Friday, January 31, 2014

This Dog Loves Watching Tennis

Here's a dog that really loves watching tennis:

What's interesting about this video is how the dog reacts differently to different scenes on-screen. When the camera is focused in tighter on an individual player, the dog stays still and stares intently. But when the camera pulls out as a player is about to serve, and remains out as the point is played, the dog jumps back and forth excitedly.

2014 Super Bowl Predictions from Animals, Toddlers, Toys and ... Um ... Chicken Bones

Who's going to win the the 2014 Super Bowl? We have some predictions for you from various, highly respected sources ... such as a porcupine. And chicken bones. Uh-huh. So, let's predict the winner of Super Bowl 48 between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks!

Teddy Bear the porcupine:

Anastacia the balloon-popping dog:

Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl puppies:

Hailey the toddler:

Big Kick Nick toy:

Chicken bones divination:

To recap our Super Bowl 48 predictions:

  • Porcupine: Seahawks
  • Anastacia: Seahawks
  • Animal Planet puppies: Broncos
  • Toddler: Seahawks
  • Big Kick Nick: Seahawks
  • Chicken bones: Seahawks

Hmmm ... looks like the Seahawks are an overwhelming favorite over the Broncos. This method is fool-proof, by the way. They really don't even have to play the game now.

How to Use an Iron to Make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Say you're stuck somewhere without a kitchen. Like a hotel room. But, boy are you craving a grilled cheese sandwich. How are you going to make one without anything to cook it on? Not to worry! The popular YouTube producer CrazyRussianHacker has you covered.

Just gather your ingredients and grab that hotel room iron. A few minutes later, you'll have grilled cheese:

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Adorable Kitten Discovers Dangerous Adversary ... In the Mirror

This kitten isn't scared of any rival! It sees another cat in its house, it gets its back up. Kitty's not afraid. The fact that the other cat is actually its own reflection in a mirror? Adorbs!

Guinea Pig Suit of Armor Sells for Thousands on eBay

Hey, guinea pig owners, isn't your little piggy missing something? Isn't there something you could buy for him (or her) that would makes its life so much better? Like, say, its very own guinea pig suit of armor?

The above photo accompanied an auction on eBay run by seller mightys0x. The chain mail suit was, according to mightys0x, "hand made and is in great condition. The helmet was purchased and is also in great condition." The auction closed with a winning bid of $1,150.

Why, WHY, would anyone make a suit of mail for a guinea pig? And why, WHY, would anyone spent more than a thousand dollars to buy one? It was a charity auction benefiting Metropolitan Guinea Pig Rescue, a Virginia group whose purpose "is to rescue, rehabilitate, and find new homes for guinea pigs in our area. We also work to educate the public on the proper care of guinea pigs. All guinea pigs are spayed and neutered, health permitting, before the animals are adopted into new homes." The auction was run through eBay's Giving Works charitable program.

According to seller mights0x, the hamster in the photo is named Lucky. Or was named Lucky, rather, as, alas, Lucky is no longer with us (which is why Lucky's suit of armor is available). Lucky pretty much only wore the mail when he "reluctantly" posed for photos in it, according to the seller.

The seller's listing was written with a sense of humor:

"Is your pet guinea pig tired of wandering around the house unarmored and vulnerable? Do they get picked on by other guinea pigs? Has your guinea pig ever wanted to go with you to a Renaissance Faire but had nothing to wear?

"Fear not! A solution is here!

"This hand-made scale-mail and tiny steel helmet will keep you guinea pig protected and secure in all situations. The scale-mail is made from polished steel scales and steel rings. It was painstakingly "woven" by me over several weeks in an effort to better prepare my guinea pig Lucky for the dangers of the modern world. The helmet was purchased at a Renaissance Faire later as it was the perfect finishing touch."

The wonders of eBay.

Jack In the Box's New 'Bacon Insider' Has Bacon ... Lots and Lots of Bacon

Do you like bacon on your burger? Yes? Then you might want to check out the newest burger from Jack in the Box. It's called the Bacon Insider, and it has lots and lots of bacony goodness on it and in it:

Jack in the Box announced the Bacon Insider burger today as a limited-time special menu item. Here is how the burger is described on the Jack in the Box website:

Jack’s newest creation is a bacon triple threat. A juicy beef patty mixed with savory pieces of bacon. This new bacon and beef patty is sandwiched between hickory smoked bacon and topped with creamy bacon mayo, lettuce, tomato, and American cheese. All served on our new soft warm brioche bun. This burger is sure to make you want to “bring home the bacon”.

