Monday, October 31, 2011


According to traditional belief, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person, taken to be capable of appearing in visible form or otherwise manifesting itself to the living. Descriptions of the apparition of ghosts vary widely: the mode of manifestation can range from an invisible presence to translucent or wispy shapes, to realistic, life-like visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.

The belief in manifestations of the spirits of the dead is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to appease the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary essences that haunt particular locations, objects, or people with which they were associated in life, though stories of phantom armies, ghost trains, phantom ships, and even ghost animals have also been recounted.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Plugz

The Plugz were a Mexican-American punk rock band from Los Angeles, California that formed in 1977. They and The Zeros were among the first Chicano punk bands, although several Latino garage rock bands, such as Thee Midniters and Question Mark & the Mysterians, predated them. The Plugz melded the spirit of punk and Mexican music.

The band was formed in 1977 and was a contemporary of the bands featured in The Decline of Western Civilization. Their songs reflected the anger and angst of growing up Chicano, and this was reflected in their sardonic hi-speed version of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba". The Plugz are generally acknowledged as being the first D.I.Y. punk band in L.A., having started their own PLUGZ RECORDS and later Fatima records.

The Plugz also feature prominently on the soundtrack to the movie Repo Man. They composed original instrumental music for the film, and performed "Hombre Secreto," a Spanish version of Johnny Rivers' "Secret Agent Man".

The Plugz accompanied Bob Dylan on his appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman" on 22 March 1984 for three songs: "Don't Start Me Talkin'" (by Sonny Boy Williamson), "Jokerman", and "Licence to Kill".

In 1984, The Plugz name was retired and the three members formed the Cruzados with Steven Hufsteter.

The Plugz reunited the three founding members for The Masque 30th Anniversary Party and Book Release show on November 11, 2007 at The Echoplex in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles, California.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Buddy Baker

Elzie Wylie Baker, Jr. (born January 25, 1941 in Florence, South Carolina), nicknamed "Leadfoot" or more famously Buddy, is a former American NASCAR racecar driver.

During his career, Baker won nineteen races including the 1980 Daytona 500, NASCAR's most prestigious race. His victory remains the fastest Daytona 500 ever run, with an average speed of 177.602 mph (285.809 km/h).

Baker is one of eight drivers to have won a Career Grand Slam, by winning the sport's four majors – the Daytona 500, Aaron's 499, Coca-Cola 600, and the Southern 500.; Richard Petty, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson are the other seven to have accomplished the feat. He is the only one of the eight to not win the championship.

He generally raced part-time, competing in every race in only three seasons. He owned a car with Danny Schiff from 1985 to 1989, and was instrumental in the career of Jimmy Spencer. He competed in two International Race of Champions series. His final race in NASCAR was in 1992.

In 1997, Buddy Baker joined his father as an inductee in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama. He was inducted into the Charlotte Motor Speedway Court of Legends in 1995, and into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame inductee in 1997. He was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.

Friday, October 28, 2011


Hexes are items of rock climbing equipment used to protect climbers from injury during a fall. They are intended to be wedged by into a crack or other opening in the rock, and do not require a hammer to place. They were developed as an alternative to pitons, which are hammered into cracks and are more prone to damage the rock. Most commonly, a carabiner

will be used to join the hex to the climbing rope by means of a loop of webbing, cord or a cable which is part of the hex.

Hexes are a type of nut, a hollow eccentric hexagonal prism with tapered ends, usually threaded with webbing, a swaged cable, or a cord. They are manufactured by several firms, with a range of sizes varying from about 10 mm thick to 100 mm wide. Climbers select a range of sizes to use on a specific climb based on the characteristics of the cracks in the rock encountered on that particular climb. Sides may be straight or curved although the functioning principles remain the same no matter which shape is selected; the lack of sharp corners on curved models may make them easier to remove from the rock.[1]

The original Hexes were invented by Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost, and called Hexentrics. They applied for a U. S. patent in 1974 and it was granted on April 6, 1976, and they were produced by Chouinard Equipment, Ltd until 1989, then sold as a design to Black Diamond Equipment. Hexentrics are produced and sold in much the same design today.

Hexes may be placed either as passive or active protection and are frequently carried by alpine mountaineers in place of spring loaded camming devices because of their lack of moving parts and overall lower weight for the same size crack. The hex is placed actively by orienting the webbing so that a pull causes a camming action against the rock.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Lidsville was Sid and Marty Krofft's third television show following H.R. Pufnstuf (1969) and The Bugaloos (1970). As did its predecessors, the series combined two types of characters: conventional actors in makeup filmed alongside performers in full mascot costumes, whose voices were dubbed in post-production. Seventeen episodes aired on Saturday mornings for two seasons, 1971–1973. The opening was shot at Six Flags Over Texas.

