Adrienne Crezo's Liked Blog Posts

10 Things You Didn't Know About "A Christmas Story"

It's that time again: the 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon is coming, and every year the internet reminds us that the kid who played Flick had a brief career in porn and that Jack Nicholson wanted to play Ralphie's dad. But there's a lot more about the holiday classic that everyone doesn't already know, and the FW has rounded up the best of those things, including the house the movie was filmed in, what Flash Gordon has to do with any of this, and what really happened when the Bumpus's dogs ate the turkey. Link 

The Fish Harp

If this isn't the neatest thing you see today, you spend waaaay too much time on the internet. Henry Chu's Fish Harp is musical instrument/visual art hybrid: when a goldfish swims under a glass, the Fish Harp synthesizes the sound a wet finger would make if you ran it along the rim of the glass. The synthesizer is triggered by motion sensors. 

Fish Harp is on display at Musique Plastique in Hong Kong. (Admission is free, if you're in the neighborhood.) 


The Fascinating Origins of 10 Christmas Traditions

Mistletoe, by Auntie P. on Flickr

Ever wonder why we give each other gifts at Christmas? Or what the deal is with wreaths, kissing under mistletoe, and stocking stuffers? And what's up with Boxing Day, Canada? 

[W]e tell our kids that a fat man is coming into our house at night; we bring in trees in to shed all over the carpet; and we kiss under parasitic plants – all in the holiday spirit. How the hell are these even related to Jesus, whose birthday we’re supposed to be celebrating?

Get yourself some eggnog and settle in, because Listverse has the answer to all of your pressing "why do we even do this?" questions. Link

How a Beautiful Widow Defeated a General and Inspired a Hanukkah Tradition

Detail of Judith. Christifano Allori, 1613

You might call her the Face That Graced a Thousand Paintings, but one beautiful woman's bravery and wit saved her life, her city, and inspired a holiday tradition that still endures for millions of people around the world.

Eating cheese and other dairy foods during Hanukkah is a minor custom that owes its origins to the story of Judith and Holofernes. The account is given in the deuterocanonical book of Judith, which (by definition) is not part of the Hebrew Bible but is accepted by Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians as part of the Old Testament. Judith's book, specifically, contains a number of historical anachronisms that lead many to believe that it is not historical but is possibly the first historical novel. Despite the tale's disputed legitimacy, it has inspired a custom among some celebrants of Hanukkah that seems a bit strange: what the heck does this have to do with cheese? The story goes like this:

Holofernes, an Assyrian general, surrounded the city of Bethulia as part of his campaign to conquer Judea. Judith, angry that her countrymen have lost faith in God's protection, decided to make friendly with Holofernes in a daring ploy to save her city. She, accompanied by her maidservant, visited the enemy general and offered information about the Israelites. Judith's bold plan worked, and one night, because Holofernes is taken by her beauty, she was invited to his tent. She then plied him with wine and cheese until he fell into a drunken slumber -- though the book is clear that "no defilement" occurs. Again accompanied by her faithful maid, Judith decapitated Holofernes using his own sword, and then returned to Bethulia, where Holofernes's head was mounted on the city walls. The Assyrians were overcome with fear after finding Holofernes's headless body, and so they fled. The city was saved, and one of the more riveting stories in religious history was born.
The account of Judith and Holofernes is a popular theme in classical art, with perhaps the most famous examples produced by Artemisia Gentileschi (who inserted herself as Judith), Donatello, and Caravaggio. Hundreds of works survive into modernity, and who knows how many were lost. Judith's victory was so popular among artists, in fact, that she appears in her own corner of the Sistine Chapel. 
Detail of Judith and Holofernes. Michelangelo Buonarotti, 1508-1512.
And cheese, of course, now makes an appearance during Hanukkah festivities in honor of the heroine Judith, who delivered Israel from the enemy using only food, drink, and a borrowed sword. 

5 Life-Saving Techniques for Surviving a Garden Gnome Attack During the Holidays

The following is an excerpt from How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack: Defend Yourself When the Lawn Warriors Strike (and They Will) by Chuck Sambuchino.

