Weird Universe Archive

March 2017

March 19, 2017

News of the Weird (March 19, 2017)

News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M519, March 19, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.

Lead Story

Perhaps there are parents who (according to the Cinépolis movie chain) long to watch movies in theaters while their children (aged 3-and-up) frolic in front in a "jungle-gym" playground inside the same auditorium. If so, the company's two "junior" movie houses (opening this very week in San Diego and Los Angeles) may bring a new dimension to "family entertainment." Another view, though, is that the noise (often "screaming"), plus the overhead lighting required for parents to monitor their tykes' equipment-usage, plus the planned $3 ticket surcharge, will soon create (according to the Guardian critic) a movie-going "apocalypse." [The Guardian (London), 3-8-2017]

Can't Possibly Be True

(1) The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in January granted IBM's 2010 application for a patent on "out-of-office" e-mail message software (even though such messages have of course been ubiquitous for two decades) after the company finally convinced examiners that its patent had enough software tweaks on it to qualify. (Critics, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, laughed at the uselessness of the tweaks.) (2) Also in January, the Office granted Daniel Dopps a patent for Adhesive Vaginal Lipstick, which his Mensez Technologies claims can cause the labia minora to tighten so strongly as to retain menstrual fluid until the woman can deal with build-up in privacy. [Ars Technica, 3-1-2017] [News Limited via Fox News, 2-21-2017]

News of the Pretentious

Why live with a cat if one cannot take it out for some wine together? The Apollo Peak, in Denver, and the Pet Winery, in Fort Myers, Fla., serve a variety of the real grape to humans and non-alcoholic proprietary drinks for the kitties to enjoy tableside (or underneath). "Pinot Meow" ($12) in Denver and "Meow & Chandon" ($15) in Fort Myers, are specialties--basically watered catnip, according to a February New York Times report (so the felines can also get buzzed). The wine outing is the human's preference, of course, with a loftier cachet than the "happy hour" most cats might prefer (say, a "sardine bar"). [New York Times, 2-15-2017]

"I tried the $5,000 hamburger, and it was absolutely worth it," wrote the apparently straight-faced CNBC reviewer Robert Frank in February, describing his meal at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay restaurant Fleur. (The burger included Waygu beef, foie gras, and truffles, and was served with a similarly inexplicably-priced wine.) Other recent consumer challenges: an $18 cup of coffee at Brooklyn's Extraction Lab; a $100 bottle of Norwegian iceberg water (; a $2,000 pizza at New York City's Industry Kitchen (caviar, truffles, gold flakes); and a $25,000 taco at the Grand Velas Los Cabos resort in Mexico (caviar, brie, Kobe beef, langoustine lobster, rare tequila--and once again with the gold flakes). [CNBC, 2-23-2017] [WABC-TV (New York City), 2-8-2017] [Fox Business, 3-3-2017] [Industry Kitchen, 12-17-2016] [Houston Chronicle, 3-9-2017]

Wait, What?

Anglers fighting to preserve choice spots on the fishing pier on Sebastian Inlet, north of Vero Beach, Fla., have taken to tossing lead weights and other items at "competitors," especially those who approach the pier to fish directly from their boats. Such territory-marking by the piersters includes, according to a February report in Florida Today, perhaps a version of classic mammal behavior, like strategic urination and hurling their feces at the waterborne invaders. [Florida Today, 2-20-2017]

Government in Action

Illinois has problems: a $130 billion unfunded-pension crisis, 19 months without a budget, the lowest credit rating and highest property taxes in the country, and murder rate in Chicago. However, at least the state House of Representatives is not standing by idly. In February, it moved to designate October 2017 as Zombie Preparedness Month (basically, adding "zombie invasion" to the list of mobilizations for any natural disaster and urging residents to stockpile food and supplies for up to 72 hours). [Wall Street Journal, 3-7-2017]

Lawyers for former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. have convinced federal officials that his bipolar disorder was "caused" by the stress of being a Congressman and thus that he is entitled to "total disability" worker compensation for an "on-the-job" injury--and thus to about $100,000 a year, tax-free, according to a February Chicago Tribune report. (Jackson, 51, also receives Social Security disability payments.) Lawyers said his disorder (often attributed to genetic factors) surfaced during an investigation into Jackson's looting of his campaign treasury for luxury goods and vacations (charges eventually settled with a guilty plea). Jackson dated his onset to June 2012, meaning that his last 72 House votes came while "totally" disabled. [Chicago Tribune, 2-23-2017]

