The Etymology of “Tetris” and the Block Shapes Available to Players

The videogame Tetris was named as such due to its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, amalgamating the Ancient Greek prefix “tetra” which means “4”, a direct reference to the various block shapes of Tetris which always have 4 cubes, and the term “tennis” as this was Pajitnov’s favorite sport. The shapes are referred to as “tetrominoes” and consist of an S-shape, Z-shape, T-shape, L-shape, line-shape, 7-shape, and a square-shape

The Craft of Venetian Mask Manufacturing for the Italian Festival of Carnival

Masks have been part of Venetian culture since at least the 12th century A.D. as it was in 1162 that the first Carnival festival occured, a city wide celebration which marks the period prior to Lent. Up until 500 years ago, classic Venetian masks were constructed of papier-mâché, a medium that some Venetian mask artists still utilize during the modern day. Strips of papier-mâché are laid into a mold made of resin and layer by layer they are covered in glue. All materials are designed to be non-toxic. When a mask is complete, artisans use scalpel blades to cut out the eyes and any rough pieces remaining (e.g. edges etc.). Once a mask dries, it is decorated with beautiful colors and artwork (e.g. floral arrangements etc.). This is often performed freehand with a pencil. Masks are then painted using beautifully ornate colors (e.g. blue, red, yellow etc.) and finished by adding accoutrements (e.g. 24 karat gold leaf etc.). The craft was almost lost when Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Venice, Italy in 1797 and banned Carnival and Carnival masks as he believed the event could spark rebellion. Benito Mussolini banned the celebrations once again in the 1930’s. Until the late 1970’s, Carnival was a largely forgotten relic but it has since observed a resurgence within popular culture

The Reason William Shakespeare’s Macbeth is Believed to be a Cursed Play

It is often believed by thespians that it is bad luck to say the name “Macbeth” within the theater that the play is being performed. This belief stems back to 1606 when a group of witches objected to William Shakespeare using real incantations within his work. As such, these witches claimed to have placed a curse upon the play, in perpetuity. The superstitious tradition caught on as the initial showing of Macbeth in private before King James I at Hampton Court in London, England sometime between August and December of 1606 was laiden with unfortunate errors and mishaps, continuing non-stop, even when performed for the public for the first time at the Globe Theater in London, England in 1611

How Holograms Work

Holograms work by taking a single laser beam and splitting it into 2 parts, with the primary beam falling upon the object being photographed which then bounces away and falls onto a specialized screen, and the secondary beam falling directly upon the screen. The mixing of these beams creates a complex interface pattern containing a three dimensional image of the original object which can be captured on specialized film. By flashing another laser beam through the screen, the image of the original object suddenly becomes holographic. The term “holograph” is derived from the ancient Greek terms ”holo” which means “whole” and “graphos” which means “written”. The main issue with holographic technology is that unlike traditional visual media which needs to flash a minimum of 30 frames per second, scattering the image into pixels, a three dimensional holograph must also flash 30 frames per second, but of every angle to create depth of field, and the amount of data required far exceeds that of a traditional television photograph or video, even exceeding the capability of the internet until recently in 2014 when internet speeds reached 1 gigabyte per second

The Origin of Polka Music

Polka arrived in Vienna, Austria in the 1840’s, imported from Hungary. It is believed Polka was invented by Anna Slezak, a peasant girl who invented the dance while entertaining herself by hopping around on a Spring Sunday afternoon. The term “polka” is derived from the Czech term “pulka” which means “half-step”, in reference to the dances main choreography pattern of lightly stepping from one foot unto the other

The First Usage of Digital Animation (Computer Generated Imagery) Special Effects in Film

The first ever computer generated sequence in a movie occurred in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan which lasted for 60 seconds and is referred to as the “genesis scene”. The scene includes a retinal scan of Captain James Tiberius Kirk as well as a planet being hit by a missile which then creates a stable environment for life. Over 50 software programs were written to accomplish this task and the creators of the sequence went on to form the digital animation company Pixar

The Original Intention of the 13th Century Italian Carnival Festival

The Italian festival of Carnival which takes place during the winter in Venice, Italy, is a 13th century tradition designed to allow anonymity and indulgence before Lent commences. Ash Wednesday marks the end of Carnival and the beginning of Lent, a 40 day period of fasting and reflection. Catholic priests mark patrons forerheads with ash, a symbol of purification by fire. The 40 days of Lent represent the 40 days Jesus Christ spent in the wilderness, preparing for the culmination of his ministry upon Earth whilst being tempted by the devil. Historically, Lent was the final stretch of winter, with the last of any meat being finished during Carnival. Because of the challenges associated with winter, European Christians turned to their faith to help guide them through to the other end

China’s Influence Upon Foreign States and Their Associated Cultures

China has become highly adept at spreading its practices or at the very least, acquiring acceptance and tolerance of its practices, throughout the open markets of the world (e.g. American companies willing to do business with Chinese companies to access the Chinese marketplace despite the U.S. government experiencing continuous conflict with the Chinese government). Hollywood is perhaps the best example of this ideology taking shape. Hollywood’s business and by extension its profit model, is designed to produce blockbuster cinema for the box office, at regular intervals throughout each calendar year (e.g. for each holiday season etc.). China, due to its large population, has the worlds largest box office and as a direct result of this, in order to ascend to the level of becoming a major blockbuster film, movie studios are forced to capitulate and cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese government heavily censors cinema in China, however despite this, Hollywood movie production studios virtually always refuse to green light film scripts if they cannot be shown in China. This effectively means that the Chinese government has the ability to, and openly does, influence and shape the kinds of movies produced in the west simply by omission or refusal to accept a movie and its content. This means that in the future, China will become the cultural connoisseur and decision maker for the world, both in supply and demand of products and services (e.g. new films), solely due to the volume of the Chinese public and its appetite for western cinema

The 19th Century Discovery of Perfect Reverberation

The discovery and application of perfect reverberation within opera houses, theaters, university concert venues, etc. was devised by Harvard University physicist Wallace Sabine in the 1890’s. By playing the pipe organ and using a stop watch, Sabine took thousands of measurements and discovered the perfect ratio between room volume and sound absorbing materials. A reverb time of 1.9 seconds, an application of the Sabine Equation, allows for perfect reverberation so that speech and music is intelligible to all audience members, no matter their position in the venue which would otherwise be impossible (e.g. cathedral reverberation)

The Traditional Practice of the Japanese Geisha

Japanese geishas, referred to as “geiko” (pronounced “gay-ko”) first appeared 300 years ago during the Edo period, an era when Japan was closed to the rest of the world allowing its indigenous culture to flourish. There were once 80,000 geisha but that number has dropped to just 1000 during the modern day. It takes 5 long years to become a geisha, this time spent with no smartphone, no romantic relationships, and only 2 days off per month. Geishas undergo lessons in music and dance as well as tea making and etiquette. All food and lodging is provided by the geisha training institution so that students become completely and totally immersed within the geisha lifestyle. Geishas wear white masks of makeup as symbolism that what is concealed is more desirable than that which is revealed. Pink is painted onto the earlobes as a way to hide embarrassment from blushing, and bare skin is left in a “W” or “V” shape upon the back of the neck to accentuate the neck which is considered highly beautiful, sexual, and erotic in Japanese culture. Geishas are only supposed to entertain their client with highly cultured activities, and the profession is not supposed to be associated with sexual interaction