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July 5, 2002

Next you’ll tell me you’ve never seen Hampsterdance
Posted by Teresa at 08:30 AM *

A while back, I referred to quicktime movies of water balloons being popped in freefall as “The greatest footage since the LOX barbecue and the exploding whale.” I promptly got mail asking what LOX barbecue? And what exploding whale?

Well, okay. Feels weird, but I can do that. Won’t take but a minute. I’ll throw in some other golden oldies while I’m at it.

1. The famous exploding whale video, at this site and that site, both of which feel they’re definitive. If you have trouble running videos on your computer, here’s a filmstrip version of it. And this site has the original footage, plus an additional Swedish whale explosion!

2. The equally famous LOX barbecue video, wherein George Goble uses liquid oxygen to light the charcoal in two barbecue grills.

3. An unlikely interaction between a flooding river, a low bridge, and a tugboat.

4. The flaming toaster, here and here, demonstrating that strawberry Pop-Tart + toaster = incendiary device.

5. The sparkler bomb, with instructions on making your own; in which Daniel Rutter shows how you can overcome the limitations of “safe and sane” fireworks if only you use enough of them at once.

6. Making an incandescent light out of a pickle. Some additional theory on why this works.

7. Dogs in Elk. A famous thread from Salon’s “Table Talk”, memorialized as Dogs in Elk in Vegetables: A Halloween Tribute. It’s now illustrated with pictures of an appropriately carved pumpkin splattered with tomato sauce. And here’s Anne Verchick, main storyteller and the owner of the dogs in question, confirming that it really did happen, and giving a little more background. She adds that the all-vegetable illustrations are “… on a smaller, more vegetative scale, really pretty faithful to what was one of the messier experiences of my recent life.”

8. The Rice University Twinkie Project.

9. Tormenting marshmallow Peeps in the name of science. Peeps have become a cult, as witness this collection of links.

10. Apocamon: The Final Judgement. The Apocalypse — that is, the Revelation of St. John the Divine — enacted by cute pastel pokemon-critters.

11. I’d point you at Hampsterdance, but alas, it’s not there anymore. There’s a replacement site, Hampsterdance 2, but its animated art is cruder (if more elaborate), and it lacks the mystery and simplicity that made the original so hypnotically funny.

Update: Fran Wolber sends me links to sites cloned off the original Hampsterdance, though neither is an exact copy. You get your choice of an ensmalled version in Dutch, or a somewhat jumbled version in German. The raptly spinning Sufi-hamsters continue to be sublime.

Comments on Next you'll tell me you've never seen Hampsterdance:
#1 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2002, 10:42 AM:

Thanks for pulling that together: now I have one archived link for finding all those fun science projects to try at home. Though where I'm going to get my hands on a Vomit Comet or a very dead whale eludes me for the moment.

#2 ::: Yahmdallah ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2002, 01:03 PM:

Cliff Claven moment: The song on the Hamster Dance is from Disney's "Robin Hood," played at a faster speed. It's the voice of Roger Miller ("King of the Road") playing the part of the wandering minstrel.

#3 ::: BCNielsen ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2002, 06:22 PM:

I liked whale explosion #1. After all, if you have the opportunity to explode a whale, get pictures of the whale going off in all directions. I wonder who cleaned up the mess?
While in Little Rock we visited a newly opened craft superstore, so now my close neighbors have a dancing hamster wearing a sombrero who sings "La Cucaracha" while shaking a couple of wicked maracas.

#4 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 05, 2002, 11:42 PM:

I wonder if Scott McCloud's "Robots Love To Dance" was inspired by the Hampsterdance:

#5 ::: FranW ::: (view all by) ::: July 07, 2002, 11:04 PM:

If you want to see the original hamsterdance, you can get a pretty good approximation of it at


#6 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2002, 12:07 AM:

The tugboat one is covered by the Snopes folks, and they say it really happened (which isn't proof, but makes me more likely to believe it).

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