Monday, January 31, 2005

In the picture: Slut school

In The Netherlands the phenomena of has recently became famous. "Hockeysletjes" are literally hockeysluts, girls that play fieldhockey and love to do naughty things with almost everyone (and everything).
It now seems that the Scandinavian picked up the hype. The sign says "Slettebakken skole", which in The Netherlands means: Slut School!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

In the picture: Bean man

Some pictures leave you wondering what happened. This is a great example. Seen @ eblogx.

Longest milk squirt from the eye

Mike Moraal of British Columbia, Canada, squirted milk from his eye a distance of 262 cm on French television on September 7, 2001. But Ilker Yilmaz (Turkey) squirted milk from his eye over a distance of 279.5 cm at the Armada Hotel, Istanbul, Turkey on September 1, 2004.

Jim Chichopn from Milford, Pennsylvania is one of the old record holders. He squirted 202 cm during the Guinness Word Records television show. Chichon found out he was able to squirt fluids from his eye when he was a kid. When he held his nose under the water tap, little airbubbles came out of his eye. His tear-ducts seem to work in two directions instead of one.

Bull bull rammer

I just love to translate Japanese websites to English using Babelfish. It results in "All your base are belong to us"-like sentences. Check out this USB head massage description:

"The head becoming tired, we would like to refresh... being sick... something there is no pleasant thing in everyday life? Or oral habit... such a dejected every day the bull bull ? and the changing ?? ?, the bull bullrammer of comfort GOODs, becoming USB connection possible, -! !

The variety, it sets method of using in the head and densely is with power source on! In the bull bull vibration which is transmitted to the wire first, the stress cancellation refreshment you are not wrong! Even in addition, applying to the neck and the waist, also the feeling conversion how using is possible!"

Check out this amazing website.

Giant Artichoke

Castroville is the Artichoke Capital of the World, and the Giant Artichoke is a fitting icon for the town. The Giant Artichoke is a must-stop for anyone traveling to or from the Monterey Peninsula. The deep fried artichoke hearts, while clogging your arteries, are majorly tasty; these should be eaten hot or at least warm, though -- few things are as unappetizing as these little nuggets the next day.

The restaurant is on the right of the artichoke, the fruit and vegie stand to the left. You can get bags of frozen artichoke hearts for deep-frying at home, too. There's an annual Artichoke Festival and parade, but Ray Bei's Giant Artichoke Restaurant and Fruit Stand is open year 'round. Marilyn Monroe was crowned as the first Artichoke Queen in 1947.

The Giant Artichoke was made in 1963 of steel and plaster and is 20 feet tall and 12 feet across.

Make a baby, get rewarded

A Sicilian hotel chain is giving away free weekends to couples who conceive their babies during their stay.

"Let your love bloom under the sun of Sicily. Come and conceive your child in the land of love. After the birth, we'll offer you a free weekend in our hotel," trumpets the 22-member Hotels del Sole in an Internet advertising campaign. The cheeky campaign is the brainchild of director Armando LaMattina, who said he wants to promote Sicily "as a land of love and serenity far from the negative stereotypes which no longer exist".

"We want to link the memories of a holiday in Sicily to something which is very special — conceiving a child is the most beautiful action that you can possibly think of," the Website says. Couples who stay at any of the 22 hotels in 2005 can return to claim their free weekend "between eight and 10 months after their first visit."

There's a catch, of course. They also must be accompanied by the fruits of their passion, which is likely to prevent them perpetuating the offer.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

In the picture: Freeze!

This is what might happen to your car when you park it next to the Lake of Geneva in the freezing cold with 110 km/h winds. Pictures by Pierre-Alain, more great pictures can be found here. Seen @ Attu, who just seems to see all.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Computer easter eggs

Easter eggs, also known as gang screens or computer eggs, are hidden functions and novelties contained within programs that developers put in for you to find and enjoy. These can consist of anything from pop-up joke screens, animations, to elaborate built in supplement games. Some of these can be quite substantial in scope, whilst most though are quite small.

Eggs in software programs are known to date back to the 1970's when they first appeared in certain Unix command line utilities. When started with a particular command line parameter, the given program would display text greetings or other message. Eggs got bigger and better with the advent of Windows in the 90's, as programmers could display Easter Eggs with pictures and sounds making use of the multimedia capabilities of the windows platform.

Find some nice application easter eggs on this website. Eggs occur on the internet as well. For example: H4x0r Google, Bork Bork Google, Klingon Google and Elmer Fudd Google. Or Ask Jeeves if he's married.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Lost and found

An estimated 11,300 laptop computers, 31,400 handheld computers and 200,000 mobile telephones have been left in taxis around the world during the last six months, according to a survey. Taxi drivers in nine cities also said they had found a range of other items left by passengers, including a harp, 37 milk bottles, dentures and artificial limbs. One driver said he even found a baby in his taxi.

The survey of some 1,000 taxi drivers said that passengers had lost three times more handheld computers in the second half of 2004 than in 2001, when the research by security software company Pointsec was first carried out.

Most of the items were returned to their owners, cab drivers said. Four out of five mobile phones and 19 out of every 20 computers found their way back, they said. Londoners appear more careless than others with their laptops, while Danes are most likely to forget their mobile phones, the survey found. In Chicago in the United States, passengers often left behind handheld computers on the back seat.

The survey's findings were extrapolated to reflect the total number of taxis in each city.

Friday, January 21, 2005

In the picture: Horsepower

Photographer, driver and horse unknown.

Keychain plants

Check out the latest fad hitting Japan, keychain plants. Each keychain plant measures around 41x25mm and costs 1,000 yen or about $10. They appear to be real living plants growing in soil, but not much else is known at this point. I guess you move the plant to a larger pot when it gets too big.

I'm not sure how a plant will grow in your pocket, but it's cool and much more exciting than those digital pet Tamagotchis ever were!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

In the picture: Big baby

Ademilton, a 16.7 pound (7.57 kilogram) baby boy is seen at the Albert Sabin Maternity Hospital in Salvador. Francisca Ramos dos Santos, 38, gave birth to the healthy boy on Tuesday. 'Obviously the baby was born by Caesarean section,' hospital director Rita Leal said. (AP Photo/Eleoi Correa, Agencia Estado)

"Largest ball of twine"-war

The Town of Cawker City celebrated the 50th birthday of Frank Stoeber's Ball of Twine at the 29th Annual Cawker City Twine-a-Thon, August 15th, 2003. There was Twining, a ball-shaped birthday cake, trivia and prizes, and of course, the ball itself. This Ball of Twine is the Largest Ball of Twine Built by a Community, one of the few World’s Largest Things that Keeps Growing.

Current Ball of Twine Stats: 17,554 pounds, 40 foot circumference. Over 7,009,942 feet of sisal twine - that's 1,325 Miles or 2,137 KM.

The World’s Largest Ball of Twine is a highly disputed title, and can be a sore spot with people depending on which one they believe in. Suprisingly, there are four. This link shows the Largest Built by One Man, not to be confused by the World’s Largest that Keeps on Growing shown above, or the World’s Largest Made Outta Plastic Twine, or the World’s Largest that is Shaped More Like a Potato than a Ball.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

WD-40 lubricates snorters

The makers of the handy spray lubricant WD-40 proudly list 2,000 uses for their product, from unsticking rusty screws or squeaky bicycle chains to polishing frying pans. But British police have found another -- keeping the public from snorting cocaine off toilet lids in bars.

Police in the English city of Bristol said Tuesday they have been advising pub and nightclub owners to spray the colorless lubricant on toilet seats and other flat surfaces in the lavatory that customers often use to snort drugs. Apparently, cocaine and spray lube don't mix.

"A chemical reaction takes place with the cocaine that causes it to congeal and become a mess so it's unusable," a police spokesman said. "It's one very small, very cheap way in which you can very seriously restrict the amount of drug use in your premises." Constable Graham Pease, a liquor licensing officer, said he discovered the trick a few years ago while discussing with pub owners how to reduce drug use on their premises.

