The Stupidstitious Cat (Noveltoon), an animated short by Seymore Kneitel, 1946

The Stupidstitious Cat (Noveltoon), an animated short by by Seymore Kneitel, 1946

The Stupidstitious Cat (Noveltoon), 1946

An animated short by by Seymore Kneitel

“A very stupid and superstitious cat awakens and goes through his usual gyrations of ensuring he will not have an unlucky day, making sure he get out of the right side of the bed and other rituals, and then starts his search for breakfast. He captures Buzzy the Crow, places him between two slices of bread and prepares to eat him. But Buzzy, smarter than the average crow…” (IMDB)

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Happy Nowruz!

Happy Nowruz!

The management team of Face Activities wishes everyone a Happy and Prosperous Nowruz!

Nowruz is a delightful holiday of Iranian origin, now celebrated around the world. Also known as the Iranian New Year and Persian New Year, this ancient holiday, with roots in the Zoroastrian Faith, marks the Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and the first day of the New Year for Iranians, and many other peoples as well.

The start of Nowruz is typically celebrated, depending on region and custom, between March 20th and March 22nd, and marks the beginning of 13 days of joyous celebration. The days preceding the start of this holiday are often solemn and contemplative, but Nowruz is a wonderful celebration of light and joy.

The holiday, which spread far and wide with the expansion of the Persian Empire in the ancient world, has been celebrated for over 3,000 years across both Western and Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin and the Balkans. In modern times it’s still a holy day for Zoroastrians, but it’s also celebrated as a secular holiday by many ethnic and linguistic groups.

Modern Nowruz celebrations include a bountiful ceremonial table, filled with culinary treats. In past years, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama always made a point to honor the holiday. We hope President Trump will make an effort to follow suit this year. Please enjoy this archival footage of the former First Lady’s gracious celebration:


Photo: creative commons license (copy, share, adapt): CC BY-SA 3.0

The history of Saint Patrick’s Day

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! This holiday, observed world-wide, is an occasion to commemorate the arrival of Christianity to Ireland, and a de facto celebration of Irish culture in the popular imagination, but it’s ancient roots are a bit more complex, starting with Patrick himself, who was not Irish…

Video: TheWeekInDoubt/YouTube

Photo: available under CC BY-SA 3.0 unless otherwise noted.

Physicist Stephen Hawking dies at 76

Physicist Stephen Hawking dies

A great scientific luminary has passed. Physicist and science icon Stephen Hawking died quietly at his home on March 13. His ground-breaking work on black holes revolutionized our understanding of cosmology. As a man he was known for his sense of humor, playful character, and love of life and learning.

Prior to Hawking’s seminal work on black holes, much of which was done early in his career, physicists believed that nothing could escape the incredibly powerful gravitational well of a black hole. But he discovered that some energy, aptly named Hawking radiation, actually leaked back out. The implications for physics and our understanding of gravity are immense.

As his career progressed Hawking worked tirelessly to develop a “theory of everything,” attempting to unify the two great branches of physics, relativity and quantum mechanics, a task to which Einstein also aspired. The esteemed scientist held the same academic position as Isaac Newton, the father of modern physics, once did centuries earlier: the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University—-a great honor.

As a 21-year-old university undergraduate Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, a debilitating neurological disease that left him wheel-chair bound and almost completely paralyzed. Nonetheless he persevered, living a very full life. He fathered children, married twice, enjoyed a phenomenally successful scientific career, authored books, and reaped the rewards of international celebrity. ALS is usually fatal within a few years of diagnosis, but Hawking lived for an unprecedented 55 years following his diagnosis.

And he wrote best-selling books, including A brief history of time and a briefer history of time that informed and delighted the public. He made guest appearances on several popular television shows over the years, including Star Trek the Next Generation, The Simpsons, and The Big Bang Theory. His public lectures packed in the crowds, and he became one of the most recognizable and popular scientists of the 20th century.

In later years he advocated for some controversial but interesting views, like the need to establish human colonies on mars and other planets in order to make humanity a multi-planet species, and his concern that contact with an advanced extraterrestrial civilization would spell disaster for mankind. Both positions were well thought out and taken in order to maximize the survival of the human species over great spans of time.

Stephen Hawking was a true original, a scientific genius who made numerous contributions to science, popular culture, education and entertainment. And his very public struggle with ALS, and remarkable survivability, inspired millions battling life-challenging illnesses. He will be greatly missed.


Photo: By NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Students Walkout over gun violence

Today is national school walkout day, as countless socially conscious high school and college students walk out of classes in a concerted effort to protest gun violence,  and demand gun control.

The student movement was catalyzed by the tragic events at a Florida high school one month ago, in which an 18-year-old gunman killed 17 students with an AR-15 assault rifle that he bought legally.

In recognition the students participated in 17-minute-long protests, with each minute representing a victim, intended to pressure congress and state legislatures to enact tougher gun control laws to combat the rash of school shootings that have plagued the nation.

