Thursday, November 13, 2003

You Say Tomacco, Etc.

From today’s Post:

Scientist hits a Homer with 'tomacco' creation
Scott Stinson

An Oregon scientist inspired by Homer Simpson has successfully created "tomacco" -- a tomato plant that contains nicotine.

But Rob Baur is now worried that he has produced "the ultimate Frankenfood" and that it could, in fact, be deadly to eat.

Mr. Baur says the idea to cross-breed tomatoes and tobacco came from an episode of The Simpsons that first aired in 1999. After inadvertently challenging a southern colonel to a pistols-at-dawn duel, the Simpson patriarch decides to flee to his childhood farm with his family to live off the land.

He accidentally mixes tomato and tobacco seeds and after applying borrowed plutonium to his fields -- "a little boost for Mother Nature" -- grows the tomacco hybrid. It tastes awful, but is highly addictive, as several farm animals and his son, Bart, soon discover.

Mr. Baur, 53, vaguely recalled reading about cross-breeding the two plants during a university class in the 1970s. The idea kicked around in his head for a while, then he set to work. He grew both plants, then cut the tops of each and switched them around. Both promptly died.

Undeterred, and without a source of plutonium handy, Mr. Baur grew the plants again, this time hollowing a portion of each out and grafting them together. The plant took form, and after weeks of pruning, he now has a large tobacco root that has sprouted a tomato branch. The branch has yielded one ripe fruit, and tests have shown the leaves contain nicotine -- the fruit will be tested for nicotine tomorrow. The scientist says he expects the fruit will contain much higher levels of the addictive ingredient


Mr. Baur's friends want to know what he will attempt next. Would he consider moving straight into recreational drugs?

"A few people want to know if I could make toma-nnibis or marij-tomato. I don't think so."

And he hasn't ruled out mining his collection of Simpsons DVDs for further ideas.

"There's always the Flaming Moe," he notes, a reference to the drink invented by bartender Moe Sizlak that briefly makes him the toast of Springfield. "I'm sure there's a recipe on the Internet somewhere."

Meanwhile, everyone is no doubt going crazy over the Onion's poke at the blogosphere.

Finally, great writing should impact the reader, make the person think about the ideas raised, the issues tackled, etc. Sometimes a photo manages to impart the same effect, with its proverbial 1,000 words. For the past five days, I have been trying to figure out why the Saturday Globe and mail Style section used a photo of a couple making out on the floor of a butcher shop to illustrate their story on the value of "quickies." Putting aside the fact that I am mostly vegetarian, I don't see anything sexy, and more importantly, anything harried about the scene portrayed. Why is the cold hard floor of a butcher shop a good place for brief sex? Are the disgusting surroundings supposed to act as an inducement to hurry up? Is this aping a scene from a film I've never seen?

Awhile ago, Clive at Collision Detection offered a bottle of expensive liquor to the first person who proved they actually bought a Segway. And so, in that spirit of giving back something to the blog community, the first person to intelligently and logically link the text of the Globe article to the butcher photo (and meat market doesn't work, I already tried) will earn a bottle of Labatt 50. (The disparity in alcohol prizes reflects the income spread between Clive and myself). Email with your answer.