Weird Universe Archive

August 2008

August 14, 2008

Follies of the Mad Men #12

Yes, I want my beer to be endorsed by a drunken chipmunk who's been taking fashion lessons from Andy Capp.

Amazingly, despite this appalling choice of spokes-mammal, Stegmaier Beer remains in business to this day, as you can see if you follow the link.

Any reader ever tasted a "Steg"?

Posted By: Paul - Thu Aug 14, 2008 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Business, Advertising, Products, Inebriation and Intoxicants, Regionalism, Comics

A Long Weekend in Paso Robles

I'm off for a long weekend of wine tasting around Paso Robles. My wife and I are starting the vacation tonight by staying at the Madonna Inn near San Luis Obispo, which deserves a mention here on WU. From Wikipedia:

The Madonna Inn is a motel of flamboyant style in San Luis Obispo, California. Opened for business in 1958, the motel was the creation of Alex Madonna, who died in April 2004, and his wife Phyllis. The motel is a monument of unremitting kitsch, a Swiss-Alp exterior, and lavish pink common rooms. Each room in the Madonna Inn is uniquely designed and themed. Its famed rock waterfall urinal is a fixture along California's Central Coast. Many tourists come to visit the urinal, to the embarrassment of males who genuinely need to use the facilities.

I don't know which room we have, but it's one of the more budget-priced ones. (The place ain't cheap.) The next two nights we're unfortunately just at a Best Western.

I will, of course, keep my eye out for weirdness while on the road. In fact, whenever I travel by car in California I take along my map of Eccentric California, which has provided quite a few interesting detours over the years (to the dismay of my wife, who isn't as enthusiastic about the weird stuff as I am, though she's more into the wineries than I am -- I'm more of a beer guy -- so it's a trade-off).

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 14, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Alex, Hotels

Real Horse That Looks Like Stuffed Toy

Here at WU Central, the proprietors believe in training up the next generation to be observant and appreciative of all things weird. Hence the photo you see here.

This image was taken by my tweener niece, Becky Fuller, at the farm my brother Frank and his wife Beverly own in Medford, Oregon. It depicts a curious beast Becky calls "the curly horse."

Becky is enrolled in 4-H, and they've plainly been conducting secret experiments to hybridize sheep and horses. How else to explain the odd woolly fur of this anomalous quadruped, its mullet-like mane, or the unnaturally symmetrical appearance of its brown "stockings"?

Be afraid--be very afraid!

Posted By: Paul - Thu Aug 14, 2008 - Comments (6)
Category: Agriculture, Animals, Domestic, Family, Photography and Photographers

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Thursday

The F State connections of John Edwards's side squeeze
Before she was Rielle Hunter, she was Lisa Jo Druck, of Ocala, and her dad, a local lawyer, raised horses. (It's horse country; George Steinbrenner, among others, has a big spread there.) Dad's most notable, though, for his associating with Tommy Burns, a fixer of sorts whose nickname is "Sandman" because he skillfully put horses down for the insurance money. Preferred method: ordinary ol' wall-socket electrocution. Lisa, not surprisingly, was a party gal and moved around, finally headed to California intending to be an actress (until she met Edwards, when, apparently, the "Filmmaker? Yeah, that's the ticket!" bug hit). Ocala Star-Banner
Comments 'rielle_hunter'

In Indonesia, people who "live [in order] to die"
The last king of Toraja was 93 when he took his final breath in July 2003. Five years later, he's still part of the family, quietly residing in a small room in his former palace, shaded by two red parasols decorated with colored beads and gold fringe. By Torajan tradition, he isn't really dead. He's just sick. The late monarch won't be gone for good until he has been laid to rest with traditional rites featuring the slaughter of scores of water buffaloes, at least one of them a rate spotted specimen.
Such is the tradition of death in southern Sulawesi island, where people have to set aside huge chunks of income just to bury their family members properly. Nothing gets celebrated among the Torajans quite as extravagantly as death. Los Angeles Times
Comments 'toraja_death'

