Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Cats Belong On Fashion Catwalks, A Cat Announces

We're sorry you missed the recent Esmod International Fashion Show in Istanbul, Turkey.
You can see Random Cat on a Istanbul fashion show
catwalk does NOT like this piece of fashion. 

No big deal, I hear you saying. You're not that into fashion anyway.

But this was the best fashion show ever, thanks to a random cat.

According to The Dodo, this cat decided that if there's a catwalk, the cat should be on said catwalk, duh!

As human models strutted down the catwalk at the fashion show to dreary, plodding electronic music,  Random Cat decided to mess up that mood and inject a little humor.

Nobody knows where Random Cat came from but she was a natural on said catwalk.

Random Cat showed who's boss, attacking some of the fashions that she didn't care much for, then strutted down to the end of the catwalk like the diva she is.

I saw one Tweet describing what the Random Cat was thinking at that moment: "No, no, no dahling. THIS is how you walk."

I sometimes watch the show "Project Runway," in which contestants design clothes for sometimes ridiculous situations using ridiculous material. The show is on hiatus until 2019, but when it returns, I think there should be a cat episode of "Project Runway."

Here's the video from Istanbul:

Sunday, October 28, 2018

You Will Love Or Be Perplexed By This Strange Russian Band Called Little Big

Just one of many bizarre scenes from the viral Little Big
video and dance craze "Skibidi"
Apparently, the latest dance craze is something called the Skibidi.

There's a viral video out there by a Russian rave band called Little Big. (They actually have several viral videos, but this one is the latest, and biggest hit yet.)

The bizarre video that I can't stop watching is at the bottom of this post. The Skibidi mostly involves walking with legs out, doing high steps, while punching your fists crossways in front of your chest.

There's a few intermittent hip thrusts, wobbles and hand motions as well, but you get the idea.

The lead protagonist in this video is a very stern, determined, rather creepy blonde man with a mustache. He's a bit like a scarier version of Borat. In the video, he hooks up with another member of the band, who vaguely resembles a highly maniacal version of Debra Messing.

There's also a potential street fight, which devolves into a Skibidi battle  The song itself is all electronic, with random dog barks and other sound effects. Other creatures get into the song, including a dog, city highrises and a Godzilla-like monster.

In other words, this video is so stupid, so tacky, so tasteless, so absurd, so weird that it's absolutely fantastic and mesmerizing.

Other Little Big videos are hits, too, like Faradenza, in which our blond mustached guy seems to attract the babushka type women. Another tune, called LollyBomb, appears to show North Korean leader Kim Jung-un having a torrid love affair with a nuclear bomb.

They're worth watching, for laughs and giggles.

But really, you have to watch Skibidi. And learn the dance, too. And always do the dance while walking down the street. Just because.  Everybody else has. People are being challenged worldwide to do the Skibidi. On Twitter #skibidichallenge is trending.

The Skibidi video had more than 42 million clicks as of Sunday. You can watch it too, if you haven't already:

Friday, October 26, 2018

Nebraska's Boring Tourist Pitch Might Just Work

Are you a tourist heading to Nebraska? Unlikely, but if you go, hop into
 a livestock tank and float down a river. They do that there, apparently. 
I've been to Nebraska, and frankly, I don't find it all that exciting. A lot of people don't.

Oh, in Nebraska, there's nice places, things to do, and the people are wonderful. (The previous Nebraska tourism campaign was called "Nebraska Nice.")  Still, the parts of Nebraska I've seen, it's a little bit of a yawn.

But every state wants to draw tourists, and Nebraska is no exception. The state has a new tourism campaign that's a bit counter intuitive, but it might just work. Or not. We'll see.

"Honestly, it's not for everyone," is the Nebraska tourism tagline.

The campaign has an uphill battle. Nebraska consistently ranks as the "least likely state" tourists want to visit, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

Certainly, Nebraska has its unique qualities.

One print ad in the new tourism campaign goes like this, according to the Omaha World-Herald:

"Lucky for you, there's nothing to do here," is the headline on one print advertisement that displays a smiling band of partygoers, floating down a Sand Hills stream in livestock tanks in the Nebraska-invented sport of 'tanking.'"

I have to admit, tanking sounds so bizarre I'd like to try it. At least once.

The landscape that I've seen in Nebraska is very flat and featureless. But I've obviously not been to every corner of the state. One of the new Nebraska tourism ads is headlined "Famous for our flat, boring landscape. The photo shows a couple jumping around an interesting, rocky landscape in Nebraska's Toadstool Geologic Park.

