Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tiger Meat

I finally have a preferred cause of death to go with my preferred method of burial:

Getting Mauled by an Escaped Tiger at the SF Zoo on Christmas


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Les Savy Fav @ the El Rey

Things you missed at the Les Savy Fav show:

* Tim pulling an eager fan on stage to sing with him and then finger-fucking said fan in the mouth

* Tim jumping into the audience and howling like a wolf with several concertgoers

* Tim's account of the formation of the La Brea Tar Pits:

"On this day, millions of years ago, the La Brea Tar Pits were created by mammoths and sabre tooth tigers, who threw a party . . ." (before he was cut off by the band)

* Tim licking lighting equipment

* Tim licking audience members

(via Kathryn Yu, Pitchfork)

* Tim coming out for the encore in a Santa suit and throwing several gigantic stuffed bears into the audience

* The mosh pit tearing apart the bears like piranhas

* Getting tiny synthetic fibers from said bears in your eyes and mouth

* Me moshing in my finest Christmas sweater

Things you didn't miss at the 23rd Street Christmas Sweater Party:

* My Christmas sweater reeking of a hundred varities of B.O.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bjork @ Nokia Theatre

The inside of the Nokia Theatre looked like the lovechild of the Staples Center and the El Rey.

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But the theater was the perfect size for Bjork: Large enough for spectacle, small enough for intimacy.

The evening started with a bottle of red, a bag of gummi bears, and me yelling "Bring it, hipsters! Wow me with your math rock!" at opening band Ratatat. They brought it . . . in a very mild, underwhelming way.

Bjork, however, was out to kill me. After the flags were raised and her brass section marched out on stage and played a lovely little intro, out she came, in a shimmery golden butterfly dress. She started the set with two intensely emotional songs from Homogenic:

"Immature" (featuring some of the most precise lyrics ever written):

How could I be so immature
To think he would replace
The missing elements of me?
How extremely lazy of me

And then the terrifically heartbreaking "Unravel:"

While you are away
My heart comes undone
Slowly unravels
In a ball of yarn
The devil collects it
With a grin
Our love
In a ball of yarn
He'll never return it
So when you come back
We'll have to make new love


She didn't stop there -- she stepped it up with "Unison," "Joga," "Hunter" (during which she suddenly shot streamers out of her fingertips, no lie), the "Pleasure is All Mine" and "Pagan Poetry" until I was completely distraught with emotion; vulnerable like a wounded animal, even. And then, at my weakest moment, she assaulted me with a pyrotechnics-infused performance of "Earth Intruders."

And an "Army of Me" full of green lasers. And an "Innocence" full of confetti. And a delightfully creepy "Cover Me" segue into a technicolor "Wanderlust."

And then - "Hyperballad." My favorite song. If you haven't heard it, it's Bjork singing very sweetly about throwing things (car parts, bottles and cutlery; even herself) off of a cliff, before rising into an exhilarating chorus of:

I go through all this/before you wake up/so i can be happier/to be safe up here with you

And then, at the end, the song breaks into an electrifying house mix. The entire audience danced like it was 1998.

She closed the set with an explosive "Pluto" and came back for an encore of "Oceania" and "Declare Independence." The lights stayed low after she walked off the stage and I think we could have gotten a second encore if we'd asked for it, but we humans typically don't ask for what we don't expect.

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Bjork, the greatest human of all time.

It was the best show of 2007. Maybe the best show I've ever seen, eva.

I've maxed my Vegas quota for the year but if you haven't, you should catch her at the Pearl, tomorrow. Get in the car and go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Word of the Year is . . .


a gamer's exclamation of happiness or triumph

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Geminid Meteor Shower: December 13-14

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A geminid meteor via.

Mark your calendars for the Geminid Meteor Shower, which is expected to peak on the Pacific Coast in the early morning hours of December 14th. Astronomers bill the Geminids as the "year's best meteor shower," with "slow, bright, graceful meteors and fireballs" originating from the constellation Gemini.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sweet Potatoes v. Yams

I successfully cooked two dishes this Thanksgiving: corn casserole and butterscotch yams. The yams were a departure from my aunt's renowned sweet potatoes, and my cousin raised the question, "what's the difference?"

The answer: Everything - or nothing at all.

Though sweet potatoes are often called yams in the US, the starchy root vegetables that most consumers buy are actually sweet potatoes, and not yams, which are entirely different plants. Wikipedia clears up the confusion:

"Yams are a monocot (a plant having one embryonic seed leaf) and from the Dioscoreaceae or Yam family. Sweet Potatoes, often called ‘yams’, are a dicot (a plant having two embryonic seed leaves) and are from the Convolvulacea or morning glory family."

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Sweet potatoes.

How do you tell the difference? Yams are darker-skinned and sweeter than sweet potatoes.

Fun facts:

  • Both sweet potatoes and yams grow in tropical climates. Sweet potatoes are native to the Americas; yams are native to Africa and Asia.
  • "The word yam comes from African words njam, nyami, or djambi, meaning "to eat," and was first recorded in America in 1676."
  • "China is the largest grower of sweet potatoes; providing about 80% of the world's supply."
  • "Besides simple starches, sweet potatoes are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C and vitamin B6."
  • "In many societies yams are so important that one can speak of a 'yam culture'. Growing the tuber is associated with magic; the best ones must be given to the chief or king; there is a series of myths connected to a divine origin; a farmer may gain a lot of prestige by growing the largest or longest yam; etc. Here are some examples of where this applies:
    In Micronesia, see for example Pohnpei.
    In Melanesia, see for example Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea.
    In Polynesia (west Polynesia only), see Samoa, Tonga."
More info.

