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Archive for October, 2014

Wednesdays are also weird at the Alamo Ritz!

The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is right down the street from the Museum of the Weird and just to show how much we love ’em, if you and a friend are heading down to check out their “Weird Wednesday” screenings at 10 pm (ish), you can get your friend into the Museum of the Weird for free! How, you ask? Show up early to pick up your ticket (at least an hour) and bring it into the museum. Show it to the staff, buy an admission for yourself, and your friend gets in with you for free!

wacko1Watching your friends get literally mowed down by “The Lawnmower Killer” is certain to leave a few scars. Just ask Mary Graves (Julia Duffy) who in her senior year of high school is still dealing with some post traumatic stress from the incident. She has some intimacy issues with her boyfriend, Norman Bates, and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Doctor Graves (George Kennedy and Stella Stevens) , just don’t seem to understand her. To make things worse, it seems like The Lawnmower Killer may be at it again! Detective Dick Harbinger (Joe Don Baker) is on the case. WACKO is a horror movie parody that is gleefully stupid and full of references to classic horror and the golden era of the slasher. Filling out the all-star cast of late-70s/early-80s character actors are Charles Napier, Elizabeth Daily, Andrew “Dice” Clay, and Austin’s own Sonny Carl Davis (as “The Weirdo!”). Director Greydon Clark (of Weird Wednesday favorite, JOYSTICKS fame) dedicates every minute of screentime to groan inducing, side splitting, head scratching inanity. Trick or treat. (Laird)


Terror Tuesday at the Alamo = Free +1 at Museum of the Weird

Tuesday is the day that the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz on 6th street features their curated “Terror Tuesday”. At 9:45 pm they show some of their favorite horror films, accompanied by weekly drink and food specials. And you can get a two-fer if you show up early! Give yourself an extra hour before the show starts, pick up your ticket, bring it and a friend into the Museum of the Weird, just down the block, show our staff your ticket, and if you buy admission to the museum, your friend gets in with you for free!

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RARE ARCHIVAL 35MM SCREENING for only three bucks! Sponsored by VULCAN VIDEO!!

Michael Myers is back. AND HE IS FILLED WITH RAGE! In the grand tradition of Universal’s BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, HALLOWEEN II picks up immediately where its predecessor left off. After a climactic battle with Dr. Loomis/Donald Pleasance (“I shot him SIX TIMES!!”), Michael terrorizes a hospital where Laurie Strode/Jamie Lee Curtis is recovering. But this time, The Shape doesn’t mess around with off-screen violence and post-kill introspection. The suggestive horror of HALLOWEEN is swapped out for the chaotic destruction of FRIDAY THE 13TH, as Michael Myers becomes a ferocious rage-beast who is out to destroy!! Hammers-to-heads! Syringes-to-eyes! Boiling-water-to-faces! Combining the small-town paranoia of THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN with the uneasy darkness of THE TOOLBOX MURDERS, HALLOWEEN II is a masterful, beautifully made early-80s slasher that thrives on tension and shocks. This includes the scene where Michael Myers walks through a door instead of opening it. (Joseph A. Ziemba)


Support Texas Film: Found Footage 3D: THE MOVIE

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We here at Museum of the Weird (and our sister store SFANTHOR on South Congress) love horror movies, and as a locally owned small business, we understand as well how much work goes into a project like making an indie horror film. So when we heard about the devotion and love going into the Texas made film “Found Footage 3D” by writer/director Steven DeGennaro, our interest was piqued.

The plot follows a group of indie filmmakers making the first 3D found footage horror film who find themselves trapped IN a found footage 3d horror when a evil entity from their own movie starts showing up in their behind-the-scenes footage. Going for the funny and scary in the vein of Wes Craven’s “Scream”, the canny crew use their knowledge of cliches and rules of the found footage genre to survive.

While the principal photography is complete, a movie like this requires a good deal of work in post, funds to complete practical effects shots and money for marketing. Which is why Steven turned to Indiegogo to help fun the post-production work. Making a plea for backers is an art in and of itself and I can safely say that the Found Footage 3D crew put together one of the most appealing and funny support videos I’ve yet to come across:

But that’s not nearly all of the free horror funnies the gang has put together to entice you into helping make what looks to be a great film. If you go to their indiegogo page, which you can by clicking at the link at the bottom of this page, you’ll see a fun diorama swede (inexpensive re-creation) of Johnny Depp’s death from the original “Nightmare on Elm Street” film as well as a few scenes from the movie, making-of footage, the award-winning short by the director “First Date” and more.

