Friday, July 31, 2009

The Anatomized Cavalier

[The 18th-century anatomist Honoré Fragonard created works of art out of flayed and preserved bodies (human and animal), which were displayed at the Veterinary School of Alfort.]

Joan B. Landes, "Revolutionary Anatomies," in Laura Lunger Knoppers & Joan B. Landes, eds., Monstrous Bodies/Political Monstrosities (Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 2004), pp. 173-4.

"The Anatomized Cavalier" (figure 35) is surely the most spectacular of all of Fragonard's surviving écorchés, testing the physical limits of natural anatomy by posing a human figure on a galloping horse. It is also the work that gave rise to the greatest speculation. Presumed by many to be modeled after one of the German artist Albrecht Dürer's Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, it also inspired a macabre legend recounted by another of Alfort's foreign visitors. According to a travelogue read by the Swedish naturalist Karl Asmund Rudolphi, the cavalier was Fragonard's deceased sweetheart, the daughter of a local grocer, who died from grief because of her father's opposition to a marriage with the anatomist. When questioned about this matter by Rudolphi, Fragonard remained silent but melancholy. However, the museum's guardian cleared up the matter. The "anatomized Amazon" was really a man, whose "virile attributes were a bit "shortened" in order not to disturb his seated position."[62]

62. K. A. Rudolphi, Bemerkungen aus dem Gebiet der Naturgeschichte, Medicin und Thierarzneykunde auf einter Reise durch einen Theil von Deutschland, Holland und Frankreich, 2 vols. (Berlin, 1804-5), cited in Lemire, Artistes et mortels, 172.

Dissolvable Bikini

The Sun [UK]
30 July 2009

Teeny weeny dissolvable bikini


The saucy thong swimsuit looks like a real bikini but DISAPPEARS after just a few seconds in water.

Sellers in Germany bill the dissolving Get Naked costume as a chance for men to get their own back after a break-up.

But women's rights campaigner Rosmarie Zapfl stormed: "It is an absolute insult to women that this has been invented."
Revenge Shop [Germany]
Water soluble bikini

Some earlier reports of dissolving bathing suits:

Curtis MacDougall, Hoaxes (1958), p. 243.

Webb Miller in I Found No Peace [1936] revealed that the story from the French Riviera of a British millionaire who embarrassed his guests by inducing them to swim in bathing suits which dissolved in salt water was a pure fake. The reporter inventing it was ordered by his managing editor to ship several of the suits to the United States; he complied with an hermetically sealed box containing some finely pulverized breakfast food to create the impression that, despite precautions, the suits had dissolved in the salt air.

H. Allen Smith, The Compleat Practical Joker (1953 ed.), p. 206; (1980 ed.), p. 184.

Jack McDermott, a writer and director for the movies,…had his fun by providing his guests, especially the ladies, with swimming suits that dissolved when they got wet.

H. Allen Smith, The Compleat Practical Joker (1980 ed.), pp. 287-8.

And there is a top chemical executive who has fun with weekend guests, especially pretty women. At his estate he has a large swimming pool, and he furnishes guests with bathing attire. As soon as they get into the water the suits vanish. He has had them made up from yarns spun from a water-soluble plastic.

Jan Harold Brunvand, The Vanishing Hitchhiker (1981), p. 138.

Another variation of the bare-body theme is "The Dissolving Bathing Suit." The most recent version I have seen appeared in the Manchester Guardian in 1979. The newspaper reported that an American writer in the south of France invented a story he cabled back to his newspaper about "a millionaire's party with the usual international guest list, but distinguished by culminating in an early morning bathe in gift-wrapped swimsuits cunningly designed to disintegrate on contact with sea water." Whoever originally thought up the story, it has been told for years, either with a suit that falls apart or one that becomes transparent in salt water (since it was only tested inland, and this flaw in the material went undetected).

Weekly World News, 23 August 1994, p. 39

Perverted prankster sells 30 women dissolving swimsuits!

RIO de JANEIRO -- A perverted salesman was arrested and charged with fraud after he sold more than 30 women swimsuits that dissolved when water touched them.

Cops say Jose Sabioni, 53, practically gave away the suits at cut-rate prices in his beachfront shop.

And cops who searched the store found dozens of naughty photos Sabioni allegedly took of the stunned women moments after they went swimming and ended up naked. [...]

The New Yorker, 13 April 1998, p. 26.


Hendrik Hertzberg

[...] A quick lesson in the Tort of Outrage may be found in Section 46 of "Restatement of the Law, Second, Torts," a publication of the American Law Institute. [...] Section 46 consists mainly of examples of what sorts of outrage do and do not rise to the level of outrageousness required to qualify a given Outrage for the august title of Tort. All the examples are taken from real cases, and many of them are dangerous to read with a mouth full of hot coffee. For example[:] [...]

