Weird Universe Archive

June 2014

June 22, 2014

Crowd surfing at a classical music concert

Dr. David Glowacki, a Royal Society Research Fellow, has gotten quite a bit of press recently for growing "over-excited" at a performance of Handel's Messiah, which led him to start lurching from side to side, raising his hands in the air, whooping, and finally attempting to crowd-surf. At that point, other audience members forcibly ejected him from the concert.

Apparently the director of the performance had encouraged the audience to "clap or whoop when you like" before it started. And Glowacki took him at his word.

Actually, it sounds to me like Glowacki was purposefully trying to be as obnoxious as possible in order to satirize the director's attempt to get the audience more involved, because Glowacki later said, "Classical music, trying to seem cool and less stuffy, reeks of some sort of fossilised art form undergoing a midlife crisis.” []

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jun 22, 2014 - Comments (2)
Category: Music

News of the Weird (June 22, 2014)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M376, June 22, 2014
Copyright 2014 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Marking Japan’s latest unfathomable social trend, two paperback photo books--both consisting only of portraits of the rear ends of hamsters--have experienced surprising and still-growing printing runs. Japanese society has long seemed easily captured by anything considered “kawaii” (or “cute”), according to a May Wall Street Journal dispatch, and a representative of one book’s publisher called his volume “delightfully cute.” “I can’t stop smiling,” he said, “when I see these butts.” The two books in print are “Hamuketsu” (hamster buttocks) and “Hamuketsu--So Cute You Could Faint.” A third, “The Original Hamuketsu” was set to debut in June. [Wall Street Journal, 5-21-2014]

Recurring Themes

Another driver died after being unable to dodge his own vehicle. A 58-year-old man was hit by his van in New York City in June after he double-parked and was opening the door on the passenger side and realized that the vehicle was still in reverse gear. He tried to jam one foot onto the brake but hit the gas instead, causing the van to jump backward, ejecting him, and pinning him between the van and another van parked alongside. The man suffered a heart attack and died as his vehicle broke free and drifted across the busy Manhattan intersection of Madison Avenue and East 49th Street. [DNAinfo New York, 6-5-2014]

Dead or just in “deep meditation”? A renowned Hindu guru, Shri Ashutosh Maharaj, in his 70s, passed away in January (so concluded police in Jalandhar, India), but His Holiness’s disciples have refused to release the body, keeping it in a commercial freezer, contending that he has merely drifted into the deeper form of the meditation for which he is well-known--and will return to life when he is ready. (The guru’s religious order, not coincidentally, is a real estate powerhouse in the Punjab region and on nearly every continent, and the guru’s family is certain the “meditation” is a ruse to allow the Ashram’s continued control of the financial empire.) [Daily Telegraph (London), 5-28-2014]

After the U.S. Postal Service recently finalized its purchase of “small-arms ammunition,” it became only the most recent federal agency to make a large purchase of bullets for its armed agents (who are perhaps more numerous than the public realizes). In the last year or so, reports have surfaced that the Social Security Administration ordered 174,000 hollow-point bullets, the Department of Agriculture 320,000 rounds, Homeland Security 450 million rounds (for its 135,000 armed agents), the FBI 100 million hollow-points, and even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 46,000 rounds. (In May, the Department of Agriculture added an order of submachine guns and body armor.) [Newsmax, 4-14-2014] [Washington Times, 5-16-2014]

Unclear on the Concept: Robert Kiefer, 25, was arrested in Akron, Ohio, in February after losing his composure over an expected check that had not yet arrived in the mail. Rather than complain to the check issuer, Kiefer did as several others have done in News of the Weird’s experience--attack the letter carrier. Kiefer pepper-sprayed the postman (with his own canister that he carries for protection), and in the ensuing struggle, bit the carrier on the leg. [Akron Beacon Journal, 2-10-2014]

Police in Lincoln, Neb., tracking down a call about a missing 3-year-old boy downtown, managed to locate him in the type of place where other toddlers have turned up after briefly escaping the sight of their parents: inside a toy vending machine. The boy had crawled up through the toy-release slot of the Bear Claw and was safely, joyously playing among the bin of colorful stuffed animals at Madsen’s Bowling & Billiards. [Omaha World-Herald, 4-15-2014]

In the second such incident reported here in four months, an overenthusiastic police officer handcuffed and detained a firefighter working a 9-1-1 call, ostensibly because the firefighter refused to stop work and go move his fire truck to the officer’s satisfaction. Like the earlier incident in California, the unequivocal state law in Louisiana makes it illegal for anyone to interfere with a firefighter on emergency call, and the officer, from the New Roads, La., Police Department, in principle faces a stiff fine and possible jail sentence. [WBRZ-TV (Baton Rouge), 3-26-2014]

Orthodox Judaism requires a divorcing spouse to obtain permission of the other via a document called a “get,” leaving much power in the hands of the responding spouse--and leading to an occasional resort to trickery or violence to persuade the uncooperative spouse. In May, Lakewood, N.J., Rabbi Mendel Epstein, and his son, and three other men were indicted for scheming to use electric cattle prods on behalf of a wife against a recalcitrant husband. (Four other men in the alleged scheme have already pleaded guilty.) According to prosecutors, Rabbi Epstein has been implicated in other over-the-top efforts to obtain “gets,” in 2009 and 2010, and the indictment charges the 2013 episode also involved kidnaping, surgical blades, and a screwdriver. [Asbury Park Press, 5-22-2014]

