Houston: Believe It Or Not? Ripley's Book Says Believe It

Like the Guinness Book of World Records people, the folks behind Ripley's Believe It Or Not like to stretch their franchise.

One way to do that is with the newest Strikingly True book, which offers "a mind-boggling array of incredible and bizarre facts, stories, interviews, lists, and features."

And more than a few of those mind-bogglers come from these parts.

"Don't know why, but Houston always seems to have several stories in the Ripley's annual," Frank Wolff, publicist for the book, tells Hair Balls.

What Houston stories made the cut

From Wolff, a half-dozen:

6. Art teacher Rebecca Bass and her students in Houston, Texas, won "Best of Show" at the 2010 Houston Art Car Festival with this dazzling vehicular tribute to the music of The Beatles. Each extravagant decoration is inspired by lyrics from Beatles songs. Ripley's soon snapped up the car, named Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

5. Over a period of four weeks, sculptors Dan Havel and Dean Ruck from Houston, Texas transformed two connected properties to create a large, tunnel-like vortex, making it look as if the interior of the buildings had exploded. The outer skin of the two houses -- made from planks of pine -- was peeled off and used to create a 60-ft-long spiral, which narrowed to a width of about 2 ft at the far end.

4. Millions of crazy Rasberry ants -- a newly recognized species named after Tom Rasberry, an exterminator from Pearland, Texas -- have been swarming over the state. They are attracted to electrical equipment and have ruined pumps at sewage pumping stations, fouled computers and gas meters, and caused fire alarms to malfunction. Rasberry had to clear the ants from the Johnson Space Center, one of NASA's major facilities, for fear that they would destroy the computer. 3. One of the favorites to win the 2010 Missouri River 340 -- a grueling 340-mi canoe and kayak race -- Brad Pennington from Houston, Texas, was forced to quit just hours into the event after a 30-lb Asian silver carp leaped out of the water and hit him in the head. He described the blow as like being hit with a brick, and it left him with a pounding headache.

2. Twelve-year-old Garret Mullikin from Houston, Texas, survived after a 9-in-long stick skewered his neck. Falling off a dirt bike, he hit the ground and the piece of tree branch, as thick as a broom handle, plunged into his neck and down into his chest, through his lunch, past vital arteries and his heart. Doctors said that if the stick had been pulled out before he was rushed to hospital, he could have bled to death.

1. Hilmar Moore has served as the mayor of Richmond, Texas, for more than 60 years. He was first appointed in 1949 and has been re-elected every two years since, although the last time he had an opponent was 1996.

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