Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zombie

A zombie is a creature that appears in folklore and popular culture typically as a reanimated corpse or a mindless human being. Stories of zombies originated in the Afro-Caribbean spiritual belief system of Vodou, which told of the people being controlled as laborers by a powerful sorcerer. Zombies became a popular device in modern horror fiction, largely because of the success of George A. Romero's 1968 film Night of the Living Dead.

According to the tenets of Vodou, a dead person can be revived by a bokor, or sorcerer. Zombies remain under the control of the bokor since they have no will of their own.

Modern zombies, as portrayed in books, films, games, and haunted attractions, are different from both voodoo zombies and those of folklore. Modern zombies are typically depicted in popular culture as mindless, unfeeling monsters with a hunger for human flesh, a prototype established in the seminal 1968 film Night of the Living Dead. Typically, these creatures can sustain damage far beyond that of a normal, living human. Generally these can only be killed by a wound to the head, such as a headshot, and can pass whatever syndrome that causes their condition onto others.

Usually, zombies are not depicted as thralls to masters, as in the film White Zombie or the spirit-cult myths. Rather, modern zombies are depicted in mobs and waves, seeking either flesh to eat or people to kill, and are typically rendered to exhibit signs of physical decomposition such as rotting flesh, discolored eyes, and open wounds, and moving with a slow, shambling gait. They are generally incapable of communication and show no signs of personality or rationality, though George Romero's zombies appear capable of learning and very basic levels of speech as seen in the films Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead.

Modern zombies are closely tied to the idea of a zombie apocalypse, the collapse of civilization caused by a vast plague of undead. The ideas are now so strongly linked that zombies are rarely depicted within any other context.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Television

Television is an American rock band, formed in New York City in 1973. Although Television have never had more than a cult audience in their American homeland, they have achieved significant commercial success in Europe. Today, they are widely regarded as one of the key founders of, and seminal influences on punk rock.

Television was a part of the early New York punk rock scene, contemporary with bands like the Patti Smith Group and the Ramones. In contrast to the Ramones' focus on rock 'n' roll minimalism, Television's music was much more technically proficient, defined by the dueling guitars of Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd.

Television's roots can be traced to the teenage friendship between Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine. The duo met at Sanford School in Hockessin, Delaware, from which they ran away. Later the two would move separately to New York in the early 1970s aspiring to be poets. Their first group together was the Neon Boys, consisting of Verlaine on guitar and vocals, Hell on bass and vocals, and Billy Ficca on drums. The group lasted from late 1972 to early 1973. A posthumous 7-inch record featuring "That's All I Know (Right Now)" and "Love Comes in Spurts" was released in 1980.

In late 1973 the trio reformed, calling themselves Television and soon recruiting Richard Lloyd as a second guitarist. They persuaded CBGB's owner Hilly Kristal to give the band a regular gig at his club which had just opened on the Bowery in New York. Television was the first rock group to perform at the club, which was to become, along with Max's Kansas City, the center of the burgeoning punk scene. The members of Television reportedly constructed the first stage at CBGB's, where they quickly established a significant cult following.

Initially, songwriting was split almost evenly between Hell and Verlaine. However, friction began to develop as Verlaine, Lloyd and Ficca became increasingly confident and adept with both instruments and composition, while Hell remained defiantly untrained in his approach. Verlaine, feeling that Hell's frantic onstage demeanor was upstaging his songs, reportedly told him to "stop jumping around" and ultimately refused to play Hell's songs (such as "Blank Generation") in concert. This led Hell to leave the group and take his songs with him, forming The Heartbreakers in 1975 with former members of the New York Dolls, and later forming Richard Hell and the Voidoids. Fred Smith, briefly of Blondie, replaced Hell as Television's bassist.

Television's first album Marquee Moon was received positively by music critics and audiences, despite failing to go near the Billboard Top 200 - though it sold well in Europe and reached the Top 30 in many countries there.

Television's second album, Adventure, was issued in 1978 to less fanfare. The distinctive dual guitars of Lloyd and Verlaine are still evident on Adventure, notably on the tracks "Glory," "Days," and "Foxhole." The band members' very independent and strongly held artistic visions, along with Richard Lloyd's alleged drug abuse, led to the band's break-up in 1978. Both Lloyd and Verlaine pursued solo careers.

Television reformed in 1992, recording an eponymous third album, and have performed live sporadically thereafter. Since being wooed back on stage together for the 2001 All Tomorrow's Parties at Camber Sands, England, they have played a number of dates around the world, and continue to perform occasionally in New York while touring on an irregular basis.

