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Volume 353

This week’s coolsh*t will boldly go where no man has gone before. We’ve got a trek to the stars, pirouetting apartments, and some Brobdingnagian prize-winning plumpkins. Plus there's a bit of welcome news for caffeine fiends at the end.

Live Long and Prosper.

One small step for old man, one giant leap for old mankind. Actually, leaping probably isn’t advisable with a trick hip and dodgy knees, so perhaps more of a gentle amble. As you may have heard, there was one more star in the sky this week as William Shatner fulfilled a lifelong dream by actually going to space rather than just pretending to. And he didn’t even have to get some bloke called Scotty to beam him up. Instead, he asked a bloke called Jeff to give him a lift, as the recently inducted nonagenarian boarded the second flight of the New Shepherd, made by Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin company. At 90-years-old, Shatner became the oldest person to ever leave the Earth’s atmosphere. Indeed, he’s so old now, that the people who this is nostalgic for are probably all in their 50s. I had to Google that Scotty reference. But spare a thought for 82-year-old pilot Wally Funk, who previously became the oldest person to go to space when Bezos took her on the inaugural flight in July. That was a short-lived record. Although based on the trend that’s emerging, I imagine Shatner will be swiftly knocked of his perch too. 95-year-old Mel Brooks is probably packing his bags in anticipation right this second.

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Anything From the Trolley?

Now that many of us are being summoned back into our respective offices, people up and down the country are reigniting their old love/hate relationships with trains. And when I say love/hate, I mean love purely in the sense that they’re (usually) quicker than roller-skating to the office, and hate in just about every other way. However, film fans could get a pleasant train-related surprise this week, as Wes Anderson has teamed up with luxury travel company Belmond to reform a 1950s British Pullman train carriage with his classic Art Nouveau style. Even if you don’t like his films, there’s no denying the satisfying, perfectly symmetrical, mise en place nature of his aesthetic. Running out of Victoria station, guests can book a ticket on the Cygnus for a day trip, including a full dining experience. And Anderson has promised that the seemingly unageing Timothee Chalamet will not be there, in spite of the fact that he seems to appear basically everywhere these days.

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Spinning Around.

When Meatloaf said, “I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that”, I imagine he was referring to modifying a house in order to make it spin around at his wife’s behest. Selfish git. However, love is still alive in certain parts of the world, as that’s precisely what a Bosnian bloke has done for his dearly beloved. Vojin Kusic, 72-year-old man and big old softie, modified his gaff by mounting it on a concrete plinth and installing electric motors and the wheels of an old military transport vehicle to allow it to spin a full 360 degrees. The project was born in order to assuage his wife’s gripes about not being able to see people entering from the front garden following Kusic’s previous remodelling to make their bedrooms face the sun, meaning the living room faced away from the street – again, his wife’s idea. Some people want it all. That must have been what Alicia Keys was singing about. But she didn’t want nothing at all. He should have married her instead.

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I'll Be Bach.

In the interest of candour, I feel I ought to reveal that 20 seconds into this video, I had decided that it probably wasn’t worth including. But then something happened. Before I knew it, I was 3 and a half minutes in. We can’t be sure what happened during that time, but I was transfixed. My assumption would be that my consciousness briefly fled to some sort of parallel universe. Something like that. But there is definitely something hypnotic about seeing a robot play Mozart’s Turkish March on some calculators – which were previously only thought useful for mathematics or writing rude words upside down, so this is a real game changer. That must be why A-HOGE, the virtuoso in question, has gone viral over the last week. Comprised of four robotic arms, which move thanks to a combination of stepper and servo motor mechanisms, the robot sits in front of the four meticulously aligned calculators and presses their keys to produce different melodies. But what really sets it apart is the distinctive thumping that could only be produced by the cold, metal fingers of a machine. And the result is wonderful. It’s like if Mozart had a booming bassline. Watch out for A-HOGE selling out Fabric, it’s coming.

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Oh My Gourd.

The world can feel like a scary, fast-moving place full of calculator-playing robots. Sometimes, one needs some tonic for the soul that can only be attained by going back to basics and looking at some f*cking massive vegetables – just like old times. At least I assume that’s what people did for fun in the pre-internet era? Looking as if there had been some sort of chemical spill in a pumpkin patch, the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands hosted the Dutch Pumpkin Growing Championship this past week. Photographer Raymond van Mil – a man suitably with a surname that sounds a bit like ‘windmill’ in a Dutch accent – was there to capture the event in all of its gigantic magnificence. But do not mistake Mr. van Mil for a mere photographer; he was actually there to enter a courgette from his mother’s garden into the ‘Largest Courgette’ category – for which he emerged victorious, by the way. Things were briefly in danger of kicking off when it was discovered that a pumpkin participating in the largest pumpkin competition was, in fact, an abomination half-breed that had been crossed with a courgette. Dun, dun, dun. Hopefully that monster was chased out of town by way of pitchforks and fire.

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Just Brew It.

Good news can feel rather rare these days, but I reckon this will have some people triumphantly raising their jittery fists skywards in celebration. If you’re into longevity and all that sh*te, you’ve probably been advised to steer clear of caffeine. Well, throw down that repulsive kale smoothie and hoist up your venti, non-fat, soy-milk, no-foam, caramel macchiato with a twist in all its over-complicated glory, because coffee may well be keeping you alive. While that statement may already seem intuitively true for those miserable Monday mornings, it might actually have some scientific backing, as a study found that daily coffee consumption could reduce the risk of death by 25-35% – specifically 16-19% for cancer and 27% for cardiovascular disease. And this wasn’t even just some bogus study of 10 people commissioned by the Prince of Arabica, it was conducted by the Seoul National University Department of Food and Nutrition and Department of Preventive Medicine and had a sample size of 330,000 over a period of 12.5 years. Granted, they haven’t really explained why this might be, but let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth – so shut up and enjoy the buzz.

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