News of the Weird
Weirdnuz.M531, June 11, 2017
Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved.
REMINDER: I am retiring in three weeks (but in reality, all
the columns are in the can already). My announcement is here.
If high-schoolers seem stressed by active lifestyles and competitive pressures, and consequently fail to sleep the recommended 9 to 10 hours a day, it must be a good idea for the federal government to give grants (including to Las Cruces High School in New Mexico) to purchase comfy, $14,000 "nap pods" that drive out the racket with soft music, for 20 minutes a shot during those frenzied classroom days. A May NPR report based on Las Cruces's experience quoted favorable reviews by students, backed by a doctor and a nurse practitioner who pointed to research showing that adequate sleep "can" boost memory and attention and thus "can" improve school performance (and therefore must be a great use of federal education dollars). [NPR Morning Edition, 5-17-2017]
Unclear on the Concept
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam argues that his "hands are tied" by "federal food laws" and that fresh, "all-natural" milk with the cream skimmed off the top cannot be sold in Florida as "milk" (or "skim milk") but must be labeled "imitation milk"--unless the "all-natural" milk adds (artificial) Vitamin A to the product. A family farm in the state's panhandle (Ocheesee Creamery) decided to challenge the law, and Putnam, who recently announced his candidacy for governor, said he would try to resolve the issue soon. [WTVT (Tampa), 5-12-2017]
News You Can Use
(1) Briton Fred Whitelaw, 64, who has bowel cancer, recently began working "therapeutic" breast milk into his diet (but only that supplied by his daughter, Jill Turner, who recently gave birth and said she is happy to double-pump to assure both Fred and baby Llewyn adequate supplies (although husband Kyle is trying it out for his eczema, as well). (2) Scientists writing in the journal of the American Society for Microbiology recently recommended that parents not discourage children from picking their noses because snot contains a "rich reservoir of good bacteria" beneficial to teeth and overall health (fighting, for example, respiratory infections and even HIV). [Metro News (London), 5-2-2017] [Daily Telegraph (London), 5-5-2017]
(1) It recently became necessary for Candace Frazee and Steve Levinsky to acquire a bigger home in the Los Angeles area because their 33,000 "bunny"-related items (stuffed bunnies, antique bunnies, bunny paintings, bunny dinnerware, etc.) needed more space. (2) The world's only museum devoted to the "house cat" allows self-guided tours in Sylva, N.C., where curator Harold Sims displays 10,000 artifacts including a genuine petrified cat (with whiskers!) pulled from a 16th-century English chimney. (3) Brantford, Ontario, realtor Kyle Jansink, speaking for unidentified sellers, said he accepted the challenge of selling the meticulously-maintained home "as is"--still packed with the sellers' clown-related items (dolls, miniatures, porcelain statues, paintings). [New York Post, 5-19-2017] [Charlotte Observer, 5-18-2017] [Canadian Broadcasting Corp. News, 5-8-2017]
They're "therapists," not "strippers," argued New York City's Penthouse Executive Club, creatively characterizing its dancers to avoid $3 million in back taxes, but the state's appeals board ruled against it in April. Penthouse had insisted that its performers were more akin to counselors for lonely men and that the club's "door charge" was an untaxable fee for therapeutic health services. [New York Daily News, 5-12-2017]
James Pelletier, 46, was arrested in Hollis, Maine in May after he fired a BB gun point-blank at his two sons, ages 9 and 11--but only, he said, as a "rite of passage" into maturity (perhaps thinking the experience would help them become as mature as their father). He said if the kids knew how it felt to get shot, perhaps they would not be so quick to fire their own guns. [Portland Press Herald, 5-6-2017]
The Continuing Crisis
You Mean Jethro and Abby, Too? In contrast to the exciting work of the TV series (near the top of broadcast ratings for the last decade), real agents in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have labored over computer screens eight to 10 hours a day for two months now employing their facial-recognition software--just to scour websites to identify victims of nude-photo postings of military personnel that came to light earlier this year. "[Y]ou get pretty burned out," said the NCIS director. A simple word search of "uniformed military nude" got nearly 80,000,000 hits, according to a May Associated Press dispatch from the Quantico Marine base, where the 20 investigators labor side-by-side. [Associated Press via NBC News, 5-6-2017]