The show involved a teenage boy named Mark (Butch Patrick) who fell into the hat of Merlo the Magician (Charles Nelson Reilly) and arrived in Lidsville, a land of living hats. The hats on the show are depicted as having the same characteristics as the humans who would normally wear them. For example, a cowboy hat would act and speak like a cowboy. The characters' houses were also hat-shaped. The villain of the show was a magician named Horatio J. HooDoo (also played by Charles Nelson Reilly in a magician's costume and make-up).

Lidsville resembles an earlier British series, Hattytown Tales, produced by Hattyland Enterprises & FilmFair Ltd. in 1969, which used an almost identical concept but different characters and was produced in claymation.

Like predecessors H.R. Pufnstuf and The Bugaloos, Lidsville ran for only one season (1971–1972), with reruns airing the following year (1972–1973). Also like H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville's title and subject matter were often interpreted as references to drug use: the word "lid" is slang for a hat or cap (as in "flip your lid"), but "lid" is also early-1970s slang for an ounce of marijuana.

The complete series was released on DVD in the United States in January 2005. Extra features in the set included interviews with Charles Nelson Reilly, Butch Patrick and Billie Hayes. They also provided commentary on some of the episodes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


A Choripán is a type of sandwich with chorizo invented in Argentina.

This type of chorizo sandwich is very popular in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Puerto Rico and Uruguay.[citation needed] The name comes from the combination of the names of its ingredients: a grilled chorizo and a crusty bread (in Spanish: pan) such as a marraqueta or baguette.

The Argentine choripán consists of a sausage made out of beef and pork, hot off the grill, split down the middle, and served on a roll. The chorizo may be used whole or cut in half lengthwise, in which case it is called a mariposa (butterfly). It is customary to add sauces on the bread, most likely chimichurri.

Choripanes are commonly served as an appetizer during the preparation of an asado, but they are also very commonly sold at sport venues (particularly football games) and on the sides of roads and streets in major cities in Argentina. Taxi cab drivers in Buenos Aires are avid consumers and some street sellers can gather a long line of cabs during lunch time and afternoons when drivers get their lunch break.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


The mandible (from Latin mandibula, "jawbone") or inferior maxillary bone forms the lower jaw and holds the lower teeth in place. The term "mandible" also refers to both the upper and lower sections of the beaks of birds; in this case the "lower mandible" corresponds to the mandible of humans, while the "upper mandible" is functionally equivalent to the human maxilla but mainly consists of the premaxillary bones. Conversely, in bony fish for example, the lower jaw may be termed "lower maxilla".

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bergamot Orange

The Bergamot Orange "bergamia" is a fruit the size of an orange, with a yellow color similar to a lemon, and a pleasant fragrance. Genetic research into the ancestral origins of extant citrus cultivars recently matched the bergamot as a likely hybrid of Citrus limetta and bitter orange. The juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit. Citrus bergamot is native and commercially grown in Calabria (Italy), where more than 80% are found, and some in France, and in Ivory Coast for the essential oil, but not for juice consumption. Bergamot grows on small trees which blossom during the winter. The distinctive aroma of the bergamot is most commonly known for its use in Earl Grey tea, though the juice of the fruit has also been used in Calabrian indigenous medicine as an herbal remedy for malaria, and its essential oil is popular in aromatherapy applications.

The bergamot orange is unrelated to the herbs of the same name, Monarda didyma and Monarda fistulosa, which are in the mint family. The active ingredients in bergamot are neoeriocitrin, naringin, neohesperidin, ponceritin, melitidin, and brutelidin. Melitidin and brutelidin, only recently discovered, exist only in citrus bergamot, and exhibit statin-like properties. Citrus bergamia is not the same species as Citrus aurantum, which is commonly found in China. C. aurantum does not contain melitidin or brutelidin. The major active biological constituents in C. aurantum are flavonoids, especially hesperidin, naringin and alkaloids, mainly synephrine. Synephrine is not present in citrus bergamot.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


A lawn is an area of aesthetic and recreational land planted with grasses or other low durable plants, which usually are maintained at a lower and consistent height. Low ornamental meadows in natural landscaping styles are a contemporary option of a lawn.

Lawns are a common feature of private gardens and public landscapes and parks in many parts of the world now. Lawns are created for aesthetic pleasure as well as for sports or other outdoor recreational use. Lawns are useful as a playing surface both because they mitigate erosion and dust generated by intensive foot traffic and because they provide a cushion for players in sports such as Rugby, football, soccer, cricket, baseball, golf, tennis, and lawn bocce.

