Weird Universe Archive

August 2008

August 18, 2008

Catatonic Rats

Old science books and articles are a great source of weird images. For instance, I found the two pictures below in Of Mice, Men and Molecules by John Heller (published in 1960). The images are titled "Catatonic rats" and have this explanatory caption:

These rats will maintain these weird positions for 15 to 30 minutes without moving. This catatonic effect has been induced by a minute amount of a chemical. The effect wears off completely in about an hour.

Unfortunately, Heller doesn't reveal what the chemical is that caused the rats to freeze in these positions. My guess is that it's LSD.

image image

Posted By: Alex - Mon Aug 18, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Animals, Drugs, Science, Experiments

August 17, 2008

Follies of the Mad Men #13


[From Fortune for December 1945. Two scans, top and bottom.]

There is nothing spectacularly "weird" about this particular entry in our series, except that the artist is William Steig, the famed illustrator and author responsible, most notably in Hollywood terms, for Shrek. It's curious to see him turning his talents to advertising during his early career, as so many artists who later grew rich and famous once did.

Perhaps the true vestige of weirdness here, though, is the image of the proud boy wearing his Jughead cap. You can learn about the history of the Jughead beanie and how to make such a cap yourself at Juggie's Wikipedia page. Or perhaps you'd want to buy one readymade, either here or here.

But maybe you want to go for the entire Jughead look!

Posted By: Paul - Sun Aug 17, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Fashion, Hollywood, Literature, Books, Fantasy, Movies, Comics, 1940s

August 16, 2008

Nit Wit Ridge

Continuing the travelogue, on Friday my wife and I drove up north from San Luis Obispo and did the tour of Hearst Castle. It was worth seeing, but for my money it wasn't as interesting as "Nit Wit Ridge" located about fifteen minutes away in nearby Cambria. Nit Wit Ridge is like the anti-Hearst Castle, being a mansion built entirely out of junk. From

[Nit Wit Ridge] is considered a fine example of folk art and is a California State Historic Landmark. It was built by one man (Arthur Harold Beal) over the course of 51 years. Art began his creation in 1928 by digging out a hillside in Cambria. He used rocks, abalone shells, wood, beer cans, tile, car parts and other assorted junk to create his "Hearst Castle".

They're not kidding when they say it's built out of assorted junk. How many toilets can you spot in the picture below? (I see at least four.) Unfortunately Nit Wit Ridge is not open to the public, so I was only able to admire it from the outside.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 16, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Travel, Landmarks, Alex

Madonna Inn Urinals, etc.

Reporting in from the road: I spent Thursday night at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. It was as over-the-top kitschy as promised. One of the main tourist attractions there is the urinal in the downstairs men's bathroom. People make special trips to see it. The novelty is that it's a waterfall urinal, but unfortunately it was out of order when I was there... so no waterfall. Still there was a steady trickle of tourists wandering into the restroom to see it, including many women with their giggling young daughters following behind. So if you're a guy who actually wants to use the restroom, you're out of luck.

The upstairs men's urinal featured a trough. Interesting, but there were no tourists lining up to see it.

While in San Luis Obispo we also checked out Bubblegum Alley, to whose walls people have been sticking used bubblegum for decades. Opinion about the alley is split between those who think it's really cool, and those who think it's filthy. For instance, while there we overheard a mother ordering her obviously fascinated son, as they walked through it, to keep his hands behind his back and not touch anything. No one seems to know exactly how the tradition of sticking gum to the walls started, but Wikipedia reports a rumor that it may have originated during the 1950s out of a rivalry between the students of San Luis High School and Cal Poly: "As soon as the Poly students suspected that the High School was trying to out-do them on the gum walls, the college students stepped up their game and immediately became more creative, thus launching Bubblegum Alley."

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 16, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Travel, Landmarks, Alex

The Matrix on Broadway


Keanu Reeves is slated to recreate his epic role as cyber-savior Neo in the all-dancing, all-singing Broadway production of The Matrix. Directed by Julie Taymor, choreography by Kristi Yamaguchi, music by Brian Eno.

Not buying that explanation for this photo? You skeptic! Well, in that case, find out who the sunglass-wearing, cassocked dancer is here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Aug 16, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Art, Surrealism, Education, Entertainment, Dance, Religion, Theater and Stage


Recently I watched the 1963 Japanese SF flick ATRAGON. I knew I was in true weirdo territory when the undersea empire of Mu turned out to be ruled by Cyndi Lauper.

Not really, but check out the gal in the pink wig in this trailer for the film.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Aug 16, 2008 - Comments (10)
Category: Boats, Explosives, Fashion, Hair Styling, Inventions, Movies, Science Fiction, 1960s

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Saturday

The Bigfoot announcement yesterday: nada
After the three true believers laid out their case at the press conference in Palo Alto, Calif., the leading academic Bigfootoligist, Prof. Jeffrey Meldrum, called it all "not compelling in the least." The definitive photos, he said, "just [look] like a costume with some fake guts thrown on top for effect." Notwithstanding, the three believers seemingly couldn't have been more confident that they had found the holy grail. Example: They were inexplicably taunting in their presentation of empty DNA results. Washington Post // Associated Press via Yahoo
Comments 'bigfoot_letdown'

Fine Points of the Law
George Feigley, 68, has been in the Big House for over 30 yrs (minus escape-time), convicted of raping children under the guise of his Neo American Church, after convincing their parents that he was "The Light of the World" and that "sexual activity is the greatest act a human can do." Well, he's served his sentences, and he went home yesterday to Harrisburg, Pa., which of course didn't sit well with the neighbors, since Feigley has never expressed remorse. And . . he doesn't have to register as a sex offender because he was convicted before the registration law was passed. CNN
Comments 'george_feigley'

Rock vs. hard place: should the school have prevented a gay boy from expressing himself?
High school student Lawrence King was murdered, allegedly by a classmate angry because King was openly gay, sometimes cross-dressing in school. Now King's estranged parents have sued the school district for wrongful death, for not enforcing its dress code to keep King from looking like a sissy. Los Angeles Times
Comments 'lawrence_king'

Update: "Booger Red" Kelly goes on trial
The booger man is one of several adults left to face charges of teaching little kids to put on sex shows in Mineola, Tex. (up the road from Tyler). One woman has already been convicted (jury deliberation: 4 minutes), with three more besides Booger Red to go. Tyler Morning News // NOTW M065 (7-6-2008) [scroll to final story, "The Aristocrats"]
Comments 'booger_red'

Your Daily Loser
Christopher Kron was arrested for a burglary in Fort Myers, Fla., made easier because the blaring burglar alarm (which didn't seem to bother Kron) alerted the security company, which called the store, and Kron actually answered the phone and gave 'em his real name. (The company called the cops because that Kron guy didn't know the secret code.) WINK Radio (Fort Myers) [Yep, there's surveillance video, though ya miss the blaring alarm]
Comments 'christopher_kron'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Joanna Hull, 42, can't remember exactly what happened but thinks it's possible she might have killed her boyfriend. Cincinnati Enquirer
Comments 'joanna_hull'

More Things to Worry About on Saturday
A north Texas school district has OK'd teachers and administrators to pack heat at work (which sounds kinda extreme, but, really, the school is 10 miles past nowhere, a half-hour from the closest sheriff's office) . . . . . Nepal's current child goddess needs to be put out to pasture (she's 11), and replacements are auditioning (must be aged 2 to 4 and have "the voice of a duck") . . . . . Bobby Guffey won $3m in the Hoosier Lotto, playing his lucky number (except that it wasn't his lucky number that won, because Guffey mistakenly hit "8" for the last digit instead of his lucky "6" he intended). Today's Newsrangers: Stephen Taylor, Bob Pert
Comments 'worry_080816'

Posted By: Chuck - Sat Aug 16, 2008 - Comments (0)

August 15, 2008


It's generally very pleasant living with easy access to the ocean, especially in summer.

But yesterday, Rhode Island experienced some waterspouts.

A waterspout is basically when a tornado comes and sucks up swimmers and boats and brings them to Oz.

Such as in this video. But they escaped. (No flying monkeys were harmed in the filming.)

