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    14 Exceptionally Dark Wikipedia Pages, Plus 14 Delightful Ones You Can Use As A Palate Cleanser

    Featuring a maybe mythic mini moon museum.

    Here's how it works: Every odd-numbered Wikipedia page is disturbing, creepy, and otherwise icky, and each even-numbered one is, to use the technical term, a goddamn delight. Choose a category, skip around, or read them all: The exact nature of your journey into the Wikipedia rabbit hole is totally up to you.

    NBC / giphy.com

    Just so you know, all the information in this post was sourced from Wikipedia, and not every detail has been verified. Like Wikipedia itself, it shouldn't be used as a source for anything but entertainment. 

    1. Donner Party

    The memorial to the Donner Party at what is now called Donner Lake
    Rich Pedroncelli / AP

    What is it? The harrowing story of a doomed group of travelers who were led astray on their way to California and were eventually forced to resort to cannibalism in order to survive. The Donner Party is like what would happen if The Oregon Trail video game gained consciousness and decided randomly dying of dysentery or a broken leg wasn't bad enough. 

    Creepy Quote: "Diets soon consisted of oxhide, strips of which were boiled to make a 'disagreeable' glue-like jelly. Ox and horse bones were boiled repeatedly to make soup, and they became so brittle that they would crumble upon chewing."

    2. The Miracle of 1511

    Giphy / giphy.com

    What is it? Some Belgian peasants got pissed at the ruling class (who can blame them?) and protested by building a bunch of pornographic snowmen and destroying the snowmen built by the rich. It's unclear which part of this makes it a miracle.

    Fun Quote: "Examples of snowmen built included a snownun that was seducing a man, a snowman and a snowwoman having sex in front of the town fountain, and a naked snowboy urinating into the mouth of a drunken snowman." 

    3. Euthanasia Coaster

    The rollercoaster, with one large drop and seven loops
    Wikipedia Commons / CC RicHard-59 / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    What is it? Not real, so that's good. But this hypothetical roller coaster is designed in such a way that any hypothetical passengers wouldn't survive the ride, due to overwhelming g-forces causing "prolonged cerebral hypoxia, or insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain." I said "hypothetical" twice, but I'm still unsettled by it. 

    Creepy Quote: "After a sharp right-hand turn the train would enter a straight, where unloading of corpses and loading of new passengers could take place."

    4. Buttered cat paradox

    A cat looks at a piece of buttered toast
    Linda Raymond / Getty Images

    What is it? If we accept that toast always lands buttered side down, and cats always land on their feet, what would happen if you attached a buttered piece of toast (butter side up) to the back of a cat and then dropped it? Would a hole in the space-time continuum be ripped open? Or would you just have a ruined breakfast and an unhappy cat? (Probably that one.) 

    Fun Quote: "Cats possess the ability to turn themselves right side up in mid-air if they should fall upside-down... Toast, being an inanimate object, lacks both the ability and the desire to right itself." 

    5. Timeline of the far future

    Mark Garlick / Getty Images / Science Photo Library RF

    What is it? What I read when I feel like I can handle facing the cold embrace of eternity. But actually, it's a bunch of scientific guesstimates about how long it'll be until Chernobyl returns to normal levels of radiation or Mount Rushmore erodes, among other big disturbing question marks. (And it's 24,000 and 7.2 million years, respectively, if you were curious.) 

    Creepy Quote: "2 million [years from now]: Estimated time for the recovery of coral reef ecosystems from human-caused ocean acidification; the recovery of marine ecosystems after the acidification event that occurred about 65 million years ago took a similar length of time."

    6. Potoooooooo

    the horse in question
    Wikimedia Commons / Francis Sartorius

    What is it? History's most noble steed, Potoooooooo was a champion racehorse otherwise known as Pot-8-Os. It's pronounced "potatoes." 

    Fun Quote: "Bertie intended to call the young colt 'Potato' and instructed the stable boy to write the name on a feed bin. The stable boy spelled the name as 'Potoooooooo' (Pot followed by 8 'o's; that is, a failed attempt at spelling phonetically), which so amused Bertie that he adopted the spelling."

    7. Demon core

    A recreation of one of the demon cores
    Wikimedia Commons / Los Alamos National Laboratory / Via commons.wikimedia.org

    What is it? A radioactive sphere of doom that was almost the core of a third nuclear weapon dropped on Japan. After Japan surrendered, it was repurposed for experimental use instead, and accidents involving it killed two scientists: Harry Daghlian and Louis Slotin. Thus, it became known as the "demon core."

