Sunday, January 31, 2010

Polybius

Polybius is a supposed arcade game featured in an Internet urban legend. According to the story, the Tempest-style game was released to the public in 1981, and caused its players to go insane, causing them to suffer from intense stress, horrific nightmares, and even suicidal tendencies.

According to the story, an unheard-of new arcade game appeared in several suburbs of Portland, Oregon in 1981, something of a rarity at the time. The game, Polybius, proved to be incredibly popular, to the point of addiction, and lines formed around the machines, quickly followed by clusters of visits from men in black. Rather than the usual marketing data collected by company visitors to arcade machines, they collected some unknown data, allegedly testing responses to the psychoactive machines. The players themselves suffered from a series of unpleasant side-effects, including amnesia, insomnia, nightmares, night terrors, and even suicide in some versions of the legend. Some players stopped playing video games, while it is reported that one became an anti-gaming activist. The supposed creator of Polybius is Ed Rotberg, and the company named in the urban legend is Sinneslöschen (German for "sense-deletion"), often named as either a secret government organization or a codename for Atari. The gameplay is said to be similar to Tempest (a shoot 'em up game utilizing vector graphics), while the game is said to contain subliminal messages which would influence the action of anyone playing it.

The origin of the legend is unknown. Some internet commentators think it originated as a usenet hoax. Other bloggers believe the story is a true urban legend – one that grew out of exaggerated and distorted tales of an early release version of Tempest that caused problems with photosensitive epilepsy; the game was reported to have caused motion sickness and vertigo, and was therefore pulled.

Several people have claimed to have a ROM of the game, but none of them have made it available for public scrutiny, a "lack of hard evidence" situation typical of hoaxes and conspiracy theories. Conflicting information is even circulated regarding the style or genre of the game. Some sources claim it is a maze-style game, while others describe it as an action space-fighter.

The Polybius legend received some mass-market attention in the September 2003 issue of GamePro magazine, as part of a feature story on video game urban legends called "Secrets and Lies". The magazine determined the legend to be neither true nor false, but "inconclusive". Additionally, Snopes.com claims to have debunked the myth as a modern-day version of 1980's rumors of "Men in Black" visiting arcades and taking down the names of high scorers at arcade games.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

At Folsom Prison

At Folsom Prison is a live album by Johnny Cash, released on Columbia Records in May 1968. Since his 1955 song "Folsom Prison Blues", Cash had been interested in performing at a prison. His idea was put on hold until 1967, when personnel changes at Columbia Records put Bob Johnston in charge of producing Cash's material. Cash had recently controlled his drug abuse problems, and was looking to turn his career around after several years of limited commercial success. Backed with June Carter, Carl Perkins, and Cash's band, the Tennessee Three, Cash performed two shows at Folsom State Prison in Folsom, California on January 13, 1968. The resulting album consisted of 15 tracks from the first show and one track from the second.

Despite little initial investment by Columbia, the album was a hit in the United States, reaching number one on the country charts and the top 15 of the national album chart. The lead single from the album, a live version of "Folsom Prison Blues", was a top 40 hit, Cash's first since 1964's "Understand Your Man". At Folsom Prison received good reviews upon its release and has since been considered one of the greatest albums of all time. The ensuing popularity revitalized Cash's career, and led to a release of a second prison album, At San Quentin. The album was re-released with additional tracks in 1999 and as a three-disc set in 2008.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Zapruder Film

The Zapruder film is a silent Standard 8 mm color home movie of the presidential motorcade of John F. Kennedy through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963, filmed by a private citizen named Abraham Zapruder. The film is the most complete visual recording of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Zapruder filmed the Presidential motorcade while being steadied by his receptionist, Marilyn Sitzman, standing on top of the most western of the two concrete pedestals that extend from the John Neely Bryan north pergola concrete structure overlooking Elm Street in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas at 12:30 pm Central Standard Time, November 22, 1963. The film depicts the presidential limousine from the time it completed its turn onto Elm Street until it passed out of view under a railway overpass. Of greatest notoriety is the film's depiction of a fatal shot to President Kennedy's head when his limousine was almost exactly in front of and slightly below Zapruder's position.

The film was examined by the Warren Commission and all subsequent investigations into the assassination. The Zapruder frames used by the Warren Commission were published in black and white as Commission Exhibit 885 in volume XVIII of the Hearings and Exhibits. Frames of the film have also been published in several magazines, and the film was featured in several movies. Copies of the complete film are available on the Internet.

