Kenner released Gobbles The Crazy Eating Goat toy in 1978, but they soon discontinued it. There may have been concerns that children would eat the plastic bits of fake garbage (designed for Gobbles to eat) that came with the toy. But also, the toy was branded one of the worst toys of the year by the Consumer Affairs Committee of the Americans for Democratic Action organization. They objected to the "concept of paying for garbage," and also didn't think Gobbles taught kids a good message about how to treat animals.
Washington Post — Dec 8, 1979
However, the toy made an impression on filmmaker John Waters. He shared his thoughts about it in his essay "Why I Love Christmas":
For years friends have treated me to the toy annually selected by the Consumer Affairs Committee of Americans for Democratic Action as the "worst toy" to give your child at Christmastime. "Gobbles, the Garbage-Eating Goat" started my collection.
"That crazy eating goat" reads the delightful package, and in small print, "Contains: One realistic goat with head that goes up and down. Comes complete with seven pieces of pretend garbage."
This Kenner Discovery Time toy's instructions are priceless. "Gobbles loves to eat garbage when he's hungry, and he's ALWAYS hungry. (1) Hold Gobbles mouth open by the beard. Stuff a piece of pretend garbage straight into his mouth and (2) pump the tail until the garbage disappears."
It ends with an ominous warning, "Feed Gobbles only the garbage that comes with the toy," and in even smaller print "If you need additional garbage, we will, as a service, send it to you direct. For 14 pieces of garbage send $1 (check or money order; sorry, no C.O.D.) to . . . . "
I can't tell you the hours of fun I've had with Gobbles. Sometimes when I'm very bored, Gobbles and I get naked and play-play.
Larry Walters gained weird-news fame in 1982 when he tied 45 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair and took an unscheduled flight over Los Angeles. However, he wasn't the first person to have this kind of aerial adventure.
On September 28, 1937, news photographer Al Mingalone was on assignment in Maine trying to get photos from a "balloonist's point of view." This involved using gas-filled weather balloons to lift him into the air. But with 27 balloons pulling him upwards, the safety line keeping him tethered to the ground snapped, sending him drifting across the countryside, towards the ocean.
He floated 13 miles before a local Catholic priest, Rev. James J. Mullen, who happened to be a crack rifle shot, managed to shoot enough of the balloons to bring Mingalone back to the ground.
A Ukrainian man, Grigori Sikalenko, spent 18 years hiding under a dung heap in order to avoid serving in the Red Army. He went into hiding in June 1941, at the urging of his mother, who secreted him away "under the manure pile at the back of the family goat shed."
He spent 18 years in hiding, until finally, in 1959, at the age of 37, he could stand it no longer and ran into town screaming, "I want to live!"
No charges were brought against him since the authorities decided he had already punished himself "most severely."
Note: The claim that he was hiding under a manure pile comes from Time magazine. But another source (the N.Y. Herald Tribune news service) offered a slightly less sensational description of his hideout, saying that he was simply "in the shed with the family's pigs and goats." Also, news sources give his first name as either Grigori or Grisha.
The Ukrainians seem to have a talent for extreme hiding. From that region also came the case of Olga Frankevich, who reportedly spent 45 years hiding beneath a bed in her sister's house in the village of Vishneve. She went into hiding in 1947, following her father's execution in a Stalinist purge, fearing she was about to suffer the same fate. She emerged in 1992.
Southern Illinoisan - Jan 12, 1960
18 Years in a Dung Heap
Like a dead soul out of Gogol, a human figure rose out of a dung heap recently in the Ukrainian village of Tsirkuny, and rushed forth shrieking: "I want to live! I want to work!" Astounded neighbors, reported the Soviet newspaper Izvestia last week, found that the stinking, blinking, sunken-jawed wretch was Grisha Sikalenko, 37, a fellow they all thought had died a hero's death fighting Germans in World War II. In truth, quavered Grisha, he had deserted the very night he marched away to war, sneaked home to the hiding place his parents made for him under the manure pile at the back of the family goat shed.
"Don't mind the goats and the dung," his mother told him. "At least you'll survive." Survive he did—for 18 years in his living grave. Twice a day his mother slipped him food, scarcely paused for a word. In winters he nearly froze, and when the summer heat beat down on his reeking pit, he almost suffocated. Yet only on darkest nights would he surface for air. One night, crawling out for fresh air, he saw crosses on the rooftops and fled back in panic, mistaking the new TV aerials for signs of doom. At last, when his younger brother married and the whole village reveled round him, Grisha under his dunghill cursed the day when cowardice induced him to be buried alive. He spent a few more months screwing up his courage, then surfaced.
Once out, he found that his fears of being punished for desertion were groundless: the statute of limitations for wartime desertion had long since made him immune from prosecution, and besides, added Izvestia charitably, 18 years in a manure pile was punishment enough.
Recently another case made the news of a valuable piece of art thrown out by overzealous janitors at an art fair who didn't realize that the art in question was, in fact, art. (I'm pretty sure that Chuck has reported on a number of similar cases.)
In this case, the work was a sculpture by Will Kurtz titled Keep America Great Again. — valued at $8000. The janitors got confused because the sculpture featured "a raccoon next to a trash can brimming with brightly colored rubbish."
The janitors didn't throw away the raccoon — only the trash in the can.
Actress Brooke Shields, who was curating the show, realized what had happened and was able to find the missing "art" — because apparently this kind of thing had happened at the show before, and so the janitors had been trained to temporarily store all trash in clear plastic bags before disposing of it permanently.
Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 20, 2016 -
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.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.