Weird Universe Archive

August 2016

August 14, 2016

Tithe Sausage

In 1931, villagers in the German town of Demen rebelled and refused to pay the church the 130lbs of sausage due it as tithe. Because the payment of tithe was its legal right, the church sued and forced the villagers to give it the sausage. But, according to the church, what was eventually delivered was a sub-standard product. So in this way the villagers won the battle of the sausage.

The Indiana Progress - Aug 5, 1931

This odd dispute over tithe sausage attracted the attention of readers of the London Times, generating a number of letters. (England apparently has its own ancient tradition of the "tithe pig.") One correspondent (Feb 19, 1931) explained the larger cultural context of the tithe sausage dispute:


Sir, — A relative of mine sent me your very amusing article of February 7, "The Tithe Sausage," which described a tithe dispute in Mecklenburg. I can quite imagine that this would be merely a joke to English readers. Since I have some knowledge of clerical affairs in this country, perhaps you will allow me to send you some details about the custom of tithes in our State.

First, the salary of our country clergymen never consisted of cash alone, owing to the fact that members of a country parish can very well pay their duties in eatables, but are short of coined money. The custom proved to be convenient centuries ago and is convenient at the present time owing to the extreme poverty of all German agricultural estates in consequence of certain International Treaties. Besides, payment in naturalibus often acts as rent for arable land belonging to the Church, so that the Church is in this case fully justified in claiming her dues. Those 130lb of sausage that were owing could have been sold for the benefit of the Church, or given to the poor.

Secondly, different preparations of pork are the main substance (with the exception of potatoes) of our northern country households. A hundred and thirty pounds of sausage will provide a family, children and servants, with breakfasts, lunches, and suppers for a whole year. Every servant during his employment in the house must have his meals, containing chiefly bread and Wurst. And no housewife in all Mecklenburg will voluntarily go and buy sausage made by a butcher if she can get home-made sausage, owing to an old superstition that butchers will mix all sorts of inferior material into their sausages. (The home-made Wurst is really the best.) Mettwurst means "meat-sausage" (the word Mett being the same as your "meat") in contrast with "liver-sausage."

Now you may understand the importance of genuine Mettwurst for a household that is bound to give eatables to the poor besides satisfying its own wants. As farmers are sly all over the world they like to cheat the people who exact tithe from them, and half the clerical jokes of our landfolk are founded on this fact. For instance, in one of our villages there existed a sausage tithe measured not by pounds (lb.) but by metres. Consequently the parson was provided with sausage of the requisite length but as thin as a finger. I am sorry to say that clergymen are often bound to take proceedings against members of their parishes, a consequence of the division of Church and State. Also, secessions from the Church are frequent, which may be a symptom of the increasing influence of Bolshevism and poverty...

I can quite imagine that your readers will not want a good joke explained. Nevertheless, we must do justice to all sorts of men and to their institutions. Since I am accustomed to and often amused by the peculiarities of the country in which I live, I thought I might beg your indulgence to explain what seemed merely funny to "men of taste and urbanity."

Yours faithfully,

Posted By: Alex - Sun Aug 14, 2016 - Comments (1)

Follies of the Madmen #291

Rockabilly, R&B Sharpie the Parrot is an authority on shaving. Or maybe you would pay more attention to Sharpie's barbershop-quartet incarnation.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Aug 14, 2016 - Comments (0)
Category: Anthropomorphism, Business, Advertising, Products, Cartoons, 1950s, Facial Hair

August 13, 2016

The High School Hair-Do Code

In the 1940s, American High School girls used hair ribbons to send coded messages about their availability for mating. From Life Magazine - May 15, 1944:

The simple hair ribbon has become a weapon in the battle of the sexes.

In Louisville the color of the ribbon is significant. A yellow ribbon is the symbol of a man-hater. A white ribbon is a signal to the boys to lay off because the wearer is someone else's "witch" (best girl). At Highland Park H.S. in Dallas, Texas, position of the ribbon is revealing [see images].

You can also tell by the look in her eyes that Ann Mitchell was "out to get herself a man."

Posted By: Alex - Sat Aug 13, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: 1940s, Hair and Hairstyling

The Bears of Clark’s Trading Post

I would not have necessarily said that a trained bear act would still flourish in today's world, but apparently the one at Clark's Trading Post is still going strong.

