October 30, 2007

Why Fear Global Warming...

....when Aquaman will flood the country with his negligence anyway? With an uncanny resemblance to the bush administration, the justice league absolves all responsibility for the incident, blaming the nationwide disaster on their enemies. There are hundreds of Challenge of The Superfriends clips and episodes on youtube, all exhibiting crowded plots, kinetic pacing, and total disregard for logic. Unbelievable things happen on this show, and it's recommended if you can tolerate the idiocy.

October 29, 2007

Robot of the Week: Rom The Spaceknight

Dear impressionable kid, You may have been connived into making your parents buy Rom The Spaceknight because of this admittedly awesome TV promo: Well, tough luck. Consider this a lesson in diminished expectations. Yeah, we know... his head is silver, but his body is an ugly teal color. We were in such a hurry to get it on the market, there was a mixup at the factory in china. We also originally planned to put green LED lights in him, but the red ones are cheaper. And it may have helped if we made him more articulated; his only movable parts are the arms at the shoulder joints. But never mind that, Rom is a robot! (not really, he's supposed to be a cyborg) 1980 is right around the corner, and you deserve the most up-to-date computing power available. So lets explore Rom's true robotic potential. We've ensured that playtime with Rom will entail lots of tedious bullshit: to activate the energy analyzer, put it in his hand and plug it into his torso with the included cable. Then you'll see two buttons on his back. Press the left button five times to program him. Then press the right button to make it function. For the translator, you'll need to press the left button three times. rocket pack: once. respirator: twice. neutralizer: four times. Unless you have a good memory, don't lose these instructions! Have fun with your beeping, flashing, unposable piece of styrene, chump! -parker brothers (thanks to the tobor post for inspiration)

October 28, 2007

F'd Puppet of the Week 10/28/07

I wanted to find something really scary for Halloween. This fucker has been giving me nightmares since my childhood. Enjoy! Keep your hands up... Umberto St. John

October 27, 2007

Three Shock Endings

I don't necessarily promote these movies, but they're the three finales that may have affected me the most. I didn't want to give anything away, so all the selections are "pg" rated trailers, not the endings. Friday the 13th An okay film, especially in its final reel of delirium. The shocking bit I'm talking about the aftermath, when the lone survivor wakes in the morning and takes a liesurely cruise in a canoe. I saw this on cable when I was twelve, and couldn't bring myself to sit through it again for several years. Mother's Day An extremely brutal film, which I think is still banned in England. I don't recommend it at all, but the final few seconds before the credits roll have stayed with me forever. Sleepaway Camp This has to be the ultimate. I was so traumatized by this movie's final scene that I almost vomited. You can find the ending on youtube, but it isn't the same if you don't sit through everything that precedes it. Honorable mention: Carrie and Tourist Trap.

October 26, 2007

A PIZZA TEEN! Moment Of Sober Absurdity: "Showdown With Iran"

I know it's tough to pry one's self away from staring at Britney's tits, railing against the absence of lapel pins, or French kissing the latest cellular device, but if you need a proverbial stinging splash of cold water thrown in your face, I highly recommend watching the incredibly interesting Frontline program "Showdown With Iran." It's certainly not very encouraging. In a forum such as this stupid blog which devotes itself almost entirely to presenting moments of human absurdity, I feel this one fits in perfectly beside a post about Shemp in vinyl chaps.

October 25, 2007


EDITOR'S WARNING! Buckets of gore ahead!
Dr. Butcher M.D. (a.k.a. Zombie Holocaust) (1980)

Man On The Left vs. Man On The Right

Inspired by the illustration in Stexe's "No Tickee, No Shirtee" post, I am forced to confront this question: based on the images below, who do you believe had a greater mass of carcinogenic beef residue impacted in his large intestine at the height of his career? Ernest Borgnine (aka "Cabbie" in Escape From New York) on the left or his genetic brethren Lionel Stander (aka "Max, the Butler" in Hart to Hart) on the right?

