Weird Universe Archive

December 2013

December 23, 2013

Chocolate Coffins

"This miniature chocolate coffin has a removable lid. Open it up and there is a skeleton inside. This chocolate treat is sure to please." Available from

Instead of bringing flowers to a funeral, give some of these!

Posted By: Alex - Mon Dec 23, 2013 - Comments (5)
Category: Death, Chocolate

December 22, 2013

Happy Hotpoint

Even eventual superstars had to start somewhere.

At the age of 17, Mary Tyler Moore aspired to be a dancer. She started her career as "Happy Hotpoint", a tiny elf dancing on Hotpoint appliances in TV commercials during the 1950s series Ozzie and Harriet.[9] She appeared in 39 TV commercials in five days, ultimately earning about $6,000 from her first job.[10] Her time as "Happy Hotpoint" ended when it became difficult to conceal her pregnancy in the dancing elf costume.[9]

Posted By: Paul - Sun Dec 22, 2013 - Comments (5)
Category: Celebrities, Advertising, Appliances, 1950s, Dance

News of the Weird (December 22, 2013)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M350, December 22, 2013
Copyright 2013 by Chuck Shepherd

Lead Story

Redneck Geek: Edward Teller, the famous theoretical physicist known as the “father of the hydrogen bomb” for his work on the World War II-era Manhattan Project, died in 2003, but his daughter Rene told the Free Press of Kinston, N.C., in November that she had recently discovered two of her father’s precious mementoes at a thrift shop near Kinston during a road trip to visit relatives. “[Father’s] work was so demanding” she said, that he needed “recreational activities” and tried “the things you’d suspect,” like chess. However, the two mementoes were competition awards that Teller had won at tractor pulls. “[H]e’d show up at major tractor pulls” riding just a Cub Cadet mower, Rene said, and “leave the competition in the dust.” (Teller’s secret, she said, was using “nuclear fusion-based engines,” which sponsors ultimately had to ban.) [Kinston Free Press, 11-12-2013]

[Ed. OK, I was hoaxed, and I still don't understand why. Don't hoaxes have to have a point? And no, if you're going to say that the physics was inaccurate here and that that was a tip-off, no, the physics could be wrong in a perfectly good story, and I'd be fine with it. The junk shop exists. It's famous for having all kinds of odd stuff. I still don't see why I should've been on the lookout for this story like I've avoided dozens hundreds of hoaxes/exaggerations in 26 years at this game. But there it is. Guilty!]

The Entrepreneurial Spirit

PREVIOUSLY ON WEIRD UNIVERSE: "It will be sort of my unique factor," said indulgent customer Lucy Luckayanko, describing her then-upcoming $3,000 eyeball jewelry implant from New York City’s Park Avenue Laser Vision--the insertion of a piece of platinum between the sclera (the white part) and the clear conjunctiva. Actually, said the shop's medical director, Dr. Emil Chynn, to WNEW-TV in November, it's "pretty safe." [WNEW-TV (New York City, 11-20-2013]

Restaurant Startups: (1) Japan’s “cat cafes” allow the pet-starved to relax while dining by caressing house kittens that roam the facilities, but similar eateries have opened recently featuring owls (the Fukurou Sabou in Tokyo, Owl Family in Osaka). (The owls are not caressable and easily spooked by excessive noise.) (2) Liu Pengfei’s Five Loaves and Two Fish restaurant in Fuzhou, China, is losing money rapidly despite overflow dining crowds, according to a December China Daily report, because he allows customers to pay only what they wish. (They must also wash out their bowls.) “I want to continue,” he said, “as I believe the feeling of trust is contagious.” [News Limited (Sydney), 11-5-2013] [China Daily, 12-4-2013]

