Category Archive 'Bizarre'
21 Oct 2013

Shaggy Death Story

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02 Oct 2013

Inattentive Archer

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01 Oct 2013

First US Self Marriage

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HuffPo:

A 36-year-old North Dakota woman who married herself in a commitment ceremony last March has now spoken about her self-marriage choice in an interview with Anderson Cooper.

The marriage took place among friends and family who were encouraged to “blow kisses to the world” after she exchanged rings with her “inner groom.” …

The Fargo-based yoga teacher also takes herself on dates to treat herself and “to invest in this relationship”.

According to a local Fargo newspaper, Schweigert first got the unusual idea from a friend.

“I was waiting for someone to come along and make me happy,” Schweigert told Inforum. “At some point, a friend said, ‘Why do you need someone to marry you to be happy? Marry yourself.'”

Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time a woman has chosen to tie the knot solo. In 2010, a 30-year-old Taiwanese woman married herself.

30 Sep 2013

Older Photo of Girl Walking her Snake

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19 Sep 2013

Cricketeer Sleeps All Night With 8-Foot Crocodile Hiding Under His Bed

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Worse than your dust bunnies.

Guy Whittall, age 40, slept peacefully all night, only inches away from the 330 lb. reptile, and never even noticed his presence. Whittall learned that he had had a roommate when he heard the housemaid’s screams while eating his breakfast in the kitchen.

Daily Mail:


Doesn’t want to leave.

The really disconcerting thing about the whole episode is the fact that I was sitting on the edge of the bed that morning, bare foot and just centimetres away from the croc.”

10 Sep 2013

Austrian Dominatrix Gets Male Submissives to Pay to Do Farm Chores

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According to Spiegel, her customers unaccountably became dissatisfied. (Clearly, she needed to whip them harder.)

Several sadomasochists eagerly responded to an advert posted by an Austrian woman farmer seeking clients. But they didn’t get the punishment they had hoped for. Instead, they found themselves doing farm labor in fetish gear, while paying for the privilege.

To sadomasochists keen on fresh air and the country life, it must have seemed like a dream come true. A 35-year-old woman advertizing herself as a dominatrix promised strict discipline to paying clients on her farm in the northeast of Austria.

Some 15 men responded to the advert posted in the Internet, and two or three took up the offer. “They didn’t get what they bargained for,” a spokesman for the Lower Austria police told SPIEGEL ONLINE, confirming reports in the Austrian media in recent days.

Instead of savoring the sweet pleasure of pain, the men found themselves consigned to farm labor such as chopping wood in the nude and mowing the lawn while wearing black fetish masks on the farm near the town of St Pölten. In effect, they were paying for the privilege of doing farm work.

“They had these clothes one wears in such circles, leather and plastic clothes and masks,” said the spokesman.

It is unclear how much they paid their mistress. After a week, they realized they had been duped and downed tools.

23 Aug 2013

Louisiana Sinkhole Devours Trees

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Shot two days ago by members of the Assumption Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness in Louisiana, an entire stand of trees is suddenly swallowed by an underwater sinkhole above a collapsing salt mine. The sinkhole is part of an ongoing environmental disaster in Bayou Corne, and efforts are underway to prevent it from spreading, however it has already forced the evacuation of an entire town.

07 Aug 2013

1929 Stutz Model M Coupe

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1929 Stutz Model M with coupe coachwork by Lancefield of London.

Old Car Reports’ Car of the Week is the A.K. Miller 1929 Stutz Model M Coupe.

The story of A.K. Miller is legendary, even outside of Stutz collecting. The Vermont collector was born in 1906 and developed a taste for fine cars — what would be considered Classic cars today — and began gathering them when they were used cars. Commensurate with his frugal ways, Miller stored his valuable collection in dirt-floor wood sheds and lean-to’s on the primitive East Orange, Vt., farm he shared with his wife, Imogene.

Although great Peerless, Cadillac and Rolls-Royce cars passed through Miller’s hands, it was Stutz he preferred. A 1917 Stutz was Miller’s first car, and he occasionally drove it until he died in 1993. The other cars in Miller’s 40-some-vehicle collection were often parked on makeshift “wood stump” jack stands and left to gather dust while surrounded by spare Stutz parts. Miller would sometimes trade these parts, but he drove a hard bargain to his financial benefit and the misfortune of his fellow trader. It was not until his wife died in 1996 that it became clear what exactly was hidden in the wilds of Vermont, and more than car collectors were interested.