You know Steven, you had me at “I wanted to do as much of the movie’s effects practically as possible. Especially the gore effects. Nobody likes CG gore effects.”. No, no they don’t. At least not any respectable horror fans. Check out their fun website for the film and go to their indiegogo to support the film and get all kinds of cool perks including very rare signed collectibles from the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.


The Women Who Lead the Charge in Rogue Taxidermy

The field of Taxidermy has been the domain of more than just the family from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and your weird, creepy uncle. To the circus sideshow, taxidermy mad-skillz, and off the beaten path mad-skillz, were pretty much essential. Sewing together parts from different animals to make a new one is how the sideshow Gaffs began, most notably P.T. Barnum’s famed Fiji Mermaid. Gaffs have run the gamut from furry fish to the always popular Jackalope (which as I previously reported may have actually been based on a thoroughly disgusting natural phenomenon). But now, the portmanteau stuffing of animals have moved from out of the darkness of circus tents and into the art galleries…and it’s a group of rather attractive women who are leading the charge.

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Meet the women of “Rogue Taxidermy”. From left to right, Sarina Brewer of Minneapolis, Kate Clark of Brooklyn, Lisa Black of Brisbane Australia, Katie Innamorato of New Jersey and Amber Maykut of Brooklyn. They all share an interest in this new art form that is, according to Robert Marbury, co-founder of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists, “a pop-surrealist genre of sculpture that uses taxidermy materials, traditional materials, in an unconventional manner. The attempt is to be as ethical, to reduce and reuse as much as we can of the animal so there’s no waste, feeding back to stewardship and conservation.”

Abstract and strange, rogue taxidermists don’t hunt but re-use, often combining other forms of art into their pieces. The results vary and quite a bit, but these creations are strange, beautiful and sometimes kind of haunting. Check out some of these examples…

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Amazing.

You really should check out this article from Vice.com which explores the new art form and interviews each of these women about their style and techniques. Coolness.


Evil Clowns Stalk California Town

Just in time for the new season of “American Horror Story” which focuses on a circus freak show and a serial killer clown…

clown-lobby-unhappy-about-killer-clown-in-American-Horror-Story…we’ve got a story for you about evil clowns popping up all over the place in Bakersfield California. The worst thing that’s happened to this town in the last several decades is spawning the band KoRn. But now…evil clowns. No thank you.

Not the first town to recently get stalked by mysterious and scary clowns, Bakersfield has got its hands full this time. Is there a number to call the Winchester Brothers anywhere?

Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie

Reports and even pictures have sprung up all over the town, now understandably in a furor over the horrible harlequins. And it gets worse. One child claims the clown chased him with an ax. Reports of seeing them commit various crimes run rampant, although the local Sheriff’s department couldn’t qualify any of them.

Rather than running for their lives like I would assume is the sensible thing to do, locals have organized into groups of clown-hunters, trying to chase the jester and take his picture. Check out some of these shots they’ve gathered:

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Have fun clown chasers. Not me. They all float down there.


Attack of the Shadow People

The latest, and I personally think by far the creepiest addition to the list of beings that go bump in the night, are the Shadow People. Although shadowy presences and dark spirits have long been part of folklore and myth, tales of encounters with the Shadow People have become widely reported of late. Described as dark and human-shaped, occasionally with glowing red eyes and a hat or cape, the fleeting figures appear sometimes at the end of beds, sometimes in wooden areas, and often in the peripheral vision.

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To describe my own experience, I awoke from sleep in the apartment of a woman I’d just started dating. It was dusk and the light was dim, but not gone. I looked at the end of the bed and standing there, facing me, was the dark silhouette of a man wearing a fedora style hat. He seemed to be wearing some sort of coat (weird for Texas) and was in his entirety just as black as could be; no details were discernible other than what I could tell  from his outline. Immediately I struggled to get up but I found that I was met with invisible resistance. I could not move and for a moment, could not speak. I managed to utter my lady-friend’s name and grab her by the leg. She awoke suddenly and with a blink of an eye the figure was gone. Excited and shaking a bit, I explained what I had saw and she decided right then and there that she was not going to renew the lease next month. Speaking as the white guy in every horror movie that audiences yell at who reads aloud the words in the ancient book, spends the night in the cursed house, and pokes at the mysterious dead looking thing, I probably would have stayed and bought a whole bunch of fancy “Ghostbusters” looking equipment.

In 2001 the host of the popular Coast to Coast AM radio show, Art Bell, did a show about Shadow People, asking listeners to submit drawings of their own experiences with the dark ones, and he got swamped with art.

Shadowman-3This show has generally been credited with the rise of anecdotal reports of the Shadow People, much as the number of UFO reports went up after a civilian pilot in 1947 reported seeing 9 “saucer-like” objects in the sky, which led to a barrage of newspapers stories of “Flying Saucers” which have never really let up since. But what does that mean? Did people who had shared these experiences finally feel like they had a context to discuss them, or did the reports themselves lead to mistaken interpretations of natural phenomena?

Science has offered a number of explanations for the frightening apparitions. Certainly my experience, and that of many others, of the hazy creature as well as the paralysis, bears much in common with the ‘old hag’ or even alien abduction stories. Known as Isolated Sleep Paralysis (ISP) these experiences are usually very short and are associated with ‘incubus’ visitations. For those curious to know more, the subject has been intensely studied and is generally considered to be pretty well understood. But, you know, the brain and all. Who’s to say sufferers aren’t really being visited and we’re just observing the effects? Not me. Because I can tell you my experience damn sure FELT real. For whatever that’s worth. I’m going to firmly fall on the side of, I can’t say, and generally speaking, I prefer not to think too much about it. Because what if? What if.

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There are a ton of ideas and theories from believers about what exactly these things are. Some say they are aggregated negative mental energy formed in areas where terrible events have occurred, that has taken on a kind of sentience, feeding on negative emotions and energy. For the record, I’m pretty sure the apartment I was in at the time of my own experience was brand new, and the LAST thing I was feeling right then were negative emotions. New girlfriend and all. Alternate explanations say they are beings from a parallel universe or perhaps things that live in the space in between them. And then there are the demon and twisted spirit explanations…I prefer not to think about those too much. That’s WAY past the point that I really want to be creeped out.

Oddly, most believers firmly separate the Shadow People from ghosts, even though they are often sighted near supposedly haunted locations. Those into the lore say they are…‘something else’. Hey, they even have their own movie! Not a good one, mind you, but it’s a start.

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That Stuffed Nose Might Actually be a GIANT LEECH!

I don’t know if this is technically Halloweeny…it’s certainly the grossest story I’ve come across at least since the Rat Kings. Check out the unfortunate story of Scottish citizen Daniela Liverani. After a sightseeing trip through the lovely countryside of Vietnam, Daniela noticed her nose was bleeding a bit. Not thinking much of it, after returning to Edinburg, she saw something sticking out of her nose as far as her lip as she stepped out of the shower. She thought it was a blood clot. But no. No no no NO NO NO NO NO

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This…3 INCH LEECH…was living in her nose. For maybe, like WEEKS.

…..

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

*ahem*

Said Daniela, “I saw him so many times but I just sniffed him back up. I tried to blow him out and grab him but I couldn’t get a grip of him before he retreated back up my nose.” I’m baffled that it took as long as it did to realize something was HORRIBLY, HORRIBLY WRONG: “I jumped out of the shower to look really closely in the mirror and I saw ridges on him. That’s when I realized he was an animal. My friend Jenny and I called NHS 24 and were told to get to accident and emergency as soon as possible.”

Yeah, no kidding.

Very freaked out doctors used a flashlight, tweezers and forceps to extract the slimy creature: “The doctor used a nose forceps to prise my nostrils open really wide – it was agony. The nurse and Jenny pinned me down to the bed. Whenever the doctor grabbed him, I could feel tugging at the inside of my nose. Then all of a sudden, after about half an hour, the pain stopped and the doctor had the leech in the tweezers. He was about as long as my forefinger but as fat as my thumb. He could move so fast as well, which freaked me out. I’ve no idea how he got up there but he’d have got bigger and bigger from feeding on my blood.”

Please, let me take this moment to reiterate…

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

…as it were.

The doctor informed Daniela that if they had waited much longer the leech could very well have eaten its way into her brain. In relation to how this happened in the first place (seriously), Mark Siddal, curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and an expert on leeches said: “Daniela could have picked up this leech from water in Vietnam, if she had been swimming. “Or it could have gone in through her mouth, as she was drinking water. Even though it was there for around a month, these leeches don’t grow all that quickly, so it wouldn’t have been much smaller when it went up there. It would have been quite sizeable. It’s interesting that people don’t feel these leeches go up their nose.”