A is invited to a swimming party at an exclusive resort. B gives her a bathing suit which he knows will dissolve in water. It does dissolve while she is swimming, leaving her naked in the presence of men and women whom she has just met. A suffers extreme embarrassment, shame, and humiliation. B is subject to liability to A for her emotional distress. [...]

Weekly World News, 17 Feb 2004


Novelty inventor Bryan Marple was convinced his latest fun gag gift would finally make him rich when he created a bikini that melts when it hits the water.

But the 39-year-old Australian's naughty imagination has landed him in hot water. Hundreds of women from around the country have bombarded him with lawsuits after finding themselves unexpectedly nude in public. […]

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Frying an Egg on the Sidewalk

[On July 29 it reached 35C in Victoria, a record. A reporter was assigned the time-honored task of trying to fry an egg on the sidewalk.]

Times Colonist [Victoria, BC, Canada]
30 July 2009

Experiment #2

By Carla Wilson, Times Colonist

Mission: Fry an egg on the sidewalk and a few other outdoor spots

Result: Out of five eggs, only two showed some signs of cooking -- or drying -- in the heat [...]

Democrat Herald [Albany, Oregon]
29 July 2009

Eggs frying on hot pavement? Not here

It seemed like a great day to test an old idea: If it gets hot enough, you can fry an egg on a sidewalk. [...]

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Neil Armstrong: "Congratulations, Mr. Lipinski"

Psychology Today
14 July 2009

Sex at Dawn [Blog]

By Christopher Ryan

On Oral Sex and the Moonshot
Forty years ago, the kid next door went to the moon

[...] At one point during the 21 hours he and Buzz were dancing around on the moon, Armstrong reportedly said something like, "Congratulations Mr. Lipinski." Nobody knew what he meant. The engineers down in Texas asked him but he just ignored them. For years afterward, on the rare occasions when he spoke publicly, people asked Armstrong about the mysterious Mr. Lipinsky comment. He never addressed the question.

Then, a few years ago, when someone asked him about the comment again, Armstrong said, "Well, I hear that Mr. and Mrs. Lipinsky are no longer alive, so I suppose I can tell the story now."

Apparently, when Neil Armstrong was a little boy, he went into his neighbor's yard to get a baseball that had gone over the fence. When he was picking up his baseball, he heard the neighbors arguing in their bedroom. He heard Mrs. Lipinsky say to Mr. Lipinsky, "Oral sex? You want oral sex? I'll give you oral sex when the boy next door walks on the moon!"

They should have let Buzz go first. [...]

Saturday, July 25, 2009

St. Joseph Statues

[Some "rules" must be followed; others can be tinkered with to achieve success.]

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
24 July 2009

Some home flippers seek aid by flipping St. Joseph on his head

By William Loeffler, TRIBUNE-REVIEW

[...] But Linda Roche of Bethel Park says buying a statue is against the rules.

"Somebody has to give it to you," she says. "You can't go out and buy it yourself."

Her godmother gave her a 3-inch St. Joseph figurine in 2002 when they put their home in Overbrook on the market.

"She told us to put it in a plastic bag and bury it upside down by the 'for sale' sign," Roche says.

When four days went by without a firm offer, Roche dug him up, removed the plastic bag and reburied him near the front door, with his head and shoulders sticking out of the ground.

"I figured his head should be sticking out to look at the person as they entered the front door," she says.

They sold their home the same day. [...]

Legends could help save lakes

[Interesting article about a proposal to use the fear of bogeys to protect water ecosystems in Indonesia.]

Jakarta Post [Indonesia]
26 July 2009

Myths, urban legends could help save lakes

Evil lurks in the waters and may it continue to spook people from drawing too close or exploiting it.

This was the sort of message that Adhisa tried to convey through his doctoral thesis about the benefits of using myths to preserve and manage water ecosystems.

"It works," he told The Jakarta Post Thursday, after defending his thesis completed at the environmental science study program at University of Indonesia, "These old myths surrounding water ecosystems actually play a large part in preserving those ecosystems. [...]

Tax Exemptions for Prayer Rooms

This is Money [UK]
25 July 2009

Prayer rooms – fact or urban myth?

We went to look at a house to rent and the owners, who were immigrants, told us we would not be able to use one of the rooms as it was a prayer room and it would be kept locked.

Friends have told me this was so the family could claim exemption from council tax on religious grounds. Is this true?
D.M., Middlesex


Monday, July 20, 2009

Woodstock Festival Baby

Lower Hudson Journal News [New York]
20 July 2009

Rumors persist of infant born at Woodstock festival 40 years ago

By Michael Hill
The Associated Press

BETHEL — Singer John Sebastian is captured on film at the Woodstock festival 40 years ago announcing that some cat's old lady just had a baby, a kid destined to be far out. [...]