The Millers had essentially lived as recluses on their simple homestead. They had no children, and they had almost no paper trail. Their collection had been known to only a few outsiders, and the handful of people allowed to visit rarely caught a glimpse of more than a car or two. Only visitors from foreign lands were typically offered more than a peek, supposedly because Miller could be assured they were not from the IRS. Indeed, Miller had lived so far off the grid he was able to avoid paying state and federal taxes. He and his wife were also hiding more than cars and income — they had buried or otherwise hid millions of dollars in gold bullion and silver ingots around their property.

After Imogene’s passing, the Millers’ fortune captured the attention of car and tax collectors, and an auction was held by Christie’s, after which the IRS was to receive its due. Police scouted the property leading up to the auction to stop the shovels and metal detectors of treasure hunters, and the curious eyes and hands of car enthusiasts. When the auction was held Sept 7-9, 1996, about 35 “barn find” Stutz motor cars crossed the block, most fetching far more than their pre-sale estimates in front of a standing-room-only crowd.

One of the stand-outs in that sale was a special 1929 Stutz Model M with coupe coachwork by Lancefield of London. Lancefield often bodied Rolls-Royce and Bentley chassis, but it also held an association with Stutz of Indianapolis, Ind. The aluminum-sheathed Lancefield coupe body sat low on the Stutz chassis, thanks in part to a worm gear drive setup, but was made to look lower with Lancefield’s tear drop step plates and trademark low roof, cycle-type front and rear fenders and dozens of louvers that ran the length of the apron that masked the frame sides. In deep black, the masterpiece was sinister.

“They only built five of these coupes,” said Richard Mitchell, the Lancefield-bodied Stutz coupe’s present owner. “Two were sold to the Woolworth Brothers and this is one of the two. Of the two cars, only this one was supercharged. There is no record of the others; this is the lone ranger.”

1996 New York Times article


dashboard interior, 1929 Stutz Model M

11 Jul 2013

A Very Canadian Way to Go

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07 Jul 2013

There’s Probably an Interesting Story Here

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20 Jun 2013

Sorry, This Tree Stand is Occupied

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1:49 video

(I got rid of the embedded version, because there was no way to shut off Autoplay. Shockwave Flash scripts can be that way sometimes.)

18 May 2013

China’s Copy Towns

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Tianducheng Eiffel Tower, near Hangzhou


Pacific Standard
gets the scoop from Sebastian Acker and Phil Thompson, who traveled to China to document the Copy Town phenomenon in a new book.

Hallstatt, Austria, is in China. So is the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, Christ the Redeemer, and a soon-to-be-completed Manhattan. There are others, too, and it’s all part of this weird (at least to us Westerners, or this one Westerner who is writing this) proliferation of what are being called “copy towns.” They’re villages and buildings and cities in China that are being constructed as replicas of non-Chinese places from around the world—and people are living in them. Hallstatt, China, has an artificial lake, and they imported doves to make it more Hallstatt-like. …

There are many different reasons as to why these towns exist. No one reason seems to be fully responsible, rather it is culmination of many different circumstances. One of the main reasons is China’s developing middle and upper classes; a significant portion of people have become very wealthy, very quickly, and these people want a way to showcase their wealth. They are allowed to do so in modern China, but under the Mao regime public shows of wealth would not have been possible. However, given China’s recent history, it does not have a societal model for prosperity. Under Mao, class divisions were squashed and declarations of wealth were not usually allowed, and so they have turned to the West for ways in which to display their new-found fortunes. This adoption of Western styles may be an attempt to pick up an already established ready-made social attitude.

Another reason for the towns could be the huge building bubble that is taking place in China. Vast numbers of new buildings are being built, many of which have never been filled. In order to attract residents to their developments, the construction companies may be creating copy towns so that they stand out amongst the myriad buildings opening every day. Ironically, it is their copied nature that makes them unique in the market.

But generally China has a long history of copying, especially within architecture and the arts. For centuries the emperors would replicate lands that they had conquered within their own palace gardens. These constructs would often include fauna and plants from the conquered regions. This ability to replicate and maintain the distant land demonstrated the emperor’s control over the original region.

Then there is also China’s desire to replicate the West and become a first-world country. A lot of Chinese people look up to the West as an ideal, so the construction of these towns could be seen as a way of accelerating their progress; a quick way of achieving through emulation.

Hyperallergenic article

Hat tip to the Dish.

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Thamestown: “a new town in Songjiang District, about 30 kilometres (19 mi) from central Shanghai, China. It is named after the River Thames in England. The architecture is themed according to classic English market town styles. There are cobbled streets, Victorian terraces and corner shops.”(photo: triplefivechina.)