Yes…interesting. Erg. HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Sleep tight. Wear nose plugs. Especially in third-world countries.

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Mr. Morbid’s Moonlight Movie Madness Mayhem Massacre and MORE

That’s a lot of ‘M’s. And here’s another one: MAN, I love living in Austin, Texas. There’s always some new weird and cool thing around the corner (or hiding under the bed) to discover. Case in point…Mr Morbid’s Movie Massacre (shortened to keep myself from coming down with Carpal Tunnel.

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The Institution Theater, at 3708 Woodbury Dr. in Austin has a whole slew of cool October stuff on their plate, not the least of which is Mr. Morbid, described thusly:

Meet Mortimer Morbid, a quaint small-town mortician by day, a fright flick TV host by night …or so he would hope. Try as he might, he cannot seem to avoid the mishaps that continually block his line-up of B-grade horror schlock. Luckily, he has friends on hand to play out their best rendition of what they think the movie might have looked like. With the help of Austin’s best and most distinct improv troupes, bizarre trailers of substandard gore and terror are unspooled into feature-length ridiculousness every Friday in October at 10pm.

That’s ten smackers to get in for a LOT of bizarre and gruesome hilarity, perfect for your Halloweeny month. But that’s not all…

On Saturdays in October at 8pm, the Institution Theater presents, “Risen: Improvised Stories in World War Z”. For only 12 bucks you get this:

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The power has gone out. Panic has hit the streets. Throughout the world, humans are being beaten back by a new terror…Zombies. This is the world of RISEN, inspired by the best-selling novel World War Z by Max Brooks, but improvised far past where it leaves off. Each week will show you the zombie apocalypse from a different geological perspective: the South African slums, the Paris underground, the upscale apartments of Manhattan. Guest monologists will perform post-apocalyptic stories of survival, decimation, or worse. From there the all-star cast of improvisers will flesh out that part of the world before its too late. Through the panic of the outbreak, to the front lines of the Z War and back again, Risen will give a glimpse into the darkest parts of humanity imaginable.

But wait…that’s not all. When you’re done envisioning the end of humanity at the hands and jaws of the world’s most popular monsters, the Institution Theater gives you a reason to stay in your seats with Weirdsville USA…

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There are things out there: paranormal, extra-terrestrial, and other unexplained events. Bill Belpre is the host of Weirdsville, USA, a syndicated paranormal radio talk show that gathers the truthful eyewitness accounts of everything from alien abduction to the afterlife and back. However, Bill is at a turning point. He’s dedicated his life to finding the truth behind these phenomena, but each question answered opens the floodgate for more questions. The weight of knowing (or not knowing) so much truth has him apprehensive beyond the relief of the stress reducing supplements that sponsor his show. In a desperate attempt to calm himself, he’s trying something new – Improv Comedy. He’s joined in the studio by his improv troupe and local chapter of The Truth Seekers Society who will decode the unusual stories in grounded comedy scenes.

Weirdsville starts at 10 pm and only costs ten dollars.

Once again, All taking place at The Institution Theater 3708 Woodbury Drive Austin, TX 78704
(512) 895-9580 for info
For reservations, go to www.theinstitutiontheater.com.

All of this and the Museum of the Weird SEAL OF APPROVAL as well. SO MUCH SO, that All shows are $5 off for fans of Sfanthor! and the Museum of the Weird with the discount code “WeirdMuseum”. Don’t say we never did nuthin’ for ya.


Music Monday and The Museum…Buy One Ticket Get One Free

Our buddies at the Alamo Drafthouse like to celebrate the history of film and Mondays is dedicated to films about or around music. “Music Mondays” as it were. We at The Museum of the Weird like what they do a lot so we want to encourage you not only to come down and check out their regular special screenings but come down a little early and bring a friend. You see, the deal is, buy a ticket to Music Monday, bring it and your buddy down the street to the Museum, show the staff your Alamo ticket, and when you buy a tour pass to the Museum of the Weird, your friend gets in free with you. Now that’s something to sing about!

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For over 30 years, Martin Bisi has recorded music from his studio in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood. After a chance New York encounter, the studio was founded with money from Brian Eno, who subsequently worked on the album “On Land” there.

Working with Bill Laswell and the band Material, Bisi recorded Herbie Hancock’s hit “Rockit” in this underground space. This was the first mainstream, popular song to feature a DJ and a turntable, utilizing ‘scratching’. Following that success, Bisi worked with many other influential musicians there, including Sonic Youth, Swans, Angels of Light, John Zorn, Foetus and the Dresden Dolls. He has recorded across many genres, from experimental music, to hip hop and indie rock in the old factory building by the contaminated Gowanus Canal.

