Monday, November 30, 2009

Beauty Killed the Beast

November is about to flatline and accordingly, it's time to serve up another monster for your reading pleasure. We at the Hyper Kitchen are proud to introduce the tragic Tarasque, a creature from the medieval folklore of France.

According to legend, the Tarasque had an especially impressive lineage, as it was the spawn of the biblical Leviathan (which, depending on who you ask, was either a colossal sea-serpent or a monstrous fish). Despite its aquatic parentage, the Tarasque was strictly landlocked. It crawled on six, bear-like legs and had the head of a lion. Its shaggy, scaly body was protected by an enormous tortoise shell and its tail had the deadly sting of a scorpion. The Tarasque wandered the countryside of Nerluc, Gaul, laying waste to villages and devouring those poor bastards who tried to stop it. One day, while the Tarasque was busy gnawing on the bones of its latest victim, the beast was discovered by the wandering Saint Martha. Rather than fleeing in terror, Martha bathed the Tarasque in holy water and showed it the cross. The power of Christ compelled the savage Tarasque to abandon its evil ways.

Entirely tame, the Tarasque followed Martha back to Nerluc. The villagers, horrified at the monster's arrival, hurled their spears. Turning the other cheek as Jesus would have done, the Tarasque never fought back, and perished from their injuries. Saint Martha admonished the villagers for slaying the monster, and she promptly converted the lot of them to Christianity. The now pious villagers sought to repent for their actions and re-named their village in honor of the murdered monster. Thus the city of Tarascon was founded. To this day, the inhabitants of Tarascon celebrate the Tarasque on the last Sunday of every June, and it can also be seen on their official flag.
Still, let this be a warning: beware of strange women bearing holy water. You'll wind up being speared to death.

Would you like to know more?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Breathe No Evil

Fashion meets practicality in our new winter line of gas-filtration helmets. Protects against most major blistering agents and neurotoxins. Buy yours today!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cold Blood

While October has long since been consigned to the void, the Chefs of the Hyper Kitchen neglected to post that month's installment of our world-famous Monster of the Month series. Many of our staff were mobbed by outraged fans and coarse language was used. Fearing for our lives, we got to work.

And so, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, meet Gustave the Crocodile. Gustave is thought to have attacked and eaten more than one hundred people, in addition to a fully-grown hippo and several wildebeests. Hailing from Burundi, where crocodiles are a common sight, Gustave is estimated to weigh in at one ton and said to stretch for twenty feet, making it the largest crocodile ever found in Africa. No one has ever gotten close enough to make exact measurements, as Gustave has defied capture for nearly ten years after his first official sighting. For a crocodile, Gustave has demonstrated unusual cunning. It's avoided traps and has survived hails of machine-gun fire, although sustaining several scars in the process.

Despite having come to prominence in 1998, Gustave is thought to be around sixty years old judging by its size. Its notoriety has ensured his place in the folklore of the Lake Tanganyika region. The already considerable body-count has been exaggerated to legendary levels, and it is common to hear stories of Gustave having eaten more than five hundred people. Fisherman insist that the crocodile deliberately seeks out humans to eat. Some even assert that it no longer kills merely for food, but actually stalks and slays men and women for pleasure.

Gustave was given its name from Patrice Faye, a Frenchman and self-educated wildlife expert who had been living in Burundi and heard the stories of the killer crocodile. While he was initially skeptical of these claims, Faye came to agree the Gustave was something more than an ordinary crocodile and this has earned him derision in some circles. Nevertheless, Faye is perhaps the leading authority of Gustave and has made several attempts to capture or kill the beast. Faye's quest has earned him unkind comparisons to Captain Ahab, though his struggle against the creature does have a certain epic quality to it.

Last spotted in January, 2009, there hasn't been an attack recorded for some time. Perhaps Gustave died and its massive body is crumpled on some shore somewhere. Maybe it departed for other waters, having grown weary of its battle with Faye. Or maybe it's just lying in mud, waiting for some unlucky fisherman or swimmer.

Would you like to know more?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mutually Assured Destruction

As seen on TV!

All Tomorrow's Architects

After the watching his construction company go bankrupt, losing his home, and finally losing his daughter to spinal meningitis, Buckminster Fuller spent much of 1920's drunk. He considered killing himself, but somehow found the resolve to continue living. He decided to transform his own life into an experiment; an attempt to determine how much positive change a man could bring to the world. While this experiment was hardly traditional, the results indicate even one man can have considerable, lasting impact.

Fuller, a certified machinist, had a lifelong interest in design and engineering. As a child, he had assembled small boats and even attempted to construct "flying machines" (although none of the latter met with success). Despite his scientific aptitude, he was expelled from Harvard twice.

After getting a job as an interior decorator at a restaurant, Fuller began work on a scale model of a futuristic home. The house (which resembled a hybrid of air-stream trailer, teapot, and flying saucer) was designed for ease in assemblage and energy-efficiency. Searching for a unique name for the design, Fuller consulted an advertising expert who helped him develop the catchy term Dymaxion (for Dynamic Maximum Tension). Fuller displayed his model at the restaurant, which caught the eye of architect Isamu Noguchi. The two men became friends and together the developed a design for the three-wheeled Dymaxion Car. Meanwhile, Fuller was commissioned by the Army to build Dymaxion homes.

By 1945, Fuller was an established, if unorthodox, figure in the world of engineering and earned a living as a lecturer. He became interested in the architectural potential of the geodesic dome, building his first prototype at Bennington College of Vermont. Subsequent models proved the dome's structural strength, and won more attention from the Army. Within a few years, geodesic domes became a common feature in architecture all over the world.

Fuller, meanwhile, went on to become an early proponent of sustainability and alternative energy, while famously declaring war to be "obsolete." He was also unflinchingly eccentric in a time when it could damage one's career. He created his own distinct vocabulary, wore three watches (each set to a different time-zone) and often wore pages of newspaper between shirts to keep warm during long airplane flights. All of this endeared him to many counter-culture figures, particularly the inhabitants of the Drop City commune.

In addition to his design work, Fuller devoted much of his time to an experiment that expanded upon a journal he had started back in 1915. It was called the the Dymaxion Chornofile, and it consisted of an meticulous, comprehensive record of his daily activities, which he updated every fifteen minutes under optimum conditions. The Chronofile contained copies of letters, receipts, newspaper clippings, invoices, and design notes and sketches. He added to the Chronofile until his death in 1983, suffering a fatal heart attack while visiting his cancer-stricken, comatose wife. By that point, the Chronofile had grown to a total length of 270 feet and it remains the most complete record of a human life ever created; a record of curiosity and innovative thought.

Would you like to know more?
-Read more about the Dymaxion Chronofile here.
-Read about Fuller at the Synchronofile.

Let me tell you about my super-fun weekend

Whew! Boy oh boy, was that ever a great party. Halloween has always been the favorite holiday amongst the staff of the Hyper Kitchen and the streets ran red with fake blood and candy-corn that night! Truthfully I just woke up today, buried under a pile of leaves and unable to remove my diving-helmet. My last memory was of seeing Wrong Turn (the horror movie equivalent of a meal at Denny's), followed by an actual meal at Denny's. Let me tell you, their Ultimate Breakfast isn't all it's cracked up to be.

With the others unaccounted for, it's fallen upon me to check up on the site. Please bear with me as I reacquaint myself here...


It's Thursday. I must've been out cold for much longer than I thought.

And October had no Monster of the Month entry.

Hurmnh. Well, I'd better get to work.