Military Allies in Odd Places
(1) In April, three days after ISIS fighters reportedly executed 25 villagers about 50 miles south of Kirkuk, Iraq, the three murderers were themselves killed (and eight more wounded) when a pack of wild boars overran their position and gnawed them into martyrdom. (2) In April, a Russian naval reconnaissance ship sank in the Black Sea off of Turkey (likely op: Syria-related) when it collided with a livestock barge flying the flag of Togo. All aboard the Russian ship were rescued; the much-heavier Togolese vessel suffered barely a scratch. [USA Today, 4-25-2017] [New York Times, 4-27-2017]
Rights in Conflict: An elderly German man, unnamed in news reports, was fined the equivalent of $110 in May for "terrorizing" neighbors in the town of Hannef by violating a 2015 agreement to lower the sound of his pornographic videos. He demanded sympathy because of his hearing disability, arguing that if he wore headphones, he could not hear the doorbell, or burglars, and therefore would feel unsafe. (At his May hearing, he objected to the characterization that the "sex sounds" were from videos; on the day in question, he said, he had a prostitute in the room. "It was not porn," he insisted, confusingly. "It was live!") [Metro News (London), 5-6-2017]
In May Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley apparently mindlessly signed the proclamation designating a special day for the late Tre Hummons (submitted by his grieving father, to honor the son's "sacrifice"). Tre Hummons was killed in 2015 by a police officer--but only after Tre had just shot and killed another Cincinnati police officer. [WXIX-TV (Cleveland), 5-19-2017]
Winneshiek County (Iowa) Engineer Lee Bjerke said he had no idea how the driver of the loaded 18-wheeler had missed the "Load Limit 3 Tons" sign at the entrance of the small, rickety bridge near Cresco in May, but in seconds, the span was wiped out, and the tractor-trailer had become part of the Turkey River. The loaded grain truck weighed more than 30 tons. [KCCI-TV (Des Moines), 5-5-2017]
Armed & Clumsy (all-new!)
Still more incidents in which people (make that, "men") accidentally shoot themselves: a National Rifle Association staff member, 46, training on a firing range (Fairfax County, Va., April); a fleeing robber, run over by his victim, with the collision causing the robber's gun to fire into his own mouth (Hawthorne, Calif., March); two boys, 17 and 19, "practicing" loading and unloading a handgun, managing to hit each other (Houston, Tex., March); a homeless man, 45, in a now-classic waistband-holster-crotch malfunction (Lake Panasoffee, Fla., Oct.); U.S. Park Police officer, shot his foot in a confrontation with a raccoon (Washington, D.C., Nov.); man, 48, shot himself, then, apparently angry at how it happened and perhaps re-enacting his movements, shot himself again (Oceana County, Mich., July).[Burke Patch, 4-7-2017] [Daily Breeze (Torrance), 3-15-2017] [Houston Chronicle, 3-22-2017] [Citrus County Chronicle (Crystal River), 10-10-2016] [Washingtonian, 11-3-2016] [MLive.com, 7-5-2016]
A News of the Weird Classic (December 2013)
Just another October  day in Kelso, Wash.: At the courthouse, a woman carrying a cake was approached by Robert Fredrickson, a stranger who was also in the building on business. Without warning, Fredrickson attacked--not the woman, the cake--grabbing it with both hands and stuffing his face. As he washed up a minute later at a drinking fountain, a deputy who witnessed the scene attempted to bring Fredrickson to justice, yelling, “[S]tand right there. Don’t move.” As soon as the officer looked away, however, Fredrickson returned to the cake and clawed at it again. Finally, several deputies subdued him and charged him with theft and resisting arrest. [KATU-TV (Portland, Ore.), 10-3-2013]
Thanks This Week to Laurel Bender, Michael Isquidsrus, Kathryn Vinson, William Carter, Michael Brozyna, Steve Passen, and Bruce Leiserowitz, and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
Posted By: Chuck - Sun Jun 11, 2017 -
The missile is the supersonic Bomarc anti-aircraft missile developed by Boeing and the University of Michigan Aeronautical Research Center. The woman is 18-year-old Fran Frost. The year was 1958.
The Hill Top Times, newspaper of Hill Air Force Base, offered the following coverage:
This guided missile hairstyle was inspired by the supersonic Bomarc missile. It’s a swirl-a-wave which features supersonic action from nape to crown. From a siren list, it cruises to a froth of fluff swinging from cheek to tip of ear. The nuclear payload goes into super action and long-range swirls intercepted by flowing lines and high altitude sweeps cruising towards its target of pixie bangs on the brow.
Fran Frost went on to be Miss Utah State Fair, Miss Dairy Queen, and Miss World Contact Lens, but then retired from modeling.
Below are some of the captioned images that artist Hayley Newman displayed at her first solo show, "Connotations - Performance Images 1994-98".
Lock-jaw Lecture Series (1997/1998) "Over the period of a year I was invited to give a series of lectures on my work. Before each lecture I visited a local dentist and had my mouth anaesthetised. With my mouth made immobile, I gave my feeblest apologies to the students and staff before attempting to talk on my work."
B(in) (1996) "Sitting in a bin bag waiting for bin men to pick me up in New York. When the bin men arrived at 4pm, I jumped out of the bag and ran home."
Crying Glasses (An Aid to Melancholia) - (1995) "Over a year I wore the crying glasses while travelling on public transport in all the cities I visited. The glasses functioned using a pump system which, hidden inside my jacket allowed me to pump water up out of the glasses and produced a trickle of tears down my cheeks. The glasses were conceived as a tool to enable the representation of feelings in public spaces. Over the months of wearing the glasses they became an external mechanism which enabled the manifestation of internal and unidentifiable emotions."
Spirit (1995) "Soho, London: Dressed as a ghost for Halloween I ran into various pubs in London's Soho, stole a drink and then left."
Here's the punchline, which Newman revealed if you read the fine print in the exhibit guide:
The photographs in the series were staged and performed by myself with most of the images being taken by the photographer Casey Orr over a week in the summer of 1998. The dates, locations, photographers and contexts for the performances cited in the text panels are fictional. In all instances the action had to be performed for the photograph but did not take place within the circumstances or places outlined in the supporting text.
Over in Salt Lake City, a woman has been charged with felony child abuse for using a pair of needle-nose pliers to extract some of her 7-year-old son's teeth while in a Walmart restroom. She picked up the pliers and some hand sanitizer in the store and then headed to the restroom to perform the dental work. No anesthetic, of course. She claimed her son's teeth were loose and infected. A dentist who later examined the boy disagreed. [ksl.com]
tooth-jumping: [vbl. n. the practice of extracting a tooth with hammer and nail.] "You take a cut nail (not one o' those round wire nails) and place its squar p'int agin the ridge of the tooth, jest under the edge of the gum. Then jump the tooth out with a hammer. A man who knows how can jump a tooth without it hurtin' half as bad as pullin'" [K:] "I have told dentists and physicians in the North about 'tooth-jumping,' and they laughed at me." (Bob) "Well, they needn't to laugh; for it's so. Some men got to be as experienced at it as tooth-dentists are at pullin'. They'd cut around the gums, and then put the nail at jest sich an angle, slantin' downward for an upper tooth or upwards for a lower tooth, and hit one lick." [K:] "Would the tooth come out the first lick?" [Bob] "Ginerally. If it didn't, you might as well stick your head in a bee-gum & fergit about it." [K:] "Back teeth extracted that way?" [Bob:] "Yes, sir—any kind of a tooth"
Tooth-jumping in rural Tennessee
Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 08, 2017 -
A lot of famous directors begin their careers by making weird, experimental films. For instance, there's the case of Martin Scorsese and his odd, six-minute film The Big Shave that he made in 1967. It had an alternative title, Viet '67, because it was apparently a metaphor for the war in Vietnam, even though the entire film involves a guy shaving.
According to Slate.com, "the director conceived of the film after emerging from a 'spell of deep depression,' during which he apparently had trouble shaving."
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 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.