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9/30/11

Queen - Hammer to Fall

Scenes from the Museum of Inuit Art






Most people don't know much about the Inuit. What is the difference between Eskimo and Inuit?
"The Inuit are a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Canada, Denmark, Russia, and the United States (Alaska). Inuit means “the people” in the Inuktitut language. An Inuk is an Inuit person. The Inuit live throughout most of the Canadian Arctic and subarctic: in the territory of Nunavut ("our land"); the northern third of Quebec, in an area called Nunavik ("place to live"); the coastal region of Labrador, in areas called Nunatsiavut ("our beautiful land") and Nunatukavut ("Our Ancient Land"); in various parts of the Northwest Territories, mainly on the coast of the Arctic Ocean and formerly in the Yukon. Collectively these areas are known as Inuit Nunangat.
In the US, Alaskan Inupiat live on the North Slope of Alaska and Siberian Coast. In Alaska, the term Eskimo is commonly used, because it includes both Yupik and Inupiat, while Inuit is not accepted as a collective term or even specifically used for Inupiat (who technically are Inuit). No universal term other than Eskimo, inclusive of all Inuit and Yupik people, exists for the Inuit and Yupik peoples. In Canada and Greenland, the Natives prefer the word Inuit. As they consider "Eskimo" pejorative, it has fallen out of favour."

HARRY HOUDINI'S VERY FIRST VIDEO HANDCUFF BRIDGE JUMP

9/23/11

Excerpt from 'Hunger' by Knut Hamsun

"There was no sign from higher powers, I thought, and smiled bitterly; I could give signs from that altitude myself if I had to. I toiled on, one block after the other, now and then resting a minute on a stoop. Just as long as I wasn't locked up! Fright of the cell accompanied me all the time and gave me no peace: every time I saw a policeman ahead, I staggered into a side street to avoid meeting him. Now we will count one hundred steps, I said, and then try our luck again! One of these times it will work.

It was a small yarn shop, a place I had never been in. A man stood behind the counter alone; farther back there was an office with a porcelain name plate on the door, and a long series of full shelves and tables. I waited until the last customer, a young woman with dimples, had left. How happy she looked! I did not try to impress this girl with the safety pins in my coat, but turned away.

'Can I help you?' asked the clerk.
'Is the manager here?' I said.
'He is on a trip to the mountains,' he answered. 'Was it something special?'
'It's about a few ore for food,' I said, trying to smile. 'I am hungry and I haven't a single ore.'
'Then you are as rich as I am,' he said, and began arranging packages of yarn.
'Oh, don't say no--not now!' I said, suddenly cold over my whole body. 'Really, I am nearly dead from hunger, it is many days since I've eaten anything at all.'
Without a word, or a trace of humor in his actions, he began one by one turning his pockets inside out. Would I take his word for it then?
'Only five ore,' I said. 'I'll give you back ten for it in a couple of days.'
'My dear fellow, what do you want me to do, steal from the till?' he asked in an impatient voice.
'Yes!' I said. 'Yes, take five ore from the till!'
'I won't be the one who does that,' he said decisively, and then added 'And while we're at it, let me tell you that I think we've had enough of this.'

I slumped out, sick with hunger and hot with shame. It is time all this came to an end! This thing was really going on too long. I had held myself straight for so many years, kept upright in such hard times, and now all of a sudden I had sunk to the coarsest sort of begging. This one day had brutalized my mind entirely, shamelessness had spattered me. I had even the gall to become pathetic and stand weeping in front of the most insignificant shopkeepers. And what good had it done? Wasn't I still without even a piece of bread to stick in my mouth? I had succeeded in making me disgusting to myself. Yes, yes, this thing had to come to an end now! But they were locking the door already, and I had to hurry if I didn't want to spend the night in the city jail again . . . 

I took it easy and crept at a slow snail's pace. I felt thirsty, luckily for the first time all day. I walked on, looking for a place to get a drink. I was a long way from the market square, and I didn't want to ask at a private house; I could wait of course until I got home--that would take fifteen minutes. Of course it wasn't at all certain that i could keep down a mouthful of water either; my stomach was sensitive to everything now--I even felt nauseated from the spit I swallowed as I walked."

An illustration from 1897 by J.A. Schweinfurth

9/22/11

The order of the Pug, with some porcelain pugs from the Gardiner Museum

Pugs are great in many ways, but did you know that they have connections to Masonic history as well? from the Wiki:

"The Order of the Pug was a para-Masonic society founded by Roman Catholics. It is believed that it was founded in 1740 by Klemens August of Bavaria to bypass the papal bull Eminenti Apostolatus Specula of 1738. The constitution of the Order of the Pug allowed women to become members, as long as they were Catholic. The pug was chosen as a symbol of loyalty, trustworthiness and steadiness.
Members called themselves Pugs, novices were initiated wearing a dog collar and had to scratch at the door to get in. The novices were blindfolded and led around a carpet with symbols on it nine times while the Pugs of the Order barked loudly to test the steadiness of the newcomers. During the initiation, the novices also had to kiss a Pug's (porcelain) backside under its tail as an expression of total devotion. Members of the Order carried a Pug medallion made of silver."

Another site mentions that "At the ceremony of admission they then had to kiss a pug under its tail as an indication of their commitment, for which purpose the Meissen manufactory was provident enough to offer specially made porcelain figures." http://www.masterart.com/PortalDefault.aspx?tabid=53&dealerID=364&objectID=362113

Nurse saw a few of these Meissen figures recently, and they are charming. Learn more about Meissen here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meissen_porcelain



9/21/11

Male Seahorse Giving Birth

Ziggy Marley & The Chieftains - Redemption Song

Plague garb


"The plague doctor's costume was the clothing worn by a plague doctor to protect him from airborne diseases. The costume consisted of an ankle length overcoat and a bird-like beak mask, along with gloves, boots, a brim hat and an outer over-clothing garment. Fourteenth century plague doctors who wore a bird-like mask were referred to as "beak doctors". Straps held the beak in front of the doctor's nose. The mask had glass openings for the eyes and a curved beak was shaped like a bird's. The mask had two small nose holes and was a type of respirator. The mask they wore had a protruded beak which contained aromatic items. The beak could hold dried flowers (including roses and carnations), herbs (including mint), spices, camphor or a vinegar sponge. The purpose of the mask was to keep away bad smells, which were thought to be the principal cause of the disease in the miasma theory of infection, before it was disproven by germ theory. Doctors believed the herbs would counter the "evil" smells of the plague and prevent them from becoming infected.
The beak doctor costume worn by the plague doctors had a wide brimmed leather hood to indicate their profession. They used wooden canes to point out areas needing attention and to examine the patients without touching them. The canes were also used to keep people away and to remove clothing from plague victims without touching them or to take patients' pulses."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beak_doctor_costume

9/20/11

Busby Berkeley Wonder Bar

Underused word corner: ABDICATE

abdicate [ˈæbdɪkeɪt]
A. VT
1. [+ throne] → abdicar
2. [+ responsibility, right] → renunciar a
B. VIabdicar (in favour of en, en favor de)
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005

abdicate [ˈæbdɪkeɪt]
vt
[king, queen, monarch] [+ throne] → abdiquer
to abdicate responsibility for sb/sth → démissionner de ses responsabilités vis-à-vis de qn/qch, démissionner vis-à-vis de qn/qch
vi [king, queen, monarch] → abdiquer
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

abdicate
vtverzichten auf (+acc)
vi (monarch)abdanken, abdizieren (dated geh); (pope)zurücktreten
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007

abdicate [ˈæbdɪkeɪt]
1. viabdicare
2. vt (throne) → abdicare a; (responsibility) → rinunciare a
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995

abdicate
v abdicate [ˈӕbdikeit]
1 to leave or give up the position and authority of a king or queen. 'The king abdicated (the throne) in favour of his son.'
2 to leave or give up (responsibility, power etc) 'He abdicated all responsibility for the work to his elder son.'
n abdiˈcation
From the Latin abdicate/abdicare

Nurse would like to see this word used more informally. One could, for instance, abdicate one's chair.


After the Allies took Paris, Napoleon abdicated at Fontainebleau on April 11, 1814

9/17/11

An excerpt from a graduate thesis from 1957 by Yae Kitamura concerning Nurse's current Toronto street

Chapter 5: The Squalid Bloor

"To get on a streetcar and ride from the green of High park to Spadina is one of the most depressing rides in Toronto. If one walks it by foot it is worse, and it is primarily because of this general impression that I have chosen to call this section the squalid Bloor, although taken bit by bit it may show no signs of actual squalor. The impression one receives is that of never-ending, mediocre little stores covered with a pall of city dirt, showing no flair for advertising but having as many goods as possible thrown into the show windows with wispy cardboard price tags which are unreadable, or else loud flourescent posters announcing '! A! Sale!'  . . . On the southwestern corner of the Dufferin intersection stands a brown-brick industry--the Miles Laboratory. To the south of this is a public school, and to the west the sprawling, ugly buildings of Bloor Collegiate Institute. Needless to say, the original school had to be enlarged by monstrous additions which have reduced the playing space as well as the pleasure which comes from looking at a bright school, for the massive walls without openings on the street gives the impression of a mausoleum. The library on Gladstone is an island of sanity."

Dovercourt (now Bloor/Gladstone) Branch, rendering around 1912

15. Bryan Ferry: "September song"

Janis Joplin was a slovenly, ill-mannered boor

Just watch how deeply, pointlessly rude she (and the shitty audience) was to the brilliant and refined film star Gloria Swanson during a tv interview. As for Dick Cavett? Ridiculous, badly dressed lout.

Luckily Ms. Swanson remains the epitome of class and grace throughout.  Why not check out her wiki while you're at it? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gloria_Swanson



9/9/11

3 cartoons by Roz Chast

An Excerpt from 'Love Burns' by Edna Mazya

On occasion Nurse will head to the library of an evening, and wander through the fiction section at random, seeking a book or an author she has yet to encounter. Good things can be discovered in this way. 'Love Burns' is a book discovered on just such a foray. Nurse began reading it at 9:12 pm last evening, and finished at 2:33 am this morning. It is a great and entertaining book, with one of the most amazing plot lines ever, together with one of the most brilliant endings. Translated from the Hebrew. This excerpt deals with an unusual mother-son outing.



"[Mother] signals me with her hand to turn left, in the direction of the south bank of the Siah riverbed, and we pass a sign saying 'To the Sde Yehoshua Cemetery,' her plan is becoming clear to me but I don't go into it, she remains hard and withdrawn, the mutual hostility between us is palpable. Stop, she barks, and a moment before we get out of the car she turns to me, her sunken eyes pushing themselves into mine, her look cold and hostile, and she says, pronouncing each word distinctly, so what, Ilan, are you going to start killing off all her lovers now, and then she gets out of the car. Put him on the trolley, she says as she opens the boot, he's very cold and stiff, and I search for a convenient way of getting him out, but her looks confuse me. Well, what are you waiting for, take him under the armpits, she says, as if it's not a human being lying there but only a job to be done, and I succeed in concentrating enough to remove him from the boot. She pulls him by the shirt, which slides up and exposes his smooth stomach, and he collapses into the trolley, she folds his legs up and ties them to the trolley with a rope which she takes out of her bag, one leg to the right side and one leg to the left. Stop dreaming, she snaps, and bring the spade, and I bring her the spade and the blanket and the three shirts and the rucksack, not thinking, just carrying out orders, and when I've finished I stand there empty and lost, and for a moment she looks at me attentively and says quietly and without anger, pull yourself together Ilan, I have nothing better to say to you now, and I wake up, cover him with the blanket, put the other things on top of him, make sure that he's tied on tight, and when he's ready we enter the cemetery. Follow me, she commands, and I obey, pushing the trolley after her like a delivery boy from the supermarket, she totters in front of me, in her tracksuit and red woolly hat and sports shoes, and with a spade in her hand, she looks like a character in a cartoon movie, and soon she stops in front of three fresh mounds of earth. This is your kindergarten teacher's grave, whose funeral you and Anton didn't take the trouble to attend, she says, and points to the middle grave. Ok, so I'm here now, I say, but she has no patience for provocations. Start digging, she says and pushes the spade into my hand. In Henzi Bauer's grave? I ask in a meek voice, where else, she replies and where will we put Henzi, I ask, and her patience finally snaps. Wake up, Ilan, my mother says crossly, we're not going to put Henzi anywhere, we're just bringing her a guest, at long last a man will lie on top of Fraulein Bauer, let's look at it that way."

Richard Dawkins exposes charlatan Deepak Chopra

A highly appealing violin, and a clip from the film in which it was used



9/8/11

Great New York person Kenny Shopsin

Shopsin has been running a restaurant in New York for many years. Calvin Trillin of the New Yorker magazine wrote a great article on the place a few years back: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2002/04/15/020415fa_FACT


This clip is from a documentary made in 2006.

Excerpt from 'The Quiet American' by Graham Greene

"It is not easy the first time to meet again one who has saved-as they put it-one's life. I had not seen Pyle while I was in the Legion hospital, and his absence and silence, easily accountable (for he was more sensitive to embarrassment than I), sometimes worried me unreasonably, so that at night before my sleeping drug had soothed me I would imagine him going up my stairs, knocking at my door, sleeping in my bed. I had been unjust to him in that, and so I had added a sense of guilt to my other more formal obligation. And then I suppose there was also the guilt of my letter. (What distant ancestors had given me this stupid conscience? Surely they were free of it when they raped and killed in their paleolithic world.)

Should I invite my saviour to dinner, I sometimes wondered, or should I suggest a meeting in the bar of the Continental? It was an unusual social problem, perhaps depending on the value one attributed to one's life. A meal and a bottle of wine or a double whiskey? It had worried me for some days until the problem was solved by Pyle himself, who came and shouted at me through my closed door. I was sleeping through the hot afternoon, exhausted by the morning's effort to use my leg, and I hadn't heard his knock.

"Thomas, Thomas!" The call dropped into a dream I was having of walking down a long empty road, looking for a turning which never came. The road unwound like a tape machine, with a uniformity that would never have altered if the voice hadn't broken in-first of all like a voice crying in pain from a tower and then suddenly a voice speaking to me personally. "Thomas, Thomas."

Under my breath I said, "Go away, Pyle. Don't come near me. I don't want to be saved."

A 1974 poster by David Byrd

9/2/11

Marie Antoinette (1938) - Masquerade Ball Scene

3 quotes from Kingsley Amis

"Never despise a drink because it is easy to make and/or uses commercial mixes. Unquestioning devotion to authenticity is, in any department of life, a mark of the naive - or worse."
-Everyday Drinking

"Dixon was alive again. Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad."
 -Lucky Jim
"The ideal of brotherhood of man, the building of the Just City, is one that cannot be discarded without lifelong feelings of disappointment and loss. But, if we are to live in the real world, discard it we must. Its very nobility makes the results of its breakdown doubly horrifying, and it breaks down, as it always will, not by some external agency but because it cannot work.”