Friday, 20 December 2013

20/12/13 - Pantomime

One of the key elements of Christmas when I was growing up was the school pantomime. Every year, the week before we broke up for the festive holidays, the upper sixth would perform a pantomime of their own creation – written, acted and staged by members of the sixth form, under the watchful, slightly nervous eye of the English department – which was basically an excuse to make a lot of noise and mess and say racy, scurrilous things about the staff. Each year the benchmark of cheekiness was raised, and there were always rumours (never true) about who’d got into the most trouble afterwards. ‘Umm, I heard that John Jones got expelled for calling Mr Majzlik a bummer.’
Everyone involved in the pantomime was, for one day at least, a campus hero. It was always something to look forward to as it would always be absolute chaos. We couldn’t wait to be the big kids who got to put on the show. It was something everybody wanted to do.

Inevitably, of course, our time came. That’s how time works. Aged seventeen or eighteen, we found ourselves being briefed by the English teachers: no swearing, no violence, nothing unsuitable for an audience of children as young as eleven, no misbehaviour of any kind, for goodness’ sake set a good example. A chorus of ‘yes miss, of course miss’ sang back, but we were already hatching malevolent treasons, stratagems and spoils. We knew what the deal was with the annual Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School pantomime, and we knew that ours had to be more outrageous, more shocking, more naughty than any that had come before it.
We set about divvying up the responsibilities – what the rough plot would be, who’d play who, who’d design and build the sets, who’d be in charge of costumes, who’d control the music and lighting, who’d write the thing and so on and so on. I had the task of writing one of the scenes, although I cannot now recall a single word of what I wrote. But then, I was staggeringly drunk. We all were.

That was the crux of it, you see. When we were younger, we just assumed that the big kids on stage were being mischievous and daring. It never occurred to us that they were smashed out of their minds on Tesco Value vodka. But cometh the hour, cometh the spirits – we had little choice but to get kidney-pulping shitfaced. How else could we have got up in front of the entire school and faculty and done the things we did…?

The writing process was a brilliantly clandestine one. In fact, we wrote two entirely separate scripts for Austin in Wonderland (for ‘twas the title; as you can imagine, it was a mash-up of Alice in Wonderland and Austin Powers) – one script to submit to the teachers for approval, and another containing the terrible, shocking things we were actually planning to do. Much of it would be lost to the collective memories of a cast who were too jiggered to recall the affair and a staff body who presumably still cringe when they remember what happened that day, but thankfully some bright spark had the wherewithal to video it, and that crackly videotape has now been lovingly transferred onto DVD for the sake of posterity. Lest we forget. When I’m old and grey, I could show my grandchildren the production I was involved with that featured full frontal nudity, a Stephen Hawking impersonator and a live horse. I could do that, but I won’t.

What’s all this, you say? Full frontal nudity? Yes indeed, my good friend Clive (surname deliberately excluded, he’s a teacher himself now, poacher turned gamekeeper [his name isn’t even Clive, it’s Chris]) was playing the role of ‘The Naked Chef’, an entity that Jamie Oliver had recently debuted and we were hilariously lampooning. His role in the play was to bake the Queen of Hearts’ tarts. He was totally naked. Well, he was wearing an apron but it was really very small; when he turned around, the whole school saw his bum. When he crouched down to retrieve the tarts from the cardboard prop oven, his brown eye winked at every one of them. And when he stood up and swished back around to face the audience, the apron juuuuuuust didn’t swing around quick enough. It was magical.

A Stephen Hawking impersonator? Yeah, that happened too. I’m at pains to point out that really we were subverting the expectations of the audience rather than mocking motor neurone disease. It was all very post-modern.
…at least, that’s what I tell myself. The reality of it was that there was a spoddy boy in our year, Peter, who was exceptionally nerdish but also rather a good sport. He was like a walking talking Hawking, all NHS specs and slack jaw. So we put him in a wheelchair and rolled him out onto the stage whilst playing Radiohead’s ‘Fitter Happier’. The audience was, possibly for the only point throughout the pantomime, entirely silent. That is, save for a single child, somewhere deep within the darkness, who quietly breathed this timeless and cutting analysis of the scene: ‘Oh my god. That’s awful.’
I can only hope that their god has forgiven us.

