I saw this muppet-looking dude at OK:
Asks Archaeology magazine. The answer, self-evidently, is no:
This real response from the real articles sounds like the plot of a different movie:
Bernard Rollin, a bioethicist and professor of philosophy at Colorado State University, doesn't believe that creating a Neanderthal clone would be an ethical problem in and of itself. The problem lies in how that individual would be treated by others. "I don't think it is fair to put people...into a circumstance where they are going to be mocked and possibly feared," he says, "and this is equally important, it's not going to have a peer group. Given that humans are at some level social beings, it would be grossly unfair." The sentiment was echoed by Stringer, "You would be bringing this Neanderthal back into a world it did not belong to....It doesn't have its home environment anymore."
Johannes Kepler described the path of planets in the 16th century, and today his namesake deep space telescope Kepler found more than a 1,000 planets, many of them earth-sized, in habitable zones, possibly with water, and therefore alien life. But who cares about that when apparently another whole section of the universe is made of sweets? The key graf in the story about a new category of celestial discovery:
The[se] planets have such low masses that the outer density of each is sort of like a marshmallow, while their cores are "probably like hard candy," he said.
Don't let the Hansel8200 and Greteltron ships near those quadrants!
Is pandas who love to party. Like so:
Who knew Ailuropoda melanoleuca liked birthdays so much? In light of that, why did it take so long for all that revelry to be collected in place? Even more important: why have I neet been sent that link like five hundred times already? (Thanks Joy Meads, for stepping up.)
Preparing for this reading/presentation last night gave occasion for a dip into the old google image search machine with the terms "jewel thief," which brought up this picture --
-- which was attached to this incredible story.
Not Kung Fu. Since Sun Bears are from South East Asia. And because I saw him at a New Beverly screening of Bloodsport. (Double Feature with Time Cop 2.)
I was glad to know that my editor thought there was a chance it might be me in here:
From what I can tell, yes, this is a functioning suit made of mirrors. It is not worn by me, although I wish it was, because them's the sweetest duds ever. Can you imagine if you just saw that dude walking down the street, throwing reflections everywhere? Well if you were the writer of that blog you'd have a strangely earnest reaction and wax fauxetic (just coined!) about "a city of mirrors, a city of mirages, at once solid and liquid..." I don't know about all that, but I do say: props to whoever made this thing! That the craftsmanship matches the concept makes it even more incredible. I live right below Griffith Park and walk up the observatory some times and hoping the mirror man will be up there again...
Godin is a writer and critic but is best known for throwing cream pies in people's faces. Since 1969, Godin has planted cream pies on the novelist Marguerite Duras, French president Nicolas Sarkozy, and Bill Gates. Godin is somewhat like a Van Helsing armed with baked goods to the eternally self-important dandy (and thinker too, I guess) Bernard Henri-Levy, whom Godin has "entarted" many times over the years.
Here is video of a classic BHL "entartage":
More than forty years after George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead made critics question the future of a culture that could produce such a thing, that future is here – and it is full of zombies. There are zombie comics, zombie conventions, Rob Zombie Inc., and a Simpsons episode in which Bart informs Lisa that the zombies prefer to be called “living impaired.” There is even a growing movement of participatory fan-fueled performance-art “zombie walks” — BYOB (Bring Your Own Brains!) — where people don elaborately shredded clothing, powder themselves into a pall with makeup, add lots of blood, and spontaneously shamble together in public places.
The movement has been on the lurch since movies like 28 Days Later took zombies mainstream for the first time, and was followed by near-simultaneous appearance of the Dawn of the Dead remake and the homage-comedy Shaun of the Dead. That paved the way for George Romero’s first big studio release, Land of the Dead, a roaring comeback that garnered a standing ovation when his entrail-devouring cannibals finally debuted at Cannes in 2005. The next year, Mel Brooks’ son, Max, went on tour with his book, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, a “Studs Terkel approach” to zombie conflict that is headed for the cineplex. Then came the literary mash-up, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. And don’t forget the endless video games: Resident Evil’s many versions (and their movie spin offs), Dead Rising (which was reviewed with by me for the LA Weekly with such incredible insight that the text has been partly cannibalized (Get it?) for this little item), and Left 4 Dead, with its new, improved and unpredictable zombies. Topping it all off, the comedy horror flick Zombieland closed out the summer with a surprise $68m (to date), the highest box office for a Zombie movie yet, prompting more re-heated trend stories about how zombies finally, really, extra-for-certain have hit the cultural big time.