"Its not meant to be ingested. It says so clearly on the can so we wouldn't advocate it for that purpose. But people will use it how they will," said a British spokeswoman for the San Diego, Calif-based WD-40 Co.

Vending machines

Vending (or "automatic retailing" as it is increasingly known) has a long history. The Greek mathematician Hero seems to have got the ball rolling in 215BC, when he invented a machine to vend holy water in Egyptian temples.

The first commercial coin-operated vending machines were introduced in London, England, in the early 1880s. They dispensed post cards. Richard Carlisle, an English publisher and bookshop owner, invented a vending machine for selling books, around the same time.

In 1888, the Thomas Adams Gum Company introduced the very first vending machines to the United States. The machines were installed on the elevated subway platforms in New York City and sold Tutti-Fruiti gum. In 1897, the Pulver Manufacturing Company added animated figures to its' gum machines as an added attraction. The round candy coated gumball and gumball (vending) machines were introduced in 1907.

Vending machines soon offered everything including; cigars, postcards, stamps, etc. In Philadelphia, a completely coin-operated restaurant called Horn & Hardart was opened in 1902 and stayed opened until 1962. In the early 1920's, the first automatic vending machines started dispensing sodas into cups. In 1926, an American inventor named William Rowe invented a cigarette-vending machine.

In the picture: Jerk-off spot

I am aware of the fact that most of you do not understand Dutch, so you'll just have to trust me on this one. This South African sign points out to something (Aftrekplek) that means jerk-off spot in Dutch. Thanx Piccolo!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Lazy Bone

It was in June of 1956, that the practical television remote controller first entered the American home. Remote control technology was developed for military use (the Germans used remote control motorboats during W.W.I.) and in the late 1940's the first non-military uses for remote controls appeared (i.e. automatic garage door openers.)

Zenith Radio Corporation, the company behind the development of the remote control, created the very first television remote control in 1950, called "Lazy Bone." The Lazy Bone remote control was attached to the television by a bulky cable, which the consumer did not like (the cable caused tripping).

Zenith engineer, Eugene Polley created the "Flash-matic," the first wireless TV remote invented in 1955. The Flash-matic operated by means of four photocells, one in each corner of the TV screen. The viewer used a directional flashlight to activate the four control functions. However, the Flash-matic had problems working well on sunny days, when the sunlight could change channels randomly.

The improved "Zenith Space Command," remote control went into commercial production in 1956. Zenith engineer, Dr. Robert Adler who based his invention on ultrasonics, designed the Space Command. The Space Command transmitter used no batteries; inside the transmitter were four lightweight aluminum rods that emitted high-frequency sounds when struck at one end. Infrared devices replaced ultrasonic remote controls in the early 1980s.

Friday, January 14, 2005

In the picture: Sheep to shawl

Shearer Dean Sherwin begins the 2005 Pennsylvania Sheep to Shawl Contest at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, Pa. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

World Marbles Championship

The World Marbles Championship takes place every year at Tinsley Green in West Sussex. You may have indulged in the pastime yourself, but don't be fooled into thinking that this is the childhood sport you innocently enjoyed in the playground. This is a game in which a dozen players furiously battle over a six foot concrete ring. The game has its own rules, rituals and vocabulary. In order to play you need to know all about the nose drop, knuckling down, fudging and cabbaging.

The game has been played in Sussex for centuries and the current championships started at the Greyhound Inn in 1932. Four times world champion Barry Ray played here as a boy in 1952. "Thousands of people used to come," says Barry. "Perhaps because the championships took place on Good Friday when there was almost nothing else to do apart from go to church!"

The Forty nine marbles are placed in a ring. Players get a point for each marble their Tolley - a shooting marble, knocks out of the ring. The first team to reach 25 points wins. Sounds simple, but don't be fooled. The sport is highly competitive. As the championships grew so the concept of adults flicking glass balls turned into an international sport.

This year the campionship will take place in March. Don't forget to take a look at the Marble Museum.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Record: Longest ear hair

Radhakant Bajpai of Naya Ganj, Uttar Pradesh, India, has hair sprouting from the centre of his outer ears (middle of the pinna) that measures an incredible 13.2 cm (5.19 in) at its longest point. The length of the 50-year-old's pinna pelt was confirmed by medical examiner Dr. R P Gupta.

