Archive for August, 2013

August 31, 2013

Search and Destroy

zippo mission

Search and Destroy, Seek and Destroy, or even simply S&D, refers to a military strategy that became a large component of the Vietnam War. The idea was to insert ground forces into hostile territory, search out the enemy, destroy them, and withdraw immediately afterward. The strategy was the result of a new technology, the helicopter, which resulted in a new form of warfare, air cavalry, and was thought to be ideally suited to counter-guerrilla jungle warfare.

The complementary conventional strategy, which entailed attacking and conquering an enemy position, then fortifying and holding it indefinitely, was known as ‘clear and hold’ or ‘clear and secure.’ In theory, the traditional methods of ‘taking ground’ could not be used in this war. Therefore the U.S. pursued a war of attrition instead, in which raw ‘body count’ would be the measuring tool to determine the success of a strategy.

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August 31, 2013

Vietnam Veteran

A Vietnam veteran is someone who served in the armed forces of participating countries during the Vietnam War. Common usage distinguishes between those who served ‘in country’ as ‘Vietnam veterans’ and the others as ‘Vietnam-era veterans.’ The U.S. government officially refers to all as ‘Vietnam-era veterans.’ According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974 (VEVRAA), ‘A Vietnam era veteran is a person who: ‘served on active duty for a period of more than 180 days, any part of which occurred between August 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975, and was discharged or released with other than a dishonorable discharge.’

The U.S. Census Bureau (2004) reports there are 8.2 million ‘Vietnam Era Veterans.’ Of these 2.59 million are reported to have served ‘in country.’ More than 58,000 US personnel died as a result of the conflict (this comprises deaths from all categories including deaths while missing, captured, non-hostile deaths, homicides, and suicides).

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August 31, 2013

Twerking

hank hill twerk

Twerking is a dance move that involves a person, usually a woman, shaking her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer to shake, ‘wobble’ and ‘jiggle.’ According to the Oxford Dictionary Online to twerk is ‘to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.’

Twerking carries both gendered and racialized connotations. The word is of uncertain origin. Possibilities include a contraction of ‘footwork,’ or a portmanteau of twist and jerk. Comparisons have been made with traditional African dances, for instance the Mapouka from West Africa which was banned from the television of Ivory Coast due to its suggestive nature.

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August 30, 2013

Cool as Ice

vanilla ice by outre gallery

Cool as Ice‘ is a 1991 American musical romance film directed by David Kellogg and starring rapper Vanilla Ice in his feature film debut. The film focuses on the character of Johnny Van Owen, a freewheeling, motorcycle-riding rapper who arrives in a small town and meets Kathy, an honor student who catches his eye. Meanwhile, Kathy’s father, who is in witness protection, is found by the corrupt police officers he escaped from years ago. The film was developed as a vehicle for Vanilla Ice, and was commercially and critically unsuccessful.

The role of Kathy was offered to Gwyneth Paltrow. Her father Bruce Paltrow forbade her from accepting it, due to the script’s sexual content. The Director of Photography of the film was future ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Minority Report’ cinematographer Janusz Kamiński. The film’s soundtrack album contained four new songs by Vanilla Ice, as well as other material. It peaked at #89 on the Billboard 200.

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August 28, 2013

Gil Gunderson

Gil

Gil Gunderson, a.k.a. Ol’ Gil, is a character on ‘The Simpsons’ voiced by Dan Castellaneta that first appeared in the ninth season episode ‘Realty Bites’ as a real estate agent with Lionel Hutz’s Red Blazer Realty. He is a spoof of actor Jack Lemmon’s portrayal of Shelley Levene in the 1992 film adaptation of the play ‘Glengarry Glen Ross.’ (Lemmon himself voiced a character similar to Levene in the eighth season episode ‘The Twisted World of Marge Simpson’).  Show runner Mike Scully said that the writers thought that Gil would be ‘a one-shot thing’ ‘Dan Castellaneta was so funny at the table read doing the character,’ Scully elaborated, ‘we kept making up excuses in subsequent episodes to put him in.’

Writer Dan Greaney said that it was a great take-off on Levene to make Gil more desperate than he was. Even so, the writers like to write Gil with ‘a little bit of the old sparkle’ left in him. With the retirement of the character Lionel Hutz (after voice actor Phil Hartman’s death), Gil has been working as the Simpsons’ lawyer in later episodes. He had several jobs but inevitably fails at any endeavour, often tragically. For example, he was shot on his first day as a security guard in the bank. As revealed in ‘Natural Born Kissers,’ he lives in a balloon..

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August 28, 2013

Glengarry Glen Ross

Glengarry Glen Ross is a 1992 American drama, adapted by David Mamet from his 1984 Pulitzer Prize- and Tony-winning play of the same name. The film depicts two days in the lives of four real estate salesmen and how they become desperate when the corporate office sends a trainer to ‘motivate’ them by announcing that, in one week, all except the top two salesmen will be fired. The film, like the play, is notorious for its use of profanity, leading the cast to jokingly refer to the film as ‘Death of a Fuckin’ Salesman.’ The title of the film comes from the names of two of the real estate developments being peddled by the salesmen characters: Glengarry Highlands and Glen Ross Farms.

