Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 14 of Today I Learned – John C Lilly

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I am going to BLOW your mind today. Absolutely blow your tits off. Even more so than that that one time you learned Lego is the largest tire producer in the world. Did you not know that? I BLEW YOUR MIND TWO TIMES. This is the story of a wild scientific experiment, intergalactic abduction, human isolation, medicinal drug usage, aquatic mammal masturbation, and Sega Genesis. Trust me, you will not be disappointed in this iteration of me wasting your time.

John C Lilly was a physician in mid-20th century. Originally, his wealthy father tried to pressure him into attending an Ivy League school and becoming a banker, which is exactly what he did. OF COURSE NOT you’ve read these before, this space is for the mildly insane. Lilly went to the California Institute of Technology to study science. He studied bio-psychics, electronics and neurophysiology, and eventually invented the isolation tank. You’ve probably seen isolation tanks in second-rate malls, which is basically an enormous box which strips you of all your senses – it’s soundproof, completely dark, and full of body temperature salt water which essentially leaves you floating and lets your mind wander and mildly hallucinate. It’s basically like getting super high without ingesting any drugs and being within walking distance of a Spencer’s and Auntie Anne’s. As a hysterically claustrophobic person, not a chance in the world I ever do it, but you TOTALLY should and let me know how it goes.

As tipped off above, OF COURSE Lilly branched out from normal and accepted medical practices, and started taking tons of lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD if you didn’t study chemistry or follow Phish on tour over the summer one time. He began to delve into human consciousness and its relation to psychedelic drugs (in other words – it was the 1960s). During his already mind-bending experiences in the sensory deprivation tank, Lilly began taking LSD on top of this. As one would expect, Lilly got REAL weird with it. He met with “spiritual leaders” from around the world (aka, minor cult leaders, my main aspiration in life). After a while, the LSD wasn’t sufficiently blowing his mind, so he got aggressively into prog-rock. Just kidding, he branched into ketamine. Ketamine produces trance-like states while inducing sedation and memory loss in addition to being a pain reliever. So now we’re doing boatloads of memory-dissolving drugs and isolating ourselves in sensory-deprivation tanks for hours. As you would expect, this went splendidly.

Lilly believed he was being tracked by an intergalactic group of psychics called the Earth Coincidence Control Office. Lilly wrote a list of rules for how to contact this group, which basically sound like new-age self help bullshit. I’ll spare you the tedium, but the primary motto was “Cosmic Love is absolutely Ruthless and Highly Indifferent: it teaches its lessons whether you like/dislike them or not.” So, yeah, totally normal stuff so far. Trust me, this is still the relatively normal part.

Lilly awoke one night, pumped full of ketamine, believing these agents had “bloodlessly removed his penis”, and then handed it back to him. My nightmares usually consist of running into exes or being unprepared for a test, but this blows those out of the water. Lilly’s wife pointed out his dick was, uhh… still pretty attached, to which Lilly frustratingly remarked that it was not his. As you were.

One day, while melting his mind high as shit in the iso tank, he decided, “dolphins are so fucking rad.” That’s not a direct quote, but I am willing to bet it is biographically accurate. Since Lilly was still a reputable researcher, as most people didn’t realize the extent that this dude was tripping balls all the time, he got funding from the United States Navy to study potential communication between humans and dolphins. Spoiler – this is the craziest part of this story. A drug-addict got the United States government to pay him to do tons of drugs and hang out with dolphins. I don’t believe I need to further justify my belief the federal government is bloated. #AUDITTHEFED.

Lilly’s first FEDERALLY-FUCKING-FINANCED study involved getting some dolphins and giving them LSD. I like to think somewhere out there, a mid-level Navy officer realized he had tremendously fucked up about this time. As expected, dolphins on LSD did NOT communicate with humans, despite developing a new affinity for jam bands and patchouli oil. I don’t know about you, but I am shocked that didn’t work.

In 1965, Lilly expanded his FEDERALLY-FUCKING-FINANCED study into dolphin-human communication with a study that involved isolating a dolphin and a woman together for ten weeks with no other contact. Remember, TONS of ketamine and a potential abduction and castration had happened to the lead researcher, and the Navy was still thinking this all seemed promising. Lilly isolated a dolphin (Peter) and the stupidest lab assistant ever (Margaret) in an area for ten weeks. TEN FUCKING WEEKS. The area was filled about two feet deep with water, with an elevated table and bed for Margaret to keep notes and sleep. How thoughtful! Imagine how prune-y you would be after TEN WEEKS in water.

Let’s sidebar for a minute – dolphins are smart. Like, wildly intelligent. They are the second-most intelligent creature on the planet, so the logic to seeing if we could communicate is there I guess. On top of that, like humans, they are horny creatures, and obscenely so. If there are dolphin public libraries, there are tons of pervy dolphins jerking off there. Dolphins have been known to rape and mutilate their prey because they are the dicks of the oceans, despite sharks fielding that rap for them for all this time. I know what you’re thinking but no – Margaret does not get murder/assaulted by Peter the dolphin. Instead, in a much better turn (????), Margaret decides to jerk this dolphin off.

Peter the dolphin had been carrying around a rock-hard dolphin dong for a few weeks, and Margaret took it upon herself to alleviate his issue in the pursuit of scientific progress. Lilly was giddy with the development, thinking this was a critical hurdle to human-dolphin communication, which made Margaret pleased as she had been doing her job. Peter was the most ecstatic, as you probably guessed. Just a lady jerking off a dolphin in a home full of water in front of a gathering of scientific observers. The 1960s!

