Weird Universe Blog — June 25, 2024

Painting mistaken for dropcloth

The classic weird-news theme of art mistaken for trash.

Raleigh News and Observer - Sep 27, 1979



Triple Variants by Sam Gilliam (source: GSA Fina Arts Collection)

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 25, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Art | 1970s

June 24, 2024

Library Robbery

The most important rule for being a successful robber is to rob places that have money.

Los Angeles Times - Feb 23, 1973

Posted By: Alex - Mon Jun 24, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Stupid Criminals | 1970s

Bipartite Insect-Excluding Airlock

This seems like a lot of work just to keep a few flies out of your house. And do insects really dislike entering darkened rooms?

Full patent.



Posted By: Paul - Mon Jun 24, 2024 - Comments (1)
Category: Domestic | Insects and Spiders | Patents | 1910s

June 23, 2024

Miss Durum Macaroni

To win the title of 'Miss Durum Macaroni' it wasn't enough to be attractive. Contestants were also judged on a macaroni recipe that they were required to submit.

You can find the recipe of the winner, Julie Kay Dunkirk, below. She won with Mexican Macaroni Casserole.

Also, if you're a fan of browsing through old trade journals, the entire run of The Macaroni Journal (1919-1984) can be found online at the website of the National Pasta Association.

Billings Gazette - Oct 30, 1963



Mandan Morning Pioneer - Oct 11, 1964



Macaroni Journal - Dec 1963



Update: I found a better quality image of Miss Durum Macaroni on the website of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Jun 23, 2024 - Comments (2)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests | Food | 1960s

June 22, 2024

The Tarantula Wronged

In 1972, arachnidist John A. L. Cooke undertook to defend the reputation of tarantulas. Text from the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix (Nov 2, 1972):

Like many arachnidists, Cooke is upset about public attitudes toward spiders, particularly tarantulas. In an interview, conducted in the presence of several very large live and hairy tarantulas, he pointed out that while they can inflict a moderately painful bite when angry, they are not venomous.

"I wouldn't let my 4-year-old son keep one as a pet if they were," he said.

Their bad name, he added, can be traced to the region around Taranto, in southern Italy, from which they take their name. This is the habitat of the true, or European Tarantul, whose bite was said to induce tarantism.

Webster's New International Dictionary defines tarantism as: "A nervous affection characterized by melancholy, stupor, and an uncontrollable desire to dance."

The traditional treatment was to encourage the victim to dance wildly until the effects of the poison wore off. Thus evolved the wild Neapolitan folk dance, the tarantella. According to Cooke, who is writing an article on the subject for Natural History magazine, musicians wandered through the fields at harvest time, ready to offer their services to a victim of tarantula bite.

Saskatoon Star-Phoenix - Nov 2, 1972



In his subsequent Natural History article, Cooke then revealed that it was probably black widows that had been biting the people around Taranto back in the Middle Ages. The tarantulas had been unfairly maligned:

Interestingly, it has recently been shown that even the European tarantula has been wrongly accused, that it does not inflict the dreaded bite attributed to it but is quite harmless. The real culprit in tarantism is none other than the famous black widow spider. The black widow, Latrodectus mactans, is a comparatively small, inconspicuous, and secretive member of the family Theridiidae, the comb-footed spiders. These include several common cobweb-spinning spiders found in buildings. Latrodectus, whose name comes from the Greek and means "secret biter," is a genus of world-wide distribution containing several species. Although all are highly venomous, only L. mactans is synanthropic, posing a serious threat to people.

"Despite their formidable appearance, North American tarantulas are a serious threat only to their prey—beetles and grasshoppers."

Posted By: Alex - Sat Jun 22, 2024 - Comments (7)
Category: Insects and Spiders

Le Baquet de Mesmer

The famous creator's Wikipedia page. That's him in the role of magician.

Posted By: Paul - Sat Jun 22, 2024 - Comments (1)
Category: Animals | Magic and Illusions and Sleight of Hand | Movies | 1900s | Women | Dance

June 21, 2024

A case of food poisoning in Peru

Louisville Courier-Journal - Dec 4, 1972

Posted By: Alex - Fri Jun 21, 2024 - Comments (1)
Category: Food | Poisons and Other Injurious Substances | 1970s | South America

The Musky Queen

These charming ladies do not smell strange. Their title simply honors a certain fish. The 2024 festival begins today, if you want to fly out to Hayward, WI.







Posted By: Paul - Fri Jun 21, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Awards, Prizes, Competitions and Contests | Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues | Parades and Festivals | Regionalism | Fish

June 20, 2024

Making a dead dog bark

1909: Dr. Marage of the Paris Academy of Sciences removed the larynx from a dog and made it bark outside of its body. The larynx produced "barks and howls in every note of the canine register, from the deep baying of a mastiff to the shrill pipe of a terrier."

I haven't been able to find out what Dr. Marage's first name was. All the sources I can find simply refer to him as 'Dr. Marage'.

The Sketch - Dec 15, 1909



Scientific American - Feb 5, 1910



Text from Scientific American (Feb 5, 1910):

Marage employed, in his experiments, the larynx of the dog. In order to spare the animal useless suffering, morphine was first administered hypodermically and, three hours later, the dog was put under the influence of chloroform, and the larynx, with five or six rings of the trachea, was excised. A rubber tube of the diameter of the trachea was then connected with the latter by means of a short tube of thing glass, so that a current of cold air could be forced through the extirpated larynx. The pressure of the air was measured with a very sensitive metallic manometer graduated in millimeters of water pressure. The compressed air was stored in a rubber bag similar to those which are employed for inhalations of oxygen, and was kept at the temperature of 98.6 deg. F. The muscles of the larynx were stimulated by the current of a small induction coil, which was energized by a storage battery, and the sounds emitted by the larynx were recorded by a phonograph. The following conclusions were reached:

When the larynx of a dog is removed during chloroform anesthesia, the laryngeal muscles retain their ability to contract for a short period, which varies from 3 to 10 minutes, but no contraction can be produced in the muscles of a dead larynx, even if it is removed immediately after the death of an animal, because the arterial blood has escapes.

In order to produce the vibrations, the current of air should be impelled by a pressure of from 6 to 8 inches of water, as it is in the normal production of the human voice. In these conditions the excised larynx of the dog barks and howls in every note of the canine register, from the deep baying of a mastiff to the shrill pipe of a terrier. These various notes are obtained at will by causing various muscles to contract.

Posted By: Alex - Thu Jun 20, 2024 - Comments (0)
Category: Experiments | Dogs | 1900s

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All original content in posts is Copyright © 2016 by the author of the post, which is usually either Alex Boese ("Alex"), Paul Di Filippo ("Paul"), or Chuck Shepherd ("Chuck"). All rights reserved. The banner illustration at the top of this page is Copyright © 2008 by Rick Altergott.

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