    Creepy Quote: "Slotin, who was given to bravado, became the local expert, performing the test on almost a dozen occasions, often in his trademark blue jeans and cowboy boots, in front of a roomful of observers. Enrico Fermi reportedly told Slotin and others they would be 'dead within a year' if they continued performing the test in that manner."

    8. Australia's big things

    The Big Banana
    Fairfax Media / Fairfax Media via Getty Images

    What is it? A collection of over 150 giant structures that dot the countryside of Australia. Lucky tourists can visit the Big Koala Family, the Big Apple (not that one), or one of two Big Chooks ("chook" means chicken). I for one have personally visited the Big Banana, and I'm pleased to report that it's exactly as advertised. 

    Fun Quote: "Mortels Sheepskin Factory is home to The Big Ugg Boots. These big ugg boots are 13 times the size of a women's US size 8 ugg boot." 

    9. List of inventors killed by their own inventions

    Franz Reichelt wearing his fatal invention
    Ullstein Bild Dtl. / ullstein bild via Getty Images

    What is it? A list of people who suffered the worst kind of fate: an ironic one. You never want to see yourself on a Wikipedia page that features "Hoist with his own petard" under the "See Also" section.

    Creepy Quote: "Franz Reichelt (1879–1912), a tailor, fell to his death from the first deck of the Eiffel Tower while testing his invention, the coat parachute. It was his first attempt with the parachute, and he had told the authorities he would first test it with a dummy."

    10. List of films considered the worst

    Sokka and Katara in the live action adaptation of Avatar the Last Airbender
    Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

    What is it? A compendium of films that earned the holy trinity of critical flops: a low score on Rotten Tomatoes, a "winning" streak at that year's Golden Raspberry Awards, and a creative insult from the late, great Roger Ebert or one of his compatriots. (Not every film listed meets those requirements, but a lot of them do.)

    Fun Quote: "Roger Ebert wrote, 'The Last Airbender is an agonizing experience in every category I can think of and others still waiting to be invented. The laws of chance suggest that something should have gone right. Not here. It puts a nail in the coffin of low-rent 3D, but it will need a lot more coffins than that.'" 

    11. Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571

    Canessa and Parrado after their rescue
    Evening Standard / Getty Images

    What is it? A plane carrying an Uruguayan amateur rugby team and their friends and family that crashed in the Andes Mountains, leaving 33 survivors to fend for themselves in the most unforgiving environment imaginable. Starvation led the group to an agonizing decision: They had to consume the deceased to survive. After 72 harrowing days, 16 survivors were rescued, thanks to the efforts of three men (Roberto Canessa, Nando Parrado, and Antonio Vizintin), who set out to find help at any cost. 

    Creepy Quote: "At sunset, while sipping cognac that they had found in the tail section, Parrado said, 'Roberto, can you imagine how beautiful this would be if we were not dead men?'"

    12. Cosmic latte

    a cappuccino at the center of the universe
    Iryna Melnyk / Getty Images / iStockphoto

    What is it? A shade of beige that scientists Karl Glazebrook and Ivan Baldry determined is the "average color of the universe." Other proposed names included Cappuccino Cosmico, Skyvory, and Primordial Clam Chowder. 

    Fun Quote: "Multiple news outlets, including NPR and BBC, displayed the color in stories and some relayed the request by Glazebrook on the announcement asking for suggestions for names, jokingly adding all were welcome as long as they were not 'beige.'"

    13. Capitol Hill's mystery soda machine

    The creepy vending machine
    Kevin Schafer / Getty Images

    What is it? A bizarre Coke vending machine where you could buy a drink for 75 cents (or a dollar, starting in 2018) by pressing one of six buttons labelled "? mystery ?" The drinks dispensed were "rare cans that were either ordinarily unavailable in the United States or have not been in circulation since the 1980s." From the early 1990s until 2018, it could be found in Capitol Hill, Seattle. No one knows who stocked it, or why they stopped. 

    Creepy Quote: "In June 2018, the machine mysteriously disappeared and a message was posted to the machine's Facebook page stating, 'Going for a walk, need to find myself. Maybe take a shower even.'"

    14. Stephen Colbert at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner

    Stephen Colbert performs while Bush watches
    Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images

    What is it? A blow-by-blow of Colbert's experience performing for what must be one of the toughest crowds in the history of stand-up comedy: the Bush administration. 

    Fun Quote: "I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers, and rubble, and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message: That no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound — with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world."

    15. Collyer brothers

    The interior of the brownstone
    Getty / Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

    What is it? Homer and Langley Collyer, two brothers who hoarded over 140 tons of "books, furniture, musical instruments, and myriad other items" in their Harlem brownstone. Police believed Langley was killed when he accidentally triggered one of the many booby traps he'd set to protect their treasured piles of debris. 

    Creepy Quote: "Items were removed from the house such as baby carriages, a doll carriage, rusted bicycles, old food, potato peelers, a collection of guns, glass chandeliers, bowling balls, camera equipment, the folding top of a horse-drawn carriage, a sawhorse, three body forms, painted portraits, photos of pin-up girls from the early 1900s, plaster busts, Mrs. Collyer's hope chests, rusty bed springs, the kerosene stove, a child's chair (the brothers were lifelong bachelors and childless), more than 25,000 books (including thousands about medicine and engineering and more than 2,500 on law), human organs pickled in jars, eight live cats, the chassis of the old Model T with which Langley had been tinkering, tapestries, hundreds of yards of unused silks and other fabrics, clocks, fourteen pianos (both grand and upright), a clavichord, two organs, banjos, violins, bugles, accordions, a gramophone and records, and countless bundles of newspapers and magazines, some of them decades old, and thousands of bottles and tin cans and a great deal of garbage."

    16. List of common misconceptions

    Fox / giphy.com

    What is it? A way for you to "well, actually" your way through conversations until the sun swallows the Earth. Alternatively, the world's most perfect time-wasting tool. 

    Fun Quote: "Mice do not have a special appetite for cheese, and will eat it only for lack of better options; they actually favor sweet, sugary foods. It is unclear where the myth came from."

    17. List of entertainers who died during a performance

    A portrait of Leonard Warren
    Getty / Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

    What is it? Exactly what it sounds like. Magicians are unsettlingly overrepresented, as are opera singers, one of whom — Leonard Warren — perished while singing an aria that begins, "Morir, tremenda cosa" ("to die, a momentous thing"). 

    Creepy Quote: "Operatic bass Armand Castelmary died onstage at New York's Metropolitan Opera House during a performance of Friedrich von Flotow’s Martha. The audience, believing his collapse to be a stroke of brilliant acting, rewarded him with a loud ovation as the curtain was lowered."

    18. Democracy sausage

    A person prepares a sausage while wearing a #AusVotes apron
    James D. Morgan / Getty Images

    What is it? Voting is compulsory in Australia, but polling places sweeten the deal by hosting "sausage sizzles." Enthusiastic supporters of democracy can do their civil duty, then purchase a sausage wrapped in a piece of white bread. The sizzles are generally fundraisers for local organizations. 

    Fun Quote: "The incident continued when Dowding accused state Liberal Party leader, Barry MacKinnon, of being photographed during the campaign wearing a barbecue hat and apron, therefore 'being involved in the dissemination of sausages.'"

    19. Dyatlov Pass incident

    A document with photos from the original investigation into the accident
    Getty / Donat Sorokin / Donat Sorokin / TASS

    What is it? A group of experienced hikers were found dead under mysterious circumstances after they set on an expedition in the Ural Mountains. The state of the bodies of the victims raised significant questions about what happened: Some of the hikers fled into the freezing night wearing only their underwear, while others had significant internal injuries with little to no external damage. One corpse was missing a tongue, and two others no longer had eyes. Theories about what happened include an avalanche, a military test gone wrong, or something more...paranormal. 

    Creepy Quote: "Andrey Kuryakov, deputy head of the regional prosecutor's office, said: 'It was a heroic struggle. There was no panic. But they had no chance to save themselves under the circumstances.'" 

    20. List of Ig Nobel Prize winners

    Rick Friedman / Corbis via Getty Images

    What is it? The Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded since 1991 for scientific discoveries and accomplishments that "first make people laugh, and then make them think." They're given out at the same time of year as the real Nobel Prizes, and they're all for real — if absurd — achievements. 

    Fun Quote: Aviation, 2007: "Patricia V. Agostino, Santiago A. Plano and Diego A. Golombek, for discovering that hamsters recover from jetlag more quickly when given Viagra."

    21. Ignaz Semmelweis

    Semmelweis washing his hands before a procedure
    Getty / Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

    What is it? Ignaz Semmelweis was a 19th-century Hungarian physician who suggested that fewer mothers and babies would die in hospitals if doctors washed their hands. Everyone got really pissed about this for some reason. Semmelweis was eventually committed to an asylum by his wife and colleagues, who believed he was losing his mind; he died there two weeks later. Today, he is remembered as a "pioneer of antiseptic policy" and the "savior of mothers." 

    Creepy Quote: "János Diescher was appointed Semmelweis's successor at the Pest University maternity clinic. Immediately, mortality rates increased sixfold to 6%, but the physicians of Budapest said nothing; there were no inquiries and no protests."

    22. Waffle House Index

    A Waffle House, standing proud
    Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

    What is it? Craig Fugate, the then-head of FEMA, came up with this unusual metric for measuring the impact of disasters in 2011. Waffle House, as it turns out, is the backbone of this nation, and Fugate once remarked, "If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That's really bad." The index has three levels: Green (no damage or power loss), Yellow (no power and a limited menu), and Red (closed). 

    Fun Quote: "As Craig [Fugate] often says, the Waffle House test doesn’t just tell us how quickly a business might rebound – it also tells us how the larger community is faring." 

    23. György Dózsa

    the iron throne with caption (like this, but somehow deadlier)
    Getty / Gary Gershoff

    What is it? A Transylvanian soldier who led a revolt against the ruling class. He didn't win, and these nobles weren't of the "forgive and forget" variety. Dózsa was condemned to die by sitting on a red-hot iron throne, while wearing a heated iron crown and holding a heated iron scepter. Somehow, it got worse from there. 

    Creepy Quote: "While he was suffering, a procession of nine fellow rebels who had been starved beforehand were led to this throne. In the lead was Dózsa's younger brother, Gergely, who was cut in three despite Dózsa asking for Gergely to be spared." 

    24. Moon Museum

    One of the copies of the moon museum
    PBS / youtube.com

    What is it? An itty-bitty showcase of six renowned artists that may or may not be on the Moon. Forrest "Frosty" Myers came up with the idea to attach the lil' "ceramic wafer" to a spacecraft, but NASA wouldn't tell him yes or no, so he got a German engineer to covertly attach it to the Apollo 12 lunar module. That being said, there's a chance the Moon Museum never made it to outer space; no one's ever double-checked. The six artists represented are Myers, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, John Chamberlain, and Claes Oldenburg.

    Fun Quote: "Starting at the top left is a drawing of a penis by Andy Warhol. 'He was being the terrible bad boy,' said Forrest Myers in an interview."

    25. 52-hertz whale

    A whale leaping out of the sea
    Tim Melling / Getty Images

    What is it? A whale who emits a whale call at a frequency no other whale does. Thus, it's been nicknamed "the loneliest whale in the world," or, alternatively, "the Eeyore of the sea." (I made that up, but you can't say it doesn't fit.) The presumably melancholy creature has never been spotted, only heard. 

    Creepy Quote: "Whatever biological cause underlies its unusually high frequency voice does not seem to be detrimental to its survival. The fact that the whale has survived and apparently matured indicates it is probably healthy. Still, its unique call is the only one of its kind detected anywhere and there is only one such source per season. Because of this, the animal has been called the loneliest whale in the world."

    26. Ravens of the Tower of London

    A Tower of London guard holds a Raven
    Leon Neal / Getty Images

    What is it? A group of at least six ravens who call the Tower of London home. They're extremely well treated, and for good reason: Legend has it that if the ravens fly away, the Crown (and Great Britain) will fall. 

    Fun Quote: "Londoners tend to be fond of the ravens, but sometimes an individual bird will fall out of favor because of inappropriate behavior. For example, 'Raven George' lost his appointment to the Crown, and was retired to Wales for attacking and destroying TV aerials."

    27. And finally: Mount Erebus disaster

    Mount Erebus
    Royal Geographical Society / Royal Geographical Society via Getty Images

    What is it? The deadliest disaster in the history of Air New Zealand. The airline used to operate sightseeing flights to Antarctica; passengers could observe and take pictures of the landscape from the air, and return home the same day. But in 1979, the pilots were given incorrect directions, leading them to crash a plane of tourists into Antarctica's Mount Erebus. All 257 people on board died instantly.

    Creepy Quote: "After we had almost completed the mission, we were trapped by bad weather and isolated. At that point, NZPO2 and I allowed the liquor that had survived the crash to be given out and we had a party (macabre, but we had to let off steam)." —Jim Morgan, who led the mortuary team. 

    28. And finally, again: Tree That Owns Itself

    Cynthia B. Arre / giphy.com

    What is it? A tree in Athens, Georgia that lived on property owned by William Henry Jackson, who loved it so much that he left it to itself. The original tree fell down in 1942, but a replacement was grown with one of its acorns. It's known as the Son of the Tree That Owns Itself. If you're wondering if any of this is legal, you're overthinking it. 

    Fun Quote: "'For and in consideration of the great love I bear this tree and the great desire I have for its protection for all time, I convey entire possession of itself and all land within eight feet of the tree on all sides.' —William H. Jackson"

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