Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Entry: 2008

How cool is this: where I am (East Coast of the USA), it's 2 hours until midnight on New Year's Eve, and this is the (currently) first sentence of the entry for 2008:

Okay, so I trimmed it to the point where you can't tell it's from Wikipedia, but you guys believe me, right? Trustworthy stranger on the Internet? Yeah? Good.

It is so nice to know that there are dedicated Wiki nerds who have put aside culturally acceptable drunken bacchanals to keep the Wik' as accurate as possible. Kudos to you, friends. And here's to a great 2009, hopefully filled with largely useless factoids and dorky quips.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Entry: Heil Honey I'm Home!



Heil Honey I'm Home was a British sitcom that touted itself as a lost series from the 1950s, and therefore was styled to parody shows like Leave it to Beaver. The main characters were Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Yeah. Apparently most of the plots revolved around Adolf's inability to get along with their neighbors. The Goldensteins. I say "apparently" because the network pulled it after one episode.

There has to be a Valkyrie joke in there somewhere, but I'm too busy being flabbergasted to make it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Entry: Yule Lads

I am having trouble wrapping my narrow American mind around this.

In Iceland, instead of Santa Claus (well, considering the scope of globalization, I'm sure Icelanders are familiar with Santa-- I digress), the traditional Christmas Characters are known as Jólasveinarnir, or the Yule Lads. Now, they might sound like the kind of folk band that wears matching sweater vests, but in actuality they are thirteen sons of trolls who come around one by one, starting with Stekkjastaur on December 12, and stay for two weeks each, the last one, Kertasníkir, leaves on January 6. And, apparently, they bring four weeks of utter misery, although in modern times they have taken to leaving presents in children's shoes, probably at the advice of a wise publicist.

Anyway, back to the mischief... each Lad has a unique method of harassing the good citizens of Iceland. You can see the whole list (and the translation of the Lads' names) if you read the article, but to give you a taste: Stekkjastaur, the first one, "harasses sheep." I'm not going to make the obvious joke. The other one I mentioned, Kertasnikir, steals candles from children, presumably said children's only source of light. I don't know if finding a Rubik's cube in my shoes would make up for wandering around lost in the dark and the cold. Most of the others commit food-related shenanigans, such as Bjúgnakrækir, who hides in the rafters of a house and steals sausages hung up for smoking.

To top it all off, "the Yule Lads are often depicted with the Yuletide Cat, a beast that, according to folklore, eats children that don't receive new clothes in time for Christmas." The hell? I understand legends where naughty children receive some kind of grim punishment, but not receiving new clothing in time for Christmas? Are children in Iceland especially whiny when they're dragged to the mall for new clothing?

So let that be a lesson to you: before you bitch that Santa didn't bring you an iPhone, remember that you could be wandering around candleless and sausageless in the Icelandic winter with a traumatized sheep.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Entry: Up to eleven

Sometimes Wikiquote will link you back to Wikipedia, as I discovered whilst perusing the This Is Spinal Tap page, searching for the correct phrasing of the "these go up to eleven" scene. And on top of that discovery, an even more astounding one from the aforementioned linked article:

"Up to eleven" is in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.

Now, I don't understand why the article specified the SOED, because I would think that if it's in the abbreviated version, it will be in the full version, too. But who am I to argue with open-source information?

Oncemore, the reported definition is somewhat lacking: "up to the maximum volume." Pffft. Technically true, but fails to capture all the nuances of meaning in the expression. Would you define The Great Gatsby as "a book about whiny rich people?" (Well, I would, but I didn't like The Great Gatsby.) Who better than to explain the phrase than Nigel Tufnel himself:

Well, despite the glaring imperfections, I remain pleased that one of the funniest movies ever made had found such a permanent place in our vernacular.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Entry: ...None?!

Tonight I learned a lesson of such value and importance, it surpassed everything I've read on the Wik' in the past few days. And I learned it from the back of the box that my dinner came in*.

To extrapolate: cardboard is flammable. A maxim I will hold dear to my heart for all time.

One has to wonder if this warning was the result of a lawsuit.

