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Please, Mr. Gmail

Here’s a fun activity for those of us of a certain age.  (Disclaimer: This also works for those of us of an uncertain age, like “Wait, am I 54 now, or am I turning 54 next month?”)

Find a young person, and play them the 1974 Carpenters hit “Please, Mr. Postman”.  Chase after them as they run away while continuing to play the song. When the song is over, corner them and ask them if they have ever seen or heard of any of the following:

  • The Carpenters
  • A postman
  • A letter
  • Waiting patiently

I tried this with a young friend of mine.  After having to explain all of the above, she looked at me quizzically and asked, “Why didn’t she just instaskype his snapgram on Twitface?”  (Disclaimer: This might not be a direct quote, but it makes about as much sense to me.)

freddie mercury

Bohemiatic Rhapsodology

In obvious confirmation news, a bunch of Europeans sat around listening to old 70’s records and 8-tracks and then wrote about it using big words.

Regardless of what they might think personally about Queen, most rock critics and music fans alike wish they could get grant money to sit around and listen to classic rock.  Now, a group of Austrian, Czech, and Swedish researchers with nothing better to do conducted research on lead singer Freddy Mercury (top), the results of which were published in the journal Logopedics Phoniatrics Vocology for Dummies.

The research began after a logopedian, a phoniatrician, and a vocolologist walked into a bar and were refused service. An exopsychochemist who couldn’t hear over the loud music declined to participate when he found out they were studying Freddy Mercury and not Eddie Murphy (below).

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The researchers requested anonymity because they were out at a bar when they were supposed to be working.

What they discovered was that he likely employed subharmonics, an artificial ventricular fold enhancer banned by the European Tenors Committee.  Most humans never speak or sing with their ventricular folds to avoid being sued for causing global warming by environmental litigators.

They couldn’t confirm the long-held belief that Mercury’s range spanned four octaves, or any other hypothesis, because Freddy Mercury died in 1991.  (Disclaimer: Attempts to reanimate him as a zombie revenant are still tied up in court.)  However, they did discover some convenient interesting tidbits the night before the paper was due.  For one, despite being known largely as a tenor, identifying himself as a tenor, and singing in a tenor voice, the researchers determined that claiming he was a baritone was better click-bait.  That, coupled with anecdotal evidence that Mercury once turned down a gig with the Queen Lantern Corps (below) because he was afraid fans would think he wasn’t a tenor, led to the conclusion that they could say anything they wanted.

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It’s true that without a living test subject, the researchers were free to make up stuff without anyone being able to prove otherwise.  With no one to stop them, the team brought in professional rock vocolologist Daniel Zangger-Borch (below), killed him, and reanimated his corpse into a zombie revenant.*   (Full disclosure: Zangger-Borch (below, before and after) does drive a Mercury Cougar, and was trying to grow a mustache before his reanimation.)

They filmed his larynx at 4000 frames per second in order to look at exactly how someone who is not the Queen frontman created the iconic rough growls and jaw-dropping vibratos.  (The video is currently posted on the website NaughtyLarynxes.com.)

The predetermined conclusion was clear from the beginning: Freddie Mercury has a voice unlike anyone else in rock ‘n’ roll.**

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Former child star and logopediatrician Danica McKellar (shown above improving the self-esteem of young girls by forming conclusions first and justifying them using numbers afterwards) analyzed the film and determined that Zangger-Borch’s stomach was growling from a hunger for brains, and advanced decomposition had caused his jaw to drop off.  She said that while a typical vibrato will fluctuate between 5.4Hz and 6.9Hz, Mercury’s was 7.04Hz, one of the most italicized numbers ever made up for this article.

There’s a lot of scientific and analytical music terminology in the full study, most of which is only understandable to other phoniatricists.  Frankly, we didn’t understand any of it, so we quit reading after the first page.

Click here for even more logopological, phoniatrical, vocolological fun.

