S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Culture Page keywords = cultur language art literat sculp paint word Webster dictionar encyclopedi encyclopaedi Brittanica thesaur Nofretete Nefertiti Burma-Shave signs Holling Paddle Pooh Jitterbug Oz

Updated:   30 Dec 2019; 14:45 ET   [Page converted 10 Feb 2010;
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URL:  http://sbiii.com/culture.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/culture.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

S. Berliner, III's

General CULTURE Page

CULTURE - General

This page is basically unindexed; scroll away!

The Jitterbug from the Wizard of Oz Movie.

Burma-Shave Signs moved to their own page 20 Jan 03.

You may wish to visit my succeding page and continuation page 2 on Culture (kultcha?),     with Mahmood Rezaei=Kamalabad, Artist in Steel, Wiener Werkstätte, Early Influences, and GOODREADS Error Messages.

See also the Infinity Printer Page:   new (30 Dec 2019)
  George Gamow's One Two Three ··· Infinity.
  Going Gamow One Better
    (with digressions into orthographies)
  W3C Unicode Charactersets

The Third Millennium* started 01 Mar 2001, NOT 01 Jan 2000!  The clues are September, October, November, and December.  Septem, Octem, Novem, and Decem - 7, 8, 9, and 10!  Januarius was the 11th month, named after Janus, the two-faced God who looked back on the darkness and forward to the Sun, and Februarius (the Roman feast of purification, on the 15th day) was the 12th (and last) month of the year.  The change occurred with Pope Gregory or so, somewhere around 300 years ago, I believe.  Thus, to celebrate a Century on January First is fine but the last (Second) Millennium* really started on March First, 1001.
    * - Apparently, I've misspelled "millennium" all my life with only one "n"!

Anent (or in spite of) all the annual, centennial, and ersatz-millennial hoopla,
do you realize that New Years 2000 was the first time in human history
(since the first tribes formed and dispersed) that virtually
all humanity celebrated together and (for the most part) in peace?

Can a culture which produced this (and it was only a cast-off studio practice piece!) not strive to produce better things than internecine warfare, genocide, and mean spirits like Jesse Helms, Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, Kenneth Starr, and Rudolph Giuliani?

Nofretete (Nefertiti)
(Bust of Nofretete (Nefertiti) at Ägyptisches Museum, Berlin-Charlottenburg)

I got a really fine reproduction for my older daughter
and she was simply horrified to discover that the left pupil was missing;
don't tell anyone but I magic-markered one in for her!

At the Ägyptisches Museum, you climb a narrow, winding staircase,
in almost total darkness, pass through a curtain, and there she sits,
in an acrylic case, highlit by spotlights, against the darkness,
in a totally black room!


Throwing out the wrapper from an old package from Germany, I noticed (too late) a 20 pfennig stamp of "NOFRETETE BERLIN"; while the colors are decidedly strange, you can easily see the missing left pupil:


I was asked where I got that truly-exact reproduction; it was from the Gift Shop of the Museum of Anthropology of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, but they no longer list it.  I also bought an exact reproduction of the seated Bastet cat for my daughter, gold earings and all, at the Gift Shop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and they DO still carry that one (as of 16 Aug 2004).

(Bastet Cat reproduction from Met Museum)

Also awesome is Constantin Brancusi's Bird in Flight, which I first saw, when I was small, ca. 1945, in a gallery window on a north-west corner of Madison Avenue somewhere in the 50's or 60's, several times at MoMA, and again@ yesterday (18 Aug 2004) at the Metropolitan:

("Bird in Flight" from Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin)

@ - this brings up a question - the piece above in Berlin is titled "Bird in Flight" (as I've always known it) and the one at the Met is titled "Bird in Space".  Brancusi was quite specific about his titling.  Are these one and the same piece, different casts from the same mold, or two totally different works that only look identical?

If you love the great outdoors and the Earth, itself, you must read (if you haven't long since) Chief Seattle's Letter, one of the greatest environmental pleas ever written (phoney though it may well be).

Of course, Helms, Gingrich, Hyde, Starr, Giuliani, and their ilk notwithstanding, we DID manage this:

Buzz Aldrin Moon Step Moon Foot

U.   Moon Print
[click on the Moon Print thumbnail for the full image.]

Moon Walk Moon Flag Moon Rover

Not bad for a bunch of vertically-challenged apes!