We've Moved

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The move to West Hollywood is complete.

I'd like to thank Marcelo, Josh, Kyle, ZACH! and UHaul for making this dream come true.

Back on the blog . . .

Monday, November 19, 2007

Seinfeld and Joel: Genius Squared

There's always a good reason to go to Vegas; this time, it was Billy Joel at the MGM Grand. Luckily for us, there was also a Comedy Festival at Caesars Palace, and we kicked the weekend off by scoring standby tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld at the Colosseum.

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Seinfeld was relentless. My eyes were watering from beginning to end. His stand up did not deviate far from "what's the deal with yadda yadda yadda;" yet every joke seemed fresh and mind-blowingly hilarious. Amazing, considering he's been running with the same schtick for 20+ years. He had some really great bits about going out, and doing nothing, and . . . oh, you get the idea. The content was predictable; the execution was extraordinary.

The opening comic, Mario Joyner, was really great, too. He's one of those "that's so TRUE!" comics, but his delivery was impeccable. My favorite was his bit about Home Depot and how any idiot can buy a nail gun (he said they might as well rename it "You're on Your Own.")Yeah, okay, you probably had to be there, but I found it especially hilarious given the impending move and my own visits to the HD. When he mentioned the DIY check out and the pigeons in the store, I realized, "hey, this guy goes to the same Home Depot I do!" No, really. The guy lives in Santa Monica and I suspect he's going to the HD on Wilshire and Union. The same HD I will be visiting today. To buy more painters' tape and brushes. *sigh*

Billy Joel

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"Don't Take Any Shit From Anybody!"

Wow. What can I say. I'm pretty sure we were the youngest people there who had voluntarily bought tickets (there were a couple of preteens with their parents, and I couldn't help but think "do you know what you're about to see, you ungrateful little brats?") The show was amazing. Not only is Joel an immensely talented musician and, like, totally awesome, but he's also an exceptional showman. He played bits of Sinatra and Elvis in between his own songs. He cracked jokes about car insurance and Elton John. And he brought one of his guitar techs -- his roadie of 25 years -- onstage for his so-called "American Idol moment." Joel explained that his roadie was a really good guy and just wanted to do a religious song for us all, and invited us to be Simon Cowell or Paula Abdul (the latter of which elicited an enthusiastic "yeah!" from me). Then, "Chainsaw," a hefty roadie dressed in stage crew black, bounded onto the stage and gave us his best Bon Scott impression while the band (and Billy) tore through "Highway to Hell."

Yeah, it was awesome.

After closing the set with a rollicking "You May Be Right," Joel came back for an encore of "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant," "Only the Good Die Young," and "Piano Man." Then, he bid adieu with a "Good Luck!" and a hearty "Don't take any shit from anybody!"

These two events comprised the bulk of the trip, though we did make it over to Fremont Street on Saturday afternoon, with brief stops at the Golden Nugget (to check out their aquarium-penetrating water slide) and the Girls of Glitter Gulch (where the ladies did their best Britney to "Gimme More").

If you'd like to know more about my half-dozen other pilgrimages to the Holy Land, check out my Vegas Retrospective.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ultra Pure White

My Yosemite post has been delayed yet again because of the urgent need to repaint my apartment Ultra Pure White. So, while I've got paint on my mind, and elbows, and calves and feet, I thought it appropriate to look into the history of this liquid embellishment.

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  • "The first recorded paint mill in America was reportedly established in Boston in 1700 by Thomas Child. A century and a half later, in 1867, D.R. Averill of Ohio patented the first prepared or "ready mixed" paints in the United States."

  • Lead, which was added to paint to speed drying, increase durability and resist moisture, can cause "nervous system damage, hearing loss, stunted growth, reduced IQ, and delayed development (in children). It can cause kidney damage and affects every organ system of the body. It also is dangerous to adults, and can cause reproductive problems in adult men." Paint containing more than .06% lead was banned for residential use in the US in 1978.

  • If you're going to paint a dark wall, use primer. Seriously. Or you'll be sorry.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Yosemite National Park

I've returned from a lovely long weekend with Yosemite's giant sequioas, granite cliffs and stellar jays. I'll write a substantial post about it later this week. Until then, some pics:

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Oh, the BEAUTY!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Old Timey Contraceptives

I did follow through with the Trixie costume - sort of. You can buy a lot of things on Amazon.com, except authentic-looking nineteenth century blouses in dust bowl brown.

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So I ended up going with a more traditional Halloween saloon girl look.

To make up for the lackluster ensemble, I accessorized with some abortifacient herbs. (A bag of Ceylon rose tea masquerading as tansy.) And while researching abortifacients (substances that induce abortion), I discovered some interesting facts about early contraceptives:

- Silphium, a member of the parsley family, was a powerful abortifacient harvested in ancient Greece. It was so popular it was harvested to extinction around the 1st century.

-Other supposed abortifacients:

Wild carrot
Black Cohosh
Slippery Elm
Common Rue

- In the 2nd century, the Greek gynaecologist Soranus advised women seeking abortion to drink water that blacksmiths had used to cool metal (PS: guy's name is Soranus).

-Old western prostitutes used coins as cervical caps (according to David Carradine). Asian women used oiled paper; English women used beeswax.

-"From 1930 until 1960, the most popular female contraceptive was Lysol disinfectant -- advertised as a feminine hygiene product in ads featuring testimonials from prominent European "doctors." Later investigation by the American Medical Association showed that these experts did not exist."

- Condoms were first made from animal intestines

-The first IUDs (intrauterine devices) were used on camels. Apparently, Arabs would stick pebbles into their uteruses to keep them from getting pregnant.

SoCal Halloween Maze Review

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Stencils of the world, unite!

Though I've slacked on the Halloween-themed blogging, I did make it to Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood and Halloween Haunt at Knott's Berry Farm. Here's a quick recap:

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood
Five mazes, including the tram tour through the backlot, which wasn't as satisfying as last year -- you could still walk through the Bates motel and the flaming War of the Worlds plane wreckage, but there weren't as many zombies lurking about. The other mazes improved, however. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre maze was extremely detailed and, overall, the scariest, but there were some truly frightening moments in the Nightmare on Elm Street maze (one of the scare actors scared me so badly I fell backwards into the person behind me. Frankly, I'm surprised I didn't end up here). Overall, very quality experience. I was assaulted by chainsaws (sans chains) twice. What did it feel like? It tickles.

Halloween Haunt at Knott's Berry Farm
Though the TGI Friday's pre-game did not disappoint, the mazes did. Perhaps they're understaffed on Sunday nights because there was a noticable decrease in scare actors, in both the mazes and the scare zones. The new mazes were underwhelming (Killer Klown Kollege, Doll Factory) -- even, dare I say, dull. My favorite maze from past years, the Asylum, was structured differently and missing the scariest part of all -- the smoke-filled infirmary ward. The best mazes were (surprisingly) Beowulf and Pyromaniax (the log ride -- the premise was "disaster at the moonshine factory." Very disturbing.) I did notice that there were more animatronics this year -- at the expense of staff, maybe? Are all the good scare actors going to Universal? Next year I'll have to step up...

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Science behind Spirit Boards

Now that the worst of the wildfires are over (we hope), let's get back to
science and the supernatural.

Maybe carbon monoxide poisoning, infrasounds and paranoia aren't enough to explain the sights and sounds that accompany hauntings. Maybe you, like 33 percent of Americans, believe these are, in fact, caused by the spirits of the dead. How might one reach out and communicate with these spirits?

Through Ouija Boards, of course.

Ouija boards -- also known as "talking boards" or "spirit boards" -- are flat boards bearing letters, numbers and symbols. These boards often come with message indicators, or planchettes; when people rest their fingers lightly on a message indicator, it moves around the Ouija board and spells out messages that some say come from the dead.

Although some believe that spirits control the planchette, others say there is a simple scientific explanation for this movement: the ideomotor effect. The ideomotor effect is the body's involuntary and unconscious response to psychological stimuli. (Crying, for example, is attributed to the ideomotor effect). Scientists say that Ouija board users may be moving the planchette even though they think they're not exerting any pressure on it. This movement would be more pronounced if more than one person had their fingers on the planchette.

For some interesting history on the Ouija board, check out the Museum of Talking Boards.

If you're interested in hearing some Ouija board stories, check out graveaddiction.com

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The word "Ouija" is now copyrighted by Parker Brothers. If you're interested in buying your own gateway to Hell, you can find it here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is Carbon Monoxide Making us Mental?

Everyone seems tense here at the Annenberg School, and at first I thought it had something to do with an impending lecture from She Who Must Not Be Named (yes, the Young Republicans have arranged for her to speak here in an hour, and the Los Angeles Police Department has already combed the building for bombs), but then I wondered if the fires are to blame for everyone's headaches, fatigue and general malaise.

Then I remembered that while researching the science behind ghostly phenomena, I ran into an interesting fact about carbon monoxide -- that "Carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause powerful auditory and visual hallucinations, depression, and a generalized sensation of illness and dread, was recognized as a possible explanation for haunted houses as early as 1921."

Sure enough, one of the gases released by mass quantities of burning homes is carbon monoxide.

Could we all be suffering from a case of mild carbon monoxide poisoning?


Which one of these puts you most ill at ease?


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C. All of the above

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Smells Like Burning

We're surrounded by fire.

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The sky was pale orange yesterday morning and heavy with carcinogens by the time I got out of class last night. The air smelled like ground beef roasted on a tire fire.

As I drove home with watering eyes and the occasional hacking cough, I wondered, how are these wildfires affecting my health?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoke from wildfires contains gases and fine particles that can "hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases."


Once I got home, I visited the SignOnSanDiego fire blog to check the fate of Rancho Bernardo, a small community northeast of San Diego where my aunt and uncle live. They had to evacuate on Monday, when the Witch Fire tore through the area. Last night, city officials released a list of the homes destroyed in Rancho Bernardo.

Can you imagine finding your address on this list?

Luckily, none of the homes on Pacato Circle South were mentioned.

But the fire did raze an entire neighborhood about a mile north of where she lives, and about 200,000 acres of adjacent land.

As an arborphile, I have to admit that what bothers me most about wildfires is not the loss of homes, but the loss of vegetation. Earlier this year, 800 acres of Griffith Park went up in flames. I hoped that my favorite spot in the park (and one of my favorite spots in Los Angeles), a grove of tall squirrel-filled evergreens, had been spared. But, when I returned to the park to visit the Griffith Observatory last month, I learned that, indeed, it hadn't.

Now that large swaths of San Diego county have been destroyed, I wonder, how long will it take to grow back?

