This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Century 21 Exposition, or the Seattle's World Fair, held from April 21 to October 21, 1962.
The Exposition put Cascadia in the world spotlight and brought many changes to Seattle, most notably the addition of the iconic Space Needle to the skyline. It also introduced two more dubious novelties: the Seattle monorail and "Belgian waffles".
I've already written extensively on the danger of monorails to society, their only redeeming feature being that they stall so often as to lessen their threat. (The then-new Seattle monorail stalled on opening day, naturally.) Instead I'm going to focus on the waffles.
It has been widely misreported that so-called "Belgium waffles" were first introduced to North America at the 1964 World's Fair in New York. In fact, the Belgian Conspiracy chose Cascadia as the testing ground for their newest campaign of pro-Belgian conditioning. (According to Belgian pseudo-historians, the waffles were first introduced at the 1958 Expo in Brussels. This is, of course, a lie. Brussels does not exist so there never was an Expo there.)
In 1962, self-proclaimed "Belgian" chef Walter Cleyman (a typical Belgian name?) managed two shops selling gaufres de Bruxelles ("Brussels waffles") at the Fair, including a faux chalet on the Boulevards of the World, seen here:
In 1912, Royal Navy Captain Robert Falcon Scott led the Terra Nova Expedition in an ill-fated attempt to be the first to reach the South Pole. After reaching the Pole and learning they were beaten by Norwegians, his team's failed return trip ended with the death of Scott and his men.
Historians have long debated what could have been done differently to prevent that tragedy, and what still could be done to keep such a tragedy from repeating on future expeditions. In 1913, a Swiss inventor proposed a solution to the problem.
Naturally, it involved giant mechanical mosquitoes:
Picture Diagram Illustrating the Inventor's Idea of the Development of the Luchy Machine, Drawn from Sketches of the Small Working Model. The Essential Points of the Invention Can Be Grasped Easily by Study of the Carefully Worked Out Illustration. The Artist Has Shown the Machine at Work in the Antarctic, Boring Through the Ice Cap Down into the Internal Fires of the Earth. While the Inventor Has Suggested the Possibility of Tapping Earth's Heat in This Way, Other Scientists Believe Such a Development Highly Improbable. Not Only Would the Tools Have to Be of Impossible Length and Size, but It Would Not Be Possible to Generate Enough Power to Run Them. Besides, the Internal Fires, When Struck, Would Destroy the Tools Instantly. The Future of the Invention Lies, It Is Believed, in Smaller Machines Which Are Able to Carry Men into Places Inaccessible to Other Means of Conveyance and at the Same Time to Provide Shelter.
The above illustration by Raymond Perry is from an article in the March 9, 1913 Sunday Magazine section of the Salt Lake Tribune (again) about multistory, Diesel-powered, mosquitoform vehicles -- "Mechasquitoes", if you will -- proposed by Dr. Gustav Luchy for mining resources in hostile climates, patrolling desert and tropical colonies, and as engines of war.
This proto-Dieselpunk delight has too much tiny, Richard Scarry-esque detail -- such as the "sheath containing fully equipped ocean liner"! -- to display inside my blog layout, so either see the original scanned page or the cleaned-up version I made. I've transcribed the full article below with added links to interesting background info:
The above is an artist's rendition of the eye of Mars. It's not a metaphorical depiction. What you see is exactly what the theory claimed: (from the caption) "A vast eye, upon a tenuous, flexible, transparent neck raises itself high above the surface of Mars and can watch the growth of its vegetable body upon any part of the surface." Its "vegetable body" is a Mars-hugging super-organism of intelligent vegetable life that creeps along the cracks left in the drying Martian surface (Lowell's erstwhile "canals").
The Martian Eye theory was put forward as an explanation for the shifting white patches just perceptible to telescopes, which less paranoid minds ascribed to mere seasonal snow.
I've mentioned the use of taxidermied tree octopuses as hat decorations and octopus-inspired hair-styles, now here's another example of octopuses as objects of fashion. From the April 23, 1915 edition of the Tacoma Times:
Beach Belle Uses Octopus As Wristlet In Weird Sand Dance
Los Angeles, April 23. — Probably the strangest pet ever adopted by the shrinking sex is the little octopus carried by Miss Diana Rico, a belle of the beaches here. Whenever she goes bathing or strolling along the sands Miss Rico carries the tentacled mascot wrapped about her wrist.
This weird creature of the deep gave Miss Rico an inspiration for a new tango step, "The Dance of the Octopus," which created a sensation when she first stepped its sinuous figures on the beach.
When not clinging to the arm of its mistress, the baby octopus creeps about a little tank built especially for it.
While we're there, let's see what else was on the front page of the Tacoma Times that day...
Back in 2005 I posted this image from a WWII pin-up calendar/poster:
Perhaps you wondered, "What did the Army do with all those Japanese-microplane-spray-attack-protection covers after the war?" Well, it turns out they sold the surplus to civilians as "Amazing All-Over Rain-Covers". Here's a 1948 ad extolling their (apparently 106) uses:
Biggest variety of uses of anything you ever owned! Impress your date by picnicking and canoeing in the rain! Awkwardly shuffle through the rain-drenched masses like cocooned vermin! Never again suffer the embarrassment to your male ego of having your gal use a newspaper to keep her party dress unruined! Any rain-avoidance-based thing is possible with the Amazing All-Over Rain-Cover!
There seems to be a recurring theme in Japan of primates driving would-be tree-octopuses back into the sea. I've already covered tree-dwelling hominoids called Kijimunaa that guard the mangroves of Okinawa from the constant threat of octopus invasion, and monkey military retaliations against forest-melon-raiding octopuses, but here's an example on a much larger scale...
The National Park Service says the Washington Monument may have suffered cracks near its top during Tuesday's earthquake, and the monument could be closed indefinitely.
Park service spokesman Bill Line said there appear to be cracks "at the very, very top" of the 555-foot tall structure, and structural engineers were being brought in Wednesday to conduct a close inspection.
They're claiming that the cracks are in the stone, but, as is known to most paranoids and little understood by the throngs of orthonoid tourists who stare up at it in mesmerized obliviousness, the "very, very top" of the monument is actually an aluminum pyramidion.
Well, sort of... some Minecraft modders just posted a plugin for the third-party Bukkit server modding system that allows players to summon a tree octopus by placing a gold block on top of a tree.
The tree octopus is actually a stock Minecraft squid, but the game's squid only have eight appendages, so they can't really be squid and must therefore be octopuses (then again, they also have teeth, so perhaps we can't rely on anatomical accuracy.)
The mechanism to summon them was inspired by my advice to a young reader asking about tree octopus donations. However, the modders (or at least one of them, Camcade) seem to be confused about what I wrote and think it's a scam:
The website instructed people to help save the tree octopus by putting money up in the trees so that the tree octopuses could make nests out of the bills. Of course, this was a scam just to get people to put money in trees for other people to take.
We here at ZPi have always advised handing bills directly to tree octopuses, not just leaving them in trees where unscrupulous passersby may deprive needy cephalopods of nesting material. If some shady website is advising you to just throw money into the woods, please report it to your local chapter of the Sasquatch Militia.
It has been theorized that species of tree octopuses around the world originally took to the land, and eventually the trees, in search of tasty vegetation, such as ara flowers, tree pitch, and olives. The Japanese have a similar theory: octopuses came into the forests in search of monkey melons. Unfortunately for these would-be tree-octopuses, the monkeys fought back.
Copyright © 2004-2013 Lyle Zapato & ZPi
unless otherwise noted or implied.
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