Science Gone Wrong

xkcd this week tells a remarkable tale of science gone horribly wrong.

forks_and_spoons.png

The only thing that could make this tale more horrifying is… you guessed it! Poetry from The Digital Cuttlefish.

Genetically, of course, a spork
Is half a spoon, and half a fork
A laboratory in New York
Created them, then popped the cork.

Please, gentle reader, do not swoon,
But there was also, once, a foon
(That’s half a fork, and half a spoon)
Created, sadly, all too soon.

In cutlery, one tempts the Fates
When artificially, one mates
Utensils from across the plates
Regardless of recessive traits.

A careless thought: “let’s cross F-1
Again with forks, and have some fun.”
The simple plan was soon begun,
Then all too soon: “What have we done?”

With thirst for blood and killing drives
Such meddling ends in loss of lives
I only hope someone survives
To tell—the sporks have found the knives!

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The Cube becomes KUBUS

Back in 2006 I wrote a post about discovering the source of one of my childhood nightmares: a remarkable teleplay by Jim Henson called The Cube. If you’re up for having your mind warped, you can watch it here:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2112529755533998573

Now a German production company is bringing The Cube to the theatre stage as KUBUS. Sorry, no English translation yet, but it looks quite well done.

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Ironwolf’s Mystery Spot: Gondry Redux

I just noticed that, not content to have been exposed only once, hoaxer Michel Gondry came back with another “remarkable feat”, (pun sort of intended) just asking for a good debunking. This time he claimed that he could solve a Rubik’s Cube in under a minute with only his nose! Let’s watch as he tries to trick us…

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Now being no slouch himself, some random YouTuber (who sounds almost, but not quite, entirely unlike like Brian Flemming) took it upon himself to again expose the ruse which (to the untrained eye) may have seemed slightly uncanny. The reality is far more mundane.

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But Gondry is a slippery fellow, and like Uri Geller, I know he will be back again and again to bedazzle and mislead the weak minded…

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Ironwolf’s Mystery Spot: Time Machine

The first video below inspired me to find some other interesting backwards-shot clips. I also showed my sons (7 and 3) how we could use iMovie to do our own fun backwards videos.

How Michel Gondry Faked His Rubik’s Cube Stunt

As revealed by Brian Flemming, creator of The God Who Wasn’t There.
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The Swedish Bookstore Scene from the movie Top Secret!

Watch it (almost) as it was shot here.
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More Michael Gondry: Will it De-Blend?

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Weird Al: Amish Paradise

Pay special attention to the last scene.
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Barry Jones: Backwards Magic

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Hi, Bingo.

I love surrealism. I’ve gone ahead an created a category for it here, and I’ll share favorite examples as I run across them.

I find it quite interesting that animation is a second career for Chris Landreth, who won Oscars for his animated shorts Bingo and Ryan. Here are those and his first short, The End, ordered by release date.

The End

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Bingo

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Ryan (Part 1)

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Ryan (Part 2)

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The Cube: A Nightmare Recovered

Deep within my earliest childhood memories I have the indelible image of a vague and frightening setting: a featureless room with no doors or windows— floor, walls, and ceiling the same gleaming white grid. In the room a man sits alone with no memory of his arrival, wishing to be anywhere else. People appear and talk with him, teasing him with ideas of freedom, toying with his mind. His memory uncertain, his reality unstable, he doubts everything and wonders whether he can even hold on to his sense of self.

This nightmare is kindred to the fever delirium I experienced a few times as a child— a kind of temporary insanity where 320 BPM explosions pound in the silence of my room and my bed sheets feel like corrugated metal under my touch. It isn’t real, I tell myself. It will pass. But the memory lives, patiently waiting for me to revisit my menagerie of childhood nightmares— like the white room.

Fast forward to two years ago. I am 38 years old. I have long had a taste for existential plays like Brazil, Groundhog Day, and The Truman Show — stories that confront one with questions about the nature of existence and the meaning of one’s life. In my web surfing I come across references to a B-movie I had never seen simply called Cube, about a group of people inexplicably trapped in a three-dimensional maze fraught with deathtraps. Interesting, I think… sounds a lot like my childhood nightmare. But it’s far too new for me to have seen it back then, and my nightmare was terrifying, but not violent. I see they even made a couple sequels: Cube2: Hypercube and Cube Zero. They certainly don’t look like “must see” classics. Perhaps someday I’ll check them out.

Fast forward to yesterday. I am 40 years old. On a whim I decide to see what Wikipedia has to say about that movie I heard of a couple years ago. I type the article name into the search box, but get it slightly wrong:

The Cube.

Wait a minute— this isn’t the movie I saw referenced before… it’s much older: made for television in 1969. I would have been four years old when it aired. There aren’t any deathtraps, just a man in a white room with no way out…

Hear that sound? That’s my mind blowing.

The shock of familiarity is overwhelming. Is this the source of my childhood nightmare? It sounds like it, but is there some way I can watch it to be sure? It turns out I can. There are people out there trying to save movies and television shows of the 60s and 70s from the dustbin of history. It turns out there is even a Yahoo Group devoted solely to the history and discussion of The Cube. And there is a BitTorrent stream where it can be downloaded in its entirety. (I recommend VLC player for viewing.)

Though the details had been lost in my memory, I am left with no doubt by my fresh viewing: this is my nightmare, down to the despairing ending.

And the evil, twisted genius of a filmmaker responsible for infecting me with this honored member of my childhood menagerie?