I guess they missed Will Smith’s I Am Legend, which came out in December 2007 (just in time for the holidays!), which was based on Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel, the proto-zombie anxiety tale of a sole survivor facing an infectious pandemic while barricaded in his home in Los Angeles and made $256 million – but, really, who’s counting? (Will Smith’s version was relocated to New York for effective apocalyptic atmospherics, which was then effectively undermined by the zombies, who looked like retarded motion-filtered, clip art monsters when they finally showed up.)
But since we’re talking origins, let’s peel it way back, to the first hints of human civilization: in the irrigated marshes of the fertile crescent, the Sumerians charted the heavens, erected stepped pyramids, and pressed their styluses into clay to record the Epic of Gilgamesh, a collection of myths that includes Ishtar threatening to knock down the Gates of the Netherworld and “let the dead go up to eat the living!” Every culture since has registered the same basic fear, from medieval Europe’s revenants to Haiti’s trodotoxinated zonbi, from which the word zombie originated.
And that brings us to Mischa Berlinski’s real-life trip to the real zombie underworld.
Yes, the best Zombie-related story in recent memory is not a comic, gore game, publishing coup, or blockbuster – it is an article in Men’s Journal. I often forget that Men’s Journal, like its Wenner Media companion, Rolling Stone (where I have written), is oneof the few publishing places where the glossy cover and glossier ads support solid, long form, narrative writing. And so when I picked up a copy at a friends house and leafed passed "Boys and their Toys" (or whatever was on the cover), I was glad to discover an epic, 8,000-word expose that promised “Voodoo, Sorcerers and Lost Souls.”
The piece is a detailed look at the elaborate system of secret societies, ritual magic, and pharmacologically-induced human trafficking that is the Haitian zombie culture. It is incredible. Even if you are familiar with Wade Davis, or have read The Serpent and the Rainbow, or seen the mediocre movie, Berlinski’s story is still incredible. Unlike Davis, who was doing research in his field, Berlinski just wound up in the Haitian countryside, started hearing about zombies, and looked into it. He had no thesis, or grantors to satisfy. He just decided to get to the bottom of something that sounded impossible. His story opens:
I moved to Haiti in the spring of 2007, when my wife found a job with the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission there… She was assigned to Jérémie, a small town on Haiti’s southwest coast….About a month after I arrived in Jérémie, a rumor swept through town that a deadly zombie was on the loose. This zombie, it was said, could kill by touch alone. The story had enough authority that schools closed. The head of the local secret society responsible for the management of the zombie population was asked to investigate. Later that week, Monsieur Roswald Val, having conducted a presumably thorough inquiry, made an announcement on Radio Lambi: There was nothing to fear; all his zombies were accounted for.
Hooked! The rest of the lede turns the reel even more:
I was eager to meet a zombie for myself, and began making appropriate inquiries. Several weeks later, my wife came home from a judicial conference. Making small talk, a local judicial official mentioned the strange case of zombification that his courtroom had seen not several months before. The case was, he said, “un peu spectaculaire.”
I met Judge Isaac Etienne a week or so later at his unfinished concrete house in the village of Roseaux…The judge was a boyish-looking man of 42, slender, wearing baggy surfer shorts, flip-flops, and a brightly colored Hawaiian shirt.
The dossier was, at bottom, a murder story, the judge said — but it was a murder story with the great oddity that the victim did not die.
With so much space, Berlinski gets a chance to include a succinct primer on how one comes is (putatively) zombified in Haiti, which I’ll make more succinct like so: poison; paralysis with full consciousness; live burial; psychological trauma of such burial; retrieval by sorcerer; application of hallucinogen drugs by sorcerer to perpetuate mindless state. Add to that the cultural context: Haitians believe in zombies, and so they are psychically susceptible to the conditioning. They think they’ve died and will be rejected by the living who have seen them be buried. And then they are so rejected. And this is how, Wade Davis argues, real people become zombie slaves to “sorcerers.”
