I’m embarrassed to say that almost two months have passed since the last THAT’S METAL! post. Between our seemingly endless (and still not ended) year-end LISTMANIA series, holiday diversions, and other excuses that I know must exist but can’t be remembered, I’ve brutally neglected this long-running series. The continuing list of items I keep for potential use has grown ridiculously long, and I hope I can get my ass in gear to plow through them on a more regular basis now that the new year has begun.
For newcomers, what I assemble in these posts are images, videos, and occasionally news items that I think are metal even though they’re not music. Today’s larger-than-usual collection is mainly winter-themed, with a few exceptions, beginning with this one:
The first item is at the top of this post. It’s a gold forehead ornament made during the fourth or fifth century A.D. in the Mochica civilization of what is now Peru. A feline head is in the center, and spiraling out from it are octopus tentacles ending in catfish heads. Its dimensions are 11 1/4 x 16 5/16 x 1 3/4 inches. It normally resides in the Museo de la Nación in Lima, but was recently on display as part of a unique exhibit of Peruvian art and archaeological artifacts named “Kingdoms of the Sun and Moon” at the Seattle Art Museum, which is where I saw it about a week ago. The museum’s web page describes the object’s history as follows:
“A spectacular Mochica gold forehead ornament from the fourth or fifth century A.D.—a representation of a terrifying sea god surrounded by eight tentacles—was intercepted in a London gallery by Scotland Yard, subsequent to a 2004 tip from an individual informant.
“Instantly dubbed by some newspapers the ‘Peruvian Mona Lisa,’ the famous Mochica octopus was recovered in 2006 by the Peruvian authorities and returned to the Museo de la Nación in Lima. It had, according to archeologist Walter Alva, been discovered during the illegal excavation of a tomb at La Mina in the Jequetepeque Valley, which had been extensively looted in 1988.
“The present exhibition of this masterpiece of Mochica goldsmithery, which quickly became a symbol of the war on art trafficking, is its first showing outside Peru since its incredible recovery.”
The whole exhibition was amazing, but the Mochica octopus was the star of the show — and metal, both literally and figuratively.
Above is a photo of 35-year-old Maria Leijerstam. She is the first person to bike from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole. Actually, I guess “trike” would be a more accurate word.
She left the Novo Russian Airbase on December 17, 2013, on a recumbent tricycle built by the British design group Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE) — and she was racing to the South Pole against two men (Juan Mendez and Daniel Burton) who were pedaling more traditional, “fat tire” winter bikes.
The 400-mile trip was a grueling one, in extremely low temperatures in an environment where the winds can reach 50 mph. She made the trip in less than 11 days, cycling for between 10 and 16 hours each day, with no rest days. She lost 8.2% of her body weight during the expedition despite consuming around 4000 calories per day.
The technical term for this accomplishment is “metal as fuck”.
More info is available here. Below are a couple of videos about the project that were made before the race began. A documentary is in the works and is supposed to air sometime this month. (via TYWKIWDBI)
While we’re on the subject of snow, ice, and extreme cold, let’s consider the case of Todd Fox of Fargo, North Dakota. Todd finally had enough of the polar vortex that has held most of the continental United States in its wintry grasp for the last couple of weeks, and he resorted to extreme measures. Todd is my hero. So is the reporter who crafted this local Fargo news report on Todd’s adventures:
“Local resident Todd Fox has been detained for ‘reckless endangerment’ and ‘illegal use of high-powered fire-breathing weaponry’ for attacking snow with his flamethrower. Fox reportedly became so fed up with the week-long blowing snow epidemic in his area that he decided to KILL IT WITH FIRE.
“The neighborhood was treated with quite a show last night as Fox unleashed an inferno upon the mountainous snow palace that was his front yard. Neighbors to his immediate right and left noticed a bright orange cloud and could hear what they thought was ‘puff the magic dragon spewing mayhem all over hell,’ which prompted one of them to notify police.
“Fox stated that he was simply ‘fed up with battling the elements’ and that he did not possess the willpower necessary to move ‘four billion tons of white bull shit.’
“Police say that Fox surrendered his efforts immediately upon their arrival and that his front yard ‘looked like a hydrogen bomb had gone off.’ They think he was just happy to be done with snow removal, even if it did mean a trip to jail.”
(credit to my friend Patrick for the tip on this story)
Since it is winter here in the northern hemisphere, let’s stay with wintry subject matter for a few more items.
Why does snow always need to be white? That’s the question that Swiss brothers and pro freeriders Nicolas and Loris Falquet asked themselves. Together with young freerider Jérémie Heitz and photographer Jeremy Bernard, they put a new spin on the typical ski video. Using a variety of color pigments and a motorized vaporizer used in farming, they transformed portions of their local ski resort (Les Marecottes) into a multi-hued palatte and made videos of their trips down the slopes. Check it out (and for more info, go here):
Eidfjord in northern Norway, three hours east of the very metal town of Bergen, is known for its spectacular fjords, mountains, and majestic icefalls — frozen waterfalls that tower over 1,640 feet. Last year, two pro alpine climbers and a photographer named Thomas Senf captured the beauty of these giant ice structures by illuminating them in colors at night. Instead of using spray-on pigments as the Falquet brothers did, they used flares and lamps fixed in the ice, strung together with 500 meters of electric cables. Beautiful, and dangerous — and very metal.
One of the stunning photos is shown above, and more can be viewed here. A short video about the photo shoot is below. (credit to Andy Synn for the tip on this item)
Colorizing ice and snow is a cool idea, but making music from ice is equally cool. I’ve got two examples in this next item.
Siberia’s Lake Baikal is estimated to be the deepest lake in the world, and at 25 million years old, the most ancient. It freezes in the winter, and by accident a group of Siberian percussionists discovered (when the wife of one of them fell on it) that striking shards of the frozen surface in one area of the lake produces an unusual sound. So they videotaped the following exhibition of ice drumming (go here for more info; credit to Alexis for this discovery).
They headbang and destroy their instruments, too, so — extra metal.
Those Siberian percussionists aren’t the only people making music from lake ice. The latest edition of what’s billed as the world’s only festival of ice music, will be held in Geilo, Norway, on January 16-19, 2014. At last year’s festival, a documentary of the process was filmed (entitled Notes on Ice) as sculptors and musicians made instruments from lake ice and recorded the final performances in an auditorium made out of snow.
It’s a truly extravagant undertaking that has brought together a variety of very talented people. The following trailer for the documentary is short. A longer one (about 10 minutes) can be found here and trust me, it’s worth the time. Below, I’ve also included a video from one of the earliest installments of the festival. (credit to Andy Synn for pointing me to this event)
The photo below was made by Thomas Kast in Oulo, Finland, and was NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day for December 18, 2013. NASA’s explanation for these “light pillars” appears below the photo.
“What’s happening behind those houses? Pictured above are not aurora but nearby light pillars, a local phenomenon that can appear as a distant one. In most places on Earth, a lucky viewer can see a Sun-pillar, a column of light appearing to extend up from the Sun caused by flat fluttering ice-crystals reflecting sunlight from the upper atmosphere. Usually these ice crystals evaporate before reaching the ground. During freezing temperatures, however, flat fluttering ice crystals may form near the ground in a form of light snow, sometimes known as a crystal fog. These ice crystals may then reflect ground lights in columns not unlike a Sun-pillar. While going out to buy cat food, a quick thinking photographer captured the above light pillars extending up from bright parking lot lights in Oulu, Finland.”
