Paul's collaborative writing on the web

The Inferior 4+1 is a Livejournal community maintained by Paul, lizhand, Paul Witcover, lucius-t and ljgoldstein.

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The Weird Universe explores a human and natural cosmos that is not only stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we can imagine. The usual suspects are Paul Di Filippo; Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes; and Chuck Shepherd, purveyor of News of the Weird.

Recent posts:

  • Conehead Sumo Wrestlers
    1994: The Japan Sumo Association finally got around to banning the practice, apparently quite common among young sumo wrestlers, of implanting lumps of silicone beneath their scalp in order to meet the minimum height requirement of 5 feet 8 inches. The Association probably wouldn't have done anything if they hadn't become embarrassed by media reports of conehead wrestlers. Before the silicone technique became popular, some wrestlers used to hit themselves on top of their head to raise large bumps before being measured. Morristown Daily Record - July 13, 1994 Sumo wrestler Mainoumi, before and after scalp implant
  • Blind Man’s Penis
    The full story here.
  • The Land of Bottle
    Musician and composer Robert Rohe worked with the New Orleans symphony for 25 years. His most famous composition was "The Land of Bottle," which he wrote in 1958. It was a piece for 8 Coca-Cola bottles. As the musicians blew into the bottles, a narrator described "a rocket ship trip to the other side of the moon where all of the people are bottles." The composition enjoyed a few years of popularity, but has since fallen into obscurity. You can find the sheet music for it at Boosey & Hawkes, and a brief bio of Rohe at legacy.com. Dec 1962: Honolulu Symphony Orchestra performing Land of BottleHonolulu Star-Advertiser - Dec 1, 1962 April 1959: The "bottle section" of the Liverpool Music Group, Philharmonic Hall, LiverpoolThe Guardian - Apr 15, 1959
  • Mystery Gadget 50
    Purpose of this device revealed here. And after the jump.
  • News of the Weird (June 25, 2017)
    News of the Weird Weirdnuz.M533, June 25, 2017 Copyright 2017 by Chuck Shepherd. All rights reserved. Lead Story Update: Three weeks ago, News of the Weird touted the "genderless," extraterrestrial-appearing Hollywood makeup artist known as Vinny Ohh, but then Marcela Iglesias announced (following a leaked TV clip) that she had formed an agency for would-be celebrities who had radically transformed their bodies (and that Vinny is now a client). Iglesias's "Plastics of Hollywood" has the human "Ken" dolls (Rodrigo Alves and Justin Jedica), the Argentine "elf" Luis Patron, a Jessica Rabbit lookalike (Pixee Fox), and seven others who, Iglesias figures, have collectively spent almost $3 million on surgery and procedures (some of which are ongoing). (Patron, 25, seems the most ambitious, having endured, among other procedures, painful, "medically-unapproved" treatments to change his eye color.) [Daily Mail (London), 5-26-2017; 5-3-2017] Recurring Themes Richard Patterson, 65, is the most recent defendant to choose, as trial strategy, to show the jury his penis. A Broward County, Fla., court was trying him in the choking death of his girlfriend. (Patterson called the death accidental, as it occurred during oral sex, and there was conflicting medical opinion on whether that could have proved fatal.) Patterson's lawyer said his standby position was to show a mold of the penis but insisted that a live demonstration would be more effective. (Update: The judge disallowed the showing, but in May the jury found Patterson not guilty anyway.) [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 5-30-2017] In rare cases, a mother has given birth for the principal purpose of "harvesting" a baby's cells ultimately to benefit another family member with a condition or illness that the cells would aid. However, Keri Young of Oklahoma gave birth in April for a different purpose. After learning while pregnant that her baby would not long survive after birth (because of "anencephaly"), she nonetheless carried it to term--just to harvest organs for unspecified people who might need them (though the grieving Keri and husband Royce admit that some might judge their motive harshly). [Houston Chronicle, 4-19-2017] In some parts of traditional Japanese society, it remains not-uncommon for someone to feel the need to "rent" "friends." For example, relatives at a funeral bear grief better if they realize the many "friends" the deceased had. Or, a working man or woman may rent a sweetheart just to help deflect parental pressure to marry. In northern China, in April, a man was arrested for renting "family" and "friends" to populate his side of the aisle at his wedding. Apparently, there were conflicts plaguing each family, and police were investigating, but the groom surely worsened the plan by not coaching the actors on his personal details, thus making inter-family small-talk especially awkward. [BBC News, 5-1-2017] Our Litigious Society: (1) David Waugaman, 57, fell off a barstool last year and needed needed surgery, and of course he is suing the tavern at Ziggy's Hotel in Youngwood, Pa., for continuing to serve him before he fell. Wrote Waugaman, "You're not supposed to feed people so much booze." (2) Robert Bratton filed a lawsuit recently in Columbia, Mo., against the Hershey chocolate company because there was too much empty space in his grocery-store box of Reese's Pieces, which he thought was "deceptive" (even though the correct number of Pieces was printed on the label). In May, federal judge Nanette Laughrey ruled that Bratton's case could continue, for the jury to decide. [PennLive, 5-15-2017] [KCUR Radio (Kansas City), 5-17-2017] Latest From Offended Classes: (1) Some minority students' organizations, commenting on the planned extensive renovation of the University of Michigan's student union building, recommended ditching the current interior's elegant wood paneling--because it gives off an "imposing, masculine" feeling that makes them seem "marginalized." A spokesperson for the students, attempting to soothe the controversy, said the marginalization was more based on the building's "quiet nature." (2) In Australia, Chanel's just-introduced luxury wood-and-resin boomerang (selling for the equivalent of about $1,415) came under fire from aboriginal groups for "cultural appropriation." (Hermes had issued its own luxury boomerang in 2013.) [The College Fix, 5-15-2017] [Sydney Morning Herald, 5-15-2017] For not the first time in News of the Weird's experience, a man shot himself but had the bullet pass through him and hit a bystander (except this time it was fatal to the bystander). Victor Sibson, 21, was charged in Anchorage, Alaska, in May with killing his girlfriend even though he had aimed at his own head. Investigators were persuaded that it was a genuine suicide attempt, though he survived but in critical condition.) [KTUU-TV (Anchorage), 5-22-2017] More Animals With Affordable Healthcare: In April, the annual report of the Association of British Insurers on their members' policies for pet owners noted that among the claims paid were those for a bearded dragon with an abscess, an anorexic Burmese python, a cocker spaniel that swallowed a turkey baster, a cockatoo with respiratory problems, and even a "lethargic" housecat (which nonetheless cost the equivalent of $470 to treat. [BBC News, 4-17-2017] Legal "Experts" Everywhere! American "sovereigns" litter courtrooms with their self-indulgent misreadings of history and the Constitution (misreadings that, coincidentally, happen to favor them with free passes on arrests and tax-paying), but now, the UK's Exeter Crown Court has experienced Mark Angell, 41, who said in May that he simply could not step into the courtroom dock to state a plea concerning possession of cannabis because he would thus be "submitting" to "maritime law," which he could not legally do on dry land. Judge: "Don't talk nonsense. Get in the dock." Angell was ordered to trial. (Before leaving, he handed the judge a bill for his detention: the equivalent of $2.5 million.) [DevonLive (Exeter), 5-19-2017] More Third-World Religion: In March, Zimbabwean pastor Paul Sanyangore of Victory World International Ministries was captured on video during a sermon, telephoning God. Clutching a phone to his ear, he yelled, 'Hello, is this heaven? I have a woman here, what do you have to say about her?" (Her two children, one epileptic, the other asthmatic, are then confusingly described by "heaven" as being "changed," and Paul ended the call to resounding cheers from the congregation.) [AfricaNews (Lyon, France), 5-23-2017] More of the World's Third-Oldest Crime (Smuggling): (1) In the latest awesome drug-mule haul of gold (into South Korea, where it fetches higher prices than in neighboring countries), 51 people were arrested in May for bringing in, over a two-year period, a cumulative two tons, worth $99 million, by hiding it in body parts befitting their biological sex. (2) Customs officials in Abdali, Kuwait, apprehended a pigeon in May with 178 ketamine pills inside a fabric pocket attached to its back. [Daily Mail (London), 5-24-2017] [BBC News, 5-25-2017] The Aristocrats! Almost an Epidemic: Men suffering compulsive public masturbation recently: (1) In the midst of evening rush hour in the New York-New Jersey Lincoln Tunnel, Ismael Esquilin, 48, stopped his minivan and engaged (May 11th). (2) In downtown Portland, Ore., Terry Andreassen was arrested engaging "vigorously" because he "hates Portland" (and was charged with "felony" public indecency) (May 3rd). (3) In Dunbar, W.Va., Tristan Tucker, 27, allegedly broke into a relative's home and stole security camera recordings of him engaging (April 23rd). (4) Vix Bodziak, 70, allegedly engaged at a McDonald's in Springfield, Mass. (April 20th) (Bonus: Police found a paper-stuffed tube sock bulging underneath his pant leg.) [New York, 5-12-2017] [KATU-TV (Portland), 5-12-2017] [WCHS-TV (Charleston), 5-16-2017] [The Republican (Springfield), 4-22-2017] The Classic Middle Name (all-new!) * Arrested Recently and Awaiting Trial for Murder: Boe Wayne Adams (Wichita, Kan., May), Jason Vann Wayne Godfrey (Sanford, N.C., August); Earl Wayne Humphries (Dallas, Tex., May); Michael Wayne Pennington Jr. (Tazewell, Va., May). Convicted of Murder: Anthony Wayne Davis (Lorain, Ohio, January); Jerry Wayne Merritt (Columbus, Ga., February). Pleaded No-Contest to Murder: Nathan Wayne Scheiern (Glendale, Calif., April). Murder Conviction Appeal Denied: Derrick Wayne Murray (Birmingham, Ala., April). Convicted Murderer Seeking New Plea Deal: Robert Wayne Lonardo (Benton, Maine, May). Murderers No Longer With Us: Billy Wayne Cope (Rock Hill, S.C, February, died in prison; Marcel Wayne Williams (Varner, Ark., April, executed). Adams: [KWCH-TV (Wichita), 5-3-2017] Godfrey: [WRAL-TV (Raleigh), 8-15-2016] Humphries: [Dallas Observer, 5-10-2017] Pennington: [Bluefield Daily Telegraph, 5-10-2017] Davis: [Morning Journal (Lorain), 1-18-2017] Merritt: [Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus), 2-8-2017] Scheiern: [Los Angeles Daily News, 4-28-2017] Murray: [AL.com, 4-28-2017] Lonardo: [Portland Press Herald, 5-9-2017] Cope: [The State (Columbia, S.C.), 2-9-2017] Williams: [CNN, 4-25-2017] Thanks This Week to Alan Magid and Chip Gorman and to the News of the Weird Board of Editorial Advisors.
  • Battleship - the gender role edition
    Milton Bradley debuted the board game Battleship in 1967, and the illustration on the box of that first edition has become somewhat notorious because it shows a father and son playing the game while the mother and daughter in the background do the dishes. That choice of scene wasn't any kind of accident. The game was deliberately marketed as a "father and son game." The phrase was constantly repeated in early advertisements for the game. The whole idea of "father and son games" has now, of course, disappeared from board games. The Akron Beacon Journal - Nov 30, 1969