However, the future of the recording studio is in question as it is squeezed in by the encroaching gentrification of the neighborhood. A new, massive Whole Foods supermarket across the street is the latest addition to this once out-of-the-way area, that Bisi fears will increase property values to the point of pushing out long-time renters and artists like himself.

SOUND AND CHAOS: THE STORY OF BC STUDIO includes interviews with musicians such as Michael Gira of Swans, Brian Viglione of the Dresden Dolls, Bob Bert, who played on Sonic Youth’s Bad Moon Rising, Bill Laswell of Material, JG Thirlwell aka Foetus, Grand Mixer DXT, Jim Coleman of Cop Shoot Cop and Michael Holman of Gray (with Jean-Michel Basquiat) and creator of famed 1984 hip-hop TV pilot Graffiti Rock.


The World’s Hairiest Car

Driving can be dangerous. I’ve had many a brush with death, coming a hair’s breadth from death because of my folly(cle). Not that any of these awful puns have anything to do with the car of 44-year-old Maria Lucia Mugno. Nothing morbid here, just a car COMPLETELY covered inside and out with hair, which must raise a few eyebrows. And it’s not like I mean she drives around everywhere with a bunch of cats. The hairy car was the plan from the beginning.

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Apparently committing to this act after a friend bet her she wouldn’t do it (I wonder what THAT conversation was like), Lucia spent 150 hours sewing human hair imported from India to put on her small Fiat. And hey, now she holds a distinction few do: a Guinness World Record for the World’s Hairiest Car. I somehow doubt there was a record holder before she came along. But she drives it around regularly, which I’m sure causes more than few folks to wig out.

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Hair extensions aren’t cheap either; the car is estimated at $100,000, in case you’re interested. Lucia keeps it in great shape too, brushing it regularly. Heck, she just added optional wings…

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The Walking Dead….Syndrome

There are a lot of seriously strange neurological disorders out there. The brain is a barely understood piece of wet ware that can get all freaky and out of balance with disturbing ease. There’s the Palinopsia Disorder where the after image left in the eye after seeing bright images won’t go away sometimes for days afterwards. Or folks who suffer from Dysmimia who can only not comprehend or even realize what’s happened with hand signals. Or even the famous Stendahl Syndrome (there’s even a movie about it) where one can experience vivid hallucinations when being exposed to good art. But the weirdest, and most disturbing neurological disorder I’ve yet encountered, has to be Cotard’s Delusion, often referred to as “The Walking Corpse Syndrome”.

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The condition was named after the French neurologist Jules Cotard who in 1880 had a middle-aged patient who believed she had ‘no brain, no nerves, no chest, no stomach, no intestines’ and was ‘nothing more than a decomposing body’. More dangerous, she thought she couldn’t die a ‘natural’ death so had no need to eat. Cases had been described in medical texts before this; 100 years earlier a woman demanded her family dress her in a shroud and put her in a coffin.

“[T]he ‘dead woman’ became agitated and began to scold her friends vigorously for their negligence in not offering her this last service; and as they hesitated even longer, she became extremely impatient, and began to press her maid with threats to dress her as a dead person. Eventually everybody thought it was necessary to dress her like a corpse and to lay her out in order to calm her down. The old lady tried to make herself look as neat as possible, rearranging tucks and pins, inspecting the seam of her shroud, and was expressing dissatisfaction with the whiteness of her linen. In the end she fell asleep, and was then undressed and put into bed.”

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There have been many cases of Cotard’s Delusion since and many of come to tragic ends, dying from starvation or even extreme suicides, like pouring acid on themselves. But a new case in 2004, and the chance to study it with modern equipment, has started to reveal some answers. A man named Graham Harrison tried to commit suicide by electrocution and failed. When he became conscious, much had changed.

“When I was in hospital I kept on telling them that the tablets weren’t going to do me any good ’cause my brain was dead. I lost my sense of smell and taste. I didn’t need to eat, or speak, or do anything. I ended up spending time in the graveyard because that was the closest I could get to death.”

After being examined by a number of doctors, the case was passed to Dr Adam Zeman, a neurologist at the University of Exeter, and Dr Steven Laureys, a neurologist at University of Liège, who gave Graham a PET scan.

