Friday, April 30, 2010

Raw Power

Raw Power is the third album by American rock band The Stooges, released in 1973. Raw Power was largely ignored upon its release, and the group broke up in obscurity a few years later. However, it was embraced by a small, rabid fan-base that included many younger musicians who would go on to help create the punk rock genre in the mid- to late-1970s and experience commercial success, making Raw Power one of the most important proto-punk documents of its era.

Sales of Raw Power were weak, and the album peaked at #182 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart. The group continued touring for about a year, but Columbia dropped their contract and The Stooges broke up.

Despite its weak initial reception, the reputation of Raw Power grew tremendously in subsequent years, and the album's volume and ferocity became benchmarks against which later albums were measured. In 2003, the album was ranked number 125 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain from the grunge band Nirvana wrote in his Journals numerous times that this was his favorite album of all time. Johnny Marr of The Smiths has also stated Raw Power as his favorite album. Henry Rollins had the words "Search and Destroy" tattooed across his shoulder blades. Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols mentioned in an interview that he learned to play guitar by taking speed and playing along to Raw Power.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cottonclad

Cottonclads were a classification of steam-powered warships where a wooden ship was protected from enemy fire by bales of cotton lining its sides. This provided some protection from enemy fire, but not to the extent of ironclads. Cotton-clads were prevalent during the American Civil War, particularly in the Confederate States Navy for riverine service.

The heavy bales of cotton slowed small arms fire, but at times the cotton would catch fire from artillery shells.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Papadum

A papadum is a thin Indian crispy cuisine sometimes described as a cracker or flatbread. They are typically served as an accompaniment to a meal in India. It is also eaten as an appetizer or a snack and can be eaten with various toppings such as chopped onions, chutney or other dips and condiments.

As papadums are an important part of South Asian cuisine, recipes vary from region to region and family to family, but typically it is made from lentil, chickpea, black gram, rice, flour or potato .

In North India, the lentil variety is more popular and is usually called 'papad'.

Salt and peanut oil are added to make a dough, which can be flavored with seasonings such as chili, cumin, garlic or black pepper. Sometimes baking soda is also added. The dough is shaped into a thin, round flat bread and then dried (traditionally in the sun) and can be cooked by deep-frying, roasting over an open flame, toasting, or microwaving, depending on the desired texture.

In most curry houses in the United Kingdom and Australia, they are served as a starter alongside various dips and usually mango chutney.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer

Cirroc — known as the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer — was a recurring character created by Jack Handey and played by Phil Hartman on Saturday Night Live from 1991 through 1996. He was a caveman with the beetling brows of a neanderthal who had fallen into a glacial crevasse during the Ice Age, thus preserving his body well enough for scientists to thaw him out in 1988. He subsequently attended law school.

Cirroc became a defense and personal injury lawyer, and in a later skit, a politician running for President on the platform of eliminating the capital gains tax. He was portrayed as a selfish, well-dressed attorney who repeatedly claimed to be a simple-minded caveman, and would employ simple folk wisdom to win his cases. He also enjoyed significant wealth, driving luxury cars like BMWs and Range Rovers, as well as owning a home in Martha's Vineyard.

The running gag was that Cirroc would speak in a highly articulate and smoothly self-assured manner to a jury or an audience about how things in the modern world supposedly "frighten and confuse" him. He would then list several things that confounded him about modern life or the natural world, such as: "When I see a solar eclipse, like the one I went to last year in Hawaii, I think 'Oh no! Is the moon eating the sun?' I don't know. Because I'm a caveman -- that's the way I think." This pronouncement would seem ironic, coming from someone who had, for example, just ended a brisk cell phone conversation, or indeed attended law school. Cirroc would always finish a disquisition, however, by asserting in a burst of righteousness that nevertheless "There is one thing I DO know..." -- namely, that his client is either innocent, or that he is entitled to several million dollars or more in both compensatory and punitive damages for an injury. The jury or counsel is invariably swayed by Cirroc's argument.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Northrop XB-35

The Northrop XB-35 was an experimental heavy bomber aircraft developed for the United States Army Air Forces during and shortly after World War II by the Northrop Corporation. It used the radical and potentially very efficient flying wing design, in which the tail section and fuselage are eliminated and all payload is carried in a thick wing. Only prototype and pre-production aircraft were built, although interest remained strong enough to warrant further development of the aircraft as a jet bomber, under the designation YB-49.

The XB-35 was the brainchild of Jack Northrop, who made the Flying Wing the focus of his work during the 1930s. During World War II, Northrop had been commissioned to develop a large wing-only, long range bomber designated XB-35. Northrop advocated the "flying wing" as a means of reducing parasitic drag and eliminating structural weight not directly responsible for producing lift. In theory, the B-35 could carry a greater payload faster, farther, and cheaper than a conventional bomber. On 11 April 1941, the United States Army Air Corps sent out a request for a bomber that could carry 10,000 lb (4,536 kg) of bombs to a round-trip mission of 10,000 mi (16,093 km). Requested performance was a maximum speed of 450 mph (740 km/h), cruise speed of 275 mph (443 km/h), and service ceiling of 45,000 ft (13,716 m). This aircraft would be able to bomb Nazi-occupied Europe in the event that Britain fell. This proposal was originally submitted to Boeing and Consolidated Aircraft Company, and led to the production of the Convair B-36. In May, the contract was also extended to include Northrop, inviting them to submit a design along the lines they were already exploring.[2]

Since the new aircraft would require a significant amount of engineering work in untested waters, the first order placed was actually for a one-third scale version of the XB-35 dubbed the Northrop N-9M (M standing for model). This aircraft would be used to gather flight data on the Flying Wing design, which would then be used in designing the big XB-35. It would also be used to familiarize pilots with the radical, all-wing concept. Early in 1942, design work on the XB-35 itself began in earnest. Unlike conventional aircraft, Flying Wings cannot use a rudder for lateral control, so a set of butterfly-like, double split flaps on the trailing edge of the wingtips were used. When aileron control was input, they were deflected up or down as a single unit, just like an aileron. When rudder input was made, the two surfaces on one side opened, top and bottom, creating drag, and yawing the aircraft. By applying input to both rudder pedals, both sets of surfaces were deployed creating drag so that the airspeed or the glide angle could be manipulated.[2]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vostok 1

Vostok 1 was the first human spaceflight. The Vostok 3KA spacecraft was launched on April 12, 1961, taking into space Yuri Gagarin, a cosmonaut from the Soviet Union. The Vostok 1 mission was the first time anyone had journeyed into outer space and the first time anyone had entered into orbit. The Vostok 1 was launched by the Soviet space program and designed by the Soviet rocket scientists Sergey Korolyov and Kerim Kerimov.

Gagarin orbited the Earth once in 108 minutes. He returned unharmed, ejecting from the Vostok capsule 7 km (23,000 ft) above the ground and parachuting separately to the ground since the capsule's parachute landing was deemed too rough for cosmonauts to risk.

Ground controllers did not know if a stable orbit had been achieved until 25 minutes after launch.

The spacecraft attitude control was run by an automated system. Medical staff and spacecraft engineers were unsure how a human being might react to weightlessness, and therefore the pilot's flight controls were locked out to prevent Gagarin from taking manual control. (Codes to unlock the controls were placed in an onboard envelope, for Gagarin's use in case of emergency.) Vostok could not change its orbit, only spacecraft attitude (orientation), and for much of the flight the spacecraft's attitude was allowed to drift. The automatic system brought Vostok 1 into alignment for retrofire about 1 hour into the flight.

Retrofire took place off the west coast of Africa, near Angola, about 8,000 km (5,000 mi) from the desired landing place. The liquid-fueled retrorockets fired for about 42 seconds. Due to weight constraints there was no backup retrorocket engine. The spacecraft carried 10 days of provisions to allow for survival and natural decay of the orbit in the event the retrorockets failed.



Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wooly Willy

Wooly Willy is a toy in which metal filings are moved about with a magnetic wand to add features to a cartoon face. The toy was originally manufactured in Smethport, Pennsylvania and was launched on the toy market in 1955. It remains in production as of 2005.

