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

  • 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

  • Oddly Enough: February 2018

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

    By Russell Miller Twice a day, 100 billion tons of seawater flows into and out of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia, Canada. That amount of water is equal to the daily flow of all the combined rivers on Earth. ODDLY ENOUGH … The Bay of Fundy has the highest tides on the planet and reaches the incredible height of 50 feet. ***** The first pedestrian to die by moving vehicle was in 1896. Since then, the imperative to save lives has been responsible for some innovative if not specious inventions. The “Pedestrian Catcher” (recorded as early as 1927) was one such device, which amounted to a scoop bolted to the front of an automobile. Activated by a lever inside the car, it violently ripped the person off the street and into a kind of netting. As one ad put it: “When the scoop is open, a jaywalker simply can’t get run over, and sometimes that’s more than he deserves.” Along with this dubious creation, there was the S hook, C clamp canvas pet bag that was simply affixed to the vehicle’s running-board. Its advertisement read: “Your dog will ride safely in this sack, which is quickly attached or removed.” ODDLY ENOUGH … These ideas were not simply the fever dreams of crazed American crackpot visionaries; these car accessories were used on several continents until reason, and I’m sure,

  • Oddly Enough: January 2018

    Dec 29, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller The Cone Shell Mollusk (of which there are hundreds of types) is a snail that can actually fish for its dinner. Using a tongue-like organ that contains a poisonous “harpoon,” the Cone Shell darts its victims with incredible speed. Tough ligaments hold the barbed harpoon fast to the Cone Shell as it “reels in” its prey. So potent is the venom of this little animal that some can kill humans in a few minutes. Collectors have been known to pay thousands of dollars for a single Cone Shell. ODDLY ENOUGH … The Cone Shell Mollusk is blind. It senses its meals by tasting the water while hiding in rocks or sand. ***** Most court-ordered decapitations were carried out using a sword, and unlike most movie versions, the prisoners were either standing or kneeling. The velocity brought to bear by the flying blade was remarkable. In 1645, for instance, a felon who raised his hands at the last moment not only lost his head, but both of his hands were cleanly nipped off at the wrists as well. ODDLY ENOUGH … A swordsman by the name of Charles-Henri Sanson made such a ferocious and clean cut of one victim that his head remained perfectly balanced on his neck. It is reported that Sanson mumbled, “Shake yourself — it’s done.” ***** Russell Miller is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, bagpiper,

  • Oddly Enough: December 2017

    Dec 1, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller Nat Love, better known as “Deadwood Dick,” was a black cowboy who was born a slave, but freed after the Civil War. He mastered many Indian dialects and became a sought after trail boss during the era of the great cattle drives. He was a legendary champion of the early rodeos and by his own admission lived “an unusually adventurous life.” Well enough educated to write his own autobiography, he included the cattle drive history, shootouts in Mexico, involvement in some of the Indian Wars, and befriending such well-known characters as Bat Masterson. ODDLY ENOUGH … When the railroad was established and the cattle drives died out, Nat Love ended his careers as a common Pullman porter, one of the best positions open to a black man in those days. Not once in his writing did Nat ever mention bigotry or racism. ***** The Star-nosed Mole lives in the Eastern United States. Growing to a length of 5 inches, this mole has a healthy appetite and eats constantly. It feeds on insects and worms and has been known to eat a portion of an earthworm, tie it into a knotted wad, and roll it back into its den to be eaten later, like left over meatballs. ODDLY ENOUGH … This little burrower can swim extremely well, feeding on fish, crustaceans, and water bugs. Even pond ice won’t

  • Oddly Enough: November 2017

    Nov 3, 17 • ndemarino • 5enses, Russ Miller's Oddly EnoughNo CommentsRead More »

    By Russell Miller Late in the 19th century a very strange set of objects was discovered in the peat of Lancashire, England. Tiny knives, scrapers, borers, and other flint tools were found that were obviously too small for human hands to use. The workmanship was extremely fine. Labeled as “ritual instruments,” none have ever been found alongside actual working tools, and for the most part, no one knows who carved them or what they were designed for. Some fanciful notions suggest gnomes and elves. ODDLY ENOUGH … Whoever the creators were, they were apparently widespread, because “pygmy flints” have also been discovered in Egypt, Australia, Africa, France, Sicily, and India. ***** There are over 1,600 species of starfish. This primitive animal has done remarkably well for a creature with no brain. Starfish reproduce in a variety of ways, but one of the strangest is the Linckia Starfish, which simply sheds its legs, each of which grows into a new, fully formed starfish. ODDLY ENOUGH … The largest starfish ever caught measured nearly 5 feet across. The heaviest starfish ever recorded weighed more than 13 pounds. ***** Russell Miller is an illustrator, cartoonist, writer, bagpiper, motorcycle enthusiast, and reference librarian. Currently, he illustrates books for Cody Lundin and Bart King

Celebrating art and science in Greater Prescott.

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