In 2007, Richard Lloyd announced he would be amicably leaving the band after a midsummer show in New York City's Central Park.[9] Owing to an extended stay in hospital recovering from pneumonia, he was unable to take his place with the band for this concert. His place that day was taken by Jimmy Ripp. Ripp has since been asked to stay on as a band member replacing Lloyd, and, as of December 2007, the group has been busy recording a new record.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mustard

Mustard is a condiment made from the seeds of a mustard plant. The whole, ground, cracked, or bruised mustard seeds are mixed with water, vinegar or other liquids, and sometimes other flavorings and spices, to created a thick paste ranging in colour from bright yellow to dark brown.

Mustard often has a sharp, pungent flavor, as mixing the ground seed with cold liquid causes the release of the enzyme myrosin, responsible for mustard's characteristic heat. Homemade mustards are often far hotter and more intensely flavored than commercial preparations. A strong mustard can cause the eyes to water, sting the palate and inflame the nasal passages.

Mustard can also cause allergic reactions: since 2005, products in the European Union must be labelled as potential allergens if they contain mustard. Commonly paired with meats and cheeses, mustard is also a popular addition to sandwiches, hamburgers, and hot dogs.

It is also used as an ingredient in many dressings, glazes, sauces, soups, and marinades; as a cream or a seed, mustard is used in the cuisine of India, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, northern Europe, the Balkan States, Asia, the United States, and Africa, making it one of the most popular and widely used spices and condiments in the world.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Siege

A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit".

A siege occurs when an attacker encounters a city or fortress that cannot be easily taken by a coup de main and refuses to surrender. Sieges involve surrounding the target and blocking the reinforcement or escape of troops or provision of supplies (a tactic known as "investment"), typically coupled with attempts to reduce the fortifications by means of siege engines, artillery bombardment, mining (also known as sapping), or the use of deception or treachery to bypass defenses.

Failing a military outcome, sieges can often be decided by starvation, thirst or disease, which can afflict either the attacker or defender.

Sieges probably predate the development of cities as large population centers. Ancient cities in the Middle East show archaeological evidence of having had fortified city walls.

During the Warring States era of ancient China, there is both textual and archaeological evidence of prolonged sieges and siege machinery used against the defenders of city walls. Siege machinery was also a tradition of the ancient Greco-Roman world.

During the Renaissance and the Early Modern period, siege warfare dominated the conduct of war in Europe. Leonardo da Vinci gained as much of his renown from the design of fortifications as from his artwork.

Medieval campaigns were generally designed around a succession of sieges. In the Napoleonic era, increasing use of ever more powerful cannon reduced the value of fortifications. In modern times, trenches replaced walls, and bunkers replaced castles.

In the 20th century, the significance of the classical siege declined. With the advent of mobile warfare, a single fortified stronghold is no longer as decisive as it once was.

While sieges do still occur, they are not as common as they once were due to changes in modes of battle, principally the ease by which huge volumes of destructive power can be directed onto a static target. Sieges in the present day are more commonly either smaller hostage, militant, or extreme resisting-arrest situations such as the Waco Siege.

Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of low-intensity warfare (until an assault takes place) characterized in that at least one party holds a strong defense position, it is highly static situation, the element of attrition is typically strong and there are plenty of opportunities for negotiations.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Second Coming

"The Second Coming" is a poem by William Butler Yeats first printed in The Dial (November 1920) and afterwards included in his 1921 verse collection Michael Robartes and the Dancer. The poem uses Christian imagery regarding the Apocalypse and second coming as allegory to describe the atmosphere in post-war Europe. The poem is considered a major work of Modernist poetry.

The poem was written in 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War. While the various manuscript revisions of the poem refer to the French Revolutions, the Irish rebellion, and those of Germany and of Russia, Richard Ellman and Harold Bloom suggest the text refers to the Russian Revolution of 1917. Bloom argues that Yeats takes the side of the counter-revolutionaries and the poem suggests that reaction to the revolution would come too late.

In the early drafts of the poem, Yeats used the phrase "the Second Birth", but substituted the phrase "Second Coming" while revising. The Second Coming of Christ referred to in the Biblical Book of Revelation is here described as an approaching dark force with a ghastly and dangerous purpose. Though Yeats's description has nothing in common with the typically envisioned Christian concept of the Second Coming of Christ, as his description of the figure in the poem is nothing at all like the image of Christ, it fits with his view that something strange and heretofore unthinkable would come to succeed Christianity, just as Christ transformed the world upon his appearance.

