Foster an Orphan Elephant

Just over two years ago I posted a video here titled “I Will Always Remember You.” Among the many pieces I’ve done for Boing Boing both before and after, it remains the piece most read, and the video most watched.

The subject is the poaching of elephants and the orphaned young elephants who are then left alone. Elephants are extremely smart and social creatures, and the young stay with their mothers, for whom they depend on food, for three to four years. When the mother is killed, the youngster often dies.

The poaching of elephants for their tusks is no closer to being stopped than it was two years ago. Few want to look at horrible photographs of slaughtered animals, which is what makes this piece of animation so important and powerful.

Please watch this and consider donating to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an organization which cares for young elephants whose mothers have been slain.

If the video doesn’t move you, then you have a heart of stone. For a mere $50 you can foster an orphan elephant.

From The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust:

Every orphan of poaching once had a family. As Hugo Guinness’ moving animation shows, at our Nursery, we offer hope, a future and a second chance at life to victims of the ivory trade. This is their story. ‪#‎RememberMe‬ - Please share this film far and wide! Survivors, like the orphan elephant in the film, have the opportunity to not only live, but to go on and start their own families back in the wild.

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Franz Harary Produces a Marching Band

You likely haven’t heard of magician Franz Harary, an American whose fame and fortune have come from performing mostly in Asia. Not only is Franz a fine performer, but he’s also one of the most respected creators of illusions.

Recently he produced an entire marching band—I kid you not—using one of his own methods. No CGI here folks, just a magician doing something really clever that will leave you bewildered. Read the rest

The Glory of the Fluffernutter

As a tail-end Baby Boomer, many memories of the early 1960s linger even as I’ve just turned 60 (of which I can only say, Holy She-it!). The talented jingle composers of the ’60s had no peers when it came to luring young viewers with catchy toons into needling their parents endlessly for something we wanted. The catchier the tune, the longer it lingered in our minds, and the more we begged. A $10 toy was a difficult “get,” but marshmallow fluff was inexpensive, and thus required less whining and persuasion.

This brings me to one of the great joys of my childhood: the fluffernutter. And you can revisit my ancient memory here.

So, having watched the video, you know that a fluffernutter is made from putting peanut butter (smooth, not crunchy) and marshmallow fluff (a lot, not a little) on squishy white bread (not toasted, and not wheat). If you use crunchy peanut butter, toast the bread, use whole wheat bread, put Nutella on the damn thing, or commit any other accursed act such as putting bacon on the sandwich, I’m done with you.

What the heck is a Fluffernutter? Who named it? Where did it come from? How long have people been eating this thing? With the somewhat trustworthy help of TrickyPedia. and Boston.com, I shall answer your questions because you can’t really allow your day to proceed until the facts are known.

Would you believe that there are three competing claims for the invention of fluff? Who knew. Read the rest

New York Filmed in 1929 with Sound

I was in New York City this past weekend—a place where no one uses the word “Manhattan”—and spent some time fighting the other pedestrians in order to walk down the street, and fighting the cars to cross from Third Avenue to Second Avenue.

New York is always insanely busy. I lived there until 31 years of age and couldn’t wait to get out. I had assumed, perhaps naively, that it was a more peaceful place almost a century ago. Apparently not!

What is surprising about the two videos below, which were apparently filmed with a camera on the back of a flatbed truck while driving around, is how crowded the city was even in 1929. The sounds of streetcars and people are omnipresent. The city looks more interesting, and more appealing, in black and white. Color often makes it seem garish or dirty ... at least to me.

Now for your bit of time travel today.

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Spend 5 Minutes as a Piece of Sushi

When I was a little kid, really little, my mother used to take me to a luncheonette in Rego Park, Queens, where there was a model train running on a circular track around the counter. They would put your food on it in the kitchen and the train would chug along until it came to where you were sitting. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen next to Robot Commando. The joint was called The Hamburger Train and here's an article about it. (The photographs—yes, photographs actually exist—are courtesy of Mark Lewis, grandson of the original owner.)

