TIME Media

21 Totally Insane Vintage News Stories

People were seriously out of their minds

Lest anyone believe interest in weird or funny local-news stories is a phenomenon of the Internet age, here’s a look at some of the gems that ran in the “Miscellany” column — under the heading “TIME Brings All Things” — in issues of TIME from the 1920s and 1930s. Shining a spotlight on everyday people who do stupid stuff is, it turns out, an enduring news-media tradition.

TIME Bizarre

Snake Slithers Out of San Diego Toilet

Colombian rainbow boa

Experts are still stumped how the reptile found its way into the toilet

Hold on to your toilet lids because things are about to get creepy.

A 5½-ft. Colombian rainbow boa slithered out of a San Diego, California toilet on Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. The porcelain throne the reptile chose was located at the Vertical Public Relations firm, which occupies a structure built in 1886.

Vertical PR’s cofounder, Stephanie Lasca, was the unlucky lady to happen upon the restroom intruder.

“I thought my eyes were deceiving me,” Lasca told the Times.

After seeing the critter’s flickering tongue, Lasca realized she was dealing with a snake and quickly ran from the bathroom to call Animal Services.

Handlers sent to apprehend the boa found the snake curled up behind a toilet when they arrived. Aside from biting one of the handlers, the non-venomous reptile was vacated from the bathroom without incident.

The snake was taken to a nearby animal care center for examination and appears to be in good health. It was later claimed on Jan. 8.

Experts are still stumped how the reptile found its way into the toilet, which means double-flushing from now on might be a good idea.

This article originally appeared on People.com.

TIME Internet

Watch This Man Roast a Marshmallow Over a Volcano

Definitely don’t try this at home

The season for roasting chestnuts on an open fire is over, so how about this for an alternative: roasting marshmallows on an open volcano?

Filed in the “definitely don’t try this at home” category is this new video from Caters TV showing, as they call it, a “daredevil” heating up a marshmallow by using a tent peg to dangle it over a lava lake inside Marcum Crater on the island of Ambrym in Vanuatu—which is either the name of one of the seven gates of hell or a small island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Australia.

That daredevil is Simon Turner, though the even braver man is probably Bradley Ambrose, the one behind the camera—especially when taking into account that, as Grub Street claims, he had “to watch out for stuff like shooting fireballs that, for instance, claimed the group’s previous camera equipment.” Here’s hoping they had rental insurance.

According to the video’s description, the pair’s descent to the lava lake was nearly a quarter of a mile, with temperatures reaching up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In a situation like that, I bet the cold beer was far more enjoyable than the hot marshmallow, no matter how much more work it was for the latter.

This article originally appeared on FWx.

More from FWx:

TIME relationships

Woman Goes Into Hospital for Back Pain, Gives Birth One Hour Later

The baby was 10 pounds

Weymouth, Mass., resident Katie Kropas thought she had put on some extra weight over the holiday season. But after going to the hospital Wednesday with complaints of severe back pain, the 23-year-old was surprised to learn that it wasn’t a food baby but, rather, a baby baby.

“They told me that I had a full term baby, ready to come, now,” Kropas told a local CBS affiliate. “So I found out at 10:15 and I had her at 11:06.”

Well, at least she had a full 51 minutes to process. The baby girl, named Ellie, weighed 10 pounds.

Kropas told NECN that she and her long-term boyfriend were shocked by the news. The new mom was reportedly on birth control and had a “pretty regular” menstruation cycle. She experienced no morning sickness and attributed her swollen feet to her 50 hour a week catering job.

Regardless of the surprising conditions, Korpas was very positive to the Patriot Ledger.

“It’ll be fun,” she said. “I’ll have lots of help.”

TIME society

This Is How to Melt Soda Cans Into Almost Anything

Here’s how you recycle the cool way

We all know how to recycle the lame way: Just dump your aluminum cans into that blue bin and let the garbage man haul them off and turn them into who knows what—probably just more cans.

Here’s how you recycle the cool way: You build your own tiny foundry like Grant Thomas, aka The King of Random. Then you melt down your old soda cans yourself and turn them into whatever you want with a few molds from the Dollar Store.

We should say upfront that building mini foundries and working with molten aluminum might not be for everyone. For the DIY-challenged, it’s probably a good way to end up with a very confused doctor looking you over in the emergency room.

But even if you aren’t ready to fire up a forge in your backyard, watching Thompson melt down cans with ease and turn them into metal biscuits and other goodies (including a sword) is a fun visual representation of how recycling and reusing metal isn’t just some ambiguous concept. It’s something anyone can do, even at home. Just don’t use your good muffin pans.

Bring on the 18-pack of Mountain Dew!

This article originally appeared on FWx.

More from FWx:

TIME Bizarre

Woman Faces Up To a Month in Jail For Mailing Her Neighbors Cow Poop

White cow jojo1 photography—Getty Images/Flickr Select

There's the holiday spirit!

An Iowa woman cited this week for mailing her neighbors three pounds of cow poop told The Hawk Eye, “I look forward to my day in court.”

Kimberly Capdevila, 51, says the smell care package, sent in response to previous complaints about her barking dog, was a “practical joke.” But police gave Capdevila a misdemeanor ticket for third-degree harassment that could land her up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $625.

