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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mortadella - The Biggest Sausage in the World

Mortadella pronounced /morta'dɛl:a/ is a large Italian sausage or cold cut (salume /sa'lume/) made of finely hashed/ground heat-cured pork sausage which incorporates at least 15% small cubes of pork fat (principally the hard fat from the neck of the pig). It is delicately flavored with spices, including whole or ground black pepper, myrtle berries, nutmeg, coriander and pistachios and/or olives.

Traditionally the pork filling was ground to a paste using a large mortar (mortaio /mor'tajo/) and pestle. Two Roman funerary stele in the archaeological museum of Bologna show such mortars. Alternatively, according to Cortelazzo and Zolli Dizionario Etimologico della Lingua Italiana 1979-88, Mortadella gets its name from a Roman sausage flavored with myrtle in place of pepper.

In Bologna and the surrounding area, the boiled sausage known as Mortadella can be as heavy as 200 kilograms. Even weirder is the fact that it’s cut into the thinnest slices, so its taste and aroma can be fully appreciated.

Drawing Club: Dracular

Model tonight was John Tucker

Forest Witch Turnaround

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Is there any body out there?

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Is there any body out there?

Viddy well my Brothers and sisters...Viddy we77

MD Poll: Vampire-alooza

Week one of our vampire-themed MD "Mega-Poll" is now complete, and the not-so-surprising results are in: Bela Lugosi is your favorite movie Dracula. Nipping at his heels though were Gary Oldman from Bram Stoker's Dracula and Max Schreck in Nosferatu, both of whom should end up in the "Ultimate Vamp" championship in two weeks (see comments section below for the full results of week one's voting).

But first, we have a few more cinematic bloodsuckers to get your opinion on with this week's poll, which covers all the non-Dracula movie vampires. Pick your favorite and place your vote in the MD Poll located in the right hand sidebar. And remember, the poll is only open for one week, so vote now!

Tune in next week for the results as well as part three of the "Mega-Poll": your favorite TV vamps.

UPDATE: This poll is now closed; click here for the results, and click here to vote in the next MD Poll.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Homemade Submarine was Made by Tao Xiangli

A brilliant Chinese inventor by the name of Tao Xiangli has come up with an amazing idea of building a submarine using minimum resources and costing a stunning low amount of cash. All it took the 34 year old was a couple of years’ hard work and a little over four grand to get the whole underwater mission complete. His submarine is made up of propellers, electric motors, a periscope and a depth control tank.

Tao Xiangli, a Chinese inventor, is reported to have built a functional submarine. Amateur inventor Tao, 34, made a fully functional submarine, which has a periscope, depth control tanks, electric motors, manometer, and two propellers, from old oil barrels and tools which he bought at a second-hand market. He took 2 years to invent and test the submarine which costs 30,000 yuan (US$4,385).

Nice idea, if you would ask me. We have a share of ideas that have poured in from China that were supposed to be crude inventions but turned out rather cool. The best part is that like this one costs just about $4,385 to build, a little funding can help college-students back home get down to fixing one themselves!

Reverend's Reviews: Almost-Divine Providence

I've already posted on my Facebook page that all my teacher friends should see The Providence Effect, an inspiring documentary now playing in New York and Los Angeles and expanding to other cities. I'm a little more reserved in my recommendation that others see it, because more objective viewers may criticize the filmmakers' tendency to view their subject through rose-colored glasses.

Still, the subject is fascinating. The Providence Effect recounts the remarkable transformation Providence-St. Mel, an inner-city school on the west side of Chicago, has undergone over the last 30 years. Created by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago in 1969, the archdiocese decided to close the school a mere 9 years later over declining enrollment and majority non-Catholic student body.

Paul Adams III, a former civil rights activist who has served as principal of Providence-St. Mel since 1973, felt this was unacceptable. He orchestrated a grassroots fundraising campaign that soon went national, and raised enough money to buy the school from the archdiocese. Adams then began the process of turning Providence-St. Mel into a K-12 college prep school.

