Weird Universe Archive

January 2015

January 29, 2015

Mt. Rainier Practical Joke


A most excellent prank.

Original article here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Jan 29, 2015 - Comments (4)
Category: Husbands, Wives, 1980s, Pranks

January 28, 2015

Old Ink

Tattoos go back a long way. This is evidenced by an archaeological find from 1991 in the Italian Alps. Scientist have been cataloging the mummified corpse's tattoos since it was found. The current count is 61 on the 5,300 year old ice man. That's some really old ink.

Posted By: patty - Wed Jan 28, 2015 - Comments (11)
Category: Death, Tattoos

Good Aim

This video has started doing the rounds on social media. A demonstration of the art of precision tree dropping.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jan 28, 2015 - Comments (7)
Category: Tradesmen, Manual Laborers, and Skilled Workers

Head Box

Head Box from Jake Kavanagh on Vimeo.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Jan 28, 2015 - Comments (8)
Category: Bad Habits, Neuroses and Psychoses, Surrealism

January 27, 2015

Flesh Prices

The purpose of this graphic was to show how high the price of meat was during the 1870 Siege of Paris. But what I find odd about it is the inclusion of elephant and bear meat, which apparently were on sale during the siege and had a set price. So if you wanted an elephant steak, it would have cost you 15 shillings (or $3.60) a pound. Assume that the modern currency equivalent would be a lot higher.

Source: Illustrated World, April 1918.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jan 27, 2015 - Comments (12)
Category: Food, Nineteenth Century

Welbeck Abbey


A famous eccentric, the Fifth Duke of Portland spent a fortune over twenty-five years constructing fantastical additions to his estate, Welbeck Abbey, including fifteen miles of underground tunnels.

The Duke was very introverted - he did not want to meet people and never invited anyone to his home. His rooms had double letterboxes, one for ingoing and another for outgoing mail. His valet was the only person he permitted to see him in person in his quarters - he would not even let the doctor in, while his tenants and workmen were told never to acknowledge his presence (a workman who saluted him was reputedly dismissed on the spot) and they received all their instructions in writing.

His business with his solicitors, agents, and the occasional politician was handled by post. The Duke maintained an extensive correspondence with a wide-ranging network of family and friends, including Benjamin Disraeli and Lord Palmerston. He is not known to have kept company with any ladies, and his shyness and introverted personality increased over time.

His reclusive lifestyle led to rumours that the Duke was disfigured, mad, or prone to wild orgies, but contemporary witnesses and surviving photographs present him as a normal-looking man.

He ventured outside mainly by night, when he was preceded by a lady servant carrying a lantern 40 yards ahead of him. If he did walk out by day, the Duke wore two overcoats, an extremely tall hat, an extremely high collar, and carried a very large umbrella behind which he tried to hide if someone addressed him.

If the Duke had business in London, he would take his carriage to Worksop where he had it loaded onto a railway wagon. Upon his arrival at his London residence, Harcourt House in Cavendish Square, all the household staff were ordered to keep out of sight as he hurried into his study through the front hall.

He insisted on a chicken roasting at all hours of the day, and the servants brought him his food on heated trucks that ran on rails through the underground tunnels.

Wikipedia page.

Long essay here.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jan 27, 2015 - Comments (7)
Category: Architecture, Eccentrics, Europe, Nineteenth Century

January 26, 2015

Guess the object

Can you figure out what this is? Answer is in extended.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 26, 2015 - Comments (7)
Category: Quizzes

The Liberated Look


Perfect for the modern office!

Original page here.

More on the designer.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 26, 2015 - Comments (5)
Category: Fashion, 1970s

News of the Weird, January 25, 2015

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M407, January 25, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Fourteen employees of a Framingham, Mass., pharmacy were indicted in December for defrauding the federal government by filling bogus prescriptions (despite an owner’s explicit instructions to staff that the fake customers’ names “must resemble real names,” with “no obviously false names” that might tip off law-enforcement). Among the names later found on the customer list of the New England Compounding Center were: Baby Jesus, Hugh Jass, L.L. Bean, Filet O’Fish, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Harry Potter, Coco Puff, Mary Lamb, all of the Baldwin brother actors, and a grouping of Bud Weiser, Richard Coors, Raymond Rollingrock, and of course Samuel Adams. The indictments were part of an investigation of a 2012 meningitis outbreak in which 64 people died. [WBZ-TV (Boston), 12-17-2014]

Cultural Diversity

Two recent innovations to the generations-old Middle East sport of camel racing boosted its profile. First, to cleanse the sport of a sour period in which children from Bangladesh were trafficked in to use as jockeys, owners have begun using “robot” jockeys--electronic dummies that respond to trainers tracking the races with walkie-talkies (growling encouragement directly to camels’ ears) and joysticks (that trigger a whip at an appropriate time). Second, the firm Al Shibla Middle East of United Arab Emirates has introduced lycra-style, whole-body camel coverings that are believed to enhance blood circulation and, perhaps, racing speed (although the fashions are now used only in training and transportation, to lessen camels’ “stress”). Ultimately, of course, the coverings may carry advertising. [New York Times, 12-26-2014] [7 Days in Dubai, 12-31-2014]

The New Normal

“It’s not fair! There is not justice in this country!” shouted the mother of Franklin Reyes, 17, in a New York City courtroom in January after a judge ordered the son tried for manslaughter as an adult. Reyes, an unlicensed driver fleeing a police traffic stop, had plowed into a 4-year girl, killing her, but had initially convinced the judge to treat him as a “youthful offender,” and Reyes’s mom was so enraged at the judge’s switch that she had to be escorted from the room. (After the judge’s generous “youthful offender” ruling, Reyes had violated his bail conditions by getting arrested three more times.) [New York Post, 1-15-2015]

In Phoenix in early 2014, Kevin (last name withheld), age 5, was viciously mauled by “Mickey,” a pit bull, necessitating multiple surgeries, leaving him with lingering pain and disfiguring facial scars, and he still requires extensive care. While Kevin’s trauma makes him live in gloom, “Mickey” has become a Phoenix celebrity after a 75,000-strong outpouring of support kept him from being euthanized for the assault. He lives now in a “no-kill” shelter, where his many supporters can track him on a 24-hour Internet “Mickey cam.” KSAZ-TV reported in December that Kevin’s mom had to quit her job to care for him and struggles to pay medical bills. [KSAZ-TV (Phoenix), 12-11-2014]

Great Art!

In October, vandals in Paris destroyed the large, inflatable “Tree” by U.S. artist Paul McCarthy in the city’s Place Vendome square but not before it became widely characterized as a gigantic green “plug” of the type used for anal sexual stimulation. Paris’s news website The Local reported in December that the controversy has been a boon to the city’s sex shops. “We used to sell around 50 [plugs] a month,” said one wholesaler. “Since the controversy, we’ve moved more than a thousand” (at the equivalent of $23-$45, in materials ranging from glass to stainless steel to silicone). [The Local (Paris), 12-2-2014]

Overthinking It: It was billed as the first-ever art exhibition expressly for non-human appreciation--specifically, for examination by octopuses. England’s Brighton Sea Life Centre featured the five-tank shared display in November (including a bunch of grapes, a piece of Swiss cheese, and a plate of spaghetti--exhibits made of ceramic, plastic, wood, and rope) that the Centre’s curator promised would, according to an ITV report, “stimulate an octopus’s natural curiosity about color, shape, and texture.” [Independent Television (London), 11-5-2014]

Wait, What?

