Friday, February 20, 2009

Monster of the Month

Here in the Hyper Kitchen, we value the capacity of monsters to spice things up. It's never a dull moment when your life is in mortal danger. We assert that the monsters have rocketed mankind to ever more dizzying heights of cultural excellence and we shall be celebrating them every month. So now, every lunar cycle we will present a new freakish creature from nature, mythology, folklore, film, literature, or urban legend.

February is the month of the Brainiac (pictured above), the eponymous thing from the English-dubbed version of the Mexican made horror movie El Barón del Terror
. Brought to the United States by Ken Murray (the same man who introduced Americans to the cinematic spectacle that was the luchador movie) the Brainiac featured a cruel, satanic baron in seventeenth-century Mexico who was burned at the stake for his occult practices by the Inquisition. The baron vowed that his resurrection would be heralded by the passing of a mysterious comet, seen overhead at his execution. Three hundred years later in the hip future of 1961, the baron returns from oblivion to exact his revenge, now an undead thing with the ability to to slurp out his victims brain with the aid of a tubular, forked tongue. Pulse-pounding stuff.

Not surprisingly, the movie lapsed into public domain in the United States. In this ever strange world, it is somehow comforting to know that we all own a part of the Brainiac.

You can watch the entire film here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Watch This Space

Are you curious about Nasa's planned Manned Orbital Laboratory or do you dread a future in which computers have enslaved mankind? Well then, watch this space, because the Hyper Kitchen is doing the prep work for our next scintillating posts.

Be prepared.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trapped in a World Before Later On


You've heard about it.

Perhaps done a little experimenting while in college.

But it's time you learned the true beef, the real dirt behind the philosophy of engineered evolution.

Transhumanism is this idea that the human form is merely a transitory phase in a greater evolutionary game-plan, and that it is the obligation of mankind to seize the available technology for the use of creating faster, stronger, bigger, and better Post-Human forms.

The notion has become especially vogue of late, amongst the self-proclaimed futurists and esoteric academics of the world, due to continual advances in genetics and cybernetics. Truthfully, however, there's nothing new or especially futuristic about it. Transhumanism is little more than a new iteration of the desire to be more than human, something people have been obsessed with since the dawn of civilization. The originator of the term was a man named Fereidoun Esfandiary (born 1930), a former Olympic athlete, professor at the New School of New York during the mid-sixties, and author of books with such wonderfully pulpy titles as his 1989 release Are You a Transhuman?: Monitoring and Stimulating Your Personal Rate of Growth in a Rapidly Changing World.

Esfandiary famously proclaimed that he was a " 21st century person who was accidentally launched in the 20th." He postulated that inevitable technological and societal progression would enable people to transform themselves into androgynous immortals. Sex would be a thing of the past, and reproduction would be done entirely by mechanically-assisted means. All traditions and customs would be jettisoned, culled to make way for a new global mega-culture.

He eventually changed his name to FM 2030, deciding that names were merely collectivist labels, and therefore had no place in the dawning of Transhumanist era. Esfandiary chose the suffix of 2030 because he theorized that this would be the year that Post-Humanity would be fully achieved, and he further asserted that he would live to see it, despite that he would be 100 years old.

Esfandiary died on July 8th, 2000, of cancer. He had at last reached the twenty-first century, only to discover that it fell woefully short of his expectations.

The Dog of Death and the Master of Flame

Meet Xolotl, a figure from Aztec mythology. His depiction varies from source to source; sometimes he appears as an emaciated skeleton man, sometimes a man with a dog's head, and sometimes a man with backwards feet. Regardless of his form, he was the lord of fire, lightning, craftsmanship, and bad luck (the latter two seem not be a good mix). He acted as a sentry for the sun, making sure that nothing harmed it during the night. Aparently, one celestial body wasn't enough for Xolotl, who also had co-domain over the planet Venus.

In short, he was busy deity.

