The 1979 Sears Wishbook

Someone has uploaded the entire catalog as a flickr set. You know the drill: if you're ten years old (in 1979), you always start at the back page and work your way forward 'till it gets dumb.

The Futurechimp wish list: any of the plethora of handheld electronics (pages 669-664), Big Trak (662), Zodiac Astrology Computer (659), Disco Pinball (637), Micronaut Rocket Tubes (616), Godzilla with Launchable Claws (613), Fantom 4 Hovercraft (605), Mighty Men & Monster Maker (566), and a Phono-Organ (499).

Just think of all the entertainment and education this site has provided you in the last year. Why not show your appreciation by locating one of these fine items on ebay right now? email our offices for shipping details.



Christmas Evil

From today's Toronto Globe:
Christmas Evil, The obscure 1980 slasher film - which by today's standards plays more like a low-budget psychological drama - has become something of a cult classic in recent years. A 2006 DVD includes audio commentary by none other than John Waters who deems Christmas Evil "the best seasonal film of all time," adding, "I wish I had kids. I'd make them watch it every year and if they didn't like it they'd be punished."

The director has the only 35mm print in existence, which he travels with for screenings. But it's easily found on dvd, and highly recommended.

Black Christmas

Torment your loved ones this holiday season by screening the original 1974 Black Christmas, my vote for creepiest movie of all time. It has a huge cult following and an extensive fan site, yet I don't personally know anyone who's seen it.

This is groundbreaking territory for a horror movie; John Carpenter's Halloween is often cited to be the first of its kind, but it was originally conceived as a sequel to Black Christmas, made several years earlier with a similar plot and atmosphere, albeit less cinematic and more realistic.

I hesitate to embed this very lengthy and spoiley trailer, because it's best to go into the movie knowing nothing about it. But such is the wont of Futurechimp to be multimedia:

Not at all gory or exploitive, lots of unexpected twists and turns, a moody sense of dread throughout, and unforgettably scary. And John Saxon is in it. And it's by the same director who went on to make A Christmas Story. Rent or buy it before the end of '08 to give your holiday a little kick.

(I know nothing about the 2006 remake, and unless someone I trust recommends it, I plan on keeping it that way.)


Gruss vom Krampus!

In a heartwarming pagan custom predating the Christian era (6th century a.d.), children in small alpine towns of Germany and Austria would fear the coming of the Krampus, St. Nicholas' horny, malevolent alter-ego.

Back before anyone in the region knew the name of Jesus, St. Nick would visit all the good children on his Feast Day of Dec. 6th, bestowing them with gifts. But the night before, his lesser half, Der Krampus , would come to beat misbehaved children with a switch. And if they were really bad, he'd carry them off in his basket to spend an eternity in hell.

But as you can see in these vintage postcards, the Krampus would also spend his precious few hours on the material plane engaging in leisure activites, like sledding and accosting young ladies.

In the Bad Gastein Valley outside of Salzburg, Austria, residents continue to re-enact this tradition every December 5th by dressing up as Krampuses and running rampant through the village, singling out attractive, unaccompanied women who are foolhardy enough to leave their homes and "birching" them (swatting their asses with branches).

The Krampus enjoyed a resurgence in 19th Century Germany, when malicious parents would award their kinder with Krampus postcards, reminding them to shape up or be shipped out by a cloven-hoofed, leering, demonic incubus. Like Der Struwwelpeter , it must have made parenting a whole lot easier.

Get a whole book of the Krampus postcards this Christmas to horrify your own kids.

Santa The Diplomat


Christmas Time Tunnel

Clicking the link below will magically transport you to a suburban living room 25 years in the past, with some of the most Godawful crap ever broadcast on your cathode ray tube. You can only get three channels at a time, and might have to adjust the rabbit ears for better reception (I didn't discover this until my second visit). Although there's no acceptable excuse for watching holiday-themed episodes of Perfect Strangers or Who's The Boss, there are also lots of surprises like church pledge drives and vintage commercials. There's also a schedule, so be sure to click the TV guide in the upper corner of the screen so you can check the listings and maybe come back later. Hey! The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special is on in 40 minutes! Nice!



