Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pozole

Pozole is a traditional pre-Columbian soup or stew from Mexico. Pozole was mentioned in Fray Bernardino de Sahagún's "General History of the Things of New Spain" circa 1500 A.D.. It is made from nixtamalized cacahuazintle corn, with meat, usually pork, chicken, turkey, pork rinds, sardine, chili pepper, and other seasonings and garnish. Vegetarian and vegan versions also exist.

Since corn was a sacred plant for the Mexicans and other inhabitants of Mexico, pozole was made to be consumed on special events. The conjunction of corn and meat in a single dish is of particular interest to scholars because the ancient Mexicans believed that the gods made humans out of cornmeal dough.

After colonization by the Spaniards, the ingredients of pozole changed, but the staple, corn remained. It is a typical dish in various states such as Michoacán, Guerrero, Jalisco, Morelos, México and Distrito Federal. Pozole is often served in Mexican restaurants in the American Southwest. In many places it is considered a delicacy and is not an everyday food.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kraken

Kraken are legendary sea monsters of gargantuan size, said to have dwelt off the coasts of Norway and Iceland. The sheer size and fearsome appearance attributed to the beasts have made them common ocean-dwelling monsters in various fictional works. The legend may actually have originated from sightings of real giant squid that are variously estimated to grow to 13–15 metres (40–50 feet) in length, including the tentacles. These creatures normally live at great depths, but have been sighted at the surface and reportedly have "attacked" ships.

Kraken is the definite article form of krake, a Scandinavian word designating an unhealthy animal, or something twisted. In modern German, Krake means octopus, but can also refer to the legendary Kraken.

Carolus Linnaeus included kraken as cephalopods with the scientific name Microcosmus in the first edition of his Systema Naturae (1735), a taxonomic classification of living organisms, but excluded the animal in later editions. Kraken were also extensively described by Erik Pontoppidan, bishop of Bergen, in his "Natural History of Norway" (Copenhagen, 1752–3). Early accounts, including Pontoppidan's, describe the kraken as an animal "the size of a floating island" whose real danger for sailors was not the creature itself, but the whirlpool it created after quickly descending back into the ocean. However, Pontoppidan also described the destructive potential of the giant beast: "It is said that if it grabbed the largest warship, it could manage to pull it down to the bottom of the ocean"

According to Pontoppidan, Norwegian fishermen often took the risk of trying to fish over kraken, since the catch was so good. If a fisherman had an unusually good catch, they used to say to each other, "You must have fished on Kraken." Pontoppidan also claimed that the monster was sometimes mistaken for an island, and that some maps that included islands that were only sometimes visible were actually indicating kraken. Pontoppidan also proposed that a young specimen of the monster once died and was washed ashore at Alstahaug (Bengt Sjögren, 1980).

Since the late 18th century, kraken have been depicted in a number of ways, primarily as large octopus-like creatures, and it has often been alleged that Pontoppidan's kraken might have been based on sailors' observations of the giant squid. In the earliest descriptions, however, the creatures were more crab- like than octopus-like, and generally possessed traits that are associated with large whales rather than with giant squid. Some traits of kraken resemble undersea volcanic activity occurring in the Iceland region, including bubbles of water; sudden, dangerous currents; and appearance of new islets.

In 1802, the French malacologist Pierre Dénys de Montfort recognized the existence of two kinds of giant octopus in Histoire Naturelle Générale et Particulière des Mollusques, an encyclopedic description of mollusks. Montfort claimed that the first type, the kraken octopus, had been described by Norwegian sailors and American whalers, as well as ancient writers such as Pliny the Elder. The much larger second type, the colossal octopus (depicted in the above image), was reported to have attacked a sailing vessel from Saint-Malo, off the coast of Angola.

Montfort later dared more sensational claims. He proposed that ten British warships that had mysteriously disappeared one night in 1782 must have been attacked and sunk by giant octopuses. Unfortunately for Montfort, the British knew what had happened to the ships, resulting in a disgraceful revelation for Montfort. Pierre Dénys de Montfort's career never recovered and he died starving and poor in Paris around 1820 (Sjögren, 1980). In defence of Pierre Dénys de Montfort, it should be noted that many of his sources for the "kraken octopus" probably described the very real giant squid, proven to exist in 1857.

In 1830, possibly aware of Pierre Dénys de Montfort's work, Alfred Tennyson published his popular poem "The Kraken" (essentially an irregular sonnet), which disseminated Kraken in English with its long-standing superfluous the. The poem in its last three lines, also bears similarities to the legend of Leviathan, a sea monster, who shall rise to the surface at the end of days.

Tennyson's description apparently influenced Jules Verne's imagined lair of the famous giant squid in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea from 1870. Verne also makes numerous references to Kraken, and Bishop Pontoppidan in the novel.


