Inspiration

Many German beer brands combine a place name with the word Hell, which means “pale” and indicates a pale lager:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rennsteig_Hell_Vollbier,_VEB_GK_Rennsteig-Meiningen_Werk_Meiningen_Etikett_(DDR).jpg

Image: Wikimedia Commons

In 2010 German businessman Florian Krause recalled that he’d grown up near an Austrian village called Fucking:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fucking,_Austria,_street_sign_cropped.jpg

So he brewed a pale lager and named it for the town:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fucking-hell-original.png

The European Union trademark office initially balked at registering the name, but Krause explained his thinking and they accepted it. “The word combination claimed contains no semantic indication that could refer to a certain person or group of persons,” the office noted. “Nor does it incite a particular act.”

“It cannot even be understood as an instruction that the reader should go to hell.”

Monte Kaolino

When Hirschau, Bavaria starting mining kaolinite a century ago, it faced a problem — one of the byproducts of kaolinite is quartz sand, which began piling up in enormous quantities. Fortunately sand itself has multiple uses — in the early 1950s an enterprising skier tried slaloming down the mountain, and soon the dune had its own ski club.

Today the 35-million-tonne “Monte Kaolino” even hosts the Sandboarding World Championships. And, unlike other ski resorts, it’s open in summer.

Tommy

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pet-Squirrel-Grid-LIFE-1944.jpg

During World War II one of the most surprising advocates of war bonds was Tommy Tucker, an Eastern gray squirrel who toured the nation in a humiliating wardrobe of 30 dainty costumes. (“THOUGH TOMMY IS A MALE SQUIRREL HE HAS TO WEAR FEMININE CLOTHES BECAUSE TAIL INTERFERES WITH HIS WEARING PANTS,” Life reported defensively.)

Tommy had been adopted in 1942 by the Bullis family of Washington D.C., who took him on the road in their Packard automobile, where he performed for schoolchildren, visited hospitals, and gave uninspiring radio interviews. Between appearances Zaidee Bullis would bathe him and place him in a specially made bed. At the height of his fame his fan club numbered 30,000 members.

Tommy retired after the war but gamely endured further travels with the family. When he died in 1949 he was stuffed and mounted “with his arms out so you could pull the clothes over him,” and his nightmarish fate pursued him even into the grave. He stands today in a display case in a Maryland law office — in a pink satin dress and pearls.

Green Indeed

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Million_Bottle_Temple_(7447377506).jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Thailand’s Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew has a unique distinction among Buddhist temples: It’s made of beer bottles. When the building was begun in the 1980s, the monks were seeking ways to encourage waste disposal and promote environmentalism. They had been collecting beer bottles since 1984 and decided to use them as a building material.

The main temple, completed in 1986, comprises about 1.5 million bottles. The monks say they provide good lighting, are easy to clean, and retain their color — the green bottles are Heineken and the brown ones are the Thai beer Chang. They even use the bottle caps to make mosaics of the Buddha.

The monks have gone on to build a complex of 20 buildings, everything from a water tower to a crematorium, from the same material. Abbot San Kataboonyo told the Telegraph: “The more bottles we get, the more buildings we make.”

Bad Cats

tiger statue

This has been a trying month for the Indonesian military. On March 11 a Twitter user uploaded this photo with the caption “What the hell is this tiger?” and it took off on social media. The statue, meant to represent the mascot of an army division, had stood for five years at the entrance of the Siliwangi Military Command base in Garut, West Java. But nothing can withstand social media: After two days of general hilarity the statue was taken down.

The army says that plans are being made to replace it. If they can’t find anything better, one good candidate might be the stuffed lion kept at Sweden’s Gripsholm Castle (below). It had been one of the first living lions in Scandinavia when the Bey of Algiers presented it to King Frederick I in 1731, but on its death it presented a strange problem to the taxidermist: No one could remember quite how a living lion looked. They did the best they could.

gripsholm lion

Podcast Episode 146: Alone in the Wilderness

https://archive.org/details/aloneinwildernes00knowrich

In 1913 outdoorsman Joseph Knowles pledged to spend two months in the woods of northern Maine, naked and alone, fending for himself “without the slightest communication or aid from the outside world.” In this week’s episode of the Futility Closet podcast we’ll follow Knowles’ adventures in the woods and the controversy that followed his return to civilization.

We’ll also consider the roots of nostalgia and puzzle over some busy brothers.

Intro:

In 1972, a French physicist discovered a natural uranium reactor operating underground in Gabon.

In the 13th century the English royal menagerie included a polar bear.

Sources for our feature on Joseph Knowles:

Jim Motavalli, Naked in the Woods, 2007.

Joseph Knowles, Alone in the Wilderness, 1913.

Bill Donahue, “Naked Joe,” Boston Magazine, April 2013.

Richard O. Boyer, “The Nature Man,” New Yorker, June 18, 1938.

John Gould, “Tarzan of the Pines,” Christian Science Monitor, June 18, 1999.

Roderick Nash, “The American Cult of the Primitive,” American Quarterly 18:3 (Autumn 1966), 517-537.

Robert Moor, “The 1913 ‘Nature Man’ Whose Survivalist Stunts Were Not What They Seemed,” Atlas Obscura, July 7, 2016.

“Joe Knowles, Lived in Wilds Unarmed!”, New York Times, Oct. 23, 1942.

Joseph B. Frazier, “An Early Nature Buff: By Going Into the Woods Alone, Did Joe Knowles Remind America of Its Potential?”, Orlando Sentinel, March 2, 2008.

Joseph B. Frazier, “‘Natural Man’ Inspired, Despite Fraud Claims,” Augusta Chronicle, March 16, 2008.