The management team of Face Activities supports these students and approves of their aims.

Photo: Phil Roeder from Des Moines, IA, USA • CC BY 2.0

Daylight Savings Time: Let’s get rid of it!

The Party is over, Daylight savings time is back in the United States.

We had a brief reprieve, like a condemned criminal spared for a moment from trudging off to the gallows. But now it’s time to face the music: good citizens all across the country will “spring forward,” turning their clocks ahead tonight, and wake up tomorrow morning with one less hour of sleep.

Daylight Savings time is such a hassle. It’s just not worth the trouble. The readjustment period to the new time can be exhausting, and it’s even dangerous. We should get rid of this useless practice, and never look back.

It was originally proposed, early in the twentieth century, as a way to utilize more natural daylight, and cut electricity costs. But in our modern world, we run electrical devices nearly 24/7, so savings are negligible at best. And the aggravation of resetting all of our clocks twice a year is reason enough to drop the practice.

Who has the energy and inclination to waste time this way? And there’s always a clock or two that’s tricky to change; my car’s clock is like that, if I ever get around to bothering with it. Sometimes it’s even dangerous, like if you have to climb a ladder, for example.

There’s even medical research that changing the clocks can increase the frequency of heart attacks. But why is that? It’s because you  effectively lose an hour of sleep in the spring, when you set the clocks ahead. If you wake up at 5:00 am, then you are effectively waking up at 4:00 am, until your body readjusts to the new schedule (which may take several days). This wreaks havoc with the body’s circadian rhythm, our natural biological clock. Some even feel we lose 210 to 240 hours thanks to this disruption, over time.

This is stressful, since it interferes with the natural circadian rhythm of your body. And for people with health risk factors, it’s bad news. Even if you have the discipline and foresight to retire an hour earlier the night before, it still adds unhealthy stress.

Many countries have rejected daylight savings time, seeing no clear benefits, and many obvious drawbacks. I hope the United States joins their ranks!

Daylight Savings: it’s time has come, and gone (The Verge)


Photo: Alan Cleaver • CC BY 2.0



Tonight: The Academy Awards

How did the Academy Awards Start?

How to view the show

If you want to watch the Academy Awards tonight, online or via other means, please  read this article by for a complete list of options with links.


Tonight’s show

Tonight late night talk show comedian Jimmy Kimmel is back to host. Eyes are on the talented personality to see how he navigates the #metoo movement controversy, and the many related scandals that have rocked the entertainment industry.

It should be an exciting night, with many excellent films represented. The color of water has a staggering 13 nominations. The movie features a relationship between a deaf woman and an intelligent aquatic creature, viewed as a monster by society, in a moving story that stresses how those with differences are treated, and often mistreated, in our culture.

History of the Event

The Academy Awards (officially rebranded as “The Oscars” in 2013) originated in 1929, as a means to acknowledge outstanding achievement in the motion picture industry.

There was a small, private dinner ceremony on May 16, at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, California—under 300 people attended. An after-party at the Mayfair Hotel followed the main ceremony. Fifteen artists, directors and film-industry professionals were honored, but in contrast to later ceremonies, the winners had already been announced to the press three months earlier.

The tradition of the surprise reveal started with the second awards ceremony, in 1930, and the sealed envelope was introduced in 1941, after a newspaper leaked the news prematurely (the papers were given winning names early, with the agreement that they wouldn’t publish until 11:00 pm the night of the big event.)

The first Best Actor award went to Emil Jannings, for “The Last Command” and “The Way of All Flesh.” It’s interesting to note that the early awards were given for all the work done by the recipient during the qualifying period, unlike modern awards, which are typically given for one specific film project. Life time achievement awards are one exception to this modern trend.

Another difference of interest to film enthusiasts pertains to the Foreign Film category. Foreign films were honored with special achievement awards until 1957, at the 29th Academy Awards Ceremony, when the Foreign Film Category was added to the repertoire.

To date nearly three thousand Oscar statuettes have been awarded to a wide range of film professionals and personalities.

While the Oscars honor outstanding achievement in motion pictures, the following major awards honor outstanding achievement in other entertainment and media venues:

  • Grammy Awards – Music industry
  • Emmy Awards – Television
  • Tony Awards – Stage Performance

Boston Celtics Honor Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce Honored

The Management Team of Face Activities would like to take a moment to recognize a great moment in sports history.

On Sunday, the same day the Boston Celtics faced the Cleveland Cavaliers on the court, the team honored legendary small forward Paul Pierce, retiring his beloved number 34. This is the 22nd jersey number the Celtics have retired. That’s the most among all North American Sports franchises.

At six feet seven inches, Pierce, known to admiring fans as “The Truth,” was a player of consummate skill. The veteran of 10 All-Star teams, he enjoyed 19 years in the NBA—-15 of which he played for Boston, to the delight of legions of fans. He averaged 21.8 points and 6 rebounds per game for Boston.