Posted By: Paul - Fri Aug 15, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Boats, Nature, Weather, Regionalism

Massachusetts Mooks

For its small size, my home state of Rhode Island has plenty of weird news. But living nextdoor to Massachusetts grants me access to the Bay State's copious bizarre headlines as well. Consider these two recent events:

First, a fellow thought he could drive around with a large safe jutting from his trunk and no one would question him. He has since pleaded not guilty

Second, a would-be bank-robber felt that the best way to simulate an extortionate explosive device was by stuffing road flares down his pants.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Aug 15, 2008 - Comments (1)
Category: Crime, Stupid Criminals, Explosives, Cars

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Friday

He had three good years before his heart turned evil
Andrew Busskohl, now 18, Woodbury, Minn., got a life-saving heart transplant in 2003 and has been thriving, against not-so-favorable odds. Then, a few months ago, he started having these thoughts, later described to a buddy: He needed to murder someone, a stranger, and had meticulous plans on how to pull it off free and clear. He took the first step a week ago when he picked out the proper stranger and broke a window in his home (in order to return later to do the deed). But the buddy went to the police, and ultimately Busskohl matter-of-factly described the plot. Star Tribune
Comments 'andrew_busskohl'

Security-designer to the stars has moved into the crime-rich South African market
Bogota's Miguel Caballero's very-high-end suits, raincoats, shirts, vests, etc., made of bullet-resistant material (stab-proofing is extra) have gone on sale in Johannesburg. Visit for more details, but if you have to ask the price, you're not important enough to assassinate (and, no, WeirdUniverse doesn't get a click-through fee). BBC News
Comments 'miguel_caballero'

Fertility clinics in Africa (because childless women are, y'know, demons)
Kampala has two, Nairobi one, and maybe a couple of others are operating, because the average African woman has 7 kids, and you're nothin' if you can't produce.
The clinics offer an alternative to superstitious explanations of infertility and the dubious advice of traditional healers, whose cures include having women run naked in circles around a dead sparrow at night. Fertility doctors are also bringing to light an uncomfortable truth about a condition almost always blamed on women: that at least half the time, the problem is with the man.

Washington Post
Comments 'africa_fertility'

Turns out our pal, the dog-cloner Bernann McKinney [Weird Universe, 8-11-2008], is also wanted on an old warrant in Tennessee, part of a plot to steal money so she could buy a leg for a three-legged horse she owned at the time (Seriously) . . . . . And our pal Kerry Norris, the sex-crazed, headboard-banging neighbor [Weird Universe, 8-8-2008], will have to start sleeping at boyfriend Adam Hinton's place because her neighbors got an order keeping his randy butt away from their building . . . . . And our pal Dede Koswara, the Indonesian with tree bark for hands and feet (unrestrained warts) [NOTW M035, 12-9-2007], is making great progress according to this photo (which you can compare with this one when he started treatment). Associated Press via Yahoo // Associated Press via Yahoo // Daily Telegraph (London)
Comments 'updates_080815'

Your Daily Loser
Sterling Wolfname, on the lam for a fatal beating, drew attention from a street cop who had heard about the fugitive. Hold it right there, fella, are you Sterling Wolfname? (Never heard of him.) Then how come you've got "Wolfname" tattooed on the side of your head? (D'Oh!)
Associated Press via The Missoulian (Missoula, Mont.)
Comments 'sterling_wolfname'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Not only do you need to ignore the evidence here, but you must also ignore that the male of this couple (each charged with having sex with an underage girl) goes by "Cornbread" Kilgore. WTVC-TV (Chattanooga)
Comments 'cornbread_kilgore'

More Things to Worry About on Friday
In Galveston, Tex., she got cuffed by a city fire marshal for using the F word in a private conversation in a Wal-Mart (but she might have gotten cuffed for also going nuts at the marshal) . . . . . Tony Goodchild got his temporary restraining order against his girlfriend in Darwin, Australia, so now she's prohibited from cutting his stuff off as she promised . . . . . Recurring Theme: Once again, clean-up people underappreciate an edgy art exhibit and innocently destroy it, because that's their job (Sydney, Australia) . . . . . Police in eastern Pennsylvania chased Benjamin Knowlton, 19, in his stolen car for 25 miles at speeds of around 100 mph, ending when he inadvertently drove into a sewage pond (from which he climbed out, and escaped on foot, but cops picked up his trail, so to speak). Today's Newsrangers: Wendy Palm, Bruce Townley, Carey Gunthert, John Holsinger, Tom Barker, Mindy Cohen
Comments 'worry_080815'

Posted By: Chuck - Fri Aug 15, 2008 - Comments (0)

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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.

Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.

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