smiling has been outlawed

On Saturday I went to the Motor Registry to renew my licence. A very pleasant young Asian woman pointed at a chair and asked me to assume the position for “the taking of photo please”. I sat down and gave my best don’t-arrest-me grin to the camera. “Please to not do that” she said “smiling has been outlawed”.

So, no smiling in New South Wales then. Even when you look at these delightful entries for the Gimcrack’s Inaugural Cat Competition. Please cast your vote in the comments. And yes, you may vote for your own cat (entrants names are visible when you hover cursor over the photo – click to enlarge)

Published in: on July 12, 2011 at 8:31 am  Comments (44)  
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the Russian view of hobbyists

The title says it all. Found here

“normal, cheerful John” found here

It is known about John Travolta that before he has become a collector, he was a normal, cheerful lad that did all with appetite: ate, rescued and loved his wife Kelly Preston. But once upon a time Travolta has bought a plane – a small storm trooper, which initiated the hasty disease.

more felt celebrities here

Travolta liked the new toy so much, that he has decided to collect the flying machines. The storm trooper was followed by the reactive “Golfstrim”, then “Boing-707”, all in all now he possesses 7 planes! Imagine how much space this collection occupies!

Travolta’s jets found here

And how much money it costs? Last year Travolta ordered to install in each of the airsheds the extremely sensitive cameras and the security system, the central board of which is set into the back of his bed.

more unusual beds here

Robert De Niro’s collection is not so extravagant – it’s just the collection of hats. But, first, there are plenty of them – approximately 500.  Secondly, they are thrown about in disturbance all over the house.

hat found here

De Niro says that it is done deliberately – it’s easier for him to choose the cut, corresponding to his mood. De Niro’s collection is “active” – now and then he puts on one of his hats and wears it. But the most interesting fact is that all of his wives and girlfriends assure that when De Niro puts on one of his hats, his image transforms thoroughly.

Russians are also very fond of cats apparently. They have a museum devoted to the promotion of this love. 

GREAT! Our Museum’s cats were so glad to taste this unusual toy! Very funny for people and very interesting for cats. You can play with your cat and your cat play itself when you are not home (VERY IMPORTANT).

Two mean points:

Cat Dancer can be used as a wand to play with your cat. Just lead and they will chase, leap and run in circles.

Cat Dancer Compleat includes a soft mounting patch to affix Cat Dancer to a wall or other vertical surface so your cat can play when you are not home.


“Nordic Track for Cats” – New York Times

Irresistable (sic) exercise machine for fat cats” – The Milwaukee Journal

“…Spontaneous cat aerobics.” – London Daily Mail

“Two paws up!” – Whiskers and Sherbet

The best cat’s idea for lonely day” – MOSCOW CAT MUSEUM

image found here

They also have a “Woman and Cat” Beauty Contest. Elena from Moscow was a top contender but my vote goes to the goth girl with the baleful blackie.

image found here

If you have a feline friend of your own, enter his/her photo in the inaugural  Gimcrackery Cattery Competition. I’ll post a prize to the winner. I can’t guarantee it will have two mean points or deserve an accolade such as a “Nordic Track for Cats” but it could enliven the conversation at your next dinner party…..

Email photos to :

Published in: on July 6, 2011 at 9:34 pm  Comments (50)  
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smell my belly button

Recently I read Joshua Davis’ charming book “The Underdog” which details his dream of being best in the world at something. He competes in arm wrestling, bullfighting, sumo, backwards running and the Sauna World Championship

image found here

“Would-be contestants had to submit a doctor’s letter months in advance.  The doctor’s letter was required because the competition sauna was hot enough to kill you. No American doctor in his right mind would have authorised us to essentially cook ourselves so we needed to find another way of getting the letter.

image found here

John obtained letters for all of us from a Dr Ed Point (R.P.) of the Point Medical Clinic. The R.P. after Ed Point’s name signified that he was a board certified “Renaissance Physician”.The clinic’s other staff included a urologist named Peter Stickler, a dermatologist named Mark Wartly and a gynecologist named Seymour Lips.