“Graham’s brain function resembles that of someone during anaesthesia or sleep. Seeing this pattern in someone who is awake is quite unique to my knowledge”, said Dr. Laureys. “I’ve been analysing PET scans for 15 years and I’ve never seen anyone who was on his feet, who was interacting with people, with such an abnormal scan result”.

With a patient base of one, only the most tentative of conclusions can be made about the delusion, which has been linked to bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. A mixture of psychotherapy and drug treatment, using anti-depressants and anti-psychotics, has helped Graham, but he still finds himself sitting in graveyards: “The police would come and get me, though, and take me home”.


The Weird and Wonderful Sideshow Art of Fred G. Johnson

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If you’ve been to The Museum of the Weird, and we hope by now if you’re reading our blog you’ve at least looked into it, you know we’re pretty into the aesthetic of the classic sideshow. The trick was always to come up with a bunch of freaky looking art with exaggerated claims and proportions to entice the marks, er, customers, into a tent or series of tents to see a whole series of ‘freaks’, curiosities, and performers for one price. Sideshow banners festoons the walls of The Museum of the Weird (by Mark Frierson) and we even have original art in the classic style for our exhibits that you can buy in postcard or poster form. But where did this style begin?

The lurid and colorful banners meant to draw in the unwary were the most prominent form of visual art found in circuses in the first half of the 20th century. In America, from the 1870’s to the end of the sideshow era in the 1960s, the banners were almost ubiquitous. First used in England during the 1800s they are the oldest surviving form of fairground decoration.

Recently the style has been re-examined as a form of folk art painting, being featured in publications such as Folk Art, Connoisseur, and Applied Arts Magazine. The original works have since entered the art world as a valuable collectible for enthusiasts for early folk art.

One of the most sought after sideshow banner creators was Fred G. Johnson who worked for 65 years creating banners for circuses from the tiny to huge, from small traveling shows to Ringling Brothers. Like most of these artists, he came from no traditional art background, having learned in his spare time from an artist he was doing odd jobs for. Now his works hang in major museums and have been auctioned off at Sotheby’s in New York. Quite a voyage for the work of a man who started out cleaning out paint pots.

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Go check out a huge archive of his works at Cult of the Weird


Healer Licks Eyeballs to Cure Patients

There’s no shortage of ‘miracle healers’ out there. None are given much credence by the scientific community. As the American Cancer Society has stated, “available scientific evidence does not support claims that faith healing can actually cure physical ailments.” But that doesn’t stop folks who have been seeking miraculous cures from the blessed for centuries upon centuries. Generally speaking it’s referred to as ‘the laying on of hands’. But one woman in Bosnia lays on her tongue. On eyeballs.

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Hava Cebic lives in a small village in northern Bosnia, is 77 years old, and folks come far and wide to have her lick their eyes. She claims she can cure about anything with her ‘golden tongue’, that she hopes will be preserved after her death (which probably isn’t that far away; she’s 77) to keep helping people.

When Hava was a little girl, she discovered she had the power to help when her brother complained of dry eyes, and jokingly she held them down and licked them. When he claimed he could see better after that, she knew she had a strange gift. Trying it with others (that would have been an interesting conversation to be a fly on the wall for) she found that her lick could cure allergies, dry and tired eyes, conjunctivitis, ocular hypertension and could even relieve the effects of other more serious eye conditions.

“Now, whenever anyone has something stuck in their eye or whatever, they come to me,” said Hava. “They come from different towns and villages and in a minute or two, their problem is solved. But I always make sure I wash my tongue in alcohol before or after an eye lick.”

Hava never asks for anything for her help but people give sizable donations anyway. But I gotta ask: if the cure is the tongue, why does it specifically only seem to work with eyes? Did she try licking other body parts? I’m not trying to be risque or anything, but seriously, even though the scientific method is clearly not involved in this situation, a little trial and error seems like it would have been called for. Still, it’s all kind yuck. I’d have some about of trepidation letting a 77 year old woman lick me anywhere much less my eyeballs. Just not my kind of kink.


Budapest had a Smile Club to Stop People From Killing Themselves

Depression is a powerful thing. Those who deny, or go with the old chestnut, ‘why can’t you just decide to be happy?’ don’t really understand. I didn’t, for a long time. But it’s crippling for many and for the city of Budapest, Hungary, which was devastated by World War I, it was an epidemic that led to huge waves of suicide. But they came up with a really weird (and kinda freaky) solution: Smile Clubs.

