Frances Baskerville (1944-2009) of Dallas, Texas was involved in an accident in which an 18-wheel lumber truck backed into her car, while she was waiting outside a beauty parlor. The lumber crashed through the roof of the car, almost killing her. But it also caused her to have an out-of-body experience, and after that experience, she said, she had psychic abilities.
Being a country-and-western fan, she chose to sing her predictions. For instance, in 1997 she appeared on the Howard Stern show where she sang her premonition that Patrick McNeill, who had disappeared outside a Manhattan bar, would be found 100 yards from his home in Port Chester, NY. (His body was eventually found floating near in pier in Brooklyn.)
Frances Baskerville, the "World's Only Singing Psychic," who heads the Baskerville Foundation for Psychical Research in Dallas, Texas, claims to be a licensed private detective specializing in finding lost children. In a recent letter to the authors, she credits herself with having found over "five hundred persons," although she regretfully states that she "only has the right" to name three, due to the fact that she neglected to get "release forms" from the other four hundred and ninety-seven. She also claims to work with attorneys in several states helping to select juries.
Baskerville released an album, Songs From the Beyond. You can listen to the full album at the WFMU blog. One song from that album is below. And elsewhere on the web, you can listen to an interview with Baskerville from when she appeared on the Judy Joy Jones Show.
The Wall Street Journal reports that one of the latest things in hair care is caffeinated shampoo. The buzz is that the caffeine stimulates hair growth, though too much caffeine might have the opposite effect.
Add this to the list of caffeinated products we've reported on here at WU. We now have (in addition to the shampoo) caffeinated peanut butter, inhaler, body spray, and soap.
News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M473, May 1, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
One notably hypersuccessful YouTube channel (700,000 subscribers) features Mr. Lauri Vuohensilta of Finland pulverizing various objects (such as a bowling ball) in a 100-ton hydraulic press. (Said Vuohensilta, “I think it’s built into every person--the need to destroy something.”) That channel is free of charge, but other entrepreneurs have created 24-hour pay-per-month websites and apps offering similarly specialized programing, e.g., “Zombie Go Boom” (actors taking chain saws to things; $5 a month), “Hungry Monk Yoga” (posing in orange robes while teaching martial arts; $15 a month); and “Lather Fantasies” (clothed people “excessively shampooing each other’s hair”; $20 a month). (An April Wall Street Journal report noted that the “lather” channel “sounds kinkier than it actually is.”) [Washington Post, 4-19-2016] [Wall Street Journal, 4-13-2016]
Recurring Themes (recent examples of traditional weird-news themes repeated over News of the Weird’s 28 years, along with Updates on a few of our favorite characters)
Restaurants in Tokyo continue their vigilance for unique, attention-demanding animal themes to attract diners. Eateries showcasing tableside cats, rabbits, owls, hawks, and even snakes have tried their hand, with the latest being “Harry,” with food and drink--and 20 to 30 teacup-size hedgehogs for diners to fondle while awaiting meal service. The equivalent of $9 brings an hour of cuddling rights. [Reuters via The Guardian (London), 4-7-2016]
Fine Points of the Law: In some states, as News of the Weird has reported, visitors with the barest “right” to occupy property (e.g., invited in for one night but never left) cannot be evicted except by court order, which might take weeks to obtain. In April, owners in Flint, Mich., and Nampa, Idaho, were outraged that nothing could be done quickly to remove squatters from their vacated houses. (The Nampa squatter produced a “lease” that, though fraudulent, was enough to send the sheriff away.) [WJRT-TV (Flint), 4-6-2016] [KIVI-TV (Boise), 4-11-2016]
The two most recent instances of suspects who claimed that the drugs or paraphernalia found in their genitals during police searches were not theirs (but were only being stored there for other people) were Tiffany Flores, 23, arrested in Fellsmere, Fla., on April 5th with a crack pipe in her vagina, and Deondre Lumpkin, 23, arrested in Largo, Fla., on March 22nd with crack cocaine “concealed beneath his genitals” (though did admit owning the marijuana found in his car). [The Smoking Gun, 4-6-2016] [The Smoking Gun, 3-26-2016]
Smooth Getaway: The December burglary of the Halifax bank in Sale, England, drew attention even though the hour was just after midnight--because Jamie Keegan and Marc Shelton (both age 33) had tried to haul away an ATM but had it fall out the back of their van, producing calamitous noise (and sparks in the road). (Also, the ATM had an “out of order” sign on it, raising still another question about the efficacy of the crime.) In February the Minshull Street Crown Court sentenced the pair to 40 months each in prison. (Bonus: In court, Shelton helpfully corrected the legal record by reminding officials that the pair’s crime was actually “burglary” and not, as written, “robbery.”) [Manchester Evening News, 2-2-2016]
The most recent suspect to have the bright idea to try biting off his fingertips (to avoid identification) was Kirk Kelly, wanted in Tampa for violating probation and picked up by police in February in Akron, Ohio. While being detained in Akron, he had begun to chew the skin off his fingers. Even if he had succeeded, he was easily identified as Kirk Kelly because of his body tattoos (“Port Tampa” and “813"--Tampa’s area code). [WFTS-TV (Tampa), 2-26-1016]
