Archive for February 27th, 2011

February 27, 2011

MacGuffin

the 39 steps

maltese falcon

A MacGuffin is a plot element that catches the viewers’ attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction. The defining aspect of a MacGuffin is that the major players in the story are (at least initially) willing to do and sacrifice almost anything to obtain it, regardless of what the MacGuffin actually is. In fact, the specific nature of the MacGuffin may be ambiguous, undefined, generic, left open to interpretation or otherwise completely unimportant to the plot. Common examples are money, victory, glory, survival, a source of power, or a potential threat, or it may simply be something entirely unexplained.

The MacGuffin is common in films, especially thrillers. Usually, though not always, the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act, and then declines in importance as the struggles and motivations of characters play out. It may come back into play at the climax of the story, but sometimes the MacGuffin is actually forgotten by the end of the film. The director and producer Alfred Hitchcock popularized both the term and the technique, with his 1935 film ‘The 39 Steps,’ an early example of the concept.

February 27, 2011

Pascha

pascha

The Pascha is a 12 story brothel in Cologne, Germany. With about 120 prostitutes, over 80 employees and up to 1000 customers per day, it is the largest brothel in Europe. The brothel was opened in January 1972 in the Hornstraße, under the name ‘Eros Center.’ It was Europe’s first high rise brothel. The city of Cologne wanted to eliminate the red light district ‘Kleine Brinkgasse’ in the city center and issued a license to build the new brothel on land owned by the city in the outskirts of town. The house rents 126 rooms on 7 floors to prostitutes for a fee of 180 Euros per day, which includes meals, medical care, and the 20 Euros of tax that authorities collect per prostitute per day.

The women come from many countries; about 30% of them are German. They typically sit outside of their rooms and negotiate with customers who wander the hallways. Some of the women live in their rooms, others rent a second room to stay in, while still others stay in their own apartments in Cologne. The house is open 24 hours a day; customers of the prostitutes pay an entrance fee of 5 Euros and then negotiate directly with the women, who work independently and keep all of the money. One floor is reserved for low-cost service, and another one for transsexual prostitutes. The house also contains a regular hotel, a table dance nightclub with separate entrance, several bars, and a separate club-style brothel on the top floor.

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February 27, 2011

Wabi-Sabi

Hagi ware

Wabi-sabi represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is ‘imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.’ It is a concept derived from the Buddhist assertion of the Three marks of existence (impermanence, suffering, and non-self).

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

February 27, 2011

Mono No Aware

genji

Mono no aware (literally ‘the pathos of things’), also translated as ‘an empathy toward things,’ or ‘a sensitivity of ephemera,’ is a Japanese term used to describe the awareness of ‘mujo’ or the transience of things and a gentle sadness (or wistfulness) at their passing. The term was coined in the eighteenth century by the Edo period Japanese cultural scholar Motoori Norinaga, and was originally a concept used in his literary criticism of ‘The Tale of Genji,’ and later applied to other seminal Japanese works including the ‘Man’yōshū,’ becoming central to his philosophy of literature, and eventually to Japanese cultural tradition.

The word is derived from the Japanese word ‘mono’ (lit. ‘things’) and ‘aware,’ which was a Heian period expression of measured surprise (similar to ‘ah’ or ‘oh’), translating roughly as ‘pathos,’ ‘poignancy,’ ‘deep feeling,’ or ‘sensitivity.’ Thus, mono no aware has frequently been translated as “the ‘ahh-ness’ of things,” life and love. The quintessentially ‘Japanese’ director Yasujiro Ozu was well known for creating a sense of mono no aware, frequently climaxing with a character saying a very understated ‘ii tenki desu ne’ (‘It is fine weather, isn’t it?’), after both a familial and societal paradigm shift, such as daughter being married off, against the backdrop of a swiftly changing Japan.

February 27, 2011

Saudade

no more blues

Saudade is a Portuguese word difficult to translate adequately, which describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might really never return. Saudade has been described as a ‘vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist … a turning towards the past or towards the future.’ A stronger form of saudade may be felt towards people and things whose whereabouts are unknown, such as a lost lover, or a family member who has gone missing.

It may also be translated as a deep longing or yearning for something which does not exist or is unattainable. Saudade was once described as ‘the love that remains’ or ‘the love that stays’ after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again.

February 27, 2011

Sehnsucht

Sehnsucht

Sehnsucht is a German noun translated as ‘longing,’ ‘yearning’ and ‘craving,’ or in a wider sense a type of ‘intensely missing.’ The word is almost impossible to translate adequately and describes a deep emotional state. Its meaning is somewhat similar to the Portuguese word, ‘saudade.’ The stage director and author Georg Tabori called Sehnsucht one of those quasi-mystical terms in German for which there is no satisfactory corresponding term in another language.

The term is a compound word, originating from an ardent longing or yearning (‘das Sehnen’) and addiction (‘die Sucht’). However, these words do not adequately encapsulate the full meaning of their resulting compound, even when considered together.

February 27, 2011

Persepolis

the socks

Persepolis is a French-language autobiographical comic by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. The title is a reference to the ancient capital of the Persian Empire, Persepolis. Drawn in black and white, the graphic novel found great popularity following its release, and was translated into several languages. The English edition combines the first two French books and was translated by Blake Ferris and Satrapi’s husband, Mattias Ripa.

In 2007, an animated film adaptation of the graphic novel was created, with author Satrapi co-directing with French comic artist Vincent Paronnaud. The film utilized the same style of the graphic novel, although there are a handful of scenes in the present day that are shown in color, while the rest of the flashback events are illustrated in black and white, as in the novel.

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February 27, 2011

Third Culture Kid

A third-culture kid (TCK) is someone who, as a child, has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture. TCKs tend to have more in common with one another, regardless of nationality, than they do with non-TCKs from their passport country. TCKs are often multilingual and highly accepting of other cultures. Although moving between countries may become an easy thing for some TCKs, after a childhood spent in other cultures, adjusting to their passport country often takes years.

Before World War II, 66% of TCKs came from missionary families, and 16% came from business families. After World War II, with the increase of international business and the rise of two international superpowers, the composition of international families changed. Sponsors are generally broken down into five categories: missionary (17%), business (16%), government (23%), military (30%), and “other” (14%). Some TCK families migrate for work independently of any organization based in their country of origin.

February 27, 2011

Child Of Deaf Adult

A child of a deaf adult, often known by the acronym CODA, is a person who was raised by a deaf parent or guardian. Many CODAs identify with both deaf and hearing cultures. The organization CODA (Children of Deaf Adults) was established in 1983 for hearing children of deaf adults in the United States. CODA began hosting annual conferences in 1986, in Fremont, California. The conferences have grown, taking on an international status with attendees hailing from worldwide.

February 27, 2011

SweeTango

SweeTango, a registered trademark for a cultivar of apples produced in Minneiska, Minnesota. It is a newly released hybrid brand apple that debuted in 2009. It is a pinkish apple consisting of a yellow background that is intermittent with red coloration. The surface of the apple has several distinguishing visual characteristics. The prominent white lenticels appear freckle-like on the fruit. The name comes from those that have tasted this new brand of apple. They say they taste sweet as well as tart at the same time, sweet and tangy.

University of Minnesota produced this variety of apple from their breeding program. Their 80 acre Horticultural Research Center near Victoria, Minnesota, produced the Minneiska variety apple from Honeycrisp and Zestar apple varieties, which they also specially breed. Others apple varieties they have developed in their facility are Fireside, Haralson, and Honeygold.

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February 27, 2011

Maoz

falafel

Maoz is a chain of falafel fast food restaurants, serving purely vegetarian fare and promoting the ‘vegetarian lifestyle.’ The chain was founded by a husband and wife, Nahman Milo and Sima Bar-On, Israelis, who were living in Amsterdam. The first restaurant opened in 1991, and the first store outside The Netherlands opened in 1996. There are now 22 franchises globally, located in the Netherlands, The United States, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Australia, and India.

Originally, restaurants offered only falafel, but the menu in some locations has since been expanded to include other vegetarian items, such as pommes frites (Belgian-style french fries). Muma Vegetarian is a copycat restaurant in Los Angeles.

February 27, 2011

Liquidity

liquidity

In business, economics or investment, market liquidity is an asset’s ability to be sold without causing a significant movement in the price and with minimum loss of value. Money, or cash in hand, is the most liquid asset, and can be used immediately to perform economic actions like buying, selling, or paying debt, meeting immediate wants and needs. An act of exchange of a less liquid asset with a more liquid asset is called liquidation. Liquidity also refers both to a business’s ability to meet its payment obligations, in terms of possessing sufficient liquid assets, and to such assets themselves.

February 27, 2011

Exchange-Traded Fund

ishares

An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is an investment fund traded on stock exchanges, much like stocks. An ETF holds assets such as stocks, commodities, or bonds and trades at approximately the same price as the net asset value of its underlying assets over the course of the trading day.

An ETF combines the valuation feature of a mutual fund, which can be bought or sold at the end of each trading day for its net asset value, with the liquidity feature of a stock, which trades throughout the trading day at prices that may be more or less than its net asset value. ETFs have been available in the US since 1993 and in Europe since 1999. ETFs traditionally have been index funds, but in 2008 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began to authorize the creation of actively managed ETFs.

February 27, 2011

Rhythms del Mundo

rhythms del mundo

Rhythms del Mundo (lit. ‘World Rhythms’) is a 2006 nonprofit album, which fuses Cuban musicians including Ibrahim Ferrer and Omara Portuondo of the Buena Vista Social Club with artists such as Dido, Arctic Monkeys, U2, Coldplay, Sting, Jack Johnson, Maroon 5, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs and others. A follow-up album, Rhythms del Mundo Classics, was released in 2009. Album proceeds benefits the environmental nonprofit organization Artists Project Earth, which raises funds for climate change projects and disaster relief efforts.

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