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Our columnist visited the new home of Hendrick’s Gin in Scotland and got the scoop on its recently introduced line of limited-edition products.

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The new Hendrick’s “Gin Palace” is about 75 minutes south of Glasgow and almost wholly encased by a Game of Thrones-style black-brick wall. The entrance is a tall gothic door, also painted midnight black.

A group of us on a tour arranged by Hendrick’s approached the gate. We knock. An iPad-sized mini-door some eight feet off the ground swings open and a gnomish face peers out. Inexplicably, none of us shouts, “We want to see the wizard!” Maybe because that’s not needed; the face belongs to Lesley Gracie, Hendrick’s master distiller since 1999. She actually is the wizard.

“Welcome!” Gracie cries out. The doors swing open. Our group enters.

Hendrick’s Gin is celebrating its 20th year this year, and doing so by releasing two new gin products, including Midsummer Solstice, which began rolling out in the United States in early May. Hendrick’s is also showing off its new distillery, which held its grand opening last October. To date, it’s open only to invited guests, including media, distributors and high-profile bartenders, and is not yet offering public tours.

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Inside the wall is a showpiece of Victoriana—it’s designed like a 19th century horticultural hall, with a soaring glassed-in pavilion housing palms, a stuffed peacock, comfortable chairs with stacks of outdated encyclopedias. A pair of greenhouses flanks the hall, and it’s here where Gracie grows plants for experimental infusions. Outside the front door there’s a small fleet of penny farthings; the restroom (“Lavatorium”) is adorned with piles of quirky antiquarian books (Simple Heraldry, Cheerfully Illustrated.) Hendrick’s is nothing if not on-brand.

Hendrick’s is celebrating two decades of solid growth. In 2017, it sold more than one million cases for the first time, putting it in the company of a handful of gin producers who move that much liquor. (The club also includes Tanqueray, Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, Seagram’s and Gordon’s.)

A lot of what has fueled Hendrick’s growth has been quirky marketing—creating a brand with a distinctive identity, one that might be described as “Steampunks Throw a Garden Party.” One mainstay at public events is the Hendrick’s “grand garnisher”—a truck-mounted “bicycle-powered” cucumber slicer the size of an ambitious circus wagon.

When William Grant & Sons first explored the idea of a gin, they approached Steve Grasse, whom Food & Wine magazine once dubbed the “Punk-Rock Prince of Small-Batch Spirits.” Grasse was a marketing guy—his branding agency is now known as Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction—and he was instrumental in crafting Hendrick’s quirky image. (Grasse also was behind the Sailor Jerry brand.) The gin’s taglines included “not for everyone” and “a most unusual gin.”

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From the distillery’s palm court visitors can view three copper stills behind a wall of glass. It looks like a Smithsonian museum exhibit—indeed, one of these stills dates to 1860. Yet these are fully operating stills, and not just ornamental. In fact, these stills produced all Hendrick’s Gin for the first 20 years. With these, Gracie worked out an early distilling protocol with dual methods of extracting flavors from botanicals. (These include Macedonian juniper,  Angelica root, cubeb berry, elderflower, and meadowsweet, among others.) One batch of ingredients is mixed with ethanol and run through a Bennet still, yielding a full extraction. Another batch of identical botanicals is placed in a gin basket atop a Carter-head still, where it infuses the ethanol steam. Each method extracts different layers of flavor, adding what Gracie calls a welcome “roundness.”

The final twist on Hendrick’s flavor profile comes at the end, like a surprise dessert. Hendrick’s has a third party distill both rose petals and cucumber essences with vacuum stills. These stills substantially reduce the boiling temperature of alcohol, helping preserve the delicate flavors. (Cucumber, when exposed to higher temperatures, takes on an unfortunate, cabbage-like aroma, says Gracie.)

To meet anticipated demand for the product, Hendrick’s moved its distillery from a mundane former munitions bunker in the middle of their sprawling property to this specially designed hall. (Although William Grant & Sons is one of the largest producers of grain whisky for blending, visitors to the Hendrick’s facility are spared views of the charmless industrial site thanks to artfully placed berms and trees.)

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Hendrick’s also had the three original stills replicated exactly, which they installed in an adjacent room not visible from the main hall. The large room has the charm of a standard distillery, which is to say none at all, but makes up for its lack of quirk with a spotless efficiency. In rolling this out, Hendrick’s has doubled its ability to produce gin, and can now make up to two million cases a year. (Gracie notes the building’s design allows for another room and another trio of replicant stills, meaning they’re ready to gear up to three million cases, if demand warrants.)

So why did Hendrick’s wait two decades to extend its brand line? The answer is both in the production and the marketing.

On the production side, Hendrick’s now has the ability to make nearly twice as much gin as current demand warrants. So what to do with the new capacity? They chose to use the excess to develop new products. The two newly released, limited-edition gins—Orbium and Midsummer Solstice—are comprised of the standard Hendrick's, which is complicated with additional ingredients.

The Orbium, for instance, also contains quinine, wormwood and lotus blossom, in addition to all the regular Hendrick’s ingredients. The result is sort-of lazy person’s gin and tonic, which can be made with the simple addition of soda water. The Midsummer Solstice adds floral essences to the standard product, drawing from flowers that Gracie declines to identify. It was initially created for the wedding of a beloved employee, and will be available until sold out.

The new releases are also rolling out for shrewd marketing reasons. Hendrick’s is often thought of as the original craft gin—among the first to boldly depart from the London dry flavor profile—but as it barrels towards two million cases maintaining that craft imprimatur may prove difficult. What was once a Gulliver amid Brobdingnagians is now a Gulliver amid the Lilliputians—Hendrick’s is now surrounded by dozens of smaller craft gin makers, many departing equally boldly further from the norm and nibbling away at the gin market.

