Sep 23, 2018

Mattoon: Home of the Mad Gasser and Modern Bodybuilders

Mattoon is in eastern Illinois, about halfway between St. Louis and Indianapolis, just west of  Eastern Illinois University.  Centrally located, but not a big tourist destination.  Only four claims to fame:

1.  Lincoln and Douglas stayed here before their debate. 

2. It's the home town of Hope Summers, who played small-town gossips, snobs, snoops, and other foils on My Three Sons, Andy Griffith, Gomer Pyle, Petticoat Junction, and other 1960s sitcoms, and Jackie Moran, a 1930s teen idol who played Buster Crabbe's sidekick in the 1939 Buck Rogers serial.

3. In the fall of 1944, the Mad Gasser squirted a paralyzing gas through the windows of a dozen residents, mostly women whose husbands were off fighting World War II.  An eyewitness described him as tall, gaunt, and not entirely human.  Mass hallucination, a real gasser, or a little of both?

None of those, unfortunately, are commemorated in any way.

4. it's the home of Lender's Bagels (those frozen hockey pucks you buy when for some reason you can't get the real thing).  Every summer there's a Bagelfest with a fun run, a beauty pageant (for girls), and other small-town festival attractions.

5. And the original Burger King (no connection to the chain, which they unsuccessfully sued).  It's a tiny, old-fashioned eat-in restaurant downtown.

But there are a lot of beefcake opportunities.

1. Mattoon High School offers swimming, track, cross-country, and wrestling.

2. There's also a community college, Lake Land, and Eastern Illinois University is only a few miles away.

3. Ben Booker (top photo) is the owner of Second Chance Fitness in nearby Arthur, Illinois.  His philosophy is that "fitness is for everybody.," regardless of age.  Seniors from 60 to 100 are invited to participate in his Senior Classes.

4. In April 2018, Mattoon hosted a Special Olympics Powerlifting Competition.

5.  There's a Mattoon Weightlifting Club, but it seems to be mostly for kids.

Lucas and Marcus Dobre, the Kissing Twins

19-year old twins Lucas and Marcus Dobre-Mofid are the sons of former Olympic gymnast Aurelia Dobre and coachBoz Mofid, who now own the Dobre Gymnastics Academy in Gaithersburg, Maryland (about 20 miles north of Washington). .

Lucas and Marcus grew up on the mat.  They began posting videos of their gymnastic stunts and dance moves to Vine in 2011, under the name Twinbotz.  By 2014 had 300,000 subscribers.

They moved to California to join Jake Paul's Team 10,but soon got homesick and returned to Maryland.  .

They bought a house with their two older brothers, Cyrus and Darius, and started two youtube channels, one for all four brothers, and the other for just the twins.

The four Dobre brothers record their own rap songs and music videos, mostly about how rich they are.

Meanwhile, Lucas and Marcus post mostly pranks, comedy, and dares: "Destroying our Friend's Computer", "Grocery Store Dares," "24 Hours Under Lucas' Girlfriend's Bed,"  "My Brother was Kidnapped by Scary Clowns."

Here they pose semi-naked in the snow.

They take their shirts off in most of their videos, and when they don't, they post shirtless pics to advertise it anyway.

Some of the pranks and dares involve gender bending, like the four brothers' "High Heel Race Through Wal-Mart" (with their shirts off, naturally).  The prank was about the shocked reaction of the uptight Wal-Mart shoppers rather than the problem of running in heels.

Lucas and Marcus both appear to have girlfriends, but like many zoomers they like playing with our expectations concerning sexuality.

Fan 1: "Are you..."
Marcus: "Yes."
Fan 2: "What if they were going to say gay'?"
Marcus: "Yess."

The twins post many photos of them kissing, hugging, cuddling, and otherwise acting like a gay couple.

Cyrus and Darius have girlfriends, too, but the four brothers have released a music video encouraging bullying victims to stop thinking that they aren't good enough.  That's sort of pro-gay.

Sep 22, 2018

Why the Hell Did I Buy "What the Hell did I Just Read"?

Earlier this week, while I was looking for a book on Scandinavian languages, I came across a loud, blaring ad for What the Hell Did I Just Read?

At first I thought it was a book of literary reviews, but the blurb instead said that it was a "wildly inventive, mind-bending, hilarious horror comedy," Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy meets The Walking Dead.

Well, I like both Hitchhiker's Guide and The Walking Dead, and it was half price on Amazon, so why not?

While it was bouncing over on 2-day Amazon Prime, I discovered that the author was David Wong, whose earlier book inspired the movie John Dies at the End (2012): a horror-sci fi comedy about two buddies, David and John (Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes), who become reluctant heroes in a world of nonsensical paranormal danger.

There's no actual same-sex kissing in the movie,and no actual gay characters, but there is a strong gay subtext.  The Girl turns out to be a ghost, John doesn't die at the end, and the two buddies walk off into the sunset together.

Both Chase Williamson and Rob Mayes have played gay characters in the past.

Sounds great.  I couldn't wait to read the novel.

In What the Hell, John, David, and Amy have become sort of X-File Private Eyes, starting their own paranormal investigation agency.  David starts off with some snarky but actually useful advice about paranormal experiences, such as:

To distinguish a supernatural visitor from a hallucination, ask it a question that you don't know the answer to, but can verify later, such as "Who is the current president of Peru?"

Then it went downhill.  It was not  at all funny, David's abrasive tone was annoying, and there were no  zombies (or Scandinavian languages), but ok.

Then it went even further downhill. Their case involved Mister Nymph, a mincing, lisping fruitcake who "acts like a fag" and preys on little girls.

I get it.  All gay men lisp and mince.  All gay men are pedophiles, with a particular interest in little girls, for some reason.

Fiction has been portraying child predators as lisping, mincing fags since Peter Lorre starred in M.

I stop reading at Page 38, and toss the book across the room.  It will go into the garbage tomorrow.

Surprisingly, the writer responsible for this mess is not Seth McFarland of the uber-homophobic Family Guy.

It's Jason Pargill, the head editor of Cracked.  He states that he is "not very liberal" (no kiddng?).  He didn't "come around" on gay rights until he met some gay people in his 20s.  But now he won't publish an article against gay marriage, as he perceives it as an attack on his friends.

But he doesn't mind writing a novel that attacks his friends.

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