I subscribed to Copyblogger the other day, and their first article, “Man’s head explodes in barber’s chair” is on writing killer headlines. It’s pretty standard stuff (Ask questions, be provocative, answer problems people didn’t know they had etc.), so my attention was immediately piqued by the fact that this was alluded to as a real news story that was published. A dude’s head exploded? In a barber’s? Why the hell was I reading posts about what a powerful head-turner this headline was but none of these authors had said anything further about the actual story that this headline concerned? Weren’t their heads turned?
Unfortunately, all Googling simply turned up more articles about writing killer headlines.
So I looked at the image supplied in the article, and gathered that it was from a tabloid called Weekly World News, which went defunct in 2007. More Googling with that search phrase found that the story concerned is from the October 2nd, 2001 edition (in which you can also find “Woman with four legs opens a dance studio”, “Dead stars return on a ghost plane”, and “Skiing squirrel dies trying to break 196mph speed record”), where it seems a man called Larry Wilonovik had a heated argument in a Bahamas barber shop while suffering from high blood pressure and hydrocephalus (water on the brain), and consequently his head exploded from the stress.
Now, to what extent this story is actually true, I have no idea. Weekly World News published a variety of strange-but-true and entirely-untrue stories in an equally serious tone and Larry Wilonovik is very nearly a Googlewhack, with only two results to his name, both the Weekly World News coverage. But I’ve included the relevant pages below, so you can at least see the story behind the headline. Head-turner, isn’t it?