We're giving away two copies — leave a comment to enter!

Garden gnome attacks rise sharply during the holidays. This phenomenon is because people’s affection for Santa’s elves causes them to confuse friendly North Pole helpers with the vicious murdering murderers known as garden gnomes (gnomus hortus).

We must always remember that while gnomes enjoy a public image whitewash that passes them off as symbols of merriment and goodwill, they are secretly planning home invasions all over the world in a grand plan of evisceration and death. (Wait a minute—does that gnome look a little closer to the pet door than yesterday? Better board up the house just to be safe.) While we don’t know why gnomes attack us—for our metal? our spices?—we can be certain that they want us all dead. In 2011, the Gnome Defense Hotline based in Berlin recorded 878 confirmed attacks worldwide.

If you live anywhere close to garden gnomes or reside on rural property near the woods, rest assured that an assault is not “possible.” It is inevitable. They’re coming. The only question is when.

With that in mind, here are 5 simple tips for keeping you and your family safe from garden gnomes during the holiday season. Do not ignore these life-saving techniques. Many humans have died to bring you this concise, helpful information.

1. Forget building a snowman.

A large snowman is a perfect Trojan Horse for a garden gnome to occupy before it bursts out like in the movie Alien and mauls you with tiny weapons and horrific shrieks. One minute you’re placing the corncob pipe in Frosty’s mouth thinking it the pièce de résistance in your snow creation, the next minute you’ve got a tiny gnome ax embedded in your shoulder while fighting for your life on the snowy ground in your backyard.

Note: One of the most underrated weapons against gnomes is a good, sturdy snow shovel. When outside during wintertime, keep a snow shovel on hand at all times. In fact, this touches upon a bigger tip: Keep a weapon mounted on the wall in every room of your home to always be ready for when a lawn gnome armada invades.

2. Record unexplained footprints in the snow.

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The $5,000 Toilet that You Control with Your Smartphone

At long last, a breakthrough in totally unnecessary toilet design. If you're in the market for a porcelain throne that not only plays music while you do your business but also raises and lowers the seat, flushes and turns on the bidet via wireless command from an accompanying app, then maybe wait a few months. The SATIS line of toilets from Japanese brand Inax will launch in February 2013, and in addition to the aforementioned features, will offer energy and water consumption info, programmable personal settings, and built-in speakers for the ideal bathroom experience.

All of this, and the SATIS will also "honorably accept your waste." How have we lived so long without this? Video and even more info on RocketNews.


"Magic" Phone Booth Lets Kids Call Santa

What's better than writing a letter to Santa? Well, obviously, the answer is talking to him on the phone, then getting a gift, then having snow magically appear from nowhere with the press of a button as a choir of children sing and cheer for you. And that's exactly what happens when children dial up St. Nick on a special "magic phone both" in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. 

Telecom company Oi, the country's largest, hired retired actors to play Santa; the actors can see the children, so they carry on unscripted conversations, followed by a projected winter wonderland on a nearby building (complete with fake snow), and small gifts left on the steps for each little caller. 

Unfortunately for most of the world, Oi's campaign is only in Brazil. But if you're living in the country and can't make it to Rio, children can call (21) 2243-2012 and speak to Santa Claus directly. Proceeds from every call are donated to participating institutions. (No idea which those are yet, but I'll update if I find out.) More pics and info on PSFK. Link

2012's Ten Worst Movies (According to Reviewers)

It's December, and you know what that means: year-end lists of the preceding 12 month's best and worst everything. This is just such a list: 10 movies that were terribvle enough to be called the worst. (Anyone remember A Little Bit of Heaven?) 

Over the weekend, Gerard Butler's new romantic comedy Playing for Keeps failed to play well at the box office, debuting in sixth place with a measly $6-million opening weekend gross. But as disappointing as Playing for Keeps' drawing power was, it pales beside the film's stunningly awful critical reception — on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, only 2 percent of critics reviewed it positively. 

Here are the ten worst-rated films released in 2012, via The Week. Link

Photo: CC by Flickr-user striatic

Crockford's Club: How a Fishmonger Bankrupted the British Aristocracy

Crockford's Club in 1828.