In 1994, the Zapruder film footage was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and was selected for permanent preservation in the National Film Registry.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Vasa

Vasa was a Swedish warship that was built from 1626 to 1628. The ship foundered and sank after sailing less than a nautical mile (ca 2 km) into her maiden voyage on 10 August 1628. Vasa fell into obscurity after most of her valuable bronze cannons were salvaged in the 17th century. She was located again in the late 1950s, in a busy shipping lane just outside the Stockholm harbor. She was salvaged with a largely intact hull on 24 April 1961. She was housed in a temporary museum called Wasavarvet ("The Wasa Shipyard") until 1987, and was then moved to the Vasa Museum in Stockholm. The ship is one of Sweden's most popular tourist attractions and, as of 2007, has attracted more than 25 million visitors.

Vasa was built top-heavy and had insufficient ballast. Despite an obvious lack of stability in port, she was allowed to set sail and foundered a few minutes later when she first encountered a wind stronger than a breeze. The impulsive move to set sail resulted from a combination of factors. Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus, who was abroad on the date of her maiden voyage, was impatient to see Vasa join the Baltic fleet in the Thirty Years' War. At the same time, the king's subordinates lacked the political courage to discuss the ship's structural problems frankly or to have the maiden voyage postponed. An inquiry was organized by the privy council to find someone responsible for the disaster, but no sentences were handed out.

During the 1961 recovery, thousands of artifacts and the remains of at least 15 people were found in and around the hull of the Vasa by marine archaeologists. Among the many items found were clothing, weapons, cannons, tools, coins, cutlery, food, drink and six of the ten sails. The artifacts and the ship itself have provided historians with invaluable insight into details of naval warfare, shipbuilding techniques and everyday life in early 17th-century Sweden. No expense was spared in decorating and equipping the Vasa, one of the largest and most heavily armed warships of her time, adorned with hundreds of sculptures, all of them painted in vivid colors. She was intended to express the expansionist aspirations of Sweden and the glory of king Gustavus Adolphus.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

War Elephant

A war elephant is an elephant trained and guided by humans for combat. Their main use was to charge the enemy, trampling them and breaking their ranks.

They were probably first employed in India, the practice spreading out across south-east Asia and westwards into the Mediterranean. Their most famous use in the West was by the Greek general Pyrrhus of Epirus and in great numbers by the armies of Carthage, especially under Hannibal.

In the Mediterranean, improved tactics reduced the value of the elephant in battle, while their availability in the wild also decreased. In the east, where supplies of animals were greater and the terrain ideal, it was the advent of cannon that finally concluded the use of the combat elephant at the end of the 19th century, limiting them thereafter to engineering and labour roles.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Green Acres

Green Acres is an American television series starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as a couple who move from New York City to a country farm. Produced by Filmways, Inc., as a sister show to Petticoat Junction, the series was broadcast on CBS from September 15, 1965, to April 27, 1971.

Green Acres was about Oliver Wendell Douglas (Albert), an accomplished and erudite New York City attorney, acting on his dream to be a farmer, and Lisa Douglas (Gabor), his glamorous, bejeweled Hungarian wife, dragged unwillingly from the privileged city life she adored to a ramshackle farm.

After the first episodes the series shifted from a run-of-the-mill rural comedy, developing an absurdist world. Though there were still many episodes that were standard 1960s sitcom fare, the show became notable for its often surreal humor, which sometimes involved transgressing the traditional diegetic or fourth wall 'borders' of TV presentation for deliberately humorous effect – characters addressed the audience directly and were somehow able to perceive and react to post-production elements such as the music soundtrack and the superimposed program credits. Much of the humor of the series derived from the pragmatic yet short-fused Oliver attempting to make sense of the largely insane world around him.

Although still popular, the show was canceled in 1971 as part of the "rural purge" when CBS decided to shift its schedule to more urban, contemporary-themed shows, which drew the younger audiences desired by advertisers. (Nearly the entire Green Acres cast was middle-aged or older.) (The Beverly Hillbillies and other shows with rural settings, including Hee Haw and Mayberry R.F.D., were also dropped).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jandek

Jandek is the musical project of an outsider musician who operates out of Houston, Texas. Since 1978, Jandek has self-released over 60 albums of unusual, often emotionally dissolute folk and blues songs without ever granting more than the occasional interview or providing any biographical information. Jandek often plays a highly idiosyncratic and frequently atonal form of folk and blues music, often using an open and unconventional chord structure. Jandek's music is unique, but the lyrics closely mirror the country blues and folk traditions of East Texas. The name "Jandek" is most commonly used to refer specifically to the main—often sole—performer, rather than to the project.

Only a handful of people claimed to have successfully contacted Jandek before he began regularly playing in public (see below). He releases albums through his own record label Corwood Industries, keeping a Houston post office box so fans can write to Corwood for a typewritten catalogue and order Jandek’s albums, usually at inexpensive prices. Many of his albums feature pictures of a certain man at various ages; although it seemed likely, it was not until Jandek's live debut in 2004 that it became certain that the man depicted on the album covers was the principal performer.

