Xah's Belles-lettres Blog Archive 2012-08 to 2012-08

installment, franchise, budget

installment

Alien Resurrection is a science fiction film released in 1997 by 20th Century Fox and the fourth installment in the Alien franchise. Directed by French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the film is based on a screenplay by Joss Whedon. With a budget of $70 million, Alien Resurrection was the first film in the Alien series to be filmed outside of England, at Fox studios in Los Angeles, California.
Alien Resurrection, 2012-06-03

My dear son, punish that contumacious beauty; give your mother a revenge as sweet as her injuries are great; infuse into the bosom of that haughty girl a passion for some low, mean, unworthy being, so that she may reap a mortification as great as her present exultation and triumph.

from the Story of Cupid and Psyche

eviscerate, coo

coo

Claudia orders her brother Gustav to kill and eviscerate Lily in the woods. When Lily escapes, Gustav kills a pig and presents its organs to Claudia, who keeps what she believes to be Lily's heart. Claudia orders Gustav to place the rest of the remains in the stew pot, then coos over the deliciousness of the stew as she eats and urges Fredric to join her. When Claudia learns the truth from the mirror, she drives a terrified Gustav to suicide.

avant-garde, status quo

avant-garde

Avant-garde (French pronunciation: [avɑ̃ɡaʁd]) means “advance guard” or “vanguard”. The term is used in English as a noun or adjective to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.

Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm. The notion of the existence of the avant-garde is considered by some to be a hallmark of modernism, as distinct from postmodernism. Many artists have aligned themselves with the avant-garde movement and still continue to do so, tracing a history from Dada through the Situationists to postmodern artists such as the Language poets around 1981.

Avant-garde, 2012-05-25

attired

In the novel, Cosette's mother Fantine places her under the guardianship of the Thénardiers, where she is severely mistreated. They beat her, starve her, and force her to perform heavy labor in their inn. Under the Thénardiers' care, she is described as “thin and pale,” wears rags for clothing, and she has chilblains on her hands as well as bruised and reddened skin. The narrator also states that “fear was spread all over her.”

While later under the care of Jean Valjean, Cosette's appearance completely transforms as she grows older. She becomes very beautiful, healthy, well-attired and educated. She later falls in love with Marius Pontmercy. Cosette has chestnut brown hair, beautiful eyes, rosy cheeks, pale skin, and a radiant smile.

Cosette, 2012-08-17

subterfuge, persona, meddlesome, underplayed

subterfuge

The Mattel Barbie doll — more familiar to us as Barbie — has, in the last four decades, taken on a life and persona of her own. In 1994, an unofficial biography revealed that Barbie was modeled on a German cartoon character, an ambitious hooker named Lilli. At a 1995 exhibit, “Art, Design and Barbie: The Evolution of a Cultural Icon” at New York's Liberty Street Gallery, Lilli's role in Barbie's evolution was heavily underplayed. This subterfuge was part of a larger controversy, in which columnists and curators accused Mattel Inc., the sponsor, of being excessively meddlesome. While Mattel purged the exhibit of certain works of art inspired by Barbie, the company also did its best to camouflage the doll who had inspired the creators of Barbie. To understand why this was inevitable, we must put ourselves in Barbie's shoes, and follow the progress of a very hard-working plaything.

albatross, old-guard

albatross

Is Hillary Clinton the saviour of feminism? Or its albatross, dragging feminism backwards under a weary weight of old-guard victimology and male-bashing?
Why women shouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton by Camille Paglia.
albatross = ① Any of several large web-footed birds …. ② A constant, worrisome burden; An obstacle to success.
old-guard = A conservative, reactionary faction that is unwilling to accept new ideas.

what's Bismillah, Beelzebub ? Bohemian Rhapsody explains Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

New: the famous science fiction 〈Flatland〉 translated to Chinese, at 神奇的二维国 (Flatland).

Original English version here: FLATLAND: A Romance of Many Dimensions.

implausible

The deepening slide in Facebook Inc.'s stock is fueling talk once considered implausible on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley.
Is Mark Zuckerberg in over his hoodie as Facebook CEO? By Walter Hamilton And Jessica Guynn. At http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-zuckerberg-future-20120817,0,3128642,full.story

dwell

[Hunger Games fiction universe] An escort is a citizen of the Capitol whose main duty is to accompany the tributes (“escort”) tributes of their assigned district and teach them how to behave properly. … The only known escort is Effie Trinket, the District 12 escort. Effie Trinket is a kind and peppy escort who cared for tributes Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark while they dwelled in the Capitol. She would always make announcements to prepare and get ready for the day ahead of them.
tributes = (Historical Terms) (in feudal society) homage or a payment rendered by a vassal to his lord.

magnate

Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic novel by British author E. L. James. Set largely in Seattle, it is the first installment in a trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism/masochism (BDSM).

epigraphy

The Maya civilization shares many features with other Mesoamerican civilizations due to the high degree of interaction and cultural diffusion that characterized the region. Advances such as writing, epigraphy, and the calendar did not originate with the Maya; however, their civilization fully developed them. Maya influence can be detected from Honduras, Guatemala, and western El Salvador to as far away as central Mexico, more than 1,000 km (620 mi) from the Maya area. Many outside influences are found in Maya art and architecture, which are thought to result from trade and cultural exchange rather than direct external conquest.
Maya civilization, 2012-07-23