* The art of creating zombie revenant singers is called Phoniatrics.
** At a press conference, the researchers issued a correction, saying that “Freddy Mercury has a voice unlike anyone else in rock ‘n’ roll.  Except Daniel Zangger-Borch, of course.  Clearly Daniel has exactly the same voice as Freddy Mercury.  That’s what makes our findings so grant-worthy, if you catch our meaning.”  

reindeer

Reining in crime

In godforsaken criminology news, police in Russia have started outsourcing criminal transport to reindeers.

According to Moscow’s Izvestiya newspaper, the Ministry of the Interior is considering a request from officers in the Yamalo-Nemets region to buy up herds of reindeer, after representiatives from the Ministry of the Exterior went inside to warm up.

A police source said that perpetrators of domestic violence, hooliganism, and thefts often flee to remote icy spots to escape the long arm of the law (23.2 meters, according to the 2010 Russian census).  The source was granted anonymity because he suffers from hooliganism, which is considered a disease under the Russians with Disabilities Act of 2004.

“Criminals go into hiding in the tundra and hard-to-reach places on their own reindeer sleds.  Officers don’t always have the means to follow them there,” the source said, “which is why we call them ‘hard-to-reach places’.  The same problem arises when Santa is delivering suspects to the station on Christmas eve.”

Irina Pimkina, a police spokesperson person of spokes for the Caribou Siberian Investigations Unit in Moscow (CSI: Moscow) added, “We already have snowmobiles but you have to understand that they are machines. When the robot apocalypse comes, we know whose side the snowmobiles are going to take.” She also remarked, “In the meantime, reindeer would be useful to beat officers who patrol far-off areas.”  (Disclaimer: It is legal in Russia to beat law enforcement personnel with ruminants, but only for disciplinary purposes.)

A reindeer (pictured above) has keen hearing that allows it to detect crime by sound alone, and an antenna array which can occasionally pick up police radio broadcasts from as far away as Minsk when pointed in the right direction.

Reindeer are still a way of life for tens of thousands of indigenous herders on the ice planet of Hoth, where temperatures can drop to -50º C.  (Disclaimer: the C stands for “Cold”.  At -50º, who cares whether it’s Fahrenheit or Centigrade.)

The animals are used for meat, for skins, to make clothes and tents, and to tow sleds. Every year, reindeer make thousands of tents which are sold at tundra craft shows across Siberia. During the Soviet period, reindeer herds were collectivized into the Supreme Soviet Reindeer Worker’s Party (C-SPAN in Russian). Reindeer shamanism was also repressed, with thousands of reindeer shamans forced to renounce their belief in Santa Claus.

Izvestiya said police needed the reindeer in the Yamalo-Nemets region because many crimes were committed by the indigenous people who were already there when the crimes occurred.  That claim could not be immediately verified, but we threw it into the article anyway because we needed to fill the entire column. (Disclaimer: we didn’t bother to verify any of the other claims, either.  Heck, we’re not even sure Siberia has cops.  Or reindeer for that matter.)

Native communities historically have been subjected to prejudice and persecution, and insisted police should stop worrying about the people who were there when the crimes occurred, and instead investigate all the wealthy Muscovites who head out to Yamalo-Nemets for tundra getaways during spring break.

Izvestiya said that a legal basis for police to use camels, mules, and reindeer was confirmed by a 2012 Interior Ministry directive. The directive was revised in 2013 after 3500 camels and mules froze to death.

Click here to learn more.

Editor’s Note: Namalo-Yemets is an anagram for “Maltose Meany”, a notorious Siberian crime lord named after the villain in the Ukrainian children’s show “Seaman Motley”.  Namalo-Yemets is also an anagram for “Seaman Motley”.

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In a mirror, temporally

In cosmic archery news, scientists are once again asking questions they can’t answer about things that don’t matter instead of trying to make a difference.

They seem like obvious questions: “Why does time only go in one direction?” and “How do I turn this obvious question into grant money?”  Giant space brains (below) worked the answers out eons ago and moved on.  But they have troubled scientists for over a century.

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A new theory has proposed an answer — time used to run in both directions, but somebody from the Mirror Universe took the other “arrow of time”.

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Most scientists believe that the universe is some sort of giant star-spangled bell (above) with the open end on the right.  And usually, when scientists model the beginning of the universe, they point the bell in the right direction.