Frodo: Alpha Chimp

excerpted from National Geographic:

Frodo's predations within Gombe National Park have been amply documented. In one four-year period, Outside magazine reported in November, he alone eliminated an estimated 10 percent of the park's colobus-monkey population within his hunting range.

Frodo seized the position of alpha male in 1997, taking advantage of his brother Freud when the latter came down with mange. By then, however, his instinct for dominance had already produced a series of violent run-ins with prominent Homo sapiens. In 1988, for example, "Far Side" cartoonist Gary Larson was the target of Frodo's belligerence. Larson walked away from the tussle with only bruises and scratches, but his caricatures of primates as malevolent geniuses gained a sudden authenticity. A year later Frodo jumped on Goodall and thrashed her head so thoroughly that he nearly broke her neck. In the wake of that incident Goodall has consistently refused to enter Frodo's territory without a pair of bodyguards along for protection.

Like most of his hundred or so fellow chimps who live protected existences within Tanzania's Gombe National Park, Frodo remains a fiercely efficient predator. The chimpanzees regularly hunt down other mammals—notably colobus monkeys—and kill them for fresh meat. This behavior is normal for wild animals, but it brought tragedy to a human family in May 2002, when Frodo snatched and killed the child of a Tanzanian park worker.

On the morning of May 15, 2002, the wife of one of the park attendants was following a forested public footpath through the park near Lake Tanganyika's shore. Her destination: the Kasekela research camp where her husband worked two miles away. Walking behind the woman was her 16-year-old niece, who carried her aunt's 14-month-old baby in a sling held firmly to her back.

The trio had just crossed a dry streambed when they surprised Frodo feeding on oil-palm fronds only 12 feet from the path. As the spouse of a park employee, the mother probably knew that park rules bar children under 12 from visiting the park, and she almost certainly was aware of the mortal danger posed by chimps. Her shock and terror must therefore have been unimaginably extreme as she watched the 121-pound Frodo draw near, wrest the baby girl from the niece's back, and disappear into the forest. By the time help arrived from the research team, Frodo had scrambled up a tree and was holding the limp form of the baby, which he had begun to eat. Lacking the defensive support that the larger group would have lent him, Frodo was easily scared off, and the baby girl's dead body was recovered.

While representatives of the Tanzanian National Parks Department debated euthanizing Frodo, the Gombe research team weighed alternative courses of action and struggled to put his behavior into context. Pressed to clarify the circumstances surrounding the assault, Dr. Kamenya furnished the primatologists' perspective: What we see as murderous conduct, he explained, is standard for chimps in the wild. Characterizing Frodo's attack as the "natural hunting behaviour of chimpanzees," Dr. Kamenya pointed out that the animals regard human babies "just as they view the young of other species such as colobus monkeys and baboons—as potential prey.

This incident wasn't mentioned in Frodo's biography on Goodall's website, presumably because it might disturb children or more importantly, discourage potential doners. Read about the sorry souls who, to this day, live in fear of Frodo here. And see his more gentle side here.


Vintage Science Films

The Wellcome Collection, a medical museum in London which I'll be visiting in a couple weeks, has put many of its 16mm instructional films online for your perverse enjoyment.

Be sure to read the descriptions of the videos before diving in, so you know what you're getting into: Gold Ball Implantation describes itself as "a straightforward demonstration of a specialised operation that removes the inside of the patient's eyeball." No thanks. And just reading the title Circumcision already tells me more than I want to know. Choose wisely. For starters, I recommend Cruel Kindness. An educational film seemingly made for parents, it cautions against the dangers of childhood obesity. And don't miss Looking Around, which tells you how to suspend arthropods in resin.

Some of the films have to be downloaded before viewing, and none of them have embedding code so I can't mirror anything on this site. To get started, click here.


Three Favorite Reagan PSA's

You gonna smoke that?

"son, you're doing it all wrong. You shoot it between the toes."

Paid for by the White House (a.k.a. your tax dollars).


The Museum Pick-Up

Yes, as a matter of fact, that is the reason why I went to art school.

from Picking Up Girls Made Easy, an LP which was sold through advertisements in 1970's adult magazines. Listen to the rest here.


