Weird Universe Archive

September 2015

September 30, 2015

Rogue Cheerleaders

Continuing today's cheerleader theme. My latest article:

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 30, 2015 - Comments (7)
Category: Sports

Cheerleader drops dead after team loses

1953: Diane Rinkes, 15-year-old cheerleader for East Lansing high school in Michigan, gave it her all for her team, but it wasn't enough. Her team lost, and then she dropped dead.

When I first read this story, I assumed that there must have been some kind of underlying medical condition that caused her death. 15-year-old girls don't simply drop dead for no reason.

But in a follow-up report it says that the Coroner diagnosed the cause of death as "acute shock and acute circulatory collapse... brought on by overexertion." He elaborated that Rinkes worked herself up into such a "tremendous pitch of excitement during the football game" that it caused her death.

So she died of over-excitement. You have to wonder if she would have lived if her team had won.

The Anniston Star - Sep 25, 1953

The Holland Evening Sentinel - Sep 25, 1953

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 30, 2015 - Comments (5)
Category: Death, Exercise and Fitness, 1950s

Mystery Gadget 32


The original article provides the answer.

But you might also like to visit this site, which shows the item in contemporary use.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Sep 30, 2015 - Comments (10)
Category: Regionalism, Technology, Nineteenth Century

September 29, 2015

Don’t Look Down

A 980 foot long glass bottom suspension bridge with a lush green canyon 590 feet below. If you want to walk across its just a short trip to Hunan, China.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 29, 2015 - Comments (7)
Category: Daredevils, Stuntpeople and Thrillseekers, Landmarks, Sightseeing

How to recognize abnormal people

In the late 1950s, Drs. Robert Matthews and Lloyd Rowland wrote a police training manual titled "How to Recognize and Handle Abnormal People," which was then distributed to sheriff and police departments throughout the U.S. The officers receiving it in the photo below look a little skeptical.

Check out more scans from the book at Print magazine.

The Bloomington Pantagraph - May 2, 1958

Posted By: Alex - Tue Sep 29, 2015 - Comments (8)
Category: Police and Other Law Enforcement, 1950s

Rosita Royce:  Dance of the Doves

The YouTube host of this video complains that Rosita does not use doves in her dance, but other birds, thus misrepresenting herself. But as we can see from this article, that is a mere technicality, since Rosita was quite intimate with doves also.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Sep 29, 2015 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals, Public Indecency, Sex Symbols, 1930s, Dance

September 28, 2015

Man Drowns At Party of Lifeguards, 1985

My latest article, in which I examine this now classic 1985 weird news story.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Sep 28, 2015 - Comments (4)
Category: 1980s

Where the heck am I?

1949: Street sweeper Joseph Pistolese, age 74, just keep sweeping until suddenly he looked up and realized he had no idea where he was.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle - July 27, 1949

After coming across the news clipping about Pistolese, I then noticed the birthday card below on sale at the supermarket. Since it reminded me of him, I had my wife snap a photo of it with her iPhone.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Sep 28, 2015 - Comments (15)
Category: Elderly and Seniors, 1940s

Bond Clothing Sign, NYC



The Wikipedia entry tells us:

Between 1948 and 1954, Bond Clothes operated a massive sign on the east side block of Broadway between 44th and 45th streets in New York's Times Square. The sign had nearly 2 miles of neon and included two 7-story-tall nude figures, a man and a woman, as bookends. Between the nude figures, there was a 27-foot-high (8.2 m) and 132-foot-wide (40 m) waterfall with 50,000 gallons of recirculated water. Beneath the waterfall was a 278-foot-long (85 m) zipper sign with scrolling messages. The Bond zipper was made up of more than 20,000 light bulbs. Above the waterfall was a digital clock with the wording "Every Hour 3,490 People Buy at Bond."[7] Some of the sign remained in place to advertise the Bond Stores location until the stores closure in 1977.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Sep 28, 2015 - Comments (3)
Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Signage, 1940s, 1950s