Lawns may have originated as grassed enclosures within early medieval settlements used for communal grazing of livestock, as distinct from 'fields' reserved for agriculture. The word 'Laune' is first attested in 1540 and is likely related to the Celtic Brythonic word 'Lan/Llan/Laun' which has the meanining of enclosure, often in relation to a place of worship. Lawns became popular with the aristocracy in northern Europe from the Middle Ages onward. The damp climate of maritime Western Europe in the north made lawns possible to grow and manage. They were not a part of gardens in other regions and cultures of the world until contemporary influence.

Before the invention of mowing machines in 1830, lawns were managed very differently. Lawns were an element of wealthy estates and manor houses and in some places were maintained by the labour-intensive methods of scything and shearing. In most situations they were also pasture land maintained through grazing by sheep or other livestock. Areas of grass grazed regularly by rabbits, horses or sheep over a long period often form a very low, tight sward similar to a modern lawn. This was the original meaning of the word "lawn", and the term can still be found in place-names.

It was not until the Tudor and Elizabethan times that the garden and the lawn became a place created first as walkways and social areas. They were made up of meadow plants, such as camomile, a particular favourite. In the early 17th century the Jacobean epoch of gardening began. It was during this period that the closely-cut "English" lawn was born. By the end of this period, the English lawn was a symbol of status of the aristocracy and gentry.

In the early 18th century landscape gardening entered another design style. William Kent and Lancelot "Capability Brown" brought the Landscape garden style into popularity. Lawns appeared to flow from the garden into the outer reaches of the estate landscape. The open "English style" of parkland first spread across Britain and Ireland, and then across Europe, such as the Garden à la française being replaced by the French landscape garden.

In the United States it was not until after the Civil War in the 1870s that lawns began to appear beyond affluent properties and city parks. Most had neither the hired labor or leisure time to cut a field of grass with scythes, and most raised vegetables and flowers. During the Victorian era, as more plants were introduced and available horticulturally in Europe, lawns became smaller as flower beds were created and filled with perennials, sculptures, and water features. At the end of the 19th century suburban development with land around residences began, and along with sprinkler technology, improved and mass produced lawn mowers, new expectations about gardens, and a shorter working weeks; lawns came of age in the U.S. and northern Europe. Through the 20th century Western landscape influence brought the lawn to many parts of the world.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Seersucker is a thin, all-cotton fabric, commonly striped or checkered, used to make clothing for spring and summer wear. The word came into English from Hindustani (Urdu and Hindi), which originates from the Persian words "shir o shekar," meaning "milk and sugar", probably from the resemblance of its smooth and rough stripes to the smooth surface of milk and bumpy texture of sugar. Seersucker is woven in such a way that some threads bunch together, giving the fabric a wrinkled appearance in places. This feature causes the fabric to be mostly held away from the skin when worn, facilitating improved heat dissipation and air circulation. It also means that pressing is not necessary.

Common items of clothing made from seersucker include suits, shorts, shirts and robes. The most common colors for it are white and blue; however, it is produced in a wide variety of colors, usually alternating colored stripes and puckered white stripes slightly wider than pin stripes.

During the British colonial period seersucker was a popular material in Britain's warm weather colonies. When Seersucker was first introduced in the United States it was used for a broad array of clothing items. For suits the material was considered a mainstay of the summer wardrobe of gentlemen, especially in the South, who favored the light fabric in the high heat and humidity of the summer, especially prior to the arrival of air conditioning.

It was commonly used for nurses' uniforms in World War II.

The fabric was originally worn by the poor in the U.S. until undergraduate students, in an air of reverse snobbery, began to wear the fabric. Damon Runyon wrote that his new habit for wearing seersucker was "causing much confusion among my friends. They cannot decide whether I am broke or just setting a new vogue."

Seersucker is comfortable and easily washed, and was the choice for the summer service uniforms of the first female United States Marines. The decision was made by Captain Anne A. Lentz, one of the first female officers selected to run the Marine Corps Women's Reserve during the Second World War.

The US Senate holds a Seersucker Thursday in June, where the participants dress in traditionally Southern clothing.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Acoustic Kitty

Acoustic Kitty was a CIA project launched by the Directorate of Science & Technology in the 1960s attempting to use cats in spy missions. A battery and a microphone were implanted into a cat and an antenna into its tail. Due to problems with distraction, the cat's sense of hunger had to be addressed in another operation. Surgical and training expenses are thought to have amounted to over $20 million.

The first cat mission was eavesdropping on two men in a park outside the Soviet compound on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, D.C. The cat was released nearby, but was hit and killed by a taxi almost immediately. Shortly thereafter the project was considered a failure and declared to be a total loss.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fish Hook

A fish hook is a device for catching fish either by impaling them in the mouth or, more rarely, by snagging the body of the fish.

