Showing posts with label offbeat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label offbeat. Show all posts

Friday, December 14, 2012

Beware of flooding

Imagine a millionaire, with a constant urge to make more millions. At a religious level, let's suppose that our millionaire happens to be a young-Earth creationist. They're the crazy folk—like our Aussie nitwit politician Steve Fielding, evoked here—who believe that God spent a busy week making the world, before being overcome by a psychopathic desire to destroy the results of his week of toil by means of a huge flood, designed to exterminate mankind. Finally, let's suppose that our rich creationist is Dutch. That's to say, he resides in a land that could rapidly be flooded dramatically if ever sea levels were to rise as a consequence of global warming... or because of an act of God in another homicidal mood. If the fellow whom I've asked you to imagine were to actually exist today, in flesh and blood, what would he be doing? The answer is obvious. He would be building an ark.

That's exactly what Johan Huibers has been doing over the last couple of decades. Construction of the huge vessel has been completed, and it was officially launched a few days ago. And Johan is henceforth awaiting, with confidence, the Apocalypse: first, the Mayan business, then maybe, with a bit of luck, a tidal wave or two. In any case, even creationists never know the surprises that God's got up his sleeve...

The replica uses measurements obtained from the Bible, but the builder has taken the liberty of incorporating various features that God and Noah overlooked. For example, the Dutch ark can welcome up to 1500 visitors at a time, and these Biblical tourists have access to a big restaurant and a movie theater. As far as non-human animals are concerned, they're mostly sculptures.

The Gallica website recently displayed here a small series of beautiful medieval images of the Biblical ark. As soon as we analyze these images, however, it becomes clear that artists in those days (the Middle Ages) must have had a terribly fuzzy conception of reality. Consider, for example, this presentation of the construction of the vessel:

It looks as if they're putting the finishing touches to a carnival float representing a big walnut. There's no way in the world that this thing they're building might sail upon the flood waters with a gigantic cargo of specimens of all of God's creatures. But my negative remarks are unkind, and they merely reveal my lack of faith. The following image proves that Noah's adventure got off to a delightful start:

I wonder what role the lady in red will be playing during the voyage. Would this be Lady Noah? Her clothes are not quite right for work as a deckhand, feeding the animals and shoveling out their dung. The following image is meant to show us how everybody has been housed aboard the vessel:

Here's another depiction of the ship's quarters:

The respective sizes of the various creatures have been handled by the artist in a very loose fashion, as if he wasn't greatly worried about reality. I wonder if he actually noticed that his ducks were bigger than horses, or whether this trivial detail escaped his attention.

Believers (like the crazy Dutchman) would probably tell me that images such as these must be taken merely as symbols, rather than realistic diagrams. Fair enough; nobody in his right mind would ever consider this artwork as realistic. But symbols are a convenient notion for trying to hide the obvious fact: namely, that there can be no plausible reality whatsoever behind the story of Noah.

Finally, the voyage went over well. And the following image suggests that, when they were about to return to dry land, many of the supplies stored down in the lower hull hadn't even been touched.

I would imagine that it had been such a fabulous and exciting trip that none of the passengers had even thought about eating. I hope that visitors aboard the Dutch ark won't behave like that, because Johan Huibers will be needing a constant flow of hungry clients in his big restaurant. Otherwise, no white dove will descend from the heavens to tell him that there's a fortune in cash on the horizon.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Don't throw bananas onto the track

A 30-year-old Japanese sprinter, Kenichi Ito, has just established a new world record of 17.47 seconds for the 100 meters. Click here to admire a video of his performance.

In an Olympic context, if I had to choose between synchronized swimming and running on all fours, I wouldn't hesitate in preferring to watch the monkey business. In fact, when I observe some of the swimmers' contortions, I wonder whether some of these women might not be able to turn themselves into top-level monkey runners.

As far as exciting spectator sports go, I would even place monkey running ahead of curling.

There again, maybe there could be some sort of amalgam between the two sporting disciplines, by requiring curling competitors to slide around on the glass on all fours, in the style of seals, with their noses down at the level of the granite stone.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Restoration of the holy image

I was inspired by Cecilia Gimenez for her restoration of Ecce Homo.

The original was indeed a bit dull, and it needed fixing.

Like many other Internet artists, I felt like getting involved in this fascinating field of restoration. And I was inspired, too, by Clint Eastwood's recent contribution to the Mitt Romney circus.

