Can’t Miss the Show

January 1985: The women of the Thurlow family proved they were serious fans of the TV show St. Elsewhere. Even as their house burned down around them, they remained parked in front of the TV set, watching the latest episode through the haze of the smoke, unwilling to miss a single moment. The firefighters had to drag them away. But as soon as the fire was extinguished, the women rushed back into the house and were able to catch the final 10 minutes.

Ocala Star-Banner - Jan 23, 1985

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 14, 2022 - Comments (7)
Category: 1980s

Walking across the Australian desert to prove that God exists

1985: Six young Christians, carrying only "a Swiss army knife, adhesive bandages, cigarette lighters and three Bibles," set out to walk over one thousand miles across Australia's Nullarbor desert in order to "prove God exists." They were later joined by a 41-year-old man.

They did so "in defiance of police warnings that the walk was dangerous, and complaints of blasphemy from religious leaders."

They made it. So they avoided winning a Darwin Award, though going on a hike in a desert without water would definitely put anyone in the running for one.

Port Huron Times Herald - May 18, 1985

"On the last leg of their trek: Rachel Sukumaran (12), Christine McKay (15), Dane Frick (42), Robin Dunn (19), Roland Gianstefani (22), Gary McKay (16) and Malcolm Wrest (22)."
Sydney Morning Herald - June 30, 1985

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 03, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Religion, Stupidity, 1980s

Death by cole slaw

According to his memorial page, John Ramsey died tragically in 1982 "when he slipped and fell into a cole-slaw making machine."

But according to news reports from the time, his death is somewhat more mysterious than that because it's not entirely clear how he managed to fall into the cole-slaw machine. From the Baltimore Sun (Oct 17, 1982):

A co-worker, Lorraine Davenport, told police she was handing bags of salad ingredients to Mr. Ramsey and had turned her back to him to pick up another bag. She said that when she turned around he was gone but one of his boots—a black, waterproof, oversized boot similar to those worn by other employees—was on the ground.

When she climbed up the metal ladder, she said, she saw him inside the blending machine and began to scream. . .

Still, the question remained: How did he come to fall in?

Mr. Ramsey was about 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 145 pounds, according to the police report. When he stood on the top step of the metal ladder, the top edge of the blender, which is 6 feet off the floor, came up to his chest.

Mr. Wachs [president of the company] said he believes Mr. Ramsey might have dropped the bag of carrots into the metal bin, reached in to retrieve it, and was pulled into the machine.

He said employees know that an entire batch of salad may have to be discarded if a plastic bag falls into the blender. "But we always tell them if it falls, let it go. . . You are not going to be fired for it. But maybe he reached for it by impulse."

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 22, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Death, 1980s

Barbarian Men’s Fashions

The famous painter Boris Vallejo once did a series of ads for the clothing chain Chess King. What's your opinion? Does sword and sorcery imagery sell men's clothing?

Here's a neat small essay on this campaign.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jul 22, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough, Fashion, Advertising, Fantasy, 1980s

The Good Book Cookbook

Not a lot of nouvelle or fusion or fast-food cuisine in this volume. (Read it here.)

I did a search for "locusts" within the book, but no recipes, with honey or otherwise. However, you can source them here, at Biblical Protein.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 22, 2022 - Comments ()
Category: Food, Nutrition, Cookbooks, Religion, 1980s

Automatic Washing Machine for Dogs

Mario Altissimo was granted Patent No. 4,505,229 in 1985 for his "Automatic Washing Machine for Dogs and Like Animals".

I wonder if anyone has ever created an equivalent type of automatic washing machine for humans.

Science Year 1983

Update: Paul gave me a heads up about this Three Stooges take on a washing machine for dogs. A clear example of prior art!

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 13, 2022 - Comments (5)
Category: Bathrooms, Patents, Dogs, 1980s


The Wikipedia page says:

The film's scenario is at times comic or serious, and one of its peculiarities is that there never is any explanation for Ratboy's origin and existence as a human-rat hybrid.

Ratboy had a troubled production[2] and was both a critical and commercial failure

Posted By: Paul - Wed Mar 23, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Anthropomorphism, Freaks, Oddities, Quirks of Nature, Movies, 1980s

The Frozen Woman

Dec 20, 1980: On a cold winter's evening, 19-year-old Jean Hilliard's car got stuck in a ditch, so she decided to walk for help. She was found the next morning, two miles away, frozen solid.

Later, people told her she'd made it to her friend's yard, tripped, and crawled on her hands and knees to his doorstep. They said she lay there for six straight hours, with her eyes frozen wide open. Hilliard doesn't remember any of that.

Remarkably, doctors were able to thaw her out even though she was so rock hard that needles broke on her skin. She suffered no serious injuries — just some blistered toes.

Read the full story at MPR News

Posted By: Alex - Wed Mar 16, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Human Marvels, 1980s, Weather

Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal

Paula Begoun calls herself "The Cosmetics Cop". And as such she firmly believes that blue eyeshadow is violating some kind of law.

You can read the full book (published 1985) at

In 1991, she came out with a follow-up: Blue Eyeshadow Should Absolutely Be Illegal. Evidently her feelings on this matter had only grown stronger over time.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Mar 14, 2022 - Comments (4)
Category: Cosmetics, Books, 1980s

A legendary moment in live theater

During a Dublin production of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore, sometime in early 1986 (or maybe late 1985?), the actor Alan Devlin, who was playing Sir Joseph Porter, abruptly stopped in the middle of his performance, proclaimed, "F... this for a game of soldiers," left the theater, and headed to the pub next door to have a drink, with his microphone still on.

Surprisingly, he wasn't fired and was even re-hired for the London production a few months later.

Alan Devlin (right) during the London production of H.M.S. Pinafore

Noel Person, who was the theatrical producer of the play, later described the incident to an Australian journalist (The Melbourne Age - Aug 22, 1986):

"We had this actor named Alan Devlin who was very fond of his drink. During the show one night, he arrived absolutely bombed out of his mind. We used to fly him in from the top of the proscenium. When he came down he tried to start, "I am the mon... monar... mumph" and he couldn't. So he started again, then again, and finally said "Oh, --- it! I can't do it". And he walked out. Through the orchestra pit, in his uniform, through the audience, out the theatre and around to the pub and ordered a pint. Some of the audience thought this is taking Gilbert and Sullivan to the limit.

"The guy that was playing Dick Deadeye and the girl who was playing Buttercup, well, they freaked. But they were very experienced actors. So they cut to the end of the first half. The understudy was already in the show so they began the second half with him."

Happily, Noel Pearson hired back Mr. Devlin for the show's London season. "I got him to sign a contract in blood: he had to be in the theatre an hour before or he got paid only half his salary until the end of the run; we gave him a minder... When we opened at the Old Vic we had publicity like you never saw. On the opening night, when he appeared on stage, he practically got a standing ovation."

On Twitter, someone who was in the audience that night has posted their memory of what happened. An excerpt below:

The first verse went perfectly well. It was when Devlin came to the second verse, and discovered that he couldn't remember it, that the visible trouble began. He improvised by simply repeating the first verse. And again, for a third time. People started to wonder.

Then he tried to leave the coracle. Surmounting he brim of it - about two feet high if my imperfect memory serves - gave him great difficulty. But after a couple of attempts he managed it, and stood center stage, swaying slightly as though in a moderate breeze.

After briefly considering his options, he then announced "ah f*** this for a game of soldiers," hopped down into the orchestra pit (with more adroitness than you'd have expected from his swaying), strode along the central aisle through the audience, and left by the main exit.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Feb 06, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Inebriation and Intoxicants, Theater and Stage, 1980s

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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, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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.

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