Although never formally confirmed, it is widely accepted that Jandek's real name is Sterling Richard Smith; a review of Ready for the House in OP magazine, the first ever national press given to Jandek, refers to the artist as Sterling Smith,checks written to Corwood come back endorsed by Smith, and Smith is listed as the claimant in the copyright records for Jandek's albums at the Library of Congress. Despite this evidence, Corwood never uses the name in connection with Jandek, and, in turn, many of Jandek's fans respectfully maintain this separation. He is widely believed to live in the area of Houston, Texas, as this is the location of the post office box which has been used by Corwood from the beginning. There is also a telephone number for Corwood Industries listed in the phone book for the area.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Crab Cake

A crab cake is an American dish composed of crab meat and various other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, milk, mayonnaise, eggs, yellow onions, and seasonings. Occasionally other ingredients such as red or green peppers are added, at which point the cake is then sautéed, baked, or grilled and then served. Crab cakes are traditionally associated with the area surrounding the Chesapeake Bay, in particular the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore.

The two most common styles of Maryland crab cakes are known as Boardwalk and Restaurant. Boardwalk crabcakes are typically deep fried and breaded, and are often filled with stuffing of various sorts and served on a hamburger bun. Restaurant crab cakes, which are sometimes called gourmet crab cakes, are often prepared with no filler, and are composed of all-lump crab meat served on a platter or open-faced sandwich. Many restaurants that offer Maryland crab cakes will offer to have the cakes fried or broiled.

Meat from any species of crab may be used, although the meat of the blue crab, whose native habitat includes the Chesapeake Bay, is traditional and the considered best tasting. In the Pacific Northwest and Northern California, the endemic Dungeness Crab is a popular ingredient for crab cakes, and the cakes are prepared at many well-established restaurants throughout the region.

Crab cakes are popular along the coast of the Mid-Atlantic States, the Gulf Coast, the Pacific Northwest, and the Northern California coast, where the crabbing industry thrives. Crab cakes vary in size from no bigger than a small cookie to as large as a hamburger. They are sometimes served with a sauce, such as a remoulade, tartar sauce, mustard, or ketchup.

Maryland Crab Cakes are the official food of The Preakness Stakes the second jewel of the United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, a horse race that is run on the third Saturday of May each year.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

San Luis Valley


The San Luis Valley is an extensive alpine valley in the United States states of Colorado and New Mexico covering approximately 8,000 square miles (21,000 km2) and sitting at an average elevation of 7,500 feet (2,300 m) above sea level. The valley sits atop the Rio Grande Rift and is drained to the south by the Rio Grande River, which rises in the San Juan Mountains to the west of the valley and flows south into New Mexico. The valley is approximately 122 miles (196 km) long and 74 miles (119 km) wide, extending from the Continental Divide on the northwest rim into New Mexico on the south.

The Sangre de Cristo Mountains form the eastern border of the valley. Blanca Peak is prominent at the southern end of the northernmost section of the mountains, which is known as the Sangre de Cristo Range. There are several passes, with elevations between 9,000 and 10,000 feet (2,700 and 3,000 m), giving access to the valley. La Veta pass, through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, is used by US Highway 160 and by the San Luis and Rio Grande Railroad tracks.

The Great Sand Dunes is a famous feature of the valley. It lies directly to the west of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The dunes can reach 750 feet (230 m) high. The Great Sands Dunes National Park and Preserve is now in place to protect both the dunes and the numerous archeological sites found in the area. The natural valley aquifer is close to the surface in this part of the valley, and helps with maintenance of water levels in the San Luis Lakes, just to the west of the sand dunes.

The San Luis Valley was long part of the lands of the numerous and powerful Ute Indians. The Valley was the first portion of Colorado to be settled by people of European descent. The area was administered as part of the Spanish, later Mexican, province of Nuevo Mexico until the area was purchased by the United States as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848. Extensive settlement began in the Valley, again primarily by Spanish farmers and ranchers from New Mexico in the 1800s. The history of the post-war U.S. military presence in the Valley is preserved at Fort Garland and other sites in the Valley, which became part of the Territory of Colorado in 1861.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Highway 61 Revisited

"Highway 61 Revisited" is the title track of Bob Dylan's 1965 album Highway 61 Revisited. It was also released as the B-side to the single "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?" later the same year.

Highway 61 runs from Duluth, Minnesota, where Bob Dylan grew up in the 1940s and 1950s down to New Orleans, Louisiana. It was a major transit route out of the Deep South particularly for African Americans traveling north to Chicago, St Louis and Memphis, following the Mississippi River valley for most of its 1400 miles.

