Sunday, January 29, 2006
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Mistakes I Made Last Year
- Caught a raccoon with my bare hands, but then realized I had no reason to do such a thing and spent the entire afternoon panicking, afraid to let it go for fear it would attack me.
- Tossed said raccoon into my bathroom and slammed the door shut. I had to pee in jars for a whole week until the raccoon expired.
- Told a hobo that he could sleep on my couch on the grounds that he ghostwrote at least two of my cooking school reports a month.
- Forgot to get rid of expired raccoon, causing the hobo to abandon my humble dwelling for less smelly pastures.
- Ate nothing but cheesecake for a whole month, temporarily gained the ability to hear five minutes into the past with my left ear.
- Bought a dozen parakeets thinking they would grow big enough to eat. Ran them all down the garbage disposal a week later when they failed to demonstrate sizeable weight gain.
- Drove my Tex-Mex cooking instructor to do something she swore she would never do: take a human life.
- Spent $10,000 faking my own murder to get out of a Tex-Mex cooking class.
- Abandoned a brilliant career as a cook to spend more time building forts in the sandbox.
- Abandoned a brilliant career as a sandbox fort maker when children threw hardened chunks of sand at me.
- Attempted to build a fort using loaves of bread as bricks at the grocery store. Now I'm no longer welcome in the bread aisle without supervision from a manager.
- Mastered falconry in order to become a superior hat thief, become cocky and attempted to steal the hat of the town sheriff. Now my precious falcon is sealed in a police evidence bag.
- Traded all my shares in Google for a really nice bandana, spent half a day pretending to be an outlaw.
- Started a petting zoo consisting solely of Mexican jumping beans. Failed to chain beans up to prevent them from hopping away in the night.
- Wrote the first really great American novel, which concerns the affairs of a small town that is torn asunder when an alien rapes and eats Santa Claus. I accidentally stole the story from an early draft of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and had to abandon it altogether.
- Sold advertising space on my lower back to GoldenPalace.com.
- Got emotionally involved with a coworker, something I swore I would never do. We just couldn't stop talking about large breeds of dogs together.
- Took an RV for a test-drive and liked it so much that I decided to go on an impromptu cross-country trip. Ending up getting arrested for vehicle theft somewhere near los andes. Naturally I decided not to buy the RV.
- Invented a method to solve the world's food distribution problems but forgot to write it down. I think it involved conveyer belts and the world's longest rubber band.
- Disguised myself as a chess piece and then robbed a jewelry store. Was caught when I couldn't run diagonally from authorities.
- Spent $5,000 building and staffing my own sweatshop in
, then having them make me one really large high top shoe to live in. It ended up collapsing and killing everyone in the factory before it was finished. Nicaragua
- Opened a library in my bedroom, but failed to draw interest due to the fact I own less than 20 books, most of which tell you how to 3d model a horse and then how to animate a walk cycle.
- Spent New Year's alone in a slime-covered alleyway, drinking cheap booze and stuffing cold Pop-Tarts into my mouth.
- Wore my best fedora into a port-a-potty.
- Locked myself out of my apartment, and then set the door on fire to get back in.
- Attempted to create a perceptual energy machine and ruined my stereo.
- Opened a water slide park in
- Opened a water slide park in
. New Orleans
- Downloaded popular music without paying money, thereby helping cause artists like Usher to starve to death.
- Cloned 5 versions of myself to split the rent but they ended up forming a Christian rock band.
- Faked my own death to get out of work for a week but at the funeral my boss noticed I was alive when he saw me configuring my iPod in the casket.
Friday, December 30, 2005
100 things we didn't know this time last year
1. The UK's first mobile phone call was made 20 years ago this year, when Ernie Wise rang the Vodafone head office, which was then above a curry shop in Newbury.
2. Mohammed is now one of the 20 most popular names for boys born in England and Wales.
3. While it's an offence to drop litter on the pavement, it's not an offence to throw it over someone's garden wall.
4. An average record shop needs to sell at least two copies of a CD per year to make it worth stocking, according to Wired magazine.
5. Nicole Kidman is scared of butterflies. "I jump out of planes, I could be covered in cockroaches, I do all sorts of things, but I just don't like the feel of butterflies' bodies," she says.
6. WD-40 dissolves cocaine - it has been used by a pub landlord to prevent drug-taking in his pub's toilets.
7. Baboons can tell the difference between English and French. Zoo keepers at Port Lympne wild animal park in Kent are having to learn French to communicate with the baboons which had been transferred from Paris zoo.
8. Devout Orthodox Jews are three times as likely to jaywalk as other people, according to an Israeli survey reported in the New Scientist. The researchers say it's possibly because religious people have less fear of death.
9. The energy used to build an average Victorian terrace house would be enough to send a car round the Earth five times, says English Heritage.
11. One in 10 Europeans is allegedly conceived in an Ikea bed.
12. Until the 1940s rhubarb was considered a vegetable. It became a fruit when US customs officials, baffled by the foreign food, decided it should be classified according to the way it was eaten.
13. Prince Charles broke with an 80-year tradition by giving Camilla Parker Bowles a wedding ring fashioned from Cornish gold, instead of the nugget of Welsh gold that has provided rings for all royal brides and grooms since 1923.
14. It's possible for a human to blow up balloons via the ear. A 55-year-old factory worker from China reportedly discovered 20 years ago that air leaked from his ears, and he can now inflate balloons and blow out candles.
15. Lionesses like their males to be deep brunettes.
16. The London borough of Westminster has an average of 20 pieces of chewing gum for every square metre of pavement.
17. Bosses at Madame Tussauds spent £10,000 separating the models of Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston when they separated. It was the first time the museum had two people's waxworks joined together.
18. If all the Smarties eaten in one year were laid end to end it would equal almost 63,380 miles, more than two-and-a-half times around the Earth's equator.
19. The = sign was invented by 16th Century Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who was fed up with writing "is equal to" in his equations. He chose the two lines because "noe 2 thynges can be moare equalle".
21. One person in four has had their identity stolen or knows someone who has.
22. The length of a man's fingers can reveal how physically aggressive he is, scientists say.
23. In America it's possible to subpoena a dog.
24. The 71m packets of biscuits sold annually by United Biscuits, owner of McVitie's, generate 127.8 tonnes of crumbs.
25. Nelson probably had a broad Norfolk accent.
26. One in four people does not know 192, the old number for directory inquiries in the UK, has been abolished.
27. Only in France and California are under 18s banned from using sunbeds.
28. The British buy the most compact discs in the world - an average of 3.2 per year, compared to 2.8 in the US and 2.1 in France.
29. When faced with danger, the octopus can wrap six of its legs around its head to disguise itself as a fallen coconut shell and escape by walking backwards on the other two legs, scientists discovered.
31. Train passengers in the UK waited a total of 11.5m minutes in 2004 for delayed services.
32. "Restaurant" is the most mis-spelled word in search engines.
33. Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has only been in an English pub once, to buy his wife cigarettes.
34. The Little Britain wheelchair sketch with Lou and Andy was inspired by Lou Reed and Andy Warhol.
35. The name Lego came from two Danish words "leg godt", meaning "play well". It also means "I put together" in Latin.
36. The average employee spends 14 working days a year on personal e-mails, phone calls and web browsing, outside official breaks, according to employment analysts Captor.
37. Cyclist Lance Armstrong's heart is almost a third larger than the average man's.
38. Nasa boss Michael Griffin has seven university degrees: a bachelor's degree, a PhD, and five masters degrees.
39. Australians host barbecues at polling stations on general election days.
41. Tactically, the best Monopoly properties to buy are the orange ones: Vine Street, Marlborough Street and Bow Street.
42. Britain's smallest church, near Malmesbury, Wiltshire, opens just once a year. It measures 4m by 3.6m and has one pew.
43. The spiciness of sauces is measured in Scoville Units.
44. Rubber gloves could save you from lightning.
45. C3PO and R2D2 do not speak to each other off-camera because the actors don't get on.
46. Driving at 159mph - reached by the police driver cleared of speeding - it would take nearly a third of a mile to stop.
