Weird Universe Archive

January 2017

January 3, 2017

Perky the Duck

It seems like 2016 was a year marked by an unusually high number of celebrity deaths. And among those who passed away was Perky, the duck who wouldn't die, who did, in fact, finally kick the bucket.

Perky was a one-pound, female, ring-neck duck who gained international fame in January 2007 after she survived being shot three times by a hunter, retrieved by a dog, and then stored in the hunter's refrigerator for two days.

By chance, the hunter's wife happened to open the refrigerator (she reportedly rarely looked in it because it was the spare fridge her husband used to store game), at which point Perky lifted her head to say hello. The wife took compassion on Perky and rushed her to a vet.

That wasn't the end of Perky's brush with death. During the surgery to repair the gunshot damage Perky stopped breathing, but the surgeon was able to revive her.

Once she had regained her health, Perky was given a home at the Tallahassee Museum, where she lived for nine years before dying of old age in May 2016.

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jan 03, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals, Death, Obituaries

Miss Europe

Here is why the European Union is falling apart! They seem to have abandoned the Miss Europe contest in 2006.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Jan 03, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues, Contests, Races and Other Competitions, Europe

January 2, 2017

Vincent’s Curtsy

Vincent's Curtsy is a squatting technique often used by people (children, in particular) as a "holding maneuver" when they need to urinate. It involves squatting so that your heel pushes up against the perineum. A variant involves energetically crossing the legs. These maneuvers are known colloquially as the "pee dance."

Image source:

The technique is named after Dr. S.A. Vincent of Belfast City Hospital who first described it in a Sep 17, 1966 article in The Lancet ("Postural Control of Urinary Incontinence: The Curtsy Sign"). Vincent learned of the technique from the mother of an 8-year-old girl. He wrote:

In April, 1965, an eight-year-old girl who had nocturnal enuresis and also gross diurnal frequency and urgency was being examined in the outpatient department when her mother volunteered the information that the child squatted when she had the urge to micturate. She would remain squatting for as long as twenty minutes; after this she could sometimes reach the lavatory without an "accident," but her companions at school had learned that if they pushed her over when she was in this posture she would immediately wet herself.

Source: The Lancet - Sep 17, 1966

Vincent then went on to hypothesize that children have been using this pee-holding technique for as long as kids have had a need to hold their pee, without formal recognition by the medical community, and he suggests that it may have been the inspiration for a classic yoga pose, the Maha Bandha, or "Great Binding":

Koestler had described a "Hatha Yoga technique called the Maha Bandha, or 'Great Binding,' for control of the anal and urethral canals through perineal pressure by the heel of the left foot. This well-conceived disposition of the left foot is an integral part of the classic Lotus Posture adopted by Oriental contemplatives for the past thousand years, and perhaps much longer."...

Of all the children exhibiting the "curtsy" posture only one had had instruction in the posture (from an older sister). Since all the rest learned it entirely by chance experience or by deliberate experiment, this posture may well have originated long before Hatha Yoga technique was evolved and may have been adopted since urge-incontinence first became a problem — whenever that was. Indeed, the contemplatives may have learned it from children, and the discovery, or re-discovery, may itself have taken place much longer than a thousand years ago when the "marvellous new lotus posture" was introduced.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jan 02, 2017 - Comments (1)

The Tattooed Lady

Not the Groucho song.

Posted By: Paul - Mon Jan 02, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Music, 1950s, Tattoos

January 1, 2017

News of the Weird (January 1, 2017)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M508, January 1, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

The Hästens workshop in Köping, Sweden, liberally using the phrase "master artisans" recently, unveiled its made-to-order $149,000 mattress. Bloomberg News reported in December on Hästens's use of superior construction materials such as pure-steel springs, "slow-growing" pine, multiple layers of flax, horsehair lining (braided by hand, then unwound to ensure extra spring), and cotton covered by flame-retardant wool batting. With a 25-year guarantee, an 8-hour-a-day sleep habit works out to $2 an hour. (Bonus: The Bloomberg reviewer, after a trial run, gave the "Vividus" a glowing thumb's-up.) [Bloomberg News, 12-2-2016]