Music from The Aether

Of the thousands of theremin videos, this is my favorite. It's a beautiful composition, masterfully played (on what many consider to be the world's most difficult instrument), on a futuristic soundstage with the musician in a Star Trek getup. This is Lydia Kavina, the grand-niece of Leon Theremin. He began training her on the instrument when she was nine years old. She continues to tour and give lessons around the world, and has recorded original music and film soundtracks. Visit her website.

If interested, the Moog Etherwave Pro is considered the finest Theremin currently manufactured. If you're on a budget, go with the Paia Theremax. I actually prefer its warmer tone over the Moog models. It's available only as a kit, so you'll need soldering skills. I paid $120 for the components and built my own antennae and case. Pictures and video here.

As mentioned, it can take a while to learn. Mastery depends on absolute pitch (which is most likely a genetic predisposition) and tons of practice. I can barely do anything with it myself, but it's a fun gizmo nonetheless.


Futurechimp History: Der Fuhrer's Ball

It's official: Hitler really did have monorchism. A long-lost testimony from the surgeon who treated his WW1 groin injury has surfaced, and it confirms his sorry situation. Read the details here, and a more entertaining tabloid slant on the story here. Both of the articles mention the popular song about the subject, based on the melody from the "Colonel Bogey March". I was taught a variation on the tune way back when I was a lad, and it's still my favorite for bringing "il duce" into the formula:

Hitler has only got one ball
Goerring has two but they are small
Himmler has something similar
but Mussolini has no balls at all

I also have a couple different ideas for screenplays:

- you've probably heard this urban legend. Move the setting to WW1. Show Hitler taking a bullet through the scrotum, which then impregnates a battlefield nurse. The kid is born, discovers his lineage, and follows in his father's footsteps and succeeds in taking over the world. Since he'd have to be born in 1916, it would be "alternative history" set in the 50's or 60's. Still making casting decisions, so email your headshot (jpeg or pdf only) to schutzstaffel-scrote@stexeweb.com.

-"They Saved Hitler's Nut". The surgeon kept the testicle alive, and it survives into the present day. It gets transplanted into Lance Armstrong (so he can have a full set once again), but it takes over his mind. He gets all Hitlered out, then goes and invades Poland. A friend suggested an alternate title: "Neo-Nazi Nutsack".


Futurechimp Kiddie Klassik: The Devil's Ball

(made in 1933 by Ladislas Starevich)

Eyes Without A Face

No, this isn't the trailer for a remake of Les Yeux San Visage. It's an edited informercial for a fountain of youth. They used a Joe Cocker tune as the soundtrack, which I've always found to be very depressing. Turn down the volume on the youtube viewer and play this instead:

(via everything is terrible)


Nightmare in Wax

I googled "worst wax museum" and this was the top hit: Louis Tussaud's House of Wax in Great Yarmouth, an English seaside resort. For 53 years it's thrilled visitors with uncannily dissimilar resemblances of celebrities. last February, 75 heads went on sale to be replaced with more up-to-date doppelgangers. Owner Peter Hayes explained, "Some of them are too old and they do not resemble their subjects any more. And obviously some visitors are far too young to remember them. We do sell them off from time to time and there are some very nice ones. I would say Diana, Princess of Wales, is the prize of the collection. We have not been able to trace an identity for some of them because the makers did not put names on them, presumably because at the time it would have been obvious to all."

For £50 to £80, you could have taken home one of the severed paraffin skulls seen below. A shame they're no longer on display, but at least we have these pictures to remember them by.

And I thought The Hollywood Wax Museum was bad.

Super-Extreme Elimination Challenge! Match up the waxwork to the name: Prince Charles, Lady Diana, John Travolta, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Richard Burton, Bob Hope, Diana Dors, and Starsky+Hutch. Answers will be revealed in exactly six months. Or possibly never.


The 1835 Moon Hoax

Lifted from historybuff.com:

Every History of American journalistic hoaxing properly begins with the celebrated moon hoax which "made" the New York Sun of Benjamin Day. It consisted of a series of articles, allegedly reprinted from the nonexistent Edinburgh Journal of Science, relating to the discovery of life on the moon by Sir John Herschel, eminent British astronomer, who some time before had gone to the Cape of Good Hope to try out a new type of powerful telescope.

