Weird Universe Blog — March 30, 2024

Estate Willed by Talkie

Video wills have become quite common, but they weren't back in 1931. So the unnamed testator described below was breaking new ground by creating one (or rather, a filmed will).

I particularly like the detail that he left instructions on where everyone should sit while watching the film, so that he could look at each person directly from the grave.

Wichita Eagle - Jan 10, 1931

Posted By: Alex - Sat Mar 30, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Death | Law | Movies | 1930s

March 29, 2024

A brief history of mass-production shaving machines

Around 1780: "An anonymous British printmaker, perhaps from Birmingham, issued a satire of mechanization and factories occuring during the Industrial Revolution, in the form of an imaginery 'New Shaving Machine, whereby a number of persons may be done at the same time with expedition, ease, and safety.'" (text from

Around 1825: "British illustrator and caricaturist Robert Seymour... issued Shaving by Steam... In his creation of this print Seymour was undoubtedly inspired by an earlier anonymous print entitled 'New Shaving Machine.' The sign above the door on the right in Seymour's image announces 'Patent Shavograph!!!'" (text from

Oct 1960: English comedian Eric Sykes built a working "New Shaving Machine" (modeled from the 1780 print) on a pilot show for a proposed television series called 'Brainwaves.' The premise of the show was recreating strange old-time inventions. However, the show never aired.

images source:

Lincolnshire Echo - Sep 29, 1960

History via reddit user KBHoleN1

Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 29, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Technology | Satire

March 28, 2024

Miss British Reinforced Concrete

The title was supposed to be bestowed on an employee of British Reinforced Concrete, but it was given to non-employee Nanette Keay by mistake:

"Just as the contest was starting some of the men pushed me into the line for a joke.
"They wouldn't let me leave and so I had to walk past the judges. I was absolutely astonished at winning."

Despite not being an official contestant, they let her keep the title.

Glasgow Daily Record - Apr 6, 1953

Posted By: Alex - Thu Mar 28, 2024 - Comments (1)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests | 1940s

Dance of the Simpleton

Since the silent dance video has no soundtrack, but is ostensibly meant to be accompanied by a Chopin Waltz, I suggest playing "The Minute Waltz" simultaneously! If you click the dance video, then the music video, they sync up nicely, just like THE DARK SIDE OF THE RAINBOW.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Mar 28, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Eccentrics | Spastic, Uncontrolled, Awkward and Herky-Jerky Movements | 1920s | Dance

March 27, 2024

Is it marijuana or alfalfa?

Peter Hlookoff had an unusual strategy to avoid being convicted for possession of marijuana — he always carried a container of alfalfa with him.

His reasoning was that alfalfa and marijuana smell similar (so he claimed). So if the police ever arrested him for possession of marijuana he could claim that it was actually alfalfa they had smelled (or seen him smoking).

This strategy was put to the test in Dec 1967 when the police raided his apartment and arrested him for smoking pot. During the subsequent court case his defense led to the magistrate arranging for a court employee to smoke marijuana so that its smell could be compared to alfalfa.

Victoria Times Colonist - May 10, 1968

Unfortunately the courtroom experiment was cancelled before it took place, and the magistrate ended up finding Hlookoff guilty. He didn't buy Hlookoff's follow-up argument that if, perhaps, it had been marijuana he was smoking then someone must have (without his knowledge) put marijuana in his alfalfa container.

The Vancouver Province - July 3, 1968

Hlookoff's roommate, Marcel Horne (a professional firebreather whose stage name was 'El Diablo'), later wrote an autobiography in which he revealed that, yeah, they were absolutely smoking pot when the police raided their apartment:

It was now December 12, 1967, Peter Hlookoff, who was now co-editor of the Georgia Straight, and I were up in my room around one o'clock in the morning. I was lying under a sun lamp to get a tan and was high on grass. Peter sat in the middle of the floor with a roach in one hand and enough dope for three cigarettes in a plastic tube on the floor beside him.

We were rapping away very stoned, when we heard someone coming up the stairs. The next thing we knew two cops in uniform walked into the room. Peter tried to drop the roach but the cop saw him. I was too stoned to think properly so I just lay there watching the nightmare. The cops put us up against the wall and frisked us. "Who does the marijuana belong to?" We both answered, "What marijuana?"

image source: Annals of the Firebreather (1973), by Marcel Horne

Posted By: Alex - Wed Mar 27, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Drugs | Smoking and Tobacco | Law | 1960s

Beatniks Under the Microscope

Posted By: Paul - Wed Mar 27, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Science | Bohemians, Beatniks, Hippies and Slackers | 1950s

March 26, 2024

Hear how to handle your boat

Released in 1961 as part of the "Carlton Hear How Series."

The series started off with fairly mundane topics such as how to handle your boat, how to be a better bowler, how to take better photographs, etc. But as sales lagged (surely because of the dull topics) Carlton introduced more controversial topics such as "Hear how to achieve sexual harmony in marriage" and "Hear how to tell your children the facts of life."

The strategy didn't work, and the series was discontinued after 1961.

More info:

Posted By: Alex - Tue Mar 26, 2024 - Comments (3)
Category: Boats | 1960s

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