"Making it to Guinness World Records is indeed a special occasion for me and my family," said Radhakant. "God has been very kind to me."

The man in the picture is B.D. Tyagi from Bhopal, India, whose ear hair is just 10.2cm long. He's one of the former record holders. He was beaten by Antony Victor, whose aer hair measures 11.5 cm. It seems Radhakant Bajpai has to hang on tight to his hairy record.

In the picture: Big lobster

The front showpiece for "The Taste of Maine" Restaurant, whose specialty is lobster, located just north of the city of Woolwich, Maine. Photo by Mark Comstock.

Posh public powder rooms

Swiss authorities are bringing Geneva's public conveniences up to scratch at a cost of $13 million for just 35 new toilets, Swiss daily Le Matin reported Tuesday.

Each sparking new facility is designed by a different architect at a cost of $313,000 — about the same as a 1-bedroom, city center apartment. Three of the toilets have already been installed. "Inside they are functional and equipped to a high sanitary standard," the city council said on its Web site. "On the outside, each public toilet is different and adapted to its surroundings."

Patrons will be charged 50 centimes (US$0.42; euro 0.32) for each visit to a self-cleaning toilet, which is accompanied by music. But councilor Alain Dupraz said the construction costs were justified, telling Le Matin: "Some (older) toilets are vile and revolting."

Today 34 years ago: All in the Family

All In The Family is a popular and acclaimed American situation comedy that was originally broadcast on the CBS television network from January 12, 1971 until 1979. In the fall of 1979, the show was retooled and given a new name, Archie Bunker's Place. With that title, the sitcom lasted another four years, finally ending its run in 1983.

Produced by Norman Lear, and based on a British television series Till Death Us Do Part, the show broke ground in its depiction of issues previously deemed unsuitable for network television comedy, such as racism, homosexuality, women's liberation, rape, breast cancer and impotence.

All in the Family was notorious for featuring language and epithets previously censored from television, such as "fag" for homosexual, and phrases such as "God damn it". While moral watchdogs attacked the show on those grounds, others objected to the show's portrayal of Archie Bunker as a "lovable" bigot. Defenders of the series pointed out that Archie usually lost his arguments.

The show was wildly popular, and ranked #1 in the yearly Nielsen ratings from 1971 to 1976. Only one other program, The Cosby Show, has tied All In The Family in terms of years at the top of the ratings.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Crazy contacts

A contact lens (also known as "contact", for short) is a corrective or cosmetic lens placed on the cornea of the eye atop the iris.

Contacts can come in a number of varieties, including hard and soft (extended-wear and disposable, respectively). The most commonly used contact lenses today, however, are of the soft variety, invented in 1961 by the Czech chemist Otto Wichterle (1913–1998).

Contact lenses (both soft and hard) are made of various types of polymers, usually containing some variant of silicone hydrogel. Previously, hard contact lenses were made of a polymer known as PMMA. They have since been replaced by rigid gas-permeable (RGP) contact lenses. Many contact lenses are made of hydrophilic (water-absorbing) materials, thereby allowing oxygen to reach the cornea, and make the lens more comfortable to wear.

Heavily tinted contacts are tinted to change the color of the iris, and are used for cosmetic reasons. Some standard contact lenses are slightly tinted in order to make them more visible for handling purposes.

Inspired by Amazing Astrid!

The Cubes - You're the boss!

"Finally, the drudgery of corporate life has been captured in a play set for adults! Bob, Joe, Ted, and Ann spend eight hours a day, five days a week, at tiny desks in tiny cubicles in a giant room packed with countless similar cubicles in a giant building filled with countless similar rooms.

Each set has one 2-3/4" posable plastic figure and all the necessary plastic parts to build a classic corporate cube: four walls, desk, chair, file cabinet, in/out box, phone, and computer. Comes with a sticker sheet of decor for your cube, complete with graphs, charts, screens for the computer and pithy office posters. Also includes a job title sticker sheet so you can create a convoluted and meaningless position for your employee.

