May 1999: the U.S. Postal Service had printed 100 million copies of a stamp showing the Grand Canyon before anyone noticed that the stamp had "Grand Canyon, Colorado" printed in the corner. Luckily, the stamps hadn't been released to the public yet, but they all had to be destroyed and replaced with a new stamp which correctly placed the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
According to the site canyonology.com, the problems with the stamp didn't end there. It was discovered that the image of the canyon had been flipped left to right, but the postal service decided this wasn't enough of an error to warrant reprinting the stamp.
In May 1990, five shipping containers holding approximately 80,000 pairs of Nike shoes fell off a freighter during a storm in the North Pacific. About 200 days later, some of these shoes began to wash up on beaches from Canada down to Oregon.
But as beachcombers collected and compared the shoes, they noticed something odd. On beaches up north, in Canada and Washington, almost all the shoes were right-footed; whereas further south in Oregon, most of the shoes were left-footed.
The slight toe curvature of left- and right-footed shoes caused the right-footed shoes to tack northeastward into the Alaska Current, passing the Queen Charlottes along the way, where many beached. Meanwhile, the left-footed Nikes tacked snugly into the southeast-bound California Current, and as it passed Oregon, were caught on an incoming tide.
Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer co-authored an academic paper about the 1990 shoe spill ("Shoe spill in the North Pacific" -- unfortunately behind a paywall). It also inspired him to start studying other ocean flotsam, such as rubber duckies, as a way to gain info about currents. He calls this study 'flotsametrics'. He also occasionally puts out a Beachcombers' Alert Newsletter.
Richard Manderson first created a series of small raspberry fondant filled chocolate Jesuses that were sold for consumption to visitors of Gorman House Arts Centre in Canberra, an Australian cultural centre and heritage site that runs theatres, workshops, exhibition space, artists' studios, offices and a café.
When a US newspaper condemned his act of depicting Jesus on a chocolate, Manderson decided in answer to create an actual life-size chocolate Jesus he called Trans-substantiation 2. He did so by filling a plaster mold with fifty-five pounds of melted chocolate. He used chocolate-dipped strings for hair and plastic Easter wrap for a loincloth. Manderson's work was exhibited in public around Easter in 1994, with Manderson inviting the public to come and eat his chocolate Jesus work after the exhibition.
In 1991, the Pennsylvania legislature's Youth and Aging Committee changed its name to the Aging and Youth Committee. Why?
Some suggested that the change was made because people got confused about the panel’s name. "When you say ‘youth and aging’ repeatedly and quickly, some people hear the word euthanasia,” said Kevin Murphy, press secretary for the state Department of Aging.
For a very brief time, in the early 1990s, 717 E Magnolia St. in Arcadia, Florida was home to the "Conscience Adherent Paradise Government" — a separatist state that had declared its independence from the United States. Details from the Tampa Tribune (Apr 4, 1992):
[Soloman and Mona Frommell] — who are manic-depressive, according to their lawyer — had created their own government, the “Conscience Adherent Paradise Government.” They established their own rules, which they followed while living at Parker Apartments on East Magnolia Street. Soloman Frommell claimed to be an ambassador and United States separatist president. He called himself the “fair judge,” while his wife was the “honest judge.”
DeSoto sheriff’s Capt. Will Wise and Deputy Gary Holsomback went to their apartment in May to serve the couple with an eviction notice that was prompted by unusual behavior.
When deputies arrived, Soloman Frommell grabbed a pair of nunchukas, his wife had a butcher knife, and they fled to the front of the apartment, according to reports.
The material for Crackers was recorded during a residency at Gallery 101 in Ottawa, Canada, in October 1997. Crackers were solicited through the radio, classified ads in the weekly paper, and via the Gallery’s membership. The recording sessions consisted of an interview succeeded by a cracking session...
The tapes were edited at Avatar in Quebec City. Crackers was then first presented as an installation in a group show curated by Emmanuel Madan entitled “Incredibly Soft Sounds” at Gallery 101, in January 1998.
He notes that a follow-up show, in January 2000, featured "a video of my right ankle cracking repeatedly for twenty minutes ."
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.