Vice Compression

https://books.google.com/books?id=iU0EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA79

Paramount photographer A.L. Schafer set up this shot in 1940 to simultaneously flout 10 provisions of the Hays Code, Hollywood’s guideline for self-censorship between 1934 and 1968.

When Schafer entered the photo in an industry competition and organizers threatened him with a fine, he pointed out that the judges were hoarding all 18 prints he’d submitted.

(Via Open Culture.)

03/07/2021 UPDATE: Artist Bruce Timm made a similar image combining nine themes barred from Batman: The Animated Series: guns, drugs, breaking glass, alcohol, smoking, nudity, child endangerment, religion, and strangulation:

Dedication

In the climactic scene that Ray Harryhausen animated for Jason and the Argonauts (1963), “I had three men fighting seven skeletons, and each skeleton had five appendages to move in each separate frame of film. This meant at least thirty-five animation movements, each synchronized to the actor’s movements. Some days I was producing just 13 or 14 frames a day, or to put it another way, less than one second of screen time per day, and in the end the whole sequence took a record four and a half months to capture on film.”

An interesting philosophical question: “So how do you kill skeletons? We puzzled over this conundrum for some time and in the end we opted for simplicity by having Jason jump off the cliff into the sea, followed by the skeletons. It was the only way to kill off something that was already dead, and besides, we assumed that they couldn’t swim. After filming a stuntman jump into the sea, the prop men threw seven plaster skeletons off the cliff, which had to be done correctly on the first take as we couldn’t retrieve them for a second. To this day there are, somewhere in the sea near that hotel on the cliff edge, the plaster bones of seven skeletons.”

(Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life, 2010.)

Tribute

Every species of spider in the genus Predatoroonops takes its name from an element in John McTiernan’s 1987 film Predator:

Predatoroonops anna: For the character Anna Gonsalves, played by Elpidia Carrillo
Predatoroonops billy: For the character Billy Sole, played by Sonny Landham
Predatoroonops blain: For the character Blain Cooper, played by Jesse Ventura
Predatoroonops dillon: For the character George Dillon, played by Carl Weathers
Predatoroonops dutch: For the character “Dutch” Schaeffer, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger
Predatoroonops maceliot: For the character “Mac” Elliot, played by Bill Duke
Predatoroonops poncho: For the character “Poncho” Ramirez, played by Richard Chaves
Predatoroonops rickhawkins: For the character Richard Hawkins, played by Shane Black
Predatoroonops schwarzeneggeri: For Schwarzenegger
Predatoroonops vallarta: For Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, a filming location
Predatoroonops valverde: For Val Verde, the fictional country where the film takes place
Predatoroonops chicano: An alternate nickname for Poncho
Predatoroonops mctiernani: For McTiernan
Predatoroonops olddemon: In Anna’s village the Predator is known as a “demon who makes trophies of men”
Predatoroonops peterhalli: For Kevin Peter Hall, the actor who played the creature
Predatoroonops phillips: For the character Homer Phillips, played by R.G. Armstrong
Predatoroonops yautja: The name of the Predator species in the expanded universe

Also: In Predator 2, the Predator’s trophy case contains the head of an alien from the Alien franchise:

Exchange

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stan_Laurel_c1920.jpg

One day Stan Laurel visited a stationery store.

The clerk seemed to recognize him.

“Say,” he said. “Aren’t you –”

Laurel said, “Oliver Hardy.”

“Right,” said the clerk. “Say, whatever happened to Laurel?”

Laurel said, “He went balmy.”

A Near Miss

For a moment in the 1998 Simpsons episode “The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace,” it appears that Homer has found a solution to Fermat’s last theorem:

398712 + 436512 = 447212

If you check this on a calculator with a 10-digit display, it seems to work: Raise 3987 and 4365 each to the 12th power, take the 12th root of the sum, and you get 4472.

But that’s the fault of the display. The actual value for the third term is closer to 4472.000000007057617187512.

Simpsons writer David S. Cohen, who had studied physics at Harvard and contrived the ruse, told Simon Singh he was pleased at the consternation it caused online. “I feel great about it. It’s very easy working in television to not feel good about what you do on the grounds that you’re causing the collapse of society. So, when we get the opportunity to raise the level of discussion — particularly to glorify mathematics — it cancels out those days when I’ve been writing those bodily function jokes.”

(From Simon Singh, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, 2013.)

Hex

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HEX_11x11_(47).jpg
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Invented independently by Piet Hein and John Nash, the game of Hex is both simple and deep. Each player is assigned two opposite sides of the board and tries to connect them with an unbroken chain of stones. Draws are impossible, and in principle it can be shown that the first player has a winning strategy (if the second player had such a strategy, the first player could “steal” it with a move in hand). But succeeding in practical play requires careful, subtle thought.

You can try it here.

Misc

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pete_Conrad_on_LM_ladder,_Apollo_12.jpg

  • Peter Davison, who played the fifth Doctor in Doctor Who, is the father-in-law of David Tennant, who played the 10th.
  • Sharks are older than trees.
  • ABHORS, ALMOST, BEGINS, BIOPSY, and CHINTZ are alphabetical.
  • \displaystyle \sqrt{7! + 1} = 71
  • “The punishment can be remitted; the crime is everlasting.” — Ovid

“Whoopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that’s a long one for me!” — Pete Conrad, after becoming the third human to set foot on the moon

Fair Exchange

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:William_Hogarth_016.jpg

The Beggar’s Opera, by John Gay, premiered in 1728 at the Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre, managed by John Rich.

It was an enormous success, becoming one of the most popular plays of the 18th century.

This “had the effect, as was ludicrously said, of making Gay rich and Rich gay.”

(From Johnson’s Lives of the Poets.)

Across the Universe

Tiny but interesting: The Beatles’ 1995 song “Free as a Bird” was based on a home demo that John Lennon had recorded in 1977, three years before his murder. After the surviving Beatles had added their own parts, they appended a music-hall-style ukulele to the end, followed by a spoken snippet by Lennon, “Turned out nice again,” a reference to entertainer George Formby.

In Beatles style they reversed this snippet, expecting it to sound like cryptic nonsense. Instead, the result (arguably) sounds like “Made by John Lennon.”

Paul McCartney said, “None of us had heard it when we compiled it, but when I spoke to the others and said, ‘You’ll never guess,’ they said, ‘We know, we’ve heard it too.’ And I swear to God he definitely says it. We could not in a million years have known what that phrase would be backwards.”

(From Peter Ames Carlin’s Paul McCartney: A Life, 2009.)

The Final Frontier

http://cargocollective.com/nickacosta/Star-Trek-in-Cinerama

The original Star Trek was presented in the rather boxy aspect ratio of 1960s television. Now San Francisco illustrator Nick Acosta has stitched together screenshots to see how it would have appeared in a widescreen format:

I created this project of what the show would have looked like in Cinerama widescreen. As a kid the show always felt bigger and more epic than it appears to me as an adult. I was able to create these shots by waiting for the camera to pan and then I stitched the separate shots together. The result is pretty epic. It reminds me of the classic science fiction movies of the 50’s and 60’s. Suddenly the show has a ‘Forbidden Planet’ vibe. Other shots remind me of how director Robert Wise would use a camera technique to keep the foreground and background elements in focus.

More at his website. (Via Cliff Pickover.)