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House Frogwarts
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Everything posted by Dr.Bedlam

  1. Inarah converts clix

    Downright impressive! And this is why a bucket of Clix in the garage is a GOOD THING, durnit!
  2. Don't ask me anything. Tell me something.

    At one point, to cater to their Muslim market, McDonalds began printing Koran verses on the wrappers of burgers sold in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were outraged. To them, the words of the Prophet were sacred, and the material they were printed on was to be revered as much as the words themselves; one did NOT fling the verses of Holy Mohammed, Blessed Be His Name, into a trash can when one was finished with a Big Mac! McDonalds apologized profusely, and stopped the process immediately. A great many wrappers were yanked from Saudi restaurants and... I dunno, given a Christian burial? Okay, bad joke, bad, bad, naughty. But it does hammer down the levels of secularity in different societies. In America, "Testa-Mints" are a brand of mint candies bearing Bible verses on the wrappers, and presumably devout Christians buy and eat them and dispose of the wrappers as one would any other candy wrapper, without feeling as if they have committed a sin or a sacrilege. While many Americans regard the Islamic deity as no different from the Christian one, there are distinct differences in the cultural way of handling this. Beware of pitfalls! Japanese society is even more secular; their religions are Shintoism and Buddhism, neither of which is as big on the concept of impiety and blasphemy as Christianity or Islam. Japanese celebrate Christmas, but largely as a welcome excuse for a midwinter holiday party and a reason to buy and sell stuff and do gifties, Santa Claus style. Christianity, to most Japanese, is more or less equivalent to Mighty Thor movies or Greek mythology. Which I guess explains some of the snacks I bought today at the Asian Market... "You know it's GOOD if it's LONELY GOD!"
  3. Don't ask me anything. Tell me something.

    Pfffft. Freeloader.
  4. Randomness XIII: Cognitive Dissonance While You Wait

    The buttons, they do nothing. It's just a USB hub.
  5. Don't ask me anything. Tell me something.

