Sunday, February 28, 2010
Doubtlessly, you've been checking and re-checking the Hyper Kitchen (sweat pouring down your furrowed brow) in anticipation of February's installment of our internationally known Monster of the Month series. Well! Mop that perspiration away, dear reader, and feast your eyes on the mechanical monstrosity known as the Killdozer.
The Killdozer originally appeared in a 1944 novella written by Theodore Sturgeon, published in Astounding Science-Fiction Magazine. Sturgeon had been writing professionally since 1938, but suffered from a crippling bout of writer's block. Searching for ideas, he recalled his time as a construction worker and bulldozer operator in Puerto Rico and in a sudden burst of inspiration wrote the story Killdozer!. It proved to be quite profitable and was even adapted into a made-for-TV movie in 1974.
The Killdozer was once an ordinary piece of heavy machinery, used in constructing an airstrip on a remote pacific island during WWII. The small crew of workers unearth a strange temple and discover the existence of an ancient super-civilization that was all-but destroyed in a war with living machines. An energy form emerges from the temple and possesses the workers' bulldozer, and the resulting monster proceeds to slaughter those on the island. Only one of the workers survives, and after destroying the Killdozer, all evidence of the extraordinary events is forever erased by some Japanese bombers who demolish the landscape into rubble.
While Sturgeon would go on to write excellent works of science-fiction including To Marry Medusa and More than Human, Killdozer! is of comparable quality (if less high-brow). Sturgeon was was able to take a bizarre, nearly comical premise and turn it into an entertaining yarn with genuine suspense and action. The story is greatly recommended.
But don't take my word for it!
You can read about it in a book.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Leeches have been used in medicine since the middle ages, but it's only recently that they've been employed for anything practical, in reducing unwanted coagulation during surgeries. The saliva of the leech contains tiny amounts of a chemical called hirudin, which prevents blood clots from forming. The International Leech Center asserts that hirudin offers therapeutic effects for everything from one's skin to one's psychology. Children have been brought to the Center in hopes that the leeches can somehow correct hyperactivity (possibly through drinking their blood away until they're left in a stupor).
The majority of their clients, however, are women hoping to save their bodies from the inevitable effects of aging. In these cases, the leeches placed on the client's cheeks and forehead are burst, giving the client a warm, facial rinse in their own blood. One such leech-devotee is actress Demi Moore (which is bizarrely ironic given that this was one of her first films), who has gone on Letterman to regale a nauseated audience about the benefits of having one's body covered in blood-thirsty aquatic worms. Meanwhile several doctors have expressed skepticism about the practice, although this has had little effect on business. On the contrary, leech-breeding continues to be a highly profitable enterprise in Russia and new farms are being opened to meet the increased demand. All of this serves to highlight the great lengths people will go to maintain their appearance.
We at the Hyper Kitchen like you just the way you are.
Would you like to know more?
-Visit the International Leech Center
-See the interior of a leech farm with this series of photos (safe for the squeamish)
-Read this article from SkyNews
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
There are around 10,000 saints officially recognized by the Catholic Church. That may seem like a lot, but it's actually a very exclusive club. In order to be officially canonized by the Vatican, one must have lived a life of extraordinary virtue and service, and performed at least two miracles (sometimes posthumously). Supernatural acts have always been hard to come by and harder to authenticate, and even then sainthood isn't assured. For instance, in 13th century France, loyal and selfless Guinefort of Lyon was said to have healed infants after his death. His village swore by his holiness. The Church condemned this practice as demon-worship and superstition.
Problem was, Guinefort was a dog.
As the story goes, Guinefort was a greyhound owned by a local knight with a newborn son. When the knight left to go hunting, the dog was left to watch over the baby. While it may have been a more sensible idea to have a neighbor do this, it speaks to level of trust between master and dog. One day, after returning from the forest, the knight was horrified to find his son missing and Guinefort soaked in blood. Thinking that the dog had eaten his child, the knight hacked Guinefort to pieces. This proved to be a tragic error, as once the knight had finished he heard the cries of his son from beneath an overturned crib. The child was unharmed and nearby the knight discovered the body of a viper. Guinefort had killed the snake to protect the baby and was rewarded for his heroism with death.
Mourning the loss of his dog, the knight threw the body down a well and planted trees in Guinefort's honor. Soon news of this brave animal reached the village, and the commoners arrived to pay tribute. Some brought their children to be blessed, and Guinefort was ultimately venerated as a community saint; his watery grave rebuilt into a shrine. 13th century scholar Stephen of Bourbon wrote of Guinefort and his worshippers in disparaging terms, alluding to sacrifice and unholy pacts. After this bit of bad press, the Church prohibited Guinefort idolatry, and yet the cult endured as late as the 1930's before dying out.
Would you like to know more?
-Read Stephen of Bourbon's original account of Saint Guinefort