offbeat

Offbeat
2:12 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

This Michigan-bred musician nails 29 celebrity impressions in one song

Credit montage of screen grabs from robcantor's YouTube page

Update: Rob Cantor has posted a new video showing how he faked every one of the 29 celebrity impressions, using the voices of 11 different impressionists. I'm a fool.   

How's your work day going? Productive? Ready for a break? Good. 

Rob Cantor is a Los Angeles-based musician who grew up in Michigan.

You might know him as the guy in the yellow tie from Tally Hall, a band that formed while Cantor and his band mates attended the University of Michigan in 2002.

Tally Hall took a run at stardom after signing with Atlantic Records. They had some appearances on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and, as the band's Wikipedia page claims, Tally Hall continues to have a "relatively significant cult following."

More recently, Tally Hall's band members have been working on solo projects, and Cantor is promoting a new solo album.

That brings us to the crazy video Cantor posted today.

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The Environment Report
8:50 am
Thu May 29, 2014

What would you do if killer lampreys invaded your town?

Lamprey wrestling.
Credit Animal Planet

Listen to this Environment Report if you dare.

Would you:

A) run away screaming

B) attack them with golf clubs, weed whackers and curling irons, or

C) haplessly fall victim to them as you enjoy a quiet afternoon of fishing with your dog?

The residents of a fictional Michigan town do all of the above in "Blood Lake: Attack of the Killer Lampreys" airing this week on Animal Planet. It's by the same people who brought us "Sharknado."

Watch the trailer below:

Really, it was only a matter of time. With its toothy suction cup for a face and razor sharp tongue, the sea lamprey was a horror movie villain just waiting to shine.

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Offbeat
10:45 am
Wed May 21, 2014

Better late than never? A Transformer reveals himself in Ann Arbor

Car or human? This "transformer" street performer wants to reassure the kids he's human.
Credit Mark Brush

We in the media world go crazy for anything that might get shared by thousands... nay millions of people around the Internet. 

Entire sites like Gawker, Buzzfeed, and ViralNova are dedicated to getting these shares. The New York Times gazed at its navel and didn't like what it saw. "More shareable content!" they said.

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Offbeat
4:33 pm
Thu May 1, 2014

University of Michigan's undergraduate library adds a "napping station"

The first implemented napping station in Shapiro Undergraduate Library
Credit user: GoBlue / imgur

For those students studying in the University of Michigan's Shapiro Undergraduate Library, relief is not far away.

The Central Student Government has implemented its first napping station.

The idea is geared toward those who are studying hard for tests but live too far from the library to run home for a quick nap. It was pitched to CSG by engineering junior Adrian Bazbaz, who was interviewed for an article in the Michigan Daily

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Offbeat
12:22 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

Wake up, Ann Arbor! You're behind everybody else

Mornings are hard.
Credit user: Beverley Goodwin / Flickr

America, on average, gets to work at 7:55 a.m. People who are employed in Ann Arbor get to work at 8:15 a.m. That's not very impressive. Granted, it's better than New Yorkers, who leisurely arrive at 8:24 a.m. –nearly 30 minutes later than the national average.

All of these numbers are from Nate Silver's blog.  He analyzed and explained data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau's "American Community Survey."

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Offbeat
1:29 pm
Wed April 23, 2014

Michigan man goes for "most strikes in a minute" bowling record

Jason Hicks going for his ninth strike.
Credit Amber Taylor / YouTube

We're talking the traditional, pitcher-of-beer, middle America, tenpin bowling.

Chad McClean set the official record in Gainesville, Florida last year. He managed 12 strikes in one minute.

Unofficially, Jason Hicks tied that record at his family-owned Clio Bowling Arcade last month. MLive's Aaron McMann says Hicks actually hit a 13th strike, but it was a second too late.

Here's a video of his last attempt:

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Offbeat
11:25 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Watch this to see what sound looks like

A picture that shows the shock waves around a T-38 Talon aircraft on December 13, 1993.
Dr. Leonard Weinstein NASA

Two parabolic mirrors, a barrier, a camera, and voilà! – you have a way to photograph sound waves – or more specifically, a way to photograph changes in air density.