But no one has come forward with a credible public claim of giving birth to a Woodstock baby or being born there. [...]

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Trace Human Remains on a Concrete Floor

Journal of Forensic Sciences, vol. 53, issue 6 (November 2008), pp. 1437-1442.

Analysis of Suspected Trace Human Remains from an Indoor Concrete Surface

Carolyn M. Zimmermann, Ünige A. Laskay, and Glen P. Jackson

Abstract: This paper describes the sequence of analyses used to determine the nature of a stain located on the floor of room in the former Athens Mental Health and Retardation Hospital in Athens, OH. The location of the stain was reported to be the position in which a decomposing body was discovered on January 11, 1979. The current stain is found to contain strong evidence for both natural decomposition products and deliberate adulteration. [...]

[Excerpt from p. 1437.]

Although the floor was supposedly cleaned after removing her
body, there now (December 2007) is present a very distinct white
mark on the floor in the shape of a human body (Figs. 1 and 2).
This ‘‘stain’’ has fueled numerous ghost stories and urban legends
in the community, and has been featured in a TV documentary
⁄ drama. Until recently, however, the stain has never been
chemically identified or explained.

[Thanks to Peter Darben. -- bc]

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Israeli Sex Gum

14 July 2009

Hamas says Israel dumping aphrodisiac gum on Gaza

GAZA CITY (AFP) — Hamas suspects that Israeli intelligence services are supplying its Gaza Strip stronghold with chewing gum that boosts the sex drive in order to "corrupt the young," an official said on Tuesday.

"We have discovered two types of stimulants that were introduced into the Gaza Strip from Israeli border crossings," Hamas police spokesman Islam Shahwan told AFP. [...],7340,L-3746017,00.html

Ynet News
13 July 2009
Hamas: Israel distributes libido-increasing gum in Gaza

[Two older reports:]

New York Times
19 July 1996

Mansura Journal; Of College Girls Betrayed and Vile Chewing Gum


If it is true, as it is whispered here, that certain young women in this provincial capital have let their moral standards lapse, then no one wants to believe they fell prey to hormones alone. No, the cause -- the curse, it is said -- was ordinary-looking chewing gum laced with aphrodisiacs capable of transporting the most innocent female into a sexual frenzy. [...]

Washington Post
28 July 1997

Pop! Went the Tale of the Bubble Gum Spiked With Sex Hormones

By Barton Gellman
Washington Post Foreign Service

GAZA CITY—The Israeli plot, as Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority exposed it recently, was triply diabolical.

To begin with, it aroused irresistible sexual appetites in women, undermining Islamic morals and self-restraint. Then it sterilized them to suppress Arab population growth. Worst of all, according to Palestinian Supply Minister Abdel Aziz Shaheen, it was capable of "completely destroying the genetic system of young boys."

All that with packets of bubble gum. [...]

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jemison Mansion's Slave Escape Tunnel (Tuscaloosa, AL)

Tuscaloosa News [AL]
12 July 2009

Digging up the truth about the Jemison house

By Mark Hughes Cobb
Staff Writer

Sorry, underground Tuscaloosa conspiracy fans. There’s no slave-escape tunnel leading from the Jemison-Van de Graaff Mansion down to the river. [...]

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cosmos Rays from Mars

Times of India
11 July 2009

SMS on 'Mars rays' a prank

Mumbai: Many Mumbaikars, including students, were surprised to receive an SMS on Thursday night warning that so-called "cosmos rays'' would enter the earth's orbit from Mars between 12 midnight and 4 am. They were advised to deactivate their mobile phones.

The message claimed that it was repeating what Nasa had told BBC. But when TOI checked the Nasa website, there was no such warning and no one had even recalled hearing about it on the news channels. [...]

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Swimming in Hotel Pool Causes Pregnancy

The Sun [UK]
9 July 2009

Teen pregnant after `swimming in pool'


A WOMAN is suing an Egyptian hotel claiming her daughter got pregnant - from using the swimming pool.

Magdalena Kwiatkowska's 13-year-old returned to Poland from their holiday expecting a baby.

Magdalena believes the teenager conceived from stray sperm after taking a dip in the hotel's mixed pool. She is now seeking compensation from the hotel.

A travel industry source said: "The mother is adamant that her daughter didn't meet any boys while she was there.

"She is determined to go ahead with the case."

Tourist authorities in Warsaw, Poland, have confirmed they received the bizarre complaint.
Ananova [UK]
9 July 2009
'Pool got my daughter pregnant'

Monday, July 6, 2009

Stuck Couple (Italy)

The Sun [UK]
8 May 2009

Loo sex pair get stuck in

A PAIR of shop workers sneaked into the loo for sex - but got locked together when the woman suffered cramp.

