They come from out of the sea! Giant! Mysterious! What are they? Will mankind survive first contact with the . . . Giant Lego Men?
No, seriously. Well, partially seriously. I don’t know about invasion, but there really are giant Lego dudes washing ashore all over the place. The latest incursion was on the beach of Siesta Key Village in Florida.
The Lego dude was about 6 feet tall and looked just like a regular-sized Lego man. Only much, much bigger. And with the words “No real than you are” printed on its chest.
Now, you might be forgiven for thinking this was probably the only occurrence of its kind, but you’d be wrong. Identical Lego dudes also washed ashore in Zandvoort in the Netherlands in Aug. 2007, and another one was found off Brighton Beach in England in November of 2008.
That’s the giane Lego dude from the Netherlands. He seems like he’s having fun.
A quick websearch of the words “no real than you are” turns up the website called www.egoleonard.com. So, the site’s written in Dutch, but via bablefish translation here’s approximately what it says:
My name is Ego Leonard and I greet you from the virtual world.
A world which for me stands for luck, solidarity, everything green and blooming, and without rules and restrictions.
Recently, my world has been flooded with luck-seekers and those who want power.
Many new meetings in my virtual world have left me very curious as to your surroundings.
I am here because I thought of your world and wanted to discover and understand it.
Show me all of those beautiful things which your world has to offer.
Be my friend, and tell me tales, take me on your travels to beautiful landscapes, show me your words and gestures.
Okay, not too creepy.
Although I love the idea that there are more of these things floating on the oceans of the world, adrift, heading in the general direction of nowhere, to eventually wash up on shore in front of befuddled beachcombers. It makes the world a much stranger place. I like that.
There’s some jobs people really shouldn’t have to do. And, dudes? Every one of them is one I would not want to be involved in. Heck, most of them I don’t even want to know about.
This one, however, while exceedingly gross, is actually pretty interesting. But first, a little background.
There’s folks around who love snakes. I’m one of them. The thing is, though, I don’t love them enough to want to keep one as a pet. There are people who do. And, among those dudes, there’s people who are so irresponsible and — basically — idiotic enough that they buy a snake, knowing it’s going to grow to a huge size and do it anyway. Then, when — surprise! — the snake grows to a huge size, they just toss it outside somewhere in the wild, leave and never look back.
That sort of thing’s happening in the Florida Everglades. Thanks to idiotic pet owners, the ‘Glades are suffering through an invasion of giant snakes. Burmese pythons, to be exact.
The snakes, first reported in the (Everglades) park in 1979, are likely descended from released or escaped exotic pets. Their current population is in the thousands, and they are proliferating rapidly. “The first way to prove the danger they’re causing to the environment is to figure out what they’re eating and how much of it they’re eating,” said Carla Dove, head of the National Museum of Natural History’s Feather Identification Lab.
So, with that in mind, she began having the stomach contents of captured Burmese pythons shipped to her from the Everglades National Park. Yeah, that’s right, she gets the enviable task of rooting through semi-digested, sloppy, goopy remains of birds eaten by Burmese pythons shipped to her so she can identify the bird species.
Identifying any birds in such samples is messy, time-consuming work—a task Dove embraces with gusto. “My job is not so glamorous,” she says, picking up a brown glob in a plastic sandwich bag. She washes it in warm water, then dries it with compressed air: “Feathers are made of keratin, like your hair, so they are very durable and easy to clean and dry.” She examines them under a microscope, looking for fine variations in color, size or microstructure that tell her which taxonomic group a given bird belongs to.
Dove then takes the sample into the museum’s collection of 620,000 specimens from more than 8,000 species of birds and looks for a match; it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. “This is the way we’ve been doing it for 50 years,” she says. “We have DNA now, but DNA is not going to help us in this case”—the python’s digestive system has destroyed or contaminated the genetic material—“so you really have to rely on those basic skills of identifying things based on your experience and your knowledge.”
In the past year, Dove has identified more than 25 different species of birds taken from the stomach contents of approximately 85 of the Burmese pythons infesting the Everglades. Even better, the snakes — as they grow larger — start noshing on things other than birds, including alligators and deer. Yeah, you read that right, dudes. These Burmese pythons can get seriously big — up to 23 feet in length, weighing in at 200 pounds with a girth the size around as a telephone pole. These suckers can get huge!
For now, Dove said she envisions a three-step strategy for ridding the ‘Glades of these monster reptiles: education (making sure idiots don’t do idiot things), prevention (keeping new snakes out of the ‘Glades), and suppression (killing any exotic snakes found in the park).
That’s something for others to work on, though. Dove gets to stick to wading through the goopy garbage and identifying bird and other animal species under attack.
And that, dudes, is a job I’m more than willing to let her handle.
I’m going to keep reviewing these until at least one of you drops by the comments section to let me know that you actually bought a collection of the best comic book being published today. And, no, that’s not damning with faint praise. I love The Incredible Hercules: The Mighty Thorcules. It pushes all my buttons. It’s got humor, mythology, humor, butt kicking and smart alekry up the wazzoo. In short, it’s incredible. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Oh, yeah. And this collection has the best sound effect ever committed to paper. Take a look.
Let me explain. For reasons too complicated to go into right now, the Incredible Hercules has to pose as his rival, the Mighty Thor (hence the title) and, this being a superhero comic, the two get into a fight. Now, Thor isn’t used to fighting bare chested. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem. But, see, Hercules isn’t above fighting dirty to win and is willing to give out a purple nurple (notice the sound effect “nurp” is, in fact, purple).
Being a serialized comic book, this could be a bit confusing, if it weren’t for the fact that The Incredible Hercules has the most inventive and fun recap pages ever speeding people up to brought. Basically, Herc has to impersonate Thor to stop an invasion of Earth by some particularly dire elves. Things do not go as planned and Thor has to impersonate Herc to stop the whole thing. Once again, things do not go as planned.
Thor, normally one of the most noble fair-fightingest of the Marvel universe takes well to playing the part of Hercules. Perhaps too well. And, of course, notice the sound effect which, if sounded out, will sound suspiciously like nut crack. Hmm. Wonder where they got the idea for that sound effect? (To get a better look at this and the next picture, make with the clicky to enlargen.) [What? That’s a word, right?]
In the series, Herc has been accompanied by a young genius named Amadeus Cho, the seventh-smartest person on the planet. And someone who has even worse impulse control than the notoriously scatterbrained Hercules. In alternating issues, this collection follows Cho as he tries to find out what really happened when his parents were killed.
He’s looking for the man who planted the bomb, not so much for revenge, but to find out if his sister is really alive and, if so, where she is. When Cho finally does find the mastermind behind his personal tragedy, he’s confronted by an aged, bitter and more than slightly insane version of himself and forced into a no-win, life-or-death situation. His solution to the dilemma is uniquely his own.
Because this is a comic book, I wanted to say a little bit about the art. Reilly Brown on the epic Thorcules arc is absolutely fantastic. I mean, you get the expressions you’ve been hoping for when someone describes the action. While Rodney Buchemi doesn’t quite reach those heights on the Amadeus Cho sections, it still does a nice job of telling the story.
In all, I’ll give this book five (5) dudes out of five. It’s, sorry again, incredible. Go out and buy it now. Read it and laugh.
Otherwise. . . Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be you.