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I don’t see scorch marks. Do you see scorch marks?

No doubt, y’all have seen the video of Tara the Hero Cat, internet sensation, rescuer of small boys and chaser-offer of wicked dogs.

Couple of things about the video that struck me. First, the family appears to have three different video cameras trained on the outside of the house (it looks like such a nice neighborhood!). And second, that dog seems to be hunting toddlers. He either hears or smells the boy before catching sight of him, and races around the corner to attack.

Black Shuck is another dog in the news this week. He’s one of Britain’s many legendary black dogs, but with a more specific history than most.

The story goes, an enormous black dog burst into a Suffolk church in 1577 during a howling gale (leaving, supposedly scorch marks on the door, pictured), ran up the aisle and killed a man and a boy, then ran off again. He became a local fixture (not to say legend) thereafter, though subsequent stories are short on specifics.

You know, I can believe it? Somebody’s dog getting loose, running a long distance from home, panicking in a thunderstorm and going violently mad in a crowd of people. Then, you know, thereafter being a menace to solitary walkers in lonely spots.

Last year, an archeological dig at nearby Leiston Abbey turn up the skeleton of an absolutely enormous dog. Estimated at seven feet, standing on its back legs, and a very old burial. The bones haven’t been dated yet, but the team will be back this Summer to dig again.

It was buried near the kitchen in the Abbey and is surely a beloved pet or guard dog. I’m sure if the monks slew the beast, the story would have come down to us somehow. But still there’s all kinds of excitement that they might’ve dug up ol’ Shuck.

This dig — like a lot of archeology in Britain — is funded by the lottery. This almost inclines me to pay the Stupid Tax and pick up a weekly ticket. Good weekend, all!

May 16, 2014 — 10:41 pm
Comments: 23

Hen in the sunshine

It was fine and hot today, and Maggie got to sit in the sunshine and peck bugs out of the grass. Which, for a chicken, is heaven.

If you’re just joining us, Maggie is my crippled chicken. A fox turned up and panicked the flock last September. We think. They were safely locked up, but we came home to find agitated chooks, feathers everywhere and I think Maggie banged her spine somehow.

Her legs don’t work from the knees down. Yes, chickens have knees, although comparative anatomy would suggest it’s technically more like ankles I’m talking about. The bendy bit in the middle. It doesn’t work.

Medical opinion had it there was a chance the nerve was just bruised and she’d recover, given time. It’s been eight months. It ain’t happening.

But she’s alert. She has a good appetite. She gobbles up treats and shows an interest in her surroundings. She’s really no more trouble than the other chickens. I’m going to stick with her as long as she wants to stick with us.

Since Maggie’s accident, I’ve probably eaten upwards of fifty chickens without shedding a tear. But this is *my* chicken. The heart has its reasons. Shut up.

May 15, 2014 — 10:29 pm
Comments: 21


Do you ever go to Pravda Online? I do from time to time. I’m never sure how seriously I’m expected to take it. The articles range from absurdly jingoistic to just absurd.

Worth a browse, if you’re bored. Especially in times when Russia’s in the headlines.

Anyhoo, at the bottom of Pravda today: pencil sketches of Hollywood stars. No explanation. Jesus. They have to be images sent in by children…don’t they?

Be sure to look at them all. I’ll have you begging for ass bruise pictures.

May 14, 2014 — 10:09 pm
Comments: 12

This is the best ass bruise you will see today

Londoner goes to a stag do in Poland, falls through table, is protected from grievous spinal cord injury by the wings of an angel, I guess.

Don’t mean to be running a nudity blog up in here but, you know, Britain is my beat, and so many silly things happen in Britain. Silly, naked things.

That item is from a free London paper called the Metro. Whenever we go to London, I always find a copy of it on the train, but they also have an online presence. Please join me in sampling the delights:

Lonely Serb rejected by 5,000 ladies of Facebook. For sale on eBay: uber creepy doll. Also on eBay: a set of six twigs found in London’s de Beauvoir Square.

Instead of picking it up, Sussex council paints its dogshit hot pink. Conjoined twins are always good. Soylent Beige. You probably shouldn’t click that. Come to that, you probably shouldn’t click this, either.

Just so you think it isn’t all tea parties and cucumber sandwiches over here.

p.s. Though we did go to a tea party this weekend, and there were cucumber sandwiches. So, sometimes it’s tea parties and cucumber sandwiches.

May 13, 2014 — 9:52 pm
Comments: 17


The first ever naked ping pong tournament took place this weekend in a private room in the Holborn Club in London. According to this article, ’twas the very spot where table tennis was invented in 1901. (Wikipedia disputes that, but really, who the hell cares?).

There are some artfully posed publicity stills at the link. I’m guessing the actual event was more than a little silly, with all that junk bobbling around.

Yeah, the club is really called Bounce. Didn’t make that up.

According to Pixy Misa’s Twitter feed, Ace had a catastrophic server crash today. In case you were wondering. They expect to get it up and running later today.

May 12, 2014 — 8:55 pm
Comments: 11

Round 63: Mayday edition

Catnip bags the dick with Efrem Zimbalist, jr.

Wikipedia tells me his parents were non-practicing Jews, but that he himself was a devout believer in several things in his life, mostly Christian.

He was baptised in the Episcopal Church, but was an early follower of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (he described this later as an interesting waste of time). In the 70s, he was drawn to Charismatic Christianity and was the voice of Trinity Broadcasting Network for a while, but ultimately found this too fundamentalist.

He went back to the Episcopalians later in life and finally landed among the Anglicans. All of which I am happy to regard as a spiritual progression rather than a contradiction.

His daughter Stephanie announced his death like so: “He was 95 years old, a devout Christian. He actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf and visiting with close friends.”

The BBC obit (first link above) somehow mysteriously drops the first sentence.

0. Rule Zero (AKA Steve’s Rule): your pick has to be living when picked. Also, nobody whose execution date is circled on the calendar. Also, please don’t kill anybody.

1. Pick a celebrity. Any celebrity — though I reserve the right to nix picks I never heard of (I don’t generally follow the Dead Pool threads carefully, so if you’re unsure of your pick, call it to my attention).

2. We start from scratch every time. No matter who you had last time, or who you may have called between rounds, you have to turn up on this very thread and stake your claim.

3. Poaching and other dirty tricks positively encouraged.

4. Your first choice sticks. Don’t just blurt something out, m’kay? Also, make sure you have a correct spelling of your choice somewhere in your comment. These threads get longish and I use search to figure out if we have a winner.

5. It’s up to you to search the thread and make sure your choice is unique. I’m waayyyy too lazy to catch the dupes. Popular picks go fast.

6. The pool stays open until somebody on the list dies. Feel free to jump in any time. Noobs, strangers, drive-bys and one-comment-wonders — all are welcome.

7. If you want your fabulous prize, you have to entrust me with a mailing address. If you’ve won before, send me your address again. I don’t keep good records.

8. The new DeadPool will begin 6pm WBT (Weasel’s Blog Time) the Friday after the last round is concluded.

The winner, if the winner chooses to entrust me with a mailing address, will receive an Official Certificate of Dick Winning and a small original drawing on paper suffused with elephant shit particles. Because I didn’t have any dinosaur shit particles.

May 9, 2014 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 113


One last bit of ironmongery. Sorry the focus is none too good, but it’s dark in the kitchen. Note the whirring thingamabob on top: this is a clockwork mechanism to turn the spit, to roast the beast before the fire. The rope leads to a weight which would have to be cranked back to the top periodically. Put some boy out of a job, this newfangled contraption did.

One of our cookery books points out that most of us have never had real roast beef — what we call roast beef is really baked beef. And when you think about the difference between a rotisserie chicken and one from the oven, you’ll realize that’s true.

The posts this week are from Michelham Priory, which we visited on Sunday. As the guide explained to us, a priory was kind of like the social services of the day. Unlike the monasteries, which were shut off from the public, the staff in the priory were priests intended to minister to outsiders. They gave food and shelter to the poor and nursed the sick.

Like all the others, this one was disbanded by Hank the Eighth, but luckily for us lived on as a private residence. Or a piece of it lived on, anyway.

Right. What time is it, kids? It’s Dead Pool time! Well, it will be tomorrow at 6WBT!

May 8, 2014 — 11:05 pm
Comments: 17

More blacksmith

This is also a product of the blacksmith’s art. Despite the fairly elaborate decoration on the latch mechanism, it wasn’t made by a jeweler. It’s the locking mechanism of a 16th C and it’s a surprisingly fiendish object.

The entire box is made of iron. The docent couldn’t tell me how much it weighs, but she reckoned it would take four men to shift it. She let me try the lid on another similar box, and it was honestly all I could do to lift it vertical.

On either side at the top, you can see two stout rings for padlocks. Centered between them in the box proper is the keyhole, and it’s fake. It goes nowhere. The real keyhole is hidden behind a boss in the center of the lid. It slips sideways, and there’s the hole. The sound it makes when you turn the key is epic.

It is further compartmentalized on the inside for papers and jewelry and whatnot. The idea was that great men had to have lots of coin on hand to pay for everything, especially when they traveled. There are four holes in the bottom for bolts, to bolt it to the bed of a cart for just that purpose.

If Robin Hood ever did make off with one like this, I hate to think how many Merry Man it would take to file enough of a slot into it to make room for a wedge to make purchase for a hammer. I don’t know how else you’d get it open.

May 7, 2014 — 9:57 pm
Comments: 8

Steel ivy.

On Sunday, I watched a blacksmith make this on an ancient forge. It’s about the size of the ball of my thumb.

He took a quarter inch mild steel bar and hammered the end into a sort of arrowhead shape.
Folded in half.
Part straightened again (this made the big vein down the middle).
Beat the little veins into the sides of the leaf.
Nipped it from the rod, leaving a nub of the rod behind.
Turned it and hammered at the nub, over and over, until it became a long, thin stem.
Hammered the stem around the nose of the anvil until he’d tied it in a knot.

Not much more than five minutes. It was awesome. We asked to see more examples of his work, and the blacksmith reached his blackened and callused paw into his pocket…and pulled out his iPhone.


May 6, 2014 — 9:48 pm
Comments: 13

And then there were two…

I strongly suspect both these guys are from the same nest. Same species, same size. Jack has been haunting one corner of the garden. He’s either able to climb the tree or he’s waiting for them the fledge and scooping them off the ground.

Blackbird #2 was uninjured, maybe sliiiightly bigger than the first, and very freaked out by the whole Weasel Experience. He kept opening his mouth for food and then spitting it out. I think, actually, the open beak was aggression in his case. Eventually, he got hungry enough to be a good bird. He sure wanted out of the cage, though.

We went out for a few hours yesterday, so I took a chance. I locked Jack up in the house and left the cage outside, high up, near the nest, with the door open. When we came home, one bird was gone and I didn’t find him on the ground. Zo! Happy ending, let’s hope.

Unfortunately, the one left behind appears to be Irritating Spit Bird.

NB: yes, indeed, catnip takes the dick with Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. I think I’m about three dicks behind at the moment. Apologies if you’re waiting. I’ve got an Irritating Spit Bird on my drawing desk at the mo. So, back here, Friday, 6pm WBT, Dead Pool Round 63!

May 5, 2014 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 11