    His name was Chung Ling Soo, and he was one of the Asian masters of the mystic arts. But rather than mentoring Doctor Strange, Soo decided to get out there and make a buck in Vaudeville. Chung Ling Soo was a famous stage magician. He didn't speak a word of English, so he worked entirely in pantomime, narrated by his lovely Chinese assistant, Suee Seen, who was also his interpreter when he needed to communicate with the audience. He performed a variety of exciting and exotic stage illusions, but was best known for his bullet catching trick, which supposedly had saved his life during the Boxer Rebellion, when the Boxers had shot him, and fled in terror when he caught the bullets! He'd have an audience member make a distinctive mark on a bullet, load a musket with said bullet, and the audience member (or an assistant) would SHOOT him with the bullet, which he would then catch, and demonstrate that it was indeed the marked bullet -- see the mark here? Until the one night when he revealed he COULD speak English, by shouting, "My God, I've been shot!" and collapsing and dying onstage when the trick went wrong. Turned out he wasn't Chinese. His name was William Robinson, and he was a New Yorker of Scottish descent, who had a real knack for staying in character, both onstage and off (his funny haircut may have had something to do with it). Suee Seen was actually Olive Path, Robinson's assistant and wife. Robinson had worked with other famous magicians including The Great Kellar and Herrman The Great, and when insulted by a real Chinese wizard, Ching Ling Foo, decided to beat Foo at his own game, adopted a Chinese wizard persona, and developed a bitter rivalry with Foo as to who was the greater showman... a battle Soo arguably won by dying onstage in the middle of his act; Foo was a pansy about it and got rich and retired and died under much more private circumstances. Interestingly, Robinson knew what he was doing and had been doing the trick for years; a freak accident is what killed him. The musket was rigged; the barrel did not fire. Instead, the fake ramrod pipe underneath the barrel fired, instead; it contained a powder charge, but no bullet, and at the other end of the stage, Robinson was safe from powder burns. However, this meant that every night, Robinson had to dismantle the gun and draw out the unfired bullet and charge. Over years of doing this, the chamber wore down JUST enough so that a tiny gap formed between the barrel and the ramrod pipe. And one night, they chain-fired, the charge in the ramrod pipe setting off the charge... with bullet... in the actual musket barrel. Exit Chung Ling Soo. Ching Ling Foo is revered among modern magicians as the inventor of the Ching Ling Foo Water Can and the Multiplying Rice Bowls, two illusions still popular today. Chung Ling Soo is remembered among modern magicians as a fine showman and entertaining scammer, and THE primary example of how NOT to do the bullet catching trick; Robinson did not invent this particular trick, and it's kind of fallen out of favor due to the possibility for mishap, and laws about discharging firearms indoors, among other reasons... Mental Floss reports at least six magicians who died doing the bullet catch, and it's known that others were injured. A story still told in Tombstone, Arizona, about the Bird Cage Theatre, is the night a magician was doing the Bullet Catch, and suddenly, a drunk patron stood up, hollered, "Catch this one, Professor!" drew, and fired. The guy sitting next to him smacked his arm, and the bullet went awry; no one was hurt, but the erstwhile magician is remembered for his hasty exit from the stage. This is Jon-Erik Hexum. He was a promising young actor, model, and general Hollywood prettyboy. He died in 1984 on the set of the CBS-TV series "Cover-Up," as a result of laughingly fooling around with a pistol loaded with blank cartridges. A costar was uncomfortable with his casual manner of handling firearms, so Hexum decided to demonstrate the complete harmlessness of blank cartridges by putting the weapon to his temple, and pulling the trigger. Problem is? A blank cartridge is nothing but a REAL cartridge without a metal slug in the end. It often uses the same explosive propellant. With the muzzle against his temple, the explosive force of the blank had nowhere to go except into Hexum's skull, and blasted a chunk of bone roughly the size of a quarter out of his temple and into his brain. He died in the hospital somewhat later. The moral of our story? Firearms are dangerous and should be handled with appropriate respect and knowledge, and NEVER pointed at yourself or anyone else as a joke or even a magic trick. Mmmkay?
  6. Randomness XIII: Cognitive Dissonance While You Wait

    I want this USB hub, just so I can plug it into the computer and watch my spouse stare nervously at it and see how long it takes her to ask what it is...
  7. I've found that with enough HeroClix and Necron parts, one can produce an infinite variety of droids for Star Wars games. It started with a Fantasy Flight C-3P0 whose head got switched with a HC Checkmate mook, but it works with arms, legs, and even torsos.
  8. Eeeyeah. Which is why I went into Warcraft expecting an exciting romp, and instead was subject to Greek tragedy with a bunch of CGI. The only hope spot we get is that little basket with the orc baby floating down the river... which is painfully depressing when one considers that the baby would spend the rest of the next movie growing up as a slave gladiator ... assuming the second movie gets made. Apparently, Warcraft did pretty poorly in the US, but did wild box office in China. So who knows?
  9. Getting to Know You, Mar 2018

    When I was a toddler, I had a rolling tiger. It was big enough to ride, which was its intended purpose. It had wheels on its feet, and I apparently rode that thing everywhere. Upon finally mastering walking, I gave it up in favor of tiger riding. I do not remember this tiger, but I have seen photos; it was injection-molded plastic, and looked nothing like the picture below. The tiger had a name, but that name is lost to history; I was perhaps two when I was given the tiger, so gimme a break. Over time and extreme use, the plastic wheels wore out, and the toy was no longer a rolling tiger. Mom told me that the wheels were still intact, but the tready part had literally worn completely away; instead of wheels, the rolly tiger had two unattached discs where each wheel had been, I'd ridden the dratted thing so much. I was apparently utterly heartbroken, and cried for literally days over my poor immobile tiger. My parents were heartbroken, watching their poor baby boy trying to ride a dead tiger. Where once the rolly tiger had zoomed effortlessly across carpets and down halls, now a weeping toddler vainly hunched his little butt vigorously upon the tiger's back... and the poor tiger would scooch an inch or so along the floor. The Rolly Tiger was no more. Finally, in order to gain some closure, a full formal funeral was held for my poor rolly tiger. Dad dug a grave and we buried him in the back yard. For years afterwards, I had to listen to my father gripe about how he'd dug a fairly large grave for a PLASTIC TIGER, fa cryssakes... Years later, I learned to ride a bicycle, with little or no fanfare. Or mourning. But it occurs to me that at some point, someone is going to be doing construction work in some neighborhood in Dalhart, Indiana, and dig up an ancient plastic tiger festooned with plastic flowers and wrapped in the rotting remnants of an old towel, along with an old pacifier and a couple of somewhat used teething toys...and wonder what the hell the story is with THAT...
  10. Robotech RPG Tactics - Palladium