Another part of the new tourism campaign is headlined "Festivals for everything from mud to testicles."  That refers to the Nebraska's Roumd The Bend Steakhouse, which features deep fried sheep (!!!) and beef testicles.

Before you roll your eyes at that, do remember we here in Vermont have festivals like the Black Fly Festival in Adamant, which celebrates those clouds of tiny, biting insects that ruin any attempt to go outdoors in the otherwise lovely month of May.

We in Vermont can also enjoy the annual Burdock Festival in Benson, which is supposed to have us enjoy those extremely annoying weeds with those spiky burs that cling to our clothing if we even get close to that plant.

Of course Vermont is a much more of a tourist mecca than Nebraska. Vermont is just completing its High Holy Season, in which easily more than 3 million  tourists descend on the Green Mountain State to watch leaves die in the autumn. OK, they're gorgeous, colorful deaths, but still.

Stephen Colbert recently noticed the Nebraska tourism pitch, and he added lots of suggestions for other states to use.

North Dakota; "You can't visit all 50 states without visiting North Dakota."

I go to South Dakota fairly frequently, because I have relatives there. The state's OK in terms of interest, but Colbert has this tourism slogan idea: "South Dakota: When North Dakota's full."

Colbert even had a suggestion for Vermont: "Not gonna win an award for best state or nothin' but have you seen New Hampshire?"

Yep, the rivalry between 802 and 603 is alive and well.

He had a few more suggestions. Here's the Colbert tourism clip:

Here's the Colbert clip:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Two Viral Reasons Why I'm A Proud Green Mountain Boy

Madelyn Linsenmeir, shown here with her son Ayden, died
of an opiod overdose recently. The obituary her sister wrote
has gone viral. 
Two incidents originating in Vermont went viral in the past week, and both cases make me incredibly proud to be a Vermonter.

This is true even though one of the incidents involved a tragedy, the other basically focused on a national crisis


The more viral of the two incidents regarded the death of Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir, 30, whose obituary described how her addiction to OxyContin affected her and her family, and ultimately killed Linsenmeir.

Part of the blunt, loving and heartbreaking obituary read as follows:

"It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction. To some, Maddie was just a junkie - when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her. And what a loss for them. Because Maddie was hilarious, and warm, and fearless, and resilient. She could and would talk to anyone, and when you were in her company you wanted to stay.

In a system that seems to have hardened itself against addicts and is failing them every day, she befriended and delighed cops, social workers, public defenders and doctors, who advocated for and believed in her 'til the end."

The obit also said that using drugs "is not a choice or a weakness. And chances are good that someone you know is struggling with it, and that person needs and deserves your empathy and support." 

It now seems that practically everyone across the nation has read that obit. It asked for donations to the Turning Point Center, which helps addicts in Vermont. The Turning Point Center is now being swamped by donations and messages.

Adding more to all this was a Facebook post by Burlington, Vermont Police Chief Brandon del Pozo.

He said he had a "problem" with the Linsenmeir obituary and here's why, as del Pozo wrote on Facebook:

"A family member with a talent for expression wrote her the honest and moving obituary she truly deserved. It went viral. It's being read across the country. It's in People, the Globe, HuffPost, and the Daily News. My problem with it is that it's a much better obituary than the rest of us deserve."

"Why did it take a grieving relative with a good literary sense to get people to pay attention for a moment and shed a tear when nearly a quarter of a million people have already died in the same way as Maddie as this epidemic grew?

Did readers think this was the first time a beautiful young, beloved mother from a pastoral state got addicted to Oxy and died from the descent it wrought? And what about the rest of the victims, who weren't as beautiful and lived in downtrodden cities or the rust belt? They too had mothers who cried for them and blamed themselves."

The entire Facebook post by del Pozo, is a must readjust as Linsenmeir's obit is.

Vermont has been hit hard by the opiod epidemic.  In 2017, 107 people died of opiod-related causes, the vast majority of them being overdoses, says the Vermont Health Department.

There's plenty of blame to go around for the opiod deaths in Vermont and the rest of the nation. There are some real efforts to combat this. But it's not enough. The Linsenmeir obit, and to a somewhat lesser degree del Pozo's Facebook post, has got the whole nation talking about and confronting the opiod epidemic. At least everybody is tweeting about it, if nothing else.

The obituary was written by Linsenmeir's sister, Kate O'Neill, who told NPR: "Our hope also now lies with policymakers and politicians and the people who can make the change necessary so that these deaths stop happening. Let's put our money where our tweets are."

Once again, Vermont leads. Compassionately.


