Monthly Archives: March 2009

Potholes (03/16)

Stinkin' Pothole

Stinkin' Pothole

Everyone hates them, that is for sure. But there is something that I am unsure about – why do we call them potholes?

First of all, not everyone calls them potholes, they are also known as kettles and chuckholes.

Second of all, if you read the definition of pothole, the reason it carries over to our roads is obvious:
a deep natural underground cavity formed by the erosion of rock, esp. by the action of water.
• a deep circular hole in a riverbed formed by the erosion of the rock by the rotation of stones in an eddy.
• a depression or hollow in a road surface caused by wear or subsidence.
• (also pothole lake) a pond in a natural hollow in the ground.

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Whatchamacallit (03/15)

I have heard a lot of talk about bow good the series Battlestar Galactica is, so with some persuasion I watched the debut mini-series. My review is that I can see its potential – my reason for brining it up is that I learned a new word:

gimbal |’gimbəl; ‘jim-|
noun (often gimbals)
a contrivance, typically consisting of rings pivoted at right angles, for keeping an instrument such as a compass or chronometer horizontal in a moving vessel or aircraft.

Not a word that will come up in a daily conversation, but than again, you never know.

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Missing Something? (03/14)

Although he ranks alongside Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton as one of the most popular and influential film comedians of the silent film era – he was always less known to me – the man I am talking about is Harold Lloyd.

Harold Lloyd as his "glasses character"

Harold Lloyd as his "Glasses Character"

Harold Lloyd was a brilliant comedian, superb athlete, and daredevil who did most of his own stunts even after a 1919 accident…

On a Sunday in August of 1919, Harold posed for a photographer. The set-up called for him to light a cigarette with a prop bomb — the round, black, type you might see in the cartoons. The bomb wasn’t a prop at all; it exploded in his hand. It ripped open the sixteen-foot ceiling and left Harold blind and with most of his right hand missing. Doctors told him he would never see again. His career was over.

But the doctors were wrong. Eventually, his sight did return, the scars healed, and a glove was crafted to hide his handicap from his public. The comedian, known for doing all his own daredevil stunts, felt his audience would be concerned for his safety and not laugh at the movie if they knew about his injury. So he wore the glove in every movie he ever made after the accident.

(from the official website of Harold Lloyd)

If have ever seen his 1923 movie Safety Last! you will find it hard to believe all of the stunts that he accomplished with a prosthetic hand.

Safety First!

Safety First!

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I Want to Bite Your Neck (03/13)

If someone mentions vampires I tend to think of Count Scary or Count Dracula, not of bloated corpses wrapped in shrouds. However, if I was living in Italy in the 16th century that would not be the case.
During epidemics, mass graves were often reopened to bury fresh corpses and diggers would chance upon older bodies that were bloated, with blood seeping out of their mouth and with an inexplicable hole in the shroud used to cover their face.

“These characteristics are all tied to the decomposition of bodies,” Borrini said. “But they saw a fat, dead person, full of blood and with a hole in the shroud, so they would say: ‘This guy is alive, he’s drinking blood and eating his shroud.'”

At the time however, what passed for scientific texts taught that “shroud-eaters” were vampires who fed on the cloth and cast a spell that would spread the plague in order to increase their ranks.

To kill the undead creatures, the stake-in-the-heart method popularized by later literature was not enough: A stone or brick had to be forced into the vampire’s mouth so that it would starve to death, Borrini said.

(from Yahoo News)

That is what is believed to have happened to the 60 year old woman’s remains found on Lazzaretto island, that you see below.
16th-century reamains of woman believed to be a vampire

16th-century remains of woman believed to be a vampire

If you happen to wrap yourself in a shroud and stick a brick in your mouth this Halloween , be sure to let me know the kind of reaction you get…

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What Building You Talkin’ About? (03/12)



That’s right ladies and gentlemen we are talking about the Sears Tower, our nations tallest building. Why are we talking about it? Because the name is going to be changed to Willis Tower. Who names a building, Willis?

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The 110-story Chicago giant, the nation’s tallest building, will be renamed Willis Tower under a leasing deal. The New York-based owners signed a lease with Willis Group Holdings, a London-based insurance broker, for 140,000 square feet.

“Having our name associated with Chicago’s most iconic structure underscores our commitment to this great city, and recognizes Chicago’s importance as a major financial hub and international business center,” said Joseph Plumeri, chairman of Willis Group Holdings.

blah, blah, blah. It’s hard enough to keep up with the names of stadiums, now we are going to have to keep up rnaming buildings too?

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Blue Eyes and Boots (03/11)

Frank Sinatra and his daughter Nancy’s duet “Somethin’ Stupid”  remains to be the only father-daughter duet to hit No. 1 in the United States. (It hit #1 in the U.S. and the UK in April 1967 and spent nine weeks at the top of Billboard’s easy listening chart)


Frank & Nacy Sinatra 1966

This was despite the fact that DJs in 1967 referred to the duet and the “incest song”

With these lyrics, It’s not hard to imagine why they might say that:

I know I stand in line until you think
You have the time to spend an evening with me
And if we go someplace to dance
I know that there’s a chance you won’t be leaving with me
And afterwards we drop into a quiet little place
And have a drink or two……
And then I go and spoil it all by saying
Something stupid like I love you

I can see it in your eyes that you despise
The same old lines you heard the night before……
And though it’s just a line to you for me it’s true……
And never seemed so right before
I practice everyday to find some clever lines
To say to make the meaning come true……
But then I think I’ll wait until the evening gets late
And I’m alone with you
The time is right your perfume fills my head……
The stars get red and on the nights so blue……
And then I go and spoil it all by saying
Something stupid like I love you


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The Night Watch by Rembrandt (03/10)

AKA: The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenhurch

AKA: The Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Willem van Ruytenhurch

I was reading an article in Film Comment about Peter Greenaway’s film Rembrandt’s J’accuse,  an essayistic documentary in which Greenaway’s fierce criticism of today’s visual illiteracy is argued by means of a forensic search of Rembrandt’s Nightwatch.

I learned a few things about Peter Greenaway in reading the article, but what I also interested in this painting. I have taken a few Art History course and I was surprised when the article listed Nightwatch as the fourth most famous painting (after the Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and the Sistine Chaple, of course).

So I did some digging, first in my Gardner’s Art through the Ages (10th edition), and to my surpise it was not mentioned. Naturally, my next step was th internet where I found a site called from which the following bits are from.

The Night Watch was commissioned by Captain Barining Cocq and 17 members of his civic guards; that this was the total of Rembrandt’s clients for the work is assumed from the fact that 18 names, added by an unknown hand after the painting was completed, appear on a shield on the background wall.

The Night Watch is colossal. In its original dimensions it measured approximately 13 by 16 feet.

The Night Watch lies at the center of the most persistent and annoying of all Rembrandt myths. As recently as the tourist season of 1967, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines featured the painting by their illustrious countryman in an advertisement inviting travelers to visit Holland. “See Night Watch,” said the advertisement, “Rembrandt’s spectacular ‘failure’ (that caused him to be) hooted …down the road to bankruptcy.”

The painting was not poorly received; no critic during Rembrandt’s lifetime wrote a word in dispraise of it. Captain Banning Cocq himself had a watercolor made of it for his personal album, and a contemporary oil copy of it by Gerrit Lundens, now owned by the National Gallery in London, offers further proof of the picture’ s popularity.

The fable of the Night Watch may owe its stubborn survival to the fact that it is a simple and convenient means of disposing of a complex matter. In 1642 Rembrandt was at the height of his popularity, and thereafter he slowly fell out of public favor, though never to the extent that romantic biographers suggest. What were the reasons for his “decline”? One of them, certainly, was a change in Dutch tastes in art.

Well, I know this – if you asked Peter Greenaway about the “fable of the Night Watch“, he would certainly tell you that Rembrandt’s fall out of public favor had nothing to do with “a change in tastes in art”.

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Did You Realize? (03/09)

At work we have a large sized wipe on which different questions appear on a fairly regular basis.

Today’s topic: Happiest Song You Know…

My answer was: “Do You Realize” by the Flaming Lips

That is when a co-worker of mine informed that “Do You Realize” had been made the official state rock song of Oklahoma. (apparently they picked a state song from each musical genre)

What a lovely tribute from the band’s home state.

read the story here.

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Bad to the Bone (03/08)

Unfortunately, I learned about this because it happened to one of my soccer teammates.

An avulsion fracture is the separation of a small fragment of bone cortex at the site of attachment of a ligament or tendon.

It occurs when an injury causes a ligament or tendon to tear off (avulse) a small piece of a bone to which it’s attached. The injury may be due to direct trauma, such as a hard tackle in football, or indirect trauma, such as an aggressive pivot in soccer or basketball.


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Samurais (03/07)

This Samurai character:

John Belushi

John Belushi on SNL

Is based on this Samurai character:

Toshirô Mifune in Sanjuro

Toshirô Mifune in Sanjuro

But wait, there  is more..

The masterless samurai Sanjuro appears in 2 of Akira Kirusawa’s films: Yojimbo and Sanjuro.

Kirusawa used the American genre of westerns for these films, but set them in feudal Japan.

Then Yojimbo was remade (into a western) by Sergio Leone as A Fistful of Dollars, starring an American “masterless samurai”, Clint Eastwood.

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