More DIY Masters: (1) Randy Velthuizen had lived in the house in Everson, Wash., for 20 years, but in April he accidentally set it afire while attempting to kill weeds with a blowtorch. It was an uninsured total loss. Mused Velthuizen, “It just made downsizing a hell of a lot easier.” (2) In January, four units in an apartment house in midtown Detroit were accidentally burned out by a tenant attempting to kill a bedbug that had bitten him. He had tried to light it up, but by the time the flames were extinguished, he was badly burned; his and three adjacent units were uninhabitable; and two dozen others had suffered water damage. [Bellingham Herald, 4-4-2016] [Detroit Free Press, 1-8-2016]
Sex ‘n’ Veggies: Emergency surgeons at the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Costa Rica removed an 18-inch-long “yuca” (cassava root) from the posterior of a 55-year-old man in April after one of the two condoms encasing it ruptured inside him. A photograph in San Juan’s Diario Extra showed that the yuca had been carved into a phallic shape. Apparently, the man avoided what could have been catastrophic internal injury. [Costa Rica Star, 4-6-2016]
Funeral directors who mix up bodies (either accidentally or, in some cases, fraudulently) are not uncommon, but Thomas Clock III of Clock Funeral Home at White Lake (Whiteside, Mich.) was charged with a bit more in April. Not only did Clock allegedly fail to bury the ashes of the late Helen Anthony in December (interring an empty box, instead), but when the family asked for a specific burial date, Clock allegedly told them that no workers were available and that the family would have to dig the cemetery plot themselves--for which Clock helpfully advised using a “post hole digger.” (And they did.) [MLive.com, 4-7-2016]
Two News of the Weird All-Time Favorites: (1) Obsessive litigant Jonathon Lee Riches asked a federal court in Billings, Mont., in April to somehow issue a well-meaning “restraining” order against Donald Trump--to force Trump out of the presidential race on the ground that he fears assassination. Riches wrote that he loves and adores Trump but suggested as a candidate John McCain (who is “less fiery”). (2) Mr. “Beezow Doo-doo Zopittybop-bop-bop,” 34, was arrested in January for assaulting an Evergreen State College (Olympia, Wash.) police officer. Mr. Zoppitybop-bop-bop (originally, Jeffrey Wilschke) had made News of the Weird several years back with arrests under his new name in Wisconsin and Iowa. [KPAX-TV (Missoula), 4-13-2016] [The Olympian), 2-1-2016]
In April, the Sacramento Bee revealed (from Freedom of Information requests) that University of California, Davis, officials had spent at least $175,000 in scarce state higher-education funds merely to attempt to scrub the Internet of references to the notorious 2011 incident in which a campus police officer deliberately pepper-sprayed the faces of restrained, helpless protesters. The public relations venture was part of a campaign by the school’s chancellor, Linda Katehi, to rehabilitate her image after cutbacks to academic programs. (Other critics ridicule as futile almost any attempt--ever--to scrub news from the Internet.) [Sacramento Bee, 4-13-2016]
What is believed to be the longest-running armed standoff in U.S. history came to a quiet conclusion on January 6th in Trinidad, Tex., when John Joe Gray outlasted the district attorney--never having left his 47-acre ranch in the past 15 years. In 1999, Gray, carrying a pistol but without a permit, resisted arrest and bit a state trooper, retreating to his property, refusing to leave for court. The sheriff, explaining why his deputies declined to go after him, once said, “Joe Gray has been in prison out there himself [for 14 years].” (Actually, the charges were dismissed in December 2014, but when the district attorney left office, he failed to notify Gray or the deputies.) [WFAA-TV (Dallas-Fort Worth, 1-8-2016]
A News of the Weird Classic (March 2012)
Newspapers in Sweden reported in January  that two of the country's most heinous murderers apparently fell in love with each other at their psychiatric institution and, following a 26-day Internet-chat "courtship," had decided to marry. Mr. Isakin Jonsson ("the Skara Cannibal") was convicted of killing, decapitating, and eating his girlfriend, and Michelle Gustafsson ("the Vampire Woman") was convicted of killing a father of four and drinking his blood. Said the love-struck Jonsson (certainly accurately), to the newspaper Expressen, "I have never met anyone like [Michelle]." The pair will almost certainly remain locked up forever, but Gustafsson wrote that she hopes they will be released, to live together and "have dogs and pursue our hobbies, piercing and tattoos." [The Local (Stockholm), 1-30-2012]
Thanks This Week to Patty Lively, Sergio Brusin, and Gary DaSilva, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
In 1959, the French automaker Simca showed a prototype of the Simca Fulgur (aka "Dream Car of the Future") at various auto shows. It was a concept car designed to demonstrate "the advanced thinking of Simca engineers."
The final car was supposed to incorporate the following not-yet-invented technologies (according to this Dec 1959 article):
controlled by an electronic brain fed travel instructions by the driver
Power supplied on main highways through magnetic induction from road-imbedded cables
On secondary roads, Fulgur derives power from six batteries in the rear which gives it a range of up to 3000 miles.
The front wheels which steer the Fulgur at low speeds are retracted at above 90 miles per hour and the car will plane along on its rear wheels.
There was also talk of making the Simca Fulgur atomic-powered. And it seems possible that it may have inspired the design of the Jetsons' car, though I can't find any confirmation of that.
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.