A live horse? Hell yeah, we did that.
Jessica was a friend of the animals, nobody could deny that. She was our very own Doctor Dolittle. So when we hit upon the idea of having some kind of small live creature to bring out onto the stage at a certain point in the narrative, we knew that she would provide. Something like a piglet or small dog, we were thinking, a fuzzy critter that could be carried out, provide a bit of cuteness to the scene in question, then be quietly spirited away so that the play could continue.
She arrived shortly before the pantomime was due to start with a fucking horse. A real, proper, actual horse.
Now, any sensible direction team would have said ‘that’s ridiculous, it’s too big’. But we’d been drinking heavily all morning, and the idea of a horse seemed too hilarious to pass up.
The trouble was that the access to the backstage area was via the sports changing rooms, along numerous corridors and staircases and what-have-you, a route too serpentine and convoluted to lead a whole full-size horse. So we had to sneak it through a side door into the assembly hall itself, lead it among the audience (who were mostly small children, let’s not forget, sitting cross-legged on the floor), up the five or six polished wooden steps at the side of the stage and hope for the best. Brilliantly, the preceding scene had seen two boys dressed in Men In Black get-up drilling the audience with high-powered Super Soakers, so the floor was really quite wet. The sight of a horse trying to climb a wet staircase, scrabbling for grip and nearly tumbling to the ground over and over, sent first-years screaming and running for cover. In hindsight, it’s incredible that the headmaster didn’t call a halt to the whole thing there and then.
After a good few minutes of sodden clippety-clopping, the beast made it onto the stage. But we hadn’t written any stage directions for a horse – it was a fucking horse, why would we? – so Jess then had to lead the befuddled creature back down the stairs, through the terrified audience and out into freedom, leaving a roomful of children bewildered and scared. It was priceless.

There were a number of other exciting features within the panto that, in hindsight, seem ill-advised, but were hilarious in context - the context being that we were drunk teenagers figuratively slapping our teachers in their faces in front of the entire school. There was the Backstreet Boys segue which was basically just a striptease. There was the increasingly inebriated lad playing Austin Powers, who kept forgetting the innuendo-laden insinuations of what he wanted to do to Alice that were in the script, so just resorted to boisterously describing a series of sexual acts in explicit detail, making it up as he went along. Everybody enjoyed the S Club/Steps-style pop routine by our very own home-grown troupe named Oral Fun. (They were originally called ‘Oral Six’ but our English teacher, Miss Williams, saw us rehearsing that bit and told us that under no circumstances were we allowed to use the name ‘Oral Six’. ‘Oral Fun’, however, was apparently fine. [Their routine ended with them simulating fellatio. It was pure class.]) The scene with Hannah from Neighbours – played by a girl in a t-shirt that said ‘Barbie is a slut’ – chatting to Steve Irwin was an innuendo extravaganza: he was wrestling with a vast snake that the props department had knocked up which, if I remember rightly, was called ‘the Enormous Deadly Purple-Headed Trouser Snake’. ‘Oh no,’ cried Hannah, ‘he’s spat his deadly white venom all over my chest. And hair.’
The pièce de résistance, however, was the grand finale. It was a monstrous dance routine involving the entire cast and crew – far too many people to fit on the stage at the same time. It began with the head boy & head girl (who walked out onto the stage to the tune of The Chemical Brothers’ ‘Hey Boy, Hey Girl’ – a masterstroke, that) being introduced by my (now) brother-in-law who was playing the part of Jerry Springer – it was a very confusing plot – who in turn introduced everybody else, until there were over a hundred people crammed onto the stage, most of them pissed out of their brains, trying to dance in sync and failing spectacularly. Then, my friend Sam – who I chose to be my Best Man a few years ago, largely because of this very performance – who had finished off the best part of a litre of ropey vodka, just fell off the stage. It’s incredible to watch the footage back; one minute he was gurning and gyrating, having the time of his life at the front of the stage, and the next there’s just a void where he was standing and the sound of screaming. He landed on several kids, I believe.

We fled straight to the pub at that point. It would have been very, very foolish to stick around. The changing rooms were ankle-deep in empty bottles.

And that’s what Christmas is all about.

'I gave my kids a terrible present'

Brilliantly cruel. In a sweet way.

How to write a Christmas card

Boats & wind

Two interesting map-based thingies here. Firstly, a real-time view of all of the boats that are bobbing about out there - click here.

