Weird Universe Archive

June 2015

June 9, 2015

News of the Weird / Plus, June 9, 2015

News of the Weird / Plus
June 9, 2015 (Part 2) [weird stuff that made me excited (frightened) (ROTFL) (appalled) last week, some of which will appear in News of the Weird soon] [Part 1 on Monday, Part 2 on Tuesday]

The website Quartz reported (with dramatic photos) the lengths to which Chinese test-takers will go to score well on the crucial-to-success gaokao exam by cheating. Like, in-ear radio receivers so small as to be undetected on sight. Fingerprint film to defeat the fingerprint scanners that supposedly keep out impersonators. Cameras in pens, eyeglasses, and beverage cans. However, monitors are in the house--in Luoyang, launching a drone over the cavernous test facilities to pinpoint signals of the designated genius somewhere in the room tapping out answers. Breathtaking. Quartz

Investigating a traffic collision, Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers (You know the drill--“Pop the trunk”) saw the trunk slowly rise . . and a snapping turtle lurching at them. (Explanation: The driver had a drug stash but feared being robbed.) KOCO-TV (Oklahoma City)

Oh, jeez, in Papua New Guinea, a fish that walks on land, and it’s about to migrate to Australia (which will yawn . . because they have scarier stuff already). Business Insider

“Oops, I Didn’t Realize . .”: (1) a plane crash above the airport at Talkeetna, Alaska, but the Cessna 185 pilot said the “crash” part only dawned on him after he landed. (2) the Ottawa driver was too stinkin’ drunk to realize that he had hit that cyclist--and consequently cannot be guilty of hit-and-run. Alaska Dispatch News /// Ottawa Citizen

Another Day, Another Credulity-Straining Fatwa: No pigeon-breeding (wastes time that should be spent praying, plus God don’t want to see no pigeon genitals, and you shouldn’t see them, either). [ed.: I’m always skeptical of these fatwas, but then, there was a Christian pastor recently telling followers that Starbucks makes its lattes from "sodomite semen," so . . ..] Daily Mail ///

Best Headline: (from Business Owner Takes Bullet To Groin To Prove His Nutshellz Jockstrap Works

In Tarpon Springs, Fla. (near Weird Central), painter Piotr Janowski covered his home in aluminum foil--he had some “reasons”--and neighbors went nuts. ("Reasons" does not include paranoia or radio-frequency sensitivity, apparently.) Said Janowski, “Bad or good opinion is always good for an artist.” Bay News 9 (St. Petersburg)

Behold the Cuckoo! There’s no news hook here (except that Nick Davies’s book was reviewed last week in the Wall Street Journal), but you should be aware that the iconic bellwether bird is also notable in her ability to lay eggs in other birds’ nests--meaning that it slyly dumps the other’s eggs out on the ground, one by one, and subtly substitutes its own in place. Intelligent Design! (What a guy that Lord is!) Wall Street Journal

Posted By: Chuck - Tue Jun 09, 2015 - Comments (6)

Margarita Photodermatitis

A Florida man recently suffered second-degree burns on his hands as a result of making margaritas. It wasn't the tequila that did it, but rather the combination of lime juice splashing on his hands and Florida sunshine. And this happens to people often enough that the threat posed by margarita-making has been described and named in the medical literature. See "Margarita Photodermatitis" in the New England Journal of Medicine - March 25, 1993:

Phytophotodermatitis elicited by lime juice is caused by the absorption of furocoumarin, a lipid-soluble 8-methoxypsoralen, into keratinocytes and its covalent binding to keratinocyte DNA after exposure to long-wavelength ultraviolet A radiation. This reaction irreversibly damages the DNA and is clinically evident as erythema, burning edema, and vesiculation within 24 hours after exposure. Healing is heralded by desquamation of the necrotic epidermis and ensuing hyperpigmentation.

Phytophotodermatitis involving fruits and vegetables has been described most often as an occupational hazard among citrus workers and celery harvesters, because these foods contain high concentrations of furocoumarins. Isolated cases have also been described after nonoccupational exposure. One of the largest outbreaks was reported among 12 children in a day camp who were making pomanders from limes.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 09, 2015 - Comments (5)
Category: Health

Hoop Skirt Parachute


What are the odds this would actually work? Maybe if you bailed out when your airplane was about twenty feet off the ground....

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jun 09, 2015 - Comments (8)
Category: Inventions, Air Travel and Airlines, 1910s

June 8, 2015

News of the Weird / Plus, June 8, 2015

News of the Weird / Plus
June 8, 2015 (Part 1) [weird stuff that made me excited (frightened) (ROTFL) (appalled) last week, some of which will appear in News of the Weird soon] [Part 1 on Monday, Part 2 on Tuesday]

A teacher at Encinal High in the San Francisco Bay area got into a spot of trouble for [ed.: channeling Soupy Sales?] offering extra credit to students who would look through their parents’ drawers for vibrators and such and make selfies while holding them. KPIX-TV (San Francisco)

Fallout from Ferguson, Mo., Continues (in the sense that Third-World-type small towns in the St. Louis suburbs are rising to exposure): In Wellston, Mo., a few miles to the south, a city councilwoman, trying to shield her drug-running son, arranged for the firing of all 23 of the town’s cops and turning policing over to a neighboring jurisdiction. That happened after one of the cops arrested the councilwoman for defacing a firearm serial number. LEOAffairs

Doctors in Lima, Peru, removed an inch-long, month-long-nesting worm from a teenager’s eye (ingeniously luring the worm out with basil). (London)

Two schoolboys in a suburb of Belgrade, Serbia, donned balaclavas and stormed a classroom--to heist the teacher’s grade book (which they were certain contained bad news). Reuters

How drunk was Logan Shaulis in Somerset, Pa.? So drunk he thought it was plausible to park in the middle of state Route 601, put out road flares, and demand license and registration from any driver that passed. [ed.: but still, drunk or not, that’s pretty good attention-to-detail, no?] Associated Press via WGN-TV

The California state gov’t has become a lot like Apple and MasterCard, to name the top-shelf players--pennies (in fees) here, pennies there, and pretty soon, you’re talking big bucks. So when you get a traffic ticket in, say, San Luis Obispo, the fine might be $85, but with all the local, county, state, and special district funding fees, it costs almost $500 to pay off the ticket. Seriously. (This is on purpose because California used to have such a disastrous budget shortfall.) San Luis Obispo Tribune

Best Headline: [from Australia’s NT News in Darwin] Women Aged Under 40 Banned From Northern Territory Man’s Farm After He Threatened Backpacker With A Knife And Forced One To Watch Him Masturbate

And speaking of masturbateurs, this one in Portland, Ore., so annoyed passersby by enjoying himself in a portable toilet (with the door open) that the passersby tipped it over, causing not only a rough landing but . . inside spillage. KPTV

Posted By: Chuck - Mon Jun 08, 2015 - Comments (7)

Versailles Sculpture

Anish Kapoor's new sculpture, temporarily on display in the gardens of Versailles, is creating a bit of a row after he told a French newspaper that it represents "the vagina of a queen who is taking power." Critics say it looks like "the entrance to a storage unit," or "a vast, brutish, metal, grubby-looking, gaping funnel into a black hole." Kapoor concedes that his work has "multiple interpretive possibilities."

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 08, 2015 - Comments (6)
Category: Art

Follies of the Madmen #251


Is that patchwork hippo supposed to be sexy? Because it's posed pretty sexily.

No, I don't want to think any more about this....

From Playboy for September 1983

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 08, 2015 - Comments (6)
Category: Animals, Advertising, Corporate Mascots, Icons and Spokesbeings, Sex Symbols, Shoes, 1980s

June 7, 2015

Just for our “Patty Cake”

We all love our Patty .. this is for her ..

