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George Takei Reviews 20 Totally Random Products on Amazon

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Somehow, one of Mental Floss' favorite Star Trek alums-turned-internet-sensations, George Takei, finds time to write Amazon reviews for products you never knew existed. And we're all so lucky that he does.

1. The Mountain Three Wolf Moon Short Sleeve Tee

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "Hand dyed shirt featuring a stunning screen print of three wolves howling at a moon on a preshrunk, 100 percent cotton tee dyed and printed by the mountain."

5 Stars from George Takei, who loves how it lets him browse Walmart undetected: "But with The Mountain Three Wolf Moon Short Sleeve Tee, the SHIRT now draws the eye. One young teen even shyly approached me, and instead of asking for a picture or an autograph, simply smiled conspiratorially and whispered, 'Team Jacob, right? Me, too. He's sooooooo dreamy.' Yes he is, young lady. Yes. He. Is."

2. Looking For... The Best of David Hasselhoff

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Amazon says: "2 new from $149.93, 4 used from $9.37." (Are people listening to this CD until it literally wears out?!)

4 Stars from George Takei, who delights in Hasselhoff's reinvention: "When 'Knight Rider' and 'Bay Watch' ended, I felt a distinct void in my life. Without Hasselfhoff's bouncing pecs gracing my television, life simply felt drab and unfulfilling.

"Imagine my delight when I discovered that Hasselhoff had not disappeared at all, but rather REEMERGED, this time as a serious force in music. It reminded me of when Leonard Nimoy had recorded his stirring tribute to Tolkien, 'The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins.' It was that moving and momentous for me."

3. Fresh Whole Rabbit

Buy it on Amazon


1 Star from George Takei, who "hates to split hares" but who finds that: "First of all, it is NOT at all as easy as it looks in that [Game of Thrones] scene. Meera and Osha made it look so simple. But both Brad and I pulling together couldn't get that damn skin off. The rabbit wound up looking more like Theon Greyjoy's finger than a rabbit."

4. Denon AKDL1 Dedicated Link Cable

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Amazon says: "Get the purest digital audio you've ever experienced from multi-channel DVD and CD playback through your Denon home theater receiver with the AK-DL1 dedicated cable."

3 Stars from George Takei, who found this cable required all his Star Fleet training to use: "The minute I plugged this cable in, I knew something was amiss. The first evidence? The small wormhole that appeared in our living room, right next to our holstein cowhide recliner. Peering into it I could discern the snarling face of a Ferengi, likely somewhere out in the Gamma quadrant."

5. The 2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China

Buy it Amazon

Amazon says (cryptically): "The latent demand for wood toilet seats in Greater China is not actual or historic sales. Nor is latent demand future sales. In fact, latent demand can be either lower or higher than actual sales if a market is inefficient (i.e., not representative of relatively competitive levels)."

5 Stars from George Takei, who hopes to release an audio-book version: "Sure, the title and the first few hundred pages may seem off-putting. 'What the f*@k is this?' Brad demanded, just 20 pages in. 'It's like some kind of terrible grad school thesis.'

"But right around page 375, the OFWTSIGC (2009-14) becomes a white-knuckled, roller coaster of emotions--the sort we expect from world class thrillers. Indeed, just when you think the author has exhausted his dear readers, after what seems an unimaginably methodical survey of mainland China's wood toilet seat projections, he reminds us, ever so artfully, about GREATER China."

6. Accoutrements Yodelling Pickle

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "Great gift for the person who has everything except a yodelling pickle."

1 Star from George Takei, who advises that you stick with your current bong: "I tried for hours to figure out how to pry off the lid so I could load it properly, but no go. Then the thing started yodeling at me, and I thought, 'Well, no more from that dispensary.'"

7. UFO-02 Detector, magnetometer interfaced with micro controller for detecting magnetic anomalies.

Buy it Amazon

Amazon says: "The real question is whether UFO's are interstellar vehicles visiting Earth? Most UFO sightings can be classified as misidentified aircraft, planets or other aerial phenomena, but not all of them."

5 Stars from George Takei, who ended up having his own close encounter: "When I came to, Brad was sound asleep in his tin foil hat, the UFO-02 detector was gone, and, sure enough, all of my Splenda had been replaced with little, brown raw sugar packets. When I tried to tell Brad about Leonardo/Dumbledore and The Message, he rolled over away from me, grumbling that I shouldn't eat so much ice cream or any dairy product before bed."

8. Deer Rear with Bottle Opener

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon Says: "[G]iving new meaning to the term 'the business end'!"

5 Stars from George Takei, who makes even more puns: "Deer friends: Looking for the perfect 'hunting lodge' accessory? No ifs, ands or butts, this is a staggering find. As any John Doe could tell you, mount this baby on your wall and BAMBI! Instant party. Now when guests ask me to open their beers, I just say 'Go buck yourself.'"