September 27, 2015

News of the Weird (September 27, 2015)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M442, September 27, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

One of the remaining 116 Guantanamo Bay prisoners (a man suspected of having been close to Osama bin Laden) has a dating profile on captioned “detained but ready to mingle,” the man’s lawyer Carlos Warner told Al Jazeera America in September. Muhammad Rahim al-Afghani has relentlessly proclaimed his innocence, and Warner released a series of charming letters from his client intended to humanize him. Al-Afghani commented on Lebron James, Caitlyn Jenner, the Ashley Madison website, and for some reason, “South Dakota,” but with the recent publicity, appears to have suspended the account. [AlJazeera America, 9-11-2015]

The Continuing Crisis

“Let me get this straight,” wrote an incredulous commenter in September. “[T]hose who oversee” the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, in Ann Arbor, Mich., have the park “populated with snakes that can bite and inflict serious wounds.” The remark was in response to a visitor’s having been bitten by one of at least 27 rattlesnakes loose (by design) on the grounds. (The Eastern Massasauga rattler is protected by state law.) On the other hand, the park has posted many snake-warning signs, and the woman who was bitten had removed her shoes to walk in the lush grass. [Detroit News, 9-15-2015]

Aluminum Foil Makes a Comback: (1) City officials in Tarpon Springs, Fla., scrambled in May to find an ordinance that artist Piotr Janowski might have violated when he covered two palm trees, and then three sides of his rented home, in heavy-duty aluminum foil, to the consternation of neighbors. Janowski is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and his work has been shown in that city’s Polish Museum of America. (2) National Forest Service officials announced success in fire retardation in August by protectively sealing a remote structure near an Idaho wildfire in multi-ply foil. (3) And then there is Arthur Brown, 78, also “successful” in having kept his house in Hermitage, Pa., free of “aliens” by sealing it in foil (although neighbors griped in September about falling property values). [Tampa Bay Times, 5-29-2015] [KREM-TV (Spokane), 8-27-2015] [WKBN-TV (Youngstown, Ohio), 9-10-2015]

Latest Self-Declared Right

Officials in Carroll County, Md., finally released a woman in August after she had been detained for 67 days--just for declining to give her name to a traffic patrolman (who had stopped her for a broken taillight). In her idiosyncratic understanding of the U.S. Constitution’s 5th Amendment, “not be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against [herself]” means keeping her identity hidden from police. Eventually, sheriff’s deputies captured her fingerprints, and since they matched no outstanding warrants, she was released. [Carroll County Times, 9-1-2015]

Leading Economic Indicators

Adam Partridge Auctioneers in Liverpool announced in September that the equivalent of $10,000 would be the starting bid on a two-pound mass of whale vomit (hardened into a chunk by aging in ocean waters) picked up by a beachcomber in Wales. BBC News reported that a six-pound hunk once sold for the equivalent of $150,000, in that once aged into “ambergris,” the putrid waste product turns waxy and sweet-smelling and proves valuable to “high-end perfume houses.” [Washington Post, 9-9-2015]

An international property-rental service recently found a seven-bedroom castle on 200 acres in Ringuette, France, for the equivalent of $2,925 a month--which San Francisco’s KNTV immediately contrasted with the listing of a 401-square-foot apartment in the city’s Lower Haight district, offered at $3,000 per month. Another French castle (six bedrooms, a pool, three-acre garden, “several lawns”) rents for the equivalent of $4,940--about what a three-bedroom on Collins Street in San Francisco goes for. [KNTV, 9-9-2015]

Marie Holmes tearfully disclosed in March how the $88-million Powerball lump sum she had won would allow her to finish college and help her four kids (one with cerebral palsy). Right away, though, her boyfriend Lamar “Hot Sauce” McDow was charged with drug trafficking and needed $3 million bail, which she took care of. Then, in August, in Brunswick County, N.C., “Hot Sauce” was arrested again, for selling heroin, and reporters surmised that Holmes must have been the one who posted that $6 million bail. (Holmes addressed her critics on Facebook: “What Y’all need to be worried about is Y’all money . . ..”) [New York Daily News, 8-13-2015] [WWAY-TV (Wilmington, N.C.), 8-5-2015]