According to a newspaper article at the time: “A “Smile Club” has been inaugurated to counteract the suicide craze it was originally begun more as a joke by Professor Jeno and a hypnotist named Binczo, but somehow it caught on. The organisers have now a regular school and guarantee to teach the Roosevelt smile, the Mona Liza smile, the Clark Gable smile, the Dick Powell smile, the Loretta Young Smile, and various other types, the rates varying according to the difficulties encountered. Jeno says the methods employed at his school, aided by better business conditions in Budapest are making smiling popular and before long it is hoped that the name of Budapest will be changed to the City of Smiles.

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There actually has been numerous studies over the decades, even recently, that forced smiling can actually enhance someone’s mood, find comedy funnier, and the like. I can only guess that this was the impetus behind this plan that not only taught students how to give different kinds of smiles, but actually had them wear apparatus to either simulate a smile, as above, or force their faces into a smile using medical tape.

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Yeah, that is creepy. And for the record, I think we all learned from The Joker, that it can have some nasty psychotic side effects as well. Although, you gotta admit, it’s not often you saw The Joker in a bad mood.

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We Will Live Forever…or at Least our Virtual Twins Will

I’m ready for immortality. Much to my girlfriend’s chagrin, I’ve publicly let it be known I’m willing to be put in a robot body, turned into a vampire, you know, whatever it takes. Well, except healthy eating and exercise, but I’m not a masochist, ya know? But now, the future is almost here, the Singularity, as famous futurist Ray Kurzweil has put it (who, btw, is now the Engineering Director for Google).

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The idea behind the Singularity, is that the rapid and exponential increase in technology will lead to a snowball rolling downhill effect where Artificial Intelligence becomes more powerful and more in control than human intelligence causing a radical change in civilization…or the end of it. Skynet, anyone? I think we better start hard-wiring Issac Asimov’s laws of robotics into all our home computers now just to be safe.

I hate to say it, but I might just be one of those who lead to the downfall of everything. As I said, I’d like to live forever and I realize that’s probably not going to happen in this meat sack I wear around. So what’s the solution for those of us who don’t necessarily think consciousness when separated from our grey matter means the loss of the hypothetical ‘soul’? Virtuosity baby. And it all begins…REEEEEAL soon. At least according to futurist John Smart.

“When you and I die, our kids aren’t going to go to our tombstones, they’re going to fire up our digital twins and talk to them,” says Smart. These ‘digital twins’ will exist during our own lifetimes as well, scheduling appointments, carry on conversations with others for us…pretty much the next stage in personal assistant apps like Siri or Google Now. Only when we die, they’ll be designed to have incorporated so much of our personality, quirks, and knowledge into them, that they can console our bereaved loved ones. Hell, a supercomputer has now finally beaten a human chess Grandmaster at a championship, and IBM’s Watson supercomputer won on Jeopardy…baby.

Imagine the algorithms that can do these things, taking all our writings on a computer, all our likes and dislikes on fb, all our emails, tweets, games we like to play, running all this stuff through a program designed to simulate consciousness, and really, ya know, kinda…becoming us. It’s not even vaguely far-fetched anymore, and in fact, predictive technology has become the major thrust of the majority of software development.

This is the first (big) step towards Kurzweil’s prediction that in just over 30 years, humans will be able to upload their entire minds to computers and become digitally immortal. Like Johnny Depp in that movie “Transcendence” but hopefully more entertaining. Hmmm, 30 years huh? I might need to reexamine that whole healthy living thing to make that timeline.


Woman Can Only Feel Free When She’s a Horse

I’m thinking we should really up the danger meter to Brony Defcon 2 (because Cloppers are already Defcon 3) because it’s only a matter of time before they hear about this story and start selling “My Little Pony” branded versions of this equipment. But who am I to judge this lady?

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This is Leanne, a normal seeming enough, rather introverted, 40 year old woman from Australia who makes her living as a website designer. Like most people, she needs a way to unwind after a stressful day. Whereas yours truly makes do with a craft beer and a good flick. Leanne has more specific (and expensive) needs to truly feel relaxed. She becomes a horse. Named Shyanne. Erm.

Now Leanne isn’t a were-horse (although that’d be supah-cool). She owns multiple horse costumes, that cost between 8-16,000 dollars each, and pulls her friend behind her in a specially made carriage. “When I’m in the pony gear, I feel freer,” she said. “It’s about who you are, it’s about expressing yourself. I become me.” I wouldn’t even know how to respond to that. But Leanne says people react generally pretty well: “I think when the world looks at me as a pony, they see something that makes them think ‘Oh my God, that’s amazing.” Leanne, I think you might be mus-interpreting those looks.

