Weird Universe Blog — March 22, 2017

The Girlfriend of the Whirling Dervish

Lately I have been listening to a lot of Martin Denny, the inventor of exotica music. I think he certainly qualifies as weird. As do Exotik-A-GoGo, modern interpreters of his work.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Mar 22, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Space-age Bachelor Pad & Exotic, 1950s

March 21, 2017

Makes bomb threat from jail

October 1971: While being booked on charges of malicious mischief at Los Angeles police headquarters, Frank Elby Taylor asked to exercise his right to make a phone call. He was allowed to do this, so he called the airport and made a bomb threat. The call was quickly traced back to the police station. The police got Elby out of his cell and booked him again on felony charges.

Reno Gazette-Journal - Oct 30, 1971

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 21, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Crime, 1970s, Pranks

Mystery Gadget 45

Why is this man inside a steel cylinder?

The answer is here.

And after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Tue Mar 21, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Technology, 1900s

March 20, 2017

7 Clicks (March 20, 2017)

7 Clicks
A Weird Universe News Service
March 20, 2017

Proportion (I): Bald, repeat sex fiend who murdered a child demands toupee in prison because: humiliation [BBC News]

News You Can Use: Having your [well, a mouse's--but anyway] whole body vibrated = "exercise" (A journal article! Endocrinology!) [Science Daily]

The U.S. House protecting rights of mentally ill veterans--to own a gun (and despite vets' suicide rates) [Huffington Post]

Proportion (II): He (Brazilian) killed her, fed her body to his dogs, served 7 yrs, released, now signs 2-yr pro soccer contract. [The Guardian]

Not Even Trying Any More: Sub teacher at Brookland-Cayce High in South Carolina showed up smashed, then kept drinking from her box of wine in class. [WIS-TV]

"The Friday bingo mindset seems to infect people who behave rationally all other days of the week"--director of the Holyoke, Mass., Council on Aging, following some "incidents" [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Your Call to Jury Duty: David Banfield, 63, Marathon, Fla.--entitled to the presumption of innocence? [Miami Herald]

Thanks to Peter Smagorinsky, Joe Littrell, and Chuck Hamilton.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Mar 20, 2017 - Comments (5)

How many ways are children annoying?

Back in 1931, Dr. Mandel Sherman, director of the Child Research Centre, wanted to find out the exact number of ways in which children annoy their parents. He came up with the oddly specific number of 2,124 different ways.

He arrived at this number by having a group of parents carry notebooks around with them for a week and record each time their child annoyed them.

Some of the ways in which the children annoyed: being disobedient, being too slow or too quick, not being neat, primping, etc.

Personally, I think he seriously lowballed that number.

We've encountered the work of Dr. Sherman before. Back in 2009, I posted about his advice that instead of training kids to be successful in life, we should train them to accept the inevitability of failure. That way, they'll be much happier when they actually do end up as mediocre flops.

The New York Times - Jan 30, 1931

Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 20, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Psychology, Children, Parents, 1930s

Ex-millionaire Lives With Pigs

Original story here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Mar 20, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Eccentrics, Money, 1960s

March 19, 2017

News of the Weird (March 19, 2017)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M519, March 19, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Perhaps there are parents who (according to the Cinépolis movie chain) long to watch movies in theaters while their children (aged 3-and-up) frolic in front in a "jungle-gym" playground inside the same auditorium. If so, the company's two "junior" movie houses (opening this very week in San Diego and Los Angeles) may bring a new dimension to "family entertainment." Another view, though, is that the noise (often "screaming"), plus the overhead lighting required for parents to monitor their tykes' equipment-usage, plus the planned $3 ticket surcharge, will soon create (according to the Guardian critic) a movie-going "apocalypse." [The Guardian (London), 3-8-2017]

Can't Possibly Be True

(1) The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in January granted IBM's 2010 application for a patent on "out-of-office" e-mail message software (even though such messages have of course been ubiquitous for two decades) after the company finally convinced examiners that its patent had enough software tweaks on it to qualify. (Critics, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, laughed at the uselessness of the tweaks.) (2) Also in January, the Office granted Daniel Dopps a patent for Adhesive Vaginal Lipstick, which his Mensez Technologies claims can cause the labia minora to tighten so strongly as to retain menstrual fluid until the woman can deal with build-up in privacy. [Ars Technica, 3-1-2017] [News Limited via Fox News, 2-21-2017]

News of the Pretentious

Why live with a cat if one cannot take it out for some wine together? The Apollo Peak, in Denver, and the Pet Winery, in Fort Myers, Fla., serve a variety of the real grape to humans and non-alcoholic proprietary drinks for the kitties to enjoy tableside (or underneath). "Pinot Meow" ($12) in Denver and "Meow & Chandon" ($15) in Fort Myers, are specialties--basically watered catnip, according to a February New York Times report (so the felines can also get buzzed). The wine outing is the human's preference, of course, with a loftier cachet than the "happy hour" most cats might prefer (say, a "sardine bar"). [New York Times, 2-15-2017]

"I tried the $5,000 hamburger, and it was absolutely worth it," wrote the apparently straight-faced CNBC reviewer Robert Frank in February, describing his meal at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay restaurant Fleur. (The burger included Waygu beef, foie gras, and truffles, and was served with a similarly inexplicably-priced wine.) Other recent consumer challenges: an $18 cup of coffee at Brooklyn's Extraction Lab; a $100 bottle of Norwegian iceberg water (; a $2,000 pizza at New York City's Industry Kitchen (caviar, truffles, gold flakes); and a $25,000 taco at the Grand Velas Los Cabos resort in Mexico (caviar, brie, Kobe beef, langoustine lobster, rare tequila--and once again with the gold flakes). [CNBC, 2-23-2017] [WABC-TV (New York City), 2-8-2017] [Fox Business, 3-3-2017] [Industry Kitchen, 12-17-2016] [Houston Chronicle, 3-9-2017]

Wait, What?

Anglers fighting to preserve choice spots on the fishing pier on Sebastian Inlet, north of Vero Beach, Fla., have taken to tossing lead weights and other items at "competitors," especially those who approach the pier to fish directly from their boats. Such territory-marking by the piersters includes, according to a February report in Florida Today, perhaps a version of classic mammal behavior, like strategic urination and hurling their feces at the waterborne invaders. [Florida Today, 2-20-2017]

Government in Action

Illinois has problems: a $130 billion unfunded-pension crisis, 19 months without a budget, the lowest credit rating and highest property taxes in the country, and murder rate in Chicago. However, at least the state House of Representatives is not standing by idly. In February, it moved to designate October 2017 as Zombie Preparedness Month (basically, adding "zombie invasion" to the list of mobilizations for any natural disaster and urging residents to stockpile food and supplies for up to 72 hours). [Wall Street Journal, 3-7-2017]

Lawyers for former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. have convinced federal officials that his bipolar disorder was "caused" by the stress of being a Congressman and thus that he is entitled to "total disability" worker compensation for an "on-the-job" injury--and thus to about $100,000 a year, tax-free, according to a February Chicago Tribune report. (Jackson, 51, also receives Social Security disability payments.) Lawyers said his disorder (often attributed to genetic factors) surfaced during an investigation into Jackson's looting of his campaign treasury for luxury goods and vacations (charges eventually settled with a guilty plea). Jackson dated his onset to June 2012, meaning that his last 72 House votes came while "totally" disabled. [Chicago Tribune, 2-23-2017]

Bright Ideas

A councilman in Overtornea, Sweden, introduced a bill (a "motion") that workers be given paid "sex breaks" during the business day in order to improve well-being and, thus, job performance. The primary beneficiaries would be married, fertile couples, but all workers would receive the benefit. And employers, said Councillor Per-Erik Muskos, would have to "trust" their employees because some surely would "cheat" (by not having sex!). [International Business Times, 2-21-2017]

Not Clever Enough: Daniel Crowninshield, 54, pleaded guilty in federal court in Sacramento in 2016 to illegally manufacturing assault weapons that had no serial numbers--despite efforts to circumvent the law by claiming that his customers actually "made" their own weapons using his equipment. Crowninshield (known as "Dr-Death" online), an expert machinist, would take a "blank" metal casting and, using special equipment and computer programs, create the firing mechanism for a numberless AR-15--provided the customer presses a button to start the process. "Pressing the button," Crowninshield figured, made the customer the creator, not a buyer or transferee of the gun, and thus exempt from federal law. In February, Judge Troy Nunley, unimpressed, sentenced Crowninshield to three years and five months in prison. [Department of Justice press release, 2-16-2017]