One of the lessons smaller distillers have picked up on is that experimentation helps define them. Larger brands aren’t typically interested in releasing new products unless they’re sure it will sell at least a forty thousand cases out of the gate, with the result of an often-monotonous product landscape among the majors. Craft distillers can be more nimble and experimental with their releases—helping generate interest among bartenders and consumers about what they’re up to, especially when their releases are shrouded in semi-secrecy and limited in release.

So in addition to Orbium and Midsummer Solstice (Orbium is available in  “exceedingly small batches and has a finite window of existence,” the company notes), Hendrick’s also made a product called Hendrick’s Kanaracuni, which resulted from a two-week journey that Gracie and others took to the Venezuelan rainforest (with a 10-liter still) to search for new flavors in 2013. They found a plant for infusing called scorpion tail; the extremely small amount that was produced made its way to bartenders and other industry insiders.  

Scarcity plus curiosity can help keep a brand in the front and center.

Hendrick’s created the original playbook for craft products—presenting itself as hand-crafted and quirky, the ideal spirit for younger drinkers who didn’t want to drink their parent’s mass-produced gin. Hendrick’s is now borrowing from the craft playbook of a new generation of smaller craft distillers, plotting its way to three million cases, one experimental batch at a time.

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‘Angel Has Fallen’ Trailer Has Gerard Butler on the Run

Lionsgate has released the first Angel Has Fallen trailer. The upcoming action movie has Gerard Butler returning as Secret Service Agent Mike Banning. When there’s an attempt on the life of President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), Mike is framed for the crime and he must go on the run to prove his name and protect the President. I hope at some point he accuses an old friend of switching the samples.

If you’re still on board with these Fallen movies, great! This looks like it will scratch the itch. Personally, I checked out after Olympus Has Fallen and didn’t even bother with London Has Fallen so I’m missing a key piece of the Mike Banning mythology. But the film will probably be a solid August hit for Lionsgate and they’ll likely keep making them as long as Butler is interested.

The film opens August 23rd

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Sagamore Spirit’s Port Finish Is The World’s Best Rye Whiskey

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Making the claim that anything is the “best in the world” is a pretty slippery slope. But when the claim comes from a panel of the world’s top experts, it’s a hard one to ignore. That’s the case with Sagamore Spirit’s Port Finish rye whiskey, which just took home the gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

As you might imagine, Baltimore-based Sagamore Spirit — which was co-founded and is still owned by none other than Under Armour’s Kevin Plank — is very proud of their achievement, as they rightfully should be. But the award is not simply happenstance, as the rye whiskey they’ve crafted is a special one, indeed. This is due in large part to the fact that it’s finished in the finest European and American Port barrels — lending the spirit notes of cherry, plum, and baking spices with a full and dry finish. This American-made, 101 proof, dark amber whiskey is available now for $70 — if you can find it on the shelves, that is.

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Scientists Think They Know How Pluto's Hidden Ocean Stays Liquid

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Recent results suggest that Pluto has a liquid water ocean buried beneath its icy shell. But how could such a thing be possible at the frigid outer edges of the solar system? Scientists from Japan and the United States might have an answer.

In a paper published Monday in Nature Geoscience, these researchers speculate that perhaps, Pluto’s ocean is kept insulated by a layer of gas beneath the ice. If this hypothesis proves true, then this mechanism might keep other icy worlds from freezing over completely.

“If this mechanism is common, then oceans might be common on other large [Kuiper Belt objects],” study co-author Francis Nimmo from the University of California, Santa Cruz told Gizmodo.

The paper is mainly an inference based on combining other pieces of evidence. The New Horizons mission flew by Pluto in 2015 and discovered that it was quite complex, geologically. In 2016, scientists’ models suggested that the Sputnik Planitia, the lefthand lobe of the dwarf planet’s “heart,” could have a subsurface, partially-liquid ocean like the ones on the icy moons of Jupiter or Saturn.

That’s pretty wild to think about: something as distant and as small as Pluto isn’t completely frozen, but might have liquid water beneath its surface. Scientists wondered how that could be possible. Pluto doesn’t have the gravitational energy from a nearby massive planet to maintain tides and help warm the water.

Nor would heating from the radioactive decay of its elements help avoid a complete freeze, according to the new paper. And it doesn’t seem like there’s enough ammonia on Pluto to dissolve into the water and raise its melting point.

Instead, the scientists propose that the ice shell has a layer of water ice cages that trap gas, like methane, inside. Without the layer, the ice would remove heat from Pluto’s interior. But the “clathrate hydrate” gas cage layer would have different thermal properties that would slow the ice’s ability to take heat from the water.

And the methane trapping would also explain why scientists haven’t observed much methane in Pluto’s atmosphere, Nimmo said.

The paper is “quite interesting,” J. Hunter Waite, a program director at the Southwest Research Institute not involved with this study, told Gizmodo in an email. “Understanding the role of processes like clathrate formation increases the knowledge base for exploring Ocean Worlds and their role in solar system formation and evolution and thereby broadening our horizons as to what constitutes habitable environments,” he continued.

But he warned that scientists still know little about Pluto’s overall composition, and must look to other objects like comets and meteorites to guide their hypothesising.

It’s still interesting, though. “Our results suggest that a long-lived ocean can exist even without tidal heating, which is important to maintain oceans in icy satellites” study first author Shunichi Kamata from Hokkaido University in Japan told Gizmodo.

New Horizons has whizzed far beyond Pluto, and there isn’t a present-day mission that can verify the existence of these clathrate hydrates.

But Nimmo and Kamata hope that in the future, some mission can verify their findings. And maybe there are other icy oceans around the solar system kept warm in the same way.

