This cute video is circulating which shows a group of people, led by a young woman, who want to throw a very brief birthday party for a friend on a subway car in New York City. The friend is unknowingly being guided into this situation by an accomplice. Banners and balloons, blow-ticklers, sashes, and whatnot, are all prepared in the space of a few minutes (two subway stops) before the birthday girl enters the car and suddenly it’s all surprises, hugs, kisses, music, dancing, and cupcakes.
Isn’t that heartwarming? Doesn’t it just make you feel great about New York.
It’s fake. Notice that none of the birthday partiers are older than, say, 25, and they’re all so incredibly attractive.
The so-called “friends” in the subway car are actors and actresses who work for a company called Improv Everywhere.
Improv Everywhere is a New York City-based comedy collective that stages unexpected performances in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere aims to surprise and delight random strangers through positive pranks, or “missions.”
The director of “theater company,” Charlie Todd, writes on their website:
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For years the subway has been our favorite performance venue. We’ve had pizza parties, talk shows, wedding proposals, and even time traveling twins. For each of these projects we create a scene that gives random people the option to say yes and be part of something awesome. If you haven’t figured out by now, this was not a real a surprise birthday party. Jenny was an actor along with everyone else in our group.
1. Chinese man is constipated.
2. Chinese man remembers an old folk remedy.
3. Remedy involves inserting a live eel up your bum.
4. Chinse man goes to hospital.
Seems like a foregone conclusion that if you insert a live eel in your rectum, health problems will ensue! The slippery monster ate through part of the guy’s intestines and went for a swim. The man went to the hospital to have it removed.
I don’t really have to say anymore because here’s a video from Chinese news with a CGI reenactment of the whole fiasco. From the music, the little green cloud, and the gas mask it appears that Chinese news takes this to be a comedic episode. Just remember this the next time you go out for a nice unagi dinner.
Via SoraNews 24.
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Light, fluffy, big and round ... yeah, I'm talking about pancakes. But not those flat things that look like a round napkin that you cook on a griddle, but the Japanese kind that you make with a rice cooker.
Doesn’t every self-respecting household have a rice cooker? If you don’t, then you should! And here's one more nifty thing you can do with it.
Get yourself a box of pancake mix plus any extra ingredients it calls for such as water, eggs, whatever.
Dump it all into the removable pot from the rice cooker and give it a healthy mix.
Put the pot into the rice cooker and turn it on for about 45 minutes. (Like bread baking machines, rice cookers do all the work for you.) When it’s done, turn it over onto a plate with a good shake and out comes a light fluffy blimp of a pancake.
You can also add cocoa powder and … heaven … get a chocolate pancake.
It sounds nutty, I know, but it works if the evidence of success on Instagram is any indication. You can also add chunks of chocolate, fruit (blueberries or bananas), and lots more when you mix the batter. Think in terms of utter pancake debauchery—liberate your palette from those flat things the rest of America is eating.
And one more thing:
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As tempting as these all look, though, the single greatest advantage to making your pancakes this way isn’t the flavor, but the ability it gives you to enjoy a hot meal as soon as you wake up.
Behold, Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
The original Japanese version of the film, Gojira (which few Americans saw until a decade and a half ago when it first appeared on DVD), was produced in 1954, just nine years after we dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. When the heavily Americanized version of the film came out in 1956 it had been retitled, Godzilla, King of the Monsters!
About the Japanese version, Gojira, film scholar Tim Lucas writes [the film is] “dark, melancholy, crushing, and relentless” in his late lamented magazine Video Watchdog (Special Issue 2, 1995/96).
On Wikipedia, Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka is quoted as saying, “The theme of the film, from the beginning, was the terror of the bomb. Mankind had created the bomb, and now nature was going to take revenge on mankind.” Thus Gojira is a dramatic embodiment of the earth’s rebellion against man’s stupidity: a blow-torched stomping rumination on the horrors of the atomic age,
The idea of a big rubbery monster emerging from the ocean sounds silly, however Gojira is anything but. The destruction it causes, though the special effects are primitive by today’s standards, is genuinely horrific. You might be one of those folks who chuckle at the marvelously-crafted miniature cities being destroyed by what is obviously a guy in a monster suit, but if you think about what it really means, your laughter should catch in your throat. The film has a prominent anti-nuclear message and is one of the earlier films to shove it right in your face. Read the rest
My friend Yasuo Amano, whose themed magic I've posted here before, visited The Tokyo Disney Resort for two days and sampled their seasonal Easter events. If you've only been to a Disney park in the United States, the incredible theming they do at the two parks in Tokyo will blow you away. There are Easter decorations everywhere at Tokyo Disneyland, a full Easter parade at Tokyo Disneyland and a special show at Tokyo DisneySea, hundreds of pieces of Easter merchandise, and even special food for the event.
Amano not only shot a great montage of the Easter festivities (which continue for three months), but he also created some special Easter-themed magic and incorporated it into his visit.
Above, an official video showing the Easter celebrations at the parks. Below is Amano's video of his personal visit and Easter-themed magic tricks.
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After my parents got divorced in 1965, I lived in a one-room apartment with my mother at 56-10 94th Street, in Elmhurst Queens. The apartment had a small alcove, and a wall was built to separate it from the rest of the space, and that was my room.
Our apartment was next to the incinerator room. For those of you born before recycling, you tossed your open bags of garbage down the chute, where it was burned. Some lazy jerks couldn’t be bothered to open the chute’s door, so they just left their bags of garbage (usually just open paper grocery bags) on the floor. Guess who’s coming to dinner?
Unsurprisingly, we had a lot of roaches in our apartment. I became inured to them after several years; if you’ve never had a roach infestation, you’d be shocked at how awful thousands of them smell. I became so used to them, in fact, that one night I was sleeping and woke up to see a little brown figure sauntering down my arm. I blew it off and went back to sleep. Just like that.
When I remember that awful smell and the shadows of those little pieces of shit scuttling around in the dark it gives me a shiver.
After moving into my own place in Manhattan, where the little fiends were already in evidence, I bought a bug bombing gas fogger for every room. Set each one off and ran the hell out of there. Came back a day later and cleaned up. Read the rest
Hidden inside a bazaar, off the beaten track, in an adventurous land far from civilization, where the paths are thick with dense vegetation and an ancient temple can be seen in the distance, one can meet the self-proclaimed “Doctor of Jungle Medicine,” Colonel Nedley Lostmore.
He has, in fact, lost more than most of us since all that remains is his head … his shrunken head. Despite this seemingly insurmountable dilemma, the good doctor (known to the natives as “Shrunken Ned”) dispenses medical advice for up to 16 hours a day depending on his mood and the season.
It’s not free, though, and he’s quite up front about that—until you part with two bits he won’t even look at you.
To see the wooden contraption that is Shrunken Ned, you’d think it was built in the late 1950s or early 60s, and has been at Disneyland for most of the park’s existence. But while one group of The Walt Disney Company’s Imagineers were busy developing the most sophisticated ride in the history of the park, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye,” another group designed a retro coin-op machine that, like so many of its fortune-telling ancestors, dispenses a card of wisdom (of a sort) at the end. He’s been the sole medical practitioner in this corner of the jungle since 1995.
So, while Colonel Nedley Lostmore has only occupied his little spot in the South Sea Traders shop for 22 years, it seems like he’s always been there. Read the rest
In 1990, probably around the time that the last film with the cast of the original Star Trek TV show had just finished wrapping up the principle shooting of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (which came out in 1991), MCI somehow managed to wrangle all the cast members, including William (I-Really-Don’t-Want-Anything-To-Do-With-The-Rest-Of-You) Shatner into making this commercial for MCI for their new “Friends and Family” package.
MC-who? For many of us over the age of 40, that was our phone company before it sailed into the corporate void and was bought and put into stasis. It still exists, and is now owned by Verizon, but are there any MCI customers still out there? Maybe they are marooned on the planet where Kirk died after living in a time warp for a century before being killed in a meaningless gesture in Star Trek: Generations. Or maybe he died on some other planet … I’ve managed to erase most of the movie from my mind.