Peter and Margaret never communicated. Shocking, I know. Somehow, this work DID help the creation of the United States Marine Mammal Protection Protection Act of 1972. Absolutely baffling. Lilly gave up the dolphin-fucking, I mean, communication research, and went back to ingesting copious amounts of ketamine and tripping balls about extraterrestrials.

Fast-forward to 1992: Sega is churning out games to support their launch of the Sega Genesis. I don’t know about you guys, but the original Jurassic Park and Sonic were the shit, and I did not require any additional games. One of the games released was “Ecco the Dolphin”. Time out, scroll back out – remember the extraterrestrials who visited Lilly when he was high as shit? Earth Coincidence Control Office? Or otherwise referred to as “ECCO”? HOLY SHIT RIGHT?!?! Do you remember this game? I bet you don’t, because you’re definitely going to fact check me when I say this game was about a dolphin who travels through time to fight hostile intergalactic invaders of Earth’s oceans, and later on an alien spacecraft. I’ll save you the time – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecco_the_Dolphin. A dolphin. A fucking dolphin. Travels the universe. Fighting space invaders. All based on a government-financed study on human-dolphin communication, which included tons of dolphin-jerking. Led by a guy high on LSD and ketamine who though he had been castrated. If you can think of a more staggering sequence of events, I am all ears, because otherwise, I believe your mind has been officially blown.

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Arch Stanton Guest Post: Assembling the Worst Company Possible

While daydreaming at work, I was considering what could be the worst possible company to work for, but not just like the company itself – which figure would make the worst CEO, the worst group of accountants, the worst board and the worst workforce? Originally, I was thinking of all real-life examples, but before long I was thinking how this would merely become a recounting of stories we are all already aware of. We KNOW Enron’s exec’s were shortsighted, we KNOW Bernie Madoff would make for a terrible CFO, or how bad the corporate culture of Uber or Amazon is in real life, and it wouldn’t make for an interesting read to recap these failures again (and in less detail, and probably incorrectly!). But then I was thinking, what would be the worst FICTIONAL company to work for? Man, suddenly I had MANY opinions of what could make for a truly disastrous company.

Board of Directors: The Council of Thirteen for the Guild of Calamitous Intent from “the Venture Brothers”. If you are unfamiliar, “the Venture Brothers” is a satire of early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, but older and with a ton of psychoses and a ton of drugs, and the bad guys are part of the Guild of Calamitous Intent, which is ruled by the Council of Thirteen, who are magnificently inept and evil to boot. They spend most of their time trying to fuck each other (in a literal and figurative sense), never know what’s going on (which leads to frequent assassination, and thus turnover – terrible for morale), and loyally devoted to the established bureaucracy of the Guild. Not only are they evil, but they are sticklers for red tape administration. I originally though SPECTRE from the James Bond films would be the worst, as they are constantly stealing nuclear weapons and threatening to destroy the planet (where is the ROI or benefit to shareholders in that?), but they are at least mildly competent, and the Council is led by hologram David Bowie. (Evil + inept X boatloads of drugs) + David Bowie = terrible Board of Directors.

President: Mr Burns from “the Simpsons”. Do I need to explain who Mr Burns is, and why he’d be terrible to work under? He’s petty and vindictive, and constantly belittling Smithers, who must have the most massive inferiority complex. Mr Burns could certainly retire with all his wealth, but he sticks around only to make your life more difficult and unpleasant. On top of that, you have to consider the possibility that Smithers fits the profile of someone destined to shoot up his office.

CEO: Willy Wonka. Originally I was between Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark – two billionaires who don’t have much involvement in the day-to-day operations, but do show up to make massive demands of everyone else so they can go jerk off with some bad guys. But at least they are GOOD guys, because you could have Lex Luthor, who is malicious and very honed in on blowing up your house. So two inattentive options and a competent albeit evil one… none of these make for a necessarily terrible CEO. But Willy Wonka – oh man that guy is a dick. He constantly lets visitors DIE in his plant, and they most likely get folded into their final product – surely this kind of activity would require a shutdown, but no. He only hires little people, and forces them to live in the plant and to sing and dance on command. Cold Stone Creamery use to require employees sing whenever someone left a tip; obviously, I would put one dollar in at a time and make the employees sing again and again and again — now imagine that, AND dancing, AND living there, AND people dying all the time. This is a fucked up movie for children.

CFO: CHOAM from “Dune”. If you never read “Dune” (and you should!), CHOAM is the all-powerful international federation responsible for harvesting and distributing of the drug melange (or “spice”). Being drug pusher is hardly my biggest issue with CHOAM – lots of organizations push drugs, but their financial diversification is atrocious – they ONLY have spice, and nothing else. I don’t think having 100% of your future hinging on one asset is a wise fiscal path for a company, let alone one asset that is located on an inhospitable planet that is poorly managed and constantly under attack from environmental terrorists who constantly (and with surprisingly little coordination) disrupt the flow of spice, costing them incalculable sums. Just like that, with one tiny insurrection on a foreign planet, payday has been delayed. CHOAM fits the mold of evil AND shitty at their job.

COO: Weyland-Yutani from “Alien”. If it’s been awhile, let’s recount the terrible ways Weyland-Yutani screwed their employees: they are massively corrupt, they constantly lie to their employees about their missions, they transport bio hazards (to put it the nicest way possible) without alerting their teams, they require them to collect and maintain living samples of organisms regardless of the impact to the crew’s health, and attempt to clone zenomorphs. We’ve had a few terrible or morally bankrupt individuals or groups so far, but none have actively participated in having their employees brutally murdered through either gross negligence or premeditated murder. “Weyland-Yutani: You WILL Be Gutted By and Serve as a Vessel For an Alien”.

