Here’s a quick breakdown of how we here at TMF view this year’s Final Four matchups. We’re of course talking about which school’s animal mascot would emerge victorious in a real-life tussle if they were to meet in the wilderness or wherever. For the sake of making the matchups more competitive and in the interest of keeping PETA off our backs, let’s just assume these bouts are non-lethal skirmishes where the victor just needs to force a submission or chase his opponent away.
As for the actual Final Four, I have no idea who will win the games. The last time I paid close attention to college basketball I was still collecting pogs. So while I can’t really speak to the basketball aspect of the Final Four, I have spent plenty of time thinking about who would win in various animal skirmish scenarios. So that should lend a certain gravitas to these very important predictions.
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Kentucky Wildcats
At first glance, this may look like a pretty easy win for the wildcat. A wildcat is much bigger than a badger and certainly would seem to have just about every physical advantage. It is no doubt a finely tuned killing machine that would have no problem dispatching most NCAA mascots (including my beloved Sebastian the Ibis, who would no doubt be quickly savaged by even a juvenile wildcat). Continue reading
We’re here today to shine a good light on yet another F subject that is often overlooked, disparaged, undervalued, and sometimes even stepped on* by accident. Yes: frogs are for the most part what one might consider gross. No doubt their wild, unpredictable hopping can be unsettling. And yes, some are so butt ugly they may make you want to vomit. They have the dubious distinction of being on the short list of animals that have been used as Plagues.
But you know what? Frogs are also pretty awesome. A vastly underrated species if you ask me.
Let’s celebrate our amphibian friends by pointing out some of their more flattering features.
Holy cow have you seen some of these poison dart frogs? These crazy-colorful beauties that mostly live in Central and South America got their name from the heyday of when people were using the frogs’ poison in their blowdarts** to settle various scores.
Have a look at some of these punams! But don’t touch, lest you end up looking like Martin Short in whatever terrible 80s movie that was with Danny Glover when he gets stung by all those bees.
Cobalt Dart Frog
The Green & Black Poison Dart Frog, highly dangerous due to its striking resemblance to a delicious Andes Mint.
“Under the sea, under the sea… Life is de bubbles, under the sea.” – Sebastian the Crab
Despite Sebastian the Crab’s misleading portrayal in The Little Mermaid of life under the sea being some sort of delightful Calypso paradise; the reality is not quite so idyllic. The truth is that there are many alarming things lurking under our waters. Let’s have a look at some of the creatures you should be aware of.
Sebastian the Crab: Misleading us about life under the sea?
Lungfish (freshwater) – This living fossil is a true horror monster brought to life. Certain kinds of lungfish are able to bury themselves in mud for months on end to survive a drought. That’s right, this little freak show doesn’t even need to live in water, it can just sit there waiting and lurking… eager for the chance to chomp you with its razor teeth. Oh yeah they can also walk on land and live for like a CENTURY.
Lungfish are found in Africa, Australia and South America, and despite being so awful looking, are actually eaten by some people. I’ll gladly leave them alone if they pledge to do the same for me.
Oarfish – Whenever something washes up on a beach that is even slightly reminiscent of a sea monster, it is always an oarfish. Every time. The next time you see one of those “Sea Monster Found?!” stories on Yahoo, don’t get your hopes up it’s totally just a dead oarfish.
Oarfish: wow, just wow.
These mysterious, elusive creatures can grow to more than 50 feet in length, fueling speculation that they were probably the “sea monsters” spotted by early navigators… OR WERE THEY???
No you’re right they probably were just oarfish.
Ocean Sunfish – These are so weird aren’t they? They look like those bullets from the original Super Mario Brothers with little flippers attached.
Look out Mario!
In a shameless attempt to cash in on the trend of stupid movies and shows featuring sharks, here’s a pitch for a new feature length film, FjØrdShärks!®
In the Arctic wilds of western Norway, something evil is afoot. After two boatloads of hard-partying, fjord-gawking tourists go missing in the span of two weeks, authorities start to suspect foul play. They should be suspecting SHARK-PLAY because FjØrdShärks® have arrived… and they are hungry!
After their own search party gets attacked by some of the savage beasts, Norwegian authorities are forced to call in the mysterious, legendary scientist/shark hunter, Biff Sharkman. Sharkman (played by Daniel Day-Lewis, or Lorenzo Lamas if Mr. Day-Lewis is unavailable), heads to Norway immediately. Much to his dismay, rival shark hunter and personal nemesis Haley “Hammerhead” Hall (played by either Dame Judi Dench or Meryl Streep; or Brooke Hogan if Mrs. Dench or Mrs. Streep are unavailable) has beat him to the punch and already has an investigation underway. They engage in very sharp repartee. They very clearly don’t like each other!
