December 25, 2009
Rediscovering Central Asia is an article by historian and archaeologist S. Frederick Starr, about the Islamic Central Asian intellectual flowering between 800 and 1100, when scientists like Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and al-Biruni debated such questions as the existence of other solar systems and whether god created the animals. Starr then traces Central Asia's slide in influence and power. The last great Central Asian empire was that of Timur, known in the West as Tamerlane the Great, who ruled from 1370-1405. One of the great early works of Spanish literature was the travel account of Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, ambassador of Spain to Timur's court, which can be read in full on Google Books or downloaded as a pdf.
Need an uncommon name for your child, pet, car or fictional character? Limitless choices are now a click away. Some of my favorites: Monron, Kinley, and Kendricki. [via mefi projects]
Where Do The Animals Live? A pictorial game and wildlife map from 1956, from AzraelBrown's excellent blog The Infomercantile.
The HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast talks to director Stuart Gordon about Herbert West - Reanimator (part 1, part 2). A prolific director, Gordon is responsible for some of the better adaptations of Lovecraft's work (and From Beyond). Currently he is directing Reanimator star Jeffrey Combs as Edgar Allan Poe in the one-man shoe Nevermore, which just finished a hugely successful run in LA and is now heading for Poe's hometown of Baltimore.
Arrow Trucking ceases operations, strands as many as 1400 drivers on Christmas Eve all over the country. In as cutthroat an industry as there is, other companies found it in their hearts to assist those left out in the cold.
After all the muzak, Christmas Past - a quality Christmas song by Mick Flannery, which he sings here with Lisa Hannigan (who previously benefited from the Colbert bump) at the Other Voices festival in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland. Other Voices has been running for seven years, so the archive of performances has grown impressively.
Winter holiday traditions change with time and location, with their current forms retaining little of their old forms, wassailing (rhymes with fossil-ing) possibly more than most. The modern interpretation of wassailing has been simplified to singing carols, though it was born of much more diverse traditions, from a cheer of good health before battle to scaring evil spirits from apple orchards. From these origins come wassail the drink, and that's just one of the many foods of the winter season (Food Timeline prev., 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). A few more are covered below the break. [more inside]
12 months, a core team of dozens (with a network of thousands) spanning 3 continents, 4 languages, 5 specialist teams, countless sleepless nights... It's finally here. Filmed in Sacramento, Portland, and Victoria by the Nine Inch Nails team, edited and produced by their fans, The Gift is a stunning work in 1080p High Definition video with 5.1 Surround Sound, multi-language subtitles, and artistically-driven ethics. [more inside]
SomBy were the winners of the Liet International 2009 song contest for minority european languages and cultures. Sámi rock, you say? But wait, there's more! There's Alit Boazu from the Norwegian side, and Tiina Sanila, a Skolt Sámi singer from Finland. And yes, there is Sámi metal, from the band Intrigue. There are plenty other Sámi musicians across Sápmi and outside of the genre of rock, of course. There's Amoc, an Inari Sámi rapper from Finland; Adjágas who are folky and bluegrassy at times; Niko Valkeapää, who is more ambient and electronic; and of course, Mari Boine, recently knighted for her long career of artistic work (translation). [Sound, MySpace warnings] [more inside]
Looking to donate by New Year's? Know lots of charities' names/elevator pitches but nothing about who's good? Look to the Stars, the web's number one source of celebrity charity news and information, can help. Find out about the causes supported by all your favorite celebrities, from Adam Sandler to Zac Efron, as well as the work being done by organizations like the Marshall Mathers Foundation and Cocker Kids.
Sometimes, the full meaning of a moment isn't realized until years later. Dick Brookins certainly had no idea what would come of that December day, back in 1944. Brookins and other members of the U.S. Army's 28th Infantry Division Signal Corps were in Wiltz, a small town in Luxembourg, just days before what would turn into the Battle of the Bulge. This U.S. soldier stood in for an absent Saint Nicholas... it was to change his life and help him find some meaning for the war in Europe. As it turns out, someone was filming that day when an Army jeep carried the American St. Nick through the streets giving treats to the local children. It brought him back 65 years later.
It's Christmas, which means the most important tradition of all: the cast of The Venture Bros. changing your memory of a holiday classic forever. Merry Christmas from
Alvin, Simon, and Theodore Tim-Tom, Kevin, and Henchman 21. [more inside]
Sometimes we forget the depth of meaning of the word "holy"....perhaps, given the season, this may help....
Here's a fun collection of Vintage Christmas Album Covers, and more here at the Strange Christmas Album Covers Flickr set. [more inside]
On December 24th, 1979, radio personality Alan Maitland started a tradition on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's program As It Happens. That Christmas Eve, Maitland read a Frederick Forsyth story that featured the unlikely meeting of a Vampire and a Mosquito. His telling has been re-aired every year since. [more inside]