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

"Life's full of peaks and valleys, man," Californian Georgiy Karpekin told a reporter, but January 18th seems all-valley. Karpekin has both a pickup truck and a car, and as he was leaving Sacramento City College that day during violent storms, a falling tree crushed the truck. When he got home, he learned that the same storm had taken down another tree--on top of his car. (Karpekin, insured and uninjured, called himself "the luckiest guy.") [KTXL-TV (Sacramento), 1-19-2017]

Readers' Choice

Miami, Fla., defense lawyer Stephen Gutierrez caused quite a spectacle on March 8th when, representing a man accused of arson, he rose to address jurors, and his pants appeared to catch fire. He insisted afterward that a malfunctioning e-cigarette caused smoke to billow from his pocket, but observers had a field day with metaphors and "stunt" theories. [Miami Herald, 3-8-2017]

Despite an exaggerated, widely-read headline in London's Daily Mail, the recent death of a 50-year old man in Japan was indeed pornography-related. The man was a hoarder of porn magazines, living alone with an unimaginably large collection, and when he suffered a fatal heart attack sometime last year, he collapsed atop the piles, where his body was found in March 2017. (The Daily Mail headline had him "crushed" to death under a six-ton stack, but the Mail conceded below the headline that he might have just fallen.) [Daily Mail, 3-3-2017;, 3-6-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (June 2013)

Chengdu, China, barber Liu Deyuan, 53, still provides traditional “eye-shaving,” in which he holds the lid open and runs a razor across its inner surface. Then, using a thin metal rod with a round tip, he gently massages the inside of each lid. Liu told Chengdu Business Daily in April [2013] that he had never had an accident (though the reporter balked at volunteering for him), and a highly satisfied customer reported afterward that his eyes felt “moist” (surely the easiest part of the story to accept) and his vision “clearer.” [South China Morning Post, 4-15-2013]

Thanks This Week to Jim Weber, Elaine Weiss, Bob Stewart, Neb Rodgers, Robin Daley, Mark Hazelrigg, Gerald Thomason, Paul Kaplan, Alex Boese, and Chuck Hamilton, among others, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Mar 19, 2017 - Comments (3)

Divorcee banned from chess club

1971: 16-year-old Soni Romans was banned from all extracurricular activities at at Channelview High School in Houston. This included school choir, chess club, drama, and the National Honor Society. The reason for the ban was that she had been married and divorced and had a child (which she gave up for adoption). Therefore, the school felt that she shouldn't be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities because, during them, she "might discuss sex with other students."

However, if she had simply had the child without getting married and divorced, the same regulation wouldn't have applied. Unwed mothers were free to participate in the extracurriculars. Romans sued the school and won, so the ban was eventually lifted.

The Cincinnati Enquirer - Nov 14, 1971

The Akron Beacon Journal - Feb 17, 1972

Posted By: Alex - Sun Mar 19, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: School, Regulations, Divorce, 1970s

Gary Numan Unicef Concert:  1979

This is exactly the kind of performance that evokes for me the tragedy of starving Third World children.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Mar 19, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Aliens, Charities and Philanthropy, Eccentrics, Music, 1970s, Cacophony, Dissonance, White Noise and Other Sonic Assaults

March 18, 2017

Toys R Us Corrected

The logo for Toys R Us typically includes a backwards R. But when a Toys R Us opened in Cerritos, California in 1972, the local city council insisted that the store spell its name with the R the "correct" way around on the front of the building, so that it wouldnt confuse young children who might be struggling to learn the alphabet.

The store had to keep the corrected R until 1981 when the city council finally voted to allow it to switch to the backwards R. Noted a council member: "All the bags, the price tags in the store had the backwards 'R.' It really wasn't accomplishing anything to have it correct on the outside."

Of course, as Steve Harvey noted for the LA Times, if you really want to be grammatically correct, the name should be Toys R We.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a single picture of the store with the corrected R.

Los Angeles Times - Mar 3, 1981

The normal logo

The corrected version

Posted By: Alex - Sat Mar 18, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Regulations, 1970s

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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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