Archive for October 28th, 2011

October 28, 2011

Freak Show

freaks by sachin teng

A freak show is an exhibition of biological rarities, referred to as ‘freaks of nature.’ Typical features would be physically unusual humans, such as those uncommonly large or small, those with both male and female secondary sexual characteristics, people with other extraordinary diseases and conditions, and performances that are expected to be shocking to the viewers. Heavily tattooed or pierced people have sometimes been seen in freak shows, as have attention-getting physical performers such as fire-eating and sword-swallowing acts.

Freak shows were popular in the United States from the mid 19th to mid 20th centuries, and were often, but not always, associated with circuses and carnivals. Some shows also exhibited deformed animals (such as two-headed cows, one-eyed pigs, and four-horned goats) and famous hoaxes, or simply ‘science gone wrong’ exhibits (such as deformed babies).

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October 28, 2011

Imbunche

invunche

In the folklore of the Chiloé Island in southern Chile, the imbunche [im-boon-chay] is a legendary monster that protects the entrance to a warlock’s cave. According to legend, the Imbunche was a male child kidnapped by, or sold by his parents to a Brujo Chilote (a type of sorcerer or warlock of Chiloé).

The Brujo chilote transformed the child into a deformed hairy monster by breaking his legs and twisting them over his back, applying a magic cream over the boy’s to cause thick hairs and, finally splitting his tongue to produce a forked, snake-like, tongue.

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October 28, 2011

The Obscene Bird of Night

jose donoso

The Obscene Bird of Night (El obsceno pájaro de la noche, 1970) is the most acclaimed novel by the Chilean writer José Donoso (1924-1996). Donoso was a member of the Latin American literary boom and the literary movement known as magical realism. The novel explores the cyclical nature of life and death, in that our fears and fantasies of childhood resurface in adulthood and old age. It is about the deconstruction of self – to the extreme of trying ‘to live’ in non-existence.

The Imbunche myth is a major theme in the novel. According to legend, the Imbunche was a male child kidnapped by, or sold by his parents to a sorcerer who turns the child into a monster to guard his lair. It symbolizes the process of implosion of the physical and/or intellectual self, turning the living being into a thing or object incapable of interacting with the outside world, and depriving it of its individuality and even of its name. This can either be self-inflicted or forced upon by others.

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October 28, 2011

Comprachicos

Comprachicos is a compound Spanish neologism meaning ‘child-buyers,’ which was coined by Victor Hugo in his novel ‘The Man Who Laughs’ (1869). It refers to various groups in folklore who were said to change the physical appearance of human beings by manipulating growing children, in a similar way to the horticultural method of bonsai – that is, deliberate mutilation.

The most common methods said to be used in this practice included stunting children’s growth by physical restraint, muzzling their faces to deform them, slitting their eyes, dislocating their joints, and malforming their bones. The resulting human monsters made their living as mountebanks (con artists and hustlers) or were sold to lords and ladies to be used as pages or court jester.

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October 28, 2011

Child Beauty Pageant

A child beauty pageant is a beauty contest featuring contestants including and younger than 18 years of age. Divisions include talent, interview, sportswear, casual wear, swim wear, western wear, theme wear, outfit of choice, decade wear, and evening wear, typically wearing makeup as well as elaborate hairstyles. The contestants wear custom fitted and designed outfits to present their routines on stage. Some pageants do their best to make every child feel like a winner. There is a queen for every age division and there are Ultimate Grand Supreme awards, Mini supreme queens for certain blocks of age divisions (0-5, 6-11, 12-16, 17 and up). There are also side awards and overall side awards. Pageants may cater to the ‘natural’ contestant (who typically wears minimal makeup, only her own hair, no false teeth, no spray tan, and unmanicured nails) and/or the ‘high glitz’ contestant (who typically uses any and all of the above listed techniques to enhance her appearances).

