Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Peyton Manning Bobblehead Getting Awfully Tired of All the Jokes


“Come on, guys, it’s not funny anymore,” comes the muffled voice of
Manning’s head, which has probably rolled under the bed or something,
barely audible over the hard laughter of bad people.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

There’s a chance that the author of the article shown below—or the editor that wrote or approved its headline—is a deep thinker making a sly reference to a famous Zen kōan:
Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?
—Hakuin Ekaku
This kōan, after all, was referred to in a 1990 episode of The Simpsons, which in this part of the world1 may be the only sure way for your average centuries-old philosophical tradition to get any sort of publicity.

Lisa: No, Bart, it’s a 3,000-year-old riddle with no answer.
It’s supposed to clear your mind of conscious thought.
Bart: No answer? Lisa, listen up! [Pat pat pat]

So, sure, we’re willing to admit the possibility that the author is slyly opening our narrowed Western minds to broader and livelier veins of thought. Our sources, however, suggest he’s just a bit of a dope:

1. Excluding Boulder County.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Why We Like Christopher Walken

Christopher Walken being creepy.

“I don't need to be made to look evil. I can do that on my own.”
Christopher Walken

While Christopher Walken has appeared in more than one hundred movies—comedic, dramatic, and whatever you’d call Batman Returns1—and played as wide a range of characters as any actor of his generation, he is best known to the movie-going public for his portrayals of villains. From Max Zorin to Max Schreck, from The Man with the Plan to Gabriel, Walken’s articulate intensity, distinctive offbeat cadence of speech, and gift for showing quiet, controlled menace has brought about a long and memorable succession of cinematic bad guys.

Christopher Walken being (left to right): creepy; creepy; whatever the
next step up after “creepy” is; funny but creepy (note creepy mustache).

Regarding his clipped, staccato delivery, Walken once said:
“I use punctuation, but I finish the sentence and put. A period but it’s not necessarily where somebody. Else would. I think everybody should talk. The way they want. . . . You go to school and you all . . . sit there; and all learn to do . . . the same. Thing. I guess it’s necessary. But it’s too bad also. In a way? Kids. You know, get kind of. Restrained, in a lot of ways. I probably wouldn't get a job. As an English teacher.”2

Christopher Walken, possibly deciding whether to kill you or buy you a sandwich.

So memorable are his performances as villains that it is sometimes difficult for audiences to accept him as a regular character. Even when he’s ostensibly one of the “good guys”—such as in Blast from the Past, Wedding Crashers, or The Dead Zone, it’s easy to remain convinced that his character is the kind of guy who’d tell you a knock-knock joke where the punchline is him stabbing you in the knee with a pencil.

While we’re sure he’s not at all a weird guy in real life, and while he’s performed as normal or at least weird but non-evil characters on countless occasions, it’s partly the aura of intimidating, menacing presence that he’s cultivated over the years that makes the following such a joy to behold:

1. Don’t get us wrong, we love Batman Returns—we’re just not sure what to call it. If Burtonism is considered its own separate film genre at this point, we’d submit Batman Returns as one of Burton’s most Burtony attempts at Burtonism.
2. It’s possible, if not particularly. Likely, that we added unusual punctuation here for. Humorous effect.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Evidence That the Human Race is Weird, but Worth Saving

On Saturday, July 7, 2012, Denver’s Highland neighborhood reenacted for the second consecutive year its own version of the Running of the Bulls, an event that has been a tradition in Pamplona, Spain, for nearly eighty-two thousand years.1

Everything about this looks fun. Educational, too—this photograph
gave us good reason to look up the phrase “carotid artery.”

While the Running of the Bulls is held in many other Spanish cities and also in various other parts of Europe, Mexico, and even (oddly enough) Nevada, the spectacle did not gain worldwide attention until the 1926 publication of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and—of far more cultural significance—the 1991 release of Billy Crystal’s enduring classic City Slickers.

The event, which is a prelude to a series of bullfights in the Plaza de Toros de Pamplona, has garnered quite a bit of negative publicity in recent years and even protests from the kinds of folks who, for weird reasons they probably can’t even articulate, object to living creatures being stabbed to death for our entertainment.

What the Denver event lacked in injuries, violent deaths,2 and Billy Crystal’s buttcheeks, it more than made up in terms of fishnet stockings, wheels, and blind terror,3 as the bulls in this case were not actual bulls but rather members of the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls, who chased participants around a one-kilometer course with wiffle-bats in hand and, without a doubt, murder in their hearts.

Fool—never look behind you! This was almost certainly the last thing this man ever saw.
Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler,
Denver Post.

Proceeds for the event are to go to the Tennyson Center for Children. If we were forced to decide between risking getting killed by an angry 2,000-pound bull to get an adrenaline rush, or getting bopped by a pool noodle for charity, we know what we’d pick. But, of course, both options involve running, which is stupid—so screw ’em both, we’re staying right here on the couch.

It beats being trampled and gored to death, for any number of reasons.
Photo by Kathryn Scott Osler,
Denver Post.

1. All numbers approximate.
2. Fifteen bull runners have died in Pamplona since 1910. But that number reaches into the thousands or even hundreds of thousands if you count all the bull runners who have died in Pamplona of other, non-bull-related causes, such as fright, cancer, old age, and death. So, really, running with the bulls is horrifically dangerous.
3. Possibly nose rings, too.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sad Clown Actually Smiling on the Inside

Originally posted April 4, 2011 

In many ways, Squeaky B. Sasparilla1 (above) is like any other clown: he has a gift for creating balloon animals; walks with a natural, unaffected grace despite his oversized shoes, baggy pants, and slack suspenders; has an expressive face that shifts quickly from muted discomfort to brooding gloom; hangs one wilted flower at his lapel, and another atop his ill-fitting bowler; and laments his innate ability to effortlessly creep out everyone from small children to grown men. His defeated slouch, dark stubble, and checkered knapsack-on-a-stick paint a vivid, touching, memorable picture of the sad hobo clown.

But Squeaky harbors a dark secret, one that he cannot bring himself to tell his fellow clowns, and can barely admit even to himself:

Underneath his carefully constructed exterior, Squeaky B. Sasparilla is desperately happy.

“I’m not even sure how it happened, or when,” he intones morosely, his restless fingers idly tapping an empty Seltzer bottle. “It just crept up on me. Once in a while I’d find myself whistling—Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah, sometimes, or The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down—and all the other fellows would look at me like I was out of my head. Eventually my wife had to start warning me in the mornings not to skip on my way to work, because of what the neighbors would say. I couldn’t help myself. I was ashamed.”

We talk at the dimly-lit bar at a quiet midtown diner, several miles from the Big Top. He doesn’t want to be recognized, doesn’t want to have to explain to his peers—to the friends that thought they knew him—the somber tears failing to fall from his eyes. Squeaky B. Sasparilla has run out of stories to hide behind, but still he hides.

“This was never what I wanted.”

He softly squeezes a bicycle horn to draw the attention of our waitress, orders black coffee and two dozen banana cream pies, and sighs deeply. It is the burdened sigh of a man deeply, crushingly contented.

He lists a litany of reasons for his happiness problem, ticking them one off in turn on puffy white-gloved fingers. Each reason is more dishearteningly cheering than the last: his 401(k) is rebounding; he’s just bought his first new car, a subcompact with seats for eighteen; he received a clean bill of health from the Gesundheit! Institute, and he and his wife, Petunia Bloomers, have recently brought their infant twins home from the hospital.

Zoe M.L.T. Pennywhistle
Merely thinking of young Abernathy Aloysius Pennyworth Tinwhistle and Zoe MuuMuu Lederhosen Tinpot Pennywhistle (right) brings a near-smile to his makeup-pancaked face, despite his pervasive worry that they may have inherited, from him, a genetic predisposition for happiness.

Squeaky has come forward to tell his story because he fears for his children, and because he knows there must be others out there like him, scared and silent. He hopes his story will give them hope—not the fake hope you see in movies, but real hope, like on TV. He wants to stand on the table and shout “I’m happy, and it’s breaking my heart!” but he can’t come clean, not yet. The pain is too deep, the stigma too strong. He still tries to deny, tries to change who he is.

“I’ve tried everything—prescribed depressants, Nine Inch Nails albums. Ethan Frome and Anna Karenina. I’ve probably watched Where the Red Fern Grows three dozen times now. One night I even went down to the animal shelter and asked what happens to the puppies that don’t get adopted. Even that didn’t work.”

“Nothing worked.”

He sits in silence for a long moment, staring through the windows into the deepening night as the dregs of his coffee cool at the bottom of his mug.

“But hey, it could be worse,” he adds with a dejectedly happy shrug as he stands to go. “I could be a rodeo clown. Hell—you know what most of those poor bastards are doing on the inside? Bleeding.”

And with one last brittle, superficial frown and a honk of his bulbous nose, he steps out into the night, his shoes squeaking a mournful tune that he cannot carry in his heart.

1. Not his real name.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Time-Lapse Video of Colorado Springs's Waldo Canyon Fire

Photographer Steve Moraco, using time-lapse photography over five days from June 23 through June 28, 2012, created the following video of the Waldo Canyon fire that killed two and destroyed more than 340 homes in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

To give you some sense of the scale of the smoke and fire, the peaks visible in most of the video rise some 3,000 to 3,500 feet above Colorado Springs’s 6,000-foot elevation, and the Air Force Academy’s Cadet Chapel—visible just to the right of center near the bottom—is 150 feet high.

You can view the video in full-screen high-definition video here.