Sarpa salpa (above) is a type of sea bream found in the Mediterranean as well as in temperate areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It has one unusual quality. Eating it can cause hallucinations. For this reason, it's sometimes called the "dreamfish."
People have known about this for a long time. Apparently Sarpa salpa was occasionally eaten for recreational purposes during the Roman Empire.
A 2006 article in the journal Clinical Toxicology describes some medical case reports involving dreamfish consumption. For instance, in 1994 a 40-year-old man on vacation in the French Riviera ate some, and the next day the hallucinations began:
he began to experience blurring of vision and hallucinations involving aggressive and screaming animals. Agitation and disorientation led him to seek medical assistance (he was not able to drive anymore as he was seeing giant arthropods around his car). Physical examination upon arrival at the hospital emergency room demonstrated no notable abnormalities: no fever, no sign of focalization or sensory-motor deficit, and normal hemodynamic status except for sinusal tachycardia linked directly to the mental disturbances. During hospitalization, the patient recovered rapidly with complete resolution of symptoms within 36 h post ingestion. He was unable to recall the hallucinatory period.
Similarly, in 2002 a 90-year-old retiree ate some sea bream, again in the French Riviera, and experienced hallucinations involving "human screams and bird squealing."
A case described on Wikipedia seems to have been far more pleasurable. In 1960, National Geographic photographer Joe Roberts purposefully ate some broiled dreamfish: "he experienced intense hallucinations with a science-fiction theme that included futuristic vehicles, images of space exploration, and monuments marking humanity's first trips into space."
The authors of the Clinical Toxicology article note that cases of hallucinogenic fish poisoning (ichthyoallyeinotoxism) are often confused with ciguatera poisoning — the latter caused by fish flesh contaminated by "various toxins produced by the benthic dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus."
Ciguatera can also cause hallucinations. However, it may also kill you, whereas you should recover from the dreamfish hallucinations within 36 hours.
(Thanks to hotsauce269 for letting us know about the dreamfish.)
Who could resist spending $57.40 plus $10.00 shipping for a book with this description:
Turtle with a small purple alien friend scientific expedition. Crossing the Sea like Crossing the Sea two stories travel the world. Little Turtle purple alien with friends explore the ocean together. they saw the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. but dangerous whale is near! Little purple alien turtles have a friend who has a cool graduated spaceship! Spaceship. turtles and small purple alien friends a series of scientific adventures. They leap into space. understanding the mystery of the eight planets; they cross the center of the earth. after a dangerous volcanoes . But not all smooth sailing expedition. when they go to sea. but accidentally be swallowed into the stomach.
In 1967, artist Robert Cenedella came out with the "Anti-Hero Hostility Dart Board," featuring "photographic images of some of your favorite anti-heroes." Consumers could choose between an "LBJ, Lady Bird, Humphrey, Castro, Hochi Minn, De Gaulle, Nasser, Nixon, Bobby Kennedy, Reagan, or Sigmund Freud" dart board.
In a later interview, Cenedella said that, "For a few dollars extra, you could put a relative or an ex-wife there." He added, "I had more success in doing these gimmicks than I did at my art."
The following year, Cenedella discontinued the dart boards, citing his concern that the nation had become too violent.
As far as I know, Cenedella's Hostility Dart Board was the first commercially sold, political-themed dart board. But nowadays they're fairly common. Zazzle.com, for instance, has a bunch of them.
Marshall George Cummings, Jr. of Oklahoma was charged with snatching a purse from a woman on October 14, 1976. His case came to trial in January 1977, and Cummings asked to represent himself, which the court allowed. However, during the cross-examination of witnesses, Cummings proceeded to make what the state later described as an "unfortunate error." He conducted the cross-examination in the first person. Specifically, he asked the main witness, "Did you get a good look at my face when I took your purse?" The jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Cummings later appealed his sentence, arguing that the court had erred by allowing him to represent himself and that "there was not a knowing and intelligent waiver of the right to counsel." As proof of this he pointed to his blunders during the trial. The state argued back that his incompetence could not have been foreseen in advance, and that he had been fully advised of his rights.
Cummings also complained that the prosecutor had used prejudicial "showboating" tactics during the trial. For instance, Cummings alleged that at one point the prosecutor had removed a document from his file "in a manner reminiscent of a musketeer unsheathing his sword to do battle with enemies of the king."
The appellate court decided that the errors cited by Cummings weren't sufficient to reverse his conviction. However, it did modify his sentence, reducing it from ten years to five.
You can read the full text of the appellate court's decision at Justia.com.
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
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