• Zombie Dancing Squid!

    I hate to yuck you out before the holidays …

    … and I really love Japan …

    … but this is just gross.

    It's a Japanese delicacy called "Katsu ika odori-don."

    The squid is deceased when the dish is served. A little soy sauce and he appears to return to life; in other words, a zombie.

    Yuki, one of my friends in Japan, assures me that "dancing sashimi" such as this is delicious, and one of the reasons food is eaten this way is to ensure its freshness. Varieties including shrimp and octopus, in addition to squid. But if I saw this in a restaurant, I would run screaming out the door.

    And here it is with lobster.

    And this is the one that will give you nightmares!

  • Your Anus in Chocolate

    No no no no no.

    This must be, has to be, I really hope it is … a joke.

    But (or butt) it's not a joke: a reproduction of your anus in chocolate would seem to be the thing you would send to your worst enemy, not a delight for your friends.

    But Magnus Irvin and Michael Ritzema think otherwise. Their company Edible Anus involves taking a cast of your anus, then molding it in chocolate.

    This is a person having their anus cast for a mold.

    This is an anus in chocolate.

    You can also have your anus cast in various non-edible forms, including brass (which rhymes with … ).

    Is there really anything else to write about this other than producing a series of obvious vulgar remarks? No, so …

    … eat me!

    Or you can visit Edible Anus and eat someone else. Merry Christmas.

    Via 24 Words

  • De-aged Elton John for Christmas gets some likes and some hates

    John Lewis and Partners is a well-known general department store in Great Britain. It's the type of old-fashioned department store that, like the late and lamented B. Altman and Co. (which you can see recreated in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), carries everything from clothing to electric appliances.

    Christmas TV commercials and Christmas shows are a big big thing in English television, much bigger than here in the United States. It is often the season when extinct TV shows come alive for one new episode on one night.

    John Lewis's Christmas commercial. "The Boy and The Piano," stars a big "get": Elton John. It's a musical tour through his life that mixes old and new footage, with de-aged Elton mixed with young Elton and old Elton.

    I liked it, but there's been a lot of odd hate for it online. You decide. Either you'll smile or you won't.

  • Eat the Teacup, It's Delicious

    The Japanese are extremely proud of their pottery, which is among the finest in the world. And with the special place the Tea Ceremony holds in Japanese culture, tea cups are finely wrought. Many of them look more like not-so-chunky mugs than the European teacups we see. Those known as Karatsu Ware are among the most highly regarded.

    While they look like teacups, these "karatsu-yaki" are actually edible rice cakes. They are made by master confectioner Osamu Tsurumaru in the city of Karatsu, Saga Prefecture, Japan and are sold at Nakazato Tarouemon Tobo, a 400-year old pottery studio.

    The price is a shockingly low $2.60 per cup, all of which are painted by Tsurumaru himself in traditional designs. He also makes rice-cake saucers, which perhaps look more realistic than the teacups! A set of one cup and saucer will set you back 12 bucks, but imagine serving it to guests for desert.

    Via Asahi Shimbum/Photos by Mahito Kaai.

  • 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.
    Want to be a part of their future? Foster an orphaned baby elephant in our care at: http://dswt.org/foster
    Our biggest thanks to acclaimed artist Hugo Guinness, Allegra Pilkington and Luisa Crosbie for creating such a powerful animation, with original music by Joe Trapanese and support from J. Crew.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    The stuff we love was first cooked up by Amory and Emma Curtis. (Did I mention that people claim fluff is a New England thing?). They lived in Melrose, Mass, and concocted "Snowflake Marshmallow Crème" in 1913. They also were the first ones to make a sandwich out of it by adding peanut butter in, at the latest, 1918. A lot more people had no teeth or were wearing choppers back then, so something that was smooth and didn't stick to the teeth was likely welcomed. Of course, eating too much fluff long term may well result in the eventual loss of your teeth, but that's an issue for another day. The Curtis Marshmallow Company went kaput in 1947.

    Next up is Limpert Brothers, Inc., which states it created "Marshmallow Fluff" in 1910 as a sweet to be used on top of ice cream. They also trademarked the name at some early point. And here's where it gets convoluted. Another company was also selling a product called "Marshmallow Fluff," which is of course a no-no because the name was trademarked. Limpert goes into much detail about all of this on their website.

    The other company was Durkee-Mower Inc., which had purchased "Marshmallow Crème" in 1920 from its inventor Archibald Query (he'd started selling it in 1917). Durkee-Mower started calling their purchased product "Marshmallow Fluff." In 1939 Limpert sold a 20 percent share of their trademark to Durkee-Mower and now both companies sell "Marshmallow Fluff." The sandwich was not titled a "Fluffernutter" until circa 1960, and by an ad agency no less. (Personally, I find this very disappointing.) The TV commercial above is from Durkee-Mower just a few years after the name "Fluffernutter" was born.

