March 15, 2017
All Of MST3k
Here are reviews and a ranking of all 176 episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Here's the #1 episode:
1. Ep. 910, The Final Sacrifice, 1990
Movie pain meter: Low
Best riff: Troy, to grizzled old prospector: “You knew my father?” Servo: “KNOW him? He was delicious!”
We’re finally here: The #1 episode of MST3k of all time. If you’ve actually been reading this piece from start to finish, the quality of the light outside has almost certainly changed since you begun. Perhaps you started before lunch, and the sky is now purpling with a beautiful sunset: The kind of sunset that Zap Rowsdower would stare into pensively, while thinking “I wonder if there’s beer on the sun.” Yes, that’s the name of our Canadian hero: Zap Rowsdower. The dumbest, and thereby most unforgettable name in cinema history. He teams up with a young, snarling-faced kid named Troy to take on an evil cult that wants to revive an ancient, powerful Canadian lost civilization that “ruled this one acre for a week; nobody knew.” The dynamic between the Larry Csonka-worshiping, irritating Troy, who is searching for the cause of his father’s death, and the beer-swilling drifter Rowsdower is the stuff of MST3k legend. Every minute of screen time is packed to the gills with more memorable moments than you can possibly summarize, from eye-rolling “Canadian villain Garth Vader” to grizzled old prospector Mike Pipper, whose tortured voice is a source of constant riffing. It showcases the incredibly obscure, geeky sense of humor that is at the heart of this show, such as Servo’s comparison of Pipper to Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia. I mean honestly—what show has both the knowledge and the faith in its audience to make jokes about Ethiopian history? What show on TV, before or since, has had such depth and breadth to its sense of humor, and drawn on so many different influences? What other show can make you laugh so hard, but simultaneously teach you so much, and give you a greater appreciation for cinema itself?
That’s why MST3k is the greatest TV comedy of all time. And by extension, I suppose that makes The Final Sacrifice the greatest TV comedy episode of all time. Long may it reign.
March 13, 2017
Joshua Tree Moonrise
I shot this in Joshua Tree National Park this past Saturday. When you buy (and register) a GoPro camera, you get access to GoPro's library of royalty-free music, including the over-wrought stuff you hear in a lot of GoPro videos. So I thought it might be fun to waste some of that here.
March 9, 2017
The End Of Medbox
Faithful readers will surely recall my earlier posting about the marijuana vending machine by Medbox. Now it seems it was all a stock scam. They settled with the SEC for $12 million. Now the litigants are in line for their take.
March 8, 2017
The IKEA $500 Bicycle
The author, who doesn't sound real handy, finished assembly in only 67 minutes. One presumes he did this without yelling at his kids or kicking the dog.
- 33 pounds
- Has a kickstand
- Disc brake on the front!!
- Coaster brake on the rear!!
- Belt drive
- Two speeds, but that doesn't matter because it shifts automatically and the rider has no control over it
- Rear rack is $25 extra
- Front basket (partly made with bamboo) is $35
- All the prices are lower if you have an IKEA Family card, which you can get from a vending machine near the entrance. Bike $399, rear rack $20, front basket $25
- They will also sell you a pannier (one) for $30 ($20) in either brilliant yellow, black or purple.
Looks like it should be a good Burner bike.
Tesloop - Palm Springs to Las Vegas
March 7, 2017
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
The recent weekend that I was camping at Tecopa with Great Outdoors, some of us took a trip to Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, which is in Nevada, not far from Death Valley Junction, California. My goal was to see the (somewhat) famous Devil's Hole. While the refuge is managed by US Fish and Wildlife Service, Devil's Hole, which was protected well before the refuge was created, is managed by the National Park Service. Devil's Hole is the only place to find Devil's Hole pupfish. There are less than 200 of them living there. There are other isolated bodies of water in the refuge that also host their own unique varieties of pupfish.
No one has found the bottom of Devil's Hole, if there is one. Divers have disappeared down there. The natives believed that Devil's Hole created earthquakes all around the world. Today's science has shown that in reality Devil's Hole is super-sensitive to earthquakes around the world. A well known instance of this was demonstrated in 2012 when there was an earthquake in Oaxaca, 1900 miles away, on March 20. Here's a video of what happened at Devil's hole 13 minutes after the quake (the shockwave had to travel at 8,770 MPH - the speed of sound in air is only 767 MPH):
Devil's Hole was most recently in the news due to a few people trespassing and vandalizing it in April 2016. Here's the security video. According to our docent at Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, the men attempted to disable all the security cameras, but obviously missed some. Once the reward for information was increased to $25,000 a friend of the men came forward to identify them. DNA left by the men in their vomit, on their beer cans and discarded underwear(!) cinched identification. Besides all their damage to the habitat, they did kill at least one pupfish which is a federal felony. One of the men was an ex-felon, so he could also be charged for possessing a firearm. I haven't been able to find any information on what they were finally convicted of and the sentences given, so maybe the case is still not completely settled.
To my complete surprise, rather than being isolated on a barren desert, Ash Meadows NWR is a wet and almost lush landscape where the Devil's Hole is located. I never heard the word "endemic" used so often with this meaning: "restricted or peculiar to a locality or region endemic diseases an endemic species." From Wikipedia:
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge was established to provide and protect habitat for at least twenty-six endemic plants and animals, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. Four fish and one plant are currently listed as endangered species.
The concentration of locally exclusive flora and fauna distinguishes Ash Meadows is the greatest concentration of endemic biota in any local area within the United States. It has the second greatest local endemism concentration in all of North America.
A new city that was proposed for development in what is now Ash Meadows NWR. The predicted population of the city would have drained the aquifer there, destroying all of the springs and killing most of those endemic species, including pupfish.
A video of one of several streams that flow continuously in the Ash Meadows NWR. Water from the refuge drains to the Amargosa River which drains into Death Valley, where it goes no further, of course.
March 6, 2017
P-45: The Studly Mountain Lion King of Malibu
Here's a really interesting New Yorker article about the mountain lions of the Santa Monica Mountains which run from Malibu to Griffith Park. The highways have isolated this area, in terms of mountain lions traveling. P-45, however, was able to cross a highway to get into this genetic island and sow his genes. The article describes the isolation of the mountain lions which may result in their extinction (in the Santa Monica Mountains) within 50 years...which is why a land bridge is going to be built in Agoura Hills.
On this map you can see the underpass at Liberty Canyon that they believe P-45 may have used to get across the 101 and into the Santa Monica Mountains. You can see there are gaps in the residential developments there that would allow a mountain lion to pass through without having to deal directly with humans. This is where the land bridge will be built.