image found here

I picked up a copy of “Saunas: A Collection of Works” which contained an essay about “löyly“, the essential principle or essence of the sauna. The author, Giles Ekola, informed his readers that löyly could not be translated into any language and absolutely must not be translated as steam. He called it vaporized moisture that is in a process of drying which sounded a lot like steam to me. 

image found here

However, he did help his readers to pronounce the word. He coached me to say “ler” and then “lew”. This exercise “makes it possible for the non-Finnish-speaking persons to lose their fear of the word, to accept it as a gentle friend and to pronounce and possess it as their own easily and readily.” It sounded like he wanted to have sex with the word.

image found here

At dinner that night we went over the Finnish words we knew. John only remembered three phrases, one of which he warned us never to use.  “Smell my belly button” was, according to John, the single worst thing you could say to a Finnish person.

image found here

From an interview Joshua did with Failure Magazine:

Of the five different competitions you recount in the book, which one was most frightening?

There’s the frightening you know and the frightening you don’t. Bullfighting was the frightening that you know. You can imagine a bull. You know it has horns and you have a sense that it’s very dangerous. That was scary because I had all sorts of assumptions and pre-established fears of what it was going to be like. But once I was in the ring I felt relatively comfortable. The process of dancing with a bull came to me intuitively.

image found here

In terms of the fear I didn’t know it was definitely the sauna contest in Finland. I knew it was going to be hot but when I got in there I felt like I was going to die. If I stayed in that sauna another 30 seconds I would have passed out, and if they didn’t drag me out I would have expired. I had steam burns all over my body. When I was sitting in the sauna I was thinking, “This is really, really stupid.” The burns took two weeks to heal.

Are these unusual contests more commonplace in America or foreign countries?

In “The Underdog” I make the argument that these contests are idiosyncratic to America, but I’ve changed my mind. Since the book was released I’ve been getting email from people all over the world telling me about unusual competitions. At I have 50 or so contests listed and I am adding more every week. The Finns are particularly crazy. They have the Sauna World Championship, the cell phone chucking contest, bog soccer and ice swimming.

image found here

Published in: on June 13, 2011 at 4:07 am  Comments (42)  
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what star sign is your car?

Several years ago Psychology Today ran a “scamarama contest” to see if readers could come up with a creative pseudoscience when they weren’t hampered by little things like scruples. Here are some of the suggestions…

Phrenotherapy: Change the bumps on your head to improve your character. Experts would offer to ‘knock your noggin where it will do the most good’

Palmistherapy: Using laser surgery to lengthen the lifeline on the palm of your hand.

Upgrade Your Aura: A device that fits into your pocket or purse that magnifies your current aura to make a better impression on others.

Autozodiac: Create an astrological chart for your car so you’ll know which are the best/worst days  for a long trip or to have your oil changed.

Car Zodiac found here

Investment in Reincarnation: Leave $10,000 in your will to a professional medium who will contact you after your death and find out when you’re coming back and under what name. Upon your return you receive a cheque for your investment plus interest. The longer you are gone, the more you will receive!

It’s been a long time since I ran a competition here at the gimcrack, so perhaps it’s time for another one. Leave your own scamarama suggestions in the comments section and I’ll post out prizes to the two best ideas……

comstockery and clavicles


In 1915, H L Mencken published an essay  on terms used for the human body.


“I undertook to arrange the parts of the body in 8 classes, beginning with the highly respectable and ending with the unmentionable. Into the highest Class I put the heart, brain, hair and eyes, into Class 2 the collarbone, stomach, liver, arms (excluding elbows), ears etc. Into class 3 the elbows, ankles and teeth (if natural), shoulders, neck etc. and so on. My class 6 included thighs, paunch, esophagus, spleen, pancreas, gallbladder and caecum and there I had to stop for the inmates of classes 7 and 8 could not be listed in print in those days of comstockery.”


the days of prudish Anthony Comstock are long gone so now it’s time for another gimcrack competition. You may enter up to three times but each entry has to be for a different body part. whoever comes up with the best synonym for breast, vulva, penis or testicle will win a copy of Oddly Australian (1984) with runners up receiving whatever else is in my prize stash on judging day.

So knock yourselves out and surprise me………


Published in: on December 27, 2008 at 8:13 am  Comments (21)  

gee whizz

we love unusual words at the gimcrack. gossypiboma is the word used to describe a surgical sponge accidently left behind in a patient’s body. yes, it happens so frequently there is a name for it. if you’re overweight your chances of ending up with a gossypiboma after an operation are significantly higher. talk about adding insult to injury.

another favourite word beginning with “g” is gomphiasis which is the technical term for having loose teeth.

nursemyra likes made up words too. like ‘grogambulate‘. this means to walk with special attention paid to your posture and carriage whilst very very drunk.

I think it’s time for another gimcrack competition. First prize is an Australia-shaped stress ball (except it’s not a ball obviously) and a copy of “Sex in the Future” by my favourite science writer Robin Baker. Runners up will probably get cds again and maybe australia-shaped postit notes. the task this month is to submit an interesting word beginning with the letter “G”. It can be real or made up – just so long as it qualifies as a grandiloquism.

Published in: on October 21, 2008 at 7:08 am  Comments (31)  

theanthropic theme

the last time nursemyra ran a competition was in May so another one is overdue. daisyfae left a comment on unbearablebanishment’s blog about having a “family theme song” which has given me an idea.

I’m asking readers to suggest a suitable theme song for my little family. there’s only three of us: the naughty nurse, the homosexual dj and the procrastinating prodigal. you can see a photo of the three of us here and refresh your memory by reading my “about”

I’ve got cds of good aussie music as prizes for 1st. 2nd and 3rd.

Published in: on August 24, 2008 at 7:31 am  Comments (32)  

poxy competition

back in 1497 they had funny ideas about how to treat syphilis. one of the first signs that a person had caught this disease was the appearance of an ulcer on the genitals. Bishop Gaspare Torrella recommended that these pustules “be sucked by some person of low condition”. after the poison was drawn, the penis was washed and wrapped around with a live flayed chicken, pigeon or frog.

foul tasting and dangerous panaceas containing mercury were also popular. it came in many forms, often as an ointment and anti venereal underpants, coated with mercury, became available in 17th century Italy. condoms were in vogue, not to prevent pregnancy but to escape a dose of the pox. here’s a recipe from 1824 for a sheep gut condom

Soak a sheep’s intestine caeca in water for a number of hours, then turn inside out, and macerate them again in weak alkaline, changed every 12 hours. Scrape them carefully to remove the mucous membrane, leaving the peritoneal and muscular coats, and expose them to the vapour of burning brimstone. Then wash them in soap and water, inflate them, dry them and cut to a length of seven to eight inches. Finally, border the open end with a ribbon to tie round the base of the penis, and before use soak the condom in water to make it supple.

modern condoms are made of a much thinner material than sheep gut. advertising agencies go to great lengths to promote them as a pleasure and performance enhancing fashion accessory and nursemyra also advocates the use of condoms as an important part of healthy sexual practices. some time ago I ran a little competition for the best mondegreen or malapropism, now I think it’s time for another competition.

leave a limerick or a joke about condoms in the comments and the best three will get a prize. I can’t guarantee it will be as exciting as the “Continence Helpline Fridge Magnet” that kyknoord won last time but it will be hand picked by your very own nurse…..

Published in: on May 12, 2008 at 8:41 am  Comments (37)  

the girl with colitis goes by *

nursemyra’s nickname is Dr. Know. I earned it because I know every nook and cranny of the gimcrack and can name all 126 patients and their various ailments. that’s only the tip of the iceberg. my brain is full of shit interesting stuff and if I’m asked a work related question am rarely lost for an answer.

though I was momentarily speechless today when a colleague said “I always come to you when I need something done. you’re such a suppository of information.”


want to play a little game? leave ONE example of either a mondegreen or a malapropism in the comments section and the best one gets a fridge magnet from the australian national continence helpline (I know you want one)

* mondegreen

Published in: on February 13, 2008 at 6:57 am  Comments (35)