47. Liverpool has 42 cranes redeveloping the city centre.
48. A quarter of the world's clematis come from one Guernsey nursery, where production will top 4.5m plants this year alone.
49. Tim Henman has a tennis court at his new home in Oxfordshire which he has never used.
51. Parking wardens walk about 15 miles a day.
52. You're 10 times more likely to be bitten by a human than a rat.
53. It takes 75kg of raw materials to make a mobile phone.
54. Deep Throat is reportedly the most profitable film ever. It was made for $25,000 (£13,700) and has grossed more than $600m.
55. Antony Worrall-Thompson swam the English Channel in his youth.
56. The Pyruvate Scale measures pungency in onions and garlic. It's named after the acid in onions which makes cooks cry when cutting them.
57. The man who was the voice of one of the original Daleks, Roy Skelton, also did the voices for George and Zippy in Rainbow.
58. The average guest at a Buckingham Palace garden party scoffs 14 cakes, sandwiches, scones and ice-cream, according to royal accounts.
59. Oliver Twist is very popular in China, where its title is translated as Foggy City Orphan.
61. You can bet on your own death.
62. MPs use communal hairbrushes in the washrooms of the Houses of Parliament.
63. It takes less energy to import a tomato from Spain than to grow them in this country because of the artificial heat needed, according to Defra.
64. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg's home number is listed by directory inquiries.
65. Actor James Doohan, who played Scotty, had a hand in creating the Klingon language that was used in the movies, and which Shakespeare plays were subsequently translated into.
66. The hotter it is, the more difficult it is for aeroplanes to take off. Air passengers in Nevada, where temperatures have reached 120F, have been told they can't fly.
67. Giant squid eat each other - especially during sex.
68. The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold one copy every minute since its 1969 publication.
69. First-born children are less creative but more stable, while last-born are more promiscuous, says US research.
71. Jimi Hendrix pretended to be gay to be discharged from the US Army.
72. A towel doesn't legally reserve a sun lounger - and there is nothing in German or Spanish law to stop other holidaymakers removing those left on vacant seats.
73. One in six children think that broccoli is a baby tree.
74. It takes a gallon of oil to make three fake fur coats.
75. Each successive monarch faces in a different direction on British coins.
76. The day when most suicides occurred in the UK between 1993 and 2002 was 1 January, 2000.
77. The only day in that time when no-one killed themselves was 16 March, 2001, the day Comic Relief viewers saw Jack Dee win Celebrity Big Brother.
78. One in 18 people has a third nipple.
79. The section of coast around Cleethorpes has the highest concentration of caravans in Europe.
81. George Bernard Shaw named his shed after the UK capital so that when visitors called they could be told he was away in London.
82. Former Labour MP Oona King's aunt is agony aunt Miriam Stoppard.
83. Britain produces 700 regional cheeses, more even than France.
84. The actor who plays Mike Tucker in BBC Radio 4's The Archers is the father of the actor who plays Will Grundy.
85. Japanese knotweed can grow from a piece of root the size of pea. And it can flourish anew if disturbed after lying dormant for more than 20 years.
86. Hecklers are so-called because of militant textile workers in Dundee.
87. Pulling your foot out of quicksand takes a force equivalent to that needed to lift a medium-sized car.
88. A single "mother" spud from southern Peru gave rise to all the varieties of potato eaten today, scientists have learned.
89. Spanish Flu, the epidemic that killed 50 million people in 1918/9, was known as French Flu in Spain.
91. Croydon has more CCTV cameras than New York.
92. You are 176 times more likely to be murdered than to win the National Lottery.
93. Koalas have fingerprints exactly like humans (although obviously smaller).
94. Bill Gates does not have an iPod.
95. The first traffic cones were used in building Preston bypass in the late 1950s, replacing red lantern paraffin burners.
96. Britons buy about one million pumpkins for Halloween, 99% of which are used for lanterns rather than for eating.
97. The mother of stocky cricketer - and this year's Strictly Come Dancing champion - Darren Gough was a ballet dancer. She helped him with his pivots.
