Archive for the ‘Russ Miller’s Oddly Enough’ Category

  • Oddly Enough: November 2018

    Nov 2, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller The Alvin, a deep sea exploration vessel, has been piloted on over 4,700 scientific dives during its long career. It can plummet as deep as three miles and takes two hours to descend to that depth. On dive number 202, on July 6, 1967 — off the coast of Florida, the Alvin, once settled on the ocean floor at 2,000 feet, was immediately attacked by an 8-foot swordfish. The 200 lbs. animal managed to drive its 3-foot sword in between two external panels of the Alvin and then thrashed wildly for the terrifying two hour ascent. Once on the surface, the animal expired and its bill broke off. The crew enjoyed several days of swordfish fillets. Oddly Enough … During the entire event, the internal hull was never breached and, although the sword entered at a critical electronic junction, no contacts or wires were damaged.   ***** Severe weather at sea has a history of stripping away and exposing hidden shores, changing ocean floors, and disrupting long-forgotten wrecks and relics of the deep. St. Cyrus, Scotland has been visited by large, barrel-shaped hunks of lard for decades following profound storms. It is believed these huge lumps of fat are part of the cargo of a merchant ship bombed and sunk during World War II. As the wooden barrels decay and the fat is freed by violent currents,

  • Oddly Enough: October 2018

    Oct 5, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller Vampire killing kits have made their way into museums, private collections, family heirlooms, and even prestigious auction houses where they have sold for over $20,000. One such kit, on display at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Penn., contains a black-powder pistol with silver bullets, a wooden stake, a crucifix, garlic, and some kind of nasty-looking bottled serum with a syringe. Though reputed to have been the possession of a cautious vacationer of the 19th century, most of these “protective” travel kits didn’t pop up until the 1970s when vampire movies became popular. Oddly Enough … Even though these cobbled-together attaches contained some genuine vintage components, they are nonetheless phony. Most “silver” bullets have been discovered to be made of pewter. Still, the lure of these kits is great enough that they continue to entice museum visitors and the curious, helping boost ticket sales. ***** A story is told in Hamburg about a young and superstitious couple who lived there in 1784. The wife, who was praying while kneeling in front of a stone statue of Death outside the church of the Augustin Friars, inadvertently caught her hood on the scythe blade, snapping off the tip. The piece of marble was later discovered by her husband. The husband, fearing the piece of stone blade was a harbinger of his wife’s death, took ill that day and died. Oddly

  • Oddly Enough: September 2018

    Aug 31, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller The Barreleye, a bizarre deep-sea fish (below 2,000 feet), is solid black except for its translucent tail fin and crystal clear skull. The two circular objects near the mouth of its transparent head are not eyes but chemical sensors. Its green-glowing night-vision eyes are perched on movable stalks and stare upwards most of the time as the fish hovers motionless. These stalks can rotate, allowing this animal to search for prey above, then angle forward to lock onto its target when in pursuit. It steals prey from jellyfish and siphonophores’ tentacles (like plucking berries from a bush) occasionally eating the jellyfish themselves. ODDLY ENOUGH … The clear, fluid-filled shield and “cockpit” of a head protects these amazing eyes from the stinging cells of the jellies and siphonophorae that it lives on. ***** The Olm is an aquatic, exclusively cave-dwelling animal found in limestone caves in Southeastern Europe and Slovenia, among other places. As if its strange bottle-shaped head isn’t unique enough, this animal sports three toes on its forelegs and two on its rear and has no fixed number of vertebrae. It has acute senses of hearing and smell although it is blind. Its skin (which is so translucent that the internal organs can be seen through it) detects light, which it shuns. It is sensitive to magnetic fields, including the Earth’s. Olms eat crabs, insects, and