To reiterate, the Bacon Insider has strips of bacon on top of a beef patty infused with bacon, accompanied by a mayonnaise infused with bacon. The price (which could vary by location) is $4.99.

Here is an advertisement for the Bacon Insider:

Nutrition? The Bacon Insider burger has 729 calories, 44 grams of fat (15g saturated, 1g trans), 1,399mg of sodium, 37 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. As if that matters! Bacon!

Baby Wombats Getting Belly Rubs. Need We Say More?

Hey, you had me at "baby wombats"! This is too cute. These two baby wombats loved playing with the guy in the video (whose feet we get to know well), and compete for belly rubs.

Watch:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

'Diagram of Dogs' a Hand-Illustrated Poster Showing Off 181 Breeds

Above is a screen-capture of the "Diagram of Dogs," a 24x18, hand-illustrated poster showing 181 breeds of dogs. The poster is the work of Pop Chart Lab. Each purebred dog is grouped into its family, and lines trace family connections. Pop Chart Lab describes the poster this way:

"Think you’ve got a sharp-ei for dog breeds? Bone up on your bow-wow know-how with this delightful Diagram of Dogs! Delineating nearly every standard pure-bred pooch, this mutt-ticulously hand-illustrated chart features 181 dog breeds, from Toy pups like the Brussels Griffon to Working dogs like the Alaskan Malamute, to well-known K-9 classics like Golden Retrievers and Terriers. Dog lovers of every preference are sure to spot their favorite canine compadre in this pedigreed presentation of man's best friends--a taxonomical treat that's best in show."
It's a neat gift for yourself or any dog lover you know. The poster (at the time of this writing) is priced at $28. Learn more, or place and order, here.

Here's a closeup of one small section of the poster:

Learn About Black Holes ... with Rap!

Black holes are some of the weirdest things in the universe ... maybe the weirdest. But they aren't as hard to get your mind around - the basics of them anyway - as science fiction and Michio Kaku (but I repeat myself) can make it seem.

Here's science rapper Coma Niddy dropping knowledge about black holes:

Wendy's Calls new Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger 'Mediterranean-Inspired'

Here is the newest premium, limited-time offering from Wendy's - the "Mediterranean-inspired" Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger:

It's "the perfect combination of contrasting flavors and textures you would expect to find in an upscale bistro," Wendy's says. But what makes the Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger "Mediterranean-inspired"? Here's how Wendy's describes it:

"No typical marinara and mozzarella here – the Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger smells and tastes like it was crafted under the Italian sun. It features Mediterranean-inspired ingredients, like tangy, creamy rosemary garlic aioli and sweet, mildly tart, roasted chopped tomatoes. The tomatoes and spring mix made from nine different greens give a burst of cool freshness against melty, naturally aged Asiago cheese and a hot quarter-pound patty of fresh, never-frozen North American beef*. Applewood Smoked bacon gives the cheeseburger extra crunch, and toasted authentic ciabatta bread makes the perfect bun for these complex, rich flavors."
It's a limited-time burger; no word on how long it might stay on the Wendy's menu. The suggested price is $4.79, but that could vary a bit from market to market.

It looks and sounds tasty. What about nutrition? The Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger comes with 670 calories, 39 grams of fat (13 saturated, 1.5 trans), 1,260mg of salt, 32g of protein and 4g of fiber.

If you try one, let us know what you think.

Sophie the Cat's First Brush With Snow

The cat in this video is named Sophie. She lives with her humans in Alabama, where snow is rare. In fact, this is the first time Sophie has ever seen snow. At first, she's not quite sure what to make of it. But soon she's romping around and having a grand ol' time.

Sophie probably could use some snow boots.

Mountain Biker's Dog Speedily Leads Him Down the Trail

This clip posted on Vimeo is titled "Bryan and Kaia." Bryan is the mountain biker, Kaia is his border collie. And as much as Bryan loves to ride, Kaia loves to run - she blazes down the biking trail through forest near Vancouver, B.C., racing ahead of Bryan and his bike.

The video was shot by Jonathan Kang of Foxwood Films. (Via Laughing Squid)

Stunning Timelapse Video of Storms, Stars and Auroras

The following video is titled "Heulux," and was photographed and edited by Randy Halverson of Dakotalapse.com. It's a stunning timelapse showing thunderstorms, auroras, the Milky Way and star-laden nights, filmed in South Dakota, Wyoming and Utah. The Milky Way shots, filmed in Zion Canyon and beginning around 1:47 in the video, are particularly breathtaking. The clip ends with a sunrise over a Dakotas meadow.

