Monday, January 29, 2007

Neo Versus Robocop


Finally, a post that has nothing to do with bizarre animal reproduction problems.

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Chimp Vasectomies Now Suspect

The Grave Digger
Managers at Chimp Haven, a Louisiana facility for chimpanzee care, are planning a paternity test for seven males.

Teresa, a wild-born chimpanzee in her late 40s had a baby girl last week, despite the fact that the facility's entire male chimp population has had vasectomies.
Chimp Haven managers said they knew something was up when Teresa was missing during morning rounds on January 8. Later in the day, she appeared with a newborn chimpanzee in her arms.

Workers have started collecting hair samples from the chimps for testing. Once they identify the father, it's back to the operating room for him.
Link. Tracy, the baby chimpanzee, and her mother are doing well.

This is the first chimpanzee born at the sanctuary, which opened in 2005, although officials there hope there will be no more accidents.

Teresa has refused to disclose the name of the baby-daddy. "It ain't nobody bidness but my own," she snarled. Chimp Haven staff have temporary marked Teresa with a scarlet 'A'. She and Tracy will be living on the outskirts of the chimpanzee enclosure until the investigation is closed or the father comes forward.

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Why Rodent Sperm Is Communist

University of Sheffield evolutionary biologist Simone Immler discover that, in certain species of rat and mouse, heads of sperm take on hook- or talon-like shapes. The larger the testes and more promiscuous the species, the more pronounced the claw-shape. The reasearch suggests that spiky-spermed males have the evolutionary advantage of spermatozoal cooperation:
Immler . . . and her collaborators reasoned there are times when sperm might want to cooperate. This might prove especially likely when animals are promiscuous and the sperm of one male have to compete against those of rival males.

. . . .

"Males in promiscuous species are better off by investing more into sperm production," Immler told LiveScience. "Hence, it has been shown that more promiscuous species have generally relatively larger testes."

. . . .

"When the finding of the European woodmouse was published a few years ago, it appeared to be an exceptional case occurring in this one species only," Immler said. "This research shows that when the pressure from rival males is high, individual sperm will cooperate with one another to ensure that at least one of their siblings successfully reaches the female egg."
Link. Don't these little gametes know that vigorous, free competition produces the optimal outcome? Leave it to a rodent to reject free-market capitalism. Damn hippies.

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Image credits: Sperm of a number of rodent species, Simone Immler, PLoS ONE, courtesy
LiveScience, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

When Animal Porn Is A Good Thing

The Grave Digger
The Chiang Mai Zoo in northern Thailand is taking further steps in an "unsuccessful and often strange campaign by zoo officials" to get their two pandas to mate.
[Zoo officials] have held a mock wedding, announced plans to separate the two to spark a little romance and even talked of introducing panda porn—videos of other pandas mating—to get the pair in the mood.
Chuang Chuang the Panda is just too heavy to have sex. Thai authorities have put him on a strict diet to get him to mate with Lin Hui.
Chuang Chuang is gaining weight too fast and we found Lin Hui is no longer comfortable with having sex with him,'' said the zoo's chief veterinarian, Kanika Limtrakul, adding that Chuang Chuang weighed 331 pounds while Lin Hui is only 253 pounds.
Link. Thailand rented Chuang Chuang (male panda) and Lin Hui (female panda) from China for $250,000 in October 2003 for 10 years.

I think that they should have saved some of that money and invested in getting Chuange Chuang and Lin Hui hooked up to YouTube, where I have no doubt there is an abundance of Panda Porn just waiting to be viewed by overweight pandas. Lin Hui commented that there will be no viewing of any such material until CC burns off the spare tire. CC commented that Lin Hui would probably insist on watching some lame chick flick instead, "like The Notebook [2004]."

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoon


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Friday, January 26, 2007

You See What Happens, Larry?

Some boys want a girl who dresses sexy, or has a great sense of humor, or is kind to small children, or wears a short skirt and a long jacket.

I want a girl who will go to town on a puma with its jaws wrapped around my head:
Nell Hamm said she grabbed a 4-inch-diameter log and beat the animal with it, but it would not release its hold on her husband's head.

"Jim was talking to me all through this, and he said, 'I've got a pen in my pocket and get the pen and jab him in the eye,"' she said.

"So I got the pen and tried to put it in his eye, but it didn't want to go in as easy as I thought it would."