  • Oddly Enough: August 2018

    Aug 3, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller The aroma of the skunk (a member of the weasel family) can be detected by the human nose as far away as one mile. A skunk is capable of accurately spraying its musk at a target 12 feet away. Their opportunistic diet includes eggs, insects, grain, decaying animal flesh, and produce. The only known enemy of the skunk is the great horned owl, which can swoop down and kill a skunk before it has a chance to react. ODDLY ENOUGH … The skunk is the only mammal known to intentionally hunt and eat bees. They have been observed standing on their hind legs to agitate hives — for the sole purpose of driving the bees out so they can eat them. ***** On Aug. 19, 1980, Saudia Flight 163 took off from Riyadh International Airport with 287 passengers and 14 crew members aboard. Seven minutes into the flight the crew received on-board smoke warnings. The captain immediately decided to return to the airport. Less than three minutes after a completely successful touchdown, the aircraft came to a stop and the engines were shut down. When the ground personnel opened the aircraft, they found everyone inside, dead. Oddly Enough … The crew were found still strapped into their flight station seats. All the passengers were found in the front half of the fuselage. Three minutes after this shocking

  • Oddly Enough: July 2018

    Jun 29, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller Sea Spiders are very unusual animals and live in all the world’s oceans, including the Antarctic. They live in shallow and deep water, and have been collected as far down as 23,000 feet. The young are born with three pairs of legs, but as they mature, they grow an extra pair. They have a brain, a nerve-cord, and a pair of nerve junctions in each of their five body segments. Some have as many as four eyes. Unlike terrestrial spiders, they do not spin webs. They are carnivores, however, and can eat with a mouth as well as jab and suck fluids from their prey with a tube-like proboscis. The males carry and protect the eggs once they are laid. ODDLY ENOUGH … The deeper and colder the ocean, the larger these animals grow. Some have been found to be over three feet across! Bonus ODDLY ENOUGH … Though once thought to be frail and slow moving, recent footage has revealed Sea Spiders booking it across deep barren ocean floors. ***** Susan Winslow, a proprietress of a house of prostitution in Chicago in the 1890s, weighed 450 lbs and was too large for police to take into custody because she could not physically be removed from the premises. After repeated complaints from the public about her illicit operations, officers broke into her place of business and arrested

  • Oddly Enough: June 2018

    Jun 1, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller During the time of Ancient Rome (roughly 1st century B.C.E. to 3rd century C.E.) as many as five merchant ships a day delivered goods to the city of Rome at the port of Ostia. That’s around 350 tons of cargo per year. Much of the merchandise was olive oil, transported in amphorae. Some clay pots held as much as 20 gallons of oil. Near this port is a structure called Monte Testaccio. It’s a mound rising over 115 feet in the air and it is composed entirely of broken amphorae. ODDLY ENOUGH … There are an estimated 53 million broken pots collected in this landfill. Weirdly, the Romans, who were great at recycling and used crushed clay from pots to make concrete and pave roads, intentionally and systematically abandoned these containers. BONUS ODDLY ENOUGH … During the 1600s, Monte Testaccio was a site used for jousting tournaments and pre-Lenten celebrations. ***** In an attempt to reduce the amount of ivory consumed — for billiard balls, primarily — a $10,000 reward was offered in 1863 by the billiard game manufacturer Phelan & Collender to come up with a synthetic substitute. The Hyatt brothers, John Wesley and Isaiah Smith, both in the printing business, stumbled onto the solution quite by accident. They called this early plastic “celluloid.” It was quickly molded into such products as piano keys, combs, collar

  • Oddly Enough: May 2018

    May 4, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller The famous Bowie family name originated in Scotland. Bowie, in Gaelic, means “yellow” or “blonde.” The well-known Bowie brothers, James and Rezin were both referred to as sandy-haired. The Bowie brothers began their frontier careers as slave smugglers. Through a convoluted scheme, they would pose as good citizens who “came upon” some wayward slaves. They would turn them in to the nearest law office and get the reward money for their “good deed.” Once the paperwork and titles to the slaves were processed by the magistrates, the Bowies would buy the slaves at a law auction and then turn around and sell them legally, not spending a cent on fees and recouping reward money and sales profit. With this cash, they set about investing in real estate and small businesses. Both were considered gregarious, much sought after for business advice, and short-tempered. Contrary to popular beliefs, James Bowie did not invent the famous fighting “Bowie Knife”; neither did his brother. It was designed and forged by a blacksmith named James Black whose skill at making quality steel bordered on legendary. Once the Bowies had this iconic weapon, orders for “the knife, like Bowie’s” came in fast and furious. It was the quintessential combat blade in the 1800s, and many duels and arguments were settled with this hefty piece of sharpened iron. ODDLY ENOUGH … The demand for

