Monday, October 30, 2006


In old cartoons, whenever there is machinery or an assembly line, a certain piece of music was played to accompany the action. I always wondered what the name of that song was. Finally, I know.

The "assembly line" music is called Powerhouse and was written by Raymond Scott, a composer, musician and engineer. According to Wikipedia, Scott's wife said that Raymond Scott didn't watch cartoons and had never intended his work to be used for cartoons. However, he did sell the rights to Warner Brothers, where the music was worked into many cartoons by Carl Stalling, the music director.

Clips of some of his most famous music can be found here and a direct link to Powerhouse is here.

Sources: Wikipedia, Official Raymond Scott Site

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Alligators in El Paso

The public square of El Paso is known as Plaza de los Lagartos. This is because the public square was home to several alligators from 1883 until 1965. When it was too cold for the alligators in the winter, men would wrap them in coffee sacks, take them to the saloon and have them stay by the stoves to keep warm!

How did the alligators get to El Paso? Two possible stories come from Borderlands:

One story claims that the alligators were sent to a local miner from a friend in Louisiana as a joke. The miner then presented the alligators to Mayor C. R. Morehead, who had them placed in the park pond. Another story claims that Satterwaite [J. Fisher Satterwaite, El Paso Parks and Streets Commissioner] brought the reptiles to El Paso in a box and kept them in a barrel of water at a local saloon until a pond could be built around the fountain in the Plaza.

The alligators were often used for pranks and were targets of vandalism. One alligator died of internal injuries from a failed attempt to kidnap him and others died from stoning. The El Paso Zoo eventually became their home. Today, the plaza has a sculpture made by Luis Jimenez commemorating the alligators' history in the city.

Sources: A Guide to El Paso, Texas, Borderlands
Photo source: Early El Paso Area, picture by Hendrik "Henry" Van Bruggen

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Falangist Party!

A falangist is a supporter and follower of the highly nationalistic, fascist, ultra Catholic style of government as supported by Spanish dictator, Francisco Franco.

Surprisingly, there is a political party, the Christian Falangist Party of America, which is active in politics to this day. They are extremely conservative, calling participants of Gay Pride parades "sexual perverts." In addition, they support prayer in school and putting the 10 Commandments in schools (even though, ironically, they have the Bill of Rights printed on their web page--see the 1st Amendment). They also want to re-initiate the draft for military service and state that the United States is not one country, but rather a union of 50 mini-countries. They are also extremely concerned with terrorism and illegal immigration.

From their site:
"The C.F.P.A. was founded in Philadelphia, Pa. on September 14th, 1985 as the first Falangist Party in America and is dedicated to fighting the "Forces of Darkness" which seeks to destroy our Western Judeo-Christian Civilization."

I try to be impartial with Supertrivial, but this bit of trivia was too... out there for me to be completely unbiased.

"Forces of Darkness?"

What, is Darth Vader out there, too?

Other unusual parties that are actually and currently active in US Politics are:

  • Communist Party USA
  • Prohibition Party
  • Socialist Equality Party
  • U.S. Marijuana Party
  • Light Party
This is actually just a small sampling of active or fairly active political parties in the US. For more information, see my source page: Politics1

Art Actions

Joseph Beuys is an interesting individual. He was born in 1921 in Germany and volunteered for the war in 1940. He was trained as a pilot an an aircraft radio operator. He was wounded several times and was held in a prisoner of war camp in Britain for some time.

After the war, he studied art, specifically sculpture. Many of his sculptural pieces were made of felt and hard fat. Beuys often attributed his attraction to felt and fat by describing a story (which may or may not have happened) where he was rescued by Tartars after a plane crash and they smeared his body with fat and covered it in felt to keep him warm.

Beuys felt that art should not be just about "objects" or things that were "beautiful." He felt that debate, confrontation and performance were all forms of art. Eventually, Beuys began to create performance art that he called "actions." He wanted to provoke people and make them think.

One of the most famous of these is called I like America and America likes me, where he covered himself in felt and spent five days in a room with a live coyote. Another interesting piece is Explaining Pictures to a Dead Hare, where he went through a gallery with a dead hare, speaking to it about the pictures on the wall. He was also covered in honey and gold leaf for this performance.

Beuys' art was never meant to be mainstream: he didn't produce many sculptures that a collector could buy and keep as a trophy. Instead, his art was mainly time-based and what we have left from his "actions" are artifacts of the experience: photos of Beuys with the coyote, for example.

One of his quotes that makes the best sense of Beuys' perspective on art is this:
"To make people free is the aim of art, therefore art for me is the science of freedom."
-Joseph Beuys

Sources: Joseph Beuys: A Brief Biography, The Artchive: Joseph Beuys

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Autism: The Word

Autism is a neurological condition that I am very familiar with. My daughter, Rei, is moderately autistic and goes to school 8 hours every day for therapy, learning and social integration. She's not even 4 yet!

While reading an excellent article (linked in the source below) in Scientific American Online, I found this interesting little bit of trivial information.

The word autism bascially means "self state." Many autistic individuals are very much involved in their own world.

The word autism was coined by Paul Bleuler in 1912. However, it wasn't until the 1940's that autism was really being studied as a neurological disorder. Even though the word existed, it wasn't being used to describe the disorder we know today. Until the 1940's, there was no word for the condition at all. Many autistic individuals were mislabeled schizophrenic, retarded or just mentally ill. Autism is not an illness; it's a developmental disorder.

Two individuals who "discovered" the disorder did so at the same time and without any contact with one another. One was a American psychiatrist named Leo Kanner. The other was Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger. The article in Scientific American Online states that neither one was aware of the other's work. Nevertheless, both of them, independently named the disorder they were studying, "autism."