So far, I haven't found a conclusive answer.

But I did learn that fire can help foster biodiversity in some ecosystems, and that fire actually assists in the reproduction in certain plants, such as the lodgepole pine, whose cones "are sealed with resin until fire melts it away and releases the seeds."


Monday, October 22, 2007

Ghosts . . . or Pareidolia?

All right, so we've determined what happens to your body once you die, so let's move on to more mysterious matters:


Some say that if you die a particularly traumatic death then you might emit enough electromagnetic energy to imprint a lasting image at the location of your departure, which may pop up at certain instances in the future often enough to constitute a haunting...

...or not.

Possible scientific explanations for ghostly phenomena:

  • Sound -- Frequencies lower than 20 hertz are inaudible, but they can cause people to feel a "presence" in the room, or "unexplained feelings of anxiety or dread"

  • Carbon Monoxide -- carbon monoxide poisoning can cause auditory and visual halluncinations and general malaise.

  • Air pressure changes -- can cause doors to slam, or houses to creak.

  • Pareidolia -- "a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant."

Well. Whatever you think it is, consider this:

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My friend's father claims that this picture was taken with a digital camera he locked in a safe while he was out of the country.

Fake? Real?

You tell me.

The White Man

Q: The following passage was taken from a science textbook. What year was it published?

"Before the white man arrived on the Great Plains of North America, nature through millennia had evolved a balance. The land easily supported a wonderful variety of living creatures, many competing with each other to survive, yet all to some extent dependent on one another. They seldom lingered in one place long enough to damage the area by overgrazing... Jack rabbits, ground squirrels and many other smaller animals flourished on the Great Plains, but each species' natural tendency to multiply was constantly checked by available food and by predators. The Indians themselves, largely nomadic, adjusted to the natural order. But the white settlers saw wealth in the grasslands in the form of cattle and sheep. They killed off the competing herds of pronghorn and bison. Predators were poisoned, as were the prairie dogs into whose holes the cattle stumbled, often breaking their legs. Birds feeding off poisoned carcasses were poisoned in turn. Insects and small rodens on which the birds had fed then multiplied and the land suffered devastating plagues. Cattle overgrazed the range, and sheep nibbled the grasses to their roots. The biome was torn apart, erosion set in and large areas of the once rich plains turned into deserts."

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A: 1963 Life "Ecology"


We interrupt GBD's Month of the Dead to bring you . . .


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Severe drought + Santa Ana winds/ Downed power lines = Apocalypse

Friday, October 19, 2007

Back to Basics (or not): Body Decomposition and Soap Mummies

Before we get into ghosties and ghoulies and the walking dead, let's start with the basics:


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(This is not a real corpse)

According to Webster's, death is a permanent cessation of all vital functions, the end of life, the state of being dead, the destroyer of life represented usually as a skeleton with a scythe (when capitalized).

Our body's cells die when they stop receiving oxygen. This happens one of two ways - our hearts stop beating and circulating oxygen through our blood stream, or we stop breathing and bringing new oxygen into our lungs.

The first cells to go are the ones that need the most oxygen: the ganglionic cells of the central nervous system (including the retinal ganglion cells, the cells in the eye that transmit visual information to the brain. Perhaps this is why we "see the light" in our final moments?). Once the cells of the brain stem die, any respiratory or circulatory function that remains will cease.

Once our cells are dead, they no longer produce the energy that warms our bodies, so our temperature drops (algor mortis). Our blood, no longer propelled by our hearts, succumbs to the force of gravity and pools in the areas closest to the ground (livor mortis). Our muscle tissue, without oxygen, stiffens (rigor mortis). Every now and then, biochemical reactions can cause our dead arms and legs to twitch. And, according to the BBC, "On the odd occasion, when these gases reverberate against the vocal cords, noises may even be produced."


Then the real fun begins: decomposition.

Once our white blood cells are dead, they can no longer combat the bacteria that live in our bodies. So, these bacteria grow and begin to break down internal tissues. This biochemical process releases gases that bloat the body and produce that lovely rotten corpse smell. Eventually, the bacteria will break all of the tissue down until only a skeleton remains.

Unless, a lot of water is involved and the corpse becomes too acidic for bacteria to feed. If that happens, "the body fat remains as adipocere, a yellowish-white, greasy, waxy substance which smells of cheese, earth and ammonia. This substance floats on water, dissolves in hot alcohol and ether, and when burned produces a faint yellow flame."


The transformation of body fat into soap-like adipocere is called saponification, and it is especially common in corpses with a lot of fat (obsese corpses, infant corpses) or any and all corpses that have been laid to rest in air-tight caskets in moist ground.


"Many - and perhaps most- dead bodies interred within USA and Canadian cemeteries during the past century are still largely intact, 'down there' - and it's all due to adipocere formation. The grisly image of millions of buried and entombed soap mummies might not be serene, but it is apparently a shocking reality."

I won't force the evidence upon you, but if you're interested in knowing what these look like, click here.

I, personally, do not want to be a soap mummy. I want to be left out to rot on the open acres of the University of Northern Iowa's Body Farm in Tennessee.

Don't you?

South Bend storm nearly claims USC Trojans

Yes, my football team nearly died while descending into my hometown.

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It's a moment ripe with metaphor. Any takers?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Shadowlands: Ghosts on the Internets

Back in my Tarot card-reading quasi-Goth years, my favorite site on the Internets was Shadowlands, the web's finest collection of *true* ghost stories (some interesting, some incoherent).