The sphinx or sphinx-like beast described in the poem had long captivated Yeats' imagination. He wrote the Introduction to his play The Resurrection, "I began to imagine [around 1904], as always at my left side just out of the range of sight, a brazen winged beast which I associated with laughing, ecstatic destruction", noting that the beast was "Afterwards described in my poem 'The Second Coming". However, there are some differences between the two characters, mainly that the figure in the poem has no wings.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Yosemite Sam

Yosemite Sam is an American animated cartoon character in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons produced by Warner Bros. Animation. The name is somewhat alliterative and is inspired by Yosemite National Park. He is commonly depicted as a short-tempered and extremely grouchy cowboy with an intense hatred of rabbits, especially Bugs Bunny. In cartoons with non-Western themes, he uses various aliases, including "Chilkoot Sam" (named for the Chilkoot Trail; Sam pronounces it "Chilli-koot") in 14 Carrot Rabbit (although in the same cartoon, when he tries to gain Bugs Bunny's trust, he cleverly invents alias "Square-deal Sam"), "Riff Raff Sam" in Sahara Hare, "Sam Schulz" in Big House Bunny, "Seagoin' Sam" in Buccaneer Bunny, "Shanghai Sam" in Mutiny on the Bunny, and "Sam Von Schamm the Hessian" in Bunker Hill Bunny and many others.

While Sam's basic character is that of a cowboy, he wears a black mask (or actually, just a wide black outline on the outer sides of his eyes) to show that he's an outlaw. This is so associated with his persona that he still wears the mask, even when dressed as a duke, a riff, a pirate or a viking.

With all his bluff and bluster, Sam stands in contrast to Freleng's calmly cocky rabbit. Sam is significantly tougher and more aggressive than Elmer Fudd when challenging Bugs. He is also quicker to learn from his mistakes, and never falls for the same ploy twice. However, it is Sam's own cockiness that always gets the best of him; Bugs learns to deal with Sam upon learning that he is incapable of turning down a challenge. Every time Bugs dares Sam to "step across that line", Sam can't help but do so, even if he steps off into empty space or down a mine shaft.

While unscrupulous and ornery himself, Sam consistently displays an odd respect for religious conventions. Whenever he is preparing to shoot Bugs, he says, "Now say your prayers, Varmint!" Which of course gives Bugs enough time to foil his intentions.

Another chief foil of Sam's humor is the ludicrous lengths he'll go to just to "get even" -- often with disastrous results to himself and his surroundings.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Whiskey

Whisky or whiskey refers to a broad category of alcoholic beverages that are distilled from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn). Most whiskies are aged in wooden casks (generally oak), the exception being some corn whiskeys.

Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with multiple competing denominations of origin and multiple classes and types. The unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grain or corn, and the practice of distilling the spirit down to a maximum of 90% alcohol for grain, and 80% alcohol for corn, prior to adding water, so as to retain some of the flavor of the grain used to make the spirit and prevent it from being classified as grain neutral spirits or vodka. Whisky gains as much as 60% of its flavor from the type of cask used in its aging process and therefore further classification takes place based upon the type of wood used and the amount of charring or toasting done to the wood. Bourbon whiskey for example is legally required to be aged in charred new oak barrels, whereas quality Scotch whiskies often used the partially spent barrels from Bourbon production to induce a slower maturation time, adding additional subtle nuance.

With few exceptions, the spelling is Scottish, Canadian, and Japanese whisky (plural: whiskies), but Irish and American whiskey (whiskeys).

Whisky is a shortened form of usquebaugh, which English borrowed from Irish Gaelic uisce beatha and Scottish Gaelic uisge beatha. This compound descends from Old Irish uisce, "water", and bethad, "of life". and meaning literally "water of life". It meant the same thing as the Latin aqua vītae which had been applied to distilled drinks since early 14th century.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Murph the Surf

Jack Roland Murphy or Murph the Surf is a surfing champion, musician, author, artist and convicted murderer who was involved in the biggest jewel heist in American history at the American Museum of Natural History. Today Jack Murphy is an ordained minister, working with inmates in the field of prison ministry.

He was involved with a robbery on October 29, 1964, of the Star of India along with several other precious gems, including the Eagle Diamond and the de Long Ruby. This robbery was called the "Jewel Heist of the Century." It targeted the J.P. Morgan jewel collection from the display cases of New York's American Museum of Natural History.

Murphy had cased the museum earlier and discovered from a 17-year-old visitor that security was lax to non-existent. The burglar alarm system was non-operational, and a second story window in the jewel room was usually left open to aid in ventilation. The thieves climbed in through the window and discovered that the display case alarms were non-functional as well. The stolen jewels were valued at more than $400,000.