Sources: Scientific American: Broken Mirrors: A Theory of Autism [ SPECIAL SECTION: NEUROSCIENCE ], Online Etymology Dictionary

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

First Mini-Van

The first Mini-Van debuted in 1972. It was the Brubaker Box, named after its creator, Curtis Brubaker. He built the original on a Volkswagen Beetle body. The only entrance is the one you see in the photo.

The Brubaker Box never became a commercial success. Even though Curtis Brubaker received positive feedback at the Los Angeles International Motorsports Show, making this custom car was difficult. Brubaker had to buy whole VW Beetles, take them apart to retain only the parts he needed (such as the chassis) and sell off the rest of the parts.

Source: Roadster Street Rods: The Brubaker Box

Photo Credit:

Monday, October 23, 2006

Dr. McKay's First Name

Dr. Rodney McKay is a character from Stargate Atlantis. However, Dr. McKay's real first name is actually Meredith. His middle name is Rodney.

Source: Season 3, Episode 8 McKay and Mrs. Miller


Curling is a sport with probable origins in Scotland. The first known curling stone was dated 1511 on the stone itself. Written accounts of curling occur in 1541 from Paisley Abbey, Renfrew. Curling was also depicted in two painting by Pieter Brueghel the Elder in 1565 showing Dutch peasants playing the game.

No matter what, it's clear that this unusual sport has very old origins. Curling is played in a way that is similar to lawn bowling There are two targets (known as the house) on an ice rink with the center of the target known as the button or tee. Each team of 4 players is led by a captain (or skip). Curlers slide the stone down the ice trying to get as close as possible to the button. The slider's teammates use brooms to sweep the ice in front of the stone so that it can slide even further.

An inning (or end) is over after all 8 players (4 on each team) have taken their turns. A team scores one point for each stone that is nearer to the tee than any of the other team's stones. Only one team can score in each inning. If there are no stones in the house, or if the closest stones from the opposing teams are the same distance from the tee, there is no scoring for that inning.

Strategy involves trying to knock out opposing team's stones from the house so that they will be unable to score. It is also important to try not to knock out the stones of fellow teammates.

The stones are made of polished granite and have a maximum diameter of 36 inches and a maximum weight of 44 pounds.

The name "curling" comes from the ability of many curlers to put a spin on the stone, curling it around other stones. In this way, a team with good curlers can "spin" their stones into place, getting more inside the house and closer to the button for that end.

Sources:, Wikipedia

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The word: Photography

The word Photography was coined by Sir John Frederick William Herschel in 1839. Sir John Herschel was a mathematician and astronomer. He helped improve many of the techniques used in photography during the 19th century.

He also coined the words positive and negative to describe parts of the photographic process.

Sources: Online Etymology Dictionary, Wikipedia


The earliest archaeological evidence for cheese making comes from Egyptian tomb murals, dating to about 2300 BCE.

The cheese shown is called Sage Derby Cheese. It was traditionally made with cow's milk and sage, but today the sage is usually substituted with spinach juice or vegetable dye. The sage was added for health benefits in the 17th century.

Sources: Yahoo! Answers,

Water and Death Valley

People know Death Valley National Park in the US for its insanely hot temperatures and extra-harsh landscape. Summer temperatures typically average around 120 degrees Fahrenheit and in 1913, a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded.

One of the most surprising things about Death Valley is the fact that one of the largest aquifers in the US lies right under the dry surface of the National Park. This aquifer reaches East from California to Nevada and Utah.

Incidentally, the photo I found shows a picture of a "Racetrack Playa." This is a phenomenon where boulders are actually pushed by winds across the flat ground. No one has ever seen this happen, nor has it ever been recorded on film.

Source: Nature on PBS

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sir Tom Jones

So, it's not unusual to find people who are familiar with the lounge singer, Tom Jones. He's famous for his "sexy" moves, especially at a time when it was sort of outrageous to be a sexy singer.

Tom Jones' full name is Thomas Jones Woodward, and he is Welsh. The stage name he eventually settled on, Tom Jones, fits in well with the sexy novel, History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, by Henry Fielding.

Tom Jones was knighted Sir Tom Jones in 2005.

Source: BBC-Wales--Tom Jones biography

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Corna Gesture

The hand gesture most commonly known as "The Sign of the Devil" or the "El Diablo" sign has its origins in Italy where corna is Italian for horns and was actually used to ward off the evil eye.

In America, the sign is also associated with the University of Texas at Austin, especially in support of their sports teams known as the Longhorns. In this context, the sign is known as "Hook 'em Horns."

In addition, the sign also means "Rock on."

With so many different uses for one hand sign, and the notion among many people that the corna=devil worship, it's no wonder there are a ton of pages like this one, or this one, that purport that many public individuals are actually devil worshippers.

Source: Wikipedia

James T Kirk

Captain Kirk's middle name is "Tiberius."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Fancy Rats

The first rat show was held in 1901 in England.

Source: Wikipedia

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fisher Price Corn Popper

This is great little toy that nearly every little kid seems to like. The Corn Popper was invented by a man named Ralph Crawford in 1957. It's still made today by Fisher-Price.

Source: Parent Tested Buying Guides

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Daddy Long Legs

You may have heard that these are the most poisonous spiders ever, but they are unable to bite humans, so no one's died from their poison.

This is totally false and is an urban myth. A daddy long legs, of the Opiliones order, isn't poisonous at all. It's not even a spider since spiders are in the order Araneae.

Source: Spider Myths

Catholic Cassocks

Cassocks all have 33 buttons to correspond to the years of the life of Jesus.

Source: Wikipedia

My clip from a Priest's Robe Catalog: