I love surprizes! I don’t mean the kind of surprize you get at Christmas when your Aunty Mo gives you the same pair of knitted, patterned socks she’s given you for the past ten years and you have feign delight. I mean real surprizes. The kind of thing you genuinely did not see coming. Searching the web each week, looking for weird stories, I never cease to be surprized by the bizarre and unique things that go on in the world. Whether its mankind’s ceaseless capacity for eccentricity or nature’s seemingly determined quest to shape life into the oddest forms, there’s always something out there to astound and astonish me. Take for example this week’s juicy batch of stories…
Weird Goings On
Keeping it Fresh
I’m very fortunate to live in the West of Scotland, the water is clean, the air is pure and life, generally, is conducted at a nice easy pace. So, I spare a thought or two for the poor folks living in urban China. We’re used to referring to the Chinese economy as a ‘modern miracle’, but it is a miracle that comes at a price. Heavy industry on an unprecedented scale has led to record smog levels over many of China’s major cities. Indeed, such is the extent of this problem that recent pictures show that pollution over China is visible from outer space. Chinese citizens, of course, do their best to combat the threat by wearing flimsy dust masks, but that will only get you so far. According to the Daily Express, last month saw eight cities, including Bejing, blanketed in the noxious fog; planes were grounded, cars were forced from the road and children were rushed to hospital. There’s literally no end in sight.
Yet, it’s not all doom and gloom, one man’s disaster is another man’s opportunity and those living in China’s more rural districts have developed a novel way of taking advantage of their smog-bound countrymen. Luanchuan County in Henan Province, a mountainous and sparsely populated area famous for its skiing resorts, has decided to make money by bottling up its ‘clean mountain air’ and selling it to city dwellers.
Mel Brooks (pictured above) may have joked, in Spaceballs (1987), that fresh air, or ‘Peri-Air’, would become a commodity in the future, but it seems to have been taken quite literally by the Chinese. However, proving that that altruism isn’t dead, the deputy director of Luanchuan’s tourist bureau has announced that their first batch of canned air will be given away free of charge. Of course, anyone wishing further doses will be required to lay down some cold, hard cash. Things must really be getting desperate when folks will resort to buying what amounts to an empty receptacle in the hope of being able to breathe freely…
Surely you Cana do that!
Jesus famously turned water into wine at Cana; a handy trick if it’s getting late and the off-license is closed. Well, recently the California based company ‘Custom Vine’ announced that this marvellous phenomenon was about to become commonplace, with the release of their aptly named ‘Miracle Machine’. The Miracle Machine, which was set to retail at $499 claimed to be the first example of a machine capable of literally turning water into wine. According to the promo video (see below), all the user has to do is fill the bottle with water, add a ready-made sachet of ingredients, select the type of wine desired from a menu and wait 3 days for the end product. You can even monitor the fermentation process through a smartphone app. According to Kevin Boyer, CEO of Custom Vine, the plonk produced by the Miracle Machine will rival some of the best wines on the market, only at a fraction of the cost.
If you think this whole thing sounds too good to be true, then you’re not wrong. It turns out that the Miracle Machine was in fact a faux product designed as part of a viral marketing campaign. The perpetrators of this clever hoax: a charity group by the name of ‘Wine to Water’. According to their follow-up video (see below), the purpose of the stunt, which attracted massive international media coverage, was to bring attention to the plight of those suffering from lack of clean drinking water. The real miracle, they say, is the ability, for no more than the price of a bottle of wine, to provide a child with enough clean, sustainable drinking water for a whole year. I don’t think there’s any doubting that.
Gis a swatch O yer Circuit Boards Hen!
Anyone in anyway familiar with internet pornography, – that’s certainly not me (nervously clears his throat) – will no doubt be aware of the bewildering array of sexual fetishes and peccadillos that our fellow humans indulge in. Well thanks to some boffins from Germany there may very well be a new niche on the perversity market… sexy robots. The Tutonic Tech gurus at Tobit.Software, an Ahaus based company, recently set the stage alight at the CEBIT expo in Hannover when they revealed two pole dancing androids. Named Tess and Lexy the programmable pair wowed the expo’s audience with their hip-grinding, gyrating antics. You can see the digital double-act do their thang in the video below.
Alien of Deep
Over the course of the past two months an inordinate number of our weird stories have had something to do with the briny depths of the sea. For the weird watcher, our seas are the best place to catch some of the world’s oddest creatures in action; it’s almost like having a giant alien zoo of our very own. Among the strangest of the deep blue’s menagerie of strange inhabitants must be the Goblin Shark. At first glace, with the exception of a rather long snout, this beast (pictured above) is a relatively average looking shark. It has all the classic sharky looks, sleek body, pointy dorsal fin, rows of razor sharp teeth, but inside its mouth it holds a nasty surprize.
That’s the right the Goblin shark is a true ‘alien of the deep’ in the sense that it, like the xenomorph from Ridley Scott’s 1979 movie, has a mouth inside its mouth. The shark’s jaws, which can protrude almost to the length of its snout, come out whenever it moves to snap up prey. The Goblin shark, or Mitsukurina owstoni if you prefer its scientific name, is a deep sea shark, little understood by science. It is very rarely observed in the wild and only a few live specimens have ever been captured. Its unique appearance coupled with a host of ‘prehistoric biological features’, have led to it being described as a ‘living fossil’. You can see this creepy creature trying to take a lump out of a diver’s arm in the video below.
Weird Object of the Week
Beauty is More than Skin Deep
‘Holy shit’, I hear you say, ‘what has that woman done to her face?’ Lying prostrate, deadened eyes, face covered in gelatinous cubes, you’d be forgiven for thinking she’s suffering from some obscure tropical disease, but she’s not. Instead she’s wearing what passed in the 1940’s for a beauty treatment. Patented and marketed by the world famous Max Factor, this is ‘Hangover Heaven’, a rubber mask covered in frozen, water-filled cubes. It was originally designed to provide jobbing actresses a way of keeping cool in a hot studio without spoiling their make up. Later it was adapted by the society circuit as a means of mitigating the previous night’s drunken frolics.
‘Hangover Heaven’ was just one of many bizarre health and beauty products to hit the market in the 1930s and 40s, many of which resemble devices from the latest instalment of the Saw franchise. Take the above for example. This was a popular treatment in the 1930s for dealing with unwanted freckles. The victim/patient was strapped into a bizarre contraption that can only be described as a head-vice, their eyes were then covered by suction cups, their nose was filled with wadding and they were forced to breath through a tube, frozen carbon-dioxide was then used to remove the offending freckles. Or what about the monstrous image below:
This contraption from the 1940’s was designed to ‘stimulate circulation’ by heating the face. The user would don what looks like a head shaped oven glove and would plug it into the mains socket, it would apparently work wonders for the wearer’s complexion. All these devices are proof positive that, in the past at least, the more vain members of our society were willing to put up with almost anything in the cause of looking good.
So in closing out this week I’d like to ask you guys to use the comments section to contribute your own weird and wonderful tales and experiences. We know the world we live in is a strange one, surely it’s a worthy cause to let the rest of the universe know. Your anecdotes might be horrifying, they might be hilarious, all are welcome… with any luck we can build up a nice little discussion.
See you next week.
Over and out,