If that’s hard to swallow, then how about the sorcerers’ system of secret societies that governs much of Haiti beneath the thin veneer of governmental institutions. Berlinski details the byzantine world of zombie administration, which sounds like an episode of Trueblood, with regional hierarchies of Chief Sorcerers and Departmental Chiefs and Presidents and Emperors and Queens and their sorcerer secretaries. Not to mention the zombie passports — documents that allow one to create, hold, or move your zombie from region to region. (Yes, such things exist; there are pictures.) Berlinski follows Madame Zicot, a woman trying to track down her zombified daughter, Nadathe, by navigating her way through the secret societies. (And yes, they do accessorize with candle-topped skulls and convene at midnight.) It is gripping as an occult procedural, and heartbreaking as a story of real tragedy. Eventually, Berlinski notes that if you take away the spooky magic, the zombie world is an institutionalized form of human trafficking, which prompts him into a well-intentioned form of gonzo journalism:
I am not wealthy by American standards, but this article will probably pay me more than Madame Zicot could hope to earn in a decade. I wondered whether this money would not be sufficient to buy Nadathe’s freedom, if she were still alive. Strip the story of its exoticism — replace the word “zombified” with “poisoned, kidnapped, drugged, and enslaved” — and you have a brutal crime. To profit from her enslavement, not having done all I could to liberate her, seemed to me to cross that narrow frontier that separates curiosity from exploitation.
Berlinski, it is nifty to note, is allowed to make his case among the secret societies only because of Obama’s magic; the international goodwill created by his election makes them open to entreaties from an American. As he gets drawn deeper in himself, Berlinski pauses to wonder if the zombie culture isn’t some kind of mass delusion, a false institution that is really just another layer of politics, an intricate system that allows people to exploit one another. The societies may be that too, but Berlinski thinks they’re not fooling:
You either believe in zombies, or you don’t.
For my part, I believe that a young woman named Nadathe Joassaint was poisoned, buried alive, stolen from her grave, drugged, transported, and enslaved. I believe that she is alive to this day and in the possession of a man I know only as Monsieur 17, in a region of the Grand’ Anse I feel better not naming in print.
There’s a reason for that candid (and journalistically refreshing) statement, but to explain why would reveal the kicker. I won’t spoil that, other than to say that there is a not-so-surprising surprise ending that is well worth reading the whole article to experience.
From a paper in Neurology: "Lightning-induced robotic speech" (1994 May;44(5):991-2.):
The force of a lightning strike threw a 20-year-old roofer to the ground from the truck in which he was standing. Panicked, he immediately began to run. A numbness and weakness of his arms and back cleared after several days, but the more striking abnormality was a profound alteration of his speech, which he described as having become robotic. Each syllable was clearly enunciated with a slight pause between syllables, so that while the flow of his speech was slowed, he was able to communicate well. His speech was actually easier to comprehend than that of some normal persons. His brother had indeed complained that the patient's premorbid speech had been too rapid and word-jumbled; that speech was transformed to robotic speech, with fine diction and super-clear enunciation. Each morning, his speech was "normal" until shortly after he began to talk, when it reverted to the robotic pattern for the remainder of the day. The neurologic examination was normal except for right upper extremity hypalgesia. Brain MRI was normal.
Via Mind Hacks.
(And yes, that is a still from the scene in Superman III where that lady gets sucked into the machine and turned into a robot, which made a deep impression on me as a wee one.)
I guess Malibu can't always be like this. Those glassy blue-green coves conceal the movements of Great Whites. I guess we always knew it was so, but then came this:
That right there is a good-sized shark breaching, in shallow waters, right off PCH, just a few miles away from where I've been swimming for weeks. A local surf shop owner caught a bunch of quick shots. Watch the sequence here.
