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National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel

7 Things We Learned from David Rees

National Geographic Channel
National Geographic Channel

Going Deep With David Rees wraps up its first season Monday night at 10pm on the National Geographic Channel. I sat down with him for a full interview, but made this handy list so you can enjoy the highlights.

1. He Has a Pooter

In the How to Climb a Tree episode, Rees encountered his first pooter, and ultimately received one as a gift.

REES: "I have the pooter that "Canopy" Meg gave me, yes."

I urge you to watch this clip to understand what a pooter is:

2. He Might Have Broken His Hand in the Final Episode

In Monday night's How to Shake Hands episode, Rees did something that led to his left hand feeling a little wrong. Like, a little broken-bone wrong. At his mother's insistence, he's finally getting it checked out.

REES: "I've got my Mom emailing me every day asking if I've done it. And I have not been, I've just been putting it off. I don't want to know if it's broken, I don't want to have a cast or whatever."

3. He's Awesome at Flipping Coins Now

In the How to Flip a Coin episode, Rees picked up some serious knowledge:

REES: "I practiced so much on that [1855 half-dollar coin] that I'm not sure I can apply my technique to a quarter, because the quarter is smaller and lighter, and I'm so used to this particular coin. It's like a pool player having a favorite pool cue. Yeah. I'm definitely good at [flipping] it, and I know where to hit it to make it go "bing!" and all that stuff."

4. Party Hole or Satanic Ritual Site?

In the How to Dig a Hole episode, Rees dug a "Party Hole" on a golf course. It was later filled in and the sod carefully replaced, but it hasn't quite disappeared yet.

REES: "A friend who's a member of that golf club sent me a photo of it a couple months later, because it looked kinda creepy. It looks kind of like evidence of a Satanic ritual. It looks like this weird circle in the middle of the golf course that hasn't quite healed all the way. So the Party Hole is gone except in our hearts."

5. He Likes to Hang Out at the Airport and Tweet...at Christmas

This:

REES: "One of my favorite holiday traditions, when I'm flying somewhere for Christmas, is to go to the airport ahead of time—because I love the energy of airports at holidays—and just sit around and tweet all the people that I'm looking it. And people got really into that, for some reason. I think it's just because of the spirit of the holidays."

6. He Hates Doughnuts, But They're in Every Episode

If you watch the show carefully, you'll see a surprising number of doughnut references. At the very least, doughnuts appear in the opening credits, but they also creep in during the show. This is especially odd given that Rees hates doughnuts.

REES: "The whole thing about doughnuts is weird. I'm not actually into doughnuts or sweets at all. It's just this thing where—I'll explain what happened. We were shooting at this mine in Colorado, for How to Dig a Hole, and the staff at the mine, before we shot, they had to give us an intro talk and a safety lecture about it, and they brought in pastries from a local bakery. And they had these doughnuts that were really bright pink with sprinkles, and I thought it would be cool to take one of these really bright, happy-looking doughnuts down into the deep, dark mine and just get a shot of me eating a doughnut in a mine."

7. He's Never Heard of Fat Guys in the Woods

Rees was very patient when I asked him to tell me whether all of IMDB's suggestions for related shows (as computed by some algorithm, I guess) were actually shows that he might like. He hadn't heard of most of them, but humored me. Here's part of that exchange, as I read off the names of shows:

HIGGINS: Okay, this one's called Talk to the Animals.

REES: No, I hate animals. Next.

HIGGINS: It's called Fat Guys in the Woods.

REES: You can't be serious.

HIGGINS: I'm completely serious. It's the final recommendation.

REES: That's the actual name of the show, it's called Fat Guys in the Woods? What's the network?

HIGGINS: The Weather Channel.

REES: Oh! There we go. ...

Read our full interview for the thrilling conclusion, plus a bunch of stuff about SkyMall and gray shirts.

Where to Watch Going Deep With David Rees

By the way, at 1:45 this will blow your mind. A crazy paper airplane that flies indefinitely, followed by a boomerang plane (!!!):

You can enjoy the fist-pumping tenth episode of Going Deep With David Rees Monday, August 25, at 10pm on the National Geographic Channel. (David typically live-tweets the episodes.) You can catch up on older episodes for free on Hulu. I like all of them, but the most brain-bending is probably How to Make a Paper Airplane. Last week's How to Climb a Tree episode is great if you like lemurs and pooters.

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Tony Wilson
A Visit With Doctor Laser: New York’s Resident Holographer
Tony Wilson
Tony Wilson

On an unassuming street in Manhattan’s Kips Bay neighborhood, a man by the name of Dr. Laser toils away. His given name is Jason Sapan, but when you’re at the helm of the oldest (and possibly only) holography gallery-slash-laboratory in the world, a colorful moniker only seems appropriate.

Laser’s Holographic Studios has been in operation since the later 1970s. Before that it was used for making medical instruments, and before that, was the site of a blacksmith’s forge. As the doctor himself says, his business is a logical tenant in that line of succession: he, like those who came before, specializes in taking objects, making them glow red, and giving them shape. Of course his work is a little bit different. He gives shape to things that aren’t really there.

