• William Shatner launched to space this morning

    Captain Kirk took a brief trip to space this morning. William Shatner, 90, lifted off aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket along with crewmates Dr. Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries, and Audrey Powers. "It's indescribable," Shatner said upon landing. From the New York Times:

    Blue Origin says the crew's capsule reached a peak altitude of 65.8 miles after ascending atop New Shepard at speeds of up to 2,235 miles per hour. In all, the mission lasted 10 minutes and 17 seconds.

    "I'm so filled with emotion with what just happened," Mr. Shatner said to [Blue Origin founder Jeff] Bezos on the ground, breaking into tears. "I hope I never recover from this," he added.

    "William Shatner Awaits Launch to Edge of Space in Blue Origin Rocket" (New York Times)

  • Firefighters called to rescue woman hanging on cliff who… wasn't that

    Visitors to Hope Ranch Beach in Santa Barbara called emergency services to report a woman hanging by her fingertips on a cliff, seemingly unable to move. She was 30 feet down the rock wall and not wearing appropriate rock climbing equipment. Multiple rescue agencies responded with fire engines, utility terrain vehicles, and a drone. Shortly after arriving, they determined that no lives were in jeopardy.

    "Ended up being a mannequin from movie shoot days earlier," tweeted Daniel Bertucelli of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

    "Better to call than not," he wrote.

  • Bozo the Clown is back, thanks to David Arquette

    Before coulrophobia became cool, Bozo the Clown ruled the airwaves. Created by Alan W. Livingston, Bozo first made the scene on a children's record and book series from Capitol Records. In 1954, entertainer Larry Harmon purchased the rights and suddenly Bozo was a celebrity, appearing on TV channels across the country thanks to the magic of franchising. Tragically though, interest in Bozo began to wane and a fear of clowns overtook our culture. But now… Bozo is back, baby! Actor David Arquette has purchased the rights to Bozo from Larry Harmon Pictures.

    Apparently Arquette is creating a live interactive experience in Brooklyn, titled Empire Circus and starring good ol' Bozo!

    "Bozo represents a world of love, light, and laughter," Arquette says. "Something we can all use more of right now."

    (WGN)

    image: WGN-TV (Public Domain)
  • California man sues psychic for failing to remove curse placed by ex-girlfriend

    Mauro Retrepo is suing "Psychic Love Specialist" Sophia Adams of Palos Verdes Estates, California, for failing to help his marriage by removing a curse placed on him by a witch hired by his ex-girlfriend. According to the lawsuit, Adams read tarot cards and informed Retrepo that he was suffering from "mala suerte" (bad luck) due to the curse.

    From NBC Los Angeles:

    Adams told Restrepo that unless Adams removed the curse, Restrepo and his family would be "unhappy and in danger," the suit states.

    Adams said the bad luck would ruin Restrepo, his children, and his marriage and she demanded $5,100 to remove the curse. Restrepo gave Adams a $1,000 down payment, the suit states.

    "Despite (Adams') promises, (she) did not in any way help (Restrepo's) marriage," the suit states.

    image: John Stephen Dwyer (CC BY-SA 3.0)

  • Gentleman who allegedly dumped a cup of bedbugs at a Maine city hall will go to trial

    Charles Manning, 78, allegedly dumped a cup of bedbugs at the Augusta, Maine city hall, in 2017. He was charged with assault and obstructing governmental administration. The state reportedly offered Manning a plea deal in which they'd drop the assault and charge him $234 in restitution. Manning declined the offer. Later this month, his case will go to trial by jury. He's gone through at least five lawyers, "most of them citing an inability to communicate effectively with Manning," according to the Press Herald:

    In an interview following the reported bedbug incident at Augusta City Center, Manning said he dumped the cupful of live bedbugs because city officials were not addressing his complaints about substandard housing; specifically, that his apartment was infested with bedbugs.

    He said the bedbugs were so bad he could not sleep at night. He said he brought the bedbugs, which he had collected from his now-former apartment at 43 Court St., as proof of the infestation.

    Manning said he later realized he had dumped the bedbugs at the wrong city department — the general assistance office — after his request for financial assistance was rejected. He apparently had meant to dump the bugs at the code enforcement office, which was where he had expressed frustration previously about bedbugs at his apartment.