Murphy and both his accomplices, Alan Kuhn and Roger Clark, were arrested two days later and received three-year sentences. The uninsured Star of India was recovered in a foot locker at a Miami bus station. Most of the other gems were also recovered, except the Eagle Diamond, which has since been hypothesized to have been cut down into smaller stones. Richard Duncan Pearson was also convicted.

In 1968, he was convicted of first-degree murder of a California secretary, one of two women whose bodies were found in Whiskey Creek near Hollywood, Florida, in 1967. He also was convicted of trying to rob a Miami Beach woman in 1968. He was sentenced to life in prison in Florida.

When Bill Glass, Roger Staubach and McCoy McLemore visited Florida State prison in 1974, as part of a Bill Glass Champions for Life weekend, Murphy was impressed with the visitors, both world champion athletes and local businessmen. At that time Murphy had an earliest parole date of Nov. 2225, but that weekend changed his attitude and he devoted his future time spent in prison to serving a higher cause. His service in the chaplaincy program, leading Bible studies and mentoring other men in prison led the Florida Parole Board to release him on "parole with lifetime monitoring" in 1986.

In 1986, Murphy began going back into prisons and jails all over the U.S. as a platform guest with Bill Glass. In 1990, he was hired on staff with Bill Glass Champions for Life. Murphy has also been a featured speaker for Kairos, Coalition of Prison Evangelists, Int'l Prison Ministries, Time for Freedom and Good News Jail & Prison Ministry. After visiting over 1,200 prisons, and recognizing the incredible change apparent in this man's life, the FL Parole Board terminated his "lifetime parole" in 2000.

Murphy authored a book of his experience and testimony "Jewels for the Journey".

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mickey Finn

A Mickey Finn is a slang term for a drink laced with a drug (especially chloral hydrate) given to someone without their knowledge in order to incapacitate them. Serving someone a Mickey Finn is most commonly referred to as slipping a mickey.

The Mickey Finn is most likely named for the manager and bartender of a Chicago establishment, the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden Restaurant, which operated from 1896 to 1903 in the city's South Loop neighborhood on South State Street. In December 1903, several Chicago newspapers document that a Michael "Mickey" Finn managed the Lone Star Saloon and was accused of using knockout drops to incapacitate and rob some of his customers. Moreover, the first known written example of the use of the term Mickey Finn is in 1915, twelve years after his trial, lending credence to this theory of the origination of the phrase.

Before his days as a saloon proprietor, Mickey Finn was known as a pickpocket and thief who often preyed on drunken bar patrons. The act of serving a Mickey Finn Special was a coordinated robbery orchestrated by Finn. First, Finn or one of his employees, which included "house girls", would slip a drug (chloral hydrate) in the unsuspecting patron's drink. The incapacitated patron would be escorted or carried into a back room by one of Finn's associates who would then rob the victim and dump him in an alley. Upon awaking the next morning in a nearby alley, the victim would remember little or nothing of what had happened. Finn's saloon was ordered closed on December 16, 1903.

In 1918, Mickey Finn was apparently arrested again, this time for running an illegal bar in South Chicago.

As a plot device, Mickey Finning first appears in the 1930 film Hold Everything and the 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon. Since that time it has been used many times in books, film, television, often occurring in detective stories and comedy scenes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hot Rod Lincoln

The song "Hot Rod Lincoln" was recorded in 1955, as an answer song to "Hot Rod Race", a 1951 hit for Arkie Shibley and his Mountain Dew Boys.

Hot Rod Lincoln was written by Charlie Ryan (who had also recorded a version of Hot Rod Race) and W. S. Stevenson. It begins with a direct reference to Shibley's earlier song/story, stating "You heard the story of the hot rod race, where the Fords and Lincolns were setting the pace..."

The first, 1955, release of Hot Rod Lincoln was recorded by co-writer Ryan, recording as Charlie Ryan and The Livingston Brothers. Ryan's 1959 version, on 4 Star, as Charlie Ryan and The Timberline Riders, is probably better known.

The 1960 version by Johnny Bond was a hit for Republic Records. Bond's Lincoln has eight cylinders ("and uses them all") rather than the 12 cylinders pulling Ryan's Model A.

The 1972 release by Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen may be the best known version today. It went to #9 on the Billboard charts and #7 in Canada. Cody's version is essentially true to the original--with only minor changes.

Hot Rod Lincoln and Hot Rod Race are defining anthems of the hot rod community.

Arkie Shibley, who recorded a series of Hot Rod Race songs, died in 1975. Charlie Ryan died in Spokane, Washington, on February 16, 2008, at age 92. He was a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

Many different versions exist, with the words slightly altered by each new group.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wendigo

The Wendigo is a mythical creature appearing in the mythology of the Algonquian people. It is a malevolent cannibalistic spirit into which humans could transform, or which could possess humans. Those who indulged in cannibalism were at particular risk, and the legend appears to have reinforced this practice as taboo.