Attorneys: Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer from “Saturday Night Live” and Abyss from WWE. There are SO many fictional attorneys to choose from, but they tend to be knowledgeable or capable, if morally questionable, so finding some with particularly damning traits was a challenge but here we are. First, Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer: to start, he’s a defense attorney and therefore essentially useless to us in a corporate setting. Giving his lack of time in the modern world implies he has so many continued learning and education courses to take in order to get current, assuming he isn’t already behind on the technicalities. Do you think a caveman is going to be able to navigate the intricacies of a corporate merger? No way.

Second, Abyss from WWE. I don’t follow a ton of WWE (note – this means none at all beyond Wrestlemania – I’M ONLY SO MUCH OF A MAN), but Abyss is wrestling alias of Joseph Park, Esquire. So handling cases during the day, getting thrown through tables at night – this is going to lead to a lot of unexpected PTO dealing with those injuries. In the same vein, it’s got to be difficult to keep “work life” and “personal life” separate – imagine Stone Cold shows up and calls out your dignity? Well, workplace policies be damned, that son of a bitch has got to get power-dropped. I would be so pissed to have spent days prepping for a meeting with the corporate attorneys only for the table to get flipped and my chair ripped out from under me to be slammed against someone else. I WORKED REAL HARD ON THOSE PAMPHLETS YOU GUYS AND NOW THEY’RE COVERED IN SWEAT.

Accountants: Norm Peterson from “Cheers” and Ben Affleck from “the Accountant”. These choices mirror the logic behind our attorneys – one is incapable and the other has a lot of extracurricular baggage that all but guarantees you aren’t getting his full attention. Norm is a regular at Cheers, so you know he’s either chronically absent nursing a drink at the bar, calling off because he’s hungover or trying to tabulate this quarter’s figures with a blaring hangover. Sure, he’s a good guy, but you’re going to want to strangle him for his lack of dependability.

For Ben Affleck in “the Accountant” (Christian Wolff, if we want his actually character name, which we do not), he’s going to intermingle his personal life with work, and shoot anyone who attempts to pass off any bogus figures to him. We don’t need that level of energy here. He is, by far, the most capable person in the company, lending to his high-functioning form of autism, but he isn’t much fun to talk to at office parties. I really just want to lock him in a room with Norm. (Unrelated, but they should totally scrap an extended DC universe, and instead focus on sequels to “the Accountant” — they could TOTALLY make his character into something like autistic-Batman, and I would 100% see every single movie. Why waste times with shitty characters and shitty universes when we have a great one available?!?! Guys, I should totally work in Hollywood.)

HR: Pam Poovey from “Archer”. If you are unfamiliar with “Archer”, Pam is the HR rep for a spy agency who is quickly outed as a sexual harasser, sexist, racist drug-addict who is incapable of keeping a secret when not running her own fight club. I know it was an intentionally decision by the writers of this show to make the most straight-line person in a normal company the absolute worst person in this fictional company, but after wracking my brain, I cannot think of someone more (less?) suited to help our company achieve none of its goals.

R&D: Jurassic Park and Umbrella Corp from “Resident Evil”. Another instance were I couldn’t fairly decide which is truly worst, so we’ll cheat and combine them. Don’t like it? MAKE UP YOUR OWN THEN.

Jurassic Park is obvious – the audacity of man to recreate literal monsters that can snuff humans out without much effort, essentially replacing mankind as the apex predator. This is a group of people either unwilling to examine the ethical repercussions of their decisions, or never even considered them. The good news is these dinosaurs seem to have a great sense of only tearing the faces off of the bad guys, and letting the good guys escape with nary a scratch (and extraordinary amounts of PTSD). So as long as you’re one of the good guys trying to SAVE the dinosaurs and not kill them or sell them to the government, you’ll be fine. (Note – I recently saw “Jurassic World”, and they have a soundbite about how the company paid out $800 million in damages after the collapse of the park in the reboot, which seems wildly low. HUNDREDS of people were killed, with thousands more injured (including Jimmy Buffett!) due to insufficient protections and the fact they genetically bred the most vicious hybrid dinosaur possible. To put on my legal cap and invoke some torts, if you possess a vicious or wild animal, there is no protection or defense against this animal mauling or injuring a person. Dinosaurs would fit here. Yes I know I’m rambling).

Umbrella Corp repeatedly “accidentally” turns citizens and animals into ferocious zombies. You’d think the citizens of Raccoon City (terrible name) would bail and turn the town into a ghost town after one zombie scare, but no, this shit happens throughout a dozen games and a handful of movies. Seriously, how do you remain in business after everyone you know has been turned into a zombie and subsequently shot in the face?

Honorable mention – “Westworld”. Mostly because I don’t watch it because it’s essentially a intro-level philosophy course, and also because we already have one Michael Crichton property included. He definitely has a plot pattern he likes to stick to.

Front lines: The droid army from “Stars Wars” prequels. The worst possible people to helm our company on the front lines in day-to-day business and interact with our devoted, likely monopolistically-restrained customers would be the droid army from “Star Wars”. Hear me out – I was trying to think of the most inept possible group of people possible, and originally landed on stormtroopers. They can’t hit shit, they are constantly outmaneuvered by a poorly-managed rebel army and appear to fear failure more than desire achieving their mission (no I’m not talking about US forces in Vietnam), but then I realized, even this shit-bird army defeated the army of droids in the prequels. Somewhere out there is a massively disappointed engineer who realizes his life work is a massive failure that led to the rise of space fascism. To really hammer this home, imagine calling our shitty company and being forced to go through an endless parade of robo-messaging systems, endlessly screaming “I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK TO A HUMAN PLEASE”. But no human ever comes, because life in opposition to our company is futile.

