In January 1934, at the age of 82, arctic explorer W.J.A. Grant decided he wasn't much longer for this world and had a "farewell to life" champagne party. The centerpiece of the event was a wooden coffin he had specially made. Five hundred people attended, as well as "a bevy of beautiful dancing girls." He instructed everyone to "wear your gayest clothes—don't come in the miserable garb of woe."
The partying lasted through the night. Grant, wearing a boutonniere in his coat lapel, mingled with his guests "and pointed cheerfully to a notice on the wall that said he would die within a week."
But the next day, having had only two hours of sleep, he announced that he now "felt fine." It took him another year before he finally kicked the bucket. [Chicago Tribune - Mar 11, 1935]
In the parochial register of Lymington, for the year 1736, is entered a curious minute, which, for its singularity, deserves notice. The words run thus: —
"Samuel Baldwin, Esq. sojourner in this parish, was immersed without the Needles, sans ceremonie, May 20, 1736. It was ever his request, whilst living, that his body might be so disposed of after his death, from a superstitious notion that his wife, in the instance of her surviving him, would dance over his grave, actuated by a spirit of vindictiveness for his conjugal infidelity."
Lymington Parish Church
Update: "without the Needles" refers to a location — Needles Point.
Mrs. Keyte of Blockley, Gloucestershire had a pet trout that would eat worms from her hand. When it died in 1855, she erected a tombstone in its honor. That tombstone remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in Blockley. And it's perhaps the only tombstone for a trout in the world. [National Geographic, 1917]
Washington state's Saar Pioneer Cemetery contains an unusual grave. It's the resting place of John C. Monster (1851-1890) and his child "Baby Monster" (1888-1889). I haven't been able to find any additional details about the Monster family. (via the Oddment Emporium)
Steve Jobs passed away earlier today. This may not seem like the kind of thing to post on Weird Universe, but consider what kind of place this world would be without him. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created the Apple II, the first home computer many would use, and thanks to this and other innovations like the graphical operating system, the internet friendly iMac, and the always connected iPhone, the world is now fully connected, allowing anyone instant access to the kinds of weird things we here at Weird Universe love. Sure, he didn't create the internet all by himself, but if it weren't for some of the innovations his company pioneered, the world might have turned out to be a much more normal (and boring) place than it is today.
Sad news today for fans of weird and cult movies. Tura Satana, star of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and the Astro-Zombies series has died, aged 72. Famed, and much admired, for her impressive build and distinctive looks, Tura's portrayal of the psychopathic Varla in Faster... won her a sizeable cult following. Which, having somewhat presciently thought to trademark her likeness, belatedly brought Tura some success (Yahoo News).
It is perhaps some small comfort that Ms. Satana will now be spared seeing Kim Kardashian's proposed reprisal of her role in the Tarrantino remake of her signature film, expected out in 2012. For connoisseurs of the original, here's the title sequence, with music courtesy of The Bostweeds.
Police in North Vernon, Indiana say it is obvious this man had a death wish. That may not be so uncommon for men his age and perhaps in his profession, but he accomplished it in a very disturbing fashion. I've followed the events in The North Vernon Plain Dealer & Sun, but I do find it somewhat unnerving that the story is making the rounds through many newspapers in central and southern Indiana, as I fear widespread dissemination of the story may open the door to copycats. UPDATE: Meth, unsuprisingly, played a role. Greensburg Daily News
Unrelated bonus mugshot from the same paper of Nikkiah C. Weddle, a loving mother, that just appears slothful. I feel that her having smoked marijuana three weeks earlier will play a heavy role in her defense, since we've all smoked a joint that we took almost a full month to recover from.
John Ryan, writer and illustrator, and creator of the popular children's character Captain Pugwash died, aged 88, last Friday.
Ryan's most famous creation, the eponymous, bumbling, pirate and his equally inept crew (with the exception of the ever resourceful cabin-boy) were a staple of British children's television in the 50s and 60s, and even returned to UK screens for a brief revival in the late 90s. But it is for a quite different reason that most people will remember the series. Sometime in the 1970s, when the TV program had been off-air for nearly a decade, the urban rumour started that the characters had all been given double-entendre names. Pugwash's crew, it was claimed, had included characters called "Master Bates", "Seaman Staines" and "Roger the cabin-boy". In reality, the crew of The Black Pig, Pugwash's ship, were Master Mate, Barnabas and Willy, along with the cabin-boy, Tom. The legend became so well accepted that it was carelessly repeated as fact by both the Sunday Correspondent and Guardian newspapers, leading Ryan to sue, successfully, both papers for libel in 1991 (Obituary - Guardian).
The animation style used in Pugwash, as well as his other programs, Mary, Mungo and Midge, and Sir Prancelot, was unusual in that it was not done using stop-frame photography but by making articulated paper figures that could be moved like puppets in real-time.
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.