Also available is The Cubes™ Figure Expansion Set. Sue, Jan, Jim and Dan are anxious to start their new careers and eager to please. Each set comes with four 2-3/4" posable plastic figures and nine different plastic accessories including a cell phone, a calculator, a laptop and other office essentials."

Get your own The Cubes sets! Seen at Boing Boing.

Today 42 years ago: First American disco

The Whisky A Go-Go is a nightclub in West Hollywood, California, at 8901 Sunset Boulevard on the Sunset Strip. It was opened January 11, 1963 at the site of an old bank building that had been remodeled into a short-lived club called the Party, by a former Chicago policeman, Elmer Valentine. Though it was billed as a discothèque, meaning only recordings with no bands, the Whisky A Go-Go opened with a live band led by Johnny Rivers and a short skirted DJ spinning records between sets from a suspended cage at the right of the stage. Thus, it has been called the first real American disco.

When the girl DJ danced during Rivers' set, the audience thought it was part of the act and the concept of Go-Go dancers in cages was born. Rivers rode the Whisky-born "go-go" craze to national fame with records recorded partly "live at the Whisky." The Miracles recorded the song Going to a Go-Go in 1966, which was covered in 1982 by The Rolling Stones, and Whisky A Go-Go franchises sprang up all over the country.

In the late 1970s, live music venues fell on hard times. The Whisky closed in 1982 and reopened in 1986 as a "four-wall," where promoters and bands could rent it. The long list of performers who have played the club includes The Byrds, The Doors, Otis Redding, who recorded his album Live at the Whisky there in 1967, Cream, The Kinks, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Talking Heads, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, and Van Halen. The Whisky A Go-Go is now primarily used by hard rock bands.

In the picture: SoCal mudslide

A boulder some 25 feet high blocks both lanes of the Topanga Caynon Road, Monday, Jan. 10, 2005, as electrical contractors fix broken power and communication lines in Malibu, Calif. The storm system was blamed for at least nine deaths during the weekend in Southern California. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Invention of the yellow sticky

The idea for repositionable notes struck Fry while singing in the church choir. His bookmark kept falling out of his hymnal, causing him to lose his page. Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist, discovered the formula for the sticky stuff back in 1968. So, taking advantage of a 3M policy known as the "bootlegging" policy, Fry used a portion of his working hours to develop a solution to his problem. Now the world is singing the praises of his pet project: Post-it Notes.

After years of product development, 3M introduced the concept of Post-it Notes in four major markets in 1977. But, without actual samples in hand to try, consumers didn't catch on. A year later, 3M blanketed the Boise, Idaho, market with samples upon samples of Post-it Notes. After trying the notes, more than 90 percent of users said they'd buy the product themselves. The test was a success!

A 1998 workplace study of more than 1,000 U. S. workers, conducted by the Gallup Organization and the Institute for the Future, showed that the average professional receives eleven Post-it Note messages each day. Inventor Art Fry was named one of "The 100 Best People in the World" by Esquire magazine.

A Post-it Note featuring a charcoal and pastel drawing by artist R. B. Kitaj sold for 640 pounds during an online auction for charity in December 2000, creating a Guinness World Record for the most valuable Post-it Note. For more art, check out the Post-It Theater.

Monday, January 10, 2005

The art of toasting

Toasting bread began as a method of prolonging the life of bread. It was very common activity in Roman times, 'tostum' is the latin word for scorching or burning.

The first electric toaster was invented in 1893 in Great Britain by Crompton and Co (UK) and re-invented in 1909 in the United States. It only toasted one side of the bread at a time and it required a person to stand by and turn it off manually when the toast looked done. Charles Strite invented the modern timer, pop-up toaster in 1919.

A toaster works by applying radiant heat directly to a bread slice. When the bread's surface temperature reaches about 310 degrees Farenheit, a chemical change known as the Maillard reaction begins. Sugars and starches start to caramelize - turn brown - and to take on intense flavors. That's toast. With more heating, the sugars and underlying grain fibers start turning into carbon. That's burnt toast.