The song has five stanzas. In each stanza, someone describes an unusual problem that is ultimately resolved on Highway 61. In Verse 1, God tells Abraham to "kill me a son". God wants the killing done on Highway 61. This stanza bears much resemblance to Genesis 22, in which God commands Abraham to kill his only son, Issac. Abram, the original name of the biblical Abraham, is the name of Dylan's own father. Verse 2 describes a poor fellow, Georgia Sam, who is beyond the helping of the welfare department. He is told to go down Highway 61.

In the third verse, a "Mack the Finger" has this problem: "I got forty red white and blue shoe strings / And a thousand telephones that don't ring". "Louie the King" solves the problem with Highway 61. Verse 4 is about the "second mother" and the "seventh son", both on Highway 61.

The fifth and last verse is the story of a bored gambler, trying "to create the next world war". His promoter tells him to "put some bleachers out in the sun / And have it on Highway 61". There is an evident political undertone in this absurd tale.

There is a pause in each verse while Dylan waits for some event in the story to finish; in the third verse, for example, the pause occurs while Louie the King attempts to resolve the shoestring-and-telephones problem. Between each verse Dylan is heard blowing an imitation police whistle, brought in by Al Kooper.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lawn Darts

Lawn darts (also called Jarts or yard darts) is a lawn game for two players or teams. A lawn dart set usually includes four large darts and two targets. The game play and objective are similar to both horseshoes and darts. The darts are similar to the ancient Roman plumbata. They are typically 12 inches (30 cm) long with a weighted metal or plastic tip on one end and three plastic fins on a rod at the other end. The darts are intended to be tossed underhand toward a horizontal ground target, where the weighted end hits first and sticks into the ground. The target is typically a plastic ring, and landing anywhere within the ring scores a point.

On December 19, 1988, the Consumer Product Safety Commission banned lawn darts from sale in the United States.

Shortly after, in 1989, they were also banned in Canada.

Safety lawn darts can be found in a few stores around the United States.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Don Hollenbeck

Don Hollenbeck was a CBS newscaster and commentator and colleague of Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly.

Hollenbeck was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, and began reporting the news while at the University of Nebraska. His first assignment was to the Nebraska State Journal in 1926. During World War II, he was assigned to the foreign staff of NBC in London in March 1943. From there he went to Algiers just in time to take a place with the British troops landing at Salerno, Italy.

After the war, Hollenbeck was employed by the newspaper, PM (Picture Magazine). Founded in 1940 by department store magnate Marshall Field III and published in New York, PM was a left-leaning newspaper, and it garnered accusations of being sympathetic to Communism even though it was critical of the Soviet Union for the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and of the American Communist Party for supporting it.

The newspaper published work by authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Erskine Caldwell, photographers like Weegee and Margaret Bourke-White, and cartoonists like Dr. Seuss, Crockett Johnson and Walt Kelly. It accepted no advertising, and dedicated itself to preventing "the little guy from being pushed around." It ended up becoming a target for anti-communists, and subsequently it went out of business in 1948. Because of this affiliation, Hollenbeck was a target for McCarthy-supporting columnist Jack O'Brian, whose attacks appeared in the New York Journal American and other newspapers in the Hearst newspaper chain.

The first newsman WCBS-TV viewers saw after Murrow's March 9, 1954 documentary on Joe McCarthy was Hollenbeck, who told the viewers he wanted "to associate myself with what Ed Murrow has just said, and say I have never been prouder of CBS." That prompted O'Brian in the Hearst newspapers (including the flagship Journal-American) to step up his criticism of CBS and especially of Hollenbeck, who, despite his news experience under pressure situations, was a sensitive man.

On June 22, 1954, the 49-year-old Hollenbeck committed suicide by gas in his Manhattan apartment. A newspaper account reported:

He had been in ill health. Clad in shorts and bathrobe, he was found lying on the kitchen floor. All burners on the gas stove were open. The assistant medical examiner pronounced the death a suicide. Hollenbeck's agent said he had been suffering from a bleeding ulcer. Hollenbeck’s body was discovered at about 11 a.m. after another tenant smelled gas and notified management.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Pakora

Pakora is a fried snack found across South Asia. Pakoras are created by taking one or two ingredients, such as chicken, onion, eggplant, potato, spinach, cauliflower, tomato or chilli, dipping them in a batter of gram flour and then deep-frying them. The most popular varieties are palak pakora, made from spinach, paneer pakora, made from paneer (soft cheese), pyaz pakora, made from onion, and aloo pakora, made from potato . When onions, on their own, are prepared in the same way, they are known as onion bhujia or bhaji.