I wonder if they had a hand in training Lulubelle back in 1957?

Original ad here.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Aug 13, 2016 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Anthropomorphism, Authorities and Experts, Fairs, Amusement Parks, and Resorts, 1950s

August 12, 2016

Stop dragging dead horses

The thought process of the ad men must have gone something like this:

If you don't use Macmillan Oil your car's engine won't achieve its full horsepower. And this is kind of like dragging around a dead horse. So to really drive home this point, let's include a picture of a car actually dragging a horse!

Source: Life magazine - June 20, 1949

Posted By: Alex - Fri Aug 12, 2016 - Comments (6)
Category: Advertising, 1940s

Don’t Cry For Me, Roentgen-tina!

Once upon a time Juan Peron's Argentina, tricked by a quasi-scientific hoaxer, claimed they had perfected fusion power. You can see the legacy of their project in the picture above.

Read the full story here.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Aug 12, 2016 - Comments (2)
Category: Hoaxes and Imposters and Imitators, Technology, 1940s, 1950s, South America

August 11, 2016

Beer Can Prayer Wheels

Don't throw out your old beer cans. Use them to generate prayers:

image source: Box Vox

While living in Los Angeles, German artist Lucie Stahl made trips to the desert to collect cans that had been rusted, tarnished, and bleached by the elements. Suspending the cans with a central rod and affixing them to the wall, Stahl displays her series of cans in a way that allows them to rotate, referencing the Tibetan prayer wheels that are inscribed in Sanskrit with Buddhist mantras to accumulate good karma and purify bad karma. By elevating found garbage to objects of mysticism and reverence, the artist challenges flippant and passive attitudes towards consumerism and pollution.

Several years ago I posted about another creative way to recycle beer cans: Home heating with beer cans.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Aug 11, 2016 - Comments (4)
Category: Art

Mystery Illustration 27

Which regional magazine of the fifty states decided this would be a good way to illustrate the pleasures of summer?

The answer is here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Aug 11, 2016 - Comments (7)
Category: Art, Magazines, Regionalism, Sex Symbols, Junk Food, 1970s

August 10, 2016

Corkscrew removes baseball

The following passage comes from "An Unusual Foreign Body in the Rectum — A Baseball: Report of a Case" (Diseases of the Colon & Rectum, January 1977):

A 49-year-old man complained of his inability to void when he came to the Letterman Army Medical Center Emergency Room. Physical examination revealed that he had a distended bladder and a firm, fixed, round object barely palpable which was lodged high in the rectum.

A Foley catheter was passed into the bladder and 800 ml of urine were removed. The patient then reluctantly described his recent activity. He and his sexual partner had celebrated a World Series victory of the Oakland Athletics by placing a baseball (hardball) in his rectum because, as he put it, "I'm oversexed."

The presence of the baseball was confirmed by radiography and proctologic examination. Under spinal anesthesia, the rectum was dilated and manipulations, including hooking the ball and pulling downward (enough to rip the cover of the ball), injecting air above the ball and giving downward traction, and obstetrical forceps delivery, failed.

Through a midline abdominal incision, a low anterior colotomy was made directly on the baseball. The baseball, increasingly swollen by fluid, had lodged in the hollow of the sacrum above the levator muscles and below the true pelvic inlet. The baseball was skewered with a corkscrew instrument. An assistant exerted digital upward pressure through the rectum and, combined with a force enough to raise the patient off the table, the bali was delivered through the colotomy.

No gross fecal spillage occurred. The eolotomy was closed and the patient had an uneventful postoperative course. Gentamicin and clindamycin were given intravenously interoperatively and for five days postoperatively. Follow-up examination a year later revealed normal bladder and rectal functions.

The same article offers some other interesting bits of info later on:

Various techniques for removing objects from the rectum through the anus and avoiding laparotomy have been described [in the medical literature]... a bottle was removed with a loop from a wire coat hanger; a light bulb was removed by using two spoons as forceps; a turnip was extracted with obstetrical forceps; a drinking glass was grasped with rubber-shod forceps and then withdrawn; another drinking glass was filled with plaster into which a pair of forceps was implanted, and then the forceps were used as a handle to pull the glass out through the anus.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Aug 10, 2016 - Comments (10)
Category: Medicine, Sports

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