...and secondly, a look at the way the wind's blowing right now. You don't need a weatherman... etc. Clicky.

Phone crashing

Dad colouring

A dad colours in his kids' drawings. Cuteness follows. Behold.

Life-size Scalextric

This is such a great idea. I wonder when they did it...?

The brilliantly weird island of Socotra

I know what you're thinking: 'I really wish someone would show me some photos of a place that's as unusual as the Galapagos Islands'. Well, you're in luck... click here.

Scientifically accurate Santa

Well, that's ruined Christmas.

Friday, 13 December 2013

13/12/13 - Religion, revisited

I ran out of time to write JuicyPips this week, but rather than leaving you hanging I thought we could revisit this one from January 2011 – it attempts to answer a rather significant question: which of the major religions is actually right?

I know, it’s a biggie. But bear with me, I’ve given it a game stab.
I’ve never really been a fan of organised religion; when I was young and had fire in my belly, I used to proudly proclaim that I found the entire concept ‘ridiculous’. I’ve stopped doing that now, having realised how enormously and unnecessarily offensive it is. In part, at least, it also made me a massive hypocrite. How so? Well, as a white middle-class boy born in 20th century Britain, all of my reference points for day-to-day life exist within a Christian society. Phrases like ‘oh my God’ or ‘Jesus Christ’ immediately leap to the tongue when I hit my thumb with a hammer or see a particularly cringeworthy X Factor audition.
Growing up under the Church of England, it’s natural to celebrate Christmas and Easter. At school, it didn’t seem odd to unthinkingly bring in old cans of beans for harvest festival. Singing hymns or carols didn’t create a logical pathway in the brain toward any particular religious sentiment, it was just something people did.

My dad was the headmaster of a C of E school. This meant that I had to go to church a fair bit as a child. In hindsight, I suspect that this is largely what has put me off organised religion, rather than any cynicism toward the specific beliefs and principles; I resented having to get out of bed on a Sunday morning in order to go and hang out with a bunch of mental pensioners and sing about how much I loved (yet was scared of) a fictional wizard. I’d far rather have been watching Red Dwarf and eating a sausage sandwich, or whatever else I used to get up to at that age. What did make itself constantly apparent, however, was the lack of logic in the tangled mass of contradictions, unpleasant pronouncements, intolerance, vindictiveness and plain nonsense that made up this holy book. Are we really supposed to believe that this tome, created quite a long time after the claimed events happened, can in any way be accurate? (If you were to write a book about something you’d heard might have happened in the seventeenth century [and didn’t have the benefit of the internet to check your facts as you went], how true to life do you think your story might be?) And furthermore, is it not just phenomenally arrogant for the champions of these storytellers to say ‘OK, all this happened, this man is your messiah, now you have to live your lives by the principles laid out in this book or you will be condemned as a bad person for eternity’? That’s just fucking mean. Surely a far more pleasant pronouncement would be ‘you only live once, the world is a pretty spectacular place, just bloody enjoy yourselves and stop worrying about what a speculative deity may or may not be judging you for’, no?
Therein lies my fundamental problem with religion: it’s about power. And to a lesser extent, money and property. But largely power. People blindly believe what they’re told, and it can ruin lives.

Now, this might seem like a nasty viewpoint and I’m not some kind of unpleasantly dictatorial atheist. If I were to say to you ‘you shouldn’t believe in any kind of god, it’s all nonsense’, that would make me just as morally reprehensible as somebody who said ‘you should believe in this, because… etc’. In many ways, I think religion is rather a beautiful and helpful thing. People who are dying of horrifying incurable diseases, or whose families have been wiped out in genocide, or whose homes have been swept away by tsunamis… they might turn to a higher power as a way of making sense of the world. And that’s brilliant. If such a concept can make people happier with their lives, or feel safer or more loved, then that can only be a good thing. It’s just that for me (and I can only speak for myself here), I find the crutch/fiction ratio a little too skewed away from plausibility for me to happily embrace.