First-Ever Porsche Car Found, and In Great Shape

What if the very first car ever build by Ransom Olds or Henry Ford still existed? Well, the very first car built by Porsche does exist. It's been sitting in a barn for more than 100 years. And to borrow Lorenzo's phrase, you look marvelous:

The website Jalopnik has the story, which begins this way:

The first Porsche ever built has been untouched since 1902. Officially called the Egger-Lohner C.2 Phaeton, this electric car from 1898 has 'P1' engraved onto all of the key components standing for Porsche 1, done by the then 23-years old Ferdinand Porsche himself.

If you love cars, or just cool history, check out the story, which includes many great photos.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Teddy Bear the Talking Porcupine Has a Lot to Say as He Chows Down on Pumpkin

This porcupine is named Teddy Bear. And Teddy Bear is one talkative porcupine! And who knew that porcupine vocalizations were so funny? Not I. Until watching Teddy Bear chow down on pumpkin, talking all the while:

You can find more clips of Teddy Bear the talking porcupine from YouTube user Zooniversity1.

Bulldog Says, 'You Can Call Me Mary or Francine, But Do NOT Call me Butkus!'

This French Bulldog does not want its named changed to "Butkus." As in Dick Butkus, the legendary Chicago Bears linebacker. Perhaps the dog's owners are Green Bay Packer fans, or Minnesota Vikings fans, or perhaps it's merely the dog who hates Butkus. Whatever, the dog's mama suggests a series of name changes, all of which the dog handles just fine. But whenever she says, "We can call you 'Butkus'," the dog expresses his displeasure!

But you know what? The dog does kinda look like Dick Butkus:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Thai Navy Shows How to Really Do the Wave

Want to see some amazing coordination between individuals in a sort of chorus line? Of course you do! The soldiers in the video below are members of the Royal Thai Navy. They are performing during an Armed Forces Day parade, accompanied by an interesting selection of songs played by the military band.

Impressive, eh?

Watch Intentional Beaching of a Ship

This just looks wrong as you watch it: A large ship (actually a ferry) heading straight toward shore, not stopping, just continuing on until it beaches itself:

Wild! The ship is the M/F Ostend Spirit, and the beaching was a prelude to the ship being broken apart for scrap. (via Digg)

Parrot Flies Alongside Woman Riding on Scooter

Here's a video shot in Thailand. It shows a parrot flying alongside a woman riding on a scooter, and occasionally setting down on the scooter's handlebars:

Impressive work by that parrot, which flaps its wings furiously to keep up. Presumably the parrot belongs to the woman on the scooter. The scooter itself, with its weird accoutrement of decoration, would be worth seeing even without the parrot.

Get the Poop on Civet Coffee

What is "civet coffee"? The civet cat is not actually a cat at all, it is a member of the Viverridae family (which is comprised almost entirely of civets, genets and linsangs). One of the civets is the Asian palm civet, and that civet loves eating coffee cherries, inside of which are coffee beans. It then, well, naturally, poops them out. The bean is still intact, and that pooped-out coffee bean is collected, roasted just like any other coffee bean, ground, and turned into coffee. Voila - civet coffee, or, in the Indonesian language, kopi luwak.

Civet coffee is the most expensive coffee on the planet, with prices ranging up to $700 per kilogram, according to Wikipedia. Why would anyone pay that much for coffee that is derived from civet poo? Well, why are any delicacies as expensive as they are? Scarcity, coupled with demand driven by a desire by humans to experience what few others have experienced. It supposedly tastes phenomenal, too.

And no, it doesn't carry any scent or flavor of the civet or the civet's droppings - the coffee bean is protected inside the coffee cherry as it makes the digestive journey through the civet.

As explained in this video, the civet cat is known for being very choosy about which coffee cherries it is willing to eat - it selects only perfect examples, which contain the very best coffee beans:

Here is a longer (approximately 10-minute) clip produced by JW Coffee that follows civet coffee from ingestion by one of the "cats," through excretion to collection and on until a cup of coffee emerges (there is no narration, alas, but the story is well-told visually):

Much more about civet cat coffee is available in a post entitled The World's Most Expensive Cup of Coffee on the site TodayIFoundOut.com.

Would you be willing to sample civet coffee?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Trailer for B.J. Novak's Book: Le Magnefique!

Writer, actor, producer B.J. Novak has written a book of fiction - short stories. And he gathered a few of his friends, including Mindy Kaling, for a book trailer. Much of the dialogue is in French, until Mindy breaks character with some Rhianna gossip. "Can't you stay in character?" Novak bellows. The concept for the trailer, Novak explains, is "... I wrote a book so now I'm all pretentious."

