The 1979 Sears Wishbook

Someone has uploaded the entire catalog as a flickr set. You know the drill: if you're ten years old (in 1979), you always start at the back page and work your way forward 'till it gets dumb.

The Futurechimp wish list: any of the plethora of handheld electronics (pages 669-664), Big Trak (662), Zodiac Astrology Computer (659), Disco Pinball (637), Micronaut Rocket Tubes (616), Godzilla with Launchable Claws (613), Fantom 4 Hovercraft (605), Mighty Men & Monster Maker (566), and a Phono-Organ (499).

Just think of all the entertainment and education this site has provided you in the last year. Why not show your appreciation by locating one of these fine items on ebay right now? email our offices for shipping details.



Christmas Evil

From today's Toronto Globe:
Christmas Evil, The obscure 1980 slasher film - which by today's standards plays more like a low-budget psychological drama - has become something of a cult classic in recent years. A 2006 DVD includes audio commentary by none other than John Waters who deems Christmas Evil "the best seasonal film of all time," adding, "I wish I had kids. I'd make them watch it every year and if they didn't like it they'd be punished."

The director has the only 35mm print in existence, which he travels with for screenings. But it's easily found on dvd, and highly recommended.

Black Christmas

Torment your loved ones this holiday season by screening the original 1974 Black Christmas, my vote for creepiest movie of all time. It has a huge cult following and an extensive fan site, yet I don't personally know anyone who's seen it.

This is groundbreaking territory for a horror movie; John Carpenter's Halloween is often cited to be the first of its kind, but it was originally conceived as a sequel to Black Christmas, made several years earlier with a similar plot and atmosphere, albeit less cinematic and more realistic.

I hesitate to embed this very lengthy and spoiley trailer, because it's best to go into the movie knowing nothing about it. But such is the wont of Futurechimp to be multimedia:

Not at all gory or exploitive, lots of unexpected twists and turns, a moody sense of dread throughout, and unforgettably scary. And John Saxon is in it. And it's by the same director who went on to make A Christmas Story. Rent or buy it before the end of '08 to give your holiday a little kick.

(I know nothing about the 2006 remake, and unless someone I trust recommends it, I plan on keeping it that way.)


Gruss vom Krampus!

In a heartwarming pagan custom predating the Christian era (6th century a.d.), children in small alpine towns of Germany and Austria would fear the coming of the Krampus, St. Nicholas' horny, malevolent alter-ego.

Back before anyone in the region knew the name of Jesus, St. Nick would visit all the good children on his Feast Day of Dec. 6th, bestowing them with gifts. But the night before, his lesser half, Der Krampus , would come to beat misbehaved children with a switch. And if they were really bad, he'd carry them off in his basket to spend an eternity in hell.

But as you can see in these vintage postcards, the Krampus would also spend his precious few hours on the material plane engaging in leisure activites, like sledding and accosting young ladies.

In the Bad Gastein Valley outside of Salzburg, Austria, residents continue to re-enact this tradition every December 5th by dressing up as Krampuses and running rampant through the village, singling out attractive, unaccompanied women who are foolhardy enough to leave their homes and "birching" them (swatting their asses with branches).

The Krampus enjoyed a resurgence in 19th Century Germany, when malicious parents would award their kinder with Krampus postcards, reminding them to shape up or be shipped out by a cloven-hoofed, leering, demonic incubus. Like Der Struwwelpeter , it must have made parenting a whole lot easier.

Get a whole book of the Krampus postcards this Christmas to horrify your own kids.

Santa The Diplomat


Christmas Time Tunnel

Clicking the link below will magically transport you to a suburban living room 25 years in the past, with some of the most Godawful crap ever broadcast on your cathode ray tube. You can only get three channels at a time, and might have to adjust the rabbit ears for better reception (I didn't discover this until my second visit). Although there's no acceptable excuse for watching holiday-themed episodes of Perfect Strangers or Who's The Boss, there are also lots of surprises like church pledge drives and vintage commercials. There's also a schedule, so be sure to click the TV guide in the upper corner of the screen so you can check the listings and maybe come back later. Hey! The He-Man and She-Ra Christmas Special is on in 40 minutes! Nice!