No Tickee, No Shirtee

Is that a monkey? Or a mole-man? Jee-zus! Scanned from an old newsprint catalog of magic tricks, which I picked up at a flea market. Just one of many mongoloid caricatures found throughout the book. The difference is, all the other tricks (chinese ring illusion, chinese wands, chinese bag) exploit the mysteries of the orient. This particular trick turns the tables on the cunning, unscrupulous chinaman; He thought he could steal from me, but I showed him. As for the saying itself, here's an explanation from everything2.com: "Typically, when people learn a new language, they layer their new vocabulary on top of the grammatical structure of their native language. No tickee no shirtee is a fine example of this linguistic phenomenon, for it is a transliteration into English of a perfectly grammatical and idiomatic Mandarin Chinese phrase: mei(2) pian(3) yi(1) mei(2) chun(3) yi(1); literally, no ticket, no shirt." Be sure to narrate the launderer's voice with a goofy, "mickey rooney from breakfast at tiffany's" accent, and wear one of these while doing the act.

October 24, 2007

PIZZA TEEN! Readers Poll Results

QUESTION: Am I the only one in the world who couldn't give two shits about the release of a new Radiohead album?

  • Yes, you are. Piss off! 12%
  • No. That guy's voice makes me hemorrhage blood! 37%
  • Radio who? Oh, that’s that genetic disease which causes accelerated boney skull growth, right? 50%
Be sure to vote in the current poll!

October 23, 2007

Robot of the Week: The Writer

Many writing automata were built and exhibited in the 18th century, but swiss clockmaker Jacquet-Droz's 1772 creation can truly be called one of the first computers; it could be programmed to write any message up to 40 characters long. After winding, The Writer dips a quill pen into the ink, shakes it, and brings it over to the page. The eyes follow along with what is being written, and the head moves when periodically dipping the pen back into the inkwell. It's currently on display at the Musee d'Art d'Histoire in Neuchatel, Switzerland, and is considered to be the most complex surviving robot of the 1700's. Click here for a more detailed examination of its mechanisms, and here for Jacquet-Droz's similar programmable creation, "The Drawer."

The Amazing Colossal Man (NFL Edition) Attacks London!

No, that's not a real man in the photo, just an estimate of the average professional football player's proportions in the year 2015 based upon the findings of a recent FDA study investigating skyrocketing levels of roids, electrolytes, industrial toxins and corn syrup in the average American's diet. Okay, that was a lie. It's just a dumb NFL marketing stunt in Trafalgar Square, London. The NFL hopes to expand American Football to foreign markets. Let's hope they fail hard & fast because, really, haven't we exported enough bad will and stupidity lately? I snagged the photos from Flickr user "normko" who, hopefully, will accept this loving link to his profile as compensation for the use of his images.

October 22, 2007

A Safe Halloween Is A Boring Halloween

I'm blatantly stealing one of the many wonderful videos from this guy's blog. Watch as the narrator utterly destroys this poor kid's Halloween fun while systematically guilting her into dressing as Gandalf The White rather than the classic black witch she wants to be. I say take a chance, kid. Wear whatever the hell you want and don't let this dizzy, paranoid broad psyche you out. There's only about a 15% chance that you will be killed or crippled by an angry, reckless driver. If you survive the night, you will be a stronger person with a great holiday memory. Also, DON'T THROW AWAY THE MASK!!! It may come in handy a few years from now when you are too old to trick-or-treat, but just old enough to hold up a liquor store.

October 21, 2007

A Visit to Transylvania

F'd Puppet of the Week 10/21/07





October 20, 2007

Links of Shame

We all have them in "Our Favorites". Those links we are ashamed of. The secret links we don't tell anyone about. Links to places on the web that are like the deep, dark places inside ourselves. Guilty pleasures, windows to our true selves, dreams and nightmares.

I don't want you to surf for something funny, something shocking. I can find that shit myself, we all can. I want you to post something real. Something risky. Something you have bookmarked RIGHT NOW. Someplace you lurk online that's like getting a peek inside your diary. Use a fake name - I don't really want to know what came from who. As a gesture of good faith, I'll go first. Name and all.



