Old Curiosities

The Noseman, Winter Games, and Some More Clips

Here we go again!  I know I've been leaving you hanging.  It appears that the curiosity of the week is going to have to be the biweekly curiosity for awhile.  But I assure you, when you get 'em, they'll be good!  So much good stuff this time, you're gonna be spending the next few hours on this page...so get comfy.
Before we get started, there's this guy   If I get enough complaints that's he's too gross, I'll take him down.
How about the link stuff first?  In the holiday spirit, check out this blog.  It's piety-safe, in case you are a believer and don't want to be offended.  Irreverant yes, but not disrespectful.  And around now (Dec. 2004), it's featuring horrible nativity scenes you don't want to miss, so check it out.
Okay, now a game.  It's an old one, so you might have played it before, but it's so much fun!  And cute, too!  Check out Reinhold + Yeti. (I don't want to hear any complaints about animal cruelty!  They're both having as much fun as you are.  They're cartoons; get over it!)
Now for some video clips!  The first one is not funny at anyone's expense.  It's just a cool Transformer commercial. (but not actually for Transformers)  Next, we have two great clips, which are jokes at others' expense.  The first is all in good fun; it's a morning newscast gone awry!  And then we have a DUI arrest (I suspect this last clip is not real but from a fake reality comedy show; it's been spread around the internet as if it's real).
And saving the best for last...there's this optical illusion.  Stare at the picture long enough, and you'll suddenly see a giraffe.  Really.  If you stare long enough, you'll even see it wink at you.  You won't be sorry.
Well, that's about it for this biweek.  Was it worth the wait?  I hope so.  Maybe there'll be another one that's worth the wait in two weeks...

UPDATE  Someone decided to be a joker and, rather than email me to complain about boogerman up there, he chose to send me this self-aggrandizing demand for recognition.  As much as I refuse to reward scoundrels, Attorney Van Ness has made virtually all of this possible, and many of this week's items did come from him.  And so, I would now like to unveil his alter-ego (which he shares with our friend Rob of robiscool.com fame), Tech Support Super Hero!

Clotaire Extraordinaire

This is not exactly what I was planning.  I had hoped, in honor of John Ashcroft's departure from the Dept. of Justice, to give you one last look at his crooner's classic, Let The Eagle Soar.  A swan song, as it were.  Unfortunately, it is nowhere to be found on the internet.  Either Mr. Ashcroft confiscated every copy of it in order to protect national security, or else in an unprecedented coordinated act of humanitarianism, every privately-held copy of his masterpiece was simultaneously destroyed by its owner.  Even though Congress didn't authorize it, I'm betting it was the former.

So instead, I bring you an intimate portrait of a man: part genius, part snake oil salesman, part lizard.  If anyone saw the recent episode of Frontline entitled The Persuaders, by now you must have guessed that I'm talking about French-born psychoanalyst Clotaire Rapaille (I have no idea how that is pronounced). Dr. Rapaille began his work studying autistic children, and from that somehow discovered that we all purchase products based on whether their advertisements are on or off the "code": An attribute or charateristic that is associated with a thing in our collective unconscious which makes us all desire that thing.  He has parlayed this Jung-goes-to-Madison-Avenue philosophy into huge consulting fees from most of the largest companies in the world (autistic children don't pay nearly as much).  His theory relies heavily--almost to the point of obsession--on the reptilian part of the brain; hence my suspicion that he is actually a reptile himself (don't let the sexy photo on his website fool you--remember V?).

Let's take a look at some Rapaille artifacts.  First his own website, where, if you click on the PT Cruiser (the car) on the bottom right, you can read all about how he made that car a success.  There's some other stuff to look at there, too.  Next, take a look at Dr. R's blog, which has also been horribly neglected (how does this guy get any business when his site is so unprofessional?!).  And last but certainly not least, check out these quotes attributed to him.

Definitely a curiosity.  In my humble opinion, the guy uses crayons, dark rooms, and sitting indian style on the floor to get what you could get just by asking someone the question, What do you think about this?  But then, what do I know?  I wasn't on Frontline.  So I leave it for you to judge.

The Truly Curious, The Entertaining, and The Life-Sure-Is-Sad-But-Still-Pretty-Enteraining

It's back!!  I know, I know. I've been an awful slouch.  I just lost interest in curiosities for awhile.  But never fear, kiddies!  They're back, and better than ever!  So this week, I've got a little bit of everything: the truly curious, the entertaining, and the life-sure-is-sad-but-still-pretty-enteraining.  Let's get right to it.

The Truly Curious
This one doesn't deserve much attention, and it certainly doesn't need an introduction!  What the hell this is exactly is not nearly as interesting as why someone would create such a thing.  It's a bit rude, so again, if you tend towards prudishness, I'd advise you not to meet The Cerne Abbas Giant!

The Entertaining
For those of you who are sensitive towards the vulgar (and for everyone else who has finished gawking at the giant), check out these curious vehicles.

The Life-Sure-Is-Sad-But-Still-Pretty-Enteraining
I'm sure you don't hate your job and think the people running your company are just trying to take advantage of you.  You would never.  But for those of you who do, this preformance quiz will make you feel much better about yourself (you'll need Microsoft Powerpoint -- part of Microsoft Office -- installed on your machine to view it, so I recommend using your machine at work).

Okay, I've been good up until now and kept politics off the curiosities page, despite some really great partisan, yet funny-as-hell, material.  But now that the election is over, the Republican's are gloating, and my guy lost (yeah, I'm liberal; not crazy about Democrats, but that makes Kerry my guy), I'm letting loose, just this once.  Even if you support Bush, take a moment to come down off your high horse to laugh at yourself and check out this photo (especially since it's undeniably true).

A quick thank you to Vlad and Mark for the items in this week's curiosity.  Long live the curiosity!!


Now this you have to see.  It's not for everyone: If you are squeemish, are easily embarassed by public discussions of sex, or simply love kittens too much to ever laugh at their plight, then this is not the Curiosity for you.  You'd best just wait until next week.  But if you're still reading, check this out.  It's the funniest thing you've ever seen.

The Beetles

Rhino BeetleRhino beetle!  Just look at how cool it is! (Click on it for a closer look.)  C'mon...even if you think bugs are creepy and crawly and only good for sticking to the bottom of your shoe, you have to admit that's a pretty neat lookin' critter.  And besides looking totally neat-o, rhino beetles are the strongest creatures on the planet.  Bet you didn't know that!  There was even a rhino beetle character in "A Bug's Life" (highly recommended if you haven't seen it...or even if you have).  Take a look at some of these websites about rhino beetles: an Angelfire site with some good pictures and useful information; a Geocities site with some really good pictures and a bit more info; Extreme Science's site with a lot of facts (apparently geared towards small children); and this page with some really, really great pics.  Maybe, just maybe, you can learn to love a beetle today...


Wanna see just about the most curious thing in the world?  Okay, maybe just the most curious person in the world.  Well, the most curious person in the acting world anyway.  Just CHECK IT OUT ALREADY!

By the way, I forgot last week to give credit to our friend Ian for the badgers.  It was quite a discovery and a very popular curiosity of the week.  Maybe we'll give him a cookie...if he behaves.


You have to admit that badgers are better than hamsters.  Not as pets, maybe, but they're so much more interesting than those furry little kindergarten class mascots.  And you can't beat an entire colony of badgers teamed up with a mushroom and a snake, just as you'll find in this flash cartoon which brings the Hampster Dance into the 21st Century...with a nineties dance beat.  I should warn you, you could end up with badger on the brain, but don't let that stop you from taking a peek.  You won't be sorry.

Royal Portrait

Federico da Montefeltro is a name I'll be you're not familiar with, but there's a good chance you've seen his picture.  This Duke isn't Prince Harry's polo pal, and he's long dead so you haven't seen him in magazines.  But you may have seen Piero della Francesca's infamous portrait of Duke Federico, which hangs in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, Italy.  Both the portrait and the Duke himself are quite curious.  The painting was among the first portraits to include excrutiating detail, depicting each individual strand of hair, and including (for the first time) the imperfections of a member of royalty; you can see in the painting the Duke's wrinkles and moles, something we won't even allow our movie stars to show today.  But the Duke himself was a rather curious figure as well: he married a thirteen year old girl (for political reasons of course), had that incredibly crooked nose, and--the best part--had only one eye! (which explains why the portrait is a profile...)  The Duke lost the bridge of his nose and his right eye in a round of royal games.  Maybe he should have stuck to polo...

The Artie Fufkin Machine

Great inventions are hard to come by.  But finally, someone invented the machine that should be in every household and every workplace for those times when you just inexplicably, inexcusably screwed something up.  Like Paul Schaffer in Spinal Tap.  It should be dubbed The Artie Fufkin Machine.  We all deserve a good kick in the pants every now and again...  (Thanks to the folks at Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me! for breaking yet another curious story.)