On August 25, the Sun ran four columns describing what Sir John had been able to see, looking at the moon through his telescope. So fascinating were the descriptions of trees and vegetation, oceans and beaches, bison and goats, cranes and pelicans that the whole town was talking even before the fourth installment appeared on August 28, 1835, with the master revelation of all: the discovery of furry, winged men resembling bats. The narration was printed as follows:

We counted three parties of these creatures, of twelve, nine and fifteen in each, walking erect towards a small wood... Certainly they were like human beings, for their wings had now disappeared and their attitude in walking was both erect and dignified... About half of the first party had passed beyond our canvas; but of all the others we had perfectly distinct and deliberate view. They averaged four feet in height, were covered, except on the face, with short and glossy copper-colored hair, and had wings composed of a thin membrane, without hair, lying snugly upon their backs from the top of the shoulders to the calves of their legs. The face, which was of a yellowish color, was an improvement upon that of the large orangutan... so much so that but for their long wings they would look as well on a parade ground as some of the old cockney militia.

The hair of the head was a darker color than that of the body, closely curled but apparently not woolly, and arranged in two circles over the temples of the forehead. Their feet could only be seen as they were alternately lifted in walking; but from what we could see of them in so transient a view they appeared thin and very protuberant at the heel...We could perceive that their wings possessed great expansion and were similar in structure of those of the bat, being a semitransparent membrane expanded in curvilinear divisions by means of straight radii, united at the back by dorsal integuments. But what astonished us most was the circumstance of this membrane being continued from the shoulders to the legs, united all the way down, though gradually decreasing in width. The wings seemed completely under the command of volition, for those of the creatures whom we saw bathing in the water spread them instantly to their full width, waved them as ducks do theirs to shake off the water, and then as instantly closed them again in a compact form.

Later stories told of the Temple of the Moon, constructed of sapphire, with a roof of yellow resembling gold. There were pillars seventy feet high and six feet thick supporting the roof of the temple. More man-bats were discovered and readers were awaiting more astounding details, but the Sun told them the telescope had, unfortunately, been left facing the east and the Sun's rays, concentrated through the lenses, burned a hole "15 feet in circumference" entirely through the reflecting chamber, putting the observatory out of commission.

After the hoax was exposed, people were generally amused. It did not seem to lessen interest in the Sun, which never lost its increased circulation.


The Schmidt Pain Index

Developed by Justin O. Schmidt in the 80's, the intent of this scale was to classify the degrees of torture inflicted by the stings of the insect class Hymenoptera, which includes ants, bees and wasps. For research purposes, Schmidt was personally stung many times over by most Hymenoptera species. In addition to his 1-to-4 point scale, he employed colorful language to describe the sensations (word of the day: Synesthesia - stimulation of a sense or cognitive pathway, leading to an involuntary experience in a second sense). All descriptions are direct quotes. Click on the names to learn more about each insect.

Fire ant: (1.2)
"Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch."

Honey bee: (2.0)
"Like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin."

Red harvester ant: (3.0)
"Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail."

Tarantula hawk: (4.0)
"A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath."

Bullet ant: (4.0+)
"Walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel."


Futurechimp Theater: Halloween Safety

Part 1:

Part 2:

(originally referred by pizzateen)


Scary Life-Size Monster Ghost

Like some sort of wonderful, impossible dream, you can still buy this item here, and it seems to be the original stock from way back when, not a reissue. The same company also sells "The Haunting" records, and -holy shit- the "Monster S-I-Z-E Monsters"! Relive the greatest disappointments of your childhood, only for a lot more money!

This video, made by some dorky narcissist, is "cute" in all the worst possible ways. But unlike myself, he has firsthand experience with the monster ghost and is able to reveal its secrets:


Horrifying! Exciting! Thrilling!

This ad dates back to circa 1970, making it a little before my time. But I do remember fixating on it when I was six or seven, wanting to mail in the form with my dollar, only to be informed by my mother that the book was several years old (probably from a garage sale, where I got most comics), and the Monster Fan Club was most likely defunct by that time. How can any kid not be amazed by the possibilities? You get 12 photos, a membership card, three monster masks, and, of course, the Life-Size Moon Monster.

