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July 10. Mummified monk has red lacquer day
Modern science can't figure out why the body of Vu Khac Minh, a 17th century Buddhist Monk, hasn't rotted in the jungle heat of Vietnam.
Minh sits in a lotus position inside a glass case in the Dau Pagoda about 30 miles south of Hanoi. Unlike mummies elsewhere in the world, this one still has all his internal organs, according to a BBC News report.
Legend has it that when Minh felt death closing in on him in 1639, he locked himself in his pagoda and asked to be left alone.
One hundred days later, his disciples opened the door and found his body perfectly preserved. They figured he had reached nirvana and decided to preserve his body in red lacquer. The original coating, however, is starting to crack around Minh's head and legs. The Vietnamese government recently gave scientists permission to slap on another coat.
July 7. Romanians plan “Dracula Land” theme park
Romanian officials hoping to immortalize the countries infamous, bloody hero as a tourist attraction hope to begin construction of “Dracula Land” this year near the medieval city of Sighisoara in Central Romania.
The 148-acre amusement park will celebrate the Romanian national hero Vlad Tepes, better known as “Vlad the Impaler,” Agence France-Presse reported. Tepes is thought to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's thirsty undead count in his novel, “Dracula.”
The project will cost about $32 million and is expected to draw a million tourists a year. Organizers are counting on attracting a large number of Germans, Tourism Minister Matei Dan said.
July 6. Is psychic fare fair?
The city council in Pueblo, Colo., is debating a measure that would end its long-time ban on psychics who charge for their services in exchange for a $25 annual license fee and a criminal background check.
The proposal has rankled some psychics who make a living giving others advice about lottery numbers, cheating spouses and job promotions, according to an article in The Pueblo Chieftan.
“Why should people with this gift have to pay a business license fee to the city?”
asked Patty Artichoker, an ally of the psychics. Local police fear dropping the ban will lead to many residents paying large sums of money to unscrupulous pseudo psychics.
July 4. Sewer lizards terrorize Big Apple
New York City's most prevalent urban legend got a boost this week from some enterprising hoaxers who plastered the city's manhole covers with official-looking stickers reading: “Stay clear. Sewer lizard fumigation in progress.”
Pranksters have handed out cards in busy areas informing people of the spraying and directing residents to a website (www.sewer-alert.org). The site describes the fumigation as an effort to kill 10-foot, 200-pound mutated lizards that evolved from reptile pets flushed down city toilets in the 1960s, according to New York Daily News.
The myth began 40 years ago after a trend of people keeping lizards and baby alligators as pets resulted in many or the animals getting flushed down city toilets when they got too big.
June 29. Canadian Bigfoot makes an impression
Residents of a Native American reservation about 1,000 miles north of Toronto recently discovered 14-inch footprints they think may have been left by a mysterious ape man that elders have talked about for generations.
“It's definitely not a bear,” Abraham Hunter, chief of the 260-member band, told Toronto's National Post. The tribe, however, has reportedly not ruled out Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti or Shaquille O'Neil.
June 27. Loch Ness believers shaken, not stirred
Persistant sightings of a lake monster in Scotland's most famous body of water are likely caused by the combination of an active geologic fault and a very imaginative regional culture, according to an Italian scientist.
The same mix of earthquake activity and primal fear could account for Greece's Oracle at Delphi and other sites the ancient world associated with dragons or supernatural forces, Luigi Piccardi, a Florence researcher, told World Reporter.
Beneath Loch Ness runs the Great Glen fault, one of the few active fault lines in Great Britain, Piccardi said. Its rumblings could cause a churning on the surface of the lake. A regional culture predisposed toward making and preserving myths could do the rest, he said.
Hmmm. This could explain a lot of the things I've seen in Los Angeles....
June 25. The cave conversationalist
Ghostly voices from a cave in a remote village in Dubai have driven 50 families from their homes, according to World Reporter.
Every night, residents of the Village of Al Jeer gather at the mouth of the cave to listen for what sounds like a man's heavy breathing. Fear, however, has kept anyone from actually entering the cave, World Reporter wrote.
Travel advisory: Dubai would NOT be a good place for an asthma attack.
June 24. Hundreds pack cover-up conference
More than 600 people crowded a 500-seat University of Colorado auditorium to watch two hours of video testimony from former government and military workers about extraterrestrial beings and our government's efforts to monitor them.
The screening was part of “The Disclosure Project”, a North Carolina physician's attempt to get Congress to hold hearings on the government's alleged interaction with alien life forms. The physician, Dr. Steven Greer, told those gathered that he believes people from another planet are monitoring the earth.
Fascinating. Who would've thought reality TV would catch on outside the solar system?
June 21. Witch trials a bad acid trip.
It wasn't witchcraft that caused eight teenage girls to have convulsive fits, prickly skin and hallucinations in Salem, Mass., in 1691. It was an LSD-like fungus, according to a PBS program, “Secrets of the Dead II”.
The symptoms shown by the girls who were allegedly “hexed” by Salem's witches could by explained by the effects of a fungus that infected the village's rye crop, according to D. Linda Caporael, a behavioral psychologist.
Caporael, who grew up in San Francisco during the psychedelic `60s, noticed the similarit
June 17. Bats swarm Vegas hotel
The Luxor Casino is one of the most bizarre hotels in the world, even by over-the-top Las Vegas standards. This gigantic, pyramid-shaped hotel stuffed with King Tut-themed craps tables and slot machines is also haunted by an ancient curse, some unlucky ghosts and the occasional flying saucer.
Now, the hotel's “sky beam,” a column of light pouring from the top of the pyramid that's so bright you can see it from 250 miles away, has created a new Strange attraction.
Bats have discovered the smorgasbord of bugs attracted to the light, and swarm there by the thousands, according to The Los Angeles Times. Motorists have started pulling over to watch the frenetically flapping clouds of winged rodents. Most of the bats are common, Brazilian free-tailed bats. None are the bloodthirsty vampire kind, although that doesn't mean you won't find any suckers in Las Vegas.
June 15. Salem may officially tell “witches” it made boo boo
Three centuries after the good people of Salem, Mass., executed 20 people accused of practicing witchcraft, the descendents of five of the women put to death by the infamous witch trials are lobbying to have their ancestors exonerated.
In 1957, the Massachusetts Legislature approved a resolution specifically clearing the name of one of the accused, but identifying others worthy of exoneration only as “certain other persons,” according to CNN.com.
The hysteria that claimed 20 people's lives and led to the arrest of about 180 more, has been a lucrative legacy for Salem, which bills itself as “The Witch City”. The town draws thousands of tourists - and real, practicing witches - to see its witch museums, witch statures and witch shops filled with potions, spells and commemorative T-shirts.
June 13. Plans underway to clone Dracula
A group of U.S. businessmen wants to dig up the remains of Vlad the Impaler, the Romanian prince who inspired Bram Stoker's original vampire novel, and scrape out the genetic material needed to clone the infamous count.
“I am sure he was not as bad as people have made out,” Nicolae Padararu, president of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, told World Reporter. “If we could meet him in the flesh, I am sure we would clear up some of the more negative images that have grown up about him.”
Yeah. That bit about publicly impaling all his enemies was probably just media spin.
The group has talked with the creators of Dolly the Sheep, who basically rolled their eyes and said, “We'll get back to you.” Romanian newspapers, however, report that the group is serious and is actively pursuing the idea.
June 11. Room service, get me ... oh thanks.
Wouldn't it be great if the staff of your next hotel knew exactly what you wanted, when you wanted it, without you ever having to deal with that condescending little guy at the front desk?
Well, Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego may be working on that kind of psychic service. The hotel recently hired a Iris Carlton, a so-called psychic “intuit”, to work with its 18-member management team, according to a report in the Chicago Sun Times.
The one-hour sessions were offered as a way to motivate managers and move them “to the next step,” said Kathleen Cochran, general manager of the hotel. Can Miss Cleo's room service or Sylvia Browne's valet parking be far behind?
June 9. Ghost gator moves to Midwest
An 8-foot-long ghost alligator is haunting the Milwaukee County Zoo this summer.
Although the pale reptile with the white, leathery skin avoids the sun, preys at night and comes from the mysterious bayou country outside New Orleans, zoo officials say there is nothing supernatural about him.
Archbishop Antoine Blanc - even reptiles get funny names in N'awlins - isn't even an albino. He's something rarer: a leucistic. Instead of lacking the dark pigment of melanin like albinos, this alligator has two recessive genes that produce their white color, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.
The archbishop has 13 surviving siblings, all of which suffer from the same problem. They are the only known alligators of their kind, and live together at an alligator farm in Golden Meadow, La., that's owned by an oil and gas company.
The ghost gator arrived in Milwaukee several weeks ago. He will be on display through Sept. 3.
June 5. Short, flying man spotted in Turkey
Authorities sealed off a field near the village of Narli in the Usak province of Turkey, and scientists were called in to investigate claims that a space alien had landed in the area
Ayhan Cevik, governor of the province, told the Associated Press that he doubted the claim, but had ordered the area cordoned off to be safe.
A man and two women apparently spotted the alien while riding a tractor to a tobacco field. They said they threw stones at the creature, which was wearing a shiny, yellow-gray outfit with an amber light on the front. The alleged alien was about two feet tall with a wide, round head and wide eyes.
"It didn't have wings or propellers, but it could fly upward," witness Fevzi Cam said. Two other villagers said they saw strange lights in the area.
uthorities sealed off a field near Narli village in the Usak province of Turkey and scientists were called in to investigate claims that a space alien had landed in the area.
June 4. Irish wart-curing well in trouble
A well used since pagan times to cure ills ranging from warts to backache is threatened by a new highway, residents of County Meath told Reuters News Service.
St. Ciaran's well near Kells is on a pilgrimage route used for centuries. It would be made almost inaccessible under a plan to upgrade a busy nearby highway, said Oliver Usher, who gives guided tours of the area.
The well has its cherished rituals. The cure for warts, for example, requires that the sufferer not speak to anyone on the way home after obtaining a sample of water. Once a day for three weeks water must be sprinkled on the wart. At the end of three weeks it will be gone.
Legend says it does the same thing for the common cold after a week to 10 days.
June 1. UN moves to protect sacred sites
The extremist whackos who run Afghanistan stone women to death for infidelity and force Hindus to wear identification patches similar to the Stars of David Hitler required during the Holocaust's warm-up. But it took the dynamiting of two ancient religious statues to provoke a global outcry.
The United Nations this week passed its first-ever resolution protecting religious sites, primarily in response to the Taliban's destruction of the world's tallest standing Bhudda statues at the historic site of Bamiyan.
The resolution calls on all countries to pass laws against threats of violence against religious sites and to promote respect of them. That could be good news for Strange Travelers - as long as they include Druid megaliths, mystical vortexes and chapels made from skeletons on the list of religious sites.
It COULD be good news, that is, until somebody calls them on it. Somehow, I can't see the baby-blue helmeted forces of the UN storming a beach to save a saint's mummified jawbone or a sacred Wiccan tree.
orities sealed off a field near Narli village in the Usak province of Turkey and scientists were called in to investigate claims that a space alien had landed in the area.
May 31. Couch potatoes want to believe
A recently published study by a Purdue University professor found that heavy television watchers are more likely to believe in supernatural phenomena like ESP, UFOs, reincarnation, haunted houses, angels, devils and the abominable snowman than normal human beings.
The survey, by communications professor Glenn Sparks, found that TV habits had more to do with folks' willingness to believe than their religious practices did. Trekkies binging on late-night “Deep Space Nine” reruns, for example, are more likely to see space aliens. “Buffy” fans might be more inclined to get hickies from vampires, and “Touched by an Angel” devotees are more likely to believe that they have been.
To me, the implications are clear ... I've got to watch more “Xena Warrior Princess”.
May 30. SETI finds life in cyberspace
Several hundred of the millions of computer users enlisted in the search for intelligent life in outer space had a close encounter over the Memorial Day weekend that had them reaching for their dictionaries.
Computer geeks with time on their hands attacked the Berkeley, Calif. servers of the SETI@home project and harvested information on as many as 50,000 volunteers, according to an article posted by MSNBC. More than three million people around the world participate in SETI@home, using their home computers to analyze radio signals collected by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
SETI@home is a screen saver that uses the computing power of PCs to search “units” of information from Arecibo for anomalies. Those anomalies could indicate someone out there is trying to communicate with us.
