News of the Weird: Too-Much-Reality TV
Jan09

News of the Weird: Too-Much-Reality TV

Russian producers are planning the so-far-ultimate survivors’ show — in the Siberian wilderness for nine months with temperatures as low as minus-40-degrees Fahrenheit, with 30 contestants selected after signing liability waivers that protect the show even if someone is raped or murdered. Police may come arrest the perpetrators, but the producers are not responsible for intervening. The show, Game2: Winter, will be telecast live,...

Read More
News of the Weird: Oh-So-Sweet Dreams
Jan03

News of the Weird: Oh-So-Sweet Dreams

The Hastens workshop in Koping, Sweden, liberally using the phrase “master artisans” recently, unveiled its made-to-order $149,900 mattress. Bloomberg News reported in December on Hastens’ 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...

Read More
News of the Weird: Holes Against Humanity 
Dec27

News of the Weird: Holes Against Humanity 

The rebellion against the absurdities of Black Friday this year by the organization Cards Against Humanity came in the form of raising money to dig a pointless hole in the ground. During the last week of November, people “contributed” $100,573, with Cards digging initially for 5.5 seconds per donated dollar. In 2015, according to an NPR report, Cards raised $71,145 by promising to do “absolutely nothing” with it, and the year before,...

Read More
News of the Weird: Radical Dentistry
Dec19

News of the Weird: Radical Dentistry

Radical Dentistry Radical dentistry was on display in November in London’s Science Gallery, where installations offered “art-science collaborations” — including Taiwan artist Kuang-Yi Ku’s “Fellatio Modification Project.” Former dentist Ku, complaining that textbooks on mouths tragically under-regard their value in sex, created (the ordinary way) a custom retainer for the client’s mouth but then added rubber “bumps” and “cones” and...

Read More
Scene Here: Decorations Not Included
Dec12

Scene Here: Decorations Not Included

When Mike McCusker and Polly Anderson finished sawing down their Christmas tree, McCusker held the saw up to his nose. The heavy scent of fresh pine from the just-cut tree was just part of the appeal for the two from Shelburne Falls, who had been coming to the Cranston Christmas Tree Farm in Ashfield for decades. “This is really the place to be,” he said. The Farm was busy last weekend, something owners Thomas and Cynthia Cranston...

Read More
News of the Weird: Ecret-Say Ode-Kay
Dec12

News of the Weird: Ecret-Say Ode-Kay

American gangsters traditionally use euphemisms and nicknames (“Chin,” “The Nose”) to disguise criminal activities, but among details revealed at a November murder trial in Sydney, Australia, was that members of the “Brothers 4 Life” gang might have used “pig latin.” In a phone-tapped conversation played in court, one of the men on trial was overheard cunningly telling a henchman that a colleague had been “caught with the un-gay in...

Read More
News of the Weird: Even Baking Soda is Dangerous
Dec05

News of the Weird: Even Baking Soda is Dangerous

Almost all law enforcement agencies in America use the Scott Reagent field test when they discover powder that looks like cocaine, but the several agencies that have actually conducted tests for false positives say they happen up to half the time. In October, the latest victims — husband-and-wife truck drivers with spotless records and Pentagon clearances — were finally released after 75 days in jail awaiting trial for baking soda...

Read More
News of the Weird: The Future of Travel
Nov28

News of the Weird: The Future of Travel

Australian aviator David Mayman has promised investors that his personal jet packs will hit the market by mid-2017, though early adopters will pay about $250,000 for one, to fly a person at up to 60 mph for 10 minutes. The JB-10, developed by Mayman and designer Nelson Tyler, has made about 400 test runs in Monaco and over downtown London and New York City, but the partners realize that ultimate success will require that the fuel...

Read More
News of the Weird: Democracy in Action
Nov21

News of the Weird: Democracy in Action

While “democracy” in most of America means electing representatives to run government, on Nov. 8 in San Francisco it also expected voters to decide 43 often vague, densely worded “issues” that, according to critics, could better be handled by the professionals who are, after all, elected by those very same voters. Except for hot-button issues like tax increases or hardened legislative gridlock, solutions on these “propositions” (e.g.,...

Read More
News of the Weird: The Nanny State
Nov14

News of the Weird: The Nanny State

New York City officially began licensing professional fire eaters earlier this year, and classes have sprung up to teach the art so that the city’s Fire Department Explosives Unit can test for competence and issue the E29 certificates. In the “bad old [license-less] days,” a veteran fire eater told The New York Times in October, a “bunch of us” performed regularly for $50 a throw, largely oblivious of the dangers — though some admit...

Read More
News of the Weird: Can’t Possibly Be True
Nov07

News of the Weird: Can’t Possibly Be True

Kids as young as 6 who live on a cliff top in China’s Atule’er village in Sichuan province will no longer have to use flexible vine-based ladders to climb down and up the 2,600-foot descent from their homes to school. Beijing News disclosed in October, in a report carried by CNN, that a sturdy steel ladder was being built to aid the 400 villagers after breathtaking photographs of them making the treacherous commute surfaced on...

Read More
News of the Weird: Religion Adapts to Technology
Oct31

News of the Weird: Religion Adapts to Technology

A network of freelance Buddhist priests in Japan last year began offering in-home, a la carte services for those adherents who shun temples through Amazon in Japan, quoting fixed fees and bypassing the usual awkward deliberation over “donations.” And in September, Pastor David Taylor of Joshua Media Ministries International (St. Louis, Missouri) announced, to great fanfare, that he had “resurrected” a diabetic woman, 40 minutes after...

Read More
News of the Weird: Pot for Pets
Oct24

News of the Weird: Pot for Pets

As nine states next month ask voters to approve some form of legalization of marijuana, a “new customer base” for the product — pets — was highlighted in an October New York Times report. Dogs and cats are struck with maladies similar to those that humans report in cannabis success stories: seizures, inflammation, anxiety, arthritis, and other pain and subsequent social withdrawals. The “high”-producing THC element cannot...

Read More
News of the Weird: Extreme Hobbies
Oct17

News of the Weird: Extreme Hobbies

John Weigel and Olaf Danielson are engaged in a frenzied battle of “extreme birdwatching,” each hoping to close out 2016 as the new North American champ of the American Birding Association, and a September Smithsonian piece had Weigel ahead, 763 to 759. Danielson is perhaps better known for doing much of his birding in the nude — and is the author of the provocatively titled volume, Boobies, Peckers and Tits — all common names of...

Read More
News of the Weird: Frontiers of Science
Oct10

News of the Weird: Frontiers of Science

Large kidney stones typically mean eye-watering pain and sudden urinary blockage until the stone “passes” (often requiring expensive sound-wave treatment to break up a large stone). Michigan State University urologist David Wartinger told The Atlantic in September that he had recently happened upon a pain-free — even exciting! — way to pass stones before they become problems: the centripetal force from a roller coaster ride. In a...

Read More
News of the Weird: Insanity Defined
Sep26

News of the Weird: Insanity Defined

Police and prosecutors in Dallas, appropriately sensitive at having been the site of the 1963 killing of President Kennedy, have apparently taken out their shame on assassination buff Robert Groden. As the Dallas Observer reported in September, Groden has been ticketed by police dozens of times for operating book sales booths near the “grassy knoll” — the site of the alleged “second shooter” of the president — and yet he prevails in...

Read More
News of the Weird: These Shoes Weren’t Made for Walkin’
Sep12

News of the Weird: These Shoes Weren’t Made for Walkin’

The upscale clothier Barneys New York recently introduced $585 “Distressed Superstar Sneakers” from the high-end brand Golden Goose that were purposely designed to look scuffed, well-worn and cobbled-together, as if they were shoes recovered from a Dumpster. The quintessential touch was the generous use of duct tape on the bottom trim. Critics were in abundance, accusing Barneys of mocking poverty. News That Sounds Like a...

