Weird Universe Blog — June 24, 2017

The Stoneman Family







The combination of Donna Stoneman pogo-ing while playing the mandolin, and Ronnie Stoneman's generally dour expression while plucking the banjo, makes for a bizarro mix.

Wikipedia page.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jun 24, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Family, Music, 1960s, Dance

June 23, 2017

The Wildflower State

Texas license plates currently display the slogan "The Lone Star State." But before that became the license plate motto, state residents had to fight off a number of attempts to display slogans that weren't quite as manly.

In 1985, Texas highway commissioners voted to display "The Wildflower State" on Texas tags. The phrase would have been printed over a faint outline of a bluebonnet. The idea prompted 57 state lawmakers to sign a letter of protest. Critics complained that the slogan "dealt a blow to the Texas mystique." So the commissioners backed down.

Then, in 1989, the commissioners wanted to display "The Friendship State" on plates. After all, the state motto is "Friendship." But again, popular protests complained that the phrase was "too wimpy."

It was only in 1992 that the commissioners finally gave in to popular demands and started printing "The Lone Star State" on plates.

If you're interested in the history of Texas license plates, Wikipedia has a list of their design by year.

Longview News Journal - July 26, 1985



Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 23, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Government, Motor Vehicles

Mystery Illustration 48



What's the product being advertised?

The answer is here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jun 23, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Advertising, 1970s

June 22, 2017

The Takeaway Rembrandt

In 1632 Rembrandt painted a portrait of Jacob de Gheyn III, an engraver living in Utrecht. The portrait is quite small, measuring approximately 12 by 10 inches. As a result, it's relatively easy to steal and has earned the nickname "The Takeaway Rembrandt" because of the number of times it's been swiped.

From wikipedia:
The painting has been given the moniker "takeaway Rembrandt" as it has been stolen four times since 1966 – the most recorded of any painting.

Between 14 August 1981 and 3 September 1981 the painting was taken from Dulwich Picture Gallery and retrieved when police arrested four men in a taxi who had the painting with them. A little under two years later a burglar smashed a skylight and descended through it into the art gallery, using a crowbar to remove the painting from the wall. The police arrived within three minutes but were too late to apprehend the thief. The painting was missing for three years, eventually being found on 8 October 1986 in a luggage rack at the train station of a British army garrison in Münster, Germany.

The other two times, the painting was found once underneath a bench in a graveyard in Streatham, and once on the back of a bicycle. Each time the painting has been returned anonymously with more than one person being charged for its disappearance.




St. Cloud Times - Feb 17, 1973

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 22, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Art, Crime, 1970s

June 21, 2017

President swallows wasp

A few days ago, a wasp flew into the mouth of Luis Guillermo Solis, the president of Costa Rica, while he was outside speaking to reporters. Solis swallowed it. Then he declared (in Spanish), "I ate it. I ate the wasp." More info at wtnh.com.

I'd like to see more politicians gulping insects out of the air like frogs as they speak. It would improve political oratory immensely.



The event also recalled that classic unscripted moment during Raiders of the Lost Ark when a fly appeared to crawl into the mouth of Paul Freeman, who was playing the character of the archaeologist Belloq. Although according to this site, the fly didn't really crawl into his mouth. The film editors, as a joke, took out a few frames to make it look as if the fly entered his mouth.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 21, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Insects, Politics

The Eager Beaver Truck



Article here.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 21, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Technology, 1950s, Armed Forces, Trucks

June 20, 2017

Zzyzx Road

If you ever drive from LA to Las Vegas, you'll encounter Zzyzx Road just outside of Baker, CA.



Many people wonder about the origin of this name. It came about, indirectly, because of the invention of the telephone, which led to the publication of phone directories, which then led people to want to have either the first or last name in the directory.

Entrepreneur Curtis Springer decided he wanted to be the last name in the directory, so when he opened a health spa at a natural springs in the Mojave Desert he called it Zzyzx Springs, so he could promote it as "the last word in health." By 1965 he had convinced the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to rename the road running to the springs Zzyzx Road. (It used to be Soda Road).

However, it turned out that Springer didn't own the land on which he built his health spa. He was squatting there illegally. And after 30 years of legal action, the Bureau of Land Management finally succeeded in kicking him off it. Since then, the land around there has been managed by California State University, which uses it as a Desert Studies Center.

It's been noted elsewhere on WU that several movies have been named after Zzyzx Road, including the record-holder for the lowest-grossing Hollywood movie ever.

More info: wikipedia

Los Angeles Times - Nov 20, 1945



Springer wasn't the only person who used the name Zzyzx to be last in the directory. There was also a Jack Zzyzx in Albuquerque, and Isadore Zzyzzx in Madison, Wisconsin. Vladamir Zzyzz took last position in the Pittsburgh directory.

I think that the Internet has made it less popular to invent z-themed last names, since not many people use phone directories any more. Sometimes one will be dropped on my front door step, and I just throw it in the trash.

Albuquerque Journal - Dec 3, 1988

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 20, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Odd Names

Follies of the Madmen #318



I don't get it. Is "nimble as an ox" good or bad, the before or after status of fueling up with their gas?

Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 20, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Business, Advertising, Products, 1950s, Cars

June 19, 2017

Caffeinism

March 1985: Sgt. Joseph Mitlof of the NYPD realized that the 30 cups of coffee a day he was drinking might have been contributing to his anxiety problems. In fact, he was suffering from "caffeinism."

Tallahassee Democrat - Mar 20, 1985



I had never heard of such a thing as "caffeinism," but it turns out the term is over 100 years old. A 1979 article in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis offered the following definition:

Caffeinism describes a set of behavioral and physiological symptoms caused by the excessive consumption of caffeine-containing substances. The symptoms include nervous irritability, tremulousness, occasional muscle twitchings, insomnia, sensory disturbances, tachypnea (an abnormally rapid rate of breathing), palpitations, flushing, arrhythmias (an alteration or abnormality of normal cardiac rhythm), diureses, and gastrointestinal disturbances. Individuals suffering from caffeinism are sometimes misdiagnosed as anxiety neurotics because of the similarity of the symptoms. The deleterious effects of caffeine on humans also may include increasing the possibility of coronary heart disease in susceptible persons, promoting the progress of atherosclerosis and affecting chromosomal structure or action.


Burlington Daily Times - Mar 5, 1968


I only drink one cup of coffee a day, first thing in the morning. I think I'm good.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 19, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Drugs, Health

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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2016 by the author of the post, which is usually either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.

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