Robotron 2084: Wood Putty For The Gaps In My Plywood Social Life

Often on the weekends, when I'm not engaged in a spirited inner debate on the merits of suicide, I piss away a good portion of my life playing a 25-year old videogame whose premise, like most videogames, is to rescue a bunch of helpless, innocent losers while murdering wave after wave after wave of assholes trying to stab, stomp, and blast me. In the game, you try to hold out for as long as you can, but no matter how skillfully you play the game nor for how long you endure, you are doomed to physically succumb to the evil forces aligned against you. In other words, it's a very realistic simulation. The game is Robotron 2084 and I play it on M.A.M.E., a piece of free, readily available software which enables me and anyone else with nothing better to do to play illegal emulations of copywritten videogame ROMs, the bits of code which compose the actual game. Tonight, after more than two decades of pursuing the proverbial million-point Moby-Dick, I managed to reach a new high score: 940,775. Hoo-fuckin'-ray for me. The current high score world record is held by Brian King of Aurora, CO, a man who, when not engaged in a game of Robotron 2084, must surely wrestle with powerful demons the size of Ted Nugent's ego. A crappy but passable Shockwave version of the game can be played immediately here.

October 19, 2007

Most Depressing Cartoon?

Which cartoon bummed you out the most as a kid? Super Globetrotters? Rubik the Amazing Cube? or Hammerman?

The Blue Aeroplanes: The Largest Band Roster Ever?

I was perusing the website for a band you will not give a rat's ass about: the Bristol-based Blue Aeroplanes who, in 1990, belched out the incredibly underrated masterpiece (in my opinion), Swagger. A link on their website directs visitors to their Wikipedia page, and (this is the part where you may start to get interested) toward the end of that page, someone has created a spreadsheet illustrating the band's ever-spinning revolving door of personnel. It's on the Spinal Tap scale of ridiculousness. Check it out.

October 18, 2007

The Overdubbed Rock Performance Videos Of "StSanders"

Finnish YouTube user "StSanders" has created an online name for himself by overdubbing videos of bloated rock performances so they sound exactly like any given moment in Guitar Center. All of his videos can be found here, but the two below are my favorites.

October 17, 2007

PIZZA TEEN! Readers Poll Results

QUESTION: Your country is in danger of disintegrating. As a concerned citizen, what do you intend to do about it?

  • Talk about/write about/read about Apple brand software & devices. 0%
  • Furiously masturbate to internet porn. 40%
  • Gorge myself on BitTorrented entertainment. 50%
  • Get a boob job and/or nose job, charge it on my American Express card. 10%
Be sure to vote in the current poll!

"Chunky Homestyle Radio" Via The Audio Kitchen

A friend of mine recommended this "found sound" streaming web station a year or so ago, and I still poke my head in every once in a while. Perhaps you will find it curious. The elusive curator-- "The Professor"-- describes the site and accompanying radio stream as a forum for "the myriad sound artifacts created by ordinary folks using everyday home recording equipment...some are more formal documentation of events and audio letters...then there’s more incidental and ephemeral recordings, like answering machine tapes, personal notes, voice lessons, AA meetings, and all the imaginative antics that can occur when a kid gets a hold of a recorder...and there’s music too." My favorite bit so far was made by a man who allows the recorder to run while he cleans and dresses himself so he can make his daily trip to the store to buy orange juice. The entire time, he pokes fun at himself about how people suck and how lonely he is and how no one understands him. The Audio Kitchen is located here. If you prefer to just hear the streaming show for yourself,...

October 16, 2007

Three Examples Of Incredibly Satisfying Movie Conclusions

Well, not really three examples, but that was the original idea. Two trailers and one gloriously awesome example is the best I can pull this time. My gut instinct was to include the end of Play Misty For Me (1971) when Clint Eastwood finally-- FINALLY!-- clocks that nutty broad in the dome, sending her over the railing, over the cliff, and out of his life for good... ...and maybe the conclusion of Midnight Express (1978) when that dude finally-- FINALLY!-- flips out and rams the Turkish guard, impaling the asshole's skull on a wooden peg and creating an opportunity for escape. Alas, those clips don't seem to exist online, and if they did, you'd probably have to sign in to verify you weren't a kid. But fortunately, the conclusion to Harold and Maude (1971) does exist! So many things are done right here: Cat Stevens' "Trouble" playing over the unusual (for its time) music video-like editing, the weird shift from panic to hopelessness to sadness to shock and, finally, laughter when it's revealed that he's duped us again. That angry motor sound over the freeze-frame is so goddamn perfect, man! Just for kicks, I'd like to see a total downer edit of this where the car crashes onto the beach, there's an awkward silence aside from the sound of the waves, and then "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" kicks in & the credits roll.

October 15, 2007

Robot of The Week: Garco

Garco was pieced together from used aircraft parts in 1953 by Harvey Chapman in his California garage. He was controlled with a five-jointed mechanical arm which fit over Chapman's own, controlling Garco's right arm and fingers with perfect synchronicity. 22 pushbuttons located along this unit controlled the mouth, eyes, hips, and the other arm. Little vacuums in the fingertips allowed him to pick up small objects. The intention was for robots like Garco to perform jobs humans shouldn't: mix explosives, handle bacteria, weld underwater. Instead, he immediately became a Z-list celebrity. Here he's seen promoting "Gog" (a forgotten 3D killer robot movie - I saw the last existing print at the Graumann's Egyptian last year), and he showed up in a handful of other promotional photos. The only footage I can find is when he introduces Walt Disney on the excellent "Tomorrowland" DVD set. Current wherabouts unknown.

F'd Puppet of the Week 10/15/07

October 14, 2007

Halloween Costumes For Young Idiots

Attention kids! Consider yourself warned: this Halloween, if you show up on my damn doorstep looking like this... ...or this... ...or this... ...I hope THIS happens to you!

October 12, 2007

Stelios Arcadiou?

Dig this guy's stuff: http://www.stelarc.va.com.au/arcx.html And I thought SRL were ahead of their time...!

The Strange, Horrible World of Fletcher Hanks

I first saw Fletcher Hanks' work in the essential collection "Art Out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900-1969" and was so haunted by it, I picked up the compilation of most of his known comics, "I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets". All the scans to your left are from this book, in no rational order. His drawings have the naive look of Henry Darger, crossed with the nightmarish symbolism of Rory Hayes (minus the drug references). I expect it may look like shit at first glance, but there's something communicated which is so immediate and vital, it's difficult to articulate. I'm not one of those to argue what qualifies as art and what doesn't, but there's some sort of genius to this crude, twisted stuff. Then there's his writing style. Every story is the same: the first couple pages set up the villain carrying out a disaster of global proportions. After thousands are already killed, he's captured by our hero and subjected to a fate worse than death. Hanks relishes these moments, often devoting the entire second half (sometimes more) of the story to it. For example, Stardust The Super Wizard transforms a gang of terrorists into rats. Then he manifests a panther to chase them to the ocean. As they try to swim to safety, he creates an undercurrent to drown all of them except their leader, who still has his human head on a rat body, and then he's turned in to the F.B.I. for interrogation. Another example: Fantomah, mystery woman of the jungle, morphs into a floating skull with blond hair, transforms the villain into a neanderthal, and drops him into a valley of man-eating animals. No mercy is spared, no lessons are learned. It all makes sense when you learn what sort of man Fletcher Hanks really was. He worked in the 1930's for a bottom-of-the-barrel publisher which turned out such crap that no one would want to collect it, so his books are beyond rare. Even among hardcore comics nerds, virtually nothing was known about him until very recently, when the editor of this collection tracked down his son. I'll quote him here at length: "My father was a drunk, plain and simple. Life around our house was hell. He kicked me so hard once at the top of the stairs that I landed halfway down. I couldn't speak properly as a kid in school, because I was a nervous wreck. My sister and I talked about killing him. If there was a gun in the house, I would've killed him dead for abusing my mother. We'd sit on each side of her when he'd get home rip roarin' drunk, to protect her. He crushed my mother's face with his fist... didn't call the doctor, just let the bones knit themselves. He left when I was ten. Died sometime in the 1970's, must've been 90 years old. The cops found him frozen to death on a park bench in new york city. He may not be the man you admire.... there may have been two Fletcher Hanks who were cartoonists, but there was only one son-of-a-bitch like my old man." Click Here for an incredible sequence of events, too big to reproduce on this page.