Read More
News of the Weird: Outstanding in Their Fields
Sep06

News of the Weird: Outstanding in Their Fields

The recently concluded Olympics included a few of the more obscure athletic endeavors — such as dressage for horses and steeplechase for humans — but U.S. colleges compete in even less-heralded “sports,” such as wood chopping, rock climbing, fishing, and broomball. University of Alabama, 2015 national football champions, dominates also in the 280-school bass-fishing competition, and New York’s Paul Smith College’s...

Read More
News of the Weird: Virtual Fandom
Aug29

News of the Weird: Virtual Fandom

The phenomenal Japanese singer Hatsune Miku — 100 million YouTube hits — is coming off of a sold-out, 10-city North American concert tour with high-energy audiences — blocks-long lines to get in; raucous crowd participation; hefty souvenir sales — except that “she” isn’t real. Hatsune Miku is a projected hologram on stage singing and dancing, but her band is human, and her May show in Dallas, according to a Dallas Observer...

Read More
News of the Weird: New World Order
Aug22

News of the Weird: New World Order

India has supposedly outlawed the “baby-tossing” religious test popular among Hindus and Muslims in rural villages in Maharashtra and Karnataka states, but a July New York Times report suggested that parents were still allowing surrogates to drop their newborn infants from 30 feet up and awaiting the gods’ blessing for a prosperous, healthy life. In all cases, according to the report, the gods come through, and a...

Read More
News of the Weird: Frontiers of Fashion
Aug08

News of the Weird: Frontiers of Fashion

As Americans’ fascination with guns grows, so, too, does the market for protection against all those flying bullets. Texan John Adrain has introduced an upscale sofa whose cushions can stop up to a .44 Magnum fired at close range, and is now at work on bullet-resistant window blinds. Another company, BulletSafe, recently touted its $129 baseball caps (with protection against the same bullets, but only in front) — though the...

Read More
News of the Weird: Designer Leather
Aug15

News of the Weird: Designer Leather

The late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who dabbled in macabre collections, himself, might appreciate the work of acolyte Tina Gorjanc: She will grow McQueen’s skin from DNA off his hair in a lab, add back his tattoos, and from that make leather handbags and jackets. Gorjanc, a recent graduate of McQueen’s fashion school alma mater, bills the project mainly as showcasing the meager legal protections for abandoned bits...

Read More
News of the Weird: Painting Eyes on Cow Bums for Science
Aug01

News of the Weird: Painting Eyes on Cow Bums for Science

A conservation biologist at Australia’s University of New South Wales said in July that his team was headed to Botswana to paint eyeballs on cows’ rear ends. It’s a solution to the problem of farmers who are now forced to kill endangered lions to keep them away from their cows. However, the researchers hypothesize, since lions hunt by stealth and tend to pass up kills if the prey spots them, painting on eyeballs...

Read More
News of the Weird: Weird Numbers
Jul25

News of the Weird: Weird Numbers

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced in May that it had collected $765,000 in loose change left behind in airport scanner trays during 2015 — an average haul for the agency of $2,100 a day. Los Angeles and Miami airports contributed $106,000 of the total. Take Your Word for It Scientists at the University of Cambridge, writing in May in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, claimed to have figured out...

Read More
News of the Weird: Fashion Challenges
Jul19

News of the Weird: Fashion Challenges

Beautician Sarah Bryan, 28, of Wakefield, England, who garnered worldwide notoriety last year when she introduced a wearable dress made of 3,000 Skittles, returned this summer with a wearable skirt and bra made of donated human hair — a substantial amount of which, she said, is pubic hair. She admits having had to work in an eye mask, breathing mask and thick gloves, out of fear of donors’ hygiene habits. More conventionally,...

Read More
News of the Weird: Blessings, Guaranteed
Jul11

News of the Weird: Blessings, Guaranteed

More and more churches — hundreds, according to a June Christianity Today report — offer hesitant parishioners a “money-back guarantee” if they tithe 10 percent, or more, of their income for 90 days, but then feel that God blesses them insufficiently in return. The South Carolina megachurch NewSpring instituted such a program in the 1990s and claims that, of 7,000 recent pledgers, “fewer than 20” expressed...