Military veteran Gary Dixon, 65, has multiple medical issues, the worst of which is stage-four lung cancer, which he says he got from Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. He takes from 10 to 15 meds a day, previously supplied by the Veterans hospital in Topeka, Kan., but for post-traumatic stress and anxiety, he also smokes marijuana when he can get it. (Kansas has not legalized “medical” marijuana.) A recent policy change by the VA bars pain meds for marijuana users, leading Dixon to fend for himself for the meds (about $400 a month, he said), because he so badly needs the marijuana. [KSNT-TV (Topeka), 9-9-2015]

Can’t Possibly Be True

An ovipositor is the organ that inserts or receives an egg (especially from parasites like bees--and that thing in “Alien”). A spokesperson from a startup firm called Primal Hardwere (in an August interview with assumes a human market for ovipositors and is now selling two hollowed-tube models at $120-$140 pricetags (along with advice on creating insertable gelatin “eggs”). The product, acknowledged the Primal Hardwere rep (to the wary interviewer), “can be . . . off-putting” to anyone who might not “fantasize about being the willing or unwilling host of alien beings inside them.” [, 8-13-2015]

Recurring Themes

More than three-fourths of civil cases filed in the busy Tucson, Ariz., federal court in 2014--nearly 3,000 in a courthouse open only about 250 days a year--were filed by one man, a prisoner named Dale Maisano, who was expressing disappointment with his health care as he serves his 15-year term for aggravated assault. Maisano said in July 2015 he was still getting little help for his valley fever, gallstones, sun sensitivity, leaky bladder, and nerve problems in his feet. [, 7-11-2015]


“We will not forget [rape victims].” “We will not abandon you.” So said Vice President Biden and Attorney General Lynch at a September self-congratulatory press conference announcing $78 million in grants for testing “rape kits” that had been gathering dust for years around the country (surely allowing hundreds of rapists to have escaped punishment and some to re-offend)--except that these victims have already been “forgotten” and “abandoned” for more than five years. Biden was Vice President in 2010 when News of the Weird pointed out that Illinois was violating state law by ignoring 80 percent of its rape kits, and then in 2012 when Houston, Tex., revealed it was sitting on 6,663 kits (and Detroit 11,000). (News of the Weird’s understated 2010 headline: “Things That Shouldn’t Get Backlogged”). [Huffington Post, 9-10-2015]

Least Competent Criminals

Pamela Downs, 45, was arrested in Kingsport, Tenn., in July and charged with using a counterfeit $5 bill at a gas station (a bill that was merely two photocopied sides poorly glued together, with one side upside down). Downs explained as she was being cuffed, “[A]ll these other bitches get to print money so I can too.” (She told officers later that she had read “online” that “President Obama” had “made a new law” allowing people to print money if they were on a fixed income. [Kingsport Times-News, 7-13-2015]

A News of the Weird Classic (April 2010)

The city health office in London, Ontario, created an online sex-education game that officials hope will appeal to teenagers in that its messages are delivered by a cast of iconic superheroes. According to a February [2010] report by Canwest News Service, the players are Captain Condom (who wears a "cap"), Wonder Vag (a virgin girl), Power Pap ("sexually active"), and Willy the Kid, with each fighting the villain Sperminator, who wears a red wrestling mask and has phalluses for arms. The characters answer sex-knowledge questions and, with correct answers, obtain "protection," but a wrong one gets the player squirted with sperm.
(The game, still online as of April 2010, is hard to find today, but Captain Condom lives on in Canadian sex education imagery.) [Montreal Gazette-Canwest, 2-12-2010]

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

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Sep 27, 2015 - Comments (5)

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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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