Robert Hardy was the epitome of elegant humor

Robert Hardy was a great actor, who played many roles–but I’ll always remember him as Siegfried Farnon on the BBC adaptation of ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL.

This was before BBC caught up with Hollywood in terms of production values and budgets. The sets looked cramped and shabby, and the cinematography is nothing special.

But none of that mattered, because the acting and the story was always, always good.

My favorite stories from that book revolve around Tricki-Woo, the pet dog of a wealthy woman.

The actors who played James Herriot and Tristan Farnon were well-cast, especially Tristan.

But whenever Siegfried was in a scene, Robert Hardy dominated it without overshadowing the other actors. He made them better. And he’ll be missed.

SILENT NIGHT by Chewbecca, just because we can

Not bad. Not bad at all.

If you haven’t seen it, check out their other videos, especially the ones where Batman and Superman are just in a cafe, drinking coffee and roasting each other. Beautiful.

Also: saw ROGUE ONE on opening night and will dissect it later, then open up giant veins of speculation on how Snoke is actually a royally pissed off Mace Windu and Rey is the granddaughter of Palpatine.

The killer beside you

knife

The first murderer I ever met was tall and awkward, with curly hair. But this was sixth grade, and we were all a bit awkward. Every one of us.

This kid didn’t grow up to stalk the streets and slay prostitutes until the TV stations gave him a nickname.

He didn’t buy an AR-15 and shoot up a lecture hall or a nightclub.

This boy became a killer that same year.

One day he was in school. The next day he didn’t show up, and the next, and the next, until we finally learned the truth: he’d been charged with murder.
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Is this dinosaur-sized alligator fake or real?

This is the video that has the internet, and the mainstream media, losing their minds.

It’s like The Dress, except whether a bit of fashionable fabric is blue or gold didn’t really matter to anyone, while the existence of massive alligators roaming golf courses could, in fact, matter a great deal to ALL THE PEOPLE IT GOBBLES UP.

So yeah, this is exciting and fun. Let’s break it down.

Evidence pointing toward fakery and prankery

1) Nothing screams “green screen” like a green background

We all know how you make a fake video, or do special effects in movies. It starts with a green screen.

Adding a moving object that goes straight across, left to right, on the same plane? Piece of cake.

2) Terrible audio

Audio that’s all chopped up points to film that got edited to bits.

3) No closeup

With most footage of real-life craziness, the person shooting it has a choice: (a) run far, far away from Things That Can Kill You, like tornadoes, great white sharks, zombies or alligators the size of garbage trucks, (b) risk your life to see it, but only from a safe distance, (c) get as close as you can for a real look at the thing and a chance for YouTube infamy or (d) be smart and use the magic of zooming to get a closer look without turning into lunch.

Why is the shot so static? Anybody with two brain cells to knock together would zoom in on this monster.

Evidence making me think it’s real

1) The shadow knows

the shadow knows

No, not that Shadow.

Check out the shadow of the gator as it crosses the sand trap. Pretty hard to fake that.

2) Alligators this size are rare, but not insanely rare

If you’ve ever watched National Geographic, The Crocodile Hunter or any other show dealing with nature, you’ve seen crocodiles and alligators. And yeah, they get big.

It’s a reptile thing. I believe reptiles keep growing and growing until they die.

Could be wrong. Not a scientist. Wait, I’m right. They grow forever.

3) This is Florida

If you told me this video was shot in Georgia, Michigan or California, I’d be 149 percent more skeptical.

But we’re talking about Florida, the only state with it’s own Fark tag.

Weird news and Florida go together like chocolate and peanut butter, Han Solo and Chewbecca, coffee and milk.

There’s so much weird news coming out of this state, there’s a Twitter account dedicated to insane headlines that all start with “Florida Man,” as in “Florida man dresses like ninja to rob 7-Elevens” or “Florida man hides from cops in pond, gets eaten by alligators.”

Verdict: Real.

Snopes.com investigated this issue, because somebody had to, and they dug up the truth.

This alligator is not only real, he’s well-known and pretty chill. Hasn’t eaten any golfers that we know of and is kind of a mascot for the course.

