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Archive for April, 2009

spanish-conquistador
The discovery of the New World sent shockwaves throughout Medieval Europe. Sure, the Vikings had discovered the continent several centuries earlier, and even set up a few colonies there, but no one could understand what they were saying so they didn’t really count. Explorers were quickly sent across the ocean to exploit, or rather, to “chart” the territories, accompanied by missionaries to spread the word of God. Scores of settlers followed behind as well, starting villages and towns where they could escape old debts and build a new life for themselves.

The Conquistadors, meanwhile, just wanted to obtain as much gold as possible, and didn’t care who they had to go through in order to get it. They looked quite ridiculous in their funny hats, but they had firearms, and horses, and an odd tendency to swing their swords back and forth. They also carried quite a few virulent diseases with them that had never been experienced by the indigenous people before (among them, smallpox). As a result, a massive number of Aztecs, Incans, and other Meso-Americans were completely wiped out, and the once great empires were reduced to ruins. All in the name of progress, of course, though it’s funny how often that and merciless destruction seem to go hand-in-hand.

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harley2
Harley Davidson has a powerful image that is deeply engrained into the American psyche. You think of the company, and you imagine a manly biker dressed in a black leather vest riding down a stretch of open road, the wind blowing through his hair, tattoos on his arms, a shotgun by his side, and “Born to be Wild” blaring loudly in the background. You usually don’t think of majestic fragrances to dab upon your neck before picking up some flowers and going out on a date.

That didn’t stop Harley Davidson from releasing a perfume line to the masses. They believed that their brand name would be sufficient to draw in customers, failing to grasp that most people *didn’t* want to smell like a biker who’s been chased by the police for three days. Nor did the bikers have any strong urge to pretty themselves up for Rhonda the chain-smoking cocktail waitress. As such, sales were pretty horrible, and the product line was discontinued. You can still find bottles of it on Ebay, but it might be simpler to just stop showering altogether.

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battlefield
Battlefield: Earth is quite possibly the worst movie ever made. There are films with shoddier production values, and crappier writing, and worse acting, but this movie somehow manages to put them all together in a perfect horrible package.

The film uses extreme close-ups and a near-perpetual forty degree camera tilt that causes anyone who watches it to continually lean their head off to the side until they develop a permanent neck crick. Many movie critics never recovered from the experience and still wear support braces to this day.

The plot goes something like this: It’s 3000 AD. Earth is ruled by the Psychlos, a race of giant John Travolta’s who sport ratty dreadlocks. One of them (played by John Travolta) decides to bribe his way off the planet by using human slaves to mine for gold. This is extremely valuable to the aliens for some reason.

He enlists the aid of Johnny Goodboy, a savage primitive he manages to capture. He gives him a couple of weeks to mine the gold, but Johnny decides he’d rather overthrow the alien empire instead!

The protagonist thus decides to borrow a jet and fly to Fort Knox to steal its gold reserves, despite the fact that he is a post-apocalyptic primitive who wouldn’t know what a jet is, much less how to pilot it. There’s also the question as to how the plane can still be in working condition after a thousand years, but um… shhh.

The movie continues on until the explosive finale, in which Johnny finds an atomic bomb and teleports it to the home world of the aliens, which somehow manages to wipe out the entire planet. It involves a chain reaction and… just don’t think to hard about it, okay? It looked great on paper.

The movie, shockingly, was a flop. Even the hordes of scientologists who went to see it couldn’t save the film from bombing at the box office, and it made numerous ‘Worst Movie of The Year’ lists. They obviously couldn’t appreciate the sheer majesty of John Travolta’s enormous head.

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geocentrism2
The church’s official position for hundreds of years was that the earth is the center of the universe, and that the sun and other planets revolve around it. The main reason they believed this is, let’s face it, humans are pretty awesome. Have you seen the Notre Dame Cathedral? Or the Vatican? They’re amazing! Why wouldn’t the sun want to rotate around us? Oh, because of that whole gigantic mass and pesky gravitational pull of celestial objects thing.

