Wednesday, July 27, 2016
The Opening Ceremonies for South America's FIRST Olympic Games are a mere nine days away! No, we are not worried about Brazil being ready. (Remember, two years ago we reassured the world that Sochi would be ready for the Winter Games...and they went fine.) Rather, we here at the DUNER BLOG are here to give you some basic factoids about the wondrous city of Rio de Janeiro. Impress your pals at the sports bar!
THE NAME. When a ship under the command of Portuguese explorer Pedro Cabral first sailed into the massive bay, the date was January First, 1502. Believing he had discovered the mouth of an enormous river, he named the body of water "River of January." In actuality, there are no big rivers, just a huge bay. Rio Pavuna is the largest at only 10 miles long. Nonetheless, this was the name written on maps and charts. By 1565 it had a couple hundred residents, who officially declared 'Rio de Janeiro' as name of their city. Guanabara Bay is the body of water.
THE BEACHES. The combination of these sudden peaks with the swift currents of the Atlantic results in some amazing deposits of sand. Native Tupi names for the beaches are still in use today. Impanema translates to "Bad Lake." Constant swells and nine-foot high waves are bad. Neighboring Copacabana Beach once was covered with colorful Soco birds. This word evolved into the current name. Both beaches are subjects of famous songs: The Girl From Impanema (Astrud Gilberto) and Copacabana (Barry Manilow).
Congratulations, Rio de Janeiro, it's your time to shine!
Friday, July 22, 2016
City officials in Lagos, Nigeria are trying to accomplish the impossible. Their goal is the have the metropolis to be Noise Pollution Free by the year 2020. Specifically, they limit neighborhoods to 55 decibels by day and 45 at night. "It's a great menace." explains Adebola Shabi, the Lagos State EPA spokesperson. "Exceed the limits and we shut you down." He's not kidding. This year, 70 hymn-hollering churches, 20 salat-shouting mosques and over 100 beat-thumping nightclubs have been shuttered. Is your town next? Here's the top ten noisiest cities:
#10. Lagos. With 20 million residents packed into 1,000 square kilometers, the Nigerian capital is Africa's largest and most densely populated city. The 24/7 noise is perhaps a result of the city's diversity. Every evening, packed churches sing chorus after chorus. This gives way to booming nightclubs who cater to Lagos' teeming youths. At dawn, mosques fill the streets with loud calls to morning prayers.
#8. Buenos Aires. The sambas and soccer of Rio are boisterous, but South America's loudest city is Argentina's capital. The main difference is when not doing the tango and watching football, Porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) are working. They man the continent's largest port, construct cars and work in plentiful factories.
#7. Tokyo. With 36 million people, the world's largest metropolitan area faces a unique challenge: Earthquakes. To minimize damage, there are height restrictions for buildings. Up until 1963, it was only 100 feet. With better technology, it is 700 feet today. However, the result is the same. Rather than a dozen tall apartments, there are a hundred smaller ones. This means constant, noisy construction day and night.
#5. Shanghai. If you just consider people within in the city limits, Shanghai is the biggest city on earth, clocking in at 24 million. While the usual culprits...transport, construction and nightclubs...are evident here, the coastal metropolis suffers from a unique problem: Firecrackers. In Shanghai, they are not just for New Years' celebrations. Folks light off thousands of them for good luck at a wedding, or the opening of a new restaurant, or when a child is born, or moving to a new house...or...BAM! BAM!
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
It's hard to believe. The #1 bestselling app is POKEMON GO! Sigh. Just like Hello Kitty, there are some things that just won't go away. It's been 21 years since Pikachu and Charmander first dared you to "catch 'em all." But they're back and more popular than ever. Over 12 million apps have been sold, and it's been only one week since it was released. Wow!
