Movie star for a day

The last time I was interviewed on location here in Morris was the fateful day that I was taped for a little movie that became Expelled…and we know how that turned out. It’s happening again, only this time it’s not some secretive intelligent design proponent coming in on false pretenses: it’s Josh Timonen of the Richard Dawkins Foundation stopping by. I think I’m fairly safe this time, and don’t expect to be turned into the villain of the documentary they’re putting together.

It takes some dedication to do this. We’re a long 3 hour drive from the nearest airport, reached by way of a notorious series of speed-traps, it’s -10°F, snow is piled high in deep drifts all around, and once you get here, well, you’re in the tiny town of Morris. It’s a pleasant place to live, but it isn’t exactly renowned for its tourist appeal. I think it’s easier to get to Ulan Bator than here.


  1. Matt H. says

    I fear more for Josh than PZ. Especially if PZ has a loaded pistol on the table. There’s no telling what might happen if Josh doesn’t get the light right.

  2. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    Well, they must certainly want you for the film. At this rate, the Trophy WifeTM will have to start a fan club to keep track of the groupies.

  3. Hanes says

    Wow, it sounds like you live in a northern version of Rolla, MO. Do you have billboards proclaming “JESUS” along the highway to your small town in the middle of nowhere too?

  4. says

    We [Generalissimo Google™] could not calculate directions between Montpellier, France and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

    The BBC reports it’s around -10℃ during the day and -20℃ at night at the moment.

    And it has an airport, and rail links to both the bigger China and the trans-Siberian railway.

    Definitely beats Morris, even if Generalissimo Google™ is confused.

  5. AnthonyK says

    I have an absolutely sure-fire method of avoiding getting caught in speed traps. This is important information that THEY don’t want you to know.
    PZ, a cheque for $1000 sent to my e-mail address will provide you with this (normal rate, and for the rest of you $2000, PZ’s special). I can assure you that if you follow my teachings, you will NEVER get caught again.
    What price worryless motoring?

  6. QrazyQat says

    Wow, it sounds like you live in a northern version of Rolla, MO.

    I’ve been in both, and Rolla is HUGE compared to Morris. Plus Rolla has a Stonehenge.

  7. THEY says

    I have no problems with sharing my techniques for avoiding speed traps. It is very simple. You don’t need to send 1000 or 2000 or more USD to anyone.

    * Stay home.
    * Take the train.
    * Have someone else drive.
    * Don’t speed.

  8. AnthonyK says

    Sacrilege! Don’t listen to THEM! I have the one true method! THEY will burn in Hell!

  9. NewEnglandBob says


    Morris is in the middle of everywhere I’ll have you know!

    Since the Big Bang, approximately 15 billion years ago, the universe has been expanding from a common origin, therefore everywhere is the middle of everywhere.

  10. JackC says

    I dunno – you didn’t even rate a mention on Prairie Home last night… I would have figured Garrison would have paid more attention.

    Or maybe I just missed it.


  11. Mark says

    Blimey, 6 degrees south of here (London, England) but 35 degrees (Celcius) colder.

    What an amazing planet.

  12. Newfie says

    Try getting people to come to a rock in the north atlantic. Lots of interest, just over a years notice, and I still only had one person show up.
    I feel your pain.
    And we have beautiful scenery, nice summers, a boatload of history and culture, and some of the friendliest people on the planet.

  13. Rich Stage says

    Yeah, I used to live in Dixon, MO, like fifty miles down the colon from Rolla.

  14. THEY says

    Hades is not as hot as supposed. In fact, it’s quite comfortable, just right for skinnydipping in the beer volcanos with the virgins thrown in topside. (Now you can guess why Jindal doesn’t want you to monitor volcanos.) Actually, ex-virgins now, but don’t worry: There’s a constant supply coming down, so there’s no shortage here. I do wonder, however, where they are all found topside?

  15. AnthonyK says

    Beware THEIR honeyed words! There are many false versions of Speedism, and THEIRs is Excessive! I alone know the One True Speed!
    Embrace the Inner Limit!

  16. THEY says

    I do believe Anthony’s gyro has just wobbled. There are indeed many false Speedinanity prophets. The fake ones are in it for the money, either simple frauds or working in cohoots with the cops and selling lies. True Speedinanity prophets worry about the impact of speeding on the environment and children and puppy dogs, using whilst watching the fools in their cars from through the windows of the train’s bar as it speeds on, faster, to the centre of the city.

  17. bobxxxx says

    It’s happening again, only this time it’s not some secretive intelligent design proponent coming in on false pretenses

    It’s better to call them intelligent design creationists. “Proponents” is too respectful. I prefer to call them creationists because creationist means “idiot”.

  18. Chris Davis says

    Don’t trust him, PZ. He doesn’t fool me for a minute with all that spectacular work he’s done for The Prof and the RDF.

    He’s Ben Stein’s bitch – you mark my words.

  19. (No) Free Lunch says

    Morris Resident – I thought the most important information out there was how many miles you were to Wall Drug.

  20. AnthonyK says

    PZ I demand you put an end to the incessant insults I have received on you “internet site”. THEY have abused me at every turn, impugned my family, and even tried to laugh at my small penis. My only goal has been to offer you the TRUTH about speeding, the ones THEY do not wish you to know – and for a very modest cost. I insist you do something to stop THEM and THEIR aspeedist sycophants immediately.
    If you do not act now, I shall continue to whine and complain incestantly, and report your site to Bertrand Russel, who will act immediately to SHUT PHARYNGULA DOWN.
    Count this as a freindly warning.
    Yours in Speed

  21. mothra says

    Compare and contrast Ulan Bator and Morris MN.

    Morris MN is half a world closer (as the mole digs) to Wall Drug.

    Morris MN has more nuclear weapons on its’ doorstep.

    Ulan Bator has (by all accounts) more reliable and easily serviceable vehicles.

    Ulan Bator(after all these millennium) still has camels- Ulan Bator is waaaay cooler than Morris MN.

  22. THEY says

    Steady on there boy. Not only is your small penis showing—and it’s tiny, I’ve seen larger flagellum on a bacteria—but you’re trying to turn a profit from my attempts to avoid the slaughter of innocent kiddies playing on the motorway. Have no shame? (Other than about your penis.) No morality? (You must be one of those nasty militant atheists.) Relax. Have another beer (but don’t drive). Think of the children!

  23. Morris Resident says

    No Free Lunch – Ha!

    Actually, despite all the jokes, Morris can be an excellent place for academic types, especially after you get used to the small-town environment. There aren’t nearly as many distractions as other places which means there is lots of time for the two primary activities – work and sex (but you better bring your own partner if you come to settle though).

  24. T. Bruce McNeely says

    As a qualified member of Kevin Trudeau’s “They”, I have to tell you that “They” effin RULE over THEY!!!

    “They” are the champions, my friend!!!

    “They” do not want you to know about anything!!!

    “They” mean it!!!

    On the other hand,

    THEY suck…

  25. AnthonyK says

    THEY don’t know shit.
    PZ save me from my own insane ramblings!
    Bertand Russell is going to wipe you all out.
    And FYI it’s drivers who drive too slowly, and those who don’t drive at all, who really kill children – but THEY won’t tell you that! (And it’s no coincidence that THEY rhymes with GAY!)
    Stop the abuse, NOW!

  26. THEY says

    Not only do we have to put with the incessant whinging of Anthony “Pay me 2000USD and I’ll then tell you not to speed” K’s tiny penis-for-brains, now we’re about to be invaded by a horde of “Them” in 3… 2… 1…

  27. THEY says

    And FYI it’s drivers who drive too slowly, and those who don’t drive at all, who really kill children – but THEY won’t tell you that!

    Amazing. Half of that literate sentence—what did you do, get your mum to type it in for you?—is true. The second half. I certainly won’t tell anyone non-drivers, and slow drivers, kill the kiddies, ‘cuz it ain’t true! It’s as true as your offer to tell people my not-really-a-secret for 2000USD: A complete and total, epic and massive, lie.

  28. Nathan Schroeder says

    Expelled wasn’t so bad. All the fun of PZ getting expelled from the screening and the late release caused by the plagiarism. Great entertainment and I haven’t even seen the movie.

    Oh.. my local weather.

    Wind: SW at 1 mph
    Humidity: 34%

  29. Jason says

    Wouldn’t it be awesome if they made PZ the villain anyway? Just for a lark? I could totally see Dawkins and PZ facing down for title of Heavyweight Militant Atheist Champion of the World. Maybe with lightsabers.

  30. Alex Deam says

    Er PZ, you forgot to mention what this documentary will be about. How do you know it’s not false pretenses again?

  31. NewEnglandBob says

    Ol’Froth, I added my 50 NO votes for: Should parents should be allowed to avoid vaccinating their children?

  32. J. D. Mack says

    You know, if the cops where you live have to get out of their warm patrol car every time someone zooms through their speed trap, and it’s 10 degrees and snowing, then I have a bit of sympathy and respect for those men and women.

  33. Alex Deam says

    Ol’Froth, I added my 50 NO votes for: Should parents should be allowed to avoid vaccinating their children?

    Why on earth did 19 people go on there just to vote “undecided”? What was the point?

    “Ah, now I’m satisfied that the world knows I don’t have an opinion on this one, I can sleep peacefully.”

  34. Mena says

    Newfie @14:
    You may have more success at getting people who read this blog to visit by posting this link:
    If that doesn’t work you can always tell them about Screech and that there really is a town there named Dildo.

  35. Kimpatsu says

    I think it’s easier to get to Ulan Bator than here.

    Do you need a visa to visit Morris?

  36. Metalraptor says

    Speaking of Ben Stein, I was flipping through the channels and stopped at Fox News for a second. And then they said they would have Ben Stein on as an “economy expert”. Apparently Ben Stein isn’t just an actor and a “scientist”, but an economist too! Though, if his ideas on the economy are along the same lines as those on science, I wouldn’t take any economic advice from him, especially during these tough times.

  37. Carlie says

    Metalraptor, Stein actually started out as an economist. He quit because he wasn’t any good at it. There’s been some pretty good fisking of his last year’s worth of economic predictions, all of which were for crap, around the internets.

  38. Sastra says

    Josh Timonen #41:

    Nice pictures, both of them. I prefer the second. The first looks a bit like PZ is saying “Ok, I’ll sit here and you can take the shot as soon as I’m ready…”

  39. Nerd of Redhead, OM says

    What! No cyberpistol, pirate regalia, or cephalopod on the shoulder. You’re letting us down PZ.

  40. Pierce R. Butler says

    … I… don’t expect to be turned into the villain of the documentary…

    If not you, then who?

  41. 'Tis Himself says

    I’m jealous. PZ’s only nine years younger than me but still has all of his hair and it isn’t grey (except for the beard).

  42. 2 cents says

    Sounds like Morris hasn’t changed a bit. I attended UMM 1966-1970 and well remember the cold, the snow, the cops, the town. Loved school and the campus; the surrounding area? Meh.

  43. raven says

    What do people do for fun in Morris?

    I imagine during the winter it is strictly ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross country skiing.

    During the summer?

  44. Screechy Monkey says

    But I thought Johnny Boy was going to get the Atheist Pope Dawkins to excommunicate you?!

  45. chuckgoecke says

    I would suspect that Ulan Bator is closer to Fargo or Minneapolis than Morris.

  46. John Phillips, FCD says

    You people. I Love the photoshops :-)

    BTW, won’t Jonny Baby think even less of RD now :-(. After all, this video is bound to appear on his ‘go to sneakily whine’ place, RDF.Net. Maybe he’ll now also complain about to the WWW or World Wide Whine Internet police.

  47. RedGreenInBlue says

    Apparently Ben Stein isn’t just an actor and a “scientist”, but an economist too!

    I’m confused – I thought he wrote West Side Story. Have to say I prefer Shaun Berg myself though. :-S

  48. John inTampa says

    “PZ receives the Holy Communion”

    Wow. I think I just peed a little.

  49. Kevin Schreck says

    I saw this on Josh’s Facebook profile.

    It’s more fun to be a villain, but I’m quite interested in this little project.