The Lima News - Feb 2, 1919
This 1919 news report of two railroad employees who drank from a barrel of alcohol, not aware that it was being used to preserve two human skeletons enroute to a medical school, sounds a lot like the "corpse in the cask" urban legend.
The legend, which dates back at least to the nineteenth century, played on the fear of accidental cannibalism. As explained by Jan Harold Brunvand in his Encyclopedia of Urban Legends
In the legend, an English family discovers a barrelful of rum stored in the basement of an old house they recently purchased. Over the course of a year or two they consume the rum in drinks and cooking; then they cut the barrel in half to use it as a planter. Inside they find the body of a man who had been shipped home from the colonies long ago, preserved in spirits.
In one version of the tale, following the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 the body of Lord Nelson was preserved in a barrel of brandy, from which sailors sipped as it made its way back to England, inspiring the expression "tapping the admiral."
News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M495, October 2, 2016
Copyright 2016 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noting a recent uptick in cases of "live-poultry associated salmonella," repeated its earlier (apparently largely ignored) alert that people should not be kissing chickens (or ducks or turkeys). CDC noted the recent popularity of urban egg farming, but reminded "hipster" farmers and faddish pet patrons that cuddling the animals--or bringing the little darlings into the home (even those that appear to be clean and friendly) can spread dangerous bacteria for which humans are not prepared. [Huffington Post, 9-16-2016
A recent working paper by two Louisiana State University economists revealed that the state's judges tend to dole out harsher detention sentences to juveniles on weeks following a loss by the LSU football team (among those judges who matriculated at LSU). The differences in sentences were particularly stark in those seasons that LSU's team was nationally ranked. (All sentences from 1996-2012 were covered, for all first-time juvenile offenders, except for murder and aggravated-rape cases.) [New York magazine, 9-9-2016
The NCAA's two-year-probation given in July to Georgia Southern University's football program included a note that two football players were given "impermissible" inside help to pass a course. It turns out that even though GSU's former assistant director of student-athlete services stealthily wrote five extra-credit assignments for each of the players, still, neither player was apparently in good enough shape to pass the course. [CBS Sports, 7-7-2016
A paramedic with the St. Louis Fire Department discovered on August 4th that his car, in the station's parking lot, had been broken into and was missing various items. As he was about to call police, the station received an emergency call about a pedestrian hit by a car, and the paramedic and crew rushed to the scene. As he was helping the victim, the paramedic noticed that his own gym bag and belongings were strewn about the scene and concluded that the man he was attending to was likely the man who had broken into his car. The paramedic continued to assist the man, and police told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that they would arrest the man as soon as he was discharged from the hospital. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8-6-2016
Raylon Parker, doing his duty in August on a grand jury in Halifax County, N.C., listened to a prosecutor lay out a case, and to Parker's apparent surprise, the case was against Raylon Parker (for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill). Still, he voted on the indictment, which passed (though, due to grand jury secrecy, we do not know which way he voted). One possibility: He voted to indict, assuming a judge would toss it out, tainting the prosecutor's case. However, Parker's judge said the indictment--signifying "probable cause"--was still valid and that she would not inquire, either, how Parker had voted. [North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, 8-31-2016
Business is booming for Lainey Morse, the owner of No Regrets Farm in Albany, Ore., and the founder of "Goat Yoga"--an outdoor regimen of relaxation carried out among her wandering goats. "Do you know how hard it is to be sad and depressed when there are baby goats jumping around?" she asked, proudly noting that she is booked up right now, with a waiting list of 500. One problem has surfaced, though (as she told a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reporter): Naive baby goats try to eat flower designs on yoga mats, leading Morse to permit only mats of solid colors. [Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News, 9-16-2016
Wesley Autrey, 42, was arrested by Scranton, Pa., detectives in September in a drug bust with five bags of heroin and four of cocaine (along with $3,083 cash) and charged with having recently sold 10 bags of heroin. Autrey (street name, for some reason: "Newphew") wet his pants during the arrest, which police said was under the mistaken impression that heroin would dissolve when exposed to urine. [Times-Tribune (Scranton), 9-15-2016
Eau de Toilette: Although India's sacred Ganges River remains ridiculously polluted, it retains holy credibility for Hindus, who consume and bathe in it regularly for salvation. Since reaching the Ganges can be difficult for India's poor, the country's postal service (with 155,000 offices) began recently to offer home delivery of the Ganges, in bottles, for the equivalent of about 22 to 37 cents. (Tip: Water bottled in the small town of Gangotri, which is closer to the origin of the river, is likely cleaner; the other bottler, in the city of Rishikesh, which is holier but located further down the river, likely presents worshipers a stronger test of faith.) [New York Times, 8-26-2016