When you ask Dr. Laser to explain the nuts and bolts of holography, his eyes light up (they do that a lot, actually). "Well grasshopper…" he starts, and from there, you just do your best to keep up. In brief, "a hologram is a recording in light waves of the surface of an object," but the process of capturing that impression is, of course, a bit more complicated. Luckily, he’s up to the task: "I wanna trip people out," he says.

The studio itself is pretty much exactly what you’d hope for when seeking out a holographic hotspot—it feels a bit like a real-life wonder emporium, and Laser’s larger-than-life persona only adds to the effect. The walls are lined with various holograms—some from his work with clients like Goodyear, Tag Heuer, and IBM, along with portraits (the one of Andy Warhol, made in 1977, is his favorite) and other holography miscellanea. In the next room, a wall bears the signatures of former visitors like Isaac Asimov and Cher. Downstairs, a cluttered subterranean workspace leads into a dark lab where lasers and light shows abound. If you’re lucky, Dr. Laser might even queue up the Flock of Seagulls music video he was in, which—fun fact—was also the first music video on MTV to use screen credits.

Holographic Studios is open Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., and tours are available if you want the full, personal experience. And if a trip to New York isn’t in the cards, fear not: you can secure a hologram of your very own in their online store.

All photos by Tony Wilson.

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Showtime
Surprise, Motherf@#&er: Erik King on 10 Years of Dexter
Showtime
Showtime

At first, Erik King wasn’t sure he liked being a meme. As the relentless Sergeant James Doakes, who was immediately suspicious of co-worker and closeted serial killer Dexter Morgan on Showtime’s Dexter, King’s boiling-point performance arrived just as the internet was discovering new ways to capture bits and pieces of film and television.

“It was weird,” King tells mental_floss. “I had never had a performance taken out of context before, so it took some getting used to. But I found it flattering.”

As Dexter celebrates its 10th anniversary, King took some time to talk with us about Doakes’s untimely death, how his father inspired the character, and the art of surprising serial killers with tirades of profanity.

Was the intensity of Doakes on the page from the beginning?

I think it was clear who Doakes was. The intensity was there, but the disdain came later. The more Dexter eluded Doakes, the more he got pissed off. My father was in federal law enforcement and I have a lot of family and friends who are cops, so I knew a lot of them.

Was there any of your dad in the character?

There’s a lot of him in Doakes. He passed away in 2011, but I used to joke with him all the time. “You know, this guy is you.” It’s exaggerated, but he didn’t suffer fools. If someone parked in front of his house, there might be a colorful word or two coming out of him. And it was a public street. [Laughs]

Doakes and Dexter were usually playing a pretty cerebral cat and mouse game, but it occasionally got physical. Michael C. Hall once said he was taken aback by how strong you were while shooting a fight scene. Do you remember that?

I’m surprised he would say that, actually. If he thought that, he never let on. Michael is taller than me, you know. I had to bring my A-game. Doakes had to come at him like a bowling ball, had to hold his own, because I knew what was gonna happen in the end. As an actor, he always brought it.

The great flaw of Doakes is that he was suspicious of Dexter from the outset, which probably didn’t help his chances of survival. When did you know he would be dying at the end of season two?

It was either four or six episodes in out of the 12. One of the producers very kindly called me, which doesn’t always happen. He said, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, we’re writing some great stuff for you. The bad news is, you won’t be around much longer.” [Laughs] My first thought was how the rest of the cast would react, because I was and am good friends with them. I know the energy Erik King brings to the set and the energy Doakes brings, and I didn’t want to have it become, “Oh, what a shame.” So I kept it a secret for as long as I could.

Were you happy with the way he went out?

In order to maintain the integrity of who he was, he had to find out something [about Dexter]. It couldn’t have been eight or nine seasons of, “I’m watching you, motherf*cker.” That’s not going to work. Even though I wanted the character to hang around longer, I totally understood the choice.

Was there ever any discussion of Doakes surviving the cabin explosion?

Not with me. Once the cabin blew up and pieces were flying through the air, there was never a doubt in my mind.

Doakes had a way with words. How did you find out some of his choice profanity had become a meme?

I was at a gym in North Carolina trying to put some size back on when I was asked to return for season seven [in a flashback]. This guy comes up to me and says, “Did you see this website? They put Doakes in all these other movies.” You know, like Ghost—“surprise, motherf*cker.” Just little scenes. Someone would turn around and Doakes would be there.

As an actor, it was arresting to me, and kind of weird that Doakes had taken on a life of his own. Now it’s flattering. “French fries, motherf*cker,” all of that. I’ve seen it. [Laughs]

If that was weird, the Doakes bobblehead must have thrown you, too.

I have a couple of them. They have to send it to you for approval. “Does it look like you?” “Yeah, I guess it looks like me, kind of.”

What do you think would have happened to Doakes if he hadn’t crossed paths with Dexter?

Probably a police captain. The guy was really driven. He had a dogged determination. He and Dexter both. I always said they were like two pitbulls sniffing each other out. He keeps going until he finds what he’s looking for. And you see where it got him.

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