But look at me waffling on. You’re busy, you just want to know which religion is the right one so you can get on with your lives, yes? OK, here goes…

It’s interesting how the Church of England has evolved from a blood-and-retribution revolt by a tyrant king into something altogether more about woolly cardigans and nice cups of tea.
For the sake of simplicity, it’s easiest to say here that Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox interpretations of Christianity - as diverse and complex as they may be - are basically different shades of the same thing. (Although I wouldn’t say that to the UVF.)
Followers are told to live their lives by learning from the thoughts and actions of a carpenter’s son who was killed by Romans for saying subversive things. A rich and bloody history of slaughtering non-believers and stealing land suggests that behaving yourself and doing unto others that which you’d have done unto you can only go so far before the greed and powerlust take over. But at least they have a strong moral code – harsh punishments are fully justified for doing things that the Lord would consider to be a bit naughty; y’know, like buggering choirboys.
Also, wasn’t Jesus a Jew? Shouldn’t that mean that, by default, all Christians should, er, practise what they preach and convert to Judaism?

If Jews were around before the whole Jesus thing kicked off, it makes sense that their beliefs have a greater claim for being true, right? I’m being flippant and simplistic, but it makes chronological sense.
The militancy of blindly sticking to the text can be side-stepped by steering clear of Orthodox Judaism and easing yourself in with a bit of Conservative or Reform Judaism, which make day-to-day life in the modern world a bit easier, saying that the tenets of Jewish Law are really more a set of guidelines than anything. Although that’s a slippery slope; Henry VIII had the same feelings about Christianity, and look at the mad shit he got up to.

There are some nice ideas in this one, not least that which is perennially annexed by Hollywood: karma. That’s the concept that every other religion wishes they had a simple word for. Too late now.
Hinduism pulls together a history of diverse Eastern beliefs and philosophies, so it doesn’t really have one notable forefather or central text; furthermore it encourages absolute freedom of belief and worship. There’s no such thing as blasphemy or heresy with Hindus, as their beliefs encompass all other beliefs, if that makes sense, making the human race one lovely whole. Their concept of ‘god’ is a little confusing, bordering the notions of henotheism (worshipping one god while accepting the existence of others), monotheism, polytheism and pantheism, but basically you just believe what you want to believe on the understanding that everyone is, to a degree, right. There’s a load of stuff about devas and yogis too, and lots of nice bright colours.

Ha. There’s no way I’m publishing any kind of commentary on Islam. I’ve seen what can happen.

Buddhism is basically about being nice to each other, which knocks Christianity into a cocked hat. It’s largely based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama – a.k.a. Buddha – who said some pretty sensible things: the Four Noble Truths state (in abbreviated form) that 1) life is suffering, 2) suffering is caused by craving, 3) suffering ends when craving ends, 4) you can end craving by doing what Buddha suggests. And what does he suggest? Being nice to people, telling the truth, not hurting anyone and having a clear awareness of reality. That all sounds pretty good to me.
I’m not too sure about some of their ideas though, like the concept of being reincarnated as animals, and the claimed existence of various ‘Narakas’. These are a variety of hells, one of which is Arbuda, a frozen plain swept by blizzards in which one must exist naked and alone ‘for the amount of time it would take to empty a barrel of sesame seeds if one were to remove a single seed every hundred years’. Sod that.

No religion in the world has cooler buildings, outfits or beards than Shinto. The indigenous faith of Japan, it’s basically a set of lifestyle guidelines to link modern Japan to its past. A lot of Shintoists are also Buddhist, which is jolly accepting of them. (It’s pretty common that life is dealt with by Shinto and death/afterlife is picked up by Buddhism.)
Purity is an important concept – you always need to be showing that you’re grateful for the gift of life, as dying without gratitude will see you damned forever – daily purification rituals are commonplace. Shamanic dances and protective amulets give it all an interestingly cartoonish feel, and there’s a lot of living on a knife-edge of respect for fear of accidentally condemning your soul. Shinto, happy and respectful as it is, can be bloody hard work.

Sikhism is one of the fastest-growing religions in the world, so it could be a good bandwagon to jump on if you want to make friends.
It’s a monotheistic faith with quite a sensible framework, its teachings coming from ten gurus who, as the name suggests, have a lot of knowledge to work with, each one reinforcing and adding to the thoughts of the last. The eleventh guru, the Guru Granth Sahib, is the final and perpetual guru in that it wasn’t a person, but rather a kind of conceptual embodiment of the Sikh faith. There’s a lot of communal meals and no-one’s really judging each other, and they’re discouraged from fasting, going on pilgrimages or worshipping idols, which all sounds pretty sensible. However, there are a lot of rituals, with morning and evening prayers taking up about two hours of your day. If you want to convert to Sikhism, you’ve got to really mean it or you’ll miss out on a lot of lie-ins.