The most cited reason parents give for putting their children into beauty pageants is to boost their child’s self-esteem, as well as teach poise, public speaking skills, tact, and confidence. Another commonly thought reason is to fulfill the mothers own childhood dreams vicariously through her daughters. However, parents can also contribute to the sexualization of their daughters in very direct and concrete ways—for example, by entering their 5-year-old daughter in a beauty pageant in which she and the other contestants engage in behaviors and practices that are socially associated with sexiness: wearing heavy makeup to emphasize full lips, long eyelashes, and flushed cheeks, high heels to emulate adult women, and revealing ‘evening gowns.’

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October 28, 2011

The Bubble Project

bubble

The Bubble Project, as proclaimed by its manifesto, aims to counteract corporate marketing and advertisement messages in public spaces. The project was conceived by Ji Lee, an artist and art director who originally printed 15,000 stickers that look like speech bubbles used in comic strips. He posts these blank speech bubbles on top of advertisements throughout New York City allowing anyone who sees them to write in their comments and thoughts.

By filling in the bubbles people engage in the project and transform ‘the corporate monologue into an open dialogue.’ The comments are photographed and posted on the project’s website. The Bubble Project has quickly gained popularity and independent efforts have sprung up in other parts of the world in countries such as Italy and Argentina.

October 28, 2011

Green Man

green man

Charlie Kelly is a fictional character on the FX television series ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,’ portrayed by Charlie Day. Green Man is a persona assumed by Charlie wearing a green Lycra suit (morphsuit). The persona has spawned imitators, most notably at sporting events. Rob McElhenney, creator of ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ came up with idea after watching the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the Dallas Cowboys at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Without warning, in the parking lot after the game, a friend of McElhenney’s stripped off his clothes and donned a full-body green lycra suit.

McElhenney said: ‘Everyone started chanting, ‘Green Man! Green Man!’ It went on for several hours, and all I could think was, My God, there has to be a way I can take advantage of this on the show.’ When McElhenney returned to Los Angeles, he ordered a suit from Japan that was identical to the outfit that McElhenney’s friend had worn. The character made his debut the next season in an episode entitled ‘The Gang Gets Invincible,’ which centered on three of the show’s central characters trying out for the Eagles, just as they had seen in the film ‘Invincible.’

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October 28, 2011

Zentai

superman zentai

Zentai is a term for skin-tight garments that cover the entire body. The word is a contraction of zenshin taitsu (Japanese: ‘full-body tights’). Zentai is most commonly made using nylon/spandex blends, but other materials such as cotton and wool are used as well. There are several variations based on the Zentai suit including mummy bag (similar to a sleepsack) and hybrid suits consisting of either a single leg and arms, or separate legs and no arms. Some companies have tried to create generic brands of the suits, by dropping the traditional name; in particular, examples include RootSuit or Superfan Suit in the United States and Bodysocks or Morphsuits in the United Kingdom. Morphsuits has actively tried to disassociate themselves from the existing zentai community, occasionally being listed as the product’s co-inventor.

This mainstream push has made them relatively common apparel at major sporting events, and created internationally recognized personalities out of The Green Men, two fans of the Vancouver Canucks NHL team. Some sports leagues, such as Major League Baseball, ban the use of the costume hoods. Various professional street dance/hip hop dance groups use the outfits, such as The Body Poets in the United States, and Remix Monkeys in the United Kingdom.

October 28, 2011

Status Symbol

superjumbo

grillz

A status symbol is a perceived visible, external denotation of one’s social position and perceived indicator of economic or social status. Many luxury goods are often considered status symbols. Status symbol is also a sociological term – as part of social and sociological symbolic interactionism – relating to how individuals and groups interact and interpret various cultural symbols. What is considered a status symbol will differ between countries and states, based on the states of their economic and technological development, and common status symbols will change over time. For example, before the invention of the printing press, having a large collection of books was considered a status symbol. After the advent of the printing press, having books was more common among average citizens, and so the possession of books was less of a status symbol. In the past, pearls and jade were major status symbols. Another common status symbol of the past which is still somewhat present today is heraldry, or one’s family name.

