The Late Movies: Rare Comedy from The State

Back in the mid-90s, the sketch comedy troupe The State was Kind of a Big Deal -- at least it was in my friend group, which quoted sketches like Taco Mailman and The Bearded Men of Space Station 11 absolutely to death. Anyone who felt like we did will be excited to learn that a treasure trove of new State videos have been unearthed, most of which seems to have been created before their much-acclaimed show on MTV. All the videos have the same format -- man-on-the-street interviews, mostly, it seems, with NYU students, who tell crazy stories which are then interpreted in comic fashion by members of the State. (BTW, you'll recognize members of The State from subsequent work, like Reno 911, Viva Variety and Wet Hot American Summer.) Here are some of my faves.

(Special thanks to Chris Higgins for letting me totally steal this blog idea from him.)

Naked Cousin from TheState on Vimeo.

If Lean On Me and Dead Poets' Society were about shop teachers.

Shop Class from TheState on Vimeo.

This one features Tom Lennon playing a cop, long before his years playing Lt. Jim Dangle on Reno 911.

Shooting Skeet from TheState on Vimeo.

A babysitting job winds up in The Twilight Zone.

Kid from TheState on Vimeo.

Eyewitnesses to an elicit kiss break it down like the Warren Commission did the JFK shooting.

JFK from TheState on Vimeo.

What if The Real World was set in Antarctica? (Slightly dated: remember when there was only one reality show?)

Cool World from TheState on Vimeo.

A cop who thinks DUIs are hilarious!

Courtroom Cop from TheState on Vimeo.

This guy was so nerdy, he didn't even wear hi-top sneakers!

Anything Goes from TheState on Vimeo.

The date from hell.

Bad Date from TheState on Vimeo.

Another version of hell: being followed everywhere by the guy from the B-52s.

B52s from TheState on Vimeo.

It's talk like a pirate day! Excellent jargon.

Boat Shoes from TheState on Vimeo.


Why Tiny 'Hedgehog Highways' Are Popping Up Around London

Hedgehogs as pets have gained popularity in recent years, but in many parts of the world, they're still wild animals. That includes London, where close to a million of the creatures roam streets, parks, and gardens, seeking out wood and vegetation to take refuge in. Now, Atlas Obscura reports that animal activists are transforming the city into a more hospitable environment for hedgehogs.

Barnes Hedgehogs, a group founded by Michel Birkenwald in the London neighborhood of Barnes four years ago, is responsible for drilling tiny "hedgehog highways" through walls around London. The passages are just wide enough for the animals to climb through, making it easier for them to travel from one green space to the next.

London's wild hedgehog population has seen a sharp decline in recent decades. Though it's hard to pin down accurate numbers for the elusive animals, surveys have shown that the British population has dwindled by tens of millions since the 1950s. This is due to factors like human development and habitat destruction by farmers who aren't fond of the unattractive shrubs, hedges, and dead wood that hedgehogs use as their homes.

When such environments are left to grow, they can still be hard for hedgehogs to access. Carving hedgehog highways through the stone partitions and wooden fences bordering parks and gardens is one way Barnes Hedgehogs is making life in the big city a little easier for its most prickly residents.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?

Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

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