Archive for the ‘animals’ category

Vintage Sci-Fi Delights, or Nasty Things from Venus…

May 21, 2018


I recently revisited Ray Harryhausen’s 20 Million Miles to Earth, which I first saw as a kid and which hooked me on science fiction for life.  The 1957 black and white film featured Harryhausen’s stop-action creature features, and was filmed in Italy because that was where Harryhausen wanted to vacation.  He wanted the film to be in color, but they didn’t have the budget to do so at the time although a later colorized version was made. The name of the snake-tailed Ymir creature from Venus was not mentioned in the film because they were afraid people would confuse the name with “Emir.”

The film included many memorable scenes such as a fight to the death between the Ymir and an elephant, which traumatized the young me as the elephant lost.  Then there was the grand finale scene which featured a show-down with the creature in the Roman Coliseum; what could be better staging?!

Equally epic was Harryhausen’s stop-action filmed fight with the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts.  That one creeped me out as a kid for some time…

 

 

The C, the C, the Open C on “The Terror”

May 14, 2018

 

Watching a late episode of The Terror series is somewhat like regarding a mummy; there are things here that are distinctly unpleasant to see, but not only can’t you not look away, but you keep on going back for more!  As someone who is also reading Dan Simmons’ novel as they watch the series, you might even say that I’m double-dipping, a true misery porn junkie.  This is depressing and disturbing stuff, but I can’t stop returning to it because it’s so well done!

As people with an understanding of what actually happened to the historical Franklin Expedition, we know what the characters do not know as the story unfolds, namely that they are all doomed and that this doesn’t end well for them, regardless of what they do.  When faced with extreme and desperate conditions, we are shown the polarities of how people can respond to dire circumstances in the now separate camps of Captain Crozier versus the mutinous and psychopathic rebel leader, Hickey.  Crozier has become elevated as the series has progressed, whereas Hickey has gravitated towards the bestial.  Whereas Crozier has remained a civilized man and become almost a spiritual leader, for Hickey cannibalism is now literally on the table.

We say goodbye to Commander Fitzjames in this episode, his condition deteriorating rapidly and an assisted suicide conducted by Crozier.  Captive in Hickey’s camp and witness to a murder, surgeon Goodsir (pictured) is forced to butcher the body for consumption lest Hickey kill another for failure to comply.  And Ice Master Blankey, already minus a lower leg from a previous confrontation with Tuunbaq, goes out solo in a suicidal mission against the creature to buy his compatriots some time.  Ingeniously, the guy wraps himself in forks so as to make the monster’s job less easy, and perhaps enact revenge from within should he be ingested…the guy’s going down, but you gotta love his spirit!

Betrayed by a double agent in his own camp, Crozier is captured by Hickey’s men, with the final outcome to this and other hanging issues to find resolution in episode 10, the last of the season.

 

Resurrect the Tasmanian Tiger!

May 4, 2018

   

The Tasmanian tiger or thylacine became extinct over 80 years ago when the last living specimen died at the Hobart Zoo in Washington D.C. in 1936.  But with the aide of gene editing and pickled thylacine pups, scientists may literally bring this awesome creature back to life again!

In December of 2017, scientists from the University of Melbourne sequenced the entire genome of this extinct Australian beast using thirteen thylacine joeys preserved in alcohol.  Such information could within the next decade be used to bring the unique marsupial back from the dead, with gene-editing used to bridge the gap between thylacines, which have no living relatives, and other existent species.  

Poor genetic diversity and overhunting by humans played roles in the demise of the Tasmanian tiger, which remain an iconic animal in the Australian imagination.  The government paid people to shoot Tasmanian thylacines in the 1800’s due to fears that they destroyed sheep.  Some maintain that the tassie tiger is not extinct, however, but just very good at hiding, with video footage of a bizarre hopping creature taken in North Queensland in 2015.  Wildlife experts, however, remain skeptical of the grainy, unclear, and inconclusive video…

…and wouldn’t “Pickled Thylacine Pups” be a great name for a band?!

  

Geico’s “Manatees in Novelty Tees”

February 26, 2018

This Geico commercial must rank pretty high on the silliness scale.  As a family visits a aquarium and pauses before the manatee (“sea cow”) exhibit, they are rewarded by a view of a quartet of the creatures, each wearing a different colored tee shirt, complete with slogan.  There are many surprising things in this world, you see…what’s not surprising is how much money the father, Matt, saved when he switched his insurance to Geico.  

“What does ‘come at me bro,’ mean?,” questions the son.  Dad replies that it’s something you say to a friend.  It’s good to know that manatees, sluggish though they may be, have a sense of fashion.  I do hope that their tee-shirts have color-safe dyes…

 


Spider-Goats!

