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The Late Movies: R.I.P., Slim Whitman

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Wikimedia Commons / Wil-Helm Agency

Today we lost Slim Whitman, a country singer and yodeler whose music you've almost certainly heard -- even if it was only in the movies or on a late-night TV commercial. Tonight, let's recall a few of his best moments, in memory of the man born Ottis Dewey Whitman, Jr.

"Indian Love Call" in Mars Attacks

This is a major spoiler if you haven't seen the movie, so stop here if you don't want Tim Burton's Mars Attacks to be spoiled. Gone yet? Okay, good. In this scene, it's revealed that Whitman's rendition of "Indian Love Call" is humanity's only hope against alien invaders.

And here's a crackly, poppy recording of the full song straight from the vinyl:

Andy Kaufman and Whitman

Whitman performs "I Remember You" after an intro by Andy Kaufman.

"Rose Marie"

Whitman performs his 1955 hit "Rose Marie," which was a huge hit in the UK.

"That's How The Yodel Was Born"

Again, straight from the vinyl. "On the open prairie, just a-yodelin' a song!"

"Silver Haired Daddy of Mine"

A spot-on live performance, complete with rhinestone jacket.

"Tumbling Tumbleweeds"

You may remember this tune from The Big Lebowski, though the version in the film was performed by The Sons of the Pioneers in 1946. Here's Whitman's take on it.

"I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen"

Whitman recorded his rendition of this tune in 1957, but I know it best from the Star Trek episode "Naked Time" in which crewman Riley drunkenly sings a version from the Engineering deck.

TV Commercials

Whitman sold a lot of records in the 80s via direct marketing on TV. Here's a classic scrolling-list-of-hits example. "Use your credit card and save C.O.D. charges!"

"And now to fulfill the tremendous demand," we proudly offer another collection of his hits.

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Animals
Australian Charity Releases Album of Cat-Themed Ballads to Promote Feline Welfare
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An Australian animal charity is helping save the nation’s kitties one torch song at a time, releasing a feline-focused musical album that educates pet owners about how to properly care for their cats.

Around 35,000 cats end up in pounds, shelters, and rescue programs every year in the Australian state of New South Wales, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Microchipping and fixing cats, along with keeping closer tabs on them, could help reduce this number. To get this message out, the RSPCA’s New South Wales chapter created Cat Ballads: Music To Improve The Lives Of Cats.

The five-track recording is campy and fur-filled, with titles like "Desex Me Before I Do Something Crazy" and "Meow Meow." But songs like “I Need You” might tug the heartstrings of ailurophiles with lyrics like “I guess that’s goodbye then/but you’ve done this before/the window's wide open/and so’s the back door/you might think I’m independent/but you’d be wrong.” There's also a special version of the song that's specifically designed for cats’ ears, featuring purring, bird tweets, and other feline-friendly noises.

Together, the tunes remind us how vulnerable our kitties really are, and provide a timely reminder for cat owners to be responsible parents to their furry friends.

“The Cat Ballads campaign coincides with kitten season, which is when our shelters receive a significantly higher number of unwanted kittens as the seasons change,” Dr. Jade Norris, a veterinary scientist with the RSPCA, tells Mental Floss. “Desexing cats is a critical strategy to reduce unwanted kittens.”

Listen to a song from Cat Ballads below, and visit the project’s website for the full rundown.

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technology
ABBA Is Going on Tour—As Holograms
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Missed your chance to watch ABBA perform live at the peak of their popularity? You’re in luck: Fans will soon be able to see the group in concert in all their chart-topping, 1970s glory—or rather, they’ll be able to see their holograms. As Mashable reports, a virtual version of the Swedish pop band is getting ready to go on tour.

ABBA split up in 1982, and the band hasn't been on tour since. (Though they did get together for a surprise reunion performance in 2016.) All four members of ABBA are still alive, but apparently not up for reentering the concert circuit when they can earn money on a holographic tour from the comfort of their homes.

The musicians of ABBA have already had the necessary measurements taken to bring their digital selves to life. The final holograms will resemble the band in the late 1970s, with their images projected in front of physical performers. Part of the show will be played live, but the main vocals will be lifted from original ABBA records and recordings of their 1977 Australian tour.

ABBA won’t be the first musical act to perform via hologram. Tupac Shakur, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin have all been revived using the technology, but this may be one of the first times computerized avatars are standing in for big-name performers who are still around. ABBA super-fans will find out if “SOS” still sounds as catchy from the mouths of holograms when the tour launches in 2019.

[h/t Mashable]

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