Noting that "the role of smells in how we perceive heritage has not been systematically explored until now," researchers at University College London have developed a "Historic Book Odour Wheel."
They tested it on visitors to St Paul's Cathedral's Dean and Chapter library in London, who characterized the smell of the library as 'woody,' 'smoky,' 'earthy,' and 'vanilla.'
The researchers say, "the Historic Book Odour Wheel could potentially be used to recreate smells and aid the design of olfactory experiences in museums, allowing visitors to form a personal connection with exhibits by allowing them to understand what the past smelled like."
I was briefly in L.A. over the weekend, so I took the time to visit the L.A. Pet Memorial, my curiosity about it having been piqued after posting recently about how Blinky the Friendly Hen was buried there. It's up in northwest L.A., in Calabasas. If you're ever in the area, and want to do some sightseeing that's more off the beaten track, it's worth checking out. Some of the highlights below:
The coffin showroom, featuring pet-sized coffins
Inside the mausoleum
The grounds spread out over 8 acres. So the park is pretty big.
Yours truly by the grave of "Room 8" — the cat that lived at the Elysian Heights Elementary School. He was once known as the most famous cat in America.
Satan — We'll Miss You
Sir Pretzel Stick — I'll Remember You
Vicious — Our Precious Baby
I finally found the marker for Blinky the Friendly Hen. The front office didn't have a guide to the graves, so you have to find them on your own. Blinky turned out to be in the area directly across from the front office, about 8 rows back.
There's a number of other famous animals buried at the park, including Tawny the MGM lion, Hopalong Cassidy's horse, and one of the dogs from the Little Rascals. Plus, the pets of many celebrities are there — Charlie Chaplin's cat, Humphrey Bogart's dog, etc.
A Weird Universe News Service
April 10, 2017
The Texas legislature is about to choose a "state gun" (Bowie knife? Colt .45?). Current favorite: a cannon. [The Guardian]
Hawaii officials are freaking out over the Angiostrongylus cantonensis bacterium, but if prevention calls for you not to undercook your worms, problem seems easily avoided. [ABC News]
Business model of several companies in Kenya: they shrink-wrap cash into $1m blocks and parachute them to customers. [NY Times]
France's space program has 24 job openings to just lie around in bed for 2 months (earn €16k). Only catch: You can't get up. [The Guardian]
Cruel joke on the new coal-enraptured EPA administrator: The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum announced it was moving to solar power. [WYMT-TV]
Before there was Rachel Dolezal, some black Americans identified as Moorish--and therefore "sovereign citizens," which soon will not sit well with the crackers ruling sovereignhood. But here are two arrested in February. [al.com]
Yr Editor knows nothng about this (except that it distracts certain people who would likely be dangerous if left undistracted): A giant U.S. robot will square off against a giant Japanese robot in August, and they'll pound and saw and crush each other, and certain people will get really excited. (Better if they just Stooge-slapped each other, but . . ..) [Nerdist.com]
In the mid 1960s, the first reports surfaced of the activities of a sexual assailant who came to be known as the "enema bandit." Disguised by a ski mask, he would enter the rooms of coeds at various college campuses (usually in Oklahoma, but he also showed up in Kansas, Oklahoma, and California).
Holding his victims at gunpoint, he would force them to remove their clothes, then he would tie their wrists and proceed to give them each an enema, always working "slowly and deliberately." His victims agreed that "he knew what he was doing." Otherwise, he didn't harm the women, releasing them when he was finished. His victims also described him as being "extremely polite." Before he left, he would take whatever money he could find.
The enema bandit remained at large for a decade before police finally caught him in 1975, identifying him as Michael Kenyon. From wikipedia:
After his arrest he was judged to be legally sane; in December 1975, he pleaded guilty to six counts of armed robbery and was sentenced to six to twelve years in prison for each count, but was never charged for the enema assaults. He was paroled in 1981 after serving six years.
The enema bandit inspired several songs: "The Illinois Enema Bandit" by Frank Zappa (1976), and "Salute to the Enema Bandit" by Henry Threadgill (1986).
