Wednesday, May 30, 2007

11-Year-Old (Supposedly) Bags a Monster Pig

While I was away several regular readers sent me links to the story of eleven-year-old Jamison Stone, who supposedly killed this 1,051 pound wild hog with a pistol. He shot on May 3rd, hitting it eight times with a .50-caliber revolver, chasing it for three hours before he could finish it off. They had to remove the wild hog, which was 9 feet 4 inches from the tip of its snout to the base of its tail, from the woods with a backhoe. If these claims are correct, Stone's trophy would be bigger than Hogzilla, killed in Georgia in 2004. I should add, however, that there's a lot of doubt about the authenticity of this photograph. You can find one of many of the original stories here. A representative article questioning whether this is a hoax here.

As mentioned before in this blog, a movie called The Legend of Hogzilla (official site here) is being filmed in Georgia. Jamison Stone has been offered a small part in it. Perhaps my favorite comment about this story comes from the ever-watchful Mr. Sidetable, who noted "who on earth gives their sixth-grader a .50-caliber pistol?"

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Paul Mullins, Kisser, 2003

My pal Lisa at the University of Arizona Museum of Art is always checking out work at various galleries and shared this lovely work by Paul Mullins entitled "Kisser" that she found at Nathan Larramendy Gallery. According to what I could find on the interweb, Mullins was born in 1970 and currently teaches at San Francisco State University. The Larrramendy Gallery site has a few other images from this series that involve men and animals. This makes sense, as apparently Mullins' work as a whole interrogates manhood and masculinity.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Brief Hiatus

I'm going to be in the wilds of Utah and won't be able to update the blog for the next week or so. Don't worry, though; I'll be back. For now, here's an odd 1920s French postcard of a couple kissing next to a pig (it looks stuffed to me) that I found on E-bay. I don't know what to make of stuff like this...

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"General Boar-egard" & the U.S. Civil War

While poking around the web I found Colin Mount's 2005 presentation to the Royal Philatelic Society of London entitled "Pig in the Post" (here). It contained some interesting stories and images, my favorite being this postcard from the U.S. Civil War that satirized Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard as "Boar-egard." In this card, sent to an address in New York, the general is throwing up, well, something--I frankly can't figure out what the last word is. Beauregard was in charge of coastal defenses in Georgia and South Carolina, so perhaps this is a reference to that. Any help out there would be appreciated...

By the way, it is to P.G.T. Beauregard that we can largely blame for the "rebel flag," as he helped create and popularize the Confederate Battle Flag.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pigs and Atomic Testing: Pig 311

Hot on the heels of Tirpitz, the swimming pig from World War I, comes this tale of the seemingly "indestructible" Pig 311, found swimming in the Pacific in 1946 after the testing of the atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll. This pig survived both the sinking of the Japanese cruiser Sakawa in the test and a large dose of radiation before being sent to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. According to a July 15, 1946 article in the Los Angeles Times, the animals used in the Bikini test were generally "dying like flies," although Pig 311 was only suffering from "a diminishing blood count and other internal signs of damage." These must not have proven fatal, for the Washington Post featured a photo (far left; note Goat 315 on the right) of Pig 311 arriving at the Washington Navy Yard on September 25, 1946.

There are many files about Pig 311 in the archives at the National Zoo, but until I access them, I'm not entirely sure how this story played out. Speaking of plays, though, Dr. Jonathan Neale wrote a play about Pig 311 that apparently was performed in 1986. Some pig, indeed!