Ducks with jobs

Yes, I kid you not: this isn’t a pet duck with a uniform grandma knitted as a joke.

These are real ducks with real jobs. And they take it seriously.

First up: the army of 900 Indian Runner ducks who work in a vineyard, and yes, it’s real work. They’re not eye candy for tourists who stopped by to sip on Chianti.

These ducks perform a hugely important task: keeping the vineyard free of pests, and they do it so well, the vineyard doesn’t need to use pesticides, which you DO NOT WANT in your Chianti.

They also seem insanely happy to do this, don’t they?

Think about it: you’re a wild duck, scrambling around for food and shelter, and your vineyard duck cousin tells you about his life, living in a sweet vineyard full of yummy food, sleeping in a great shelter, no predators to worry about and 900 other chill ducks to hang out with when you’re not feasting on bugs and worms.

Not too shabby. Not shabby at all.

Then there’s these ducks with the same kind of gig in Thailand, working at a rice fam.

Let’s break down why this is amusing and touching.

First, the ducks are cute. They seem eager and happy, and they’re far more elegant than chickens.

My neighbor has chickens and ducks. I feed them leftover veggies and such, and have learned things. The chickens are like feathered dinosaurs, and they do talk. But they also move in jerks and look at you with one eye at a time.

The ducks seem more evolved and intelligent. Instead of doing the chicken walk, they stroll. So with ducks, you’ve got a sympathetic subject.

Second, it’s surprising that ducks can do a job.

Monkeys? Sure. You expect monkeys, elephants, dogs and dolphins to be the type of animal with a job. They’re trainable.

Ducks are a shock.

Third, it’s crazy how happy the ducks are do these jobs. They aren’t on a chain gang. The owner doesn’t have to loom over them with a whistle and a whip. Sure, eating bugs is natural, but working as a team, and doing it on schedule without causing other shenanigans?

It’s hard to get 900 humans to work together without shenanigans. Five or more humans in a group won’t even agree on how to SPELL shenanigins.

Bonus video: 10 interesting facts about ducks

Mother goose calls the cops to save her baby

Goose with gooslings or ducklings or whatever they are called

A crazy and touching story: mother goose calls the cops for help.

Technically, she pecked at the patrol car door to get help and didn’t dial 911, but that’s only because she dropped her iPhone over Lake Michigan.

Let’s break it down and go deeper.

It’s perfectly believable that a bird would (a) recognize that its baby is in trouble and (b) realize it can’t fix the problem. The leap is in (c) coming up with the idea that a human could help and (d) pecking at the door of a police cruiser. The next step–(e) honking and getting the police officer to follow–is perfectly believable for anyone who’s seen a single episode of Lassi.

So let’s talk about the big, surprising thing, step (c), that a wild animal would think to ask for help from a human.

Here’s why it makes perfect sense: Every day, we’re learning that everyday animals like squirrels and crows are far smarter than we ever suspected. Any mammal or bird is probably smart enough to realize that humans run this place.

To animals, we are hairless space aliens who control the earth, the sky and everything around us.

We’re wizards and gods who travel in magical metal horses when we’re not flying across oceans, sending things into space or staring at tiny screens that let us tap into storehouses of wisdom and technology or communicate with any other human on the planet when we’re not playing Candy Crush.

So if you’re a mother goose, yeah, you’re not going to bug Mr. Squirrel, who’s busy burying nuts and wouldn’t help anyway.

And you wouldn’t honk at the stray dog who always chases you when he’s not peeing on every tree in sight.

In a time of ultimate desperation, to save your baby goosling (or whatever they are called), you’d ask for help from the weird two-legged wizards who run the place.

Man leads police on 112 mph chase, crashes, then flees with his pet monkey

Monkey chase. Photo courtesy of the Burien Police Department.

Monkey chase. Photo courtesy of the Burien Police Department.

Photo courtesy of the Burien Police Department.

This sounds like an Onion story. But it’s not.

As a reformed journalist and unrepentant fan of weird news, this story is classic. Let’s break it down.

Related post, which WordPress put on the front page: How weird news teaches us great storytelling

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