October 11, 2007


I'm on vacation this week, so please enjoy another trailer! Lost City of the Jungle (1946)


from Armageddon 2001 May 1991

"Blade Runner: The Final Cut" Micro Review

I'm not a fan of the trailer they cooked up for The Final Cut. It has that stupid modern horror movie trailer rhythm to it, including the standard issue blast of fast edits and sound right at the very end. Anyway, I'll make this fast: The Final Cut is wetter, there's more traffic, it's more violent, there are more sounds, and it looks incredible. Here comes my opinion on the "Han shot first!" moment which people are certainly going to argue about for a long time to come, but I don't want to accidentally spoil the surprise for you, so highlight the space below to read it. START So, Roy now says "I want more life, Father!" instead of "I want more life, fucker!" when he confronts Tyrell. The argument for this change will most likely be that it adds a more complicated psychological dynamic to Roy. True, but just the same, I prefer "fucker." It's scarier, more threatening, and stated in a tone which makes the moment extra tense. And it was an iconic line, so I miss it. "Father" softens Roy a bit and gives him a hint of subservience to "his maker." END UPDATE! I discovered this video of a recent interview with Ridley Scott in which (at the 28:00 mark) he briefly discusses the revision I mentioned above. In short, he simply feels the new version is better.

October 10, 2007

King Vidiot Battles McDorfus in Satan's Hollow!

Let's take a moment from our busy day to wax nostalgic about the golden age of video arcades (WARNING! this trailer contains immature subject matter and totally extreme vidiocy to the max): Joysticks stands alongside Zapped and Screwballs in my personal trifecta of 80's teen raunch. This has all four of the male archetypes (cool guy, fat slob, nerd, punk rock misfit), lots of variations on the standard female archetype (oversexed bimbo), a politician who likes to hang out in public bathrooms, the old "hot dog in the cleavage" gag, and a shamelessly stupid, spaz-matic theme song. It was finally released on DVD a few months ago, but it's such a poor quality transfer, you'd be better off borrowing my VHS copy. Better yet, if you're in the los angeles area you can see it on the big screen at the new beverly theater, Oct. 27 at midnight. Dork trivia: the "Strip Video" arcade game seen briefly in the trailer is a real game called "Streaking". It's available as a M.A.M.E. emulation so you can download and play it in the privacy of your own home with some bodacious babes.

PIZZA TEEN! Readers Poll Results

QUESTION: Which 'third stooge' would look hottest in assless vinyl chaps?

  • Curly (Jerome Horwitz) 12%
  • Shemp (Samuel Horwitz) 50%
  • Joe (Joe Besser) 25%
  • Curly-Joe (Joe De Rita) 12%
Be sure to vote in the current poll!

October 09, 2007


Here's the first go; I feel it's fitting.........


Substitute Soundtrack: Dancing Girl

This starry-eyed young dancer needs something different to jiggle to if she's going to win the big prize. Would you be kind enough to select a fresh soundtrack for her? INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lower the volume of the video.
  2. Hit the video's play button and the play button of one of the music tracks beneath the video.
The music tracks will run far longer than the video, but the gag still works.