Friday, February 26, 2010

SMiLE

SMiLE is an unreleased album by The Beach Boys, and perhaps the most famous unreleased rock and roll album of all time. Recorded throughout 1966 and 1967, the project was intended by its creator Brian Wilson as the follow-up to The Beach Boys' influential album Pet Sounds, but was never completed in its original form. The project was resurrected in 2003, and a newly recorded version was released by Beach Boys composer and leader Wilson in 2004. During the 37 years from its cancellation to the release of Wilson's version, Smile acquired considerable mystique, and bootlegged tracks from the never-completed album are circulated widely among Beach Boys collectors. Many of the tracks which were originally recorded for Smile eventually found their way onto subsequent Beach Boys albums.

In an October 1966 interview, Brian Wilson dubbed the work "a teenage symphony to God". His plan was to take his work on Pet Sounds to a new level, with an album-length suite of specially-written songs which were both thematically and musically linked, and would be recorded using the unusual sounds and innovative production techniques which had made their recent hit "Good Vibrations" so successful.

Crucial to the inception and creation of Smile was Wilson's collaboration with singer, musician, composer and lyricist Van Dyke Parks, whom Wilson invited to write lyrics for the new album in the Spring of 1966; at the time, the project was provisionally entitled Dumb Angel. The two quickly formed a close and fruitful working relationship, and between April and September 1966 they co-wrote a number of major songs, including "Surf's Up", "Heroes and Villains", "Wonderful", "Cabin Essence" and "Wind Chimes", all of which were written in the famous sandbox that Brian had installed in his home. Their first collaboration was "Heroes and Villains", and it is reported that when Wilson played the song's descending melody line to him, Parks devised the opening line on the spot. Their most acclaimed song, "Surf's Up", was written in one night.

Although the precise nature of its original conception is still hotly debated, several key features of Smile are generally acknowledged: both musically and lyrically, Wilson and Parks intended Smile to be explicitly American in style and subject, a direct reaction to the British dominance of popular music at the time. It was supposedly conceived as a musical journey across America from east to west, beginning at Plymouth Rock and ending in Hawaii, as well as traversing some of the great themes of modern American history and culture, including the impact of white settlement on native Americans, the influence of the Spanish, the Wild West, and the opening up of the country by railroad and highway.

Smile
also drew heavily on American popular music of the past; Wilson's innovative original compositions were interwoven with snippets of significant songs of yesteryear, including "The Old Master Painter" (made famous by Peggy Lee), the perennial "You Are My Sunshine", Johnny Mercer's jazz standard "I Wanna Be Around" (recorded by Tony Bennett), the song "Gee" by noted '50s doo-wop group The Crows, as well as quotations from other pop-culture reference points, such as the Woody Woodpecker theme.

The cut-up structure of Smile was certainly unique for its time in mainstream popular music, and it indicates that Brian was familiar with the techniques of musique concrète and the usage of chance operations in making art—an approach which was also exerting a strong influence on the Beatles at this point.

Wilson's experiments with LSD were undoubtedly a significant influence on the texture and structure of the work, and one of the strongest intellectual influences on his thinking at this time was his friend Loren Schwartz, who is said to have introduced Brian to both marijuana and LSD.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cyanoacrylate

Cyanoacrylate is the generic name for cyanoacrylate based fast-acting adhesives commonly sold under trade names like SuperGlue and Krazy Glue, veterinary glues Vetbond and LiquiVet and medical grade skin glues LiquiBand, SurgiSeal, FloraSeal, Dermabond, and Nexaband. Cyanoacrylate adhesives are sometimes known as "instant glues". The abbreviation "CA" is commonly used for industrial grades.

Cyanoacrylate is a tenacious adhesive, particularly when used to bond non-porous materials or those that contain minute traces of water. It is also very good at bonding body tissue, and while this can be a bothersome (or even dangerous) side effect during everyday use, it has been exploited for the benefit of suture-less surgery.

Cyanoacrylates were invented in 1942 by Dr. Harry Coover and Fred Joyner of Kodak Laboratories during experiments to make a special extra-clear plastic suitable for gun sights. Although not appropriate for the gun sights, they did find that cyanoacrylates would quickly glue together many materials with great strength. Seeing possibilities for a new adhesive, Kodak developed "Eastman #910" (later "Eastman 910") a few years later as the first true "super glue."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Philo Farnsworth

Philo Taylor Farnsworth (August 19, 1906 – March 11, 1971) was an American inventor. He is best known for inventing the first fully electronic television system, including the first working electronic image pickup device (video camera tube), and for being the first to demonstrate fully electronic television to the public.

Farnsworth was born on August 19, 1906 to Lewis Edwin and Serena Amanda Bastian Farnsworth, a Mormon couple then living in a log cabin built by Lewis's father in a place called Indian Creek near Beaver, Utah. The family moved to a farm in Rigby, Idaho in 1918. Philo was excited to find his new home was wired for electricity, with a Delco generator providing power for lighting and farm machinery. He was a quick study in mechanical and electrical technology, repairing the troublesome generator, and upon finding a burned out electric motor among some items discarded by the previous tenants, proceeding to rewind the armature and convert his mother's hand-powered washing machine into an electric-powered one. Philo developed an early interest in electronics after his first telephone conversation with an out-of-state relative and the discovery of a large cache of technology magazines in the attic of the family’s new home.

