Archive for February, 2009

One of the most popular and truly horrible forms of family entertainment is the Talking Animal Movie. You take a loveable dog, and a cat, and maybe a chimpanzee, and give them the secret ability to talk to people (or among themselves). These heroic critters typically make some sort of perilous journey, encountering dangerous road hazards, precariously balanced wooden crates full of watermelons, and mean dog catchers who have the outrageous temerity to be doing their job. In these cases, the animals are usually voiced by popular “celebrities”, but that’s purely a contextual statement.

What Hollywood producers don’t seem to realize is that adding voices to cuddly critters has the unfortunate side effect of being so utterly saccharine that it raised the blood sugar levels of everyone watching the movie. Over ten million cases of childhood diabetes can be traced back to matinee viewings of Snow Dogs alone. This can generally be countered by a hearty dose of kung-fu movies, horror films, and grindhouse flicks, but parents are usually hesitant to let their sons and daughters watch such fare, leading to the current medical crisis. Don’t fall into this trap: avoid Kangaroo Jack at all costs.

Some talking animal films to avoid:

Francis the Talking Mule
Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Dr. Doolittle
Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties
Goose on the Loose
The Karate Dog
Bailey’s Billions
Good Boy!


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Until 1937, there was no federal regulation for new drugs being introduced into the United States. An unscrupulous person could mix a bunch of chemicals in his bathtub, slap them in a bottle, and sell this to anyone foolish enough to buy it. This came to a halt with the creation of Elixir Sulfanilamide, an antimicrobial drug that was concocted by the S. E. Massengill Company. There was a huge Sulfa craze going on at the time and they wanted to cash in on the sensation, so they mixed their own special version which added raspberry flavoring and used diethylene glycol as a solvent.

Now, it turns out that diethylene glycol is incredibly poisonous to humans. If you ingest just a tiny bit, there’s a good chance you’ll be pushing daisies before the end of the day. The S. E. Massengill Company didn’t know this when they made the drug, though, because that would have required testing, and research, and a person actually dipping their finger in to taste the powder. The manufacturer thus started marketing their fine new medicinal product to the masses, neglecting to add the skull and crossbones on the outside label that is customary in these cases.

Within a month, a hundred people had died. The Food and Drug Administration was called in to investigate, and they quickly discover the fatal culprit (it didn’t hurt that many of the victims still had bottles of Elixir Sulfanilamide clutched in their necrosis-ridden fingers.) There was a huge public outcry, the chief chemist of the manufacturer committed suicide, and this incident led to the direct passing of the 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which requires that safety tests be performed on new medicines before they are released on the market. So that’s why you (probably) don’t have four arms and two heads.

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The date: April 18, 1906. The place: San Francisco, California.

It was a day like any other. The fishermen were preparing to sail off to get the morning catch, the factories were filling the air with black smoke, and desperate gold prospectors were sifting through the beach sand, still trying to find a precious nugget after all these years. And then, at 5:12 A.M. a massive earthquake suddenly occurred. The people there were somewhat familiar with the concept, having experienced others before, but nothing like this one. The earthquake is believed to have been around 7.8 on the Richter Scale, and could be felt all the way to Los Angeles.

A common misperception is that the forty-two seconds of shaking was the main problem. This was not the case. Though it is true that the unexpected rapid movements caused a number of the taller buildings to collapse, or at least be damaged in some way, the consequences from this weren’t really all that bad (relatively speaking.) What was bad were the horrible inferno that began to rage out of control as a result, traveling rapidly through the neighborhoods and burning pretty much everything within the foggy city to a delectable crisp.

The army was called in to assist with the fires, and they had to dynamite numerous buildings in order to divert the path of the flames. They were also authorized to kill anyone found in the act of looting or committing a crime during the disaster. Jaywalking, suffice it to say, dropped to its lowest level in years. It would take a full decade for San Francisco to rebuild, and the city would never be the same. For one thing, hey constructed far fewer buildings out of brick, and they now had to build everything to code. The Transamerica building, for example, goes as deep into the earth as it is tall (853 feet.)

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Most people were told as a child to wait at least an hour after eating before getting back into the swimming pool. This is so they don’t get cramps, which can be fairly unpleasant and even dangerous under some circumstances. Most people weren’t told, however, that they shouldn’t climb onto the roof of the house, shout in a loud drunken voice that they’re “King of the World!” and then dive head-first into the pool below. The reason most people weren’t told this is their parents assumed that their beautiful child wasn’t suffering from incurable stupidity.

Never assume. There are dozens of fatalities related to rooftop pool diving in the United States each year, and more are likely to follow. The common factor in each of these cases is an inability of the person to hit the actual water. They misjudge the distance between the pool and the roof, and end up on the “Isn’t it Funny?” segment on the evening news. On those rare occasions were they manage to make it into the water, the sudden shock of impact is usually enough to break their legs. Diving boards are there for a reason: so a person can jump into a goddamn pool without the risk of becoming a fine red smear on the patio below.

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Most shoes are made out of leather, or a plain-woven canvas material. Crocs are made out of gaudy neon plastic from the ninth circle of Hades. They were originally designed for use as a boating shoe, mostly due to the non-slip nature of the sole, but people who wore them soon realized that they were lightweight, comfortable and in their own horrible way, unique. The product caught on in spite of their misshapen appearance, and Crocs Inc. (a subsidiary of Hellco.)has made hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from marketing the plastic footwear to the American public.

The main complaint towards Crocs is the perception that they are incredibly hideous. Bright purple and orange aren’t colors that were meant to be worn on the feet, especially when painted on a material that’s normally used to make Tonka Trucks. The numerous tiny holes sticking out of the front also give the odd semblance of a pasta trainer, which the shoes double as if you’re feeling particularly lazy. Sales for the product naturally still remain strong, a powerful testament to the judgment of men and women who will one day be in charge of our nation’s future.

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