Check out this video from NPR to see how it works:

H/T Lucy Perkins

Offbeat
12:48 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

'Pick a perfect March Madness bracket, win $1 billion,' say people seeking attention

Update 11:48 a.m.

This is the week that "the-people-seeking-attention" are really cashing in on their bet.

They're betting that you won't pick a perfect NCAA March Madness bracket, but you will give them all kinds of personal information to take a shot at it. 

As Carl Bialik from the lauded Five-Thirty-Eight blog puts it:

No sum of money can beat the math.

(See how statisticians calculate the odds in the original post below.)

ESPN.com's Rick Reilly figures the company sponsoring the contest stands to make a lot of money by gaining "as many as 15 million new sales leads with the registration process alone on this thing."

"You can't buy that kind of PR," [the guy] says. "We love this."

Reilly sat down with the rich guy backing the bet, who isn't too worried about someone picking a perfect bracket. He knows the odds, and he's known how to play them to his advantage all his life:

[The guy] loves making bets that tilt toward his wallet. When his three kids were growing up, he paid them their allowance in dimes. That's because he had a 10-cent slot machine in the house. "By the end of the night," he says, "I'd have most of my money back."

Original post, January 21, 2014

You're more likely to get struck by lightning, but what the heck.

The odds of you picking a perfect NCAA bracket vary.

Some say it's 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

In his video, Jeff Bergen of DePaul University says there's a 1 in 128 billion chance of picking a perfect bracket. He says the odds are a smidge better given that you would  follow the rankings.

The organizers of the contest say the odds are better – 1 in 4.3 billion. (There's no indication of how those odds were calculated.)

If you pick a perfect bracket, they'll give you a billion dollars. More specifically, they'll give you $25 million a year for 40 years, or a one-time payment of $500 million.

So there isn't much in it for you, but there's a lot of free publicity for them. You'll see them in your Facebook feed, or on the Google.

Offbeat
11:23 am
Wed January 8, 2014

World notices that a) it's cold, and b) Michigan has a city named Hell

The headline makes it in print. The photo behind the headline is not of Hell, Michigan. It's the lighthouse at St. Joseph, Michigan.
Steven Clark Twitter

Hell, Mich., got down to 13 degrees below zero Fahrenheit during the deep freeze, and headline writers around the web jumped for joy.

The BBC has a short video describing how "Town of Hell Freezes over in the US."

Time Magazine declares, "It's Official: Hell Has Frozen Over."

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Opinion
10:50 am
Tue January 7, 2014

Fun inside the polar vortex, throwing boiling water in the air

Lester Graham with a cup of boiling water.
Mark Brush Michigan Radio

If you haven't been online in the last 24 hours, or you didn't watch it being done on Anderson Cooper's show over and over last night, then you're in for a treat.

It used to be a something kids in Alaska or in Canada's Northern Territories did for fun.

But with the combination of cold weather and social media, those of us in the Lower 48 can play too (and some of us are burning ourselves).

Life in the polar vortex allows you to do this:

So why does the boiling water suddenly turn into what appears to be a cloud of steam?

Well, it's not steam. They're just tiny ice crystals. LiveScience had Mark Seeley, a climatologist at the University of Minnesota, explains:

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Offbeat
5:08 pm
Mon January 6, 2014

Even the Fairy Garden Village of Ann Arbor couldn't escape the snow

Fairy Garden Village of Ann Arbor evacuated due to heavy snow.
Credit Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

No word on the whereabouts of the fairy village warming centers... or whether fairies have water pipes in their houses.

Offbeat
3:08 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Stunt skiiers drop in on the ruins of Detroit

Clip from Poor Boyz Productions YouTube

These skiiers stopped in from out of town to "Ski Detroit."

Yes, it's another in a string of "check out how bleak Detroit is" videos. But their tricks are definitely worth watching. There's some pretty creative stuff going on here. (Lyrics in some of the soundtrack are NSFW.)

(H/T Sarah H.) 

Offbeat
12:54 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Former Detroit broadcaster was inspiration for 'Ron Burgundy'

The man who inspired a character.