When the pen bent and became useless, Nell Hamm went back to using the log. The lion eventually let go and, with blood on its snout, stood staring at the woman. She screamed and waved the log until the animal walked away.
Link (via Feministing). You listening, Mrs. GR? I expect no less.

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Recipe Friday

If it's as cold where you are as it is where I am, you might be interested in some

Dan Quayle's Cream of Potatoe Soup,

which is straightforward, cheap, tasty, and now comes with outdated political humor absolutely free.

  • 8 or 9 medium (two-inch diameter) potatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup half and half (you can substitute 1 cup of milk plus a tablespoon of butter)
  • Blender or food processor
  • Oven
  • Large sauce pan
  • Spoon
  • Knife
  • Peeler
Start off by preparing your potatoes: clean them, scrubbing with a brush or a sponge, and cut or tear off any eyes or sprouts. Peel them (but don't—and I say this from experience—put the peels in your garbage disposal), and then cut out any bad or discolored spots. Then cut them into quarters (or sixths if any are slightly larger). The goal is to have a bunch of potato pieces that are all the same size. Put these in your sauce pan evenly and pour just enough water into the pan to reach the top of the pile of potatoes. Then set the potatoes to boil for ten minutes. The clock starts when the water starts boiling.

In the meantime, make sure your other ingredients are ready to go. Mix together the flour, dill, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set it aside. If you don't already have chicken broth, make it by adding two packets or cubes of chicken bouillon to two cups of water, but there is no need to boil it because it will cook in the soup. Measure out your cup of half and half and set it aside.

When the ten minutes are up, drain and rinse the potatoes, returning the sauce pan to the stove. Put the potatoes in a blender or food processor with 1 cup (half) of the chicken broth. Blend it until it is evenly smooth, stopping the blades and rearranging the potatoes with a spoon if you have to.

In the sauce pan, set the heat to medium, then add a little bit of oil and the pat of butter. When the butter has melted, stir in the flour-seasoning mixture and then, all at once, the half and half. Stir it constantly until it gets thick and bubbly, then start the timer for a minute and keep stirring until the timer goes off.

Stir in the blended potatoes and the remaining broth. Keep stirring for another minute or however long it takes to heat the soup through. You may add more half and half to change the consistency or more salt and pepper to taste. That's it—you're done.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Setting the Record Straight about Toscanini

As Philadelphia Will Do points out, the Daily News is not afraid to show Toscanini as he truly is:
Conductor Arturo Toscanini was misidentified in a photo in yesterday's Daily News. He was the white-haired gentleman holding a baton.
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National Anthems You Won't Hear at the Olympic Medal Ceremony




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Random Movie Quote Thursday

Wait a second.
Not because I was afraid,
because I hated it.
You have to believe me on this.
This has nothing to do with fear.
This is hate.
This is a rotten contraption, your honors.
First of all,
it heats up like a toaster oven;
I burned the hair off my thigh from my knee to my crotch—
singed it right off.
Secondly, I don't know if it was the leather seat,
or if it was lined with fur,
but years of rotting and drying out and getting wet—
mine smelled like an old sheepdog.
Thirdly, it's very,
very noisy.
And they don't tell you about that;
you don't find out until about the second hour when you can't hear anyone.
You get off and have a snack,
and your friends are in a silent movie.
And, fourth,
pardon the expression,
but your balls vibrate for three weeks afterwards.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Has Boontling Piked for the Dusties?

Boontling, a slang-rich dialect of English native to sleepy Boonville, California, is as incomprehensible as its inventors intended. In Boontling, the nursery rhyme "Old Mother Hubbard" sounds both old-timey and supernatural, almost like a Depression-era incantation or a hobo's approximation of "Jabberwocky":
The old dame piked for the chigrel nook for gorms for her bahl belljeemer.
The gorms had shied, the nook was strung, and the bahl belljeemer had neemer.
Link. You can hear examples of the spoken dialect, too: a local public radio program allowed school kids to interview Boonville natives (.aif audio part 1, part 2), and NPR's All Things Considered travelled to Boonville soon after (.mp3 audio, via Connected Traveller). Both feature interviews with Bobby "Chipmunk" Glover, pictured here, Boontling's unofficial goodwill ambassador to the outside world. In addition to NPR, Chipmunk appeared on Johnny Carson's show a few times to discuss "burlap[ing] a bahl dame—Boontling for making whoopee with a good-looking woman." He was also an EMT and arson investigator for the Anderson Valley Volunteer Firefighters and a trained electrical engineer who developed the first automatic photo enlarger. Chipmunk died at eighty-two in 2003, prompting a tribute in the local paper guaranteeing "We will all deek you later many leagues above old Sol." Chipmunk had been born forty-some-odd years too late to have invented Boontling, but as second- or third-generation speakers he and his peers both enriched the dialect and kept it alive. Chipmunk's death may have marked the begining of Boontling's repose. It will lie in state in Boonville until it is buried in years to come.

