Miss Cellania's Blog Posts

Can You Argue With This List of the 35 Greatest Westerns?

I'm not sure what to make of a list of the best Western movies ever. If someone were to ask me what my favorite Western is, I'd probably say Blazing Saddles because I couldn't think of another. Also, if a movie had John Wayne or Clint Eastwood in it, it's hard to keep straight which one is which. For someone who has never been a fan of Westerns, I was surprised to realize how many of these 35 movies I've seen. That's purely because of the many years I've spent living with a man in possession of a remote control device, beginning with my father. I have to admit that some are pretty good, while there are quite a few I've not even heard of.

The list begins with the 1939 movie Stagecoach at #1. Don't let that throw you, because this is not a ranked list. The movies are presented in chronological order, with a trailer and description for each, at Mental Floss. Which movies have you seen that should have made the list and didn't? Blazing Saddles is not included.

The Most Complex Way to Make Pancakes Ever

When I think about making pancakes, I turn on the griddle and mix up some pancake batter. When The Brick Wall thinks about making pancakes, they draw up schematics for a series of LEGO machines that will do it for them. Watch this incredibly complicated homemade factory break eggs, then add flour, milk, and the other ingredients, mix it all together, lubricate the frying pan, pour batter, turn the pancake (yes, they are made one at a time), and transfer it to a plate. This has to be the most complicated method ever devised to make breakfast, but it's fascinating to watch. If I had been the one to build these machines, I would feel the need to open a diner to make the time and effort pay off. But LEGO bricks are toys, so the point of this whole project is to have fun doing it. -via Laughing Squid

Meet the Oyster King of New York

Before the 19th century, oysters were street food in New York City. There were also some oyster restaurants, but they were small, crowded basement diners. That changed in 1825 when Thomas Downing opened his Oyster House in the city's financial district. It was truly fine dining, offering only the freshest and best quality oysters. Downing was born to formerly-enslaved parents on Chincoteague Island off the coast of Virginia, where he grew up harvesting seafood like the rest of his family. His skills served him well in establishing the first fine dining experience in New York. The Oyster House served only white clientele, and was so luxurious that businessmen brought their wives and families to eat there, a practice that was fairly new to restaurants at the time. But Downing's patrons didn't know Downing all that well, and certainly didn't know about the people he was hiding in the restaurant's basement. Read about the life of the "Oyster King of New York" at Atlas Obscura.

(Image credit: John Lewis Krimmel)

Lizzo Plays Flutes from the Library of Congress

Before pop singer Lizzo played a concert in Washington, DC, last night, she was invited to the Library of Congress to check out the world’s largest flute collection. Lizzo, who is a classically trained flautist, was eager to see the collection. And Monday, she got the chance to play them, too!

One of the flutes was made for President James Madison by renowned clockmaker Claude Laurent, who made flutes as a hobby, and patented the crystal flute. The leaded crystal flute gifted to Madison for his second inauguration is one of the few items saved from an 1814 fire at the White House started by the British during the War of 1812. The rare instrument hasn't been played in 200 years.

The Library also arranged for Lizzo to play the flute at her concert Tuesday night, but only for a few notes, for security reasons. There are a lot of things to trip over on a concert stage, and you never know when someone is going to throw something onstage. Read how the visit came about and about the Library's flute holdings at the Library of Congress blog. -via Metafilter

The Pumpkin Spice Latte Engagement Ring

The trend of flavoring everything with pumpkin spice has led to jokes like the pumpkin spice oil change, but it still comes back around every fall with more real products marketed with the same idea. Now you can purchase fine gems in an engagement ring that proclaims to the world how much you love pumpkin spice!

Priced at £10,000, the Pumpkin Spice Latte Ring features a rose gold band, designed to replicate the shape of a pumpkin, with white diamonds, orange sapphires and emerald shoulder stones down either side of the ring.

The ring features a single whipped cream shaped centre diamond. This is surrounded by a cluster of white diamonds and orange sapphires set in a cup-shaped claw, reminiscent of a warm cup of pumpkin spice-goodness.