Also note the accurate prefiguring of the real lunar missions' ocean splash downs. (In his novel, From the Earth to the Moon, Jules Verne also happened to have made some strangely accurate predictions about man's first ascent to the Moon, such as that it would be Americans and that the vehicle would be launched form Florida. Why he would guess such a thing in 1865 is anyone's guess.)
Witness the parasitic crustacean, Cymothoa exigua:
This nasty thing uses its claws tto dig into the tongue of the Spotted rose snapper, where it extracts blood. It's so good at this that eventually the fish's tongue atrophies from lack of blood. What does our friend C. exigua do? Replaces the fish's tongue! How? With itself!
The can use the parasite just it would its own tongue. The price of this service is more sharing. Happily for the fish, the new monster tongue switches from blood to food, thereby reducing circulatory strain. And they live happily ever after!
Weird, nifty and disgusting. Now it's up to somebody to cash in on the whole with the blog, book deal, and animated series: Cymothoa Exiguas Falling Asleep.
Via Random Thoughts, where one commented noted that the teeth on the fish look like they belong to a coffee drinking senior citizen. Photoshop? Or maybe grandpa got caught up in the mix too!
Singing, "I thought I'd seen everything, till I seen a rapping competitive eater."
From pal Brendan, aka Microkahn, who notes that Eric "Badlands" Booker, raps about "his gustatory dedication, as well as the perks of being a minor celebrity." If that's not worth cutting five albums (yes!), I don't know what is. A track is provided, for your listening pleasure; it tells the compelling story of "the stress and glamour of life on the eating circuit, where Booker continues to hold seemingly unassailable records in both the burrito sprint (15 burritos in 8 minutes) and the corned beef hash throwdown (4 pounds in 1 minute, 58 seconds)."
I recently read "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," a sort of hybrid graphic-young adult novel by Brian Selznik that tells a fictionalized story revolving around Georges Méliès, the frenchman who was the first filmmaker to employ cinematic tricks in narrative. Méliès pioneered many modern special effects and was instrumental in pushing the development of film as its own medium. He made more than 500 films, one of which was A Trip to the Moon, the first science fiction flick, produced in 1904 and still remembered by the enduring image of the moon with the terrestrial rocket stuck in its eye:
Méliès, like many early filmmakers, was also a stage magician, as it was magicians who first recognized the unique power of film to create new forms of illusion. Early on, Méliès worked with Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, the hugely popular nineteenth century stage magician from whom Houdini took his name in homage. And Robert-Houdin, like many magicians, was also a watch-maker, as it was also magicians who, before film, saw the unique power of machinery to create their own forms of illusions. Stage magic was often created with intricate, complicated mechanisms — technology enabled by the industrial revolution, which was seen by many at the time to be a form of magic all its own. Among the most vivid examples of that mechanical wonder were Automata: figures built to approximate the appearance and doings of living things. Automata sang; they danced; they wrote poems. One automaton was a turban-wearing turkish figured played chess, and he was pretty good: the Turk beat Napoleon, Catherine The Great, and many others.
One of the most famous automata was Vaucanson's Canard Digérateur, or Digesting Duck, which appeared to eat little duck kibbles and then crap them out. Such a feat was enough to amaze all of Europe: Vaucanson's Duck toured for years, making Kings smile, and prompting Voltaire to proclaim Vaucanson a "new Prometheus." There is a great book called Edison's Eve about how automata like Vaucanson's Duck and other "philosophical toys" were embodiments of the Enlightenment's uneasy embrace of the Cartesian question, as master engineers seemed to be animating mechanisms into life forms.
But Vaucanson's Canard was not alive; it was a ruse with a thousand parts. The thing was an incredible piece of machinery, but it did not metabolize duck food. (The food went in one way, and the hidden cache of pre-loaded duck poop came out the other.) And the Turk turned out to be concealing a man who was actually the one beating Napoeleon and others at chess. Both mechanisms were, in essence, magic tricks, which again explains why famous illusionists like Robert-Houdin were collectors and builders of automata. Robert-Houdin's own devices included a singing bird, a tightrope dancer, a cup and balls performer (snicker, snicker), an acrobat, and a full-sized man that would write and draw. When Robert-Houdin died, Méliès wound up with many of his automata. But then Méliès went bankrupt in 1913. Not only were most of his incredible films trashed or melted down to be reshaped into boot heels for the french army (a cruel irony, since Méliès's father was a cobbler and he escaped his familial trade by realizing his dreams in magic and film and now his dreams were being glued to the soles of shoes), but the automata were also lost, donated to a museum that eventually junked them. (One of Robert-Houdin's automata and famous stage tricks was later discovered and refurbished by master magic builder, John Gaughan, whom I recently profiled for the LA Weekly. Gaughan also discovered the mystery of the Turk and recreated it over several years.)
