• Satanic Temple rents space at Ohio public school for "After-School Satan Club," unsurprisingly angers some parents

    The nonprofit Satanic Temple has rented space at at a Lebanon, Ohio elementary school to host one of its "After-School Satan Clubs." According to a flier, the club's activities include "Science Projects! Puzzles & Games! Arts and Crafts Projects! Nature Activities!"

    From a Lebanon Schools statement:

    A local resident and taxpayer of Lebanon City Schools contacted The Satanic Temple and requested that they begin a chapter in Lebanon and to start the after-school club. They completed the required application, the facility use agreement, and provided the necessary documentation, and were approved. 

    Nevertheless, the club has raised a helluva pearl-clutching controversy among some parents, sparking "shock" and "anger."

    From WCPO:

    According to The Satanic Temple, After School Satan Clubs meet at public schools where [Christian] Good News Clubs also exist. The group says meetings do not include religious instruction, instead focusing on "free inquiry and rationalism."

    [School superintendent Isaac W.] Seevers said the Good News Club, which is also not affiliated with the district or any school, has met at Donovan Elementary School for years. A 2001 Supreme Court ruling states school facilities must be made available to all groups or no groups. The district and board of education's policies allow for community use of its facilities after school.

    "The district does not and is not legally allowed to discriminate against any groups who wish to rent our facilities, including religiously-affiliated groups," Seevers said.

    (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)

  • Watch this newly discovered footage of Joey Ramone's glam rock band before The Ramones

    In 1972, Jeff Hyman (aka Joey Ramone) was making the scene at Max's Kansas City and the Mercer Arts Center playing in his band Sniper in concert lineups that included the New York Dolls and Suicide.

    "I used to wear this custom-made black jumpsuit, these like pink, knee-high platform boots- all kinds of rhinestones- lots of dangling belts and gloves," Ramone was quoted as saying in I Slept with Joey Ramone: A Punk Rock Family Memoir.

    Two years later, Jeff would co-found The Ramones while Sniper's guitarist Frank Infante eventually joined Blondie.

    As David Katznelson writes in his essential Signal newsletter, "It is so strange to hear Joey's signature voice not framed by Johnny's guitar or Dee Dee's 1-2-3-4 call out to start each song. Proto-punk? Full on."

  • Purported leaked photos of the strip club, opulent theater, and bathroom inside Putin's alleged secret palace

    The Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) led by imprisoned Russian politician/activist Alexei Navalny has released hundreds of photos purportedly from inside Putin's opulent secret palace near Gelendzhik on the Black Sea. Above and below, photos said to be of the strip club, theater, and a bathroom. Video about the leaked photos is below and more of the images are here. From Insider:

    In January 2021, [FBK] said Putin had secretly been building a 17,691-square-meter palace at a cost of 100 billion rubles, or about $1.3 billion, since 2014.

    The foundation said the palace was being built near Gelendzhik on the Black Sea. The foundation said it was funded through a corruption scheme in which Putin's inner circle paid the president for access and influence.

    At the time, the Kremlin denied the claims. "These are all absolutely unfounded statements. This is pure nonsense and a compilation, and there is nothing else there," the Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said[…]

    In a statement last year, Navalny said the palace and grounds had security fences, a port, a church, a no-fly zone, a border checkpoint, a wine cave, a theater, a gym, a pool, an "aquadisco," and an ice-hockey rink.

    "It's like a separate state inside of Russia," Navalny said. "And in this state, there is a single and irreplaceable czar: Putin."

  • Watch the late Meat Loaf's rousing performance in the Rocky Horror Picture Show

    With news of Meat Loaf's death today, it's a perfect moment to remember his unforgettable performance as Eddie ("Deadie") in the Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). From Wikipedia:

    In late 1973, Meat Loaf was cast in the original L.A. Roxy cast of The Rocky Horror Show, playing the parts of Eddie and Dr. Everett Scott… The success of the musical led to the filming of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in which Meat Loaf played only Eddie, a decision he said made the movie not as good as the musical. About the same time, Meat Loaf and Steinman started work on Bat Out of Hell. Meat Loaf convinced Epic Records to shoot videos for four songs, "Bat Out of Hell", "Paradise by the Dashboard Light", "You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth", and "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad". He then convinced Lou Adler, the producer of Rocky Horror, to run the "Paradise" video as a trailer to the movie… Meat Loaf later returned occasionally to perform "Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul" for a special Rocky Horror reunion or convention, and rarely at his own live shows (one performance of which was released in the 1996 Live Around the World CD set).