    Now that we have finished with all the historical nonsense, I will explain the differences between the various ingredients on the market (yes, I am obsessed and make no bones about it.) The most common brands of fluff found in supermarkets these days are Durkee-Mower's "Marshmallow Fluff" and Kraft's "Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Crème," which first appeared on the market in 1958. (Ugh, the year I was born.) I've never seen the product Limpert Brothers sells; it seems designated for wholesale only and is still sold in gallon cans to stores as a topping for ice cream.

    Is there a difference between "Marshmallow Fluff" and "Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Crème"? You betcha! I'm neither a chemist nor a chef, thus won't go into the details of the ingredients. We only really care about what it does on a sandwich, don't we? "Marshmallow Fluff" is somewhat gooey rather than light and fluffy. When you put "Marshmallow Fluff" on a piece of bread, it almost immediately starts to smooth out and in a few minutes it begins spreading like the Blob. "Jet-Puff Marshmallow Crème" has more body, and is light and fluffy. It pretty much sits where you put it on the bread, at least for longer than "Fluff." The Kraft and Durkee products also taste slightly different. If I were to sit there and just eat one of the two with a spoon right out of the bottle, it would be "Jet-Puffed Marshmallow Crème." However, as far as the best ingredient for a Fluffernutter, it's definitely "Marshmallow Fluff." And I don't care what the hell kind of peanut butter you use, as long as it's smooth and creamy like Jif, Skippy, or Peter Pan.

    As you can see, I prefer my Fluffernutters to be "loaded." I also still eat Lucky Charms out of the box. That's all and goodnight.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

    Not bizarre enough for you? Here are some more recent commercials, with a bunch of the same faces, just older.

    • Arnold Schwarzenegger selling canned coffee and yelling "POWER"?

    • George Clooney selling Kirin beer and tossing popcorn to the birds?

    • Elijah Wood pimping cars to Peter Rabbit?

    • Leonardo DiCaprio pouring Jim Beam Bourbon on ice?

    • Hugh Jackman in numerous roles in a Toyota commercial? (Hey, he speaks Japanese!)

    • Bruce Willis selling … Daihatsu combustion engines? And Daihatsu cars? (He speaks Japanese too, well just one word but he repeats it a lot.)

    • Richard Gere selling Orangina?

    • Jean Reno (a few words in Japanese) selling Toyotas?

    • Tommy Lee Jones (who's done a lot of these) snoring during a Suntory whiskey commercial?

    • Bruce Willis, taking over for Arnold and yelling "POWER"?

    Don't we live in strange times? Even HARRISON FORD! What the hell is the world coming to?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. (Full disclosure: I'm the editor and publisher of Genii, The Conjurors' Magazine, which is owned by Randy Pitchford, husband of Mrs. Pitchford. If the food sucked, I would not be writing this piece.)

    The menu was created by Mike Junio, while Kristy created the idea of having a Bloody Mary with "ridiculous shit on top" and the restaurant's manager Cathy Brown developed the final product. Kristy calls her a "baller mixologist." People are blown away by it and it's one of the most instagrammable menu items.

    Also really good is the French Toast, Randy's concoction the Boss Monster Shake (skewers of chocolate covered strawberries and bananas growing out of a chocolate shake piled with whipped cream and chocolate bits), and at dinner the perfectly cooked and seasoned ribeye steak is as good as any steakhouse but at half the price.

    @nerdvana is a fun restaurant for people to pig out and hang out. The place is a celebration of video games, with games available for customers to play and live simulcasts to watch of great gamers in competitions.

    Me, I'm still dreaming of that grilled cheese, the steak, and that chocolate shake.

    Visit @nerdvana

  • 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

  • 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. Japanese folks wolf this stuff down with a hearty slurp, the Chinese even more so. Wikipedia states that 96 billion servings of instant ramen are consumed around the world each year.

    According to Sora News 24 :

    Over 1,000 of Japan's most precious works of physical art and architecture are officially designated as Kokuho (literally "National Treasure") and are provided the protection of the national government for their preservation. It's a system that is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year with the help of the Kokuho Support Project.
    And pitching in is Japan's most valuable unofficial national treasure of modern history, Cup Noodle. … This time they have truly outdone themselves by creating the Jomon Doki Doki Cooker which goes on sale November 6 at 10 am. This instant ramen vessel is a faithful recreation of Kaengata Doki pottery from the Middle Jomon period, dating back to roughly 3,000 BC.

    The reproduction of the 5,000 year old piece of pottery is limited to only 15 pieces, and costs $525. It's based on a coincidental bit of design shared by both the cup containing the noodles and the bottom half of the ancient pottery. With such a limited edition, you'll need superhero internet mousing to get one. So if for some reason you're at your computer at 8 pm on November 5 and start feeling all James Brown about Cup Noodle, here's your chance to "Get Up" and do something about it!