There's also ample information about ghost hunting.

This was one of my favorite sites when I first got the 'net in '95. As you can see, it's still very Web 1.0.

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Specter. . . or Photoshop?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Month of the Dead

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Ahhh, October. The temperatures are cooler. The days are shorter. I can finally move the Halloween decorations out of my bedroom and into the rest of the apartment. And my roommates can't say one damn thing about it.

I love this month.

Ever wonder where Halloween came from? Well, according to the History Channel, our modern day Halloween descended from the Celtic celebration of Samhain, which fell on October 31st, the last day of the Celtic new year:

"This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred.

In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future.

To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes."

So the transition of October 31st from November 1st is so spiritually significant the worlds of the LIVING and the DEAD are permeable! Fitting, then, that at this moment, I came into the world! Mwahaha ahaha! aAH! ahAHAH!

(I was born at 5 a.m. on November 1st)

In honor of this (un)holy moment, Go Be Delighted will feature fun facts about specters and corpses and other terrifying horribleness through the remainder of October. Scurrred yet?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

New Earth!

Scientists say a new Earth could be in the works around HD 113766, a Sun-sized star only 424 light years away from our own Blue Planet. Astronomer Carey Lisse at John Hopkins University says that a dust belt full of Earth-grade materials is beginning to fuse in the star's habitable zone -- the area where "temperatures are moderate enough to sustain liquid water."

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Reggie and the Paramylodon harlani

We took our new dog to the La Brea Tar Pits on Saturday.

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Here, Reggie sits atop a Harlan ground sloth (scientific name: Paramylodon harlani), one of the Pleistocene megafauna found in the park's excavation sites. The Harlan ground sloth was six feet tall when standing.

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Here, Reggie sits with a short-faced bear (scientific name: Arctodus simus). Scientists believe that the short-faced bear was the biggest bear that ever lived -- the creature was eleven feet tall on its hind legs.

Scientists have also found sabre-tooth cats, dire wolves, and mammoths at the tar pits, but unfortunately no dinosaurs; they died out 65 million years ago at the end of the Cretaceous period and, at that time, Los Angeles was submerged in the ocean. Ah!

And that's why there's all this "tar" laying around for the animals to fall into. According to the website, the pits are actually deposits of asphalt, the lowest grade of crude oil; oil that was "formed from marine plankton deposited in an ocean basin during the Miocene Epoch (5 - 25 million years ago). Time and pressure converted this material into oil - and for about 40,000 years, this petroleum has been seeping to the surface around Hancock Park."

And that petroleum will suck down anything in its path:

Is entrapment still occurring at Rancho La Brea?
Yes. About 8 -12 gallons (32 - 48 liters) a day ooze and bubble to the surface occasionally trapping invertebrates (insects and worms), reptiles (lizards), birds (mostly pigeons, but also hawks, egrets, ducks, doves, and sparrows), small mammals (rodents and rabbits) and occasionally large mammals (dogs and humans) especially during warm days when the asphalt is softest.


Monday, October 1, 2007

The Tao of Kanye

Wisdom from Kanye West's Graduation:

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"Look at the valedictorian, scared of the future/Scared to face the world, complacent career student/Some people graduate, but we still stupid."

-- Good Morning

"You can still be who you wish you is/It ain't happen yet/And that's what where the tuition is"

- I Wonder

"I was splurging' on trizz/But when I get my card back activated/I'm back to Vegas/ cause I always had a passion for flashing' before I had it"

-- The Good Life

"And you can live through anything/if Magic made it"

-- Can't Tell Me Nothing

"Now everybody got the game figured out all wrong/I guess you never know what you got till it's gone/I guess that's why I'm here and I cant come back home/And if you don't know by now/I'm talking bout Chi town."

-- Homecoming

"So if the devil wear Prada/Adam Eve wear Nada/I'm in between, but way more fresher."

-- Can't Tell me Nothing

"Lauryn Hill say her heart was in Zion/I wish her heart still was in rhymin."

-- Champion

"People talk so much shit about me at barbershops/they forget to get they hair cut."

-- Everything I Am

UPDATE: The Tao of Kanye coming to a bookstore near you!

Gamers in Space

Richard Garriott, the creator of the genre-defining MMORPG Ultima Online, is going to space!

Congratulations, Richard!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Arsenic and Old Space Debris

Scientists say the fumes from the big boiling crater in the Peruvian town of Carangas are not making people sick.

The culprit? Good ole mass hysteria.

Six hundred Peruvians claim to have suffered from headaches, nausea and sore throats after visiting the suspected meteorite impact site.

But scientists have not found any evidence of toxic fumes at the site. If there were fumes emitting from the hole, they wouldn't have come from the meteorite -- they would have leaked from the Carangas subsoil, which contains high amounts of arsenic.

Furthermore, there is no conclusive evidence that the hole was caused by a meteorite -- it is more likely that it was a hydrothermal explosion.

So no super space bacteria yet. *Whew*

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The crater.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cocks and Capons

Tonight, a classmate mentioned that humans typically don't eat roosters because their meat is too tough.

I decided to investigate.

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And I found this interesting tidbit of information from an anonymous user on the now (it seems) defunct http://www.qeok.com/:

"Rooster meat is by far tougher than hen's meat, but it is edible. It's the hormones in the meat that makes the difference. Just like with beef, for instance. A yearling steer (Castrated male, castrated while young) makes the best beef available. Cow meat isn't nearly as nice, and is often sold as 'budget' beef. It's still fairly edible, but has a little different flavour and is a little tougher, because of the estrogen that goes through their system. And bull meat is quite tough and stringy, and has a very strong flavour to it, because of the testosterone in it. Hope this helps!"

