Welcome to another edition of “THAT’S METAL!”… one installment away from the glorious 100th edition of this series. Which doesn’t mean that this edition isn’t glorious, too, because it is.
I have to begin with the obligatory and all-too-frequent apology for allowing so much time to pass in between episodes of this series. At this rate, No. 100 will arrive around New Year’s Day. Of 2017.
Anyway, I have nine items for you today, all of them things I think are metal even though they’re not music. Since Samhain was last night, I couldn’t resist including a few items appropriate to that most metal of festivities.
Our first item, which was recommended to me by several people, is pictured above. It’s an image of asteroid 2015 TB145, generated using radar data collected by the National Science Foundation’s 1,000-foot (305-meter) Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
NASA posted it on their web site the day before Halloween because, duh, it looks like a skull AND because it flew by our planet “at just under 1.3 lunar distances, or about 302,000 miles (486,000 kilometers), on Halloween (Oct. 31) at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT, 17:00 UTC).” NASA refers to the object as a “dead comet”.
One of my friends thought that Dead Comet Flyby would be a great name for a band. And hell yes, wouldn’t it?
For more info, and to see a .gif generated from six radar images of the object, go HERE.
Since I’m on the subject of space, allow me to introduce American astronaut Scott Kelly. He’s halfway through a year-long mission aboard the International Space Station. He’s been doing some interesting writing about his experiences at this location, and he has also been taking some jaw-dropping photos from his orbiting perch high above the rest of us. Here are a few of them. More can be seen via that link in the preceding sentence.
(Thanks to Phro for the tip on this item.)
Okay, let’s return to Halloween-themed items. What you’re about to see are photos of the make-up artistry of Stephanie Fernendez, a 19-year-old woman from Shreveport, Louisiana. She is self-taught, and to make matters even more amazing, she applied her talents in all these photos to her own face and body. I have no experience at this kind of thing, but it would seem to me that doing this to yourself would be even more challenging that doing it to someone else.
But even more impressive is her eye for color and the imagination displayed in her creations. After the photos (more of which you can find here and here), you’ll see a speeded-up video of Stephanie at work, showing the intricacy of her creativity and the the immense patience and concentration that must be required to produce these results.
These are clips from 250 horror movies compiled in a 5-minute video. The creator (whose YouTube channel is here) did an excellent job not just in selecting the clips but in the way he juxtaposed them in the video. The music is “Crypt” by Power Glove.
The video probably justifies a NSFW warning.
Okay, enough with Halloween. Let’s turn to the animal kingdom for the next two items. The first one is derived from a recent feature at The New York Times online, the subject of which is howler monkeys.
The video below (which accompanied the article) is metal for obvious reasons; this dude could front a death metal band by just doing what comes naturally. However, the focus of the article may be somewhat dismaying to metal frontmen. It reports on the results of research published last week in the journal Complete Biology:
No offense to tenors, but outside of opera, a high male voice is seldom, if ever, considered seductive. Scientific research has shown that women find deep male voices attractive, and the same is true in other species, like howler monkeys.
But evolution is often stingy in its gifts, and researchers investigating male competition to reproduce have discovered an intriguing trade-off in some species of howler monkeys: the deeper the call, the smaller the testicles.
Jacob Dunn of Cambridge University, one of the leaders of the research, said that species evolved either to make lower-frequency sounds, or have larger testicles, but none had both a very low sound and very large testicles.
Ours is not to wonder why institutions of higher learning are sponsoring research projects of this nature. Ours instead is to wonder about the size of Craig Pillard’s testicles.
More details here (about the howler monkey study, not Craig Pillard’s testicles).
(Thanks to Austin and Grant for tipping me to the article.)
ITEMS SIX AND SEVEN
I can’t explain it, but I have a tendency to include in most of these compilations at least one item about actual creatures that either horrify or nauseate me, or both. And today I’m grossed out by the Hickory Horned Devil and the Goliath birdeater spider.
According to this article,
The Hickory Horned Devil (Citheronia regalis) is the largest caterpillar in North America. It will eventually burrow into the ground to metamorphose into a regal moth, which has a 6-inch wingspan, but is much less bulky than its caterpillar form. The caterpillar molts four times to become this big (up to six inches long), and is bright green only in its final phase.
Here’s a video of one of these caterpillars discovered in Alabama.
Okay, now let’s turn to the Goliath spider. This article from last week reported as follows:
Harvard Entomologist Piotr Naskrecki recently posted on his blog about an encounter in Guyana’s rainforest with a South American Goliath birdeater, a spider so large it’s the size of a small dog or puppy. According to Naskreski, “Their leg span approaches 30 cm (nearly a foot) and they weigh up to 170 g.”
As Naskrecki describes his encounter with the spider, it truly comes across as the stuff of nightmares. “The spider would start rubbing its hind legs against the hairy abdomen. ‘Oh, how cute!’, I thought when I first saw this adorable behavior, until a cloud of urticating hair hit my eyeballs, and made me itch and cry for several days.” The entomologist goes into further detail saying the spider was “capable of puncturing a mouse’s skull, and would try to jab me with the pointy implements,” and that it produced a large hissing sound.
Thankfully, I have no video of this encounter to share with you.
(I would thank MaxR for tipping me to the article, but I don’t feel thankful.)
photo by Bartek Wolinski
Having purged myself, at least temporarily, of my perverse attraction to real-world creatures that give me the creeps, I’ll turn now to two items about lunatic humans.
The first of these people is Sam Reynolds. He is a British professional bike freerider. I had never seen the term “bike freerider” before encountering the videos I’ve embedded below. I now understand the term, though I’ll be damned if I understand the death wish that must be the inspiration for what a guy like Sam Reynolds does. Mind you, I can’t help but be tremendously impressed by his skill and his nerve.
These videos record Mr. Reynolds’ final run at the 2015 Red Bull Rampage outside Zion National Park in Utah, where he won “best tricks”, finished 9th, and secured a spot in the event for next year. I sure am glad I haven’t come across videos for the 8 dudes who finished ahead of him.
The first video was filmed from a helmet cam that Reynolds wore for his trip, the other was shot by people on more stable footing. The first one put my stomach in my throat.
To wrap up this edition of THAT’S METAL!, I’m staying with dudes who make off-label use of bikes. This one abuses a ski jump, too. And also rides on water.
His name is Robbie “Maddo” Maddison. He’s an Australian motorbike stunt rider from New South Wales. He’s pulled off a long list of amazing stunts, but I’m only including videos of two of them below. In the first one he rides down a ski jump. In the second one he surfs a monster wave off the coast of Tahiti, on his bike.
If you want to read the whole story about the wave-surfing, check out this article and interview at Rolling Stone.
And that’s it for now. As always, enjoy the rest of your fucking day.