Having spent a lot of time at the Baldwin Hills mall, I can tell you that the scene down there would certainly be livened up by more spontenous musical numbers. This is the best Improv Everywhere mission I've seen in a while, if only for the fundamental insight into universal mall culture that lays the point of departure from sanity on the Hot Dog on a Stick girl:
A bold proclamation for a bold writer! Believe it or not, this fan club was not started by me. Even under a pseudonym. Kyle Minor is a real person, in Ohio, and a veryfine writer himself. Now that he has thrown my hat in the literary ring, I can finally cash in on the promise of all this social internetsworking hoo-hah. Next stop: best-seller/world dominationa/IPO! For those interested in joining, I am not an administrator, but I have noted that officer positions are apparently open to all. Yeti Wrangler is taken, but I think we could arrange Co-Yeti Wrangler for those interested. (Sorry Krafft!)
As the Homo Floresiensis debate rages (summary: hobbits versus tiny "cretins"?) new evidence emerges in the form of more little people! This time the bones were discovered in greater numbers, and in diving paradise Palau. This is where I spent a month in 2004, communing with a baby monkey and pretending that Bush didn't win. Who knew I was so close to such important paleoanthropological/cryptozoological find? Turns out the researcher who discovered the bones was also in Palau on vacation, specifically because his wife wanted to go to a place where it would be unlikely to find any bones. (Palau is solid limestone, with limited opportunity for burial and therefore also burial sites.) But on the last day he talked to a local who said he knew of a cave full of bones. There they found 1,200 specimens of humanoid skeletons: three feet tall, orbital ridges, and teeth "at odd angles." Hmm. Small, dentally challenged, and big brows. Could it be that our new contemporary cousins are neither hobbits nor cretins but rather the extended family of our old friend Chaka?
With passover approaching, everyone's searching for strategies as to how to endure yet another interminable trip down the memory lane of old mitzraim. Surprisingly, painting eyeballs on your lids and napping doesn't fool anyone! PSPs, iPhones, and other electronic devices are banned. Clandestine messages in morse are too time consuming to decode. What's left? A magical inner voyage? Counting to ten thousand? Drugs? Well, that's how Moses apparently started Passover:
According to Benny Shanon, a professor of cognitive psychology at the
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, psychedelic drugs formed an integral
part of the religious rites of Israelites in biblical times.
the Time and Mind journal of philosophy, he says concoctions based on
the bark of the acacia tree, frequently mentioned in the Old Testament,
contain the same molecules as those found in plants from which the
powerful Amazonian hallucinogenic brew ayahuasca is prepared.
Burning Bush explained! Not only was Moses passing the bitter herb back in the day, but so were the rest of the gang. (Wouldn't you if you were stuck in the desert all that time?) In fact, it sounds like the whole Sinai scene might have been a proto-rave:
thunder, lightning and blaring of a trumpet which the Book of Exodus
says emanated from Mount Sinai could just have been the imaginings of a
people in an altered state of awareness," writes Shanon. "In advanced
forms of ayahuasca inebriation, the seeing of light is accompanied by
profound religious and spiritual feelings."
My guess is that Moses broke those tablets because he was pissed that no one gave him a flyer for Golden Calf 1280 BC, Mark II.
The Zombie Zeitgeist A full scale movement is on the lurch. But why the best zombie movie ever made a video game?
Believer interview with Mark Allen Digital artist and awesome gallerist Mark Allen talks about Tekken Torture Tournament and other projects where people were wired to machines and did strange things in public.
Believer interview with Marjane Satrapi Enlightening Q & A with the Persian cartoonist, memoirist, quick conversationalist in which she declares: “THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT BATMAN AND ROBIN FIGHTING THE JOKER; THINGS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT.”
Yeti Researcher Yet another 100-page issue of the world's top academic journal devoted scholarship about the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasqatch, and other mystery primates worldwide. For researchers and lay audiences alike, the latest YR features a history of Sasquatch sightings in southern California, an update on the wily orang pendek of Sumatra, and a new look into Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with bagging a Bigfoot. As Editor-in-Chief, I promise you won't be disappointed.
Panda PowerPoint! I guess I don't mind being "the entertainment" when it's at Mark Allen's second annual Holiday Fry-B-Que. Presented: preliminary findings from my ongoing research into the most charismatic megafauna of all: Giant Pandas.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Dec 9, 2006 For those who missed it, there will be more. World, Explained is going strong! Money was raised, laughs were had, and for those paying attention, small amounts of useful information about things like the aurora borealis were transmitted. Plus: Michael Cera = lovably funny. And Nick Diamonds' renditions of Dumb Dog and Hanging Tough are still in my head. As is that horribly catchy Fresh Step jam.
Jest Fest at Skylight Books Somehow I wound up hosting the 10th anniversary jubilee for Infinite Jest at Skylight Books. Because who doesn't love a jubilee, right? Despite being delirious with Hepatitis A (that's the mild, non-lethal kind; I'm not at risk for Hep B since I always go the needle share and choose clean-looking prostitutes), I managed to not mis-pronounce anyone's name and make an erudite joke and poke gentle fun at Michael Silverblatt.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | June 10, 2006 Number Three! Last one was sold out so we moved to a slightly larger theater. Andy Richter hosted, and his opening exegesis of CSI: Miami warmed the people up right. Evany Thomas presented her very scientific findings on the Secret Language of Sleep; Starlee Kine bared her neuroses to the world (or at least the 300 people in the audience); Josh Davis showed video of his 135-lb self sumo wrestling a 550-lb opera singer from San Bernardino; and Davy Rothbart closed it out with some Found Magazine magic. Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Shelton and Zooey Deschanel provided the music punctuation! I can still hear their rendition of We Are the Champions.
McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Feb 11, 2006 The second in our series of precision comedy and fact-based entertainment extravaganzas benefiting 826LA. Patton Oswalt was kind enough to host, and Jon Brion joined in on the piano and guitar as thematic accompaniment. Presenters included: David Rees, Michael Colton, John Hodgman (along with his hirsuit troubadour, Jonathan Coulton), and me. Plus: a fashion show of exciting multi-user garmentry.
Little Gray Book Lecture at Galapagos How to Observe President's Day. Jonathan Coulton's technical wizardry has made this entire show available online. The summary from PRX: Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman and Joshuah Bearman on Presidents' Day, along with a fifteen-piece marching band and a new song about all forty-three presidents. My contribution? Yes, from Yeti Researcher. Again. Actually that was the first one. So I have only five stories!
July 25: TJ to LA -- A Night McSweeney's Readings I was honored to be part of a strange triptych along with Salvador Plascencia and Josh Kun. Sponsored, somehow, by La Ciudad magazine, we all packed into Beyond Baroque with no air conditions. 150 people showed at 7 o'clock on a Friday evening, which we took as a good sign of something. Sal held up and anxiously discussed drawings from his novel, Josh delivered an essay on the Dr. Moreau of Tijuana, and my shtick (again) was Pac Man and metaphysics, this time with fun slides.
October 8th: Skylight Books w/Stephen Elliott Fun times were had by all. Someone in the audience actually mistook me for an expert on the psychology human character. We ate shrimp cocktail and drank cheap wine and laughed at Bush and celebrated the certainty of right besting wrong in American democracy. A lot of good that did.