October 08, 2007

Robot of the Week: The Digesting Duck

This week we report from Grenoble, France, where in 1739 Jacques de Vaucanson, a hobbyist, created the world's most sophisticated automaton. With over 400 moving parts, the duck flapped its wings, waddled, quacked, drank water, ate grain, and defecated. All internal mechanisms were exposed for viewing of the digestion process, although there was a hidden chamber for holding the excrement; it was a mechanical marvel, but did not fully replicate all digestive functions (it took 260 more years for Wim Delvoye's "Cloaca" machine to finally make this concept a reality, much to the wonder and disgust of patrons). Of no small consequence, Jacques experimented with a new material brought from the amazon when making the duck's intestines, and in so doing, invented flexible rubber. The Duck was known throughout Europe. Even Voltaire wrote, "without the Duck of Vaucanson, you have nothing to remind of the glory of France". Strangely, Vaucanson only created two other robots in his lifetime: full-scale android musicians that played flute and tambourine. Both were destroyed in the revolution. The duck's wherabouts are unknown, but an ersatz imitation is on display at the Museum of Automatons in Grenoble. See a short demo video here. UPDATE! 10/16/07: my sources were out of date; The original digesting duck was found and reconditioned by Fred Vidoni (maker of the replica seen in the youtube video), and is also on display at the same museum.

October 07, 2007

F'd Puppet of the Week 10/6/07

Stereotype Minimalism
Keep your hands up...
Umberto St. John

Three Examples Of Movie Kisses Which Cause Me To Hold My Breath

Example 1: Grace Kelly & James Stewart in Rear Window (1954) I think this is the one we can all agree on, correct? It occurs exactly the way we all wish it would happen to us sometime before we croak. The scene doesn't even need the context of the rest of the film-- it's a complete, self-contained moment you can watch on its own and it will cause everyone in the room to pause. The slow motion and vacuum of silence...perfect. Has this been topped? Example 2: Audrey Tautou & Mathieu Kassovitz in Amélie (2001) This one benefits from the build-up of all the events which came before, but when it happens, it's the perfect payoff. When she opens that goddamn door, man, you suck in your breath and hold it. Example 3: Naomi Watts & Laura Harring in Mulholland Dr. (2001) NOTE: You may want to turn up the volume before you hit play. Again, the build-up really makes this come alive. But, man, when it happens, I don't care if you are straight, gay or whatever, it's smokin' hot. And I certainly don't mean that in the moronic, Maxim magazine kind of way. The tension causes the film to slide right over the edge of the cliff, and you feel like you are suddenly in way, WAY over your head. The scene has been obscured here by those unfortunate fade-outs, but even so, it manages to sock you in the lungs.

October 06, 2007

Three Examples Of Exceptionally Awesome Opening Titles

Here are three examples of opening titles which kick my ass. What strikes me about all of them is how, by the time story begins, they have successfully transported their audience to a completely different world with a completely new mood. Within two minutes, you have become lost in that place. Example 1: Alien (1979) The visuals combined with Jerry Goldsmith's unsettling non-theme manage to get under the skin like worms-- it's even more threatening than the work he did on the title sequence for Planet of the Apes. This immediately feels uncomfortably real and serious. There is no doubt that something incredibly dangerous and far beyond your understanding is lurking on the periphery. The story goes something like this: Goldsmith had composed an actual theme and something happened-- someone hated it or whatever-- and he was forced to hastily throw this together, so it is with bitterness that he regularly endures its praise. If you are interested in hearing director Ridley Scott's commentary on the sequence, you can check it out here. Example 2: Lost Highway (1997) ...with buggy sound. Sorry. I've only seen the film once (because Universal has yet to release it on DVD in the US), and it was at a midnight show last winter at the IFC Film Center here in NYC, but the print was clean, the screen was huge, and the sound was C-R-A-N-K-E-D! It was a comparable experience to seeing the opening treatment of Star Wars, and it was certainly the best film experience I've had in a long, long time. By the time Bowie's song faded, it was pretty obvious that I was about to get my ass kicked, and I was not disappointed. There were so many perfect pairings of sound and image in this film-- the first time we see the blonde incarnation of Patricia Arquette, for example. Example 3: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) Manages to be modern and old fashioned/sentimental at the same time. Must be the combination of the helvetica and the ye olde trinkets. You've already started to cry and the film has barely begun.

October 05, 2007

Absurd Juxtaposition #0013 - VIDEO!

Play them simultaneously.

October 04, 2007

The Day I Was Shot In The Face With A BB-Gun

No irony and no trickery this time. I just thought these kids did a decent job of telling a story.