Farnsworth worked out the principle of the electronc television in the summer of 1921, not long before his fifteenth birthday, and demonstrated the first working version on September 7, 1927, having turned 21 the previous August. A farm boy, his inspiration for scanning an image as series of lines came from the back-and-forth motion used to plow a field.

In the course of a patent interference suit brought by RCA in 1934 and decided in February 1935, his high school chemistry teacher, Justin Tolman, produced a sketch he had made of a blackboard drawing Farnsworth had shown him in the spring of 1922. Farnsworth won the suit; RCA appealed the decision in 1936 and lost. The video camera tube that evolved from the combined work of Farnsworth and many others was used in all television cameras until the late 20th century.

Although he was the man responsible for its technology, Farnsworth appeared only once on a television program. On July 3, 1957, he was a mystery guest ("Doctor X") on the TV quiz show I've Got A Secret. He fielded questions from the panel as they unsuccessfully tried to guess his secret ("I invented electronic television."). For stumping the panel, he received $80 and a carton of Winston cigarettes.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? is a children's picture book, published in 1967, written and illustrated by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle, and the book is designed to help toddlers associate colors and meanings to objects. The book itself has little to no plot, instead it ask various animals what they see with the response usually being another animal, the respondent is then asked what they themsevles see, and the process it repeated. It features a Brown Bear, Red Bird, Yellow Duck, Blue Horse, Green Frog, Purple Cat, White Dog, Black Sheep, a Goldfish, a Teacher, and Students. For unknown reasons, the British edition of the book substitutes a monkey for the teacher.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wagyu

Wagyū refers to several breeds of cattle genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat. The meat from wagyū cattle is known worldwide for its marbling characteristics, increased eating quality through a naturally enhanced flavor, tenderness and juiciness, and thus a high market value. In several areas of Japan, beef is shipped with area names. Some examples are Kobe, Mishima and Ōmi beef.

The wagyū cattle's genetic predisposition yields a beef that contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than typical beef. The increased marbling also improves the ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats.

Wagyū were initially introduced to Japan as a beast of burden to help cultivate rice. By order of the Shogun, the cowherd in Japan was closed and eating meat from any four legged animal was prohibited from 1635 to 1838. Because of Japan's rugged terrain and isolated areas, different breeding and feeding techniques were used such as massaging or adding beer or sake to their feeding regimen. It is suggested that this was done to aid in digestion and induce hunger during humid seasons but appears to have no effect on the meat's flavor. Massaging may have been to prevent muscle cramping on small farms in Japan in which the animals did not have sufficient room to use their muscles.

There are five major breeds of wagyū (wa means "Japanese" and gyū means "cow"): Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, Japanese Shorthorn, and Kumamoto Reds. Japanese breed names include: Tajima, Hida (Gif Pref.), Tottori, Shimane, Kochi and Kumamoto. Kumamoto Prefecture is famous for their red wagyū cattle. The more famous black variety has their origins in Kobe.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Roger the Engineer

Roger the Engineer (original UK title: Yardbirds) is an album by the English blues rock band The Yardbirds, released in 1966. It was produced by bassist Paul Samwell-Smith and Simon Napier-Bell. It was the only Yardbirds album with all originally written material. Although the record was officially titled Yardbirds (and still is in authoritative chart sources, such as The Guinness Book of British Hit Albums), it has since been referred to, first colloquially, then semi-officially, as Roger the Engineer, a title stemming from the cover drawing of the record's audio engineer Roger Cameron by band member Chris Dreja. Due to the influence of Jeff Beck's experimentation with guitar distortion, the album is considered a precursor to heavy metal.

The original American versions of this album (issued with a completely different album cover and entitled Over Under Sideways Down after the hit song of the same name) omitted the songs "The Nazz Are Blue" (which was sung by Jeff Beck) and "Rack My Mind" and are mixed differently to the British editions. Regardless, record collectors have sought out both the mono (LN 24210) and stereo (BN 26210) versions since several tracks are featured with slight differences in the mixes (see U.S. album listing below). Epic's 1983 reissue (simply entitled The Yardbirds) featured the original UK album cover, the two missing tracks, duplication of the British mixing, and two additional tracks, the 1966 single "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" b/w "Psycho Daisies", both featuring Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. "Happenings" is frequently cited as the first psychedelic rock song.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 349 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Liquorice

Liquorice is a confectionery flavoured with the extract of the roots of the liquorice plant. A wide variety of liquorice sweets are produced around the world. In the U.S., licorice is called black licorice, to distinguish it from similar candy varieties that are not flavoured with liquorice extract, and commonly manufactured in the form of chewy ropes or tubes. Most popular in the United Kingdom are liquorice allsorts. Dutch and Nordic liquorice characteristically contains ammonium chloride instead of sodium chloride, prominently so in salty liquorice.

