Thursday, August 27, 2009 Random Image: Morning Glory Clouds

A not-entirely understood meteorological phenomenon that occurs each year above a small town in northern Australia.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 This Time, They Really Are Mad!

Nature continues to go wild! If you think the only way cows can kill you is from clogged arteries, guess again. From Reuters:
Farmers issue warning after fatal cow attacks

Tue Aug 25, 2009 12:01pm EDT
By Alexander Monro

LONDON (Reuters) - The deaths of no fewer than four people after being trampled by cows in the past two months has prompted Britain's main farming union to issue a warning about the dangers of provoking the normally docile animals.

Cows can become aggressive and charge, especially when calves are present and walkers are accompanied by dogs, said the National Farmers Union (NFU).

The union and the Ramblers' Association both advise that walkers release dogs from their leads when passing through a field of cows.

"The cattle are interested in the dog, not the walker," said Robert Sheasby, Rural Surveyor at the NFU.

"As the cattle try to get the dog, there's a high chance they will get the walker too."

Britain has 7.5 million cows but in the past eight years there have only been 18 deaths involving cattle, including bulls whose dangers are well-known.

The current spate of attacks by cows began on the Pennine Hills on June 21, when Liz Crowsley, a veterinary surgeon from Warrington, was crushed against a wall and then trampled underfoot while out walking with her two dogs.

On July 15, another attack took place in Derbyshire, when Barry Pilgrim, a 65-year old from the area, was trampled to death by a cow as his wife looked on.

Three days later, Anita Hinchey, a 63-year-old, was walking her dog near Cardiff when a cow attacked her and trampled her to death.

The fourth fatal attack claimed the life of Harold Lee, a 75-year-old farmer from Burtle in the West Country. He was killed by his own herd, which may have been made nervous by the siren of a passing ambulance.

The risk is especially high in the spring when many of the calves are only a month or two old and the mothers are therefore especially protective, the NFU said.

"It's to do with spring and autumn calving," said Sheasby.

"In the autumn, cattle will be coming into winter housing but in spring you want them out grazing the grass."

Cow-charging incidents received extended coverage when former Home Secretary David Blunkett was attacked by one in June as his guide dog led him across a field in England's Peak District.

Blunkett broke a rib and was heavily bruised but survived.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 Minnesota's Wolf City

If I were Ken Hite, right now I'd be turning out an entire column linking a lupine-infested Twin Cities with the twins Romulus and Remus, demi-gods suckled by wolves.

The article excerpted below can be read in full at the Minneapolis-St. Paul StarTribune website.
Rise of wolves putting Minnesota pets at risk

Complaints - and fears - about attacks on dogs are increasing along with wolf numbers in northern Minnesota.

By Doug Smith, Star Tribune
Last update: August 24, 2009 - 12:29 PM

When Bruce Mell left the Twin Cities and retired to a lakeside cabin in northern Minnesota two years ago, he took along his canine companion, Sadie.

"She and I retired together," Mell, who is 61 and divorced, said of the 80-pound black Lab-mix he had rescued from an animal shelter. "We've been together for 10 years. Every morning when I got up to fix coffee and some breakfast, I'd let her outside. She never went far, just stayed around the yard."

But one recent morning, Mell went out to tinker with equipment on his 5 acres in the woods near Hill City and immediately noticed something was wrong.

"No dog," he said. "At first I didn't think much of it, but then I started to worry."

Mell found Sadie's remains in the woods not far from his cabin. Wolves had killed and eaten her.

"There was almost nothing left: The end of her tail, a bit of rib cage and her collar," he said. "Your heart just drops. Me and her were pretty tight."

Sadie is among seven dogs federal officials have confirmed were killed by wolves so far this year in Minnesota -- part of a recent spate of dog-wolf encounters and an overall increase in wolf attacks on domestic animals -- mostly livestock.

"I'd say [depredation] complaints are up 10 percent to 20 percent this year," said John Hart, district supervisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services, which investigates wolf incidents and traps and kills problem wolves.

As of last week, his agency had received 131 complaints of domestic animals killed or injured by wolves. Last year, officials hadn't receive that many complaints until mid-November. Sixty of the complaints have been verified, compared with 75 all of last year.