The Wendigo is part of the traditional belief systems of various Algonquian-speaking tribes in the northern United States and Canada, most notably the Ojibwa/Saulteaux, the Cree, and the Innu/Naskapi/Montagnais. Though descriptions varied somewhat, common to all these cultures was the conception of Wendigos as malevolent, cannibalistic, supernatural beings (manitous) of great spiritual power. They were strongly associated with the Winter, the North, and coldness, as well as with famine and starvation. Basil Johnston, an Ojibwa teacher and scholar from Ontario, gives one description of how Wendigos were viewed:
The Weendigo was gaunt to the point of emaciation, its desiccated skin pulled tautly over its bones. With its bones pushing out against its skin, its complexion the ash gray of death, and its eyes pushed back deep into their sockets, the Weendigo looked like a gaunt skeleton recently disinterred from the grave. What lips it had were tattered and bloody [....] Unclean and suffering from suppurations of the flesh, the Weendigo gave off a strange and eerie odor of decay and decomposition, of death and corruption.

At the same time, Wendigos were embodiments of gluttony, greed, and excess; never satisfied after killing and consuming one person, they were constantly searching for new victims. In some traditions, humans who became overpowered by greed could turn into Wendigos; the Wendigo myth thus served as a method of encouraging cooperation and moderation.

Among the Ojibwa, Eastern Cree, Westmain Swampy Cree, and Innu/Naskapi/Montagnais, Wendigos were said to be giants, many times larger than human beings (a characteristic absent from the Wendigo myth in the other Algonquian cultures). Whenever a Wendigo ate another person, it would grow larger, in proportion to the meal it had just eaten, so that it could never be full. Wendigos were therefore simultaneously constantly gorging themselves and emaciated from starvation.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Vic Mizzy

Victor Mizzy was an American composer for television and movies whose best known works are the themes to the 1960s television shows Green Acres and The Addams Family.

He also wrote the scores for The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Reluctant Astronaut, two very popular Don Knotts films in the latter half of the 1960s. Both scores possessed a sound which became billed as "The Don Knotts Sound". Mizzy released these scores on CD, complementing the DVD releases of the films. He also worked with Sam Raimi for the outtake music of Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3.

Mizzy was born in Brooklyn, New York. He had two children with his first wife, Mary Small, a singer who first earned the moniker "The Little Girl With The Big Voice" and was popular in the 1930s (as a child), 1940s and 1950s. One of her daughters, Patty Keeler, a singer and songwriter, often worked with Doc Pomus, a 1992 inductee to the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

Mizzy died at his home in Bel Air, Los Angeles, California on October 17, 2009, aged 93

All Your Base are Belong to Us

"All your base are belong to us" is a broken English phrase that was central to an Internet phenomenon, or meme, in 2000-2002, with the spread of a Flash animation that depicted the slogan. The text is taken from the opening cut scene of the 1991 European Sega Mega Drive version of the Japanese video game Zero Wing,by Toaplan which was poorly translated by Sega of Europe.

On February 23, 2001, Wired provided an early report on the phenomenon, covering it from the Flash animation to its spread through e-mail and Internet forums to T-shirts bearing the phrase.

On April 1, 2003, in Sturgis, Michigan, seven people aged 17 to 20 placed signs all over town that read, "All your base are belong to us. You have no chance to survive make your time." They claimed to be playing an April Fool's joke, but most people who saw the signs were unfamiliar with the phrase. Many residents were upset that the signs appeared while the U.S. was at war with Iraq, and police chief Eugene Alli said the signs could be "a borderline terrorist threat depending on what someone interprets it to mean."

In February 2004, North Carolina State University students and members of The Wolf Web in Raleigh, North Carolina exploited a web-based service provided for local schools and businesses to report a weather-related closing to display the phrase within a news ticker on a live news broadcast on News 14 Carolina.

The phrase or some variation of lines from the game has appeared in numerous articles, books, comics, clothing, movies, radio shows, songs, television shows, video games, webcomics, and websites. Notable mentions include:

  • On June 1, 2006, the video hosting website YouTube was taken down temporarily for maintenance. The phrase "ALL YOUR VIDEO ARE BELONG TO US" appeared below the YouTube logo as a placeholder while the site was down. Some users believed the site had been hacked, leading the host to add the message "No, we haven't been hacked. Get a sense of humor."
  • On September 4, 2009, Google's main search page image was changed to that of a UFO beaming up the second 'o' in 'Google'. On the same day, Google's twitter page posted the message, "1.12.12 25.15.21.18 15 1.18.5 2.5.12.15.14.7 20.15 21.19." ("ALL YOUR O ARE BELONG TO US."). Despite much speculation about alien conspiracies, Google turned out to be simply honoring Zero Wing's 20th anniversary



Monday, October 19, 2009

Lord T & Eloise

Lord T and Eloise are a crunk rap group from Memphis, Tennessee.