The Job of the Researcher

Humans are good at recognizing faces but exceptionally poor at recognition when the same face's features are scrambled or upside down. In December, a research team from the Netherlands and Japan published findings that chimpanzees are the same way--when it comes to recognizing other chimps' butts. That suggests, the scientists concluded, that sophisticated recognition of rear ends is as important for chimps (as "socio-sexual signaling," such as prevention of inbreeding) as faces are to humans. [Washington Post, 12-6-2016]

Suspicions Confirmed

Humanity has accumulated an estimated 30 trillion tons of "stuff," according to a research by University of Leicester geologists--enough to fit over 100 pounds' worth over every square meter of the planet's surface. The scientists, writing in the Anthropocene Review, are even more alarmed that very little of it is ever recycled and that buried layers of technofossils that define our era will clutter and weigh down the planet, hampering future generations. (Don't just think of "garage sale" stuff, wrote Mother Nature News; think of every single thing we produce.) [Mother Nature News, 12-7-2016]

Finer Points of the Law

A federal appeals court agreed with a jury in December that Battle Creek, Mich., police were justified in shooting (and killing) two hardly-misbehaving family dogs during a legal search of a house's basement. Mark and Cheryl Brown had pointed out that their dogs never attacked; one, an officer admitted, was "just standing there" when shot and killed. The officers said that conducting a thorough search of the premises might have riled the dogs and threatened their safety. (Unaddressed was whether a dog might avoid being shot if it masters the classic trick of "playing dead.") [Battle Creek Enquirer, 12-21-2016]

Sounds Like a Joke

(1) Spencer Hanvey, 22, was charged with four burglaries of the same MedCare Pharmacy in Conway, Ark., in October and November, using the same modus operandi each time to steal drugs. (Bonus: Oddly, the drugs were not for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.) (2) If You See Something, Say Something: Hamden (Conn.) High School was put into lockdown for an hour on December 15th when a student was seen running in the hallway, zig-zagging from side to side, swinging an arm, and leaping into the air. Police were called, but quickly learned that it was just a 12th-grade boy practicing a basketball move and pretend-dunk. [Arkansas Online, 12-7-2016] [New Haven Register, 12-15-2016]

The Aristocrats!

Low-Tech Pervs: (1) A camera-less Alan Ralph, 62, was arrested in Sarasota, Fla., in December after being seen on surveillance video in October in a Walmart stooping down to the floor to peer up the skirt of a woman. (2) John Kuznezow, 54, was charged with invasion of privacy in Madison, Wis., in November after he was discovered, pants down, up a tree outside a woman's second-floor bedroom window. [WFLA-TV (Tampa), 12-6-2016] [WMTV (Madison), 11-8-2016]

Bright Ideas

The Immigrants Wanted to Believe: For about 10 years, organized crime rings operated a makeshift U.S. "embassy" in a rundown pink building in Accra, the capital of Ghana, issuing official-looking identification papers, including "visas" that theoretically permitted entry into the United States. The U.S. State Department finally persuaded Ghanian officials to close it down, but it is unknown if any purchasers were ever caught trying to immigrate. The "embassy," with a U.S. flag outside, had well-spoken "consular officers" who reportedly collected about $6,000 per visa. [Ghana Business News, 12-2-2016]

Weird Old World

(1) Wu Jianping, 25, from China's Henan province complained in November that he had been denied home loans at several banks for not providing fingerprints--because he has no arms (following a childhood accident) and "signs" documents by holding a pen in his mouth. He was not allowed to substitute "toeprints." (2) Classes were canceled in early December in the village of Batagai in the Yakutia region of Siberia when the temperature reached minus 53C (minus 63F)--but only for kids 15 and under; older children still had to get to school. Yakutia is regarded as the coldest inhabited region on the planet. [China Daily, 11-22-2016] [The Sun (London), 12-8-2016]

Sex Toys in the News

(1) The government in Saxony, Germany, chose as 2016 third-place winner of its prize for innovation and start-up companies the inventor of the ingenious silent vibrator (leading to shaming of the economy minister Martin Dulig, now known as "Dildo Dulig"). (2) An unknown armed robber made off with cash at the Lotions and Lace adult store in San Bernardino, Calif., in December--although employees told police they angrily pelted the man with dildos from the shelves as he ran out the door. [The Local (Berlin), 11-25-2016] [KNBC-TV (Los Angeles), 12-14-2016]

Least Competent Criminals

Not Ready for Prime Time: (1) Leonard Rinaldi, 53, was arrested in Torrington, Conn., in November following his theft of a rare-coin collection belonging to his father. The coins were valued at about $8,000, but apparently to make his theft less easily discoverable, he ran them through a Coinstar coin-cashing machine--netting himself a cool $60. (2) James Walsh was arrested in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on December 12th at a Walmart after carting out an unpaid-for big-screen TV. Walsh said he had swiped a TV on December 11th with no problem--but failed to notice that, on the 12th, the store had a "shop with a cop" event at which St. Lucie County deputies were buying toys for kids. [WTIC-TV (Hartford), 11-16-2016] [WPEC-TV (West Palm Beach), 12-12-2016]

Recurring Themes

Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation remains the most storied, but Venezuela is catching up. In mid-December, the government declared its largest-currency bill (the 100-boliver note) worthless, replacing it with larger denomination money (after a brief cash-in period that has ended and which some drug dealers were likely shut out of). The 100-bolivar's value had shrunk to 2 cents on the black market. Stacks of it were required to make even the smallest food purchases, and since wallets could no longer hold the notes, robbers feasted on the "packages" of money people carried around while shopping. [Wall Street Journal, 12-13-2016]

The Passing Parade

(1) In October, Chicago alderman Howard Brookins Jr. publicly denounced "aggressive" squirrels that were gnawing through trash cans and costing the city an extra $300,000. A month later, Brookins was badly injured in a bicycle collision (broken nose, missing teeth) when a squirrel (in either a mighty coincidence or suicide terrorism) jumped into one of his wheels, sending Brookins over the handlebar. (2) In October, officials of Alaska's Iditarod reaffirmed an earlier decision to allow mushers to use mobile phones during the 2017 race; "purists" maintain that phones destroy the "frontier-ness" of the event. [Chicago Tribune, 11-22-2016] [Alaska Dispatch News, 10-28-2016]

A News of the Weird Classic

Update: Every several years, News of the Weird helpfully reminds readers of what is one of planet’s most bizarre local customs: the Christmas tradition in Spain’s Catalonia region of decorating Nativity scenes with figurines, of traditional Catalonians and famous people, each squatting to answer nature’s calls. The update this year, of course, is the availability of squatting Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, joining past presidents (including the all-time best-seller, President Obama), Queen Elizabeth, and Pope Francis. (Perhaps the least-tone-deaf explanation for the tradition is that if the manger is fertilized, the coming year’s crops can be expected to flourish.) [New York Times, 12-6-2016]

Thanks This Week to Stan Kaplan, Rob Zimmer, and Alan Magid, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jan 01, 2017 - Comments (5)

Astro-Face of the Year 2017

According to beauty experts in 1967, the women of 2017 would wake up in the morning and make themselves beautiful by applying a paste-on "Moon Maid Mask" that would "change the structure of a face from neckline to hairline."

Other 21st-century beauty enhancements would include:

Toss in the Wash Wigs: A second or two in the supersonic laundry of tomorrow and a girl will be freshly coiffed for jet going.

Instant Youth: Plastic surgery in the form of silicone or other type injections which do in a matter of minutes what now takes weeks of hospital treatment.

The instant youth prediction was fairly close to the mark.

Akron Beacon Journal - Sep 10, 1967

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 01, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Fashion, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

Happy New Year, 2017!

Posted By: Paul - Sun Jan 01, 2017 - Comments (0)
Category: Holidays, Weird Universe, Alex, Chuck, Paul

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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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