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Archive for May, 2009

carrie
You’re a Broadway investor in the late 1980’s. You’re looking for a new musical to put your money into. That Les Miserables show is obviously never going to get off the ground, so you decide to choose something different.

Why not Carrie: the Musical?

Here’s the plot, for those who’ve never read the book: A shy girl that no one likes develops telekinetic powers. She is invited to the prom, but a gang of teenagers plots to debase her. Her crazed mother also tries to stop her, convinced that all boys are demons, but Carrie manages to go to the prom anyway. She is promptly humiliated, and goes on a mad rampage involving floating pointy implements.

Now picture that, with song and dance numbers!

The budget for the show was $8 million, which was quite huge for the time. There were a number of reasons for this, among them that the story was written by Stephen King. The book was a bestseller, and the film was a smash hit, so it made sense that a Broadway musical would be just as successful.

. . . and then the reviews started to come in.

They were absolutely scathing. For some reason, a girl getting doused with pig’s blood just didn’t translate to the stage very well. Perhaps it was how they tried to combine it with jazz hands and pirouettes.

The show closed after only three days. According to the New York Times, “it was the most expensive quick flop in Broadway history.” A dubious honor that will undoubtedly be taken by Cheech and Chong: The Musical at some point in the near future.

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Salad Shooter
Kitchen appliances tend to be fairly standard and boring, if you actually take a look at them. Toasters, blenders, waffle irons… sure, they fulfill their function with speed and efficiency, but they don’t have any zazz. To spruce things up a little, you may want to consider purchasing a salad shooter (as seen on 3 A.M. infomercials.) This amazing product is sold by Presto and capable of launching salad projectiles into your bowl from over ten feet away! Or, two feet, actually, but it does get a fair degree of momentum.

You might be wondering the actual purpose of such a device is. Do lettuce and carrot sticks that have been shot through the air at a high velocity taste better in some magical way? Well, no. But it looks cool! Sort of. It also slices up veggies, which as we all know is nigh on impossible provided your society hasn’t invented the knife yet. The salad shooter is therefore a product that no home should be without. Simply store it next to the Slap Chop, Inside-the-Shell Egg Scrambler, Dial-O-Matic, and other pieces of worthless junk that you’ve managed to accumulate over the years.

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Boss Tweed
Boss Tweed is the classic example of the corrupt politician. He was a New York congressman, a state senator, and the leader of Tammany Hall. He also stole somewhere between 40 and 200 million dollars from his constituents. If you adjust for inflation, this is roughly the equivalent of six billion dollars.

His downfall came at the hands of James O’Brian, the city sheriff at the time. He provided the New York Times with proof of Boss Tweed’s corruption, in part because he wouldn’t authorize the Orange Parade, but mostly because he couldn’t stand the man. The newspaper ended up publishing a series of cartoons that depicted his widespread graft and sleaze.

Boss Tweed was furious, and demanded: “Stop them damned pictures. I don’t care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures!”

He was quickly arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He managed to sneak away to Spain, however, by donning a false mustache that was even larger than his regular one. His freedom was short lived – the Spanish police stumbled across him and recognized him from the cartoons. He was promptly sent back to the Ludlow Street Jail, where he died a few years later.

He was also the primary villain in the superhero graphic novel ‘Green Lantern: Evil’s Might’, so you know he was a bad guy.

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murphy-3
Murphy’s law is the secret foundations of the universe. You can always trust it to occur, just like death and taxes, and it will often find a way to involve one or both of them in a thoroughly comic fashion.

The general notion is that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. If you have a dentist appointment that afternoon, you’re going to get a flat tire. If you have a spare tire in your trunk, you’re not going to have a jack. If a friendly driver stops and offers you his, it will turn out that he’s a serial killer. You get the idea.

The law supposedly gets its name from Edward Murphy, an aerospace engineer who was trying to determine how much stress the human body could withstand during rapid deceleration. His experiments took place between 1948 and 1949, and as you might guess, constant screw-ups occurred.

The main incident involved a rocket sled and a chimpanzee. Murphy ordered his assistant to attach strain gauges to the chimp’s harness, so he could measure the g-force that was exerted on them. The sensors did not activate for some reason, and it turned out that they had been wired backwards. Murphy was absolutely furious, and declared “If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will.” This statement was eventually simplified down to its current form.

Unfortunately, there is no way to protect yourself from Murphy’s Law. No matter how well you prepare, and how many contingency plans you set up, the universe will find a way to screw you. To put it simply, the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlights of an oncoming train.

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helicopter
Piloting a military helicopter can be dangerous business. You could come under fire by enemy aircraft, or one of COBRA’S rocket turrets. In such an occasion, you’ll need to take advantage of a quick exit. An ejection seat should do the trick!

. . . except for the small problem of flying into the rotating blades, thereby decapitating you in a highly comical manner.

Now, it’s true that the ejection seat could launch you out of the side. They can also jettison the rotor blades before shooting the person skyward. Neither of these possibilities have been implemented in a mainstream fashion, however, because they are viewed as too costly and unreliable. Those that do use them (such as the Kamov Ka-50) tend to have pilots who drink ten cups of coffee a day and have recurring dreams of funerals involving an equal number of caskets.

When they’re in an emergency, most helicopter pilots just have to find a way to safely land their craft upon the ground. Not an easy task, but slightly better than having your body parts scattered across a three hundred foot radius.

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telemarketing
Telemarketing is a business strategy that seems like it should be destined to fail. The process involves maintaining a huge call center of employees, usually high school drop outs, who call up people on the phone from a master list and try to sell them total crap. This typically occurs during the dinner hour, or when the person has stepped into the shower, or just before they’re about to break into the Tower of London and steal the crown jewels. A very inconvenient time, in other words, and one which generally creates a strong negative association with the service or product.

So why do businesses use it? For some terrible reason, it works. Though the vast majority of people get incredibly annoyed when they receive a phone call in the middle of the night telling them that they could save 10% on their long distance rates, there is that rare few who put a hand to their mouth, gasp loudly, and say “Tell me more!” This number tends to correlate with the amount of people who were dropped frequently as a child and suffered from severe head trauma, so you can draw your own conclusions.

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microphone
Mr. Microphone is a toy designed to drive a once quiet neighborhood completely insane. It looks ordinary enough – a standard plastic microphone that doesn’t have a cord. If you speak into the top, though, it transmits a signal to any FM radio receivers that happen to be nearby (and releases a tremendous amount of static at the same time.) This means that whatever you sing comes out of your best friend’s boom box or radio! You’re the Top 40 Star! Isn’t that totally amazing?

The toy is, quite simply, one of the most annoying devices to have ever been invented. Boys and girls have used them to scream loudly at their neighbors and scare the bejeezus out of passing cats. It thus boggles the mind that parents would actually buy one for their children, considering the non-stop headaches and high cost of committing oneself to a mental asylum. They are still available for sale, though, so if you’d like a way for your kid to loudly sing Hannah Montana songs off-key through the morning radio, be sure to purchase one immediately.

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