So this is the worst company you could possible assemble. I like to imagine they decided to re-invent lawn darts and market them to children. Did I forget any truly terrible choices, or a specific role? Try to tell me I’m wrong in the comments, and then face me like a man you cowards.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Seventies Hairstyles: A Fictional History

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I’m not even going to pretend I have a premise for this beyond I wanted you to look at these resplendent haircuts and an excuse to gush about them. Let’s investigate!

  1. We start casually. This guy was on the board of his fraternity – and yes, it is a fraternity, not a frat – and was the terribly serious member that no one really liked having around. He always got huffy when people were drinking and smoking weed in the chapter house. He only got in because he was a legacy and Rog, his older brother, was a legend. A FUCKING LEGEND BRO. Rog once drank a bottle of Jim Beam and threw the bottle through the Sig Ep’s front window, and was responsible for bringing Blowjob Stacey into the house. Blowjob Stacey gave so many blowjobs you guys, and Rog was responsible for all it. Did you heard she died? Really sad dudes. RIP Blowjob Stacey.

What we’re we talking about? Oh yeah, this dude sucks. Not as much as Blowjob Stacey, but still pretty hard.

  1. This is an unfrozen caveman. This is an unfrozen caveman who has developed modern mannerisms and has gone on to establish a faithful following of people who believe he can educate them about living modern life to the fullest. Before long, this following has grown alienated from society and turned into what many would consider a cult. The followers don’t care, and therefore don’t notice as his daily wisdom devolves into more delusional lines of thinking. Before long, they are mapping Brezhnev’s speeches and Johnny Carson’s monologues against the astral alignments for wisdom. The wisdom guides them to hold orgies or commit petty crimes that would benefit Our Benevolent Eye (his nae for himself), but sometimes results in carjacking or kidnapping for ransom. One night, during a Tonight Show featuring Charles Grodin, the caveman addresses his charts and announces the Final Prophecy – to assassinate Sonny and Cher. Our Benevolent Eye despises “I Got You Babe”. The caveman and his followers head to Altamont Speedway to murder the iconic duo, but things go awry when the caveman is stabbed to death by the Hell’s Angels during the Rolling Stones set (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altamont_Free_Concert).
  1. This is the original cosplaying fanboy, masquerading as Spock much to his friends’ chagrin. When told Spock doesn’t slick his sideburns forward, he tells you Spock also doesn’t get as much pussy as he does, and pushes his fingers under your nose. You don’t know what it’s supposed to smell like, but you’re definitely repulsed.
  1. This guy was the lead singer in a soft rock band your mom loooooooooved. The delicate mustache. The soft vocals. The luscious feathered mane. The sensual lyrics. The pants that were unconformable snug in all the right places, yet still billowing around the ankles. Your mom lost her virginity to this guy’s voice, and your dad hates his band to this day because of it.
  1. A foreign-exchange student from Holland. He is terribly creepy in the sense he weirdly pressures women into letting him “please them” in broken English. Once the willies subside, you see he’s kind of charming and sweet in a nonthreatening, foreign way. He is a regular feature at the dive bar everyone frequents and tags along to all the parties despite not offering anything by the way of group dynamic and never bringing his own weed. Somehow does well in all his classes despite not understanding the language. No one knows where he lives, or how he gets money, but his accent is pretty funny so everyone lets him stick around.
  1. The local attorney. A bit of a smug prick, but he did bail you out after you punched that cop in the Howard Johnson’s parking lot. His chubby wife is a fixture at every social event, and is subsequently the town gossip despite having an affair he knows nothing about with the local pastor. He gets a new car every year and gets annoyed people aren’t more impressed. His lapels… man, he’s got the biggest lapels you’ve ever seen. They’re like the deck of an aircraft carrier. The look like the spokes of a windmill. You could hang glide off them. Thinks of himself as a more charming Matlock. He is not.
  1. “Guys do I look like Ringo? He’s definitely the coolest Beatle. When he’s headlining world tours on his own with a backing band made up of Paul McCartney and George Harrison, and fucking Barbara Bach, you’ll all think, ‘wow that guy was so right'”. Was only partially right (http://ultimateclassicrock.com/ringo-starr-barbara-bach/). Definitely talked frequently about how terrible a Bond Roger Moore was, but thinks George Lazenby was better than Sean Connery, if only because he thinks he’s totally nailing the post-Bond Lazenby haircut. The guy who’s also just a tad too drunk or just a bit too high to be pleasurable to hang out with. Will definitely try to bang your girlfriend the minute you leave the room to take a leak. Destined to end up driving a windowless van in the eighties and be arrested for public indecency. If he was this age today, he would be a men’s rights activist and frequent 4chan poster.
  1. A minor character in “Boogie Nights”, thinking this will be his big break into porn. Eventually ends up settling being a stand-in for Herman Munster. Dabbles in picture #2’s following, but only for the drugs and girls, managing to duck out before getting wrapped up in the real weird stuff. Ultimately ends in a coastal Mexican town where he is referred to as “El Puto”, which he thinks is an endearing nickname that translates into “the Legend “. It does not.
  1. The pastor of the local church. Your mom thinks he’s charming because he always makes a big deal out of her oatmeal raisin cookies for the bake sale, and your dad thinks he’s a huge boner. He is convinced he has the key to appealing to the youth, which involves rapping during Sunday school – “Hey I’m your pastor and I’m here to say / I’m want to show my love for Jesus everyday / I wrote this for the Christian youth / so I can show them the Christian truth”. Is indirectly responsible for the rise of picture #2’s cult as well as a few unaffiliated Satanic cults. Is plowing picture #6’s wife and thinks he’s so sly despite that time someone saw them together behind the local hardware store. Eventually is relocated as part of the church’s cover-up for past sexual abuses. Does the same. exact. shit. in the next town.