Cutting-Edge Science

It may be a cliche of domestic conflict, but physicists recently, earnestly, tackled the dynamics of toilet-bowl “splashback.” A stream delivered by a standing male, because it travels five times farther than a seated male’s, produces a splash easily reaching seat and floor--even without factoring in the “well-known” “Plateau-Rayleigh instability”--the inevitable disintegration of a liquid stream “six or seven inches” after its formation. Short of recommending that men be seated, the researchers (speaking to a November conference) suggest “narrowing the angle” by “standing slightly to one side and aiming downwards at a low angle of impact.” [BBC News, 11-6-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: The Human-Rodent Connection: University of British Columbia researchers, intent on judging whether blocking dopamine D4 receptors can reduce the urge to gamble in subjects other than humans, claimed in October to have devised a test that works on the dopamine receptors of rats--especially those with a gambling problem. With a slot-machine-like device dispensing sugar pellets, the researchers claimed they offered rats measured risks and even determined that rats are more likely to take risks immediately following a close loss (as are humans). [Science Daily, 10-29-2013]

Medical Marvels

Seven years ago, Michael Spann, now 29, suddenly doubled over in pain that felt like he “got hit in the head with a sledgehammer,” and began crying blood. Despite consulting doctors, including two visits with extensive lab work at the venerable Cleveland Clinic, the Antioch, Tenn., man told Nashville’s The Tennessean in October that he is resigned to an “idiopathic condition”--a disease without apparent cause. Spann’s main wish now is just to hold a job, in that fellow workers, and customers, tend not to react well to a man bleeding from the eyes (though his previously daily episodes have become more sporadic). [The Tennessean, 10-17-2013]

The Kingdom

PREVIOUSLY: The sex life of the anglerfish, according to a interview in November with evolutionary biologist Theodore Pietsch is as dismal as any on planet Earth. According to Wired: “Boy meets girl, boy bites girl, boy’s mouth fuses to girl’s body, boy lives the rest of his life attached to girl, sharing her blood and supplying her with sperm.” Ony 1 percent of males ever hook up with females (because the ocean floor is dark), said Pietsch. The rest starve to death as virgins. [, 11-8-2013]

PREVIOUSLY: Professor Pietsch may know his anglerfish, but Marlene Zuk of the University of Minnesota knows her insects, including the mating mechanics of damselflies, crickets, and cockroaches, which she described for the New York Times in November. The damselfly male’s penis is a Swiss-army-knife-like contraption (necessary to access the female’s well-hidden eggs). The cricket easily produces sperm but then awaits its draining through a “long stem” “for several minutes” to achieve fertilization. Cockroaches, Professor Zuk wrote, mate by “blind trust” as they hook-up back to back and, with no neck, cannot even glance over a shoulder to check on their work. [New York Times, 11-30-2013]

Elephant Whisperer: Nirmala Toppo, 14, is apparently the one to call if wild elephants overrun your village, especially in India’s Orissa and Jharkland states, which are still home to hundreds of marauding pachyderms. Her latest pied-piper act, in June, emptied a herd of 11 out of the industrial city of Rourkela. Said Toppo, “First I pray and then talk to the herd. I tell them this is not your home. You should return where you belong.” Somehow, the elephants followed her for miles away from the town, according to an October BBC News dispatch. [BBC News, 10-29-2013]


The daunting problems that faced the launch of the website in October were merely symptoms of the federal government’s often snail-like pace at integrating digital innovations common to everyday America. A December New York Times report revealed that the Federal Register (the daily journal of the U.S. government) still receives original content from some agencies on the virtually-obsolete 3.5-inch floppy disks--and (because of unamended legal requirements) its work-order authorizations from some agencies on hard copies hand-delivered inside the Washington Beltway by courier. Contractors can be frustrated as well since, though they operate with top-of-the-line digital efficiency internally, they must sometimes downgrade to interface with their government clients. [New York Times, 12-6-2013]

Least Competent Criminals

Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) An already-distinctive man (367 pounds) was arrested in Everett, Wash., for a December grocery store shoplifting because he was also wearing an easily-noticed purple sock and over two hours later was still wearing it when police caught up to him and questioned him. (2) A 23-year-old woman was arrested in Crestview, Fla., in November for shoplifting a “toy” from an adult store--before inquiring about a job there. She had professed her innocence until shown the surveillance video, when she said (according to the police report), “Oh my God. Look at what I’m doing.” “I’m gonna cry.” [The Herald (Everett), 12-4-2013] [Daily News of Northwest Florida, 11-15-2013]