* To save face: I like cooking, I'm pretty decent at it, I just didn't have the energy for it tonight.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Entry: the Gaslight Anthem

I like to peruse music critics' end-of-year lists for new bands to check out. Doing so this year netted me The Gaslight Anthem's fantastic The '59 Sound. Looking to Wikipedia to tell me more about the band, I found out that they started out in New Brunswick, NJ-- the city in which I attended college. (R-U rah rah, etc.) And they formed when I was in college. Meaning that I missed out on seeing them at a house party or dive bar, giving me the ability to, when someone mentioned them in casual conversation, sigh ponderously and say, "Yeah, I was into them when they were... y'know... less commercial." Another opportunity to gain indie cred slips through my fingers like so much mercury.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Entry: Rabbits in Australia

I'm cheating a little bit with this entry; usually I post about things I've learned via random browsing, looking up one thing and discovering something completely different of interest, and the occasional link from friends. This time I heard something mentioned in passing on the latest episode of Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, didn't believe it, and looked it up on Wiki. And am still somewhat surprised.

Now, I knew that Australia had many problems with invasive species, one of them being the European rabbit. And I knew that the Australians had tried to take care of the problem by building a very long fence that helped three little girls find their way home and thwarted Kenneth Brannagh in being a dick.

But what I did not know was that the Australian government resorted to biological warfare. In 1950, wild rabbits were infected with myxomatosis, which causes tumors and allows for secondary bacterial infections. This caused the wild rabbit population to drop from 600 million to 100 million. However, we all know what rabbits do well, and the Australian rabbit population recovered doubled by 1991.

Now, I know that invasive species have a devastating effect on the environment in which they are introduced, but I can't help but feel a bit sorry for the rabbits. I blame my soft-heartedness on having seen the film version of Watership Down when I was a child, and been scarred for life. Although come to think of it, a sequel to WD that takes place in Australia during the 1950s would be neat. Picture it: rabbits in biohazard suits!

...okay, I'll stop now.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Entry: Shea Butter

I'm so completely insulated by my middle-class American existence, I feel a little embarrassed that I didn't know this. (I also might have a job involving the sale of products using said ingredient.)

That being said: shea butter, which is known popularly in my neck of the woods as a moisturizing agent in skin cream, is used as a cooking oil in West Africa. Neat!

Also: man, we will put just about anything on our skin, won't we? I wonder if anyone would buy lard if the Body Shop sold it for $20 per tin.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Entry: Hooverball

I was linked to this article by Kirk. Thanks, Kirk!

Hooverball is a game, played with a medicine ball, developed for former President Herbert Hoover by his personal physician.

"Now why," I can hear you asking, "didn't Hoover go to pilates class like everyone else?" Because when you're the leader of the free world, you get your very own sport, God dammit! In fact, all the presidents have had their own sports. And believe me, there is nothing quite as exhilarating as eXtreme Taftgliding.

The game itself, as I understand it, is something like a cross between volleyball and catch. You have two teams separated by an 8-foot net, and a 6-pound medicine ball is thrown back and forth. You have to stand still after catching the ball, and you can't throw from front court to front court. Because any attempts to spike a 6-pound medicine ball will result in pain. Winning point is scored by the first team that creates policies that fail to combat massive economic downturn.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Entry: Sea Wolf

I was browsing the Wik' for new bands to check out, but instead I was met with the sober reminder that Wikipedia is occasionally full of lies.

The standard format for a band article is to have a photo of said band on the right side at the top of the article, but look what I found on Sea Wolf's page:

This is an obvious fake; if the subject of this photo was in an indie band, he'd be dressed like a hobo. Nice try, random Wikipedia rapscallion. Don't think I didn't notice the MSPaint scribble in the bottom left corner. What are you trying to hide?

Also, Sea Wolf wrote an original song, "Song of the Magpie," for the audiobook version of Augusten Burroughs’ memoir A Wolf at the Table. Neat! If you can believe it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

According to the article on Thanksgiving, the first recorded Thanksgiving in the United States was held by Spanish explorers in 1565 in what is now St. Augustine, Florida. That's right down the highway from where I live! I'm sure you couldn't care less!

Why are you reading my blog? Go eat some turkey!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Entry: Muggles (recording)

[A quick note of interest before I start the entry: I've just started twittering, if you care to follow my microbloggable exploits. --Regina]

"Bitch, please," I can hear you saying. "I've read Harry Potter. Or at least seen one of the movies. I know what muggles are. And I can tell from your sense of humor that you're a grade-A nerd, so you obviously do too, and have ever since that fateful summer in high school that you were volunteering at a summer reading program for kids at the library and picked up HPatSS to stay on top of things."