    Yeesh. I dunno. I'd cheerfully sue everyone and anyone for pain, suffering, and the color of their socks, if YOU were the one who had to pay the legal fees. That being said, I bet Tatsunoko's ready for that license to go away.
  11. Figures I'D like to see...

    Figures. Someone does it, and I just NOW hear about it. Rrrrgh!
  12. Figures I'D like to see...

    ...so I wouldn't have to make the durn things myself. I'm a lousy sculptor. But paper minis will do in a pinch, and they can be given a degree of permanence by decoupaging them onto thin plywood and gluing to wooden discs. From left to right, we have Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and the cast of the old Dungeons and Dragons Saturday morning cartoon. And why none of these are actual miniatures yet, I do not know.
  13. Finally got around to seeing Warcraft. I wanted to like it more than I did, but annoyingly, I didn't much care for it. The movie faithfully retells the story of the first game... and by halfway through the movie, it becomes obvious that it's all a big sequel hook for Warcraft: The Series Of Movies With Associated Merch. I don't particularly mind this, but if you're going to get your epic series of movies off the ground, you really need to start with a stronger first entry, with a way better ending. Only film I've ever seen do well with a weaker ending that THIS was LOTR: The Fellowship Of The Ring, in which the movie just ... ended. To be continued in a year or two. Makes me wonder if Star Wars would have become the juggernaut that it did if the first one had ended with the death of Luke Skywalker, the mistaken identification of Leia as an imperial traitor, the destruction of Yavin IV, and Han Solo swearing vengeance on Darth Vader... "I'll get you next movie, you evil guy!"
  14. Robotech RPG Tactics - Palladium

    It's my understanding that Carl Macek and Harmony Gold essentially regard all things Robotech as their property in the US, and simply sue the hell out of anyone who does ANYTHING with ANY PART of the property. My particular pet peeve was their suing FASA for using mech designs in Robotech that FASA had legally licensed from the Japanese makers of Macross, completely outside the context of Robotech. FASA explained this during the trial. Macek said, "Irrelevant, we will sue you anyway," until FASA finally said hellwiddit and designed different mecha. Afterwards, HC and the Japanese makers of Macross got into it over who had the rights to license what. It's my understanding that the Japanese company STILL aren't happy about Macek's thinking. It is rumored that Harmony Gold were simply considering suing anyone who did ANYTHING in the US with ANY giant robot content, but decided that might be a tad too far reaching, considering the sheer number of non-Robotech giant robot stuff being made in Japan and licensed to US companies. The point being that HG has lawyers and is pretty ferocious about anything related to Robotech.... to the point where the only way to see the original three series that made up Robotech was in bootlegs traded at conventions.
  15. Don't ask me anything. Tell me something.

    When Month Python and the Holy Grail premier at the Cannes Film Festival, it coincided with a bomb threat. But since the threat coincided with the opening credits, the audience just assumed it was just another gag about interrupted credits...
  16. Don't ask me anything. Tell me something.

