Summit Up 10-21-10: Ready to be amused |

Summit Up 10-21-10: Ready to be amused

by Summit Up
Special to the Daily/Elitch GardensWe saw this guy at Elitch Gardens in Denver last weekend, working on a farm where they grow, oddly enough, only dead corn. Farmer Bones says it affords him pretty decent job security, since he's dead too.

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column that wonders why it is human beings have to be amused all the time. Consider the house cat or the marmot or the snake: none of these critters need to do anything much beyond eating, sleeping and eliminating, with occasional forays into mating behavior. As juveniles, they may entertain in some play (except for the snakes, we guess), but then they grow up and that’s it: no amusement or entertainment needs whatsoever.

We were thinking about this on Saturday night down at Elitch Gardens in Denver, where we like to go at this time of year for a number of reasons. For one, being humans, we have this need to be constantly amused, and so an amusement park seems to be just the thing. Also, Elitch’s in October is awesome because 79) we don’t get roasted in the hot summer sun; L) the crowds aren’t as, er, crowded; and cii) they have Halloween stuff going on, which means fake graveyards, smoke machines, haunted houses and creepy guys walking around trying to scare you (see the guy on this page, who was worried about his hair, of all things, and we were like “Dude! You have so many more problems than your ‘do!”)

Anyway, we were amused on the roller coasters, but not so much on the tilt-a-hurl style rides that make us queasy. We did check out the haunted house, but our traveling companion sorta freaked out so we bailed out of an exit before making it all the way through (it was pretty creepy, though).

Elitch’s is open through the end of the month on weekends only, so get down there and check it out. More info is at


OK, so David Pierce sent us a note reading thusly: “Bovril. This English companion of Marmite belongs in every newspaper bullpen. Add hot water for a cup of beefy goodness!”

We wondered what this meant, so we Googled Bovril and discovered it’s some kind of meat product. Or, as Wikipedia says: “Bovril is the trademarked name of a thick, salty meat extract, developed in the 1870s by John Lawson Johnston and sold in a distinctive, bulbous jar. It is made in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, and distributed by Unilever UK.”

Yum, right? But why was David suggesting we get some of this in our “bullpen?” We don’t know, but we also discovered you can take this stuff and mix in in milk …

(sound of projectile vomiting)

… or even spread it on toast.

(sound of Exorcist-level barfing)

So what’s Marmite, you might ask? Well, apparently it’s some kind of gooey tar-like skunge similar to Vegemite that’s made from …

(sound of gagging)

… yeast extract.


We don’t get it. But, then, we’re not British, and apparently they understand this kind of thing. We wonder what inspired John Lawson Johnston to create this Bovril stuff. Was he sitting around on a rainy afternoon and, after discovering there were only four dice in the Yahtzee! game, decided to invent some salty meat extract?

Actually, here’s what happened:

“In 1870, in the war against the Prussians, Napoleon III found that his armies could not ‘march on empty stomachs.’ He therefore ordered one million cans of beef to feed his starving troops. The task of providing all this beef went to a Scotsman named John Lawson Johnston. Large quantities of beef were available across the British Dominions and South America, but its transport and storage was problematic. Therefore Johnston created a product known as ‘Johnston’s Fluid Beef’, later called Bovril, to meet the needs of the French people and Napoleon III.”

Mmmmm … fluid beef!

(sound of barfing) We out.

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