You can find a huge collection of masterpieces here.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Darwin nomination

You've probably heard of the prestigious Darwin Awards:
In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chances of long-term survival.
So, the winner of a Darwin Award [click here to visit their website] is necessarily a dead idiot whose disappearance inspires us in the sense that we would like to see more individuals of his kind removed forever from our gene pool. The award winner is the posthumous symbol of a branch of humanity for whom our dearest and deepest (unspoken) wishes would be extinction.

I've just found my personal candidate for the forthcoming award. I'm happy to present this silly dead bugger to my readers. First, you need a few elements of US backwoods culture, straight from Monsanto. You see, folk in that part of the world have met up, for ages, with a legendary apelike creature known as Bigfoot, whose rare sightings are awesome. The following image of Bigfoot proves that he exists.

But, even in Monsanto, lots of folk refuse to believe in Bigfoot. So, they need a little nudge, otherwise belief in Bigfoot might subside, which would be a state calamity. A bit of military gear does the trick.

This outfit is known as a Ghillie suit, used as close-combat camouflage, and you can buy one through the Internet.

A certain Randy Lee Tenley, 44, of Kalispell, Montana was apparently alarmed by the recent drop in Bigfoot sightings. He decided that the most efficient promotional act would consist of buying a Ghillie outfit and wandering around on a local highway, in the hope of arousing talk about the legendary creatures. Sadly, the silly bugger got run over, Ghillie suit and all, by a passing driver. RIP, Randy. I hope and pray that you'll get a Darwin Award. You deserve it. There should be more deaths like yours.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The day started nicely

This morning, things started out quite well for me. After being woken up by the dull thuds of one of my donkeys (the young female) rummaging around in my pumpkin patch, I was relieved to discover that Fanette had in fact behaved quite daintily, in the sense that she'd simply gobbled up a few carrot and turnip plants, but hadn't crushed any of my pumpkins. Here are some dismal photos of the pumpkin patch in the heat of day:

The pumpkin plants were in mourning. The right adjective is "droopy".

In the midst of that stultifying droopiness, that pumpkin is probably ripe. Besides, how do you know whether a pumpkin's ripe or not?

Happily, a few hours later on, in the cool of the evening, the plants emerged from the doldrums, and all the stalks and leaves returned to their normal erect state, as if they'd always looked like that.

Naturally, a sprinkling of water made them perk up even more, as the cool evening set in. Incidentally, I'm convinced that professional photographers working for gardening magazines must operate either very early in the morning or during the evening (maybe with artificial lighting). Their editors would never accept the spectacle (authentic, nevertheless) of midday vegetal droopiness.

OK. Let me get back to my subject. I was happy, this morning, because I finally found a way of solving (I think) a challenge that has pursued me ever since I started to write this blog, back in December 2006. I'm talking of the possibility of consulting easily and meaningfully the archives of my Antipodes blog. The more I write, the more I feel that many of my past thoughts and feelings have become submerged, unfortunately, in the historical bulk of the blog. For a time, I played (unfruitfully) with the idea of a potential software tool that might facilitate access to the Antipodes archives. Theoretically, the search box up in the top left corner of the Antipodes page lets you find almost anything and everything. But readers don't necessarily know what search arguments they should enter.

In any case, the new approach I've decided to adopt is based upon the Blogger phenomenon of so-called static pages. I've started to build one such page, labeled Gamone, which you can find in the right-hand side bar. For the moment, apart from the concept itself, don't expect too much. The creation of these pages will take a lot of work, and I'm just beginning...

Well, everything was fine until I sat down in front of my faithful Mac and took a look at the major news events of the morning. And that's when the Holy Shit struck the fan. Prince Harry's bum!

For those who preferred a front view, carrot-haired Harry was obliging.

Stone the crows, I say. Enough is fucking enough. It's high time to get rid of that royal bunch of dimwits. But do whatever you please, my dear British brothers. I can understand perfectly well that your grand theoreticians have studied in depth all these questions based upon data concerning the Royals, the Games, the Pound Sterling, etc. And, even if Harry were to get involved in porn videos, the analyses of n° 10 Downing Street would continue to take everything in their stride. That's what made Britain great. But shit: Internet images of Prince Harry's bum?

Later on in the day, I was annoyed to discover that some kind of bug was infesting the Antipodes blog. Both inside the blog itself, and in associated files, every occurrence of the term "English" was accompanied by a tiny piece of software spam shit.