The faculty implemented a simple yet demanding approach to learning: "Do the work". Their students, mostly black with a growing number of Latinos, memorize a lengthy mission statement that speaks not only of the school's philosophy but the students'. The statement ends with the stirring conviction, "With God's help, we will find a way or make one."

Since 1978, 100% of Providence-St. Mel graduates have gone on to college, with many of them receiving full-tuition scholarships based on their academic merit. Half of the school's graduates have, over the last seven years, been accepted into first-tier and Ivy League colleges and universities. The Providence-St. Mel approach has expanded to a newer charter school in the Chicago area and is gradually being adopted by schools nationwide.

The Providence Effect shows that this approach works, and works well. What producer-director Rollin Binzer (Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones) fails to show are any flaws in or criticisms of the Adams/Providence-St. Mel formula. There is one somewhat disturbing sequence in the documentary — in which the assistant principal catches a student doing a Spanish homework assignment during another class and publicly chastises both student and teacher — that opens an avenue to debate over the school's devotion to "focus." The debate, however, will have to take place off-screen among viewers.

While it's clear Providence-St. Mel does many things very successfully and these should be emulated by other educators, few viewers will be naive enough to believe that the school does things as perfectly as the film indicates. Even with normal, human flaws in the system, though, Providence-St. Mel is clearly doing blessed work, and this is cause for celebration.

Click here to watch the trailer for The Providence Effect.

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.

Prop: Forest Witch's Broom

BSC Super Special #5: California Girls!

To make up for the fact that I barely posted in September, I'm putting this one up a few days early. Have a great weekend!

The babysitters splurge on lotto tickets. They each buy one and decide that if they win, they'll split the money seven ways. Even though they don't win, they get the second prize--ten thousand dollars. They pool their funds and go to California to stay with Dawn's father and brother for two weeks. (And no, I have no clue why we don't see the bloodiest murders in California since the Tate-LaBianca killings. Mr. Schafer must have remembered to fill his Klonopin scrip before the BSC arrived.)

Dawn's mostly a heinous bitch because Carol (her dad's young girlfriend whom she hates) is spending a lot time shuttling the gals around. The gang also meets Dawn's California friends who have their own club, the We Love Kids Club. Kristy and Mary Anne take sitting jobs while they're out there. Stacey hangs out with a wild older crowd who love to surf. Claudia dates a guy who intimidates her because he's so smart/cultured. Mal gets a horrible makeover (dyes her hair and spends all her money on makeup) and Jessi spends time hanging out with Derek Masters, a boy who's in a sitcom that the BSC used to sit for in Stoneybrook.