Thanks again to "Animals as Cold Warriors" website (here) for turning me on to this tale.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Pigs and Atomic Testing: Operation Plumbbob

I've been obsessed with atomic testing since our trip to the Nevada Test Site (tour info here) back in March. I've finally tracked down some of the pig-related aspects of atomic testing. For today, here are stills from the film documenting 1957s Operation Plumbbob, which used pigs to gauge the effects of both atomic blast and radiation. This image comes from the on-line version of the U.S. National Library of Medicine exhibition "Animals as Cold Warriors: Missiles, Medicine and Man's Best Friend," which you can find here. I highly recommend a look, especially for the images, such as the 1952 advertisement sponsored by a pharmaceutical company headlined "We must thank animals if good comes from the atomic bomb." The image of a Lassie-like collie under the mushroom cloud is priceless.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Tirpitz the Pig

Another pig story from the The Animals' War exhibit:

Tirpitz the pig was one of the only survivors of the German cruiser SMS Dresden. Plucked from the waters off of Portsmouth on May 14, 1915, the pig became the mascot of the HMS Glasgow, one of the ships that had destroyed his previous home. The pig was eventually retired to the Whale Island gunnery school in Portsmouth, but met his end in 1919 when he was auctioned off for charity as pork. He ultimately raised £1,785 for the Red Cross. Tim took this picture of Tirpitz's mounted head as it appeared in the exhibition.

By the way, a nice review of this show at the Imperial War Museum appeared in the Guardian (here).

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Israeli Mine-Detecting Pigs

My friend Tim just returned from London, where in addition to seeing my beloved Arsenal defeat Bolton at the Emirates Stadium he visited "The Animals' War" exhibit at the Imperial War Museum. I'll undoubtedly generate several posts from Tim's comments and photos, the first of which concerns the use of pigs as mine detectors in Israel, of all places.

Tim's grainy photo of an Israeli soldier working with his demining pig led me to track down more about this story. Perhaps the best overview comes in an article (here) by Jennette Townsend in the Journal of Research, Development and Technology in Mine Action. Townsend's 2003 report charts the work of animal trainer Giva Zin, who began his career in the Israeli army training dogs to detect mines and roadside bombs. As Zin notes, "While dogs can detect landmines on the surface of the ground, they have difficulty detecting mines buried deep in the ground," making the use of pigs more logical. Zin has trained his pigs to find the mine and then sit down, although some of the time the pigs have detonated the mines (a training version, not a high explosive, thankfully) with their snouts. Clearly, though, there may be potential in using pigs in mine detection, not in Israel, really, but in other areas of the world.

While the main reason that Giva Zin's research won't likely be applied in Israel is that suicide bombing is more of an issue than mines, the fact that pigs are not very popular in Israel. As Zin notes, "Jews don't like pigs. Even Jews who are not religious have a strong aversion to pigs." He has apparently been called stupid for working with pigs, which as a food item are treif -- non-kosher. Because there no religious prohibition against looking at pigs or touching them, Zin hopes that Israeli attitudes about this use of pigs will change. As he concludes, "I believe that even God likes my idea because I am using the pig for a good reason. Maybe in the future, after pigs have been used successfully in other regions, or after research confirms that pigs can be used for demining, Israelis will accept them for use on their own land."

The photo shows Giva Zin training a pig at Kibbutz Lahav in Israel.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Reynaud's Pork & Sons and the "Porcine Renaissance"

In yesterday's (here), Sarah Karnasiewicz road-tested some recipes from chef Stephane Reynaud's Pork & Sons. Reynaud's cookbook/memoir won the Grand Prix de la Gastronomie Francaise in 2005 and has just been released in the U.S. I have a copy on order, so I'll have more about the book soon. Until then, however, here's a useful line from Karnasiewicz's review about our contemporary porcine moment: "the release of the U.S. edition feels right on cue, too: timed to coincide with both the lunar "Year of the Pig" and the porcine renaissance that has been sweeping the American culinary community."

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hogzilla, The Movie

Mr. Sidetable forwarded me an article (here) about the production of a low-budget indie horror film to be titled The Legend of Hogzilla that will use Chris Griffin, who shot the "real" hogzilla as its "hog expert." Apparently they want to use locals in the cast and crew, meaning I'll have to see if I can head back to Georgia and land a part in this production. That would be most excellent.

The photo to the left is of the original hogzilla, of course. As you may know, a subsequent investigation by National Geographic (here) determined that this beast was part wild boar and part feral domestic pig and weighed about 800 pounds, a far cry from the original claims. There's more about the photo and the story at (here), including a lovely image of a float at the first annual "Hogzilla Festival" in Alapaha, Georgia.

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