    During his recording of the soundtrack for Rocky Horror, Meat Loaf recorded two more songs: "Stand by Me" (a Ben E. King cover) [listen below], and "Clap Your Hands". They remained unreleased until 1984, when they appeared as B-sides to the "Nowhere Fast" single.

  • Watch this gentleman shoplift an $8,000 guitar by stuffing it down his pants

    Aurora, Ontario police are seeking a thief who shoplifted an $8,000 guitar from a music store by shoving it down his baggy pants. Surveillance footage above. After grabbing the guitar, he played it cool by briefly playing another one before leaving the shop. The stolen guitar is a Gibson Custom Shop 60th Anniversary '59 Les Paul Standard.

    Police describe the gentleman as "Wearing extremely large, baggy pants, a black coat and a Toronto Maple Leafs baseball hat."

    Amazingly, this method of guitar theft is not particularly uncommon:

  • Dun, Dun Duuun! The mysterious past of the ubiquitous three notes of suspense

    Dun, Dun Duuun! Listen to it below. The three-note musical sting of suspense is everywhere and has seemingly been around forever. You can hear it on screen all the way back to Disney's Fantasia (1940) and in countless radio dramas before that. But where did it originate? From The Guardian:

    Suspense, an American horror show broadcast on CBS Radio between 1942 and 1962, was filled to the brim with sound effects and dramatic stings. Just over three minutes into its first episode (after bells, the sound of a train, and plenty of piano), a three-beat sting lingers on its last note when a man discovers his wife is potentially an undead poisoner. But it's difficult to pinpoint the very first on-air dun dun duuun, and it's likely the musical phrase predates the radio. [Media professor and Terror on the Air! author Richard] Hand says the medium tended to adopt already popular tropes to entice listeners. "They imported that musical structure and musical language," he says, pointing to Victorian stage melodramas.

    In fact, Patrick Feaster – an expert in the preservation of early sound media, and co-founder of the First Sounds Initiative – argues that dun dun duuun could have been a cliche long before the advent of radio drama. Though he doesn't know when or where the three duns arose, he points out that stings "that work in much the same way" appeared in the 1912 melodrama parody Desperate Desmond by comedian Fred Duprez.

    In a recording of the sketch which can be heard on the US Library of Congress website, Duprez mocks melodramas by telling a story and rebutting the incongruous sounds that play between the action (when a villain enters with a dramatic sting and a clip-clop, he exasperatedly says, "Not on a horse! Just on his feet!").

    Though the stings heard in this sketch are single duns (sans the follow -up dun and duuun), Feaster says: "It seems stinger chords must have been entrenched enough in melodrama by 1912 to invite parody." He guesses that the three-beat version may have then come to be preferred for satire, "because it's more conspicuous than a single all-at-once chord would be."

    image (edited): pathdoc/Shutterstock.com

  • Internet vending machines sell Web access in five minute increments

    In the Philippines, personal Internet access is far too expensive for many people. As a result, folks in rural areas and slums go online via pisonet machines—public vending machines that sell Internet access in five minute increments for one peso (approximately two US cents.) From Rest of the World:

    Even with coronavirus lockdowns and curfews, pisonet businesses are somehow surviving; schoolchildren are devoted clients, feeding in a stream of pesos to complete classwork or to lose themselves in multiplayer games. The machines crop up in the run-down alleyways of central Manila, where, according to various groups, an estimated 60% of people in low-income neighborhoods don't own laptops or smartphones.

    As the pandemic spread through the Philippines in early 2020, distancing meant that more people required an internet connection to pay bills, make transactions, study, and work. Its poorest residents weren't exempt, even if they didn't have the same access. When schooling morphed into what public officials called "blended learning," a mix of online lectures and printed-out modules, schoolchildren scrambled to pisonet machines, sometimes dropping in a peso and taking photos of their online syllabuses before rushing home to complete them[…]

    Pisonet machines have roots in the Philippine style of consumerism known as tingi, which refers to the practice of buying bit by bit, at need, rather than in advance. In the city, a reliable internet service can cost around 1,300 pesos (roughly $25) monthly — far too expensive for many residents to pay upfront. Rather, in the same way these Filipinos buy shampoo and cigarettes piecemeal, they have grown into the habit of consuming their internet a single use at a time.

    (via NextDraft)

    image: "First Peso Net on March 2010 Build by: Junaid Ibrahim" by Naidz24 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

  • Gentleman steals car without noticing person napping in the back

    In Tiffin, Ohio, Justin M. Vaughn jacked a white Audi without realizing that another man was snoozing in the back seat. The passenger woke up and quietly texted police for help. From WTRF:

    Police say they were able to perform a slow-speed vehicle termination maneuver, to end the pursuit.

    Vaughn was taken into custody and charged with felony Agg robbery, Kidnapping, Theft of a motor vehicle, and fleeing & eluding police.

  • Mitch McConnell: "African-American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans"

    Yep, that's what he said. Video evidence below.

    Reporter: "What's your message for voters of color who are concerned that without the John L. Lewis Voting Rights Act they're not going to be able to vote in the midterm?"

    McConnell: "Well, the concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans."

    (Thanks, UPSO!)

    image: Donkey Hotey / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

  • Emergency statewide phone alert seeking the Joker's purple and green car was a mistake

    Yesterday in Missouri, residents' mobile phones dinged with an emergency alert about a suspicious vehicle described as a purple and green 1978 Dodge 3700 GT with the license plate "UKIDME." Batman fans will recognize that as the car driven by the Joker's goons in the 1989 film.

    A few minutes later, the Missouri State Highway Patrol followed up: "This was meant to be a test message, THERE WAS NO ALERT."

    Of course that's what the Joker would want us to think.

    From the Riverfront Times:

    In short, someone pressed the wrong button.

    "Today, a routine test of Missouri's Blue Alert system was inadvertently sent to wireless devices statewide," the patrol said in a statement posted to its website shortly after 6:30 pm on Tuesday. "During the test, an option was incorrectly selected, allowing the message to be disseminated to the public. There is no Emergency Alert at this time. The Patrol appreciates the public's understanding and support of the Emergency Alert program."

  • Body rolled up in carpet inside car was something else

    On Sunday, police in Cambridgeshire, England responded to reports that a car was racing down the M11 highway with a body rolled up in a carpet. According to witnesses, a pair of feet were visible sticking through the car window.

    According to a police report, the officers "managed to track the vehicle down in Angel Drove, Ely where our officers discovered there were indeed a pair of feet… belonging to a mannequin dressed as Prince Charming 🤴🏼 who was on his way to a themed birthday🎈 !

    "Advice was given to the driver to avoid such circumstances occurring again!"


  • This weird mouse with a tuft of human hair could be the future of a stem cell treatment for baldness

    Researchers are harnessing the tools of genetic engineering to develop potential treatments for human hair loss. dNovo, a biotech startup, claims to have reprogrammed human stem cells into follicle-forming cells and transferred them into the mouse above which you can see has grown a nice tuft, albeit in an odd location. From Technology Review:

    In addition to dNovo, a company called Stemson (its name is a portmanteau of "stem cell" and "Samson") has raised $22.5 million from funders including from the drug company AbbVie. Cofounder and CEO Geoff Hamilton says his company is transplanting reprogrammed cells onto the skin of mice and pigs to test the technology[…]

    So is stem-cell technology going to cure baldness or become the next false hope? Hamilton, who was invited to give the keynote at this year's Global Hair Loss Summit, says he tried to emphasize that the company still has plenty of research ahead of it. "We have seen so many [people] come in and say they have a solution. That has happened a lot in hair, and so I have to address that," he says. "We're trying to project to the world that we are real scientists and that it's risky to the point I can't guarantee it's going to work."

    image: dNovo

  • Here are the world's oldest drinking straws, used to sip beer in ancient times

    The gold and silver tubes above, dating back more than 5,000 years, are likely the world's oldest drinking straws still in existence. The tubes, more than a meter long, were excavated in North Caucasus, Russia back in 1897 and long thought to have been canopy poles for a funeral service or royal scepters. Now though, researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences argue that the tubes were likely used by groups to sip beer from a shared vessel. From The Guardian:

    "If correct, these objects represent the earliest material evidence of drinking through long tubes – a practice that became common during feasts in the third and second millennia BC in the ancient near east," the researchers wrote.

    Writing in the journal Antiquity, the team suggest the items are drinking straws "designed for sipping a type of beverage that required filtration during consumption".

    Prof Augusta McMahon of the University of Cambridge, who was not involved in the research, said the work was very convincing, adding that the proposed purpose was fancy but functional.

    "Beer in the past was probably 'chunky' with sediment, and filter straws were a necessary implement," she said…

  • Megachurch pastor sorry for rubbing spit all over man's face during sermon

    Tulsa, Oklahoma megachurch pastor Mike Todd apologized after the above video went viral depicting him spitting in his hand and rubbing it on a man's face during a sermon.

    "Receiving vision from God might get nasty," he told his congregants.

    After he does the deed, the audience is audibly shocked, prompting Todd to say, "How you just reacted is how the people in your life will react when God is doing what it takes for the miracle."

    Turns out the man who got the spit bath was Todd's brother, but still.

    From Yahoo! News:

    "I was trying to make the word come alive," he said of the video[…]

    "It's never my intention to distract others from God's Word and the message of Jesus… even with illustrations!" Todd wrote on Twitter. "I apologize for my example being too extreme and disgusting! I Love Everybody."

  • Dumb US Capitol rioters called Nancy Pelosi's office looking for items they lost or left behind

    In the days following the Capitol Riots of January 7, 2021, some of the idiots who stormed into the building called the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to ask about items like mobile phones or purses they lost or left behind during the chaos. This tidbit is according to Rep. Jamie Raskin who spoke to Insider:

    "The officers quickly got on the phone and said, yeah, just give us your name, your address, your social, you know, and we'll tie up those loose ends," Raskin said. "But what's so fascinating to me about that there really were people who felt as if they had been summoned to Washington by the president." […]

    The seemingly self-incriminating phone calls, Raskin explained, were also an indicator of how central former President Donald Trump was to the thousands of Americans who came to DC for a protest and ended up storming the Capitol.

    Raskin added that the "lost and found" episode also demonstrates a challenge facing the House select committee investigating January 6, where Raskin is one of the Democratic members.

    "And when they were told that they were trespassing and invading the Capitol, they said the president invited them to be there," he said. "They didn't have any kind of subtle understanding of the separation of powers. They just thought that the number one person in the US government had invited them to be there, and therefore they had a right.

    (via Dave Pell's NextDraft)

    image: US Capitol Photo – https://twitter.com/robertpjones/status/1346923972592496641/photo/1 (public domain)

  • More shark attacks happen during the full moon

    Perhaps sharks are water werewolves. Marine biologists studied more than 50 years of global data from the International Shark Attack File and found a clear correlation between shark attacks and the fuller phases of the moon. From LSU:

    "It's not a matter of more light at night for sharks to see. Most shark attacks occur in the daylight. However, the moon can exert other forces on Earth and its oceans in ways that are much more subtle—for example, the gravitation pull that we see affect the tides," Steve Midway, LSU associate professor and researcher on the project said[…]

    The scientists say it is still too early to demonstrate that lunar illumination is a causative factor for shark attacks. However, their new data serves as a building block towards better understanding shark attacks and could be useful for developing recommendations for water-based recreational activities in the future. 

    "Shark Side of the Moon: Are Shark Attacks Related to Lunar Phase?" (Frontiers in Marine Science)

    image: Alexius Sutandio/Shutterstock.com

  • Watch a plane land at the "world's most dangerous airport"

    Built in 1964 under the direction of pioneering Mount Everest mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the Lukla Airport (aka Tenzing-Hillary Airport) in Nepal is considered "the most dangerous airport in the world." Below, a video of a plane landing there and the cockpit view from another landing. From Wikipedia:

    Arriving and departing aircraft must use a single runway[…] There is a low prospect of a successful go-around on short final approach due to the terrain. There is high terrain immediately beyond the northern end of the runway and a steeply angled drop at the southern end of the runway into the valley below.

    Due to the difficulties of successfully landing at the airport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal sets high standards, according to which only experienced pilots, who have completed at least 100 short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) missions, have over one year of STOL experience in Nepal, and have completed ten flights into Lukla with a certified instructor pilot, are allowed to land at the airport.

  • Daniel Radcliffe will play Weird Al Yankovic in new biopic

    Daniel Radcliffe is set to play Weird Al Yankovic in a new biopic titled Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. It will air on, er, the Roku Channel. From the Hollywood Reporter:

    Yankovic and Eric Appel penned the screenplay, with Appel directing the film and executive producing. Funny or Die and Tango are producing the feature, which begins filming in Los Angeles in early February. (Funny or Die, Yankovic and Appel produced a fake trailer [below] in 2010 for Weird: The Al Yankovic Story where Aaron Paul starred as Yankovic.)[…]

    "When my last movie UHF came out in 1989, I made a solemn vow to my fans that I would release a major motion picture every 33 years, like clockwork. I'm very happy to say we're on schedule," said Yankovic. "And I am absolutely thrilled that Daniel Radcliffe will be portraying me in the film. I have no doubt whatsoever that this is the role future generations will remember him for."

    Added Appel: "When Weird Al first sat me down against my will and told me his life story, I didn't believe any of it, but I knew that we had to make a movie about it."