You might remember Mort Crim from way back when. He was a senior editor and anchor for the evening news at Detroit's WDIV-TV from 1978 to 1997.

If you don't remember him from that era, you might know him as the Majic Window Guy.

Here are some clips featuring Crim while he anchored at WDIV:

It turns out, Crim was the inspiration for Will Ferrell's Ron Burgundy character.

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2:24 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

10,000 turkeys used to walk from Vermont to Boston

Lead in text: 
Forget the great cattle drives in the Old West. I want to know more about the "great turkey drives" in the Old East. (This is one more for the "Thanksgiving story files.")
  • Source: Vpr
  • | Via: NPR Local Stories Project
Today, the term farm-to-table signifies the epitome of local food. But nearly 200 years ago, it meant something entirely different when Thanksgiving
Offbeat
11:06 am
Fri November 1, 2013

This twenty pound carp could be your new Ann Arbor city council representative

The face of your future city council representative? Only time will tell.
Credit Natural Area Preservation staff

You read that right.

A twenty pound carp that was pulled out of a pond in Ann Arbor's West park last November is making a run for city council.

The carp was initially removed from the pond because it was destroying the ecosystem.

Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation workers relocated it to the Huron River, where it is now running a write-in campaign for Ann Arbor City Council.

The carp has not yet responded to our interview requests, but it has engaged with other media outlets and even some current Ann Arbor City Council members on Twitter. (I suspect the carp has hired a social media director -- tweeting with fins seems difficult.)

The carp says the campaign is going well, and even has yard signs posted around town.

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Offbeat
2:09 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Watch the Ohio State Marching Band bring Michael Jackson to life

MJ taking shape.
Ohio State TV YouTube

Marching bands around the nation, be warned. Ohio State has taken it up a notch.

Scroll to 4:12 to see Michael Jackson take shape, and then... moonwalk!

It shows what you can do with 230+ band members - or "pixels" for those in the stands.

It's cool and all, but Michigan has a jet pack guy!

(H/T HuffPo Detroit)

Offbeat
1:08 pm
Wed October 23, 2013

Do you really belong in Michigan? Take this test to find out

I don't think I belong in Georgia.
Time Magazine

Researchers studied certain psychological traits across the country and found that Michiganders are fairly agreeable and extroverted (we rank 16th) and somewhat neurotic (we rank 27th).

All of this is according to a study called "Divided We Stand: Three Psychological Regions of the United States and Their Political, Economical, Social, and Health Correlates," published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Time Magazine posted the test so anyone can see where they belong based on their personality.

The researchers say this study could challenge how we think about our country (by voting patterns, cultural stereotypes, and economic indicators) and regroup Americans based on their psychological tendencies.

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Offbeat
10:27 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Jim Leyland and Jim Schwartz display two ways to celebrate a win for Detroit

After a win, Jim Leyland moonwalks, while Jim Schwartz smashes his headset.
screengrabs FoxSports video

It's not exactly an apples to apples comparison.

The Detroit Tigers had just clinched a division title after a long season, and the Detroit Lions had simply won a game, but the two different ways the head coaches of Detroit's major sports teams celebrate a win does show something about their personalities.

Here's the "Jim Leyland moonwalk" making the rounds online (You can scroll to 1:25 to see the moonwalk, but his heartfelt 'thank you' to his players, staff, and fans is worth watching. - you can follow this link if the video doesn't load below):

And here's the "Jim Schwartz headset throw" going around the net (the Lions had just beaten the Washington Redskins - follow this link if the video doesn't load below):

Maybe it's just the difference between baseball and football.

H/T to Tony Brown.

Offbeat
12:12 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

'Practice bomb' on sidewalk in Port Huron found to be safe

Robert Gratton talking on video to a Times Herald reporter.
screen grab Times Herald

Police got a little nervous yesterday when a man showed them a bomb he said he found when diving in Lake St. Clair.

Here's how it went down, according to the Times Herald:

Port Huron Police Sgt. Dave Seghi said a Port Huron man came into the police department around 12:30 p.m. to explain that he had found the object on the bottom of Lake St. Clair and would be taking it home.

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