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Weird News

Ripley's Says 2010 Was 'Another Unbelievable Year' -- Believe It or Not!

Dec 28, 2010 – 6:52 AM
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David Moye

David Moye Contributor

The economy may have struggled at times this year, but 2010 was a bull market for weirdness.

That's the word from Tim O'Brien, the spokesman for Ripley's Believe It Or Not!, which just came out with its list of the year's weirdest stories.

He says that weirdness seems to work whether times are good or bad.

"Weirdness does seem to be recession-proof," O'Brien told AOL News. "That's one of the key successes of Ripley's -- the interest in weirdness never fluctuates. We've been publishing cartoons since 1918 and books since 1929 and we have never run out of material."

That said, O'Brien does believe that 2010 will be remembered as the year of "feel good weirdness."

"There's always extreme stuff, but this year, the feel-good weird stories are the ones that stuck out," he said.

Richard Lorenc and Vivian Wheeler enjoyed a second reunion in Stamford, Conn.
Marc Hartzman for AOL News
Richard Lorenc and Vivian Wheeler enjoyed a second reunion in Stamford, Conn., while taping "Maury."
For O'Brien, no heartfelt weird story had the impact of professional "bearded lady" Vivian Wheeler -- a story first reported by AOL Weird News contributor Marc Hartzman.

Wheeler was born with hypertrichosis (werewolf syndrome) and as a hermaphrodite (having both male and female reproductive organs), and was told she couldn't have children.

But at 29, she gave birth to a boy, who was promptly taken away from her by her boyfriend and put up for adoption. In 2010, after years of searching, Richard Lorenc found his mother and they were re-united.

Another story close to O'Brien's heart was the tale of Ripley the Dog, a living, breathing pile of fur found in a ditch in Houma, La. After shaving the giant hairball, vets discovered a one-year-old poodle.

O'Brien says the pooch was given the name "Ripley" because "Believe it or not, there is a dog under here.''

Ripley'€™s is donating money to help a neglected dog in Houma, Louisiana.
Earlier this year, Ripley's donated money to help Ripley, a neglected dog in Houma, Louisiana. Ripley was found in a ditch with fur so badly matted that it couldn't even walk.
The before and after photos garnered world-wide attention and less than 6 weeks after being discovered, Ripley was healthy enough to be adopted.

But not all weird stories had happy endings, such as the one suffered by a homeless woman in California. After being befriended by a motorist, she died unexpectedly.

The driver, not knowing what to do with the body, drove it around for 10 months, next to a box of baking soda to help negate the smell. The corpse was discovered by police who smelled the stench, looked in the car and saw a leg poking out from under a pile of clothes.

Other stories making the Ripley's list include:
  • The Longest High School Football Game Ever: A high-school football game in Texas turned into an endurance battle as Jacksonville beat Nacogdoches in 12 overtimes, 84-81, breaking the old record of nine extra frames. Both teams battled for more than five hours before the game finally ended at 12:54 a.m.
  • Spray-on Clothes: Believe it or not, but O'Brien wouldn't be surprised if historians declare "spray-on clothes" as the biggest scientific advancement of 2010. Yes, it's true: Scientists developed an instant, sprayable, non-woven fabric that can be sprayed onto a nude body to form clothes that not only cover, but can be taken off, washed, and worn again.
  • Deep-Fried Beer: In a competition at the Texas State Fair, Mark Zable unveiled "Fried Beer." In a patented process, he puts beer into a doughy pocket and deep fries it. The quick fry hardens the crust, but the beer remains a fully potent brew. Those who sampled it were carded.
  • Man Shot in Head Finds out 5 Years Later: A man living in Germany walked around and functioned normally for five years without noticing he had been shot in the head. The .22 caliber bullet was found when the man went to the doctor to have what he thought was a cyst removed. All he could remember was that it probably happened in 2005 at a New Year's Eve Party and that he was "very drunk" (but not on fried beer).
  • Dog Chews off Man's Toe: A 48-year-old Michigan man credited his dog Kiko with saving his life by chewing off his diseased big toe as he lay passed out in a drunken daze. The terrier gnawed off his right big toe which turned out to be badly infected due to Type 2 Diabetes. The dog ate off the diseased tissue and left the rest untouched.
  • Woman Tries to be the Fattest: It's good to have a goal and for Donna Simpson, a 42-year-old mother of two, it's to become the world's heaviest living woman. Simpson currently weighs more than 600 pounds, but says she won't stop until she tops 1,000 pounds. She works as a model on a website called, where the curious pay to watch videos of her eating or walking. She spends nearly $750 per month in groceries for herself and admits that she is as hungry for attention as she is for the junk food she eats every day.
  • Cat Predicts Death: Oscar the cat lives at a nursing and rehabilitation center in Providence, R.I. where he roams the halls and is generally unsociable. That is, unless a person has more than a few hours to live. He rarely errs in his predictions and, this year, extended his predicting streak to 50. He senses death and cuddles with the elderly patients until they pass.
Although O'Brien believes that 2010 was an unbelievably weird year, he hesitates to handicap the odds for oddities in 2011.

"You can't predict weirdness," he said.
Filed under: Weird News, AOL Original, Year End
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