Vermont House candidates Zac Mayo amd Lucy Rogers are competing
against each other. But they ended a recent debate by
performing a duet with each other. 
Up in Lamoille County, Democrat Lucy Rogers and Republican Zac Mayo are aggressively competing against each other for a seat in the Vermont House.

Recently, Rogers and Mayo had a debate at the local library. The back and forth was reportedly respectful, and both candidates seemed to have the smarts and the goods to be decent legislators

But what happened at the end of the debate shocked locals. And that event was so shocking, it's now nicely jarring people across the nation. This, too, has gone viral.

Both candidates asked the moderator for a bit of additional time at the end of the debate. They didn't say why they wanted it, but the moderator basically shrugged and said OK.

Rogers and Mayo then began moving tables off to the side. She brought out her cello, he brought out his guitar, and the two candidates from opposing parties performed a duet in very nice harmony.

The song they chose was "Society" by Eddie Vedder. The lyrics challenge materialism and greed and excess competitiveness.

CBS Evening News picked up on this story and broadcast it to the nation in their "On The Road" segment. CBS reported there wasn't enough tissue to go around in that library for the teary-eyed audience when the candidates did their performace.

That's because politics is getting worse and worse. Lord knows it's all noise and bitterness and attack ads and hate and vitriol. Rogers and Mayo gave us, and the nation a needed political salve, a needed other way.

I don't live in Lamoille County, so I can't vote for either one of them. I'm not sure which one has political opinions most closely match my own. But whoever wins, Vermont will be well-served.

Or, as CBS said, the election has already been decided. It was a landslide victory for civility.

Here's the video of the CBS report:

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

A Musician Named Willie K An Amazing National Anthem

Willie K stuns with his rendition of the Star Spangled Banner 
Recently, there was a forgettable football game in Hawaii that nobody ever would have heard of if not for a guy named Willie K.

Willie K is a wildly popular musician in Hawaii, but many of us had never heard of him, until now.

He's certainly a brave musician. He was asked to perform the National Anthem at this football game, and he had the temerity to change the melody of the song. Usually, messing with the melody of the National Anthem is anathema. Nobody likes it.

But in this case, it worked. Big time. With his ukelele, natch.

Plus his voice was so powerful, so perfect, so poignant. This, despite the fact the guy is battling lung cancer of all things. I would think that lung cancer would screw up a singer's voice, but I hear no sign of it in the viral video that resulted from Willie K's performance.

Meghan McCain, daughter of recently deceased American patriot John McCain, said it just as well as anybody could in this tweet: "This brought tears to my eyes - one of the most gorgeous performances fo the Star-Spangled Banner I've every heard. Just absolutely beautiful.

I totally agree.

Here's the video:

Saturday, October 20, 2018

SNL Has White Supremacists Moving To Vermont In Scary, Weird Scenario

A Saturday Night Live sketch a few weeks ago skewered
Vermont's whiteness. Funny, but unsettling
A few weeks ago, Saturday Night Live had a skit about a Neo-Confederate meeting that had us Vermonters especially unsettled.

The video featured a group of white supremacists having a meeting somewhere in the South.

The group leader wants to establish their own white settlement, a "our own place for our own people" with "an agrarian community where everybody lives in harmony, where every single person is white"

A member of the meeting raises his had pipes up: "Yeah, I know that place. That sounds like Vermont."  That's a definite laugh line, but geez.

The leader says he doesn't understand. He's talking about a place where even the people who wash the dishes and pick the fruit are white.

"Oh,  yeah, that's Vermont," the man responds. The leader grows suspicious of the man, especially when he says he's from the North. But the guy's white supremacist creds remain in place when he quickly explains he's from Boston. The whole group is satisfied with that.

"I'm talking about a place where a white man can take things he grew from the ground and trade things with another white man, who grew things from the ground."

Replies the northerner: "That's a farmer's market and they're all over Vermont."

Pretty soon, the groups is deciding that Vermont sounds like just the ticket. It's a place where "The leaves change color but the people never do."

In the end, it's settled. They're going to Vermont.

That's a bit chilling.  Especially since racism does seem to be alive and well in Vermont. Just take the recent case of Kiah Morris. She had been Vermont's only black legislator. She dropped her re-election campaign, then resigned after receiving racial threats.

Her house was broken into and swastikas were painted on trees near her property. The Vermont Attorney General's office is investigating.

Yeah, we're not always the liberal, welcoming place we want to think we are. In any event, I hope that white supremacists don't regard SNL as a documentary.

Here's the video:

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dog Shoves 11 Shampoo Bottles Into Tub Just Because

Who knows what goes on in the mind of a dog?  But it must be fun.

The latest example is this puppy, who seems to enjoy his job of moving  11 bottles of shampoo on the edge of a bathtub that he thinks don't belong there. He solves the problem quite efficiently. Watch the video, perhaps again and again, to brighten your day:

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Randy Rainbow Strikes Again, This Time Targeting Melania

Randy Rainbow strikes again! This time the target is Melania Trump
I'm risking turning this into the Official Randy Rainbow Fan Page, but I'm going to keep posting his videos anyway.

He brightened our Monday by posting his latest video. He targets Melania Trump, who self describes herself as the "most bullied" person out that.

Randy uses the melody of the song "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast, to perform "Be Best" which is Melania's supposed anti-bullying phrase.

As Billboard notes, this latest video is basically Disney meets disdain.

Randy introduces the video by introducing Melania Trump as  "the First Lady of the United States if you don't count Mike Pence."

The early part of his videos usually are like a cable news interview. During this, Randy tells Melania, "You always have the best taste in fascists, er, fashion."


There's a bit of a campaign out there that wants Randy Rainbow to host the Tony Awards. I think that's a terrific idea.

Anyway, no more spoilers. Watch the video:

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Two Weird Deadly Disasters Prove Nature Is Strange.

A phenomenon called liquefaction turned solid land to liquid, causig
this mess in Indonesia recently. 
Florida is reeling today from the Hurricane Michael disaster, and my sister blog Matt's Weather Rapport has videos of the extreme and scary things 100 to 150 mph winds can do.

To further prove that disasters can be hugely, weirdly, strangely scary, I have two weird videos of how strangely aspects of two recent disasters played out. They are fascinating to watch because it shows how strange nature can be when it goes off the rails.

A couple weeks ago, a terrible earthquake and tsunami struck parts of Indonesia, killing perhaps 1,400 or more people.

The following video, edited to take out the fact that the terrified person taking the video kept turning the camera, shows a strange, large landslide caused the the earthquake.

It's not a steep slope at all, like you see in most landslides. It's a gentle grade, but the entire landscape is moving. My understanding is this is an extreme example of liquefaction.  It usually occurs durig earthquakes in wet soil, or soil that is sandy, or was used as fill to claim a wetland. According to USGS:

"Earthquake waves cause water pressures to increase in the sediment and the sand grains to lose contact wit each other, leading the sediment to lose strength and act like a liquid."

Sounds very scary, and the video below verifies that horror:

The next video shows the aftermath at one house of Hawaii's volcanic eruption this year. Kilauea  has been erupting much of this year. Lava has destroyed hundreds of homes.

Even homes that were not overrun by lava were extensively damaged or destroyed. Huge quantites of sulfur dioxide belched from fissures. This stuff is highly corrosive. It turned the lush Hawaii vegetation in spots into something that looked more barren than Vermont in the depths of post-foliage November.

Worse, it corroded anything that was made of metal. Like leaving the stuff out in the rain for decades. Except this sulfur dioxide destruction took weeks, not years.

At one house, which was under construction when the volcano erupted, everything that was metal, from electrical fixtures to appliances, corroded away. A new metal bucket left outside was reduced to crunchy bits of rust.

The following video of that under-construction property, really is jaw dropping:

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Old Video By The Association Has Dated Hillariously Poorly

Two members of The Association in this old video. Perhaps not
the most dapper look?
I stumbled on an old video of the 1960s group The Association performing their hit "Never My Love" and the video is kitschy comedic gold.  

I know I shouldn't pick on them. The Association were big 1960s hit makers with their usually mellow pop. Styles have changed since the 1960s, so we shouldn't abuse them too much.

But abuse The Association, I will.

First of all, those suits! All them are ill-fitting sacks, basically and are a lovely shade of green I associate with an algae bloom in a cow pond.

I'm particularly taken by the lead singer in the video. His double breasted suit fits about as well as a burlap sack. He's also got the world's most,  um,  amazing sideburns.

As he's singing, he has this blank, blissful  look on his face, as if he's entered some sweet, strange wonderland. At the same time, he looks vaguely ill and ill at ease, like he might simulaneously barf and get attacked by the audience.

Which actually to me seems like a real possibility. Actually, the whole group looks pretty spaced out. I wonder what they took before coming onstage?

And why are they set up like that. The keyboardist and drummer start off in the foreground, but you n see as the video they are really shunted way off to the side. Like we really shouldn't notice them.

Maybe we shouldn't. In the closeups of the keyboardist, he looks like he's yawning instead of coming in with those signature mellow harmonies.  The song isn't that boring, is it?

It's all a mystery. So here's you kitch for today. The Association performs "Never My Love."