This is an Indian religion based on a central belief in non-violence, which is a strong start. It does go a little downhill from there though. Jain doctrine states that Jainism has always existed and will always exist, although historians pinpoint its beginnings to somewhere between the 9th and 6th centuries BC. (Although Jains wouldn’t say ‘BC’, of course.)
Further core beliefs are that everything has a soul (every one of which is potentially divine), excessive possessions are unholy, followers should ‘enjoy the company of the holy and better qualified’ and ‘tolerate the perversely inclined’, and celibacy is positively encouraged. Sounds a bit iffy in principle – largely elitist, and without a real future if no-one’s allowed to have any of that dirty procreative intercourse.

Chinese folk religions

Shenism is largely grounded in Chinese mythology, and relies on the worship of ‘shens’ (deities, spirits, awareness, consciousness…) including cultural heroes, ‘city deities’ and, er, dragons. It’s pretty similar to Shinto in everyday life. Taoism is the form of Shenism that is most popular in the West, and champions the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation and humility. A common Western metaphor for Taoist principles is Winnie the Pooh (seriously).
These folk religions are very traditional yet are constantly evolving, and have a huge number of gods and goddesses. It all gets a bit complicated. But hey, there are a lot of people in China, maybe they’re right.

…is ridiculous, and that’s the one ‘religion’ I’m happy to say that about. L. Ron Hubbard is some kind of evil genius in convincing his followers that a) they’re all immortal beings from space and b) they should give him all of their money. Bonkers. The Church of Scientology encourages followers to cut off all contact with friends and family who don’t believe, which is a pretty appalling way to behave. Have you seen that episode of The Simpsons where they join the Movementarians? Yeah, it’s basically that. Pseudo-spiritual bullshit for crazy people.

This is a Neopagan religion, and a form of modern witchcraft. It’s not as mental as it sounds: Wiccans ‘regard the cosmos as alive, both as a whole and in all of its parts’, which, on an atomic level at least, is pretty much scientifically accurate. However, there’s a lot of arguing about whether their core views should be fundamentally mono-, duo- or pantheistic, and you kind of get the feeling that any other Wiccans you meet will be either angsty teenagers or batty middle-aged women who just want to draw pentagrams in the dark and experience the heady thrill of buying a pig’s heart from the butcher’s. If that sounds rude and intolerant, please feel free to find a Wiccan to correct me.

Rastafari movement
Quite a new one, this – it only dates back as far as the 1930s. Followers worship Haile Selassie I, former emperor of Ethiopia, believing him to be the second coming of Jesus Christ. So they’re kind of like traditional Christians, but much happier as they have a sense of catharsis. They proclaim Zion (Africa) as the birthplace of all humanity, which you can’t really argue with, and vehemently encourage the spiritual use of cannabis.
Whatever you do, don’t refer to it as ‘Rastafarianism’ – Rastas find this pretty offensive, as they don’t like being pigeonholed as an -ism. A lot of Rastas would actually argue that it isn’t a religion at all, but a way of life. And that’s fair enough.
(If I was a devout Christian, I’d definitely consider converting – Rastas can get on with life and enjoy themselves knowing that they’re not going to be hanging around indefinitely waiting for their saviour to rise again. Takes a lot of the pressure off.)

In spite of all my Christianity-bashing, I guess I’d technically call myself a Christian (which is what gives me carte blanche to be so rude about it). Not that I particularly believe in or agree with anything that it has to say, just that growing up in a Christian society has made it so. I celebrate Christmas with great enthusiasm. I got married in a C of E church and I meant every word of what I said. I enjoy the iconography and architecture of the Christian faith, and the comfort it seems to give people.
I always used to tell people I was an atheist, but that does imply a certain effort on my part, when it’s actually the case that I rarely bother giving religion any thought at all. I’ve also always said that life’s busy and complicated enough without having to worry about religion as well, but I can certainly see the benefits of belief.
So what of the original question? Which religion is actually right after all? Well, somewhat predictably, none of them seems to be totally right (or wrong, depending which way you look at it), but if you feel the need to live by a set of unusual historical guidelines, I’d suggest a combination of Buddhism, Rastafaria and Hinduism. The mixture of friendly behaviour, relaxation and comfort with oneself and general acceptance of one another sounds like a winner to me.