The ring, from Angelic Gems, is inscribed with "Pumpkin Spiced" inside. We can't get a really close look at the "whipped cream shaped centre diamond," but it could be a classic-cut diamond set upside down. The ring is priced at $11,300 in US dollars. While it may seem silly to purchase such an expensive and symbolic piece of jewelry with a seasonal food theme, is it any sillier than a superhero wedding band? However, you have to think ahead. How would you feel about wearing a Pumpkin Spice Latte engagement ring with a pink dress in the spring? Or with a red sweater at Christmas? Or what if, heaven forbid, you get tired of pumpkin spice altogether? -via Fark

Authorities Investigating Gender Reveal Waterfall

There have been several gender reveal parties that have turned into wildfires, but people have found still more ways to damage the environment. An unnamed couple in Brazil posted video of their gender reveal party, in which an 18-foot waterfall was dyed blue to announce they are going to have a boy. They deleted the original video when the backlash began. The waterway was identified as the Queima Pé river, which supplies water to the town of Tangará da Serra. And now the authorities are involved.

The Secretary of State for the Environment of Mato Grosso (SEMA) released a statement saying that it would be investigating the couple to determine what products were used to dye the waterfall and if there is any environmental damage.

This is not the first gender reveal party to use dye in a natural waterway. While it may seem safer than using explosives, pyrotechnics, or airplanes, it can still be damaging to the environment. -via reddit

Update: The investigation found that the water quality is fine, and found no death of fauna. However, the person responsible will still be charged with an environmental violation-Thanks, Arnaldo Boccato!

Nikola Tesla's Early X-ray Experiments

German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen is known as the man who discovered x-rays. His experiments were conducted in late 1896, and he published a paper with his findings on December 28th of that year. But on the other side of the pond, Nikola Tesla began his work with x-rays in 1894. Tesla took x-ray images of his own hands and feet, which you can see above. You can even see the grommets in Tesla's much-repaired shoes.

Tesla was ahead of Röntgen in detecting some danger in x-ray technology, as he suffered from pain, swelling, and hair loss. He even tried to develop a kind of shielding to protect against it. If it hadn't been for an 1895 fire that destroyed his equipment, Tesla may have become known as the father of the x-ray. As it was, he congratulated Röntgen. Read about Nikola Tesla and his x-ray work at My Modern Met. -via Damn Interesting

The Dangerous Profession of Underwater Welding

Welding and diving are hard enough one at a time, but when you put them together, you have one of the world's most hazardous careers. The total danger is more than the sum of its parts, as water and welding do not normally go together. I hear it pays very well. Still, the contents of this video are more than enough to turn you off the job. In the YouTube comments, quite a few people have known an underwater welder at one time or another in their lives. Some of those welders died on the job, some were permanently injured, and the rest will just try to convince you not to go into that line of work. Besides what is outlined in the video, they relate tales of being in the dark water and suddenly encountering a massive sea creature who came over to get a look!  -via Nag on the Lake

Neptune Looking Like a Pearl with a Halo

Looking at the planet Neptune from Earth, it appears blue with no rings. That's the image we've always had of Neptune. We know it has rings, but normally we can't see them. The last time they were detected was more than 30 years ago when Voyager 2 flew by the planet. But now we have the James Webb space telescope to get a better view, and it's, uh, heavenly. Why does Neptune suddenly look so different? Lunacy: A Comet Strip explains it to us.

The image was captured in near-infrared. Most of what we see here isn't the planet itself, because its methane absorbs red and infrared light. But the high clouds above the planet glow pearly white! This also gives a "weather report" of sorts that tells us about the planet's movements and composition. The telescope also captured seven of Neptune's 14 moons, which you can see at the telescope's website, with or without captions. -via Geeks Are Sexy

(Top image credit: NASA's James Webb Space Telescope at Flickr)

Cat Going Up the Down Escalator

We know how people in Istanbul love cats and go out of their way to help the city's numerous street cats. This cat hasn't learned to distinguished the up escalator from the down escalator, and doesn't understand why he's not making any progress. The lady going up notices him, and then goes back down to help out, but another human is quicker. Notice the little look back, as if the cat is saying "Thanks." Both humans were being way more helpful than whoever shot the video.

That said, cats and dogs shouldn't be on escalators at all because of the danger of their paws being pinched at the end.

