informative after a fashion 

November 18th, 2010

Many people have played themselves to death. Many people have eaten and drunk themselves to death. Nobody ever thought himself to death.

Gilbert Highet


For sale: very rare recording of Enya and Kenny G's live performance of Khachaturian's Sabre Dance. On vinyl. $45 OBO. Box 19.
Single Whitefish seeks other fish of any colour interested in being served in a nice sauce. Box 49.
Why not consider travelling to Spain this winter? Spain has many nice hotels and restaurants and, I think, sme beaches. I don't know. I've never been there.

The Mystery of the Lost Lenore

Listen to Part Eighty-Two

Click on the picture. (3:10)

Or start from the beginning.



Book Review

The Maulers of the Mackinaw by Susan Henry Phipps

This interestingly titled book deals with a series of bizarre maulings by unknown beasts in Northern Michigan in the early 80s.
A number of people reported seeing some strange giant animals in the woods there and some cattle and family pets were mauled and killed.
The story is interestingly told but some of the author's conclusions about the beast or beasts are a little far-fetched.
Still, a good read if only for its evocative portrait of the region in the Reagan era.


Some Things That Never Made It

A History of Bad Ideas

Throughout history desperation, hope, a potpourri of various ideologies and just plain stupidity have lead the human race to some fairly assinine places. We have decided to present, for your edification and amusement, some of our more foolish ideas.

1) In the 60s and 70s a number of peanut butter combination products were sold. PB mixed with jam and simulated bacon flavour etc. One that never quite took off was a plan to mix peanut butter in the same jar with the crushed dreams of opera hopefuls. It was discovered that there just wasn't that much interest in even successful musical stars.

2) After WWI the British Government set about re-organising some of its former colonies. There were several of these projects that were considered successful (Palestine, Iraq etc.) but some didn't seem to be workable and these were scrapped. There was, at the time, a plan to combine Australia and Canada into one super-dominion called Upsy-Daisy Land but the cost of a bridge was considered prohibitive.

3) During the energy crisis in the 70s there were a lot of ideas for conserving energy floating around. One of these was the Giant Hamster Program (GHP). It was known that a tiny hamster running in a wheel could generate enough electricity to power a single light bulb and so it was thought that a really big hamster could provide enough power for an entire suburban house. Unfortunately the US government breeding program resulted in a number of severe hamster maulings of the USAF personnel running the tests. The program was scrapped and the giant hamsters released into the wilds of Northern Michigan.

More Bad Ideas

4) Throughout this century (so far) and the last one, folks have tried a number of fairly hare-brained schemes in their quest for better health. Colonics, cayenne and lemon diets, inversion boots and those vibrating belt machines spring immediately to mind. One of the kookiest came out of England in the early eighties. There a number of people signed up for a surgery to "rotate their lungs". This meant that the left lung would go where the righht one was and vice versa. After almost all the patients died (except for a few who afterwards could do nothing but run in a counter-clockwise circle) the practice more or less ended.

5) The Great Depression caused a number of people a great deal of hardship and several desperate plans were suggested and sometimes tried in an attempt to alleviate some suffering. A noble idea but some of these plans were just no good. One of the worst was the strategy devised by the economist Hubley Tate. Tate proposed that since so many people weren't working they should all come over to his place and help him weed his garden and maybe tidy up a bit in the house. The response to his suggestion (made on the radio) was so overwhelming that the garden was totally weeded and the house ridiculously clean well before noon. The idle crowd then turned their attention to Tate himself and the old economist was groomed to within an inch of his life. Tate never fulled recovered and died the next month. Unemployment was not noticeably diminished. Plans to shovel John Maybard Keynes' driveway were scrapped.

6) There have been a number of failed restaurant ideas over the years. And a number that have been successful contrary to all reason. For instance I would never have predicted the success of a business that sold only flavoured popcorn. But some ideas were just too terrible to ever work. Such an idea was Uncle Pete's House of Grubs. Despite a very cute animated spokesperson (Uncle Pete, who was himself a grub) North American restaurnat goers could not be convinced to eat the damn things. Even a vigourous coupon campaign did nothing to spark the business and the last Uncle Pete's closed in the late 90s.