Pakoras are usually served as snacks or appetizers. In the UK, pakoras are popular as a fast food snack, available in Indian and Pakistani takeaways as an alternative to chips or kebabs.

Among the Muslim Cape Malays of South Africa, pakoras are known as dhaltjies, and are usually eaten as an appetizer during Iftar, or as appetizers for weddings, births, or similar occasions.

In southern India, Pakoras as described above are known as Bajji rather than Pakoda. For it to be a Pakoda (note the spelling), a mix of finely cut onions, green chillies for flavour and gram flour is fried rather than dipping the onions in a batter and frying them. Unlike the pakoras of the north, this onion pakoda is very crispy outside and medium soft to crispy inside. There is also a variety that is softer overall, usually termed Medhu Pakoda in restaurants. If it is relatively softer (like the pakoras) and made of any other ingredients such as potatoes etc. dipped in a gram flour batter and fried, then it will be usually called Bajji with the name of the vegetable/ingredient optionally prefixed to it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Numbers Station

Numbers stations are shortwave radio stations of uncertain origin. They generally broadcast artificially generated voices reading streams of numbers, words, letters (sometimes using a spelling alphabet), tunes or Morse code. They are in a wide variety of languages and the voices are usually female, though sometimes male or children's voices are used.

Evidence supports popular assumptions that the broadcasts are used to send messages to spies. This usage has not been publicly acknowledged by any government that may operate a numbers station, but in 2001, the United States tried the the Cuban Five with spying for Cuba. The group had received and decoded messages that had been broadcast from a Cuban numbers station. In June 2009, the United States similarly charged Walter Kendall Myers with conspiracy to spy for Cuba and receiving and decoding messages broadcast from a numbers station operated by the Cuban Intelligence Service to further that conspiracy.

It has been reported that the United States uses numbers stations to communicate encoded information to persons in other countries.

Numbers stations appear and disappear over time (although some follow regular schedules), and their overall activity has increased slightly since the early 1990s. This increase suggests that, as spy-related phenomena, they were not unique to the Cold War.

Numbers stations are often given nicknames by enthusiasts, often reflecting some distinctive element of the station such as their interval signal. For example, the "Lincolnshire Poacher", formerly one of the best known numbers stations (generally thought to be run by MI6 as its transmissions have been traced to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus), played the first two bars of the folk song "The Lincolnshire Poacher" before each string of numbers. "Magnetic Fields" plays music from French electronic musician Jean Michel Jarre before and after each set of numbers. The "Atención" station begins its transmission with the Spanish word "¡Atención!"

Although it is time-consuming and may require costly global travel to pinpoint the source of a radio transmission in the shortwave band, errors at the transmission site, radio direction-finding, and a knowledge of shortwave radio propagation have provided armchair detectives clues to some number station locations.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

T-34

The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. Although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential design of World War II. First produced at the KhPZ factory in Kharkov, it was the mainstay of Soviet armoured forces throughout World War II, and widely exported afterwards. It was the most-produced tank of the war, and the second most-produced tank of all time, after its successor, the T-54/55 series. In 1996, the T-34 was still in service with at least twenty-seven countries.

The T-34 was developed from the BT series of fast tanks and was intended to replace both the BT-5 and BT-7 tanks and the T-26 infantry tank in service. At its introduction, it was the tank with the best balanced attributes of firepower, mobility, protection and ruggedness, although initially its battlefield effectiveness suffered from the unsatisfactory ergonomic layout of its crew compartment, scarcity of radios, and poor tactical employment. The two-man turret-crew arrangement required the commander to serve as the gunner, an arrangement common to most Soviet tanks of the day; this proved to be inferior to three-man (commander, gunner and loader) turret crews.

The design and construction of the tank were continuously refined during the war to enhance effectiveness and decrease costs, allowing steadily greater numbers of T-34s to be fielded. In early 1944, the improved T-34-85 was introduced, with a more powerful 85 mm gun and a three-man turret design. By the war's end in 1945, the versatile and cost-effective T-34 had replaced many light and heavy tanks in service, and accounted for the majority of Soviet tank production. Its evolutionary development led directly to the T-54/55 series of tanks, built until 1981 and still operational as of 2009.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Har Mar Superstar

Sean Matthew Tillmann (born February 6, 1978), better known by his stage names of Har Mar Superstar, is an American singer.

Known in his home country's independent music community for being a singer-songwriter (other projects include Calvin Krime & Sean Na Na), Sean Tillmann is known in the UK indie rock/dance scene recording and performing as R&B alter ego Har Mar Superstar. Har Mar Superstar is a character who often performs his shows nearly nude, and appears obsessed with his own sexual prowess.

