One of the most magical places on Earth* is hiring. Weeki Wachee in Spring Hill, Florida is auditioning for new full-time mermaids.
The Tampa Bay Times reports:
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is an attraction in Hernando County located near the intersection of State Road 50 and U.S. Highway 19. The attraction that opened in 1947 features performers dressed as mermaids and an underwater theater.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park will hold auditions Jan. 13 for what it hopes will be several new additions to its world-famous mermaid squad. Currently, the squad has 17 performing mermaids and three princes.
The Weeki Wachee mermaids perform underwater year-round in 72-degree spring water from the head of the Weeki Wachee river. The mermaid show debuted on Oct. 13, 1947, in the theater built of limestone and submerged six feet below the spring’s surface.
The park expects at least 50 women to come for the first, and most physically demanding, part of the audition...
On the first audition day, aspiring mermaids must complete a timed, 300-yard endurance swim, where they swim both with and against the water’s current. If they finish that successfully, candidates must tread water for 10 to 15 minutes...
Candidates will perform underwater ballet moves, like flips, a few feet below water in the park’s submerged mermaid tank that faces a 400-seat auditorium. The underwater audition shows how "comfortable" or "panicky" a candidate looks behind the glass...
Then, after the new mermaids are chosen, they must go under a year's worth of training. Read the rest
Creator of the Cherpumple (and other retro-fabulous foods) Charles Phoenix has a new book that celebrates "classic & kitschy American life & style." It's titled Addicted to Americana and it looks amazing!
Here's a look inside the book (click on image to embiggen):
The book is available for $22.32 on Amazon.
Charles is also on a book signing and comedy slide show tour (mostly in California). If you've never seen him perform, please do yourself a favor and get thee to one of his shows. They are a hoot. Read the rest
The Dragettes were a Kansas City drag racing team that operated out of the legendary Kansas City Timing Association drag strip. They preferred souped-up convertibles over hot rods. LIFE magazine's Francis Miller showcased them in a lovely series in 1955. Read the rest
Jake Rossen takes a deep dive into the iconic American novelty toy company Wham-O and its storied history. Read the rest
I'm not sure how, but I'd never seen any clips of young Richard Feynman speaking until physicist Walid Younes posted this video to Google+.
The talk itself is great and covers some important stuff. (Of course, it's Feynman!) The key thing here is the connection between theoretical understandings of how the universe works and practical observations. Theories are used to make predictions. When the predictions turn out to be correct, we get some more evidence that the theory is on the right track. Here, Feynman talks about how the theory of gravity led to the discovery of the speed of light, and how knowledge of the effect of gravity on planetary orbits led to the discovery of the planet Neptune. Very cool stuff.
But what stood out to me—and what makes this different from all the old!Feynman videos I've seen—is the persona his younger self projects. Born and raised in Queens, the young Feynman comes across, at least in accent and physical mannerisms, like some big mafia palooka straight out of central casting. Most likely, my startled reaction to this is due to Midwestern bias and being raised in an era where American regional differences in accent and culture have been largely flattened out. But it's still fascinating ... and amusing as hell to hear a guy who looks and sounds like he should be guarding hostages or threatening shop owners instead talking about gravitational theory.
Video Link Read the rest
From the Smithsonian's snapshot series, a special image for Valentine's Day:
Caged crinoline, also known as a hoop skirt, was the most distinctive silhouette of the late 19th century. This photo shows a hoop skirt, named because of its series of concentric hoops of whalebone or cane. It replaced the popular petticoat of the late 1500s to mid 1800s.
Multiple petticoats were sometimes worn to create the full, dome-shape, small-waist silhouette popular in women’s fashion through the mid 1800s. During the late 1800s, hoop skirts like this one lightened the weight of multiple petticoats by creating the same fashionable silhouette but with fewer layers. It only required one or two petticoats worn over the hoop skirt.
Unlike shaping undergarments before the 19th century, hoop skirts were worn by women of every social class.
In 1846, David Hough Jr. introduced the first hoop skirt in the U.S.
The hoop-skirt form, like the bustle and corset, gives insight into the complexities of dress in the 19th century.
This item is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is not on display.
Looks so comfy!
(thanks, Jessica Porter Sadeq) Read the rest
(Alan Lomax, via Wikipedia)
American folklorist, ethnomusicologist, and traditional music collector Alan Lomax envisioned a “global jukebox” with which to share and analyze recordings he gathered over decades of fieldwork. This week, that dream comes to life. From an article in today's New York Times:
A decade after his death technology has finally caught up to Lomax’s imagination. Just as he dreamed, his vast archive — some 5,000 hours of sound recordings, 400,000 feet of film, 3,000 videotapes, 5,000 photographs and piles of manuscripts, much of it tucked away in forgotten or inaccessible corners — is being digitized so that the collection can be accessed online. About 17,000 music tracks will be available for free streaming by the end of February, and later some of that music may be for sale as CDs or digital downloads.
On Tuesday, to commemorate what would have been Lomax’s 97th birthday, the Global Jukebox label is releasing “The Alan Lomax Collection From the American Folklife Center,” a digital download sampler of 16 field recordings from different locales and stages of Lomax’s career.
“As an archivist you kind of think like Johnny Appleseed,” said Don Fleming, a musician and record producer who is executive director of the Association for Cultural Equity and involved in the project. “You ask yourself, ‘How do I get digital copies of this everywhere?’ ”
The archive will be made available at the Global Jukebox portion of The Association For Cultural Equity website. Anna Lomax Wood, daughter of Alan Lomax, is the organization's president. Read the rest