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Lyle Zapato

The Wonderful Electric Elephant vs. Giant Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2013-01-04.9240 LMT | Cephalopods | Elephants | Simulacra | Retro | Random Found Thing

Happy New Year again! Here's a giant octopus trying to crush an electric elephant:


The elephant in the grasp of an octopus.

It's from The Wonderful Electric Elephant (1903) by Frances T. Montgomery, a children's book about a young man named Harold who encounters and shoots an elephant on a trail at the Grand Canyon, only to discover it's actually an electric-powered mecha-elephant piloted by a mysterious old man who soon dies after spilling his immortality elixir. Harold finds the man's will inside, which states that he now owns the elephant, as well as the gold and other curios and treasures the man had collected. Reading the instruction manual, he learns the elephant is watertight, so decides to cross the Pacific seafloor to Japan. On the way, he frees silky-locked Ione from Native Americans and she becomes his companion, and eventually wife, as they travel the world having adventures and frightening people, as one does when one comes into possession of a wonderful electric elephant.

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Lyle Zapato

Burrowing Mammoths of Siberia

Lyle Zapato | 2013-01-01.6380 LMT | Elephants | Nature | Hollow Earth | Random Found Thing

Happy New Year! Here's a frozen mammoth stuck in a hillside that's been misidentified as a giant, burrowing rat:

This is from Strange Company: Wonder-Wings, Mullingongs, Colossi, etc. (1888) by Charles Frederick Holder.

Professor Holder was the inventor of big-game fishing and one of the founders of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade (which makes this topical for today, I guess, and gives me an excuse to post it), which he first suggested at a meeting of the Valley Hunt Club as a taunt at New Yorkers: "In New York, people are buried in the snow. Here our flowers are blooming and our oranges are about to bear. Let's hold a festival to tell the world about our paradise."

If a float featuring a frozen mammoth stuck in a hillside rendered in flowers hasn't been featured in the parade yet, it should.

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Lyle Zapato

Life in the Southern Isles

Lyle Zapato | 2012-12-29.5270 LMT | Cephalopods

Life in the Southern Isles; or, Scenes and Incidents in the South Pacific and New Guinea (1876) by Rev. William Wyatt Gill, published by the Religious Tract Society of London.

Since this is one of the earliest reports of tree octopuses of which I can reasonably own an original -- I don't think I could afford an original scroll by Athenaeus of Naucratis if one even existed -- and Gill was the first to bring Polynesian tree octopuses to the unfortunately disinterested attention of the scientific establishment, I acquired a copy for my collection.

I thought I'd share the cover since it's fairly attractive (although sadly devoid of tree octopuses). Click the image above for a larger composit scan of the front, back, and spine. You can also read the scanned text on Google Books.

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Lyle Zapato

Metric Time & Muffins

Lyle Zapato | 2012-08-20.7160 LMT | Metric System | Food | Technology

For members of the YouTube generation whose considered response to my article on Metric Time is "tl;dr lol", YouTube prodigy Thetechguy2000 has done a video advocating the extremely simple system:

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Lyle Zapato

Future Humanity: Plant-Like Monsters?

Lyle Zapato | 2012-06-06.7150 LMT | Retro | Nature | Kelviniana | General Paranoia

Some European scientists have recently made the startling assertion that our stock of oxygen has been materially lessened within the last fifty years. Stripping of forests from thousands of square miles of country and the outpouring into the air of enormous volumes of carbonic gases are, perhaps, the two great causes of its diminution—for both of which civilization is responsible. When our oxygen is gone in considerable quantities and its place is taken by carbonic gases, what will become of mankind?

Man is very adaptable; his present form is only the result of this adaptation to changing conditions.

One may try to reconstruct man under such circumstances. It is probable that he would first sinks on all fours to breathe the oxygen still remaining near the earth's surface. His skin subjected to constant heat—for there would be little moisture in the air—would grow thick and bark-like. The pores of the skin, acted upon more and more to help in the breathing process, would enlarge enormously into octopus-like suckers. The ears would, perhaps, form a hood-like covering to the head; the nose become more and more like a tendril or the suckers which certain vigorous plants send forth. As man became more and more a crawling thing his legs would become useless and would probably form themselves into a long root-like appendage. Finally to protect himself, he would grow spines—just as the cactus did—and these would be the last form of hair that once covered his body.

Here Artist Kerr shows what his idea of plant-man would look like in that distant time. For if such changes ever did come about, it is not likely that they could occur for another million years at least.

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Lyle Zapato

Our Radium-Raised Giant Frog Dinners

Lyle Zapato | 2012-05-29.1590 LMT | Retro | Food

Butcher slicing up giant frog leg for housewife, neither too happy about it.

"Professor Dawson Turner's discovery makes it a possibility of the future that the housewife will be able to buy exquisite, succulent giant frog's legs at ten cents a pound instead of coarse, rheumatism-causing beef at forty cents a pound."

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Lyle Zapato

Seattle's World Fair: Ground Zero For "Belgian Waffles"

Lyle Zapato | 2012-04-15.7235 LMT | Belgian Conspiracy | Cascadia | Monorail Danger | Food

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:

Belgian Waffle House at the Century 21 ExpositionBelgian Waffle House at the Century 21 Exposition
Left: stand selling "Gaufres de Bruxelles". Right: same stand after
"Belgian Waffle House" was added for increased conditioning effect.

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Lyle Zapato

Will The Spider Inherit Our Earth?

Lyle Zapato | 2012-02-29.0156 LMT | Retro | Nature | General Paranoia | Belgian Conspiracy

Yet more Sunday fun from Salt Lake Tribune. The March 30, 1913 issue brings us a horrible vision of our future:

Spider Emperor of Earth decides the fate of two puny humans brought before him in chains.
"Will life in the dim future be like this? Giant spiders ruling the world, and the pitiful remnants of mankind begging for life from their hideous conquerors?"

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Lyle Zapato

The Giant Mechanical Mosquitoes Of Dr. Gustav Luchy

Lyle Zapato | 2012-02-26.9850 LMT | Retro | Technology | Nature

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:

Luchy's Giant Mechanical Mosquito by Raymond Perry
(Click to enlarge...)

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:

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Lyle Zapato

The Mammoth Eye Of Mars

Lyle Zapato | 2012-02-20.7190 LMT | Retro | Paraterrestrials | Nature | Random Found Thing

Everyone has heard of Percival Lowell's theories of Martian canals, but have you heard the theory of Mars' vast thinking vegetable and its mammoth eye?

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.

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