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The Superstitious, Their Food, and Their Medicine

A recent survey for the doctoral dissertation of Marieke Saher at the University of Helsinki found that superstitious people—defined as those who believe in the paranormal, "such as astrology, telepathy or palm reading"—were more likely to (1) have positive attitudes toward organic food, (2) have negative attitudes toward genetically modified food, (3) believe in the power of alternative medicine, and (4) (perhaps explaining all the others) conceive of various disciplines of science as interrelated and unbounded:
A person who thinks in this manner might, for example, describe the physical concept of energy as a living entity, as if it belonged to the sphere of biology, or through the concept of evil, a psychological attribute. According to Saher, such thinking does not necessarily indicate that a person is poorly educated, because rational knowledge is not linked to these beliefs in any way. Some respondents simultaneously held conflicting superstitious and rational notions about certain phenomena, without the rational thoughts exercising any overriding effect on the superstitious elements.
Link (via the Anomalist). Unfortunately this doesn't explain why the food is so good in superstitious Romania.

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Image credits: The Magician, tarot card, courtesy Wikipedia.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Which Pop-Band-Name-Related Recent Incident Is More Ironic:


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Doesn't Man's Best Friend Deserve It?

The Grave Digger

Austrian Terrie Berenden, sipping a beer on his veranda after a successful hunt,
asked himself this question. And behold - dog beer was born.

Berenden consigned a local brewery to make and bottle the nonalcoholic beer, branded as Kwispelbier... "Kwispel" is the Dutch word for wagging a tail.

Link. So, when I can I start serving my cat a martini? Clearly the parellel brand of vodka would be Kauwtgaren, for "chews yarn."

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Image credits: AP Photo/Albert Seghers, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Meanwhile, in Montrose . . .

There's a new cardiac stress machine down at Endless Mountains Health Care System, plus a couple of stretchers.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Shower Mildew Spells Out Messages for Rhode Island Man

According to ever-reputable source the Weekly World News, thirty-year-old Robert Malcolm of Providence felt his filthy lifestyle and nonexistent cleaning habits were vindicated when he discovered that the mildew growing between his shower tiles was communicating with him by spelling out English words:
"It was mildew," he said. "Not unusual for my shower, I guess; but it seemed to spell out 'have a good day.' I thought 'what an amazing coincidence,' and I decided to take a picture when I got home from work."

. . . .

"This time it was, 'Hope work went well,' and there was a smiley face below the words," said Malcolm. "The mildew in my apartment was definitely trying to communicate with me."

. . . .

"The stain is alive, and sentient, and obviously grateful I haven't tried to kill it. I think it's developing a bond with me."
Link. What's really surprising is that the mildew hasn't spelled out a more appropriate message:

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Television-Comedy Opening-Credit Sequences that Feature the Arnolfini Portrait

Jan van Eyck, Flemish, 15th Cent.

1. Growing Pains
2. Desperate Housewives

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Polish President: Reporter Is Both Monkey, Opposite of Monkey

Lech Kaczynski, President of Poland, was unwittingly caught on mic last month referring to a woman reporter as a monkey:
[A] television microphone caught the aside, in which the conservative Mr Kaczynski whispered to the aide not to take a question from the woman reporter.

"Not from that monkey in red," the president said.
Link. As a way of making amends, Kaczynski took a page from his patented guide to pick-up lines:
"Privately, I call journalists different names, but in this case it was definitely not a description of her looks, because you could say she is the opposite."
So basically, this unnamed woman in red is the Shrödinger's cat of simian journalists. Win a prize* by determining what exactly the opposite of a monkey is!
a) a hummingbird
b) a cuttlefish
c) a bottle of dish detergent
d) an armoire
*Winner may select a prize from one of the following: bragging rights, respect, sense of fulfillment, ego boost.
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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoon


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Friday, January 12, 2007

The Weezer Formula


Weezer, the band that made popular Mary Tyler Moore, unraveling sweaters, sunny islands, and, most recently, the unholy union of Hugh Hefner and Donald Trump, is often understood to have a “formula.” A Google search for “Weezer formula” turns up a healthy ninety-one hits, not as many as formula combined with longer-lived, better known acts—“Hendrix formula” turns up 215 results (not all having to do with Jimi); “Zeppelin formula,” 140; and “Beatles formula” a whopping 257—but certainly more than comparable bands Green Day at fifty-three and Pearl Jam at thirty-six, and far surpassing mainstays James Brown and the Rolling Stones at thirteen apiece. The evidence suggests that the ratio of mentions of the band’s formula to total mentions of the band itself is higher for Weezer than almost anybody. So just what do writers who cite the Weezer formula understand it to be?

One of the favorite space-fillers of music writers is the comparison of the subject musical act to another. Early mentions of Weezer’s style frequently turned up as yardsticks against which other bands could be measured. A year after the release of Weezer’s self-titled debut album, several newspapers reviewed other bands’ “Weezer-style pop punk” and “Weezer-ish harmony vocals.” In an August 29, 1995, Los Angeles Times interview, Joey Ramone mentioned Weezer as an example of a band that had “bought into the system, the whole business of it, the formula,” presumably the generic pop-business formula. The first true mention of a Weezer formula came in the Guardian on October 4, 1996, when Caroline Sullivan, Kathy Sweeney, and Dan Glais mentioned Weezer’s strength as an “indie-guitar-cacophony-versus-retiring-vocals-and-cracking-pop-tunes formula.” Just how to render these elements in mathematical terms is unclear. Should the pop punk be added to the harmony vocals or multiplied? Does “versus” mean we should subtract the retiring vocals from the indie guitar cacophony?

Weezer dropped out of the music scene for a half-decade, prompting the question whether a formula no one is around to use ever yields a result. When Weezer launched its “Green Album” in 2001, many critics were reminded of the sound, or at least the look, of the original “Blue Album,” the mentions of the formula came back full force. The formula had many incarnations:
“chugging fuzz guitar” + “sweet, infectious melodies” + “[lead-singer Rivers] Cuomo's nerdy bad-luck charm”

“sugary power pop” + “smart-assed rants”

“instant[] hummab[ility]” + “[difficulty]-get[ting]-out-of-one’s-head”
It also apparently helps to have “handclapping.” But when, in its August 8, 2002, issue, influential rock ur-magazine Rolling Stone took its own stab at describing the Weezer formula (“booming electric guitars” + “Beach Boys melodies” + “lyrics about depression and isolation”), the conventional wisdom about the existence of such a formula became undeniable. By the time the newly influential, neolithic Pitchfork invoked the formula in panning Weezer’s latest album, it was old hat.

On the one hand, pop music itself is said to been rooted in a perfect pop formula, and to the extent Weezer is a pop band it follows that its music would be formulaic. On the other, Rivers Cuomo, though an English Lit major, may have helped along his unique left-brained image by engaging in well-documented numbers-crunching musical analysis. Jack Black was prescient in a November 2001 interview published in the Seattle Times when he called the Green Album a “mathematical masterpiece”; by June 2002, Jenny Eliscu was reporting in Rolling Stone that Cuomo kept a binder called the Encyclopedia of Pop in which he compiled data collected from mathematical analyses of Nirvana, Oasis, and Green Day. “‘He figured if he could home in on Kurt's formula, he'd figure out his own formula,’ says Todd Sullivan, Weezer's A&R man. ‘That way, he would be a never-ending supply of songs.’” The legend of Cuomo’s Encyclopedia made rumors of Weezer’s formula seem even more literal. Reports proliferated that he’d “found mathematical patterns in work by bands such as the Beatles and Nirvana that have helped him in crafting his own hit songs,” that he “writ[es] songs by mathematically analyzing old Nirvana tunes,” and that he “carries around a bulging notebook ripe with mathematical equations for the perfect pop song.”

Whatever its terms are, and whether it’s unique to Weezer or a new incarnation of the old charge against pop in general, the Weezer formula, or at least its legend, looks to stick around for some time. But there will always be folks like Chris Walker, who reviewed a 2001 Weezer concert for the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “Weezer's never been predictable or formula-driven,” Walker wrote with the confidence that can come only from obliviousness. What’s with these homies dissin’ my girl?

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Image credits: Still-Life with Instruments, Evaristo Baschenis, 1667-77.

Then it came after me, it got into my hand and it went bad, so I lopped it off at the wrist.