Thanks to the magic of the internet, we can now see what we were missing all those years ago. Here's your membership card:

Here are your photos:

Here are your masks, which were nothing more than black and white photographs of masks, printed on plain old typewriter paper:

Hold on tight. Here's your Moon Monster (click to enlarge):

It was printed on two loose sheets of 2 x 3' paper. They've been known to occasionally show up on ebay, in case you need to make up for any childhood abandonment issues.

Thanks to this blog for some of the images.

And yes, we'll be preoccupied with this sort of thing until Halloween, so if you want to read anything new about chimps, electronic music, or cryptozoology, come back next week.


Something to do with Chimps

My brother and I are hoping to break into show business, so we recorded a single. It's a cover of "N.I.B." from Black Sabbath's debut album. My brother (Gunner Nelson) played bass and sang. I (Matthew Nelson) played drums, guitar and moog synthesizer. It was all recorded in one sitting, in four takes.

We're still undecided on a band name. Some possibilities are "Skinny Guppy", "Meet n' Greet Manifesto","Nayslayer", and "Twisted Spritzer". Please email with any additional suggestions.


If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?

The Churchsploitation Kold-War Klassic! It's nearly an hour long, but well worth the investment of your time, trust me.


Tips for Tomorrow's Cosmonauts

The following text and images are from The Complete Book of Space Travel, dated 1956 and never reprinted. I got it off ebay. The illustrator, Virgil Finlay, turned out a huge amount of work for pulps and astronomy texts from the 30's to the 50's, despite his time-consuming and incredibly detailed drawing style. See more of his work here.

We know there is water on Mars. Mars has a polar ice cap, akin to our arctic regions... the south polar ice cap expands in size in the winter, and contracts and disappears in the summer.... we have seen that Mars has water, and may have small amounts of oxygen, and we know that planets with atmospheres should have histories similar to Earth's...It is pretty generally agreed that Mars has plants. Each springtime shows changes from red to greenish in certain areas. Therefore, if Mars has plants, it must also have animals.

Why could there not be intelligent animal life on Mars? There could be! We may even have a different kind of thing altogether, perhaps intelligent plants. Biology cannot deny the possibility, although biologists are unfamiliar with such beasts.

Although some astronomers have drawn different pictures, they all agree on one thing: the (Martian) canals run in all directions, and even cross each other. Would any natural phenomena make intersecting lines? How can we explain away so many canals as natural phenomena? The chances are against it.


More Entertaining than Sea-Monkeys

From the March 1947 issue of Mechanix Illustrated, and referred by the Modern Mechanix blog:
Little John Gray Jr., three months old when these pictures were taken, has seldom been outside of this glass house in which he lives. His showcase home is temperature and humidity controlled, dirt-free and has a built-in air filter. It is partially sound-proof-he can bellow without straining the family nerves. He doesn’t catch cold; visitors can’t pass their germs through the glass and the house’s temperature never varies from 84 degrees. At the slightest deviation, a bell rings. There are no draughts and neither is there the fear of smothering; there are no bed covers. Papa John Gray Sr. built the ingenious baby house in the workshop of his home in Sea Cliff, Long Island, New York. Only time will tell whether the child will escape the usual ills.


Pulled Pork

Do you hate your job? Oh, cheer up. How bad can it be? Is your career worse than being a... let's say... animal masturbator? Let's find out how to "extract a specimen" from a boar, just to be sure. I easily found this information on a government website, so rest assured this is the tried-and-true method of porcine seduction. It happens all the time on the farm, so if you eat bacon, you have nothing to be offended about. First thing you'll have to do is build a dummy that will attract the beast's wandering eye. Here's the blueprint (click to enlarge):