The Rise and Fall of Spoof Movies

There have always been movies that spoofed, or made fun of, other movies. Mel Brooks elevated the art form in the 1970s with Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein and other comedies. That kicked into high gear when Airplane! came out in 1980. At the time, everyone knew it was a spoof of the 1970 film Airport and its sequels. There are few people today who can even recall Airport. But in the 1980s, the success of Airplane! spawned spoof movie after spoof movie, until the genre was burned out.

Will they ever come back? It's doubtful. Airplane! made fun of the overly-dramatic Airport, and was full of cultural references that made the audience laugh. The 1987 movie Dragnet was funny because people still remembered the over-the-top Jack Webb version. Stuffing a movie with cultural references today is iffy at best. Cable TV, streaming, internet channels, and video-on-demand have fractured our viewing so much that a filmmaker can't assume that the audience will understand what a movie is spoofing. The 2012 version of 21 Jump Street was a comedy, but not quite a spoof because it did not rely on anyone remembering the 1987 teen cop series. Read about the peak of spoof movies in the 1980s and why it will never happen again at Mental Floss.

See a 13th-Century Treadmill Crane in Action

Imagine the folks who built the Roman Coliseum, and all those beautiful medieval cathedrals and European castles with their defensive walls. How did they get all that stone way up to the top rows? For the larger stones, it would have taken a whole team of men to carry each one to those heights. But that wasn't necessary, because they had machines, powered by humans. Guédelon Castle in France has been under construction for at more than 20 years now. It's not that construction has halted or funding has dried up, but they are using 13th-century technology to build it. That includes a treadwheel crane, also called a treadmill crane (because we know treadmills better than we remember grain mills). Using a large wheel with a person walking inside, they transferred the distance walked into lifting power through pulleys. Tom Scott demonstrates the treadmill crane at the Guédelon Castle construction site.

Counterpoised Cranial Support for Eyewear

In 1998, Kenneth E. Jones of Jackson, Mississippi, tackled the problem of eyeglasses being too heavy or not staying in place on one's nose. Well, it was possible that Jones was the only one with this problem, but it bothered him enough to invent a solution and file for a patent. It seems obvious to us now that the best way to secure those glasses and relieve the burden of their weight is to counterbalance it with a chain that attaches to the bridge of the glasses, goes up over one's forehead, across the skull to the back, and hang off the back of one's head, with a weight at the end equal to that of the eyeglasses. The weight could even be decorative, like jewelry! What could possibly go wrong?

First off, it would mess up your hair. It wouldn't stay in place unless you kept your head level at all times and didn't make any sudden moves. You might think it looks dumb, but if it were to be really fancied up with gems and metal wings, it could be a cool ornament, but you'd still have to glue it down, and you can already do that with any jewelry. The patent was granted in 2000, but you don't see this device in stores, nor in late night mail-order ads. I can imagine that any potential manufacturer would have set Mr. Jones straight on its drawbacks.

On the patent page, there are other configurations of this device, like a band that goes across the head from ear to ear. Just to keep your glasses on! -via Weird Universe

The Mayhem of Crushed Cars in Movies

You've seen people in movies burst through glass windows and break bottles over each other's heads. That can be exciting, but we all know glass doesn't break that easily, so movies use special ultra-thin glass made of sugar to create the stunts. Crushing a car comes with similar problems. Modern cars are more crumple-resistant than ever, and even when they are damaged, it's not always as dramatic as a movie requires. So film crews have to rig everything ahead of time to get the visuals they want. The company JEM FX specializes in making vehicle destruction look exciting in movies. They've got all kinds of tricks ready so a chase scene or car stunt gets the desired results. Sure, they go through a lot of cars, but this planning and testing saves a lot of time and effort, and most likely a lot of cars. Oh yeah, you'll see a lot of cars destroyed in this video.  -via Digg

Meet the Santa Clara Cross Country Team

At pretty much any school in America, the most laid back athletes will be found on the men's cross country team. The runners at Santa Clara University in California are not the least bit afraid to fly their derp flag when the opportunity arises. They spent some time growing and cutting their hair, and practicing their best smiles for the camera before picture day. Notice one mustache mishap, too. Why bother looking good when you can broadcast your sense of humor? We already know they are fit young men because they are college athletes.   

This picture highlights the 12 best faces on the team; you can see all 28 team members at the school's athletics website. Most of the same guys didn't look quite so special in last year's pictures, although some of them seem to have been getting there. The women's team apparently didn't get the memo. -via reddit

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