Emergency crews in the UK once again came under criticism in June when two dozen police and firefighters, in three trucks and using a cherry-picker, blocked off a busy street in Cheltenham for an hour so they could rescue and release a bird (a “rook”) caught in netting on top of a small apartment building. (Bonus Irony: The building’s owner had installed the keepaway netting for the sole purpose of discouraging rooks from roosting and nesting, as they were soiling neighborhood rooftops.) [Western Daily Press (Leicester), 6-3-2014]


An historic, decades-old snit ended in May in the town of Tabasco, Mexico, where two men (now in their 70s) who were the very last living speakers of their village’s Ayapaneco language resumed talking to each other, and through the efforts of Stanford University anthropologist James Fox, their language may now be sufficiently recorded for a preserved historical record. The cause of their falling out was not reported. [Daily Mail (London), 5-20-2014]

If tiny Iceland has a worldly cultural showcase, it is the Icelandic Phallological Museum, founded in Reykjavik in 1997 and housing 300 penises and penile parts from 93 different animals. So far, however, it lacks an exhibition-worthy human penis. That omission is about to be remedied, as Mr. Jonah Falcon, a New York City D-List celebrity because of his organ that measures 13-1/2 inches, has accepted an invitation to donate (presumably not in the flesh until he dies). Falcon notably refuses to appear in pornography but said he regards this mission, for what Huffington Post called the Louvre of penises, a higher calling. [Huffington Post, 5-2-2014]

Former NYPD officer Gilberto Valle, 30, was convicted in 2013 of conspiring to kidnap and torture--and then cook and eat the corpses of--an unspecified number of women he had listed on a website called, even though he insists that he was merely a harmless fantasy storyteller. Now, as he awaits sentencing at a New York City prison, officials have allowed him to train as a chef, preparing breakfast and lunch for inmates and guards. Although his wife divorced him and took their one child, other family members, and friends, support him, according to a May report in New York Daily News (including fellow prisoners, who joke with Valle about the irony). Said his mother, “The only thing he’s guilty of is being stupid enough to be on that website.” [New York Daily News, 5-8-2014]

Winston-Salem, N.C., surgeon Stuart Meloy and associates recently won their patent for an “orgasm machine” (first mentioned in News of the Weird in 2001), allowing patient trials to begin soon by a Minnesota company. The often-described birth of the device came when Dr. Meloy was treating a woman for excruciating back pain by running electrodes to the spinal column when he “accidentally” brushed the nerve apparently responsible for the female orgasm. Eventually, Dr. Meloy developed a pacemaker-type device, to be implanted in a buttock, with a push-button “pain reliever” that the woman uses to charge the electrodes. (He emphasizes that the surgery is so invasive as to be improper for all except women with “serious” orgasmic dysfunction.) [WBTV (Charlotte), 3-5-2014]

Thanks This Week to Gary DaSilva, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jun 22, 2014 - Comments (4)

June 21, 2014

Hitchhiking Robot

Researchers have created a hitchhiking robot named hitchBOT that will be making its way across Canada this summer. If all goes well (and no one steals or destroys the thing) it will make its way from Halifax to Victoria. When people pick it up, it'll make "regionally relevant conversation using a combination of GPS and Wikipedia."

More details: hitchBOT website,

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 21, 2014 - Comments (8)
Category: Robots, Travel

Skin Laxative


From an era when "laxative" obviously meant something different than today--I hope!

Original (full) ad here. Scroll to page 8.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jun 21, 2014 - Comments (7)

June 20, 2014

A Case of Censorship

This brief item ran in the UCLA Librarian newsletter (Nov 1, 1957) and seems WU worthy:

Transcribed text:
"Our incredible customs"
Under the above heading the British Publishers' Circular and Booksellers' Record of September 21, 1957, records another round in the running battle with the censorious customs officials. "Now I understand that officials recently impounded a work called Rape Round Our Coasts. I don't know what sort of minds these yahoos have but I hope they enjoyed the book. It is about soil erosion!"

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 20, 2014 - Comments (5)
Category: Censorship, Bluenoses, Taboos, Prohibitions and Other Cultural No-No’s, 1950s

Edmond Was a Donkey

Posted By: Paul - Fri Jun 20, 2014 - Comments (2)

June 19, 2014

Banana-Launched Ship

On January 23, 1941, in Beaumont, Texas, the Cape Lookout cargo ship was launched using three-and-a-half tons of "well-ripened bananas" in order to lubricate its slide into the water. It wasn't the first time a ship had ever been launched using bananas, but at the time it was definitely the largest ship ever launched by this method. Does it still hold this record? I have no idea. The reason bananas were used was because, at the time, they were cheaper than grease.

Corsicana Semi-Weekly Light (Corsicana, Texas) - Jan 28, 1941

The Eagle (Bryan, Texas) - Jan 28, 1941

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 19, 2014 - Comments (11)
Category: 1940s, Bananas

Mystery Gadget 21


Early fecal transplants? Your best guess, before clicking through to the answer. (Scroll down half a page.)

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jun 19, 2014 - Comments (9)
Category: Technology, 1920s

June 18, 2014

Drink Water Now!

Vittel has introduced a water bottle cap with a built-in timer. After an hour a little flag pops up on top of the cap, reminding you that it's now time to drink more water. Just in case you forgot. Apparently this is a problem for some people.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 18, 2014 - Comments (11)
Category: Inventions

The Cackle Sisters

Listen to just the first three minutes at least of the Cackle Sisters, and then tell me if you don't agree that contemporary C&W music needs more bird imitations and yodeling.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jun 18, 2014 - Comments (5)
Category: Animals, Hillbillies, Country Bumpkins, Ruralism and Flyover Country, Music, 1930s, Cacophony, Dissonance, White Noise and Other Sonic Assaults

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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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