Weird Universe Archive

July 2008

July 20, 2008

The Song-slinging Senator

Yes, that musical genius of the legislature, Orrin Hatch, is at it again. Read about his latest musical composition in this article.

Then visit the site that holds all his marvelous music.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jul 20, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Celebrities, Eccentrics, Government, Officials, Music, ShowBiz

Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!

This is one of my favorite warning signs. Whenever I'm out on my pedestrian travels and I see it, it makes me smile. Why? I'm not a sadistic, morbid fellow. But the iconography is just so kinetic, remiscent of the travails of Mr. Bill or a Charles Addams cartoon.

Safety signs are everywhere, but ignored. Surely, though, pranksters could have a lot of fun with them. Here's the sales site where I plundered my image.

And finally, in the immortal words of Dave Barry, "Wouldn't 'Crush Hazard' be a great name for a rock band?"

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jul 20, 2008 - Comments (4)
Category: Business, Products

July 19, 2008

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Saturday

Update: One of the two arrogant little twits who stole the Girl Scout's cookie money actually has a substance-abuse problem
Stefanie Woods, 18, made News of the Weird recently [NOTW M062, 6-15-2008] when she snatched $168 off the girl's table and then gave a TV station some arrogant sass on camera. It turns out the judge bought into her drug/alcohol problem and sentenced her to three yrs in lockdown rehab. Whoa. But they couldn't find a spot for her so she's now on house arrest while inching up the waiting list. Palm Beach Post // Video of original news story

When the stock market plunges in Pakistan, investors don't respond by clutching worry beads and calmly talking to CNBC
Police surrounded the Karachi Stock Exchange on Thursday, after the 15th straight down day (worst spell in 18 yrs) to quell the assembly of angry investors, who threw rocks, breaking windows. Bloomberg News

Old math versus new math, and parents' dilemma
CNN reported sympathetically on parents who want to help their kids with math homework, but even the smart parents don't understand how it's taught these days (i.e., "conceptually"). Some parents cheat and teach subversive things like "long division," which soon may show up only in a curriculum on "History of Math." CNN: "Since Sam is good at math, his father supplements his classroom work with, for example, the old way of multiplying 175 times 142." (Lede buried: There's a different way of multiplying 175 times 142.) CNN

Heavy metal monk's second album
Capuchin monk (that's the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, not the Capuchin monkey) Cesare Bonizzi, of a monastery near Milan, Italy, is actually the lead singer in a heavy metal band and has just released his second album, Misteri. "Brother Metal" says he thinks he could possibly turn the Pope on to his sound, just like he thrilled the crowd at the recent "Gods of Metal" festival (on the bill with Iron Maiden and, er, Judas Priest). BBC News (with video)

Yet another harmless transit-driver freak
In the mold of the notorious New Yorker, Darius McCollum, whose fixation with all-things-transit leads him to impersonate drivers and commandeer trains [NOTW 900, 5-8-2005; NOTW 666, 11-10-2000; NOTW 526, 3-6-1998], we have Miamian James Harris, whose specialty is buses. In his latest escapade, he grabbed a bus and ran out the South Beach route, picking up passengers, collecting the fare, delivering everyone safely, returning the bus. No complaints, no missing money. Miami Herald

It's good to be an Air Force general
Washington Post: "The Air Force's top leadership sought for three years to spend counterterrorism funds on 'comfort capsules' [luxury quarters] to be installed on military planes that ferry senior officers and civilian leaders around the world, with at least four top generals involved in design details such as the color of the capsules' carpet and leather chairs." On the one hand, it was only $20M. (But on the other hand, troops ferried to and from the war zones don't exactly get steward service.) Washington Post

The weird thing about Freddie Mac's CEO's paycheck
It's not that the guy "earned" almost $20M for last year when his company lost half its value, or even that he stands to "earn" that much this year when his company is a millimeter or two away from crashing the entire home-mortgage market, or even that he undoubtedly played an active role in the very strategy that brought about this dismal performance. Nope, the weird thing is that, in our advanced society, Articulate Rich People can produce high-sounding rationalizations to justify this Pay-For-Failure and that lots of Poorer People will suck up those rationalizations. Amazing. Associated Press via MSNBC

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
James Kist, who not only got his kicks by peeping in the windows of a Harrisburg, Pa., area cop's family, but told police he'd done it over and over. (Bonus: self-judging mug shot) Patriot-News (Harrisburg)

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
James McKean of New Rochelle, N.Y., who maybe had bad motives when he invited that 11-year-old girl to come back to his car with him. Journal-News (White Plains)

More Things to Worry About on Saturday
A police lieutenant with 15 yrs on the job was fired for repeatedly harassing a Starbucks for free coffee . . . . . An SUV sailed airborne in a San Diego-area neighborhood and went either through or into three homes and some cars (possibly, alcohol was involved) . . . . . God came through for Mr. Absolom Morifi in Johannesburg, who survived a serious auto collision, and it might have been because just hours earlier he had canceled his life insurance policy precisely so he could free up money to continue his church-tithing . . . . . And here is the Eleva, Wis., cornfield-trimmed tribute to, er, Brett Favre. Today's Newsrangers: Karl Olson, John Holsinger, Kathryn Wood, Scott Langill, Tony Jeswald, Matt Mirapaul

Posted By: Chuck - Sat Jul 19, 2008 - Comments (0)

July 18, 2008

The Everywhere Girl

You've probably seen this girl before, though you may not remember where. Her name is Jennifer Anderson, but she's more popularly known as the Everywhere Girl.