"But people think you're pretentious anyway," Kaling replies.

You can read an excerpt from the book published recently in The New Yorker. The excerpt is titled The Man Who Invented the Calendar.

The book itself is called One More Thingand its release date is Feb. 4, 2014.

This Cat Kows How to Relax, and Doesn't Care What You Think

This cat knows how to relax, and doesn't care what you think:

Friday, January 24, 2014

This Kinetic Sculpture is Mesmerizing

The video below depicts a kinetic sculpture created by Fisher Technical Services, Inc., for the Chinese Private Enterprise Pavilion at the 2010 World Expo. The creators explain, "They reached out to Fisher Technical Services to create their dream of a kinetic sculpture and 120 days later they had a grid array of 1,008 150mm diameter spheres, each suspended and motivated by its own micro winch."

OK, then. You don't have to understand how it works or even why it exists. Just watch.

Terrifying Ski Fail: Skier Falls Through Snow Into Hidden, Rocky Stream

We're riding along with this skier, swooshing down a slop in Norway, when terror arises from beneath he snow. The skier suddenly is upon a stream that had been hidden beneath the snow. It's terrifying, but we know the skier was OK because of the "woooo!" he lets out at the end of the clip (not to mention the fact that he posted the video on YouTube):

On YouTube, the skier (who posted the video as "Bjorn Mo"), writes: "Small rivers or streams is difficult to see when it's 8 feet of snow and bad sight ... Sorry about the screaming thought i was going to die."

Let's be careful out there.

(Via DailyPicksandFlicks.com)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The 'Mum Rock' Band of Elizabeth McGovern, Downton Abbey's Lady Grantham

Lady Grantham likes to rock. Well, she likes to pop, anyway.

Elizabeth McGovern is the actress who portrays Lady Grantham on Downton Abbey.But since 2007 McGovern has had a side project, a music project: She fronts a pop band called Sadie and the Hotheads.

In an interview with The Telegraph newspaper, McGovern referred to the style of Sadie and the Hotheads as "sort of mum rock." You might get a sense of what that means in this video of what is, because of its goofy lyrics and folkie shuffle, perhaps the band's best-known song. It's called "The Cow Song":

McGovern plucks a guitar and pluckily handles vocals for the band, whose 2007 debut album was called I Can Wait. That was three years prior to the premiere of Downton Abbey, when McGovern was 46 years old. In 2012, Sadie and the Hotheads' second album, called How Not to Lose Things, arrived. Album No. 3 is currently in the works.

Here's a song that rocks a lot harder than "The Cow Song" (relatively speaking, of course). It's called "Nothing New":

I like that one. McGovern was goofy as lyricist in the first video, earnest in the second one. Here's one called "All My Sins":

The band gigs regularly around London, starting out on the pub circuit in its early days and now hitting some festivals and making TV guest appearances. That's the value of having one of the stars of Downton Abbey as your singer, songwriter and bandleader. But that value apparently doesn't necessarily make a band financially sound. According to The Telegraph, World Vision, an aid-for-Africa charity McGovern supports, "has paid her band £28,000 to fund the recording of their latest album and a UK tour, in return for which (the band) have agreed to promote the charity. Without this money, McGovern says, her band would 'never survive'. She recently turned to a crowdfunding website for donations towards her next album, with a portion of the money going to World Vision."

The Sadie and the Hotheads' crowdfunding effort is hosted on PledgeMusic.com (see it here). (The propriety of celebs using crowdfunding methods that are intended to help struggling artists, not established artists dabbling with a side project, is something for a different post.)

You can find more of Lady Grantham's music on the Sadie and the Hotheads YouTube channel. A check of the band's website shows they are currently playing shows, which is good timing with Downton Abbey due back on the airwaves in a few days.

And if you want to buy some of McGovern's music, check Amazon for Sadie and the Hotheadsrecords and songs.

And if you want to know more of the story of the band, why McGovern started it, where the name comes from, what she wants to accomplish with it, who else is in the band, here is an interview with her about Sadie and the Hotheads taped in 2010:

Kitten Plays Inside Sleeve of Jacket

This kitten has found a nice, cozy place to hang out - inside the sleeve of his human's jacket. But don't get too close or kitty might take a swipe!

Big St. Bernard Takes Care of Its Little Kitten Friend

This big ol' St. Bernard dog has a new friend, a little kitten. But the big dog doesn't seem to mind the little kitten - she cleans it, plays with it, and tolerates it when the kitty goes looking for something to nurse on.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Old Motorola Promo Clip Shows Off 1980s Cell Phone Technology

A few nights ago I caught a Season 5 episode of the original Law & Orderin which Det. Curtis received multiple calls on his flip phone. One hour earlier I'd watched a Season 2 episode in which Det. Logan received a call on his cellphone, which was one of those giant boxy blocks that look hilarious now when we see them in old TV shows and movies. In just three years, cell technology had advanced quite a bit, according to the Bayeux Tapestry of New York City known as Law & Order.

What did the future of cellphone technology look like from the perspective of the early 1980s? Below is an early 1980s promo spot by Motorola that heralds the coming "cellular revolution." "Industry watchers say there are only a few thousand cellular phones in use right now," the narrator informs. The clip points out that one of those big boxy cellphones weighs "only 30 ounces."

And, we are told, "eventually seeing someone use cellular phones may seem as commonplace as seeing someone checking time on an electronic watch, figuring on an electronic calculator, or programming on an electronic computer."

Baby Panda Rides on Rocking Horse

OK, maybe "rides" is too strong a word. But this baby panda climbed onto a blue, plastic rocking horse, took hold of the "reins," and stays up there for a while. He seem more interested in tasting it, but he does managed to rock a couple times.

But, still, c'mon: It's a baby panda on a rocking horse! Instead of nitpicking, let's just watch:

This panda cub was born last year at Chengdu Research Base in Sichuan, China.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Listen as LBJ Orders Pants In Hilariously Off-Color Way

President Lyndon Baines Johnson was notoriously uncouth. There are tons of stories about LBJ's off-color (some would say disgusting) vernacular. One such example is legendary: The time LBJ ordered pants. You wouldn't think that a recording of a president ordering pants could be so funny, but LBJ makes it so.

In 1964, with the White House recording system running, LBJ phoned the Haggar pants company and spoke to Joe Haggar, to order several new pairs of pants. And the president gave Mr. Haggar very anatomically correct instructions - he needed more room "down where the nuts hang," LBJ said. President Johnson refers to his "bunghole" and, at one point, belches - and keeps right on going, neither excusing himself nor apologizing. It's quite a show.

Luckily, this phone call was preserved forever by the White House recording system and, later, by the LBJ Presidential Library. The audio clip below has been animated by Tawd Dorenfeld for the website Put This On. PTI then placed the resulting video on YouTube:

Ibex You'll Be Amazed: Wild Goats Walking Across Face of Dam

The invaluable urban legends website Snopes.com took at crack at determining the veracity of this photo:

The photo, as it gets passed around via email and social media, is most often said to depict bighorn sheep on the face of a dam in Wyoming. Not true, Snopes determined. But it is a real photo! The animals are alpine ibex, wild goats of the Alps also known as steinbock. And the dam whose face the ibex are walking on is the Cingino Dam, "gravity masonry dam located 7 kilometres southwest of Antrona Schieranco, Province of Verbano-Cusio-Ossola in Piedmont, Italy."

The ibex are on the hunt for salt deposits on the face of the dam's masonry. Here are some videos of the alpine ibex in action walking on the face of the Cingino Dam:

What about ibex in their natural habitat - on mountainsides? They are pretty cool there, too:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Behold: The Perfect Bacon Bowl (Because Who Doesn't Want an Edible Bowl Made of Bacon?)

What if you could take some bacon strips, arrange them around a mold of a bowl, cook them up crisp so that they formed a bowl, fill that bacon bowl will other good stuff - maybe even more bacon! - and then ... eat it!

That's the American dream, my friends. The American dream.

And perhaps the dream of the bacon bowl is here. For - behold! - it's the Perfect Bacon Bowl:

This is an as-seen-on-TV gadget whose infomercial I haven't actually spotted yet. Aside from on YouTube. But once you stumble across something like the Perfect Bacon Bowl, it's hard to turn away.

It's basically an inverted miniature cake mold. You drape and wrap the raw bacon around it, as in this publicity image:

The photo above, by the way, gives you a sense of how small it is. But then you pop it in the oven. The bacon grease drips down the sides of the mold, away from the bacon (settling into the "grease moat"), allowing the bacon to crisp up.

Then you take it out of the oven, invert the mold, and, voila, you have a bowl made of bacon. You have, the product makers would have us believe, the Perfect Bacon Bowl. One that, once you fill it with other stuff, will look this good:

I haven't tried the Perfect Bacon Bowl, but you can bet I'll be on the lookout for one in my local stores' bargain bins.

