Friday, March 13, 2015

Valérie Dionne

Every year, for about 15 minutes, all liquid in Canada thaws just enough for the women's national water polo team to get in the pool for one good practice. And Valérie Dionne has been there. Having competed in eleven national championships, Dionne was a mainstay for the team, and even helped her country qualify for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, where Canada finished fifth. Host nation, Australia, won the gold that year. But, to be fair, the Aussies are a true powerhouse in the sport, presumably because their training facility is infested with sharks and box jellyfish. Which is to say they've learned to swim like their lives depend on it. Despite Canada's disappointment in Sydney, at the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, Dionne helped lead Canada to a bronze medal. Australia never made it out of the quarter finals. BOOM! You've been Canada'd! (Sorry.)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Morton Sherman Bellucci

In the 1980's, there was a Belgian underground music scene and subculture known as New Beat. Among the founders of this trend was the trio, Morton Sherman Bellucci, who, in less than a year, released more than 100 recordings during the peak of the movement. However, in what can only be considered a rather poor brand awareness strategy, many of these recordings came out under different aliases. New Beat was a major moment for Belgium's important role in the development of house music, which actually started in Chicago. Sadly, the most notable Belgian artist to come from this was Technotronic, who had an international hit with "Pump Up the Jam." Lord Jesus, it's a terrible song. Today, the Tomorrowland electronic music festival happens every year near Antwerp. The country is also known for chocolate, waffles, and beer. Seriously, Belgium. I just want to lick you. Everywhere. Especially your Brussels.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Władysław Kulczyński

Władysław Kulczyński was a Polish zoologist who specialised in arachnology. The study of spiders. Screw that. So, let's not learn anymore about Mr. Kulczyński. Instead, I'll tell you about Tall Paul. In 2003, I was doing the European backpacker thing, and, one night in Krakow, a few of us went to a bar. There, we met a Polish guy named Paul. He called himself Tall Paul. Because, oddly enough, he was rather tall. And Tall Paul insisted on buying shots. Something blue. Might've been vodka. Might've been washer fluid. We'll never know. Soon, shots were on the bar. I tried to pay half. Tall Paul refused. "When you are in MY country, TALL PAUL buys the shots." And he did. "When I am in YOUR country, YOU buy the shots." And I will. If Tall Paul comes to America. Anyone recognize the guy on the left? I owe him shots.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living

In 2005, Australian author Carrie Tiffany published her award-winning novel, "Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living." While it kinda sounds like a character-driven how-to guide for safely using nipple clamps, the story is actually set in 1934 when a young seamstress finds herself in the last of fourteen cars on a farming train that is traveling across Victoria bringing agricultural science education to provincial farmers. Alas, many agricultural things happen on this train, including a run-in with professional chicken-sexer, Mr. Ohno. This, of course, takes place in the designated chicken-sexing car. Because, you know, if you're going to have chicken-sexing, you need a separate car. Can't just have chickens sexing each other in front of the cows. Unless, of course, they're into that. This was the English-born, Perth-raised former park ranger's debut novel. Naturally, as a true woman of the outdoors, she wrote about the wild world of agriculture. And chicken-sexing.

* Note: This is my third Australian-themed Wiki article in less than a week. I suspect something sinister is going on down under, and I'm determined to get to the bottom of these shenanigans. Just as soon as I finish doing ... other things.

** Note: After writing this, I later learned that a chicken sexer is not one who oversees the proper mating of chickens. A chicken sexer is a trained individual who can quickly identify the sex of chickens and other hatchlings. I'm an idiot.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The New Empire Cinema

About seventy miles south of Sydney, in Bowral, lies The New Empire Cinema. And on September 15th it will celebrate its centenary. Which means that for 100 years the oldest continually operating theater in Australia has been showing the same mediocre Hollywood movies that America gets to see. But in reverse. Because of the Coriolis effect. It's true. Don't look it up. Please. Of course, because movie-goers value full frontal nudity over plot and character development - and rightly so - currently playing at the New Empire is "Fifty Shades of Grey." It's nice to know that smut sells on both sides of the equator. In America, "Fifty Shades" has an R rating, meaning kids under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or willing homeless person. Similarly, but with a two year difference, in Australia, it's only MA15+. Kids mature two years faster down under. It's the Coriolis effect.

