Weird Universe Blog — May 28, 2022

Greasy Kid Stuff

Television commercials for Vitalis hair tonic during the 1950s and early 60s included the line, "Are you still using that greasy kid's stuff on your hair?

In 1962, this inspired two young entrepreneurs to come out with a hair product called "Greasy Kid Stuff".

Charlotte Observer - Feb 15, 1963

It enjoyed brief popularity as a fad product, but within a year had disappeared from shelves.

But the phrase 'greasy kid stuff' also inspired both a song that became a Top 40 hit and (in the 1990s) a popular radio show.

More info: Ad Nauseam

Posted By: Alex - Sat May 28, 2022 - Comments (0)
Category: Music | Advertising | 1960s | Hair and Hairstyling

Jazz Poetry

The Wikipedia entry, followed by some examples from the Boston Post, 09 Jan 1921, Sun Page 53.

Posted By: Paul - Sat May 28, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Fads | Music | Poetry | Bohemians, Beatniks, Hippies and Slackers | 1920s

May 27, 2022

Steel Mill Archery

My mother's family lived in the Pittsburgh area, and a lot of them (including my great-grandfather) worked in the steel mills. But I hadn't known that the mills employed archers to ignite the gas coming out of the tall bleeder stacks.

Shenandoah Evening Herald - Dec 29, 1975

Posted By: Alex - Fri May 27, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Jobs and Occupations | Industry, Factories and Manufacturing | 1970s


Almost inevitably, the huge success of Hair on Broadway meant there would be another cast album that would include some of the songs which had been left out of the original album, all the more reason since they were more pop tunes than theatrical arias, and therefore easier to play on the airwaves. DisinHAIRited was such a recording. It provided a better picture of the score created by James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot, as performed by the original cast, and was a deft complement to the first album. Recorded a year and a half after the show opened on Broadway, it also featured some new tribal members, including Sakinah, Robin McNamara and George Tipton, who had joined the cast in the intervening months. First LP Release: December 17, 1969

Posted By: Paul - Fri May 27, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Music | Lost, Newly Discovered, Cutting-Room-Floor, and Discarded Cultural Items | 1960s

May 26, 2022


Residents of the Northeastern U.S. may be familiar with the concept of shunpikes. Though I lived in Massachusetts for five years and just learned of their existence recently.

A 'shunpike' is a road deliberately built, or taken, to avoid a toll road. It's short for 'shunning a turnpike'. This differentiates a shunpike from a 'freeway' which also doesn't have tolls, but wasn't deliberately built to avoid an existing toll road.

More info: wikipedia

image source:

Shunpikes are like the engineering equivalent of spite houses. Their purpose is to give the finger to someone else (the owner of the toll road). As such, they often inspire bitter grievances and feuds. Details of one such feud was reported in the Poughkeepsie Journal (June 3, 1962):

Dutchess Turnpike Co. was chartered in 1802 to build a new road from the Courthouse in the village of Poughkeepsie over the approximate path of the old Filkintown road for some 35 miles east to Sharon, Conn... The president of the Turnpike Co. was Jesse Oakley who had a storing, freighting and ferrying business at the Upper Landing, near the mouth of the Fallkill.

The principal landowner in the Lithgow area was old David Johnston who called his vast property and home Lithgow, a name borrowed by the little settlement nearby... David Johnson was so infuriated that the new turnpike was laid out considerably west of the old road, and so, quite a distance from his home, that he built the Shunpike on his own land...

Whatever the plans for the Shunpike were at that time, they certainly irked the Dutchess Turnpike Co. It published a notice, signed Jesse Oakley and dated Dec. 16, 1809, in the Poughkeepsie Journal of Dec. 20 telling of its intention of asking the next Legislature to permit to to change the location of its toll gates "from time to time in case any road shall be opened to permit travelers to pass around it. . ."

Residents of the Towns of Washington and Clinton promptly called an "Anti-Turnpike" meeting for Dec. 29.

Posted By: Alex - Thu May 26, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Highways, Roads, Streets and Traffic | Pranks and Revenge

Mystery Illustration 106

I hope this one is not too hard or deceptive. What larger structure is this grinning mask a part of?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Thu May 26, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Costumes and Masks | Twentieth Century

May 25, 2022

The Prayer

A concept by Diemut Strebe. “The Prayer” is probably the first robot that speaks and sings to God, all Gods. A rough design (inspired to a machine produced by Japanese scientists that replicates the human vocal tract) is combined with a cutting edge neural language model, fine tuned on thousands of prayers and religious books from all over the world. The prayer generates original prayers vocally articulated by Amazon Polly's Kendra voice, and sings religious lyrics to the Divine.

Text by Enrico Santus. More info: Diemut Strebe

Diemut Strebe has made a previous appearance on WU:

Artist Diemut Strebe offered his 3-D-printed re-creation of the famous ear of Vincent van Gogh for display in June and July in a museum in Karlsruhe, Germany--having built it partially with genes from a great-great-grandson/nephew of van Gogh--and in the same shape, based on computer imaging technology. (Van Gogh reputedly cut off the ear, himself, in 1888 during a psychotic episode.) Visitors can also speak into the ear and listen to sounds it receives. [Wall Street Journal, 6-4-2014]

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 25, 2022 - Comments (5)
Category: Music | Religion | Technology | AI, Robots and Other Automatons

Army Basic Training in Sound

Want to pretend at home that you've been drafted? Here you go!

Posted By: Paul - Wed May 25, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Military | Vinyl Albums and Other Media Recordings | Simulations, Make-Believe, Cosplay and other Pretend Situations | 1950s

May 24, 2022

The Health Dangers of Sleeping on a Hartmann Line

My Great Aunt recently died at the age of 100. Throughout her life she was very much into alternative medicine, and she kept hundreds of newsletters from various alt-health practitioners. Most of them aren't particularly interesting, but while going through her stuff I've found a few oddities, such as a 1990 newsletter warning of the danger of sleeping on Hartmann Lines.

I'd never heard of Hartmann Lines. Wikipedia describes them as "a scientifically unproven grid of invisible energy lines of the Earth's inherent radiation".

But how to know if you're sleeping on a Hartmann line? Well, if you've got a cat and it likes to sleep in your bed, you may be in trouble because apparently cats love sleeping on Hartmann lines. (I'm in trouble!)

I've posted a few snippets from the newsletter below, and also uploaded the full newsletter as a pdf file.

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 24, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Health | Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil | Cats

Inception of the Golden Lotus Temple of the Self-Realization

Still operating.

Women in togas at dedication of Golden Lotus Temple of the Self-Realization Fellowship Church in Los Angeles, Calif., 1950

Photo source.

Posted By: Paul - Tue May 24, 2022 - Comments (2)
Category: Fashion | Religion | 1950s

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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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