Weird Universe Archive

August 2013

August 7, 2013

Johnson Smith Catalog Item #30

[From the 1950 catalog. Click to enlarge.]

I can see this prank being really popular in the Middle East nowadays. "Gotcha, Ahmed [Isaac]! You really thought the Israelis [al Qaeda] had rigged your car!"

Posted By: Paul - Wed Aug 07, 2013 - Comments (4)
Category: Death, Destruction, Explosives, Fireworks and Pyrotechnics, Johnson Smith Catalog, 1950s, Pranks, Middle East

August 6, 2013

Listerine Cures Dandruff

1937 ad for Listerine. From what I understand, Listerine really is an effective cure for dandruff. However, I assume that most people were reluctant to rub mouthwash in their hair. And nowadays, no company in their right mind would admit in the ad that they tested the product on cute rabbits.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 06, 2013 - Comments (5)
Category: Hygiene, Advertising, 1930s

Bon Jour Action Jeans

Once in the fabled past, mighty action jeans stalked the planet's butts.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Aug 06, 2013 - Comments (8)
Category: Denim

August 5, 2013

Gumby on the Moon

I tend to forget--and perhaps a younger generation never knew--just how weird Gumby was, right from his first adventure, seen here.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Aug 05, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Anthropomorphism, Family, Surrealism, Stop-motion Animation, Space Travel, 1950s

Don’t kill your wife with work

A 1936 advertising appeal to householders in Willesden, Middlesex, England. [source: Newsweek - Apr 11, 1936]

Posted By: Alex - Mon Aug 05, 2013 - Comments (8)
Category: Advertising, Wives, 1930s

News of the Weird 2.0 (August 5, 2013)

News of the Weird 2.0
Angst, Confusion, Cynicism, Ridicule

Prime Cuts of Underreported News from Last Week, Hand-Picked and Lightly Seasoned by Chuck Shepherd
August 5, 2013
(datelines July 27-August 3) (links correct as of August 4)

★ ★ ★ ★!

Meet the 20-yr-old guy paying for college by raising cockroaches at home (200,000 of ‘em)--Kyle Kandilian, Dearborn, Mich. (Couldn’t he just raise bunnies instead? No, he said. “Mammals smell too much.”) (Buried Lede: Kyle has a mother who is fine with having 200,000 cockroaches in her home.) Detroit Free Press

Way-Unclear on the Concept: Canada’s Conservative Party, reaching out to show the disabled how much they care, mass-distributed a jobs pamphlet that helpfully had a message at the bottom in Braille. Problem: The dots weren’t raised; it was a photograph of a Braille message. Toronto Star

Documented phenomena similar to a “sharknado” (where animals are picked up into the air and deposited on land): fish (perch, mudfish), frogs, jellyfish, worms, and, once, an alligator. Mother Nature Network

Fine Points of the Law: (1) New York City cops don’t have to give up their safe, cowering positions nearby to come to your rescue if you’re being menaced by a mass murderer. They’re immune to your lawsuit. (2) Even though you’re a full-time struggling artist with street cred, if the Minnesota Dept. of Revenue in its wisdom thinks you’re too eclectic and getting too much pleasure from your work for too little profit, then you’re not allowed to tax-deduct art expenses from your $15k-$20k annual income. New York Daily News /// Minnesota Public Radio

Miracle Village, Fla. (pop. 200), near Pahokee in Palm Beach County, is a quiet hamlet with safe streets and a communality that the residents love, even though more than 100 of them have moved there only because they’re registered sex offenders and have been hassled out of their previous communities. (Florida has tough laws on RSOs living within a light year of schools, parks, etc.) BBC News

More Things to Worry About

Just Can’t Stop Himself: Steven Showers, 60, Ventura, Calif., is a solid Republican but also solidly believes Mitt Romney was/is a racist/Mormon, and he had a neon sign to that effect in his yard--for which he was jailed for three weeks when he refused a judge’s order to turn it off. He just got out, and after dithering a day or two, decided that it’s worth some more hard time to tell people about Romney. Plugged in again! New York magazine

Trouble in Paradise: Julia Merfield, 21, thought so little of her husband Jake that her offer to a hitman to kill Jake just rolled off her tongue. The hitman was of course a cop, and she was convicted, but then Jake insisted on leniency in sentencing: “[M]y wife is a wonderful person. She is a godly woman.” Truly, there is someone for everyone out there. (Sentence was not as bad as it could have been.) ABC News

Update: Norway’s prison system, which never met a prisoner it didn’t want to be nice to, will probably approve (an official said) the application of Anders Behring Breivik (serving 21 yrs for massacring 77 people in 2011) to study political science at the University of Oslo in his spare time. Irish Independent (Dublin)

The lovely Brita West arrived at the detention center in Scott County, Tenn., to see her husband-to-be, who was locked up. She apparently came with a plan . . but on her way in, her dentures came loose, and a jailer spotted the meth pouch she allegedly intended to pass him with a kiss. (Rank these in the order you object to having in your mouth: Brita West’s tongue / a pouch of methamphetamine.) WBIR-TV (Knoxville)

The Aristocrats!

Psychology professor Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University thinks he’s found his career cash cow publishing cow: paraphilias like this guy, turned on by smelling farts (farts of women though--he’s not some pervert bisexual!). He’s now studying fire fetish, blindness fetish, and crying fetish.

Update: The ex-puppeteer who fantasized about eating children and watching them die got 20 yrs for just the modest collection of child porn he had. He wasn’t convicted on the fantasies, but the fantasies certainly ensured a sentence at the generous end of the scale. Orlando Sentinel

Weekly Cite-Seeing

Readers’ Choice: (1) Dog Eats Paralyzed Man’s Testicle --- KAIT-TV (Jonesboro, Ark.) /// (2) “Deputies [Say] Man Armed with Baseball Bat Tried to Steal from Gun Shop” --- KPTV (Portland, Ore.)

Woman Tries to Buy Two Apple iPhones Online, Ends Up with Actual Edible Apples --- The Independent (London) via Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia)

Strange Old World

As in the U.S., TV talk shows’ ratings cycle is important in Pakistan, and host Aamir Liaquat Hussain has Springered things up by giving away babies on the air. (They’ve been abandoned, and the recipients have been vetted already so this is just fast-lane adoption . . until something goes wrong, anyway.) Reuters

News reports in Zambia have teachers in Nashongo and Makaba complaining that witches are having sex “invisibl[y]” with them. But that’s just a Third-World problem. Adam Hamilton, 30, Avondale, Ariz., had demon problems, too, and so set fire to his bedroom closet to chase them away. Zambia Daily Mail via Daily Telegraph (London) /// Arizona Republic

Reuters reports a court decision from Porto, Portugal, favoring a trash collector fired for drinking on the job. He must be reinstated because (a) there’s no rule against drinking on the job and (b) “[L]et’s admit it. Their work is unpleasant,” wrote the judges, and taxpayers might actually prefer somewhat tipsy trash collectors because they look more contented on the job. Reuters via Yahoo News

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

James Lyons, 52, St. Augustine, Fla., arrested for getting frisky with a dog, could use some help in how to pose more innocently for his mug shot. Florida Times-Union

Newsrangers: Tim Baer, Caroline Lawler, Steve Dunn, Phillip Laird, and John McGaw, and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Aug 05, 2013 - Comments (5)

August 4, 2013

Long Life Cow Award

Ballydrum Celsius Betty recently won the Northern Ireland "Long Life Cow Award" -- for the fourth time. When I first saw this, I assumed it meant she was an extremely old cow, and I thought it was odd there was an annual cow longevity contest. But no, it seems that the Long Life Cow Award is more like a lifetime achievement award for cows, given to cows who consistently produce a large amount of high-quality milk.

Ballydrum Celsius Betty is only 15 yrs old, which isn't even particularly old for a cow, since cows often reach the age of 20. Apparently the oldest cow on record is Big Bertha, who lived to be 49. After her death she was stuffed and is now on display somewhere in Beaufort, County Kerry.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 04, 2013 - Comments (2)
Category: Farming, Cows

PC Police Invade Seattle

In Seattle city employees are being cautioned about the use of some offensive words. The offensive words in question are brown bag (as in lunch) and citizen. Check out the ridiculous reasons why at the link.

Posted By: patty - Sun Aug 04, 2013 - Comments (8)
Category: Political Correctness

News of the Weird (August 4, 2013)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M330, August 4, 2013
Copyright 2013 by Chuck Shepherd

Lead Story

Pro-nationalism English Defence League activists seemed to be itching for a street brawl to break up a scheduled anti-nationalist demonstration in downtown Birmingham, England, on July 18th, causing the city to mobilize more than 1,000 police--when officials arrived at a solution. Police shepherded “hundreds” of rowdy EDL operatives into the popular Bar Risa pub at 11 a.m., confining them for three hours, until the anti-EDL rally had dissipated. (Given British habits, many EDLers decided to enjoy their confinement with a brew.) As a result, police reported only sporadic street scuffling. (Bar Risa, perturbed by police pressure to host alleged “fascists,” donated its profits to the Midlands Air Ambulance service.) [Birmingham Mail, 7-18-2013, 7-23-2013]

Cultural Diversity

PREVIOUSLY ON WEIRD UNIVERSE: For “beach season” in Qingdao, China, recently, middle-aged ladies returned to the shore of the Yellow Sea sporting their relatively revealing (though age-appropriate) bathing suits--but wearing distinctive cloth hoods with tiny holes only for the eyes, nose, and mouth. To many in China, dark skin still signals the laborers and fair skin the indoor “leisure” class, according to a July report on the business website Quartz. [Quartz (, 7-5-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: In Shenzhen, China, one of the country’s richest cities, services are being openly advertised by “wet nurses” to supply adults with breast milk, either directly from the source or after pumping (and purchased by either the infirm or just rich people overconcerned with nourishment). These milk “suppliers” can earn at least four times the average personal income, with healthy, attractive women earning even more, of course, according to a July Agence France-Presse dispatch. Comments on China’s social media ranged from “It’s just a business” to “People become perverts when they are too rich and tire of other forms of entertainment.” [Agence France-Presse via Google News, 7-4-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Because Zimbabwe is reputedly among the world’s most corrupt countries, bribery is normal and makes the news only when innovators go above and beyond. The anti-poverty organization Transparency International reported in July that one hospital in Harare had recently been imposing a US$5 charge on mothers each time they screamed during childbirth (in addition to the $50 delivery fee). Furthermore, it has long been rumored that hospitals in Zimbabwe (and other countries) may detain mothers and their children at the hospital if they cannot pay the fees. (Transparency International reported several days later, after finally obtaining a meeting with a government official, that the per-scream charge will be lifted.) [Washington Post, 7-11-2013]

Latest Religious Messages

Satan was thrust into the recent Texas legislature debate with pro-choicers shouting “Hail Satan!” at the right-to-life faction. However, whom Satan had endorsed was not clear. A British organization called UK Church of Satan appeared to criticize the pro-choicers (according to Twitter comments) while the New York-based Church of Satan (founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey) insists on a woman’s right to choose, said its High Priest Peter Gilmore--although he acknowledged that shouting “Hail Satan” to anti-abortion activists was “ludicrous and meaningless.” [CNN, 7-9-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Megachurch bishop Ira V. Hilliard told his Sugarland, Tex., congregation (New Light Christian Center) in June that one of his two private aircraft--a helicopter valued at about $1 million--needs new blades, but rather than pay it himself, he asked parishioners to each find it in their hearts to send him $52 “favor seeds” for the blades. (His ministry also owns a $2 million Hawker jet and a $3 million hangar.) To sweeten the deal, he virtually promised that a donor’s gift would be met by a “breakthrough favor” from God in the form of a car repair or their very own “dream” car either 52 days or 52 weeks later (according to a church letter described by the Christian Post). [Christian Post via Houston Press, 6-25-2013]