Read More
News of the Weird: A Longtime Recurring Theme Peaks
Jul05

News of the Weird: A Longtime Recurring Theme Peaks

In May, an apparently devout woman named Katy Vasquez of Winter Park, Florida, posted a sincerely written entry on Facebook — and told Huffington Post in an interview — that she had just seen a “sign from God,” a cross, as a smudge in her infant’s soiled diaper. “I prayed to God for a sign that everything would be okay,” she gushed to the reporter. “It might not be the prettiest sign, but he put it...

Read More
News of the Weird: Getting Fannies in the Seats
Jun27

News of the Weird: Getting Fannies in the Seats

The Bunyadi opened in London in June for a three-month run as the world’s newest nude-dining experience, and, since it only seats 42, it now has a reservation waiting list of 40,000. Besides the nakedness, the Bunyadi creates “true liberation,” said its founder, by serving only food “from nature,” cooked over fire — no electricity. Waiters are nude, as well, except for minimal concessions to seated diners...

Read More
News of the Weird: App Nauseam
Jun20

News of the Weird: App Nauseam

In May, the Norwegian Consumer Council staged a live, 32-hour TV broadcast marathon — a word-for-word reading of the “terms of service” for internet applications Instagram, Spotify and more than two dozen others, totaling 900 pages and 250,000 words of legal restrictions and conditions that millions of users “voluntarily” agree to when they sign up, usually via a mouse click or finger swipe. A council official...

Read More
News of the Weird: Who’s a Good Boy?
Jun14

News of the Weird: Who’s a Good Boy?

Life is good now for British men who “identify” as dogs and puppies, as evidenced by a BBC documentary, Secret Life of the Human Pups, showing men in body outfits — one a Lycra-suited Dalmatian, “Spot” — exhibiting “sexual” expressions, such as stomach-rubbing, ear-tickling and nuzzling their “handlers;” eating out of bowls; gnawing on chew toys; wearing collars, so as not to be a...

Read More
News of the Weird: Cashing In
Jun06

News of the Weird: Cashing In

By 2009, when Zimbabwe’s central bank gave up on controlling inflation, its largest currency was the 100 trillion-dollar bill — barely enough for bus fare in Harare and not even worth the paper needed to print it. However, that 100 trillion-dollar note has turned out to be a great investment for several astute traders in London and New Zealand, who bought thousands of them at pennies on the trillion and now report brisk sales to...

Read More
News of the Weird: People With Issues
May31

News of the Weird: People With Issues

Pixee Fox reported in May that she was recovering nicely from cosmetic rib-removal surgery, performed by one of the few doctors in the world who offers it, Dr. Barry Eppley of Carmel, Indiana. Though she has had more than a dozen “beautifying” procedures, she had trouble finding a surgeon who would agree to take out six “free-floating” ribs — ones not attached to the sternum. Born in Sweden, she gave up a...

Read More
News of the Weird: Medical Miracle
May23

News of the Weird: Medical Miracle

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced they had recently transmitted high-speed digital data through slabs of pork loin and beef liver. The signal cleared the muscle and gristle so cleanly that it permitted streaming of high-definition video — enough to watch Netflix, said the lead researcher. The advance is actually crucial in that it allows a patient to swallow a transmitter and for physicians to...

Read More
News of the Weird: Google Sees the Future
May16

News of the Weird: Google Sees the Future

Google filed a U.S. Patent Office application on April 28 for a vision-improvement device in liquid form that, once inserted — i.e., injected directly into the eyeball — solidifies into not only a lens replacement for the eye, but an instrument that carries its own storage, radio and wireless power supply. The idea, according to inventor Andrew Jason Conrad, is to better focus light onto the retina. The patent process does not assure...

Read More
News of the Weird: Jail Is Hell
May09

News of the Weird: Jail Is Hell

The eye-catching Vietnamese model and Playboy, Venezuela edition, Playmate Angie Vu complained to the New York Daily News in April that her five-plus months in jail in Brooklyn have been “torture” and “cruel” because of her lack of access to beauty care. Vu is fighting extradition to France for taking her 9-year-old daughter in violation of the father’s custody claim and is locked up until a federal judge...

Read More