Weird Universe Archive

November 2008

November 24, 2008

Ads on Exams, a Piano in the Woods

and the Morning Edition of Chuck's News of the Weird Daily for Monday

Leading economic indicator: teacher selling ad space on tests
Actually, ya sympathize: A California school district cut teachers' printing budgets, forcing handout-intensive teachers to dig into their own pockets. So math teacher Kevin Change sells little blurbs on page one of the test for $20-$30 and made the nut on his printing. San Diego Union-Tribune
Comments 'exam_adspace'

It's Good to Be a British Prisoner (continuing series)
The comedy workshops at Whitemoor Prison, going on since 1998, have been canceled, as Justice Minister Jack Straw (once again) said, WTF? And Prisons Minister David Hanson said he would scale back the encouragement Swaleside jail in Kent has been giving inmates to apply for In Vitro Fertilization (after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that prisoners couldn't be categorically excluded from gov't benefits for it). Good to be a Scottish prisoner, too, with poker classes and games at Saughton prison in Edinburgh, although Scotland's Justice Secretary is ending those, also, with another WTF? BBC News /// Daily Mail (London) /// Scottish Sunday Mail
Comments 'british_prisoners'

Massachusetts pranksters having fun (either that, or they're nuts)
Most likely having fun were the ones who set up an in-tune piano in the middle of the woods on Cape Cod. Just left it there (with bench, ready to play). The other guy may be nuts, though, the one leaving slabs of raw meat in the town square in Framingham. CNN /// Boston Globe
Comments 'massachusetts_pranksters'

(1) Police in Valentine, Neb., believe they've caught the butt vandal (mentioned several times in News of the Weird for his m.o. of lubricating his cheeks and backing up against storefront windows). (2) That Japanese killer mentioned here on Friday, in turns out, was not exacting revenge for the dysfunction of the pension system, but, um, just because his dog died. Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle /// Washington Post
Comments 'update_buttvandal'

Your Daily Loser
You might remember U.S. Rep. Gary Condit of California, implicated in the 2001 disappearance of gov't intern Chandra Levy (in the sense that he was a cad who exploited her with delusions of love). For some reason, he was once a rising star in the GOP [CORRECTION: He was a sorta-conservative Democrat], but in public interviews, he always seemed overmatched. Well, after his fall, he moved his family to Phoenix and bought two Baskin-Robbins franchises, and they failed, and last week a federal judge also stuck him for breach of contract and basically called his son a liar. Rising star . . sinking stone. McClatchy Newspapers
Comments 'gary_condit'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
William Smith, 50, was convicted of rape in Kelso, Wash., despite his having had what he thought were ironclad contracts from the women to allow themselves to be raped. Said Smith, from the witness stand, "I'm here so I guess it didn't work." The Daily News (Longview)
Comments 'william_smith'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
James Spencer Adams, 63, may be guilty of cramming a coat hanger down the throat of his 8-yr-old step-grandson, but on the other hand, it may have just been an accident, as he claims. Ya just don't know what to believe unless ya can see the picture. WFTS-TV (Tampa) [mugshot] /// WFTS-TV [backstory, but this page's photo is cropped so as to deny you jurors crucial insight]
Comments 'james_adams'

More Things to Worry About on Monday

"They are the KKK in a box," said the lawyer for a black man fighting a DUI ticket (in that the lawyer says he has evidence that blacks have 3 percent less lung capacity than whites and thus that breathalyzers are oppressive for blacks). Connecticut Post

Retinal scans are bigger deals than you thought, in that they're being used (1) in place of branding to deter animal rustling (a lot cheaper!) and (2) by a British woman with much too much money and who has built a $2m-equivalent doghouse for her two great Danes, with entry controlled by retinal scanning of the pooches. Daily Mail (London) /// Daily Telegraph (London)

Be sure to check the news this afternoon, after 2 p.m. Eastern time, to see whether Eric Scott made it across a Colorado gorge in his homemade jet pack. (Could be ugly.) KOAA-TV (Colorado Springs)

Comments on More Things to Worry About on Monday?
Comments 'worry_081124'

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Nov 24, 2008 - Comments (0)


iSerenity offers "a relaxing web-based experience that delivers soothing sounds and images designed to reduce stress and calm nerves. Use iSerenity while at work or at home. You can even leave it running in the background while you work on your computer."

Nice idea, but their Library Lullaby sounds like it was recorded inside a parking structure. Pencil Parade would drive me insane in minutes; and why would anyone want to relax to Vacuum Vibrations?

Posted By: Alex - Mon Nov 24, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Boredom


You may not have heard of Tarvuism before, but it claims to be one of the oldest and largest religions in the world.

Tarvuists worship Tarvu, who came to Earth over 3,000 years ago as a tiny baby boy. After landing in the oceans, and swimming with Oobu the holy octopus, Tarvu came ashore and lived amongst men and women so that he could teach them "to live".