The essential ingredients of liquorice candy are liquorice extract, sugar, and a binder. The binder is typically starch/flour, gum arabic, or gelatin, or a combination thereof. Additional ingredients are extra flavouring, beeswax for a shiny surface, ammonium chloride, and molasses to give the end product the familiar black colour. Ammonium chloride is mainly used in salty liquorice candy, with concentrations up to about 8 percent. However, even regular liquorice candy can contain up to 2 percent ammonium chloride, the taste of which is less prominent due to the higher sugar concentration.

During manufacturing, the ingredients are dissolved in water and heated to 135 °C. In order to obtain candies of the desired shapes, the liquid is poured into molds, that are created by impressing holes into a container filled with starch powder. The liquid is then dried and the resulting candies are sprayed with beeswax in order to give their surface a shiny appearance.

The liquorice-root extract contains the natural sweetener glycyrrhizin, which is over 50 times sweeter than sucrose. This ingredient has various pharmaceutical properties, the most important ones being that it acts as an expectorant (facilitating removal of mucus from the lungs by coughing) and that it increases blood pressure. The latter effect can become significant with a daily consumption of 50 g or more of liquorice candy for as little as two weeks.

Liquorice is also a mild laxative, and has several varied uses in herbal medicine.

Alexander the Great supplied his troops with rations of licorice root whilst marching, due to its thirst quenching qualities.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bayeux Tapestry

The Bayeux Tapestry is a 0.5 by 70 metres (1.6 by 230 ft) long embroidered cloth—not an actual tapestry—which depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England as well as the events of the invasion itself. The Bayeux Tapestry is annotated in the Latin language. It is exhibited in a special museum in Bayeux, Normandy, France.

The tapestry tells the story of the Norman conquest of England. The two combatants are the Anglo-Saxon English, led by Harold Godwinson, recently crowned as King of England (before that a powerful earl), and the Normans, led by William the Conqueror.

The Bayeux tapestry is embroidered in wool yarn on a tabby-woven linen ground using two methods of stitching: outline or stem stitch for lettering and the outlines of figures, and couching or laid work for filling in figures. The linen is assembled in panels and has been patched in numerous places.

The main yarn colours are terracotta or russet, blue-green, dull gold, olive green, and blue, with small amounts of dark blue or black and sage green. Later repairs are worked in light yellow, orange, and light greens. Laid yarns are couched in place with yarn of the same or contrasting colour.

French legend maintained the tapestry was commissioned and created by Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror's wife, and her ladies-in-waiting. Indeed, in France it is occasionally known as "La Tapisserie de la Reine Mathilde" (Tapestry of Queen Matilda). However, scholarly analysis in the 20th century shows it probably was commissioned by William's half brother, Bishop Odo.

Assuming Odo commissioned the tapestry, it was probably designed and constructed in England by Anglo-Saxon artists given that Odo's main power base was in Kent, the Latin text contains hints of Anglo Saxon, other embroideries originate from England at this time, and the vegetable dyes can be found in cloth traditionally woven there.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pulaski Skyway

The General Pulaski Skyway is a series of cantilever truss bridges in the northeast part of the U.S. state of New Jersey. The highway carries four lanes of U.S. Route 1/9 for 3.5 miles (5.6 km) between the far east side of Newark and Tonnele Circle in Jersey City, passing over Kearny. It is known as a "skyway" because it travels high above the New Jersey Meadowlands to avoid drawbridges across the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers, bridging each at a height of 135 feet (41 m). It also crosses over the New Jersey Turnpike, many local roads, and several rail lines. The skyway is named for General Kazimierz Pułaski, the Polish military leader who assisted in training and commanding Continental Army troops in the American Revolutionary War.

Trucks are prohibited from the Pulaski Skyway for the "safety and welfare of the public" due to its outdated design. They must use an alternate route known as U.S. Route 1/9 Truck, a series of local roads through Jersey City, Kearny and Newark that carried traffic before the Skyway was built. Pedestrians and bicycles are also banned, as the road is a freeway with no sidewalks.

The Pulaski Skyway opened in 1932 as the last part of the Route 1 Extension, one of the first superhighways in the United States. The structure has undergone only minor changes, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places (as part of the Route 1 Extension) on August 12, 2005.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Portmeirion

Portmeirion is an Italianate resort village in Gwynedd, on the coast of Snowdonia in Wales. The village is located in the community of Penrhyndeudraeth, on the estuary of the River Dwyryd, 2 miles (3.2 km) south east of Porthmadog, and 1 mile (1.6 km) from the railway station at Minffordd, which is served by both the narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway and Arriva Trains Wales (Cambrian Line).

Despite repeated claims that it was based on the town of Portofino, Italy, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion's designer, denied this, stating only that he wanted to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean. He did, however, draw from a love of the Italian village stating, "How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Indeed its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site..."

Williams-Ellis designed and constructed the village between 1925 and 1975. He incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects. Portmeirion's architectural bricolage and deliberately fanciful nostalgia have been noted as an influence on the development of postmodernism in architecture in the late twentieth century.

The grounds contain an important collection of rhododendrons and other exotic plants in a wild-garden setting which was begun before Williams-Ellis' time by the previous owner George Henry Caton Haigh and has continued to be developed since his death.

Portmeirion is now owned by a charitable trust, and has always been run as a hotel, which uses the majority of the buildings as hotel rooms or self-catering cottages, together with shops, a cafe, tea-room and restaurant. Portmeirion is today a top tourist attraction in North Wales and day visits can be made on payment of an admission charge.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cupid

In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of erotic love and beauty. He is the son of goddess Venus.

In popular culture Cupid is frequently shown shooting his bow to inspire romantic love, often as an icon of Valentine's Day.

In the Roman version, Cupid was the son of Venus (goddess of love) and Mars (god of war). In the Greek version he was named Eros and seen as one of the primordial gods (though other myths exist as well). Cupid was often depicted with wings, a bow, and a quiver of arrows. The following story is almost identical in both cultures; the most familiar version is found in Lucius Apuleius's Metamorphoses. When Cupid's mother Venus became jealous of the princess Psyche, who was so beloved by her subjects that they forgot to worship Venus, she ordered Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with the vilest thing in the world. When Cupid saw Psyche, however, he was so overcome by her beauty that he fell in love with her himself.

Following that, Cupid visited Psyche every night while she slept. Speaking to her so that she could not see him, he told her never to try to see him. Psyche, though, incited by her two older sisters who told her Cupid was a monster, tried to look at him and angered Cupid. When he left, she looked all over the known world for him until at last the leader of the gods, Jupiter, gave Psyche the gift of immortality so that she could be with him. Together they had a daughter, Voluptas, or Hedone, (meaning pleasure) and Psyche became a goddess. Her name "Psyche" means "soul."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Backmasking

Backmasking (also known as backward masking) is a recording technique in which a sound or message is recorded backward onto a track that is meant to be played forward. Backmasking is a deliberate process, whereas a message found through phonetic reversal may be unintentional.

Backmasking was popularized by The Beatles, who used backward vocals and instrumentation on their 1966 album Revolver. Artists have since used backmasking for artistic, comedic, and satiric effect, on both analog and digital recordings. The technique has also been used to censor words or phrases for "clean" releases of songs.

In 1877 Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, a device that allowed sound to be recorded and reproduced on a rotating cylinder with a stylus (or "needle") attached to a diaphragm mounted at the narrow end of a horn.

In addition to recreating recorded sounds by placing the stylus on the cylinder or disc and rotating it in the same direction as during the recording, one could hear different sounds by rotating the cylinder or disc backwards. In 1878 Edison noted that, when played backwards, "the song is still melodious in many cases, and some of the strains are sweet and novel, but altogether different from the song reproduced in the right way".

The 1950s saw the development of musique concrète, an avant-garde form of electronic music which involves editing together fragments of natural and industrial sounds, and the concurrent spread of the use of tape recorders in recording studios. These two trends led to tape music compositions, composed on tape using techniques including reverse tape effects.

The Beatles, who incorporated the techniques of concrète into their recordings, were responsible for popularizing the concept of backmasking. Singer John Lennon and producer George Martin both claim they discovered the backward recording technique during the recording of 1966's Revolver; specifically the album tracks "Tomorrow Never Knows" and "I'm Only Sleeping," and the single "Rain".

Backmasking has been a controversial topic in the United States since the 1980s, when allegations from Christian groups of its use for Satanic purposes were made against prominent rock musicians, leading to record-burning protests and proposed anti-backmasking legislation by state and federal governments. Whether backmasked messages exist is in debate, as is whether backmasking can be used subliminally to affect listeners.

Artists who have been accused of backmasking include Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Electric Light Orchestra, Queen, Styx, AC/DC, Judas Priest, The Eagles, The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Starship, Black Oak Arkansas, Rush, Britney Spears, and Eminem.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snagglepuss

Snagglepuss is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon character created in 1959, a pink anthropomorphic mountain lion voiced by Daws Butler. He is best known for his famous catchphrase, "Heavens to Murgatroyd!", along with phrases such as "Exit, stage right!"

Snagglepuss first appeared in several episodes of The Quick Draw McGraw Show[2] and became a regular segment on The Yogi Bear Show, starring in a total of 32 episodes. (See the list of episodes.) He also appeared in other Hanna-Barbera series such as Yogi's Gang in 1973, as a co-host for Laff-A-Lympics in 1977 and 1978, Yogi's Treasure Hunt in 1985 and as a teenager on Yo Yogi! in 1991.