Friday, March 6, 2015

St. Gangolf's Church

St. Gangolf's Church sits in the center of Trier, Germany - a charming small town about ten miles from the border of Luxembourg. Which means if ever all six inhabitants of Luxembourg someday decide to wage war on their neighbors to the east, Trier will be among the first places they attempt to conquer. Though, there's only so much harm the small European tax haven could inflict with their arsenal of sharp-edged investment management portfolios. Alas, St. Gangolf's is safe from Luxembourgers. But not from envy, for this Roman Catholic church unfortunately plays second fiddle to the nearby Trier Cathedral, which is known for housing what is said to be the Holy Tunic. Read: The robe Jesus was wearing just before his crucifixion. It is only displayed every few decades, and rather irregularly. In the meantime, everyone just waits around in cycling attire. At least according to Google street view

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Larry Maluma

Larry Maluma is a reggae artist living in Australia. Having left his native Zambia in 1985 to begin a new life down under in the great land of things that can kill you, he's combined English and Zambian dialects to create his own unique style of roots music. Though Maluma's sound may be a fusion of culture and languages, his official website still boldly reminds everyone, right at the top, that it - the website - is 100% reggae. Which is nice, especially having been fooled by some generic, imitation websites that were only made from small chunks of reggae. (Always read the label.) His website does not, however, list any current tour dates. Hopefully Larry is just busy working on new music, and not slowly being murdered under a gum tree by some highly evolved scorpion-toed snake-odile. One-hundred percent deadly. Only 12% reggae.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Angayukaksurak Char

It sounds delicious. That is if you can even sound it to begin with. Angayukaksurak. Good luck. Of course, most restaurant menus probably won't even write out the name of this wild Alaskan fish in full because it would appear as if a confused sous chef slammed his forehead against the keyboard and said, "Close enough." Granted, if it is on the menu - in full - you could always just call it "char." Hell, go nuts and enunciate the whole damn thing as "angdoidhfgpdhgpiagpid." Nobody will know the difference. Your server probably has no idea, nor does she care. Just know before you order that angayukaksurak char is from the salmon family. But also sort of from the trout family. So it tastes as though a salmon and a trout got drunk and did terrible things to each other up stream. Whatever. It's cold in Alaska. These things happen. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Electrical Connector

Electrical connectors do seem rather self-explanatory. They're connectors. For electricity. At no point has anyone either seen or heard these two words together and thought, "Oh, maybe that's a fancy way of saying waffles." When joining circuits of electricity, these connectors can exist either as plugs, which are male-ended, or jacks, which are female-ended. You can easily tell the difference by the way jacks never know what they want to eat for dinner, and are always late for social events because they spent 45 minutes working on their hair. Of course, connectors come in all different shapes and sizes. But they all work via the same principle, so long as these male and female parts fit. When dissimilar electrical connectors don't fit - perhaps, say, because of their religious beliefs - special adapters can be used to let them see past their differences. Kumbaya. Let's play some video games.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Martín Tenemás

Martín Tenemás is a retired Peruvian footballer. Professionally, Tenemás has played right back for a number of clubs, most notably Alianza in Lima. However, his career highlight was the one appearance he made for the Peruvian national team in a small-scale tournament against Japan on May 22, 2005. Peru won 1-0. Small as the tournament may have been, it was nonetheless a positive result for a nation that doesn’t traditionally do well in international football. To be fair, the Peruvian national team has it tough. For the World Cup, they have to qualify against powerhouse countries like Argentina and Brazil. Alas, Peru hasn’t qualified since 1982. On the plus side, these days everyone in the world really seems to be into eating quinoa. So, they’ve got that going for them. And ceviche. Holy sweet Jesus. Ceviche. It’s like sex, but with raw fish. Ay. That didn’t come out right.