One scientist in particular, a pleasant fellow by the name of Galileo, tried to point this out in a book titled ‘Dialogue Concerning The Two Chief World Systems.’ He wrote that the earth revolved around the sun, as opposed to the other way around. The religious leaders, upon reading his well-researched findings, immediately applauded his sheer genius and switched their world-view to conform to the tenets of science.

… just kidding. They put Galileo on trial for heresy, and forced him to recant loudly to the masses. He was also put under house arrest, while all copies of the offending book were gathered up and destroyed. This did not put an end to the matter – for you see, the earth does revolve around the sun, despite what others wanted to believe, and as more and more scientists peered through telescopes in between discovering electro-magnetism and contracting syphilis, they realized that the famed Italian astronomer had been right.

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rat-catcher
So you’re a medieval peasant. You’ve decided that you don’t want to be a farmer, or a soldier, or a blind beggar. What professional options are available to you? Why, to be a rat catcher, of course!

Rodents were a tremendous problem in the medieval cities. They ran wildly through the streets and snuck into granaries to eat the food within. The local magistrate would therefore employ citizens to take care of the furry menace, typically offering a single coin for every ten rat tails provided. You could recognize these fine entrepreneurs by their trappings – a long rat killing stick, a small beagle (which they used to hunt down their prey), and a huge cloud of flies wherever they went.

The main problem with the job was the short life expectancy. Rat catchers had an odd tendency to come down with the plague with great frequency. Not to mention ratbite fever, choriomeningitis, and leptospirosis. It had something to do with constant exposure to diseased vermin and traveling through filthy sewer systems on a regular basis. The fact that soap wasn’t available may have also contributed a bit. But hey, it paid well. You could get a bowl of porridge on just a day’s pay!

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milli-vanilli1
Milli Vanilli is a famous pop duo that took the music world completely by storm in 1989. Their debut album went multi-platinum and featured such amazing hits as “Girl You Know it’s True” and “Blame it on the Rain”. They even won a Grammy Award for Best New Artist, beating five other singers who didn’t have such dreamy hair. It seemed like there was nowhere for the dynamic team to go but up.

And then, during a live concert on MTV, the record skipped.

It turned out that Milli Vanilli weren’t actually singing their songs – that was Charles Shaw and Brad Howell. Those two didn’t have a marketable image, however. They lacked fake dreadlocks, and enormous pectorals, and the ability to shake their posterior in a thoroughly provocative fashion. Frank Farian (the music producer) therefore decided to go with Rob Pilatus and Fab Morvan, who couldn’t sing on key to save their lives but did make the ladies swoon.

The house of cards quickly came crashing down. People realized that Milli Vanilli had been lip-syncing the whole time, prompting record sales to plummet. They lost their Grammy Award, they were dropped by Arista Records, and ten million buyers were granted a full refund on their albums. They were also ordered to stop appearing shirtless in public, because it was fairly ridiculous.

Milli Vanilli did attempt a comeback a few years later. They changed their name to ‘Rob & Fab’ and released three singles, but to no avail. For some odd, completely inexplicable reason, no one wanted to buy their music anymore.

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BAD FOOD – Haggis

haggis
Many great things have come from Scotland. There’s Sean Connery… David Tennant… Groundskeeper Willy… But something horrible has also spawned from that small island nation off the coast of England. A food so terrible, so vile, that anyone who tastes it (including the Scots themselves) has no choice but to turn a sickly shade of green and immediately run for the nearest bathroom, where they’ll be spending the next three to five days in complete physical agony. This food is known as haggis.

Here’s how to make it: take a sheep’s stomach, rinse thoroughly, and soak overnight in salt water. Once that’s done, boil the sheep’s heart, lungs, and tongue for two hours. Stuff this delightful mixture into the stomach, and sew it shut with a shoelace. Cook for another three hours, and serve to your guests. If you can somehow stomach this nauseating meal, then congratulations! You have a cast iron stomach, and obviously suffer from delusional psychosis.

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