98. Nettles growing on land where bodies are buried will reach a foot higher than those growing elsewhere.
99. The Japanese word "chokuegambo" describes the wish that there were more designer-brand shops on a given street.
100. Musical instrument shops must pay an annual royalty to cover shoppers who perform a recognisable riff before they buy, thereby making a "public performance".
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
A Trout´s Lament
Wait! Please, put me down! Do not dash my head against the hard seat of your boat! I am sorry that I flattered you so extravagantly. Please! I assure you that my compliments were sincere! Many fishermen have tried to catch me, sir, but you are the first with the talent and wiles to complete the task. You are wise and hearty man to be out on the lake so early, just as dawn is spreading her dappled glow upon the water. Please, before you kill me, allow me to look upon the water from the outside! It is a perspective I rarely enjoy. Ah, it is beautiful! I envy you, human. You can see such sights whenever you please, and I must be confined to the dark, murky depths.
I beg of you, sir, I would love to continue our illuminating conversation, but my gills are so dry! Could you find it in your heart to dip me into the lake for only a moment, so that I might catch my breath? I give you my word as a trout and as a gentleman that I shall not attempt to wriggle from your grasp. No? Ah, I suppose it was too much to ask. I suppose there are limits to the compassion and mercy of men, and I apologize for asking you to do something which exceeds your humanity. Again, I am sorry; I heard tales that men were the most compassionate of creatures, and that they would go to some lengths to ensure that their prey did not suffer unjustly, but I suppose the thing that I ask, to merely be dipped in the lake for a moment, is too complicated a task. It is too much to ask, I suppose, even if it might ease my suffering and allow me to breathe one last breath of sweet fresh water. Even if it might stop my poor throat from seizing and choking. Please excuse my coughing, I am in great pain.
What is that? You will? Oh, human, you are the kindest of souls, I promise that in the afterlife I shall seek out your god and tell him of your compassion. Oh, I thank you! A thousand thanks to you!
A thousand thanks!
Oh! Please, do not squeeze me so! I was not attempting to wrest myself from your grasp, I swear to it! When I touched the cold water, my body merely seized in an involuntary spasm! I swear! I am an honorable trout; I would never betray your confidence by trying to escape! You caught me fairly and legally, and I bear no ill will to you. I am resigned to my death. I would not dream of using deception to circumvent it, and I am insulted that you would imply such a thing.
I feel like we understand each other. Men must eat too, just like any creature. They must scour and hunt for their food, and if you allowed compassion to cloud your judgment, you would surely starve. Am I correct? Will you not starve if you release me? Will your family not starve? No!? Well, I am sure that there is some reason why you have chosen to pluck me from my happy home and eat me, instead of simply buying food with the ample money that you have at your disposal. After all, I amount to no more than a pound or two of meat. Does my flesh contain some vital nutrient that you cannot find anywhere else? Will you waste away and suffer if you don’t eat me?
Please! Wait! Do not smash my poor skull just yet! I meant no offense! I did not mean to goad you and imply that your motives were dishonorable. I was merely trying to understand your motivation for fooling me into biting a painful lure which ripped through my flesh and then pulling me into a boat where I had no water to breathe. I am merely trying to understand why my flesh is so special to you that you would smash my head against the seat of your boat and murder me so that you could enjoy the scant amount of meat on my meager frame… Oh, I forgive me; I am running out of breath once more, and my gills burn with a pain which cannot be described. I apologize for saying so, friend. I know that you are too kind a man to wish any suffering upon me. I shouldn’t burden you with my pain, oh, my unbearable pain…
Pray, will you dip me in the water once more? I swear to you upon everything sacred that I will not wriggle again! No? Yes, I suppose that is understandable. From your perspective, it must have appeared that I tried to escape last time. I’m sure that I must have offended you. Please forgive me. I do not wish to die on bad terms with my captor.
No, no, say no more. I understand. You hate me. You think I tried to escape, and you hate me. Silence! Do not insult my intelligence! I know that you do. I do not blame you for despising me. You are an intelligent man, a kind and just man. You believe that I attempted to take advantage of your compassion. From your perspective, I must seem like a horrible, deceptive little creature. I understand perfectly if you no longer wish to eat me, lest my awful corruption spread into your belly. You must think I’m a cowardly little liar. Oh, please, forgive me if I cry. I cannot bear the thought of one so compassionate and noble as you having such a low opinion of me.
You don’t? I am so relieved! You are a true friend! Please, since we are friends, will you ease my passing by dipping me into the water just once more, so that I may die with fresh water in my gills? It would make my death so much more bearable.
Very well, I understand and accept your refusal. It is a great disappointment to me, for unless a trout dies with fresh water in his gills, he cannot be admitted into trout heaven. I understand that the afterlife of such an insignificant creature as me holds little interest for an important man such as you. I do not blame you for condemning me to eternal suffering in trout hell by refusing to dip me in my beloved home just once more, just for one more fleeting second. I know how trifling an act it would be to you, a man, a creature with much greater concerns. Very well. Bash my head upon the seat of your boat. Condemn me to an eternity of fiery torture. It is my destiny, I suppose, never to reunite with my family in the afterlife.
Please, hurry! Dip me in the water so that I may wet my gills one last time!
Oh, thank you, thank you! You will not regret your decision to show a small creature such mercy. I shall spread your name far and wide in the afterlife, and every trout shall know that you are a wonderful and caring man, and the god of trout will smile upon you and bless your further fishing expeditions. Please, hurry! Dip me in the water so that I may wet my gills one last time!
Wait! Wait! Please! I was not trying to escape! I merely saw my wife under the water, and was violently thrashing my tail to signal to her that I loved her! I never said goodbye to her! Please, won’t you dip me in the water just once more, so that I might tell her I love her?
No! I beg of you! Do not bash my head! I have wishes! Wishes! You have passed the test of compassion, and I will grant you wishes and riches and magic powers! This was a test of your mercy! The trout god sent me to see if you were a kind and merciful human, so that he might bestow untold power and wealth upon you! He told me he would grant you three wishes if you allowed me to live! If you put me back in the water I will go back and report to him directly!
Stop! Consider it! Just by releasing one modest little fish, you could make all your wildest fantasies into reality! The order of the universe would be realigned to your whims! You could wish for a thousand more trout to eat, if only you released me! Think of it! If you regretted your decision to release me, you could even wish to have me back! Release me, friend, and all of your dreams shall—
Monday, December 12, 2005
Worst Jobs in Science Fiction
10. Borg Rebel
9. Alien Invasion Cleanup Crew
8. Klingon Personal Injury Lawyer
7. Alien Surrogate/Host Parent
6. Telephone Sanitizer
5. Thunderdome "Foam Finger" Vendor
4. Terminator Test Target
3. Matter Transporter Guinea Pig
2. Blue Pill Tester
1. Jar-Jar's Speech Therapist
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Confessions of a Teenage Messiah
Monday, November 21, 2005
Lessons in Extreme History Presents: Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a time of year that many North Americans view with mixed emotions. On the one hand, we dread the impending holiday shopping season, and the pervasive commercialism that has divorced it entirely from its meaning and perverted it into an unstoppable soot-belching juggernaut fueled by money and excess. On the other hand, we feel a childlike excitement at the approach of the one day each year when our instinct for wantonness and gluttony is not only tolerated but rewarded. Most people are aware that there is a history behind Thanksgiving, because it is illogical to assume that the holiday arose spontaneously and without explanation, but they're also unclear on the specifics. That's why I've compiled this handy outline.
The holiday that we know today as Thanksgiving began in 1621, with a group of buckle-hatted misfits from England known as the Puritans, although they later changed their name to the Pilgrims after firing their drummer. Tired of being persecuted for disagreeing with the church and smoking too much, they hatched a plan. In 1620 they penned a manifesto proclaiming themselves to be "bigger than Jesus Christ" and nailed it to the door of the church. Then they all crammed themselves into a tiny modified cigarette boat with a leaky fiberglass hull and throttled away towards freedom. Their destination was the New World! A vast and largely uncharted wilderness teeming with all of the natural resources required to establish a settlement where they were free to live and worship as they pleased! It went off without a hitch. On December 11th 1620, they landed in Plymouth, Massachusetts. And then half of them starved to death!
