Weird Universe Blog — June 27, 2020

Falling Cats

The physics of falling cats. Narrated by Australian physicist Karl Kruszelnicki.

The Age (Melbourne, Australia) - Sep 4, 1991

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 27, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Science | Cartoons | Cats

“The Fish” by PES

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jun 27, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Animals | PSA’s | Environmentalism and Ecology | Stop-motion Animation

June 26, 2020

“Oh, it was my cruel parents who first did me trepan”

To trepan means to perforate the skull with a drill. Which makes the title of this old folk song from Norwich extremely odd.

However, the song itself isn't actually about parents drilling a hole in the skull of their child, despite the title. Turns out, 'trepan' has another, archaic meaning, which is to trap or ensnare, and that's how it's used here.

But even though it isn't about pediatric brain surgery, it's still quite a dark and violent song.

It's performed below by Jon Wilks. He starts singing the song about halfway through the clip.

Oh, it was my cruel parents that first did me trepan;
They married me to an old man for the sake of money and land.
If they'd married me to a young man without a penny at all,
He'd have took me in his arms and have loved me all the more.

Oh, it's, "Hush, my dearest Nancy, oh, wait 'til we go to town,
I'll buy you a lady's bonney, likewise a mus-e-lin gown;
There is no lady in the land your beauty can compare,
And I'll buy you a little lapdog to follow you everywhere."

"I want none of your little lapdogs nor none of your gentle care;
It's a pity that such an old man my beauty you should snare.
I am not sixteen years of age and scarcely in my bloom;
Oh, you are my cruel torment, both morning, night and noon."

When he comes to bed at night he's as cold as any clay:
His feet are as cold at midnight as corpse, I've heard them say;
His pipes are out of order and his old flute's never in tune:
Oh, I wish that he was dead and a young man in the room.

[Now some they do persuade me to drown him in a well,
And others do persuade me to grind him in a mill.
I'd rather take my own advice and tie him to a stake,]
Oh I'll get a big stick and labour him well, until his bones I break.

Source of lyrics

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 26, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Languages | Music

Follies of the Madmen #481

Isn't it the offending husband who is usually the spouse assigned to sleep in the tub?


Posted By: Paul - Fri Jun 26, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Business | Advertising | Domestic | Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough | Husbands | Wives | 1960s

June 25, 2020

Candle Tunnelling

Candle tunnelling is the phenomenon of candles burning down in a tunnel around the wick, rather than burning down evenly across the entire top surface.

image source: reddit

Tunnelling occurs if, the very first time the candle was burned, it wasn't allowed to melt all the wax on top. This creates a "memory ring" in the wax. The candle will subsequently tunnel down this ring.

The solution, therefore, is to make sure the 'first burn' is done correctly. According to

Our biggest recommendation for the first burn, is to make sure that the pool of melted wax reaches the edges of your candle before you snuff the flame. We generally aim for the wax pool to be about 1cm deep at the edges before we put it out.
How long this takes depends on the diameter of the candle.

I realize now that I've been burning candles wrong my entire life.

I learned about this phenomenon via tywkiwdbi.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 25, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Domestic | Interior Decorating | Weird Facts

B.A.D. Cats

Lasted for 6 episodes, according to Wikipedia.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jun 25, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Crime | Ineptness, Crudity, Talentlessness, Kitsch, and Bad Art | Motor Vehicles | Television | 1980s

June 24, 2020

Tarantula Pie, and other ways to kill a husband

In 1977, Carol Louise Hargis was convicted of killing her husband by beating him over the head with a lead weight. She was helped by an accomplice, Terry DePew. Apparently their plan was to split the insurance money.

But what made the case unusual was the various ways the duo had earlier tried to off the husband, without success:

  • feeding him pie containing tarantula venom
  • throwing a live electric cord into the shower with him
  • shooting air into his vein
  • lacing his toast with LSD
  • Putting a poisonous snake into his bed
  • Putting bullets in the carburetor of his truck

San Francisco Examiner - Dec 2, 1977

LA Times - Dec 8, 1977

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 24, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Crime | Stupid Criminals | 1970s

Colonel Barker

Wikipedia says:
Victor Barker, born Lillias Irma Valerie Barker (1895–1960), who also went by the pseudonyms John Hill and Geoffrey Norton, was a transgender man who is notable for having married a woman. He was an officer of the National Fascisti, a bankrupt and a convicted criminal.

Good article here.

A contemporary report from 1933:


Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 24, 2020 - Comments (1)
Category: Crime | Hoaxes and Imposters and Imitators | Gender-bending | Twentieth Century

June 23, 2020

Wolf eats man’s face

The photo below captures the moment a wolf started to attack the face of its trainer, Jacques Suzanne, during the filming of a movie. The camera crew, thinking the attack was part of the stunt, kept on filming.

Suzanne evidently wasn't badly hurt, though the wolf was killed. Apparently he was the kind of guy who knew how to defend himself against a wolf. Read more about him in Adirondack Life magazine.

Chicago Tribune - Feb 20, 1927

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 23, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Animals | Dogs | 1920s

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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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