Head Count

Here's a brainteaser for you, once again from Vladimir (a.k.a. Battleship -- someone actually thought that was his name!).  I still haven't figured out how it works, so if someone figures it out, please tell me!


I am a big fan of Dave Foley.  I was even on the same plane from DC to Boston with him once (though I didn't have the nerve to say hello).  But I've long thought it extremely strange the resemblance he bears to fellow actor Isabella Rossillini.  It's really quite uncanny.  Only those familiar with one or the other would ever notice that they're twins since, to my knowledge, they've never been in a room together--much less a movie. (Hmm...it's like the Jacksons!)  So, I've assembled a little Davibella Rossifoley lineup for you so you can see for yourself.  It doesn't quite do them justice, but you get the idea.  The next time you're watching News Radio or Big Night, look closer...


Microsoft really is everywhere.  And the easiest way to identify Microsoft around the world is how?  No, it's not their cute little window logo, or the precious mug of Mr. Gates; it's the infamous BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH!  Anyone who's ever had their computer die (unless they're one of the ten home users of Macs) knows about this screen which preceeds a complete meltdown of all your important information.  Apparently, this perennial annoyance to computer users everywhere was even an integral part in taking down the old Iraqi regime, as this article chronicles (it's just a joke, but it's pretty funny).  There are numerous photo galleries on the web, such as this one (WARNING: while recently checking this link, I found it had been hacked by a purveyor of pornography; please visit at your own risk), with blue screens in very interesting places.  Here is our contribution to the cataloging of this important cultural phenomenon: a blue screen of death on an ATM we found on our recent trip to Italy.  We had to find somewhere else to get some Euros.

Tall People

America is shrinking.  Well, not really.  But it is true that Americans are no longer the tallest people in the world; now that honor belongs to the Dutch.  As this article points out, after years of being the tallest, Americans have pretty much stopped growing while Europeans and the Japanese continue stretching upwards.  Guess we stopped eating our Wheaties.

Hampster Dance

What could possibly be wrong with hamsters, you ask?  You must never have seen one of the web's original curiosities, the Hampster Dance.  When this revolutionary website went up, it opened all our eyes to the endless possibilities for human advancement that the web could offer.  Of course, like all great discoveries, the Hampster Dance has since been hijacked for economic advantage and base entertainment value, so I suggest that you first check out the original Hampster Dance.  Then you can take a look at what its own creator has done to the Hampster Dance in the name of capitalism at the official Hampster Dance site.  Those who had a wholesome American upbringing (most of us didn't, but we're all okay) will recognize the music--if in slightly different form--from the Disney version of Robin Hood.  But anyone visiting any of the Hampster Dance sites should BE WARNED: The hamsters are not all cute-and-fuzziness; they can be mind-bendingly annoying after awhile.  Take a look at this cautionary tale on how the hamsters could hijack your life, and whatever you do, never visit the hamsters for long periods at a time!

Not You Average Nimoy

William Shatner is weird.  But this isn't about William Shatner.  It's about his sometimes second mate, Leonard Nimoy.  By and large, Nimoy has had a normal, stable post-Trek carreer, with the exception of his I am Not Spock/I am Spock fiasco.  Ah, but you didn't know about his music video (you'll need QuickTime to view it and unless you have broadband internet access, you'd better right-click and save the video before watching).  It's a gem!  Or if you'd rather not commit so much time to downloading, you can just listen to the song (you'll need an mp3-playing program).  You'll never see Nimoy the same way again...

Rachael Hale

Everybody loves bunnies and other cute animals, I among them.  But I draw the line when you start making cute animals act human.  It drives me nuts (and I'm sure I'm not alone) when animal characters in movies and TV commercials are given human characteristics through computer generation: standing on their hind legs, moving their mouths to fit English speech, or worst of all driving a car.  Usually, I even hate it when animals are forced to dress up in human clothing.  But the brilliant New Zealand photographer, Rachael Hale, has found a way to make it so darn cute to put animals in strange situations--including entirely human ones--that you can't help but love it!  Take a look at her amazing photos and maybe even buy something from her.  She gives animal photography a good name.


Europeans are a crazy bunch, aren't they?  Even with the rise of the European Union and the Euro, independent European cultures will never be subdued...not as long as nations continue to make fun of each other!  English food is awful, the French are snobs, the Germans are uptight, and the Italians--special light-hearted vitriol is reserved for them.  Italians are the most obnoxious people on the continent and everyone knows it...including the Italians!  Check out this flash cartoon to see just what I'm talking about.

