Weird Universe Archive

December 2017

December 26, 2017

Dr. Blatz’s Trick Chair of Terror

This article comes from my weird science site, which I haven't updated in years. My project for the new year is to import all the content from there into WU, so I can shut that site down and stop paying the hosting fees.


While he was a grad student at the University of Chicago in the early 1920s, William Blatz was sitting in class one day, leaning back in his chair, when suddenly the chair collapsed beneath him, sending him sprawling backwards, crying out in fright. The experience was unsettling, but it gave him an idea for an unusual psychology experiment.

He designed a trick chair that would collapse backwards without warning when he flipped an electric switch. The chair was padded, so its occupant wouldn't get hurt. But Blatz figured that the sensation of abruptly, unexpectedly falling backwards would provoke a strong, measurable reaction in subjects. This would allow him to study the physiology of fear under controlled, repeatable conditions. He performed his experiment on a series of unsuspecting victims.

Diagram of Blatz's trick chair.
When the hook (A) at the top was released, the chair plunged backwards.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Tue Dec 26, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Experiments, Psychology, 1920s

Fall

Dutch conceptual artist Bas Jan Ader (1942-1975) created a series of short films of himself falling down in various situations, such as from a roof and out of a tree.

Ader is one of the few people who ever literally died for their art. In 1975, he attempted to make a solo Atlantic crossing in the smallest boat ever. It was supposed to be part of an extended art project about a lonely figure in search of the miraculous. His boat made it across, but he didn't.

More info: wikipedia

Posted By: Alex - Tue Dec 26, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Art, Avant Garde

Follies of the Madmen #343



Why is hubby vacuuming during relaxed beer-and-pretzels hour? OCD? Submissive ritual with dominant mistress? Your guess is as good as the copywriter's!



Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Dec 26, 2017 - Comments (5)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Domestic, Appliances, 1950s, Alcohol

December 25, 2017

Nobody Shoots at Santa Claus

Not entirely true.

Newsweek - Feb 15, 1965



Arizona Daily Star - Dec 25, 2013

Posted By: Alex - Mon Dec 25, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Christmas

Merry Christmas 2017!

Santa phones Alfred E. Newman?

Hope you all have a swell day!

Posted By: Paul - Mon Dec 25, 2017 - Comments ()
Category: Holidays

December 24, 2017

Hairnets for hippies

Logically their concerns should have extended to all long-haired drivers, whether hippies or not. But evidently the Automobile Legal Association simply didn't like hippies.

Belvedere Daily Republican - Dec 11, 1968

Posted By: Alex - Sun Dec 24, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Cars, 1960s

December 23, 2017

Cursed Rocks

The legend that if you remove a rock from a National Park, you'll bring bad luck upon yourself. Explored in a book.


From the publisher's blurb:
The Petrified Forest National Park in Northeast Arizona protects one of the largest deposits of petrified wood in the world. Despite stern warnings, visitors remove several tons of petrified wood from the park each year, often returning these rocks by mail (sometimes years later), accompanied by a “conscience letter.” These letters often include stories of misfortune attributed directly to their theft: car troubles, cats with cancer, deaths of family members, etc. Some writers hope that by returning these stolen rocks, good fortune will return to their lives, while others simply apologize or ask forgiveness. “They are beautiful,” reads one letter, “but I can’t enjoy them. They weigh like a ton of bricks on my conscience. Sorry…” Bad Luck, Hot Rocks documents this ongoing phenomenon, combining a series of original photographs of these otherworldly “bad luck rocks” with dozens of facsimiles of intimate, oddly entertaining letters from the Park’s archives.

I've never taken anything from a National Park, so my conscience is clean.

The book is available from Amazon. The authors also have a website you can check out.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Dec 23, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Curses

December 22, 2017

1960s Christmas Hairdos

Munich 1964



Detroit Free Press - Dec 7, 1964



Pittsburgh Press - Dec 20, 1966



St. Cloud Times - Dec 12, 1964



Decatur Herald - Dec 24, 1966

Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 22, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Holidays, 1960s, Hair and Hairstyling

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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.

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