Tyke, Imp, Waif, and Les Misérables

misdeeds, fabrication, infraction

fabrications

The Times reported on Blair's journalistic misdeeds in an unprecedented 7,239-word front-page story on May 11, 2003, headlined “Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception.” The story called the affair “a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.” On the NPR radio show “Talk of the Nation”, Blair explained that his fabrications started with what he thought was a relatively innocent infraction: using a quote from a press conference which he had missed. He described a gradual process whereby his ethical violations became worse and contended that his main motivation was a fear of not living up to the expectations that he and others had for his career.
Jayson Blair, 2012-08-16

Nonsectarian

Nonsectarian, in its most literal sense, refers to a lack of sectarianism. The term is also more narrowly used to describe secular private educational institutions or other organizations either not affiliated with or not restricted to a particular religious group.
Nonsectarian, 2012-08-14

lurid

Pulp magazines (often referred to as “the pulps”) are inexpensive fiction magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick, and 128 pages long. Pulps were printed on cheap paper with ragged, untrimmed edges.

The term pulp derives from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed. Magazines printed on higher quality paper were called “glossies” or “slicks”. In their first decades, pulps were most often priced at ten cents per magazine, while competing slicks were 25 cents apiece. Pulps were the successor to the penny dreadfuls, dime novels, and short fiction magazines of the 19th century. Although many respected writers wrote for pulps, the magazines are best remembered for their lurid and exploitative stories and sensational cover art. Modern superhero comic books are sometimes considered descendants of “hero pulps”; pulp magazines often featured illustrated novel-length stories of heroic characters, such as The Shadow, Doc Savage and The Phantom Detective.

Pulp magazine, 2012-08-06

du jour

Gabby Douglas was the topic du jour for Olympic commentators throughout last week, but over the weekend, she became a centerpiece in another manufactured controversy at Fox News, America's top outlet for manufactured controversies. Douglas' pink leotard, Fox host Alisyn Camerota lamented, was emblematic of an Olympic “trend” (one that, Fox wants you to believe, is part of a liberal-left conspiracy to rid the world of red, white, and blue) of athletes wearing colors that don't appear on the American flag.
Fox News Doesn't Think Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas Is Patriotic Enough By Travis Waldron. At http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2012/08/06/644531/fox-news-doesnt-think-olympic-gold-medalist-gabby-douglas-is-patriotic-enough/

火烧圆明园是怎么回事? Burning of the Imperial Palace

chronograph

A chronograph is a specific type of watch that is used as a stopwatch combined with a display watch. A basic chronograph has an independent sweep second hand; it can be started, stopped, and returned to zero by successive pressure on the stem. Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec invented the chronograph in 1821. Rieussec was awarded the original patent for his chronograph in 1822.

There are many modern day uses for the chronograph, but the original use for this device, and also the reason it was invented, was to please King Louis XVIII in 1821. The King greatly enjoyed watching horse races, but wanted to know exactly how long each race lasted, so Nicolas Rieussec was hired to invent a contraption that would do the job. As a result, he created the first ever commercialized chronograph.

Chronograph, 2012-08-06

chronometer

A marine chronometer is a clock that is precise and accurate enough to be used as a portable time standard; it can therefore be used to determine longitude by means of celestial navigation. When first developed in the 18th century it was a major technical achievement, as accurate knowledge of the time over a long sea voyage is necessary for navigation, lacking electronic or communications aids. The first true chronometer was the life work of one man, John Harrison, spanning 31 years of persistent experimentation and test that revolutionized naval (and later aerial) navigation enabling the Age of Discovery and Colonialism to accelerate.

The term chronometer (apparently coined in 1714 by Jeremy Thacker, an early competitor for the prize set by the Longitude Act in the same year) is used more recently to describe wristwatches tested and certified to meet certain precision standards. Timepieces made in Switzerland may only display the word ‘chronometer’ if certified by the COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute).

Chronometer, 2012-08-06

ethnology

Ethnology (from the Greek ἔθνος, ethnos meaning “people, nation, race”) is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.
Ethnology, 2012-07-30

dunk, hooligans, snugly

dunk

Apparently, we — a collective of food-eating-ketchup-using hooligans — have been consuming ketchup all wrong.

If you've ever poured ketchup into those tiny paper cup containers and brought them back to your table for fry dunking and burger smearing, you might be a victim of ketchup ignorance as well.

Did you know that these ketchup containers are built to fan out, and are made to allow for more dunk square-footage?

As it stands, your fries probably fit pretty snugly, but imagine wanting to dip your burger into that tiny cup — not happening.

So Apparently, We've Been Using Ketchup Cups All Wrong By Elie Ayrouth. At http://foodbeast.com/content/2012/08/01/so-apparently-weve-been-using-ketchup-cups-all-wrong/

vocabulary: surrogate, advocacy, shield, liability

surrogate

A “front organization” is any entity set up by and controlled by another organization, such as intelligence agencies, organized crime groups, banned organizations, religious or political groups, advocacy groups, or corporations. Front organizations can act for the parent group without the actions being attributed to the parent group.

Front organizations that appear to be independent voluntary associations or charitable organizations are called front groups. In the business world, front organizations such as front companies or shell corporations are used to shield the parent company from legal liability. In international relations, a puppet state is a state which acts as a front (or surrogate) for another state.

Front organization, 2012-07-25