Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Starting your own country

File:Molossia - President Kevin Baugh 1.jpg
His highness, the President Kevin
Baugh of the Republic of Molossia
Do you find yourself dominating Risk all the time?  Ever feel like you can relate to our expansionist friends, like Alexander the Great, the Huns, Bonaparte and Microsoft?  Do you find yourself dressing up in military outfits, marching in your bedroom to loud army marches, pretending to give rousing speeches to the inferior peons of your nation-state?  Then this article is for you.

I for myself have considered starting my own country, and believe me, after some careful Wikipedia and Google research, it's not as hard as you think!  Let's go through the steps.

1) Make sure your new nation meet minimum requirements:  You must have a defined territory.  Draw your borders out on a map. You must have a permanent population. Choose something where people live, like a neighborhood.  Disney world unfortunately won't work here. You must have a government, one that is capable of interacting with other states.  This might be the tricky prat, but you could probably just higher a lawyer or something to write up a constitution.

Behold the grandeur of Sealand!
2) Declare independence: while you may join the ranks of micro-nations with the lack of seriousness that comes with it, the UN Charter offers immediate rights to a self-proclaimed independent state.  To name a few: inefficient government isn't grounds to claim a full independence, you can't just wage war and claim that country, and so on.  For further reading, here's the "Declaration of the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples"

3) Get recognized: this is the tricky part.  Each country has its own way of determining whether you're a big deal or not.  So you've just gotta work your national magic!  Start trading.  Contribute to the arts.  Find yourself a Justin Bieber within your borders.

4) Get in on the UN:  Once you've done all of the above and you've proven your peaceloving country is a big deal after all, write a petition to this guy:

Ban Ki-moon
The United Nations
First Ave. at 46th St.
New York, NY 10017

Here's a list of a few new and upcoming smaller countries ready to make their name in world history:

Sealand - a small seaport left over from WWII where a pirate radio broadcaster started to claim that as his territorial land.  Other country heads of state eventually contacted this guy when Britain tried to get this thing back or something.  Has his own currency and everything.

Republic of Molossia - located at a man's house in Dayton, Nevada and some territory in Southern California.  Self-proclaimed "banana-republic."

Dominion of British West Florida - a micro-nation devoted to restoring Florida back to England, the beloved motherland of Florida for 16 years before the Declaration of Independence.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Hot, New Musical Fads

Watch out music world!  There's a splash coming, and it's called "We're playing unique musical instruments"!  No doubt you have been walking the sweet, sweet streets of New York or another glamorous city, and have been entertained by many a-street performer.  We have accordion players, statue/costume guys, magicians, drunks peddling for money, children who pretend to be horribly separated from their parents - it's a real scream!  It's only natural to think, "What kind of unique talent do I have to bring to the table?"  Maybe you thought about how your Uncle Ricky taught you how to play musical spoons, or your grandma went on and on before you fell asleep about some orchestra concert she went to.

Here are some huge musical instruments just getting into the scene just now:

The Humanatone, or "Nose Flute" - believe it or not, people have been sticking many different musical articles in their noses for hundreds of years!  The Philippians, the Hawaiians, and the Chinese have been playing some of their own nose flutes for hundreds of years - but thanks to the miracle of science we have reached the pinnacle of the Nose Flute evolution.  The Humanatone was released to the public at large for the first time in 1904 as a classy musical instrument, and the world has never been the same since.  These are easy to pick up, but hard to put down.

(Movie: Concerto for Nose Flute.  From 4:30-6:10 is where the real magic happens.)

The Kazoo - don't be fooled!  This may seem like a little kid toy, but it is I believe one of the most difficult instruments to master and sound beautiful on.  This little diddy was created here in the states right around the same time as the Humanatone - one of the few popular musical instruments that can claim 100% American roots.  They do however have historical ancestors called the Eunich Flue; our history peeps would snag a tube and stick a thin membrane on the other end like a dried onion skin.  How 'bout that!  The modern kazoo can be found everywhere, from jazz combos to the wildest rock bands.  Rock, rock on!

(Movie: Enter Sand Man performed beautifully by a quartet)

iPhone - chigga-WHA?  You mean I can take my everyday ordinary cell phone and turn it into a virtuoso musical man device?  Oh baby, can you ever.  There are myriad apps that will enable you to turn your miracle device into a musical instrument, including an ocarina, guitar, piano, drumset, you name it! It's not too late to jump onto this fad, and you better do it before too many get on!  Milk this one for what it's worth right now!

(Movie: a band I think playing a bunch of iPhones like a REAL band should!  Yeah yeah yeah!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving thoughts and stuff

Nyam nyam!
For some reason, there's only one time of the year that we decide to cook turkeys.  I can't remember the last time I had a cooked turkey for dinner - oh wait.  Thanksgiving.  And what ho!  I'm writing on Thanksgiving!  What are the odds, readers, tell me, what are the odds.

You may throughout the course of the day find yourself positioned behind a glorious feast of beans, potatoes, pies, and if you're Charlie Brown, then popcorn, jellybeans, pretzels and toast.  But before your family dives over the table, knocking over the ornaments and breaking plates to get their ravenous hands on that succulent turkey-dish, let's sit back and think a little.  Have you thought about the character of this dear, dear animal from whom your lips and teeth are viciously tearing slobbery chunks of meat?

Think about it, friends.  Here's some fun facts you can one-up everyone with at your next Thanksgiving party.

  • Turkey is just its street name.  Meleagris gallopavo is its actual name, but don't expect anyone to know that.
  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird.  He wrote in a letter "though [he is] a little vain & silly, [he too is] a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on."  Riddle me this Benny Franks, ever see an eagle vs. turkey in a fight?  Thought so.
  • Wild turkeys can run up to 25 mph.  The fastest men alive can at their peak run 25-27 mph.  If you see a turkey run off with a woman's purse, odds are you would be better not even trying.
  • A turkey's gobble can be heard up to a mile away.  Meh.
  • The country and Turkey and the bird turkey are two very different things (a shout out for my foreign mystery readers).

Take just a moment, breath in some clean air and let your mind be grateful for this bird of ours that has a little more character than a mouth occupant.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Walkers X-Treme!!!!

File:2005 World Championships in Athletics2.jpg
So you all must think you all are quite the walkers.  Strolling in all like you know what you're doing, throwing your weathered legs against all sorts of walking mediums: wood, granite, gravel, earth, grass, the moon, socks, dirty laundry, oh baby!  You may have quite the waking resume.

But hold your horses, friends.  Before you toss your chin high in the air and spit upon lowly wheelchair and heely users, let me bring you down to earth a little.  You see, you may have heard in whispered voices in dark alleys the taboo sport of "speed-walking," or as the pros call it, Racewalking.

Interested?  Knew you would be.

There are TWO pivotal rules to Racewalking: 1) The ends of your toes cannot leave the pavement until your alternative foot's heel makes contact with the ground, 2) Your leg must be straight from when your heel hits the pavement until it passes from under your body.  Don't expect fair play!  There is plenty of room for dirty cheats; as quoted by Wikipedia: "These rules are judged by the human eye, which creates controversy at today's high speeds."  When you're barreling down that racetrack with fire in your soul, keep your eye out for the dirty cheaters; they might be wearing bowler hats, they may have long, greasy mustaches - at any rate, keep your eyes out.

For you ambitious over-achievers who aim to do everything the very best, I'm sure your heart will feel golden when you hear that indeed there IS AN OLYMPIC EVENT for Racewalking, with distances ranging from 20 km to 50 km.  You can bet there are rest stations along the way for these highly-tuned machines of athletes; there are all sorts of wonderful treats such as water and maybe even raisins if you are lucky.  Go for gold, my Racewalking children!

Walkin' in style, G-unit.  Maybe a little
old for the Olympics, but never too old
for awesomeness.
Last if not least, you may be thinking, "Where should I start?"  Call your local church leader for more information on this exciting, new world of Racewalking.  He should be in the know.  And off-roading for the adventurous kinds?  Be sure to go to your nearby Walmart and purchase a good, healthy pair of trekking poles.

Walk on, walk on.