Fast forward to autumn, 1621. In stark contrast to the winter of the previous year, the Pilgrims pulled in a bumper crop of oats, crabgrass and a now extinct grain referred to in their literature only as "blandwheat". Smallpox, typhoid, and dysentery mercifully overtook starvation as the leading cause of death, and the settlers were elated.
In fact, so thrilled were they with their ability to avoid starving for nine months that they planned a great feast to give thanks to God for their bountiful harvest. They even agreed to temporarily put the campaign of genocide they were waging against the American Indian on hold in exchange for long days of backbreaking labor to be performed without compensation. Historians believe that it was this decision which led to Thanksgiving becoming not just a mere day of gratitude, but an orgiastic spree of shameless gorging and unapologetic wastefulness.
With no outlet for their bloodlust, the town grew restless and tensions ran high. On a crisp autumn morning, Governor William Bradford held a meeting in the town square to address the growing unrest among his people and delegate the responsibilities of preparing for the feast. Dozens of hunting parties were organized to scour the surrounding forests and destroy all living things. Behind the hunters, two man teams would follow to salt the earth and poison the groundwater. Below is an excerpt from Bradford's speech that day:
"From the sturdiest bison to the tiniest beetle: if it walks or crawls or slithers or swims, destroy it. If you cannot kill it for food, kill it for sport. Cut flesh until your blade is dull, fire until your musket runs dry of shot, smother every beast great and small with your hatred."
According to legend, Bradford then demonstrated by hobbling a passing doe with a fallen oak branch and drowning it by forcing its head into a small bucket of water. Inspired by his leadership an invigorated by the ghastly sputter of a gentle creature as its lungs filled with fluid, the townspeople set out into the woods to harvest meat and sate their appetite for torture. By the time the sun set on that very same day, the people had amassed a pile of carcasses in the town square. According to one man's journal:
"…in the center [of Plymouth] lay a pyramid of slain beasts as wide as a home and as tall as two men. Any path of cobblestone was too slicked with blood to walk on without taking great care. Blood had pooled in the low spots and formed pits of thick, tarry mud that were black as pitch and could suck the boot off any man who tread in them. On that night not even the crickets would chirp. Were they dead or just cowering? Either way was fine for us, and we danced godlessly about the fire pit like lustful heathens, robed in nothing but necklaces of sinew, while the savages pounded out rapturous rhythms on their deerskin drums."
The next morning, still aglow from the previous day's slaughter, preparation began in earnest. The corpses were butchered and roasted, fruits were picked and vegetables were prepared, and a space was cleared in the center of town. Three days of round-the-clock eating ensued. By the second day, they had become so bloated and tired that they couldn't leave the table to move their own bowels. The modern Thanksgiving tradition of unbuttoning one's pants at the table dates back to this.
After the festivities had ended, local masons erected an eight foot tall tower out of animal skulls, and the concept of a Thanksgiving centerpiece was born. News of the feast quickly spread to neighboring towns, and in the years following 1621, the ritual of an autumn feast became widespread among colonial America. The traditions and customs of the holiday gradually took shape, undergoing a number of changes along the way. By the 1650s, dishes such as goose tallow pudding and pickled vinegar were no longer on the menu. In the 1680s it once again became fashionable to slaughter Native Americans during the Thanksgiving season, and remained that way until the late 1960s.
Although the way in which we celebrate Thanksgiving has changed greatly over the years, its original purpose remains intact: one last display of inhumanity and wastefulness before we're swept away by the torrent of manufactured sentimentality that comes along with the Christmas season. A final chance to cut loose and flout the laws of our savior before we're forced to buckle down and commemorate His murder. In conclusion, happy Thanksgiving America. Don't forget to get drunk and smother everything in butter!