Posted By: BrokeDad - Sun Jun 07, 2015 - Comments (4)

News of the Weird (June 7, 2015)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M426, June 7, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

“Meals” 2.0: Silicon Valley code-writers and engineers work long hours--with apparently little time for “food” as we know it. Eating is “time wasted,” in the words of celebrity inventor Elon Musk, and normal meals a “marketing façade,” said another Valley bigwig. The New York Times reported in May that techies are eagerly scarfing down generic (but nutrient-laden) liquids like “Schmilk” and “People Chow,” largely for ease of preparation, to speed their return to work. (The Times food editor described one product as “oat flour” washed down with “the worst glass of milk ever” (“pancake batter,” according to a Times reporter). (That supermarket staple “Ensure”? According to the food editor, it’s “fine wine” compared to Schmilk.) [New York Times, 5-25-2015]

Distracted Americans

Air travelers last year left $675,000 in (obviously) spare change in airport screening bins (reported the Transportation Security Administration in April). Of the cars reported stolen in 2014, 44,828 were with keys left inside them (according to an April National Insurance Crime Bureau release). American credit-card holders fail to claim “about $4 billion” in earned “rewards” each year (according to’s 2015 Credit Card Rewards Report). [Time magazine, 4-7-2015] [Bloomberg Business, 4-27-2015] []

Our Least Hardy Generation

(1) Nursing student Jennifer Burbella filed a lawsuit against Misericordia University (near Scranton, Pa.) for not helping her enough to pass a required course that she failed twice. The professional caregiver-to-be complained of stress so severe that she needed a distraction-free room, and extra time, for the exam but claims she deserved even further special treatment. (2) Four Columbia University students complained in May that courses in Greek mythology and Roman poetry need “trigger” warnings--advance notice to super-sensitive students that history may include narratives of “disturbing” events (that have somehow been studied without such warnings for centuries). [Fox News, 5-13-2015] [Washington Post, 5-14-2015]

In March, following the departure of Zayn Malik from the British band “One Direction,” an executive with the Peninsula employment law firm in Manchester told London’s Daily Telegraph that he had received “hundreds” of calls from employers seeking advice about workers who were requesting “compassionate” leave because Malik’s resignation had left them distraught. (Also, a spokeswoman for the charity Young Minds told the Telegraph she was concerned about Malik fans self-harming.) [Daily Telegraph, 3-27-2015]

Bright Ideas

Among recent inventions not expected to draw venture-capital interest (reported by Popular Science in June): (1) a Canadian software engineer’s machine that unspools toilet paper exactly three squares at a time (but please keep fingers away from the cleaver!); (2) a Japanese shoulder-mounted tomato-feeder that provides nourishment to marathoners without their needing to catch tomatoes provided by supporters; (3) Google software engineer Maurice Bos’s whiteboard-mounted clock that writes down the exact time, with a marker, at five-minute intervals (after erasing the previous time). [Popular Science, June 2015]

Fine Points of the Law

Britain’s Home Office, judging requests for asylum by immigrants threatened with deportation but who fear oppressive treatment if returned to their home countries, recently turned down asylum for Nigerian lesbian activist Aderonke Apata, 47, apparently because the Office doubted her orientation. Though Apata had submitted testimonials (and even photographs) “proving” her homosexuality, the Home Office was skeptical because she had children from a previous heterosexual relationship. On the other hand, an immigration court in England ruled in April that a Libyan man, identified only as “HU,” could not be deported since he is a career criminal and a chronic drunk who would be so unlikely to reform his drinking that he would surely face a lifetime of prison in Libya. [Daily Telegraph, 3-4-2015] [Daily Telegraph, 4-27-2015]

The Continuing Crisis

If Only There Were Somewhere He Could Have Turned For Moral Guidance: Suspended Catholic Monsignor Kevin Wallin, 63, was sentenced in May to more than five years in prison for running a meth distribution ring from Bridgeport, Conn., where he also operated a sex shop to launder the drug profits. (Though he faced a 10-year sentence, he had a history of charity work and submitted more than 80 letters of support from high-ranking clergy.) [Associated Press via WTIC-TV (Hartford), 5-7-2015]

People Different From Us

Walter Merrick, 66, was charged with aggravated assault in the New Orleans suburb of Harvey, La., in March after an altercation with neighbor Clarence Sturdivant, 64, over the comparative merits of Busch and Budweiser beers. (Bud-man Sturdivant fired the only shot, but a sheriff’s deputy said Merrick was the aggressor--since he had offered Sturdivant only a Busch.) (In Tulsa, Okla., in April, police found two blood-splattered men in an apartment parking lot at 1 a.m., the result of a dual stabbing spree with broken beer bottles--over whether Android phones are superior to iPhones.) [Reuters, 5-13-2015] [KTUL-TV (Tulsa), 4-17-2015]