The brothers Donald and James Herzog developed Wooly Willy while working in the Smethport Specialty Company, their father's toy production company, in Smethport, Pennsylvania, United States. The company produced tops, horseshoe-shaped magnets, and other toys until the vacuum forming devices of the 1940s and 1950s allowed the company to manufacture air-tight containers of transparent plastic. Such containers kept Wooly Willy's metal filings from leaking out and moisture that would rust the metal from leaking in. The artwork for the first Wooly Willy was created by artist Leonard Mackowsk.

Priced at US$ 0.29, Wooly Willy was successfully launched on the market in 1955. A buyer for G. C. Murphy dime store chain initially purchased six dozen of the toy and expected not to sell them for a year. The buyer called Herzog just two days later and ordered a thousand dozen for nationwide distribution. F. W. Woolworth Company also distributed the toy. More than 75 million Wooly Willies have been sold.

Funny Face, Brunette Betty, and Dapper Dan were similar toys. Dapper Dan was featured on a 10-1/2" x 14" display card and was billed on the card as a "secret agent, chosen because of his easily disguised face. Alter his appearance to help him carry out his investigations." Pictures on the card depicted Dapper Dan as a scientist, detective, magician, and other characters.

Friday, April 23, 2010

GoldenPalace.com Monkey

The Madidi Titi, or the GoldenPalace.com Monkey (Callicebus aureipalatii, "aureipalatii" meaning "of the Golden Palace") is a titi, a kind of New World monkey, discovered in western Bolivia's Madidi National Park in 2004.

The Madidi Titi has orange-brown fur, a characteristic golden crown, a white tip to its tail, and dark red hands and feet. Like other titis, it is monogamous, mating for life. A pair maintains a territory against rival pairs primarily through territorial calling. The male usually carries the infants until they can survive on their own.

The species was discovered on a research expedition instigated by Dr. Robert Wallace of the Wildlife Conservation Society. The field expedition team, consisting of Annika M. Felton, Adam Felton, and Ernesto Cáceres, were the first researchers to film and record this species, previously unknown to science. Rather than choosing a name themselves, Wallace, his team, and WCS auctioned off the naming rights to raise funds for FUNDESNAP (Fundación para el Desarrollo del Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas), the nonprofit organization that maintains Madidi National Park.

On March 3, 2005, GoldenPalace.com, an online casino, paid $650,000 for the naming rights of the Madidi titi. The GoldenPalace.com Monkey was officially named Callicebus aureipalatii, "aureipalatii" literally translating into "Of the golden palace".

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Gunsmoke

Gunsmoke is an American television Western drama series created by director Norman MacDonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West. The television version ran for 20 seasons from September 10, 1955 to March 31, 1975 on CBS with 635 total episodes, and it is currently tied with Law & Order as the longest running primetime drama in U.S. television history. In 2009, the half-hour animated series The Simpsons entered its 21st season, becoming the first show to surpass it in longevity.

Gunsmoke was TV's No. 1 ranked show from 1957 to 1961 before slipping into a decline after expanding to an hour. In 1967, the show's 12th season, CBS planned to cancel the series, but widespread viewer reaction (including a mention in Congress and pressure from the wife of the head of programming at CBS) prevented its demise. The show continued on in a different time slot: early evening on Mondays instead of Saturday nights. This seemingly minor change led to a spike in ratings that saw the series once again reach the top 10 in the Nielsen ratings until the 1973–1974 television season. In September 1975, the show was canceled after a twenty-year run. 30 TV Westerns came and went during its 20-year tenure, and Gunsmoke was the only Western still airing when it was canceled.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Federico da Montefeltro

Federico da Montefeltro, also known as Federico III da Montefeltro (June 7, 1422 – September 10, 1482), was one of the most successful condottieri of the Italian Renaissance, and lord of Urbino from 1444 (as Duke from 1474) until his death. In Urbino he commissioned the construction of a great library, perhaps the largest of Italy after the Vatican, with his own team of scribes in his scriptorium, and assembled around him a great humanistic court in one of the great architectural gems of the early Renaissance, the Ducal Palace of Urbino, designed by Luciano Laurana and Francesco di Giorgio Martini.