"Clitoris activism is hot in France right now," reported London's The Guardian in August, highlighted by the introduction in school sex education a 3-D model of the organ--demonstrating, by the way, that it more resembles a "wishbone" or a "high-tech boomerang" than the "small, sensitive" bud of dictionary description. French clitoris scholars emphasize that most of the several-inch-long organ is internal and just as highly excitable as its male counterpart, and their wide-ranging societal campaign includes a magazine whose title translates to "The Idiot's Guide to the Clit." [The Guardian, 8-15-2016
Goldfish Revisited: (1) Emma Marsh of Kuraby, Australia, shelled out A$500 in September for her goldfish's emergency medical care to remove the pebble stuck in poor "Conquer"'s throat. (Brisbane's Courier-Mail noted that the $500 might have bought 40 replacements--that $500 is about what an actual bar of gold, of Conquer's weight, would cost.) (2) Elsewhere Down Under, researchers from Murdoch University in Perth said in August they were working on a goldfish-control program after learning that one species dumped in the nutrient-rich Vasse River in Western Australia could grow to 4 pounds--in the size of a football.) [Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 9-9-2016
] [Australian Broadcasting Corp. News via AOL, 8-17-2016
Music researcher David Teie announced in September that he had landed a deal with major label Universal Music to distribute his "Music For Cats" (touted in News of the Weird in February). The music, with Teie accompanying on the cello, includes painstakingly-timed "purring" and "sucking" sounds designed to relax kitties, and he reiterated his intention to move on to special music for other animals. (Similarly, artists led by Dominic Wilcox staged a brief show in August in London of exhibits and paintings of scenes that Wilcox thought would appeal to dogs (would garner "tail wags," he said). One interactive exhibit, for example, featured an open car window simulator hosting an array of scents.) [The Guardian (London), 9-2-2016
] [Evening Standard (London), 8-20-2016
The Passing Parade
(1) Hippie grandmother Shawnee Chasser, 65, who has lived in a tree since 1992, is under siege by Miami, Fla., county officials who plan to tear down her treehouse by December unless she brings her property up to code. It's a full-featured, well-appointed treehouse--and she owns the land underneath but prefers the "heaven" of her high perch, especially when it rains. (2) Since 2004, six times cars have left New Hope Road in Raleigh, N.C., and crashed into the home of Carlo Bernarte, and in September he desperately sought help from traffic officials (but is not considering "moving"). (He suggested the state install a barrier, but apparently that would blocks drivers' line of sight.) [Miami Herald, 9-3-2016
] [Greensboro News & Observer, 9-8-2016
A News of the Weird Classic (December 2012)
A research team at Lund University in Sweden, led by neuroethologist Jochen Smolka, concluded that one reason dung beetles dance in circles on top of dung is to cool off, according to an October  report on LiveScience.com. To arrive at their conclusion, the team went to the trouble of painting tiny silicone “boots” on some beetles, to protect them from the ambient heat experienced by a control group of beetles, and found that the booted beetles climbed atop the dung less frequently. Explained Smolka, “Like an air-conditioning unit, the moist [dung] is cooled by evaporati[on].” [LiveScience.com, 10-22-2012]
Thanks This Week to Rob Boyden, Michael Brozyna, Russell Bell, and Edgar Pepper, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
Introduced in 1948, the "Milka Moo" toy cow had a rubber udder that, when squeezed, would squirt out real milk.
It was one of the many inventions of Beulah Louise Henry
(aka Lady Edison). Her inventions made her rich, but she was considered a bit of an eccentric. She lived in New York hotels along with "three sizeable live turtles, a dozen tropical fish, a school of snails and other flora and fauna."
Des Moines Register - Mar 14, 1948
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Dec 5, 1948
The Indianapolis Star - Aug 21, 1948
Rain protection for the dearly departed.
There's deep consolation... serene through shower or heavy rain... for those who know the casket of a dear one is protected against water in the ground by a Clark Metal Grave Vault.
I found this ad reproduced in Marshall McLuhan's The Mechanical Bride
(1951). He comments:
All that music, perfume, science, hygiene, and cosmetics can do is done to create an evasive, womblike world of comfort and soft sympathy. "Home was never like this." Death is thus brought within the orbit of the basic attitudes of a consumer world and is neutralized by absorption into irrelevant patterns of thought, feeling, and technique. The solid comforts and security missed in this life are to be enjoyed in the next.
Unfortunately, McLuhan never specified where he found the ad. But it's listed in a 1947 catalog of copyright entries
. So must be a 1947 ad.
The Box Vox blog
offers a detailed history of Cora Gated, who was the corporate mascot adopted by Hinde & Dauch (a box maker) in the 1950s. She was a woman wearing only a corrugated box. Or was she somehow supposed to be a box that had become a woman?
Gastonia Gazette - Aug 23, 1955
It turns out that Cora Gated was also the stage name of a burlesque dancer during the 1970s. Her tag line was, "The laminated delight. CORA GATED. She'll wrap you around her finger!"
Kansas City Times - Jul 22, 1972
Kansas City Times - Jul 21, 1972