October 03, 2007

The Sense-Assaulter

(click image to enlarge) drawn by Dan Clowes and written by the consistantly hilarious cartoonist Rick Altergott.


from Archie Comics #1 - 1942

PIZZA TEEN! Mandatory Viewing: Little Rascals "A Tough Winter"

There are dozens of very good and very inappropriate moments here. My favorite? Hmmm...difficult to pick just one, but I'll go with when the concoction explodes in Mary's eye. You could learn a lot about what makes me tick by studying this marvel from a more dangerous, less politically correct age.

October 02, 2007

PIZZA TEEN! Readers Poll Results

QUESTION: Who is to blame for the state of the music industry?

  • The labels 22%
  • The artists 0%
  • The fans 22%
  • "Rowdy" Roddy Piper 55%
Be sure to vote in the current poll!

Freddy Krueger: Specializing In Efficient Solutions

I was leaving work Monday night, I crossed the street, and look who I ran into! Yup, notorious child murderer & Zoom exile Freddy Krueger has taken up residency in Times Square, one block south of the Naked Cowboy. And, whoa, check it out! He's positioned himself right square in front of the entrance to the largest toy store in America! Now, that's what I call good old German efficiency, Mr. Krueger! That's using the ol' noggin-- let the kids come to YOU for a change! The photo only cost me a buck (if you look closely, you can see it in his left hand), but once I was on the subway, it occurred to me that I most certainly could have slipped him my address wrapped in a twenty, and he would have silenced those motherfucking hard-boiled Polish rat children who bat their whiffle ball against my window on the weekends. THIS is why you should always-- ALWAYS!-- carry a small camera in your bag, folks.

October 01, 2007

Robot of The Week: Ajeeb

If you're wondering why I'm honoring Ajeeb as "RotW" instead of his more famous chess-playing automaton predecessor "The Turk" or the more sophisticated successor "Mephisto", it's because of its bizarre story. Ajeeb was built in 1865, several years after the turk was destroyed in a fire. Capable of both checkers and chess, it lost three games of the 900+ played, and never lost a game of checkers. Opponents included Houdini, Sarah Bernhardt and Teddy Roosevelt. After an extensive tour of Europe it played throughout the U.S., eventually settling at Coney Island sometime in the 1880's. Obviously, Ajeeb wasn't 100% mechanical; An operator was concealed within the cabinet. For much of the time this was Sam Gotski, chess pro. One day his understudy was operating the machine when a coney island visitor got so pissed over losing, he shot Ajeeb in the torso, killing the man inside. To conceal the shameful secret of Ajeeb not being a true robot, and due to the transient nature of this particular apprentice, they successfully disposed of the body without consequence. Sometime later, Sam quit his job, complaining that Ajeeb was moving about on its own accord. He disappeared from New York never to be seen again. Ajeeb went through two more operators, but they both reported to friends and family that Ajeeb seemed to be moving independently. One of them refused to play anything but checkers, because Ajeeb sometimes made his own moves with chess. Other operators controlled, and were controlled by, the machine into the 1920's, including Albert Hodges, former U.S. chess champion. It was allegedly destroyed by a fire in 1926, but sightings and rumors persist to this day. It is believed to reside somewhere near Ontario. Neighborhood clock workers and machinists suspected of servicing Ajeeb over the years are keeping quiet, describing it as little more than "A golden means between machine and spirit not fully known". Does it contain the soul of the man who died within its body? Or has it always been a creation that surpassed the will of its creator?

Reverend Billy And The Church Of Stop Shopping

Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Spending have been getting a lot of attention lately, mostly, I suspect, because Morgan Spurlock's documentary What Would Jesus Buy? is beginning to make its way to film festivals. I'm serving the will of the hype machine by posting this, I know, but the cause is a worthwhile one. I'm a fan of this particular slightly kooky video of Billy getting arrested at the Astor Place super Starbucks, which by my own estimation, must be the largest Starbucks in the world. I like the modified logo on the cup being held by the man at the beginning of the video.