  1. Plays bass in #4’s band, and is super resentful of all the ass he pulls. Reconciles by doing dump truck loads of cocaine with the roadies. Eventually comes to terms he is gay, and becomes a star of the disco scene and serves as the inspiration for “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Does not survive into the eighties on account of all the cocaine.
  1. This is a relocated Colombian soccer player who had to flee the country due to some suspicious ties to drug lords. He loves disco, but eventually bails on the whole scene after realizing it’s populated by homosexuals and minorities, despite he himself being a minority. Puts the idea in picture #8’s mind that “El Puto” is an awesome nickname, and proceeds to constantly tell everyone about how funny about it. Works as a line chef in the Mexican restaurant the next town over because he is the only person who speaks Spanish, and the owners want the credibility that comes with employing the only Hispanic man in the tri-county area. Despite being broke and a kind of an asshole, always shows up with the best looking women who sustain his lifestyle and that immaculate perm.
  1. A British expatriate that talks about football all the time, but when you try to bring up OJ Simpson or Joe Namath, he starts talking about what a waste of talent George Best is. No one knows who George Best is. Constantly smokes cigarettes and drinks his warm beer alone at the end of the bar while complaining about the other patrons and the music. A bit too flip with slurs even for the time period, so people tend to avoid him and let him sulk by himself. Everyone figures he would be friends with picture #5, but he haaaaaaaaates #5. That’s fine because everyone would much rather hang out with #5 than listen to this guy prattle on about the Clash. No one likes the fucking Clash man, just learn to accept that this bar only plays Bob Seger and the Allman Brothers.
  1. I’m pretty sure this guy was in Spinal Tap. Edgar Winter would crib his look in later years. Talks all the time about all the girls he gets and all the awesome drugs he gets, but when pressed on either, points out the girls are from a few towns over and travel a lot and you wouldn’t know them, or how you’re too unsophisticated to appreciate his drugs. He gets all his drugs from high school kids hiding from picture #9. Tries to flirt with high school girls who want nothing to do with him, but will fleece him of his cash. Later moves into a trailer park at the edge of town where he frequently recalls his glory days to anyone who will listen, despite everyone knowing his glory days were lame. Never picks up on the fact no one wants to talk to him.
  1. The town simpleton. He bags groceries at the local chain, but might as well be the town mayor because he is everyone’s best friend. Mows lawns on the weekends for a bit of extra cash, but always manages to stop by to talk to your grandma because you are a selfish jerk who won’t do it. Eventually gets wrapped up solving mysteries with Scooby Doo and the Gang, before retiring from busting wealthy old men for trying to make money and inventing the Pet Rock. Retired to California with his lovely wife and children before deciding to get back out there and test his business acumen, and invents the pool noodle. This beautiful idiot is the most successful person you know, and you still continue to wish the best for him.
  1. Thinks of himself as the funniest person in town despite no one else sharing this belief. His parents wish he would just use his bright mind and go to med school, but insists on honing his comedian routine. His comedian routine eventually devolves into a ventriloquist bit, which kinda works for him for a bit, leading him to travel all over the country. He goes to Sioux Falls! Youngstown! Amarillo! Bangor! Falls in love with his puppet.
  1. Taking over his dad’s car dealership, although fancies himself a poet. Still fawns over his high school love even though she married the town jock and is divorced with two kids. She still wants nothing to do with him. Saves all his work in the hopes of becoming published one day, even though subconsciously he knows his best hope is posthumous fame once a more civilized and understanding culture prevails in decades to come. He lets his family push him into a loveless marriage with a woman who refers to her cats as her children, and slogs through life before becoming of local lore after murdering four people at a local restaurant before turning the gun on himself.

Yeesh. This got bleak. Haha #11 looks like Jack Black in Nacho Libre!

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Alaska Fairbanks Hockey Video

As an elementary school kid in the 90’s, I was a huge Chicago Bulls fan, because all children are front running dicks. I liked Michael Jordan, he seemed cool, and Scottie Pippen seemed to be good at basketball, and Dennis Rodman was like a circus clown in sneakers (flash forward two decades, and this is a remarkably quaint view of Dennis Rodman, international intermediary for North Korea). I did not like Karl Malone, he was boring, or John Stockton, because his shorts were too short, or the Utah Jazz as a whole, because what the hell did Jazz have to do with Utah? I have since learned the Utah team was the result of a relocation of a franchise originally from New Orleans, but my distrust of the Jazz for their appropriation of the concept to the least jazzy state persists.

The further away from the Chicago Bulls heyday of the 90s’s, the more I think I was really just a fan of the otherworldly videography of their entrance video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYFlzJyxWlw). The then-hip CGI bulls stampeding through Chicago with the building music with some dramatically dated synth solos – how could you NOT be on board for the Bulls after that? I thought nothing would replace the magnetism or energy-generating buzz of this video, but then I saw the University of Alaska Nanooks 2010 hockey introduction video, and guys, it transcends all mortal bounds. You may be thinking “well that seems a bit hyperbolic”, but you have not watched this video yet. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9cYcRotufU). Let go piece by piece through the finest piece of film work since Orson Welles put “Citizen Kane” to tape.