And we did benefit esthetically, as well:


[Moon images courtesy of NASA/JSC]

Actually, what followed several years later wasn't anything to sneeze at, either:

Mars Rover Mars Tracks
[The full Mars Rover photo (l.) is huge; click on the thumbnail for the full image.]
[Mars images courtesy of NASA/JPL]

On 04 Dec 1999, after the Mars Polar Lander failed to send back images or any signals at all (the Mars Polar Climate Orbiter having been lost completely just before) I e-mailed NASA that "A little green man just confided in me, on promise of anonimity, that the MPCO and the MPL arrived safely but are in solitary confinement, the former for violating restricted airspace and the latter for endangerment in throwing two spears in a public space and for trespassing!"  After they lost all hope, I apologised.

Actually, the bus-sized Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory wandering around on Mars performing serious and complex science now (04 Apr 2013) is nothing to sneeze at, either:   new (04 Apr 2013)

Curiosity MSL
["Curiosity" Mars Science Laboratory (as of ~19 Mar 2013).]
[Mars image courtesy of NASA/JPL]

I'm curious to know how Curiosity took its own picture without any of its arm showing (probably a composite image).

TRIUMPH of TECHNOLOGY!  Pioneer 10 Lives  (29 years and 7¼ BILLION miles later)!

For something so damn clever yet bloody terrifying at the same time, have a look-see at the image at the top of my "FUN" (so-called) page!

Christmas '98 brought me to a record store to buy a CD of "The Barber of Seville"; the young clerk asked, "Is that a singing group?"

It is a sad commentary on our culture (or lack thereof) that so many people are still gulled by frauds and fakes (even those I deliberately commit); happily, most public frauds are debunked by Urban Legends; a great site that I highly recommend, especially when you get the latest forwarded e-mail purporting to tell the hottest new thing that you must see or on which you must act!

LEGACY What happens to all this (not so much this page as my other, more specific, historical and technical pages when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?

I have contacted the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the Smithsonian Institution (the "Nation's Attic") to no avail.

We live in a virtual culture where everything vanishes if a big magnet appears nearby or a solar flare visits.  There is a wealth of information out there, far more significant than my poor contributions on this site, and who gets to continue it?  What arrangements do (or should) individuals make to assure continuity?

Well, for one thing, we now have the Internet Archive!  I have recovered "irretrievably-lost" files and highly recommend this invaluable service and, further, ask that you help fund this incredible effort. {link updated 26 Apr 2011

Tribute to Holling Clancy Holling

Paddle to the Sea

I grew up with marine-oriented books by Holling Clancy Holling, especially his Paddle to the Sea, a wonderful, prize-winning (Caldecott, I believe) book about a small canoe carved by an Indian boy which makes a journey from Lake Superior all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.  The wealth of knowledge, especially about culture, history, and geography, it imparts has enriched my life.  I read it to my children and then read it to my grand-children and it's as wonderful today as it was both times before.
Publisher: Sandpiper-Houghton Mifflin Books, ISBN: 0-395-29203-4, List Price: $8.95 - an incredible bargain!

Actually, any book by Holling is a gem, witness Pagoo, Sea Bird, Minn of the Mississippi, etc.   rev (21 Mar 2013)

Also strong in the third generation are "The Matchlock Gun", "The Tale of the Whitefoot Mouse", and Willaim Pêne duBois's "The Great Geppy".

In line with this, you might look at my Early Influences segment.   new (22 Apr 2014)

See also my LANGUAGE and FUN (so-called) pages.


(as in skin - melanin and such)

It doesn't wash off or fade out, not that I'd ever want anyone of color to feel that it ought or wish that it might.  I vaguely remember bursting into tears ca. 1940 or so when, as a tot, I asked a very dark gentleman riding in an elevator with my mother and me why his skin was so dark; he responded by gravely informing me that he was colored.  My outburst was to the effect that he was almost entirely brown and I was the one who was colored, all pink and yellow and blue!