Bright Ideas

A councilman in Overtornea, Sweden, introduced a bill (a "motion") that workers be given paid "sex breaks" during the business day in order to improve well-being and, thus, job performance. The primary beneficiaries would be married, fertile couples, but all workers would receive the benefit. And employers, said Councillor Per-Erik Muskos, would have to "trust" their employees because some surely would "cheat" (by not having sex!). [International Business Times, 2-21-2017]

Not Clever Enough: Daniel Crowninshield, 54, pleaded guilty in federal court in Sacramento in 2016 to illegally manufacturing assault weapons that had no serial numbers--despite efforts to circumvent the law by claiming that his customers actually "made" their own weapons using his equipment. Crowninshield (known as "Dr-Death" online), an expert machinist, would take a "blank" metal casting and, using special equipment and computer programs, create the firing mechanism for a numberless AR-15--provided the customer presses a button to start the process. "Pressing the button," Crowninshield figured, made the customer the creator, not a buyer or transferee of the gun, and thus exempt from federal law. In February, Judge Troy Nunley, unimpressed, sentenced Crowninshield to three years and five months in prison. [Department of Justice press release, 2-16-2017]

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

"Life's full of peaks and valleys, man," Californian Georgiy Karpekin told a reporter, but January 18th seems all-valley. Karpekin has both a pickup truck and a car, and as he was leaving Sacramento City College that day during violent storms, a falling tree crushed the truck. When he got home, he learned that the same storm had taken down another tree--on top of his car. (Karpekin, insured and uninjured, called himself "the luckiest guy.") [KTXL-TV (Sacramento), 1-19-2017]

Readers' Choice

Miami, Fla., defense lawyer Stephen Gutierrez caused quite a spectacle on March 8th when, representing a man accused of arson, he rose to address jurors, and his pants appeared to catch fire. He insisted afterward that a malfunctioning e-cigarette caused smoke to billow from his pocket, but observers had a field day with metaphors and "stunt" theories. [Miami Herald, 3-8-2017]

Despite an exaggerated, widely-read headline in London's Daily Mail, the recent death of a 50-year old man in Japan was indeed pornography-related. The man was a hoarder of porn magazines, living alone with an unimaginably large collection, and when he suffered a fatal heart attack sometime last year, he collapsed atop the piles, where his body was found in March 2017. (The Daily Mail headline had him "crushed" to death under a six-ton stack, but the Mail conceded below the headline that he might have just fallen.) [Daily Mail, 3-3-2017;, 3-6-2017]

A News of the Weird Classic (June 2013)

Chengdu, China, barber Liu Deyuan, 53, still provides traditional “eye-shaving,” in which he holds the lid open and runs a razor across its inner surface. Then, using a thin metal rod with a round tip, he gently massages the inside of each lid. Liu told Chengdu Business Daily in April [2013] that he had never had an accident (though the reporter balked at volunteering for him), and a highly satisfied customer reported afterward that his eyes felt “moist” (surely the easiest part of the story to accept) and his vision “clearer.” [South China Morning Post, 4-15-2013]

Thanks This Week to Jim Weber, Elaine Weiss, Bob Stewart, Neb Rodgers, Robin Daley, Mark Hazelrigg, Gerald Thomason, Paul Kaplan, Alex Boese, and Chuck Hamilton, among others, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.

Posted By: Chuck - Sun Mar 19, 2017 - Comments (3)

Divorcee banned from chess club

1971: 16-year-old Soni Romans was banned from all extracurricular activities at at Channelview High School in Houston. This included school choir, chess club, drama, and the National Honor Society. The reason for the ban was that she had been married and divorced and had a child (which she gave up for adoption). Therefore, the school felt that she shouldn't be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities because, during them, she "might discuss sex with other students."

However, if she had simply had the child without getting married and divorced, the same regulation wouldn't have applied. Unwed mothers were free to participate in the extracurriculars. Romans sued the school and won, so the ban was eventually lifted.

The Cincinnati Enquirer - Nov 14, 1971

The Akron Beacon Journal - Feb 17, 1972

Posted By: Alex - Sun Mar 19, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: School, Regulations, Divorce, 1970s

Gary Numan Unicef Concert:  1979

This is exactly the kind of performance that evokes for me the tragedy of starving Third World children.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Mar 19, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Aliens, Charities and Philanthropy, Eccentrics, Music, 1970s, Cacophony, Dissonance, White Noise and Other Sonic Assaults

March 18, 2017

Toys R Us Corrected

The logo for Toys R Us typically includes a backwards R. But when a Toys R Us opened in Cerritos, California in 1972, the local city council insisted that the store spell its name with the R the "correct" way around on the front of the building, so that it wouldnt confuse young children who might be struggling to learn the alphabet.

