Friday, December 21, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
By WASBIR HUSSAIN, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
GAUHATI, India (AP) -- A man who stuck his arm into the tiger enclosure at a zoo in northeast India bled to death Wednesday after two big cats tore off his limb as his family and dozens of visitors watched, a zoo official said.
The man, identified as 50-year-old Jayaprakash Bezbaruah, avoided zoo safety precautions in an apparent attempt to photograph the two adult Bengal tigers up close, said Gauhati zoo warden Narayan Mahanta.
"The man ignored warnings from keepers, crossed the first barrier and stretched his hand into the enclosure that housed a male and a female tiger," he said. "The animals grabbed his limb and tore it apart at the shoulder."
Bezbaruah, who had been visiting the zoo with his wife and two children, was rushed to a local hospital but died of blood loss, said Mahanta.
"I have never encountered such a bizarre incident in my 11 years as a wildlife official. It was shocking," Mahanta said.
Sadly, it turns out ol' Jayaprakash can't be considered for this year's Darwin Award because their rules state you have to have done yourself in before you've procreated. Doh!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Others found solace in dominating a family pet. Over my childhood we pretty much had them all...dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, fish, turtles...you name it. I enjoyed having pets, but - for me - pets were not so much of my 'beast of burden' as they were simply a burden. "Walk your dog", "Feed your bird", "Clean the litter pan". Really...who is in control of whom?
Nope, what this young boy needed - and got one Christmas - was a CHEMISTRY SET!:
Whoa, nelly! A chemistry set held the promise of dominating the basic elements of life! With it I could create new medicines, amazing new compounds, and unlock the keys to the universe! Turns out all I really did was find ways to stain carpets and make noxious-smelling crap. But what did it matter? I was in control! During the time I played with my chemistry set I was The Man.
Heady stuff for an eight year-old.
Monday, December 17, 2007
While not a large part of my model collection (a collection that was constantly threatened by destruction [at the hands of me, the creator], as building rockets, airplanes and things of this nature inevitably led to lighting them on fire and/or trying to launch them into space/stratosphere. Often achieving both through the use of Estes' solid rocket engines. But I digress), I also enjoyed building the occasional model car. The memory of one of these 'cars' has always stuck with me. In a good way. Well, usually.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I also loved playing G.I. Joes with my brothers and friends. REAL G.I. Joes, not those quarter-sized wannabes that they offer kids nowadays. I can still remember my first Joe...a grizzled, bearded Marine with a pull string that would bellow forth such gung-ho Marine speak like, "Cover me! I'll get that machine gun!" when you activated it. So, when they introduced an Astronaut G.I. Joe, it was only natural that I wanted one.
As a child of the 60s, I was a huge fan of the U.S. space program. I lived, breathed and ate NASA. How much of a geek was I when it came to our nation's space program? Enough to be somewhat disconcerted by the fact that when I first came face-to-face with my Astronaut Joe I couldn't get over the fact that he was sporting a Project Mercury-era capsule and space suit while wearing what was so obviously a Project Gemini EVA chest pack, just like the one Ed White wore on his Gemini IV space walk. Those imbeciles at Hasbro! Didn't they know?!? Oh ya...I was a BIG TIME space geek. And I loved this toy...despite the incongruity of Astro Joe's garb.
My twin sister was more partial to Barbie. Every now and then I'd include one of her Barbies in my G.I. Joe scenarios. "G.I. Joe comes back from a space mission" or "G.I. Joe on shore leave". The end result was always the same: G.I. Joe and Barbie would 'wrestle'. I was too young to know what they were supposed to do while they were wrestling, but I knew it was something that I shouldn't be play-acting with two dolls...even if they lacked anatomical correctness.
Turns out that I can. And here, for your holiday enjoyment, is my number five:
And what was great was that this sucker got so hot that the plastic creatures became pliable enough that - when you placed them into the bare-metal vise, and turned the crank - you could press them back into their original puck form!
Of course, the combination of a heating element, bare metal and plastic often made for, um, interesting moments. If you weren't careful, this sucker could burn the hell out of you. But that was part of the fun!
I can still smell the melting plastic, hear the whir of the fan, and feel the warmth of the heating element. No doubt if Mattel released this thing today they'd be slapped with more lawsuits than a Chinese lead toy producer. Pity. This is exactly the kind of toy kids need these days. The kind of toy that is fun, that allows a kid to not only create something...but destroy it, and in so doing, will more than likely scare the shit out of them.
This toy ranks as my all-time number five Christmas presents that I've ever received. More to follow!
I love Christmas. The sights, the sounds, the smells. It's a great time of year. I'm often reminded of Christmases past. As a kid, I loved watching those Christmas specials on TV. You know, Charlie Brown, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams...all of the usual suspects. Then, in 1978, the Star Wars franchise tried to cash in on the Christmas Spirit, too. WTF?! As if America wasn't already buying enough Star Wars crap, they aired a two-hour, prime-time special to remind us that it was time to fill their coffers once again, and in so doing, ended up producing what is arguably the worst TV Christmas special ever.
I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at that pitch meeting:
Producer: I've got a GREAT idea on how we can tie the Star Wars phenomenon into your Christmas programming!
Network Wonk: We prefer 'Holiday' programming. Less hate mail. So, hit me with your best shot.
Producer: Okay...Chewbacca is trying to get home for his kids' birthday, and his buddy, Han Solo, does all he can to get him home in time...
Network Wonk: They've got birthdays in outer space?
Producer: Sure...but we don't have to call them birthdays. How about LIFE days? Sounds futuristic, doesn't it?
Network Wonk: I LOVE it!
Producer: This show's got it all! It's set in outer space! It's got friends, it's got warmth, it's got all that feel-good crap that folks will eat up with a spoon!
Network Wonk: But it's GOT to have music...kids love music.
Producer: It does! We've got The Jefferson Starship. Star Wars, Star Ship! Get it?!
Network Wonk: I'm with you so far. Does it have stormtroopers?
Producer: Stormtroopers? You bet your ass it has stormtroopers! One of them even kills Chewbacca's uncle, Fuzzy. His death scene is a pivotal moment in the production.
Network Wonk: Sorry, we can't have violence, even Wookie violence. It's bad for the children.
Producer: Alright, Fuzzy lives. So what can we have?
Network Wonk: How about Bea Arthur and Art Carney?
Producer: And you think that's good for kids?
And, in case you forgot just how lame the "Star Wars Holiday Special" was, here's the Cliff Notes' version...complete with Mark Hamill before the accident that turned his face into hamburger:
Friday, December 7, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
And, yes, ladies and gentleman, the guy looks as freaky in person as he does in this photo. Turns out, he's a nice enough guy...reserved, polite, accommodating to autograph seekers (but, honestly, does anyone really covet an autograph from Carrot Top?), and not at all the asshole that I halfway expected him to be. But it was tough for me to look at Monsieur Sommet de Carotte and wonder if - one day, years ago - he ran into a doctor's office holding a photo of that plastic surgery addict, Catwoman, and said, "Hey, Doc! That's the look I've wanted all my life! Shoot me up with pain killers and let's get'er done!!"
I know, I know...the dude is like catnip.
This latest flight got me thinking of other famous (or 'famous') people I'd flown with. And, you know what? It turns out the the last three folks all share a common thread...other than being a part of the public psyche. THEY ALL HAVE DEMONIC EYES! Carrot Top looks like he grew tired of the constant pre-show application of eyeliner, and elected instead to have his eyeliner permanently tattooed. Sure, it probably hurt, but think of all the money he saves.
Prior to my Carrot Top encounter, I had perchance the good fortune of flying from Nice, France to London beside ex-Go-Go chantruese Belinda Carlisle!
Now I will freely admit it, I used to have the hots for Miss Carlisle back in the early eighties. So when my wife pulled on my elbow and whispered, "That's Belinda Carlisle", I dismissed her. "No way, babe...Belinda is a LOT younger and more attractive than that lady." It was then that my wife explained that I was no longer a 'spring chicken', and that I looked - shall we say? - different than I did 25 years ago. I love my wife.
Sadly, my mind's image of Belinda Carlisle was not at all compatible with the reality sitting next to me, chatting away on her cellphone. Today she looks like a lot of those over-50 SoCal ladies...vainly trying to cling on - fingernails dug deep into someone's flesh - to an image of eternal youth via bad plastic surgery. It's all in the eyes, people...and I have to tell you, those eyes of hers were scaring me!
Prior to my mile-high experience with Belinda, the other last famous person I flew with was TV's own political pundit with the bad pate, Sam Donaldson.
Turns out that Sam's not a bad guy, actually...and he has a surprisingly decent sense of humor. But, man those eyes. Beedy, always in a perpetual squint. Perhaps it's not so much the eyes, as it is those two arched, woolly caterpillars that serve as eyebrows above them. And the truly awful toupée that sits above them. I couldn't help but wonder, 'does he wear such a bad rug to divert attention from those demonic eyes?' Yowsuh.
Yeah, First Class is nice enough. Did I mention they serve you free booze? I sure as hell need it...especially considering the company I've been keeping.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
And look at HIM! His teeth are bared, his eyes are turning Japanese (and we all remember what THAT song was about, right?). Looks to me like he is not about to say something professional...more like, "How 'bout this huuuuugggghhhhhh!!!!!!"
And, okay, it does look like they're sharing a laugh, but I've got my doubts that it's your typical office gossip. Perhaps something funny (as in kinda embarrassingly funny) has just transpired in flagrante. An accidental release of bodily gas, perhaps?
I dunno. Every time I log onto T-Mobie and see this photo I think there's something more to the T-Mobile slogan, "stick together" than meets the eye. Just one opinion. Maybe I should just stop while I'm (er, he's?) behind.
I spend a lot of time on the road. A LOT. I own a small winery in California. My wines are sold in over 30 states and a few other countries. So, when I'm not busy making wine, I'm often out on the road trying to sell it. That means a lot of airports, airplanes, hotels, taxis...you get the idea. Having been a 'road warrior' for over 15 years, I'll let you in on a little secret: business travel sucks.
But travel does afford me the ability to encounter some funny stuff. Most of it is kinda funny. Every so often it's laugh-your-ass-off funny. This blog will allow me to share it all with you. The good. The bad. And the downright sick. And, should you care to share with me YOUR on-the-road observsations, please send them my way. I'd be happy to share them on this blog, too.
Welcome to my world!