Snagglepuss lives in a cavern, which he constantly tries to make more habitable for himself. No matter what he does, however, he always winds up back where he started or worse off than he was before. In some episodes, Snagglepuss is chased by Major Minor (voiced by Don Messick), a tiny-sized hunter, whose chases seem similar to the ones which involve Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny.

Butler's voice characterization is reminiscent of the more soft-spoken aspect of Bert Lahr's broad-ranging characterizations, specifically the Cowardly Lion in the 1939 MGM movie The Wizard of Oz.

Snagglepuss has three signature catchphrases. Before dashing off (whether to escape or for some other reason), he exclaims "Exit, stage left!" (or stage right, and sometimes even up or down), a phrase used in theatrical stage directions. Snagglepuss typically appends the adverbial focus particle "... even" to seemingly every phrase. His most famous is his perpetual exclamation, "Heavens to Murgatroyd!" - a line first uttered by Bert Lahr in the 1944 film Meet the People.

When the character of Snagglepuss was used for a series of Kellogg's cereal television commercials in the 1960s, Lahr filed a lawsuit, claiming that the similarity of the Snagglepuss voice to his own might cause viewers to falsely conclude that Lahr was endorsing the product. As part of the settlement, the disclaimer "Snagglepuss voice by Daws Butler" was required to appear on each commercial, thus making Butler one of the few voice artists to receive a screen credit in a TV commercial.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Golden Plates

According to the theology of Latter Day Saint movement churches, the golden plates (also called the gold plates or in some 19th century literature, the golden Bible) are a book of bound and engraved metal plates that Joseph Smith, Jr. said was his source for the Book of Mormon. Some followers and relatives of Smith testified that they saw the plates, and Smith said he returned them to an angel after translating them. Therefore, if they existed, they are not available for researchers to examine. Although most outside of the Latter Day Saint movement dismiss Joseph Smith's story of the golden plates as "beyond belief," to Latter Day Saints their existence is a matter of faith.

Joseph Smith said he was guided to the plates on September 22, 1823 on Cumorah Hill, Manchester, New York, in a buried box. Smith said they had been protected there for centuries by the angel Moroni, once a mortal prophet and the book's final author, and the one who guided him to the plates. According to Smith, the angel told him he could not take possession of the plates until he obeyed certain commandments, which included making four annual visits to the spot.

Smith's 1827 announcement that he had uncovered an ancient golden book brought him local notoriety. The curious came to see the wooden chest where they were told the plates were stored; but Smith said that the angel had commanded him not to show the plates to anyone else until a later date. After moving near his wife's parents in northern Pennsylvania, Smith dictated to scribes what he said was an English translation of the inscribed characters on the plates, a language he described as reformed Egyptian. This reputed translating took place sporadically between 1827 and 1829 and consisted, according to most accounts, of Smith's looking into a hat containing a "seer stone" in which he said he could see the translated words and characters.

During this period, Smith also began dictating written commandments in the voice of God, including a commandment to form a new church and to choose eleven men who would join Smith as witnesses. These men declared, in two statements attached to the 1830 published Book of Mormon, that they had seen the plates. Some of these witnesses gave descriptions of the plates, not entirely consistent with one another. According to Smith, he then returned the plates to the angel Moroni. Many adherents of the faith believe that Moroni retains them or that they are hidden in the hill Cumorah.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicken and Waffles

Chicken and waffles is a dish combining waffles, a breakfast food, with (usually fried) chicken. It is served in certain specialty restaurants in the United States. Some include Heavenly Chicken & Waffles, Lolo's Chicken and Waffles and Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles.

The dish is most commonly made by serving fried chicken with a waffle, the waffle then typically being covered with butter or syrup (as is common practice among those who eat waffles for breakfast in the United States). This unusual combination of foods is beloved by many people who are influenced by traditions of soul food passed down from past generations of their families.

The popularity of chicken and waffles has much to do with the success of Roscoe's chain of restaurants, which brought the dish more into the mainstream. What helped spread the popularity of Roscoe's was celebrity support of his restaurant. Herb Hudson knew people who worked in Motown and in television, such as Natalie Cole. Later more celebrities (such as Redd Foxx) would tell their television audience that Roscoe's was a place they should eat.

In recent decades, Arsenio Hall and Snoop Dogg have helped popularize Roscoe's, speaking of the restaurant in their performances and television shows.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tiny Tim

Herbert Khaury, better known by the stage name Tiny Tim, was an American singer, ukulele player, and musical archivist. He was most famous for his rendition of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" sung in a distinctive high falsetto/vibrato voice (though his normal singing voice was in a standard male range). He was generally regarded as a novelty act, though his records indicate his wide knowledge of American songs.