So great steak is from Mars, shitty flank is from Venus.

It never occurred to me that male muscle and female muscle would have different tastes and consistencies. If hormones have such an impact on the structure of our meat, do they also affect the structure of our brains? Of course, hormones affect the chemical composition of our brains - they affect emotion. But is the actual architecure of neural tissue different for men and women?

Would a male human taste different than a female human?


Some interesting rooster facts (courtesy of Wikipedia):

  • A rooster pecks with the force of 15 pounds
  • Castrated roosters are called "capons." They're tastier than other chickens because they grow more slowly and accumulate more fat.
  • The Dutch translation of "cock-a-doodle-doo" is "kukeleku"
  • Chicken feet are popular in Chinese cuisine

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger SPACE BACTERIA

Noel Murphy says that bacteria like salmonella grow stronger in Space:

"Arizona State University's Centre for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology has found space salmonella, after 12 days, killed mice more swiftly and exhibited genetic variations. Space evidently triggers a different response in the bacterium even if scientists insist it's nothing it can't do on earth given the right circumstances."

He then wonders if our bacteria-infested space junk might fall back to Earth and plague us with super diseases.

Must investigate....

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Happy Fall Equinox

Our Planet has reached that point in its orbit where the celestial equator merges with the ecliptic and daytime and nighttime are more or less equal to one another. Yes, it's the Fall Equinox, folks. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the days will only get shorter from here.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

FOUND: Chihuahua mix in Exposition Park, near USC Coliseum

Howdy, internets:

If you lost an extremely well-behaved, cream/tan-colored chihuahua mix near Exposition Park (between the Natural History Museum and the USC Coliseum) right after the 4th quarter of the USC / Washington State game, you can find him here:

South Los Angeles Animal Services Care Center
3612 11th Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

We found the dog wandering Exposition Blvd. (near Vermont Ave.) and took him in. He's extremly docile and quiet, and loves car rides and tailgate leftovers. He's already neutered and seems housebroken.

If no one claims him, we may keep him and name him "Reggie."

PS: USC DPS is so fucking lazy and worthless they not only refused to call animal control on our behalf, but couldn't even look up the number for us. Consider yourself warned, Sorority Row - if your little snoogle wanders off, it's up to God and the streets.

Friday, September 21, 2007

GBD's Exclusive 25th Birthday Bonanza

Both of my roommates turned 25 last weekend, and I was faced with the challenge of making two VIPs in my life feel very special, instead of that-much-closer-to-30.

It was a daunting task, but a task accomplished by delighting them with the most exclusive clubs in Los Angeles!

Because what eases the transition into your late 20s better than partying in places inaccessible to the general public?

So, without further ado . . .

Les Deux

After watching a herd of paparazzi sprint toward its general direction, I expected the worst from Les Deux, but it turned out to be quite enjoyable.

It wasn't a stuffy, minimalistic dance club like I'd expected but a small, Victorian house with one large first-floor lounge, a roomy second-floor VIP balcony, and a large cobblestone courtyard lined with chocolate-leather booths. The DJ spun a nice mix of Top 40 and 80s dance music underneath a projection of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet.

The atmosphere was relaxed and chill, and the bartender gave us two-for-one Patron shots. After all, how can you resist these faces:

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Les Douche.

We talked our way up to the VIP room, which was occupied by a group of disability insurance salesmen from Boston and a couple of Marines. One of the Marines was the PR Director for the Marine Corp - the person responsible for convincing journalists to come to Iraq and write about all of the good and reprehensible things going on there. She was revealing all sorts of fascinating things about Iraq that I was trying very hard to retain but promptly forgot a few moments (and sips of vodka soda) later. I think she described Iraq as "four times worse than Tijuana" but that, of course, sounded absurd in the morning. At any rate, after admitting, "we never should have gone in there in the first place, but since we did . . ." she shifted to more Les Deux-appropriate topics such as her childhood aspirations (acting) and the brand of my dress (Free People). She was a fascinating person, and I wish I was sober enough to remember our conversation (yay, America). Her male companion gave me a flashing Pentagon keychain.

After we left, we bought two of the best bacon-wrapped hot dogs EVAH! I think they were actually bacon-wrapped spicy sausages, not hot dogs, which brought the experience to a whole new level. The sausages were wrapped in toasty, grease-soaked buns and topped with veritable mounds of onions, peppers, mustard and ketchup. As Sarah and I devoured them under a nearby awning, men kept approaching us and asking us where we were from. No one believed us when we said "LA." (Dunno why, I mean, wtf, right?)

The Magic Castle

On Friday night, Sarah and I got all dolled up and went to The Magic Castle, the private members-only magician's club on Franklin and Hollywood.

It was just as awesome as you might imagine. I won't spoil the mystery for you, but let me just say that the place has five bars full of aging magicians eager to perform tricks and buy drinks for pretty ladies.

We weren't allowed to take pictures, so think of a Hogwarts full of strange uncles.

Club 33

I thought Disneyland's Club 33 was a nightclub. It's not. It's a very expensive French restaurant with antique furniture, crimson walls and gold-embroidered drapes. It's like eating inside of a Louis Vutton bag. Seth and I got the five course Prix Fixe menu - quite tasty. The toilets are rather peculiar:

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"I've got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live?"

Once inside, you travel to the dining area via elevator:

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Pretty cool, huh?

Pirates of the Caribbean is even better after five glasses of wine.

But do not go on the Finding Nemo submarines until you've completely sobered up.

(Or ever, if you're afraid of being submerged in water, like I am.)


Now, you might be wondering how you can befriend someone like me; someone who has the know-how to get you into these wonderfully exclusive Southern Californian establishments.

(Lots and lots of cash.)

No, seriously, the truth is that I owe it all to Sarah, Becky and Barb G. Thanks, ladies.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Feathery Velociraptors

Scientists have discovered quill knobs on the forearm of a Mongolian Velociraptor, which indicates the dinosaur had feathers.

I can't decide if I'm disappointed or freaked out by this.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Forgotten (Pirate) Prisoner

A very *exclusive* post is coming soon . . .

But until then, be delighted that it's International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not "national." International.


In other pirate-related news, I went to Disneyland over the weekend and realized, during my second trip through Pirates of the Caribbean, that my dad's 1966 Forgotten Prisoner model kit could very well be based on the first diorama of the ride. The Forgotten Prisoner is a skeleton dressed as a pirate and chained to a wall with a sword through his chest. Very similar to Pirates' first corpse.

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(The model, without the sword.)

But then I discovered that the ride didn't open until 1967. So was the figure in the ride based on the model? Is it just a coincidence? Is the image of a skeleton pirate chained to a slab of concrete with a sword through his chest such a common element of the American psyche that it sprung up simultaneously in various incarnations in the 1960's?

Did it have anything to do with this? (I mean, I guess there were no pirates in that, but there were skeletons.)

At any rate, it's comforting to know that although the Forgotten Prisoner is 41 years old, he's adapted very well to modern times -- he has his own MySpace page.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When Galaxies Collide

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Galaxies. Trillions of them. With trillions of stars. Whoa.

If humans manage to escape Earth before the Sun turns into a Red Giant and boils away the planet's atmosphere, we'll have another astrological obstacle to overcome:

The collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies.

Sure, it will take a few billion years, but it's inevitable -- the gravity of the two galaxies is pushing them toward each other at a rate of several hundred kilometers per second. Eventually, they will collide, and the combined gravity will scatter their stars into new galactical formations. Our night skies would be forever changed - if, somehow, we're still around to observe it.

The Andromeda Galaxy is visible to the naked eye. We see it as it was 2.5 million years ago, since it's 2.5 million light years away, and its light takes 2.5 million years to travel to Earth.

With the proper equipment (i.e, deep space telescopes such as Hubble), we can see galaxies as far as 13 billion light years away. These galaxies are almost as old as the Universe itself, and predate the existence of Earth. So, when we look at pictures of these galaxies, we're viewing space as it was before the Earth even existed!

Consider, for a second, the distance implied by 13 billion light years. A light year is the distance light can travel through a vacuum in one year -- 5,878,625,373,183.61 miles. Multiply that by 13 billion . . . my calculator broke.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Now Showing at the Observatory: Jupiter and the Galilean moons

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I had the pleasure of visiting the Griffith Observatory last night, which had its 72 year old 12" Zeiss telescope pointed toward Jupiter.

I got to see the Jovian planet and four of its moons - Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. The sight looked a lot like this:

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Except that I could actually see the creme and orange colored bands of Jupiter's cloud layers, which was pretty cool. (The Great Red Spot, unfortunately, had already rotated out of view.)

The image I saw through the telescope was not how Jupiter would have looked (from close range in space) at that moment, but how it would have looked (from close range in space) 45 minutes earlier, since its light takes 45 minutes to reach Earth.

Some other fun facts about Jupiter:

* Jupiter is two and a half times as massive as all of the other planets combined.

* Jupiter has a very faint planetary ring system.

* The orange and creme colored bands are cloud layers in Jupiter's atmosphere. They rotate in opposite directions; the resulting turbulence creates great storms (such as the Great Red Spot).

* Its largest moon, Ganymede, is bigger than the planet Mercury.

* Its fourth largest moon, Europa, may have oceans of water underneath its icy surface (and, therefore, may have extraterrestrial life as well). (Like Saturn's moon Enceladus.)

* Galileo discovered Jupiter's four largest moons in 1610, via his new and improved telescope. This was the first time anyone had actually observed satellites orbiting anything other than Earth, and his discovery cast major doubt on idea of an Earth-centered universe.

(He also used his telescope to discover that Venus went through phases, which proved Copernicus' earlier hypothesis that Venus, and the other planets, orbited the Sun. This observation got Galileo in trouble with the good ole Church and he was put under house arrest outside of Florence for the remaining years of his life.)

Last night was my first visit to the Observatory and it did not disappoint. If you live in So Cal, check it out. They're going to point that telescope toward Mars in a couple of months.

Friday, September 7, 2007

This is Why I Drink Starbucks

According to Energy Fiend, there's so much caffeine in Starbucks coffee that it would only take 27 Grande cups of it to kill you.

Comparatively, it would take 71 cans of Full Throttle to kill you.

Or 296 cans of Coke Zero.


Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mogoi (Yeti) National Park

Documentarian Les Guthman came to class last night to speak about his documentary “Churning the Sea of Time: A Journey Up the Mekong to Angkor" (which was a really beautiful look at the Mekong River, which runs through Vietnam and Cambodia). He mentioned another documentary he had worked on, "Into the Thunder Dragon," about two unicyclists who had cruised through Bhutan in search of the Yeti, the mythological giant Himalayan snow monster.

They had wanted to travel through Bhutan's Sakteng Wildlife Park , which is dedicated to protecting the natural habitat of the Yeti. But they couldn't. Because it's so dedicated to protecting the habitat of the Yeti that humans are not allowed there.


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I pointed out that you can also find the Yeti at the Matterhorn in Anaheim, but I don't think he was listening.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

R.I.P. Steve Irwin

Today marks the one year anniversary of Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin's death. I remember the night he died -- Seth and I were in Las Vegas, drinking some cheap beers at the Stardust (now defunct as well). We read the news from the muted television behind the bar. I didn't follow his career very closely, but I was sad to see him go -- it's rare to find a person who lived life so passionately, and with such dedication to a worthwhile cause .

In memoriam, Animal Planet is airing some classic croc specials this week, now through Thursday.


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Monday, September 3, 2007

The Most Dangerous Roads in the World

Over the weekend, I read Paul Theroux's account of driving through Tibet and was reminded of an interesting post on darkroastedblend.com about the Most Dangerous Roads in the World.

Check 'em out.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Day After Tomorrow

What does global warming have in store for the US?

Massive storms in the Midwest!
Hail the size of baseballs!
More lightning in the West . . . and more fires!

This forecast is brought to you by NASA.

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Countdown: Halloween

My favorite holiday, Halloween, is only two months away!

I wanted to apply to be a Knott's Halloween Haunt Monster, but I have class on Wednesday nights. Oh well - maybe next year.

As for the costume, I'm going to attempt to pull off Trixie from Deadwood. If anyone knows where I can find 19th century whore garb, let me know.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Photos of the August 28, 2007 Lunar Eclipse

Some blurry photos from my Sony Cybershot:

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Unfortunately, my camera couldn't pick up the red hue of the moon once it was fully obscured by the earth's shadow. But if you're reading this, oh, now (as in 3:10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 28th) you still have about an hour to check it out for yourself.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Reminder: Total Lunar Eclipse TONIGHT!

All right, kids, now that you're all bogged down with homework, it's time to stay up all night to watch the moon pass through the Earth's shadow!

Between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. on the West Coast!!

Back to School

You know how the first day of school smells differently than any other day? What is that? Is it the scent of over-ripened summer? The perfume of burgeoning opportunity?

I think it's a combination of waking up way earlier than you usually do and breathing in the post-dawn air (before it's sullied by rush hour commute traffic and roasted by sunlight) . . .

. . . and office supplies. Mass quantities of office supplies. Paper. Glue. Plastic packaging.

That's it.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007


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Yeah, it's pretty awesome.

It's like an underwater, art deco Resident Evil. And it really made me nostalgic for the Queen Mary.

I was a little hesistant to pick it up at first because I'm terrible at shooters. (I can never keep track of where I'm going, or what I'm pointing at. Truth is, I'm just really uncoordinated. I can't whistle, nor snap. So moving my virtual head with one toggle switch and my virtual legs with another is a little much to ask. To me, it's like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time. Which I can pull off, if I think about it hard enough, but I gotta admit, it's pretty jerky.)

Luckily, BioShock is civil enough to offer an easy mode for those who are "new to shooters."

How euphemistic.

And fortunate, because I'd hate to miss out on this game for lack of skill. It's creepy - not just in a "Surprise! A genetically mutated psychopath!" sort of way, but in an unsettling, morally ambiguous sort of way. It's cerebral - the story draws on both Ayn Rand and George Orwell to tell the tale of a laissez-faire capitalist utopia gone wrong. It's gorgeous - breathtaking, really. And it's really fucking fun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

M-Theory: Shizzam!

The Science Channel’s documentary "Parallel Universe" fucked my brain beyond repair.

It began with string theory. Which states that the smallest bits of matter are not zero-dimensional particles, but one-dimensional strings. If everything is made of strings, and we can figure out how these strings behave, then we could theoretically figure out the way everything behaves and sum it up in one neat Theory of Everything. Too bad five different string theories emerged . . .

Each of the five string theories accounted for 10 dimensions of space, since the strings would vibrate in 10 dimensions. Eventually, scientists realized that if they incorporated a newfangled 11th dimension called "supergravity" into their theories, then all five string theories would be compatible. In this 11th dimension, all the strings would be woven together into the "membrane" of our universe (hence: M-Theory). Which would mean that everything is connected. (Of course, a good dose of shrooms will precipitate the same conclusion.)

What will really fuck with your soul, though, is this: the eleventh dimension would contain not only the membrane of our universe, but also the membranes of an infinite number of universes. Universes where there may be life; universes where there may not be life. Universes where there may be civilizations of human beings; universes where there may be civilizations of unicorns. Universes where Paula Abdul responded to your fan letter; universes where Paula Abdul did not respond to your fan letter. You get the idea.

The existence of parallel universes is one possible explanation for the weakness of gravity (relative to the other forces). Consider this: when you take a magnet to a paperclip, that paperclip overcomes gravity to jump to the magnet. And we can overcome gravity ourselves by climbing up a cliff; you have to be in shape, of course, but it’s possible. So why is gravity so lame? Perhaps it "leaked" into our universe from another universe? Hmm?

The existence of parallel universes would also explain the Big Bang theory – new universes are formed when membranes collide. Physics combine, explode, burst forth. Etc.

Are you lost? Yeah, me too at this point. I’m only beginning to comprehend this. Further investigation is necessary - and assured.

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