“In no way, shape or form did I intend this to be anything more than a practical joke,” she said. “I was given a website that I thought was anonymous. I thought it would be a funny thing to do to send it to my neighbors. After all the problems we’ve had, I thought it would be a funny thing to do. I am sorry if they took offense to it. If they took offense, I apologize.”

According to police reports, Capdevila sent the cow dung through poopsenders.com, which is exactly what it sounds like. Although the site boasts “Guaranteed Anonymous” in bright red letters on its website and promotes a testimonial from someone who sent their neighbors poop as retribution for not cleaning up after her dog, it does state that customers “may not use our service to threaten, constitute harassment, violate a legal restraint, or any other unlawful purpose.”

Poopsenders also offers elephant and gorilla feces. (Don’t get any ideas.)

See More: Why This Company Sent Poop to 30,000 People for Black Friday

TIME Bizarre

Couple Spent 2 Days Trapped in a Closet That Wasn’t Actually Locked

They called 911 saying they were trapped

We all struggle with locks sometimes, but usually the struggle ends before 48 hours have passed. A Florida couple called 911 on Tuesday saying they’d been chased into a closet on the campus of Daytona State College and had been locked in for two days. But when the police arrived on the scene, the door was not locked.

Police discovered human feces in the closet, as well as copper scouring pads that the Orlando Sentinel reports are sometimes used as crack-smoking paraphernalia. No drugs were found.

John Arwood, 31, and Amber Campbell, 25, were charged with trespassing. It is not the first brush with law enforcement for either person.

A police officer tested the door by entering the closet and closing it behind him. It did not lock.

[Orlando Sentinel]

Read next: Florida Woman Slaps 72-Year-Old Who Denied Her Facebook Request

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Bizarre

Watch This Man Solve the World’s Hardest Rubik’s Cube Very Quickly

He solves the 17x17x17 puzzle in 7.5 hours but the video is only 6 minutes

While some people might fritter away seven and a half hours bingeing on Netflix, YouTuber RedKB (in real life, Kenneth Brandon) has made more productive use of his time. Over the course of five days, working for several hours at a time, he was able to solve the world’s most challenging Rubik’s Cube: a 17x17x17 block.

Brandon started by solving each color’s center, then finished with the border, which proved much easier. For puzzlers with a lot of time on their hands and an itch to see the play-by-play, Brandon has posted the full seven-plus hour version as well.


TIME Bizarre

7 of the Craziest Predictions for the Future, From the Past

Sight, Sound & Smell
American film producer Mike Todd Jr (left) sits with Swiss inventor Hans Laube, who points to his 'Smell-O-Vision' machine, in 1959 Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Visionaries of the past imagined a world that subsisted on kelp, exercised mind-control with grouch pills and genetically modified tomatoes to fit perfectly on sandwiches

Back in 1992, in a special issue of TIME devoted to predicting what to expect in the new millennium, writer Lance Morrow waxed philosophical about why we prognosticate in the first place. Quoting political scientist Michael Barkun, he wrote, “The human mind abhors a vacuum … Where certainties are absent, we make do with probabilities, and where probabilities are beyond our power to calculate, we seek refuge from insupportable ignorance in a future of our own imagining.”

The future we’ve imagined over the last century has, in some cases, come to fruition: The global population has skyrocketed as resources have waned, and technology has unlocked boundless potential and eliminated entire categories of jobs. But in other cases, those forecasts remain indecipherable from the plots of science fiction movies. Of course, a prediction that sounded crazy in 1909 (say, Nikola Tesla’s vision of an instrument “which will enable its bearer to hear anywhere on sea or land for distances of thousands of miles”) might, a century later, end up in nearly 90% of Americans’ pockets.

At the risk of looking a fool when some of the following come true a century from now, here is a roundup of some of the looniest predictions since the advent of TIME — the magazine, not the concept — in 1923:

The future human will be a Cyclops. “Yes, in distant centuries or millenaries man will be a Cyclops, a Polyphemus, a being with one eye only.” So said Dr. Thomas Hall Shastid in a 1933 article about the “Face of the Future.” This future eye, explained Shastid, would be in the center of the face, below a high forehead, where the bridge of the nose once rested. The doctor reasoned that the human eye originally evolved to see far into the distance, but as the modern human “reads, writes, repairs watches, cuts gems, examines pictures, and so forth,” the cyclopean peeper would evolve to accommodate these close-range tasks and pastimes.

Grandchildren of the television age won’t be able to read. Covering the construction of a new TV station in 1951, TIME addressed the potential downsides of a newly television-obsessed culture. “Our people are becoming less literate by the minute,” the writer lamented, suggesting that in the zero-sum game of recreational hours, TV would eat up more and more of the time people once spent “reading books and thinking thoughts.” “By the 21st Century our people doubtless will be squint-eyed, hunchbacked and fond of the dark,” the writer predicted. “But why am I carrying on like this? Chances are that the grandchild of the Television Age won’t know how to read this.”

Every medical malady will be treatable with a miracle pill. If the Swiss doctor Francois Ody’s 1956 prophecy ever comes true, hospitals are going to find themselves in a tough spot. One of the most distinguished surgeons in Europe at the time, Ody imagined that “All the victories which have been the pride of brilliant surgeons will be forgotten,” replaced by the discovery of a “substance which, in the form of a capsule, will capture the sources of energy that will bring recovery within hours.” Such a magic antidote would obviate the need for surgery in most cases, leaving in its wake not only dumpsters full of scalpels, but also the physical pain inflicted by tearing a body open and sewing it back up.

“Frogmen” will live in underseas bunkers and tend to kelp farms. One way to address food shortages of the future, according to the RAND Corp. in 1966: eat more kelp. The think tank imagined that “Huge fields of kelp and other kinds of seaweed will be tended by undersea ‘farmers’ — frogmen who will live for months at a time in submerged bunkhouses.” The kelp, rich in protein, would then be ground into a powder which “could be regenerated chemically to taste like anything from steak to bourbon.” Though seaweed extracts are commonly used as additives today, they’ve yet to supplant the rest of our food supply. And so far, their cultivators still live on dry ground.

Spouses will be able to secretly control one another’s moods with “grouch pills.” The same 1966 article that predicted a kelp-driven food economy had something to say about marital relations, as well. If one spouse is in a particularly cantankerous mood, his or her partner, predicted RAND, “will be able to pop down to the corner drugstore, buy some anti-grouch pills, and slip them into the coffee.” Of course, the last half-century certainly has seen remarkable advances in psychiatric medication — from Adderall to Prozac — but as far as instantaneous mind control goes, we’re still relegated to old fashioned remedies like avoidance and a glass of wine.

Tomatoes will be square. The mechanization of agriculture during the middle decades of the 20th century drastically changed the face of farming. Some, observed former Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman, believed the automation would “chill the ageless intimacy between man and his land.” Others saw nothing but progress in the increased production modern machinery afforded. Still others saw square tomatoes. “Another phenomenon in the not too distant future,” envisioned the Research and Development Chief at Deere & Co., “is square tomatoes, which, after all, could be more easily packaged by machine — and fit better in sandwiches.”

We will be able to feel and smell whatever’s on our television sets. Television has not rendered a generation illiterate (though some would argue just barely), and neither has it mastered senses beyond sight and sound, as a 1992 article about “multisensual media” predicted it would. According to Nicholas Negroponte, then director of M.I.T.’s Media Lab, the 21st century will bring “full-color, large-scale, holographic TV with force feedback and olfactory output.” The images on your TV, in other words, will be feelable and smellable, features whose desirability will vary greatly depending on exactly what it is you’re watching. Of course, we’ve got another 85 years to go in this century. Perhaps someday we’ll be able to feel the ruffles on Seinfeld’s puffy shirt and get a contact high from watching Weeds.

TIME Bizarre

Hasbro to Replace Penis-shaped Play-Doh Toy

It also offered to replace the tool for anyone who has it

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Facing criticism from some parents over a Play-Doh toy that looks similar to a penis, Hasbro says it will replace the offending implement with a different tool.

The complaints over the so-called “extruder tool” in Play-Doh’s Cake Mountain toy have been going on since at least November, when Tulsa, Oklahoma, TV station KTUL showed the tool to parents and asked them what they thought. The two-piece syringe-like tool — which includes a tube with corkscrew-type ridges around the outside and a dome-shaped top with a hole at the tip — can be used to squeeze Play-Doh to look like decorative cake frosting.

The station blurred the image of the tool during the piece, saying it was due to parents’ reactions. One woman told the station it was “a pretty phallic cake-decorating piece.”

After Christmas hit, comments started pouring in to Play-Doh’s Facebook page. Jennifer Turner, a Rhode Island mother, posted a message saying it had ruined her Christmas.

“Every person I asked, including my two older children, all agreed that it looked way too similar to a penis,” Turner said in an email with The Associated Press. Her photo was posted and re-posted online, and Turner said she has since been bashed and made fun of for pointing out the obvious and taking a stand.

Erin Rivers, a mother of two from Melbourne, Florida, thought it was hilarious when she helped her 6-year-old daughter open the box.

“I pulled out this extruder tool and I just started cracking up at it, I couldn’t help it. Then I immediately put the Play-Doh in it and took a picture of,” she said. Then, she posted it on Facebook. “My friends have just as dirty minds as I do. It was hysterical to me. And then I gave it my daughter to play with.”

Her daughter and 4-year-old son do not notice anything strange about the toy, she said.

Pawtucket-based Hasbro Inc. has received thousands of comments on the Play-Doh Facebook page about the toy.

“We are in the process of updating all future Play-Doh products with a different tool,” it said in a statement posted on the page Tuesday. It also offered to replace the tool for anyone who has it.

Rivers, 31, who works in a pediatric dental office, says she’s not upset at all. But she is flabbergasted that the toy slipped past so many layers of people at Hasbro.

“They have to have someone who creates it, someone who makes the plastic mold, someone who plays with it,” she said. “I can’t imagine that as many people that probably saw the toy, not one person said ‘Does anyone else think this looks like a penis?'”

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