But color me very skeptical. I'm skeptical the bacon would stay on the mold rather than sliding off, and cook into that shape and actually hold together. I'm skeptical that even if it did, it wouldn't fall apart completely with the first bite. I'm skeptical that you actually need a separate product to create this, if it even works, rather than using, say, an inverted muffin tin or individual-sized pie tins or mini-cake mold.

Have you tried the Perfect Bacon Bowl? We'd love to hear how well it worked.

See also:
Perfect Bacon Bowl passes TV reporter's test

Cat Rides Skateboard All Around Town, Does Tricks, Leaps Dog

One of the best things about this video of a cat riding a skateboard around town is the surprised look on the faces of many passers-by.

Also, there's that scene where the cat jumps over a dog:

The cat is named Didja, and he lives in Coolangatta, Australia, with his human, who posts on YouTube as "Catmantoo." Catmantoo is actually Robert Dollwet, a professional animal trainer who owns Malibu Dog Training and is also the owner (and trainer) of Didja. The other animals that appear in the video (well, except for the humans) were also trained by Dollwet.

At one point near the end of the video, Didja even takes his doggie friend Wilson for a ride:

You can also follow Didja on Catmantoo's Facebook page.

Divers Get Seal of Approval from Friendly, Playful Seal Pups

Seal pups playing with divers:

This video was posted to Vimeo by Jason Neilus. He explains the video was shot in the Farne Islands off Northumberland, UK, and "We've been visiting here for the last six years to say hello to the seal pups and we've never had this much interaction before - they were everywhere and all over us!"

Neilus also informs us that the seals in the videos are pups, only about two months old but they were already around 200 to 300 pounds in weight. "The seals are wild animals and approach the divers entirely by their own choice. No seals are forced to interact or forced to stay," Neilus wrote. "As always once the seals get older and move off to form colonies of their own elsewhere and the majority of them will not see people again. Fully adult seals are rarely this interactive and whilst tolerant of divers they tend to keep away after their first year of diver visits."

(Via DailyPicksandFlicks.com)

Another Spider Cat Climbs Up Owner's Wall

Laser pointers drive cats up a wall. Sometimes literally, as we've seen before. Here's another example of a cat chasing a laser pointer right up a wall:

That's pretty cool! Or terrifying, if you're not a fan of cats.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Watch 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh Play Screech's Cousin on 'Saved By the Bell'

As I write this, the San Francisco 49ers are playing the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game, with a berth in the 2014 Super Bowl on the line. Who are you cheering for?

I know who Screech from the cult TV classic Saved By the Bell is cheering for: the 49ers. That's because on the TV show, Screech's cousin was Jim Harbaugh. The onetime Bears and Colts quarterback who is now the coach of the 49ers.

Harbaugh's appearance was in an episode called "Litte Hero," which aired on Sept. 21, 1996. And it wasn't the original Saved By the Bell, but rather the follow-up Saved By the Bell: The New Class. The original series had Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley and Tiffani Thiessen, among others. In the sequel series (The New Class), Screech - played by Dustin Diamond - was the only one of the original main characters who remained.

Here is the scene in which Harbaugh appears as Screech's cousin:

That wasn't Harbaugh's first appearance in a network television series, however. In 1994, Harbaugh - along with Terry Bradshaw, Ken Norton Jr. and Carl Banks - guested in an episode of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.:

After watching these, it's clear why Harbaugh stuck with his day job.

Vincent Price Reads Edgar Allan Poe

Poet and author of the macabre and mysterious Edgar Allan Poe was born on January 19, 1809, which makes today his 205th birthday. Let's celebrate by watching horror movie legend Vincent Price, in his very distinctive tongue, recite some of Poe's best-known works.

We'll start with the 1970 film An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe. It was a filming of Price's one-man show in which Price, in costume and before a live audience, read (and acted) four of Poe's short stories. The four stories are "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Sphinx," "The Cask of Amontillado" and "The Pit and the Pendulum." The film was released to theaters by MGM.

Watch:

I don't normally recommend reading YouTube comments, but one that caught my eye regarding the above was this from Felix Burke: "Some of us have forgotten the beauty and the power of the English language. Edgar Allan Poe's work interpreted by Vincent Price is pure magic. No special effects to dull our minds and imagination."

Poe's most famous work is his gothic poem "The Raven." Here is Price's reading:

Does 'Wipe New' Really Restore Your Vehicle's Plastic Surfaces?

You've seen the commercials for Wipe New. It's a product that comes in a small bottle and is used for wiping down your car's worn, faded plastic surfaces. The promise is that Wipe New will bring those surfaces back to life, will restore them to some semblance of what they looked like new.