More feral children, semi-feral parents, and the trailer homes that enable them
In southwest Missouri near Pleasant Hope (just north of Springfield), three families, "12 to 15" house trailers stacked with stuff, 360 animals, 6 children, running water only via a series of garden hoses. Property "owner" Virginia Gambriel, 61, was arrested [she's number 2 in the link's photo series]. And in Lavonia, Ga. (just inside the South Carolina border), Raymond Thurmond, 36, was arrested and charged with holding his wife and 4 kids captive for 3 yrs in their trailer home (a single-wide!). Associated Press via CNN // Associated Press via MSNBC
Comments 'more_ferals'

End of the line for two hall-of-famers
Richard Blaylock, 76, called Britain's oldest career criminal, is back in the slammer, his home for 43 of his years. Why, that (as the judge called him) "thieving old bugger"! He was caught with his burglary kit and reportedly said to the officer, "Crowbar? What crowbar?" Said he was just out to build an exercise thingy for his ferrets. And in Los Angeles, Ignacio DelRio, 33, was sentenced to 7-plus yrs in prison for what he and police estimate were 1,000 burglaries, worth more than $16m, over a period from 2004 to 2006. Did it for the rush. Daily Mail (London) // Associated Press via Yahoo
Comments 'blaylock_delrio'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
Barry Zephier, 44, was arrested in Sioux Falls, S.D., after he apparently staggered out of a strip club so aroused that he walked right over to a patch of grass, lay down, removed his pants, and took care of himself (and drew a crowd!) (Bonus: There's nothing more exciting in Sioux Falls than standing around watching a 44-yr-old guy masturbate.) Argus Leader (Sioux Falls)
Comments 'barry_zephier'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
All right, listen up. They need your help on this. They really don't know if this gal's guilty or innocent. Facts? Facts will just confuse you, but anyway, one, she just got out of jail for attempting to kill her husband (but he forgave her), and then, a couple of hours later, the husband was dead, but on the other hand, he's been in poor health for a while. See what I mean? It could go either way. Thus, it looks like the only fair way to resolve this touchy case is with a photo verdict. St. Paul Pioneer Press
Comments 'sandra_hanson'

Eyewitness News
[news videos goin' around]
Prof. Bill Shanahan of Fort Hayes (Kan.) State Univ. is seen here going nuts because his debaters were low-balled by the judges, and he responds in the only proper way. KCTV (Kansas City) [from]
You've heard of Paper-Rock-Scissors championships, but have you actually seen matches (like, with referees)?
Comments 'eyewitness_080814'

More Things to Worry About on Thursday
A vastly underrated source of protein for the world's malnourished: rat meat . . . . . To keep playing cards in the community room at a seniors' housing center in Britain, you guys will have to buy liability insurance . . . . . A dad in Vernon, Conn., sets up his own intra-family Fight Club, among his kids, aged 6 to, er, 1 (OK to use plastic baseball bats) . . . . . Britain's Asda supermarket decides to sell themed underwear for adolescent girls, from Disney's High School Musical, with the phrase "Dive In," and cynical parents are like, I can't believe Asda is so naive . . . . . The parents who allegedly, recklessly let their daughter starve to death 2 yrs ago have filed a lawsuit against Philadelphia welfare officials for not taking the girl away from them sooner.
Comments 'worry_080814'

Editor's Notes
Update: Ol' Greg Nance (Mr. Bite Me from yesterday) resigned, to of course spend more time with his family. (I underappreciated his contributions to the "state board of education" yesterday; he was regarded as having some expertise, in that when he was in school, he was, of course, special-ed.) Today's Newsrangers: Bruce Townley, Scott Langill, Ted Hering, Amanda Reno, Nancy LeSage
Comments 'editors_080814'

Posted By: Chuck - Thu Aug 14, 2008 - Comments (0)

The Smoke-Filled Room

If you were sitting in a waiting room and smoke began to billow out of a vent in the wall, you'd probably do something about it. At least, you'd report the problem to someone. Or maybe not.

In a famous experiment conducted by John Darley and Bibb Latané during the 1960s, Columbia University students were invited to share their views about problems of urban life. Those who expressed an interest in participating were asked to first report to a waiting room in one of the university buildings where they would find some forms to fill out before being interviewed. They had no idea that the urban-life study was just a cover story. The real experiment occurred in the waiting room.

As they filled out the forms, smoke began to enter the room through a small vent in the wall. By the end of four minutes, there was enough smoke to obscure vision and interfere with breathing. Darley and Latané examined how the students reacted to this smoke in two different conditions.

In the first condition, the students were alone. When this was the case, they invariably investigated the smoke more closely and then went out into the hallway to tell someone about it.

But in the second condition, the students were not alone. There were two or three other people in the room, who were secret confederates of the researchers. They had been instructed to not react to the smoke. They would look up at it, stare briefly, shrug their shoulders, and continue working on the forms. If asked about it, they would simply say, "I dunno."

In this setting, according to Darley and Latané, "only one of the ten subjects... reported the smoke. the other nine subjects stayed in the waiting room for the full six minutes while it continued to fill up with smoke, doggedly working on their questionnaires and waving the fumes away from their faces. They coughed, rubbed their eyes, and opened the window -- but they did not report the smoke."

That's the power of group pressure.

If you ever get the chance, check out Darley and Latané's book The Unresponsive Bystander: Why Doesn't He Help? It's not easy to find because it's out of print, but it's full of strange experiments like the smoke-filled room one.

Also check out this youtube video based on the smoke-filled room experiment. It's not the original study, but a later replication of it.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 14, 2008 - Comments (0)
Category: Science, Experiments, Psychology

August 13, 2008

The Truth About Rainbows

This video offers a pretty good case for why our country is doomed. After all, these kind of people are allowed to vote.

From the video: "I'm just wondering what the heck is in our water supply, what the heck is in our oxygen supply of the metallic oxide salts that creates a rainbow effect in a sprinkler? What is oozing out of our ground that allows this type of effect to happen?"

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 13, 2008 - Comments (2)
Category: Science

Follies of the Mad Men #11

[From Good Housekeeping for December 1958.]

Just one comment on this ad: why is this woman trying to scorch her own eyeball? Is this a hairdryer aimed at masochists?

Posted By: Paul - Wed Aug 13, 2008 - Comments (10)
Category: Business, Advertising, Products, Domestic, Fashion, Hair Styling, Torture, 1950s, Women

Chuck’s Hand-Picked Overnight Weird News for Wednesday

Bigfoot press conference on Friday in Palo Alto, Calif.
Supposedly, they've got more actual evidence than previous Bigfoot discoveries, and they're working on DNA tests. Cryptologist Loren Coleman, a widely respected (and often quite skeptical) bizarre-phenomena chronicler, wrote, "I feel, in all honesty, this, indeed, may be the real deal."
Comments 'bigfoot_friday'

U.S. crisis in imports: Nordic sperm
The FDA's super-tough restrictions on European . . well, meat (in light of mad-cow disease) have made it impossible for U.S. sperm banks to import ever-popular Nordic sperm for artificial insemination.
Now, as the remaining vials of Nordic semen frozen in U.S. sperm banks are running out, a small but desperate number of would-be parents are frantic. [Julie] Peterson has flown repeatedly to Denmark and went again this week, to try to get pregnant with sperm from the same donor [as her other Nordic child]. Others are going to Canada or Mexico, or haggling with other American women who have leftover vials [of Nordic sperm].
Washington Post
Comments 'nordic_sperm'

But what will happen to Isaac Hayes's soul (since he was a Scientologist)?'s Explainer explains:
His soul will be "born again into the flesh of another body," as the Scientology Press Office's FAQ puts it. The actual details of how that rebirth occurs are not fully understood by church outsiders, but some core beliefs of Scientology are that every human being is really an immortal spiritual being known as a thetan and that the "meat bodies" we inhabit are merely vessels we shed upon death. (Members of the elite church cadre known as Sea Org, for example, sign contracts that pledge a billion years of service throughout successive lives.)

If Hayes had progressed high enough on the Bridge [to Total Freedom, the process of becoming "clear"], he might have begun preparing for his next life in the final days of this one.
Comments 'hayes_scientology'

"Therefore, bite me!"
That was gov't official Greg Nance, quoted at a public meeting. First of all, it was a meeting of the Nevada Board of Education [LOL!], and Nance is a member. Second, he was busy ignoring a discussion of charter schools because he (age 49) was cooingly dangling jewelry in the face of his brand-new wife, age 20 and confined to a scooter because of MS [CORRECTION: cerebral palsy] (though Nance claims he's had a good ol' time in their 12 days of marriage). So when the state's deputy attorney gen'l suggested that Nance take a seat with the other Board members, Nance informed him that there was no law forbidding him from sitting next to his wife and so . . . see above quote. Las Vegas Review-Journal (sidebar)
Comments 'bite_me'