0:00 – 0:13: We open on the Northern Lights, because our director understands setting the stage for the location of our film is essential. The Alaska Nanooks logo fades into frame — are we suggesting this is a heretofore undiscovered constellation? Let’s go with that.

0:14 to 0:30: Upon unveiling the new constellation… what’s this I hear? IT’S THE CHICAGO BULLS ENTRANCE MUSIC! Greatness pays homage to it’s predecessors. I don’t know about you guys, but I am harder than diamond cutter right, and we have barely scratched the surface.

We further set the scene with an icebreaker crashing through some ice floe on a snowy night. I was never one for these extreme fishing shows, but man, being a sailor seems like a shitty, shitty job. And what is this ship doing way out here anyway? There’s no trade route that goes through ice floe, there’s nothing to discover, and there’s no reason to be out here. This seems like a very undesirable mission if you ask me.

0:31 – 0:32: The icebreaker has uncovered a polar bear frozen below the surface of the water; I’m no zoologist, but I’m pretty sure a normal polar bear could not survive being frozen in ice no matter how durable they are in the cold. Fortunately for this bear, he is no normal bear. He is RAIDEN, the lightning god of polar bears. Yes, the polar bear has been awakened, and a curse has been unleashed on this planet like nothing even the Old Testament could have predicted. THUNDER BEAR, because a regular polar bear wasn’t intimidating enough.

0:33 – 0:50: Thunder Bear stands up, suddenly escaped from his frozen prison. I wish he would share his secret to thawing because I always get annoyed when trying to thaw out frozen meat, and end up going to Taco Bell after waiting ten minutes for it to thaw.

A quick bit of research show that the United States Coast Guard primarily uses the Polar Star model of icebreakers, and according to Wikipedia, this ship is 137 feet tall measured from the waterline; Thunder Bear stands almost double that, with his hindquarters still below the waterline standing on… something. This bear is essentially Godzilla, right down the the as-of-yet undefined superpowers.

We don’t have to wait long to define this superpowers, as Polar Bear Raiden metastasizes a fucking hockey stick like it’s Excalibur. Before the crew can even start rationalizing the **literally unbelievable** shit unfolded before them, Thunder Bear uses Hockey Stick Excalibur to hack the ship in half for no reason. What did this ship do to warrant that type of response, bear? This seems like an unreasonable reaction, but polar bears are violent and territorial creatures, so maybe it was justified. The ship, breaking apart a la the Titanic if it snorted a dumpster full of crystal meth, explodes. To answer the previous question about what is this ship doing in the Arctic circle in the middle of the night, we now know the answer – shipping what appears to be 5,000 tons of dynamite.

All of this unfolds to “Self Control” by Laura Branigan, because we need to borrow from the Miami Vice soundtrack to round this out. We are LIVING, you guys.

0:51 – 1:02: IT’S THE MOTHERFUCKING “DANGER ZONE”. I am confident Kenny Loggins did not sign off on the use of his signature track for this video, but once he saw this batshit insane video, I bet he could not be more enthusiastic about its inclusion. Thunder Bear pulls on his aviators while piloting his own jet now that, hinging on the previous estimates of his size, must be thousands of feet across wingtip to wingtip. Awesome. Seeing as how we have moved from Raiden Polar Bear to a Top Gun homage, we will now refer to him as “Ice Bear”. I hope Val Kilmer appreciates the hat tip.

Two more enormously-sized-yet-pilot-capable bears join Ice Bear, which is surely a bad sign. Seeing three superpower-infused polar bears piloting the finest American jet fighters reminds me of a Genghis Khan’s quote: “I am the punishment of God –  if you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.” Whatever these bears are after is FUCKED. Our copilots (both in helmets, by the way, whereas Ice Bear is not – I hope he’s being safe up there because he is surely violating OSHA workplace safety laws without a helmet) give Ice Bear a signal, which probably isn’t advisable in a real fire fight because how would you see hand gestures in a plane flying hundreds of miles an hour through massively expanses of sky but anyway, he jerks the gear shift down. In reality, this motion would redirect the plane into a downward trajectory, but this isn’t reality, and two missiles are fired.

1:03 – 1:08: The missiles hit Miami University (in Ohio), Ohio State University and Michigan State University. We won’t address the impossibility of hitting all three schools spread across the Midwest with only two missiles , but we will say this seems like another egregious example of unwarranted hostility. I’m sure there are plenty of people in those schools who don’t care about hockey and are pro-polar bears, and you just blew them all up.

1:08 – 1:22: The next target is acquired: a volcano. Ice Bear drops a dumb bomb into the volcano that, predictably, causes a wild and unrealistic explosion. The explosion proceeds to vaporize the Earth, which explodes in a manner similar to the Death Star. Ice Bear has destroyed the earth in order to fire us up for a hockey game, except we’re all dead now and there’s nowhere to play a hockey game now that the planet has been reduced to dust. Ice Bear is extremely shortsighted.

