This Wikipedia Page Will Steal The Next Hour Of Your Life

Like any serious procrastinator, I know the dangers of Wikipedia: what starts off as a quick fact-checking mission inevitably ends with hours wasted reading about Michael Jackson’s pet monkey Bubbles or checking out the list of sexually active popes. But Wikipedia is really just being irresponsible with their amazing Unusual Articles page, an exhaustive list of their most bizarre entries. After spending the past several days ignoring the demands of my daily life, I present to you some of the strangest things I found.

1. Kan-CHO!!!

Looking to prank your friends, preferably in a way that will leave both of you irreparably traumatized? How about Kancho, the Japanese prank “performed by clasping the hands together in the shape of an imaginary gun and attempting to insert the extended index fingers sharply into an unsuspecting victim’s anus, often while exclaiming ‘Kan-CHO!’” Sounds like a great way to liven up the office!


2. The Laughing Epidemic

As someone who likes to smoke a lot of weed and read Philip K. Dick, I’m fascinated by mass hysteria and shared psychological illnesses. Therefore I was riveted by the Tanganyika laughter epidemic of 1962, a Tanzanian laughing plague that started, like any good hysterical outburst, at an all-girls boarding school (I can only imagine the CW Network was prominently involved). The epidemic affected a large portion of the students and the school was even forced to shut down.

Even more outrageously, “the children and parents transmitted it to the surrounding area. Other schools, Kashasha itself, and another village, comprising thousands of people, were all affected to some degree. Six to eighteen months after it started, the phenomenon died off. The following symptoms were reported on an equally massive scale as the reports of the laughter itself: pain, fainting, flatulence, respiratory problems, rashes, attacks of crying, and random screaming.”

Six to eighteen months of laughter-induced flatulence and random screaming? Sounds like my sophomore year of college.


3. The Secret Language of Twins

I’ve always been creeped out by twins, as they seem to be God’s way of saying, “Try to explain the meaning behind this one, you jackasses.” I’m even more disturbed by them after reading about cryptophasia, the “phenomenon of a language developed by twins (identical or fraternal) that only the two children could understand.” That’s like the plot summary for the most terrifying episode of Sister, Sister imaginable.


4. The Man Who Wrote Everything Down

An American dude named Reverend Robert Shields chronicled every five minutes of his life via diary entries from 1972 to 1997, comprising 37.5 million words.

“Believing that discontinuing his diary would be like ‘turning off my life,’ he spent four hours a day in the office on his back porch, in his underwear, recording his body temperature, blood pressure, medications, describing his urination and bowel movements, and slept for only two hours at a time so he could describe his dreams.”

A sample entry from July 25, 1993:

7 am: I cleaned out the tub and scraped my feet with my fingernails to remove layers of dead skin.

7.05 am: Passed a large, firm stool, and a pint of urine. Used five sheets of paper.


5. Yo Momma

Remember Yo Momma, that unspeakably atrocious MTV show Wilmer Valderrama hosted? Well, sorry for mentioning it, but it was all I could think about after reading up on The Dozens, “a game of spoken words between two contestants, common in African-American communities, where participants insult each other until one gives up.” I thought we called that a marriage?

I like Wikipedia’s sample exchange, which appears to escalate rather quickly:

Participant 1: “I hear your mother plays third base for the Phillies.”

Participant 2: “Your mother is a bricklayer and stronger than your father.”

Participant 1: “Your mother eats shit.”

Participant 2: “Your mother eats shit and mustard.”


6. The Great Stink

In the summer of 1858, London was plagued by the Great Stink, “during which the smell of untreated human waste and effluent from other activities was very strong in central London.” This article is filled with delightful tidbits about how waste was basically dumped right into the water supply at the time and mentions Toshers, which were commonly whole families who “scavenged through the sewers looking for anything of value.” The 19th century, ladies and gentlemen!


7. Butt Hash

Jenkem (a.k.a. butt hash) is fermented poop that people huff to get really high, or, presumably, to look cool at parties.

“The effects of jenkem inhalation last for around an hour and consist of auditory and visual hallucinations for some users. In 1995, one user told a reporter it is ‘more potent than cannabis.’ A 1999 report interviewed a user, who said, ‘With glue, I just hear voices in my head. But with jenkem, I see visions. I see my mother who is dead and I forget about the problems in my life.’

Oddly enough, RC Cola has that same effect on me.


8. Animal Hookers

People always bring up how there’s like one species of animal that has sex for pleasure or that commits murder or whatever, as if finding traces of human behavior in nature validates us. Well, maybe those same people can make a case for legalized prostitution, as “studies have been used to promote the idea that prostitution exists among different species of animals such as Adélie Penguins, chimpanzees, and crab-eating macaque.”


9. The Worst Poet in History

William Topaz McGonagall was a 19th century Scottish fellow and possibly the worst poet ever. Wikipedia notes rather bluntly, “He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of, or concern for, his peers’ opinions of his work… Throughout his life McGonagall seemed oblivious to the general opinion of his poems, even when his audience were pelting him with eggs and vegetables.”

Below are some examples of McGonagall’s atrocities, which paint him as sort of a Victorian-era Fred Durst:

He was a public benefactor in many ways,

Especially in erecting an asylum for imbecile children to spend their days.

Black Beard derived his name from his long black beard,

Which terrified America more than any comet that had ever appeared.


10. Death Boner

I know that people often poop themselves upon dying, but apparently that’s not the only potential humiliation God has in store for our final mortal moments. The death erection “is a post-mortem erection, technically a priapism, observed in the corpses of men who have been executed, particularly by hanging.”

Well, there’s something that could’ve made Weekend at Bernie’s II at least 20% more hilarious. And apparently no one is safe from rigor mortifying hard-ons, as “art historian and critic Leo Steinberg notes that a number of Renaissance era artists depicted Jesus Christ after the crucifixion with a post-mortem erection.”


11. George Bush’s Turd Blossom

I knew that George Bush had a penchant for referring to people by nicknames, but it’s wonderful to have an unverified and likely apocryphal list of them. My favorites:

Russian President Vladimir Putin – Pootie-Poot or Ostrich Legs

Karl Rove – Turd Blossom

Chris Christie – Big Boy

Republic Congressman John Sweeney – Congressman Kickass

Director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center Cofer Black – Flies on the Eyeballs Guy


12. Let Us Trim Our Hair In Accordance With Socialist Lifestyle

About ten years ago, North Korea had a TV show called, Let Us Trim Our Hair In Accordance With Socialist Lifestyle, a title that probably should’ve been the chorus to Pavement’s “Cut Your Hair.” The program “was part of a North Korean government propaganda campaign promulgating grooming and dress standards in 2004–2005.”


13. Vagina Teeth

Although Wikipedia assures us that the idea of penis-biting vaginas with teeth is pure hokum, it does note that, “In rare instances, teeth may be found in a vagina…Dermoid cysts occur most commonly in the ovary. If it ruptures there, the teeth may migrate through the vagina.” Enjoy your 45 minutes of compromised, nightmare-plagued sleep tonight, gentlemen!


14. The World’s Worst Video Game

Penn & Teller made an unreleased video game for Sega CD (lol) titled Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors, featuring a variety of mini-games that allowed the game’s owner to trick or con their friends. That is simultaneously a wonderful and awful idea for a game. Especially of interest is the mini-game “Desert Bus”:

The objective of the game is to drive a bus from Tucson, Arizona to Las Vegas, Nevada in real time at a maximum speed of 45 mph. The feat requires 8 hours of continuous play to complete, since the game cannot be paused… If the bus veers off the road it will stall and be towed back to Tucson, also in real time. If the player makes it to Las Vegas, he scores one point. The player then has the option to make the return trip to Tucson for another point, a decision he must make in a few seconds or the game ends.


15. Your Genitals Are Not Disappearing

As a grown man who still reads R.L. Stine and eats Gushers, I’ve occasionally feared that my penis is disappearing. I thought I was the only one, but Koro is a syndrome “in which an individual has an overpowering belief that his or her genitals (e.g., penis or female nipples) are retracting and will disappear…mass hysteria of genital-shrinkage anxiety has a history in Africa, Asia, and Europe.” The page goes on to list several large-scale epidemics affecting thousands at a time, usually men who listened to a few too many Maroon 5 songs. It also makes a delightful foray into the Middle Age superstition that a witch could steal a man’s penis. “Witches were said to store the removed genitals in birds’ nests or in boxes, where ‘they move themselves like living members and eat oats and corn.’”


16. Iceland’s Penis Museum

I’ve saved the best for last: The Icelandic Phallological Museum, which “houses the world’s largest display of penises and penile parts.” Any time a Wikipedia page opens with the term “penile parts,” I’m in. I can’t help myself. The 8 greatest things I learned about Iceland’s Penis Museum:

  • “Founded in 1997 by retired teacher Sigurður Hjartarson and now run by his son Hjörtur Gísli Sigurðsson, the museum grew out of an interest in penises that began during Sigurður’s childhood when he was given a cattle whip made from a bull’s penis.”
  • Furthermore, an animal penis is apparently called a “pizzle,” which gives me a new anatomical appreciation for several Snoop Dogg songs.
  • “According to Sigurður, ‘Collecting penises is like collecting anything. You can never stop, you can never catch up, you can always get a new one, a better one.’”
  • “The museum claims that its collection includes the penises of elves and trolls, though, as Icelandic folklore portrays such creatures as being invisible, they cannot be seen.”
  • “The museum also contains sculptures of 15 penises based on the Iceland national handball team.”
  • “The museum has so far received pledges from four men – an Icelander, a German, an American and a Briton – to donate their penises. Canadian film-maker Zach Math comments that the American ‘is an ordinary guy but he has this quirk where he thinks of his penis as a separate entity from his body – Elmo. He has this dream that he wants it to be the most famous penis in the world.’ According to Sigurður, the American donor ‘wanted to have his penis cut off even during his lifetime and then visit the museum.’”
  • “In July 2011, the museum obtained its first human penis, one of four promised by would-be donors. Its detachment from the donor’s body did not go according to plan and it was reduced to a greyish-brown shrivelled mass pickled in a jar of formalin.”
  • “Sigurður has described the collection as the product of ‘37 years of collecting penises. Somebody had to do it.’” TC mark

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