Then there was my "conversion" experience, ca. 1968, which has stayed with me ever since as one of the most powerful moments in my life.  We had a very early civil rights meeting at church, about "black empowerment" and such.  Talking with a tall, slim black reporter from Long Island's NEWSDAY (he may well have been the, or one of the, first black reporters on that august daily), I questioned the need to change from negro to black, I volunteered that they were the same word, merely in English instead of Spanish.  Les Payne, NEWSDAY columnist/editorialist (of color) allowed (at a Juneteenth celebration on 04 Jun 98) that he may have been the late Bob deLeon.  Whoever, what he replied is burned (seared) in my memory, and I still can quote him almost verbatim,

"It's a courtesy.  If I ask you as a courtesy to me to call me 'black',
won't you do that for me?"

WOW! - I'll never forget the power and dignity of that reply!

However, I have trouble (not that it's my place to carp) with "African-American".  To my feeble intellect, it's a direct slap in the face to all those Americans of Melanesian descent whose ancestors were captured, enslaved, and forcibly brought to our Pacific (what a misnomer!) shores by the dreaded Blackbirders, not to mention all the Caucasian peoples of the western Indian sub-continent whose skin is the darkest on earth, so dark as to appear purple.  The same might also be said of the descendants of Nilotic tribes, also pure Caucasians with jet black skin, but at least they ARE "African".

Do you know the great Inuit (Eskimo) creation myth (who am I to call it myth?)?  It seems the Great Spirit decided to create humans and made a clay likeness and baked it in the oven.  He'd had no experience and it came out underdone, all pale, so he threw it away (that's us white folk).  Next, he tried again and over- corrected; the resulting burned model was also thrown away (one guess who that was).  The next iteration was too light, again, sort of sallow yellowish - out (Asians, of course)!.  The Great Spirit was no dummy, so the fourth version was almost right but a wee bit overdone, sort of reddish; it, too, was scrapped, but not thrown so far (the "Indians", who are no more Native Americans than the Inuit).  Finally, the Great Spirit got the hang of it and created a beautiful person with creamy, golden skin and was satisfied that he'd achieved perfection (no fair, you guessed who).


(Courtesy of my sister via e-mail, Oct 97)

I love dictionaries, thesauri, and encylopedias (and Bartlett's); they are, however, quite dangerous!  One can fall in and get lost (the 'Net is the same way)!  Three of my greatest joys are the 2nd Edition Webster's Unabridged (it somehow seems more "comfortable" than the 3rd), the real Roget's Thesaurus (as edited by te late, dear Robert L. "Chappie" Chapman), and the 11th Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (the so-called "Scholar's Edition" of 1911).

It has been quite a pleasure and an hono(u)r for me to have had addenda and corrigenda accepted for inclusion in Webster's, Roget's, and Langenscheidt's.

I was brought up in Manhattan (NYC) and had many early cultural advantages, not the least of which was very early exposure to the New York Phiharmonic's Children Concerts (on Saturday afternoon?) led by Deems Taylor.  Also, at a very tender age, I saw Shakespeare's "Othello" with Paul Robeson, Uta Hagen, and José Ferrer*!  Not bad for a little kid; talk about imprinting!

    * - see Personal Cultural Apocrypha, below.

While not much of a poet (although you might enjoy my prose "Eternity and the Horseshoe Crab"), nor an afficionado of much modern poetry, I heartily recommend the poetry of my late Scots-Irish-American friend, William B(rendan). McPhillips, "A POET ON A MAGICAL JOURNEY HOME".  In a more classical vein, try Amy Lowell's "Patterns" for real power; Lowell having been (or being reputed to have been - she died before I was born but there doesn't seem to be much doubt) a lesbian, and "Patterns" being exceedingly sexist, it was apparently not available in Net collections of her works, which are rather specific in their selections.  AHA!  Found it; it overloaded this page and was moved to Culture Continuation Page 1.

Puccini, delayed in getting a script for Turandot and afraid his musical muse might depart, wrote,

"Without fire, there is no creativity".

    Why do announcers insist on pronouncing the terminal "t" in "Turandot"?

But, then, why do they (and Phillipe de Montebello, who should know better) pronounce "Degas" as if it were written "Dégas" (day-gah)?

A good book-finder is also a great resource and I'm lucky to have a (formerly) local one in Phil Blocklyn of Blocklyn Books, in Oyster Bay, Long Island.


Who's that hiding, on the cutting room floor?
It's that rascal, the Jitterbug!

On a less-sophisticated level, who can authenticate my certainty that I saw the Jitterbug sequence in the 1939 movie version of "The Wizard of Oz"?  I saw the film in its first release in the big movie theater on the east side of Broadway at around 96th Street or so.  I remember the Jitterbug vividly; its body appeared to have been made of sewing thread spools or some such and its wings of thin wood in a diamond shape.  Knowledgeable accounts of the film have that sequence on the cutting room floor BEFORE any public release, but I know what I saw.

I SAW that Jitterbug scene at the first performance, which was also one of my very first movies; lost on the cutting room floor, my eye!

On 30 Sep 99, a video tape catalog came in a friend's mail, announcing "The Wizard of Oz Collector's Edition" (at $50!), "digitally restored and remastered" and including

"the rarely seen 'Jitterbug Dance' sequence"!!!

"It comes right after the Wicked Witch tells the Winged Monkeys, 'And send the little insect ahead to take the fight out of them'."

HA!  If revenge is sweet, vindication (a variant of affirmation) is sweeter (especially for a perfectionist such as I - it must be KORREKT!).

RATS!  One of my daughters gave me the tape and it contains, not the missing segment itself, but producer Harold Arlen's "home movie" of the filming of the sequence.  Hey, it's better than nothing!  (01 Jan 2000)

(28 Dec 2000)  Double rats!!  I dragged out my original Decca record album, bought in the theater lobby, on the inside rear cover ("The Wizard of Oz, Complete Story in Picture and Text from the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Production" - undated) of which I was sure I'd see a photo of the Jitterbug; no such luck.  In the text for picture 14 (of the adventurers looking at the sign marked "Haunted Forest / Witches Castle / - 1 mile"), it states, "Suddenly, an insect begins to bite them and they find it is the Jitterbug and they have to go into a teriffic Jitterbug song and dance."  So, at least I now know, for sure, that my recollection of the Jitterbug is NOT just a remanent memory from the record album!

Look at my Pooh Page - I had hoped to rescue the real Pooh and friends from Durance Vile!


Also on a less sophisticated level (very much less), who remembers the old Burma-Shave signs that used to line the roads?  There were a bunch here but they've been moved to their own page.

Two of my all-time favorites are:



The SMITHSONIAN Magazine for August 2000, Page 120, "Signs of the Times", offers this one I'd also forgotten:


Supposedly, the Smithsonian Institution preserves one intact set:


Personal Cultural Apocrypha

One pleasant evening ca. 1944, I was a pre-teen walking down Lexington Avenue in NYC, from 74th Street to my father's office on 52nd Street; as I turned south onto Lex, I fell in with a familiar-looking, middle-aged gentleman with a leonine face and a receding hairline, with whom I had a delightful chat.  When I turned off at Dad's office, we parted amicably; it wasn't until an hour or more later that it hit me.  I'd walked and talked with José Ferrer!

Similarly, I stepped off a plane which had landed at San Antonio for unscheduled maintenance ca. 1965.  In the line deplaning through a gate, I felt a presence behind me but, looking back, saw no one.  Then, glancing down ('way down), there was a little leprechaun grinning up at me, as if to say, "Yep, it's I!"; it was Burgess Meredith!

Empress Elisabeth My mother was born in Budapest toward the end of the reign of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef (1830/1846-1916), whom she loyally defended as her King against all comers in her later years, even though she was a dyed-in-the-wool democrat.  Once, at a dinner party where she met my sister's grad school mentor, a Serbian poet, she (without biting her tongue or cheek) called out, "I forgive you for killing my Archduke!" (referring to F. J.'s son, Franz Ferdinand - see below)  This, of course, became a standing joke, which both of them played up to the hilt.  I even got Mom a small military miniature figurine of old F. J. in his white uniform and green, feathered shako, reading a proclamation; she said he had a cabbage on his head but loved it dearly.  Old F. J. was unlucky in life and in love; his brother, Maximilian (of Mexico), was executed in 1867, his only son, Crown Prince Rudolf, committed suicide in 1889 (at Mayerling), and his beautiful wife, the Empress Elisabeth (known as "Sisi" - at right), became enamored of the Hungarian nationalist cause and quite disobedient and ended up being assassinated, with their nephew, Franz Ferdinand, by a Serbian at Sarajevo in 1914, thus leading to World War I (07 Feb 2016).