Tiny Tim was born in New York City and grew up in an old apartment building in Washington Heights in Manhattan. When he was five years old his father brought home a wind up gramophone and a 78 rpm record that featured a 1905 recording of Henry Burr singing "Beautiful Ohio". Young Herbert immersed himself in the music of the past, listening for hours in his room to Rudy Vallee, Al Jolson, Henry Burr, Irving Kaufman, Billy Murray, Ada Jones, Byron G. Harlan, and Bing Crosby.

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Tiny Tim developed something of a cult following. In the 1960s he was seen regularly near the Harvard University campus as a street performer, singing old Tin Pan Alley tunes. His choice of repertoire and his encyclopedic knowledge of vintage popular music impressed many of the spectators.

His appearances in indepandent feature filem is the mid 1960s led to a booking on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, an American television comedy-variety show. Dan Rowan announced that Laugh-In believed in showcasing new talent, and introduced Tiny Tim. The singer entered, blowing kisses, and sang "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" to Dick Martin. This stint was followed by several more appearances on Laugh-In and a recording contract with Reprise Records. He made a name for himself as a novelty performer, guesting with Johnny Carson, Ed Sullivan, and Jackie Gleason. At the height of his career, he was commanding a weekly salary of $50,000 in Las Vegas.

"Tiptoe Through the Tulips" became Tiny Tim's signature song. He sang it in homage to its originator, singer-guitarist Nick Lucas. His tribute was heartfelt, and he invited Lucas to sing at his wedding in 1969. In 1968, his first album, God Bless Tiny Tim, was released. It contained an orchestrated version of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips", which became a hit after being released as a single. Tiny Tim recorded and released two more albums for Reprise, Tiny Tim's Second Album, and For All My Little Friends, a collection of children's songs. On December 17, 1969, Tiny Tim married Victoria Mae Budinger (aka "Miss Vicki") on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, a publicity stunt that attracted some 40 million viewers.

In August 1970, Tiny Tim performed at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 in front of a crowd of 600,000 people. His performance, which included English folk songs and rock and roll classics, was a huge hit with the multinational throng of hippies. At the climax of his set, he sang "There'll Always Be an England" through a megaphone which brought the huge crowd to its feet.

After the career highlight in England, however, Tiny Tim's television appearances dwindled, and his popularity began to wane. He continued to play around the United States, making several lucrative appearances in Las Vegas.

In the 1990s, as interest in Tiny Tim picked up slightly, he began to release records again, including I Love Me (1993) and Girl (1996). He made several appearances on The Howard Stern Radio Show, made a cameo in Stern's film, Private Parts (1997), and occasionally appeared on other television programs.

While playing at a Gala Benefit at The Woman's Club of Minneapolis on November 30, 1996, he suffered a heart attack while performing "Tiptoe Through The Tulips". He collapsed shortly thereafter and was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died after doctors tried to resuscitate him for an hour and fifteen minutes. He is interred in the mausoleum of Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kolkhoz

A kolkhoz, plural kolkhozy, was a form of collective farming in the Soviet Union that existed along with state farms (sovkhoz, plural sovkhozy). The word is a contraction of коллекти́вное хозя́йство, or "collective farm", while sovkhoz is a contraction of советское хозяйство (literally, "Soviet farm"). Kolkhozy and sovkhozy were the two components of the so-called socialized farm sector that began to emerge in Soviet agriculture after the October Revolution of 1917 as an antithesis to individual or family farming. The 1920s were characterized by spontaneous and apparently voluntary emergence of collective farms, which included an updated version of the traditional Russian “commune”, the generic “farming association” (zemledel’cheskaya artel), the association for joint cultivation of land (TOZ), and finally the kolkhoz. This peaceful and gradual shift to collective farming in the first 15 years after the October Revolution turned into a violent stampede during the forced collectivization campaign that began in 1928.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Station Wagon

A station wagon is a passenger automobile with a body style similar to a sedan but with the roofline following the full, sometimes extended rear cargo area and sometimes an extra row of sometimes rear-facing seats, ending with a more vertical door than on a hatchback.

Also sometimes referred to simply as a wagon, the term 'station wagon' is used in American, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand English, while the term estate car or simply estate is used in British English. European manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have often referred to their wagons as "Avant", "Touring", and "Estate" respectively to distinguish them from their sedan counterparts.

The first station wagons were a product of the age of train travel. They were originally called "depot hacks" because they worked around train depots as hacks (short for hackney carriage, an old name for taxis). They also came to be known as "carryalls" and "suburbans". The name "station wagon" is a derivative of "depot hack"; it was a wagon that carried people and luggage from the train station to various local destinations.

While commercial in its origins, by the mid-1930s, wood bodied station wagons, also known as “Woodies”, began to take on a prestige aura. The vehicles were priced higher than regular cars, but were popular in affluent communities, especially among the country club social set. The vehicles gained in “snob appeal” when mating the utility of the hard wood bodies to better makes of automobiles such as Buick, Packard, Pierce-Arrow. By 1941, the Chrysler Town and Country was the most expensive car in the company's lineup.

