Eating Diseased Animal Flesh

Despite warnings, Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods,” refuses to stop eating disease-ridden animal flesh

By Nick Rawling

A blood-lusting Andrew Zimmern, about to eat God-knows-what (Original Image Courtesy of Flickr)

While most Americans are adhering to recommendations from epidemiologists and other medical experts to shelter at home, Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods,” is completely out of control.

Despite desperate pleas from family members and close friends to postpone the shooting of the 14th season of his hit show, Zimmern has actually ramped up episode production during the pandemic.    

“Flights are so cheap right now,” Zimmern said. “I couldn’t let an opportunity like this go to waste.”

Zimmern’s team is currently filming in Xiaogan, China, where he plans to dine on pangolin and of course, bat.

“I really don’t buy into the whole ‘you shouldn’t do that, you’re going to give yourself a devastating illness’ thing,” Zimmern said. “It’s really no big deal. I ate bats in Thailand in season 1 and in Samoa in season 3. That’s true, you can Google that.”

Even more astonishingly, Zimmern told me he intends to prepare the nocturnal mammals “extra-rare,” explaining that “it’s just a texture thing, really.”

I also spoke with some Chinese locals, who seemed equal parts angered and confused by Zimmern’s bloodthirsty rampage. 

“First of all, this guy’s goofy round-lens glasses make him look like a shaved Teddy Roosevelt,” a nurse from Wuhan told me. “Second of all, I’ve literally never known anyone who’s eaten bats. You people are psychotic.”

One community restaurant owner, however, is making the most of the situation. 

“I don’t mind the chunky, nicer-looking version of Vin Diesel,” she said. “My business was dried up with everyone staying at home, but this guy comes in and will eat anything. Last night I gave him wet cat food, told him it was a pangolin stomach, and charged him $30.00 for it.”

After his tour through Central China, Zimmern will take viewers to Italy, Spain and finally, New York, because not all strange foods are in far-away places.
“Get this shit,” Zimmern said through a mouthful of bat liver pâté. “In New York they eat pizza with a crust so thin you can practically see through it — and they tell people that it’s good. How’s that for bizarre?”

Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Nintendo’s latest hit

By Joe States

Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Nintendo’s cute, cartoony life simulation game, has become something of an internet sensation in the US since its release on March 20. Twitter is flooded with Animal Crossing content, from screenshots to fanart to long tirades either for or against Tom Nook, a raccoon who the player is in debt to at the beginning of the game.

With the nation under quarantine and social distancing becoming the new normal, video games are now a major part of many Americans’ lives, and Animal Crossing, the best-selling game in the US for March according to The NPD Group, has become one of the most popular games in the country.

The World Health Organization even encouraged people to play video games to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in a tweet from Raymond Chambers, WHO’s ambassador for global strategy. But some feel there are more benefits to video games during quarantine than just aiding physical distancing.

Jasmine Miletic, a sophomore on UW-Whitewater’s esports team, said that the new Animal Crossing game offers her a sense of normalcy and a way to escape during quarantine.

“You have a bunch of goals to do, and with us all being trapped inside the house, having the game there kinda gives you a sense of reality,” Miletic said. “It takes you away.”

Miletic has also made new personal connections through Animal Crossing’s online community.

“I’m in a couple Facebook pages where you can talk to people who also play the game, and then they can come visit your island and you can sell them stuff and trade items with them,” Miletic said. “I’ve actually met a lot of people through that.”

According to Matthew Berland, an associate professor at UW-Madison and the director of the UW Game Design program, video games allow friends to socialize again while still remaining under quarantine.

“I think that a lot of people, including myself, really miss chatting with people,” Berland said.

One popular board game site, Board Game Arena, even crashed due to the sudden influx of people, according to Berland.

“There was just so many people that wanted to play board games with their friends,” Berland said. “I think video games are the same way. I think that a lot of the servers are experiencing high loads because it’s a virus-safe way to have social interactions.”

He argued that games provide a context for the more subtle social interactions of life that many are missing because of social distancing.

 “I think a lot of people underestimate the value of really minor-key, softly-spoken notes,” Berland said. “Sometimes you just need to hear that [your friends] had rice and beans for lunch.”

It’s no secret that the pandemic and quarantine have played a part in the success of Animal Crossing, but aspects of the game itself have drawn in many players, Miletic and Berland included.

In Animal Crossing, the player arrives at an island that they can then explore, crafting items and developing their town for villagers, anthropomorphic animal characters with distinct personalities that live on the island and are “super cute,” according to Miletic.

“It’s delightful, it feels safe, it feels happy, it feels creative, it feels social.” Berland said. “My personal feeling is, when I sit down to play, say with my daughter or alone … my feeling is delight.”

Miletic made one point very clear.

“It’s just a really cute game,” she said.

With so much additional free time though, people may be feeling pressured to be extra productive rather than spend time playing video games. On Twitter, one tweet by singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash about being productive during quarantine was retweeted more than 52 thousand times.

“Just a reminder that when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear,” Cash wrote.

But more and more people are turning against this type of thinking. Chris Ferguson, an associate professor at Stetson University, said that the increase in gaming likely has few negative impacts.

“Accumulating evidence suggests that playing video games isn’t really associated with negative outcomes,” Ferguson said. According to Ferguson, as long as people finish their work and exercise, “There are honestly no maximum limits on video game time, particularly as right now there might not be much else to do.”

And according to Berland, the benefits of social interaction and personal connections are important as well.