Does it work? First take a look at the review by Lynda Steele, consumer reporter for CTV British Columbia. Steele tested Wipe New on a headlight and a bumper of a Toyota she found in a junkyard. The results appear impressive - but more impressive than other techniques that are available?

Steele rated Wipe New 3.5 stars out of 5, but her report indicated some of the issues with the product. First, the money-back guarantee includes the cost of the product, but not the shipping and handling. Steele said she paid $19.95 for the little bottle of Wipe New, with an additional $15.95 (!) required for shipping and handling of that little bottle.

Most importantly, there are significant safety warnings with Wipe New: Don't breathe it, don't get it on you, don't get it on your car's paint or glass, wear gloves, wear a mask, wear safety goggles. The stuff is strong, in other words. It's also flammable, including the vapors.

Just how strong are the vapors? Take a look at this video review, in which the person holding the camera (his young daughter) can be heard throughout coughing, gagging and choking:

The mechanic in the video above posted an update a couple months after the original video in which he said the surfaces treated with Wipe New still looked good.

However, we've seen and read many other reviews in which just the opposite was stated: The effect wears off quickly. We can't vouch for either take, since we haven't tried it ourselves. And, frankly, we won't be trying it. Nothing that produces such noxious fumes is something we have an interest in applying to our car (or our hands or nasal passageways or lungs).

But if you have tried Wipe New, we'd love to hear your comments. Does it work, or no? Do you recommend it, or no?

Japanese Zoo Shows Off Its Capybara Toddlers

Hey, look everyone, it's baby capybaras!

OK, they are more like toddlers. But they are mighty cute. Capybaras are the world's largest rodents. Don't let the fact they are rodents stop you from going "awwwww!"

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Corgi Puppy Has a Ball With His New Toy

Look up "awwwww!" in the dictionary and you'll find a photo of a corgi puppy. This corgi is named Archer and its owner explained on YouTube: "My 9 week old Corgi Archer got super excited when I gave him this ball that has a bell inside. I think he thought it was alive and he needed to show it who's the boss."

And show that green ball who's boss Archer the corgi most certainly does!

Review: Pizza Hut's New Hand-Tossed Crust

Pizza Hut has introduced a new crust for its hand-tossed pizzas that focuses on a lighter (as in less-dense), airier dough, combined with a finishing brush of garlic-butter sauce and a sprinkle of mozzarella.

I just finished one off, ordered online for the introductory price of $10. Pepperoni, black olives, extra cheese.

Here's what the new crust looks like in a screen grab from PizzaHut.com:

Disclosure: Pizza Hut has never been my No. 1 (or even No. 2) pizza chain for delivery. And the main reason for that was the old crust. It was bland, it was boring, it was too doughy around the rim, too chewy around the rim - it had too much chew and too little bite.

Pizza Hut's new hand-tossed crust definitely changes that. My pizza arrived with a distinct garlicky smell that was prominent before I opened the box.

The new crust was eye-pleasing, with more textures obvious, and also with the little gratings of Mozzarella cheese obvious.

The garlic-butter sauce that is brushed on helps the edges crisp up, and the more "airy" dough retains the right amount of softness on the inside. Some crunch and some chew, rather than all chew and no crunch as with the old crust.

The bottom of the new hand-tossed pizza is very greasy, as one would probably expect if its been brushed with garlic-butter sauce.

And you better like garlic, because it's prominent, and there's a pronounced garlic aftertaste.

The conclusion? Pizza Hut's new hand-tossed crust is a big improvement, in my opinion, over its old crust. Keep in mind what I said earlier, though: I didn't like the old crust. If you did, then your opinion of the new crust may well be different.

However, it seems a bit imitative - a good imitation - of the garlic-butter-brushed crust introduced by Domino's a couple years ago. And I still think the Domino's crust beats the new Pizza Hut crust, although it's close.

We give Pizza Hut's new crust, with its garlic-butter-Mozzarella trio and its crispier-but-with-good-chew, more interesting, texture 4 out of 5 stars. It's a clear step up from the chain's previous crust.

Have you tried it? Let us know what you think.

Words of Wisdom on a Street Sign

Spotted on Twitter:

And what was the message that got Mr. Morris' attention? This:

Bird Steals Camera Disguised as Egg, Films Penguin Colony From Above

John Downer Productions specializes in wildlife photography. For its documentary called Penguins - Spy In the Huddlea camera was hidden inside what looked like an egg, and placed in a penguin colony. What better way to get close-up video of penguins interacting with eggs?