Status symbols also indicate the cultural values of a society. For example, in a commercial society, having money or wealth and things that can be bought by wealth, such as cars, houses, or fine clothing, are considered status symbols. In a society that values honor or bravery, a battle scar would be more of a status symbol. The condition of one’s body can be a status symbol. In times past, when workers did physical labor outdoors under the sun and often had little food, being pale and fat was a status symbol, indicating wealth and prosperity (through having enough food and not having to do manual labor). Now that workers usually do less-physical work indoors and find little time for exercise, being tanned and thin is often a status symbol in many cultures. In the 1990s, foreign cigarettes in China, where a pack of Marlboro can cost one day’s salary for some workers, were seen as a status symbol. Cellphone usage in Turkey had been considered a status symbol in early 1990s.

October 28, 2011

Rolex

submariner

Rolex is a Swiss watchmaking manufacturer of high-quality, luxury wristwatches. Rolex watches are popularly regarded as status symbols. Rolex is also the largest single luxury watch brand, producing about 2,000 watches per day, with estimated revenues of around US$3 billion in 2003. Among the company’s innovations are: the first waterproof wristwatch (Oyster, 1923); the first wristwatch with an automatically changing date on the dial (Rolex Datejust, 1945); the first wristwatch with an automatically changing day and date on the dial (Rolex Day-Date); the first wristwatch case waterproof to 100 m (330 ft) (Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner); and the first wristwatch to show two time zones at once (Rolex GMT Master, 1954).

Rolex produced specific models suitable for the extremes of deep-sea diving, mountain climbing and aviation. Early sports models included the Rolex Submariner and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Date Sea Dweller. The latter watch has a helium release valve, co-invented with Swiss watchmaker Doxa, to release helium gas build-up during decompression. The Explorer and Explorer II were developed specifically for explorers who would navigate rough terrain, such as the world famous Mount Everest expeditions. Another iconic model is the Rolex GMT Master, which was originally developed in 1954 at the request of Pan Am Airways to assist its pilots with the problem of crossing multiple time zones when on transcontinental flights (GMT standing for Greenwich Mean Time).

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October 28, 2011

Zippo

zippo

A Zippo lighter is a refillable, metal lighter manufactured by Zippo Manufacturing Company of Pennsylvania. Thousands of different styles and designs have been made in the seven decades since their introduction including military ones for specific regiments. George G. Blaisdell founded Zippo Manufacturing Company in 1932, and produced the first Zippo lighter in early 1933, being inspired by an Austrian cigarette lighter of similar design. It got its name because Blaisdell liked the sound of the word ‘zipper’ and ‘zippo’ sounded more modern.

Zippo lighters became popular in the United States military, especially during World War II when Zippo ceased production of lighters for consumer markets and dedicated all manufacturing to the U.S. military. The Zippo at that time was made of brass, but as this commodity was unobtainable, Zippo used steel during the war years. While the Zippo Manufacturing Company never had an official contract with the military, soldiers and armed forces personnel insisted that Base exchange (BX) stores carry this sought-after lighter. While it had previously been common to have Zippos with authorized badges, unit crests and division insignia, it became popular among the American soldiers of the Vietnam War, to get their Zippos engraved with personal mottos. These lighters are now sought after collectors items and popular souvenirs for visitors to Vietnam.

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October 28, 2011

Case

case

W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Company is an American manufacturer of traditional pocketknives. The company originated in Little Valley, New York around the turn of the 20th century before relocating to its current home, Bradford, Pennsylvania, in 1905. The company’s namesake, William Russell Case, first made knives with his brothers under the name, Case Brothers Cutlery Company. His son, John Russell (‘Russ’) Case, worked as a salesman for his father’s company before founding W.R. Case & Sons.

The company’s roots extend back to 1889, when the Case brothers – William Russell (W.R.), Jean, John and Andrew Case, formerly of the Cattaraugus Cutlery Company – began selling cutlery from the back of a wagon in various small western New York villages. In January 1900, the brothers incorporated to form Case Brothers Cutlery Company.

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