Weird Universe

December 21, 2014

News of the Weird, December 21, 2014

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M402, December 21, 2014
Copyright 2014 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

People advertising for love interests via online dating sites have apparently become picky about how they describe their sexuality. To the usuals (male, female, gay, heterosexual) have been added recently (as reported by NPR in December after surveying “asexual,” “androgynous,” “genderqueer” (evidently not the same as “gay”), “queer” (not quite “gay,” either), “questioning,” “trans man,” “transsexual,” “transmasculine,” “heteroflexible,” and the NPR reporter’s favorite, “sapiosexual” (turned on by “intelligence”). Still, some users of the site found the choices inadequate. One young woman described her sexual orientation as “squiggly,” and the reporter cited others who thought highly of that term. [NPR, 12-4-2014]

Bright Ideas

Britain’s Home Office revealed in November (by releasing archived documents from 1982) that among the contingency suggestions for worst-case nuclear attack on the country was commissioning “psychopaths” to help keep order. They are “very good in crises,” an advocate wrote, because “they have no feelings for others, nor moral code [yet] tend to be very intelligent and logical,” and thus could do quite well at containing the vigilante survivalist enclaves that might develop in the event parts of the kingdom became lawless. (After an apparently thoughtful debate, the suggestion was not agreed to.) [The Independent, 11-1-2014]

Great Art! At a recent art show at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo, Italian artist Sven Sachsalber, for his provocative piece, brought in a large haystack on November 13th, dropped a needle into it, and gave himself two days to find it. Late the next day, he picked it up. (Palais de Tokyo calls itself an “anti-museum par excellence.”) [Daily Mail (London), 11-14-2014]


(1) Three homes on the Pacific Ocean near Grayland, Wash., were washed away by the violent rainstorms in early December, but the residents had seen it coming. The longtime local name for the area is “Washaway Beach.” Said one, “I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, but I had hoped it wasn’t this soon.” (2) In November, an airline’s advertising staff created the catchy slogan (to attract impulse travelers), “Want to go somewhere, but don’t know where?” and convinced management to send it, via Twitter, to the airline’s thousands of followers. (Spoiler: The airline was Malaysia Airlines, whose Flight 370 still has not been found.) [KOMO-TV (Seattle), 12-11-2014] [Malta Independent, 11-28-2014]

Hide the Show Program Inside the Porn: A theatrical producer in Madrid found a way around Spain’s recent steep sales tax increase on certain entertainment venues (sports, movies, live theater): It sold back issues of vintage pornographic magazines for the equivalent of $20--with a “free” ($20) ticket to its latest stage production by noted director Pedro Calderon de la Barca. (A show ticket would carry a 21 percent tax, but a pornographic magazine is still taxed at 4 percent.) [Bloomberg Business Week, 12-1-2014]

Compelling Explanations

Creative: Eric Opitz, 45, who was indicted on 13 counts of fraud in Philadelphia in October, had explained that the reason he needed Human Growth Hormone (that he would resell) despite being 6-foot-3, 450 pounds, was that he was really a dwarf and feared he would recede if he stopped the medication. [, 10-10-2014]

Bungling Cinematographers: Zak Hardy, 18, and Terrill Stoltz, 41, were arrested recently in separate incidents and charged with photographing women in bathrooms without their permission. Hardy, caught in a public restroom in June in Exeter, England, pointing his phone from one stall to another, explained that he was just trying to see whether his phone was waterproof. Stoltz professed his innocence, as well, claiming the camera he set up in his ex-girlfriend’s bathroom in Billings, Mont., was solely to have a photographic record of him when he cleaned his chickens in the bathtub. [Exeter Press and Echo, 10-27-2014] [Billings Gazette, 11-25-2014]

The New Normal

An Oceanside, Calif., couple were surprised in November to discover that buying a purebred bichon frise on credit meant they were actually only leasing the dog for 27 months and would have to make a 28th payment to actually “own” “Tresor.” Furthermore, the lease, under a “repo” threat, required “daily exercise,” “regular bathing and grooming,” and “immediate” disposal of Tresor’s “waste.” A spokesperson for the store, Oceanside Puppy (which works with four finance companies), told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the arrangement is fairly standard now for expensive pets. [San Diego Union-Tribune, 11-28-2014]