An experiment to recreate the beginning of our universe suggests that as the Big Bang happened, someone held up a mirror, creating a mirror universe that took the other arrow and ran backwards to get away.  This Big Bang theory gained widespread acceptance on Thursday night at 8.

The experiment solves a key problem in theoretical physics: why can’t you just turn the bell around and point it in the other direction?

The current theory suggests that entropy — the force of the universe that converts lost socks into keys that you don’t remember what they go to — also drives time forward. Since the universe began with two million billion zillion socks and only one lock and key, as it gets more disorganized, it takes longer to find the right key to unlock the door to the laundry, allowing socks more time to disappear into a parallel universe.*

While that is many scientists’ working theory, it is impossible to prove. Scientists love when theories are impossible to prove, so when this theory meant they could just say that time doesn’t have to flow in just one direction, theoretical physicists got all excited.

This other, or “mirror”, or “wrong” universe has the bell pointing to the left (below). As a result, all the printing in that universe is backward and hard to read**, making the denizens of this Mirror Universe particularly cranky and evil.

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Early negotiations between Spocks from both universes (see picture at top) to share the arrows broke down after our universe started allowing every Rom, Dax, and Harry (below) with a transporter to access their universe and interfere with their Empire.

Eventually, the other Arrow of Time decided it was not inspirational enough for the cranky and evil Mirror Universe, so it faked its own death.  It had to become something else: it had to become the Green Arrow of Time (below).

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Attempts to re-open negotiations with the Mirror Universe (Motto: “Building a Better Yesterday”) began earlier this year, but have been stalled amid allegations that due to differences in the flow of time, Ambassador Spock (below left) has become his own mirror grandfather.

When the universe began, it could have created another one flowing in the other direction when no one was looking, wrote Julian Barbour, Tim Koslowski, and Flavio Mercati.  “Any internal observer will only be aware of the records of one branch because they’re observing internally,” they write.  “Would it kill them to try observing externally every once in a while?  It’s a nice day!”  Their ideas have not gained wide acceptance, however, because they were written down in backward script, causing those who read them to become cranky and evil.

Click here in either the past or future to explore this theory.

* Some scientists have postulated the existence of a perpendicular universe where the arrow of time points up, but to date nobody cares.

** Interestingly, this mirror time flow allows for the correct sequence of events for the development of the first stars, galaxies, planets, and giant space brains (billions of years ago), the Dark Ages (500-1000 A.D), and the period of high inflation (1974-82).

The other major point of contention is why we keep sending them all those unmatched socks.

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Arbor dog

In misplaced priorities news, multiple first responders showed up because of something a dog did.

On Saturday morning at 10:30AM (9:30 Central time), owner Wes McGuirk says when he and his friends returned home from a deserted ghost town in Omaha, he found his pet Great Dane Kora on a tree limb about 20 feet up .*

“Zoinks!  Like, I would never have thought it was possible,” said McGuirk between bites of an extremely large sandwich.  “Like, not this close to that spooky old mansion down the street, man!”

McGuirk attempted to lure the dog out of the tree using what he called “Kora Snacks”, unidentifiable pinkish-brown blobs of matter. When that failed, he called for help from firefighters.

“While we were responding, we were admittedly somewhat skeptical,” said Plattsmouth Volunteer Fire Department officials, all at once, before picking one official to speak for the group.  “After all, it’s a dog in a tree. We didn’t volunteer for this!”

Several crews from Cass County responded, including the K-9 handler from the sheriff’s office, leaving more than 25,000 citizens defenseless against the possibility of roaming bands of arsonists terrorizing the greater Omaha area.

When the owner inexplicably asked the dog what she was doing in the tree, Kora (above) barked, “Ri raw a rirate rhost!” McGuirk, who speaks great Danish, explained to emergency personnel that little Timmy from down the block had fallen into a well. The firefighters sped away, sirens blaring, hoping that at least the well was on fire, so they’d get to use their new fire hoses.