    This'z Robert E. Howard. He was a pulp writer, best known as the creator of Conan the Barbarian, although he produced LOTS more stuff. Most of Howard's heroes tended to be pretty two-fisted testosterone types. He was pen pals with H.P. Lovecraft and they were pretty fond of each others' work. More importantly, they carried on a running dialogue by mail, and argued about the values of civilization versus those of barbarism. Howard was a fan of barbarism, regarding it as the default state of human development, and was quoted as saying "Barbarians are more polite than civilized men... because civilized men can be rude to each other without getting their skulls split." Howard died in 1936, and possibly never saw a comic book in his life. Nevertheless, comic books developed from the pulp magazines, eventually replacing them. I'm not sure what Howard would have thought of the idea of his barbarian hero starring in comics, but it seems likely he would have been okay with the idea, long as he got paid. The man was the epitome of the "working writer," and at the height of Howard's writing career, (which coincided with the worst years of the Depression) he was literally making more money than anyone in his hometown of Cross Plains, Texas. While he was fond of his characters, saleability of a story took precedence, and the Conan character in the comics certainly wasn't MUCH different from the one in the original pulp stories. Considering he rewrote a King Kull story into a Conan story in order to sell it (and then successfully sold the original King Kull story), and later rewrote an unsold western into the Conan story "Beyond The Black River," after having swapped out the Indians for crafty Picts, I think I can say with some weight that it was largely about paying the bills. These images are from the Conan movie from 1982. It's a combination of elements from several Conan stories, at least one Howard story that wasn't about Conan, and the obligatory origin story from every stinkin' sword and sandal film that involves the hero's family being killed and village burned by the evil mooks of the evil overlord. That being said, it isn't a bad movie if you aren't a Conan purist, although Howard fanboys STILL argue about what Howard would have thought of it. After years of thinking about it, I think Howard would have been fine with it if he'd been paid. The idea of a high budget fantasy film was completely alien to the film industry of his time, and I think he'd have been dazzled enough at the very IDEA of a Conan film that he'd have cheerfully taken the money and run. These are images from Conan The Adventurer and its sequel series, Conan And The Young Warriors, a pair of cartoon series that aired on television. To get around violence restriction on children's programming, Conan wielded a "starmetal" sword which instead of killing the reptile men, banished them back to their home dimension in a burst of technicolor special effects. In the second cartoon, Conan was given a bunch of Cousin Olivers, because kids automatically improve all forms of television, right? I'm pretty sure Howard would have hated both cartoons. Unless he got paid like an NFL star, anyway. And even then... a Conan kids show? Eeek. And the more I think about it? I don't think barbarism is the default state of human development after all. Humanity ain't about "Quest For Fire" so much as "Quest For More Money..."
  17. Getting to Know You, Mar 2018

    I can't remember a time when I couldn't swim. I enjoyed swimming when I was little, and was always ready for a dip. I was dismayed to find that my little sister couldn't swim, and had to actually learn how; at age five, I found this barely conceivable. Can't SWIM? Jeez, how do you not know how to SWIM? You might as well not know how to WAL... Um.
  18. Don't ask me anything. Tell me something.