News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M522, April 9, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
World's Coolest City: Recently, in Dubai (the largest city in the United Arab Emirates), Dubai Civil Defense started using water jetpacks that lift firefighters off the ground to hover in advantageous positions as they work the hoses. Also, using jet skis, rescuers can avoid traffic altogether by using the city's rivers to arrive at fires (and, if close enough to a waterway, can pump water without hydrants). Even more spectacularly, as early as this summer, Dubai will authorize the already-tested one-person, "Jetsons"-type drones for ordinary travel in the city. The Ehang 184 model flies about 30 minutes on an electrical charge, carrying up to 220 pounds at about 60 mph. [Business Insider, 1-23-2017] [New York Times, 2-15-2017]
Latest Human Rights
Convicted murderer Philip Smith (a veteran criminal serving life for killing the father of a boy Smith had been sexually abusing) escaped from prison in New Zealand with the help of a disguise that included a toupee for his bald head--before being caught. Prison officials confiscated the toupee, but Smith said a shiny head behind bars made him feel "belittled, degraded, and humiliated" and sued for the right to keep the toupee. (In March, in a rare case in which a litigant succeeds as his own lawyer, Smith prevailed in Auckland's High Court.) [BBC News, 3-16-2017]
In March, star soccer goalkeepr Bruno Fernandes de Souza signed a two-year contract to play for Brazil's Boa Esporte club while he awaits the outcome of his appealed conviction for the 2010 murder of his girlfriend. (He had also fed her body to his dogs.) He had been sentenced to 22 years in prison but released by a judge after seven, based on the judge's exasperation at the years-long delays in appeals in Brazil's sluggish legal system. [The Guardian (London), 3-13-2017]
The Cleveland (Ohio) Street Department still had not (at press time) identified the man, but somehow he, dressed as a roads worker, had wandered stealthily along Franklin Boulevard during March and removed more than 20 standard "35 mph" speed limit signs--replacing all with official-looking "25 mph" signs that he presumably financed himself. Residents along those two miles of Franklin have long complained, but the city kept rejecting pleas for a lowered limit. [WEWS-TV (Cleveland), 3-23-2017]
The Apenheul primate park in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, is engaged in a four-year experiment, offering female orangutans an iPad loaded with photos of male orangutans now housed at zoos around the world, with the females able to express interest or disinterest (similar to swiping right or left on the human dating app Tinder). Researchers admit results have been mixed, that some males have to be returned home (and once, a female handed the iPad with a potential suitor showing, merely crushed the tablet). (Apps are not quite to the point of offering animals the ability to digitally smell each other.) [Daily Telegraph (London), 2-1-2017]
Peacocks are "well known" (so they say) to flash their erect, sometimes-six-foot-high rack of colorful tail feathers to attract mating opportunities. However, as Texas A&M researchers recently found, the display might not be important. Body cameras placed on peahens at eye level (to learn how they check out strutting males) revealed that the females gazed mostly at the lowest level of feathers (as if attracted only to certain colors rather than the awesomeness of the towering flourish). [Austin American-Statesman, 3-20-2017]
(1) In March, jurors in Norfolk, Va., found Allen Cochran, 49, not guilty of attempted shoplifting, but he was nowhere to be seen when the verdict was announced. Apparently predicting doom (since he had also been charged with fleeing court during a previous case), he once again skipped out. The jury then re-retired to the jury room, found him guilty on the earlier count, and sentenced him to the five-year maximum. (Because of time already served, he could have walked away legally if he hadn't walked away illegally.) (2) In March, Ghanian soccer player Mohammed Anas earned a "man of the match" award (after his two goals led the Free State Stars to a 2-2 draw) but botched the acceptance speech by thanking both his wife and his girlfriend. Reportedly, Anas "stumbled for a second" until he could correct himself: "I'm so sorry," he attempted to clarify, "My wife! I love you so much from my heart." [Virginian-Pilot, 3-6-2017] [Daily Telegraph (London), 3-18-2017]
Leading Economic Indicators
It turns out that Layne Hardin's sperm is worth only $1,900--and not the $870,000 a jury had awarded him after finding that former girlfriend Tobie Devall had, without Hardin's permission, obtained a vial of it without authorization and inseminated herself to produce her son, now age 6. Initially Hardin tried to gain partial custody of the boy, but Devall continually rebuffed him, provoking the lawsuit (which also named the sperm bank Texas Andrology a defendant) and the challenge in Houston's First Court of Appeal. [Houston Chronicle, 1-25-2017]
Most Competent Criminal
An astonished woman unnamed in news reports called police in Coleshill, England, in February to report that a car exactly like her silver Ford Kuga was parked at Melbicks Shopping Center--with the very same license plate as hers. Police figured out that a silver Ford Kuga had been stolen nearby in 2016, and to disguise that it was stolen, the thief had looked for an identical, not-stolen Ford Kuga and then replicated its license plate, allowing the thief to drive the stolen car without suspicion. [Birmingham Mail, 2-5-2017]
Least Competent Criminals
(1) Thieves once again attempted a fruitless smash-and-grab of an ATM at Mike & Reggie's Beverages in Maple Heights, Ohio, in March--despite the owner's having left the ATM's door wide open with a sign reading "ATM emptied nightly." Police are investigating. (2) Boca Raton, Fla., jeweler "Bobby" Yampolsky said he was suspicious that the "customer" who asked to examine diamonds worth $6 million carried no tools of the examination trade. After the lady made several obvious attempts to distract Yampolsky, he ended the charade by locking her in his vault and calling the police, who arrested her after discovering she had a package of fake diamonds in her purse that she likely intended to switch. [WJW-TV (Cleveland), 3-23-2017] [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 3-31-2017]
At what was billed as part of a cancer fundraising event at the AvantGarden in Houston, Tex., in February, performance artist Michael Clemmons and a partner, working as the act Sonic Rabbit Hole, had the elegant idea that one give the other an enema on stage, but there was a "spraying" accident. Viewers were led to believe the procedure was authentic, but the artists swore later that the sprayed contents were just a protein shake. "What I did is not all that [extreme]," protested Clemmons. "I don't understand why I'm getting the attention for this." [KPRC-TV (Houston), 2-20-2017]
The Passing Parade
Two convicted murders imprisoned in Nepal married each other in February, though it will be at least 14 years before they can consummate. Dilli Koirala, 33 (serving 20 years for killing his wife), and Mimkosha Bista, 30 (with another four years to go for killing her husband), will be allowed to meet (just to talk) twice a month until Koirala's term ends. (A lawyer involved in the case said the marriage, though odd, was perhaps the last chance either would have to meet a suitable match.) [Republica (Kathmandu), 2-24-2017]
A News of the Weird Classic (July 2013)
“[Supermodels] is the one exception [to U.S. immigration law] that we all scratch our heads about,” said a Brookings Institution policy analyst in May . Foreign-born sports stars and entertainers are fast-tracked with American work permits under one system, but supermodels were excluded from that and must thus compete (successfully, it turns out) with physicists and nuclear engineers to earn visas among the slots available only to “skilled workers with college degrees.” As such, around 250 beauties are admitted every year. (The most recent attempt to get supermodels their own visa category was championed in 2005 and 2007 by then-U.S.-Rep. Anthony Weiner of New York.) [Bloomberg Business Week, 5-23-2013]
Thanks This Week to Jim Weber, Caroline Lawler, Bob Stewart, and Chuck Hamilton, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
Back in the 60s, the U.S. Army employed scientists to sneak into Omaha stockyards and spray cows with deodorant. The logic behind this was to test how easy it would be for Soviet agents to spread hoof-and-mouth disease among American cows.
Unfortunately, I can't find any more info about this operation, which is a shame because it raises so many questions. For instance, the important part of the operation must have been to see how easily they could gain access to the stockyards. So then, why bother to deodorize the cows? Was it just to add a touch of realism? Why not spray them with paint so that they could later count the "infected" ones?
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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