Questionable Judgments

Sharon Jobson thought her major grieving was over at the two-year mark after her son had been killed driving into a CN Rail train at a crossing that had not then been updated with safety features. (John Jobson, 22, was speeding and failed to stop, perhaps because of a partially obscured warning sign and a nonstandard train horn.) The government subsequently ordered upgrades, and Sharon decided not to sue, but CN Rail had no such reluctance and filed in July for $500,000 against John’s estate to cover damage to its tracks and the subsequent customer slowdown caused by the collision. (At press time, with grief forced upon her once again, Sharon was re-valuating litigation.) [Toronto Sun, 7-10-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Inexplicable: (1) In May, a 24-year-old man accidentally shot a teenage boy in the leg with a high-caliber gun at a home in Santa Fe, Tex., in front of the boy’s mother, whose first reaction was to look up “gunshot” on WebMD--and then not to take her son to Mainland Medical Center until seven hours later. Deborah Tagle was charged, along with the shooter, for injury to a child. (2) Carole Longhorn, 66, struck a metal object in her garden in June, and, though it looked like a projectile-bomb, she said she decided to take it inside and wash it off in the sink before calling police (who later detonated the World War II-era munition in a controlled explosion). (Said her husband, later: “You can imagine what I said to her.”) [KHOU-TV, 5-10-2013] [BBC News, 6-7-2013]

News That Sounds Like a Joke

In May (before Edward Snowden began releasing his previously-classified document cache), the American Civil Liberties Union released its own attempts to learn some of the same information from the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. Two of the documents, totaling 69 pages, were completely “redacted”--solid black boxes covering the entirety of every page except for page numbers and document title. [, 5-13-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: A June performance-art street demonstration in Glastonbury, England, got out of hand when a spectator took offense at one of the characters, who was dressed as a giant penis to promote a show by the troupe Nomadic Academy of Fools. The bystander grabbed the penis’s costume, but the penis’s colleague, Joanne Tremarco, who was dressed as a giant vagina, went to his defense, trying to calm the bystander until police arrived. [Western Morning News (Plymouth), 6-21-2013]

The Redneck Chronicles

PREVIOUSLY: (1) Police in York, Pa., arrested both Karen Harrelson, 48, and Gregory Stambaugh, 57, in May because they could not figure out which one started the couple’s knife fight--that was over which contestant (Candice or Kree) deserved to win this year’s “American Idol.” They had apparently stabbed each other with the same knife. (2) Dewayne Eddy, 54, was charged in Yuba County, Calif., in May with beating his adult daughter with a folding lawn chair and a can of beans after discovering that a bolt was missing in the chicken coop in his yard. [Associated Press via KDKA-TV (Pittsburgh), 5-23-2013] [Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.), 5-22-2013]

The Weirdo-American Community

Ronald Rock, 31, was arrested in Malone, N.Y., in May after surveillance video convinced police that he was the man at a Sears store who told a female stranger that he loved her shoes and wanted to buy a pair for his mother--and asked if she would take one off to show him. Rock then appeared to stuff the shoe down his pants and masturbate vigorously. (Malone is within 25 miles of the small town of Massena, which was the site of the man caught on video stuffing the Hannaford’s pepperoni down his pants for the same purpose--reported in News of the Weird seven weeks ago.) [Watertown Daily Times, 5-24-2013]

A News of the Weird Classic (August 2009)

The New Waterboarding: In April [2009], the district attorney in Vilas County, Wis., announced that he was seeking volunteers for a forensic test to help his case against Douglas Plude, 42, who [was] scheduled to stand trial soon for the second time in the death of his wife. The volunteers must be female, about five-feet-eight and 140 pounds, and will have to stick their heads into a toilet bowl and flush. Plude is charged with drowning his wife in a commode, but his version (which the prosecutor will try to show is improbable) is that his wife committed suicide by flushing herself. [USA Today-AP, 4-12-2009]

Thanks This Week to Bill Thomas, Andy Gilbert, and Michelle Jensen, and to the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and Board of Editorial Advisors (Tom Barker, Paul Blumstein, Harry Farkas, Sam Gaines, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Rob Snyder, Stephen Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Aug 04, 2013 - Comments (5)

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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.

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