I lost little time in tracking down the cause of this annoyance: a nasty piece of nonsense known as Text Enhance, which invades your personal working domain and attaches little pieces of shitty publicity. When I started to complain about this state of affairs, I was amazed to receive an e-mail from the perpetrators of this shit, who directed me to a website telling me how to get rid of their nasty stuff. As I see things, I would suggest, it it were possible, that the perpetrators of Text Enhance might stuff themselves up Harry's princely bum. And we might all live happily ever after.

Yes, the day started nicely. And it ended nicely too, in wisdom. I've learned that we're really living in a crazy place. But, for an atheist such as me, adjusted to Sisyphian joy, what the fucking hell!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

French wallaby living dangerously

For the last few days, a wallaby that escaped from a property in south-west France has been gallivanting around the countryside, often alongside busy highways.

When the animal happened to stop for a rest in a roadside parking zone, French gendarmes tried to capture it, but they were dismayed to discover that the wallaby simply hopped away.

Experienced Australian readers might be able to suggest reliable methods for capturing the animal before it gets annihilated by a vehicle. Maybe the gendarmes should simply try to put salt on its tail...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Exciting foot and leg wear

Recently, somewhere out in the wide wild world of fashion design, a genius came up with the following prototype:

Let's say that you could wear these shoes, for example, when you're out on a surfboard in the waters off the West Australian coast, waiting for a wave. There's no way in the world that a big hungry fish might try to snap off your snappy shoes, chained safely to your shins.

I imagine an elegant high-end steel-gray version of this footwear: the jailbird model.

Curiously, after their brilliant prototype, the designers of the Adidas model seem to have run out of imagination. They could have easily added extra chains, in colorful hues, extending up to the wearer's wrists and—why not?—his stupid neck.

Suddenly I'm reminded of a trivial but true anecdote, many years ago, in the family flat of our concierge (guardian) in the rue Rambuteau. One of the youths was trying to lower a heavy bed from a first-floor window to the pavement in the courtyard, several meters below the window. To support the weight of the bed, he had coiled the ropes around his shoulders and neck. All of a sudden, he lost his grip on the ropes, and the big bed jolted downwards until it was suspended in the air about two meters above the surface of the courtyard. Meanwhile, the ropes had tightened around the fellow's neck, and he was choking for breath. We terrified onlookers lost precious seconds while we climbed onto chairs and boxes to take the weight of the bed, enabling the silly bugger to unwind the noose that was strangling him and get loose. In fact, he had a few screws loose, as they say. Fascinated by firemen, he always got around in the rue Rambuteau wearing bits and pieces of a fireman's uniform... in spite of the fact that no self-respecting unit of firemen would ever accept such fellow in their ranks.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Antipodean exploits

The first exploit is simply an unbelievable catch in a game of cricket in New Zealand. The ball was about to touch the ground beyond the official boundary of the playing field, in which case the batsman would have made a substantial score. To avoid such a happening, a fieldsman in the other team leaped into the air at the last moment, and grabbed the ball. Then, during the half a second that he was still in the air, this fellow tossed the ball to a fellow fieldsman who was located well inside the playing field, and this second fieldsman had no trouble in catching the ball. So, theoretically, the batsman was caught out. Here's the video:

The second exploit concerns an Australian girl who went bungee jumping in Zimbabwe, on the edge of the Victoria Falls.

When she was down near the surface of the water, the cord snapped, and she got carried away (her ankles still tied together) by the rapidly-flowing Zambezi River. Miraculously, she survived with no more than a few bruises. Here's the video:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Enough to turn an aging gentleman off women forever

I warn you. This is an incredibly nasty video:

Survivors might cry out for help. I would dearly love to direct fellow males to interesting images, for a minimum of erotic appeasement. Alas, I seem to have mislaid my book of web addresses.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

At times, it helps if you're blonde

It goes without saying that, for young American women, there's no stigma attached to being blonde. Here's a delightful specimen, whom I believe I've presented already, several years ago:

The color of a woman's hair is of no significance whatsoever. But, in certain cases, it helps...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Windy wedding in Arizona

This short video shows memorable moments of an Arizona wedding:

As you see in the video, it had been been planned that, during the ceremony, the bride and groom would take up two jars of sand and mix their contents together in a third container, thereby symbolizing the eternal fusion of two souls in the holy union of wedlock.

Jeez, that lovely symbolic message sure came through loud and clear. In any case, I would like to imagine that the newlyweds will live together in calm harmony for ever and ever. But I have my doubts...