Jim Henson.

The magic smoke pours from what little mind I have left.

Jim’s work has long been an inspiration to me, including Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movies, Fraggle Rock, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and other works too numerous to mention. His untimely death in 1990 was a personally-felt tragedy. And I have since had the honor of working on a project directly with Jim Henson’s Creature Shop where I contributed to a re-design of their animatronics system.

I don’t consider knowledge of something complete until you have experienced its dark side. Finally seeing The Cube as an adult has been a dark homecoming for me. It stands as a portent of the imagination and energy that would later become such a treasured part of my childhood and beyond.

Thanks again, Jim.

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Brag of the Subgenius

A classic rant via Church of the Subgenius, probably by Rev. Ivan Stang

I pick the god damn terror of the fucking gods out of my nose!

Pardon my language…

But YEEEEEEHAW! Let the sons of God and man bear witness!

Even in the belly of the Thunderbird I’ve been casting out the False Prophets! I’m busting a gut and blowing my O-ring, and ripe to throw a loaf! For I speak only the fucking Truth, and never in my days have I spoke other than! For my every utterance is a lie, including this very one you hear!

I say “Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke!” By God, “Anything for a laugh,” I say.

I am the last remaining Homo Correctus, I am the god damn Man of the Future! I’ll drive a mile so as not to walk a foot! I am a human being of the first god damn water! Yes, I’m the javalina humping junkie that jumped the men from Mars!

I drank the Devil under seven tables! I’m too intense to die! I am insured for acts o’ God and Satan!

I was shanghaied by bodiless fiends and alien infidels from a corporate galaxy, and got away with their hubcaps!

I cannot be tracked on radar!

I wear nothing uniform, I wear no god damn uniform!

Yes, baby, I’m 23 feet tall and have 13 rows o’ teats; I was suckled by a Triceratops, I gave the Anti-Virgin a high-protein tonsil wash!

I’m a bacteriological weapon, I’m armed and loaded!

I’m a fission reactor! I fart plutonium, power plants are fueled by the sweat from my brow! When they plug me in the lights go out in Hong Kong!

I cook and eat my dead.

YAH-HOOOOO!

I’m the Unshaven Thorn Tree of the Atlantis Zoo!

I pay no taxes!

The Devil’s hands are my ideal playground!

I hold the Seven-Bladed Windbreaker!

The wheels that turn are behind me!

I think backwards! I do it for fun!

My imagination is a fucking cancer and I’ll pork it before it porks me!

They say a godzillion is the highest number there is. Well, by God! I count to a godzillion and one!

I use a python for a prophylactic! I’m thicker, harder, and meaner than the Alaskan Pipeline, and I carry more spew! I’ll freeze your seed before it hits the bathroom tile!

YEE! YEE!

I kidnapped the future and ransomed it for the past, I made Time wait up for me to bleed my lizard!

My infernal breath wilts the Tree of Life!

I left my spoor on the Rock of Ages!

Who’ll tear flesh with me? Who’ll spill their juice? Who’ll gouge with me? Whose candle will I fart out? WHOOP! I’m ready!

So step aside, all you buttlipped, neurotic, insecure bespectacled slabs o’ wimp meat! I’m a Crime Fighting Master Criminal! I am Not Insane!

I’m a screamer and a laugher, I make a spectacle of myself, I am a sight!

My physical type cannot be classified by science!

My “familiar” is a pterodactyl— I feed it dipshits!

I communicate without wires or strings!

I am a Thuggee, I am feared by the Tongs, I have the Evil Eye, I carry the Mojo Bag!

I swam the Bermuda Triangle and didn’t get wet!

I circumcise dinosaurs with my teeth and make ’em leave a tip!

I change tires with my tongue and my tool!

Every night I hock up a lunger and extinguish the Sun!

I’m the big-footed Devil of Level 14, who’ll come shoe me? Where’s the robot giant who’ll try to blow me down?

I’ve packed the brownies of the gods!

I leak the Plague from my nether parts!

Opiates are the mass of my religion!

I take drugs!

Space monsters cringe at my tread!

I wipe the Pyramids off my shoes before I enter my house!

I’m fuel-injected! I’ll live forever and remember it afterwards!

I’m immune! I’m radioactive! Come on and give me cancer, I’ll spit up the tumor and butter my bread with the juice!

I’m supernatural, I bend crowbars with my meat axe and a thought! My droppings bore through the Earth and erupt volcanoes in China!

Yes, I can drink more wine and stay soberer than all the heathen Hindoos in Asia!

YEEE HAW! Gut Blowout!

I am a Moray Eel, I am a Komodo Dragon, I am a Killer Whale bereft of its pup!

I have a triple backbone, I was sired by the Wolf Man, give me all your Slack!

I told Jesus I wouldn’t go to Church and he shook my hand!

I have my own personal Saviors! I change ’em every hour! I don’t give a fuck if there’s life after death, I want to know if there’s even any fucking Slack after death!

I am a god damn visionary! I see the future and the past in comic books and wine bottles!

I eat black holes for breakfast!

I bend my genes and whittle at my DNA with the sheer force of my mighty will! I steer my own god damn evolution!

I ran ’em out of Heaven and sold it to Hell for a profit!

I’m enlightened, I achieved “Nirvana” and took it home with me!

Yip, Yip, YEEEEE!

When the Rapture comes, I’ll make ’em wait! They’ll never clean my cage!

Now give me some more of… [transmission ends]

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I can’t respond to everything, but I do read everything!