    (via Fark)

    image: CDC/ Harvard University (public domain)

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber thought the Cats movie was so horrible that he bought a dog. Seriously.

    Remember when Andrew Lloyd Weber's groundbreaking musical Cats (1981) was brought to the big screen in 2019? Like most of the world, Cats' creator Andrew Lloyd Webber would like to forget. In a Variety profile, the Broadway legend reveals tells us what he really thought about the Cats movie:

    "'Cats' was off-the-scale all wrong," says Lloyd Webber. "There wasn't really any understanding of why the music ticked at all. I saw it and I just thought, 'Oh, God, no.' It was the first time in my 70-odd years on this planet that I went out and bought a dog. So the one good thing to come out of it is my little Havanese puppy."

    That puppy has been a constant companion of Lloyd Webber's during lockdown. They have grown so attached that he's even figured out a way to bring the dog to New York the next time he travels to the city.

    "I wrote off and said I needed him with me at all times because I'm emotionally damaged and I must have this therapy dog," says Lloyd Webber. "The airline wrote back and said, 'Can you prove that you really need him?' And I said 'Yes, just see what Hollywood did to my musical "Cats."' Then the approval came back with a note saying, 'No doctor's report required.'"

    "Andrew Lloyd Webber on Broadway's Reopening, 'Cinderella' and Why the 'Cats' Movie Caused Him to Buy a Dog" (Variety)

  • This Nine Inch Nails/Hall & Oates mash-up is a wonderful match made in hell

    Bill McClintock brings together Hall & Oates's new wave R&B classic "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" from 1981 with the Nine Inch Nails industrial-funk hit "Closer" (1994) into an oddly killer mash-up. The guitar solo is courtesy of Iron Maiden's "Flight of the Icarus" (1983). It's the call-and-response that really makes this track:

    I want to fuck you like an animal.

    Well, I can't go for that.

    I want to feel you from the inside.

    No can do.

  • Old newspaper kiosks in San Francisco available rent free

    With print journalism dying a slow and painful death, adjacent businesses are also becoming obsolete. In San Francisco, newspaper kiosks were an early casualty, so the city's Arts Commission teamed up with the company that owns the kosks, JCDecaux, to make the 60 or so structures available rent free for creative uses. No, you can't live in them. But you can apply to use one to sell your crafts, open a 'zine stand, or turn the kiosk into a micro art gallery. Those are all examples of what people have done in the spaces. Right now, there are dozens of kiosks still available. From SFGATE:

    The only catch: The kiosk must be connected to the city in some way, whether it's themed as such or the renter lives here.[…]

    "We could have talked to corporations, of course, but that's not the spirit of what we do," [JCDecaux executive vice president Francois Nion] said. "The concept is to [showcase] local artists and nonprofits who need the space because they cannot afford another store."[…]

    Though foot traffic downtown can be minimal, especially as people continue to work from home, [artist Liz] Boeder said she's been shocked by the success of the [kiosk-based] business, which she opened in June of this year.

    "Whenever I'm there people respond really well," she said. And many even purchase her artworks. Her hand-drawn journals have been an especially big hit. But what's most surprising is that folks on their lunch break or passing through will stop to take a look and sometimes leave with a full-blown oil painting, created by Boeder herself. 

    image: newspaper stand in Frankfurt, Germany by citylovesyou_ffm (CC BY 2.0)

  • Here's how professional baseball players cheat

    Cheating at baseball is as American as, er, baseball. From corked bats to sign stealing and steroids, coming up with ways to cheat—or at least bend the rules almost to the breaking point—is something of a tradition in the sport. In the above video, Andy Martino—author of Cheated: The Inside Story of the Astros Scandal and a Colorful History of Sign Stealing—surveys the history of foul play on the field.

  • Wilco keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen's first ever band was called Lizard Music. After 25 years, they're back.

    For the last 20 years or so, my pal Mikael Jorgensen has been tickling the ivories (and twiddling the synthesizer knobs) for the mighty Wilco. But before saddling up with Jeff Tweedy and the gang, Mikael was part of a New Jersey indie rock quartet called Lizard Music. Now, Lizard Music has returned with a joyful new album, Arizone!, out this week on Omnivore Records. Watch the first video on YouTube! Here's a bit of band history from Glide Magazine:

    The band's three-decade history began in Atlantic Highlands, N.J. in 1989 when high-school friends Jorgensen and Paparozzi started learning and writing songs with a four-track cassette machine. Pillaging their parents' record collections, the two discovered the musical universes of the Beatles, Captain Beefheart, XTC, the Meters and many more. Soon after, Chris Apple and Craig Smith joined the band, forming the classic lineup.

    Their harmony-driven, surreal pop sensibility stood in stark contrast to the grungy, testosterone-addled sludge rock oozing all around at the time. After two self-released EPs, Lizard Music and Lobster T, Dave Allen (Gang of Four, Low Pop Suicide) signed them to his Los Angeles-based World Domination Records in 1993. The band released two LPs and toured extensively in the U.S. and U.K., opening for Pere Ubu and Yo La Tengo, before taking a hiatus in 1997.

  • What animal produces these very strange and long edible eggs?

    The answer is: Humans! These "long eggs" are produced in a German factory "by extruding cooked egg yolks into a long tube, then covering it with egg whites. [Video below!] One of the first of such machines was called the SANOVO 6-32 a.k.a. the 'long egg machine,'" according to Food & Wine:

    Invented in 1974, it was used to make the Danaeg Long Egg, which is still sold today—you can also buy Danaeg Pre-Sliced Long Egg. The Danaeg was not the only mass-produced egg roll to take the 1970s by storm. The Gourm-Egg from Purina Ralston (a one time owner of Jack in the Box) was discussed in a 1977 article from the New York Times entitled "Shell Shocker: Look What They've Done to Eggs."

    (via Weird Universe)

  • Large pet tarantula stranded on California roof was… not that

    In San Mateo, California, the Peninsula Humane Society dispatched an animal control officer in response to reports of a large pet tarantula stranded on a residential rooftop. The dogged officer climbed to the top of the roof only to discover that the spider was an old Halloween decoration. From UPI:

    [Peninsula Humane Society's communications manager Buffy] Tarbox said the officer brought the plastic spider back to the humane society's office in Burlingame.

    "It became this funny thing where they were placing it on various people's desks," Tarbox said. "That joke wore a little thin. It was put into the trash."

  • Wendy's is making a Frosty breakfast cereal

    Wendy's and Kellogg are teaming up to make a "limited edition" Wendy's Frosty Chocolatey Cereal. I wonder if it'll taste good to dip your breakfast hash browns in it. From CNN:

    The cereal contains chocolate-flavored marshmallow pieces that "intermingle with crispy, cocoa-coated round cereal bites." Each spoonful "evokes the irresistible taste of a Wendy's Frosty," according to a press release[…]

    Wendy's (WEN) has previously partnered with Kellogg to extend the chain's menu items from its locations to grocery shelves. Pringles, which is owned by Kellogg (K), created a potato crisp based off the flavors of a Wendy's Spicy Chicken sandwich. The company has also sold Baconator-flavored Pringles.

  • Elijah Wood says one of the Lord of the Rings orcs' faces was modeled on Harvey Weinstein

    Lord of the Rings start Elijah Wood says that the face of one of the nasty orcs seen in the film was based on the equally grotesque Harvey Weinstein. Apparently during the period that Lord of the Rings was in development at Miramax, Weinstein was a bully to director Peter Jackson, attempting to control how the films would be made and threatening to fire him. Eventually, Jackson struck a deal with New Line Cinema to make the films he wanted to make. And that included having one of the orcs' faces modeled on Weinstein. Here's Wood speaking on the Armchair Expert podcast:

    "It's funny, this was recently spoken about because Dom [Monaghan] and Bill [Boyd, who played Hobbits Merry and Pippin in the trilogy] have a podcast, The Friendship Onion. They were talking to Sean Astin [who played Samwise] about his first memory of getting to New Zealand. He had seen these orc masks. And one of the orc masks—and I remember this vividly—was designed to look like Harvey Weinstein as a sort of a fuck you.

    "I think that is OK to talk about now, the guy is fucking incarcerated. Fuck him."

    (Hollywood Reporter)

  • Your auto insurance will not cover you for spreading an STD while having sex in your car

    When the rubber hits the road… A woman identified in Kansas court records only as M.O. demanded that Geico pay her $1 million for a claim she filed against a driver who allegedly infected her with human papillomavirus (HPV) when the couple had sex in his car. Geico sued for a declaratory judgement that their auto policies "do not provide coverage for M.O.'s alleged injuries." The company won. From the Memorandum and Order:

    Among other things, GEICO alleges that the auto policy only applies to bodily injuries arising "out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the … auto," and that M.O.'s alleged damages have no nexus to the ownership, maintenance, or covered use of the 2014 Hyundai Genesis. In other words, the vehicle's covered use did not cause M.O.'s alleged injuries; instead, her injuries arose from an intervening cause—namely, her failure to prevent transmission of STDs by having unprotected sex. Likewise, the umbrella policy does not provide coverage because it only applies if the auto policy provides coverage. GEICO also asserts that various policy exclusions preclude coverage under the umbrella policy.

    .

    While the legal outcome seems reasonable, the comment that it's "her failure" that resulted in the infection is rather offensive.

    (via Reason)

  • Dave Grohl demonstrates his impressive ability to drum with his teeth and also confesses to being a "UFO nerd"

    As a child, Dave Grohl developed the habit of drumming by clicking his teeth together. He demonstrates in the video below. Also during this BBC News interview, he also confesses to being a "UFO nerd" but that should come as no surprise given that he named his band the Foo Fighters after the term US pilots in World War II used to refer to UFOs. From the BBC News:

    What did you think of the supposed UFO images that the US government released this summer?

    Oh, I'm a total UFO nerd and I have been for decades. So I've been following it – but what's happening now, I don't think is new.

    I'm of the belief that that we are not alone, and I'm totally okay with that, you know? It doesn't really change my day too much. But I'm the romantic type. When I look up at the stars I think, "God, I hope we're not alone." What a drag that would be.

  • The original Poohsticks Bridge from Winnie the Pooh is for sale

    The rickety 1907 bridge that became famous from AA Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh stories is going up for auction. Originally known as Posingford Bridge and later renamed Poohsticks Bridge, it was replaced in 1999 by a recreation that could handle all the tourist visits. It's now been repaired using local oak and estimated to hit as much as ÂŁ60,000, but I bet it'll go higher. From Summers Place Auctions:

    Originally known as Posingford Bridge, Christopher Robin played  on it as a child in the 1920's with his father, the author A.A. Milne, inventing  the game of Pooh sticks which provided the  inspiration  for the  subsequent books.  

    First mentioned in The House at Pooh Corner It  describes how Pooh accidentally drops a pine cone into a river from a bridge and after watching how it appeared on the other side of the bridge, devises the rules for Poohsticks. It subsequently appeared in later books being played by the  other main characters, Christopher Robin, Eeyore and Tigger and was immortalised in E.H Shepard's illustrations. 

    (UPI)

  • Gentleman posted photo of catalytic converter for sale online seemingly unaware of huge bag of meth in the background

    A gentleman in Stone County, Missouri posted a fine-looking catalytic converter for sale, new in box, on Facebook, Marketplace last week. Not included in the listed price was the huge bag of methamphetamine, needle, syringe, or spoon visible on the coffee table in the background. A potential buyer saw the photo and called the fuzz. From a police social media post about the incident:

    "Today we arrived at this gentleman's house with a search warrant. You can imagine his surprise!! He still had 48 grams of meth and a pistol that he is forbidden to own! We have now provided him a new place to stay. Sorry folks, his catalytic converters are not for sale right now.

    "Take note, if you are selling items on social media, make sure your drugs are not in the background!"

    (CNN)

  • This is the era of the book blob

    For several years now, bookstores are overflowing with blobs of amorphous shape and warm colors. In Print magazine, RE Hawley explores the book jacket trend of the decade. From Print:

    This design trend, well into its third or fourth year in the major publishing houses, has attracted plenty of nicknames and attendant discourse online—culture critic Jeva Lange calls it "blobs of suggestive colors," while writer Alana Pockros calls it the "unicorn frappuccino cover," and New Yorker writer Kyle Chayka once referred to it on Twitter as "the Zombie Formalism of book covers."[…]

    Among books bestowed with The Book Cover, too, some common factors jump out. They are usually fiction and nearly always written by women, often women of color. They have literary sensibility but broad enough appeal to contend for the bestseller list; they're the sort of books that generate a good deal of buzz and media coverage, likely candidates for an Oprah Book Club nod or a spot on a major literary prize's shortlist.

    (via Kottke)