Monday, October 24, 2011

Holy spirited driver

My mother used to tell us an amusing anecdote about a car excursion from South Grafton to the beach at Yamba. Her oldest brother, Eric Walker, was at the wheel, while their mother (whom my siblings and I always referred to as Grandma) was seated in the rear. Suddenly, on a narrow stretch of the highway running alongside the Clarence River, they were overtaken in a dangerous manner by a speeding vehicle. They noticed immediately that it was the black sedan owned by the Roman Catholic church of South Grafton. The driver, alone in the vehicle, was the local parish priest, Father O'Meara. Eric was so startled that he started to curse the priest, whereupon Grandma came to the defense of the speeding ecclesiastic.

GRANDMA: He has probably received a phone call asking him to rush to the bedside of a dying parishioner.

ERIC: Like bloody hell. He's speeding to get to the pub in Maclean in time for a beer before closing time.

I thought of that anecdote when I read an amazing article in today's Australian media. A few days ago, the local priest from South Grafton, Father Peter Jones, was stopped by police for driving dangerously on the road from South Grafton to Yamba, in the vicinity of Maclean. Alarmed drivers had phoned the police when they saw the priest's white Toyota zigzagging from one side of the road to the other.

[Click the photo of Father Jones to access a newspaper article]

When a police officer attempted to use a hand-held breathalyzer to determine the priest's blood-alcohol state, his intoxication was so high that the machine was incapable of supplying a result. So the offender was taken to the police station in Maclean, where a more sturdy apparatus gave a reading of 0.341. Not only was this result some seven times the legal limit, but the drunken priest supplied one of the highest blood-alcohol readings ever recorded in the history of the New South Wales police. A specialist explained that guzzling down beer alone would not be able to produce such a high reading. So, the priest had surely been imbibing a large quantity of far more potent spirits. Thank God that nobody struck a match near the good man, for they might have all been consumed in a ball of fire.

My grandmother would have said that, in such a state of inebriation, the priest was surely being protected from an accident by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Good idea for a hat

Here's a picture of the kind of hat I have in mind:

Let me refer to it as an iHat (even though I would imagine that this term is already being used out in the wide world). The top hat style—which is just one suggestion among others—has the advantage of offering a rigid lightweight structure to house both the electronic components and the wearer's skull. The size of the hat and the position of the flat screen would have to be adjusted so that it could be worn by people who don't necessarily have receding Neanderthal foreheads.

The front section of the hatband conceals an elegant pull-down keyboard. Inside the crown of the hat, above the top of the wearer's head, there would be ample room for the power source and a rich assortment of components.

To help pay for the high-tech hat, the wearer might decide—from time to time, when he's not himself working with the iHat—to display publicity in the style of TV ads, aimed at viewers seated opposite him in public transport, waiting rooms, etc. At sporting events, the screen might display the colors of the team that the wearer is supporting.

Interesting and beautiful variants of the iHat could be designed for special occasions, such as weddings or horse races of the Ascot kind.

Naturally, people wearing particularly exotic iHats equipped with high-powered electronic devices emitting intense electromagnetic radiation would be advised to have their brains scanned from time to time, just to be sure there's no damage.

It would be advisable to secure the iHat to the wearer's neck by some kind of metal chain or cable. It would be silly if a valuable iHat were to be blown off by the wind and crushed by an automobile, or grabbed by an evil strike-and-run hat thief.

No problems

It's easy if you try.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Postman needs a vacation

This true story about a French thief is similar—on the surface—to the anecdote described in my recent blog post entitled Lovers lanes for an ex-husband [display].

In the city of Moselle (province of Lorraine), over the last ten years, a middle-aged postman has stolen 13,000 items that he was supposed to deliver. Amazingly, he stored all this stolen mail in his attic, where it was discovered in a more-or-less intact state. The most intriguing aspect of the thief's behavior was his predilection for simple postcards, of the trivial kind that tourists send back home to their loved ones.

Not surprisingly, psychiatrists concluded that the postman was a compulsive kleptomaniac, but he's thought to be totally responsible for his acts. In other words, he's by no means clinically crazy. The postman himself is incapable of explaining objectively why he committed all this theft, but he admits that he has always been fascinated by the kinds of simple family letters and postcards that he stole.

The poor guy is likely to be sent away on a three-year vacation for theft, accompanied by another three years for a fuzzy crime described as "violation of the secrecy of private correspondence". I would have imagined that, in our Internet age—where organizations and individuals are constantly sticking their noses into other people's business—the latter concept would have become somewhat obsolete.

I hope the authorities will give us the guy's address in jail, enabling well-wishers to send him friendly postcards.

This story has a happy ending. The postal authorities are in the process of forwarding all the stolen mail to its rightful receivers. Since we live in the best of all possible worlds, I'm sure that many people will be so thrilled to receive this long-overdue mail that they'll spontaneously dash off a thank-you postcard to the postman.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jesus walked on the waters of Irene

I can't help loving Americans. [And I promise not to use a single swear-word in this blog post.] They're innocent childlike observers of the calamities of the universe, and they're especially skilled in Biblical stories concerning the Deluge. Jesus Christ is constantly just around the corner. Often, a delightful word seems to describe adequately the attitudes of certain descendants of the Founding Fathers: dumbfounded.

The journalist Jojo deserves deserves some kind of prize for perseverance. He should be sent off immediately to a front-line war zone in Libya. I have a gut feeling that Jojo would rapidly unearth Gaddafi, because Jojo wouldn't be deterred by side-effects and noise. Outstanding US media professionals like Jojo tend to talk well in front of a microphone, but we may not necessarily learn much from what they're saying.
Back to the studio for further last-minute news…

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lovers lanes for an ex-husband

This true story, in yesterday's French press, is sad but strangely beautiful. Late on Monday evening in the city of Albi (south-west France), police came upon a 67-year-old man perched on a stool by the roadside, busily unscrewing a sign bearing the name of a nearby locality. When they got around to inspecting the fellow's house, the police found a room in which a hundred or so local road signs were neatly stacked.

The man told the police that, since his recent divorce, which had been a particularly painful event in his life, he had been vainly attempting to recover the romantic sensations of his married days by collecting all the road signs indicating places associated with that happy epoch of his life. And, whenever he came upon a signpost indicating such a place, he had got into the habit of unscrewing it and taking it back to his house as a souvenir of those happy days. Since his married life had been full of joyful events (at least from the husband's viewpoint), his collection of signs had become quite large.

The police informed the fellow that he would be charged with unlawfully removing public property, then they let him return home. Before the trial, he'll be receiving a summons to spend a few hours with a court-appointed psychiatrist. Indeed, the police suspect that the poor fellow is crazily in love (literally)… with his ex-wife, or with road signs, or maybe with both.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ah, to be a glorious banker!

I was overcome emotionally by these spontaneous expressions of deep love towards Tan Sri Teh, the 81-year-old founder of a private bank in Malaysia, celebrating the bank's 45th birthday. The cherished old man, who is escorted into the arena in the style of a Roman emperor on a chariot, is described in an anthem as a "living legend" and a champion. This video is rather long (7.5 minutes), but I advise you to persevere to the end, to capture the mounting enthusiasm of the host of well-wishers.

Wicked European journalists described this charming gentleman and the glitzy happening as "megalomaniac" and "kitschissimo".

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

French cat on the booze

This photo (tidied up slightly with Photoshop), from the archives of the French national library, is a hundred years old.

[Click to enlarge slightly]

Alcoholism has been a problem in France for a long time. In a pathetic case such as this, I would say that the cat's owners (if indeed it is owned by anyone at all) are just as much to blame as the cat, if not more. When you acquire a cat or a dog, the least thing is that you instill sound moral principles in the animal, and keep it away from hard liquor.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Jingle cash bells

Regular readers of my Antipodes blog will have noticed that I often go out of my way to give a friendly helping hand to needy causes that appear to be worthy of my patronage.

So, that's why I've decided to throw in this small plug for a time-honored department store in London. In using the adjective "needy", I must admit that I'm merely judging the present state of this prestigious shop on the basis of a somewhat disturbing news item… although I must add that I haven't had time to drop across to the other side of the English Channel to verify personally this news. Apparently they've decided to install, at the height of summer, their Christmas 2011 displays. My only guess is that they're desperate for cash, and that their dire straits force them to adopt this incongruous marketing solution.

I'm particularly enticed by a delightful article that is indeed presented on their Christmas 2011 web pages [display]. I'm talking of a deluxe version (a little less than 80 quid sterling) of Freddie, the Harrods 2011 Christmas Bear. I'm thinking of ordering a specimen in the next few days—before the store runs out of bears—so that I'll be able to send it out to my Australian family in December. I reckon that a Christmas bear that can be acquired in the Old World at the start of a sultry month of August will be just right for transportation to Australia during the sweltering Antipodean celebrations of the birth of Jesus.