Very visual in nature, Lord T is dressed continuously as an 18th century aristocrat, while Eloise wears a tuxedo and sports a "24-karat" gold skin. Alongside soul singer and producer, MysterE, this group of privileged gentlemen are on a self-proclaimed mission to save rap music.

Lord Treadwell and Maurice Eloise XIII (aka Lord T and Eloise) have dubbed their rap style "aristocrunk". Though perceived by many as an oxymoron, the term is meant to describe a lifestyle as well as a musical genre. Many songs of their album Aristocrunk are accompanied by harpsichord and baroque style music, while others stay close to the traditional crunk Memphis sound. Whereas Lord T's rhymes seem to inspired by the "slow train" lyrical style similar to Snoop Dogg, Eloise's style draws more comparisons to Chuck D of Public Enemy. Drawing from a diverse palette of influences, the group admits that the Beastie Boys, David Bowie, Busta Rhymes, The ODB, 8Ball and MJG, Al Kapone have all been influences. While tracks like "Cashmere" and "Penthouse Suite" have a more refined, classical edge with the incorporation of strings and cello, other tracks like "Pillz" and "Make Dat Monet" have a more crunk, dirty south edge to them, featuring 808 drums and heavy bottom end.

The lyrical content of this band has been highly lauded by critics, who cite the cleverness of the turns of phrase and the "catchiness" of the hooks. Unique in its disregard for traditional rap dialect, "aristocrunk" lyrics are nevertheless made up of many rap mainstays, using themes common to regular rap, such as the supremacy of the artists in the areas of success, sexual prowess, and financial know-how (e.g. in the video for "Million Dollar Boots", they are shown with the ticker for the NASDAQ stock exchange displayed across their teeth, in place of a "grill").

An interesting mixture of performance art, party rap, and social commentary, the group's lyrics cover a range of topics from plastic surgery to the stock market to prescription drug use and abuse. Where there are overtones of fun and frivolity, there are often undertones of admonitions and satire. Pensive and absurd at the same time, it is no wonder that the group has baffled and intrigued fans and foes alike with their stunning musical display.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ada Lovelace

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, born Augusta Ada Byron, was the only legitimate child of poet Lord Byron. She is widely known in modern times simply as Ada Lovelace.

She is mainly known for having written a description of Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine. She is today appreciated as the "first programmer" since she was writing programs—that is, encoding an algorithm in a form to be processed by a machine—for a machine that Babbage had not yet built. She also foresaw the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching while others, including Babbage himself, focused only on these capabilities.

Ada Lovelace met and corresponded with Charles Babbage on many occasions, including socially and in relation to Babbage's Difference Engine and Analytical Engine. Babbage was impressed by Lovelace's intellect and writing skills. He called her "The Enchantress of Numbers."

During a nine-month period in 1842-43, Lovelace translated Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea's memoir on Babbage's newest proposed machine, the Analytical Engine. With the article, she appended a set of notes. The notes are longer than the memoir itself and include, in complete detail, a method for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers with the Engine, which would have run correctly had the Analytical Engine ever been built. Based on this work, Lovelace is now widely credited with being the first computer programmer and her method is recognised as the world's first computer program.

However, biographers debate the extent of her original contributions, with some holding that the programs were written by Babbage himself. Babbage wrote the following on the subject, in his Passages from the Life of a Philosopher (1846):

I then suggested that she add some notes to Menabrea's memoir, an idea which was immediately adopted. We discussed together the various illustrations that might be introduced: I suggested several but the selection was entirely her own. So also was the algebraic working out of the different problems, except, indeed, that relating to the numbers of Bernoulli, which I had offered to do to save Lady Lovelace the trouble. This she sent back to me for an amendment, having detected a grave mistake which I had made in the process.

The level of impact of Lovelace on Babbage's engines is difficult to resolve due to Babbage's tendency not to acknowledge (either orally or in writing) the influence of other people in his work. However Lovelace was certainly one of the few people who fully understood Babbage's ideas and created a program for the Analytical Engine, indeed there are all sort of clues that she might also suggested the usage of punched cards on the Babbage's second machine since her notes at Menabrea's memoir suggest she deeply understood the Jaquard's Loom as well as the Analytical Engine. Her prose also acknowledged some possibilities of the machine which Babbage never published, such as speculation that "the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent".