After his bankruptcy, Méliès fell into obscurity, finding work at the Gare Montparnasse as a toy builder. This is the story of "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," which imagines an aging Méliès being befriended by the reprobate timekeeper's nephew who lives in the train station and has discovered one of the lost automata in a state of disrepair. A natural engineer himself, the kid fixes it, and the machine comes to life, and reveals a secret. (Spoiler: the secret is glaringly obvious.)
This is a pretty nifty idea, but even niftier is the entirely real version of the same story, which begins in 1928 in Philadelphia, when the Franklin Institute, a museum named after founding father Ben and dedicated to the "mechanical arts," received a mysterious delivery. It was an anthropomorphic brass machine, totally ruined, but intriguing because of it's apparent complexity. The Brock family who donated the mechanism said it once wrote and drew pictures. It had clearly been damaged by fire. More than that, no one knew.
Painstakingly, the machine was restored by a machinist at the Institute. The pieces were cleaned, re-fitted and pieced back together. When it was ready, the staff put down some paper, gave the thing a pen, and turned it on. The motors fired, and the automaton came to life, lowering its head to get a good look as it produced four drawings and three poems. These were elaborate sketches for an automaton, and the staff wondered who had built such a thing. And then, in the border around its final work, the automaton itself explained where it came from by writing: "Ecrit par L'Automate de Maillardet," or "Written by the Automaton of Maillardet." The secret of the draughtsman's origin had been hidden in the memory of its clockworks!
Footnote: mechanical memory restored, the automaton was forced to live a new life as a transvestite, as the staff changed its soldier boy clothes to a dress.
Do the Almighty Freaks run into the Insane Unknowns at a midwestern regional gang conference and trade info so they can get together work on some projects? "Great meeting you in that afternoon workshop yesterday," says Ca$her to Chewdog, "Let's get together and talk about that project so we can capitalize on our synergistic opportunities!" Such a conference should probably invite our old friend the business card guru as a guest speaker, because all their cards look like like this:
These cards, if you haven't seen them already, come from a collection of business cards issued, as it were, by Chicago gangs in the 70s. At which time, apparently, gang names still had more in common with the 19th century Five Points-era Dead Rabbits. 70s-era Chicago was roamed by The Stooge Brothers, the Almighty Furies, Thee Almighty Hell's Devils, Thee Almight Shurz People. A lot of words, a lot of almighties. I like The Stoned Yarders. Says all you need to know, right? Even the members' names are of another time. The Stooge Brothers --
-- sound like a friendlier Little Rascals. Smuckers? Unicorn? Bubbles? Giggles? Sweet Pea? And it is nice to know that The Stooge Brothers make sure to endorse Michael's love for Bridget.
And it looks like some of the Bishops' members got left out, or joined late, and had to be added like write-in candidates:
And is this really a gang?
But the most kudos go to these guys, who keep it simple:
It starts thinking. Not only is Adam a robot, he is a robot scientist, a geneticist with a minor in evolutionary biology who is looking for genes that code for a certain type of protein. Moreover, once they turned the thing on it made a discovery. If that sounds like the machine that some day in the future the last rag tag and of humans will dust off to discover the prototype of the mechanized killers that roam the earth, then you have not seen Terminator Salvation, which spent two hours trying to prove that the real worry about the post-Skynet future is that the human dialogue will be more robotically deadly than any machine.
