Skip navigation

Category Archives: WTF?

Harper’s Weekly, April 16, 1904.I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something subtly disturbing about this ad.

San Jose Evening News, September 17, 1890. Read more.

Chicago Tribune, July 22, 1903. Padlock? Explosion?! Car in the lake?!! Wah??!!!

The Pittsfield [Mass.] Sun, October 8, 1868. Accidental poetry like this was, of course, a byproduct of the telegraph. And this is recognizably the sort of thing that Thoreau was anticipating when he famously wrote in 1854 that “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate… We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the Old World some weeks nearer to the New; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.” Thoreau was a joyless old poop. I’ll take stuff like this over a dreary proto-Unabomber tract like Walden Pond any day of the year. It lighteneth the mynd, it quickeneth the spirits, it addeth to the gaiety of nations.

huitresMacon Telegraph, June 17, 1889. Can you believe it? We’re talking here about an average sororal poundage of 175. And yet, this is a mere bagatelle in relation to some of the ensuing prodigies. For example: Read More »

afireSalt Lake Telegram, June 3, 1922. Is it because Salt Lake City is a faraway foreign capital that I cannot make heads or tails of what should be a straightforward bit of scandal-mongering? afire2

She fainted while her underwear was on fire. Sheesh, what a mystery are the autonomous functions of the human body! But how odd that her dainties should catch fire and not the rest of her clothing. (Is silk particularly flammable, compared to other pre-synthetic fabrics?)
Then again, perhaps she was wearing only her underwear at the time–that would help explain their exclusive and limited combustion.
Or maybe she wasn’t wearing them at the time: She might have built a symbolic bonfire of her knickers on the hotel room floor before shooting the dude and herself.
The questions multiply the mysteries. . .
Anyway, I’m guessing “hotel attaches” are to house dicks as sanitary engineers are to garbagemen. Or maybe “attache” applies only to house dicks small enough to fit through transoms. But now let’s proceed to the intriguing literary aspects of the story.

Read More »

no boothsNew York Tribune, April 10, 1894. I’m not sure exactly what we’re editorializing against here. Was there perhaps a move to franchise the fabled flesh booths of Minraud and locate them under the train tracks?

COINBallou’s Dollar Monthly, March 16, 1862. I reckon some watchmaker or other skilled machinist must have made these, either for fun or as a premium to give to customers, and then someone accidentally put them into circulation. Either that or it’s the work of an early and unsung conceptual artist. Anyway, you can acquire a starter kit for your own set of nesting coins here.

sex edLos Angeles Times, March 8, 1914. Yeah, that’s the ticket: Cops should be “great big missionaries” who teach “sex matters” to boys–“at least the rudiments.” Why was this forward-thinking plan never implemented?

For realAtlanta Constitution, December 25, 1912. From a Southern paper we should expect such Yiddish syntax in a headline? On Christmas Eve already?

More generally, this obviously speaks to the primacy of mince among institutional mystery meats. I love it that U.S. marshals once occupied themselves with mince busts, and that the “filler” remained so mysterious to the gov’t lab that it could only be said to have “looked and smelled like mincemeat.” My guess is that it was protose, if not Italian beef.