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cheese

Cheese is a solid food made from the curdled milk of cows, goats, sheep, or other mammals. The milk is curdled using some combination of rennet and acidification. Bacteria acidify the milk and play a role in defining the texture and flavor of most cheeses. Some cheeses also feature molds, either on the outer rind or throughout. There are hundreds of types of cheese. Different styles and flavors of cheese are the results of using different species of bacteria and molds, different levels of milk fat, variations in length of aging, and differing processing treatments. Cheeses are eaten raw or cooked, alone or with other ingredients. As they are heated, most cheeses melt and brown. Some cheeses melt smoothly, especially in the presence of acids or starch. Cheese fondue, with wine providing the acidity, is a good example of a smoothly-melted cheese dish. Other cheeses turn elastic and stringy when they melt, a quality that can be enjoyed in dishes like pizza. Some cheeses melt unevenly, their fats separating as they heat, while a few acid-curdled cheeses, including paneer and ricotta, do not melt at all and can become firmer when cooked.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Katamari Damacy

Katamari Damacy is a Japanese video game designed by Keita Takahashi and published by Namco. The game's plot concerns a tiny Prince on a mission to rebuild the stars, constellations and Moon, which his father, the King of All Cosmos, has accidentally destroyed. This is achieved by rolling a magical sticky ball called a katamari around various locations, collecting increasingly large objects, ranging from thumbtacks to schoolchildren to mountains, until the ball has grown large enough to form a star. The game falls under both the puzzle and action game genres, since strategy as well as dexterity are needed to complete a mission. Katamari Damacy's story, characters and settings are bizarre and heavily stylized, rarely attempting any semblance of realism. The game's simple controls and colorful, blocky graphics make it superficially appear to be targeted towards a young audience, but its quirky humor, innovative gameplay and surreal setting have attracted the attention of gamers of all ages.

The primary story in Katamari Damacy deals with the aftereffects of the planet-sized King of All Cosmos' binge drinking spree that wiped out all the stars and other celestial bodies from the sky. The King charges his 10-cm-tall son, the Prince, to go to Earth with a "katamari"—a magical ball that allows anything smaller than it to stick to it and make it grow—and collect enough material for him to recreate the stars and constellations. The Prince is successful, and the sky is returned to normal.

A side story follows the Hoshino family as the Prince works at his tasks. The father, an astronaut, is unable to go to the moon after it is wiped out by the King, and the daughter 'senses' the Prince's work — she can feel when each constellation returns to the sky. Ultimately, the family, along with their house and town, are rolled up in the katamari that is used to remake the moon.

Overall, Katamari Damacy was well received in Japan and North America. The game was dubbed a sleeper hit, and won several awards. Katamari Damacy inspired the development of other video games, and led to the release of four sequels in Japan and other territories: We Love Katamari, Me & My Katamari, Beautiful Katamari, and I Love Katamari, and to a fifth sequel, Katamari Forever, to be released late 2009.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard is a 1950 film noir containing elements of drama, horror, and black comedy. Directed and cowritten by Billy Wilder, it was named for the famous boulevard that runs through Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. William Holden plays down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis and Gloria Swanson is Norma Desmond, a faded movie star who entraps the unsuspecting Gillis into her fantasy world in which she dreams of making a triumphant return to the screen. Director Cecil B. DeMille and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper portray themselves, and the film includes cameo appearances by leading silent film figures Buster Keaton, H. B. Warner and Anna Q. Nilsson. Praised by many critics when first released, Sunset Boulevard was nominated for eleven Academy Awards and won three. It is widely accepted as a classic, often cited as one of the most noteworthy films of American cinema. Deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress in 1989, Sunset Boulevard was included in the first group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Iowa Class Battleship

The Iowa class battleships were a class of six fast battleships ordered by the United States Navy in 1939 and 1940 to escort the Fast Carrier Task Forces that would operate in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Four were completed in the early to mid-1940s; two more were laid down, but they were canceled prior to completion and eventually scrapped. The Iowa class was the final class of U.S. battleships to be built.

Built with no regard for cost, the Iowa class was arguably the ultimate in the evolution of the capital ship. But even as the ships entered service, they had been eclipsed by aircraft carriers as the most important naval vessels.

The Iowa-class battleships served in every major U.S. war of the mid and latter half of the 20th century. In World War II, they defended aircraft carriers and shelled Japanese positions before being placed in reserve at the end of the war. Recalled for action during the Korean War, the battleships provided artillery support for UN forces fighting against North Korea. In 1968, New Jersey was recalled for action in the Vietnam War and shelled Communist targets near the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone. All four were reactivated and armed with missiles during the 1980s as part of the 600-ship Navy. In 1991, Missouri and Wisconsin fired missiles and 16-inch (406 mm) guns at Iraqi targets during the Gulf War. All four battleships were decommissioned in the early 1990s as the Cold War drew to a close, and were initially removed from the Naval Vessel Register; however, at the insistence of the United States Congress, two were reinstated to the Naval Vessel Register for maintenance in the mothball fleet in 1995. These last two battleships were removed from the Naval Vessel Register in 2006.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Shoe Polish

Shoe polish is a consumer product chiefly used to shine, waterproof, and restore the appearance of leather shoes, thereby extending the garment's life. It is usually a waxy paste or a cream. Various substances have been used as shoe polish for many hundreds of years, starting with natural substances such as wax and tallow. The first modern shoe polish, Kiwi, was invented in 1906 and is still the most widely used today. Since World War II, shoe polish usage has increased significantly. Today, shoe polish is usually made from a mix of natural and synthetic materials, including naphtha, turpentine, dyes, and gum arabic, using fairly straightforward chemical engineering processes. If misused, shoe polish can be toxic.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ode to Billy Joe

"Ode to Billie Joe" is a 1967 song written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry, a singer-songwriter from Chickasaw County, Mississippi. The single, released in late July, was a number-one hit in the USA, and became a big international seller. The song is ranked #412 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of "the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". The recording of "Ode to Billie Joe" generated eight Grammy nominations, including three wins for Gentry and one win for arranger Jimmie Haskell.

This song is a first person narrative that reveals a quasi-Southern Gothic tale in its verses by including the dialog of the narrator's immediate family at dinnertime on the day that "Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge." Throughout the song, the shocking fact of the suicide and other tragedies are contrasted with the banality of everyday routine and polite conversation in a way that makes the events seem even more shocking to the listener than if the participants had immediately reacted in horror to the news.

The song begins with the narrator and her brother returning, after morning chores, to the family house for dinner. After cautioning them about tracking in dirt, "Mama" says that she "got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge" that "Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge," apparently to his death.

At the dinner table, the narrator's father is unsurprised at the news and says, "Well, Billie Joe never had a lick o' sense," and mentions that there are "five more acres in the lower forty I got to plow." Although her brother seems to be taken aback ("I saw him at the sawmill yesterday.... And now you tell me Billie Joe has jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge"), he's not shocked enough to keep him from having a second piece of pie. Late in the song, Mama questions the narrator's complete loss of appetite ("Child, what's happened to your appetite? I been cookin' all mornin' and you haven't touched a single bite,") yet earlier in the song recalled a visit earlier that morning by Brother Taylor who is, apparently, the local preacher. He mentioned that he had seen Billie Joe and a girl who looked (to him) very much like the narrator herself and they were "throwin' somethin' off the Tallahatchie Bridge."

In the song's final verse, a year has passed, during which the narrator's brother has married and moved away. Also, her father died from a viral infection, which has left her mother despondent. The narrator herself now visits Choctaw Ridge often, picking flowers there to drop from the Tallahatchie Bridge onto the murky waters flowing beneath it.

The bridge, mentioned most famously in this song, collapsed in June 1972.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati chili (or "Cincinnati-style chili") is a regional style of chili characteristically served over spaghetti or as a hot dog sauce. While served in many regular restaurants, it is most often associated with several fast-food chains in the Cincinnati area, including Skyline Chili, Gold Star, Empress, and Dixie. The chili is mostly served in restaurants in the Greater Cincinnati area, with locations in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. This type of chili is also served in some restaurants in the Cleveland, Ohio area. According to the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cincinnatians consume more than two million pounds of chili each year, topped by 850,000 pounds of shredded cheddar cheese. Each September, the city celebrates "Chilifest" at Yeatman's Cove at the Ohio River, with food and entertainment.

Cincinnati chili seems to have originated with one or more immigrant restaurateurs from Greece

who were trying to broaden their customer base by moving beyond narrowly ethnic styles of cuisine.

Greek immigrants Tom and John Kiradjieff began serving the chili in 1922 at their hot dog stand, next to a burlesque theater called the Empress. Tom Kiradjieff invented the style by modifying a traditional stew and serving it over hot dogs and spaghetti. The style has since been copied and modified by many other restaurant proprietors.

When served on a coney-style hot dog, the chili is also topped with cheese. The default coney also includes mustard and a small amount of onion.