Fish hooks have been employed for centuries by fishermen to catch fresh and saltwater fish. In 2005, the fish hook was chosen by Forbes as one of the top twenty tools in the history of man. Fish hooks are normally attached to some form of line or lure device which connects the caught fish to the fisherman.

There is an enormous variety of fish hooks in the world of fishing. Sizes, designs, shapes, and materials are all variable depending on the intended purpose of the fish hook.

Fish hooks are manufactured for a range of purposes from general fishing to extremely limited and specialized applications. Fish hooks are designed to hold various types of artificial, processed, dead or live baits (bait fishing); to act as the foundation for artificial representations of fish prey (fly fishing); or to be attached to or integrated into other devices that represent fish prey (lure fishing).

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Clytemnestra (Greek: Κλυταιμνήστρα), in ancient Greek legend, was the wife of Agamemnon, king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Mycenae or Argos. In the Oresteia by Aeschylus, she was a femme fatale who murdered her husband, Agamemnon – said by Euripides to be her second husband – and the Trojan princess Cassandra, whom he had taken as war prize following the sack of Troy. However, in Homer's Odyssey, her role in Agamemnon's death is unclear and her character is significantly more subdued.

Clytemnestra was the daughter of Tyndareus and Leda, the king and queen of Sparta. According to the myth, Zeus appeared to Leda in the form of a swan, seducing and impregnating her. Leda produced four offspring from two eggs: Castor and Polydeuces from one egg, and Helen and Clytemnestra from the other. Castor and Clytemnestra were fathered by Tyndareus whereas Polydeuces and Helen were fathered by Zeus.

Agamemnon and his brother Menelaus were in exile at the home of Tyndareus. In due time the brothers married Tyndareus' two daughters: Agamemnon marrying Clytemnestra and Menelaus marrying Helen. In a late variation, Euripides's Iphigenia at Aulis, Clytemnestra's first husband was Tantalus, King of Pisa (in the western Peloponnese), who was slain by Agamemnon. Agamemnon also murdered her infant son. He then forcibly made Clytemnestra his wife. In another version, her first husband was King of Lydia, which was known to the Greeks for its shrine of the labrys, the double-bladed ax that some say Clytemnestra used to kill Agamemnon.

With the help of troops from his new father-in-law, Agamemnon then took the throne of Mycenae from his uncle Thyestes. Agamemnon and Clytemnestra became rulers of Mycenae, and she bore three daughters: Iphigenia, Chrysothemis, and Electra; and finally a son: Orestes.

She is one of the main characters in Aeschylus's Oresteia, and is central to the plot of all three parts. She murders Agamemnon in the first play, and is murdered herself in the second. Her death then leads to the trial of Orestes by Apollo and the Furies in the final play.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Staatliches Bauhaus, commonly known simply as Bauhaus, was a school in Germany that combined crafts and the fine arts, and was famous for the approach to design that it publicized and taught. It operated from 1919 to 1933. At that time the German term Bauhaus, literally "house of construction" stood for "School of Building".

The Bauhaus school was founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar. In spite of its name, and the fact that its founder was an architect, the Bauhaus did not have an architecture department during the first years of its existence. Nonetheless it was founded with the idea of creating a 'total' work of art in which all arts, including architecture would eventually be brought together. The Bauhaus style became one of the most influential currents in Modernist architecture and modern design. The Bauhaus had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in art, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and typography.

The school existed in three German cities (Weimar from 1919 to 1925, Dessau from 1925 to 1932 and Berlin from 1932 to 1933), under three different architect-directors: Walter Gropius from 1919 to 1928, Hannes Meyer from 1928 to 1930 and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe from 1930 until 1933, when the school was closed by its own leadership under pressure from the Nazi regime.

The changes of venue and leadership resulted in a constant shifting of focus, technique, instructors, and politics. For instance: the pottery shop was discontinued when the school moved from Weimar to Dessau, even though it had been an important revenue source; when Mies van der Rohe took over the school in 1930, he transformed it into a private school, and would not allow any supporters of Hannes Meyer to attend it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid

The Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid was the first hybrid vehicle developed in 1899 by Ferdinand Porsche. It was a series hybrid using wheel hub motors mounted in each wheel, and powered by electricity delivered from both batteries and a small generator.

At the age of 18, Ferdinand Porsche boarded a train in North Bohemia, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic), and headed for Vienna and his first job with Jacob Lohner, a coachbuilder. Despite having no formal engineering education, Porsche quickly drafted up plans for an ambitious project, harnessing electric power. The car boasted a completely friction free drivetrain, due to the hub-mounted electric motors which negated the use of gears or driveshafts. Each internal-pole electric motor was capable of 2.5 hp (1.9 kW) to 3.5 hp (2.6 kW) peaking to 7 hp (5.2 kW) for short bursts.

The car created a press whirlwind, and news traveled as far as Britain, from where Lohner received their first order for an example. However, the car, ordered by a Luton dweller, was to be significantly different from the car shown at the Paris Expo. It had to be capable of running on petrol, as well as electricity, of carrying four passengers (the demonstrator was a two-seat, low slung type) and also had to be four-wheel drive. As a result, the final product was a monster — it required 1.8 tonnes of batteries consisting of a forty-four cell 80 volt lead battery, and cost a massive 15,000 Austrian Crowns. However, the car was completed on time, and was delivered personally by Porsche. The buyer was so impressed that he purchased another, two-wheel drive example. While it had a form of battery, they were not charged from external sources so it was not a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle or PHEV.

At the same time, the Lohner company had broken the Austrian land speed record, with the car's top speed of 37 mph (60 km/h). With Porsche at the wheel, the car was victorious in a number of motorsport events, and by 1905, Porsche had won the Potting Prize as Austria's most outstanding automotive engineer. In 1906, Porsche was snapped up by Daimler-Benz as chief designer, and left Lohner coachworks for good.

The Lohner-Porsche's design was studied during NASA’s efforts to create the Apollo program’s Lunar Rover, and many of its design principles were mirrored in the Rover’s design. The series hybrid concept underpins many modern railway locomotives, and interest in series hybrid automobiles is growing rapidly.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Water Intoxication

Water intoxication, also known as hyper-hydration, water poisoning, or overhydration, is a potentially fatal disturbance in brain functions that results when the normal balance of electrolytes in the body is pushed outside of safe limits by over-consumption of water.

Normal, healthy (physically, nutritionally and mentally) individuals have little reason to worry about accidentally consuming too much water. Nearly all deaths related to water intoxication in normal individuals have resulted either from water drinking contests, in which individuals attempt to consume large amounts of water, or long bouts of intensive exercise during which electrolytes are not properly replenished, yet excessive amounts of fluid are still consumed.

Water can be considered a poison when over-consumed just like any other substance. The recommendation from the medical field is to drink at least 1 - 2 liters per day depending upon body mass. Water intoxication would only occur at levels far higher than that.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Quick One, While He's Away

"A Quick One, While He's Away" is a 1966 medley written by Pete Townshend and recorded by The Who for their album A Quick One. The song also appears on the album BBC Sessions. In the performance on their Live at Leeds album Townshend calls the 9 minute "epic" track a "mini-opera" and introduces it as "Tommy's parent". This song tells the story of an unnamed girl who is left stranded by her lover "for nigh on a year." Her friends inform her that they "have a remedy"; the remedy comes in the form of Ivor the Engine Driver. When the lover returns, the girl confesses her infidelity, and she is ultimately forgiven.

The song has six distinct sections. The brief harmonized a cappella intro is titled "Her Man's Gone". The "Crying Town" section is sung by Roger Daltrey in an atypical low register. Daltrey also sings "We Have a Remedy" in his more usual voice. John Entwistle plays "Ivor the Engine Driver" in that section. Then comes "Soon Be Home", another harmonized section. Finally, "You Are Forgiven" is sung by Pete Townshend — his only lead vocal on the album.

This song is The Who's first publicized venture into the rock opera genre. A studio recording appears on their A Quick One album, and a live recording appears on Live at Leeds. A video performance was made for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, and can be seen on that video and on the documentary film The Kids Are Alright. It also appears on both films' soundtrack albums. Another version recorded live at the Monterey Pop Festival can be found on the Monterey Pop Festival four-disk set and on another Who film, Thirty Years of Maximum R&B Live. A mixed studio and live version can be found on The Who's four disk set Thirty Years of Maximum R&B.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thích Quảng Đức

Thích Quảng Đức (1897 – 11 June 1963) was a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963. Thích Quảng Đức was protesting against the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam's Ngô Đình Diệm administration. Photos of his self-immolation were circulated widely across the world and brought attention to the policies of the Diệm regime. Malcolm Browne won a Pulitzer Prize for his iconic photo of the monk's death, as did David Halberstam for his written account. After his death, his body was re-cremated, but his heart remained intact. This was interpreted as a symbol of compassion and led Buddhists to revere him as a bodhisattva, heightening the impact of his death on the public psyche.

Thích Quảng Đức's act increased international pressure on Diệm and led him to announce reforms with the intention of mollifying the Buddhists. However, the promised reforms were implemented either slowly or not at all, leading to a deterioration in the dispute. With protests continuing, the Special Forces loyal to Diệm's brother, Ngô Đình Nhu, launched nationwide raids on Buddhist pagodas, seizing the holy heart and causing deaths and widespread damage. Several Buddhist monks followed Thích Quảng Đức's example and burned themselves to death. Eventually, an Army coup toppled and killed Diệm in November. The self-immolation is widely seen as the turning point of the Vietnamese Buddhist crisis which led to the change in regime.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Torchy Blane

Torchy Blane is a fictional female reporter who appeared in a series of light "B" films during the late 1930s, which were mixtures of mystery, action, adventure and fun.

During the pre-war period, the job of newspaper reporter was one of the few movie role models that portrayed intelligent, career-oriented women. Of these role models, Torchy Blane was perhaps the best known. The typical plot has the resilient, very-fast-talking Torchy solving the crime before her less-than-perceptive beau, the loud mouthed police detective Steve McBride.

Torchy was loosely based on the male character Kennedy in the MacBride and Kennedy stories by Louis Frederick Nebel, although Torchy was more compatible with the Hays code than the drunkard Kennedy.

In all but two of the films, Torchy Blane was played by Glenda Farrell, and Steve McBride by Barton MacLane.

Lola Lane played Torchy in Torchy Blane in Panama with Paul Kelly as McBride. Torchy Blane was writer Jerry Siegel's inspiration for the character of Lois Lane in the Superman comic books. Siegel based her name on Torchy actress Lola Lane.

In the final film of the series, Torchy Plays with Dynamite, Jane Wyman was Torchy, and Allen Jenkins Lt. Steve McBride. Torchy Blane is a fast-talking newspaper reporter of the 1930s. She often becomes involved in police investigations, eventually leading to the capture of criminals. As her fiance, Steve Macbride, is usually involved in these investigations, he often comes under suspicion of favoritism.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Drano is a drain cleaner product manufactured by S. C. Johnson & Son.

According to the National Institutes of Health's Household Products Database, the crystal form is composed of sodium hydroxide (lye), sodium nitrate, sodium chloride (salt), and aluminum.

The power crystals are simply colored salt, and are the least powerful ingredient. The crystallized lye reacts with fats to form soap. The machined shards of aluminum react with the lye to generate near-boiling temperatures. The sharp shards in the hot churning lye physically cut hair and dislodge deposits.

Crystal Drano was invented in 1923 by Harry Drackett. Bristol-Myers bought the Drackett Company in 1965 and sold it to S.C. Johnson in 1992.

For years, Drackett advertised Once every week, Drano in every drain. Various mixes of relatively non-toxic solvents are now sold commercially for the purpose. To a certain extent (see Sterilization), even dumping a gallon of scalding water down the drain, however, would have a similarly salutary result with substantially less risk to the environment and at much lesser expense.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Panama disease

Panama disease, a Fusarium wilt, is a banana plant disease caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum. The fungus attacks the roots of the banana plant. The disease is resistant to fungicide and cannot be controlled chemically.

Gros Michel or 'Big Mike' was an early export cultivar of banana. This cultivar was wiped out by Panama disease in the 1950s. The disease first appeared in Suriname, then made its way to the Caribbean, and, by the 1920s, to Honduras, the world's largest producer of bananas at the time. Although there are many banana cultivars, Gros Michel was especially suitable for export to non-tropical nations. A search for a substitute located the Vietnamese Cavendish cultivar, which is resistant to the disease. However, more care is required for shipping the Cavendish banana, and its quality compared to Gros Michel is debated.

Recently, a new strain called 'tropical race four Panama disease' has begun to attack Cavendish banana plants in south Asia. Given the high volume of modern international trade, banana producers expect this strain to spread through Africa and into South America and the Caribbean.

Plant breeders and geneticists are trying to develop new cultivars that are resistant to this new strain of Panama disease. Unfortunately, such efforts are progressing slowly because the triploid banana cultivars selected for human consumption are seedless and reproduce asexually, which decreases genetic variation and makes breeding difficult.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Novelty architecture

Novelty architecture is a type of architecture in which buildings and other structures are given unusual shapes as a novelty, such as advertising, notoriety as a landmark, or simple eccentricity of the owner or architect. Many examples of novelty architecture take the form of buildings that resemble the products sold inside to attract drive-by customers. Others are attractions all by themselves, such as giant animals, fruits, and vegetables, or replicas of famous buildings. And others are merely unusual shapes or made of unusual building materials.

Some hotel casinos on the Las Vegas Strip can be considered novelty architecture, including the pyramid-shaped Luxor Hotel and the New York-New York Hotel & Casino, a building designed to look like the New York City skyline.

Novelty architecture is also used extensively in amusement parks such as Disneyland to fit their playful and sometimes retro theme.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Dramatic Chipmunk

Dramatic Chipmunk, also known by the more accurate title Dramatic Prairie Dog, is a popular Internet comedy viral video. The video is a five-second clip of the "chipmunk" (actually a prairie dog) turning its head while the camera zooms in and dramatic music is played.

The video became widely known through uploads on YouTube and CollegeHumor on June 19, 2007. An earlier and identical version, titled as Dramatic Look, had been uploaded to YouTube on June 6, 2007.

The clip of the prairie dog is from the Japanese television show Hello! Morning featuring Mini Moni. The clip has a prairie dog inside a transparent box being shown to the hosts in the studio. CollegeHumor also released a longer clip under the title Undramatic Chipmunk, showing how the video looked in the original Japanese version.

The music used in Dramatic Chipmunk is taken from the score of the 1974 film Young Frankenstein, and was composed by John Morris. It uses three dramatic chords, and has a rumble of thunder in the background. The "chipmunk" turns its head and stares at the camera while the music is played.

Since its release, the video has received tens of millions of views. People Magazine named the Dramatic Chipmunk as one of The 10 Wildest YouTube Stars of 2007.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Carolina Chocolate Drops

The Carolina Chocolate Drops are an old-time string band from Durham, North Carolina, United States. Formed in November 2005 following the members' attendance at the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, North Carolina, the group is one of the few remaining African American string bands. There are three members: Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons, and Justin Robinson, who were all in their twenties when the group formed. All of the musicians sing and trade instruments including banjo, fiddle, guitar, harmonica, snare drum, bones, jug, and kazoo. The group learned much of their repertoire, which is based on the traditional music of the Piedmont region of North and South Carolina, from the eminent African American old-time fiddler Joe Thompson, although they also perform old-time versions of some modern songs such as Blu Cantrell's R&B hit "Hit 'em Up Style (Oops!)."

The Carolina Chocolate Drops have released at least three CDs (in 2006, 2008, and 2010) and have opened for Taj Mahal. They have performed on Mountain Stage and at the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention. Additionally they have performed on Fresh Air and BBC Radio in early 2010 and at the 2010 Bonnaroo music festival in Manchester, Tennessee.

On February 7, 2011, the band announced that beatboxer Adam Matta and multi-instrumentalist Hubby Jenkins would be joining the band, while Justin Robinson would be departing.

Their 2010 album, Genuine Negro Jig, won a Grammy in the best traditional folk album category, and was number 9 in FRoots magazine's top 10 albums of 2010.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sheb Wooley

Shelby F. "Sheb" Wooley (April 10, 1921 – September 16, 2003) was a character actor and singer, best known for his 1958 novelty song "The Purple People Eater". He played Ben Miller, brother of Frank Miller in the film High Noon, and also had a co-starring role in the television program Rawhide.
Wooley was born in Erick, Oklahoma, and was raised on a farm. He learned to ride horses at an early age, and was a working cowboy and rodeo rider. He also played in a country-western band. Wooley tried to enlist during World War II, but was turned down for military service because of his rodeo injuries. Instead, he worked in the oil industry and as a welder. In 1946, he moved to Fort Worth, Texas, and became a country and western musician.
Wooley appeared in dozens of western films from the 1950s through 1970s, most notably High Noon. In 1954, he played outlaw Jim Younger in the syndicated western series Stories of the Century. Wooley appeared five times as Carl in the syndicated western series The Adventures of Kit Carson (1951–1955). He appeared in The Cisco Kid in the role of Bill Bronson. Wooley guest starred as Harry Runyon in the episode "The Unmasking" of the CBS western My Friend Flicka.
Wooley co-starred as Pete Nolan in the CBS western Rawhide (1959–1966) with Eric Fleming, Clint Eastwood, and Paul Brinegar. He also acted in the films The Outlaw Josey Wales and Giant.
In the 1940s Wooley took an interest in his wife's young cousin, Roger Miller (who also grew up in Erick, Oklahoma), teaching him to play guitar chords, and purchasing him a fiddle.
In the late 1950s, Wooley embarked on a recording career, with the song that made him famous, the "Purple People Eater". He followed this with a series of lesser novelty hits. Wooley wrote the theme song for the long-running television show Hee Haw.
Wooley also had a string of country hits, his "That's My Pa" reaching No. 1 of Billboard magazine's Hot C&W Sides chart in March 1962. He was a regular on Hee Haw and The Muppet Show as the drunken country songwriter Ben Colder. He released music and performed as Ben Colder as well as under his own name. Wooley had intended to record the song "Don't Go Near The Indians", but he was delayed by an acting job. Meanwhile, Rex Allen recorded the song and it was a hit. Wooley said he did not mind - he would do the sequel. His version was "Don't Go Near the Eskimos", about a boy in Alaska named Ben Colder (had never "been colder"). His song was so successful he continued using the name for forty years, one of his last recordings being "Shaky Breaky Car" (which parodied the song "Achy Breaky Heart").
Wooley is credited as the voice actor for the Wilhelm scream, having appeared on a memo as a voice extra for Distant Drums and later confirmed by his widow. This particular scream recording has been used by sound effects teams in over 149 films.
Wooley continued occasional television and film appearances through the 1990s, including an appearance as Cletus Summers, principal of Hickory High School in the 1986 film Hoosiers.
In 1996 he was diagnosed with leukemia. He died at the Skyline Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee in 2003 and was buried in Hendersonville Memory Gardens in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sugar Bush