Cachet aside, woodie wagons required constant maintenance; bodies were finished in varnishes that required recoating, bolts and screws required tightening as wood expanded and contracted throughout the seasons.

Following World War II, automobile production from preexisting manufacturers resumed using tooling left over from 1942. However, advancement in production techniques learned over the course of World War II made all-steel station wagons practical when automobile manufacturers switched over to new designs.

Traditionally, full-sized American station wagons were configured for 6 or 9 passengers. The basic arrangement for seating six was three passengers in the front and three passengers in the rear, all on bench-type seats; to accommodate nine, a third bench seat – often facing backward, but sometimes facing forward or sideways – was installed in the rear cargo area, over the rear axle.

Station wagons enjoyed their greatest popularity and highest production levels in the United States during from the 1950s through the 1970s. Sales of station wagons in the United States and Canada remained strong until 1984, when the Chrysler Corporation introduced the first minivans. The emergence and popularity of sport utility vehicles which closely approximate the traditional wagon bodystyle was a further blow. After struggling sales, the Chevrolet Caprice and the Buick Roadmaster, the last American full size wagons, were discontinued in 1996. In 2005 the Dodge Magnum was launched, although it was discontinued by 2008.

Since then, smaller wagons have been sold in the U.S. as less expensive alternatives to SUVs and minivans. Domestic wagons also remained in the Ford, Mercury, and Saturn lines until 2004 when the bodies began a phase-out, replaced by car-based crossover SUVs and minivans designed to look like station wagons. European luxury carmakers such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz still offered wagons in their North American lineup, using the labels "Avant", "Touring", and "Estate" instead of wagon.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Telstar

Telstar is the name of various communications satellites, including the first ever such satellite able to relay television signals. The first two Telstar satellites were "Telstar 1", launched July 10, 1962 and operational until February 21, 1963, and "Telstar 2", launched May 7, 1963 and operational until May 16, 1965. They were experimental, and nearly identical. Telstar 1 relayed the first television pictures, telephone calls and fax images through space and provided the first live transatlantic television feed.

Belonging to AT&T, the original Telstar was part of a multi-national agreement between AT&T, Bell Telephone Laboratories, NASA, the British General Post Office, and the French National PTT (Post, Telegraph & Telecom Office) to develop experimental satellite communications over the Atlantic Ocean. Bell Labs held a contract with NASA, reimbursing the agency three million dollars for each of the two launches, independent of success.

Launched by NASA aboard a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral on July 10, 1962, Telstar 1 was the first privately sponsored space launch. A medium-altitude satellite, Telstar was placed in an elliptical orbit completed once every 2 hours and 37 minutes, inclined at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the equator, with perigee about 1000 km from Earth and apogee about 6000 km from Earth (This is in contrast to most of today's communications satellites, which are placed in circular geostationary orbits.

Telstar 1 relayed its first, and non-public, television pictures – of a flag outside Andover Earth Station in Maine, USA – to France on July 11, 1962. Almost two weeks later, on July 23, at 3:00 p.m. EDT, it relayed the first publicly available live transatlantic television signal. The broadcast was made possible in Europe by Eurovision and in North America by NBC, CBS, ABC, and the CBC. The first public broadcast featured CBS's Walter Cronkite and NBC's Chet Huntley in New York, and the BBC's Richard Dimbleby in Brussels. The first pictures were the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The first broadcast was to have been remarks by President John F. Kennedy, but the signal was acquired before the President was ready, so the lead-in time was filled with a short segment of a televised major league baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. The batter Tony Taylor was seen hitting the ball to the right fielder George Altman. From there, the video switched first to Washington, DC; then to Cape Canaveral, Florida; then to Quebec, Canada and finally to Stratford, Ontario. The Washington segment included a press conference with President Kennedy, talking about the price of the American dollar, which was causing concern in Europe.

During that evening, Telstar 1 also relayed the first telephone call to be transmitted through space, and it successfully transmitted faxes, data, and both live and taped television, including the first live transmission of television across an ocean. In August 1963, Telstar 1 became the first satellite used to synchronize time between two continents, bringing the United Kingdom and the United States to within 1 microsecond of each other (previoius efforts were only accurate to 2000 microseconds).

Telstar 1, which had ushered in a new age of the benevolent use of technology, became a victim of technology during the Cold War. The day before Telstar 1 was launched, the United States had tested a high-altitude nuclear bomb (called Starfish Prime) which energized the Earth's Van Allen Belt where Telstar 1 went into orbit. This vast increase in radiation, combined with subsequent high-altitude blasts, including a Soviet test in October, overwhelmed Telstar's fragile transistors; it went out of service in early December 1962, but was restarted by a workaround in early January 1963. The additional radiation associated with its return to full sunlight once again caused a transistor failure, this time irreparably, and Telstar 1 went out of service on February 21, 1963.

According to the US Space Objects Registry, Telstar 1 and 2 were still in orbit as of June 2009.