Naked Salvatore Mazzi, 37, and Angelina Marcelo, 26, were found by her furious husband, who had been waiting for her to finish her shift.

Medics freed the embarrassed pair at the clothes shop in Bergamo, Italy.

Security guard Salvatore was kicked out by his wife and sacked for romping during work.

Cashier Angelina was also dumped, but kept her job after bosses decided she had finished her shift at the time.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


The Globe and Mail [Toronto]
4 July 2009, p. A16


For all I know, Pierre Berton had it right when he declared that a Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe (How I Became A Real Canadian - June 27). Where I come from - Newfoundland - the best-known personal watercraft isn't the canoe, but the dory, a practical fore-and-aft wooden rowboat that was the mainstay of the inshore cod-fishery - now, sadly, more memory than reality.

Not to be outdone by our Canadian compatriots, we Newfoundlanders have a water-borne sex story of our own. Years ago, when the late Don Jamieson was still a radio journalist - he would later be a member of several of Pierre Trudeau's cabinets in various capacities - he made regular Christmas-season visits to retirement homes in Newfoundland, to speak with residents.

His chat with one feisty lady has long since passed into the realm of legend. Noting the lady's apparent good health at a very advanced age, Mr. Jamieson asked if she had ever been bed-ridden.

Her response was immediate, and garlanded with pride. "Yes, my son," she declared. "T'ousands of times. And twice in a dory."

Thomas Rendell Curran, Ottawa

["Twice in a dory" seems to be a popular punch line to this joke in Canada's Atlantic provinces. According to Google, some other places the woman has enjoyed a romp in are a canoe, a buggy, a sulky, a sled, a hayloft, and a haystack. Sometimes she responds that she hasn't been bedridden in, say, twenty years, since her husband died.]

Beware of Door-to-Door Perfume Sellers

BBC News [UK]
4 July 2009

Burglary scent scam 'urban myth'

Police in Hull have reassured the public after an urban myth has surfaced about a new burglary method which involves perfume sellers.

Reports have being circulated on mobile phone messages that would-be thieves are knocking on doors in the area with perfume samples.

When the samples are smelt, a person is knocked unconscious and the thief is then free to burgle the property. [...]

Friday, July 3, 2009

Painting Sydney's Harbour Bridge

Sydney Morning Herald
3 July 2009

Bridge seen in a whole new light as facelift takes an eternity

John Huxley

[...] Sydney can expect to get its upgraded, uncluttered bridge back early next year. But doesn't the job of painting the Harbour Bridge then begin all over again?

"No," [RTA spokesman Mark] Henderson said. "Obviously, there is ongoing maintenance, but the idea that we get to the end of painting and then have to go back to the beginning and start again is an urban myth."

The Rev. Slee's Biscuit Recipe

The Guardian [UK]
3 July 2009

He fought the law and the law won. Maybe he needs another lawyer

Hugh Muir

[...] We end with thought for the day, and it concerns the Very Rev Colin Slee, dean of Southwark Cathedral, who purchased, during a trip to Woolworths in South Africa, a biscuit recipe. How much does it cost, he asked the assistant. "Two fifty," she told him. "Two rand fifty, he thought. That's reasonable. Twenty pence. And these biscuits, they are delicious." And they were. But the Lord works in mysterious ways - rivalled only in this respect by Woolworths in Johannesburg; and so it was that on inspecting his credit card bill back home in London, Rev Slee found the upmarket store had charged him 250 rand for the recipe. About £20. That's ridiculous, give it back, he thundered down the phone at them. No chance, "you have already seen the recipe," the store said. "We absolutely will not refund your money." OK then, said the Rev, for he is a man of righteous anger, why don't I just stick your recipe on the internet so everyone can have it for nothing. "I wish you wouldn't do that," said the lady from Woolworths. But by then it was too late. And so it is that the Rev sent the Woolies cookie recipe far and wide with the instruction that each recipient "pass it on to everyone you can possibly think of". He baked them, in a batch of 112, and reflected that these people will think twice in future before they mess with a man of the cloth.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Swine Flu Parties

Daily Telegraph [UK]
30 June 2009

BMA warns parents against holding 'swine flu parties'

Parents have been warned not to take their children to "swine flu parties" in the hope they will catch the disease now and build up immunity. [...]

No firm evidence has emerged of such events taking place with swine flu and Dr Richard Jarvis, of the British Medical Association, warned parents against staging such events. [...]

BBC News [UK]
29 June 2009

Swine flu parties 'a bad idea'

By Nick Triggle
Health reporter, BBC News

Throwing "swine flu parties" in an attempt to get immunity against the virus while it is a fairly mild form is not a good idea, doctors say.

Reports have emerged of people intentionally mixing with friends who have flu. [...]