Buy it on Amazon


4 Stars from George Takei, who found it worked well against bigoted politicians: "For example, the last time Senator Rick Santorum was shouting Bible verses through my bedroom window, I merely sauntered over, withdrew the can from my nightie, and held it up at eye-level. 'What is THAT?!' he bellowed. 'A&@hole repellant,' I said, calmly displaying the clearly marked label. 'Don't worry, it won't kill you. I've got it set to STUN-NING!!!!'"

10. Star Trek Magnetic Spock and Captain Kirk Salt and Pepper Shaker Set

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "High quality."

3 Stars from George Takei, who found these "too realistic": "After Brad got me this set, I realized that they were a bit TOO true to life. The Kirk shaker kept wandering off in search of 'lady shakers,' insisting his salt crystals were real dilithium. I'd have recommended this as a great Father's Day gift, but I noticed over time that the body of the shaker droops, and the uniform now seems, well, a bit snug. I also was disappointed to learn that the hair piece does NOT come off as expected. One star off my marks for that."

11. Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant - 55 Gallon

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Amazon says: "If you are looking for a simply jaw-dropping amount of lube, Passion Natural Water-Based Lubricant is ready to get the fun started with this 55 gallon drum!"

3 Stars from George Takei, whose home-test went awry: "Now, how to spray the lube on the excited on-lookers? Why, by water pump gun, of course. To test out our delivery mechanism, we purchased a drum for our back yard and set up a slip and slide. I had Brad charge toward me down the slide, and I fired at will. It helped to imagine he was a Klingon Bird of Prey: Target that explosion and FIRE.

"What I didn't expect was that Brad's forward momentum would cause him to crash into me, upending the entire drum along with us. Utter chaos. Our unfortunate cats, who had come out to judge our activities as cats will, were caught in the deluge. Looking like drowned rats, they howled and sped around the yard in hysterical circles, then tried for ten minutes to climb a tree."

12. Horse Head Mask

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "Awesome conversation piece."

4 Stars from George Takei, who takes the opportunity to pun: "I purchased this mane-ly for anonymity, but instead it was a night-mare that saddled me with un-bridled panic.

"At a recent Comic Con, I donned the mask wearing my best track suit, jockeying for a simple laugh: 'What do gay horses eat?' I queried, eager to bray 'Heeeeeyyyy!!' Comic gold, friends, I know.

"But the neigh-sayers came unglued. 'No! You're George Takei! I know that voice!'

"Now, it doesn't take a gallop poll to know what happened next. I hoofed it out of there with herds of fans riding my ass, shouting till they, too,"

13. F500 American Flag Pants

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "These Flag Pants are cut with the same roomy thigh area and sharply tapered ankle cuffs which make them great gym pants and for casual wear as well."

5 Stars from George Takei, who avoided internment with this ostentatious display of patriotism: "I've often wondered, though, whether things would have been different if we'd simply been given a chance to demonstrate our loyalty.

"That's why when I go jogging around Hollywood, I always put on my BEST FORM AMERICAN FLAG PANTS while belting out a hearty 'God Bless 'Murica' for all the passers-by. So moved are the myriad witnesses to my overt and unabashed patriotism that they stare, mouths agape, overcome with, well, something, as I fist pump the air with an enthusiastic 'USA, USA!', the soundtrack to Rocky blaring from our car stereo as Brad urges me on and hands me another Ensure to slug. Sly Stallone, eat your heart out."

14. Canned Unicorn Meat

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "The bottom of the tin is easily removable to gain access to the mini dead unicorn inside. No can opener needed!"

2 Stars from George Takei, who thought it tasted like SPAM: "Unfortunately, I found this unicorn meat brand to be quite similar to spam, both in texture and blandness. I'd been hoping for that zestier kick that comes from the rump cuts of other mythical and fantastical creatures, such as griffins or centaurs (for the latter, serve only the back half of the creature with guests, or it gets awkward)."

15. BACON shaped themed Adhesive Bandages

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "Treat your minor cuts, scrapes and scratches with the incredible healing power of meat."

5 Stars from George Takei, who can't help punning: "Not to pork fun at an injury, but nothing strips the pain away like meating friends out dressed like this. 'That's sow wrong, George!' they squeal. But fat chance they let such a pig idea go. In fact, they often rip it off quickly—after giving me the cold shoulder."

16. Schrodinger's Cat Executive Decision Maker

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "With this Schrodinger's Cat Executive Decision Maker, just ask the cat a yes or no question, slide open the door to watch the cat magically fluxing between life and death."

5 Stars from George Takei, who imagines a conversation with a coworker: "'Hang on, let me consult Schrodinger's Cat Executive Box for that answer. Aha! See? It says the answer is both yes, and no. That is, right now, knowing nothing other than your question, the answer could be either yes or no. But when we actually get to that point, we'll know whether it actually was yes, or no.'

"'But that box always gives that answer.'

"'So does quantum physics, and no one is arguing with that.'"

17. Pickle Lip Balm Dill Flavored Scented Novelty Gag Prank Present

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "Much better than a boring old lip balm."

2 Stars from George Takei, whose husband didn't appreciate it: "Apparently, the taste wasn't kosher for Brad, who can be a sour puss, even when in the balm of your hand. So you might want to pickle little more carefully, and give your spouse more than lip service. Now I just say there's a pickle in my pocket and I'm happy to see him. Too cuke for words."

18. Inflatable Unicorn Horn for Cats

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "Your cat makes a show of being regal and in control, but you could turn all that around with this Inflatable Unicorn Horn for Cats."

1 Star from George Takei, who did not appreciate his three cats gaining mystical powers: "Soon things began to happen. Inexplicable things. The neighbor's dog was found immobilized, trussed-up with some indeterminate golden binding, a warning sign scrawled above him, 'Do not crosses the THREE.' A heretofore undiscovered hotspring bubbled up from beneath our yard and now transverses our property. Our clothes began to emerge from the dryer already pressed and folded, and the vet's office mysteriously called to confirm we had intended to cancel their next appointments. But we had not....

'"And the expenses! The THREE demand much for their rule. They turn their heads in disdain at Meow Mix. Only skittles will do, individually unwrapped and separated by flavor. Harrods of London shipped three gold-plated water bowls, charged to 'Mssrs George and Bwad Takei.' And only yesterday we received a note, with perfect penmanship, requesting that 'henceforth' all water served in said gold-plated bowls should be of an imported varietal, well-chilled, and garnished with a 'just a spwig' of the freshest catnip."

19. Air Swimmer Flying Shark

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "Requires helium to float—can be reinflated over and over."

5 Stars from George Takei, who find this perfect for pranking Sharknado-fan Brad: "I excused myself, claiming I needed to go 'visit nature' before turning in. When I was just out of sight, I ducked behind our tool shed and grabbed the AIR SWIMMER remote controls. To add to the ruse, I used my Bluetooth enabled smartphone to play the theme from Jaws on the jambox I'd hidden inside the tent.


"The harmonica playing stopped. 'George?' Brad called out, standing slowly up and wiping some sticky marshmellow from his chin.

"Da-dum, Da-dum

"It was a low, unmistakable rumbling, as if from the depth of the darkest ocean. Brad's flashlight was out, scanning the tree-tops. Preposterous indeed! At just the right moment, I maneuvered the Air Swimmer into the clearing.


20. Squirrel Underpants

Buy it on Amazon

Amazon says: "Standard white cotton jockey-type drawer. One size fits most squirrels."

3 Stars from George Takei, who does not recommend them for gay hamsters: "We thought our friend's hamster Frederick (he prefers the German Frederick, definitely NOT Fred or, gasp, "Freddy") would appreciate this gift, as he often complains that 'hees business' is always on display, especially as he frolics in his wheel. But when we presented the 'Accoutrements Squirrel Underpants' to Frederick on his birthday, his disappointment was palpable. 'Vell zen,' he quipped crisply, as German hamsters so often do. 'Ve are polite and must still appreciate da gesture, no?' Frederick clearly expected something with a bit more 'oomph.'"

All photos courtesy of All illustrations courtesy of iStock. 

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Pop Culture
An AI Program Wrote Harry Potter Fan Fiction—and the Results Are Hilarious
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

“The castle ground snarled with a wave of magically magnified wind.”

So begins the 13th chapter of the latest Harry Potter installment, a text called Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash. OK, so it’s not a J.K. Rowling original—it was written by artificial intelligence. As The Verge explains, the computer-science whizzes at Botnik Studios created this three-page work of fan fiction after training an algorithm on the text of all seven Harry Potter books.

The short chapter was made with the help of a predictive text algorithm designed to churn out phrases similar in style and content to what you’d find in one of the Harry Potter novels it "read." The story isn’t totally nonsensical, though. Twenty human editors chose which AI-generated suggestions to put into the chapter, wrangling the predictive text into a linear(ish) tale.

While magnified wind doesn’t seem so crazy for the Harry Potter universe, the text immediately takes a turn for the absurd after that first sentence. Ron starts doing a “frenzied tap dance,” and then he eats Hermione’s family. And that’s just on the first page. Harry and his friends spy on Death Eaters and tussle with Voldemort—all very spot-on Rowling plot points—but then Harry dips Hermione in hot sauce, and “several long pumpkins” fall out of Professor McGonagall.

Some parts are far more simplistic than Rowling would write them, but aren’t exactly wrong with regards to the Harry Potter universe. Like: “Magic: it was something Harry Potter thought was very good.” Indeed he does!

It ends with another bit of prose that’s not exactly Rowling’s style, but it’s certainly an accurate analysis of the main current that runs throughout all the Harry Potter books. It reads: “‘I’m Harry Potter,’ Harry began yelling. ‘The dark arts better be worried, oh boy!’”

Harry Potter isn’t the only work of fiction that Jamie Brew—a former head writer for ClickHole and the creator of Botnik’s predictive keyboard—and other Botnik writers have turned their attention to. Botnik has previously created AI-generated scripts for TV shows like The X-Files and Scrubs, among other ridiculous machine-written parodies.

To delve into all the magical fiction that Botnik users have dreamed up, follow the studio on Twitter.

[h/t The Verge]

Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked

Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"


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