1:23 – 1:38: Ice Bear is now flying his terrestrial aircraft through a wormhole in space, because your reality is a figment of a far more advanced being’s concept of the universe. This wormhole looks suspiciously like the one Han Solo had to fly through in order to make the Kessel Run in “Solo”. The ship then blows apart because, again, this is a plane meant to fly in the earth’s atmosphere now flying through space, but Ice Bear continues to survive based on sheer will, and is now flying through the wormhole using Hockey Stick Excalibur as his guiding force (where was that thing stashed in that plane? I can only suspend my belief so much, but it is just too much to pretend that hockey stick was tucked away in the cabin of that jet). This part feels like Leia floating through space in “The Last Jedi”. This video came out in 2010, mind you – this video predicted key parts of two Star Wars movies that were still years away.

1:39 – 1:41: In case you remained curious about where this hockey game was going to occur, Ice Bear exits the wormhole to find a hockey arena on a little plat of earth like it’s a gas station in “Futurama”. I mean, sure. Whatever you say at this point.

1:42 – 1:49: Ice Bear crashes through ceiling (that would certainly delay the start of the impending game, if not result in it’s cancellation in order to remove DOZENS OF STEEL BEAMS off the ice), somersaults onto his feet, WHICH HAVE ICE SKATES ON THEM. You’re telling me this gigantic bear flew a jet plane, blew up the earth, traveled through a wormhole, then flew through space without any protective gear, all while wearing ice skates? Ice Bear shows he is one helluva skater as he carves his way down the ice. Either Ice Bear has returned to normal polar bear sized, or this ice rink is enormous.

1:49 – 2:11: Ice Bear slaps home a goal (really a layup without a goalie in the cage but whatever), and the goal proceeds to explode, because apparently everything explodes like we’re in a Michael Bay movie now. The bear roars as the flames rage behind him, because Ice Bear is cool as shit (see also: aviators) and would never look at the explosion going on behind him. The camera fades, the Alaska Nanooks constellation resurfaces, and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” starts blaring. I don’t know about you, but I am ready for some motherfucking hockey.

If you didn’t watch the video and merely relied on me to recount what some may call a bonkers YouTube video but I would call film making mastery, I implore you to watch for yourself. It is even crazier than it sounds. And less you think this is the craziest thing ever, THERE’S ANOTHER ONE (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5YjPteCPLo)! This video from 2007 features another bear in space, but this time he looks like if Ted Cruz was a polar bear, but the bear was the Star Child from “2001: A Space Odyssey”, the same three songs, and a satellite being slapped into space. I cannot wait for the sequel where we all live inside Thunder Bear’s extreme imagination.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 13 in Today I Learned – The Great Emu War

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Are you familiar with the concept of “nuisance wildlife management”? It involves the removal of problematic or invasive species from areas where they are not wanted. Before you get all huffy and invoke the wraith of PETA, the idea is to protect humans from the transfer of diseases permitted by wild animals or protecting crops from species that come to thrive after becoming habituated to humanity’s presence. In many instances, the animals are literally removed – their access to the areas are blocked or the animals are trapped and released elsewhere, but in some instances, like in rats in Alberta (which boasts a rat population of zero) or feral pigs in Texas, where they are exterminated in mass. In Australia, emu fall under the latter. In Australia, the concept of “nuisance wildlife management” merged with military operations, leading to the Great Emu War (not to be confused with the Great Emo War of 2005, when My Chemical Romance and Brand New had concerts on the same street in Milwaukee on the same night, leading fans to battle over whose music was “more sincere”).

Post World War 1 (1932, to be exact), people began to settle and farm the previously barren western part of Australia due to advances in farming technology, which was great given the global depression and need for more crops. The issue was emus tend to migrate from place to place in order to find beneficial habitats, and emus LOVED the open spaces and now-massive bounty of crops. Seeing as how subtly is not a trait that traversed from England, the Australians appointed Major GPW Meredith of the Seventh Heavy Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery to eradicate the threat, err, birds. Their weapon of choice: the Lewis gun – a light machine gun manufactured by the British for use in World War 1. Again – to fight some birds.

Almost immediately, the birds proved to be far more beguiling than originally thought. When the force attempted to herd the emus into range for the Lewis guns, the birds scattered and immediately became infinitely more difficult to target. Day 1: Failure.

Day 2: Okay we took a week off and planned ahead here – we’ve established an ambush point, and a local farmer reported more than 1,000 emus were seen moving towards the area. The gunners, giddy with anticipation, waited until the birds cluttered the area, annnnnnd had their guns jam after killing only twelve birds. Day 2 resulted in another discouraging result.

Day 3: The “Minister of the Emu War”, as Major Meredith had come to be called, called for the guns to be fixed to the back of a truck in order to move with the birds. A-ha! A brilliant strategic break-through! Except the birds travel in small flocks, making it hard to kill more than one or two at a time, and are quick to scatter. Now for some “Zoobooks”-esque facts on emus – they can grow to be up to six feet tall and 90 pounds, and can run – sustainable – up to 31 miles per hour. It didn’t take long for the trucks to get outpaced by the birds on unstable terrain, to which the trucks couldn’t drive over or the gunners aim with any accuracy. There was a crash after one bird got caught in the steering wheel. I would love to see the series of events that led to a bird getting caught in a steering wheel. After three separate days, broken up by weeks of planning and re-evaluation of tactics, estimates say 2,500 rounds of ammunition had been fired and only fifty birds had been killed.

Day 4: After massive public backlash due to critical news media over the results, efforts were halted, but within a month, farmers were pleading for any help driving the pests back. This being Australia, and Australians not knowing when to just take this ‘L’ and move forward, returned to the field of battle in hopes of glory. Glory was not to be found: sources note the military “found a degree of success” over the first two days of the second wave, killing roughly forty emus. After a more sustained approach, the Emu Strike Force began to average about one hundred emus a week over the next month. This sounds like a success but consider an estimated 20,000 emus had originally flooded the western farm lands. Like the manager for an outmatched and staggering boxer, the towel was thrown and the mission withdrawn.