Pierce honed his basketball technique at the University of Kansas, from where the Celtics drafted him in 1998. His career point count is the 18th highest in NBA history, totaling a staggering 26,397. Only one other Celtic, John Havilcek, scored higher, at 24,021. That’s a truly admirable record.

After the 2012-13 season, Pierce and Kevin Garnett were traded to the Brooklyn Nets, in a complicated and controversial deal involving 5 draft picks and 9 players. Many Boston fans consider this a sad day in Celtics history, and have sorely missed “The Truth” ever since.

In addition to his iconic career in sports, Pierce had a strong presence off the court, working with children out in the community, encouraging them to develop academically as well as athletically.


Photo: By Keith Allison (flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Super Bowl 52 – Some thoughts on what happened

Tom Brady - Some Thoughts on Super Bowl 52 - What Happened?

After a much-heralded confrontation, the super bowl is over, and Boston weeps. It was a hard fought season, for both teams. The best of both leagues met in Minnesota, both strong and confidant. Fans of the New England Patriots are accustomed to winning. But it was not to happen.

Down in the first half, they seemed to bounce back after Justin Timberlake’s half time performance, leading 33-32 for a long time. But it would not hold, and Patriot’s fans stumbled out of their favorite sports bars and watering holes into the cold winter rain, tails dragging between their legs, to digest the big defeat, with a final score of 41-33 favoring the Philadelphia Eagles, and sounding the death knell for New England’s hopes of Super Bowl glory for 2018.

The biggest question on the mind’s of fans the morning after, as the dust settles and the stinging realization settles in, is “how?” How did this championship team, accustomed to victory, with arguably the most talented quarter back, Tom Brady, in NFL history, lead by the one of the most win-friendly coaches of all time, Bill Bellichick, drop the ball, at times so very literally, and fail to nail down this much coveted victory? New England’s superiority on the field is well established. But clearly no team is perfect.

For many, the responsibility lies with the coach. And Bellicheck has in fact taken responsibility for the loss, which is commendable. But nonetheless, questions abound. Fans and sports journalists are scrutinizing Bellichick’s decisions. As is expected, the Monday morning quarterbacking is fierce.

The largest concern lies with his inexplicable choice to bench star player Malcolm Butler for the entire game—the entire game! As everyone knows, the man knows how to tackle. And he can be counted on, like clockwork, to deliver plays. But this skilled athlete, free of injuries and suited up, ready to roll, didn’t even play for a single minute during the entire span of Super bowl 52, despite numerous opportunities, and despite the prayers of innumerable fans.

It’s true that Butler’s contract negotiations are reported to be contentious. But if this was the salient factor, it’s difficult to conceive how this rather mundane business issue could lead to such a draconian punishment on the field. The choice to bench Butler, many fans believe, was essentially a choice to sacrifice a Super Bowl win.

But a sacrifice in the service of what greater good? Surely not merely to bolster the ego of coach Bellicheck? If so, what a sad waste, and how frustrating for the devout fans. The famed coach refuses to explain his reasoning, merely insisting that he made the best decision possible to maximize the team’s chances of winning. In the end this may be so, but his prickly silence, and the dictates of common sense, leave New England’s fans scratching their heads in disbelief.

There’s no doubt that the Patriots are a strong team—a winning team. They are undisputed masters of the game. It’s likely that Tom Brady has at least another great year or two left, despite his age, and probably a few more after that, while star tight end Rob Gronkowski is still young. So they have a great shot to win Super Bowl 53. This is, of course, a comfort to the fans. “Next Year!” is the familiar refrain of many losing sports franchises. But for the New England Patriots, it’s not an empty pipe dream by any means.

But there seems to be a pattern. The New England Patriots win the AFC championship a lot, and win the Super Bowl every other time, or so, that they play. So why doesn’t this Cracker Jack team cinch victory and take home the Vince Lombardi trophy every time? Well, the competition is, of course, fierce. Team’s that play in the Super Bowl have earned it, with hard-fought winning seasons. Therefore you need to be at your absolute top level of performance, both physically and mentally, to bring that victory home.

And this is where the Patriot’s may still need some work. Thought they play fantastically, with supreme confidence, throughout the regular season, the Super Bowl is a different story. Even Tom Brady, who passes like a well-oiled machine, was throwing incomplete passes with high frequency during the big game. In short, at the Super Bowl they seem to let the emotions and the pressure get to them, unlike the regular season.

And so, though arguably their defense needs work and perhaps some significant changes, the coaching staff would do well to prioritize developing the “inner game,” the game of psychological mastery. Surely they are almost there, but more work needs to be done. And they’ve got a year to do it.

Photo – By Jeffrey BeallOwn work, CC BY 3.0, Link

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