First-World Problems

(1) NBC’s “Today” show reported in December the “heartbreak” parents are feeling when they learn that the supposedly unique name (“wonderful, distinctive, rarely-heard”) they had given their infant in the last year or two (e.g., “Mason,” “Liam,” “Lily”) actually appeared on Baby Center’s annual list of most popular names of 2014 (6th, 3rd, and 8th, respectively). (2) After hearing tenants’ complaints, the New York City Council is now considering a regulation requiring landlords to post notices if a common area or amenity is unusable for 24 hours or more--which applies of course to elevators and laundry rooms, but would also extend to any “air hockey” or “foosball” facilities in the building. [NBC News, 12-2-2014] [Crain’s New York, 12-8-2014]


Although elephants, rhesus monkeys, cobras, cows, and water buffalos are regarded as sacred by many of India’s Hindus, the animals most certainly do not live idyllic lives, according to a November BBC News dispatch. As “growing populations are swallowing up habitat,” the divine symbols are forced to the cities, where they must dodge traffic, forage garbage for food, and endanger themselves encountering people less certain of their holiness (such as in the November report of the cobra harassing customers at an ATM in Delhi). As representatives of Lord Ganesh, elephants live well only during religious festivals, but otherwise must navigate asphalt and potholes that tear up their hooves. In another November incident, some Hindu leaders protested a drive to kill rats that had infested the Maharaja Yeshwantrao hospital in Indore--because Ganesh was depicted riding a mouse. [BBC News, 11-15-2014, 11-6-2014]

Police Report

In a 2012 incident in Cleveland, Ohio (where a white officer recently shot to death a black teenager holding a toy gun), 13 officers high-speed-chased two unarmed black homeless drug users and fired 137 shots at the pair, killing them. (A car had supposedly backfired, suggesting a gunshot at the cops.) As a result of “communication” failure, the 13 were placed on limited “desk duty” for 16 months and subjected to continuing investigation. Recently, nine non-black officers of the 13 sued the city, charging that white officers are historically and illegally disciplined more harshly for mistakes when victims are black. [The Daily Beast, 12-2-2014]

Big Crime: (1) Four officers responded in Tayport, Scotland, in November to arrest Irene Clark, 65, who spent 48 hours in jail--after committing the crime of swatting her husband with a magazine while arguing over TV programs (causing a paper cut). (2) Christopher Saunders, 38, pleaded guilty in North Devon, England, in July to possession of 0.09 grams of marijuana (value: 14 cents). (3) Keith Shannon, 44, was sentenced (2 years’ probation) in Letterkenny, Ireland, in November for twice being caught swiping “tester” packets of aftershave at a Boots store (value: 2 cents each). [The Scotsman (Edinburgh), 11-24-2014] [North Devon Journal, 11-16-2014] [Highland Radio (Letterkenny), 11-27-2014]

A News of the Weird Classic (February 2011)

* The ear has a "G-spot," explained Santa Clara, Calif., ear-nose-and-throat surgeon Todd Dray, and thus the moans of ecstasy that Vietnamese "ear pickers" reportedly elicit from their clients might well be justified. A San Jose Mercury News reporter, dispatched to Ho Chi Minh City in January [2011] to check it out, learned that barber shop technicians could sometimes coax "eargasms" (as they removed wax) by tickling a certain spot next to the ear drum served by multiple nerve endings and tissue-paper-thin skin. Said one female client, "Everybody is afraid the first time, but after, it's, 'Oh my God!'" Said one Vietnamese man, returning home after a trip abroad, and who went immediately from the airport to a "hot toc" parlor for a picking, "[This] brings a lot of happiness." [San Jose Mercury News, 1-23-2011]

Thanks This Week to Kev of, and Christine Van Lenten, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
Posted By: Chuck | Date: Sun Dec 21, 2014 | Comments (0)

Crusader for corporal punishment caned

Eric Wildman was a crusader for corporal punishment. He believed strongly that if you spare the rod, you'll spoil the child. He was the president (and perhaps only member?) of the National Society for the Retention of Corporal Punishment in Schools. To support himself, he sold canes and whipping paraphenalia to schools and caning enthusiasts.

In 1948, he was invited to speak at Horsley Hall, a British school for boys. But the talk didn't turn out as he expected. As he was talking, a group of the boys crept up behind him, grabbed him, pinned him down, and then began beating him with his own canes.

Strangely enough, the assault turned out to have been planned by the school's headmaster, who was strongly anti-caning. He had decided to give Wildman a taste of his own medicine. Wildman threatened to sue the school, but never did.

You can read more about Wildman and the Horsley Hall incident at, which also has lots of info about the strange history of corporal punishment.

Wildman and his canes

The Horsley Hall Incident

The Modesto Bee - Nov 26, 1948

Dr. Black & Mr. Hyde

Caution: gratuitous bare female flesh for a few seconds at the start.

Full movie below.

Posted By: Paul | Date: Sun Dec 21, 2014 | Comments (0)
Category: Horror, Ineptness, Crudity, Talentlessness, Kitsch, and Bad Art, Stereotypes and Cliches, 1970's

December 20, 2014

Santa still at large

A man dressed as Santa (or was it Santa himself?) recently robbed a Wells Fargo bank in downtown San Francisco. There have been Santa-dressed criminals before, but what made this one slightly different was that the robbery occurred just as SantaCon was taking place in the city, which meant that there were hundreds of people dressed as Santa celebrating right outside the bank. So after the robbery, the perpetrator simply stepped out the door, blended in with all the other Santas, and got away. [KBCW, lowering the bar]
Posted By: Alex | Date: Sat Dec 20, 2014 | Comments (9)
Category: Crime

Wood Apple Marriage in Nepal

This page semi-coherently explains: "...a ceremony in the Newar community in Nepal in which pre-adolescent girls are 'married' to the bel fruit (wood apple), which is a symbol of the god Vishnu, ensuring that the girl becomes and remains fertile. It is believed that if the girl's husband dies later in her life, she is not considered a widow because she is married to Vishnu, and so already has a husband that is believed to be still alive."
Posted By: Paul | Date: Sat Dec 20, 2014 | Comments (2)
Category: Food, Children, Foreign Customs, Asia, Weddings

December 19, 2014

Meow Mansion

"Meow Mansion" is a large gingerbread house with a serious message — neuter your cat!

The house, created by artist Kazz Morohashi, is home to (gingerbread) Kitty and Boots and their 65 kittens. But since Kitty and Boots haven't been neutered, their family just keeps growing and growing. Next year it'll be up to 300. And by 2017 up to 11,000.

Which raises the question: how exactly does one neuter a gingerbread cat? [via edp24 and flickr]

Posted By: Alex | Date: Fri Dec 19, 2014 | Comments (7)
Category: Cats

Follies of the Madmen #237


Original ad here.
Posted By: Paul | Date: Fri Dec 19, 2014 | Comments (10)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Radio, 1920's, Bodybuilding

December 18, 2014

His wife was his aunt

I can't quite figure out what dentist Jeffrey Gordon was up to. Was the plan to annul his marriage in order to remarry his wife to make their marriage fully legal? That's what I'm assuming. The law legalizing marrying your aunt-by-marriage must not have been retroactive. But evidently his wife didn't fully trust him. So there must have been more to the story.
Source: The Paris Texas News - Sep 29, 1960.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Thu Dec 18, 2014 | Comments (7)
Category: Family, Husbands, Wives, 1960's

Artificial Morale Booster

Posted By: Paul | Date: Thu Dec 18, 2014 | Comments (6)
Category: Chindogu

December 17, 2014

Queen Victoria in Goggles

Queen Victoria looked very steampunk when she had to wear goggles in 1899 in an attempt to cure her cataracts. Though I'm not sure how goggles would have helped without surgery, which she refused to have.

Source: The Philadelphia Times - July 30, 1899

And in a case of art imitating life, you can buy a "Steampunk Queen Victoria" mug here. I'm not sure if the site selling the mug realizes that Queen Victoria actually wore goggles like this in real life.

Posted By: Alex | Date: Wed Dec 17, 2014 | Comments (8)
Category: Nineteenth Century
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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2008 by the author of the post, 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.