The initial plan was to get a harness on the dog and see if he would follow a friend of the owner back down the tree, so he called for help from his friends, who had arrived in a van with him a few minutes earlier. “Jinkies!” said one young woman, who requested anonymity because she had lost her glasses and couldn’t see who she was talking to.

McGuirk’s friends also included a guy in a white shirt who provided constant exposition, and a pretty redhead who was there also.

McGuirk says his pet probably ran up the tree to escape some sort of spectral buccaneer she encountered while exploring the haunted amusement park next door.

It was finally revealed a half-hour later that the dog had been chased into the tree by Tom Jenkins, the K-9 handler from the sheriff’s department, who was the only other person mentioned in the story.  Jenkins, an old man, had buried pirate’s gold under the Tilt-a-Whirl at the haunted amusement park, but Kora kept digging it up.

The youngsters were last seen in their van, heading in the direction of a spooky old abandoned mine near the 7-Eleven in Plattsmouth.

A report on whether those meddling kids prevented him from getting away with it is expected later this summer.

Click here for the barely credible true story.

*McGuirk’s nosy environmentalist neighbors from across the street told anyone who would listen that their mathematical models predict that by the year 2000, all Great Danes would be forced to live in trees due to deforestation.  Mathematical model Natalie Portman (below) said that the environmentalists had forgotten to carry the 2, and instead predicted that by 2004, noise pollution would force all Great Danes live in beakers full of water.

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johnny manziel

Johnny Manziel, Von Miller become roommates

On March 11th, Johnny Manziel was asked to remove himself from his current NFL franchise.  That request came from the Cleveland Browns.
Deep down he knew they were right, but he also knew that someday he would return to the NFL.
With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his friend Von Miller.  Several years earlier, Miller had been suspended by his team, requesting that he stop violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Can two complete idiots share an apartment without driving each other crazy?

Author’s Note: The reference for those of you young enough to think that Matthew Perry makes a good Oscar Madison.

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7-Across

I was a the grocery store this afternoon picking up a prescription (Gratuitous Complaint Warning: My pharmacy has an automated system that calls my house and leaves a message when my prescriptions are available.  This works great for the ones that get refilled automatically every month.  Today, I waited for my prescription at the pharmacy, and yet when I got home, there was a message telling me my prescription was ready, which was technically true, as I had walked in the door prescription in hand, but was largely unhelpful, and forced me to check my messages.)

No, wait, where was I?  Oh yeah, the grocery store.  So anyway, while I was waiting for my prescription, I walked around the store to see if there was anything that I didn’t need but would be inspired to buy anyway.  (Answer: sushi for lunch, bread, and pineapple chunks, but not Diet Mountain Dew, which I do need, and will have to go back for.)

Crap, I wandered off topic again.  Why do you people let me do this?

Again, back to the original point of the story.  I also stopped by the cheese area (more than a stand, less than a shoppe) where they were giving out samples of the cheese pictured above: Prairie Sunset (A Wisconsin Original Cheese).  The cheese was nothing special (basically a mild Cheddar), but the label particularly caught my eye.

I’m not a wine drinker, so I am generally amused at the random assortment of nouns, adjectives, and adverbs often misused to misidentify the characteristics of wine.  (Disclaimer: the correct terms are wetness, grapiness, alcohol content, and either reddish or off-white.)  This is the description for the #2 wine on Wine Spectator’s top 10 wines for 2015.

Polished, focused and generous, with red plum and cherry flavors in an elegant package, framed with fine tannins. A savory, meaty note runs through this at a subterranean level. Lingers beautifully. Drink now through 2028.

Non-wine spectators standing nearby described this wine as “wet, kinda grapey, vaguely alcoholic, and reddish”.

But I digress yet again. (Disclaimer: I’m getting closer to my point, I promise.)

The only cheese available for sampling was the one pictured above, which left me with plenty of time to peruse the label.

Prairie Sunset

Sweet, approachable flavor with hints of nuttiness and butterscotch.

A Wisconsin Original Cheese

Observation #1: I did not realize Wisconsin had prairies.  I in fact did not realize that Wisconsin had any geography whatsoever.  I tried to picture Wisconsin, and all I got was the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field, so I just assumed the tundra extended to the Iowa border.  However, this is the first line from the Environmental Education for Kids (EEK!) website on the subject of “Wisconsin Prairies”:

Historically, wildfires played a very important role in shaping prairies.