Credit Where Credit is Due (...continued)
As I mentioned last week, Vladimir has been instrumental in supplying material for the Curiosity section and is more than deserving of having his image rendered in MS Paint by Beth.  As promised, heeeeeere's Vlad!


Are you a white person who seriously wonders why we can't all just get along?  Still not clear on why the Rodney King beating was such a big deal? or why the sodomization of Abner Louima by New York City cops was a national scandal? or why the shooting of Amadou Diallo was a tragedy for the black community at large, not just his family?  Have you not yet figured out why a largely black jury took their opportunity--prosecutorial fumbles not withstanding--to acquit OJ Simpson (or why mostly white juries largely acquitted King and Louima's attackers, for that matter)?  Then have I got the game for you.  See how you would do on Who Wants to be a Millionaire if it was a product of black culture instead of England and Regis Philbin (you'll need Microsoft Word to make it work). Chances are, you wouldn't even be a thousandaire.  No, Who Wants to be a Millionaire isn't a science, but try this little experiment out; it just might give you an idea of what it would be like to be a Croatian living in Liberia...or a person of color in America watching Regis every third night.  It might help you see the hidden truth behind why events in our country mean something different to white people.  And perhaps next time you won't be so confused about why we don't all just get along.

Credit Where Credit is Due
It is incumbent upon me to credit Vladimir with the survival of the Curiosity of the Week section of this page, and with making it possible to actually make it a curiosity of the week instead of the month.  Virtually ever item featured in the curiosity section came from Vladimir which, in my opinion, justifies having his image imortalized in paint by Beth.  I will pressure her to do so straight away.

Tork and Denial

Three curiosities this week.  Man, are you kids lucky.  Let's get right to them.

Peter Tork
February 13th was Peter Tork's 62nd birthday.  If I have to tell you that Peter Tork was the quirky member of The Monkees, you're clearly nowhere near 62 years old.  Peter was born Peter Halsten Thorkelson in Washington, DC, but came to be known in his new name as the Ringo-equivalent of a band that was supposed to just be a television show.  News of his 62nd birthday suprised me, at least, as I always thought of Peter as the physical manifestation of youth, innocence, and naivete.  Well, good for you, Peter, for defying expectations yet again!

Chicken Update
Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me! reported this week that former Vice President Al Gore learned to hypnotize chickens in his youth.  This could most certainly be used to jumpstart a new political career.  "You think I'm too wooden? Watch this..."  Cluck, cluck.

Supreme Denial
Gore's chickens aren't the only ones clucking this week.  Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia--the current president's favorite jurist and potentially the next Chief Justice--immitated a duck while justifying his decision not to recuse himself from a case against Vice President Cheney that the Court agreed to hear three weeks before the Justice and the Vice President went on a hunting trip together.  Scalia's defense: The case involves Cheney "in [his] official capacity, as opposed to [his] personal capacity."  I'm sure we're all relieved to know it was private-citizen Cheney and not the vice president who went on the hunting trip, but one can't help but wonder who was running the country while Mr. Cheney was taking a break from his "official capacity."  That the Justice's impartiality cannot reasonably be questioned in this case, as Scalia claims, is curious indeed since it was his influence more than anyone's which led the Court to hand-pick the president (and vice president) during the last election in what is almost universally considered by legal scholars to be the worst Supreme Court opinion since the times of slavery and Jim Crow.

Clip and Demon

There are 2 curiosities of this week; one wholesome and funny, the other...well, it's a bit disturbing.

So, here's the first one: a great little clip for the whole family.  You'll need MediaPlayer or something that plays .mpeg files in order to watch it.

The second one is ...well, it's not obscene or profane ...but discretion is advised.  If you scare easily, maybe you want to sit this one out.  The second curiosity is a real live demon.

Chicken Hypnotism

Did you know... it's possible to hypnotize chickens?  It's true.  And what's even more unbelievable is that there are people who do it for a living!  We first heard about it while listening to our favorite radio news quiz game show, Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me!.  It involves putting the chicken on its back, spinning it a few times, and talking soothingly to it.  Then the chicken falls into a trance-like state until you wake it up.  Here are some links about chicken hypnotism:
Apparently, no chickens are hurt during the hypnosis process, but please don't try it on your chickens at home!

Come back soon for more Old Curiosities...