While the commercial's dialogue never rises above late 1980s television cheese, at least it attempts to feed into the actors' onscreen characters. Of course Leonard Nimoy comes off best—he was always the coolest guy on the bridge. Read the rest
There’s a difference between the human who thinks and the human who does not. This human is not thinking, even though he may feel affection toward the turtle … the snapping turtle. Amusing and pitiful photos follow.
Via Rocket News. Read the rest
If you're old enough, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the greatest records ever released. There are enough of us who can recite the lyrics to start a revolution. And just when you think things can't get any better, you realize that they're getting better all the time.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of the original Sgt. Pepper album, the Beatles have produced an enormously "wantable" six disc CD/Blu-Ray combination package with replicas of all the original paper inserts plus a whole lot more.
That's all I've got: watch the video. It's $149 at Amazon, but I bet the price will drop before release on May 26th.
More detailed information for the obsessed!
CD 1: New Stereo Remix
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
With A Little Help From My Friends
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Fixing A Hole
She's Leaving Home
Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
Within You Without You
When I'm Sixty-Four
Good Morning Good Morning
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
A Day In The Life
CD 2: Sgt. Pepper Sessions
Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 1
Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 4
Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 7
Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 26
Strawberry Fields Forever—Stereo/Giles Martin Mix 2015
When I'm Sixty-Four
Penny Lane—Take 6
Penny Lane—Vocal Overdubs and Speech
Penny Lane—Stereo / Giles Martin Mix 2017
A Day In The Lif e- Take 1
A Day In The Life—Take 2
A Day In The Life—Orchestra Overdub
A Day In The Life—Hummed Last Chord
A Day In The Life—The Last Chord
Sgt. Read the rest
With the death of author William Peter Blatty on January 13 at 88, I could not help but be reminded that, exactly 43 years ago on that date, at age 15 I first saw The Exorcist, for which he had written the screenplay based on his earlier book. He also exerted strong control over the production.
It was a time when I was able to see many films due to a decent allowance from a generous father. The previous year, my mother had taken me to see The Godfather at the Loew’s Orpheum theater on 86th street just off Third Ave in Manhattan.
It was a big deal because at age 14, and at that time in 1972, there was a lot in The Godfather most kids my age had never seen (we still had only seven TV channels; no cable, no internet). To top it off, a friend of mine was an usher at what I hazily remember as a Trans-Lux Cinema on Third Avenue just off 57th street, and he offered to sneak me into a showing of Last Tango in Paris. I was a big Brando fan, and I definitely saw a lot in that film I had not seen before. (On the other hand, you’ve probably never seen an usher in a movie theater.)
I’d also watched about 10 zillion horror movies on WPIX’s Chiller Theater during the preceding decade, and was extremely curious about why people were so freaked out about The Exorcist. Instead of going on opening day, my usual habit, I decided to wait until the lines abated. Read the rest
You’re in LA, sniffing around for something to do, can’t get into The Magic Castle or looking for something less expensive? There’s a new place in town: Black Rabbit Rose.
LA Magazine writes:
An extraordinary new magic-themed nightclub called Black Rabbit Rose is … on Hollywood Boulevard, and it looks spectacular. The latest enterprise by the Houston Brothers (the twins behind La Descarga and numerous other theme bars) includes a 40-seat theater, a Thai-Chinese dinner menu, and a cocktail lounge featuring roaming magicians, exotic variety acts (think sword swallowing), and burlesque dancers. The club was custom built with rooms that might suddenly come to life during performances.
The rooms are filled with tributes to 19th century magicians and tucked into a century-old apartment house. The flamboyantly ornate interior, dripping with gilt and velvet, may even remind you of the Magic Castle, less than a mile away. In a genius move, the club secured the services of longtime Castle favorite Rob Zabrecky as entertainment director and occasional performer. Charles Addams could not have cast the role better. Zabrecky’s cadaverous pallor and aura of foreboding create the gravitas that his spellbinding performance deserves. If you see his name on the bill, hotfoot it over to the Boulevard immediately. Black Rabbit Rose [is] open Tuesday through Saturday with ticketed shows ($25-$40) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
The Hollywood Reporter writes:
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[Black Rabbit Rose] is a new-school twist on Hollywood's famed Magic Castle, catering to the fantasies of the A-list millennial crowd. … At Black Rabbit Rose, bartenders serve complicated cocktails with a side of sleight-of-hand tricks.