You will understand why, when I received the random press release below, I considered for quite some time whether it was in fact an elaborate hoax from this Dave Hill:
Turns out there is another Dave Hill, and he apparently works in the hip-hop magazine promotion biz. Although my Dave Hill -- or really, our Dave Hill -- did tell me that he has written for XXL in the past. "I am street!" were his words. And now, the source of confusion:
From: Dave Hill
Date: April 14, 2009 3:20:40 PM PDT
Subject: TRUE Magazine 10th Year Anniversary Party This Friday
TRUE Magazine has been declared the hottest Independent Hip- Hop & Fashion Magazine on the stands for years. Through the tough times and the good times in Hip-Hop, TRUE Magazine has been there giving our readers food for thought on Independent Hip-Hop & Fashion. This April, we now celebrate our 10th Anniversary with a celebration that will show thanks to all who has helped TRUE Magazine become what it is today. Friday, April 17th we are having our “Official TRUE Magazine Party” with special host of stars who has graced the covers of the magazine with special performances. It all goes down at MOOD, 6623 Hollywood Blvd and on April 19th, we will have a special invite for all of our VIP attendees to cool down near the pool to relax and mingle with TRUE Magazine’s Fly Girls that have been showcased in the pages of TRUE. Sunday’s event is at the “Blue Velvet” an edgy residential design restaurant and lounge. Attending the events will be a high-energy mix of music producers, artists, tastemakers, and VIP attendees. All of the events will have a strong celebrity presence and have the tastemakers of today mingling and partying the nights away.
Friday Night – “The Official Party” – Mood , 6623 Hollywood Blvd
Event Time - 9:30pm -3:00am
Red Carpet Time - 9:30pm -11:00pm
Sunday Night – “The Pool Party” – Blue Velvet 750 Garland Ave # 102, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Event Time - 9:30pm -2am
All media coverage & to walk the red carpet:
Media credentials are available only for working media who wish to cover the TRUE Magazine's 10th Anniversary Party. Your clients who would love to walk the red carpet please contact us for approval. A list of Celebrities and Media will be sent upon request.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Currently with TRUE Magazine
Currently TRUE Magazine leading the trends by taken over the internet waves with the new digital version of TRUE magazine which is giving out for free? This issues cover story Camron has been heating the blogs, websites and personal pages up with the videos of the interview and the cover of the magazine which shows the support that TRUE Magazine has from its readers. You can check out the stats for yourself just Google “TRUE Magazine, Camron” and see for yourself.
I'm not sure why the Bacon Explosion is any better than just a platter of meat:
BTW: this "recipe" got 390 comments. I need to come up with my own carniverous experiments and put them up here. That's what the internat craves, apparently -- bacon!
Chesterton penny theft doesn't make much sense
CHESTERTON -- After 30 years of collecting 300,000 pennies, Craig Stueber discovered Monday someone had stolen all of them, according to a police report.
Stueber told the Chesterton Police Department he had spent the past three decades collecting the pennies in a cast iron milk jug, which few people knew about, according to the report. Stueber had to use a dolly the last time he moved the jug, according to the report.
Whoever took it likely would have needed help to move it in one batch. According to the MegaPenny Project Web site, which tells the size and weights of various large amounts of pennies, 300,000 pennies would weigh about 1,842 pounds - slightly less than a ton.
Stueber reported that he found the pennies missing when he returned to his Annabelle Court home at about 4:30 p.m. Monday. According to the report, Stueber doesn't normally check the jar but saw the lid was sitting on his entertainment center.
Nothing else was missing from the house.
The jar was not clear, so no one would know it held thousands of pennies without looking inside or if someone had told them about. Stueber said no one other than family members knew about the jug.
What does the ominously named/looking scientific instrument/doomsday machine do exactly (besides either saving the world -- or destroying it)? Here's the director, Ed Moses:
"We are creating the conditions that exist inside the sun," said Ed Moses, director of the facility. "It is like tapping into the real solar energy as fusion is the source of all energy in the world. It is really exciting physics, but beyond that there are huge social, economic and global problems that it can help to solve."
There doesn't seem to be the same loopy luddite jeremiad broadside against the NIF as there was with RHIC at Brookhaven and the Large Hadron Collider last year. I guess if you're inclined to be worried about the big lights out, it's better to go inside a new star than an accidental black hole. Flip the switch!