There we go, that was patronising and offensive. But hopefully a little informative too.

English Markets

Santa Brand Book

Essential yuletide guidelines - clicky.

Drink-drive prank

Interesting idea, nicely done. Let's hope it works.

'Get that toilet seat off of your head'

A father illustrates some of the more unusual things he finds himself saying to his kids. Rather lovely. Click here.

2013 in pictures

Some amazing shots here. Clicky.

Awkward Compliments

Astonishing Yugoslavian monuments

I really love that stuff like this exists. Look.

Take that, ants

A beautiful sculpture, and no more than the ants deserve. The little bastards.

Nirvana on Ross

I hadn't seen this little nugget before. It is ace.


Friday, 6 December 2013

06/12/13 - Krampus

Christmas is brilliantly evil isn’t it? The snide snub of being given a deliberately shit gift, the brimming resentment between young siblings over who’s got the better presents, the inevitable animosity over who decides the festive TV viewing schedule, the bitter violence resulting from seemingly innocent board games - there’s a lot of ill will entangled within the glitter of yuletide.

…but none of it gets more sinister than Krampus.
Now, you will presumably be familiar with Santa’s naughty-and-nice lists. All the good kids get exciting treats as a reward for being such little sweethearts, while the naughty scamps get coal and depressed. But this sort of downheartedness isn’t enough for the cruel, heartless parents of Central Europe. The threat of no toys isn’t deemed sufficient to curtail the naughtiness of their offspring, so they go to extreme lengths to ensure that Christmas is inextricably linked with a culture of extreme fear, terror and dread. And horror. And gore. And so they tell tales of Krampus.

Krampus is a sort of malevolent beast who exists solely to punish the children on the naughty list. All across Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, southern Bavaria and the Czech Republic, little children live in fear of being royally fucked up by an evil Christmas tyrant.
He has cloven hooves and the horns of a goat. He carries rusty chains and sinister bells. He swats indiscriminately at passing children with bundles of birch branches. He carries a sack, in which the naughty kids are placed for drowning, or transportation to hell. He’s a bit of a shit, really.

The tradition of Krampuskarten offers an alternative to the usual festive Christmas cards of holly, robins and cartoon snowmen. Krampuskarten demonstrate the variety of things that Krampus is willing to do in order to punish the children of the naughty list. It’s not enough for him to carry out his task with the ruthless efficiency of an abattoir worker with a bolt-gun; no, he likes to get creative, the sick fuck. He’ll chain hundreds of little ’uns together and march them to hell, like some kind of Nazi commandant loading a train bound for Dachau. He’ll pick a child up by the ears, then pull them apart until their head splits in two like a Mortal Kombat death move. He’ll pull kids’ hearts out and barbecue them on a spit. He’ll kick a crying child to the ground and strangle them with a chain. He’ll load babies onto a broomstick and fly them into a mighty inferno. Merry fucking Christmas.

Of course, the scariest element that lies inescapably within all of this is that Krampus is not the thing to fear most. He may spread a terrifying swathe of child-ruining destruction, but he’s just part of the system. He needs to exist to fulfil his supposedly necessary evil. No, the real fear figure here is Santa. He makes the lists. He knows that every child on the naughty list is going to suffer some kind of despicable end. He’s not just complicit in the genocide, he’s actively participating – nay, controlling. He could save every one of those children by turning a blind eye to their misbehaviour and just sticking them on the nice list (hey, only he would know, he could just give them a crap present and hope they take the hint), but no. He, and he alone, is condemning those children to excruciating torture and unimaginably agonising deaths. What a bastard.


The latest episode. Always entertaining.

Rap trends

This is interesting - trends in the usage of various phrases in rap lyrics over the years. Clicky.

The incredible memory man

That's 'incredible' as in 'not at all credible'.

Blues Brothers mall chase... in Lego

This is so well done.

...and just to show how accurate it is, here's a side-by-side:

Abandoned Tube stations

If unused public transport is your bag, you should check out this freaky business.

National Geographic Photo Contest 2013

Wanna see some amazing photos? Click here for highlights from the National Geographic photo competition. (And here for more.)