Frodo: Alpha Chimp

excerpted from National Geographic:

Frodo's predations within Gombe National Park have been amply documented. In one four-year period, Outside magazine reported in November, he alone eliminated an estimated 10 percent of the park's colobus-monkey population within his hunting range.

Frodo seized the position of alpha male in 1997, taking advantage of his brother Freud when the latter came down with mange. By then, however, his instinct for dominance had already produced a series of violent run-ins with prominent Homo sapiens. In 1988, for example, "Far Side" cartoonist Gary Larson was the target of Frodo's belligerence. Larson walked away from the tussle with only bruises and scratches, but his caricatures of primates as malevolent geniuses gained a sudden authenticity. A year later Frodo jumped on Goodall and thrashed her head so thoroughly that he nearly broke her neck. In the wake of that incident Goodall has consistently refused to enter Frodo's territory without a pair of bodyguards along for protection.

Like most of his hundred or so fellow chimps who live protected existences within Tanzania's Gombe National Park, Frodo remains a fiercely efficient predator. The chimpanzees regularly hunt down other mammals—notably colobus monkeys—and kill them for fresh meat. This behavior is normal for wild animals, but it brought tragedy to a human family in May 2002, when Frodo snatched and killed the child of a Tanzanian park worker.

On the morning of May 15, 2002, the wife of one of the park attendants was following a forested public footpath through the park near Lake Tanganyika's shore. Her destination: the Kasekela research camp where her husband worked two miles away. Walking behind the woman was her 16-year-old niece, who carried her aunt's 14-month-old baby in a sling held firmly to her back.

The trio had just crossed a dry streambed when they surprised Frodo feeding on oil-palm fronds only 12 feet from the path. As the spouse of a park employee, the mother probably knew that park rules bar children under 12 from visiting the park, and she almost certainly was aware of the mortal danger posed by chimps. Her shock and terror must therefore have been unimaginably extreme as she watched the 121-pound Frodo draw near, wrest the baby girl from the niece's back, and disappear into the forest. By the time help arrived from the research team, Frodo had scrambled up a tree and was holding the limp form of the baby, which he had begun to eat. Lacking the defensive support that the larger group would have lent him, Frodo was easily scared off, and the baby girl's dead body was recovered.

While representatives of the Tanzanian National Parks Department debated euthanizing Frodo, the Gombe research team weighed alternative courses of action and struggled to put his behavior into context. Pressed to clarify the circumstances surrounding the assault, Dr. Kamenya furnished the primatologists' perspective: What we see as murderous conduct, he explained, is standard for chimps in the wild. Characterizing Frodo's attack as the "natural hunting behaviour of chimpanzees," Dr. Kamenya pointed out that the animals regard human babies "just as they view the young of other species such as colobus monkeys and baboons—as potential prey.

This incident wasn't mentioned in Frodo's biography on Goodall's website, presumably because it might disturb children or more importantly, discourage potential doners. Read about the sorry souls who, to this day, live in fear of Frodo here. And see his more gentle side here.


Vintage Science Films

The Wellcome Collection, a medical museum in London which I'll be visiting in a couple weeks, has put many of its 16mm instructional films online for your perverse enjoyment.

Be sure to read the descriptions of the videos before diving in, so you know what you're getting into: Gold Ball Implantation describes itself as "a straightforward demonstration of a specialised operation that removes the inside of the patient's eyeball." No thanks. And just reading the title Circumcision already tells me more than I want to know. Choose wisely. For starters, I recommend Cruel Kindness. An educational film seemingly made for parents, it cautions against the dangers of childhood obesity. And don't miss Looking Around, which tells you how to suspend arthropods in resin.

Some of the films have to be downloaded before viewing, and none of them have embedding code so I can't mirror anything on this site. To get started, click here.


Three Favorite Reagan PSA's

You gonna smoke that?

"son, you're doing it all wrong. You shoot it between the toes."

Paid for by the White House (a.k.a. your tax dollars).