Readers’ Choice

PREVIOUSLY: In October, an Ohio judge turned down a petition by Donald Miller, Jr., asking to be ruled “alive.” “You’re still deceased as far as the law is concerned,” Probate Judge Allan Davis told him because state law requires challenges to his declaration of death (obtained by Miller’s wife in 1994) to be filed within three years. Said Judge Davis, “I don’t know where that leaves you.” [The Courier (Findlay, Ohio), 10-8-2013]

A News of the Weird Classic (July 2009)

Escape From L.A.: Hundreds of Los Angeles's down-and-out live not just underneath local freeways but inside their concrete structures, according to a June [2009] Los Angeles Times report. The largest "home" is a gymnasium-sized cavern under the Interstate 10 freeway in the suburb of Baldwin Park. That space is nearly inaccessible, requiring squeezing through a rusty grating, traversing a narrow ledge, and descending a ladder, to reach "a vast, vault-like netherworld, strewn with garbage and syringes," with toys and rattles and a cat carcass visible on an upper platform only marginally harder for rats to reach. Authorities fear the area, but every few years, state officials try to seal the entrance (which the homeless quickly unseal as soon as the officials leave). [Los Angeles Times, 5-29-2009]

Thanks This Week to Kevin Kohler, Jim Colucci, Frank Smith, and Gerald Sacks, and to the News of the Weird Senior Advisors (Jenny T. Beatty, Paul Di Filippo, Ginger Katz, Joe Littrell, Matt Mirapaul, Paul Music, Karl Olson, and Jim Sweeney) and Board of Editorial Advisors (Tom Barker, Paul Blumstein, Harry Farkas, Sam Gaines, Herb Jue, Emory Kimbrough, Scott Langill, Bob McCabe, Steve Miller, Christopher Nalty, Mark Neunder, Sandy Pearlman, Bob Pert, Larry Ellis Reed, Peter Smagorinsky, Rob Snyder, Stephen Taylor, Bruce Townley, and Jerry Whittle).

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Dec 22, 2013 - Comments (8)

Donkey Lifting

Instead of lifting weights in Ukraine, they lift donkeys. [nydailynews]

Posted By: Alex - Sun Dec 22, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Sports

December 21, 2013

Weird 1915 Kite


What was this home handyman in Popular Mechanics smoking?

Original plans here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Dec 21, 2013 - Comments (4)
Category: Recreation, Toys, Surrealism, Children, 1910s, Face and Facial Expressions, Fictional Monsters

Futuristic Euro3plast Gnome

"A colored resin sculpture suitable for outdoor and indoor settings. In the luminescent version it acts as a 'dwarf guard' thanks to a luminous resin that absorbs light momentarily and then releases it for several hours, making it a small presence in the night." Available at According to Esquire, it only costs $340.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Dec 21, 2013 - Comments (8)
Category: Overpriced Merchandise

December 20, 2013


Posted By: Paul - Fri Dec 20, 2013 - Comments (4)
Category: Body Modifications, Surrealism, Cartoons, Middle East

East German Rally, 1950

"Rally posters contrast U.S. girl wrestlers with pure and healthful communistic sports."

I wonder how many people at this rally were thinking that the U.S. girl wrestling looks a lot more fun.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 20, 2013 - Comments (6)
Category: Sports, Wrestling, 1950s

December 19, 2013

Do the President Twist

Posted By: Paul - Thu Dec 19, 2013 - Comments (9)
Category: Music, Politics, 1960s

The world’s smallest book

It's titled "Shiki no Kusabana," which means "Flowers of Seasons." It's 22 pages long, written in Japanese and Chinese scripts, and features 12 line drawings of flowers. Also, it measures less than a millimeter in height and width.

It's not available on Amazon. []

Posted By: Alex - Thu Dec 19, 2013 - Comments (6)
Category: World Records, Books

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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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