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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:

  • Hallucinogenic Fish
    Sarpa salpa (above) is a type of sea bream found in the Mediterranean as well as in temperate areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It has one unusual quality. Eating it can cause hallucinations. For this reason, it's sometimes called the "dreamfish." People have known about this for a long time. Apparently Sarpa salpa was occasionally eaten for recreational purposes during the Roman Empire. A 2006 article in the journal Clinical Toxicology describes some medical case reports involving dreamfish consumption. For instance, in 1994 a 40-year-old man on vacation in the French Riviera ate some, and the next day the hallucinations began: he began to experience blurring of vision and hallucinations involving aggressive and screaming animals. Agitation and disorientation led him to seek medical assistance (he was not able to drive anymore as he was seeing giant arthropods around his car). Physical examination upon arrival at the hospital emergency room demonstrated no notable abnormalities: no fever, no sign of focalization or sensory-motor deficit, and normal hemodynamic status except for sinusal tachycardia linked directly to the mental disturbances. During hospitalization, the patient recovered rapidly with complete resolution of symptoms within 36 h post ingestion. He was unable to recall the hallucinatory period. Similarly, in 2002 a 90-year-old retiree ate some sea bream, again in the French Riviera, and experienced hallucinations involving "human screams and bird squealing." A case described on Wikipedia seems to have been far more pleasurable. In 1960, National Geographic photographer Joe Roberts purposefully ate some broiled dreamfish: "he experienced intense hallucinations with a science-fiction theme that included futuristic vehicles, images of space exploration, and monuments marking humanity's first trips into space." The authors of the Clinical Toxicology article note that cases of hallucinogenic fish poisoning (ichthyoallyeinotoxism) are often confused with ciguatera poisoning — the latter caused by fish flesh contaminated by "various toxins produced by the benthic dinoflagellate Gambierdiscus toxicus." Ciguatera can also cause hallucinations. However, it may also kill you, whereas you should recover from the dreamfish hallucinations within 36 hours. (Thanks to hotsauce269 for letting us know about the dreamfish.)
  • Special Chinese Kid’s Book
    Who could resist spending $57.40 plus $10.00 shipping for a book with this description: Turtle with a small purple alien friend scientific expedition. Crossing the Sea like Crossing the Sea two stories travel the world. Little Turtle purple alien with friends explore the ocean together. they saw the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef. but dangerous whale is near! Little purple alien turtles have a friend who has a cool graduated spaceship! Spaceship. turtles and small purple alien friends a series of scientific adventures. They leap into space. understanding the mystery of the eight planets; they cross the center of the earth. after a dangerous volcanoes . But not all smooth sailing expedition. when they go to sea. but accidentally be swallowed into the stomach. Item is here at time of posting.
  • The New Look in Hot Water Bottles
    From 1948. Dreamed up by the folks at B.F. Goodrich. And it's still a popular look in S&M gear. The Akron Beacon Journal - Jan 1, 1948 Palm Beach Post - Jan 5, 1948
  • The Tubby Hubby Diet
    Original ad here. Original ad here. I just cannot believe the arrogant sexism and objectifying behavior of Josephine Lowman! I feel cheap and soiled, on behalf of all tubby hubbies. LATE ADDITION TO THE POST: I could not resist adding this new term I just thought of: "schlub-shaming."
  • Anti-Hero Hostility Dart Board
    In 1967, artist Robert Cenedella came out with the "Anti-Hero Hostility Dart Board," featuring "photographic images of some of your favorite anti-heroes." Consumers could choose between an "LBJ, Lady Bird, Humphrey, Castro, Hochi Minn, De Gaulle, Nasser, Nixon, Bobby Kennedy, Reagan, or Sigmund Freud" dart board. In a later interview, Cenedella said that, "For a few dollars extra, you could put a relative or an ex-wife there." He added, "I had more success in doing these gimmicks than I did at my art." The following year, Cenedella discontinued the dart boards, citing his concern that the nation had become too violent. As far as I know, Cenedella's Hostility Dart Board was the first commercially sold, political-themed dart board. But nowadays they're fairly common., for instance, has a bunch of them. La Crosse Tribune - June 12, 1968
  • Why Can’t My Teacher Look Like Mr. Novak?
    I like the bits of "Monster Mash" stuff that are gratuitously inserted. Of course, students lusting after teachers is now the stuff of prison sentences. Understand the central reference here.

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

Recent posts:

  • New Review at the B&NR December 2, 2016
    I look at SF from China:
  • Piketty in the (Counterfactual) Sixties November 27, 2016
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE November 25, 2016
    What's up with John Crowley's latest?
  • Weird Thanksgiving Present November 24, 2016
    Reminder:  I have a new blog, called You Have To Wonder. I'll be posting here and at the new blog through the end of November, and after that I'll only post there._________Yesterday I got a box of chocolates in the mail, with a somewhat puzzling card that said, "Happy Thanksgiving/ Will, Sharen, Nick & Alex."  Puzzling because I have no idea who these people are.So, Will, Sharen, Nick & Alex -- I'm not sure if these chocolates were intended for you or if they were sent by you.  Since I have no idea how to get in touch with you, though, I have to say I've already eaten a few.  And they were delicious.Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
  • Lessing in the (Counterfactual) Sixties November 21, 2016
  • New Review at LOCUS ONLINE November 21, 2016
    Two-for-one, Beukes and Sterling: