The World's Smartest Tree - 2003
Clearly the tree is growing its own brain because it wants to communicate with me.
I don't believe the brain is fully functional yet because I asked the tree what it needed to tell me and it said nothing. I think it might still be learning our language from the radios of cars as they drive by. (And maybe a little Spanish from the gardener.)
You can click on the picture for a much better view of it. I put a quarter next to it for size reference.
On the off chance that my wife is right and it is a mushroom, then I think I just figured out the next episode of Steve, Don't Eat It!
But if I'm right, then soon the tree will gain the gift of speech and we will converse. It will share with me, the years and years of wisdom it has gained as a silent, stoic observer. I believe the tree will also pass along its message that we must care for our precious planet and its resources, as I gain a newfound understanding of the universe, and our place in it.
It is only after this, that I will then hack off its delicate brain and devour it for the next episode of "Steve, Don't Eat It."
Mike Boom of the Mycological Society of San Francisco has shed some light on the brain that grew on the tree in front of my house. Sadly, Mike agrees with my wife that it is not a brain...
Mike is very cool, and makes a very convincing argument. But I can play that game too, and I am still convinced it is a "humanus brainius." But that's okay. We'll see who gets the last laugh when the Tree Creatures arrive.
Loyal readers of The Sneeze may remember that it was almost one year ago that the hideous brain grew on the tree in front of my house.
You may also remember that Mike Boom of the San Francisco Mycological Society explained what he thought the brain might be. It was only moments later that I looked up the word mycological.
Since the brain is apparently annual, we now begin BRAINWATCH 2004. I'll be keeping an eye on the tree and taking pictures as any brains develop.
Back to you in the newsroom, Connie.
Did Anyone Order A Hideous Tree Brain?
Here we go, gang! As of this morning we have total brain activity lurking within the tree.
Click on the image for a closer view. You can clearly see the beginnings of it growing in the cracks on the right-hand side.
I placed a quarter on the stump for size reference.
With this sighting I'm resetting the counter, so we'll call this "Day 1." I'll be taking a picture every day or so to track its grotesque progress. We'll see how this one compares to last year's.
Brainwatch: Day 3
As of this morning, there was still very little change since the last picture. I don't get it. I can still see a bit of the embryonic tree-brain in the cracks, mocking me.
Maybe these things are dormant for a few days before a big growth spurt? Or maybe the tree is getting shy from all the media exposure I've foisted upon it? Or maybe the tree is just being a dick.
Either way, I'll keep you posted.
Brainwatch: Day 6 - A Shocking Twist
I told you.
Last year, I said right here that we were dealing with the smartest tree in the world.
The tree has proven me right.
I was very disappointed that there had been no further activity since the other day, when I saw that yellow gunk down in the cracks.
Then yesterday I happened to walk around the other side of the tree, and guess what I found growing out of its theoretical ass. The new brain. Click to view it.
Son of a bitch! I've been publicly humiliated by a tree.
Stay posted for more pictures of the thriving tree ass-brain 2004.
Brainwatch: Day 7
The brain, it grows.
JW and Felix both pointed me to an old sci-fi movie called "From Hell It Came." It features a crazy killer-tree named "TABONGA!"
"It's roots reaching down to the dead!
From this point forward, the tree in front of my house will be known as Tabonga.
Brainwatch: Day 8
Tabonga's evil tree-brain
As for yesterday's picture of it, Annie wrote in with the following observation:
All Brainwatch 2004 entries can be found here.
Brainwatch: Day 9
Come one, come all!
If you don't hear from me in a while, the tree has simply carried me and my family away.
Brainwatch: Day 12
It looks like the brain is done growing. The little shelves that have formed are starting to droop and dry out. It's a sad day.
All brain entries can be found here.
Tree Brain 2005!
This year's brain was late enough that I thought he might not show at all, but he had a surprise. Not only is he back in his old spot, but he brought a friend down by the roots.
I'm not going to update the progress day-by-day this time, but I'll take pics every day and put them all up at the end of the brain cycle. You can see a big ol' beautiful close-up right here.
(And pretty please don't email asking me to eat the brain. Despite all the requests, it's not gonna happen. But I should have a new Steve, Don't Eat It up by next week, if that's any consolation.)
Treebrain Update and INTRIGUE!
An interesting new development in Treebrain 2005. My wife spotted suspicious activity around our brain. I'll let her describe the events...
Thank you, sweetie. But let me shed some light on who this person was. We're dealing with one of 3 things here:
- stalky Sneeze fan
Probably all 3. I'll keep you posted.
Here is a shot of the damage caused by the interloper. I've highlighted the stolen chunk.
Click here for a better view.
WHERE'S MY BRAIN, BITCH?!!
I came home last night to discover the tree brain was GONE!!! STOLEN!!!! I'm not fucking around, someone really took it.
My wife had been periodically checking on it all day long and keeping an eye out for the mysterious woman with the yellow paper from Friday. As the sun was going down yesterday, it was still there.
The perpetrator waited to make their move UNDER CLOAK OF DARKNESS! It's lunacy! What kind of world are we living in?!!
The less-than-spectacular assistant brain on the roots is still there, but really, who cares? We all know that one wasn't the star of this year's show. It was like the fungal understudy.
If this lady comes back again next year to try and eat Treebrain 2006, I have a plan. Every day I'm secretly going to spit on it.
So, at least we'll have that.
(You can read more about the brain's identity here.)
Have You Seen This Woman?
THE TREE BRAIN BANDIT
Here is a sketch of the fungus thief based on my wife's description. (If you have no clue what this is about, it sort of started here.)
The Tree Brain Bandit may be armed with a kitchen knife or a piece of yellow paper. She walks quickly and likes to act at night. She may have mushroom-breath.
The suspect was last seen wearing a white bucket hat and eating things off my tree.
She is wanted for 1 (one) count of brain-napping and 1 (one) count of defacing historic and silly internet landmarks.
This suspect should be considered weird and hungry.
The Tree with Two Brains
It's that time of year again.
I came home last night to find not one, but two glorious little brain buds emerging from the tree. These are the Billy and Benny McCrary of internet fungi.
I don't know how to stop the thief from returning, but assuming she took it to eat -- I will spit on our little fungi friends every day until she strikes. So at least we'll have that.
(If you're new to the whole tree brain thing, we've been following it for years.)
Brainwatch 2006 Day 2
As of 8:30 this morning...
Like two little batches of fungal dough, they're rising nicely...
It's Day 3 of Brainwatch 2006 and the boys wasted no time growing last night.
The spitting has begun. Unless you're the Brain-Napper reading this, in which case, I'm totally kidding. Why would I spit on them?! That's so immature. You just go ahead with your stealing and eating. Enjoy!
They Grow Up So Fast
It seemed like only a few days ago the tree brains were just little nubbins, but look at them now...
Great close up here.
Important Tree Brain Discovery
Tree Brain Season is rapidly approaching. That's the time of year when we eagerly await the annual hideous growth on the tree in my yard. Think of it as the fungal Great Pumpkin. (Except this one actually shows up and doesn't leave you looking like a jackass in front of Charlie Brown's little sister.)
Mellors from Australia wrote to me with a startling discovery from Tree Brain 2006 that somehow went unnoticed until now...
Here's a closer look:
It's important to remain rational and scientific when presented with findings such as this. If you take into account the position of the sun and the camera angle at the time the photo was taken, I think there is only one logical conclusion we can make: the tree brain was trying to reveal the identity of the Tree Brain Bandit. The heartless little lady who stole Tree Brain 2005.
I think we'll all be paying extra attention for such clues when Brain Watch 2007 begins.
(Everything you could possibly want to know about the annual Tree Brain can be found right here. Thanks, Mellors!)
Cranial Coincidence? - UPDATED
A reader named Thierry has discovered something fascinating on the Neopets website. This familiar looking fellow named "Brain Tree."
I realize this is most likely a coincidence, but the fact that the brain is orange does make me wonder just a little bit. (If there's a mysterious lady in a hat who's always out to get him, something might be up.)
The Sneeze Official Brainwatch 2007 begins in late August.
Do keep in mind that we're dealing with a highly-advanced intelligence here. There's no telling what this tree is capable of, or what diabolical plans it had set into motion long before it made itself known in my yard.
For all I know, that email actually came from the tree. But thanks for writing, Leah. Or should I say... TREE-AH?!!
Steve, Don't Eat It! - The Tree Brain
Over the last 4 years we've tracked the annual growth of fungus on the trees in front of my house, but the time for tracking was over. The time for chewing was here.
