In 1908, Charles Guthrie was able to successfully amputate one dog's head and sew it onto the neck of another dog, rerouting the blood flow so that the animal had two (somewhat) functioning heads, according to Mary Roach's Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. "[T]oo much time (twenty minutes had elapsed between the beheading and the moment the circulation was restored) for the dog head and brain to regain much function," Roach explained.
Then, in 1972, scientists were able to transplant the head of a dying rich racist onto the body of Rosie Grier in The Thing With Two Heads:
To solve that problem, scientists [in 1985] patented a device for perfusing an animal head. "This invention involves a device, referred to herein as a 'cabinet,' which provides physical and biochemical support for an animal's head which has been 'discorporated' (i.e., severed from its body)," the patent's abstract explains. "This device can be used to support a discorped head with oxygenated blood and nutrients, by means of tubes connected to arteries which pass through the neck. After circulating through the head, the deoxygenated blood returns to the cabinet by means of cannulae which are connected to veins that emerge from the neck."
Sounds easy enough, right? But then again, had such technology existed in 1972, or rather the 1972 of Thing With Two Heads, we would never have been treated to a timely morality tale built and accompanying incredible imagery:
Alas, poor Steve Martin hasn't been funny since The House-Sitter. (I know, strong words. But the House-Sitter is surprisingly and anachronistically good, despite being firmly located in the post-Dirty Rotten Scoundrel decline. Check it out.) But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy echoes of LP-vintage Steve Martin as he throws a few bon mots between bluegrass sets on on Austin City Limits:
Huh oh, here we go again! Another cougar and her cub relationship is in trouble. Just when the dust settled over Ashton and Demi, we now have Eva and Tony calling it quits! It’s no wonder cougars are on the endangered list!
Relationship expert Ish Major, MD, isn’t surprised. He believes most cougar/cub relationships are destined to fail. Why? Just look at the facts. A species of animals becomes endangered due to:
Habitat Destruction - cougars eventually tire of being ‘mommy’ and set their cubs free
Introduction to Exotic Species - as cubs grow older, younger females look more and more attractive
Reproduction - even males eventually feel their own biological clocks ticking and want to procreate
Survival of the Fittest - as cubs mature, their cougars become a little ‘too’ mature
Over Exploitation - cubs resent being ‘cared for’ and want to make their own way
“As life and relationships happen people begin to change. They take on new responsibilities. They walk away from old ones,” says Dr. Major, “In a cougar/cub relationship, you can rarely beat the circle of life.”
Dr. Major is available for immediate expert commentary of the demise of Eva and Tony, and on the life of an endangered cougar.
So I disputed a parking ticket, as I always do when I am wronged by the privateers who fleece the public on poorly maintained meters, and not only was the citation dismissed, but it was "permantently dismissed in the interest of justice." (Italics mine, so as to emphasize the literary flourish of my vindication; the computer that generated this letter must have been feeling zesty that day.) And further down, I discover -- get this -- a reimbursement is headed my way! It doesn't quite make up for the $1100 of injustice accrued on the winshield of my car at my old apartment, but it's a start.
Guess it was a slow news day in Ohio. OK, so it actually was a van, which does make the offense worse. The kid's defense: "I was like, 'It was an accident.'" That didn't fly with the driver, or school district, which made it clear that if it happens again, the punishment will be the same. Oh, the Tyranny! As the news copywriter put it: "Now, Christian must fear his flatulence." Under this new regime, he "must be secretive when letting one slip in the school bus."
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.