Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My December 2014 Favorites

 December may have been a month for the Christmas holiday, but I managed to watch quite a bit of movies and TV. None of my favorites are Christmas-related though.

Fact of the Day: Sargon Moses

In 2334 BC, Sargon I ruled Mesopotamia despite being born a commoner and also a servant to the previous king. After he died a lot of his life became more mythology than reality. Legend says he was the secret child of a priestess who placed her baby (Sargon) in a basket in the river where he was later found. The similarity between stories led many to believe that the birth legend of Sargon inspired part of the Biblical story of Moses.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Super Smash Bros. (WiiU) Review

 Ever since 1999, Super Smash Bros. has been one of the favorite series in video games. The idea of bringing Nintendo favorites together for one fighting game was brilliant. The first sequel Melee improved on the original so much it was almost too good to be true. Brawl was great, but the online mode had many problems. Now the fourth game in the series is here for the WiiU.

Fact of the Day: Ordovician

The Ordovician geoglical period was one of earliest on Earth, and was named by Charles Lapworth after the Celtic tribe called the Ordovices. He had discovered that layers of rock were not from either the Cambrian or Silurian era. His discovery of the era was located in the former homeland of the Ordovices. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014 Film) Review

When I was little, me and my brother's favorite thing in the world was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Most of our birthday parties had the theme, we watched the old movies, played the video games, etc. I had heard that Michael Bay was making a new movie on the Ninja Turtles, and that originally the word was that they were going to make them aliens. They changed the alien idea, and Michael Bay was a producer and not a director like his Transformer movies.

Fact of the Day: Doctor Theo

While Theodor Geisel's famous pen-name is Dr. Seuss, it was actually something he used since college. Except back then his author name was Dr. Theophrastus Seuss. While Seuss is derived from Geisel's middle name, Theophrastus is likely named after the Greek philosopher of the same name.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Random Photo: Christmas Cookies 2014

Daisy and I made these cookies on Christmas Day. We love Frosty the Snowman, and they were quite good cookies. 

Fact of the Day: Old Town

The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma was named after a word called Tallasi. In its Native American language it means "old town". The pronunciation of the word later morphed into Tulsa. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

My Favorite Photos: A Little K Christmas

I took this photo of my niece Little K at our family gathering on the 23rd of December. Her parents dressed her for the holiday. This is her 2nd Christmas, and she's starting to get excited about the presents. Her favorite of the night seemed to be a doll of Princess Anna from Frozen. 

Fact of the Day: Departed Pigeon

When Europeans first arrived in North America, one of the most abundant birds was the passenger pigeon. However loss of habitat and hunting led to the bird's demise especially in the 19th century. The last known passenger pigeon, Martha died in a zoo in 1914. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

My Favorite Photos: Christmas Day 2014

 As I get older, Christmas isn't so much about the presents. Though it is nice to a get a few things for the holiday. This year was the first I've seen the show Game of Thrones, and I've already seen three seasons. One of the things I asked my mother for me to get was a t-shirt of the show's House Stark with their house sigil, the direwolf.

Fact of the Day: Pluto Moon

Pluto's largest moon, Charon wasn't discovered until 1978. Four smaller moons were later discovered between 2005-2012.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

One Magic Christmas (1985 Film) Review

 I don't think I had ever watched One Magic Christmas in my childhood, but I had heard about it fairly recently. I thought about not seeing it, but coincidentally Stephen mentioned that it was his favorite Christmas movie. I still had my doubts, but I was willing to give it a chance.

Fact of the Day: Christmas Ship

Christopher Columbus' ship the Santa Maria sank on Christmas Day. On the night of Christmas Eve, Columbus went to sleep, and somebody let a boy steer the ship. Without a proper person to steer the ship, it crashed into the sandbank when water currents turned the ship that way. 

Merry Christmas 2014

I hope everybody celebrating the holiday will have a good Christmas this year. Until I have children, the actual day of Christmas will mostly be a day of rest and a few modest presents for me. I will say my biggest joy of this holiday season was seeing my nieces' and nephew's excitement when they were opening their gifts. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Why Non-Christians Can Celebrate Christmas

A few years ago one of Daisy's not-so-bright friends saw this photo, and since she failed miserably to convert me to Christianity (that's another story though), she angrily asked why we (I'm Agnostic, Daisy is Buddhist) celebrated Christmas if we didn't believe in Jesus. Unlike Easter, Christmas' name doesn't come from a pagan goddess, but the center figure of Christianity. But Christmas' roots (especially the Western concept) are far from Christian.

My Favorite Photos: Almost Christmas 2014

I took this photo last night at our family celebration of Christmas. We had to do it a little early as it's hard to find a day where everyone can meet up. It was a little chaotic, but fun. 

Fact of the Day: Roman Christmas

Due to the first Christian Roman Emperor Constantine I, the first notable Christmas celebrations in Rome took place in the year 336. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Arthur Christmas (2011 Film) Review

 I don't think I even heard of Arthur Christmas when it came out a few years ago. I've been trying to see a few new Christmas movies this year, and Arthur Christmas seemed promising. I heard it did very well with critics, but what did I think?

Fact of the Day: Christmas Birthday

While many Christians believe Jesus' birthday was December 25th, no such date is in the Bible in any calendar system. It wasn't until the fourth century that religious leaders chose December 25th as the day of Christmas. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Funny Story: Tall Dog

In in the early 2000's right before I started high school, I got my current dog Zelda. While she was much easier to hold as a little puppy, I used to pick her up to the window of the front door so she could see things happening outside so she'd stop barking. The window was about six feet from the floor, but one day I let Zelda look at everyone leaving the house. In that car was my brother's then-girlfriend who saw Zelda but didn't realize that a person was helping her up. When they got back, I learned that his girlfriend seriously asked "how tall is that dog?". 

Fact of the Day: Santa Basil

Traditionally in Greece, the gift-giver of Christmas is not Santa/Saint Nicolas. It is Saint Basil the Great, and his day wasn't Christmas Eve but January 1st. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Funny Story: Mother the Cook

My mother was never much of a cook, but a few years ago she made more than a culinary blunder. This actually didn't involve a terrible tasting dinner either. She had been baking something in the oven that was something she never tried before. She wanted to make sure it cooked all the way, so she stuck her hand in the oven and touched the food. Then gets surprised when her finger started to feel quite a bit of a burn. While it was luckily nothing serious, what did she expect was going to happen?

Fact of the Day: Pagan Tree

Christmas trees were originally the tradition of Germanic pagans. Ironically in the Bible there is actually a verse against it in Jeremiah 10. It says for followers to not be like other "nations", and describes a practice that sounds a lot like the decoration of Christmas trees. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Things I Hate: Peppermint Candy

Since before I can remember to today, I have never liked peppermint candy. Which made Christmas time a little awkward as everyone knows that there is always someone offering to give you a peppermint candy cane. 

Fact of the Day: Santa Irving

Washington Irving is most famous for writing Rip Van Winkle, and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but he also wrote a story that for the first time featured Santa riding his magical sleigh. Though in his time, it was St. Nicolas riding a flying wagon. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014 Film) Review

 The Avengers-related movies haven't been just great Marvel movies, but some of the best super-hero movies ever. With their success, they weren't afraid to make a movie in same universe based on the comic book Guardians of the Galaxy. While everyone knows Spider-Man and Captian America, not many knew of Star Lord and his team of alien heroes.

Fact of the Day: Koliada

In what is now most of Eastern Europe, there was an ancient winter festival called Koliada. It celebrated the birth of the new year. When Christianity spread to the region, Koliada merged with Christmas. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Things I Like: Pizza Inn

Daisy and I used to go their buffet all the time, but the other week we got some for the house instead. I can criticize how they run the buffet, but I do like their pizza. Their main pizzas are thin crust, so I forgot to tell them I wanted the hand-tossed version instead. But I didn't mind having thin crust, even though I don't prefer it, I haven't had it in a long time.  

Fact of the Day: George Washington Christmas

During the early days of the American Revolutionary War, George Washington led a surprise attack on Hessian (German) troops by crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Day. His forces won especially since the Hessian soldiers had dropped their guard celebrating the holiday. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014 Film) Review

 Back in 2010 I missed out on the original How to Train Your Dragon, but managed to see it in 2011. Daisy and I loved the movie, but were disappointed that it would be at least three years until we could see the sequel. I missed it in theaters, but finally our wait was over.

Fact of the Day: Gingerbread Cookies

The practice of making gingerbread men cookies dates back to the 15th century. Queen Elizabeth I even had some served in her royal court. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Things I Hate: When People Get Upset Over Happy Holidays

I get this one a lot, especially living in the Bible Belt of the United States. A lot of Christians get terribly upset that Santa is more popular than Jesus' birthday, and a lot of them don't like the term "Happy Holidays". It shouldn't really be something to be mad about it, even Christians celebrate New Years which I'm sure is part of those happy holidays. And second saying "happy holidays' shows you're considerate to those who may be Jewish and celebrate Hanukkah instead. I always believed being considerate was a moral virtue, and being arrogant about your religion was not a thing to be proud of.  

Fact of the Day: O Tannenbaum

The song O' Christmas Tree is based on the original German song O Tannenbaum. Germany decorated trees before Christanity came to the region, and Tannenbaum does not literally mean "christmas tree'. It literally translates as "fir tree" as many Christmas trees are fir trees.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009 Film) Review

 Like many people, the Batman movie The Dark Knight was one of my favorite movies ever. Heath Ledger played the Joker so well that he won an Oscar, and for a super-hero movie that's unheard of. Ledger's death before The Dark Knight came out was tragic, but he managed to finish his work for it. He passed away in the middle of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, with his role being played later by three of his actor-friends. I've been meaning to see his last movie for years now, but is it any good?

Fact of the Day: Christmas Peace

While World War I saw much carnage, there was a time of peace between some troops. During Christmas week, some British and German troops slowly began a holiday truce. They sung Christmas carols to each other, gave holiday greetings, and gave what little they had as Christmas gifts. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kingpin (1996 Film) Review

 There are two famous comedies based on bowling. The first is The Big Lebowski, and while I really liked the movie, it wasn't really about bowling. The other is Kingpin, which I haven't seen until now. Kingpin is much more about bowling, but is it funny?

Fact of the Day: Christmas Tree Lights

In the late 19th century, electric lights for Christmas trees were invented. President Grover Cleveland used lights on his Christmas tree for the first time in 1895. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Funny Story: Victorian Laugh

Like many American women, Daisy really likes Victoria's Secret, and I have no objections to that.  While looking for stuff for Daisy, two of the girls that worked there were nearby enough to easily hear them. One of them had remarked on one those babydoll nightgowns, and on how much she really wanted it for herself. The other girl knew she was single and asked who she was going to wear it for. Her response made me chuckle "I'm going to wear it for Jesus!".

Fact of the Day: Frosty the Snowman

Frosty the Snowman was originally a song written by Jack Rollins and Steve Nelson in 1950. Since the song is suppose to take place in Armonk, New York, the town has a parade dedicated to Frosty annually. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Noragami (TV Series) Season 1 Review

 I remember many years ago on Cartoon Network's Toonami, I used to watch a lot of anime. Nowadays I haven't watched too much of it. Noragami is actually a fairly recently anime, so to make it to the United States so soon is quite rare. It took popular anime shows like Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon forever to reach America.

Fact of the Day: Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol not only as a good story, but as a way to revive the "spirit" of Christmas. It apparently helped Christmas become more focused on compassion, goodwill, and family. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Maleficent (2014 Film) Review

 I don't ever recall seeing the original Disney version of Sleeping Beauty as a kid. Though I was mildly interested in seeing this new twist on the story. One of the biggest changes is that the story is told through the perspective of the sinister Maleficent.

Fact of the Day: A Charlemagne Christmas

In the year 800, Charlemagne was crowned Emperor by Pope Leo III. This actually happened on Christmas Day. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Favorite Photos: Little K and the Christmas Tree

My brother took this photo of my niece Little K in front of their Christmas tree. This will be Little K's 2nd Christmas, though the first one she'll kind of get the idea about. Maybe she'll even like Santa next year. 

Fact of the Day: Whale Cousin

Whales were descended from animals who originally lived on land. The closest related land-animal to whales (and dolphins) is the hippopotamus. They shared a common ancestor about 60 million years ago. Hippos are semi-aquatic, and like whales they can nurse their young underwater. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Question: Ice in Drinks?

Do you prefer your beverages with ice or no ice? Unless it's water, I usually prefer something cooled in a refrigerator than with ice. The ice almost immediately waters down the taste, I rarely have any in mine. Daisy shares the opposite opinion, she'll be quite upset if her cup has no ice. 

Fact of the Day: Presidential Parrot

Andrew Jackson was certainly a president not afraid to speak his mind. That became even more true during his funeral. They had to remove Jackson's pet parrot because it wouldn't stop saying curse words. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992 Film) Review

While A Christmas Carol is a classic piece of work, I admit that maybe there are too many adaptations. At least this one is a bit unique, as many of the characters are classic Muppets like Kermit the frog and Miss Piggy. Some characters are portrayed by real people, like Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Fact of the Day: How Spain Lost Guam

Spain officially lost Guam to the United States at the end of the Spanish-American War. However American forces took the island rather easily. Guam had been neglected by Spain, so news of the war had not been reached by people in Guam. Officials treated the navy sailors as visitors, but were shocked to learn that they were now POWs.