But for alcohol, News of the Weird could not exist
For example, in Boonton, N.J., on Sunday a drunk driver assumed a pretty high profile by hitting a utility pole so hard that her car door came off, but she kept on driving, anyway. About the same time, a woman in Jacksonville, Fla., apparently aimed her car at a bicyclist, hit her, stopped, jumped out of her car and into the car of a motorist who stopped to help the cyclist, then got out and commandeered yet another car, appeared to deliberately ram her own car with that commandeered car, then drove into a fence, and, of course, at that point, got out and took off her clothes. Ta da ta da! (Yes, there's a mugshot.) Associated Press via Yahoo // (Jacksonville)
Comments 'boonton_jacksonville'

People Whose Sex Lives Are Worse Than Yours
Charlie Wilkes Jr., 31, was arrested in Danielsville, Ga., on drug charges but also had a suspicious "large lump in the front of his blue jeans," wrote an officer, "with wires running from inside his pants and hanging down dragging the ground" as he walked. Wilkes said it was a "homemade vibrator." Madison Journal (Danielsville)
Comments 'charlie_wilkes'

Your Daily Jury Duty
[no fair examining the evidence; verdict must be based on mugshot only]
Timothy Reichmuth, 51, now part of law enforcement in Carmel, Ind., but accused of molesting an underage girl a while back. WRTV (Indianapolis)
Comments 'timothy_reichmuth'

Eyewitness News
[news video goin' around]
Burger King employee bathing in the main stainless-steel sink in a Xenia, Ohio, restaurant while his colleagues of similar age and maturity gather around (BK fired 'em all!) WDTN-TV (Dayton) [from Drudge]
KCCI-TV (Des Moines) goes on location to State Fair for reporter's playing around with a 10-ft python, which crawls up his pants, gets stuck; and they can't get it out. Live TV! (Hint: Don't wear shorts when you interview a python; they seek heat.) KCCI-TV [from Drudge]
Comments 'eyewitness_080813'

More Things to Worry About on Wednesday
An anti-discrimination complaint was lodged against a pharmacy chain in Sweden for stocking vibrators (for gals!) but not artificial vaginas (but management said that's only because the men-oriented toys are not of "good quality" . . . . . His time must've come: A 32-yr-old North Carolina man was killed, impaled (in his head) by a flying poolside umbrella . . . . . A Detroit News investigation revealed that not only do whites (and now blacks) flee the city for the suburbs, but about 500 dead people flee every year, too (er, disinterred by relatives) . . . . . The very lazy Debra Gottrell, 58, who has been paid for 4 yrs to deliver telephone directories in Las Cruces, N.M., has apparently just stuck 'em all in a storage locker, instead (n=100,000) . . . . . In Des Moines, Iowa, Mr. Hung Doc Vu, 49, was ticketed for his home-neutering attempt of a dog that went bad, even though he said he was using the old family technique passed down by his father and grandfather. Today's Newsrangers: Sam Gaines, Tim Farley, Lindsay Gilliat, Jeanne Pratt
Comments 'worry_080813'

Posted By: Chuck - Wed Aug 13, 2008 - Comments (0)

August 12, 2008

Giant Turd Floats Away

Chuck announces he's going to take a day off from posting the daily weird news feed, and, as if on cue, a giant inflatable turd breaks loose from its moorings, brings down a power line, and breaks a window. Paul McCarthy's giant inflatable turd, no less.

Things fall apart. The centre cannot hold...

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 12, 2008 - Comments (3)
Category: Art, Scatology

Head Out on the Highway

Yesterday we spoke of cursed movies that affected cast and crew alone. Today, we'll look at movies that emit curses--in the form of copycat incidents.

Can it possibly be that the 1993 movie titled THE PROGRAM is still exerting its malign influence, causing dumb-ass teens to lie down on the center stripe of highways, as described in this fifteen-year-old article from The New York Times?

What makes me think so? An identical fresh incident from my own home state, as recounted in this article.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Aug 12, 2008 - Comments (6)
Category: Death, Fads, Hollywood, Movies, Travel, 1990s, Cars

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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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