After playing in a number of garage bands throughout high school, Sean moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota, and joined three-piece noise band Calvin Krime as bassist and lead vocalist. Over the span of three-and-a-half years, they recorded two albums and an EP and regularly toured the country. When Calvin Krime disbanded in 1998, Sean explored his softer pop side in Sean Na Na, but, while the music was often pretty and upbeat, the lyrics were often unexpectedly dark. Tellingly, Sean Na Na performances often ended with dead-on renditions of popular R&B artist R. Kelly's "When a Woman's Fed Up." Reflecting on what led to the creation of the Har Mar Superstar character, Sean said, "I kinda always thought that (I was going to do R&B), I just had to figure out how to do it. ... I just had to figure out how to make beats and write songs in that style." In 2000, Sean enlisted the help of several Saint Paul musician friends and the result was the self-titled album that appeared on Kill Rock Stars in 2001.

If the music during this initial phase could be characterized as often tongue-in-cheek hip-hop, it was the sweaty, profane, and naked live shows that inspired the curious to see what others were talking about. Soon, Sean was touring all over the United States as Har Mar Superstar. Initially, he appeared onstage in a choir robe and was accompanied solely by prerecorded beats emanating from his MiniDisc player. After his follow-up album, You Can Feel Me, elevated Har Mar's popularity in the United States and put him on the map in the United Kingdom, the stage outfits became more theatrical and several live shows featured female dancers. By the time the third album -- The Handler -- was released in 2004, Har Mar Superstar regularly toured with a drummer and a bassist to fortify the prerecorded material. Shows have ranged from club dates to festival engagements (Reading and Leeds Festivals).

In addition to his own headlining tours, Har Mar has opened for The Strokes, Incubus, Tenacious D and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. In 2007 Har Mar Superstar supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their tour of Australia and New Zealand. Fabrizio Moretti (The Strokes) and Tony Bevilacqua (ex-Distillers) have served as Har Mar's rhythm section, playing drums and bass guitar respectively. Har Mar supported Sia Furler on her 2008 tour with Denver Dalley on bass and Nick Slack on drums. Other bassists have included Jenni Tarma, Jeff Quinn, and John Fields, while Bert Thomas, Jeff Brown & Michael Bland have manned the drum stool.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Elf with a gun

Elf with a Gun is a fictional character in the Marvel Universe.

The Elf with a Gun is a midget humanoid who commits murders for no apparent reason. The elf first appears in Defenders Vol 1" #25 (July 1975), killing Tom and Linda Pritchett. Over a series of issues, he kills Charlest Lester and his spouse in Las Vegas, Stu and his girlfriend at the Grand Canyon, and a woman hiding from the Hulk in the bathroom.

He seemingly meets his end outside a house (owned by Nighthawk) in upstate New York. Preparing to kill a newspaper delivery boy named Greg, and his dog, Elf with a Gun is run over and killed by a Mac Ray moving truck. Greg notices nothing.

An Elf was also the one to reveal to the original Defenders – the Hulk, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange, and Namor – that they would be the cause of the Earth's destruction if they continued to work together. Thus, the four agreed to never work together again as the Defenders and quit the original team. Still, it was revealed much later that the Elf's revelation was probably a hoax, and the four heroes have indeed worked together as Defenders in one form or another since then.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Strangers with Candy

Strangers with Candy is a television series produced by Comedy Central. It first aired on April 7, 1999, and concluded its third and final season on October 2, 2000.

The series' main character, Jerri Blank (played by Amy Sedaris), was a runaway returning to high school as a freshman at age 46 at the fictional Flatpoint High School in the town of Flatpoint.

Created and written by Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, Stephen Colbert, and Mitch Rouse, the show was a spoof of the after school specials of the 1970s and 1980s and was also inspired, at least in part, by a 1970 public-service film, The Trip Back, that featured a reformed drug addict named Florrie Fisher.

According to the show's animated introduction, Jerri ran away from home and became "a boozer, a user, and a loser" after dropping out of high school as a teenager, supporting her drug habits through prostitution, stripping, and larceny. She has been to prison several times, the last time because she, in her words, "stole the TV."

Every episode featured a theme or moral lesson, although the lessons were often amoral or warped; in an episode about eating disorders, Jerri learns that it's OK to become an anorexic because it will get people to pay attention to you. When Jerri's father passes away in the episode "The Goodbye Guy," Jerri learns the valuable lesson, "You never really 'lose' your parents. Unless of course they die. Then they're gone forever. And nothing will bring them back." In another episode, Jerri learned that "violence really isn't the only way to resolve a conflict, but it's the only way to win it."