The other owner of this Venusian timeshare was Xolotl's twin brother: the far more glamorous Quetzalcoatl. Despite their differences, Xolotl did help a brother out and lent fire to Quetzalcoatl's beloved humanity. While Quetzalcoatl was at work inventing corn and the calendar, Xolotl had to help the dead down to Mictlan, the Aztec underworld.

Now you know and knowing is half the battle.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Achilles Heel

There will be short quiz on this later.

Even Hell Has Its Heroes

This is a tragic story.

When the Chernobyl reactor exploded in April of 1986, the Soviet Union at first tried to conceal the event, informing the citizens that "an accident had occurred" in one of the reactors, all while evacuating entire towns. It quickly became clear that the enormity of what had happened could not be hidden.

When the reactor exploded, it threw a two thousand ton reactor lid into the air. The explosion released a cloud of Strontium-90 and radioactive debris, carried by the strong winds across the region of Pripyat. The intensity of the fallout was forty thousand percent greater than that released during the detonation of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima.

The accident had to be contained in order to prevent radioactivity from contaminating other areas of Ukraine and Belarus. A group of eight hundred thousand men and women was assembled, comprised of soldiers, firefighters, coal miners, demolition experts, medical workers, and a Civil Defense brigade. Clad in protective suits, they were charged with redirecting the flowing radioactive coolant water to prevent it from leeching into the region's ground water, as well as carrying all the debris to the remains of the Chernobyl plant, where it could be covered in concrete.

They were called the Liquidators, and sometimes Bio-Robots.

They knew that they had been deemed expendable.

Unable to work more than forty seconds at a time due to the hazardous environment, they would haul a cart-load of concrete and scrap metal a few meters and then run away, to be replaced by another worker. Eventually it was all piled high in the shell of Chernobyl, whereupon helicopters blanketed the site in lead and boric acid. The entire process took eight months, and when completed the resulting structure was finally sealed in what was called "the Sarcophagus." For many of the Liquidators, its construction was their final act.

The entire affected area is a vast wasteland of crumbling apartment complexes and abandoned vehicles, all soaking in radioactivity. It is cordoned off and referred to as the "Zone of Alienation." Of those that worked to contain the site, six hundred thousand suffered from radiation poisoning. Sixty thousand of those men and women perished, and one hundred sixty five thousand are permanently disabled from their injuries. For their sacrifice, they received minimal health care and compensation, with soldiers often being denied anything altogether as they were not "salaried workers."

In 2006, the Liquidators finally received a gesture of gratitude in the form of a statue honoring them in a Moscow Cemetery. It provides a somber tribute to those endured a pocket apocalypse.

Vicious Video

Here's a slice of history for you.

During the eighties, the UK went through a national panic. Police were dispatched, raids were made, businesses were forcibly shut down, people were arrested. What was the catalyst for this unpleasant outbreak of martial law? Was it social unrest triggered by high levels of unemployment? Was it the protests made in response to the Thatcher government trying to effectively ban homosexuality? Had the installation of Orwellian security cameras on every street corner provoked rioters that resulted in brutal police action?

Nope. It all had to do a bunch've videotapes.

To place things in context, the VCR and Betamax player had only recently become available for the general public and video stores were a new retail phenomena.Things were vastly different from today in that movie companies were very hesitant to release their films. Amid uncertain new territory for copyright regulations and wild speculation that the videotape would doom the silver screen to obsolescence, few major studios wanted to commit their films to VHS or Beta tapes lest it lead to their own economic ruin. At the time, only a smattering of "classic" movies saw the light of day on videotape (with reluctance on behalf of their owners) and a good portion of these were colorized.

So, during this initial period, it was difficult to find contemporary movie releases for home viewing. Store owners were eager to access the fresh and growing market but when faced with a considerable lack of product, they turned to only alternative. Numerous small distribution companies had arisen specializing in:
1). Porn.
2). Schlock and trash movies. Public domain, poverty row thrillers from the forties alongside easy to procure exploitation movies from abroad, especially from the United States, Spain, and Italy. Before long, the shelves of British video stores were lined with films featuring cannibals, zombies, and psycho killers. Within all this sordid glop were some genuinely entertaining flicks and genre classics, but mostly these movies were notable only for being badly made and almost hilariously gruesome.

Titles like Gestapo's Last Orgy and Brain Damage Nightmare drew some complaints, but for the most part business was going well. Distribution companies were churning out new finds, and heavily promoted these videotapes. Vipco, a UK-based company, took out a full page in the Sunday Times to advertise the arrival of The Driller Killer, a lovely film about a crazed artist who takes to murdering homeless people with a cordless drill. Other companies followed suit, relentless hyping the notoriety of their movies. One company, Go Video, attempted to stir up some additional sales through a little engineered controversy, and sent an anonymous letter to conservative media watchdogs describing the depravity of Cannibal Holocaust.

This was a big mistake.

The letter wound up in the hands of Mary Whitehouse, a sour faced Christian crone who had launched a crusade against objectionable material on television. Convinced that Cannibal Holocaust was practically a threat to Western Civilization, Whitehouse spearheaded a community movement to ban the sale and distribution of such films. The tabloids were quick to exploit the public outcry, and ran spurious and half-baked claims that dreck horror was responsible for violent crime and delinquent youths. They coined the phrase Video Nasty to describe the infamous tapes. The term caught on like wildfire.

It was all hysteria and reactionary censorship. The "think of the children" argument was absurd as no retailer in their right mind would ever lend titles like SS Experiment Camp to kids. Additionally, there was never evidence to suggest that anyone would be actually hurt by watching such a movie. They were tasteless, stupid, violent, and often misogynistic, but they were ultimately harmless. Those that objected to them never seemed to consider simply never renting them in the first place.

Eventually, parliament passed the Video Recordings Act in 1984. The act redefined pre-existing obscenity laws to include explicit horror movies and foreign-import smut. Police would investigate the sale and renting of such videotapes, and would arrest shop-owners found with the illegal items in their stores. Some faced as much as eighteen months in prison. The tapes were collected in garbage bags and destroyed on police premises. It was insane. Even copies of Dolly Parton's Best Little Whorehouse in Texas were swept up, under the decidedly incorrect assumption that it was porn.

The liberal and counter-culture institutions of the UK were outraged, and the cheap gore movies that the government had sought to eradicate were suddenly lionized as expressions of free speech. The tapes gained more infamy than they could've hoped to achieve otherwise and movies like Make Them Die Slowly and I Spit On Your Grave became highly sought after items.

More than twenty years later, cooler heads prevailed and the restrictions were reevaluated. However, there are still movies that remain banned in Britain and others are allowed only in truncated, edited forms. Still, freedom won out in the end and the noble people of the UK can insert the special edition DVDs of The Toolbox Murders and Killer Nun and watch the ensuing carnage. For better or worse, the Video Nasties are here to stay.

For better or worse.

The Original Fat Cat

Everyone is driven by different dreams. Some crave conquest (whether in the boardroom, bedroom, or battlefield), and others have devoted themselves to intellectual pursuits. Those who are more romantic yearn to discover true love, while others covet fame and celebrity status. There are also those miserly people whose sole pursuit is wealth.

And then there are those who have resolved to eat more in their lifetime than some Eastern European nations. Of these gourmands, none can rival the passion for food that was possessed by millionaire James Buchanan "Diamond Jim" Brady.

Brady was an enormously successful railroad businessman from the "Gilded Age" of the late 1800's. His nickname was derived from his copious gaudy rings and jewelry, estimated to have been worth around fifty million dollars (adjusted). Asserting that it was only proper for a millionaire to look the part, Brady sunk further millions into custom tailored suits, silk hats, and other finery. In 1895, Brady was the first man in New York City to own an automobile, although he was more frequently seen parading about on one of his twelve gold-plated bicycles. In short, the guy was mind-bogglingly wealthy.

Despite his procurement of such costly items, Brady's principle expense were the lavish meals that he ordered at Charles Rector's Broadway restaurant. Rector once said that Brady was "the best twenty-five customers that [he] ever had." He wasn't joking either.