It's easy to become a Tarvuist. All you have to do is say Tarvu's prayer:

Tarvu tarvooti,
Oboonoo cTooti,
Mimmin O'tibbi noonah,
Mdfitty fitty noonah,
Arvu immentiBarvu,

Posted By: Alex - Mon Nov 24, 2008 - Comments (13)
Category: Religion

November 23, 2008

It’s not hard to make dogs happy

The key to happiness is to be able to do something you're passionate about. For Tucker, a four-year-old Lab, that means being allowed to sniff out killer-whale poop. He goes into "paroxysms of excitement" when he smells the slimy green stuff floating in the ocean. Researchers from the University of Washington's Center for Conservation Biology then scoop it up for analysis. Tucker's handler says, "We haven't had a dog that has caught on quicker. He just knew this was what he wanted to do." Link:

Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 23, 2008 - Comments (6)
Category: Animals

Ted Williams Estate Auction

Of course you recall the baseball great, Ted Williams. Decapitated after death and head frozen, once the family quit squabbling in public...?

Well, now many of his possessions are up for sale at auction, including, ironically, a number of severed animal-head trophies. And also some fine "space alien" paintings and drawings by daughter Claudia, like the one at right.

Check out an article and photo gallery here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Nov 23, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Art, Celebrities, Death, Eccentrics, Collectors, Historical Figure

A dog and a duck

All the blogs are posting this, but if you haven't seen it yet, it's a must see.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Nov 23, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Video

November 22, 2008

The Bad Sleep Well

We've been alerted to the serial killer in Japan who's taking revenge for corporate fraud, as described in this article in today's NY TIMES. But what no one seems to have noticed is that we've already seen this scenario in a film. THE BAD SLEEP WELL is one of Akira Kurosawa's masterpieces, and details how a man whose father was killed by corrupt businessmen exacts his revenge. Here's the excellent trailer.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Nov 22, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Business, Crime, Death, Frauds, Cons and Scams, Movies, Foreign Customs, 1960s, Asia

Princess Girls

The latest weird Japanese fad: hime gyaru, or princess girls. They're grown women (in their 20s and 30s) who spend lots of money trying to look like fairytale princesses. They speak in soft chirpy voices, apply mascara on top of fake eyelashes, strive for "supervolume hair," and decorate their bedrooms with rococo furniture. One 36-year-old princess-girl housewife estimates she spends between $2000 to $3000 a month on dresses, which doesn't leave a lot of money for groceries. Luckily her parents help support her princess habit by sending food to her and her husband. Link: Wall Street Journal.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Nov 22, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Fads, Fashion, Asia

November 21, 2008

Your Daily Jury Duty Works Overtime

and the Afternoon Edition of Chuck's News of the Weird Daily for Friday

A 22-yr-veteran cop (considered "the mayor of 26th Street" by grateful residents) was fired after taking one bag of trail mix too many from a Walgreen's. Chicago Tribune

It was just her time to go: fatally struck by a car in a parking lot (estimated speed: "2" or "3" mph). The Oregonian

Chubby Mikey's nude 2009 calendar is officially sold out, he said, being a best buy in the "chubby chaser" community (with "chubby" in this case meaning "530 pounds"). Daily Telegraph (London) [photos are probably safe for work, but that doesn't mean you want to see 'em]

A Wisconsin girl, 10, precociously developing her own hit list.

Bonus Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]

(1) Mr. Joe Gloria, who might be a dog molester (you are ordered to ignore the fact that he has just recently received a beatdown). Massachusetts Law Enforcement Network via Fresno Bee

(2) How about Brian Hansen? If he's the guy the cops want, he offered teenage boys beer if they'd give him photos of their genitals (even though the kids cheated and supplied only Internet porn, instead). Salt Lake Tribune

(3) Tedrick Garland, 24, accused burglar in Beaumont, Tex. (and if you believe in purity in our justice system, you'll judge Mr. Garland fairly, without regard to his shirt). Beaumont Enterprise

Editor's Note
It is with a mixture of joy and hesitancy that I inform you that the exciting German tabloid Bild now has an English-language site. While Bild is notoriously unreliable for its celebrity reporting, I think most of its news stories are sound. I'll be watching them closely, in any event. Two current local stories of interest: A court in the state of Hessen ruled that having large breasts is not a medical problem, in that insurance companies are not required to pay for reduction surgery. And police in Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, are pictured in their shrubbery suits, lying in wait for a serial burglar to return to his rural hideaway and pick up his goods (and they got their man). [Link from Nothing to Do with Arbroath blog]

Professor Music's Weird Link o' the Day
Ya get an idea, ya go with it, no matter what. Renewable energy, horse-drawn carriage, no fouling the streets. In fact, horse-drawn carriage, with the horse in back . . on a treadmill . . generating the power to move the vehicle: The Naturmobil (1 hp engine).

Today's Newsrangers: Joseph Stanley, Paul Music, Sandy Pearlman, Ginger Katz, Stephen Taylor, Perry Levin, Paul Vogt
Comments on the Afternoon Edition of Chuck's News of the Weird Daily for Friday?
Comments 'cycle_081121'

Posted By: Chuck - Fri Nov 21, 2008 - Comments (0)

Follies of the Mad Men #47

[From Life magazine for September 30 1940.]

You know what your problem is? Not enough yeast. I suggest increasing your beer intake.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Nov 21, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Food, Health, 1940s

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Who We Are
Alex Boese
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 Shepherd
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.

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