Greetings Dear Readers!
As some people know, I have been working on a story for the past month or so for This American Life. That story is done, and on the radio this weekend. The sleepy, twinkling days around Christmas are fitting timing for the story, since it's Christmas-themed. Although it's a different side of Christmas. The story chronicles a bitter feud between rival factions of professional Santa Clauses. Yes, it's true, the Santa world was recently throwing into turmoil, and the feud has tragically created a schism in the Amalgmated Order of Real Bearded Santas, the guild of professional Santas:
Note: diligent observers will note that this version of the logo says Amalgamated Order of Real Beard Santas, rather than the original Real Beard-ED Santas, an extremely important note among Santas and a clue as to the nature of the schism. You'll have to listen to understand why such a thing can be vitally important to so many self-described Jolly Gentlemen:
As to be expected from such pictures, this is an epic tale, one that plays out over several years in the Santa world and half an hour on the show. To hear the whole story, from the glorious moments of the Discover Santa 2006 convention to the tumultuous destruction of AORBS, complete with a video confrontation between angry Santas, and on to today's seasonally-mandated detente, listen on the radio this weekend, or online thereafter (streaming or via podcast).
Last week's post about the ramifications of Florida's apparent legal penalty for farting got two types of emails. Typical was Ronni's thought experiment as to whether the criminalization of farts wouldn't encourage a mass wave of citizens arrests. This seemed to be a future she to which she aspired. Hers was a law-and-order crackdown-type maximalist position. The other side argued for a more tolerant system, one that emphasizes intervention and prevention. John wondered why we have to fill up the prisons with millions of nonviolent olfactory offenders when the problem can be solved with this simple miracle product:
Yes. It's true. There is commercially marketed brand of "flatulence filtering underwear" called Shreddies. As evidenced by Miss Emma Webber, Dental Hygienist, a proud "Shreddies Girl."
How does it work? Like so:
This is real. You can buy them. And why wouldn't you? Shreddies are as stylish as they are effective:
The style and supple fabric is very flattering. The hipsters do provide a degree of lift and support which achieves moderate enhancement of the genitals. The support boxers have been designed to give greater support than any other underwear and the technique of supporting the genitals with a testicular sling anchored from each hip has been patented. The support boxers lift the genitals out from between the legs and hold everything forward. Athletes like our model, Olympic high jumper Ben Challenger, find that training becomes much more comfortable as the genitals are held securely in place.
Don't take it from them. Listen to the testimonials:
"I have received my Shreddies and just to let you know, they have been tried out; a lot. What can I say? They are BRILLIANT!!! My husband is the original johnny fart pants, and these pants have made a massive difference. I no longer have to endure the vile stench! I will be recommending them to all my long suffering friends!! Thanks!"
Apparently, the filter stays "100% effective for 10 years of constant use, without washing." Although presumably one would want to wash them, regardless of the potential detriment to the carbon fiber filter. But the constant presence of such a filter begs the question: how exactly are the "emissions" stored? Do you have to carry them around with you for ten years? Can they escape en masse, causing double embarassment? Let's got down to some logistics, too: does the filter change color, like a Brita? Can you replace the filter, like a vaccuum bag, and send it in to some centralized alternative energy plant? if so, now you're talking! Imagine the possibilities. Forget the looming prison population crisis; Shreddies can harness an untapped energy source. Now everyone can save nature, right from their easy chair. Buncha fellas sittin around eating cheetos and playing poker + Shreddies = greening the earth for future generations! I think we're on to something here. This is going to be big. Tell your friends. Call your congressman. Start a my.shreddies.obama.future.com network. We're in for a Shreddies world, people. Shreddies. Something about the name just says it all. Get used to it.
A vicar claims a potato got stuck up his bottom after he fell on to the vegetable while hanging curtains in the nude. The clergyman, in his 50s, told medical staff at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital that the accident was definitely not due to a sex game. He had to undergo surgery to extract the spud from his backside, according to The Sun. A&E nurse Trudi Watson told the paper: “He explained to me, quite sincerely, he had been hanging curtains naked in he kitchen when he fell backwards on to the kitchen table and on to a potato. “But it’s not for me to question his story.” She went on to reveal other objects removed from people’s derriére, including a cucumber, a Russian doll and a carnation.