(NASA image of Matt Mons on Venus)
One more winter-themed item (sort of), and then we’ll move on. You won’t have much trouble figuring out why I think this next item is metal: The headline for the article that someone sent me (apologies for my failure to remember who) is “On Venus It Snows Metal”:
“As we now understand it, the snow on Venus’ surface is probably more similar to frost. On the lower Venusian plains, temperatures reach a searing 480°C (894°F). This is hot enough that reflective pyrite minerals on the planet’s surface are vaporized, entering the atmosphere as a kind of metallic mist, leaving only the dark volcanic rocks like basalt in the Venusian lowlands.
“At higher altitudes, this mist condenses, forming shiny, metallic frost on the tops of the mountains. And Earth’s simmering sibling has plenty of high altitude terrain. Maxwell Montes, the tallest peak on Venus, stands at an altitude of 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) — 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) higher than Mount Everest.”
A baby pterosaur is called a flapling.
Nudiustertian means “relating to the day before yesterday.”
Lalochezia is using swearing to relieve stress or pain.
The faint trace of perfume left in the wake of a passing person is known as sillage.
Plutomania is the delusion that one is immensely rich.
Ebriety is the opposite of sobriety.
Grenade is French for pomegranate.
An old name for the kestrel is windfucker.
A spermologer is a collector of trivia.
I guess I am a spermologer. I also frequently engage in lalochezia, especially when in a state of ebriety, and the last time I was in such a state I think I saw a flapling, though it may have been a windfucker.
I’m a fan of metal because it’s the most powerful music I know. There is power in words, too, especially when they are used to speak the unvarnished truth, with the weight of emotion behind them. This is the most powerful thing I’ve read in the space of the last week. It makes me angry just reading it. It’s by Scott Adams, from the November 23 entry at his blog at Dilbert.com, and it’s no joke:
I hope my father dies soon.
And while I’m at it, I might want you to die a painful death too.
I’m entirely serious on both counts.
My father, age 86, is on the final approach to the long dirt nap (to use his own phrase). His mind is 98% gone, and all he has left is hours or possibly months of hideous unpleasantness in a hospital bed. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s as close to a living Hell as you can get.
If my dad were a cat, we would have put him to sleep long ago. And not once would we have looked back and thought too soon.
Because it’s not too soon. It’s far too late. His smallish estate pays about $8,000 per month to keep him in this state of perpetual suffering. Rarely has money been so poorly spent.
I’d like to proactively end his suffering and let him go out with some dignity. But my government says I can’t make that decision. Neither can his doctors. So, for all practical purposes, the government is torturing my father until he dies.
I’m a patriotic guy by nature. I love my country. But the government? Well, we just broke up.
And let me say this next part as clearly as I can.
If you’re a politician who has ever voted against doctor-assisted suicide, or you would vote against it in the future, I hate your fucking guts and I would like you to die a long, horrible death. I would be happy to kill you personally and watch you bleed out. I won’t do that, because I fear the consequences. But I’d enjoy it, because you motherfuckers are responsible for torturing my father. Now it’s personal…
I might feel differently in a few years, but at the moment my emotions are a bit raw. If I could push a magic button and send every politician who opposes doctor-assisted suicide into a painful death spiral that lasts for months, I’d press it. And I wouldn’t feel a bit of guilt because sometimes you have to get rid of the bad guys to make the world a better place. We do it in defensive wars and the police do it daily. This would be another one of those situations.
I don’t want anyone to misconstrue this post as satire or exaggeration. So I’ll reiterate. If you have acted, or plan to act, in a way that keeps doctor-assisted suicide illegal, I see you as an accomplice in torturing my father, and perhaps me as well someday. I want you to die a painful death, and soon. And I’d be happy to tell you the same thing to your face.
Note to my government: I’ll keep paying my taxes and doing whatever I need to do to stay out of jail, but don’t ask me for anything else. We’re done now.
[Update: My father passed a few hours after I wrote this.]
(via TYWKIWDBI, again)
And that’s it for this edition of THAT’S METAL! As always, enjoy the rest of your fucking day.