September 2nd, 2009

chronic rift

The Chronic Rift Spotlight: 2009 Fall Movie Preview

The Summer of the Rift heads into the home stretch with Steve Biodrowski of Cinefantastique Online discussing the autumn slate of feature films.

You can download the episode off iTunes or at the Rift web site. We've also migrated the show over to Mevio, though we still, for the nonce, have the podOmatic page as well.

And please do comment on the forums on the Rift site or leave a message at 888-866-9010.
  • Current Music
    "Amazing Grace" by Arlo Guthrie

Schott's Miscellany 27 August 2009

Krakatoa violently erupted, sending six cubic miles of rock, ash, and pumice into the air (1883)


According to The Perfect Gentleman (1860) laughter may be classified thus:

The DIMPLERS: The dimple is practiced to give a grace ot the features, and is frequently made a bait to entangle a gazing lover.

The LAUGHTERS: The laugh "is the common risus of the ancients, and is simply and expansion of the smile, accompanied by a slight cachinnation."

The SMILERS: The smile "expresses our satisfaction in a sort of liberal approbation."

The GRINNERS: The grin, by writers of antiquity, is called the syncrusian and was then, as it is now, made use of to display a beautiful set of teeth.

The HORSE LAUGHERS: The horse laugh is an undue expansion of the laugh, accompanied by a boisterous noise, and is not allowable in polite society.

The Perfect Gentleman also notes that "immoderate laughter is exceedingly unbecoming in a lady"; however, "she may affect the dimple or the smile."

Bureaucracy, the rule of no one, has become the modern form of despotism.
Mary McCarthy (1912-89)
  • Current Music
    "Cornhusker Refugee" by the Austin Lounge Lizards

Schott's Miscellany 28 August 2009

Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales, were granted a divorce (1996)


Actors and stagehands alike believe whistling or clapping backstage to be bad luck. This may derive from the time when sailors operated the scenery, since they were handy with knots. The sailors communicated with one another by a system of whistles and claps that, if inadvertently used by an actor, might result in scenery falling on their head.

Wishing an actor good luck is unlucky, since folklore tells that to fool evil spirits, actors should request the very opposite of what they want--hence the phrase "Break a leg."

Wearing green is considered unwise in any theater, since green is the fairies' favorite color, and to wear it will provoke their jealousy and ire.

The lunches of fifty-seven years had caused his chest to slip down to the mezzanine floor.
P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975)
  • Current Music
    "Badge" by Eric Clapton

Schott's Miscellany 29 August 2009

Chop suey was invented in New York for the visiting Chinese ambassador (1896)


Never say "Macbeth" in a theater, sinc ethe play is associated with many tragedies and mishaps; instead call it the Scottish play. If you do happen to utter "Macbeth" in a theater, there are several ways to counteract the curse: Turn around three times; spit over your left shoulder; say the rudest word you can imagine (yes, that one); or speak a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Using a mirror on stage is considered taboo--possibly due to the technical difficulty of lightin mirrors, but also because of the age-old belief that mirrors can open one's soul to the devil.

Some theater hands believe in leaving a ghost light lit when the stage is not in use. It is said that such lights keep alive the spirit of theaters.

First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
  • Current Music
    "Sealion" by Jethro Tull

Schott's Miscellany 30 August 2009

Cleopatra committed suicide (30 BCE)


The word greenback was first used for the demand notes of 1861, the backs of which were printed (wait for it) in green. While the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BOEP) explains that no "definite explanation can be made for the original choice" of color, one theory posits that green was especially difficult for early cameras to capture and was thus chosen to outfox counterfeiters. The BOEP says green continued to be used because the pigment proved readily available and was resistant to chemical changes; the public had also developed a psychological link between green and the stability of the country's credit.

Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you haven't committed.
Anthony Powell (1905-2000)
  • Current Music
    "St. James Infirmary" by Arlo Guthrie

Schott's Miscellany 31 August 2009

Summer Bank Holiday (Engl., Wales, N. Ire.)


Three-card monte--otherwise known as find the lady or bonneteau--is one of the oldest scams. Three cards, usually two black cards and a red queen, are placed (by the tosser) on a table and shuffled before your eyes. You (the punter) have to find the lady. Although to most players it seems that only the tosser is involved, all such scams employ ropers who crowd the table, shills who pretend to be winning punters, and scouts who keep a lookout for the law. Sometimes the shills or ropers will "help" a punter by covertly turning down the corner of the queen when the tosser is not looking--only for the tosser to sneakily straighten that card and bend the corner of another. Clearly, the only reliable way to win this game is never to play. However, if you are tempted, the best advice is this: Follow the dealer's hands very closely until you are absolutely certain beyond any doubt that you have identified the queen. Then, bet on one of the other two cards, thus increasing your chance of winning from 0 to 50 percent. That said, if by chance you do win, there is a high probability that a scout will raise the alarm and the game will be abandoned before you have collected your money, or that you will be pursued and "relieved" of your winnings.

MODULAMINOUS--having a pleasing melody
"50 Cent? Hardly modulaminous."
  • Current Music
    "Ball of Confusion (U.S. Mix)" by Love and Rockets