I am always amazed at how my distant memories can be found in some form or other on the internet. And that’s all it is: a memory. Restaurants today make more money when they can take a cut of the server’s tips. You don’t see any automats any more, either.

In Japan, food delivered on conveyer belts is very common, particularly sushi. The system was invented in 1958 by Yoshiaki Shiraishi. Today there are countless pieces of sushi rolling forth on conveyer belts around the world, but The Hamburger Train beat the sushi by taking its first trip on the railroad tracks in 1954.

Regardless, have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a little piece of raw fish watching the world go by? Now’s your chance.

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Hollywood Stars in Bizarre Japanese TV Commercials

Many movie stars who would never deign to lower themselves to making TV commercials in the United States have been cashing in by doing exactly that overseas for years, knowing full well that their images for their U.S. audiences won’t be sullied by their pimping for big bucks by selling everything from coffee to wieners to cars.

The champion at luring American movie stars are the Japanese, who routinely pay obscene amounts of money to get a big “American” name and face in one of their companies’ commercials. Rarely do the stars attempt to speak in Japanese; mostly they speak one word in English, often loudly. What’s taking place around them is often bizarre, which could be because it’s Japan, or to draw attention away from the fact that the star’s face is usually only seen for a few seconds.

I thought you’d like to see a few compilations of these I stumbled across on YouTube. There are lots more, but these should give you a few giggles to start. • Arnold Schwarzenegger yelling and selling an energy drink? • Jackie Chan fighting his way to a meal of instant noodles? • Brooke Shields shilling Japanese shampoo? • Eric Clapton pimping Honda automobiles? • Arnold Schwarzenegger beating the crap out of instant noodle dough? • Miles Davis selling TDK audio cassettes? • Richard Gere luring you onto Japan Airlines’ non-stop flights to Washington, D.C.? • Michael J. Fox pimping more Honda autos? • Glenn Fry slurping Canada Dry? • Sylvester Stallone selling dancing sausages? Read the rest

The Cast of Gilligan's Island Reunited in 1988

Via the miracle of society's visual memory on Youtube, you can see the entire cast of Gilligan's Island reunited on a Fox talk show in 1988.

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Cross the street in Iceland and float through the air

The wonderful French expression Trompe L’oeil—which translates to “fools the eye”—in this case describes a type of painting, done on the pavement, which is making the roads safer for people around the world. From Canada to India, from Britain to Iceland, optical illusions painted on roadways are causing drivers to slow down and save lives. From “Stella” on Bored Panda:

In the small fishing town of Ísafjörður, Iceland, an exciting development in road safety has just popped up—almost literally. A new pedestrian crossing has been painted that appears to be 3D by way of a cleverly-detailed optical illusion. Not only does the innovative design give foot-travelers the feeling of walking on air, it also gets the attention of drivers, who will be sure to slow down their speed once they spot the seemingly floating ‘zebra stripes.’ Icelandic environmental commissioner Ralf Trylla called for its placement in Ísafjörður after seeing a similar project being carried out in New Delhi, India. With the help of street painting company Vegmálun GÍH, his vision became a reality.

The definitive piece by the BBC can be found here.

Even when you see it being painted the illusion is too strong to ignore.

Image credits: Gústi Productions Via Bored Panda. Read the rest

The Snotty Chef

Continuing my lead up to Thanksgiving with yet another post displaying the highest in class and culture, today I am pleased to share with you one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in kitchenware.

It’s an egg-white separator and, while its clever design deserves kudos, do we really need to see gobs of seemingly snotty glop pouring out of his nose? Yes, perhaps we do.

The company knows exactly what it’s selling:

If you're looking for the most disgusting way to separate your egg yolks from your egg whites, look no further. The Bogeyman, as so he's called is a ceramic coffee mug-looking device that allows you to easily separate your egg whites from the yolks by straining it through his nostrils. Not only is quite disgusting, but there's just something quite satisfying about watching the goopy egg whites slowly make their way through his nostrils. You almost get that same refreshing feeling after emptying your own nostrils while you have a plugged-up nose.

