In other dining news

If you find yourself in Minneapolis, Minnesota, you could go to Hell’s Kitchen for their Last Supper celebration this Friday.  It sounds like a good time and one of the better end of the world as we know it marketing gimicks that I’ve seen lately.  I love that they will have fortune tellers, psychics and palm readers.

I still have baking to do if I’m going to have enough cookies to build my replica of the main temple at Chichen Itza!

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Do the Chinese know something

…that the rest of us have missed?  First there was the guy building that survival boat, and now this.  Apocalypse Balls.

Or The Great Balls of China?  Cause that’s totally not racist either, right?

Actually, I thought these were pretty cool until he opened the door and showed that APALLING wallpaper.  Seriously, you are clever enough to come up with this idea and make it work, and you manage some pretty cool sorta-camo exterior paintjob and THAT is what you put inside?!?  After a few minutes of that I’d want to open the hatch and take my chances in the water.

I will grant that the focus on practical questions like the seatbelts and the table with handrails makes it somewhat better than this, which though it has a more attractive finish also barely seems big enough for one person, let alone the four it is supposed to hold.

If you ask me, those Japanese pods need this for a paint job

If you ask me, those Japanese pods need this for a paint job

What you could do is get one of those big pods and have it overnighted to your backyard to give you the most possible time for rehabbing the interior into something a bit more chic.  Then get a couple of those smaller Noah pods for the family pets (and one for each teenager and toddler so that you can face the end of the world as we know it in relative comfort.  Put bumpers on the shells and tether them together and the whole family can just float away on the crest of the waves until the waters roll back.

In fact, there could be a great secondary market designing interiors for escape pods.  Maybe some folks like the “Great Aunt Tessie” look, and for those clients there could be pictures of kittens with balls of string, crochet doilies on the table and antimacassars on the backs of the seats.  Then you have the “007 package” complete with built-in champagne buckets, circular waterbed with satin sheets (your choice of colors), mirrored ceiling and mini fridge stocked with a range of wine, strawberries, and caviar.

An alternate mountain retreat

So if you were one of those folks whose travel agent didn’t get the trip to Pic de Bugarach booked before officials decided to shut down the area, it turns out there is a fall-back destination for you: Mount Rtanj, a peak in the lovely mountains of east-central Serbia.  Rtanj is one of the last mountains in the Serbian Carpathian mountain range, and is easily recognizable, due to the height (1565m/5134ft) of its distinctively pyramidal peak, named Šiljak.

GIS maps are great, no?

GIS maps are great, no?

That peak and its particular shape, unusual in general and said to be atypical for mountains in the region, has long held a reputation for being otherworldly.   The name itself is said to be derived from the Old Romanian “aartan” referring to its artificial nature, and local legends ascribe the shape and the very existence of the peak to the work of otherworldly or supernatural origins.

It is a lovely peak, and distinctive from a distance

It is a lovely peak, and quite distinctive from a distance – note the almost perfect slopes.

Local myths abound.  One tradition highlights the distinctive shape and suggests that beings from another world built a crystalline pyramid below the mountain and covered their construction with soil and rock to bury it, only the mystical forces exuded by the perfect form of the inner pyramid have forced the earth to take on the regular shape of the (really badly) hidden object, revealing its existence.  What’s inside that pyramid?  An escape vehicle, of course.  The whole mountain serves as a garage for the storage of a massive spaceship that the aliens (have they been here all the time – that would certainly explain some things) will use to escape the fiery destruction of the planet next Friday.

Local tradition holds that the peak was once the home of a great wizard or sorcerer, who built either a tower or a castle over a treasure buried deep within the mountain (gold is the usual guess, though perhaps they already knew about that spaceship long before The “History” Channel got word of it) and harnessed the power of the mountain for use in mystical rites of ancient magic.  Unstable weather patterns around the mountain, and the frequency of lightning strikes during abundant local thunderstorms are used to support the suggestion that the mountain has special properties.  Some say that (and as I wrote those words, I was immediately drawn to wonder if this is where The Stig goes for annual recharging) “magical lights” can be seen around the peak at some points of the year, and that the distinctive shape of the mountain, and markings on the slopes, aid in navigation and landings by UFOs (maybe this is the intergalactic equivalent of JFK?).  Sadly, no trace of the castle remains – it long since fell victim to the ravages of weather and treasure seekers.

After World War I, residents of the village at the base of the mountain built a memorial chapel at the summit for the owner of the local mine, but sadly this too has fallen victim to vandals, treasure seekers and the area’s violent storms and generally bad weather.  Only a fragment of the chapel remains as a popular site for climbers to take photographs to document the picturesque ruin.

All that remains of the chapel at the summit

All that remains of the chapel at the summit

There isn’t much cover on the peak, and much of the mountain is covered in scrubland, but the northern slope is said to be rather thickly forested, with good hunting opportunities for deer and boar and ample drinkable water.  In the event that the end brings zombies, you’d be out of luck, but if the mountain doesn’t crack open to reveal a massive interstellar escape pod, you could manage to camp there and have a great barbeque.

Better book that trip soon, though, as there’s no saying what will happen when people start flowing into town.  It’s likely that the Serbian officials will cut off access just as the French did, spoiling the fun for apocalypse watchers.

Pic de Bugarach update

Sadly, it seems that millions will be denied salvation when the destruction ‘foretold’ by the Maya arrives on the 21st of December.  Officials in the département of Aude have decided to ban access to the Pic de Bugarach, and to limit access to the village on its slopes, fearing an influx of “New Age fanatics, sightseers and media crews” (I wonder which would be the most potentially destructive?).

So if you were planning to leave the planet via alien transport to avoid global cataclysm, you’ll need to check your tickets.

Since we’ll all be staying on the planet, you could head to Belize or Guatemala for your apocalypse vacation needs.

Only 267 shopping days left!

…until the end of it all!

That is to say, there are only 267 days left until 21 December 2012. Sure, you might say that there are actually holidays in there, but you could do your shopping online, so long as you make sure to keep an eye on the shipping window. Maybe it makes sense to upgrade to an Amazon prime account to make use of the guaranteed next day shipping.

And while you are at it, might as well start planning that doomsday vacation. You could head to France and enjoy the city of lights before it’s lit up for the last time, and then go join the rest of those who believe that the mother ship will be departing from the south of France sometime on the 21st.