Why all the excitement? Pokémon Go combines your smart-phone's GPS features with the back-facing camera, thus creating a virtual scavenger hunt for cartoon characters hidden in the real world. This new realm, created in Palo Alto, is known as "Augmented Reality." Around 250 different characters are waiting to be captured for points. You'll know when you're close; your cellphone will vibrate. But be careful: They can run away before you can nab them.
Yet it's not all good news. See, Americans are not accustomed to leaving their internet-connected homes and venturing out into the real world. Hence, numerous mishaps have occurred. Shayla Wiggins of Riverton, WY was trying to find Kotaku (a water Pokémon) in a natural resource. Instead, she found a dead body in the river. Mark Schultz of Long Island was chasing Zobats in a meadow and fell and broke his arm.
Friday, July 8, 2016
The totals are in from Hollywood and it doesn't look good. A record 162 TV shows were cancelled after the 2015 - 16 season. Granted: Twenty years ago, there were only four networks...compared to the 34 today...but it is still a staggering number nonetheless. Also surprising was the number of sitcoms on the cancelled shows list. Even shows with big names like Rob Lowe got the axe. While the sitcom genre seems simple, the truth is it takes a complicated mix of writing, celebrity and silliness to create the perfect situation comedy. But when you succeed, you've captured the nation's heart. Here are the top ten of all time:
#10 Big Bang Theory. 9 seasons. 2007 - present. Once the butt of many a sitcom joke, Nerds today are on top. The Fonz would be amazed! One of the geeks on the show (Leonard Hofstadter) even has a gorgeous blonde girlfriend. As expected, much of the humor is found when the socially-challenged dudes try to interact with the real world.
#8. Gilligan's Island. 3 seasons. 1964 - 67. While it's rare to pick super-silly situations for today's shows, this was the norm back in the sixties. Talking horses, magical jeanies and shipwrecked castaways dominated prime time lineups. Gilligan stood above the others. Balancing outstanding physical comedy, high speed camera tricks and jokes galore, it is seared in every American's memory forever.
#6. Friends. 10 seasons. 1994 - 2004. Here, we follow the trials and tribulations of six buddies in Manhattan. For ten years, they dated each other, two got married and two broke up. For ten years, America dutifully tuned in every Thursday to find out what's next. The final episode in 2004 was the most watched TV event of the decade.
#4. Seinfeld. 9 seasons. 1998 - 98. Billed as a "show about nothing" this program instead focused on the minutiae of daily life. Plots revolved around a series of coincidences that miraculously get solved in under thirty minutes. While many sitcoms use the formula of inserting a successful stand-up comedian as the lead, Seinfeld succeeded by surrounding him with an amazing supporting cast. Who doesn't instantly laugh at Cosmo Kramer?
#2. I Love Lucy. 6 seasons. 1951 - 57. When TV first began in 1950, it was horribly boring: Dull newscasts, the Texaco Star Theater and slow Westerns. Yawn. Then along came the world's first situation-comedy. I Love Lucy wrote the book on how the genre is to be done: Take Lucille Ball and place her in outrageous plots. In a way, all future sitcoms are just a re-hash of Lucy, Ricky, Fred and Ethel.
Friday, July 1, 2016
As everyone knows, Europe is engulfed in a rage of BREXIT panic. Folks on the continent are clamoring: How could the UK do this to us? Anti-England anger has reached unprecedented levels, rekindling centuries-old hate between nations. Which leaves many in Britain asking themselves: Did we make a mistake? Well, we here at the DUNER BLOG have come up with three ways Brits can, in fact, reverse the unpopular BREXIT vote:
#1. Ignore the outcome. Merriam-Webster defines 'Referendum' as a "public vote on a particular issue." Nowhere does it say a referendum is legally binding...it is merely a barometer of public opinion on a specific matter. While Britain prides itself on its democratic backbone...in reality...it is a unitary parliamentary system. Figure in the fact that most members of Parliament opposed leaving, particularly those in the House of Commons. So what if 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU? At the end of the day, elected officials make the final decision.