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Archaeological Mystery Deepens As More 'Jars Of The Dead' Uncovered In Laos

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An ancient burial practice involving the use of massive stone jars seems to have been more widespread in Southeast Asia than once assumed, owing to a surprising trove of new discoveries in Laos.

A team of archaeologists co-led by Dougald O’Reilly from the Australian National University, with help from Lao government officials, have discovered 15 new megalithic sites in Laos containing 137 previously unidentified stone jars that are thought to have been related, in some way, to disposal of the dead.

The sites, which date back 1000 years, are located in a remote mountainous forest, expanding the geographical area in which these monuments are found in Laos.

“These new sites have really only been visited by the occasional tiger hunter,” said ANU PhD student Nicholas Skopal, a co-leader of the team, in an ANU statement. “Now we’ve rediscovered them, we’re hoping to build a clear picture about this culture and how it disposed of its dead.”

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A jar found in Laos.

These so-called ‘Jars of the Dead’ have been known since the 19th century, but French archaeologist Madeleine Colani was the first to conduct a scientific investigation of the monuments, which she did in the 1930s.

Thousands of the megaliths have been found in the Plain of Jars, an area concentrated along the central plain of Xiangkhoang Plateau in northern Laos. The jars measure a couple of metres across and date back to Laos’ Iron Age (500 BCE to 500 CE).

Colani, and the archaeologists who followed in her footsteps believe they were used during ancient burial practices, either to temporarily hold a deceased individual or to serve as a secondary gravesite. Or possibly both.

These jars, and others like them in India and Indonesia, are suggestive of a complex set of burial practices involving various stages of decomposition, which ancient peoples may have associated with various spiritual or metaphysical phases of death.

But archaeologists have long puzzled over the exact purpose of the jars. To compound the problem, researchers don’t even know which culture built these megaliths.

“It’s apparent the jars, some weighing several tonnes, were carved in quarries, and somehow transported, often several kilometres to their present locations,” said O’Reilly in the ANU statement. “But why these sites were chosen as the final resting place for the jars is still a mystery. On top of that we’ve got no evidence of occupation in this region.”

As noted, the distribution of the jars appears to be more widespread than previously assumed, which suggests whatever burial practice they were related to was also more common.

Also, some intricately carved discs were found positioned around the jars, possibly serving as burial markers, according to the researchers. The discs, which were placed face down for some unknown reason, were decorated with pommels, concentric circles, animal imagery and human figures.

According to O’Reilly, decorative carvings around these giant jars are quite rare. The researchers aren’t sure why some monuments were decorated and others were not, and why some had geometric designs as opposed to other imagery.

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A disc decorated with concentric rings

Intriguingly, the archaeologists also found miniature jars made of clay, which greatly resembled the larger jars. O’Reilly said he’d “love to know why these people represented the same jars in which they placed their dead, in miniature to be buried with their dead”.

Other artefacts found near the jars included decorative ceramics, glass beads, iron tools, earrings, and spindle whorls for making cloth.

Looking ahead, the researchers are hoping to extract DNA from bodies found buried nearby according to a paper published last year, and to conduct a comparative analysis of similar megalithic jars from the Assam region of India and Sulawesi in Indonesia.

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The Final Brightburn Trailer Goes Full Supervillain Horror Movie

Nothing quite like a pint-sized super boy killing everyone to help you ring in the holiday.

Brightburn, the new film from producer James Gunn and director David Yarovesky, opens this Memorial Day weekend. It stars Jackson A. Dunn as a young boy who comes to Earth with extraordinary powers, kind of like Superman. And like Superman, he’s taken in by two loving parents, here played by Elizabeth Banks and David Denman. But, unlike Superman, this boy isn’t about truth and justice—he’s about evil and violence.

With mere days to go before opening, Sony has released a final trailer for the film. In it you see why Brightburn is being marketed as “the first horror movie of the summer” and not “the second superhero movie.”

While pre-release buzz for Brightburn has been generally positive among people who’ve seen it, my biggest question mark is if Yarovesky can handle the huge task of taking this killer concept and making it into something even more than just that.

Brightburn opens Thursday. 

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Heston Blumenthal Crotch Cheese Is Now A Thing

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From his pubes, specifically

London's V&A museum is currently running a food-themed exhibition titled FOOD: Bigger Than the Plate. In addition to containing an edible water bottle and a toilet made from cow manure, one of the highlights of the exhibition is human cheese. Yes, cheese made partially from humans.

And one of them is famed quirky chef Heston Blumenthal.

Cheese is generally made from starter cultures that come in a packet. They're basically single strains of bacteria that curdle the milk and help get the cheese on its smelly way.

Guess what else produces bacteria? The human body. And in the very specific case of old mate Heston... it was taken from his pubic hair to make a comté, according to the Guardian.

Blumenthal wasn't the only celebrity who has put his body on the line in the name of cheese. British rapper Professor Green had bacteria taken from his belly button, and a columnist for the Guardian had some taken from her nose. All in the name of sheer curiosity and display. Are you not entertained!?

If this is grossing you out, never fear. You can't actually eat any of the human cheese - it's just on display.

But I do challenge you to search deep within your own soul and answer this question. If you had the chance to smear some of that crotch cheese on a rosemary and sea salt cracker with some quince paste... would you?

@Ken Gargett you're our very own Cheese purveyor and now creator, is this something you'd tackle? No pun intended ;) 

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1 hour ago, MIKA27 said:

Heston Blumenthal Crotch Cheese Is Now A Thing

mouldy-cheese.jpg

From his pubes, specifically

London's V&A museum is currently running a food-themed exhibition titled FOOD: Bigger Than the Plate. In addition to containing an edible water bottle and a toilet made from cow manure, one of the highlights of the exhibition is human cheese. Yes, cheese made partially from humans.