The film was not a commercial success, making only $10.7 million in North America, just below its $12.5 million budget. Al Pacino was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the film.

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August 25, 2013

Saul Goodman

better call saul

Saul McGill, known almost exclusively by his professional alias Saul Goodman, was a character on the TV show ‘Breaking Bad’ on AMC. He was portrayed by comedian Bob Odenkirk and was created by Peter Gould, a writer of the series. Saul is a criminal lawyer and can be easily found in the yellow pages of Albuquerque.

His made up surname ‘Goodman’ is a play on words to better attract clients: ”S’all good, man!’ becomes ‘Saul Goodman.’ (Additionally, he claims his clients feel more comfortable with a Jewish lawyer instead of a generic white guy.) He is also known for his low-budget commercials in Albuquerque, where he advertises mainly under the tagline ‘Better Call Saul!’

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August 25, 2013

Shyster

A shyster [shahy-ster] is a slang word for someone who acts in a disreputable, unethical, or unscrupulous way, especially in the practice of law, politics or business. The etymology of the word is not generally agreed upon. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary says it is based on the German ‘Scheißer’ (literally ‘defecator’ but also used to refer to deceivers), but the Oxford English Dictionary describes it as ‘of obscure origin,’ possibly deriving from a historical sense of ‘shy’ meaning disreputable. Various false etymologies have suggested an anti-Semitic origin, but there is no proof for that. One source claims that the term originated in Philadelphia in 1843 from a disreputable attorney named ‘Schuster.’

Notable ‘shysters’ of fiction include Sylvester Shyster (a Walt Disney cartoon character introduced in 1930), a disbarred attorney who schemes to deprive Minnie Mouse of her inheritance; and Dave Kleinfeld, a mob lawyer in ‘Carlito’s Way’ (1993) who was parodied in ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’ as Ken Rosenberg.

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August 25, 2013

Shylock

shylock by andy friedman

Shylock [shahy-lok] is a fictional Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ who lends money to his Christian rival, Antonio, setting the security at a pound of Antonio’s flesh. When a bankrupt Antonio defaults on the loan, Shylock demands the pound of flesh as revenge for Antonio having previously insulted and spat on him.

Meanwhile, Shylock’s daughter, Jessica, elopes with Antonio’s friend Lorenzo and becomes a Christian, further fuelling his rage. She also takes money and jewels from Shylock. During Shakespeare’s day, money lending was a fairly common occupation among Jews because usury, charging interest on a loan, was a sin for Christians at the time.

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August 24, 2013

Syd Mead

blade runner by syd mead

Syd Mead (b. 1933), is a ‘visual futurist’ and concept artist. He is best known for his designs for science-fiction films such as ‘Blade Runner,’ ‘Aliens,’ and ‘Tron.’ Of his work, Mead was once moved to comment: ‘I’ve called science fiction ‘reality ahead of schedule.” Sydney Jay Mead was born in Saint Paul Minnesota, but spent only a few years there before moving to what would be the second of many homes throughout the western United States prior to graduating from high school in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1951.

After serving a three-year enlistment in the U.S. Army, Syd Mead continued on to the Art Center School in Los Angeles, (now the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena) where he graduated in 1959. He was recruited by the Ford Motor Company’s Advanced Styling Studio under the management of Elwood Engel. Mead left the studio after two years to accept a variety of assignments to illustrate books and catalogues for large corporate entities such as United States Steel, Celanese, Allis Chalmers and Atlas Cement.

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August 23, 2013

Illuminati

eco

The Illuminati [ih-loo-muh-nah-tee] (‘enlightened’) was a secret society founded by university professor Adam Weishaupt in 1776, in Upper Bavaria, Germany. The movement consisted of advocates of freethought, secularism, liberalism, republicanism and gender equality, recruited in the German Masonic Lodges (Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that traces its origins to the loose organization of medieval Stonemasonry), who sought to teach rationalism through mystery schools (Western esotericism, which places emphasis on spiritual ‘knowledge’ or Gnosis and the rejection of blind faith).

In 1785, the order was infiltrated, broken up and suppressed by the government agents of Charles Theodore, Elector of Bavaria, in his preemptive campaign to neutralize the threat of secret societies ever becoming hotbeds of conspiracies to overthrow the Bavarian monarchy and its state religion, Roman Catholicism.

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August 22, 2013

Otto Rahn

Ahnenerbe

Otto Rahn (1904 – 1939) was a German medievalist and First Lieutenant of the SS. Speculation still surrounds Rahn and his research. From an early age, he became interested in the legends of Parsifal, the Holy Grail, Lohengrin, and the Nibelungenlied. While attending the University of Giessen he was inspired by his professor, the Baron von Gall, to study the Albigensian (Catharism) movement, and the massacre that occurred at Montségur. Rahn is quoted as saying that ‘It was a subject that completely captivated me.’

In 1931 he travelled to the Pyrenees region of southern France where he conducted most of his research. Aided by the French mystic and historian Antonin Gadal, Rahn argued that there was a direct link between Wolfram Von Eschenbach’s Parzival and the Cathar Grail mystery. He believed that the Cathars held the answer to this sacred mystery and that the keys to their secrets lay somewhere beneath the mountain pog where the fortress of Montségur remains, the last Cathar fortress to fall during the Albigensian Crusade.

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