Weird Universe Archive

July 2019

July 21, 2019

The Cremain Comic Book

We've posted before about how, when Frisbee-inventor Ed Headrick died in 2002, his ashes were incorporated into special-edition frisbees that were sold for $200.

Along similar lines, when comic book writer Mark Gruenwald died in 1996, some of his cremains were mixed into the printer's ink for the trade paperback compilation of his Squadron Supreme graphic novel. As explained by his widow:

The whole ash thing was a complete fluke when we wrote up our wills in 1992; he put in a direction to have me cremate him and put his ashes into a comic book. Yeah, yeah…that will never happen, I thought to myself. Little did I know, four years later I’d be doing just that. And Marvel cooperated and we did it! I drove up to the plant in Connecticut and stirred the ashes into the ink that was used for Squadron Supreme, his best-selling graphic novel. That all happened between 1996-97.

If you're interested, You can buy a copy of the cremain edition on eBay for $199.99.

I wonder how many other mass-produced items have contained someone's cremains?

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jul 21, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Death, Comics, 1990s

Warhol Flies Braniff

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jul 21, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Art, Avant Garde, Business, Advertising, Air Travel and Airlines, 1960s

July 20, 2019

Project Capricious

During World War II, the OSS (precursor to the CIA) hatched a plan to defeat General Rommel's Afrika Korps by using synthetic goat poop. The idea was to drop huge amounts of pathogen-laced pseudo-poop over African towns. Local insects would be attracted to the stuff and would then carry the pathogens to Rommel's troops. However, before the plan could be carried out, Rommel's troops were withdrawn from the area and sent to Russia.

Jeffrey Lockwood tells the story in more detail in his book Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War.

In February 1942, General Rommel's Afrika Korps pummeled U.S. forces in North Africa, and the Americans became worried that their defeat would encourage fascist Spain to join the Axis alliance. Moreover, the Germans were amassing troops in Morocco, in preparation for cutting off the railroad from Casablance to Algiers — the sole supply line for Allied forces. A covert operation was needed to debilitate the German troops, break the momentum of the Axis, and save the Allied lifeline... This called for flies.

The plan was to weaken the enemy forces by using flies to spread a witch's brew of pathogens. Given the agency's inability to rear an army of flies, [OSS Research Director] Lovell decided to conscript the local vectors...

Lovell was a chemist, but he'd been out of the laboratory often enough to know that flies love dung. And with a bit of research, he discovered a key demographic fact: There were more goats than people in Morocco — and goat are prolific producers of poop. Lovell now had the secret formula: microbes + feces + flies = sick Germans. Now all he needed was a few tons of goat droppings as a carrier for laboratory-cultured pathogens.

The OSS collaborated closely with the Canadian entomological warfare experts to launch one of the more preposterous innovations in the history of clandestine weaponry: synthetic goat dung. Of course flies are no fools; they won't be taken in by any old brown lump. So the OSS team added a chemical attractant. The nature of this lure is not clear, but a bit of sleuthing provides some clues.

Allied scientists might have crafted a chemical dinner bell by collecting and concentrating the stinky chemicals that we associate with human feces (indole and the appropriately named skatole). While these extracts would have worked, the more likely attractant was a blend of organic acids, some of which had been known for 150 years. Two of the smelliest of these are caproic and caprylic acids, which, by no coincidence, derive their names from caprinus, meaning "goat." Etymologically as well as entomologically astute, Lovell named the operation Project Capricious. So with a scent to entice the flies, Lovell's team then coated the rubbery pellets in bacteria to complete the lures.

All the Americans had to do was drop loads of pathogenic pseudo-poop over towns and villages where the Germans were garrisoned, and millions of local flies would be drawn to the bait, pick up a dose of microbes, and then dutifully deliver the bacteria to the enemy. Lovell worried about keeping the operation clandestine. The Moroccans had to be persuaded that finding goat droppings on their roofs the morning after Allied aircraft flew over was a sheer coincidence. Presumably a good disinformation campaign can dispel almost any suspicion, or, as Lovell intimated, if the plan succeeded there would be very few people in any condition to raise annoying questions about fecal pellets on rooftops...

In the end, however, Lovell didn't have to worry about getting caught by either friends or foes, as the secret weapon was never deployed. Just as the OSS was gearing up to launch the sneak attack, the German troops were withdrawn from Spanish Morocco. They might well have preferred to take their chances with pathogen-laden flies, given that Hitler was sending them to the bloody siege of Stalingrad.


Posted By: Alex - Sat Jul 20, 2019 - Comments (3)
Category: Insects, Military, War, Weapons, Excrement, 1940s

July 19, 2019

The Solitude Experiment of Mr. Powyss

Circa 1793, a Mr. Powyss of Lancashire apparently decided to conduct an unusual psychological experiment by paying a man to live in his basement, in complete solitude, for seven years.

Information about this experiment is hard to find. A brief news item appeared about it in 1797:

The Annual Register... for the year 1797



A news story 30 years later reported that the subject of the experiment had emerged after seven years apparently no worse for wear. Or, at least, he had "absolutely accomplished it":

The Casket - Aug 11, 1827



Given the lack of info, I suspect that the entire story might be an urban legend — one of those fake news stories that often made their way into early magazines and newspapers. However, the story has inspired author Alix Nathan to use fiction to fill in the blanks... imagining what might have happened in her recent novel The Warlow Experiment. As reported by the Guardian:

Nathan tried to discover more about Powyss and the outcome of his experiment, but without success. Nothing of either remained. Instead she turned to fiction, writing a pair of short stories that imagined the peculiar undertaking, the first from Powyss’s point of view, “An Experiment: Above”, and then, in “An Experiment: Below”, from the solitary subterranean perspective of his confined subject... Despite this, Powyss and his story continued to nag at Nathan; she could not shake the sense that it “deserved fuller consideration”. The result is The Warlow Experiment [amazon link].


Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 19, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Experiments, Psychology, Eighteenth Century

July 18, 2019

The Devil Wants You Fat

A scriptural approach to a trim and attractive body… working with the Lord, you’ll harness the POWER of your body’s own computer system to make you eat the kinds of foods you should and in the right amounts.

For more details of Lovett's devil-fighting diet regimen, you can borrow and read his 1977 book online for free via archive.org.



Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 18, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Religion, 1970s, Dieting and Weight Loss

Mystery Illustration 83

Which famous sex symbol actress of the Fifties and Sixties is seen here, imitating Elvis Presley?

The answer is here.

Or after the jump.



More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 18, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Imitations, Forgeries, Rip-offs and Faux, Movies, Music, Sex Symbols, 1950s, Parody

July 17, 2019

Delta House

The short-lived TV series inspired by Animal House. From Wikipedia:

Because of television Standards and Practices, most of the raunchy humor, sexual references, and foul language featured in Animal House didn't survive the transition to TV. As a result, Delta House suffered in comparison. That it aired during the so-called "family hour" (8:00 PM on Saturday nights) led to even more watering down...
Delta House initially did well in the ratings. However, executive producers Matty Simmons and Ivan Reitman's constant fights with ABC over content led the network to cancel the show after 13 episodes.

You can find most of the episodes on YouTube, including the first one:

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jul 17, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Television, 1970s

July 16, 2019

Follies of the Madmen #435

Is it just me, or is the notion of an army of clones on the make for a lone gal a creepy thing?







Source.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jul 16, 2019 - Comments (0)
Category: Ambiguity, Uncertainty and Deliberate Obscurity, Business, Advertising, Crowds, Groups, Mobs and Other Mass Movements, Dreams and Nightmares, Fashion, Sports, 1970s

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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.

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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.

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