Holly Solomon, 31, pleaded guilty in April to aggravated assault with her Jeep--against her then-husband--and has been sentenced to 3-1/2 years in prison. The crime occurred in a suburb of Phoenix, Ariz., in November 2012, days after President Obama’s re-election, as Solomon ran down her spouse because she was angry that he had neglected to vote for Mitt Romney as expected. However, his no-show did not affect the outcome, as Romney easily won the state’s 11 electoral votes without him. [Reuters, 5-21-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

Short-Attention-Span Thieves: (1) Alvaro Ortega, 34, was arrested for taking a uniformed police officer’s cell phone in the East Coast Catering deli in Bayonne, N.J., on May 18th. The sleuthing was easy, in that Ortega was the only other person in the deli at the time and sheepishly admitted the theft. (2) Seattle’s KIRO-TV reported in May that a Seattle couple, holding a Powerball ticket worth $1 million, still has it despite being theft victims. Someone smashed open a window in their car on May 14th and stole, among other items, a pair of sunglasses that was resting atop the lottery ticket, but left it undisturbed. [The Jersey Journal, 5-21-2015] [KIRO-TV, 5-27-2015]

The Pervo-American Community

Footnotes: (1) Rusty Sills, 56, previously an “underwear bandit” in West Des Moines, Iowa, was arrested in Pinellas Park, Fla., in March and charged with stealing women’s shoes--sometimes “replacing” them with shoes he no longer fancied. (Police found about 100 pairs at his home.) (2) James Dowdy, 43, on parole for an earlier sock theft, was arrested once again in Belleville, Ill., after police received reports of socks missing in burglaries. Authorities said Dowdy had been involved in “other types of sock-related incidents [and] using socks in an inappropriate and obscene manner,” but details were not reported. (Found in a search of Dowdy’s home were notebooks of children’s name, ages, and type of socks worn.) [WFTS-TV (Tampa), 3-16-2015] [Belleville News-Democrat, 5-20-2015]

Is This a Great Country or What?

Faced with a government fee accepted by most real estate investors who view it as a routine cost of doing business, wealthy Arizona investor Wayne Howard balked. Instead of the ordinary filing-fee rate of $50 for registering a property deed, he demanded that all 2,922 of his deeds be recorded for $500, and when the Pinal County treasurer turned him down, he told the official he would simply use his pull in the legislature to change the law and get his discount (99.6 percent per deed) that way. (He almost succeeded. The bill passed the state Senate and was favored in the House, but after the Arizona Republic newspaper exposed Howard’s imperial move, it failed, 30-28.) [Arizona Republic, 3-18-2015]

A News of the Weird Classic (March 2011)

Tombstone, Ariz., which was the site of the legendary 1881 "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" (commemorated in a 1957 movie), is about 70 miles from the Tucson shopping center where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others were shot in January [2011]. A Los Angeles Times dispatch later that month noted that the "Wild West" of 1881 Tombstone had far stricter gun control than 2011 Arizona. The historic gunfight occurred when the marshal (Virgil Earp, brother of Wyatt) tried to enforce the town's no-carry law against local thugs. Today, however, with few restrictions and no licenses required, virtually any Arizonan 18 or older can carry a handgun openly. [Los Angeles Times, 1-23-2011]

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

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jun 07, 2015 - Comments (1)

TV Set or Child?

The Williams family would have preferred a new TV set, but they got stuck with a kid instead. All because of the neighbors.

Source: Galesburg Register-Mail - Dec 28, 1959

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jun 07, 2015 - Comments (8)
Category: Television, Babies and Toddlers, 1950s

Sunshine Shangrila

There's nothing better for declaring that your production is second-rate than choosing as host not starlet Arlene Dahl herself, but her almost anonymous body double.

This is a capsule of so much early 1960s stuff, including Tikis (Polynesia in Mexico?) at about the ten-minute mark. Some splendid bikini cheesecake as well.

In the end, the weirdest and saddest thing here is that once upon a time Mexico was seen as idyllic, rather than plagued by drugs and violence.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jun 07, 2015 - Comments (4)
Category: Sightseeing, 1960s, North America

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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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