Don't forget to check out the online toaster museum.

The world's largest cigar

A cigar maker in Puerto Rico has hand-rolled a 62-foot-long stogie, which would be the world's largest if confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records. Patricio Pena, 43, took about four days to manufacture the cigar in a plaza outside a farmer's market in the Santurce district of San Juan, finishing the project late Saturday.

"A friend of mine came up to me recently, and said why don't you try and make the world's largest cigar?" Pena said standing over the cigar, which spanned the length of about a dozen tables. Pena is attempting to displace Cuba — the king of cigar-making — as the home of the world's largest cigar. The current Guinness record-holder is Jose Castelar Cairo of Havana who made a 45-foot-long cigar in August of 2003.

Pena, originally from Santiago, Dominican Republic, first started rolling cigars at the age of 7, and has continued the practice in Puerto Rico, where he has lived for the past three decades. He has a stand outside the market where he rolls regular-sized cigars.

It took 20 pounds of tobacco from Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania and 100 leaves to roll the huge cigar, Pena said. The materials cost about US$2,000 but he was sponsored by San Juan's city government, Bacardi rum company and Telemundo television station, he said.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Wacky Warning Label Contest

The sign on the toilet brush says it best: "Do not use for personal hygiene." That admonition was the winner of an anti-lawsuit group's contest for the wackiest consumer warning label of the year. The sponsor, Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, says the goal is "to reveal how lawsuits, and concern about lawsuits, have created a need for common sense warnings on products."

The $500 first prize went to Ed Gyetvai, of Oldcastle, Ontario, who submitted the toilet-brush label. A $250 second prize went to Matt Johnson, of Naperville, Ill., for a label on a children's scooter that said, "This product moves when used." A $100 third prize went to Ann Marie Taylor, of Camden, S.C., who submitted a warning from a digital thermometer that said, "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."

"Warning labels are a sign of our lawsuit-plagued times," said group President Robert Dorigo Jones. "From the moment we raise our head in the morning off pillows that bear those famous Do Not Remove warnings, to when we drop back in bed at night, we are overwhelmed with warnings." The Wacky Warning Label Contest is in its eighth year.

Fascinating urinals

I saw this website years ago, but forgot about it until uberBitch posted about it this week. is an amazing collection of pictures and descriptions of public toilets around the world.

The word toilet came to be used in English along with other French fashions (first noted 1681), and originally referred to the whole complex of operations of hairdressing and body care that centered on a dressing table covered to the floor with cloth (toile) and lace, on which stood a dressing glass, which might also be draped in lace: the ensemble was a toilette.

Through the 18th century, everywhere in the English-speaking world, a toilet remained a lady's draped dressing-table. The word was adapted as a genteel euphemism for water-closet, perhaps following the French usage cabinet de toilette, much as powder-room may be coyly used today, and this has been linked to the introduction of public toilets, for example on railway trains, which required a plaque on the door. The original usage has became indelicate and largely replaced by dressing-table.

When referring to the room or the actual piece of equipment, the word toilet is often substituted with other euphemisms (and dysphemisms) such as bathroom, bog, can, cloakroom, commode, convenience, crapper, dump tank, dunny, facilities, gents, heads, khazi, john, lavatory, long drop, loo, necessary, place of easement, powder room, privy, restroom, shit-house, shitter, smallest room, stables, throne, washroom, water chamber and water closet (or WC).

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Weight Watcher Wonder

A man who once weighed more than 1,000 pounds is nearly half his size after seven months in a hospital, where he was put on a strict diet and underwent gastric bypass surgery. Patrick Deuel weighed 1,072 pounds — nearly half a ton — when he checked into Avera McKennan Hospital in June. At the time, he was dying of heart failure.

He has lost 457 pounds; just 41 pounds of the weight loss happened after the gastric-bypass surgery that he had in October. Before the surgery, he was losing weight on an exercise program and a 1,200-calorie-a-day diet. "I was actually losing weight faster before the surgery," he said Tuesday. The weight loss has helped control his heart problems and other health issues, including diabetes.