I'm pretty sure "it" is some sort of scooter.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Spam Poetry

Re: My Slav
by Stacie Gorder

He had talked about mother and the key under her pillow to these
licking the last drops of yummy from our fingers when the shadowlike
radio. We can hit anywhere on the planet in a maximum of eleven
It is going to be such a lovely day, the voice said.
on the other side.
toenails or they were naturally rusty. I let it pass since there were
That thing was going to kill me and my friend, but he got it first. So
My last words were shouted in the direction of the tail that was
since they havent enough brains to entertain themselves. Very big on
The way Steengo asked-credit where credit is due. Would you be so


Man, is this one tight package. "Re: My Slav" reads like a compact tour de force, trading on mystery and imagery. Why is the key under the pillow? What makes the radio shadowlike? And just what was that thing that was going to kill the speaker and his friend? The interrupted ending, a motif so often used in this format, is a perfect fit for this subject matter.

The images are evocative of the epic and the sensual. Imagine hitting anywhere on the planet! Hear the last words as they are shouted! "Drops of yummy" is sure to go down as a new popular expression for tasty morsels.

Gorder, as always, eschews traditional punctuation and syntax with her strings of quasi-sentences that start and stop with their own peculiar logic. This enables the reader to look at each line as a self-contained snippet of narrative, almost as if Gorder pulled it straight from some random page on the web and placed it haphazardly into a new context. But on another level, the words flow together like a stream of schizophrenic consciousness—rather than a reason, they have the shadow of a reason.

Still, "My Slav" implies controversy without ever directly confronting provocative issues. The finger licking could be a sexual act shared between lovers, but it could also be a middle-aged bachelor finishing a bag of Cheetos. We do have the brief mention of last words, but most of the wind was taken out of the death sails two lines before: we already know that the friend (perhaps the Slav of the title himself?) got the thing that was trying to kill them. In the end, is there really anything at stake?

Of course, that's what Gorder wants us to wonder, while at the same time appreciating the rhythm and imagery for what it is. She is always one step ahead of us, and each of her words, her pauses, and her beats are exactly what they should be. "Would you be so"? I would.

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Goats in Trees

You may already know that goats climb mountains. You may also know that goats eat just about anything. And you may look at this picture and notice that there isn't anything to eat on the hard, mud-caked ground yet there are tasty leaves high up in the trees. So, knowing something of evolution, you might not be surprised that those goats who adapted an ability to get to the tasty leaves survived and produced a race of leaf-and-nut-eating offspring. But with all your powers of logical inferrence, I bet you're still stunned to see Goats . . . in . . . Trees (via Neatorama)!

Reached for comment, a goat said, "You see that tree over there? I learned to climb that tree! But do they call me tree-climber?"

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Image credits: "Meie nopime puu otsast õunu, pirne, ploome jms - marokolased aga kitsi!" Remo Savisaar, courtesy
pildiblog, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Monday, January 08, 2007

New York City Odors Are Getting Less Pleasant

New York was invaded by a noxious, natural-gas-like odor today:
City air-quality sensors around Manhattan did not detect high concentrations of natural gas, and officials were “very confident” it was not dangerous, [Mayor Michael Bloomberg] said.

“The smell is there, we don’t know the source of it; it does not appear to be dangerous,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “And some of the facilities that were evacuated or shut down are now being reopened or put back on line.”

Mr. Bloomberg also noted that natural gas itself had no odor, but mercaptan, a chemical that is added to it, did.
Link (NYTimes registration required, or use BugMeNot). Of course, Mayor Bloomberg is simplydoing his impression of Ross flirting:
Hey, uh, you know that smell gas has? They put that in. The gas is odorless, but they add the smell so you know when there's a leak. A lot of other gas smells. Methane smells.
But what remains unclear is why New York is now plagued by a terrible gas smell rather than the maple syrup of a year ago.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Double Vision

The Grave Digger
Diprosopus, a medical condition when twins are completely fused with one set of limbs, but part or all the face is duplicated, has struck Rural Retreat, VA.
A calf with two faces was born Dec. 27 at Heldreth Dairy Farm...

The animal is normal from its tail until its unusually large head. The calf breathes out of two noses and has two tongues, which move independently, according to [owner Kirk] Heldreth. There appears to be a single socket containing two eyes where the heads split.

“It's the craziest thing I've ever seen,'' the dairyman said.
Link. This animal is the product of artificial insemination, and an attempt to create a superior breed of cow. “Genetically, this is one of my better calves,'' said Heldreth. To combat the crowds flocking to see this genetic anomaly, Heldreth plans to "tie the dogs extra tight."

While this cow could use a few extra limbs, hunter Rick Lisko struck a deer with the opposite problem.
Lisko hunts deer with a bow but got his most unusual one driving his truck down his mile-long driveway. The young buck had nub antlers -- and seven legs. Lisko said it also had both male and female reproductive organs.
When he looked at the animal, he noticed three- to four-inch appendages growing from the rear legs. Later, he found a smaller appendage growing from one of the front legs.
“It's a pretty weird deer,'' he said...
Link. Lisko described the extra legs as resembling “crab pinchers.'' He thought he saw the appendages moving, as if they were functional, before the deer was hit.

“And by the way, I did eat it,'' Lisko said. “It was tasty.''

Heldreth commented* that he will be keeping, and not consuming, his cow. Much to The Gravedigger's relief, it will not be joining the workforce anytime soon. The Gravedigger works with enough two-faced cows (metaphorically speaking) as is.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoon


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Friday, January 05, 2007

New "Real Gunshot!" Mousetrap Game Astounds Onlookers

Just fire a shot into your crotch, weave the man into the van . . .
A 22-year-old Webster man accidentally shot himself yesterday as he dismantled his gun while driving down Loudon Road, the police said. In the process, Robert Drown also hit a minivan and toppled the sign at the 7-Eleven, according to a witness.

Drown was trying to place his gun in a safety mode when it went off, the police said. He was rushed to Concord Hospital with a serious gunshot wound to his thigh. He was listed in fair condition yesterday evening. The police said Drown was fortunate that he injured himself near a fire station and with an off-duty paramedic nearby.

The accident happened just before noon as Drown was headed west on Loudon Road, according to Maj. Robert Barry. When his gun went off, Drown veered off Loudon Road and over the lawn of the nearby 7-Eleven. Drown stopped only when he hit the store's sign, according to a witness. The impact toppled the sign onto Drown's vehicle.

. . . .

After hitting the sign, Drown got out of his SUV and ran for the fire station next door. Murphy and his friends noticed Drown's jeans were saturated with blood. About 20 feet from the station, Murphy saw the man collapse. "He had lost a lot of blood," Murphy said.
Link (via Fark). "That's quite an act, son," said the manager. "What do you call it?"
Drown said, "The Aristocrats!"

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Recipe Friday

If you made it all the way through the holidays without eating some

Pumpkin Cookies,

there's no time like the first week in January to catch up. Yum. This recipe is adapted from one submitted by Maura from Chicago, Illinois, who writes,
Dear Good Reverend,
Here is the recipe.
Chicago, Illinois
Thanks, Maura! Of course, I've simplified it with my meddling ways, but at the end I'll tell you what she did differently so you can decide for yourself.

You'll need:
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
And you'll also need:
  • Oven
  • Large bowl
  • Medium bowl
  • Spatula
  • Electric mixer
  • Measuring spoons
  • Baking sheets (maybe two large)
  • Something with which to grease baking sheets
  • Wire rack for cooling

Preheat to oven to 375 degress and grease the cookie sheets.

In the medium bowl, combine the flour, the four spices, the baking powder and soda, and the salt. Mix them together briefly.

In the large bowl, beat together the softened butter and the sugar until it forms a creamy mixture. Then add the pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla, and mix the whole thing together with the electric mixer. Add the flour mixture from the medium bowl a half-cup at a time, mixing thoroughly in between.

Ta-da, that is your dough. Now drop rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough onto the cookie sheets about two inches apart. I like to use a teaspoon in each hand to form the balls of dough. Stick the sheets in the oven and bake at 375 for fifteen to twenty minutes (I like them a little softer, so I stay closer to fifteen, but it is up to you).

Cool the cookies on the sheets for a couple minutes, then for another ten minutes on a wire rack. If you don't have a wire rack and want to be ghetto, crinkle up aluminum foil and then unfurl it so it is a wide, textured sheet. Setting your cookies on this will allow air to circulate under them much like a wire rack would.

Those are your straight-up plain pumpkin cookies. But what did Miss Maura do differently? First, she added two cups of chocolate chips to the dough just before forming it into balls. Second, she coated the finished cookies with frosting (1 cup powdered sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk, and a half tablespoon of vanilla extract). I abandoned both of these steps because I didn't want anything to get in the way of the pumpkin-flavored goodness.

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