  • Most of the Dawn chapters just deal with her being bitchy to Carol. Something tells me Carol's going to be in for a fun adventure when she marries into this family despite the fact that she always goes out of her way to be really nice to Dawn and Jeff. You know, stuff like, "Hey Dawn, do you want to borrow that top I bought last week?" "Um, I can't wear large, polyester clothing." Or, "Dawn, Jeff, do you guys want to make tofu dogs for dinner?" "Tofu dogs contain a percent of a percent of dairy, and I'm a level five vegan, DUH."
    • On the plane on the way over, the girls watch Vertigo and are terrified. I think Ann M. has a very quaint idea of what scares teenage girls. Vertigo's suspenseful, but not all that scary, especially for 13 year olds in 1990 who have probably grown up on a steady diet of Halloween and Friday the 13th films. I love how outdated Ann is in terms of scares--one time when I obsessively stalked her attended a book signing, she was asked to name one of the most frightening moments she'd had reading a book or seeing a film. She replied with, "The conclusion of the Velveteen Rabbit--I thought he almost wasn't going to become a real live rabbit." Please, guys, let's invite Ann to a sleepover party where we screen Donnie Darko?
    • This is when I knew I was wrong to identify with Mallory. Only Mallory gets to undergo the proverbial makeover and go from ugly duckling to radioactive swan. Even Meg Griffin managed to look hot when she got her makeover. Is it because Mallory forgot to take her hair out of a ponytail? Or to remove the glasses?
    • Luckily, I soon read Mary Anne's Makeover, my favorite G-Rated "mousy girl becomes a head turner" story of all time. Not till Nick Arrojo and Carmindy entered my life would I experience such a great vicarious makeover. (Incidentally, I blame both Mary Anne and Mia Farrow in Polanski's Rosemary's Baby for why every few years I think I can pull off the pixie cut. Yup, I know lots of people are hating on old Roman for that fleeing justice stuff--not me. I blame him for so many horrid haircuts of bygone years.)
    • When the gang goes to Universal Studios, some director chooses some extras for a movie. Mal sulks because when she asks, he tells her that she doesn't have the right look. Aw, Mal, they already cast all the trannies for To Wong Foo--they don't need any more.
    • Claudia dates a guy called Terry Li. He's into artsy films and foreign food. He's also pretty serious and conservative, and she doesn't seem to like him all that much. But since his last name is Li, I'm going to assume he's Asian, and so of course Stacey gives Terry their phone number, without asking Claud. Claud gets pissed because she's not into Terry, but Stacey knows better: in sitcom/YA lit land, minorities date other minorities. So even if you're hot and a good dresser, until the editors/casting directors find another guy of your race, you're stuck fielding come-ons from losers and sighing over the hot guys in Ethnic Tiger Beat. (See also: Lisa Turtle.)
    • At one point, Claudia and Terry go to a French restaurant and Claudia orders the only thing she can pronounce--escargots. Which are snails. Claudia thinks they're slimy and horrid and can't help thinking of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts as she chokes them down, but doesn't want to say anything because Terry's the artsy/sophisticated type. So delectable garlic infused snails are disgusting, but snouts and hooves are fine? (I toured the Hostess factory least year--I know how Twinkies are really made. No, the secret ingredient may not be...people but after that tour, you really wish it was.)
    • Incidentally, escargots are so small that they're a pretty sucky entree. Terry was probably sulking the whole time over the fact that he's going to have to shell out all this for about twelve tiny snails--and all this on a girl whose idea of culture is wearing a silkscreened Warhol t-shirt. And considering how nauseated Claudia looked after chowing down, I bet he was tempted to pay off the bathroom attendant to check for signs of a purge after.
    • Mary Anne thinks babysitting on vacation is awesome, so she agrees to spend a few days sitting for Stephie, a shy little girl whose mother is dead. Oh, MA, I can't relate to this even a little bit because I feel boxed in when my neighbor down the hall asks me to stop in over the weekend to feed the fish and water the Chia Obama head. (And I'm so passive aggressive that my idea of revenge was to scowl at the head.)

    Incidentally, Chia Obama is hotter than post makeover Mallory. Stuff like The Princess Diaries and ad campaigns that make sexy versions of even Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite may make awkward girls think that hair straightener and contacts are enough to make hotties of us all. But Chia Obama says, "Yes, we can't," to you, Mal.
    • Later on in the book, when Mal has redyed her hair red (it would take too long to let the blonde hair grow out) and is embracing her inner and outer nerd, Jessi points out a guy checking Mallory out. Mal finally feels cute. (Conveniently edited out by Scholastic, the part where the guy comes over and says, "Hey, I'm a female impersonator, too--don't you love the store Ain't It a Drag over on Rodeo?")
    • Stacey hangs out with a cool California crowd of older kids and goes surfing with them. One of them is a wild driver. There's even a bit of foreshadowing where he comes near to swiping a truck. But since Stacey is more of a Gia than a Stephanie, she's in the car when it gets into a terrible accident. The other kids ask her to lie and say that it was the fault of a truck driver. Stacey refuses, and the others get pissed. FYI, Stacey later hangs with the cheerleader crowd who blackball her for being too pretty and talented, and with the bad girls who use her good girl image to get away with drinking and shoplifting. Can this girl pick them or what? By my calculations, by the time she hits high school, she'll be convincing her parents why she should shave her head and chill with the Hare Krishnas at JFK. (They'd save a lot of money on perms!) And by college, she'll be begging her parents to donate all her tuition money towards a turkey dinner for every poverty stricken Stoneybrookite, sponsored by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

    Calendar 2010

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