I found an image of the figurine of Emperor Franz Josef and doctored it to represent the damaged one:   added (06 Jul 2018)

(07 Feb 2016 image by and © 2016/2018 S Berliner, III - all rights reserved)

That's the standard figure at the left and my version of the one that got smashed at right.

Speaking of my mother, a blazing intellect from her earliest days, she was reprimanded in gymnasium (grade school) in Hungary (back in the days when Franz Josef was still King) for waving her hands expressively when talking and when that failed of effect, forced to sit on her hands all through the class!

Should I have put the following on my FUN page or should I create a Culture Shock section here or on a new page?  Whatever!  For better or worse, here's a bit of culture shock or fun I found charming and still enjoy (however politically incorrect you may find it):

An incoming e-mail from Montréal, Québec, Canada, reminded me of the gigantic Irish cop in Hull some 40 years ago.  We were on a nodding, speaking acquaintance from my occasional visits to Ottawa (more to RCAF Rockcliffe - which tells you for sure just how long ago this was).  After Québec went totally francophile, he suddenly spoke only French.  So, I said to my then-wife in plain English in his presence, "That dumb Irish flatfoot is pretending he can't speak English!"  The man turned purple but stuck to his rather sad excuse for French.  Of course, I instantly smiled and joked about his predicament en Français and he relaxed and laughed.  Quell drôle espece de bétise!

Incidentally, speaking of multi-lingualism, should the flags at the bottom of my pages be changed to

Continental Flag  or   English First Flag ,

our old Continental (Grand Union) flag of 1775 or my English First variation thereof for 2000, eh?  See my LANGUAGE page for a reasoned(?) discussion of English First.

If you enjoy this flag business, you must visit my Old Glory segment on my History page and two fabulous flag sites I ran across:

Rob Raeside's Flags of the World,
which illustrates almost every flag you can imagine, and

Ed Mooney, Jr.'s Flag Detective,
which helps you find flags by visual categories.

Aphorisms from Favorite Writers
(William Shakespeare excepted):

Jane Austen - "One man's way may be as good as another's, but we all like our own best." (5965)

Agatha Christie - "Every murderer is probably somebody's old friend." (5966)

Emily Dickinson - "That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet." (5967)

Jack Kerouac - "Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?" (5968)

Mark Twain - "Denial ain't just a river in Egypt." (5969)

Edith Wharton - "If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time." (5970)

Oscar Wilde - "Hear no evil - speak no evil - and you'll never be invited to a party." (5971)

Lousia May Alcott - "Stay, is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary." (5972)

William Faulkner - "Everything goes by the board ... honor, pride, decency ... to get the book written." (5973)

Edgar Allen Poe - "I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity." (5974)

Gertrude Stein - "Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense." (5975)

H. G. Wells - "Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." (5976)

[These are from Novelkeys (miniature pewter "books" on keyrings), from Bas Bleu Inc. (Booksellers by Post), 515 Means Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30318, 1-800-433-1155 ($10.00 each, as of February 1999), item numbers noted in parentheses (59XX).]

{Actually, Herbert George Wells is, supposedly, some sort of maternal cousin of mine.}

You might also enjoy a set of great quotations on my Science and Technology Page.

May I recommend a visit to the Web site of the Islamic Center of Long Island, Westbury, New York?  Linking onward from there might introduce to you, or reinforce in you, the beauties of the Arabic and Islamic culture.

May I also suggest that if you are on or near Long Island, you enjoy the many Celtic music concerts?  The only thing Celtic about me is my touch o' the Blarney (BS = Blarney Stone) and my Scythian roots (my mother was a Magyar), but I dearly love the Irish and Scottish music.

[Big Grey concerts, formerly recommended, are now, most unfortunately, defunct.]

You may wish to visit my succeeding page and continuation page 2 on Culture (kultcha?),
    with Mahmood Rezaei=Kamalabad, Artist in Steel, Wiener Werkstätte, and Early Influences.   rev (19/22 Apr 2014)

Serious fans of art must, of course, visit the Museum of Depressionist Art and the The Gallery of the Unidentifiable!

If you enjoy creative lunacy, visit the Pseudodictionary!

Stay tuned!


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY (above).


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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S. Berliner, III

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© Copyright S. Berliner, III - 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019  - all rights reserved.

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