Archive for January 10th, 2011

January 10, 2011

Kewpie Doll


kewpie patent

Kewpie dolls and figurines are based on illustrations by Rose O’Neill that appeared in Ladies’ Home Journal in 1909. The small dolls were extremely popular in the early 1900s;  they were often awarded as a carnival prize and collected. They were first produced in Ohrdruf, a small town in Germany, then famous for its toy-manufacturers. Their name is derived from ‘cupid,’ the Roman god of beauty and non-platonic love.

The early dolls, especially signed or ceramic, are highly collectible and worth thousands of dollars. The time capsule at the 1939 New York World’s Fair contained a Kewpie doll. The Kewpie doll was mentioned in Anne Frank’s diary. She received one on her first St. Nicholas Day in the Annex from Miep and Bep. The dolls are also mentioned in Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.

January 10, 2011

Clavier à Lumières


The clavier [kluh-veerà [ahlumières [ly-myer] keyboard with lights) was a musical instrument invented by Russian composer, Alexander Scriabin for use in his work Prometheus: Poem of Fire. However, only one version of this instrument was constructed, for the performance in New York in 1915. The instrument’s keyboard lights up as synesthetic system, specified in the score.

Scriabin was a friend of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who was a synesthete (someone with a neurologically-based condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway). Scriabin was also heavily influenced by Theosophy, which had its own different system of associating colors and pitches.

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January 10, 2011

Spiritual Successor

Mighty No 9

A spiritual successor, sometimes called a spiritual sequel or a companion piece, is a successor to a work of fiction which does not directly build upon the storyline established by a previous work as do most traditional prequels or sequels, but nevertheless features many of the same elements, themes, and styles as its source material.

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January 10, 2011


peanut butter jelly time

The peanut butter and jelly sandwich (PB&J) is a sandwich, popular in North America, that includes a layer of peanut butter and either jam or jelly on bread. It has numerous common additions including honey, chocolate or maple syrup, Nutella, bananas, apples, strawberries, butter, marshmallow fluff, potato chips, cheese, raisins and other dried fruit, and last but not least, bacon.

Both peanut butter and jelly were on the U.S. Military ration menus in World War II. It is said that the American soldiers added jelly to their peanut butter to make it more palatable. Peanut butter provided an inexpensive and high protein alternative to meat for soldiers. It was an instant hit and returning servicemen made peanut butter and jelly sales soar in the United States. Food historians haven’t found any ads or other mentions of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before the 1940s.

January 10, 2011

Infrared Grill

ir grill

Infrared grills work by igniting propane or natural gas to superheat a ceramic tile, causing it to emit infrared radiation. The thermal radiation is generated when heat from the movement of charged particles within atoms is converted to electromagnetic radiation in the infrared heat frequency range.

IR offers heat that is uniformly distributed across the cooking surface and temperatures reach over 900 °F. This technology was previously patented, but the patents expired in 2000 and more companies have started offering infrared grills at lower prices.

January 10, 2011

Music Visualization



Music visualization, a feature found in electronic music visualizers and media player software, generates animated imagery based on a piece of music. The imagery is usually generated and rendered in real time and synchronized with the music as it is played, but some visualizations are pre-rendered.

Visualization techniques range from simple ones (e.g., a simulation of an oscilloscope display) to elaborate ones, which often include a plurality of composited effects. The changes in the music’s loudness and frequency spectrum are among the properties used as input to the visualization.

January 10, 2011

Broken Heart Syndrome


Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, is a sudden temporary weakening of the myocardium (the muscle of the heart). Because this weakening can be triggered by emotional stress, such as the death of a loved one, the condition is also known as broken heart syndrome. A tako tsubo is a jar-shaped, Japanese octopus trap that bears a resemblance to a heart experiencing Takotsubo cardiomyopathy: a bulging left ventricular apex and a preserved base of the left ventricle. The cause of the syndrome is not entirely understood, and is currently thought to involve high circulating levels of catecholamines (fight-or-flight hormones like adrenaline).

Evaluation of individuals with takotsubo cardiomyopathy typically includes a coronary angiogram, which will not reveal any significant blockages that would cause the left ventricular dysfunction. Provided that the individual survives their initial presentation, the left ventricular function improves within two months. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy is more commonly seen in post-menopausal women, and those with a history of a recent severe emotional or physical stress. A 2008 study by life insurance companies indicated that in the year following a loved one’s death, women were more than twice as likely to die than normal, and men more than six times as likely.

January 10, 2011

Pony Express

expert riders

The Pony Express was a fast mail service crossing the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, and the High Sierras from Missouri to California, founded in 1860. It became the west’s most direct means of east-west communication before the telegraph and was vital for tying California closely with the Union just before the American Civil War. Patee House (a historic hotel in St. Joseph, Missouri) served as the Pony Express headquarters from 1860 to 1861. It is one block away from the home of infamous outlaw Jesse James, where he was shot and killed by Robert Ford. After his murder, Jesse James’ family took up lodging at the hotel.

Messages were carried by horseback riders in relays to stations across the prairies, plains, deserts, and mountains of the Western United States. For its 18 months of operation, it briefly reduced the time for messages to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to about ten days, with telegraphic communication covering about half the distance across the continent and mounted couriers the rest. The continued popularity of the Pony Express can be linked to Buffalo Bill Cody who claimed to have been an Express rider.

January 10, 2011

Silent Garfield

Silent Garfield‘ refers to the removal of Garfield’s thought balloons from his comic strips. A webcomic called Arbuckle does the above but also redraws the originals in a different art style. Garfield changes from being a comic about a sassy, corpulent feline, and becomes a compelling picture of a lonely, pathetic, delusional man who talks to his pets.

Another variation along the same lines, called ‘Realfield’ or ‘Realistic Garfield,’ is to redraw Garfield as a real cat as well as removing his thought balloons. Still another approach to editing the strips involves removing Garfield and other main characters from the originals completely, leaving Jon talking to himself, such as in ‘Garfield Minus Garfield’ by Dan Walsh.