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.