Weird Universe Blog — February 2, 2023

Live Alone And Like It

I posted two days ago about the 1937 book How To Live Without A Woman, which celebrated the bachelor lifestyle. But what about women who wanted to live without a man... or even without another woman? Marjorie Hillis's Live Alone And Like It (1936) was the book for them.

Based on the review below, it seems that while Hillis offered some good advice for women living alone, she was less persuasive about them liking it:

One gets the impression that the author, Marjorie Hillis, has herself lived in solitary state for quite a spell, doesn't think much of it, but has made the best of it.

You can read the book for free at

Indianapolis Star - Oct 4, 1936

Posted By: Alex - Thu Feb 02, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Books | 1930s | Women

Earth Horns With Electronic Drone

Please share the chronological limits of your tolerance for this "music."

The creator's Wikipedia page.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Feb 02, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Music | Twenty-first Century | Cacophony, Dissonance, White Noise and Other Sonic Assaults

February 1, 2023

Crisco is digestible

When the best that a company can say about their food is that "it's digestible," it sounds like damning with faint praise.

Better Homes and Gardens - Sep 1956

Better Homes and Gardens - Sep 1954

Better Homes and Gardens - Mar 1957

Posted By: Alex - Wed Feb 01, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Food | Advertising | 1950s

Harry Bensley and his Unfulfilled Walk Around the World

This first image is somewhat well-known. At least, it often pops up in my searches. But what's the story behind it?

The whole story is here at his Wikipedia page. In short:

He had to walk around the world to fulfill a bet that he lost. It required him to wear an iron mask (a helmet from a suit of armor) to conceal his identity, and he also had to push a perambulator (baby carriage) throughout his travels. He called himself "The Man with the Iron Mask" (inspired by the seventeenth-century Man in the Iron Mask), and the only way he could support himself during his journey was by selling postcards and pamphlets

Posted By: Paul - Wed Feb 01, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Costumes and Masks | Eccentrics | Travel | Bets, Wagers, Challenges and Contracts | Twentieth Century

January 31, 2023

How to live without a woman

Alexander Wright's 1937 book, How To Live Without A Woman, was a celebration of bachelorhood. But it seems that Wright's strategy for life without a woman was to get his female friends to feel sorry for him and do his housework for him.

A woman friend will help you dispose of your useless accumulations. "They have not the slightest regard for the accumulations of others," Author Wright warns.

Mr Wright maintains with a little judicious flattery any woman will help solve a bachelor's housekeeping problems.

Doesn't really seem like he was living without a woman if he was still getting women to do all his work. And you have to wonder how long he managed to keep any female friends before they figured out what was going on.

Pittsburgh Press - Sep 18, 1938

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jan 31, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Gender | Men | Women | Books | 1930s

January 30, 2023

The taste of food in dark isolation

Beatrice Finkelstein, a nutrition researcher at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, conducted a series of "dark-isolation studies" during the 1950s. Subjects were placed for periods of 6 to 72 hours in a totally dark, sound proof chamber furnished with a bed, chair, refrigerator, and chemical toilet.

The purpose of this was to find out how astronauts might react to being confined in a small, dark space for a prolonged period of time. And in particular how their responses to food might change.

Some of her results:

Food has had varying degrees of significance. Some subjects have spent excessive amounts of time eating, nibbling, or counting food; others have become very angry with the food or very fond of it. Here again, evidence is strong that food in a situation of stress may be used as a tool to obtain personal satisfactions.

But the stranger result was how the lack of visual input completely changed the flavor of the food:

Palatability and acceptability of food in many instances are contrary to that on the ground or in the air; e.g., brownies have enjoyed only a fair degree of acceptability whereas ordinarily they are highly acceptable; canned orange juice usually rates low in acceptability; in isolation it has moderate to high acceptability. Data also indicate that the ability to discriminate one food from another within the same food group is impaired. All meats taste alike. Subjects are unable to distinguish one canned fruit from another. White, whole wheat, and rye breads used in sandwiches are similar in taste. Thus it is quite apparent that removal of the visual cues ordinarily associated with eating interferes with the taste and enjoyment of food and therefore the acceptability of food.

More info: "Feeding crews in air vehicles of the future"

Beatrice Finkelstein (source)

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 30, 2023 - Comments (4)
Category: Food | Spaceflight, Astronautics, and Astronomy | Experiments | Psychology

Combined Suspenders and Garters


Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 30, 2023 - Comments (2)
Category: Fashion | Inventions | Nineteenth Century

January 29, 2023

Kicking the pickle

1949: Ruth Brand "kicked off" National Pickle Week. And apparently that's a genuine giant pickle in the photos, not a fake one.

"Harry Conley of the Green Bay Food company, who is president of the National Pickle Packers association, officiates in Chicago at the 'kickoff' of the national pickle week campaign. Pickle week will be held May 20 to 28. Kicking the world's largest pickle is Ruth Brand, Chicago."

Lancaster Intelligencer Journal - Feb 11, 1949

But what is this about Amerigo Vespucci being a pickle dealer? I'd never heard this before.

Some research reveals that the claim traces back to a remark made by Ralph Waldo Emerson in his book English Traits:

Strange, that the New World should have no better luck,— that broad America must wear the name of a thief. Amerigo Vespucci, the pickle-dealer at Seville, who went out, in 1499, a subaltern with Hojeda, and whose highest naval rank was boatswain's mate in an expedition that never sailed, managed in this lying world to supplant Columbus, and baptize half the earth with his own dishonest name.

Smithsonian magazine investigated the claim and doesn't think it's very likely. Vespucci did work for a while as a ship chandler, and in this capacity it's possible he may have supplied some ships with pickled foods. But to go from this to calling him a pickle dealer is a bit of a stretch.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 29, 2023 - Comments (6)
Category: Food | Pickles | 1940s

Motor Mouse and Autocat

The Spanish dubbing in the second clip only adds to the mystique.

More info here.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jan 29, 2023 - Comments (1)
Category: Anthropomorphism | Motor Vehicles | Cartoons | 1970s

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