To be fair, it’s not like she’s harming anyone or herself (aside from probably getting some weird calluses) and I see more harmful stuff people do to themselves almost every day that Leanne’s hobby. Sexologist and sociologist Dr. Carol Queen says about it, “It is very understandable that a shy person might love animal play,” said sexologist and sociologist Dr. Carol Queen. “Taking on a new identity or even just new garments can take you out of the cage of your own shyness. There’s something about the way she must feel in her pony finery with her mane and her tail and her ears and her beautiful bridle, the whole nine yards, that liberates her and gives her a more fabulous field in which to gallop.”

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“For me, it’s spiritual,” Leanne says. “It’s a different realm. You’re not worried about bills, you’re not worried about going to work. I’m very introverted and I do express through being a pony girl. And that’s a wonderful place to be for somebody. That’s a great place to be.” If nothing else, I now feel less awkward about my nightly visits to downtown Austin as Batman. Thanks, Leanne. You keep on trotting.


The Tick That Will Force You to Become a Vegetarian

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The ironically named “Lone Star Tick” (because God knows, we love our red meat in Texas), scientifically named Amblyomma americanum, has a bite that can make its victim deathly allergic to red meats…for life. Don’t laugh….as a Texan I can tell you we need to declare war on these pests RIGHT NOW.

Like most ticks, this bug, local to the southeastern United States and the eastern half of Texas, carries any number of nasty diseases with it, but it’s this substance it carries called alpha-gal, a carbohydrate found in non-primate mammals. We digest this carbohydrate all the time with no problem with digestion, but when it enters the bloodstream via the tick, our body freaks the heck out. Antibodies are created to protect against it and they stay in the system. So what happens is, the next time you ingest meat from a mammal…wham, pow…extreme allergic reaction. And to make it worse, in some cases, the reaction gets worse in each case where the person infected is exposed to alpha-gals.

The allergic reactions that have been recorded vary greatly, but have been found to in some cases be dangerous, even fatal. From an article published in Science Daily: “The allergy can cause hives and swelling, as well as broader symptoms of anaphylaxis including vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing, and a drop in blood pressure. Persons with the allergy can go into a delayed anaphylactic shock four-six hours after eating red meat.” Doctors advise that if you are infected, carry an EPI pen just in case. But that’s about all they know what to do because this condition, according to what we known about food-based allergies, shouldn’t even exist in the first place. Most allergies are protein based and alpha-gal is a sugar, making it the ONLY sugar-based allergy known.

The real fear for me? That some crazy folks from PETA will make a tick bomb or something and let it loose on the streets of Austin. I mean, you can still eat fish or chicken, but I do like a tasty burger. I wonder what vegetarian terrorist tastes like?

 

 


Chow Down on a Burger That Tastes Like Human Meat

You gotta ask yourself: how bad-ass do you want your Walking Dead premiere party to be? How far are you willing to go? Would you serve human flesh canapes? Then you should be arrested, but a collaboration between chefs in London have created a burger that has been carefully engineered to taste like human being.

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Studying the testimonies of famous cannibals. the expert chefs designed a patty that might taste like, in the words of journalist William Seabrook (who’ve actually has had it): “…good, fully developed veal, not young, but not yet beef. It was very definitely like that, and it was not like any other meat I had ever tasted. It was so nearly like good, fully developed veal that I think no person with a palate of ordinary, normal sensitiveness could distinguish it from veal. It was mild, good meat with no other sharply defined or highly characteristic taste such as for instance, goat, high game, and pork have. The steak was slightly tougher than prime veal, a little stringy, but not too tough or stringy to be agreeably edible. The roast, from which I cut and ate a central slice, was tender, and in color, texture, smell as well as taste, strengthened my certainty that of all the meats we habitually know, veal is the one meat to which this meat is accurately comparable.”

And here I always thought we were supposed to taste like sweet pork. Isn’t that why our meat has popularly been referred to as ‘long pig”? Maybe the islanders of Polynesia, where the term originated from, have a different taste.

Eventually, the culinary adventurers decided on, with the help of taste-testers, a mix of pork, veal, chicken livers and bone marrow, which presumes that other accounts of cannibals must have had some amount of variation to them. And what they handed out free to 250 contest winners in a restaurant in London was, to all accounts, a very tasty burger. Maybe the Donner party was onto something after all.

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