Priced at under $11 at Oddity Mall, if you want this you already know it. Read the rest

Check out Mrs. Brown's Boys

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! I’ve watched a lot of British TV in my day, but never have I seen anything like Mrs. Brown’s Boys. I’ve about pissed me self laughin’! This award-winning situation comedy is about an Irish family and stars Brendan O’Carroll, a gent, cross-dressing as the rude and rowdy old lady Mrs. Agnes Brown. The show is noted for its unrelenting crude humor and is hugely popular in the United Kingdom. I’m not going to tell you anything else except to watch these clips (be prepared to laugh heartily, unless you’re a prude or burdened with good taste, in which case you should most definitely not watch them at all).

And the whole series is available on DVD at amazon. Read the rest

This Amazing Crazy “Tiny” Drink is a Meal for Two @nerdvana

My mother used to make an incredible grilled cheese sandwich. It was neither greasy nor too buttery, but simultaneously buttery and toasty. The bread was pan fried golden brown with a nice crunch on the exterior, and it was evenly cooked all the way around and all the way through. I’ve never seen another one like it until last week, when I happened to be in Frisco, Texas, eating at the one-year old restaurant @nerdvana. I had not ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, nor had anyone at my table. But someone had ordered a drink by the name of Tiny Tina’s TKO, which appears on the brunch menu. The first thing you should know is that Tiny Tina’s TKO costs 20 bucks. If that sounds expensive for a drink, you should also know that it will feed two people. That’s brunch for two, with alcoholic beverage, for $20 (plus tax and tip). That’s about what you’d pay to eat at McD’s, but instead you will find yourself in @nerdvana, which is heaven for nerds, gamers, and folks who just like good food and spirits. The portion in Tiny Tina’s glass is a killer Bloody Mary, while the skewers towering from the glass include two hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, bacon, celery, a big-ass Jalapeño pepper, and an entire grilled cheese sandwich cut into quarters. The only thing I ate was the grilled cheese sandwich, and it was mighty fine. My mama would have been proud. @nerdvana is one year old and owned and run by Kristy Junio-Pitchford. Read the rest

The Deepest Dive of My Dreams

I was kerplotzing around the internet today and upon seeing this video had the craziest thought: I’ve been in this place.

Now since it involves free diving in the world’s deepest pool, in Italy, there’s no way I’ve even seen the place. Also can’t hold my breath for squat. Tried that recently while watching my friend David Blaine hold his breath for almost 11 minutes in a tank of water. I was really glad that he was in the tank and not me, since I was gasping at the 90 second mark.

David Blaine Photographed by Asi Wind

Thinking about the imagery in the video (below), it occurred to me that I was remembering a dream I’ve had many times about swimming underwater in a pool almost identical to this. A creepy feeling. What is it about this pool that seems like a dream … or a nightmare?

On a single breath of air, Guillaume Néry explores the deepest pool in the world in Italy: Y40. The action is filmed on breath hold by his wife Julie Gautier. Find all their productions on: www.lesfilmsengloutis.com

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Houdini Honey Badger Escapes Every Time

From a nature show on BBC 2, here's the story of a Honey Badger who cannot be confined! He’s smarter than Houdini. Read the rest

James Brown and the $600 Cup Noodle Cooker

Just one of those odd internetal coincidences: the meeting of The Godfather of Soul, Cup Noodles, and a big-bucks doodad for wealthy folks in Japan. Let’s start with the show, with Mr. James Brown shilling for Cup Noodle in a Japanese TV commercial to the tune of his hit “Get Up.” Though he is often hard to understand, here there is a reason: he’s shouting in Japanese, and it’s not about being a sex machine.

Of course you all know what Cup Noodles are. Large cups of salt with a few noodles and bits of dried veggies and some sort of meat. But they are delicious, reliable, and convenient as hell. I once took a trip to a country which shall remain unidentified, whose food I was warned in advance was “speculative,” and traveled with an entire suitcase of Cup Noodle. Ate it lunch and dinner for two weeks using the little tea maker in my hotel room to boil water. Compared to the offal, slugs, dog, and horse my friends were stuck eating I felt quite pleased with myself.