Who doesn’t like a Chinese steamed bun? I love it. It’s also called a “bao” and its soft doughy exterior often contains roast pork. All you want to know here.
Who doesn’t like Flan? I love it. You know the stuff—an eggy, silky smooth type of custard with a drizzling layer of caramel on top. Learn to make it.
Smash them together and what do you get? Only in Japan will you get a steamed bun with flan inside for a buck.
I say double yum.
Via Rocket News. Read the rest
Most of history exists for us only in black and white. As a kid, we had a black and white TV because it was all we could afford. I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz every year in the 1960s and had no idea it was a color film.
At least that exists in color because it was a big budget motion picture; most moving images of pop culture before a certain period don’t—or, at the very least, the color film is hard to find.
I’m doing research for a new book which involves the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. At ages 6 and 7 I spent many splendid hours at the 1964/65 World’s Fair in Queens, where I lived. Of course not only is my memory of it in color, but there’s lots of color film of it available. But the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair is something I only saw in black and white until recently. There are many intriguing photos such as this one.
via Chicago Collections
So it was quite shocking to discover this Technicolor short film (the first full-length motion picture made in 3-strip Technicolor, Becky Sharp, was still two years away). The buildings are painted in a wild assortment of colors.
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This is not even remotely new, but with so many folks eagerly waiting for Ridley Scott’s film Alien: Convenant, which opens in May, it’s time to revisit this so you can laugh now and get freaked out later.
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Mysterious things that unfold with multiple mailings are all the rage, but some are infinitely better than others. Personally, I find those that include a murder with a nice spatter of blood to be among the more interesting. If there’s insanity involved, so much the better.
And thus we have The Haunted Dollhouse, a subtle tale of horror which takes place almost a century ago in New Orleans, and which is reliant upon you to do your part: you have to build the house. And there are puzzles to solve, as well, which reveal a narrative of misfortune and murder. What is that enormous bloodstain on the carpet in the parlor?
The pieces come delivered in four packages over the course of a month, each box containing items both small and large. When you’ve put in your time with a straight edge, X-Acto knife, small scissors, and the imaginatively titled “goo,” the end result is a miniature doll house that bears witness to a story of death, madness, and murder which occurred in 1923.
Numerous letters, newspaper articles, postcards, and miniature items (I’m quite fond of the bloody pair of scissors) to decorate said house come within the packages, all of which taken together with the house provide clues to a mystery.
Who killed who? Who’s dead? Who’s alive? Who’s nuts? Your recreation of the crime scene and the many pieces of evidence lead you down a curious path to the truth. When you have gathered sufficient evidence and puzzled it out, an online portfolio is revealed that, like a crystal ball, answers some questions. Read the rest
I had completely forgotten about this, probably one of the most thoughtful and emotional Christmas messages from a major media corporation ever televised. It aired starting in 1966, the year after A Charlie Brown Christmas was first broadcast, both on CBS. Created by illustrator R.O. Blechman and animated by Willis Pyle, it's a startlingly simple 60-second piece that truly and fully encompasses the good will and warmth of the holiday. I recently wrote a piece here here about being sucked down the rabbit hole of the internet but there are indeed many long-lost gems to find and so far this is my favorite. As G. Jack Urso writes on his blog, Aeolus 13 Umbra.
One of the wondrous things about the Internet is its ability to conjure up the ghosts of the past, and in this case the animated ghosts of Christmas Past. We can connect with long-forgotten memories that upon retrospect we see contributed to our psyches.
We live in a world that is a swirling mass of widespread mayhem, murder, and insanity. Take just 60 seconds and watch this—it's my Christmas gift to you.
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