Deuel tried many diets during his youth and early adult life, but the pounds were slow to melt off. He'd get discouraged, take comfort in old routines and return to overeating. By the mid-1990s, he stopped leaving his house and ended up housebound for seven years. For several months last year, he couldn't leave his bed and depended on his wife, Edith, to clean and care for him.

Deuel now wears suspenders to hold up pants that are too big. He said he eventually would like to weigh about 240 pounds. By the way, the man in the picture is not particularly Deuel. If it is Deuel, it's a great coincidence.

Today 44 years ago: Mister Ed

Mister Ed was a popular US television comedy show that aired on CBS from 1961-1966. The stars of the show were Mister Ed, an intelligent talking horse, and his owner, architect Wilbur Post (played by Alan Young). The comedy came from Mister Ed talking only to Wilbur.

The other main characters in the show were Wilbur's tolerant wife Carol (Connie Hines) and their neighbours the Addisons (Larry Keating and Edna Skinner) until 1963 and then the Kirkwoods (Leon Ames and Florence MacMichael). The unaired pilot was called The Wonderful World of Wilbur Pope; reworked, it was first broadcast in January 1961 as a syndicated program before being acquired by CBS and aired by that network beginning in October. The 143rd and last episode was shown on September 4, 1966.

Mister Ed was voiced by Allan Lane (speaking) and Sheldon Allman (singing). The horse portraying Mister Ed was Bamboo Harvester, born in California in 1949 and died in 1970. He was trained for the show by Les Hilton. Another horse that had played Mister Ed in some publicity work died in 1979.

The show was parodied in a Harry Enfield comedy series, first shown on BBC, in which Mr Ed was transfigured to Mr Dead, the Talking Corpse.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hot dog history

Although the history of sausage goes back a long way, hot dogs are as American as apple pie. There's no sure etiology of the term hot dog, but two theories are the most prominent.

The popularity of the term hot dog is generally attributed to sports cartoonist T. A. "Tad" Dorgan, who caricatured German figures as dachshund dogs just after the turn of the 19th century. His talking sausage cartoons generally denigrated the cheap wieners sold at Coney Island, crassly suggesting they contained dogmeat. It was such bad publicity that in 1913, the Chamber of Commerce actually banned use of the term "hog dog" from signs on Coney Island. The term actually first appeared in print in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1900.

German Americans brought us weinerwurst, German for Vienna sausage, which eventually shortened to wiener. Other German immigrants referred to smoked sausages as bundewurst, German for dog sausage. By the late 1920's, weinie roasts became the rage, with guests bringing their own hot dogs to roast over an open fire.

Credit for putting the hot dog into a warm bun and topping it with various condiments goes to Harry Magely, catering director of New York City's Polo Grounds, who reportedly instructed his vendors to cry out, "Red hots! Get your red hots!" Also credited for the idea of warm buns is Charles Feltman, of Feltman's Gardens in Coney Island amusement park. Corn dogs were introduced in 1942 at the Texas State Fair, created by Texan Neil Fletcher.

Monday, January 03, 2005

PEZ heads

I remember PEZ from childhood holidays abroad. I wonder if other people remember PEZ... or maybe you became a PEZ head?

PEZ candy was invented in Vienna, Austria, in 1927. The PEZ name was derived from the German word for peppermint…PfeffErminZ. It was introduced to the United States in 1952. PEZ is available in over 60 countries around the world.

In 1954, PEZ added fruit flavors to PEZ candy and cartoon heads on top of the dispenser. At any given time there are as many as 150 different dispensers available to consumers. PEZ sells more candy per year than there are kids in the U.S. Three billion-plus PEZ are eaten in the U.S. each year. In the 1980's feet were added to the base of the dispensers to give them more stability. The current PEZ candy flavors in the U.S. are lemon, orange, grape, strawberry and peppermint.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, a one-piece, shiny gold elephant; a Mickey Mouse softhead; and a headless dispenser embossed with the words "PEZ-HAAS" were sold for $6,000 each by David Welch.

Pierre Omidyar created as a PEZ trading site for his wife. PEZ collectors are commonly referred to as "PEZ heads."