The Japanese company Nissin has been making numerous varieties of instant noodles for many decades. Instant ramen (the noodly stuff) was invented in 1958 by Momofuku Ando. His secret was to flash fry the noodles. The idea of putting them in a cup came later, in 1971. In Japan, the different types of instant noodle dishes sold in cups and bowls, ready for hot water, takes up an entire aisle in the supermarket—you can’t imagine the huge number of varieties and different dishes. Read the rest

Make the Haunted Mansion's Hitching Ghosts Who Follow You Home

The Haunted Mansion, no matter what Disney park it’s in (California, Orlando, Paris, or Tokyo), has been a fan favorite since it opened at Disneyland in 1969. For years even The Walt Disney Company would refer to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as the last attraction which Walt personally supervised, but that’s baloney. Walt was shown concept art and models of many of the effects that would appear in The Haunted Mansion which eventually opened years after his death.

Which brings me to today’s Halloween offering. The three Hitchhiking Ghosts appear infrequently in the ride, however they have become the iconic characters most identified with it. Years ago, Disney published three paper sculptures on The Disney Blog that allowed you to download, print out, and construct three very special models of the Hitchhiking Ghosts—their heads turn and follow you as you pass them by.

The effect is based upon the ancient optical illusion known as The Hollow Face. Most simply, a cast of a face is made in a concave (or negative) sculpture. If you look at the cast with one eye closed and walk by it, the face will appear to turn and follow your movement. The Walt Disney Company obtained a patent on a new process that lit the reversed face in such a way that it was more easily viewable while both eyes are open. These busts appear several times in its Haunted Mansions.

To see the sculptures created for you to download by Disney, watch this movie (since the camera has only one eye, the turning effect works very well). Read the rest

A Halloween Treat: A Monster Mash Mashup

Bobby Pickett’s song “The Monster Mash,” was first released in August 1962 as a 45 (that was a tiny record just larger than a CD that held one song on each side—a “single”—for those of you younger than … me). It was written by Bobby Pickett and Leonard L. Capizzi and although it’s a silly novelty song, it has endured as deeply as any of the rock and roll classics that appeared at the same time. Everyone knows “The Monster Mash”! If my dead grandma popped out of the ground and started to sing, there’s no question what tune would emerge from her desiccated lips.

So, since Halloween is upon us, here’s a trio of videos in the spirit of the season. First up is Bobby Picket singing his original tune at the time of its release; second is one of the many mashups of clips from monster movies set to the tune (this one relies heavily on the fabulous flick Carnival of Souls—an excellent choice to watch on the 31st); and finally there’s a genuinely creative parody (a parody of a parody!) from The Key of Awesome that brings the song up to date and tweaks the simple horrors of earlier decades. Enjoy them … while you can.

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Don't Look at My Nipples

Free the nipple! Cover the nipple! Free the nipple! Cover the nipple!

Kind of like our country right now.

If you were to read the title of this post you would assume that it refers to female nipples—that which dare not be revealed. However in this case it refers to male nipples … in Japan.

It’s so hot and humid in Japan during the summer that sweat pours off you continuously while outside. There’s no way to keep a shirt (or anything else) dry. Evidently Japanese women are offended by the slightest protuberance a man’s nipples might cause through his shirt.

Over at SoraNews 24, there have been multiple articles on this issue—like half a dozen over the last few years:

Unlike women, men don’t have to worry much about such wardrobe malfunctions, but that doesn’t mean that the sight of a man’s nipples protruding through his shirt is a scenic view. An online survey by Sirabee revealed that 84.3% of the 750 women surveyed thought that men’s nipples being visible through a T-shirt is a turn off … most of the women who answered NO to visible man nips stated that it’s “gross,” “narcissistic,” and “dirty.”

At first, a male version of pasties was sold—you peeled them off and de-nippled yourself.

This video yells “ouch ouch ouch” in a big way! Most Japanese men have little hair on their chests, so maybe I’m projecting, but still …

The problem of protruding male nipples is seen as so severe that a company has started manufacturing specially knitted “bra” shirts for men with a slight cavity that will nestle the nipple, preventing it from protruding in an offensive manner. Read the rest

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