Somniloquist

Dion McGregor never made it big as a songwriter, but he gained fame for another talent — his roommate discovered that McGregor spoke at full conversational volume while dreaming:

  • “Welcome to Midget City. Uh hmmmm … from the ground up we built it. Yes, from the ground up, ummm hmmmm. Well, we have 173 — a hundred — no — 174, 174 buildings … uh hmmmm. We have our own police system. See that little cop over there? One of our midgets.”
  • “Well, I like … it’s 6 feet deep and about 8 feet long. Yes, well … yes … you can drown the neighbor children in it … if they’re noisy you just lure them in. We have a dumbwaiter that comes up from the garden … you just pop them in that dumbwaiter … drag them right up … and pop them in the water … drown them … throw them down into the still. Hah-hah-hah-hah-hah … of, of course, I’m kidding. Heh-heh-heh-heh!”
  • “Well certainly you have to bring a — you have to bring a gift; it’s a birthday party, stupid! Well naturally. What do you think? You can’t go to a birthday party without bringing a gift. Honestly, for a child of 3, you can be so dense. Naturally … yes of course … I don’t care … you bring a gift of your own choosing.”

The two released a recording of these dreams and a companion book in 1964. “You may not believe this,” McGregor wrote, “but I’m one of those people who really values his privacy.”

Tableau

In Hitler Moves East, former SS officer Paul Carell records a bizarre scene from the bitterly cold winter of 1941 on the eastern front. At Ozarovo a rearguard of the German 3rd Rifle Regiment came across a group of Russian troops standing motionless in waist-deep snow. On investigating, they found that the Soviets, horses and men, had frozen to death where they stood:

Over on one side was a soldier, leaning against the flank of his horse. Next to him a wounded man in the saddle, one leg in a splint, his eyes wide open under iced-up eyebrows, his right hand still gripping the dishevelled mane of his mount. The second lieutenant and the sergeant slumped forward in their saddles, their clenched fists still gripping their reins. Wedged in between two horses were three soldiers: evidently they had tried to keep warm against the animals’ bodies. The horses themselves were like the horses on the plinths of equestrian statues — heads held high, eyes closed, their skin covered with ice, their tails whipped by the wind, but frozen into immobility.

Lance Corporal Tietz couldn’t take photos because “the view-finder froze over with his tears” and the shutter refused to work. “The god of war was holding his hand over the infernal picture,” Carell writes. “It was not to become a memento for others.”

“A Curious Fact”

A lady correspondent of the Boston Transcript submits the following: A few nights since, upon retiring to rest, the gas being out and the room quite dark, the writer’s attention was directed to her foot, which was illuminated by light; which upon examination was found to be phosphorescent, and proceeded from the upper side of the fourth toe of the right foot. Upon rubbing it with the hand, the light increased and followed up the foot, the fumes filling the room with a disagreeable odor. This lasted some time, when the foot was immersed in a basin of water, hoping to quench the light, but to no purpose; for it continued beneath the surface of the water, the fumes rising above. The foot was taken out and wiped dry, but the light still remained. A second immersion of the foot followed, and soap applied, with the same result. No more experiments were tried, and after a time it gradually faded and disappeared. The time occupied by the phenomenon was about three quarters of an hour. The lady’s husband substantiates the above fact, as he also witnessed them. Will some one please explain the above, as the emitting of phosphorus from a living body is new to the writer.

The American Eclectic Medical Review, September 1869

Over the Moon

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:FETMprojectile.jpg

Jules Verne earned his title as the father of science fiction: His 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon contains eerie similarities to the Apollo program that unfolded a century later.

Like Apollo 11, Verne’s story involved a crew of three being launched from the United States on a trip around the moon. The two spacecraft were of similar dimensions and weight, and both were mostly aluminum. (Verne’s craft was shot from a cannon called the Columbiad; Apollo 11’s command module was called Columbia.) Both were launched from the Florida peninsula after a competition with Texas; Congress resolved a similar contest in the 1960s, choosing Houston as home of Mission Control and Florida as the launch site — indeed, Verne’s craft takes off only 136 miles from today’s Kennedy Space Center. Both crews experienced weightlessness and used retrorockets, both missions were monitored by ground crews using telescopes, and both craft splashed down in the Pacific and were recovered by the Navy.

Some of this was guesswork, but some involved careful thought and intelligent speculation. Verne recognized that a vehicle can be launched into space most easily from low latitudes, and he undertook his own engineering analysis to design the projectile and the cannon that fired it. In his other novels, Verne describes antecedents of helicopters, air conditioning, projectors, automobiles, jukeboxes, the Internet, television, and submarines. “What one man can imagine,” he wrote, “another can do.”

“An Ass Cast Away”

In March, 1816, an ass belonging to captain Dundas, R. N. then at Malta, was shipped on board the Ister frigate, captain Forrest, bound for Gibraltar, for that island. The vessel struck on some sands off the Point de Gat, and the ass was thrown over board, in the hope that it might possibly be able to swim to the land; of which, however, there seemed but little chance, for the sea was running so high, that a boat which left the ship, was lost. A few days after, when the gates of Gibraltar were opened in the morning, the guard was surprised by Valiant, as the ass was called, presenting himself for admittance. On entering, he proceeded immediately to the stable of Mr. Weeks, a merchant, which he had formerly occupied. The poor animal had not only swam safely to the shore, but without guide, compass, or travelling map, had found his way from Point de Gat to Gibraltar, a distance of more than two hundred miles, through a mountainous and intricate country, intersected by streams, which he had never traversed before, and in so short a period, that he could not have made one false turn.

The Scrap Book, or, A Selection of Interesting and Authentic Anecdotes, 1825