I was never interested in eating the Tree Brain because wild mushrooms can kill people. So I'm going to start off by saying: DO NOT EAT ANY MUSHROOMS YOU FIND GROWING IN THE WILD. I have no interest in being an accessory to your untimely death. Even if you think you've found a mushroom similar to mine, don't eat it. YOU WILL DIE. You'll be a dick and you'll die. So don't do it.
I'm serious. Pretend this is a PSA with a well-respected celebrity, such as -- I don't know... Jeremy Gelbwaks. And in the PSA he looks to camera and says "Hi, I'm TV's Jeremy Gelbwaks. You may know me better as the kid who was the first Chris Partridge on the Partridge Family. Don't eat mushrooms you find in the wild." And then off-camera we hear: "He's right." And, oh my God, it's BRIAN FORSTER, Chris Partridge #2! The two Chris's laugh, high-five and we're all a little bit safer.
That said, I totally ate the tree brain.
At some point a small residual nubbin finally did grow on the original tree. It seemed a waste to not do SOMETHING with it. And as much as I like writing this site for you guys, hot man on mushroom sex wasn't going to happen.
My wife has been the real force behind me not eating it over the years, but I caught her at just the right time. I reminded her that a professional mycologist had identified it and that I was well-read on all the potential pitfalls. It was still "young," it was not growing on a type of tree that could potentially make me ill (such as eucalyptus) and I was going to cook it thoroughly. I also found it hard to believe it would want to hurt me after all I've done for Tree Brain awareness.
I was 99.7% sure I'd be fine and I even made a deal with her that I'd just chew it and spit it out. Luckily, she was feeling sick and had a headache. I was given some vague "Do whatever you want," approval.
It really is heartwarming to know that my wife is devoted and loves me and doesn't want me to die. Unless her head hurts a little.
I tried to think of some perfect words to say before removing the brain. This was a historic moment and I wanted to come up with something fitting. Then my neighbors across the street drove up. I felt silly and hid behind my car until they went inside. Eventually I cut off the brain and ran back into my house. Historically.
It was weird to see it in my kitchen. I took a few pics like a geeky fanboy...
then unceremoniously hacked it to pieces.
The raw brain didn't smell like much of anything. If I was going to taste this thing, I didn't want to mask the flavor so I just went with a little olive oil.
The hunks got more intensely orange as they cooked down and soon it was go time. As I promised my wife, the plan was to chew it and spit it out. BUT IT WAS SO GODDAMN DELICIOUS IT HAD TO BE SWALLOWED. IT WAS THE BEST MUSHROOM I'VE EVER HAD.
I had read over and over that these Sulfur Shelf mushrooms (sometimes called "Chicken of the Woods") were supposed taste like chicken or even lemony chicken. But it didn't just "kind of" taste like lemony chicken. It was as if Willy Wonka branched out from chocolate to work on a lemony chicken mushroom and when he let you try it you'd be like, "Holy shit, this REALLY tastes like lemony chicken, Bill!" (Although it wouldn't kill you to treat Mr. Wonka with a little more respect.)
I waited awhile to see if I got sick. I didn't, so I went off zombie-style on the remaining brains. Even my wife, who was still feeling like crap, tried it and had to admit to its deliciousness.
Lest you doubt that the tree brain was consumed, I've decided to include an up close and personal picture of my sloppy food hole, chewing it up. I've always felt you didn't need to actually see these types of pix of food literally being mashed up in my mouth, but I figured on such a momentous occasion, it should be documented -- saliva, taste buds, 4 days of stubble and all.
I can't wait until next year. I will eat the shit out of that tree.
I have to say, it's weird to watch something grow for 4 years and then all of a sudden you're eating it. It really made me think... Maybe I should... EAT MY SON.
"Hi, I'm Jeremy Gelbwaks. Remember -- never eat your son."
But think about how tender he'll be, Jeremy Gelbwaks!
"Oh, he'd be tender for sure. But, Jeremy's right."
BRIAN FORSTER?! What are you doing here?!
"I'm here to say eating your kids is not cool."
"But-- I have a website, and-- Fine, whatever. I won't eat my son." Stupid Chris Partridges and their voice of reason.
(All Steve, Don't Eat It! posts can be found here.)
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