02 May 2013

He Clearly Wants To Be Petted

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Cougar Mountain Zoo, Issaquah, Washington, October, 2011, Taj, a 370-lb. Bengal Tiger responds to toddler pressing her hands on the glass of his cage with obvious feline gestures of affection.

At zoos, one sometimes sees a side of large, dangerous animals which is essentially identical to the behavior of your pet at home. One day, at the Chicago Zoo, I watched with amazement as a White Rhino the size of a delivery van manifested recognizable ecstacy while a teenage zookeeper stroked her back with a large push broom.

Via Fred Lapides.

19 Apr 2013

H.P. Lovecraft… Philosopher??

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Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937)

In Salon, Brian Kim Stefans discusses a new book by “Speculative Realist” philosopher Graham Harman (who teaches at the American University in Cairo, not at Miskatonic), which attempts to identify the early 20th century author of pulp horror stories as a literary philosophic opponent of Kantian Phenomenalism, materialism, and linguistic analysis.

Evidently, Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man gibber und kreischen über von einer Band aus amorphem Flötenspieler Begleitet. What we cannot speak about, we must gibber and shriek about, accompanied by a band of amorphous flute-players.

Few movements in recent philosophy have had as startling a rise as that of the writers loosely grouped under the heading “Speculative Realists.” Attention to this movement, which includes Harman, Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Levi Bryant, and Quentin Meillassoux… is growing exponentially, not just in universities but also among the unaffiliated continental philosophy junkies who troll the blogosphere. The one principle that is inarguably shared by these philosophers is quite simple: they wish to retrieve philosophy from a tendency initiated, or at least made unavoidable, by the work of Immanuel Kant. Kant believed that the subject (meaning a human being) can ever know anything about the external world due to the very fact of subjectivity. For him, reality is always mediated by cognition, and the thinkable has a basic handicap: it is just thought. Nothing comes from outside into the mind, in other words, that is not turned into thought; the radical epistemologist argues that all we can know lies in the firm foundations of what is available to the senses, while the radical idealist argues that nothing remains in this thinking of whatever it was that spawned the thought, leaving one at the impasse of believing that all of reality is virtual, a bunch of mental actions. The result, according to the speculative realists, is that philosophy since Kant has been stuck with making this very mind→object relationship the locus and subject of philosophy, thus shutting down the project of metaphysics, the search for absolute laws beyond what can be established by experimental science.

Quentin Meillassoux has dubbed this mind→object relationship — the impasse that is at the heart of the Kantian tradition — “correlationism,” and the term has become a rallying cry for speculative realists. Harman’s philosophy displaces the mind→object relationship with that of object→object, the “mind” being just one object among many. Oddly, though Meillassoux names correlationism as the primary curse of the Kantian tradition, he also seems the most devoted of his peers to preserving the best part of it by making it the one place where he claims anything like an absolute exists. To Meillassoux (who, coincidentally or consequently, is also a fan of Lovecraft), the universe is not characterized by necessity (God-given or inevitable laws) but by a radical contingency, a “hyper-chaos” amidst which the only thing that could be seen as absolute is the mind→object relationship itself. ….

In Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy, Harman enlists Lovecraft in his battle with epistemology and materialism — Lovecraft himself expressed loathing for normative science, and certainly had no love for legitimate academics — but also against correlationism: the conviction that all the mind could ever know are purely mental phenomena, which ultimately led (and here we are brushing with broad strokes) to the so-called “linguistic” turn of much 20th-century philosophy (most characteristically that of Wittgenstein and Derrida). To that extent, Lovecraft’s failure to engage in the linguistic experimentation of his high Modernist contemporaries does not make him some kind of recalcitrant provincial, but rather a sensible (if xenophobic) voyager who simply did not want to make the claim that language was all there was. Lovecraft’s language “fails” only insofar as the narrators fail to get into words, to journalize, some experience that simply cannot be fully available to the meager human senses and mind. For the most part, Lovecraft is happy to use language as a simple, functional tool, rather than to insist at every moment through linguistic estrangement — like, say, a Stein or a Beckett — that language is not what you think it is (and, consequently, that language is everything). For Lovecraft, it’s the universe, not language, that is not what you think it is. So what is it then? Well, weird.

Weird Realism
opens with an idiosyncratic set of short essays that lay out the method of the book. Harman notes that there is a choice that philosophers generally make between being a “destroyer of gaps” — those who want to reduce reality to a simple principle — and “creators of gaps” — those who point to those areas to which we will possibly never have access. He deems the latter “productionists” (in contrast to reductionists) and writes: “If we apply this distinction to imaginative writers, then H.P. Lovecraft is clearly a productionist author. No other writer is so perplexed by the gap between objects and the power of language to describe them, or between objects and the qualities they possess.”

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