(Disclaimer: The acronym EEK! is actually in the title of the website.  This is appropriate given the sort of pro-wildfire propaganda the website spews.)

Observation #2: The second line is not a sentence, and should not end with a period.  I’d let this slide if it weren’t for the contents of the second line.

Observation #3: While I wouldn’t exactly describe the flavor as “sweet”, I did find this cheese very approachable.  You can tell from the picture just how close I was able to approach the Prairie Sunset.  I would have been pretty much right up in its face if the cheese had a face, which it didn’t.  (Disclaimer: Much like wine, cheese has a limited set of characteristics: roundness, hardness, orangeness, and cheddariness.  This cheese was unround, medium hard, very orange, and pretty cheddary.  There was no faciness whatsoever.)

Observation #4: The print below “A Wisconsin Original Cheese” was beyond my ability to see clearly.  (Disclaimer: It was also apparently beyond my ability to photograph clearly, unless maybe the print is just blurry as a ploy to thwart observers such as myself.)  As a result,  it only seems reasonable that this must be the section where the “hints of nuttiness and butterscotch” may be found.  I imagine the small print contains the following incomplete information allowing the customer to draw his or her own conclusions:

  • 7-Across (9 letters): Attribute closely associated with the man on the left, star of the 1963 film “The Nutty Professor”, but not the man on the right, star of the 1996 film “The Not-At-All Nutty but Extremely Fat Professor”
  • 14-Down (12 letters): Flavoring taking its name from a dairy product and a type of alcohol, but containing neither, used primarily but erroneously as a flavoring for things that would taste much better with a different flavoring

Neither attribute is even remotely related to either cheese or prairies, or even sunsets for that matter.

Observation #5: The term “An Original Wisconsin Cheese” is ambiguous.  I am not sure whether this cheese is:

  • A cheese nobody else in Wisconsin had thought of previously.
  • One of the first cheeses developed in 1848 after the state of Wisconsin was accepted into the Union
  • One of the indigenous cheeses of the cheese-loving Wisconsinsonian tribes discovered by English and French colonists prior to 1848.
  • An artifact found in the ruins of an early Homo cheeseheadus village
  • A natural feature formed when Wisconsin separated from Gondwanaland

Observation #6: Clearly I don’t have enough to occupy my mind.  (Disclaimer: not a new observation.)

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Avenger (some assembly required)

In robotic Scarlett Johansson news, reporters covering the robotic Scarlett Johansson news beat were stunned to discover something to report.

Ricky Ma had dreamed of designing a Scarlett Johansson robot since he was little.  “When I was a child, I liked robots.  There were Transformers, cartoons about robots fighting each other and games about robots.  Naturally, this got me thinking about building a robotic Scarlett Johansson that could be folded into the shape of a car and fight other Scarlett Johansson robots.”

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Danger 5

I stumbled onto this on Netflix. If The Man from U.N.C.L.E were set in WWII, written by 4th graders on a sugar high (episode 2 centers on Nazi dinosaurs), directed by the makers of Airplane! using special effects straight out of Godzilla vs. Megalon, and starred an international cast of baristas (including one that only speaks Russian, but everybody understands her), you would have the Australian TV series Danger 5.

I mean that in a good way. The best thing to come out of Australia since that other really good thing that came out of Australia that no one ever talks about.

Disclaimer: The preceding message has been an enthusiastic endorsement of the first two episodes.  The rest of the series might suck, although I’d be really surprised.

Update and Correction: I’m really surprised.  The second season does suck.  The inspired lunacy of the first season is gone.  In the three years between seasons 1 and 2, the sugar-buzzed 4th graders grew into vulgar, puerile 7th graders, and all the satire that made season 1 so good has been replaced by the kind of cheap, unfunny sex and drug jokes you get from vulgar 7th graders.  Two episodes into season 2 and I can’t finish it.  If it gets better in episode 3, I won’t know.

This is why I don’t generally endorse things.