Weird Universe Archive

October 2013

October 28, 2013

Bob’s Lucky Potatoes

When Bob Golub arrived in New York in 1984, he began selling "lucky potatoes." He would write his name on them with a felt-tipped pen and also sprinkle them with lucky water from his grandmother's well. The price was whatever a customer wished to pay. Golub said they were popular with stockbrokers. He told the New York Times, "There are guys making $500,000 a year walking around here with lucky potatoes in their suits."

Posted By: Alex - Mon Oct 28, 2013 - Comments (7)
Category: Superstition, 1980s

Lottery Tips

"Numbers are very unpredictable....Let's use a little bit of reality..."

Uh, yeah, right, um, just remembered, I left the cat boiling back home--gotta run!

Posted By: Paul - Mon Oct 28, 2013 - Comments (4)
Category: Eccentrics, Money, Outsider Art, Gambling, Casinos, Lotteries and Other Games of Chance

News of the Weird 2.0 (October 28, 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
October 28, 2013
(datelines October 19-October 26) (links correct as of October 25)

The State Dept.’s just rope-a-dopin’ us now. It couldn’t be true. The Special Inspector Gen’l in Afghanistan found a $300k contract for, um, 600 gallons of diesel. They’re just messin’ with us. (Kabul)

Worried about Pacific garbage? Relax. Turns out 267 marine species eat plastic. But wait--a decent society should be concerned about the health of barnacle critters, too. And wait--they eat it, but they turn around and poop the plastic back into the ocean, anyway. Mother Nature Network

American Exceptionalism (cont’d): We’re so exceptional that, among nearly our two dozen developed peers in the prominent OECD student rankings, we’re, umm, 2nd to last (literacy), last (numeracy), and last (problem-solving). USA! USA! New Yorker

Ven-e-zuela! Ven-e-zuela! El nuevo presidente declared he was setting up the Ministry of Supreme Social Happiness, to co-ordinate programs. A street vendor told the Associated Press he’d reserve judgment to see if a ministry of beer comes along. Associated Press via Washington Post

The number of Americans living in households that receive at least one income-sensitive gov’t payment now exceeds the number of Americans with full-time jobs. Yr Ed doesn’t know precisely how to feel about this except that it sounds bad. CNS News

More Things to Worry About

People Different From Us includes this guy, Chris Guest [ed., no, not THE Christ Guest], who’s living completely off the electric grid for 3 yrs now just because the utility charged him about $110 that he doesn’t feel like paying. That’ll teach the company! /// This family thinks its loved one will not rest easily unless his gravestone is, umm, SpongeBob SquarePants. /// You’d think a 10-passenger plane ferrying skydivers to an exhibition, and crashing, would have 10 survivors. /// You mean, there were no better ideas? To set a Guinness Book record, 21 people set themselves on fire (with protective suits, but still--) World’s Greatest Newspaper /// Time /// CNN /// USA Today

How embarrassing! A moose hunter in Norway missed, but the shot penetrated an outhouse wall and hit a reader. And in Port Richey, Fla., a suicide bullet finished Job One but then sought out a bystander, too. /// Brought a stun gun to a .38 gunfight. /// Walter Serpit (“[M]yself, being an alcoholic”) braved the house fire in Columbus, Ga., to rescue “several” cans of beer. /// Worse Sex Life Than You: Curtis Hutchings, Belleville, Ill. (London) /// Tampa Bay Times /// WSAZ-TV (Huntington, W.Va.) /// WTVM-TV (Columbus, Ga.) /// Belleville News Democrat

Buried Ledes

Two black New York City shoppers told WCBS-TV they wanted Jay-Z to intervene with the retailer Barneys to stop the hassling by suspicious store clerks. (Buried Lede: A shopper who can afford a $2,500 handbag feels all oppressed.) WCBS-TV

Moo Moo the New Zealand kitty cat survived a crossbow shot directly to the skull but has apparently made a complete recovery. (Buried Lede: Veterinarians sound like they can actually tell whether Moo Moo had suffered “brain” damage.)

Weekly Cite-Seeing (aka “Time Wasters”)

“The Joker” was under arrest. The Smoking Gun

Here’s how you protest the gov’t, with the purple finger of fate. BBC News

Advice: Rev. Pat Robertson says, if your son’s deaf, you’re doing something wrong (but he’s not sure what). YouTube

Sometimes, life’s gotcha by the balls. The French bank Caisse d’Epargne’s cutting-edge ad campaign is on it. The Local (Paris)

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

Double trouble for Devin Jones, 24, of Chicago. He’s so-o-o-o cute, plus he’s up for child porn. He says he “may have a problem.” [ed. Oh, he’s gon’ have a problem, all right, in lockup.] WLS Radio (Chicago)

Newsrangers: Harry Thompson and Gerald Davidson and the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Oct 28, 2013 - Comments (5)

October 27, 2013

Propellor Car

[Click to enlarge]

Imagine the streets of a city filled with these lethal machines!

