Archive for March 18th, 2013

March 18, 2013

Coconut Oil

KERAFED

Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm. Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations.

It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry. Coconut oil is very heat-stable, which makes it suited to methods of cooking at high temperatures like frying. Because of its stability, it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidity, lasting up to two years owing to the high saturated fat content.

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March 18, 2013

World Sauna Championships

Darwin Awards

The World Sauna Championships were an annual endurance contest held in Heinola, Finland, from 1999 to 2010. They originated from unofficial sauna-sitting competitions that resulted in a ban from a swimming hall in Heinola. The Championships were first held in 1999 and grew to feature contestants from over 20 countries.

Sauna bathing at extreme conditions is a severe health risk: all competitors competed at their own risk, and had to sign a form agreeing not to take legal action against the organizers. Notably, the Finnish Sauna Society strongly opposed the event. After the death of one finalist and near-death of another during the 2010 championship, the organizers announced that they would not hold another event. This followed an announcement by prosecutors that the organizing committee would not be charged for negligence, as their investigation revealed that the contestant who died may have used painkillers and ointments that were forbidden by the organizers.

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March 18, 2013

Kung Faux

Assemblage

Kung Faux is a 2003 critically acclaimed action comedy television series and audio visual art assemblage created by postmodern revisionist Michael ‘Mic’ Neumann that remixes classic kung fu movies with popular music, comic book style editing with video game style special effects, and new storylines with voice-overs dubbed by contemporary art stars, hip hop personalities, and pop culture icons. ‘Revisionist Mic Neumann has an offering worthy of the Postmodernism canon, alongside Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Weekend’ and Luis Bunuel’s ‘Chien Andalou,” reported Steve Johnston of ‘The Film Cynics.’

Notable visuals, music and voice-over work was performed by the likes of hip-hop artists De La Soul, Guru, Masta Ace, and Queen Latifah, while other ‘Kung Faux’ artists and performers range from underground to legendary, and contemporary, including Dave Kinsey, KAWS, Steve Powers, break dancer Crazy Legs, Elephant Man, Afrika Bambaataa, Biz Markie, Jean Grae, Roc Raida, Sadat X, Ron van Clief and Harold Hunter.

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March 18, 2013

Nina Paley

Nina Paley (b. 1968) is an American cartoonist, animator and free culture activist. She directed the animated feature film ‘Sita Sings the Blues.’ She was the artist and often the writer of comic strips ‘Nina’s Adventures’ and ‘Fluff,’ but most of her recent work has been in animation. Her early short films include ‘Fetch!,’ ‘The Stork,’ and ‘The Wit & Wisdom of Cancer.’ Paley was born in Urbana, Illinois, to Hiram and Jean Paley in an American Jewish family.

Her father was a mathematics professor at the University of Illinois and was mayor of Urbana, where they resided, for a term in the early 1970s. She attended local elementary and high schools, illustrating a ‘History of the North Pole’ comic in collaboration with University High School history teacher Chris Butler, and attended the University of Illinois, studying art for two years.

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March 18, 2013

Paul Krassner

The Realist

Paul Krassner (b. 1932) is an American author, journalist, stand-up comedian, and the founder, editor and a frequent contributor to the freethought magazine ‘The Realist,’ first published in 1958. Krassner became a key figure in the counterculture of the 1960s as a member of Ken Kesey’s ‘Merry Pranksters’ and a founding member of the Yippies (Youth International Party).

Krassner was a child violin prodigy (and was the youngest person ever to play Carnegie Hall, in 1939 at age six). His parents were Jewish, but Krassner is firmly secular, considering religion ‘organized superstition.’

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March 18, 2013

The Realist

Paul Krassner

The Realist was a pioneering magazine of ‘social-political-religious criticism and satire, ‘intended as a hybrid of a grown-ups version of ‘Mad’ and Lyle Stuart’s anti-censorship monthly ‘The Independent.’ Edited and published by journalist and stand-up comedian Paul Krassner, and often regarded as a milestone in the American underground or countercultural press of the mid-20th century, it was a nationally-distributed newsstand publication as early as 1959.

Publication was discontinued in 2001. First published in the spring of 1958 in New York City in the offices of ‘Mad,’ ‘The Realist’ appeared on a fairly regular schedule during the 1960s and then on an irregular schedule after the early 1970s. In 1984, it was revived as a much smaller newsletter. Articles and cartoons from the magazine were collected in a book, ‘The Best of the Realist.’

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March 18, 2013

Air Pirates

last gasp

The Air Pirates were a group of cartoonists who created two issues of an underground comic called ‘Air Pirates Funnies’ in 1971, leading to a famous lawsuit by The Walt Disney Company. Founded by Dan O’Neill, the group also included Shary Flenniken, Bobby London, Gary Hallgren, and Ted Richards. The collective shared a common interest in the styles of past masters of the comic strip, and in creating their stories for the collective each set out to imitate the style of an old time cartoonist.

Flenniken emulated Clare Briggs and H. T. Webster in her ‘Trots and Bonnie’ comics, London’s strip ‘Dirty Duck’ paid homage to the style of George Herriman’s ‘Krazy Kat,’ Richards’ ‘Dopin’ Dan’ was supposed to be influenced by Bud Fisher but showed more similarity to Mort Walker’s ‘Beetle Bailey,’ and Gary Hallgren drew a strip called ‘Pollyanna Pals’ in the style of Cliff Sterrett’s ‘Polly and Her Pals.’ The original Air Pirates were a gang of Mickey Mouse antagonists of the 1930s; O’Neill regarded Mickey Mouse as a symbol of conformist hypocrisy in American culture, and therefore a ripe target for satire.

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March 18, 2013

Roman Salute

Italian Fascism

The Roman salute (Saluto Romano) is a gesture in which the arm is held out forward straight, with palm down, and fingers touching. In some versions, the arm is raised upward at an angle; in others, it is held out parallel to the ground. The former is a well known symbol of fascism that is commonly perceived to be based on a custom in ancient Rome. However, no Roman text gives this description and the Roman works of art that display gestures of salutation bear little resemblance to the modern Roman salute.

Jacques-Louis David’s painting ‘The Oath of the Horatii’ (1784) provided the starting point for the gesture that became later known as the Roman salute. The gesture and its identification with Roman culture was further developed in other French neoclassic artworks.

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March 18, 2013

Bellamy Salute

The Bellamy salute is a salute chosen by American socialist Francis Bellamy to accompany the American Pledge of Allegiance, which he wrote. During the period when it was used with the Pledge of Allegiance, it was sometimes known as the ‘flag salute.’ During the 1920s and 1930s, Italian fascists and Nazis adopted salutes which were similar in form, resulting in controversy over the use of the Bellamy salute in the United States.

It was officially replaced by the hand-over-heart salute when Congress amended the Flag Code in December of 1942. The inventor of the saluting gesture was James B. Upham, junior partner and editor of ‘The Youth’s Companion.’ Bellamy recalled Upham, upon reading the pledge, came into the posture of the salute, snapped his heels together, and said ‘Now up there is the flag; I come to salute; as I say ‘I pledge allegiance to my flag,’ I stretch out my right hand and keep it raised while I say the stirring words that follow.’

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March 18, 2013

Dakimakura

A dakimakura (‘daki’ means ‘to embrace or cling’ + and ‘makura’ means ‘pillow’, also called Dutch wife, is a type of large pillow from Japan. The word is often translated in English simply as ‘hug pillow.’ In Japan, dakimakura are similar to Western orthopedic body pillows, and are commonly used by Japanese youth as ‘security objects.’ In the West, ‘dakimakura’ is associated with a love pillow. Love pillows are a subset of dakimakura and a type of inflatable sex toy. They usually have life-size pictures of anime characters or pornographic film actors, often in suggestive poses.

During the 1990s, dakimakura began to intertwine with otaku culture (a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests), leading to the production of pillow covers featuring printed images of bishōjo (‘beautiful young girls’) and their male counterparts, bishonen, from various anime or Bishōjo game. Many of these early otaku dakimakura covers were released through Cospa, a character goods and apparel store which continues to release official dakimakura covers to this day. Although sometimes called a Dutch wife, the original definition of this phrase is closer to the chikufujin.

March 18, 2013

KAWS

kaws

Brian Donnelly (b. 1974), professionally known as KAWS, is a New York-based artist and designer of limited edition toys and clothing. Donnelly graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration in 1996. After graduation, KAWS briefly worked for Disney as a freelance animator painting backgrounds. He also contributed to the animated series ‘101 Dalmatians,’ ‘Daria,’ and ‘Doug.’ He began his career as a graffiti artist growing up in Jersey City.

Later moving to New York City in the 1990s, KAWS started subverting imagery on billboards, bus shelters and phone booth advertisements. These reworked advertisements were at first left alone, lasting for up to several months, but as KAWS’ popularity skyrocketed, the ads became increasingly sought after. In addition to New York, KAWS has done work in Paris, London, Berlin and Tokyo. KAWS’s ‘Companion,’ a grayscale figure based on Mickey Mouse with his face obscured by both hands, was adapted into a balloon for the 2012 ‘Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade’ as part of the parade’s ‘Blue Sky Gallery’ feature.

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March 18, 2013

Urban Vinyl

Urban vinyl is a type of designer toy, featuring action figures in particular which are usually made of vinyl. Although the term is sometimes used interchangeably with the term designer toy, it is more accurately used as a modifier: not all designer toys can be considered urban vinyl, while urban vinyl figures are necessarily designer toys, by virtue of the way in which they are produced.

Like designer toys in general, urban vinyl figures feature original designs, small production numbers, and are marketed to collectors, predominantly adults. The urban vinyl trend was initiated by artist Michael Lau, who first created urban vinyl figures in Hong Kong in the late 1990s. Other creators of urban vinyl figures are Japanese artist and designer Takashi Murakami, Australian designer Nathan Jurevicius’s ‘Scarygirl,’ based on characters from his comic of the same name, and produced in conjunction with Hong Kong company Flyingcat, and former graffiti artist KAWS.

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