Weird and Weirder In Washington

America is a strange, freaky place these days but that will come as a surprise to nobody here. In a nation where self obsession has become a moral virtue a plague of weirdness is inevitable and cases of men marrying their dog, being convicted of having sex with cars (they were other peoples’ cars) and insisting on exercising their human right to have sex in public are hardly newsworthy any more.

Even so some things are worth reporting. Like this story:

Yesterday in Washington today a bunch of naked AIDS protesters stormed House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner’s (yeah I know, let the jokes begin) office today and chanted about fighting funding cuts.

People were protesting against AIDS? Or in support of AIDS?The US government is funding AIDS? WTF is that all about?

Cold Comfort – frozen pets the latest craze.

We should perhaps start another of our Boggart Blog occasional series titled “American Weirdo of the Week.” Ridiculing at American weirdness, the self indulgent excesses of profoundly lonely whose delusions and solipsism make them tragi -comic figures people is becoming something of a favourite sport for Europeans.

American Weirdo Mike McCullough never intended to start freeze-drying beloved pets for grieving owners. But more than a decade ago, a friend of a friend asked the taxidermist to save his beloved dog from the grave or cremation by preserving the animal instead. The friend, displaying that sense of entitlement that typifies Americans, did not want a typically stuffed pet which, like the hunting trophies displayed in country pubs, look about as lifelike as as a lump of concrete. Oh no, he wanted Fido to look just as the dog had in life, and money was no object. Needless to say McCullough promised he could deliver.

The taxidermist had read of a new process to preserve pets, freeze drying. With his gullible friend underwriting the cost he bought the equipment which costs thousands of dollars and set about drying the dog.

Then he talked to a Wall Street Journal reporter about the process. The story made the front page and orders rolled in from people with more money than sense grieving owners. Today, McCullough’s shop, Mac’s Taxidermy, is one of a handful of places in America that relieve customers of huge amounts of money for what is essentially a stuffed toy.

freeze-dried-schnauzer-120301Freeze dried Schnauser or Stuffed Toy, you decide.

McCullough and other taxidermists like him use a special process to keep Fido or Fluffy from starting to stink. Traditional taxidermy involves skinning an animal and stretching its hide over a three-dimensional frame. This is inadequate for the loved family pet, as the animal’s features end up looking generic, nothing like the unique creature that owners knew, loved and anthropomorphised.

Instead, pet preservationists use a freeze-dry chamber, which lowers air pressure to the point that ice turns directly into gas without going through the liquid phase thus sucking the juice out of dead pets. Many taxidermists use freeze-dryers to preserve small animals or fish. Taxidermist Cathy Huntley, owner of Freeze Dried By Cathy in Michigan first got her freeze-dryer to preserve flowers before branching into turkey heads (??? who the fuck would want a freeze dried tirkey head?) and eventually pets.

Most taxidermist recommend a closed-eye “sleeping” pose for preserved pets.

The freeze-drying technique leaves animals looking much as they did in life apart from a very noticable lack of vital signs which must serve as a constant reminder that Bonzo, Tiddles or Polly the Parrot has shuffled off this mortal coil and gone to meet it’s maker in that great stuffed toy factory in the sky.

The process isn’t entirely noninvasive. Before freeze drying can begin Taxidermists must first remove internal organs and fat, which don’t freeze-dry well and would soon start to stink in a modern, centrally heated house. Artificial fillers, otherwise known as cavity wall insulation, then plump up the dehydrated animals because no – one wants a dead pet that looks like a half deflated balloon. Even for closed-eye poses — the sort recommended by most taxidermists — false eyes must be inserted in the sockets to prevent a sunken look.

For owners who want their pets to look awake, some taxidermists offer custom-made glass eyes, painted from photos of the pet during life. It is amazing the lenghts people will go to and the money they are prepared to spend to make a pastice of what was once a lining creature when the lack of animation when a stick is thrown or when the sound of a can opener is heard would be a big clue that it was no longer alive.

freeze dried dalmation-120301
Dotty The Dalmation showing off her favourite Play Dead trick even in death

The freeze dry process costs hundreds of dollars for even the smallest animals, and thousands for a larger dog, such as a Golden retriever. In part, that’s because it takes skill and time to prepare and pose an animal properly.