The Territorial Seed Company of Cottage Grove, Ore., introduced a plant in 2014 that sprouts both tomatoes and potatoes—the aptly nicknamed “ketchup ’n’ fries” plant. Grafting (rather than genetic modification) splices the tomato onto potato woodstock (to create single plants capable of harvests of 500 red cherry tomatoes and 4.5 pounds of potatoes each). [The Oregonian (Portland), 12-30-2014]

Jihadist Toddlers: Britain’s Home Office directed in January that the UK’s nursery school staffs report pupils “at risk of becoming terrorists” but gave little guidance on what teachers and managers should look for. According to a description of the directive in the Daily Telegraph, staffs must “have training that gives them the knowledge and confidence to identify children at risk of being drawn into terrorism and [must] challenge extreme ideas . . ..” [Daily Telegraph, 1-4-2015]

Latest Rights

“All I’m looking for is what’s rightfully owed to me under the [corrections department] contract,” said Westchester County (N.Y.) corrections officer Jesus Encarnacion, after having drawn $1.2 million in disability salary for the last 17 years as a result of slipping on a leaf of lettuce on a stairway. When he fell, he jammed his wrist, and several surgeries ensued, and when he was finally ready for “light duty” a few years ago, he re-injured the wrist on the first day and never returned. Encarnacion now seeks a full disability retirement from the state, but officials maintain that “disability retirement” is for injuries resulting only from the rigors of the job. [New York Post, 1-5-2015]

The Opportunist

When a dump truck and a municipal bus collided around 1 p.m. on January 5th in downtown Phoenix, it of course drew the attention of the passengers, bystanders, motorists, and nearby construction workers. According to a report in the Arizona Republic, an unidentified man then immediately seized the moment, ran out from some bushes to the center of the commotion, and flashed the crowd before running away. [Arizona Republic, 1-5-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

Not Quite Clever Enough: (1) Police quickly tracking two assault suspects in Holland Township, Mich., in December arrived at a residence at just the moment that suspect Codi Antoniello, 19, was starting to shave his head to alter his appearance. Antoniello’s now-Internet-famous mugshot shows him with a full head of hair, minus the perhaps-one-fourth on top shorn by electric clippers.[shown at the link] (2) When the wife of James Rivers, 57, of Kent, Wash., was about to bust him for his alleged child-porn collection in October, he shipped his laptop to a technician to have the hard drive erased--but with explicit instructions that if the techie encounters a “hidden” file, he must not look at the photos “under any circumstances.” (The techie, of course, found the file, looked, and notified authorities, and Rivers was arrested.) [WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids, Mich.), 12-19-2014] [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 10-16-2014]

Recurring Themes

(1) The most recent incident of a fire breaking out on the grounds of a crematorium occurred in December at the Innisvale Cemetery and Crematorium in Innisfil, Ontario. Firefighters put out the blaze and “rescued” the 15 dead bodies that were awaiting cremation. (2) When a small plane over Lake Taupo in New Zealand developed engine trouble in January, the pilot ordered evacuation, but fortunately, the six passengers were skydivers on a training mission and landed safely, even rigging the plane’s crew members to the divers’ own parachutes so that there were no casualties (except the plane). (Working skydivers also survived a November 2013 crash of two planes over Wisconsin by making an “unscheduled” jump.) [Toronto Star, 12-24-2015] [BBC News, 1-7-2015]

A News of the Weird Classic (June 2011)

The Belly Button Biodiversity project at North Carolina State University has begun examining the "faunal differences" in the microbial ecosystems of our navels, to foster understanding of the "tens of thousands" of organisms crawling around inside (almost all benign or even helpful). An 85-year-old man in North Carolina may have "very different navel life" than a 7-year-old girl in France, according to a May Raleigh News & Observer report. So far, only the organisms themselves and the host's demographics have been studied; other issues, such as variations by hairiness of navel, remain. [News & Observer, 5-9-2011]

Thanks This Week to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Jan 26, 2015 - Comments (5)

January 25, 2015

Peas mean something

In 1904, this young lady was dismissed as "demented." Today she might be recognized as a great performance artist.

Quietly entering the offices of various city officials this morning, a young lady about twenty-five years of age, neatly and attractively gowned in green, opened a paper bag of dried peas, threw a handful on the floor and left after making the statement, "Peas mean something." Later she went to the court house and repeated the act in the offices of Clerk of Courts Fred Badger and Sheriff M.J. Rounds.

Oshkosh Daily Northwestern - Apr 12, 1904

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 25, 2015 - Comments (10)
Category: Food, Vegetables, 1900s

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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.

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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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