Each episode ends with the cast and other featured actors from the episode dancing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Barcelona Pavillion

The Barcelona Pavilion, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, was the German Pavilion for the 1929 International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain. This building was used for the official opening of the German section of the exhibition. It was an important building in the history of modern architecture, known for its simple form and extravagant materials, such as marble and travertine.

The pavilion for the Universal Exhibition was supposed to represent the new Weimar Germany: democratic, culturally progressive, prospering, and thoroughly pacifist; a self-portrait through architecture. The Commissioner, Georg von Schnitzler said it should give "voice to the spirit of a new era". This concept was carried out with the realization of the "free plan" and the "floating room".

Mies's response to the proposal by von Schnitzler was radical. The floor plan is very simple. The entire building rests on a plinth of tavertine. A southern U-shaped enclosure, also of travertine, helps form a service annex and a large water basin. The floor slabs of the pavilion project out and over the pool—once again connecting inside and out. Another U-shaped wall on the opposite side of the site also forms a smaller water basin. This is where the statue by Georg Kolbe sits. The roof plates, relatively small, are supported by the chrome-clad, cruciform columns. This gives the impression of a hovering roof.

Another unique feature of this building is the exotic materials Mies chooses to use. Plates of high-grade stone materials like veneers of Tinos verde antico marble and golden onyx as well as tinted glass of grey, green, white, as well as translucent glass, perform exclusively as spatial dividers.

Because the pavillion was planned as an exhibition pavilion, it was intended to exist only temporarily. The building was torn down in early 1930, not even a year after it was completed. However, thanks to black and white photos and original plans, a group of Spanish architects reconstructed the pavilion permanently between 1983 and 1986.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ozymandias

"Ozymandias" is a sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley, published in 1818. It is frequently anthologized and is probably Shelley's most famous short poem.

In addition to the power of its themes and imagery, the poem is notable for its virtuosic diction. The rhyme scheme of the sonnet is unusual and creates a sinuous and interwoven effect.

Ozymandias was another name for Ramesses the Great, Pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt. Ozymandias represents a transliteration into Greek of a part of Ramesses' throne name. The sonnet paraphrases the inscription on the base of the statue, "King of Kings am I, Osymandias. If anyone would know how great I am and where I lie, let him surpass one of my works." Shelley's poem is often said to have been inspired by the arrival in London of a colossal statue of Ramesses II, acquired for the British Museum by the Italian adventurer Giovanni Belzoni in 1816.

The sonnet celebrates the anonymous sculptor and his artistic achievement. Shelley imaginatively surveys the ruins of a bygone power to fashion a sinuous, compact sonnet spun from a traveller's tale of far distant desert ruins. The lone and level sands stretching to the horizon perhaps suggest a resultant barrenness from a misuse of power where "nothing beside remains".

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pogo

Pogo was the title and central character of a long-running (1948-1975) daily comic strip created by Walt Kelly and distributed by the Post-Hall Syndicate. Set in the Okefenokee Swamp of the southeastern United States, the strip often engaged in social and political satire through the adventures of its anthropomorphic funny animal characters.

Pogo combined both sophisticated wit and slapstick physical comedy in a heady mix of allegory, Irish poetry, literary whimsy, puns and wordplay, lushly detailed artwork, irresistible characters and broad burlesque humor. The same series of strips could be enjoyed on different levels both by young children and by savvy adults. The strip earned Kelly a Reuben Award in 1951.

Pogo was set in the Georgia section of the Okefenokee Swamp; Waycross and Fort Mudge are occasionally mentioned.

The characters lived, for the most part, in hollow trees amidst lushly-rendered backdrops of North American wetlands, bayous, lagoons and backwoods. Local landmarks - such as "Miggle’s General Store and Emporium" (a.k.a. "Miggle's Miracle Mart") and the "Fort Mudge Memorial Dump", etc. - were occasionally featured. The landscape was fluid and vividly detailed, with a dense variety of (often caricatured) flora and fauna. The richly-textured trees and marshlands frequently changed from panel to panel within the same strip. Like the Coconino County depicted in Krazy Kat, and the Dogpatch of Li’l Abner, the distinctive cartoon landscape of Kelly’s Okefenokee Swamp became as strongly identified with the strip as any of its characters.

Kelly's characters are a sardonic reflection of human nature—venal, greedy, confrontational, selfish and stupid—but portrayed good-naturedly and rendered harmless by their own bumbling ineptitude. Most characters were nominally male, but a few female characters also appeared regularly. Kelly has been quoted as saying that all the characters reflected different aspects of his own personality. Kelly's characters were also self-aware of their comic strip surroundings. He frequently had them leaning up against or striking matches on the panel borders, breaking the fourth wall, or making tongue-in-cheek, "inside" comments about the nature of comic strips in general.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Dada

Dada is a cultural movement that began in Zürich, Switzerland, during World War I and peaked from 1916 to 1922. The movement primarily involved visual arts, literaturepoetry, art manifestoes, art theorytheatre, and graphic design, and concentrated its anti-war politics through a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works. Its purpose was to ridicule what its participants considered to be the meaninglessness of the modern world. In addition to being anti-war, dada was also anti-bourgeois and anarchistic in nature.