But, instead of hearing from E.T., hundreds of volunteers this weekend received disturbing e-mail messages from the “UFCF Team 2001,” alerting them that security had been breached and SETI's “intire” user database had been stolen.
Repeated e-mail requests for the hackers to spell “Mississippi” went unanswered.
May 29. Mars creates red light district in London
Astronomers in Great Britain are bracing for a flood of UFO sightings this month, as the planet Mars gets closer to the earth than it has been in two years.
Mars will appear as a bright red circle hanging low in the horizon, according to an article in London's Daily Mail. Because it is so low, it is likely to appear to many motorists as though something strange is keeping pace with their car just above the treetops, experts with the Royal Astronomical Society said.
The red planet will be at its closest to earth on June 13. It should remain visible as an unusually bright object in the sky for about two months.
May 28. Close encounters of the herd kind
Ranchers in Burleson County, Texas are getting frustrated with local authorities' failure to get to the bottom of a decade-long string of mysterious cattle deaths and mutilations.
The deaths, which UFO followers in this and other parts of the country often attribute to extraterrestrial experimentation, are most likely the work of some kind of cult, ranchers told the Abilene Reporter-News.
Once or twice a year, a rancher in this rural area about 100 miles from Houston find a dead bull with his abdomen sliced open and his genitals missing. Sometime, the tongues and internal organs are gone as well. Always, the prime cuts of beef are left to rot in the sun.
Local authorities have found no tire tracks, shoe prints, cigarette butts or shell casings near the carcasses, so have concluded the animals died of natural causes. So, why the selective dissection? Officially, it is attributed to skunks, possums and other scavengers who experts say tend to go after the softest tissue first
Throughout cyberspace, male visitors to this website just convulsed in a silent, but unanimous, crotch check.
May 28. Bruce Springsteen: Rock 'n Roll Shaman
Plenty of people in New Jersey think Bruce Springsteen is God. In fact, the owner of an Asbury Park Park nightclub recently credited him with having supernatural powers. In Newark's Star-Ledger, the owner of the Stone Pony said an impromptu appearance by The Boss at his club chased away dark clouds that had threatened to drown out the Pony's anniversary celebration.
That normally wouldn't be worth mentioning, except that I saw him do the exact same thing. I was sitting in the rain at an outdoor concert in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. in 1985, when Springsteen walked out on stage about 40 minutes early. He was alone, and carried an acoustic guitar.
When the cheering died down, he sat down on a stool. With no backup, The Boss played his version of "Who'll Stop the Rain?"
The clouds parted. The rain stopped. Honest.
And no, I wasn't smoking anything.
May 27. Nazca Lines Threatened by Progress
The enigmatic Nazca Lines - giant figures of animals and geometric shapes carved into the rock and sand of Peru's coastal desert 2,000 years ago - are being erased.
These are the lines that "Chariots of the Gods" author Erich von Daniken claimed were actually landing instructions for ancient astronauts. New Agers the world over travel here because it is one of the supposed "power places" where lines of invisible mystical energy converge.
Unfortuneatly, those aren't the only folks drawn here.
Over the last decade, trucks from nearby copper and gold mines, floods and mudslides from El Nino weather patterns, and infrastructure construction by utility companies are defacing the shapes, which have baffled archeologists for decades, according to an article in The Plain Dealer of Cleveland. Advertisers and political campaigns have carved modern messages between the designs, which are popular tourist attractions.
"If we do not act quickly to perserve these sites, the world may lose out on an oportunity to understand some of the earliest known and greatest secrets of ancient human civilization," said Alberto Urbano of Peru's National Institute of Culture.
May 26. Werewolves and Monkeys and Bears, Oh My
Villagers in India's remote Assam state have reported a spate of attacks by man-like furry creatures similar to the "Monkey Man" whose alleged rampage has caused hysteria in New Delhi, the nation's capital, this spring, according to a May 26 report posted on CNN.com.
Some accounts say the new creature, which roars loudly and disappears whenever it is confronted by light, resembles a bear. Other reports say it is more wolf-like, and is able to enter homes even when the door is locked, according to an article in The Indian Express.
Reuters news service reported more than 20 people have been injured in the attacks. Villagers have organized all-night patrols and performed rituals against evil spirits.
Indian officials who investigated are dismissing the attacks as "figments of people's imagination" and mass hysteria.