Best Byes

Sendoffs, Farewells
& the Far Side of 2013

In many quarters of the globe, the departing year had its fair share of kooky dishes, strange brews and no small amounts of heart burn. Just like the number that hitched the millennium over 300 days ago. Much of it is forgettable, but some are worth revisiting.
In no particular order, and little if any sense, we’ve collected some of these gems for your consideration. You may come out nurturing the feeling that somehow you’ve missed a lot, but not to worry: just enjoy it like it’s your second and very last chance.
A mechanic’s invention to help safely suck babies into this world. A presidential party favor that the host, a former spymaster himself, graced his powerful guests. From brew to brick, to bricks made of blood, beer has certainly had a grip over the year.
From Bowie in space to cats on a subway track, 2013 was also a year of tearful animal goodbyes, and the two leading the bunch out of this world were unquestionably a special breed: a polar bear with a severe case of neurosis and a pig, with a weakness for booze.
But what on Earth, you may ask, have these far out events to do with anything or even each other? All we can invoke in defense of stringing together such insane chain of recollections is that each and every one of them was a rare gift, squeezed among the terrible headlines inflicted on us throughout the year.
After all, we’re sure that you’re being bombarded everywhere by that kind of recollection, and how we’ve reached yet another notch downwards, for all we’ve done to the planet and to each other, and for the lot we didn’t even consider doing to redeem ourselves.
End-of-the-year lists have this way of making us all feel so guilty and miserable that if one checks one, all the others get checked as well. Thus, as we struggle to find ways to wrap up the proceedings, we also humbly aim at bringing some vain comfort to our sore readers who’ve been through a lot.
So has The Remains, a band with a heartbreaking story that reunited last June after a 47-year hiatus. In 1966, they went into a 14-city tour, opening for a quartet from England. But while The Beatles’ last live performances are the stuff of legend, they wound up in Gowanus, Brooklyn, recollecting. Life’s definitely not fair.
Talking about the 1960s, another legend that will fold coming Dec. 31, is the Volkswagen bus, icon of summers of yore, and if we’re calling it Continue reading

Field of Dreams

Wanna Be an Oneironaut?
Now, There’s an App for That

The art of lucid dreaming resembles the booming business of death: more people are doing both than ever before. But while there’s hardly ever news coming from the Big Sleep, specially from those who went into it and despite faith arguments to the contrary, dreams are very much alive and vital and, chances are, you’ll have some new ones to talk about in just a few hours.
The other week we told you about a machine that, ideally, one day may be able to record and play back thoughts. It’s only logical to expect the same happening to those intriguing adventures most humans and animals find in the arms of Morpheus. Now, that the field of lucid dreaming no longer belongs exclusively to shamans and visionaries, you guessed it, there’s an app for that too.
Since ancient times, narratives describing mystical revelations have been recorded and transmitted through generations. Many of these fantastical tales are at the root of religions, faiths and cults, having been dreamed on by their founders. They have served as shared apprenticeship tools for conversion and initiation.
As ritualistic dogmas upon which would lay the foundations of a sect or group of ‘chosen ones,’ dreams have also always offered glimpses into deep recesses of our species’ psyche, as revealed mysteries endowing both individuals and the community at large of special powers and Continue reading

On the Brink

Meet an Amur Leopard,
the World’s Rarest Cat

There may be only fewer than 50 individuals of this beautiful feline left in the wild. It shouldn’t be so, since they sit at the top of the food chain. Guess who’s been mercilessly hunting them for centuries?
Now the World Wildlife Fund has set an area covering 650,000 acres in Russia for the Land of the Leopard National Park, a last-ditch effort to prevent these magnificent creatures from extinction.
That’s why we dedicate this Caturday to the Amur, the rarest among the rarest. Click on the picture to watch the video. There are also many other ways you can help, including adopting one of them.

Combat Pets

Soldier Dogs With Same
Traumas as U.S. Troops

We breed them. We treat them as equals, as gods or slaves. We love and we fear them. And we’ve been eating them for ages.
Since we’ve been around, we’ve done with animals as we damn well pleased. Including being killed in our wars, often instead of us.
Elephants, horses and dogs. Dolphins, sea lions and pigeons. Primates and pigs. Even cats and bats have died in wars or in weapon labs.
Now, like the canary in the mine, dogs are sounding the alarm. Some of those deployed in combat are suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
DAMAGED HOUNDS
It’s a disturbing, if predictable, consequence of their loyalty to the military. And more so than with the troops, these warriors may have been psychologically hurt for life.
Counseling therapy, of course, won’t work with them. In fact, in many cases, treatment is a guess work, at best, and to expect a full Continue reading

Before You Go-Go

Cat Drops Off, Picks
Up Friend at Station

Most people know that cats are highly selective when it comes to humans. Sometimes, even your own can makes you feel, let’s say, unimportant, specially when the corner deli is out of his favorite food, and you have to improvise.
Nothing of the sort happens with Graeme, an Australian feline, who’s very popular at the Hurtsbridge station as a trainspotter. Seen everyday by the side of the tracks he is, of course, always wide open to demonstrations of affection by commuters.
What it’s taken most locals some time to realize, though, was that Graeme had a reason to hang around twice a day at the station: he likes to drop off his friend Nicole, and to come back late afternoon, to walk her home.
Believe us, it’s all documented in the video someone shot at the two. Continue reading

Winged Fate

No, Really, It’s a Bird
& It’s Heading This Way

A funny thing has happened with our relationship with birds: we’re beginning to hate them.
Except when we love them. In any case, the whole thing became very complicated.
Since the beginning of times (and that’s the kind of intro many an epic has started; not in this case, though), humans have looked upon birds and dream.
As our imagination soared, hoping that one day we could ourselves fly and be as free as we thought they should be, our collective mood towards them kind of soured.
Fine, so we couldn’t fly like birds? No matter, we invented the several-tons heavy airliner to fly even higher and faster than them.
The birds counterattacked by letting themselves be swallowed whole by the plane’s turbines, and down we came crashing.
Oh, yeah? Let’s shoot them cold, specially near airports, and Continue reading