Saturday, August 23, 2008

Trust, Evolution, and Survival

I'm originally from New York, and like most New Yorkers, I trust no one. It takes me about 4 years of knowing someone before I will, say, lend them a utensil or believe them when they tell me the 5-day weather forecast. So it is with some shaking of my head from side to side that I react to stories like "Scams originating from Nigeria and other West African countries have been deceiving Queenslanders out of hundreds of thousands of dollars per month for many years." as reported by the Queensland (Australia) police department.

Like they say on the excellent, stylish, and fun British show Hustle, it's easy to scam people. All you do is "...offer them something for nothing, then give them nothing for something." (As an aside, Hustle ran for 4 glorious seasons before being discontinued; you can read my Hustle reviews here).

Which brings me to the real point of this post: Bigfoot. The ultimate urban legend has been back in the news recently, with 2 self-proclaimed Georgia (USA) Bigfoot trackers claiming to have found a Bigfoot corpse. (full story here). It turns out that the corpse was a Bigfoot suit stuffed with road kill and discards from an abbatoir. The two men, one of whom was a cop on leave (he has since been fired) claim that the story was blown out of proportion by a promoter (Tom Biscardi) who paid them $50,000 for the story and told them to make the fake. Before the story was fully revealed to be a scam, the guys had leaked the corpse photos to the internet, claimed to be having a press conference, and shown another fake video of a supposed primate researcher who had examined and authenticated the corpse (the primate researcher turned out to be the cop's brother - the resemblance was easy to spot).

What amazed me about this story was how many commenters to it were willing to believe in it, despite many red flags pointing to a scam. Perhaps with Bigfoot, 'scammability' is magnified. Bigfoot is an enduring urban legend, and our natural fear of forests and other unvisited places means that we often populate these places with imaginary beasts like unicorns, Loch Ness Monsters, dragons, extinct Tasmanian Tigers, mountain lions well out of range, and dinosaurs well past their extinct-by date.

I scoured the internet to find more proof that this scam was indeed a scam, but instead I found myself deeply buried in polished pro-Bigfoot websites (like The Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy). Here's a tip - don't stay at the site for too long, or you will soon find yourself beginning to believe, too - or at least you will slide a little bit towards the 'undecided' category - especially when you read this transcript of noted primate expert Jane Goodall from a radio show in 2002. Yes, Jane Goodall said that she thinks that Bigfoot exists. Of course, a little later on, she does say she wishes they exist. So even Jane may be capable of getting gathered up in the hype.

The Simpsons Want You

If you would like to step into the world of The Simpsons, you can create your own Simpsons avatar by visiting the Simpsons movie website. Choose your gender, hairstyle, eyes, shirt, etc, and then create an MSN icon or download the image. Be sure to register and login first. You're looking at the Simpson approximation of me, or at least how I view myself in the cartoon world.

This is a cool little program for fans, although the rest of the site is a little weak. Click here to visit the Simpsons Movie site

Friday, August 22, 2008

Retarded Policeman

click here if you cannot view the above video
The Retarded Policeman series ended up holding more than a passing interest to me. It's the first time I have seen an actor (Josh Perry) who actually has Down Syndrome. He follows in the footsteps of Chris Burke, perhaps the most famous Down Syndrome actor (he played Corky on the American television series Life Goes On).

The Retarded Policeman videos are tasteless on many levels, and they have offended many. For his part, Perry has made a couple of other YouTube videos just to publicly explain that he is a professional actor who is aware of his actions and knows what he is doing. I'm not sure where I stand on this topic. Is it alright for a black man to call another black man a nigger? Is it racist for Greek comedian Nick Giannopoulos to star in a movie called Wog Boy? All I know is, in this particular instance, the series is funny, has good comic timing, and is truly empowering Josh Perry, while in effect making fun of the LA Police stereotypes. You decide...and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chad Vader, Night Manager

What a concept. Chad Vader, who could be Darth's twin, is trying to survive in the normal world. He works as a manager in a supermarket, and has a crush on one of the checkout girls. But when the Day Manager steals his girl, he goes off the deep end. His temper doesn't always serve him well, either.

I originally caught this youtube video series a couple of years ago. Since that time, the guys at have been churning out episodes, and they are still funny (and have some special surprise guests).

Click this direct link to the youtube video