The store had to keep the corrected R until 1981 when the city council finally voted to allow it to switch to the backwards R. Noted a council member: "All the bags, the price tags in the store had the backwards 'R.' It really wasn't accomplishing anything to have it correct on the outside."

Of course, as Steve Harvey noted for the LA Times, if you really want to be grammatically correct, the name should be Toys R We.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a single picture of the store with the corrected R.

Los Angeles Times - Mar 3, 1981

The normal logo

The corrected version

Posted By: Alex - Sat Mar 18, 2017 - Comments (3)
Category: Regulations, 1970s

Mystery Illustration 41


What famous film comedian is this drawing supposed to represent?

The answer is here.

And after the jump.

More in extended >>

Posted By: Paul - Sat Mar 18, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Movies, Comics, 1950s, Comedians

March 17, 2017

7 Clicks (March 17, 2017)

7 Clicks
A Weird Universe News Service
March 17, 2017

To ridicule the uterus regulators (motivated by "procreation"), a proposed $100 fine for men chicken-choking (cf. the great Bill Hicks's line: "Entire civilizations have been wiped out on my stomach") [Texas Tribune]

Christopher Diiorio tried using faked Secret Service IDs because, well, you're not gonna get laid based on owning a pet poop-scooping company. [KDKA-TV]

[This may go sideways, but remember you saw it here first] This Californian, "Vinny Ohh," wants to body-modify to become totally genderless (in case you've been wondering about college kids getting to choose among 30-some "genders" as to how they "identify"). Vinny claims he's had 100+ "procedures" so far, but the heavy lifting remains to be done. [Metro News (London)]

In the ongoing Navy corruption case, defense contractor "Fat Leonard" Francis allegedly, among other misdeeds, arranged a sex party in which Douglas MacArthur memorabilia were used as sex aids. [Washington Post]

Chimpanzees with "human" rights is so-o-o 20th century; in New Zealand, they have the Whanganui River. [BBC News]

Pornhub upgrades its p.r. office: campaigns to (1) clear snow in Boston and (2) what, get pandas to do it more? [Fortune] [PCMag]

And so it begins: A NY state assemblyman introduces a law requiring, upon request, removal of online "free" speech--meaning, inevitably, speech that anyone objects to, although the bill has intellectually upmarket phrases for it, like removing "inaccurate" or "irrelevant" stuff. [Mr. Jefferson, already uncomfortable in his grave from the 2016 election, now desperately needs a drink.] []

Thanks to David Bryant and Karl Olson.

Posted By: Chuck - Fri Mar 17, 2017 - Comments (5)

Brake Reaction Time

In the mid 1930s, Dr. Harry DeSilva of the Massachusetts State College at Amherst created a brake reaction test to measure how quickly drivers can step on the brake in response to a red light. He took it around the country and tested thousands of people.

People in their mid 20s generally had the quickest reaction times, and then times declined with age, which wasn't a surprise. Slightly more surprising was that short people generally had faster responses than tall people. From Time magazine (Aug 1935):

The average reaction time was .43 sec. The fastest was .26 sec. The slowest was .90 sec. It was found that tall persons generally react a little more slowly than short people, no doubt because motor nerve impulses travel through the body at about 300 ft. per sec. and thus for tall persons the motor impulse would take longer to go from the brain to the foot. Another theory is that short people simply have less leg to deal with.

Time - Aug 26, 1935

Democrat and Chronicle - Mar 15, 1936

Posted By: Alex - Fri Mar 17, 2017 - Comments (4)
Category: Motor Vehicles, Cars, Psychology, 1930s

Ann Hamilton

Her home page.

Her Wikipedia page.

Posted By: Paul - Fri Mar 17, 2017 - Comments (2)
Category: Art, Avant Garde

March 16, 2017


Created by artist Nadja Buttendorf. She says "price on request," so I guess they are for sale.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Mar 16, 2017 - Comments (6)
Category: Body, Jewelry

The Wookie Boogie

Neon Werewolf Presents - The Wookie Boogie from neon werewolf on Vimeo.

Thanks to Frank Phillips for the tip!

Posted By: Paul - Thu Mar 16, 2017 - Comments (1)
Category: Aliens, Music, Science Fiction, Reader Recommendation

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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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