“Like any media, like books like movies, tv, like anything, you can do it positively or you can do it negatively,” Berland said. “But there’s lots of great ways to play games with your friends … and play creatively with your family, and to keep in touch.”

This is all good news for Miletic, who has been spending a lot of time in her virtual island village.

“Right now I’m already at, I believe, 185 hours,” Miletic said. “And the game just came out not even a full month ago.”

Berland also reflected on his time spent playing games.

“I have two kids and a wife, and keeping everyone happy is job number one for my wife and I,” Berland said. “But in lieu of going anywhere, there is time to play games, which is nice.”

Crash Course for Famous People

Reading the Room 101: A Crash Course for Famous People

By Emily Knepple

Global pandemic? What better way to appeal to the masses than with an Instagram live, or a majorly tone-deaf video of people singing “Imagine” whose net worth could probably pay for you and I’s (out-of-state) tuition, combined

Look, I’m the first one to admit that I gladly follow a long-list of A-list, B-list and even C-list celebs and genuinely get lost in their profiles. I had posters of singers taped up on the walls of my childhood bedroom and I spent actual money to see them. I get the appeal, celebrities are fun, they offer fantasy, a small glimpse into what life could actually be if you woke up with enough talent to get you noticed or knew someone at the top. 

                                                     @Kofromatatf (Twitter)

   Going on Instagram these days seems like an instant invitation to over 20+ celeb lives. 

I get it, okay? I’m not “anti-celeb” for the most part. But, when it comes to something that impacts everyone, gets in the way of our and their daily lives, I wonder just how talented they are at empathy. 

If it’s not Ellen DeGeneres coming at us live from one of her larger-than-life rooms telling us to keep the faith, it’s Kylie Jenner posting about how this is driving her crazy and she misses simpler times when she could go on a $3 million vacation with her sisters. 

With over 17 million Americans filing for unemployment over the past four weeks, I’m not sure if stars are facing similar challenges. Their roles on the big screen will be there when this is over. For us, the future of our jobs in places like retail, the food industry and more remain up in the air. 

Famous people have failed to learn how to read the room. The first time we really saw someone openly ignoring the plight this pandemic brings on so many was the infamous yacht photo. That’s right, someone actually wished everyone well from their $5 million yacht, where they were quarantined. 

               Billionaire David Geffen sent the world good wishes off his yacht early in the COVID-19 chaos. 

Jennifer Lopez really took the time to show us how her family is coping and yes, it did include one of her sons on a hoverboard, in her expansive backyard. Jeremy Renner, best known for his role of Hawk-Eye in The Avengers, really thought now was the best time to kick-start his music career with a single titled “Medecine.” YEP, he really had people telling him that that was a good idea, he really got the go-ahead. 

I’m sorry but I  know I’m not alone in the frustration right now. As much as I love seeing people like Chrissy Teigen on my timeline, I don’t necessarily know if we’re on an even playing field. 

So, I guess that leaves us with nothing else to do but teach. I’ve compiled a list of  the five biggest to-dos for celebrities that missed the ball on understanding the difference between us and them. 

  1. Don’t EQUATE: There’s no hiding that we lead different lives, that your backyard could easily be the size of my house. Instead of trying to be one of us, acknowledge that you aren’t and recognize your privilege. Madonna called the virus the “great equalizer” from a bathtub of rose petals while I’m trying to schedule my showers with my family so we can all use some hot water. 
  2. Go easy on the Lives: Look, I see the appeal of musicians streaming shows and honestly think that’s a great way to keep people engaged. However, if your live is just you and another celebrity talking back and forth about how you’re coping, or just yourself documenting daily life, maybe recognize they’re a bit overdone and if you need someone to talk to, call your friends like the rest of us. 
  3. Pleas for Money: Look, charity is great and it does a lot of good things for those that need it. However, when I see celebs post links to places we should donate, my gut instinct is to say: Well, have you? Not that it’s my business and it’s likely they have, but just forcing charity’s down the links of your followers can be a bit much. 
  4. You’re not a Scientist: Look, we’re all on the same boat here when it comes to how much we know. Leave the science part to scientists. Stop offering your suggestions on when this could be over. And for the love of God, please avoid doing anything close to what Vanessa Hudgens did a few weeks ago and go on some sort of rant about the ridiculousness of serious measures. 
  5. READ THE ROOM: Last and most importantly, please read the room. I know social media might be a way to cope, or your means of maintaining a following both on and off the screen. But, recognize that people’s timelines are overflowing with bad news. Trying to add to that with a complaint about how your significant other is starting to drive you crazy or how you don’t know what day it is and your losing mind can often reek of a lack of empathy. Now might not be the best time to launch a new press campaign, just a thought. 

Not to say this applies to all famous people. I’ve seen some good things come out of this. Like John Krasinski’s Good News weekly show that brings people together and steers away from the general narrative. Artists that have gone forward with their album releases also provide solace for me. New music is fun and if you’re able to share it without trying to evoke copious amounts of sympathy, gold star. 

I think there’s a time and a place for everything. Obviously, celebrities are deeply ingrained into our culture. And honestly, it’s such an ambiguous term that it no longer applies to just movie stars and singers. They’re people, too. I think this virus can definitely impact them, whether it’s consequence can be as serious as it is for us common folk, which I think is what puts them at fault. When they start to act as if the implications are the same is where I begin to feel frustrated. 

But, feelings are feelings and as people, we try to validate them, even when they belong to  people who have salaries with a numbers of digits I will never see in my life. So, at the end of the day, all we can ask of our highest-profile friends is to just please, read the room.