Weird Universe Archive

May 2012

May 25, 2012

Its What’s For Dinner

Can you guess what this special meal that five diners paid $250 a plate for happens to be?

More in extended >>

Posted By: patty - Fri May 25, 2012 - Comments (16)

May 24, 2012

House Pets

Check out the rest of the slide show of this family's delightful house pets.

Posted By: patty - Thu May 24, 2012 - Comments (5)

The Prayer Duel

image image

LAYDEEZ 'N' GENNELMEN! On yer left, John Alexander Dowie, weighing in at 162 pounds with robes!

On yer right, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, a trim 158 with turban wrapped tight!

Watch them in a prayer duel to the death! Mixed Martial Arts ain't got nuthin' on them!

As Dowie was an enemy of all religions but his own, it is not surprising he had no use for Islam — although the extent of his animus remains a point of controversy among various Muslim sects even today.

In the summer of 1903, this brought a well-publicized challenge to an Islamic prayer duel to the death, or Mubahila, from the Indian subcontinent: "Whether the God of Muhammadans or the God of Dowie is the true God, may be settled...he should choose me as his opponent and pray to God that of us two, whoever is the liar may perish first.... I am an old man of 66 years and Dr. Dowie is eleven years younger; therefore on grounds of age he need not have any apprehension.... If the self-made deity of Dr. Dowie has any power, he shall certainly allow him to appear against me and procure my destruction in his lifetime." Dowie's Punjabi challenger, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, was a remarkably well-matched opponent: he too had founded his own sect, Ahmadiyya, and believed himself a reincarnated prophet — in his case, Hazrat Eisa Ibne Maryam (a.k.a. Jesus Christ).

Whether the Almighty took any interest in their contest, its rules leave no doubt about the winner: in short order Dowie was deposed (amid rumors of sexual and financial malfeasance); suffered a stroke; and, in 1907, died — a year before Ahmad.

Posted By: Paul - Thu May 24, 2012 - Comments (11)
Category: Death, Eccentrics, Frauds, Cons and Scams, Religion, 1900s

News of the Weird 2.0 (May 24, 2012)

News of the Weird 2.0
(Almost) Daily, Since May 21, 2012

Underreported News, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
May 24, 2012
(datelines from May 21 or later) (links correct as of May 24)

★ ★ ★ ★!

Enforcement will will be a bear, but Beijing's new municipal clean-restroom regulation is at least precise: Public toilets are permitted only one housefly per stall. Say, three stalls, four flies, violation! Beijing Evening News via China Daily

Weird People

Brit Gary Connery wanted to survive his jump out of a plane without a parachute (2,400 feet, landing on setup of cardboard boxes). On the other hand, a suicider, in his 30s, was looking for a Fail going over Niagara's Horseshoe Falls (150 ft drop). Connery was overjoyed; the suicider was probably pissed and/or further distraught as he waded ashore (the third person to make it without safety gear). Daily Telegraph (London) /// Associated Press via Chronicle Herald (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Challenging Career Fields: Justin Schmidt, a U. of Arizona entomologist, decided at some point to study bugs full-time and then that he could best serve science by letting insects bite him, on purpose, and then describing how much it hurt (Meh / Ow, Jeez! / Owwww, Hey! / Owwww, Motherfu--!). Hence, the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. World's Greatest Newspaper /// Schmidt Pain Index

"U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"

USA Today helpfully calculated the federal deficit based on real rules and not the make-believe, low-ball ones Congress uses. For 2011, it meant we owed almost 4x what Congress said ($5 trillion instead of $1.3 trillion). Congress of course doesn't think it "owes" the money because, presto!, it always has the power to change the law. (Bonus: Our Chinese creditors have bought into this reasoning. LOL!) USA Today

Cleveland: John Davis, exiting Interstate 90, handed a couple of bucks to a wheelchaired beggar, who fumbled it, then picked it up. A cop, following Davis's car, stopped him a block or two later and ticketed him for . . littering. (Well, he coulda been ticketed for feeding a panhandler too close to the Interstate . . but he wasn't.) WJW-TV (Cleveland)

Funny Old World*

The Mafia hardly appears more efficient than the rhesus monkeys of India. They work in teams to intimidate, distract, and rob passersby of food, and so many people feed them voluntarily that the shakedowns are now almost impossible to stop--at least without causing grief to devout Hindus. New York Times

Your Daily Jury Duty
[In America, you're presumed innocent . . until the mug shot is released]:

Houston: Edward Montgomery was charged with punching a police dog in the face (and perhaps will be charged with robbing an Advanced Auto Shop), but I envision a defense! KPRC-TV (Houston)

Thanks to Mike Wolcott and Tim Allen, and the mighty NOTW Board of Editorial Advisors. (* stolen from Private Eye; [Chuck's editor: Stolen? You're better than that.] [Chuck: I'm not.])

Posted By: Chuck - Thu May 24, 2012 - Comments (8)

Marcus Coates—the man who’s learned to be an animal

British artist Marcus Coates thinks Nature can help address the concerns of the urban poor. So he's trained himself to be an animal, so as to bring Nature to them. He goes to slums, gathers groups of the local residents, and then does a shamanistic trance thing in which he "journeys to the lower world" to seek the wisdom of animal spirits. He does this while wearing a deer's head and skin, and uttering grunts and cries. Sometimes he'll wear a horse's head, or a badger hat. More about him here and here. Check out the video to see him in action.

Posted By: Alex - Thu May 24, 2012 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Art, Performance Art

May 23, 2012

Fugu & Tako

Posted By: Paul - Wed May 23, 2012 - Comments (4)
Category: Movies, Surrealism, Fish, Asia, Fictional Monsters

Chuck’s Cite-Seeing (May 23, 2012)

News of the Weird 2.0
(Almost) Daily, Since May 21, 2012

Underreported News, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
May 23, 2012
(datelines from May 18 or later) (links correct as of May 23)

★ ★ ★ ★!

London: Great Art plays itself out on June 12th, when a Hayward Gallery show opens featuring 50 "invisible" works, by Warhol and others, i.e., some of the works are just, y'know, blanks with descriptions, and you're supposed to conjure up something. One was actually drawn (they say), but with invisible ink. Said a Gallery source, art is about "firing the imagination." Daily Telegraph

Weird People

Michael McShane, 55, with nearly 300 flasher-related arrests on his sheet, thought he had a solution. This last time he went carousing, he thought to wear two pairs of pants so that he'd still be unexposed if he dropped trou. However, even though he was drunk, he got 'em both down over his buttocks before he passed out. Carlisle News & Star (Carlisle, England)

"U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"

New York City: An indoor parking space on East 11th Street in Manhattan (12x23x15 feet high), with its own deed, will go on the market soon for $1m. New York Post

Fine Points of U.S. Law: The U.S. Court of Appeals (San Francisco) ruled that Minute Maid can continue to call one of its beverages "Pomegranate Blueberry" even though it's 99.5 percent apple and grape juice. Mmmm! The Law! San Francisco Chronicle

More in extended >>

Posted By: Chuck - Wed May 23, 2012 - Comments (6)

Sebastian the Bullet Catcher

Edward Sebastian Adriani, who went by the stage name 'Sebastian,' was a magician who specialized in catching a .22 caliber bullet between his teeth. He even had steel dental plates put on his teeth -- to help him better 'catch' the bullets. Other parts of his act included placing a concrete block on his wife's stomach and pulverizing it with a sledgehammer. Read more about him here.

Posted By: Alex - Wed May 23, 2012 - Comments (7)
Category: Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand, Theater and Stage

May 22, 2012

Bloody Auction

The family of Ronald Reagan is quite upset by the recent announcement that a vial containing the blood of the former president of the United States will be auctioned off. The owner of the vial claims it was given to his mother by the lab where she worked at in 1981. Just think, a bunch of conservatives could pool their money and have the Gipper cloned.

Posted By: patty - Tue May 22, 2012 - Comments (5)

Follies of the Mad Men #183


I ripped this ad out of a Reader's Digest a long time ago, so I don't have the exact issue attribution. Other sources on the web claim 1960.

In any case, this is a fine example of the category of subliminal ad known technically as "You can put the liquid from your long thick bottle into my melting ice cream anytime, honey!"

Here's a fascinating version for what was then perceived as a different market.

Posted By: Paul - Tue May 22, 2012 - Comments (9)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Sexuality, Junk Food, 1960s, Double Entendres and Nudge-Nudge, Wink-Wink

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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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