Fjordsharks – – Attacking your screen soon!
The rival research teams set up camp on opposite sides of the fjord. Unfortunately for the Sharkman team, they set up their tents a little too close to the water. Bad move! The first night they’re there, a team of FjØrdShärks, using their recently-evolved shark-legs, crawl up on shore and drag Sharkman’s trusted assistant, Dirk Finman, into the icy depths. Sharkman gets a glimpse of the beasts taking his friend under, and begins to pound the shore and shout for the heavens as he screams his promise for vengeance. Continue reading
Back by popular demand (upwards of 3 people), it’s the return of everyone’s favorite quarterly, mushroom-focused series! Today we’re talking about fungi that are big, beautiful and fabulous.
Pop Quiz: Do you know that the largest living organism on earth is? If you would have asked me this last week, I would have guessed blue whale, a redwood tree, or maybe something like a giraffe riding on a blue whale. All would have been incorrect; as I’ve learned this week that the world’s largest living thing is none other than a fungus! Fungi never cease to amaze!
In the Malheur National Forest in Oregon lives a full-figured fungus so large it is hard to comprehend. Apparently the extensive ‘honey mushroom’ mass covers an area of about 3.5 miles, or more than 2,200 acres. Most of which is underground but my mind is still blown. (I was way off on my original guess. You’d have to stack an incredible amount of giraffes on top of a blue whale to come close to matching this formidable organism.)
In other large fungus news, just this week a real beauty was discovered in China’s Yunnan Province. Coming in at a whopping 33 pounds, this glorious heavyweight has over 100 caps; or according to my calculations, enough to complement 500 dishes of General Tso’s.
There are many more big & tall fungi out there that deserve recognition. The Fomitiporia ellipsoidea species can grow up to 35.5 feet long and weigh 800-1,000 pounds, while the Giant Puffball’s not so shabby either. We could go on for days but let’s go ahead and call it here to allow time for reflection.
I encourage you all to spend some time this weekend and marvel at how great fungi are. Especially the large ones! I don’t know about you, but I haven’t thought about how awesome huge mushrooms are since level 4 of Super Mario 3. I’m grateful for this reminder today.
In our self-obsessed, individual-driven world of medical breakthroughs, technological wonders and incredible Hot Pocket innovations, human beings are only becoming more self-reliant, insular and independent. We are ‘masters of our fate,’ and the ‘captains of our souls.’ Many of us have no need for God or anything of the sort. We are our own helpers, our own healers.
But back in the 14th Century, when the Black Plague was mowing down everything in sight, we weren’t quite so sure of ourselves. We needed all the help we could get. In those days, the people turned to 14 Holy Helpers to deal with their many problems. Let’s have a look at this elite group and what they were called upon to help protect against.
Agathius – – Headaches
At first glance, this seems like overkill having a Heavenly Helper designated just for headaches. But then again I can’t imagine spending a day productively threshing wheat, being a blacksmith’s apprentice or cheesemongering with a pounding headache. Continue reading
Filed under F History, Faith
We haven’t talked flags in a while, so let’s jump back into some vexillogical discussion.
In our previous flag post we established that the St. Pierre & Miquelon flag reigned supreme as the fairest of them all, and we pointed out some other beauties as well.
The magnificent flag of St. Pierre & Miquelon.
Today we’re talking more about decoding flag imagery. While some of the world’s flags are pretty straightforward, many are a bit more coy and need some deciphering.
Pretty straightforward: “We’re Guam, we have a beach.”
Bhutan flag featuring Druk the Thunder Dragon.
Bhutan – With absolutely no offense toward the majestic bald eagle, I’m not sure any country has a cooler national representative than the ‘Thunder Dragon.’ Here, we see the mighty Druk, as Thunder Dragon is called, on a yellow and orange background. The orange represents Buddhism while yellow is a nod to the country’s monarchy.
Look a bit closer and you can see that Druk is also clutching some things in his talons here. I thought they were bowling balls or maybe large cherries at first glance, but it turns out they are gems, which represent the country’s wealth. This seems a bit incongruous with Bhutan’s “gross national happiness” policy, but Druk does what Druk wants I suppose.
I also just noticed that the gems could be construed as wheels. In which case Druk looks like a super-aggressive tricycle for the baddest kids on the block. Continue reading