After the failed excursion, Major Meredith remarked, “If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world… they can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks. They are like Zulus whom even dum dum bullets could not stop.” Not seen: the inevitable research into converting emus in war birds a la raptors in the Jurassic Park reboot. The farmers would formally request help on three more occasions, and instigated a bounty system in order to thin the raging herds, but eventually found the solution for the flightless menace: fences. Seriously. The birds out-maneuvered the Australian military, but were ultimately done in by fences.

Arch Stanton Guest Post: Episode 12 of Today I Learned – Porter Rockwell, the Destroying Angel of Mormondom

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I usually drum my fingers on my chin while looking astute trying to think of an engaging introduction to these like Bugs Bunny scheming to outwit Elmer Fudd. I usually try to work in something topical or relevant to engage our TENS of readers, but not this week. DESTROYING ANGEL OF MORMONDOM. Look at the picture! I will never think of something more engaging than that.
Porter Rockwell was born in 1813 or 1815 (he didn’t know) in Massachusetts next door to Joseph Smith, the future founder of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, and was immediately hooked on the religion, which was more or less a cult at the time with only a handful of devotees at the time. Rockwell was baptized into the religion the day it was founded at only sixteen. After the Mormons were booted out of Massachusetts for being weirdos and settling in Ohio, Joseph Smith had a hunch this mecca was not complete yet, and sent Rockwell to Missouri to scout a more final location. It was in Missouri Rockwell essentially became an otherworldly badass.
Before long, Rockwell had gotten comfortable with a gun, and was pretty quickly arrested as a suspect in an assassination against the Missouri governor, Lilburn Boggs. People in the 1800s had way cooler names than shit like Jaydyyn or Tannyr today. He was almost immediately released because even if the state hated the Mormons, they still didn’t have anything like “evidence” or “witnesses” linking Rockwell to the alleged attempt. Before long, Mormons had began settling in Missouri and doing horrible things like opposing slavery, leading Governor Boggs to issue Executive Order 44 which was basically the original Purge if you were Mormon (seriously – the purpose was to “evict Mormons from Missouri by any means possible, including violence”). Writing on the walls, the Mormons bailed the hell out of Missouri, which was really a blessing in disguise if we look at the options at the time (Utah or Missouri? Hmmm). While they were leaving in the politest way possible, our friend Governor Lilburn was shot by an unknown assailant, which of course, could have only been because of the Mormons. Rockwell was held for eight months in jail awaiting trial before being released due to another lack of evidence. When later asked if he actually was responsible for the Governor’s assassination, Rockwell responded “I’ve never shot **at** anyone, if i shoot, they get shot – he’s still alive, isn’t he?”
As the last Mormon out of Missouri, Rockwell walked his ass to the new Mormon holy land in Illinois (not Utah yet), where Joseph Smith first thought him a drunk looking for a fight due to his long hair before he recognized the church’s most devote follower. It was at this point, Smith promised Porter if he remained faithful to the church and did not cut his hair, he would never suffer death from a bullet. Spoiler – he never cut his hair, and he died of natural causes in 1878, because Smith was either a wizard or Rockwell was a living legend.
Fast forward a few years – we’re still in Illinois (booo), and Joseph Smith has been assassinated (booo!). The good news is he has Rockwell watching his back, and the guy is not here to take ANY shit, and he went out and killed the alleged assassin. Rockwell was arrested again (this time – they kinda had a point), but was acquitted by new Mormon leader Brigham Young, referring to it as an act of self defense. So what if he hunted this guy and murdered him in vengeance, we’ll call it self defense if we want to dammit.
The church eventually gets to to Utah, where Rockwell is appointed Deputy Marshall of Salt Lake City, and guys, he was AMAZING at it. A rugged mountain man, guide, hot springs operator (????) and ruthlessly devoted to the law, he is estimated to have killed more men than Wyatt Earp, Doc Holladay, Tom Horn and Bat Masterson COMBINED. When asked about this in the twilight of his life, responded “I never killed anyone who didn’t need killing.” HOOOOOOOOLY SHIT I didn’t know you could actually survive, let alone act as a sheriff, with balls this big. Are you starting to see where the name “the Destroying Angel” came from?
I lied earlier when I said he never cut his hair – he allegedly cut his long luscious locks in order to provide a wig for a widow balding from typhoid fever (this lady would eventually give birth to the future Poet Laureate of California – Porter Rockwell, the Destroying Angel of Mormondom and diligent appreciator of the fine arts). Author Fitz Hugh Ludlow described him as such:
“But he was that most terrible instrument that can be handled by fanaticism; a powerful physical nature welded to a mind of very narrow perceptions, intense convictions, and changeless tenacity. In his build he was a gladiator; in his humor a Yankee lumberman; in his memory a Bourbon; in his vengeance an Indian. A strange mixture, only to be found on the American Continent.”
I can only wish people will say such awesome shit about me after I die. Porter Rockwell was essentially a founding member of the Mormom religion, a bodyguard for both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and while he only had a 50% success rate at that particular function, he was an unmatched sheriff and mountain man to boot. You started reading this and thought the name was a bit hyperbolic, but admit it – “the Destroying Angel” seems to almost sell this guy short, even if it is one thousand times more metal than anything Slayer ever did.