    The facts in the case of Thomas Ince are these: Thomas Ince 1. Thomas Ince, "The Father Of The Western," was a very influential filmmaker, responsible for CREATING the role of the modern film producer and centralizing the power and authority of the studio head over a film studio. He developed the "assembly line" methodology of movie production, and his systems of function for a working studio production system are still largely in use today; two of the studios he built are STILL THERE, albeit under different names and ownership. Powerful Hollywood dude. 2. In 1924, he boarded the Oneida, the personal yacht of newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, to join a celebration for Ince's birthday. Among the guests at this little soiree were Charlie Chaplin, Marion Davies (Hearst's girlfriend and protege), gossip columnist Louella Parsons, and a number of film stars and other famous folks, as well as Hearst himself. William Randolph Hearst 3. A day or so later, Ince, accompanied by Hearst's doctor, left the ship, and took a train home, where he was later found to be dead. Guests aboard the Oneida said later that Ince had "felt ill." The cause of death was noted by Ince's doctor as heart failure, although no autopsy was performed, and the body was rather quickly cremated. 4. The Los Angeles Times morning edition had a story titled Movie Producer Shot On Hearst Yacht. That story was not in the evening edition of that same paper... or any other. Charlie Chaplin's valet said that he had seen Ince removed from the yacht in San Diego on a stretcher with a bullet wound in his head... but when Ince was laid out for viewing during his funeral, no bullet wound was in evidence. 5. Hearst owned a gold plated revolver, which he kept on the Oneida, and was known to shoot at seagulls from time to time. 6. Charlie Chaplin and Marion Davies were said to be having an affair. No known evidence of this affair has surfaced. Davies remained with Hearst until his death years later. Marion Davies 7. Ince and Chaplin were similar in build, and on this particular voyage, were noted to be wearing similar hats. 8. Shortly after the voyage, Louella Parsons got a lifetime contract with Hearst publications, and became quite the mover and shaker in Hollywood with her gossip column. It was noted by law enforcement that other guests seemed reticent, unwilling to talk, and pretty much all told a VERY similar story about how Ince had felt ill and had decided of his own will to leave and take a train home. HIS OWN WILL, you hear me? Soon after the Oneida incident, Chaplin ran off to Mexico and got married, and then began work on The Gold Rush, which some consider his finest film. Charles Chaplin 9. Those close to Hearst did not speak of the Oneida incident. It was said that Hearst "reacted badly" to the mention of Ince's name for the rest of his life. 10. A cursory investigation was held by the authorities in Los Angeles, and no one was charged or accused of any wrongdoing in the incident, although it was remarked that the investigation was opened and closed with remarkable speed and efficiency. Decades later, Hearst's granddaughter Patty published a novel, Murder At San Simeon, postulating that Hearst had murdered Ince in a foaming jealous rage, mistaking him for Chaplin. The author stressed that this was a work of fiction. In 2001, a film, The Cat's Meow, portrayed a similar scenario to Patty Hearst's novel. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, who claims to have heard the story from Orson Welles, who supposedly heard it from Marion Davies' nephew. It has Cary Elwes playing Ince, and also has Kirsten Dunst, Eddie Izzard, Jennifer Tilly, and Joanna Lumley. Hm. Wonder if it's on pay per view now...? EDIT: For them what didn't know, Orson Welles' masterpiece film, Citizen Kane, was ostensibly about Hearst, albeit with the names and details changed, and Hearst apparently did NOT like the movie, doing everything he could to discredit and bury both it and Welles... so in the interest of full disclosure, Hearst and Welles did NOT much care for each other.
  19. Saw "Trumbo ," with Bryan Cranston and Alan Tudyk. It was excellent .
  20. Randomness XIII: Cognitive Dissonance While You Wait

    Ain't just you. The bane of my existence is these kids who've been raised on computer games, and wander around looking for an NPC with a punctuation mark floating over his head because they have no idea what to do next...
  21. Don't ask me anything. Tell me something.

    One of my all time favorite weird trivia entries is the Shaver Mysteries, which are almost as interesting as the story BEHIND the Shaver Mysteries... and which led to many pulp stories about the hollow earth, the Vril, free energy, and eventually, the Underdark, and everyone's third favorite little subterrenean psychopaths, the Derro.
  22. Don't ask me anything. Tell me something.

    Meanwhile, back in THIS universe, the military had Operation Teapot... a project to determine whether atomic radiation would poison or explode bottled and canned beer and soda and suchlike.
  23. Don't ask me anything. Tell me something.

    1. There were. The photos I posted above are recreations in a museum, based on photos of Slotin's lab. 2. Microwave ovens were discovered when a researcher was tinkering with a contained maser unit, and afterwards discovered that a chocolate bar in his pocket had become liquid in less than twenty seconds. In other news, in alternate universe 21-Q (Bedlam reckoning) or G-1827 (Sanchez scale) the auditions for the Batman TV series in 1966 went a little differently... and Adam West did not play Batman. Lyle Waggoner did.