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Things We Like: Lost Skeletons, Radio Terror and Pumpkin-Eating Hippos

24 October 2009 Things We Like 4,451 views No CommentPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

Every Saturday, the editorial staff of Monkey Goggles and its friends rummages though bookshelves, toy boxes, DVDs, music collections and stacks of assorted stuff to pick out a few choice items that will make your life better.

Hippos Eating Pumpkins

Two of my wife’s favorite things are hippos and pumpkins. Most zoos have an event in the fall where they feed pumpkins to hippos, which for her is like the Superbowl times ten. We just attended the press preview of the local Seattle version on Thursday and you can find pictures by clicking the link above. This year they used larger pumpkins which meant that the hippos couldn’t pick them up and crush them in their powerful jaws. Instead, they had to nose them over to the wall and press them until there was a pop and pumpkin guts filled the water.

Check with your local zoo for times in your area. If your local zoo doesn’t do this, call them and ask them why they hate happiness, hippos and pumpkins. Remind them that pumpkins are like cupcakes to hippos. In Seattle, you can see it at the Woodland Park Zoo on October 24 and 25 at 10:30 AM. – David Wahl

Scarecrow Video’s Movie of the Week: “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” (2001), directed by Larry Blamire

“The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra” is a parody of all those trashy black-and-white sci-fi flicks that those MST3K jokers are always making fun of. When brilliant scientist Dr. Paul Armstrong and his lovely wife Betty encounter mysterious aliens Lattis and Kro-Bar, their plans for a quiet week-end of meteor hunting are derailed. Lattis and Kro-Bar have accidentally unleashed a radioactive mutant and turned a gentle woodland creature into the seductive Animala! Only Dr. Armstrong and the raw power of science can save humanity from the mutilating mutant and the wrath of the lost skeleton. Parody films can be hit or miss; for every hit like “Young Frankenstein,” there are ten misses like “Saturday the 14th.” “Lost Skeleton” is one of the rare parodies that wears its love of the source material on its sleeve. – Rhias Hall

The Mercury Theatre on the Air’s 1938 “War of the Worlds”

It’s been 71 years since Orson Welles and his Mercury Theatre company — actors John Houseman, Joseph Cotten, Ray Collins and a host of others who would later follow Welles to Hollywood, and to “Citizen Kane” — created a first-person narrative version of H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” for a night-before-Halloween broadcast. It was a different kind of radio drama: It had no music, spread over a full hour without commercial breaks, and told its story through a series of fake news reports and “emergency broadcasts.” The listening public rewarded Welles’ creative ingenuity by panicking itself into a frenzy.

While the events occurring in the aftermath of Welles’ Halloween prank are often discussed — even Hitler chimed in on the subject — one thing is often overlooked: what a brilliant, compact thriller the Mercury Theatre’s “War” really is. Somehow, the Martians manage to land in New Jersey, incinerate thousands of troops and destroy New York City in less time than it takes to drive from Grover’s Mill to Weehawken. Yet even today, generations after the “fact,” Welles’ “War” feels real. It feels more substantial than Steven Spielberg’s pretty-but-stupid 2005 film based on the same material. And it will play on your nerves, even though you know better. You may depend on it.

Best of all? It’s in the public domain. You can download “War of the Worlds,” as well as several other Mercury Theatre broadcasts (including their highly-recommended production of “Dracula”), from this unofficial Mercury Theatre website. Should panic set in, take out your earbuds and remind yourself that none of this ever really happened. Far as you know. – Geoff Carter

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