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Okay, one more from the weekend. This is the same fête that had the amazing model jets last year. Did I post about the amazing model jets? I can’t find anything about them. Well, they were amazing. And they weren’t there this year — I think the bad weather put them off. I imagine those things cost about as much as a small car.

But this dude was there with his badass heliocopter. It’s big — maybe a yard from tip to tail — and it runs on gasoline (or whatever petroleum product those little models use) and it was just gobsmacking what he was doing with it.

Nothing like the relatively slow and stately quad-copters, nuh-uh.

The maneuver in the picture he called “mowing the grass.” Yeah, he’s flying the thing upside down, inches from the ground. He got even closer at one point.

But what really astonished me was watching how hard and fast he could sling it around. I honestly don’t know how it took the momentum, or…what do you call it when you break out of the momentum? Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, he was definitely breaking several important laws of physics.

And if that’s what the civilian toys are like, I couldn’t help wondering what the military had at their disposal. You wouldn’t even have to weaponize them. You could drop one of these buzzing varmints in the middle of a group of Abduls and Mohammads and just fuck with them for a while. I bet you could get them shooting each other in no time, trying to bag the toy.

And another completely unrelated but interesting link: the Hill of Shards.

June 15, 2016 — 10:03 pm
Comments: 8

B-but…but…it’s a BMW!


Another one from a weekend fête. This here’s a bubble car, and yes it’s a BMW. A three-wheeler. Many bubble cars were.

See, ten years after the war — as you might imagine — Germany’s heavy industry was still in a spot of financial trouble. Bayerische Motoren Werke was no exception. They considered closing shop, but then decided to buy the rights to build this car from an Italian company. It’s called an Isetta and it saved the day. The motor was a modified version of a BMW motorcycle engine.

It wasn’t an original idea. The German airplane makers Messerschmitt and Heinkel (and others) were doing a roaring trade in bubble cars to fill a demand for affordable personal vehicles. They were dubbed bubble cars because Messerschmitt used airplane-style clear cowls on theirs. They were tiny.

Britain’s Austin Mini is widely thought to have killed them off, on account of it had four whole wheels and could seat more than one adult.

The descendant of the bubble car lives on in parts of Europe, though. In some countries, micro-cars are taxed and insured at the motorcycle rate, making them attractive to casual drivers.

And in a few — notably France — you don’t even need a license to drive one. The French call them VSPs, or Voiture Sans Permis (literally ‘car without permit’) and they have an awful reputation as a loophole for old ladies and people who lose their license to DUI.

I will leave you with this completely unrelated but fun link: bog butter.

June 14, 2016 — 9:04 pm
Comments: 15

It begins


Yeah, I made a doge. So sue me. The meme is only three years old, I checked. Hard to believe. That is a shibe (or part-shibe), isn’t it?

Anyway, the local fête season began for us this weekend. We managed to hit two over the weekend, and just dodged getting wet at both of them. We’re a little concerned that the weather will have made one in particular lose money, and that might kill it forever.

This act was from that one; a dog rescue outfit in Essex. They’re all about taking scrubby old mutts and making proper working dogs of ’em. There were a dozen dogs at the show, from little terriers to big shepherds. They did very well, too — even the newest dog, who was (paradoxically) fourteen when he came to the shelter and a little confused about how he got there.

The trainer unloaded an interesting stream of dog facts. Like, you know how both your eyebrows go up when someone comes into a room? Well, a dog will only raise one eyebrow, and that eyebrow tells you which is his dominant paw. Yeah, I know, but he swore on a stack of kibbles.

He also said he’s never met a dog with a natural fear of fire. And to prove it, he had the dogs leap through hoops and corridors of fire, past flaming torches. Even the little dudes had no problem with it. That would have made an awesome photo, maybe, but my photographer spotted a giant model biplane doing loops over the end of the field and I lost him.

The exercise in the picture was a little wince-some. The littlest dogs couldn’t clear all those crotches in one leap and landed squarely and repeatedly on that man’s taint. I hope he was properly equipped.

June 13, 2016 — 8:53 pm
Comments: 15

Round 86: Teak Chicken of Tokyo edition

Well, well. Muhammad Ali at last. Congratulations to Montenegro for taking the dick.

Hm. I need to do a dick inventory. I think it’s getting pretty far ahead of me. Frankly, I could use some drawing practice.

Okay. Ready?

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. Plus (Pupster’s Rule) no picking someone who’s only famous for being the oldest person alive.

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’m fresh out of fairy shit particles.

June 10, 2016 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 120



At the stroke of midnight I made my deadline! I hate to take on freelance work and never solicit it, but when I get axed I don’t know how to say no. Particularly as it’s a display for a local charity.

Charities. Making you feel guilty since…forever.

Anyhoo, in the comments to the previous post, the question came up — why does that banjo have four strings, but six tuners? See, this is why I love British banjos. They’re so gosh-darned weird.

That is actually a five-string banjo, and it’s strung typically for a zither banjo. Observe the headstock in the picture above (a banjo of mine, and one that I’m convinced was made out of a piano stool).

Four strings go directly from the headstock, across the nut to the bridge. One goes into a little hole (indicated by the arrow), under the fingerboard in a tube, and pops out at the fifth fret. That’s called a ‘tunneled fifth.’

And the sixth peg? Just for show. Some British banjo makers claimed that three pegs on one side and two on the other just wouldn’t look aesthetically pleasing, so they made the tuners pointlessly symmetrical.

I once suspected that this was boolsheet and they did it because standard three-on-a-side tuners were mass produced and cheaper, but you sometimes see this arrangement on the fanciest and most expensive of zither banjos. So…artard, I guess.

Sorry I gave you short shrift this week. What the hell is shrift, come to think of it? Oh. Google says it’s confession, like to a priest. If you give shrift, you are shriven. Okay. Back here tomorrow, 6pm WBT — DEAD POOL ROUND 86!

June 9, 2016 — 11:10 pm
Comments: 7



A man was walking around Dover when he happened upon a little antique shop, so he went in and took a look around. Way up on a high shelf he saw a little brass mouse figurine, and he really liked it. He asked the owner how much it was, and the guy said, “It’s £20 for the mouse, and £50 Mousefor the story that goes with it.”

Well, the man didn’t care about any old story, he just liked the little brass mouse, so he paid the guy £20 and walked out with the mouse in a brown paper bag. As he was walking home, he noticed the figurine was hollow with two little holes. Holding it up to his mouth, it made a melodious whistle. No sooner that he started, he was being followed by three little mice. When he stopped, they stopped. When he turned left, they turned left.

“Whoa, this is creeping me out,” he thought.

As he walked, the mice were joined by more mice, until our hero looked like the Pied Piper. He started to run, and he wound up at the edge of Dover’s White Cliffs. All the mice in town are right behind him. He is so freaked out that he throws the bag with the brass mouse over the cliff and into the water, and all the little mice jump after it, fall into the ocean, and drown.

“Man, this is weird!” he says. He goes back to the antique store, and the owner doesn’t seem surprised to see him. “Ahhh, you’ve come back to hear the story!” he says to our dilapidated hero.

“No, man,” says he, “I was just wondering if you have any little brass banjo players?”

Yeah, I fobbed you off with a banjo joke. I brought more work home with me tonight. I thought I was supposed to be semi-retired or something.

But don’t be sad — look at this beautiful banjo up for sale on eBay. It’s a Cammeyer Vibrante. If you ain’t never seen no banjo like ‘at before, it’s because it’s a zither banjo. A British thing that never made it back over the pond, for all kinds of reasons.

Well, Alfred Cammeyer, the inventor of the zither banjo, was an American, but he was stranded in London and forced to invent weird banjos to survive. We do what we must!

June 8, 2016 — 10:39 pm
Comments: 19

Lookit the pretties


Itō Jakuchū (1716–1800) was a Japanese painter and Zen Buddhist lay brother who painted many subjects in nature, but famously birds. Mostly famously CHIKKENS! Particularly roosters.

He’s well worth checking out — his paintings are more naturalistic and less stylized than many of his contemporaries, but nevertheless beautifully detailed and formalized. I’ve spent a happy hour banging around Google Images search.

This year is the 300th anniversary of his birth, so there’s lots of his stuff to look at online, though sadly much of the accompanying text is Japanese.

But this? This is not an Itō Jakuchū cockerel. This is a cookie in the exact shape of an Itō Jakuchū cockerel. And a pretty good copy it is, too.


Thanks to Bob Mulroy for sending me this fun link.

June 7, 2016 — 7:20 pm
Comments: 13

Worth a hundred bucks of anybody’s money



You’re one of the few people who can appreciate my recent acquisition, a small statue/table/nightstand featuring a chicken. It’s carved from teak wood, and I bought it at an antique sale outside of Tokyo.

These antique dealers buy most of their stuff from local Shinto and Buddhist temples. With the small houses maintained by most Japanese (relative to Western homes), people who inherit their parents’ belongings rarely have space for all of it. So they donate it to the local temples, who sell it to generate additional income. The antique dealers snap up most of it and resell it – at a much higher prices, of course. This little item set me back 100 USD, but it was worth it. : )

I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Regards from Japan,
tinman in the comments

Majestic! Mag-nificent! I should point out, though, it’s surprisingly difficult to say the Teak Chicken of Tokyo.

Yeah, you just tried it, didn’t you?

So I finished my Chickenology course with an grade average of 92% (there’s always that one question). Learned a lot (really), enjoyed it much, got the certificate. I wonder how long I’ll have to wait before someone asks to see my credentials.

One more time, I highly recommend the site: Coursera. Their catalogue of classes is extensive, offered in association with some very good schools and, it looks to me though I haven’t done it yet, if you enroll properly you can audit courses for free.

June 6, 2016 — 7:46 pm
Comments: 10

…this just in…

Me. I’m just in.

The whole neighborhood got together for a BBQ tonight. The wine did flow, the burgers did broil. Sadly, it’s still fucking freezing, so we all had to huddle together inside.

Didn’t much slow us down.

What we have for weather is the very edge of the same system that’s dumped so much rain on France, Germany and Austria. Don’t know if you saw — they had to evacuate the paintings from the basement of the Louvre. I think they said the Seine was fifteen feet above its usual level.

No rain for us (for the most part). Just clouds and cold. It’s supposed to start improving tomorrow.

But for tonight, we sleep off the festivities. Have a good weekend, peeps!

¡Atención! Montenegro wins the dick with Muhammad Ali! See everyone back here next Friday for DEAD POOL ROUND 86.

June 3, 2016 — 9:54 pm
Comments: 11



My sharpening stones came today, and this was tucked into the box. Actually, hippie jokes aside, I can quite see a Tai Chi of scything being a sensible thing. When you watch the smooth, controlled, thoughtful movements of a good scyther, you can definitely see how applying the principles could help. Especially since the beginner’s instinct is to slash and thrash.

The two stones I got were a very fine Rozsutec and a slightly coarser Bregenzer. The coarser stone is easier for a beginner though, obviously, rougher on the tool. The Bregenzer Quarry is now closed, so no more stones will come out once the supply is exhausted.

You don’t need to know all that, though. I do. I use you guys as a daily diary.

You knew that, yes?

June 2, 2016 — 8:41 pm
Comments: 16