How about a bit of history today? Everyone loves a good rags-to-riches story, and and the tale of Crockford's Club is a great one: a man who sold fish for a living smelled an opportunity to garner a little bit of the British aristocracy's surplus wealth. And he knew just how to do it.

Take William Crockford, who began his career as a London fishmonger and ended it, half a century later, as perhaps the wealthiest self-made man in England. Crockford managed this feat thanks to one extraordinary talent—an unmatched skill for gambling—and one simple piece of good fortune: to be alive early in the 19th century, when peace had returned to Europe after four decades of war and a generation of bored young aristocrats, who a few years earlier would have been gainfully employed in fighting Napoleon, found themselves with far too much time on their hands.

That's right. Crockford managed to woo money right from their hands simply because they were bored and rich. Check out the full history on Past Imperfect. Link

Finally: A Truly Invisible Umbrella

Umbrellas can be bulky and difficult to store (especially when wet), but if you've just about had it with walking around under a handheld canopy on rainy days, never fear: the Air Umbrella is here.

Designed by Je Sung Park and Woo Jung Kwon, the Air Umbrella is little more than just a collapsible handle. But there's some smart tech happening in that little stick. It draws in air from the bottom, then forces it through a showerhead-like nozzle at the top, creating an air-powered barrier with enough force to repel raindrops. And of course, power settings can be adjusted accordingly for varying levels of precipitation.

Would you use an air-powered umbrella? I'm known for not charging my phonbe often enough; I'd probably let the batteries die and end up caught in the rain with a dead umbrella. Check out more pics on Yanko Design. Link (via PSFK)

Elephant-Poop Coffee Goes for $50 a Cup

If the infamous civet-poop coffee is too mainstream for your caffeine-intake needs, good news is here from the hills of Thailand, where a small herd of elephants are in full-time production of Black Ivory Coffee, the latest in weird gourmet food and drink. From Newser:

Trumpeted as earthy in flavor and smooth on the palate, the exotic new brew is made from beans eaten by Thai elephants and plucked a day later from their dung. A gut reaction inside the elephant creates what its founder calls the coffee's unique taste. Stomach turning or oddly alluring, Black Ivory Coffee is not just one of the world's most unusual specialty coffees: At $500 per pound, it's also among the world's priciest.

The intrepid souls who've tried Black Ivory say the coffee lacks the bitterness found in a cup of regular joe. Whether or not that's worth a trip to Thailand, the Maldives or Abu Dhabi — where the coffee is available, but only in luxury and resort hotels — is entirely up to you. For my part, I'm willing to put up with a little bitterness. Link 

Image CC by Annika Nyberg

Can You Blow a Doughnut-Shaped Soap Bubble?

The following is an excerpt from Why Are Orangutans Orange? 


Soap on a Hope

Is it possible to blow a toroidal soap bubble (one shaped like a ring doughnut)? And if it is, would it collapse immediately to a sphere? Could its life be prolonged by spinning its surface, as with smoke rings?

Peter Gardner,

Blawith, Cumbria, UK

A soap bubble is the minimum surface which encloses a given volume. If a toroidal bubble were created, it would not provide such a minimum surface and would therefore tend to contract to reduce its surface area until it collapsed into a bubble which would then burst because of the forces created at the disappearing hole in the torus. This situation differs from that in a solid torus such as a bicycle inner tube, because soap bubbles can transfer part of their surface from the inner to the outer part of the torus as they shrink.

A temporary toroidal bubble could perhaps be created by sticking spherical bubbles in a ring and collapsing their shared walls, but the inner ring would undoubtedly degenerate as the number of bubbles decreased.

Soap bubbles are different from smoke rings, which have no surface but are composed of solid particles suspended in air. These are stable because different parts of the body can rotate at different speeds without causing degeneration.

Jerry Humphreys

Bristol, UK

As a mathematician who studies soap bubbles, I knew that a toroidal soap bubble was, under normal circumstances, impossible. The only stable equilibrium shape for a soap bubble is the sphere that most people easily recognise – a torus bubble should not even exist in unstable equilibrium.

So when the famous performer Tom Noddy (known as the Bubble Guy from the US TV show Tonight) told me that he once blew a toroidal bubble, I didn’t actually believe him until he showed me the photographic proof (below).

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A Little History of Science: Uncovering the Human Body

The following is an excerpt from A Little History of Science.

If you want to really understand how something is made, it is often a good idea to take it apart, piece by piece. With some things, like watches and cars, it helps if you also know how to put them back together again. If what you want to understand is a human or an animal body, it has to be dead before you start, but the goal is the same.

Galen, as we know, dissected – took apart – many animals, because he couldn’t dissect any humans. He assumed that the anatomy of pigs or monkeys was pretty much like that of human beings, and in some ways he was right, but there are differences, too. The dissection of human bodies started to be done occasion­ally around 1300, when medical schools began to teach anatomy. At first, when people noticed any differences between what they saw in the human body and what Galen had said, they assumed that human beings had simply changed, not that Galen had been wrong! But as they began to look more closely, anatomists discovered more and more small differences. It became obvious that there was more to uncover about the human body.

The man who did the uncovering was an anatomist and surgeon known to us as Andreas Vesalius (1514–64). His full name was Andreas Wytinck van Wesel. He was born in Brussels, in modern-day Belgium, where his father was a medical man employed by the German Emperor Charles V. A clever child, he was sent to the University of Louvain to study arts subjects, but decided to change to medicine. Clearly ambitious, he then went to Paris where some of the best teachers were. They all followed Galen, and during his three years there he impressed them. He also showed his abilities in Greek and Latin, and his fascination with dissection. A war between the German Empire and France forced him to leave Paris, but he reintroduced human dissection to the medical faculty at Louvain before travelling, in 1537, to what at the time was the best medical school in the world, at the University of Padua in Italy. He took his exams, passed with the highest distinction, and the next day was appointed as a lecturer in surgery and anatomy. At Padua they knew when they were on to a good thing: Vesalius taught anatomy through his own dissections, the students loved him, and the very next year he published a series of beautiful anatomical illustrations of parts of the human body. They were so good that doctors all over Europe began copying these pictures for their own use, much to Vesalius’s annoyance, since they were actually stealing his work.

Andreas Vesalius' De Humani Corporis Fabrica, p. 559

Cutting open a dead body is not a particularly pleasant thing to do. After death, the body quickly begins to decay and smell and, in Vesalius’s time, there was no way to stop it from rotting. This meant that the dissection had to be done quickly, and in an order that made it possible to get it done before the smells became over­powering. The belly was done first, since the intestines are the first to rot. This was followed by the head and brain, then the heart, lungs, and other organs in the chest cavity. The arms and legs were saved to the end: they lasted the best. The whole thing had to be done in two or three days, and anatomy was generally taught in winter, when the colder weather at least delayed the decay and gave the doctors a little more time.

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James Bond Theme Gets an A Capella Makeover

But don't worry -- Nick McKaig and Julien Neel (aka, Trudbol) clearly preserved the bah-da-DA-daaaaa thing that you know and love. 

If Trudbol looks familiar, you may remember him from his previous vocal-only interpretations of popular theme songs, like Dr. Mario and this ditty from The Simpsons. McKaig is probably also familiar to Neatoramanauts as the dude behind the a capella Indiana Jones and Star Wars themes. Check out lots more on McKaig's YouTube channel. LinkVia

Poignant, Uncensored Art by U.S. Veterans of War

Angel in the Desert, by Markus Ericksen

The National Veterans Art Museum of Chicago collects and preserves the art of U.S. veterans in every visual form except dance. This week, the NVAM moves from its former location to a new one on Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. Thankfully, the museum received a grant that allows them to exhibit high-resolution photos of every work online. 

Between Desolation and Nuclear Skies, by Robert Hanson

The Wall, by Michael Rumery

It's difficult to choose just a few pieces that can be fully representative of what's on exhibit at NVAM, but you can find a small collection here, or peruse the entire museum's offerings at the NVAM Online Collection. Link - via

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