Her rise to ubiquity started a few years ago when she agreed to do a photo shoot for a stock-photo agency. She didn't get paid much. It was a royalty-free assignment. She posed around Reed College, pretending to be a college student (even though she had never been to college herself). It was a one-day assignment. At the time, she didn't think it was a big deal.

But for some reason, the images of her taken during that shoot became some of the most popular stock photos ever. They've been used by Gateway, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Visa, the BBC, the US Navy, Microsoft, Greyhound Bus Lines, numerous textbook publishers, as well as a whole host of other businesses. Whenever advertisers want an image of an attractive young college student, they seem to turn to Everywhere Girl. has been tracking her appearances for years. The Idee Blog has many examples of ads that have used her image. She also has her own blog. And Getty has the images of her from the original photo shoot. Finally, she was recently discussed in an article in Slate about "the weird science of stock photography."

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 18, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Advertising

Tardis Sheds

If I had a backyard shed I would definitely consider turning it into a Tardis, as apparently many people in the UK have decided to do, based upon the numerous Tardis-shed submissions to

Unfortunately, I doubt any of my neighbors would understand the reference. They would just think it was a blue shed. Although BBC America now runs episodes of Dr. Who, most Americans still have no clue who he is. (via Red Ferret)

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 18, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Science Fiction

Follies of the Mad Men #4

[From Good Housekeeping for October 1939.]

Here's a great example of Madison Avenue trying to a) make a problem that doesn't exist or is minimal into an overwhelming burden that only their product can alleviate and b) bring the vaunted "miraculous" power of scientists and scientific imagery into the marketing mix.

Did women in 1939--or ever--really ask their friends for a hygienic crotch alert?

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jul 18, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Fashion, Hygiene, Science, Gender, Women, 1930s

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Friday

Don't look at this video of the "aye-aye"
Denver Zoo's new exotic animal, from Madagascar, has "the body of a monkey, the tail of a squirrel, and a rodent-like face." Bonus: Its middle finger is three times longer than the others! But, don't look! It's not safe for work or for leisure because, in Madagascar, if you see one, you're doomed! Doomed! Rocky Mountain News
Comments 'denver_zoo'

Commissioner Brent Rinehart, the savior of Oklahoma City
Incumbent county commissioner Rinehart released a campaign comic book with himself as hero figure, keeping Satan at bay: "Satan: [I'll win] if I can get the kids to believe homosexuality is normal!" "Angel: Hey, Satan, not with Brent around, you won't!" Said one critic (from Rinehart's own Republican party), "I've really encouraged [Rinehart] on more than one occasion to get professional help. He really needs it." Said a Univ. of Oklahoma political scientist, "I've never seen a comic book with the phrase 'anal sodomy' in it before." Tulsa World // .pdf of the comic book [Safe for Work]
Comments 'brent_rinehart'

Your Daily Loser
David Novick, driving his 3 kids and a pal around Titusville, Fla., despite a .152 blood-alcohol reading, made his worldwide movie debut yesterday, courtesy of a news team from Orlando's WFTV, who arrived just ahead of the cops at the gas station Novick had stopped at and took this footage of him, totally zonked out at the wheel. Not groggy–zonked! WFTV // WFTV video
Comments 'david_novick'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
John Hibbitts, 58, Dayton, Ohio, was grossing out neighbors at 10:20 in the morning, just sitting on his front porch, naked, and making himself feel good. But, he tried to reassure the cops: "It's OK. I'm a nudist. It's hot out." Springfield News
Comments 'john_hibbitts'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Richard Geiger, 63, Parma, Ohio, thought possibly, possibly, to be a child-molester. WEWS-TV (Cleveland)
Comments 'richard_geiger'

More Things to Worry About on Friday
The latest surprise python visit: nesting with the clothes in a woman's washing machine in Gorham, Maine [Ed.: which is convenient, because she can wash her spontaneously-soiled underwear right there!] . . . . . At a military formation review at Kansas's Fort Riley, a parachutist's landing went off-course and took out two tuba players and a trumpeter . . . . . Once more, a Bible stops a stray bullet and saves a life (well, a Bible and a watermelon) . . . . . Headline from an Australian murder trial: "Man used teen's head as bowling ball, court told" . . . . . At a press conference on gun control in Nanchong, China, a cop dropped a gun, which fired and hit three reporters (only three). Today's Newsranger: Philip Urban
Comments 'worry_080718'

Posted By: Chuck - Fri Jul 18, 2008 - Comments (0)

July 17, 2008

Imaginary Animals

Brazilian artist Alexandre Jorge has created a series of creepy imaginary animals. They're all made out of papier mache. I figure it's only a matter of time before the pictures start popping up in people's email with the claim that they're real animals found in the Brazilian rainforest (or something like that):

(via Forgetomori)

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 17, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Art

Mechanical Elephants

Once upon a time, mechanical elephants roamed up and down the boardwalks of beaches. Check out the clip below from a 1950s newsreel. The elephant, built by Frank Stuart was "Gasoline Powered with a 4 cylinder English Side Valve Ford engine. Top speed 27 MPH!"

I found the clip on the blog of Eastcliff Richard who reports that, "Astonishingly Britain used to lead the world in the production of mechanical elephants. This one was later sold to the late, great, dearly-departed Peter Sellers as part of his eccentric collection of automobilia."

Some more videos of mechanical elephants can be found here and here.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 17, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Inventions, Technology

Out of Town

I'll be away from my computer until Monday, July 21st, attending Readercon, so I won't be able to answer any comments. But thanks to my partners, I'll have new posts appearing.

See you all later!

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 17, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Conventions, Travel, Weird Universe, Paul

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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 books such as Elephants on Acid.

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.

Chuck Shepherd
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.

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