“The 100th Anniversary of Joe Knowles’ Famous Odyssey into the Wilds,” Lewiston [Maine] Sun Journal, April 14, 2013.

“Joe Knowles and the Legacy of Wilderness Adventures,” Lewiston [Maine] Sun Journal, May 12, 2013.

“Nature Man Badly Injured,” Los Angeles Times, May 18, 1915.

“The Nature Man,” The Billboard, Nov. 6, 1915.

Grace Kingley, “Joe Knowles, Nature Man, at Republic,” Los Angeles Times, Sept. 23, 1914.

https://archive.org/details/aloneinwildernes00knowrich

Still dressed in his bearskin and cedar-bark shoes, Knowles was examined by Harvard physician Dudley Sargent on Oct. 9, 1913. “He surpassed every test he took before starting on the trip,” Sargent declared. “His scientific experiment shows what a man can do when he is deprived of the luxuries which many people have come to regard as necessities.”

https://archive.org/details/aloneinwildernes00knowrich

A portion of the crowd that met him in Boston.

Listener mail:

Fireworks disasters in Oban, Scotland, and San Diego.

MURDERCASTLE, from the Baltimore Rock Opera Society.

John Tierney, “What Is Nostalgia Good For? Quite a Bit, Research Shows,” New York Times, July 8, 2013.

University of Southampton, “What Nostalgia Is and What It Does” (accessed March 18, 2017).

“Nostalgia,” Google Books Ngram Viewer, March 18, 2017.

This week’s lateral thinking puzzle was contributed by listener Rod Guyler.

You can listen using the player above, download this episode directly, or subscribe on iTunes or Google Play Music or via the RSS feed at http://feedpress.me/futilitycloset.

Please consider becoming a patron of Futility Closet — on our Patreon page you can pledge any amount per episode, and we’ve set up some rewards to help thank you for your support.

You can also make a one-time donation on the Support Us page of the Futility Closet website.

Many thanks to Doug Ross for the music in this episode.

If you have any questions or comments you can reach us at podcast@futilitycloset.com. Thanks for listening!

Cross-Country Golf

https://pixabay.com/en/the-shoals-course-muscle-shoals-1613273/

In 1953, 150 golfers participated in a “Golden Ball” competition in which they teed off at the first tee at Cill Dara Golf Club in Kildare, Ireland, and holed out at the 18th hole at the Curragh, about 5 miles away. A prize of £1 million was offered for a hole in one, which would have been well earned, as the distance is 8,800 yards.

In The Book of Irish Golf, John Redmond writes, “The hazards to be negotiated included the main Dublin-Cork railway line and road, the Curragh racecourse, Irish army tank ranges and about 150 telephone lines.” The trophy went to renowned long hitter Joe Carr, who covered the distance in 52 shots.

In 1920, Rupert Lewis and W. Raymond Thomas played over 20 miles of countryside from Radyr Golf Club near Cardiff, Wales, to Southerndown Golf Club at Ewenny, near Bridgend. Most onlookers guessed that they’d need at least 1,000 strokes, but they completed the journey in 608, playing alternate strokes. “At one time, the pair had to wade knee deep to ford a river,” writes Jonathan Rice in Curiosities of Golf, “but dried out by jumping a hedge while being chased by a bull.”

Inspired by the P.G. Wodehouse story “The Long Hole,” eight members of the Barnet Rugby Hackers Golf Club played 23 miles across Ayrshire in 1968, from Prestwick, the site of the first Open Championship, to Turnberry, the site of that year’s event. They lost “only” 50 or 60 balls while negotiating “a holiday camp, a dockyard, a stately home, a croquet lawn, several roofs, the River Doon,” and another bull, for a final score of 375 to 385.

N.T.P. Murphy gives a few more in A Wodehouse Handbook: In 1913 two golfers played 26 miles from Linton Park near Maidstone to Littleston-on-Sea in 1,087 strokes; Doe Graham played literally across country in 1927, from Florida’s Mobile Golf Club to Hollywood, a distance of 6,160,000 yards (I don’t have the final score, but he’d taken 20,000 strokes by the time he reached Beaumont, Texas); and Floyd Rood played from the Atlantic to the Pacific in 1963 in 114,737 shots.

The object of golf, observed Punch in 1892, “is to put a very small ball into a very tiny and remotely distant hole, with engines singularly ill adapted for the purpose.”

03/25/2017 UPDATE: Reader Shane Bennett notes that Australia’s Nullarbor Links claims to be the world’s longest golf course — players drive from Ceduna in South Australia to Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, stopping periodically to play a hole. Par for the 18 holes is only 73, but the course stretches over 1,365 kilometers. (Thanks, Shane.)

A Snow Dam

flateyri dam 1

The Icelandic fishing village of Flateyri was devastated when an avalanche buried 17 homes in 1995. To guard against further trouble, they built an earthen dam in the shape of an enormous A.

It worked: An avalanche struck the dam’s eastern wing in February 1999, and another struck the western wing the following March. Both were deflected harmlessly into the sea.

flateyri dam 2

In a Word

http://www.psacard.com/cardfacts/baseball-cards/1955-topps/norm-zauchin-176/24769

pernicity
n. swiftness, quickness, agility

discoverture
n. the state of not having a husband

supersalient
adj. leaping upon

desponsate
adj. married

The Fenway Millionaires also have a ‘sleeper’ in Norm Zauchin, a massive fellow just out of the Army. Don’t underestimate him. When he was at Birmingham he pursued a twisting foul ball into a front row box. He clutched frantically. He missed grabbing the ball but he did grab a girl, Janet Mooney. This might not be considered a proper introduction by Emily Post but it worked for Zauchin. He married the gal. Nope. Don’t underestimate an opportunist like that.

— Arthur Daley, “Life Among the Millionaires,” New York Times, March 11, 1954