January 31, 2018


(PhysOrg.com) — Researchers from the University of Wyoming have developed a way to incorporate spiders’ silk-spinning genes into goats, allowing the researchers to harvest the silk protein from the goats’ milk for a variety of applications. For instance, due to its strength and elasticity, spider silk fiber could have several medical uses, such as for making artificial ligaments and tendons, for eye sutures, and for jaw repair. The silk could also have applications in bulletproof vests and improved car airbags.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2010-05-scientists-goats-spider-silk.html#jCp

I, for one, am both entertained and concerned with the prospect of Spider-Goats.  I mean, imagine entering one of your rooms and finding one of the buggers hanging on your wall or ceiling!  I doubt that the usual spritz of Raid spray would be enough to deter one of them.  It might, however, lead to the development of a new generation of pest controllers, Goat-Busters. — I’m claiming royalty rights on that film franchise now!  The theme song’s already playing in my head…you got goats, got yer freakin’ goats?

And we have other thorny issues to sort out, too, like cross-over problems.  Would Spider-Goat be a superhero or super villain?  Would a special issue of Spider-Man be called for featuring a knock-down, drag-out fight?  And who plays Spider-Goat in that film treatment?  Even if computer-generated, voice work is required…I’m available!

Now because the spider silk is found in the goats’ milk, could you acquire spider powers yourself if you drank it, assuming of course that you could get it down?-  – Would that be a baaad idea?  Would you then be a Spider-Goat-Person? The line is forming to the left, folks, but remember that with great power comes great responsibility…

…remember the Spider-Pig episode of The Simpsons?  We’ve all got plenty to think about now, and I think that 2018 is off to a roaring (or perhaps a bleating) start.  As Dr. Seuss might have expressed it, From there to here / From here to there / Hybrid animals are everywhere!  

At least I’ll better fit in now, someday, maybe…


Revolutionary Soldier and Creature in the Woods…

December 24, 2017


How would you like to live right by a cemetery?  The neighborhood has been a bit dead lately, you say?!  Well, on the Season 1/Episode 7 installment of Terror in the Woods,  we are first told the ghostly story of Annie in Ohio, who when visited by her two sisters (Amy and Mary-Beth) at her Ohio house decided that it would be spooky fun to go on an after-dark graveyard walk in the adjoining cemetery.  This they did, complete with loud joking conversation and picture-taking. It was all fun and games until the night seemed to darken, and a presence was felt.  The sisters retreated to Annie’s house, where one felt a hand touch her when retrieving something from the car.  Returning to the cemetery the next day in broad daylight, they found graves of people sharing their names.  Looking later at the pics they had taken the previous night, a blurry but full-body image of a revolutionary war soldier was seen.  It seems that the cemetery was the final resting place of folks born in the area in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s.  Annie swore that she later momentarily saw a revolutionary war soldier in the cemetery from her window, and she would never again return to the graveyard.  

The second segment, Creature in the Woods, involved a couple in Nebraska (David and Laura) and their two children who went on a deep woods retreat to a cabin constructed by one of the lady’s relatives.  The woman had been going to the woods in general and that cabin in particular since childhood, and was not a nervous Nellie.  While fetching water, the family heard a deep grunting in the forest together with stamping on the ground which sounded aggressive.  They later heard resonant growls and thumps while preparing lunch.  Banging on wash tubs and an oil drum near the entrance to the camp was also heard, at which point the family decided to pack it in and fled in their car, afraid.  While no sightings were made, the inference was clearly made that they had encountered one or more Bigfoot-type creatures…

Aspen Dental Well Commercial…

November 8, 2017

If you’ve ever watched an episode of “Lassie,” this commercial may resonate with you, because it presents a variation on a classic scenario from the old television series where young Timmy falls into a well, and it’s up to the faithful collie Lassie to summon rescuers.  Timmy needed a dog to take care of him, ‘ya see…

The story elements are essentially there, with the alteration that two adults rather than Timmy are trapped in the well.  The canine on the surface is sent for help, but returns with…a dentist.  Although this is Aspen Dental’s heroic dentist, the misunderstanding well victims nonetheless tell the dog that she is bad before the intervening dentist drops a rope over the well’s edge, telling those captives that use of it will be a little like flossing.  They are in a cavity, after all…

That’s just a little dental humor coming from the man in the white clinical coat, who is equally adept at defeating bank robbers, rescuing folks from elevators, or starting cars stranded in the desert.  Perhaps in the future, the Aspen Dental guy will take on a personification of gum disease, tooth decay, or plaque.  He might even travel with a youthful sidekick called Oral Hygiene.  At any rate, it’s good to know that Lassie hasn’t been forgotten…and do watch out for abandoned wells out there!