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.