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18 posts from September 2009

I Write Vampire Books in a Van Down by the River

Because reading four 500-page vampire books already in 2009 is clearly not enough, my roommate and I are currently making our way through the Sookie Stackhouse novels (the books HBO's True Blood is based on).  These books are your typical story of mind-reading waitress meets vampire, but oh--there's a twist.  And the twist is that the author of these books looks exactly like Chris Farley.  Here is the picture that appears on the back inside-cover of the first book:


Whoa.  That is intense.  If writing books ever gets boring, this lady needs to team up with Chris Farley baby and go on a world tour.

This Week in Internet: Mrs. Butterworth, Dustin Diamond, and One Craaaazy Apple

This made me extremely happy.

A functional cello made from LEGO bricks.  Because.

Police break up a dog-fighting ring being run out of a day-care center.  Again: because.

This is decidedly hypnotic to watch.

Matthew McConaughey has balance problems.

Apparently we are going to find out Mrs. Butterworth's first name.  I just hope it isn't John. (thx, Em)

So, I have zero interest in Dustin Diamond's tell-all book, and I am the biggest SBTB fan in history.  Who could possibly be buying it?

This apple is crazy!

Are you ready to see the best hairstyle in the history of the world?  OK--here.

Shocking ideas that could change the world.

He Also Hates Ice Cream, Pizza, and Warm Woolen Mittens

Prior to yesterday, I thought that people were mostly good.  And then I read this article about a man who wants pandas to die.

According to the article:

The BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham has questioned the millions spent trying to save the giant panda from extinction and suggested that the bamboo-eating bear should be allowed to die out "with a degree of dignity".

Apparently Packham believes that, among other things, pandas are at an "evolutionary dead-end" because of their reliance on bamboo, and that it it makes sense to "pull the plug."  Yes.  Those are his words.  Pull.  The.  Plug.


Seriously, Chris Packham?  Anti-panda?  That's the stance you're going to take?  Really?

Needless to say, I am having a bit of trouble wrapping my head around this one.  However, I am also curious to hear what other issues Mr. Packham has an opinion about.  Maybe he his career goal is to find scientific reasons to hate things that were previously only thought to be lovable.  If that's the case, I would like to propose some ideas for journal articles he could write.  Like this:


Or maybe this:


Or perhaps:


He might as well.  Once you're known as the guy who wants the pandas to die--well, it's not like you're going to come back from that.  It's time to just enjoy being an asshole.

A Brief Tour of the First Five Google Seach Results for "King Ralph"

As the title of this post indicates, I am about to launch into paying way too much attention to an almost-20-year-old movie featuring John Goodman as the King of England.  But first, I should explain that this post can really be attributed to the fact that I recently re-watched The Wedding Singer after not seeing it in approximately a decade.  Though I very much enjoyed that movie when I was in high school, upon reexamination I can confidently say that The Wedding Singer is actually a terrible movie.  Now, it probably does not shock you that a movie created primarily as a vehicle for giving Adam Sandler an excuse to grow a mullet is bad, but boy, do I remember thinking it was hilarious at the time.

Anyway, re-watching The Wedding Singer and realizing how bad it is made me think I should re-watch some of the other '90s movies I thought were great, just to see if they have withstood the test of time.  The first movie that popped into my head as a candidate?  King Ralph.  I am not entirely sure why that movie came to mind, but that did not stop me from spending a shitload of time Googling it today.  Because I would like to have something to show for all that hard work, I will now share with you the things you learn when you Google "King Ralph."  Let's explore.

King ralph - Google Search_1253748391714

Search result No. 1:  King Ralph entry,
The IMDB page for King Ralph reminds us of some key facts, like that the movie was released in 1991 and the tagline was "A comedy of majestic proportions."  It also tells us the top five plot keywords for the movie, which are:
  1. King
  2. British Parliament
  3. Photograph
  4. Tea Ceremony
  5. Punk
That sounds about right. 

Unfortunately, the IMDB trivia for the movie is pretty lackluster; the most interesting fact reveals that "John Goodman did his own singing."  Weak.

Search result No. 2: King Ralph page on Wikipedia

Here's where our research starts to get interesting.  According to the Wikipedia entry on King Ralph, the movie was "a box office flop."  Could that be true?  I seem to recall it playing very well to the elementary school demographic; I, for one, found the movie to be extremely clever.

On the "Talk" page for the entry, we learn about some of the editorial struggles inherent in characterizing a complex movie like King Ralph.  For example, one editor asks:

Why delete what I added about Ralph meeting with the Zambezi king? It lays the foundation for Ralph's announcements to Parliament near the end of the movie. The way the plot outline appears, it's a bolt out of the blue. GBC 22:04, 6 May 2006 (UTC)

Search result No. 3:

There are currently 25 customer reviews of King Ralph on, but I think this one gets to the heart of things best:


That about sums it up.  Well done, Christine Andersen.

Search result No. 4: Video results for "King Ralph"

Google is helpful enough to provide us with an overview of some relevant video search results for the term "King Ralph," which is good, because it reminds us that the world is such a vast place that it actually contains multiple people who have taken the time to convert clips from this movie to Internet format.  Evidently, someone also made a Ralph/Sarah Palin mashup-type thing--

Personally, I think this is all the proof we need that the movie is still relevant.

Search result No. 5: King Ralph movie reviews on Rotten Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes is a site that scores movies by aggregating reviews and then translating positive and negative feedback into a percentage score on something called a Tomatometer.  Currently, King Ralph has a 25% score, which is not that great.  I decided to check out some of the linked reviews and found this original New York Times writeup by Janet Maslin from February 15, 1991. 

According to Maslin, "The sight of Mr. Goodman in a kilt trying to play Frisbee with the royal corgis is worth a lot. But when Ralph begins trying to leave his mark on Buckingham Palace . . . the film loses a little of its spark. The sight of electric trains and pinball machines in the palace is almost overkill."  Clearly, what the nearsighted Maslin is seeing as the movie's fatal flaw is what even some random reviewer was able to correctly notice as its most hilarious virtue: it's funny, because he doesn't know how to be a king!

In conclusion, there is literally no reason this post needed to ever be written.

Partner Needed for Project Involving Glory, Fame, and Considerable Palm-to-Palm Contact

For the past year or so I have been casually looking for a world record to try and break, because really--why not?  However, I had not set my sights on a reasonable record to attempt until today, when I happened to come across this article about two Australian men who recently broke the Guinness World Record for the longest handshake.  Their record-setting shake clocked in at around 12 hours, and honestly?  That seems SO doable.  Moving my arm up and down for 12 (or 13 now, I guess) hours?  Um, I can totally do that in the name of world record glory.

Obviously, though, I cannot do this alone; I need a partner for my record-shattering handshake endeavors.  Ideally, it needs to be someone someone with the determination of a tiger, the wrist strength of a lion, and the conversational skills of a magical talking bear (otherwise, we might get bored). If you fit this description and are interested in taking your handshake game to the world stage, contact me ASAP.  Include any relevant details about your experience with handshaking.  


I will also need a signed doctor's note stating that you have not tested positive for carpal tunnal syndrome in the past five years.

This Week in Internet: Space Pics, Bus Stops, and Reasons Not to Swallow Plastic Shards

Dude playing the Inspector Gadget theme song on beer bottles = champ.

Hot-stronomy of the week: awesome new Hubble pics; Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon. (Yes, "hot-stronomy" is my new made up word for "hot astronomy."  Don't think I will be using it again, though.  Sounds too much like a sandwich ingredient.)

Maryland comes in at #7 on this list of weird state nicknames.  Apparently we were once called the Cockade State??

I continue to be interested in things that look like hamburgers.

This looks about right.

From Emily: "Doctors say a North Carolina man who was plagued with coughing fits should be OK now that they have removed a 1-inch piece of plastic from his lung, where it had rested since he apparently inhaled it nearly two years ago while sucking down a soft drink at a Wendy's restaurant."  Best quote ever: "'I like to take big gulps of drink,' the former home remodeler said. 'I don't know of any other ways of it getting in there.'"

How to use math to choose a spouse.

102-year-old woman who has been smoking for 95 years decides to quit.  With badass pic.

The 50 best foods in the world, and where to eat them.

Aaaand . . . the world's coolest bus stops.

I Still Don't Think I Could Pass the Marshmallow Test

I would be truly negligent in my duties as your Internet Tour Guide if I did not present you with this video of children being tempted with marshmallows.

Oh, The Temptation from Steve V on Vimeo.

Particularly eagle-eyed readers may recall this February post linking to a different video of different children participating in the same test; however, today's updated video is much better and does not include a sermon about temptation as set up--it just goes straight to the marshmallow action.

Dinosaurs for Sale!

Opportunities for dinosaur ownership just don't come up often enough these days, but Oct. 3 is looking promising.  That is when, according to this article, approximately 50 "impressive, museum-quality" natural history artifacts, including some dinos, will be auctioned off at the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas.  The big seller is supposedly going to be a T. rex named Samson, with an estimated value of $2 million - $8 million. According to the article:
Prepared at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Samson’s skull is regarded as one of the finest and most complete T. rex skulls in existence, and displays 22 teeth. The skeleton contains approximately 170 bones, more than 55 percent of the total bone count of an entire skeleton.
That's nice, but this is not the best economy, and we don't all have millions of dollars to be spending on fossils.  That is why I have browsed the auction catalog and come up with some more budget-conscious picks to bid on.  All of the following picks come in well under the million-dollar mark, with auction values starting as low as $1,000!

Best Bargain-Bin Item: Lot 1, "A Fine Fossil Fish"

[Estimate: $1,000 - 1,250]

According to the catalog description, this Diplomystus dentatus specimen is a "requisite acquisition for any serious fossil fish collection."  More importantly, it is also looking like the cheapest thing you can buy in this particular auction--well, either this or the lame-ass "Ammomite with Bite Marks," but frankly, if you're going to drop a grand on a fossil, it shouldn't have a bite taken out of it.

Best Thing to Buy if You Really, Really Like Vertebrae: Lot 19, "Triceratops Vertebra"

[Estimate: $1,250 - 1,500]

If you buy one vertebra this year, I recommend you go with a Triceratops vertebra.  Their vertebrae have a "distinctive appearance" featuring "three horns and a large bony frill, which, besides giving this creature lasting celebrity, may have served several purposes."  From the looks of it, I think one of these purposes could definitely be 'most awesome pencil holder of the past 35 million years.'

Best Thing to Impress the Ladies: Lot 21,"Set of T. Rex teeth"

[Estimate: $7,500 - 10,000]

Some background: a couple years ago, I was in a bar with my sister Kate and her friend Ashley.  Ashley was approached by extremely hardy-looking man in a Hawaiian shirt.  Despite it being Saturday night at a bar, this man was dressed like a.) he was on a boat, and b.) he had never been anywhere else in his life other than on a boat.  Not knowing what to say, Ashley simply pointed to the shark tooth he was wearing around his neck and said, "Sweet tooth you got there, man."  The guy looked Ashley directly in the eye and said, "Lady, I've got a shark tooth at home that's as big as your hand."  The amount of confidence in this statement led me to believe that this comment had been used to impress many, many women in the past.

Which brings me to this item.  I cannot say the shark tooth line successfully worked on Ashley, but I can't help but think that if it had been an entire set of T. rex teeth that man had mentioned having at home, well--he and Ashley would probably be married by now.

Most Practical Purchase: Lot 30, "Pair of Dinosaurs Known as 'Xenia' and 'Ben'"

[Estimate: $500,000 - 600,000]


This is a true recession special.  For an estimated $500-$600K, you get two Late Cretaceous Einiosaurus Ben procurvicornis (a Triceratops relative) skeletons for just a fraction of the price of one T. rex.  The fact that E.p. is not one of your big-name dinos definitely does not mean you aren't getting quality here!  Ahem: "The virtuoso mounting of these specimens is exemplified by the treatment of Xenia's skull, which can  be turned from side to side. The skeleton is completely modular: almost every bone can be removed from the armature for scientific study; metal clips and cradles are used to secure the bones to the armature."  Additionally, "Ben's" skull can be rotated along two planes, up-and-down as well as side-to-side."

Dude, I know exactly what I would do if I had this pair of dinosaurs.  Xenia would stay at home on display in the  living room (note to self: get way bigger house ASAP).  Then I would pull Ben along behind me all day in a giant wagon, and whenever anyone asked me a yes-or-no question, I would say, "I don't know--let me ask my DINOSAUR.  Ben, do you think we should have turkey burgers for dinner?"  Then I would shake Ben's head yes or no in response.  Because I could.

Best if You Can't Afford an Entire Duck-Billed Dinosaur: Lot 22, "Dinosaur Arm"

[Estimate: $9,000 - 11,000]


Yes, it is possible to buy a full Edmontosaurus annectens ("duck-billed dinosaur") skeleton, but like I said: bad economy.  Instead, let me recommend this tasteful single arm of the same species.  The listing boasts that this lovely arm is "offered on a custom stand," which is a relief, because I have seen those generic, non-custom Edmontosaurus annectens arm stands they sell at Kmart, and those things are CRAP.

Those are my picks, but there's plenty more to see in the auction catalog here.