Oh sure, put Xinjiang on A1 but stay silent on what everyone really wants to know -- what happened to the gerbils? Mummies are pretty nifty, yes, but there is a bigger story in Xinjiang, one that the mainstream news organizations wouldn't touch back in 2003 and which I, Joshuah Bearman, investigative reporter extraordinaire, blew the lid off for McSweeney's 14: the horde of giant gerbils eating china. This story is 100% true, beginning with the Reuters news item that described "the worst rodent disaster since 1993." The told us the gerbils were coming. They told us they couldn't be stopped. They told us the Chinese government was breeding eagles to fight them. And then they told us nothing. A news blackout. What happened? That is what I sought to find out:
And so began a fact-finding mission that describes:
1. Rodent drumming
2. Too many koala bears
3. Psychedelic toads
4. Desert horticulture
5. the Great Plague
6. Quizno’s ads
7. The biogeography of the mountain beaver, which apparently is neither a beaver nor lives in the mountains.
8. How quietly gerbils make poops.
9. And let me remind you once again that it is all 100% true.
Here it is in full, for those who dare:
Because I grew up spending time in both Los Angeles and the midwest, I had the unusual privilege to experience both Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater and Showbiz Pizza Place direct, in situ, as a five-year-old. Little did we realize how bitter was the nationwide war between animatronic, pizza-vending animals. Who should have won -- the sad little scrappy mouse with the stupid bow tie or the Billy Bob Brockali, the super cool wise old bear in the overalls? I think we all know the answer.
Chuck E. Cheese was first, but Showbiz was Showbiz. Billy Bob's band -- the Rock-afire explosion -- bore not only the cooler name, but also featured a gorilla named Fats Geronimo on the keyboard. (Fats Geronimo is not this gorilla.) Nuff said? If not, how about Dook LaRue, the canine drummer, originally named Dingo Starr, who was also known to sometimes wear a silver space suit? At the bottom of the ledge, Showbiz scored higher in the Awesome Department, as confirmed by the following definitive statement from Wikipedia: "The Rock-afire Explosion is considered by many to be the greatest animatronic rock band of all time."
Need more proof? How about this video of a musically retrofitted Rock-afire, programmed recently to play Usher's Love in this Club:
History has less than kind to Rock-afire. Showbiz Pizza Place, it turned out, won the battle but not the war. The company bought a bankrupt Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater in 1985, but after the newly merged entity, Showbiz Pizza Time, Inc., weathered bad times, found their footing, and secured a sound place in the world for live, animatronic entertainment for pizza-eating children, there eventually came the dreaded "Concept Unification," a dark chapter in the Showbiz history. The year was 1990. Change was afoot. For Germany, unification meant a family rejoined. For Showbiz, Concept Unification meant that the Rock-afire Explosion was replaced chain-wide with the clearly inferior Chuck E. Cheese characters, redubbed Munch's Make Believe Band. Concept Unification was completed within the year. Apparently, there are photos of the Concept Unification shock troops attempting to physically destroy the Rock-afire Explosion sign. Despite even running it over with a van, the sign wouldn't be broken. Some point to this as symbolic of the everlasting soul of Rock-afire which lives on, both in certain details on the Chuck E. Cheese stage and the hearts and minds of enthusiasts nationwide. Luckily for them, and for all of us, a feature-length documentary about the Rock-afire Explosion has emerged:
Grandpa's ninety-three. The dude was born in Fargo a few decades after the Dakotas became states. He can vaguely recall celebrations at the end of the Great War -- I mean World War I. And god love him, he sat down in his leather chair in Sun City, Arizona, and made his way through my 8,000-word Harper's epic on Billy Mitchell and the metaphysics of Ms. Pac Man. Then he left me this message:
If you can't understand the audio, his take was:
Joshuah, I read your letter, and I'll be the first to tell you -- if you'd have written it in Chinese, I wouldn't have understood it any better.
P.s. From last halloween: