy. This isn't the only self-fulfillment of a death prophecy that I'm aware of. The more famous case was the prediction of the 16th century astrologer Girolamo Cardan, who foretold that he would die in 1576. Sure enough he did, though it seems probable he took his own life to insure the accuracy of his prophecy. Seems like an extreme way to prove a prophecy correct.
Categories: Death, Future/Time
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 21, 2005
Comments (5)
This is a request for help. The proofreader has been going through the manuscript of Hippo Eats Dwarf looking for errors. This is the final check that the book receives before it goes to print. After this, nothing can be changed. Anyway, in the final chapter of the book (about death), I include the following definition:

Xenacate, v.: To kill a TV or movie character off so completely that no chance remains of bringing her back from the dead. Inspired by the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess. Its occurrence usually indicates that the actor playing the character has lost her job under unpleasant circumstances and has no hope of being rehired.

The proofreader has pointed out that it would be good to name a character to whom this occurred. (And I suppose it would be best to name a character on Xena itself to whom it occurred... It must have occurred to someone on that show in order to inspire the term. Though, in a pinch, an example from any show will do.) So can anyone think of a character who has been xenacated? If I use your answer I'll send you a free, signed copy of the book once it comes out (which will be in about three months). I need the answer by Friday, or Monday at the latest.

Update: I ended up using the red-shirted characters on Star Trek as an example. So thephrog wins the contest. I should note that I pulled a bit of a bait-and-switch, because I decided to revise my definition of Xenacate by deleting the part about the actor getting fired. After reviewing the few uses of the term on the internet, I decided that wasn't part of the word's meaning. Instead, it means to get killed off and not return. In which case the red-shirted characters are probably the most famous example of characters who only exist to get killed off. (Though I was tempted for a while to use the guy from MASH, but decided he didn't fit as well with the new definition.)
Categories: Death, Entertainment
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 07, 2005
Comments (88)
Status: Dwarf-eating hippo sighting
Peter Mount sent along a sighting of the Hippo Eats Dwarf story. (Not my book, the story itself.) It's turned up in a new book titled The World's Stupidest Deaths. I haven't seen the book, but this Australian review of it lists the tale as being among the stupid deaths it describes:

Other "stupid deaths" include:
AUSTRIAN dwarf and circus acrobat Franz Dasch, who was killed when he bounced on a trampoline into the yawning mouth of a nearby hippopotamus.
DAVID Grundman, of Arizona, who in 1991 fired two shotgun barrels at a giant cactus, causing it to crash down on him.
etc.


I assume the death is listed as a fact. (Incidentally, the guy who died when a cactus fell on him--that's a true story, but according to my information it happened in 1982, not 1991. It inspired the song Saguaro by the Austin Lounge Lizards.)
(And just to clarify, I think the Hippo Eats Dwarf story is total b.s., despite the fact that it's usually reported as being true--which is why I chose it as the title for my book.)
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 22, 2005
Comments (8)
Status: Documentary
A Dutch TV station, omroep.nl (I think it's a TV station), has an interesting documentary online about the Paul Is Dead hoax. The documentary is in English, but with Dutch subtitles. I had to select the Real Player option to get the video to play.

The documentary contains interviews with many of the key players in the events of 1969, including Russ Gibb (the Detroit DJ whose broadcast about the Paul is dead rumor brought it to the attention of a national audience), Tom Zarski (the kid who called Russ Gibb and told him to play Revolution 9 backwards), and Fred LaBour (the student journalist whose article first presented many of the clues to readers... LaBour is dressed as a cowboy in his interview because he's now a member of a western music group called Riders in the Sky). At the end of the documentary Russ Gibb claims to know a piece of information about the origin of the rumor that he's not yet willing to share with the public. Very mysterious. One can only speculate about whether he really does know something, or if he's full of it.
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 08, 2005
Comments (9)
Status: Art Project
The website of the SMA (Silent Movie Actress) Archive claims that:

We are a small and dedicated organisation based in Baltimore, USA. Our aim is the ‘resurrection’ of actresses from the Golden era of silent cinema. To do this we are securing a large body of quality genetic material from a variety of sources which is subjected to rigorous testing to ensure its validity. Samples range from small tissue and blood samples to full bones and several preserved organs.

Is this real? Well, the site it's located on, bonetrade.gregorywhitehead.com, is so elaborate that it would be easy to believe it was real. It delves into all kinds of bizarre aspects of "corporeal memorabilia," which is the trade in the body parts of dead celebrities. Now, I realize there definitely is a market for body parts of famous people (see Rasputin's penis). However, the elaborate corporeal memorabilia of the SMA Archive and everything else on bonetrade.gregorywhitehead.com is fictitious. It's the creation of artist Gregory Whitehead. He wrote a short movie called The Bone Trade about Walter Sculley, a (fictional) dealer in corporeal memorabilia. In the movie, Whitehead plays Sculley. (Also check out this mp3 file of Whitehead interviewing Sculley.) The website about corporeal memorabilia appears to be an outgrowth of the movie. For more weirdness by Whitehead, you can read his article in Nth Position Magazine about bibliovoria (people who love to eat books). (via The Presurfer)
Categories: Body Manipulation, Celebrities, Death
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 08, 2005
Comments (4)
Status: True
The Telegraph reports on the latest funeral practice in Sweden: freeze-drying the corpse of your loved one using liquid nitrogen, then shattering it into a powder, picking out any metal or plastic bits, and using the powder as mulch in a garden. Says Susanne Wiigh-Masak, the inventor of this technique: "Mulching was nature's original plan for us, and that's what used to happen to us at the start of humanity - we went back into the soil." It actually seems like a pretty good idea to me. A lot of people already strew cremains in their garden.
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 29, 2005
Comments (27)
A report in the Daily Mail claims that doctors stranded in New Orleans hospitals after Katrina hit decided to give some patients lethal doses of morphine, rather than watching them die in agony. A few bloggers are suggesting this report has all the markings of an urban legend, given that it's based on only one identified source. If so, it wouldn't be the first urban legend emerging from the disaster. However, the recent discovery of 44 dead bodies in a New Orleans hospital would seem to add credibility to this report.
Categories: Death, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Tue Sep 13, 2005
Comments (19)
image I've posted before about dogs who commit suicide, so when I saw this story about a chicken who committed suicide I thought I better add it to the site:

The man's son said that the chicken probably decided to kill itself being unable to lead the horrible life in the provincial village. The chicken is a vulnerable and sensitive bird that might not have the energy to handle stressful situations. Most likely, the Russian suicidal chicken has lost the will to live. The poor bird was not left hanging on the fence: it was cooked and eaten.

Maybe I'll have to start a new category for suicidal animals.
Categories: Animals, Death
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 03, 2005
Comments (19)
A French woman, Francoise Gaellar, had a kidney transplant two days after Princess Diana died in a car crash. She believes that she received Diana's kidney. As a consequence, she now feels urges to speak in English:

"I found myself speaking English to my friends, something I don't normally do because I have no reason to," she says. "I cannot explain why I did this."
Is this evidence of a fanciful nature, or an indication she had indeed received an organ from an English-speaker? Improbable though it sounds, there are many documented accounts of organ recipients taking on characteristics of their donors.


The French authorities aren't allowed to say who people get their organs from. They also aren't about to reveal what happened to Diana's body after she died. But a Hospital spokesperson did say that: "Because of bioethical laws and other considerations, it would have been impossible for this type of transplant to have taken place in a French hospital involving a British citizen, particularly when that person was the Princess of Wales."
Categories: Death, Health/Medicine
Posted by Alex on Thu May 26, 2005
Comments (20)
A woman has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after faking her husband's death (with the help of her husband). The two of them dug up a corpse from a grave, put it in their car, and lit it on fire. The police weren't fooled. Apparently the husband had been sentenced to jail, and the scheme was an elaborate way to get out of having to go. Now they're both going to jail. So the plan really didn't work. My impression is that forging a death certificate is, by far, the easiest way to fake your death. Staging an accident with a substitute corpse is pretty hard because the police have much better ways of identifying bodies nowadays.
Categories: Death
Posted by Alex on Thu May 05, 2005
Comments (3)
This photo of Johnnie Cochran's tombstone has been making the rounds:
image
One big clue that it's fake is that it misspells Cochran's first name. Another clue that it's fake is that it's obviously a joke. But here's a photo taken by the Mars Spirit lander that I swear is absolutely real. No joke:
image
Categories: Death, Extraterrestrial Life, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Tue May 03, 2005
Comments (8)
image Apparently this is not a hoax. The Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile led the funeral procession for George Molchan, a former spokesman for the company who died earlier this month. He often drove it, so it seemed fitting to include it in the ceremony (thanks to Eric for the link):

Molchan was laid to rest to the accompaniment of solemn prayers delivered in Slovenian by clergy from St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church. But not before the 50 or so people at the Calumet Park Cemetery grave site broke into a chorus of the company theme song, "I'd love to a be an Oscar Mayer wiener," followed by a few quick blasts on miniature, hot-dog shaped whistles handed out to the crowd.
Categories: Death, Food
Posted by Alex on Thu Apr 28, 2005
Comments (11)
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