Federico, nicknamed "the Light of Italy", is a landmark figure in the history of the Italian Renaissance for his contributions to enlightened culture. He imposed justice and stability on his tiny state through the principles of his humanist education; he engaged the best copyists and editors in his private scriptorium to produce the most comprehensive library outside of the Vatican; he supported the development of fine artists, including the early training of the young painter Raphael. He ordered for himself the famous Studiolo di Gubbio, eventually purchased by and brought in its entirety to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Federico took care of soldiers who might be killed or wounded, providing, for example, dowries for their daughters. He often strolled the streets of Urbino unarmed and unattended, inquiring in shops and businesses as to the well-being of the citizens. All citizens, regardless of rank, were equal under the law. His academic interests were the classics, particularly history and philosophy.

All his personal and professional achievements were financed through mercenary warfare. Through dedication to the well-being of his soldiers, his men were enormously loyal and, incredibly, he never lost a war. He was decorated with almost every military honor including the English Order of the Garter.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tetrahydrocannabinol

Tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol9-THC), Δ1-THC (using an older chemical nomenclature), or dronabinol, is the main psychoactive substance found in the cannabis plant.

It was first isolated by Raphael Mechoulam, Yechiel Gaoni, and Habib Edery from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, in 1964. In pure form, it is a glassy solid when cold and becomes viscous and sticky if warmed. An aromatic terpenoid, THC has a very low solubility in water, but good solubility in most organic solvents.

Like most pharmacologically-active secondary metabolites of plants, THC in cannabis is assumed to be involved in self-defense, perhaps against herbivores. THC also possesses high UV-B (280-315 nm) absorption properties, which, it has been speculated, could protect the plant from harmful UV radiation exposure.

Dronabinol is the International Nonproprietary Name (INN) for a pure isomer of THC, (-)-trans-Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol, that is, the main isomer in cannabis. It is sold as Marinol (a registered trademark of Solvay Pharmaceuticals). Dronabinol is also marketed, sold, and distributed by PAR Pharmaceutical Companies under the terms of a license and distribution agreement with SVC pharma LP, an affiliate of Rhodes Technologies.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Know Nothing

The Know Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to U.S. values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class and entirely Protestant membership fragmented over the issue of slavery. Most ended up joining the Republican Party by the time of the 1860 presidential election.

The movement originated in New York in 1843 as the American Republican Party. It spread to other states as the Native American Party and became a national party in 1845. In 1855 it renamed itself the American Party. The origin of the "Know Nothing" term was in the semi-secret organization of the party. When a member was asked about its activities, he was supposed to reply, "I know nothing."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chakra

Chakra is a Sanskrit word that translates as "wheel" or "turning".

Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, are believed to exist in the surface of the etheric double of man. The Chakras are said to be "force centres" or whorls of energy permeating, from a point on the physical body, the layers of the subtle bodies in an ever-increasing fan-shaped formation (the fans make the shape of a love heart). Rotating vortices of subtle matter, they are considered the focal points for the reception and transmission of energies. Seven major chakras or energy centres (also understood as wheels of light) are generally believed to exist, located within the subtle body.

It is typical for chakras to be depicted as either flower-like or wheel-like. In the former, a specific number of petals are shown around the perimeter of a circle. In the latter, a certain number of spokes divide the circle into segments that make the chakra resemble a wheel or chakra. Each chakra possesses a specific number of segments or petals.

Texts documenting the chakras go back as far as the later Upanishads, for example the Yoga Kundalini Upanishad.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Nian

In Chinese mythology, a Nian is a beast that lives under the sea or in the mountains. Once each spring, on or around Chinese New Year, it comes out of hiding to attack people, especially children. The Nian is sensitive to loud noises and is afraid of the color red.

The Chinese Lion Dance is known to have originated from the legend of the Nian. The tradition began when a Nian attacked a village. After the attack, the villagers discussed how to make the Nian leave them alone. Eventually they came up with a plan where drums, plates and empty bowls were hit and firecrackers were thrown, causing loud banging sounds that would scare off the Nian. This scared the Nian, and since that time, the Nian has not appeared in the village again.

The Nian is still believed to exist, but that it is scattered about the jungle and mountains, never to appear in front of a human again.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Central Grocery

Central Grocery is a small, old-fashioned Italian-American grocery store with a sandwich counter located at 923 Decatur Street, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. It was founded in 1906 by Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant. He operated it until 1946 when he retired and his son-in-law, Frank Tusa took over the operation. Today it is owned by Salvatore T. Tusa, Salvatore's grandson and two cousins. The store was one of many family owned, neighborhood grocery stores during the early 20th century, when the French Quarter was still predominantly a residential area. Though tourists are more common in Central now, it has retained much of its old world market feel.

It is famous as the home of the New Orleans muffuletta sandwich invented by Salvatore Lupo, to feed the Sicilian truck farmers who sold their produce at the Farmer's Market on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. The Muffuletta was only locally known until the late 1960s. Now, it has international fame. The Central sells not only the sandwiches as take-out or eat-in, but also the ingredients of the muffuletta—including olive salad by the jar—for people who want to make the sandwich at home. Because of the muffuletta, they were featured on the PBS special Sandwiches That You Will Like and "The Today Show" [five best sandwiches series].

Central Grocery also sells Italian, Greek, French, Spanish, and Creole table delicacies. They also carry less mainstream selections, such as chocolate covered grasshoppers and bumble bees in soy sauce, which are perennially displayed in the store front windows.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Melpomène

Melpomène, initially the Muse of Singing, she then became the Muse of Tragedy, for which she is best known now. Her name was derived from the Greek verb melpô or melpomai meaning "to celebrate with dance and song." She is often represented with a tragic mask and wearing the cothurnus, boots traditionally worn by tragic actors. Often, she also holds a knife or club in one hand and the tragic mask in the other. On her head she is shown wearing a crown of cypress.

Melpomene is the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Her sisters include Calliope (muse of epic poetry), Clio (muse of history), Euterpe (muse of lyrical poetry), Terpsichore (muse of dancing), Erato (muse of erotic poetry), Thalia (muse of comedy), Polyhymnia (muse of hymns), and Urania (muse of astronomy).

In Roman and Greek poetry, it was traditional to invoke the goddess Melpomene so that one might create beautiful lyrical phrase.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Robert Greene

Robert Greene was an English author best known today for a posthumously published pamphlet attributed to him, Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit, which may contain a polemic attack on William Shakespeare. He was born in Norwich and attended Cambridge University, receiving a BA in 1580, and a MA in 1583 before moving to London, where he arguably became the first professional author in England. Greene published in many genres including autobiography, plays, and romances, while capitalizing on a scandalous reputation.

Greene was born in Norwich in 1558; however biographers disagree as to whether Greene was the son of a humble saddler, or a more prosperous innkeeper with land-owning relatives. He took his B.A. in 1580 and his M.A. in 1583 at St John's College, Cambridge, and became an M.A. of Oxford in 1588. Greene claimed to have married a well-off woman named Doll, and to have later abandoned her, after spending a considerable sum of her money.

In London, Greene became a principal member of the loose association known as the University Wits, and managed to support himself through his own writing. He lived as a notorious intellectual and rascal, cultivating this reputation himself in pamphlets describing his adventures amid the seamier characters of Elizabethan England, and through a memorable appearance, with fashionable clothing and his pointy red beard.

He died on 3 September 1592, from what his contempoary Thomas Nashe called a "banquet of Rhenish wine and pickled herring," perhaps having written on his death bed the famous Groatsworth of Wit Bought with a Million of Repentance and having dispatched a letter to his wife asking her to forgive him and to settle his debts.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Boilermaker

A boilermaker is a beer cocktail consisting of a glass of beer and a shot of whiskey, tequila, or vodka. The beer is either served as a chaser or is mixed with the liquor. When the beer is served as a chaser, the drink is often called simply “a shot and a beer.”

In the United Kingdom, a boilermaker is a shot of bourbon or rye whiskey dropped into a glass of English pale ale.

There are various ways to drink a boilermaker:

“Generally speaking, the Boilermaker is merely a glass of beer with a shot of whiskey served on the side. The shot goes down in one, and the beer follows, being sipped rather than quickly downed.”

  • Traditionally, the liquor is drunk in a single gulp and is chased by the beer.
  • The liquor and beer may be mixed by pouring or dropping the shot into the beer. The mixture may be stirred, if desired.
  • The liquor may be poured directly into an open beer can after removing some of the beer.
Variations:
  • A Poktanju (Korean for “bomb drink”) is made by dropping a shot of whiskey or soju into a pint of Korean beer.[5][6] It is sometimes called a Soju Bomb by English-speakers.
  • An October Crisis is a variant in which a dash of maple syrup is added to the whiskey before being dropped into the beer. Traditionally done with Labatt 50 and Canadian Club Whiskey.
  • A Wh'basco is a variant in which a shot of whiskey is poured into a pint of beer, and a dash of Tabasco sauce is added.
  • An Irish Car Bomb is a variant in which approximately half a shot of Irish whiskey is floated over half a shot of cream liqueur and dropped into a pint of stout.
  • A Lunch Box is a variant in which a shot of Amaretto is dropped into a glass of beer topped off with orange juice. The final product's taste resembles that of the popular drink Hawaiian Punch.
  • A Flaming Dr Pepper is a variant in which a shot of Amaretto is topped with 151 proof rum and set on fire. The "flaming" shot is dropped into a glass of beer. The final product's taste resembles that of the popular soft drink in its title.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wu-Tang Clan

The Wu-Tang Clan are a New York City-based hip-hop group, which consists of: RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and the late Ol' Dirty Bastard. They are frequently joined by fellow childhood friend Cappadonna, whose status as an official member is in dispute. They were formed in (and are associated with) the New York City borough of Staten Island (referred to by members as "Shaolin"), though some of their members are from Brooklyn.

They have introduced and launched the careers of affiliated artists and groups, often collectively known as the Wu-Tang Killa Bees. In 2007, MTV ranked Wu-Tang the 5th greatest Hip-hop group of all time.

The founders of the Wu-Tang Clan were cousins Robert Diggs, Gary Grice, Russell Jones (RZA, GZA, and Ol' Dirty Bastard respectively) who had formed the group Force of the Imperial Master (later known as All in Together Now after the release of a popular single by that name). The group attracted the attention of figures in the industry, including Biz Markie, but did not manage to secure a record deal.

Wu-Tang Clan was assembled in late 1992 with RZA as the de facto leader and the group's producer. The name "Wu-Tang" is derived from the name of the mountain Wu Dang (Wudang Shan) in northwest Hubei Province in central China with long history associated with Chinese culture, especially Taoism, martial arts and medicine. The RZA and Ol' Dirty Bastard adopted the name for the group after the film Shaolin and Wu Tang. The group's debut album loosely adopted a Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang theme, dividing the album into Shaolin and Wu-Tang sections.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Polyester

Polyester is a 1981 American John Waters comedy film starring Divine, Tab Hunter, Edith Massey, and Mink Stole. It was filmed in Waters' native Baltimore, Maryland, and features a gimmick called "Odorama", whereby viewers could smell what they saw on screen through scratch and sniff cards.

The film is a satire of suburban life involving divorce, abortion, adultery, alcoholism, foot fetishism, and the Religious Right.

Polyester was meant as a send-up of “women’s pictures,” an exploitative genre of film that was popular from the 1950s-60s and typically featured bored, unfulfilled, or otherwise troubled women, usually middle-aged suburban housewives, finding release or escape through the arrival of a handsome younger man. “Women’s pictures” were typically hackneyed B-movies, but Waters specifically styled Polyester after the work of the director Douglas Sirk, making use of similar lighting and editing techniques, even using film equipment and movie-making techniques from Sirk's era.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sigurd Eysteinsson

Sigurd Eysteinsson (aka Sigurd the Mighty, ruled circa 875–92) was the second Viking Earl of Orkney, who succeeded his brother Rognvald Eysteinsson. He was a leader in the Viking conquest of what is now northern Scotland. Bizarrely, he was killed by the severed head of one his enemies, Máel Brigte, who may have been mórmaer of Moray. Sigurd strapped Máel Brigte's head to his saddle as a trophy of conquest, and as he rode, Máel Brigte's teeth grazed against Sigurd's leg. The wound became infected and Sigurd died.

According to the Orkneyinga saga, towards the end of his reign, Sigurd challenged a native ruler, Máel Brigte the Bucktoothed, to a 40-man-a-side battle. Treacherously, Sigurd brought 80 men to the fight. Máel Brigte was defeated and beheaded. Sigurd strapped the head to his saddle as a trophy, but as Sigurd rode, Máel Brigte's buck-tooth scratched his leg. The leg became inflamed and infected, and as a result Sigurd died. He was buried in a tumulus known as Sigurd's Howe, or Sigurðar-haugr, from the Old Norse word haugr meaning mound or barrow. The location of Sigurd's Howe is most probably modern-day Sidera or Cyderhall near Dornoch.

Sigurd's death was apparently followed by a period of instability. He was succeeded by his son Guttorm, who died within a few months. Rognvald made his son Hallad Earl of Orkney, but Hallad could not contain the pirate Vikings, resigned his earldom and returned to Norway in disgrace. The sagas say that Rognvald's other sons were more interested in conquering places other than Scotland, and so the earldom was given to Rognvald's youngest son, Einarr.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

London Beer Flood

The London Beer Flood occurred on October 17, 1814 in the London parish of St. Giles in the United Kingdom. At the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, a huge vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons (610,000 L) of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons (1,470,000 L) of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping teenaged employee Eleanor Cooper under the rubble.

The brewery was located among the poor houses and tenements of the St Giles Rookery, where whole families lived in basement rooms that quickly filled with beer. Eight people drowned in the flood, and one person died from alcohol poisoning the next day.

The brewery was eventually taken to court over the accident, but the disaster was ruled to be an Act of God by the judge and jury, leaving no one responsible. The company found it difficult to cope with the financial implications of the disaster, with a significant loss of sales made worse because they had already paid duty on the beer. They made a successful application to Parliament reclaiming the duty which allowed them to continue trading.

The brewery was demolished in 1922, and today, the Dominion Theatre occupies a part of the site of the former brewery.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Basil

Basil (Ocimum basilicum), of the family Lamiaceae (mints), is a tender low-growing herb. Basil is a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Southeast Asian cuisines of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. The plant tastes somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, sweet smell.

There are many varieties of basil. That which is used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil, as opposed to Thai basil, lemon basil and holy basil, which are used in Asia. While most common varieties of basil are treated as annuals, some are perennial in warm, tropical climates, including African Blue and Holy Thai basil.

Basil is originally native to Iran, India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years.

The word basil comes from the Greek basileus, meaning "king", as it is believed to have grown above the spot where St. Constantine and Helen discovered the Holy Cross. The Oxford English Dictionary quotes speculations that basil may have been used in "some royal unguent, bath, or medicine". Basil is still considered the "king of herbs" by many cookery authors.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Ludovico Technique

The Ludovico technique is a fictional drug-assisted aversion therapy from the novel and film A Clockwork Orange. It involves the patient being forced to watch violent images for long periods of time, while under the effect of drugs that cause a near death experience. The idea is that if the patient is forced to watch the horribly graphic rapes, assaults and other acts of violence while suffering from the drug effects, the patient will assimilate the sensations and then become incapacitated or very ill either attempting to perform or even just witnessing said acts of violence.

The Ludovico technique is an artistic semblance of the psychological phenomenon known as classical conditioning which is a form of associative learning that was first demonstrated by Ivan Pavlov. The typical procedure for inducing classical conditioning involves presentations of a neutral stimulus along with a stimulus of some significance. The neutral stimulus could be any event that does not result in an overt behavioral response from the organism under investigation. In the story of A Clockwork Orange, when the protagonist, Alex, is made the subject of the Ludovico technique, he is conditioned to associate his illness with violence.

In the process of creating both the novel and film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, original author Anthony Burgess and film director Stanley Kubrick both went to painstaking effort to incorporate a plethora of symbols for the context of the story.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Joseph Ducreux

Joseph Ducreux was a French portrait painter, pastelist, miniaturist, and engraver. Born in Nancy, Ducreux may have trained with his father, who was also a painter. Ducreux went to Paris in 1760, and trained as the only student of pastelist Maurice-Quentin de La Tour, who specialized in portraiture. In terms of Ducreux's oil technique, Jean-Baptiste Greuze also served as an important influence as his instructor.

Ducreux specialized in portrait painting, and his early portraits were done in pastel, and include those done of the connoisseurs Pierre-Jean Mariette, the Comte de Caylus and Ange-Laurent de la Live de July. These works may have been copies after De La Tour.

Ducreux also made several well-known self-portraits in the late 1780s, including one in which he painted himself in the middle of a large yawn (which currently hangs in the Getty Center) and another of himself guffawing and pointing at the viewer (which hangs in the Louvre). As evidenced by these self-portraits, Ducreux attempted to break free from the constraints of traditional portraiture. Interested in physiognomy, which is based on the belief that the study and judgment of a person's outer appearance, primarily the face, reflects their character or personality, Ducreux attempted to capture the personality of his subjects - as well as his own - through his warm and individualistic works. Le Discret (ca. 1790), for example, is the portrait of a man asking for silence. His expression is timorous, his finger is pressed against his mouth in alarm as he silently demands discretion or prudence.

In 1769, he was sent to Vienna in order to paint a miniature of Marie-Antoinette before she left the city in 1770 and married Louis XVI of France. Ducreux was made a baron and premier peintre de la reine (First Painter to the Queen) in rewards for his services. Ducreux was given this appointment by Marie-Antoinette even though he was not a member of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture.

At the outbreak of the French Revolution, Ducreux traveled to London. There he drew the last portrait ever made of Louis XVI before the king's execution.

Other portraits by Ducreux include those done of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos and Maria Theresa of Austria.

Recently, Ducreux and his work have gone through a cultural renaissance as a result of his eccentric self-portrait being extensively used in an internet meme, featuring “archaic reinterpretation” of popular rap lyrics superimposed over the artwork. This highly verbose joke provides the challenge of “decoding” the corrupted lyrics back into to the original verses.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My War

My War is the second full length album by the American hardcore punk band Black Flag. It was released in 1984 on SST Records.

Black Flag's founder and primary songwriter Greg Ginn played bass guitar in addition to his usual guitar; "Dale Nixon" (credited for playing bass on the album) is a pseudonym.

My War was released after a long period where the band could not release any albums due to a legal dispute with Unicorn Records.

The first six songs on the a-side of My War are similar to the material on 1981's Damaged, but the three songs on the b-side proved that Black Flag was moving away from the band's early, fast-paced material. The b-side songs are played at about half the pace of the band's earlier material, each clocking in at over six minutes, and display a doomy, ominous sound indebted to Black Sabbath. My War is generally cited as being a major influence on many bands in the sludge metal and grunge genres. Two of the songs featured on the album are solely written by Chuck Dukowski (My War, I Love You) though he was no longer a member of the band by this point and does not perform on the album.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny is a political-satirical opera composed by Kurt Weill to a German libretto by Bertolt Brecht. It was first performed in Leipzig on 9 March 1930.

The libretto was mainly written in early 1927 and the music was finished in the spring of 1929, although both text and music were to be partly revised by the authors later. An early by-product, however, was the Mahagonny-Songspiel, sometimes known as Das kleine Mahagonny, a concert work for voices and small orchestra commissioned by the Deutsche Kammermusik Festival in Baden-Baden and premiered there on 18 July 1927. The ten numbers, which include the "Alabama Song" and "Benares Song", were duly incorporated into the full opera. The opera had its premiere in Leipzig in March 1930 and played in Berlin in December of the following year. The opera was banned by the Nazis in 1933 and did not have a significant production until the 1960s.
Weill's score uses a number of styles, including rag-time, jazz and formal counterpoint, notably in the "Alabama Song" (covered by The Doors and later David Bowie). The lyrics for the "Alabama Song" and another song, the "Benares Song" are in English (albeit specifically idiosyncratic English) and are performed in that language even when the opera is performed in its original (German) language.

Friday, April 2, 2010

EMD F3

The EMD F3 was a 1,500-horsepower (1,100 kW), B-B freight-hauling diesel locomotive produced between July 1945 and February 1949 by General MotorsElectro-Motive Division. Final assembly was at GM-EMD's La Grange, Illinois plant. A total of 1,111 cab-equipped lead A units and 696 cabless booster B units

were built.

The F3 was the third model in GM-EMD's highly successful F-unit series of cab unit freight diesels, and it was the second most produced of the series. The F3 essentially differed from the EMD F2 in that it used the “new” D12 generator to produce more power, and from the later EMD F7 in electrical equipment. Some late-model F3s had the same D27 traction motors used in the F7, and were nicknamed F5 models.