Original story here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Oct 27, 2013 - Comments (4)
Category: Death, Inventions, Motor Vehicles, 1920s

Speedy Funeral Service

They get your loved ones in the ground in a third of the time!

From the Washington Post - Apr 21, 1907.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Oct 27, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Death, 1900s

News of the Weird (October 27, 2013)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M342, October 27, 2013
Copyright 2013 by Chuck Shepherd

Lead Story

PREVIOUSLY ON WEIRD UNIVERSE: Imminent Swirling Vortex of Damnation: Land developers for the iconic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo. (famous as the inspiration for the hotel in Stephen King’s “The Shining”) announced recently that they need more space and thus will dig up and move the hotel’s 12-gravesite pet cemetery. Neighbors told the Fort Collins Coloradoan in September that they feared the construction noise but somehow ignored the potential release of departed spirits (though an “Animal Planet” “dog psychic” who lives in Estes Park seemed to volunteer her services to calm the pets’ souls). [Fort Collins Coloradoan via USA Today, 9-26-2013]

The War Against “Doing the Right Thing”

Teach Our Children Well: (1) Officials at Milford Haven School in Pembrokeshire county, Wales, punished Rhys Johnson, 14, in October for violating the dress code against shaved heads. He was helping raise money for an anti-cancer charity after a third relative of his contracted the illness. (2) North Andover (Mass.) High School punished honor student and volleyball captain Erin Cox in October for giving a drunk classmate a ride home. Cox was clean-and-sober but violated the school’s “zero tolerance” attitude toward alcohol users (even though more student drunk-driving might result if sober friends feared school punishment). [BBC News, 10-4-2013] [WBZ-TV (Boston), 10-13-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Walter Dixon knew that he was about to be relocated in December 2012 from a Joliet, Ill., correctional facility to begin serving a new federal drug conspiracy sentence, but instead, state officials mistakenly freed him. Dixon protested but said he was aggressively dismissed from the premises. It was not until September that he was finally re-arrested and began his new sentence. (Dixon was easily located because, though free, he had met regularly with his parole officer and was taking several vocational courses.) [Chicago Sun-Times, 10-4-2013]

Advice of Counsel

After consulting with a lawyer, Evan Dobelle, president of Massachusetts’s Westfield State University, accused of billing the state for unauthorized travel expenses, is reportedly considering claiming that he actually “self-report[ed]” the violations as soon as suspicions turned up. Dobelle says he would thus be entitled to protection of the state “whistleblower” statute, which shields inside informers when they expose wrongdoing. (Dobelle was placed on paid leave in October.) [The Republican (Springfield, Mass.), 9-24-2013, 10-17-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: In September, landlord Elwyn Gene Miller, 64, went on trial in Iowa City, Iowa, for spying on tenants in the small apartment building he owns--after apparently having constructed peepholes allowing him views into bathrooms and other areas and having been spotted climbing from a crawl space after accessing one peephole. Nonetheless, as Miller’s lawyer pointed out, the law applies only to peeping for “sexual gratification,” and there is no “first-hand knowledge or observation” that Miller was “aroused” at the time he was spotted. (At press time, the judge was mulling a decision.) [Iowa City Press-Citizen, 9-25-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: William Woodward of Titusville, Fla., awaiting trial on two murder counts in September, might normally have a weak defense under the state’s “stand your ground” law (which requires an “imminent” threat of a forcible felony) because evidence indicates that any threats against him were made previously and not at the time of shooting. However, in a court filing, Woodward’s lawyers justified the pre-emptive ground-standing by referring to the “Bush Doctrine” employed by the U.S. in invading Iraq in 2003 (the U.S. “standing its ground” against Iraqi weapons of mass destruction). (The judge promised a ruling by November.) [Florida Today (Stuart, Fla.), 9-4-2013, 9-25-2013]

Compelling Explanations

Perfect Sense: A 77-year-old motorist told police in Kagawa Prefecture, Japan, that he was going the wrong way on the Takamatsu Expressway only because he had missed his exit 1 km back and thought it best just to turn the car around and retrace the path back to the ramp. Police said his short September jaunt had caused two collisions, neither affecting the man’s own car. [Yomiuri Online via Japan Today, 9-26-2013]

Lame: (1) In October, Jeffrey Laub, 39, was sentenced on several traffic charges, including leading police on a 111-mph, “Dukes-of-Hazzard-style” chase through Logan Canyon near Logan, Utah, with the explanation only that he needed an emergency restroom because of something he ate. Judge Thomas Willmore called the excuse “one of the worst” he had heard, since Laub had passed several public toilets during the chase. PREVIOUSLY: (2) Riverview, Fla., schoolteacher Ethel Anderson, 31, was convicted in September of having sex with a 12-year-old boy she was tutoring, despite her attempt to explain away the key evidence--“hundreds” of sexual text messages--as mere “rewards” to get his attention and encourage progress in math. [Herald Journal (Logan, Utah), 10-9-2013] [Tampa Bay Times, 9-19-2013]

Latest Human “Right”

PREVIOUSLY: In September, an appeals tribunal reinstated Gwent, Wales, police officer Shaun Jenkins, 36, who was fired in 2010 for having sex with a woman while on duty. The head of a police court concluded that Jenkins was on an authorized break at the time--no more improper than stopping for “a spot of tea.” (Investigators originally found it appalling that Jenkins was out of uniform during the escapade, but he pointed out that his gun remained on his person at all times, albeit down around his ankles.) [BBC News, 9-16-2013]


PREVIOUSLY: The city council in Washington City, Utah, recently approved the construction of a firing range next to the Dixie GunWorx shop, even though the firing range’s neighbor on the other side is a women’s domestic-abuse shelter (whose officials fear that gunfire might re-traumatize some of the victims who had sought refuge). Dixie’s CEO told KSTU-TV that if the shelter victims had been armed in the first place, they could have prevented the abuse. [Salt Lake Tribune, 9-3-2013]

People With Issues

Among the many arrested recently for having solitary sex in public was Philip Milne, 74, ultimately convicted in the UK’s Bedford Magistrates’ Court of touching himself on a transit bus although he claimed he was merely “shampooing” his troubled genital area and resented “being treated like a hardened criminal.” Also, Stuart Clarke, 48, of Provo, Utah, had explaining to do after an incident on Delta Air Lines in 2012. He said that he was rubbing his exposed penis only because it burned from accidental contamination with peppermint oil (which so distressed him that, upon landing, he left behind a checked bag). The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force found that out and is currently investigating whether there is more to the “peppermint oil” story than embarrassment-avoidance. [MK News (Milton Keynes, England), 9-30-2013] [The Smoking Gun, 8-15-2013]

Least Competent Criminals

(1) A Tucson, Ariz., man apparently escaped a traffic stop in August, but not unscathed. After fleeing to a dead-end street, he climbed out the passenger window, but his foot got caught, and his still-moving car’s back tire ran over his sprawled torso. The motorcycle officer was not able to catch the injured man, who staggered off into the neighborhood. PREVIOUSLY: (2) Lucas Burke, 21, and Ethan Keeler, 20, attempting to break into a safe at New Yard Landscaping in Hopkinton, N.H., in October, possibly seeking drug money, unwisely chose to use an acetylene torch. Included in the safe’s contents was a supply of consumer fireworks, and, according to the police report, the resultant explosion “blew their bodies apart.” [Arizona Daily Star, 8-8-2013] [Union Leader, 10-10-2013]

A News of the Weird Classic (February 2008)

It’s the “holy grail” of beers, said a Boston pub manager, but, still, only 60,000 cases a year of Westvleteren are brewed because the Belgian Trappist monks with the centuries-old recipe refuse to expand their business (and even take to the phones to harass black-marketers). Westvleteren is sold only at the monastery gate, by appointment, with a two-case-a-month limit, at a price that’s reasonable for retail beer, but anyone who gets it from a re-seller will pay 10 times that much. Producing more, said Brother Joris, to a Wall Street Journal reporter in November [2007], “would interfere with our job of being a monk.” Furthermore, said Brother Joris, referencing the Bible, “f you can’t have it, possibly you do not really need it.” [Wall Street Journal, 11-29-2007]

Thanks This Week to T.C. Hollingsworth, David Swanson, David Schneider, Rich LeVinus, and Cindy Hildebrand, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Oct 27, 2013 - Comments (3)

October 26, 2013

Undersea Kingdom


Find the answer by watching Undersea Kingdom!

Wikipedia entry.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Oct 26, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Movies, 1930s

Raise Giant Frogs

During the 1930s and 40s, there was good money to be made by raising giant frogs, as evidenced by the number of ads promoting this income opportunity.

The plan was to buy the booklet "A Future in Frogs." Start growing the giant frogs. Sell them to the American Frog Canning Co. Then count all your money!

The booklet "A Future in Frogs" seems to have entirely disappeared. I can't find any copies used or in libraries. The world has lost a literary classic.

Modern Mechanix - Jan 1936

Los Angeles Times - June 21, 1936

Chicago Tribune - Dec 4, 1940

Posted By: Alex - Sat Oct 26, 2013 - Comments (8)
Category: Animals, Advertising, 1930s

October 25, 2013

Time For Your Eastern German Military Bunker Vacation

You know you've wondered what it would be like. Now you have the opportunity to stay in an Eastern German military bunker and sack out in incredibly uncomfortable looking beds.

Here's a photo of some of the food featured from the time at the bunker -- I don't think these are on the menu.


Here's the link to the photoblog:

At only $150 a night, it's a great deal and a blast from the past!

When they tell you it's an 18 mile hike to the camp, don't believe it -- it's only 100 yards.

Pass the borscht and dig in!!

Posted By: gdanea - Fri Oct 25, 2013 - Comments (5)
Category: Culture and Civilization

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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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