  • Oddly Enough: April 2018

    Mar 30, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller The first known air powered rifles were designed around 1580. These very rare, large caliber weapons were used to hunt game by the very rich. Around 1779, a Tyrolean inventor named Girandoni came up with a much more robust and practical model called a “wind rifle.” It had an effective accurate range of 100 yards and was used in the service of the Austrian army from 1780 until 1815. The compressed air reservoirs required 1,500 pumps by hand to fill and were sufficient for about 30 rounds of .46 caliber balls. This was a staggering rate of fire for the times. The interchangeable gas canisters were built into the butt-stock, or hung from the fore-stock in front of the trigger guard. ODDLY ENOUGH … These guns were carried by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition (1804-06) and demonstrated to every new Native American tribe they encountered. This was done primarily to invoke awe and respect. Many natives referred to this wonder as “something from the gods.” ***** The “Arkansas” was a Confederate ironclad ship that experienced a stellar career during the American Civil War while fighting on the Mississippi River. She was cobbled together with scraps and hastily painted brown to cover the rust on her uneven sheet metal paneling. Even her 10 salvaged guns were comprised of four different calibers. Amazingly, the “Arkansas” disabled Union

  • Oddly Enough: March 2018

    Mar 2, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller During World War II, when the Japanese occupied the Philippines, they captured over $21 million dollars in U. S. and local cash and bullion. The Japanese used this hard currency to fuel their own war machine. Japanese Pesos were issued to unify their invasion currency. The Filipinos refused to recognize these Japanese Pesos as legal tender and referred to them as “Mickey Mouse Money.” When American troops returned to the Philippines they found areas so littered with these bills it looked as if the streets were awash in autumn leaves. ODDLY ENOUGH … Though literal tons of these bills were burned after the war, more Japanese Invasion Money is still being discovered in island caves, under houses, and in tunnels. And, even for today’s collectors, these bills fetch virtually nothing. ***** Cooperstown, NY was founded by William Cooper, the father of early American novelist, James Fenimore Cooper. Cooperstown has become synonymous with baseball. This was primarily due to a fanciful story about Abner Doubleday inventing the rules for the game in Cooperstown in 1839. The Baseball Hall of Fame, located in Cooperstown, houses tens of thousands of baseball objects and memorabilia and welcomes nearly 300,000 fans per year. ODDLY ENOUGH … In the early 1800s Cooperstown banned the playing of baseball in the streets. The law carried a hefty fine of $1 per participant. ***** Russell Miller

  • Oddly Enough: Russ Miller reflects on his own strange-but-true tale

    Feb 2, 18 • ndemarino • 5enses, Feature, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By James Dungeon [Editor’s note: The following interview was culled from conversations between the reporter and Russ Miller, Prescott-based illustrator, polymath, and creator of “Oddly Enough,” which runs in, among other places, the publication you’re reading right now.] How did you get started doing “Oddly Enough”? Probably one of the big reasons why I started “Oddly Enough” was because of a library. It was the one here, actually, in the Carnegie building. It was in the late ’50s or early ’60s. I used to get dropped off in the summer there because, well, I’m sure my folks had other stuff to do. But I was in the kids’ section at the Gurley Street corner, the bottom section of that building. At one point, as a kid, you’ve read everything of interest in there, but the upstairs was daunting. It was dark, hardwood, and quiet. I remember I started looking around up there and, man, there was some really good stuff. I remember this one particular book I kept trying to check out. It was about strange people — basically, about freaks, when you get down to it — people who’d been in horrible accidents and other stuff. At the time, librarians could say, “No, put that book back on the shelf, sonny.” So, I kept trying and one day they had someone else working there and he just stamped the

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