While livestock deaths are the most common complaint, wolf attacks on pets tend to make news. There have been several dogs attacked and either killed or injured by wolves in the Grand Rapids-Hill City region this summer. "It's the talk of the town," said Mell.

Dogs often simply disappear, as was the case of a small dog near Grand Rapids. Its owner spotted a wolf in a field shortly before the dog disappeared. And several dogs, including another Lab in the Hill City area, have been seriously injured by wolf attacks.

"This is wolf city up here," Mell said.

Let me just point out that at this time there is absolutely no evidence that anything other than ordinary wolves are involved in the current situation. There is no reason at all to start any rumors about lycanthropy, werewolves, or hyper-intelligent canine off-shoots encroaching on our urban areas. Nope, no reason at all.

I probably should have written that post about silver bullets, shouldn't I have?

Monday, August 24, 2009 Ugandan Witch Cult

I know witch scares are common in that part of the world, but this story seems to have some weight behind it. The accused aren't old women or other social pariahs out in the sticks, but well-to-do individuals in a large city. From the August 19th on-line edition of the Observer (Uganda):
New blood thirsty cult confirmed in Uganda

Written by Shifa Mwesigye
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 17:52

Police say the cult whose members are mainly wealthy Kampalans originated from West Africa

Police are investigating a religious cult of predominantly wealthy people linked to human sacrifice in the country.

The Observer has learnt that Police earlier this year, acting on a tip-off, sanctioned an investigation into claims that some wealthy people in the country are responsible for the spiralling acts of child human sacrifice in the country.

The Acting Commissioner of the Police Investigations Department, Moses Binoga, told The Observer in an interview last Thursday at CID headquarters in Kibuli that the Police are taking these allegations seriously.

Since the start of the year, his department has gathered information on this cult whose activities are mainly concentrated in Kampala. He says the cult originated from West Africa.

Authorities in West Africa have in the recent past fought running battles with cult members. On August 6, cult members shot and killed a policeman in Nigeria who was considered a threat to the cult’s activities in Adigbe area.

In the same country, 13 students were killed in clashes between cults calling themselves the Black Axe and the Black Eye, all said to be practising black magic. Some of their activities include killing, rape, extortion and theft.

Nigeria Police also clashed with the Boko Haram cult, killing 700 people and arresting hundreds of members of the group.

“We are investigating a cult which makes them [followers] take human blood periodically. It is a devil cult,” Binoga says of the Kampala cult.

Binoga, who also heads the Collation Crime Intelligence Unit, could however not discuss their findings so far, citing fear of jeopardising the investigations.

“It is an open secret everyone is talking about it, they say if you don’t take blood, the wealth will go,” Binoga says.

More details, including a brief history of human sacrifice in Uganda, are available at the link above.

Random Notes 8/24/09

  • On a whim, I checked my StatCounter account and found that two metric buttloads of hits came from people looking for pictures of Catherine Zeta Jones' ass. Apparently, the image I hotlinked to in my post about a gang of international jewel thieves was from a nude celebrity site, and Google image search was somehow directing people here, where they were no doubt vastly disappointed. I've changed the hotlink to a different source, which would eliminate the problem if I hadn't just typed "nude", "celebrity", and "Catherine Zeta Jones' ass" above.
  • Mmm... hot links! My buddy Garz is a huge fan of Smokin M's, a little BBQ joint a few blocks from the Sanctum, so much so that he has a picture of their mascot (whom Garz has dubbed the Evil Pig) as the background on his phone. However, the image is a not-very-good snapshot he took of the restaurant's front window with his phone's camera. Because I am helpful, friendly, and courteous (if not cheerful and reverent), I've located a better quality replacement for him and cleaned it up to the best of my ability. I yoinked it from a Chicago food forum, where one of the friendly folks had this to say to an employee of Smokin M's who posted to the thread:
"Let's hope that bulk mail center keeps you in a steady flow of peeps that can't tell good BBQ from the undercooked/overcooked pork covered in non tasty sauce you serve. Thank Famous Liquors for the flow because that's where most get their lunch before getting your dinners."
    Man, some people will never miss an opportunity to be an asshole, will they?

  • From the Onion via is a story about the latest attempt to cash in on the Twilight phenom. I hesitated on posting this for a while, because although my friends and I enjoy ragging on Twilight, a lot of them read this blog from the office and this particular item is Not Safe for Work. It is however, both creepy and hilarious.