Now, crouch under the mount you've just built and call your pig over. it should be the right dimensions for him to straddle it under his own volition.
Ready to get down to business? Okay. Take a breath. Remember, you can do this. The following text is invisible in the interest of good taste. Click-and-hold your mouse cursor over the passage to reveal:
When the boar is mounted on the dummy grasp the spiral end of his penis with the hand. Allow the boar to thrust through the clenched hand a few times before applying pressure. Hand pressure on the spiral part of the penis, imitates that of the oestrus sow's cervix, stimulating ejaculation. With experience, it becomes obvious that some boars prefer more pressure than others. The long hairs around the boar's prepuce should be clipped to minimise injury.
When the penis is 'locked' in the hand and the boar relaxes, a four-phase ejaculation follows in a few seconds, taking 5 to 10 minutes to complete. The first phase, called the pre-sperm fraction, has clear seminal fluid, some gel, dead sperm cells and is heavily contaminated with bacteria. It should not be collected.
The next phase is the sperm-rich fraction, easily recognised by its creamy-white colour. Although only 50 ml in volume, it contains the greatest density of spermatozoa. Because spermatozoa are very sensitive to rapid temperature change, a warm, dry, insulated collecting flask is required to safeguard semen fertility. The third fraction, greyish because of lower density of spermatozoa, accounts for about 80 ml of the collection. Fractions two and three only are collected when semen is to be diluted for storage over a few days.
The fourth phase or post-sperm fraction provides the large semen volume peculiar to pigs. Up to 250 ml of clear seminal plasma free of spermatozoa, plus gel is secreted from the accessory glands. The gel portion apparently has no physiological significance. It is separated from the collection by several layers of gauze or a similar filter fastened over the collection flask. Filtering particles of gel from the semen prevents catheter blockage during insemination. Hair, skin or dust particles from the boar or dummy must also be excluded from the flask during collection.
Large amounts of gel signal the end of ejaculation. When it is clear the boar's erection is fading, a second ejaculation can be stimulated with brief, firm, pulsating hand pressure applied to his penis.

Got all that? Now, let's go apply what we've learned. write back in the comments section to share your experience. Next week we'll cover artificial insemination.


Wir Sind Schaufensterpuppen

from 34-25-36, a feature film (in progress) about mannequins, which are postulated to be the modern-day saints of consumer culture. There's an annoying "gender studies" undercurrent, but at least we get to see mannequins being made. Visit the filmmaker's blog with links to other shorts here.


Mannequins and Monstrosities

In what we hope to be a trend, Futurechimp.com is pleased to introduce two exclusive new photo exhibits on our auxiliary hominid site, Stexeweb.com. In our latest galleries, F. Nocella documents the mannequins of Turkey and Peru, and J. Furmanski exposes ham-fisted taxidermy.

Call for Entries
If you've shot a series of photos which are similar to these exhibits, and you'd like to put them online (with no pragmatic expectation of financial reward), write to mail@stexeweb.com.


Terrors of Taxidermy


Leporidae Maximae

North Korea, plagued by years of food shortages and crippling economic sanctions, is putting its money on rabbits as big as dogs.

The hermit kingdom recently bought 12 giant rabbits from a German breeder whose 22-pounder was named "Germany's Biggest Rabbit" last year.

The breeder told The (London) Times "he believed that the monster bunny program ... was aimed at feeding the North Korean people rather than the 'Dear Leader,' Kim Jong Il, who is said to favor lobster."

Each rabbit provides 15 pounds of meat, including the internal organs, but the animals reproduce so fast it is conceivable that the North Koreans could be producing thousands of pounds of meat in no time.

If North Koreans breed the animals correctly, the 12 they already have could multiply to more than 1 million in just eight years.

One million monster-sized rabbits? Foolish humans. Behold your imminent fate:

Yakov Smirnoff joke: "In America, you eat rabbit. In Russia, rabbit eat you!"


Picturing The Museum

A beautiful online exhibit of vintage photographs has appeared on the site for The American Museum of Natural History in New York, where I worked as a sculptor and painter for three years. This is the greatest museum of its kind in the world, and has an amazing, often shameful history (for more on this, read Dinosaurs in The Attic). Also check out this book on the museum's dioramas, written by my old boss.

Brought to Futurechimp's attention by the always-entertaining Morbid Anatomy blog.

Enter the Exhibit Here.


Futurechimp Theater: The Winged Scourge

I'm back from the Amazon, but still applying hydrocortizone to mosquito bites, and have to take these malaria pills every day for the next four weeks. So it's a good time to review this hyperbolic little treasure. The narration is priceless in its drama: "Little does he suspect he's to be the victim of this bloodthirsty vampire!" and, "He may not die, but he will never truly be alive."

But actually, malaria is pretty nasty. A person dies from it every 30 seconds. Once contracted, there's no getting rid of it: there is no vaccine. And like the flu, the disease is constantly building resistance to antimalarial drugs. So what can you do about it? Stay away from endemic areas and wear lots of carcinogenic deet. Please do NOT follow the example set by this film: pouring loads of motor oil into a pond to destroy every living thing in it does not bring us towards a more sustainable planet. "Give them the oil treatment! That'll kill 'em!"


Futurechimp Theater: White Wilderness

from wikipedia:
"While many people believe that lemmings commit mass suicide when they migrate, this is not the case.... the suicide myth was propagated by the Walt Disney documentary White Wilderness in 1958 which includes footage of lemmings migrating and running head-long over a ledge. An investigation in 1983 showed that the Disney film makers faked the entire sequence using imported lemmings (bought from Inuit children), a snow covered turntable on which a few dozen lemmings were forced to run, and literally throwing lemmings into the sea..."


Start Your Own Flea Circus

Most people seem to think the flea circus has always been nothing more than chicanery; a fast-talking barker fooling his audience with mechanical props, and no fleas controlling the action. This was often true. But in the early 20th century, trained performing fleas were a reality in the circuses of England and America.

The last true flea circus statewide was Professor Heckler and his Trained Fleas, which operated from the basement of the infamous Hubert's Dime Museum in Times Square until 1968. These days, a few retro traveling circuses perform sporadically throughout the world. The Acme does shows on occasion (albeit mostly along the east coast) and if you're ever at Oktoberfest in Munich, you can attend their annual Floh Zirkus. Both are allegedly authentic. But we need more flea acts, so I'm providing you with some training tips for you to put on your own show, courtesy of wikipedia:

"Human fleas are used for performances as other fleas are too small. For the same reason, female fleas are preferred over males. The fleas live only for a short time and hence training of fleas is an ongoing requirement.
Fleas are trained not to jump by keeping them in a container with a lid. Once trained, they are harnessed by carefully wrapping a thin gold wire around the neck of the flea. Once in the harness the fleas usually stay in it for life. The harnesses are attached to the props and the strong legs of the flea allows them to move objects significantly larger than themselves.
Chemicals such as camphor that repel fleas are placed on lightweight balls and the fleas kick them away, this makes the fleas look like they are juggling or playing football.
There are historical reports of fleas glued to the base of the flea circus enclosure, instruments were then glued to the flea performers and the enclosure was heated. The fleas fought to escape giving the impression of fleas playing musical instruments."


"Electronic Tonalities"

Louis and Bebe Barron were music graduates who married straight out of school and immediately delved into electronic music, inspired by cybernetics; the postulation that the natural laws which apply to living organisms can also apply to electronics. But this was still in the 1940's. Synthesizers were decades away. They had to build all their own equipment. Louis created the oscillator circuits, and fed varying degrees of electric current through them to create variations in sound. Often he'd intentionally fry the circuits with an overdose of electricity while recording to tape. The sounds would be treated in playback with additional splices, reverbs, and tape delays.

Bebe was exclusively the composer. She manipulated random bits of circuit noise into avant-garde soundscapes, using a variety of self-taught techniques. Nothing like this had been done before. For instance, changing the pitch of a tone was achieved by her manually slowing down or speeding up the tape during playback. Among other things, she's often credited with inventing the tape loop.
Operating out of their west village studio, the couple scored short experimental films before they were contracted for the soundtrack to MGM's Forbidden Planet. Here are some clips highlighting the score:

Unfortunately, Louis and Bebe weren't in the musicians' union, which demanded MGM to change "electronic music" to "electronic tonalities" in the opening credits. Because of this, the Barrons didn't qualify for an oscar, and they were denied union membership. It would be their only hollywood soundtrack.

The Barrons continued working together until Louis' death in 1989. Bebe passed away a few days ago, at the age of 82. Read her obituary here.


Futurechimp Theater: Man in Space

An excerpt from the Disney produced, pre-sputnik (1955) speculation of space travel, based upon the theories and designs of Werner von Braun and narrated by the guy who voiced the robot from Lost in Space. Get the DVD.