A sugar bush refers to a forest stand which is exploited for maple syrup. The tree canopy is dominated by sugar maple or black maple. Other tree species, if present, form only a small fraction of the total tree cover. In the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, and in some New England states, many sugar bushes have a sugar shack where maple syrup can be bought or sampled.

The maples are tapped for their maple sap in early spring, whenever the weather has warmed so that day-time temperatures are above freezing — 0 °C (32 °F) — while night-time temperatures remain below freezing. Typically there will be snow cover on the ground during the tapping period. The tapping period ends when the supply of maple sap ceases, as when night-time temperatures begin to be above freezing. After the tapping period, some maple sugar bushes experience a profusion of spring wildflowers which take advantage of unobstructed sunlight before the maple leaves emerge. In summer, a healthy maple sugar bush is luxuriant and shady. Autumn leaves are colorful, especially on the sugar maples.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


A match is a combustible tool for lighting a fire in controlled circumstances. They are commonly sold by tobacconists and many other kinds of shops. Matches are usually sold in quantity, packaged in match boxes or matchbooks. A match is typically a wooden stick (typical in the case of match boxes) or stiff paper stick (in the case of matchbooks) coated at one end with a material which will ignite from the heat of friction if struck against a suitable surface.[1] The lighting end of a match is known as the match "head" and, depending on type, either contains phosphorus or phosphorus sesquisulfide as the active ingredient and gelatin as a binder. There are two main types of matches: safety matches, which can be struck only against a specially prepared surface; and strike-anywhere matches, for which any suitably frictional surface can be used.

Sulfur matches were apparently mentioned by Martial in ancient Rome (sulphurata).

A predecessor of the match, small sticks of pinewood impregnated with sulfur were invented in China in AD 577. Besieged by military forces of Northern Zhou and Chen, Northern Qi court ladies were out of tinder and desperate for a means to start fires for cooking and heating. During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (AD 907–960), a book called the Records of the Unworldly and the Strange written by Chinese author Tao Gu in about 950 stated:

If there occurs an emergency at night it may take some time to make a light to light a lamp. But an ingenious man devised the system of impregnating little sticks of pinewood with sulphur and storing them ready for use. At the slightest touch of fire they burst into flame. One gets a little flame like an ear of corn. This marvellous thing was formerly called a "light-bringing slave", but afterwards when it became an article of commerce its name was changed to 'fire inch-stick'.

Matches also appeared in Europe by about 1530. But the first modern, self-igniting match was invented in 1805 by K. Chancel, assistant to Professor Louis Jacques Thénard of Paris. The head of the match consisted of a mixture of potassium chlorate, sulfur, sugar, and rubber. The match was ignited by dipping its tip in a small asbestos bottle filled with sulfuric acid. This kind of match was quite expensive and its usage was dangerous, so Chancel's matches never gained much popularity.

The first "friction match" was invented by English chemist John Walker in 1826. Early work had been done by Robert Boyle and his assistant, Godfrey Haukweicz in the 1680s with phosphorus and sulfur, but their efforts had not produced useful results. Walker discovered a mixture of antimony(III) sulfide or stibnite, potassium chlorate, gum, and starch could be ignited by striking against any rough surface. Walker called the matches congreves, but the process was patented by Samuel Jones and the matches were sold as lucifer matches.

The safety match was invented in 1844 by the Swede Gustaf Erik Pasch (1788-1862) and was improved by Johan Edvard Lundström (1815-1888). Johan Edvard and his younger brother Carl Frans Lundström (1823-1917) started a large scale match industry in Jönköping around 1847, but the improved safety match was not introduced until around 1850-55. In 1858 their company produced around 12 million match boxes.

The Swedes long held a virtual worldwide monopoly on safety matches, with the industry mainly situated in Jönköping, The British match manufacturer Bryant and May visited Jönköping in 1858 to try to obtain a supply of safety matches, but it was unsuccessful. In 1862 it established its own factory and bought the rights for the British safety match patent from the Lundström brothers.

The development of a specialized "matchbook" with both matches and a striking surface did not occur until the 1890s with the American Joshua Pusey, who later sold his patent to the Diamond Match Company. The Diamond Match Company was later bought by Bryant and May.

The hobby of collecting match-related items, such as matchcovers and matchbox labels, is known as phillumeny.