No, friend. You do not know what "muggles" means, and neither did I.

In the 1920s and 30s, "muggles" was a slang term among jazz musicians for cannabis. Louis Armstrong, who was "an enthusiastic user of marijuana," to quote the article, wrote a song called "Muggles" about his beloved pastime, which is what the article in question is about.

Here's a link to the song, courtesy of Songza.

Now, I'm not saying that J.K. Rowling is trying to get children addicted to anything beyond Harry Potter merchandise. I just think it's a hilarious coincidence, or perhaps a sly (and by "sly" I mean "obscure to the point of being nonsensical") reference.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Entry: Mongolia

It turns out that falling asleep for the last 15 minutes of a movie can spark a learning opportunity. That having been said, I still don't know how Mongol ended. I mean, I can guess, but still.

Anywho: Mongolia has a unique style of sport wrestling called Mongolian wrestling. Crazy name, I know. The cool part is the ranking system, which is only used for competitions held during the national holiday of Nadaam. Depending on how many rounds a competitor lasts, he gets a title for an increasingly badass animal. Surviving through the fifth round gets you the title "hawk," seventh and eight rounds get you "elephant," tenth and eleventh get you "lion," and the last man standing is named "Titan." On top of that, if a reigning Titan wins any subsequent Nadaam wrestling competition, his title is adorned with awesome epithets. (The example given by the article is "Invincible Titan to be remembered by all," but I think I could come up with something better. I wonder who gets to choose the epithet?) In any case, it's a lot cooler than a gaudy belt.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Entry: THX 1138

George Lucas' debut feature film THX 1138 was made for a budget of $777,777 and 77 cents, as set by producer Francis Ford Coppola.

A few comments spring to mind:

- Did George Lucas make a concerted effort to use it all? I have this mental image of him towards the end of production at a convenience store, counting out Slim Jims for the crew and periodically consulting a calculator.

- THX 1138 was released in 1971, but still, that's a hell of a low budget! I think cantankerous old people should use this information when lambasting youngsters: "You damn kids don't know the value of money! In my day, a cup of coffee was a quarter, and you could make a polished science fiction film with top-notch special effects for less than a million dollars!"

- It's a good thing they didn't go 6% over budget, because then they'd have to scrap the whole project.


Well, it's funny if you've seen the goddamn movie...

Friday, November 14, 2008

This blog is important to the nation's stability

I forgot to mention something: I was listening to a press conference with Barack Obama last week, and he was talking about how his family wants to adopt a shelter dog, but one of his daughters is allergic and requires a hypoallergenic breed.

Mr. President Elect, TILfW is here to help.

(Yes, I realize he's probably had an aide figure all of this stuff out for him already. Shut up, I'm awesome.)

Linking to me has just become easier and more fun!

My friend Greg, proprietor of Art History, LOL, was kind enough to make a graphic for TILfW:


"Oh my God Regina, that's so cool I'm going to link to your blog right away!"

I know it is. And you can do so thusly:

<a href=""> <img src="" /> </a>

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Entry: Stony Awards

High Times has its own annual award ceremony, the Stony Awards, which recognizes excellence in marijuana-related media. The Stonys have been held every year since 2000, except for 2004, when the judges wandered off to 7-11 for some snacks and couldn't decide between Cooler Ranch Doritos and Sour Cream & Cheddar Lays.

Most of the categories change from year to year (slight tangent: I am 100% in favor of the 2005 award for Best Queer Guy going to Ted Allen. He rocks.), but a handful remain constant.

The debate as to how cannabis effects the user's mind is currently unsolved, but I really have to wonder about anyone who declares Jennifer Aniston "best actress," no matter how you categorize it. (Okay, maybe best actress on Friends. Maybe.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Entry: Julie Taymor

Sometimes I say to myself, "Hey, this director made a movie that I really liked, I wonder what else s/he's been doing recently?" And sometimes I don't want to know the answer.

Julie Taymor (Frida, Across the Universe) will be directing a Spiderman musical. No, really. Bono and the Edge have reportedly composed the music. No, really. I promise this isn't a throwaway joke from Family Guy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Entry: Panama Canal Zone

Yesterday's presidential election was a historic first, and no, it's not because we elected the first non-white president, or the first Catholic vice president. Well, okay, those were historical firsts, but not as interesting as what I'm about to reveal.

This was the first presidential race where both major party candidates were born outside the continental United States. Obama, as is common knowledge, was born in Hawaii, and John McCain was born before plate tectonics separated North America into one continent.

I kid, I kid. McCain was born on a naval base in the Panama Canal Zone, a territory in Panama (of course) that was controlled by the United States from 1903 to 1979. Other notable natives of the PCZ (or "Zonians") include baseball player Rod Carew and Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash[, & Young].

Monday, November 3, 2008

Entry: Zoom schwartz profigliano

When I play a drinking game, it's usually something classic and simple, like Beer Pong or Another Round Until I'm Brave Enough to Hit the Dance Floor. But this one, Zoom Schwartz Profigliano-- or as the article describes it, "a verbal 'tag' game,"-- seems like something that would be fun to try the next time I feel the need to create an excuse to get likkered up.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Entry: List of legendary creatures

I've recently decided to update this blog on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so imagine my concern when I realized it was midnight and I had bupkis. Lucky for me, if I haven't randomly stumbled upon something neat on Wikipedia, there's a button on my toolbar that expedites the process.

The first thing I came across-- every post is a quality post at TILfW-- was the List of legendary creatures, and I was completely distracted by this explanation at the beginning of the list:

"This is a list of legendary creatures. Creatures of modern invention are not included. Only creatures with English Wikipedia articles should be included.

Species or entirely unique, individual monsters are included, not individuals of a particular species. For example, Pegasus should not be included, as he is an individual of (and the progenitor of) the pterippus species, while Scylla is included as she is a one-of-a-kind monster."

I really love that there are such exacting rules for something so random. Although, I'm really glad that they mention Pegasus' species. It really bugs me when people use "Pegasus" to refer to a random winged horse not involved with Bellerophon. Y'know, while we're on the subject of exacting rules for something random.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Entry: Andy Samberg

Andy Samberg (one of the Lazy Sunday guys from SNL, not Dr. Spaceman) and Joanna Newsom (harp-playing indie darling) are dating. Aww! I can just imagine date nights filled with humorous characterizations and chamber pop.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Entry: Jean-Baptiste Lully

17th century French composer, for those of you not in the know, and nominee for Lamest Death Ever.

Lully was conducting a piece at a concert in honor of Louis XIV recovering from illness-- and before I go any further, yes, that beeping is the irony detector going off. Anywho, in the 17th century, conductors kept time by pounding a big stick against the floor, instead of waving a little stick, as is the modern fashion. Lully botched, as the gamers say, and pounded his conducting staff on his foot. The resulting wound developed gangrene, Lully refused to have his foot amputated, and he died. Because he was a dumbass. Twice over.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Entry: Seagram Building

This Wiki article was brought to my attention by my friend Ziggy. Sir, you are a gentleman and a scholar.

The Seagram Building is a skyscraper in midtown Manhattan, the location of the famous Four Seasons Restaurant. The neat part about the building is architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's commitment to uniformity. I just have to quote the article, because, well, it speaks for itself:

"One aspect of a façade which Mies disliked, was the disordered irregularity when window blinds are drawn. Inevitably, people using different windows will draw blinds to different heights, making the building appear disorganized. To reduce this disproportionate appearance, Mies specified window blinds which only operated in three positions - fully open, halfway open/closed, or fully closed."

I guess attention to detail is important to being a successful architect, but there is a line. And it has been crossed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Entry: Burma-Shave

I'd seen references to Burma-Shave in Kingdom of Loathing, American Gods and now yesterday's xkcd, so I had to know what was up.

Burma-Shave was, surprise surprise, a shaving cream. But, what it's most famous for is it's marketing campaign, which ran from 1925 to 1963. The campaign was comprised of cutesy rhymes that were posted line-by-line on consecutive billboards, so you'd read them as you drove down the road.

I think what really shocked me was the number of examples they had in the article. Like, really. I'm not surprised that there are detailed articles on The Simpsons, but a marketing campaign that ended almost 50 years ago? I don't know if I'm impressed or weirded out.

Anywho, here were some of my faves:

1931: No matter / How you slice it / It's still your face / Be humane / Use / Burma-Shave
1936: Riot at / Drug store / Calling all cars / 100 customers / 99 jars / Burma-Shave
1947: I use it too / The bald man said / It keeps my face / Just like / My head / Burma-Shave
1952: The wolf / Is shaved / So neat and trim / Red Riding Hood / Is chasing him / Burma-Shave

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Geico cavemen.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Entry: History of CPR

Listen up Renn Faire geeks (or, I guess, whatever the Enlightenment Era equivalent of the Renn Faire is [is there one? because that sounds awesome]), because I'm going to tell you how to resuscitate someone, old skool.

The Society for Recovery of Drowned Persons, founded in 1767 in Amsterdam, recommended the following:

1. Warming the victim
2. Removing swallowed or aspirated water by positioning the victim's head lower than feet
3. Applying manual pressure to the abdomen
4. Respirations in to the victim's mouth, either using a bellows or with a mouth-to-mouth method (We don't use bellows nearly enough in our modern hustle and bustle world. It's kind of sad.)
5. Tickling the victim's throat (...I don't even know what to make of that.)
6. 'Stimulating' the victim by such means as rectal and oral fumigation with tobacco smoke. (Hey, it was Amsterdam...)
7. Bloodletting (Of course.)

So next time you're going to the beach, don't forget the bellows, some leeches, and your finest smoking tobacco. Just in case.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Entry: Kiva

Okay, so I already knew about Kiva, but I thought raising awareness about this organization would be fitting for Blog Action Day.

Kiva is a nonprofit organization, through which donors send money to microfinanciers around the world, who then lend that money to entrepreneurs in developing nations (and whose profiles are on the website). When the entrepreneur repays the loan (which, according to Kiva, happens successfully 99.7% of the time), you can withdraw your money from the program, or re-loan it to another entrepreneur.

Kiva has pioneered the peer-to-peer lending model, and other organizations have followed suit.

So, if I'm interpreting this correctly: your money is going directly to the person who needs it, you know exactly what the money is being used for, you can recycle your money through the program or just withdraw it and buy an iPod, and you're helping someone who's helping themselves. If you have some scratch lying around and are feeling altruistic, Kiva is a worthwhile investment.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Entry: Bill Hicks

I usually update this blog with tidbits and trivia and such that I come across accidentally while looking up something else or just browsing Wikipedia. I learned the following from my boyfriend who read it to me from Wikipedia, but in the interests of not creating a second blog entitled "Things I've Learned from Wikipedia Via my Boyfriend," I'm willing to broaden the concept a bit.

Denis Leary has been criticized for stealing a lot of Bill Hicks' material for his own comedy act, both jokes and persona. This saddens me, because I really like Denis Leary's standup. I guess that means I like Bill Hicks' standup too.

For an unapologetic pop culture junkie like me, this is big. Like, Israeli-Palestinian conflict big. In fact, I'm just going to link to the relevant articles:

The story, from the authors of the Bill Hicks article
And the story, from the authors of the Denis Leary article

What really happened? I leave that up to you, readers.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Entry: 30 Rock

30 Rock's theme music (and soundtrack) was written by Tina Fey's husband, Jeff Richmond. Aww!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Entry: Oliver Stone

This might be one of those quirky little trivia nuggets that I'm the last person in the world to know about, but I'm willing to take that risk:

Oliver Stone co-wrote Conan the Barbarian.

I have to wonder how Mr. Stone feels about helping to launch the Governator's career.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Entry: Leck mich im Arsch

"Leck mich im Arsch" is a canon for six voices attributed to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The title's literal translation from German is "lick me in the ass" (or, idiomatically, "kiss my ass"). His publishing company distributed a much tamer version, big goddamn surprise, with the title changed to the more pedestrian "Laßt froh uns sein" ("Let us be glad!").

The article goes on to mention that recent research has shown that the song was probably written by some guy named Wenzel Trnka, but since that version doesn't help put Amadeus into context, I personally choose to ignore that part.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Entry: Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song

During the filming of an intimate scene in Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song -- and yes, I copied and pasted it to ensure the correct number of a's and s's-- Marvin Van Peebles contracted gonorrhea from one of his co-stars. What can I say, the man did his own stunts.

Anyway, due to the unforeseen malady, Mr. Van Peebles applied to the director's guild for worker's comp, and was successful. He used the money to purchase more film. What a trooper.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Entry: Dormouse

Dormice aren't mice. They are rodents, but unlike mice, they have furry tails.

Then why, I wondered, wouldn't they get a more accurate name?

Aha, Wikipedia had the answer to that: they hibernate up to six months of the year, and their name stems from the Anglo-Saxon "dormeus," meaning "sleepy." That made sense to me, although they should have been named the Anglo-Saxon for "friggin' adorable:"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Entry: 25 Minutes to Go

Up until this point, I've known "25 Minutes to Go" as a Johnny Cash song, and I just assumed he (or another country music artist) had written it. But no, it was written by none other than Shel Silverstein. Some link-clicking confirms that he also wrote "A Boy Named Sue," another song made famous by Mr. Cash.

I mean, I'm surprised but certainly not shocked-- I of course identify Mr. Silverstein with the books and poems that I loved as a kid, but I'm also acquainted with his short plays for grown-ups and some of the work he did for Playboy. I think what's really surprising for me is that he was active in the 60s; I just assume that anything I liked as a kid was made in the 80s or later.

Wikipedia, once again you crack my fragile reality wide open.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Entry: Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier directed Ghost Dad.

I don't think learning that would have been quite as depressing if I hadn't just watched A Raisin in the Sun for the first time and turned to Wikipedia to find out what else Mr. Poitier had been in, besides the better known films that spring to mind (In the Heat of the Night, To Sir with Love, et cetera). And I got Bill Cosby falling through floors. Great.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Entry: Toilet-related injury

I was expecting this entry to be amusing on a Dave Barry level, and was somewhat disappointed. I am, however, enchanted with the accompanying photo, because of its accompanying caption:

And I can only hope that you, reader, are titillated by the fragments of the article I've included in the picture. "Splits?" "Pulling?" "Buttocks?" Oh my!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Entry: Ted Levine

So Ted Levine, the guy who plays Captain Leland Stottlemeyer (aka Monk's boss with the mustache) on Monk?

He also played Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.

I mean, good for Mr. Levine that he isn't stuck in typecasting purgatory... but good Lord. I'm never going to be able to watch Monk the same way again. Hell, I'm not going to be able to watch Silence of the Lambs the same way either.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Entry: Mooncalf

So I've seen the word mooncalf bandied about in literature, but I never bothered to find out what it meant. Apparently, while it is currently used to describe a stupid person, it originally referred to a miscarried cow fetus.

Ew. Literature is nasty.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Entry: Simonetta Stefanelli

Simonetta Stefanelli isn't dead.

The Italian actress, best known for her role in The Godfather as Apollonia Vitelli-Corleone (aka Michael's Sicilian Wife Who Gets Blown Up), has apparently had a lot of problems over the past few years with a rumor circulating the Internet that she had died in 2006. The issue became so persistent (and widespread), that her death was reported in Newsweek.

Ms. Stefanelli, Things I've Learned from Wikipedia is on your side.

Hey, Internet: Simonetta Stefanelli is alive and well. She has a boutique in Rome called Simo Bloom. Go check it out if you're ever in the neighborhood.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Entry: Hare

The differences between rabbits and hares:

- hares live above-ground, in a nest of grass called a "form." (Rabbits, in case you've never seen a Warner Brothers cartoon, dig underground burrows.)
- leverets (baby hares) are born furred and with sight-- but they aren't nidifugous. (See? It all connects.) Kittens (baby rabbits, don't get confused here) are born hairless and blind. Score one for the hares!
- hares have not been domesticated, while rabbits will cheerfully poop on your carpet for as long as you let them.
- hares tend to be larger, with longer ears.
- hares will jack you. Look at this crazy-eyed mofo:

Do not turn your back on a hare.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Entry: the Monster Study

A psychologist/speech pathologist from the University of Iowa named Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor, one of his students, conducted The Monster Study in 1939. (The study's name was given by Johnson's peers; read more to find out why!) Johnson was trying to find out if praise would reduce stuttering in children, and, conversely, if ridicule would induce stuttering.

Oh, it gets better.

The experiment was carried out over 6 months on 22 subjects, ages 5-15, who lived in an orphanage in western Iowa. (Gets around that annoying "parental consent" issue, decades before the phrase was even uttered.) 10 children in the experiment stuttered. They were separated into two groups: the experimental group, which was told that they did not stutter, and the control group, which was told that they did. Another 12 children who spoke normally were also studied: half of them were told that their speech was fine, and the other half were told that they stuttered (even though they didn't). I think the article itself sums the results up pretty well: "Letters between Mary Tudor and Wendell Johnson that were written shortly after the experiment ended showed that the children's speech had deteriorated significantly. Mary Tudor returned to the orphanage three times to try and reverse the negative effects caused by the experiment but lamented the fact that she was unable to provide enough positive therapy to reverse the deleterious effects."

So, I think that I've learned two important things from Wikipedia this time around:
1. Being a douchebag to children does not make them stutter.
2. Being a ward of the state sucks.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Entry: Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds

There's a lot of them, apparently. And established, popular breeds (Yorkshire terriers, shih tzus, and poodles, to name a few). These dogs just happened to have been bred to have less dander than the average dog. So don't act like it's such a big deal, Hedwig! (Was that reference obscure enough? I do my best.)

Allergic cat lovers, on the other hand, aren't so lucky. While some breeds are touted to be allergy-friendly because they have less fur, the fact is that most people are allergic to an enzyme in cat spit, so the amount of fur doesn't really matter. If you feel like waiting a year and dropping at least 8 grand, you can buy a truly hypoallergenic kitten from Allerca, a biotechnology firm. I has a mutation!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Entry: Nidifugous

Nidifugous: it's an adjective used to describe animals that leave the nest shortly after being born. Unfortunately the article is just a stub, and it doesn't tell you how much time has to pass before the baby animal stops being nidifugous and is just plain old gifted. Ah well.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Entry: Evan Adams

Here's something interesting, indie film nerds: Evan Adams, who you will most likely remember as the geeky guy from Smoke Signals (rent it if you haven't seen it), earned his medical degree in 2002. He now has a practice in Vancouver and is director of the Aboriginal Health program at the University of British Columbia, as well as continuing with his acting career. And he's gay, so all you fellas out there who are into Canadian overachievers, take note.

(In case you haven't noticed yet, most of my entries are pop-culture related. This is because my Wiki-meanderings usually start with something along the lines of, "I wonder who that guy in that movie is." I'll try to mix it up.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Entry: Blissymbol

So, there's this constructed language called Blissymbolics, a completely written system of several hundred pictograms that can be combined to form new words (so "closed" combined with "hand" means "fist"). It's neat because the symbols relate to concepts, instead of a specific spoken language or specific alphabet. So if I know Blissymbolics, and I have to communicate with someone who only speaks Mandarin but also knows Blissymbolics, and we have a pen and paper, we should be able to easily communicate with each other. Of course this isn't likely to happen because I spend more time blogging on my living room couch than I do knocking around Beijing, but you know, still cool in theory.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Entry: The Mickey Mouse Club

It's common knowledge that Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and Christina Aguilera started their careers on The Mickey Mouse Club in the early 90s, but apparently Ryan Gosling was also a member of the cast.

Stick that in your ironic thrift-store pipe and smoke it, hipsters!

Entry: W*A*L*T*E*R

So apparently there was a TV movie aired on CBS in 1984 called W*A*L*T*E*R. It was a M*A*S*H spinoff which chronicled the post-Korean War adventures of-- oh yes-- Corporal Walter "Radar" O'Reilly. Long story short: he moves to St. Louis and becomes a cop.

Originally intended as a series pilot, it was never picked up. But, honestly, is that surprising to anyone? I am saying this as a M*A*S*H fan. Radar is my favorite character on a series full of great characters, but his appeal is his boyish naivete. The first time he finds a decapitated hooker in a dumpster, it's all over. Nobody wants to see that.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Entry: The Colbert Report

The theme music for the Colbert Report was composed by Cheap Trick.

I know, right?! And I was just trying to find out what Emmys they've been nominated for this year. (The Report, not Cheap Trick.)

Entry: Gurn

Here's a fun new facial expression that I didn't know I could do: gurning. Gurning is "projecting the lower jaw as far forward and up as possible, and covering the upper lip with the lower lip." Quelle uncomfortable!

I'm not sure what emotion or message this is supposed to convey, so I'm just going to gurn at people and gauge the general reaction from the masses.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Entry: Jackalope

The legend of the jackalope is apparently pretty old, as this 16th century illustration, erm, illustrates. And here I thought it was a fabrication of the 19th century prairie imagination.