A typical "Brady Breakfast" consisted of eggs, steak, lamb-chops, hominy grits, homefries, pancakes, corn muffins and a gallon of orange juice. Afterwards he would tide himself over with thirty-six oysters and clams until lunchtime rolled around, during which he'd devour multiple crabs, lobsters, a joint of beef, and several pies. If he felt especially peckish in the afternoon hours, he'd polish off another platter of clams and oysters and that would hold up until dinner, a meal large enough for an entire platoon of Marines.

It consisted of twenty-six Lynnhaven oysters, six crabs, six lobsters, two slabs of turtle flesh, two bowls of green turtle soup, two ducks, a sirloin, a platter of steamed vegetables (gotta' eat your vegetables), an entire tray of pastries and two-pound box of chocolate.

I'll just let that sink in, before continuing.

Seemingly determined to embody the worst excesses of super-wealth while the poor died starving, Brady did not eat the aforementioned meals ever so often or even on a weekly basis, but rather every day. How it was humanly possible to accomplish this feat of consumption is unknown. Furthermore, it is similarly unknown how Brady was able to get any work done what with his constant eating.

Being a millionaire permitted Brady to indulge in the highest quality foods. Upon hearing of new recipes from his high society friends, he would do whatever it took to sample the delicacy in question. While stuffing his face at Rector's Broadway restaurant, he overheard a discussion about the merits of Filet de Sole de Marguery, a dish served only at the Café Marguery of Paris. Its famed sauce was a guarded secret, known only to the head chef. Brady demanded that Charles Rector unlock the secrets of Filet de Sole de Marguery, threatening to never again return to the restaurant. Terrified at the prospect of losing Brady's patronage, Rector forcible pulled his son George from his studies at Cornell to take part an in a bizarre mission of culinary espionage.

The hapless George Rector was sent to Paris to infiltrate the restaurant establishment. Under a pseudonym, he got a job as a dishwasher at the Café Marguery, displaying a calculated enthusiasm that ensured his gradual promotion. After two years of hard work, George had become an apprentice chef and earned the confidence of the culinary elite who operated the Café. Convinced of his skill, they brought him into the fold and taught the fabled secret sauce of the Filet de Sole de Marguery.

The next day, George was on a ship bound for New York City, having memorized the recipe. Hearing the news of George's arrival, Brady was waiting for him on the docks. As the ship slowly made its way to shore, Brady screamed "Have you got the sauce?" into the sea-side air. The obese millionaire proceeded to race George Rector back to his father's restaurant. The Filet de Sole de Marguery was served, and Brady ate nine portions. The Rectors waited nervously for the verdict as he dabbed up the last bit of sauce with a hunk of bread.

"If you poured some of the sauce over a Turkish towel, I believe I could eat all of it."

The corpulent bastard finally died at age sixty-one, donating much of his fortune to John Hopkins Hospital. In his honor, the then-recently established urology clinic was named after him.


Wallace, Irving and Wallechinsky, David. (1975). "Footnote People in American History." The People's Almanac.90: pp.4-22. ISBN:0-385-04060-1

Does your medicine cabinet have one?

In the cabinet in my bathroom, next to the band-aids, Bay Rum aftershave, generic aspirin, and the steel-rim glasses that I wear when I need a disguise, is my Family Radiation Measurement Kit. Consider getting one for your household. They come with easy to understand instructions with lots of helpful little pictures. Remember: hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Money and Success

It's been only twenty-three minutes since the Hyper Kitchen's first post, and already to public reaction has been astounding. Our inboxes have been drowned in over five million letters of thunderous praise and we don't mind telling you that we are currently negotiating the Hyper Kitchen movie rights.

Some of you may be worrying that all this new found fame and glory will result in our total corruption, but we cannot disagree more vehemently. Without you little people, the cultural phenonomenon of the Hyper Kitchen could not be possible and in our gratitude we post this picture of a proud, American astronaut.

We're ready to believe in you!
Welcome to the Hyper Kitchen! We'll be cooking up some real special stuff very soon. Until then, look sharp.