Alas, penguins aren't the only birds with an eye for penguin eggs. Some other fowl have more foul intentions - stealing, and eating, those eggs. So the "egg camera" drew some unwanted attention from a striated caracara, which eventually got hold of the egg cam and flew off with it. That bird thus became the first of his species to do a video fly-over of a penguin colony.

Watch:

Friday, January 17, 2014

This Kitty Hops on Its Hind Legs, Like a Kangaroo

A cat that hops on its hind legs? What's up with that? This kitty looks like a kangaroo, hopping across the kitchen floor. Wait for it, wait for it ...

Nice build-up to this short, sub-30-second video, too. You're watching, wondering, "hey, what am I supposed to be seeing?" And then, bam, the cat raises up on hind legs and bunny-hops, or kangaroo hops, or just plain hops across the floor.

(Via DailyPicksandFlicks.com)

The Salsa-Dancing Dog

This dog loves to salsa dance! Well, that's what it looks like, anyway, once you add some salsa music to his funny gyrations at the back door.

Hey, Here's a Cute Fox Playing with a Cat Toy

For centuries, canines of all stripes have been jealous of cat toys. How many big bones can you chew on, how many balls can you retrieve, before you just want to jump around inside a house chasing after a feathery thing on a stick?

Well, this fox finally got his very own cat toy. And from the looks of it, it's a big hit:

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Meet the Automobile Vending Machine

A remarkable type of vending machine is in operation in China: one that dispenses automobiles.

A Chinese company called Kandi Technologies Group is pioneering the automobile vending machine, through which residents of the city of Hangzhou can rent an electric vehicle for one hour for (at the time of this writing) $3.25 per hour.

The auto vending machines are actually large, multi-story garages filled with electric cars. Registered customers swipe a card to request a car, and giant pneumatic machines and conveyances inside the garage deliver the car.

The buildings are known as "EV CarShare garages," or "Kandi machines" ("candy machine" - get it?).

Documentary filmmaker Aaron Rockett recently shot an 8-minute film on Kandi's EV CarShare garages that goes into the idea, the execution, the inspiration (hint: Chinese cities are drowning in pollution produced by industry and gas-combustion engines) and the support the company is getting from the Chinese government.

It's a fascinating idea, and great reporting by the filmmaker (who discloses that he owns Kandi stock, by the way - the company is traded on NASDAQ under the symbol KNDI). Watch:

On YouTube, Rockett writes:

Kandi's plan is to build with both Government and "outside" support, 750 of these garages in just the City of Hangzhou over the next four years through a 50-50 joint venture with Geely Automotive, China's largest passenger automaker, which would require some 100,000 Kandi electric vehicles to stock them. This model is slated to spread to other cities and regions like Shanghai, Shandong, and Hainan. Two garages were just completed in Hangzhou over the past two months and another 18 are currently under construction as of two weeks ago.

The Chinese government is subsidizing the EV industry to the tune of $65 billion per year, according to Rockett's film.

Once multiple EV CarShare garages are built in a city, Chinese consumers will be able to "check out" a car from one "Kandi machine" and return it to a different garage.

Kandi's English-language website is at en.kandivehicle.com.

Jesse the Jack Russell Terrier Shows Off His Best Tricks In Compilation Video

Jesse is one talented Jack Russell terrier. He knows all sorts of tricks, and his owner likes to show off those tricks on YouTube - check 'em out at JustJesse197. Or you can just check out this compilation video that shows Jesse doing his thing:

I think my favorite is when we get to see Jesse pushing his own shopping cart through a pet store:

A Little Ice Music

"A music festival at minus-15 degrees might not be to everyone's taste," a news report from AFP begins. It's a piece on Norway's annual Ice Music Festival, in which the performers play instruments made of ice. But here's a more in-depth news report on the festival, one that shows instruments being made, provides good samples of the music, and generally a good artistic feel for the event it is covering:

The 2014 Ice Music Festival is currently under way. The festival website explains:

Located in the idyllic mountain home of Geilo in Norway, under the watchful eye of the mighty Hallingskarvet Plateau - the Ice Music Festival’s aesthetics, music and nature, melt together under the first full moon of the year.

Constructed and formed exclusively from naturally harvested ice and snow, the Festival is a tribute to art, the environment and one’s of the world’s most vital resources - water. Frozen water.

The festival was founded in 2006 by Terje Isungset and Pål K Medhus, and Terje is described as an "ice music pioneer." Terje is a percussionist who blends jazz and Scandinavian music. From his 2010 album, here is his haunting song, performed on ice instruments (with a guest vocalist), Fading Sun:

Here is another ice performance by Terje, this one at the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.: