Weird Universe Archive

July 2008

July 11, 2008

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Friday

It’s Good to Be a British Prisoner (continuing series)
Abu Qatada, 47, who is said to be Al Qaeda’s “ambassador to Europe” and implicated in London’s 2005 subway bombings, is out now on house arrest. Britain would love to deport him to Jordan but fear he’ll be mistreated there, and that would be against UK law. So for now, he lives in the family homestead in London (said to be worth the equivalent of $1.6M) and receives beaucoup gov’t assistance, such as the equivalent of $300 a week disability for a bad back (which entitles his wife and their four children who are under age 18 to family support of the equivalent of $1,600 a week more) and relief from the annual local tax of the equivalent of about $4,500. Daily Mail (London)
Comments 'abu_qatada'

The legendary Belleville, Ill., sock bandit is back off the wagon
James Dowdy, 36, has demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt that he is unable to stop stealing women’s socks. He has already done three prison stretches since 1993 for female-sock-based burglaries, and each time he is released, he starts therapy, and it apparently goes fine for a while, until, eventually, he's overcome by socks. Belleville News-Democrat
Comments 'sock_bandit'

Domestic assault or way-incompetent suicider?
Sikeston, Mo., police say Rodger Tillman simply clobbered his wife on the head with a board, and they thus arrested him for assault. Tillman claimed the issue was more, er, nuanced. Bankruptcy loomed; Mr. and Mrs. Tillman were being evicted; they made a suicide pact; she was supposed to go first; he smacked her around with a board; she failed to die and was in pain; he drove her toward the hospital; he improvised a plan B to ram the car into a utility pole to kill them both; the pole fell on the car with barely an additional scratch to the occupants; he proceeded on to the hospital. Southeast Missourian (Sikeston)
Comments 'rodger_tillman'

The evangelist who even Pentecostal revivalists think is cheap and tacky
Todd Bentley, an uneasy-on-the eyes, short, fat, bald, tattooed (but charismatic!) faith healer, has been drawing big crowds in his campaign under the tent near Lakeland, Fla., with his Emeril-like “Bam!” when he releases the Lord’s healing spirit from his hands into the bodies of the stricken. “Come and get some!” he yells out. Miracles will be “popping like popcorn!” “Someone’s getting a new spinal cord tonight!” (Bonus: He’s has occasionally kneed, slapped, and kicked the afflicted, but according to him, they didn’t mind, and after all, even if they did mind, he’s just following God’s instructions.) Associated Press via Naples (Fla.) Daily News
Comments 'todd_bentley'

Speaking of bashing out those evil spirits . . .
Matt Lincoln, 57, filed a lawsuit in Knoxville, Tenn., against the Lakewind Church because his medical expenses are getting out of hand stemming from the fall he took in 2007 when he was overcome by the spirits in church and fell but that no one was there to catch him, as there had been all those other times he had been overcome. Associated Press via The Tennessean (Nashville)
Comments 'matt_lincoln'

Former State Dept. diplomat with a thing for teenage girls asks for leniency based on culture
Gons Nachman, 42, apparently craved overseas assignments (Brazil, Congo) because that’s where the hot teens were, and he’s about to be sentenced in Virginia for having photos of himself in action with them. He’s trying to muster some experts to tell the judge that teenagers in those countries are all grown up, not sheltered as in the U.S. (Uphill-climb Bonus No. 1: He’s also a longstanding nudist) (Uphill-climb Bonus No. 2: He asked the judge if, before sentencing, he’d perform the marriage ceremony for him and his now-21-yr-old Brazilian girlfriend) Associated Press via MSNBC
Comments 'gons_nachman'

Indonesia's icon of penile enhancement permanently detumesces
Ms. Mak Erot has passed on in Java, at the age of something north of 100, after a lifetime of fame as an advisor who could make men’s stuff grow with traditional herbs and Islamic prayer. In recent years, her likeness had been commandeered by Indonesian companies peddling lengthening and virility products. Agence France-Presse
Comments 'mak_erot'

Two aging Texas professors’ quest for young hotties
The Smoking Gun has embarrassing e-mails from super-horny University of Texas at San Antonio economics professor Ronald Ayers, 60, to pal Duane Conley, 61, a professor of computer information systems at San Antonio’s Palo Alto College, describing in almost-Penthouse-Forum-like language the young ‘uns in his classes. Ayers is awaiting a Board of Regents decision on whether, despite tenure, he can be fired, and Conley’s job’s not so secure, either. (Bonus: The graphic signature block on Ayer's e-mails: "Ronald Ayers, Your Partner in Teaching Excellence") // San Antonio Express-News, July 5 // San Antonio Express-News, July 10
Comments 'ronald_ayers'

Your Daily Loser
Gregory Smallwood, 46, Anderson Township, Ohio, was charged with almost setting a girlfriend’s van on fire out of anger that she had twice fallen asleep while they were doing the deed. (Bonus: no immature editorial references to the perp’s last name) Cincinnati Enquirer
Comments 'gregory_smallwood'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
Robert Martin, 47, was detained at a rest stop on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway because he had a bunch of lewd stuff visible in his parked car. The porn magazines were bad enough, but then there was a “platter” of women’s underwear on the dashboard and an array of naked Barbie dolls. WKYW-TV (Philadelphia)
Comments 'naked_barbie'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Christopher Penn, 41, Springfield Township, Ohio, who is charged with the awesome crime of walking out of a supermarket with eight (8) packages of T-bone steaks stuffed in his trousers. Cincinnati Enquirer
Comments 'christopher_penn'

More Things To Worry About on Friday
St. Mary’s Airport on Britain’s Isles of Scilly just advertised for an air traffic controller, with the application form also available in Braille . . . . . Prison officials in Austria reported that Josef Fritzl, the guy charged with imprisoning his daughter for 24 yrs in a dungeon, is complaining about being cooped up in his cell all day long (even though it’s mostly for his own safety) . . . . . Dallas, Tex., police revealed that a seized car they’d been using for two months for undercover work hadn’t quite been inspected thoroughly enough, since they just found $400K worth of cocaine still hidden inside . . . . . Police were called to a supermarket in Crawley, England, where two 78-yr-old women, formerly good friends, were ramming each other with their mobility scooters. Today’s Newsrangers: Rob Snyder, Kathryn Wood, Bob Pert, Nick DiNardo, Jerry Whittle, Melissa Cerrito, Doug Hammock, David Melcher
Comments 'worry_080711'

Posted By: Chuck - Fri Jul 11, 2008 - Comments (0)

Two-Headed Snake

A two-headed snake was born in a pet store in Amherst, New York. (Link: Yahoo! News.) The store's owner, Diane Dedominics, noted:

We'll have to not let them see each other when they're feeding because if they do they will devour the other snake. So if one snake has a mouse in its mouth and the other one sees it, it will try to get the mouse as well and try to devour it and therefore take in the whole other snake.

Apparently they're going to call them Bush and Rove.

(Thanks to Big Gary for the link and the joke.)

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 11, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Animals

The Moustache Movement

Have you ever wondered why, in nineteenth-century photographs, many men sport large moustaches? The reason is the "moustache movement." William Andrews, in his 1904 book At the Sign of the Barber's Pole, explains (via Things Magazine):

About 1855 the beard movement took hold of Englishmen. The Crimean War had much to do with it, as our soldiers were permitted to forego the use of the razor as the hair on the face protected them from the cold and attacks of neuralgia. About this period only one civilian of position in England had the hardihood to wear the moustache. He was Mr George Frederick Muntz, a member of Parliament for Birmingham. He was a notable figure in the House of Commons, and is described as manly in appearance, with a handsome face, a huge black beard, and moustache. He died 30th July, 1857, and is regarded as the father of the modern moustache movement.

Allan Peterkin more recently explored this nineteenth-century fashion in his history of facial hair titled One Thousand Beards (2001). A reviewer of his book wrote:

The comprehensive approach with which Peterkin addresses his slightly esoteric subject is remarkable, to the point of weirdness. Peterkin (shown lightly fuzzed in the author's photo) essentially assesses the entire history of the world through a beard's-eye view, addressing questions ranging from "What's the ritualistic symbolism of shaving?" to "What's the post-modern, post-feminist meaning of facial hair?"

Sounds like my kind of book!

I haven't shaved with a razor since I last held a nine-to-five job, which was in 2001. If all goes according to plan, I will never use a razor again in my life. I regard them as instruments of torture. Instead, I keep a permanent stubble by trimming my beard every few days with an electric shaver.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jul 11, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Fashion

July 10, 2008

France Gall’s anti-LSD song

The French have popstars no sane American has ever heard of. One such is certainly France Gall.

Perhaps the most bizarre moment of her career was her anti-LSD anthem from 1967, "Teenie Weenie Boppie," penned by none other than
Serge Gainsbourg.

Watch it now, why not?

Curious about the lyrics? Listen to the English-language cover version by indie super group Free Kitten.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 10, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Art, Customs, Foreign Customs, Drugs, Eccentrics, Music

Plastic Pink Flamingo Shortage imminent!

Crude oil heading toward $200.00 a barrel? Trivial! More important here at WU Central is the upcoming dearth of avian lawn ornaments as the company that makes them goes bankrupt!

Read the whole sad story here.

How will extortionate charities get their money now, if the practice of "flamingoing" is doomed?

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jul 10, 2008 - Comments (10)
Category: Animals, Business, Products, Customs, Domestic, Inventions

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Thursday

Can’t Possibly Be True (I): The Cow-Fart Collection Device
It was in the newspaper, so it must be true: Researchers at Argentina’s Nat’l Institute of Agricultural Technology, alarmed that methane from cattle produces one-third of the nation’s greenhouse gases, decided that they need to study the actual composition of cow farts. Hence, this plastic tank, strapped on cows’ backs (which, I suppose, is better than trailing behind cows all day with baggies). Daily Telegraph (London)
Comments 'fart_collecting'

Labor strife in the Santa Claus profession
Amalgamated Santas is in turmoil after it grew to over 100 members (only real-bearded men allowed) and elected a manager, who ticked people off by cutting a movie-consultancy deal for himself. There’s major flaming on the Elf Net bulletin board, and one recent live meeting turned physical. Apparently, some Santas are naughty, some are nice, and there should be a list. Wall Street Journal
Comments 'santa_clauses'"} (

People who don’t embarrass easily
Passerby Willie Vickers, 46, saw the woman and the cops struggling to get the car door open after she had locked her keys inside, and he said he could help. Recalled the police chief, later, “[Vickers] told the officers that he had a lot of experience getting into locked cars.” Indeed. He was arrested on several outstanding burglary warrants. WEWS-TV (Cleveland)
Comments 'lookout_experienced'"} (

Can’t Possibly Be True (II): Shoulda set it on vibrate
It says here in the Jamaica Star that Mr. Tesha Miller, reputed leader of the Clansmen gang, was arrested for violating conditions of his bail and that after Miller was searched and the cops ready to move on, they heard a phone ring. Yes, a phone (and charger) were recovered from a non-sunshiny place. Jamaica Star [via]
Comments 'jamaica_vibrate'"} (

Updates (for veteran readers of News of the Weird Daily)
Romania’s highest court voided that parliamentary law requiring that the news be half positive and half negative . . . . . Already the protesters have hit the streets in Sydney trying hard to “annoy” and “inconvenience” people (which will, you recall, be illegal during next week’s Catholic youth pilgrimage) . . . . . The three men who dug up the corpse of a traffic-victim hottie in 2006, to have sex with the body, and who were let go because Wisconsin had no necrophilia law, are back on the docket after the state supreme court reversed.
Comments 'updates_080710'"} (

Your Daily Loser
Michael Mahoney, 25, became the latest alleged rapist to actually think the victim (a total stranger) was into him and wanted to start hooking up with him after the rape. He gave her his phone number. Boston Herald
Comments 'michael_mahoney'"} (

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
David Rourke (or Roark), Taylor, Mich., an ice-cream man accused of molesting children. WDIV-TV (Detroit)
Comments 'david_rourke'"} (

More Things to Worry About on Thursday
Police arrested a man in Hartland, Maine, for “terrorizing” his family in a dispute over a, um, croquet match . . . . . The Chicago Sun-Times somehow got members to talk about a “club” featuring doctors, lawyers, accountants, et al, who get together after work and “fight” each other . . . . . Do you really want to be out in the same traffic with a person who just passed her first driver’s test only because she had to spend about $30,000 on 450 hours’ instruction because she kept failing (12 times) earlier tests? . . . . . Readers’ Choice story: A 43-yr-old woman in Potter Valley, Calif., drawing her .44 Magnum from a holster to shoot a mouse in her trailer home, dropped it on the floor, where it fired, hitting her in the knee and ricocheting through a companion’s pants (and no doubt confusing the mouse) . . . . . And, even though it’s No Longer Weird, here are two stories from yesterday in which one criminal calls up the police to earnestly report that another criminal just robbed him (of the drugs he tried to buy, in Connecticut, and of the money he had just stolen, in Florida)! Today’s Newsrangers: Jeffrey Deutsch, Philip Urban, Susan Prendergast, Donald Campbell, Dave Bonan, Martin Prior, and lots who saw the Readers’ Choice
Comments 'worry_080710'"} (

Posted By: Chuck - Thu Jul 10, 2008 - Comments (0)

Wrinkled Head Commercial

This is a Japanese TV commercial for COSMO Securities. It reminds me of the artwork of Giuseppe Arcimboldo -- if Arcimboldo were to have made his heads out of human bodies rather than food. (via 3yen)

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 10, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Art, Advertising

July 9, 2008

Belinda Bedekovic

Witness the glory that is Belinda Bedekovic.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Art, Customs, Foreign Customs, Music, Sexuality, Sex Symbols, ShowBiz

The Old Leather Man

I'm eager to read The Old Leather Man when it appears in October from Wesleyan University Press. It sounds like prime historical weirdo material.

"In 1883, wearing a sixty-pound suit sewn from leather boot-tops, a wanderer known only as the Leather Man began to walk a 365 mile loop between the Connecticut and Hudson Rivers that he would complete every 34 days, for almost six years. His circuit took him through at least 41 towns in southwestern Connecticut and southeastern New York, sleeping in caves, accepting food from townspeople, and speaking only in grunts and gestures along the way. What remains of the mysterious Leather Man today are the news clippings and photographs taken by the first-hand witnesses of this captivating individual. The Old Leather Man gathers the best of the early newspaper accounts of the Leather Man, and includes maps of his route, historic photographs of his shelters, the houses he was known to stop at along his way, and of the Leather Man himself. This history tracks the footsteps of the Leather Man and unravels the myths surrounding the man who made Connecticut’s caves his home."

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Eccentrics, Hermits, History, Historical Figure, Regionalism, Travel, Books

Obama Lincoln


Check out this new portrait from famed painter Ron English, and read what happened in Boston when it was recently displayed.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jul 09, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Art, Business, Advertising, Government, Officials, History, Historical Figure, Politics

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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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