According to its proponents, Dada was not art, it was "anti-art." For everything that art stood for, Dada was to represent the opposite. Where art was concerned with traditional aesthetics, Dada ignored aesthetics. If art was to appeal to sensibilities, Dada was intended to offend. Through their rejection of traditional culture and aesthetics, the Dadaists hoped to destroy traditional culture and aesthetics.

Dada activities included public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art/literary journals; passionate coverage of art, politics, and culture were topics often discussed in a variety of media. The movement influenced later styles like the avant-garde and downtown music movements, and groups including surrealism, Nouveau réalisme, pop art, Fluxus and punk rock.

Dada is the groundwork to abstract art and sound poetry, a starting point for performance art, a prelude to postmodernism, an influence on pop art, a celebration of antiart to be later embraced for anarcho-political uses in the 1960s and the movement that lay the foundation for Surrealism.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Battle of the Little Bighorn

The Battle of the Little Bighorn —also known as Custer's Last Stand and, by the Native Americans involved, the Battle of Greasy Grass Creek—was an armed engagement between a LakotaNorthern Cheyenne combined force and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. It occurred on June 25 and June 26, 1876, near the Little Bighorn River in eastern Montana Territory, near what is now Crow Agency, Montana.

The battle was the most famous action of the Great Sioux War of 1876-77 (also known as the Black Hills War) and was an overwhelming victory for the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne, led by Sitting Bull (Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake). The U.S. Seventh Cavalry, including a column of 700 men led by George Armstrong Custer, suffered a severe defeat. Five of the Seventh's companies were annihilated; Custer was killed, as were two of his brothers, a nephew, and a brother-in-law. Total US deaths were 268, including scouts, and 55 were wounded.

This was not the highest number of casualties in a battle by Native Americans against U.S. forces, however. That happened in 1791 at the Battle of the Wabash when the U.S army command suffered more than 600 fatalities. Americans were deeply shocked at Custer's defeat by the Sioux and Cheyenne. Public responses to the Great Sioux War changed. The battle, and Custer's actions in particular, have since been studied extensively by historians.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Man from Nantucket

"There once was a man from Nantucket" is the opening line for many limericks and is among the most familiar opening lines in poetry. This literary trope can be attributed to the popularity of the limerick genre and the way the name of the island of Nantucket lends itself easily to humorous rhymes and puns, particularly obscene ones. In the countless vulgar versions, the mythopoeic protagonist is typically portrayed as a well-endowed, hypersexualized persona.

The many ribald versions of the limerick are the basis for its lasting popularity. Many variations on the theme are possible because of the ease of rhyming Nantucket with certain vulgar words. The poem has become a staple of American humor, both as an iconic example of dirty poetry and as a joking example of fine art, whose vulgarity and simple form provides an unexpected contrast to an expected refinement.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Bubble Tea

Bubble tea is a tea beverage typically served cold. It originated in Taiwan in the 1980s, first spread to nearby East Asian countries, migrated to Canada before spreading to Chinatown in New York City, and then to various spots throughout the West Coast of the United States.

There are many variants of the drink, depending on types of tea used and ingredients added. The most popular kinds are "bubble black tea", "bubble green tea", and "pearl milk tea".

In the most common English usage, the name "bubble tea" is often associated with pearl milk tea, as it is the most popular variant of the drink. Pearl milk tea, also known as "boba milk tea", is traditionally made by adding boba balls (made from a mixture of tapioca and carrageenan powder), large or small, to shaken milk black tea. Some tea houses use pre-mixed milk tea to simplify the steps and reduce cost, thus removing the "shake" part from step and lessening its connection to the "bubble tea" name. This has caused some confusion as to what "bubble" is referring to in pearl milk tea.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Artistry of Glen Campbell

The Artistry of Glen Campbell is a double album from 1972 which was originally sold through the Glen Campbell Fan Club. The songs are made up of B-sides, previously unreleased material and new recordings of mainly public domain songs. The B-sides are taken from the following singles: "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife"/"Kelli Hoe Down" (1968), "True Grit"/"Hava Nagila" (1969), *"By the Time I Get to Phoenix-I Say a Little Prayer" (duet with Anne Murray)/"All through the Night" (1971) and "Manhattan Kansas"/"Wayfaring Stranger" (1972). The second album contains instrumental songs only.