  • JG Thirwell's The Venture Bros. soundtrack is Kicking. My. Ass. One of the benefits of living alone is that there's no one to bludgeon me for playing "Fumblestealth" over and over again at high volume.
  • I've finally finished switching out all the weak and flimsy ImageShack links on the site with hearty, broad-hipped Photobucket replacements. And cripes, what a pain it was. Still, that should take care of my image hosting problems, so please let me know if any still fail to load.

Saturday, August 22, 2009 Nothing Up His Sleeve

The story's popping up all over this weekend, but everyone seems to be sourcing Ananova:
Magician provokes riot

An Indian conjuror needed an armed guard out of town after his 'magic' provoked a riot.

Rajeev Patel had been performing on the street in Berhampur, eastern India, when he asked a young boy to join him for a special magic trick.

Witnesses said he then pulled down the boy's pants and asked him to hold a piece of clay before saying he would change it into a sweet.

One man in the crowd said: "We were all shocked when he just pulled the boy's pants down but if that wasn't enough he didn't even manage to do the spell and a lot of people though he was just putting it on so he could look at the boy's backside.

"They got furious and started shouting at him and then when he said he would try it again they just went mad."

"He failed and the crowd turned violent," added a police spokesman, after officers took two hours to quell a riot and give the hapless magician an armed guard out of town.

There's so much wrong with this story that even Evil Fozzie wouldn't comment. He just muttered something about pulling stuff out of your ass, then shook his head and went back to working on "stoned" jokes for next year's Gotmar festival.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 If You Ever Wondered What an Indian Rock Festival Was Like...

... it's basically a bunch of idiots throwing stones at each other. Go Team!

Stoning festival banned

Thu, 20 Aug 2009 14:30

A centuries-old festival in which residents from rival Indian villages throw stones at each other — often leaving people dead or injured — has been banned, an official said on Thursday.

The annual Gotmar festival in an impoverished central region of the country involved teams competing to capture a tree placed in a river running between two villages as crowds pelted rocks and pebbles across the divide.

The origin of the custom is unclear, but many locals in Madhya Pradesh state believe it developed from the tale of two young lovers who lived on either side of the river and wanted to elope together.

As they tried to escape, residents of the two villages started throwing stones at each other and killed the couple, according to folklore.

In last year's clash between Saargaon and Pandhurhna, one person was reported killed and more than 400 injured.

District civil servant Nikunj Srivastava said the event, scheduled to be held on Friday, had been banned after the state authority Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission described it as "inhuman and criminal."

"The act of injuring each other by hurling stones is done in the name of tradition, but traditions like Sati are banned and so this is now banned too," Srivastava said.

"Not all local people support the stone-throwing but they do not speak out against it because they fear a backlash from the villagers who favour it."

Sati is the outlawed Hindu custom of a widow being cremated on the funeral pyre of her husband as an indication of her devotion.

Attempts to replace the stones with rubber balls in 2001 and 2002 failed as villagers refused to use them.

One of those who fought against the practice of widow-burning was General Charles James Napier, a governor in India under the British Raj. When locals complained about the British authorities outlawing the practice of sati, Napier is famously said to have responded:
"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
I always dug that quote.

Saturday, August 15, 2009 Zombie Science Week Continues

Seriously, what's with all the sudden interest from actual scientists? Do they know something we don't? From Wired:
Mathematical Model for Surviving a Zombie Attack

By Betsy Mason
August 14, 2009

It is possible to successfully fend off a zombie attack, according to Canadian mathematicians. The key is to “hit hard and hit often.”

Oh yes, somebody actually did a study on mathematics of a hypothetical zombie attack, and published it in a book on infectious disease. So, while we still don’t know what to do if a deadly asteroid takes aim at Earth, an unlikely but technically possible situation, we now know what to do in case of a zombie attack.

“An outbreak of zombies is likely to be disastrous, unless extremely aggressive tactics are employed against the undead,” the authors wrote. “It is imperative that zombies are dealt with quickly, or else we are all in a great deal of trouble.”

Having spent a fair amount of time mixing science with beer in the wee hours while trying to finish a thesis, I’m guessing that at some point, a graduate student who had spent far too many hours tweaking a mathematical model of infectious disease in the basement of a Canadian university said something like this: “What would happen if we made it so they could come back to life?”

This was followed by the other math students in the basement gathering around the computer, happily creating a plausible model for the outbreak of infectious zombie disease, and then brainstorming on how to make their model relevant.

“Clearly, this is an unlikely scenario if taken literally,” they wrote. “But possible real-life applications may include allegiance to political parties, or diseases with a dormant infection.”


Anyway, the model focuses on modern zombies, which are “very different from the voodoo and the folklore zombies.” It takes into account the possibility of quarantine (could lead to eradication, but unlikely to happen) and treatment (some humans survive, but they still must coexist with zombies), but shows that there is only one strategy likely to succeed: “impulsive eradication.”

“Only sufficiently frequent attacks, with increasing force, will result in eradication, assuming the available resources can be mustered in time,” they concluded.

And if we don’t act fast enough?

“If the timescale of the outbreak increases, then the result is the doomsday scenario: an outbreak of zombies will result in the collapse of civilization, with every human infected, or dead,” they wrote. “This is because human births and deaths will provide the undead with a limitless supply of new bodies to infect, resurrect and convert.”

How fast do we need to deal with the outbreak? Here’s the equation they used, where S = susceptibles, Z = zombies and R = removed. If an infection breaks out in a city of 500,000 people, the zombies will outnumber the susceptibles in about three days.

Maybe being a mathematician wouldn’t be so bad, after all.

Citation: “When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection,” [pdf] by Philip Munz, Ioan Hudea, Joe Imad and Robert J, Smith. In “Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress,” eds. J.M. Tchuenche and C. Chiyaka, Nova Science Publishers, Inc. pp. 133-150, 2009.

Friday, August 14, 2009 Zombies + Lounge = Love

Now that I have no reason to visit the Twin Cities, I finally have a reason to visit the Twin Cities. I was in the Minneapolis area for a couple of weeks last year on business, and I would have killed to have been able to spend my downtime in a place like this. Sixties Swank and Zombies are two of my favorite flavors, making this place a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup for my soul.

From yesterday's Star-Tribune:
A legendary north Minneapolis dive bar has risen from the dead.

By TOM HORGEN, Star Tribune
Last update: August 13, 2009 - 11:53 PM

When one of the Twin Cities' most notorious bars, Stand Up Frank's, closed earlier this year, I wouldn't have believed in a million years it would be reopened and reimagined as something called Donny Dirk's Zombie Den. Real zombies could dig themselves out of the ground and eat my brains before that would happen, because that would be crazy.

But crazy has happened.

The buzz roaring throughout the local blogosphere last week centered on this reopening (better yet: resurrection) of a north Minneapolis bar infamous for its stiff drinks and scary shootouts.

The new owner, Leslie Bock, of Psycho Suzi's and Saint Sabrina's, has totally transformed the tiny bar into something best described as classy kitsch.

The stunning new interior comes straight out of a 1950s Las Vegas lounge (the classic part). The zombie stuff (i.e. the kitsch) is hilarious, and more nuanced than you'd expect from a bar named Donny Dirk's Zombie Den. In the corner, a small chainsaw sits inside a glass case that reads "In case of zombie attack, break glass." The bartenders all dress like Simon Pegg in "Shaun of the Dead" -- white button-up, red tie and blood stains. The friendly female servers wear long black gowns. Again: This is a classy zombie joint.

The bar's name falls right in line with Bock's other businesses. She said she's just adding another member to the messed-up family (Get it? Suzi, Sabrina and now Dirk).

"Donny Dirk is the rebel that just got out of jail and he's just trying to straighten his life out," Bock said.

All jokes aside, Bock said she took the closing of Stand Up Frank's very seriously.

"It's really painful for me to see institutions like this shut down," Bock said. "I didn't want to see its history destroyed. There were a couple of bad years. But if you talk to people around here, there were a lot of good memories, too."

Except for Prohibition, the building near Broadway and Washington Avenue N. has been a bar since it was built at the turn of the 20th century. Bock had been negotiating with the previous owner before Stand Up Frank's shut down April 25. She moved in five days later and began the extensive remodeling.

Of course, getting a liquor license wasn't easy. The city wanted to be sure that "I wouldn't repeat the problems of the past," Bock said. She doesn't think drug dealers and prostitutes will be too interested in a building that's been repainted bright green and promotes a geeky zombie motif.

While she thinks the perception of danger at Stand Up Frank's might have been a bit overblown, she's complied with the city's request for tighter security. At night, two bouncers watch the door and patrol the newly fenced-in parking lot. There are a half-dozen security cameras, too.

"I mean, a lot of people were scared to come here," Bock said.

Now back to the classy kitsch. Gone are the linoleum floors, beat-up bar stools and old beer signs. Here are the highlights of her remodeling:
  • The floor is covered with casino-grade tiger-striped carpeting. Ridiculous.
  • The walls feature brown, custom-made smoked mirrors. "Very hard to find, I might add," Bock said.
  • All of the booths and bar stools are covered in plush Vegas-style tufted vinyl.
  • There are three deer heads (one was already there; she added the others for good measure).
  • Hanging above the bar is a green neon sign that reads, "Undead Frank Lives."
Frank's legend also lives on in one of the "specialty" drinks, a $3.75 humdinger called R.I.P. Frank (basically a shot of liquor on ice). If you want something a little fancier, try the Donny Dirk signature cocktail, which is the bar's version of a chocolatey Alexander.

This week, the bartenders began offering the "Weird Science" interactive cocktail, which is a drink you design yourself. Bock compares it to raiding your parents' liquor cabinet as a kid. You write down the liquors on a note card, the bartender mixes it, you pay for it. If you like it, they'll keep your card on file for the next time you come in.

Did I mention they have a Batphone? It's just like the red one in the campy "Batman" TV series, but instead of calling the Caped Crusader, it calls Psycho Suzi's. Donny Dirk's doesn't have a kitchen, but if you want to order off Psycho Suzi's menu, you can ring them on the Batphone and they'll drive your food over.

"It was very, very hard to find," Bock said.

To complete her classy kitsch makeover, Bock has darkened the place by covering the windows with black drapes. "We want it to feel like Vegas, where you're never sure what time it is," she said.

If by "Vegas" she means "Vegas with a zombie ambience," then mission accomplished.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 Things I Found Looking For Something Else #6

Here's a fun idea that sadly seems to have withered on the vine - Post-Apocalypse was an attempt at a community art project in which people create postcards sent the day after Armageddon. That, or it was a parody of another, more popular site. In either case, the scant few entries tease us with the potential of what might have been. Le sigh.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 It's Called "Coveting"

I'm bored, so I'm thinking about stuff I would buy if I was still employed. That is, in addition to all the DVD's I've already mentioned. (I did manage to pick up Venture Bros. Season 3 used for a great price, though not on Blu-ray - I had to "acquire" the soundtrack in mp3 format through *cough cough* other means.)

There's a lot of geek t-shirt sites around, but Last Exit to Nowhere offers, IMHO, the best movie-related designs. Their shirts feature logos for places, products, and corporations that only exist in cult films. For the most part, the weathered prints are subtle enough that their geekish origins are only recognizable to fellow cognoscenti, making them perfect for those occasions when you don't feel like shouting your nerdosity from the rooftops. I'm in love with the WGON TV t-shirt inspired by the original Dawn of the Dead, though the Enter the Dragon shirt and The Thing hoodie are making serious plays for my affection as well.

The downside is the price. £18 each for the shirts, £30 for the hoodie, plus postage from the UK. Yikes.

Warner Brothers has been experimenting with "burn on demand" DVD's for titles deemed not popular enough for regular production. One of their latest offerings is Urgh! A Music War, a classic punk & New Wave concert film featuring the likes of Echo & the Bunnymen, XTC, Dead Kennedys, the Cramps, Pere Ubu, the Police, and Klaus Nomi. According to reports, this is the full-length version with the Gary Numan performance intact (it's been missing from all recnt broadcasts of the film). With Warner Archive's current 5-for-$50 deal, it's hard for me to resist picking up Urgh! and a few other titles (such as Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, a made-for-tv horror movie that traumatized my brother as a kid). If they ever offer Dark of the Sun or Hickey & Boggs, I'm succumbing regardless of my employment situation.

In a previous post on movies that are still MIA on DVD, I mentioned my love for the old Saint films. Well, it turns out that all eight of the 30's and 40's Saint programmers are available as two Spanish box sets and a single French collection. The prices aren't too bad, but postage to the US is killer. Shipping from is about ten bucks cheaper than that from the Spanish site, but I understand that French DVD's of English-language films routinely have forced subtitles. Ah, well. Maybe these films are working their way through Europe and will come out in the UK soon.

I'm a huge fan of the "illustrator" style of comic art, pioneered by giants like Hal Foster and Alex Raymond, maintained by the likes of Frank Frazetta and John Severin, and carried on today by creators such as Mark Schultz and Frank "Bosoms" Cho. I love the realistic figures, carefully rendered backgrounds, and cinematic compositions. Exaggerated cartoony styles work great for superhero books, but to my mind nothing suits adventure strips better than the old school.

Al Williamson is one of my favorites in this field. His work greatly inspired George Lucas in the creation of Star Wars, and Lucas repaid the favor by tapping Williamson to do the Star Wars comic strip. Aside from his work for LucasFilm, Williamson is probably best known for his long association with Flash Gordon. A new volume, Al Williamson's Flash Gordon: A Lifelong Vision of the Heroic, collects all of Williamson's work on the space opera saga. Included are the comics he drew for King Features in the 1960's, his adaptation of the 1980 film, and a mini-series done for Marvel in the 90's. I have the original movie adaptation volume; it was printed in color, and I'm told the art looks even better in black-and-white.

Hopefully, Williamson's work with the late Archie Goodwin on Secret Agent X-9 will also be collected in affordable volumes sometime soon.

I suppose I can just add these items to my Xmas list, assuming that my loved ones will still have their jobs come the holidays. Otherwise, I'm gonna have to start selling blood or something.

Monday, August 10, 2009 It's a Problem With the Anterior Cingulate Cortex, Obviously

While going through some bookmarks, I came across one for a story I meant to post a couple of months back and just plain forgot about.

Dr. Steven C. Schlozman, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, gave a lecture this summer on the neuroscience of zombies. That's right, a Harvard psychiatrist explained how a flesh-eating ghoul's brain would function. I'm hoping that the entire lecture will see print at some point, but covers the highlights in the meantime. Better still, if you're unemployed like me and have 40 minutes to waste, you can watch the actual lecture itself, courtesy of the Boston Phoenix:

Now all we need is for a doctor to explain the whole "reanimation of dead tissue after you get bit" thing, and we're ready to flood the world with our zombie hordes battle the undead menace on a scientific as well as physical basis.

Friday, August 7, 2009 This Post Brought to You By Harry Schmerler, Your Singing Ford Dealer

Today's catawampusing about the interwebs has yielded the Museum of Classic Chicago Television. It's a site dedicating to preserving memories of local Chicago television by hosting a variety of clips, most of which were taped off-air by viewers at home. I haven't poked around there too much as yet, but what I have found is pretty interesting.

As most of the clips date after the late 1970's and the VCR revolution, a lot of my childhood favorites aren't represented. You get Gigglesnort Hotel instead of BJ & Dirty Dragon, for example. No Magic Door, no Bert Weinman sponsoring Flash Gordon or The Cisco Kid, just a smidgen of Garfield Goose, and the only Ray Rayner content is from his final show in 1981.

Still, there's plenty of good stuff on hand, like a commercial for the much-desired Mego Magnetic Batman and Robin. They've got some snippets from Channel 44's Monster Rally Theater, but unfortunately not the memorable opening itself. And there's what appears to be all of the host segments from an episode of Screaming Yellow Theater, the original Svengoolie show. It's interesting to see just how much of the current show's schtick originated during the Jerry Bishop era, right down to the cries of "Berwyn"! Although I only watched Screaming Yellow Theater a couple of times when I was very young, I still vividly recall the theme song - Rich Koz kept it for a while after he took over as Sven.

And then there's this:

The opening of WGN's Creature Features, which always scared me worse than any film the program aired. It's actually a recreation done by fans. All of the original openings are lost, which is ironic considering the mascot of the show was from London After Midnight, one of the most sought-after of lost films. The guys who did the recreation have their own fan site dedicated to Creature Features, which features lots of info on the program and audio clips of several show openings.

Despite all this, I still haven't been able to find out the name of the show that featured my first crush. It was a program airing around 1970-72 and featured a young woman dressed up like an elf or Peter Pan while she read from a storybook. I biked to Border's last night to see if The Golden Age of Chicago Children's Television had any info, but no dice. Maybe it was a syndicated or national show. Whoever she is, she's cursed me with a lifelong fascination of pixish women with short haircuts. It's a weakness, I tell ya.

Thursday, August 6, 2009 So Yeah, John Hughes Is Dead...

And it's pretty much all anyone my age can talk about. Despite what you kids today think about films like Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club today, they really struck a chord with a generation of insecure suburban youth back then.

Me, I liked Pretty in Pink for being one of the few Hollywood movies to show New Wave culture in a positive light. Never got much into Molly Ringwald, though, as she always looked like she was about to start complaining about something. Hughes also wrote the screenplay to Nate and Hayes, which could have been a great swashbuckler if it wasn't so damn determined to play it aloof and cynical (and what's up with killing all the cool supporting characters in the first five minutes, anyway?). Check it out sometime - it's sort of a spiritual ancestor to the Pirates of the Caribbean blockbusters.

And Hughes had some pretty good taste in music, at least as far as selecting soundtrack material goes. The Psychedelic Furs, the Smiths, the Specials, the English Beat, Love & Rockets, Altered Images, Killing Joke, Big Audio Dynamite, Echo & the Bunnymen - I'll bet his films introduced Middle America to a lot of these bands.

Hughes' obituaries tell of him abandoning Hollywood to run a farm in northern Illinois. I remember Jim Belushi appearing on the Steve and Garry show years back, complaining about Hughes' behavior during the filming of Curly Sue. According to Belushi, Hughes would call action, then start making phone calls while the actors performed. If true, the story might be indicative of Hughes' increasing dissatisfaction with Hollywood. On the other hand, I doubt if I could have roused much interest in directing Curly Sue, either.

Anyway, the man is dead now, so we can forgive him his Curly Sues and Home Alones, and focus on stuff like Weird Science, National Lampoon's Vacation, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Uncle Buck, and Planes, Trains & Automobiles. All told, that's a pretty fine body of work.

Hypnotist Fails to Fulfill Our Pubescent Daydreams

If he had invisibility, they would have found him in the ladies' locker room. It's all over the net, but I pulled it from the Huffington Post:
Hypnotist Fined For Stealing A Kiss On A Date

08/06/09 12:54AM

SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean hypnotist has been fined for stealing a kiss on a blind date with a woman he thought he had successfully put in a trance, news reports said Thursday.

The 32-year-old man suggested hypnotizing his 27-year-old date during their first meeting arranged by a matchmaking agency in August last year, according to the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper and Yonhap news agency.

The woman was eventually persuaded, and the hypnotist chanted: "Black hole! You will plunge deeper into a trance. You will feel thrilled all over your body and if my hand touches your body, you will feel intense pleasure."

When the man, identified only by his surname, Park, thought his technique had worked, he went to kiss her.

But the woman was fully alert, though her eyes were closed, and she pushed him away. Later, she filed accusations that he had sexually harassed her, the reports said.

The Seoul Central District Court fined Park 3 million won ($2,453), they said.

I believe that Dong-a Ilbo is still illegal in seven states, even between consenting adults.

Monday, August 3, 2009 Attack of the Myrtle Beach Monkey Man

From the Myrtle Beach, SC Daily Sun:
Man used meat cleaver to fend off would-be robber in gorilla suit

by Tonya Root
Thursday, Jul. 30, 2009

An employee of the Conway location of Jimmy’s Japanese Hibachi told police he used a meat cleaver to fight off a would-be robber who wore a gorilla suit, according to a police report.

The 21-year-old Conway man told police at 11:24 p.m. Monday he was cleaning the restaurant and was punched in the head while taking trash to a Dumpster behind the business at 2635 U.S. 701 N., police said.

The man said he wrestled with his attacker, who wore a gorilla suit, and ran back inside the building, but the attacker followed him, according to the report. The man said the attacker ran to the cash register and he picked up a meat cleaver and hit the person in the right arm.

The man said the attacker then ran out of the business with the cleaver stuck in the suit, according to the report. Police are investigating the incident. No money was taken during the robbery attempt.
I'm all for copying classic comic supervillians for your criminal motif, but this guy is just doing it wrong. He was aping this:

When he should have been rocking this:


Although, as he was robbing a Japanese restaurant, a strong argument could have been made for a simian samurai.

Keep working at it, buddy! A lot of would-be heroes need good villains to oppose!