Well kidlings, it's time for another round of "You Can't Make Up This Stuff," the game based on my brother Big Rob's theory that reality is stranger than any fiction. As usual, we begin with an item from Rob's stomping grounds of Flint.  


Flint has garnered a lot of bad publicity over the years, so it's great to hear some positive news. In fact, there's something going on that should be replicated in every state, city, and neighborhood in the country. “The Porch Project has transformed over 450 Flint homes.” 


This simple idea can have a big impact. “The Porch Project is an effort to repair porches, home exteriors and yards in the area to connect neighbors and build stronger blocks across the city. The repairs and beautification range in need from simple to significant. Sometimes it’s just adding mulch or putting in flowers.” Other times railings or steps are repaired.  “In addition to fixing up hundreds of homes in Flint, The Porch Project has influenced similar initiatives across eight states and the globe.”  (


Neighbors helping neighbors is good news, but there is also bad news to report. There is going to be a Sriracha sauce crisis this summer. “A shortage of the chile-pepper-based condiment means it's been harder to find on store shelves. Be prepared to pay big for a bottle.” Some eBay sellers are asking $70 per bottle. 


Why is there a small supply? “Heat waves and severe droughts in Mexico are leading to water shortages, which in turn are hampering crops.” If you want numb lips this summer be prepared to empty your wallet. (


Ingesting scalding stuff could cause an irritating reaction. “The involuntary spasmodic interruptions known as hiccups usually last only a few minutes.” Hopefully, the spasms will not last a lifetime, like they did for the Guinness World Record holder for the longest case of hiccups in history.


Here's the skinny. “Charles Osborne was afflicted with a continuous case of hiccups for sixty-eight years (beginning in 1922).  Osborne’s diaphragm spasmed twenty to forty times a minute, meaning he hiccuped roughly 430 million times throughout his life. Finally, in 1990, his diaphragm suddenly ended its 68-year-long spasmodic episode on its own.” Unfortunately, he died in 1991, so his enjoyment of a hiccup-free life was very brief. 


That strange saga was one entree on a menu touting -- “Twenty-five of Our Most Fascinating Facts About the Human Body.” There are some pretty wild items on this compilation at:


For instance, do you dream in color or black and white? “While most people dream in full color, around twelve percent of the population experiences dreams in only black and white. People under the age of twenty-five almost never dream in monochrome, while members of the boomer generation and older have dreams devoid of color roughly a quarter of the time.” 


Sort of in the same realm, how many senses do you have? “We’ve all heard that we have five senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. Modern science has identified as many as thirty-two senses, by looking at receptors in our bodies with the job of receiving and conveying specific information. Senses you might not know you have include your vestibular sense, which controls balance and orientation; proprioception, which governs how our bodies occupy space; thermoception, which monitors temperature; nociception, our sense of pain; and many more.”


Nociception might come in handy if you ever participate in a game played in Italy. It's called “Calcio Storico,” which roughly translates to “historic football.” Ah, but this is not what Americans imagine when they think of football. See, this is a “football game” with no rules. “It's a crossover between rugby, handball, and boxing.” I would add MMA, wrestling, and street fighting. Toss in some legalized felonious assaults and it's game on. 


“According to the playbook, matches last for fifty minutes and are played on a rectangular field covered with sand and dirt with a line through the middle, and goals either end. Each team consists of twenty-seven players – no subs are allowed. The ultimate aim of the game is to score a ‘Caccia’ throwing the ball in the net on the opponents side. There are no other rules, but referees are put in place to break up any brawls (they often fail) making for a dirty and bloody battle.”



I would note that fifteen of a team's twenty-seven players are called forwards. They never touch the ball. The job of the forwards is to “injure, incapacitate, or tire out” the members of the other team. Again, no subs are allowed. This is all explained in a (can't make it up) video at:


Finally, if you're sitting on your spiffy new porch it might be surprising to know that you're actually on the move. See, the earth is traveling around the sun at 66,000 mph, so with the earth spinning you've traveled hundreds of miles every second. Running totals of this and other speed measurements are at a nifty website –


There's plenty more to fill your porch time on as summer night. A poll called “Let's Settle This” is where big questions are solved, like “toilet paper over or under” and “sock shoe sock shoe or sock sock shoe shoe.” The Password Game” judges the strength of your device passwords. “Life Stats” shows things like how many breaths you've taken since you were born. “Printing Money” compares the money you earn in an hour to other earners/entities (like a Fortune 500 CEO or Amazon). No word on when a “Life Expectancy of a  Calcio Storico Player” chart will be forthcoming. 


Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at and