Freeze-drying machines themselves are incredibly expensive, running in the tens of thousands of dollars. The machines also require lots of electricity to run. At several hundred dollars a month in power bills, costs add up quickly. And freeze-drying isn’t a fast process: It might take six months to prepare a 10-pound cat, said Anthony Eddy, owner of Anthony Eddy’s Wildlife Studio in Slater, Missouri. For an 80- or 90-pound dog, freeze-drying might take a year. So if you want your pet elephant preserved, forget it, you’ll be as dead as your pet by the time it is ready to take home.

A representative of the US Taxidermists Association said: “What we hear from pet owners is that they’re so attached to their pet, they just can’t stand to bury their pet or they don’t want to cremate it. It is just too precious to them. Taxidermy is a whole different game for us now. You have to be a counselor as well as a craftsman, you know what I mean? It’s tough.”

So it’s better to have your furry faced friend end up in a lanfill after you have turned up your ties is it?

Many clients are older or single and living alone, having a loved pet preserved so they can fondle it and talk to it gives them comfort. Maybe so, but if America was not such a creepy society in which people are isolated and alienated from their communities would friends and family not do that better that the dead creatures shown above?

Though this idea may sound weird now we should remember the how idea of two men marrying each other would have sounded 50 years ago. So you may be certain it is only a matter of time before Americans are having their deceased human dead ones freeze dried and posed stiing in their favourite chairs.

RELATED POSTS:
Rats Are Nicer Than You Thought
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Don’t Eat All The Pies – You Could Be Chewing On A Nasty Surprise
How Hopeless Pupils Can Pass Exams
Pets Can Light Up Your Life

A Tasteful Tribute To Michael Jackson

As the media hype machine goes into overdrive and celebrity gossip talking heads witter vacuously about a “Diana moment” and a “spontaneous outpouring of emotion” the prize for the most tasteful early tribute to Michael Jackson, the man and his music, has to go to rolling news channel CNN.

To fill in the time between initial reports of Michael’s death and official conformation that he had hung up his dancing shoes for the last time they reminded us of the erstwhile King Of Weird in his prime by showing the Thriller video in which MJ danced in full zombie makeup.

Nice one.

Were the rumours about child abuse true? Boggart Blog helps you decide for yourselves.

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…But Some Of Us Are Looking At The Stars…

Every now and then we will post a blog on the weirder side of life; the latest UFO sightings (Turd Nine From Outer Space) cases of Alien Abduction, reports of the Amoeba Contabulae in Did You See That, said to be the inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu, the irrationalities of Big Bang theory or anything we can twist a comic thread out of.

On such occasions it is inevitable some scientific dork will turn up in the comment thread a few days later (when Google has had time to index the piece) and berate us for our gullibility in believing such unscientific nonsense. It’s stange how they always miss the fact that we are a comedy blog.

If Boggart Blog does have a motto though, it is “Same Rules Apply.” So perhaps someone can tell us why it is OK for “scientists” to spend £££millions on chasing fantasies of aliens when we are “foolish and gullible” for feigning credulity for the sake of a few jokes? Take a look at this from Today’s Guardian:

Jupiter and its moon system has been visited successively by Pioneer 10 and 11, by the two Voyager spacecraft, and by a dedicated spacecraft called Galileo. These revealed something unexpected: Europa is encased in a thick sheet of ice that seems to have fractured and been repaired, again and again. That is, it looks just like sea ice on planet Earth. The fracturing and refreezing could only happen if, under the ice, there is a liquid ocean. And water could only stay liquid so far from the sun if there is a source of energy at the core of Europa.

The fundamental requirements for life seem to be water and a source of energy. So, for more than a decade, space scientists have been tantalised by the possibility that, beyond Mars, beyond the asteroid belt, and wheeling around the second biggest object in the solar system, there could be living things, sheathed in an enormous goldfish bowl, masked by dense, self-repairing ice, the creatures of a separate genesis.
Read more of the Jupiter space exploration project in today’s Guardian Online.

OK so they are talking about sending a hugely expensive space probe into (cue stressy music) The Outer Limits of the solar system, we are talking about having a few glasses of Scrumpy Cider or Theakstons Old Peculiar, smoking a bit of herbal mixture, going out into the back garden and looking at the sky.

But other than the scale of the operation where’s the difference?

Boggart Blog UFO posts
Boggart Blog alien posts

UPDATED 25 March 2009: AND TALKING OF THE CRAZY THINGS people say or do when they are drunk or stoned, the big question in America this week is: Had Barack Obama been at the old herbal mixture when he appeared on the 60 Minutes television news magazine? Check out the video embedded in Obama’s 60 Minute High on Texas Darlin’ blog and make your own mind up. I don’t want to influence your judgement but I think if someone had handed the President a Mars Bar we all know what he would have done with it.

Solar Storm Heading Our Way

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Are The Rumours About Michael Jackson True?

As the auctions of Michael Jackson’s personal effects grow ever more weird and in order to stave off bankruptcy the Wizard of Weird prepares to take the freakshow back on the road with a London gig scheduled for the summer, anxious parents make be wondering are their little boys safe?

So should we believe the rumours about Michael’s sexuality? Maybe the clues are in the song titles so here is Michael’s paedo top ten…

1. Ben
2. In The Closet
3. Give In To Me
4. The Lost Children
5. Privacy
6. Get On The Floor
7. Billy’s Jeans
8. Rockin’ Robin
9. Someone in the dark
10. Beat it…

ooer missis, it looks dodgy doesn’t it? And what about Michael’s poem for children currently up for auction.

Michael Jackson’s Poem About Children could be yours if you have a few quid to spare. Think you might fancy it? Here’s a taster.

‘Children of the world, we’ll do it
With song and dance and innocent bliss
And the soft caress of a loving kiss
We’ll do it’.

It is creepier than anything Gary Glitter ever wrote. And Geert Wilders was banned from entering the country for a lot less dangerous stuff than that.

Long live Jarvis Cocker.

ANOTHER RELATED POST:
Tasteful tribute to Michael Jackson What has been this most tasteful tribute to MJ? This one perhaps?

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Lightning Exits Woman’s Bottom

It must be the greatest newspaper headline of all time and so long as there are such stories the traditional media has nothing to fear from us miserable rabble of bloggers.
But can this story from The Australian possibly be true?
Well yes, it is actual actuality actually.
Mrs Natasha Tomarovic told The Australian’s reporter, “I was brushing my teeth and had just put my mouth under the tap to rinse when the bolt must have struck the building. I don’t remember much else.
After treating Mrs. Tomarovic for burns to the mouth and anus a doctor said, “its a bizarre occurrence but not impossible: she was wearing rubber bath shoes at the time so instead of earthing through her feet the electricity shot out of her backside.”
Its not quite the same as the sun shining out of someone’s arse but is probably as near as anyone will get in this realm of reality.

Rad more great humour from Boggart Blog. New Posts every day.

The Number of the Beast

Number of the Beast

Returning from a visit to my mother yesterday I had just left the motorway and joined the A666 towards Clitheroe. Glancing at my instrument panel my eye was drawn to the trip meter just as it turned to 666. I do not use the trip meter and normally am unaware of its presence so what mysterious force drew my gaze to it? Was someone or something trying to get a message to me? A coincidence the cynical might say, but how often do we encounter two instances of The Number Of The Beast in our daily lives. I am normally a level headed sort myself, always ready to scoff at those American fundamentalists who see the hand of the Devil in everything. But sometimes you just get a feeling deep in your guts…..

With my attention back on the road as I headed eastward I noticed an unusually dense black cloud on the horizon, not a raincloud but something more sinister. As I watched I saw that it was an enormous flock of Ravens; moving as one creature the constantly swirled and turned choreographed by that mystical force morphic resonance until when they filled my entire field of vision, at which point they formed into a monstrous shape, the head of a primeval horned God.

Wanting only to get home as quickly as I could I pressed on, disregarding the shadowy figure of a black cowled monk floating on the periphery of my vision. Once safely inside the house I described on the floor a pentacle of salt and putting up some garlic sandwiches and a bottle of water from a sacred spring took refuge in my home made sanctuary where I spent a long night fingering a silver ankh until the bright dawn drove away the negative energies.

I feel rather weak and exhausted today but will be back online as soon as the large black dog that took up residence on the lawn just after I arrived home has departed.

BUT REALLY I knackerd something deep in my very fragile hip while trying to negotiate the lunar landscape in front of my mother’s flat in Morecambe, and had to rest for a couple of days. The A666 is true though, it’s a road the bikers just love. The trip meter bit is also true and that would be enough to give some people the squits.

Back to proper blogging tomorrow I hope.