And one of them is famed quirky chef Heston Blumenthal.

Cheese is generally made from starter cultures that come in a packet. They're basically single strains of bacteria that curdle the milk and help get the cheese on its smelly way.

Guess what else produces bacteria? The human body. And in the very specific case of old mate Heston... it was taken from his pubic hair to make a comté, according to the Guardian.

Blumenthal wasn't the only celebrity who has put his body on the line in the name of cheese. British rapper Professor Green had bacteria taken from his belly button, and a columnist for the Guardian had some taken from her nose. All in the name of sheer curiosity and display. Are you not entertained!?

If this is grossing you out, never fear. You can't actually eat any of the human cheese - it's just on display.

But I do challenge you to search deep within your own soul and answer this question. If you had the chance to smear some of that crotch cheese on a rosemary and sea salt cracker with some quince paste... would you?

@Ken Gargett you're our very own Cheese purveyor and now creator, is this something you'd tackle? No pun intended ;) 

i saw this. truly disgusting.

let me say that these cheesemakers are not blessed. indeed, nothing but a sad gimmick which demeans us all!

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13 hours ago, Ken Gargett said:

i saw this. truly disgusting.

let me say that these cheesemakers are not blessed. indeed, nothing but a sad gimmick which demeans us all!

For someone who has trouble with blue cheese , that is revolting.

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14 hours ago, Ken Gargett said:

i saw this. truly disgusting.

let me say that these cheesemakers are not blessed. indeed, nothing but a sad gimmick which demeans us all!

agreed, well put

-dobbs

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15 hours ago, Ken Gargett said:

i saw this. truly disgusting.

let me say that these cheesemakers are not blessed. indeed, nothing but a sad gimmick which demeans us all!

Yes, I felt you would feel this way. I think a lot of what Blumenthal does is a gimmick. He's good at what he does, but this is an extreme that defies imagination. 

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8 minutes ago, MIKA27 said:

Yes, I felt you would feel this way. I think a lot of what Blumenthal does is a gimmick. He's good at what he does, but this is an extreme that defies imagination. 

Not all of the things he does is gimmick. Don't ruin my biz.... :lookaround: :hole:

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24 minutes ago, MIKA27 said:

Yes, I felt you would feel this way. I think a lot of what Blumenthal does is a gimmick. He's good at what he does, but this is an extreme that defies imagination. 

i was reading about this elsewhere the other day and my impression was that this was not a heston initiative. rather someone else - not sure who - who involved various celebrities, including heston.

he is undoubtedly a superb talent wonderfully innovative but people forget that he very much rode on the coat-tails of ferran adria from el bulli. for me, he was the extraordinary chef of this generation and what he did led to so much more. without ferran, i doubt that heston gets anywhere close to what he is now. 

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Terminator: Dark Fate Trailer

 

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A Chef’s Secrets to Grilling Over Charcoal

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I’m a firm believer that grilling brings people together. Much like carving the holiday turkey, the ritual is typically deemed a man’s job and has an innate sense of communal gathering and loving family. One of my earliest memories growing up was hanging out at my neighbor’s house for Sunday barbecue after Little League games and watching my friend’s dad, Frank Jimenez, tend to the grill with a Miller Lite beer in one hand and a king-size spatula in the other. Frank brought the neighborhood together with his grill. To this day, when I get a whiff of drifting smoke from someone grilling in a yard nearby, the smell triggers fond memories and takes me back to way back when. Grilling is about summertime and cooking outdoors; grilling is also fundamentality about time and attention.

I’m not one to overcomplicate the marriage of food and fire, so I keep it simple by relying on only direct heat grilling, instead of setting up two hot and cool heat zones. Two-zone grilling is when you set up two areas of your grill by piling more coals on one side of the grill (high direct heat), and then fewer coals on the other side (low indirect heat). The hotter side is typically preferred for searing thinner cuts of meat, such as skinless, boneless chicken breasts and flank steak, while the cooler side is preferred for cooking larger cuts of meat without burning the exterior before the center is cooked, such as pork shoulder, or to finish cooking meats after searing on the hot, direct side. Honestly, I find a simple, even hot zone throughout the grill perfectly fine. What I do encourage is to turn the meat often and rest it periodically to prevent the outside from burning, and control the internal temperature from getting too hot and potentially overcooking. So basically, by constantly flipping the meat and taking it off the grill to rest, it has the same effect as indirect cooking. I’d rather harness the flame of the coals by opening and closing the air vents and lid, to avoid flare-ups and to keep the cooking temperature constant. Working the vents allows you to control the airflow and subsequent heat, and not the other way around! Plus, grills come in various sizes and it’s often challenging to set up two-zone cooking areas in an everyday Weber kettle grill, for example, that is only eighteen to twenty-two inches in diameter; there is simply not ample space to achieve the direct/indirect cooking method successfully, in my opinion. One-zone direct heat cooking does require you to mind the grill a bit more, but that’s part of the grilling experience!

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Grilling over direct heat and constantly flipping what you’re grilling moreover creates a lot more flavor due to the meat juices and fat drippings trickling onto the hot coals to produce epic, aromatic steam, as the vapors rise and are reabsorbed into the meat to keep it moist.

Remember to always keep your grill grate clean by using a dry grill brush to scrape off any charred bits stuck to it. When getting ready to grill, many recipes require you rub the grill grate with oil when hot to create a nonstick surface.

Cooking on a grill adds an unsurpassed smoked, charred depth not only to meat but also to everyday breakfast, (Huevos Rancheros and Grilled Quesadilla with Tomatillo Sauce) and it transforms ordinary vegetables into something especially unexpected.

GETTING YOUR GRILL GAME ON

When building a fire for your charcoal grill, I recommend using an ample amount of natural hardwood lump charcoal so you don’t risk the coals dying out during the cook, filling your grill halfway up from the bottom to the top grate. I prefer a hickory and oak mix, and always organic when possible. You want an even layer of coals all the way to the diameter of the grill, so be sure to spread them out. Before you even light your grill, make sure to open the vents. The fire will need oxygen to keep going. To light the grill, I’m a fan of natural fire starter sticks; they’re inexpensive and easy to use with no special chimney starter required (although you may use one if so inclined). With the lid off, stick four fire starters in the charcoal with one in the center and the other three around and light them with a kitchen lighter. After you light the coals, allow them to burn for about 10 to 15 minutes until you see a nice fire going and some of the coals turning red. Check to see if the coals are glowing evenly. If not, rake with a large grilling spatula and mix them around so that the dormant coals catch fire. Carefully secure the top grate in place with gloves and tongs, cover with the lid, and open the top vent fully so air properly circulates in the grill and smoke can escape. Leave the lid on for 10 to 15 minutes until the flames die down and the coals start to ash over. Uncover the grill and get ready to cook.

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ADDING WOOD TO THE COALS

Charcoal gives you high, dry heat, but it doesn’t impart much flavor. I like having subtle hints of wood flavor in my cooking but find it overpowering to strictly grill over wood alone. So, I combine the best of both worlds and often add a few wood chunks to the coals when grilling. When building your fire, simply add 5 to 7 chunks of unsoaked applewood, oak, or hickory and mix them into your coals so they burn evenly with the charcoal.

 

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A Trip To Godzilla's Home, Toho, Made Us Want To Stomp Through Its Amazing Sets

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Last month in Tokyo, Toho Studios opened its doors to the assembled press, providing a rare look at Godzilla props of yore. We got an up close and personal look at some of the coolest kaiju around—and the cities they’ve destroyed over the years—and we’ve got the pictures to prove it!

Toho’s Toshifumi Shimizu and Kohei Umino, whose actual official job title is “Godzilla Specialist” provided a guided tour and shed light on the future of Toho’s kaiju movies.

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Kohei Umino discusses Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, the 1964 film featuring a Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra team-up.

“The buildings in front are larger than the ones in the back, which are smaller to create more perspective,” explained Shimizu, who worked as the assistant director during the Millenium Godzilla series.

A whole city sprawled before us. Small buildings. Tiny cars. Cute little trees. The realism is staggering, and I just want to hop on the stage and stomp all over the place. I did not, of course.

A Rodan suit, arms spread, from the 2004 film Godzilla Final Wars loomed overhead, staring down a King Ghidorah suit from 2001's Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.

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The Godzilla in the background in the center is the current Godzilla: King of the Monsters design. Also, “please do not touch.”

“This is the oldest existing Godzilla suit,” said Shimizu, gesturing to a suit used in both 1994's Godzilla Vs. Space Godzilla and 1995's Godzilla Vs. Destroyah. The suit was painted red for the second film, but since the design is a fan favourite, it has since been repainted black.

“This is quite a heavy suit,” explained Shimizu. “Normally, the suit is made entirely from rubber, but in order to light it up in red, the suit’s torso area was also made from plastic.”

“With the rubber and the heavier plastic plus the lights and equipment for the smoke the suit emitted, it weighed 100 kilograms. It was quite heavy.”

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According to Shimizu, Godzilla suits typically weigh around 59kg. However, the one from Godzilla Vs. Destroyah weighed 100kg, which puts it up there with the very first 1954 suit for the heaviest Godzilla suit. “The suit actor had a tough time.”

As Umino explained, a suit actor could lose a litre of sweat during a day’s work.

“One suit actor played King Ghidorah, and it was so difficult that the actor could only do short takes,” says Umino, who pointed out the wires holding up the monster’s heads like a puppet. “As you can see, we used wires, but in the movies, you cannot see them. We didn’t erase them with CG, which shows how advanced our film making techniques were.” But some of those techniques are being lost. “I think if we did a King Ghidorah now, people wouldn’t know how to operate the wires.”

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King Ghidorah’s heads were controlled like a marionette.

The complicated puppetry used for this kaiju suit has apparently not been handed down. But that’s not the only thing that has been lost.

There are Godzilla films dating back to the 1950s, but surely some of the iconic Godzilla suits from before the mid-1990s have survived? Why is the 1994 suit the oldest?

Rubber kaiju, Umino told me later after I pulled him aside for a chat, start to degrade after a few years.

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This is the upper body Godzilla costume. Perhaps since Toho actually allowed visitors to put it on their head, the wear and tear are definitely more apparent. It shows how the rubber can degrade over time.

The reason why the 1994 suit is the oldest existing Godzilla suit is that Toho previously did not meticulously preserve or store its archives. Instead, everything was just initially stuffed under a roof and exposed to Japan’s brutally hot summers.

“We didn’t keep archives at all originally,” said Umino. “But after seeing that places like Warner Bros. do, we thought keeping archives was important and that we should, too.”

Now, the Godzilla archives are cataloged and kept in temperature controlled storage in order to preserve them as long as possible. The rubber does still degrade, but the cool temperatures help slow that down. Toho also does maintenance on the suits, such as repainting and patching sections.

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While visitors could handle the 2001 Godzilla upper body costume, the head for Megaguirus in 2000"s Godzilla vs. Megaguirus was definitely “do not touch.” However, you can notice how it is beginning to degrade.

While the suits might not hold up well over time, Toho does still have props dating back to the original 1954 film, with the oldest among item being the original Oxygen Destroyer. According to Toho, this is its most important Godzilla prop. The studio does not bring it out on a regular basis and even many Toho employees have not seen it firsthand.

Seeing all the prop images on display made me nostalgic for an era when practical effects ruled, and reminded me of that meme image of George Lucas surrounded by Star Wars models contrasted with him against a green screen.

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The Oxygen Destroyer from the original 1954 Godzilla. This is one of the oldest, if not the most important, Godzilla movie props.

“International fans often get upset when the Toho Godzilla movies don’t feature a suit actor,” Umino told me. “But for Shin Godzilla, the original plan was to use both a hybrid CG and a suit actor. However, it was ultimately decided that CG worked best for that particular picture.”

Does that mean that all Toho Godzilla movies will be CG?

“I think for future Godzilla movies, whether we use a hybrid of suit acting and CG or just CG will be decided case by case,” he said.

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The actual Mothra used in the character’s 1996 film.

There are signs that Toho is readying its kaiju suit production team. “Last year, we remade the original suit,” Umino explained. This was done to celebrate the character’s 64th anniversary, and the remade suit was shown in Tokyo Midtown.

By Toho having its artisans remake this iconic suit, the studio is ensuring that the artistic tradition that made Godzilla possible lives on.

“There are times that suit acting is best, such as the unexpected ways a building might be destroyed. But with CG,” Umino continued with a smile, “you can easily put those buildings back together.”

Here are even more looks at Toho’s incredible Godzilla props, sets, and suits.

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Getting an inside peek at Toho and checking out all these iconic Godzilla suits and props was truly special. Sadly, Toho does not offer tours for the general public, but hopefully, we’ll see more even more suits and sets in future films.wpjax2uewdngkp9xkvct.jpg

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Extraterrestrial Organic Matter Found In 3.3-Billion-Year-Old Volcanic Rock

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Satellite image of the Barberton Greenstone Belt.

Geologists in France and Italy have spotted what appear to be organic molecules from outer space in 3.3-billion-year-old rocks in South Africa, according to a new study.

By now, we know that organic molecules, from methane to amino acids, exist in space, and perhaps some of these molecules were brought to our own planet via carbon-containing asteroids. Scientists studying ancient rock in South Africa seem to have uncovered evidence of the oldest examples yet of these extraterrestrial molecules.

A small range called the Makhonjwa Mountains or the Barberton Greenstone Belt sits in eastern South Africa and Swaziland, and contains a 23-to-66 foot thick deposit of 3.3-billion-year-old volcanic rock called the Josefdal Chert. Among layers of volcanic ash lie carbon-filled layers, deposited during times of lower volcanic activity, and the whole region appears to have been altered by the presence of water (like on a shorefront), according to the paper published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

The researchers analysed a pair of postage stamp-sized samples gathered during field campaigns, sliced them into a few dozen pieces, and analysed them with electron microscopes, protons from a particle accelerator, and continuous-wave electron paramagnetic resonance (cw-EPR). In essence, the researchers measured how the samples’ electrons responded to a slowly changing magnetic field. They found different kinds of signals in the slices—most of them corresponded with carbon signals found elsewhere on Earth, but for one slice, it looked more like the signal from carbon-containing meteorites.

It didn’t surprise the researchers to find extraterrestrial material in their sediments—as they do today, micrometeorites likely fell on ancient Earth, bringing organic carbon molecules. What did surprise them is that somehow, there was enough of these materials present in the area to still be detectable 3.3 billion years later. They proposed that maybe the layer they analysed formed after a meteor impact produced a layer of dust in the atmosphere that then settled beneath a layer of volcanic ash.

This is just one piece of evidence, and not a literal molecule that was deposited 3.3 billion years ago. But it’s still an important thing to know. New Scientist reports that finding layers of extraterrestrial organic carbon from asteroids might complicate efforts to find similar-looking biosignatures on other planets, like Mars, since the signature an asteroid deposited might look like the signature of life.

Research continues to show that our planet’s rocks preserve an incredible history—not just our own history, but the history of the entire solar system.

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An Astounding Amount Of Water Has Been Discovered Beneath The Martian North Pole

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Using ground-penetrating radar, scientists detected a massive reservoir of frozen water sandwiched by layers of sand beneath the northern polar ice cap on Mars. This reservoir contains so much ice that, if melted and brought to the surface, it would submerge the entire planet.

“This was a surprise even for us,” Stefano Nerozzi, the lead author of the new paper and a PhD student at the University of Texas at Austin, told Gizmodo in an email.

The massive reservoir was detected within Mars’ northern cavi unit, a deposit of multiple layers of water ice mixed in with sand that formed over the course of hundreds of millions of years. The cavi unit rests about 2 kilometres beneath the Martian north pole, and prior to the new study, scientists figured it was primarily composed of sand dunes and contained less than 50 per cent water ice by volume. These estimates were based on observations of visible outcrops, which revealed significant amounts of dark sands intermixed with small amounts of frozen water.

But now, radar scans from orbit suggests the cavi unit is packed with more water ice than sand, making it possibly the third-largest water reservoir on the Red Planet, followed only by the two polar ice caps. The new paper was published this week in Geophysical Research Letters.

These new observations were made by the Shallow Radar, or SHARAD, instrument aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. SHARAD emits surface-penetrating radar waves that allowed Nerozzi’s team to discern the internal structures and composition of the cavi unit.

Observations revealed horizontal slabs rich in ice that were sandwiched by alternating layers of sand. The distribution of water ice ranged from 61 to 88 per cent by volume, which means the cavi unit is primarily composed of frozen water. As noted in the press release, if melted and brought to the surface, “the newly discovered polar ice would be equivalent to a global layer of water around Mars at least 1.5 meters (5 feet) deep.” That’s a lot of water.

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This composite image shows alternating layers of ice and sand in an area where they’re exposed on the surface of Mars. The water ice appears as light-coloured, while the sand is darker blue.

SHARAD data showed that the frequency and volume of the ice slabs increased with proximity to the north pole. In one region, for example, the researchers detected two sand sheets over 40 kilometres wide on top of a layer of ice ranging in depth from 50 to 100 meters.

These buried structures are the remnants of former ice caps which shrunk and were buried during warm periods, according to the paper. Consequently, this cavi unit contains a historical record of the Martian climate. The layers of ice are like the rings on a tree, showing the growth and retreat of ancient polar caps over the years. Like Earth, Mars has experienced multiple ice ages. During the warm periods, sand enveloped the shrunken ice caps, protecting them from the Sun and in turn preventing the ice from evaporating into the atmosphere.

“The only hypothesis that can reconcile our results and all the previous studies is that the cavi unit is made of alternating ice sheets, remnants of former polar caps, and sand layers, which acted as protective blanket and prevented the complete retreat of the old polar ice,” Nerozzi told Gizmodo.

“This is another big surprise in itself, because it means that we have a new and unexpected record of past polar ice cap growth and retreat that dates back hundreds of millions of years.”

Prior to the new study, scientists figured the ancient ice caps were lost, but SHARAD data suggests otherwise.

“These results are significant because it attests to past climate cycles in the north polar region,” Matthew Chojnacki, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona who was not involved in the new research, said in an email to Gizmodo. “For tens of millions of years, maybe longer, wind built up massive sand deposits which were repeatedly buried with various levels of ice. These intra-dune ice deposits happen on Earth but I’m not aware of such a large example as this north polar cavi unit on Mars.”

The new finding could also tell us a bit more about water ice located elsewhere on Mars, particularly in the lower latitudes. Jack Holt, co-author of the study and a researcher at the University of Arizona, previously used SHARAD to confirm the presence of massive glaciers in the Martian mid-latitudes—one of which is three times the size of Los Angeles. These glaciers are almost completely comprised of water ice, but they’re obscured by surface materials.

“Surprisingly, the total volume of water locked up in these buried polar deposits is roughly the same as all the water ice known to exist in glaciers and buried ice layers at lower latitudes on Mars, and they are approximately the same age,” said Holt in the University of Texas press release.

Mars, as we’re learning, holds a tremendous amount of water. This theoretically bodes well for future colonists in need of the precious liquid.

“The ice sheets might be very pure, with only a few per cent dust impurities. However, this unit is buried underneath a polar ice cap up to 2 kilometres thick, so it is not easy to reach,” said Nerozzi. “It would be much easier to extract nearly pure water from the ice at the surface of the polar cap. To make it drinkable, or process it into fuel for rockets, one would need to filter out the dust impurities and perhaps some salts.”

Nerozzi is continuing to study this cavi unit and using SHARAD to read the record of past polar cap evolution. Given the geological and climate data how available, he might even be able to reconstruct the entire formation history of the cavi.

“This would give us precious insights into the past distribution of water on the planet, and thus if any amount of liquid water existed near the equator that could have supported life,” said Nerozzi.

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Taika Waititi’s ‘Akira’ Gets 2021 Release Date

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The live-action adaptation of Akira has been through a multitude of directors (I’ve been writing about this movie since at least 2009 when Rurari Robinson was attached to direct), and it was getting close back in 2011 with Jaume Collet-Serra (The Shallows), but then that fell apart. Then Taika Waititi boarded the adaptation in September 2017 and it looks like his version might actually be happening. The director is putting the finishing touches on his latest film, Jojo Rabbit, but it appears he’ll then turn his attention to Akira. Warner Bros. has announced that the live-action version of Akira will arrive on May 21, 2021.

For those who are unfamiliar with the story, the anime takes place in Neo-Tokyo and follows the leader of a biker gang, Kaneda, as he teams up with a resistance member, Kei, and others to fight his friend Tetsuo, who is threatening to unleash his psychic powers on the city. It’s weird, visually impressive, and the last half of the film feels like Kaneda and Tetsuo just shouting each other’s names for a long time.

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Will this be the version that finally makes it to the finish line? It’s hard to say! It’s also surprising that Warner Bros. keeps doubling down on Akira when live-action adaptations of popular manga/anime haven’t exactly been juggernauts at the box office. The live-action Ghost in the Shell made a paltry $40 million domestic off a $110 million budget. Alita: Battle Angel fared slightly better with $85 million except that its budget was $170 million (although a $404 million take worldwide certainly helped matters). I think Waititi’s a great director and I’m curious about his vision for Akira, but this is still an uphill battle no matter how much time and money Warner Bros. wants to throw at this project.

The only competition Akira currently has at that release date is John Wick: Chapter 4, which should be a formidable opponent at the box office.

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Kelly’s Heroes: Lockheed’s five finest airplanes

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Roughly 110 years ago, one of the world's greatest aircraft designers—Clarence "Kelly" Johnson—was born in Ishpeming, Michigan. And since we're gigantic aviation nerds here at Ars Technica, the week of his birthday (February 27) is as good a reason as any to celebrate some of his legendary designs. Johnson spent 44 years working at Lockheed, where he was responsible for world-changing aircraft including the high-flying U-2, the "missile with a man in it" F-104 Starfighter, and the almost-otherworldly Blackbird family of jets.

In his career at Lockheed, Johnson's engineering acumen won him two Collier trophies, the most prestigious award one can win in the field of aeronautics (Lockheed chief engineer Hall Hibbard once famously said about Johnson, "That damn Swede can see air!"). In addition to being an excellent engineer, Johnson was also a powerfully effective manager; his practices running Lockheed's Advanced Design Projects unit are commonly regarded now as a master-class on how small focused groups should communicate and manage projects.

But it is for his airplanes that Kelly Johnson is most remembered.

The early years

Clarence L "Kelly" Johnson, seen here with a wind tunnel model of the Lockheed Electra, the first of Lockheed's designs that he influenced.

Clarence L "Kelly" Johnson, seen here with a wind tunnel model of the Lockheed Electra, the first of Lockheed's designs that he influenced.

Johnson was born in 1910 to Swedish immigrants Peter and Christine Johnson. The seventh of nine children in a loving but very poor family, he was a bright and industrious child captivated at an early age by the idea of designing airplanes—something he credited to reading Tom Swift stories. In 1929 he enrolled at the University of Michigan to study aeronautical engineering. Ever the industrious fellow, he and a friend persuaded the faculty to let them use the university's wind tunnel when it was idle. Clients who benefited from his early aerodynamic work included Studebaker, Pierce, and even some Indianapolis racers.

After graduating in 1932, he drove out west to California and secured a job at Lockheed, the company he would stay with throughout his entire career. He proved to be a precocious new hire, telling his new bosses that the plane they had just designed—the Lockheed Electra, which the company was depending upon—wasn't up to scratch. They tasked him with fixing the problem, which he did at his old university wind tunnel in Michigan. The result was the Electra's distinctive double vertical tail, a feature that soon showed up on more Lockheed aircraft.

P-38

A restored P-38 Lightning.

A restored P-38 Lightning.

In the late 1930s with war looming in Europe, the US Army Air Corps was waking up to the need for better aircraft. Lockheed won a contract to develop a new fighter with an unrivaled top speed: 400mph (643km/h). That plane was to be the P-38. It was distinctive-looking plane, with a pair of engines, each in its own boom. The cockpit was in a pod in-between.
The P-38's top speed exposed the plane to an little-understood aerodynamic effect, called compressibility. Essentially, as airspeed increased, shockwaves formed at the leading edge of control surfaces, causing them to lock up and sending the plane into a stall. Although Johnson and his team were unable to solve the problem on the P-38—one that cost several pilots their lives—they were able to ameliorate it with flaps mounted on the wings that would slow the plane enough for control to be regained.

The P-38 proved to be an effective jack-of-all-trades, serving in Europe and the Pacific in a number of roles, including long-range escort, ground attack, night operations, and reconnaissance. Over 10,000 were built throughout the war.

P-80

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The P-38 was fast, but propeller-driven airplanes had their limits, and over in the UK Frank Whittle's new jet engine was about to make them obsolete. In 1943, Johnson proposed the idea of Lockheed building a jet fighter and doing so in an extremely short amount of time—180 days—in order to get it into service to help the war effort. But with Lockheed's Burbank plant already running around the clock to build other planes, he had a problem. There was no space, and few engineers available to help.

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He sought and received permission to set up his own experimental department, which he based in a hangar next to Lockheed's wind tunnel. With his team working 10-hour days, six days a week, the prototype was ready just 143 days later. That plane was the P-80 Shooting Star. It arrived too late to have an impact in WWII, but (renamed the F-80) it went on serve in Korea, and a training variant—called the T-33—was in service well into the 1980s.

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Though officially named the ADP unit (first for "Advanced Development Projects" and then "Advanced Development Programs"), Johnson's experimental aircraft unit became known informally within Lockheed as the "Skunk Works," a reference to one of the characters in the comic strip L'il Abner, who would brew up a foul "skonk oil" in an unspecified and secret location. The name was formally adopted by Lockheed in the 1960s, and the term "skunk works" has since become shorthand for any kind of advanced research and development unit within a company.

F-104

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Next up was the F-104 Starfighter, a single-engined interceptor that could give pilots two things they wanted after their experience in Korea: speed and altitude.It would be capable of twice the speed of sound, and to do so, it was shaped like a rocket, with stubby, extremely thin, razor-sharp wings.

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The F-104 first flew in 1954 and was quickly dubbed "the missile with a man in it" due to its Mach 2-plus top rated speed. However, many of the features that made the F-104 so quick also made it a difficult to fly–most notably those stubby wings. That problem was compounded on early models with an ejector seat that fired down through the bottom of the cockpit. Ejection at low altitude cost many pilots their lives.

The F-104 is looked at as an icon, and it set a number of speed and altitude records, but looked at dispassionately it wasn't a particularly efficient or effective airplane. The US Air Force bought fewer than 300, retiring them all by 1965. Several thousand were built for other countries—helped in part by bribery scandals. In West Germany it killed more than 100 pilots, earning nicknames like "the flying coffin" and "the widowmaker."

U-2

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By the mid-1950s, Johnson and the Skunk Works' reputation for delivering new planes within rapid timeframes attracted the attention of the CIA, which wanted a reconnaissance jet that could fly at extremely high altitude. He was given the contract to develop this jet in 1954—and the result was the U-2.

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The U-2 began flying at Groom Lake in Nevada (better known as Area 51) in 1955. Designed to operate at 70,000 feet (21,336m), it resembled a glider with very long, straight wings to maximize lift in the thin upper atmosphere. It was not an easy plane to fly—when operating at altitude, there was just 12mph (19km/h) between its maximum and stall speeds. In spite of the plane's quirks, the U-2 was adopted into service and became the main platform for the United States' photoreconnaissance program, being flown by civilian CIA pilots over communist skies from bases in Germany, Turkey, and Pakistan. The USAF was impressed enough by the U-2 to order its own run of the spy jets in 1956, though the Air Force used the plane under much stricter PARPRO (Peacetime Aerial Reconnaissance Program) rules, where overflights of denied territory were strictly avoided.

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This was before the days of reconnaissance satellites, and flights over the USSR gave the CIA much-needed information about their secretive enemy. It was thought that the U-2's operating altitude would keep it safe from soviet surface-to-air missiles, an assumption that proved horribly incorrect on May 1st 1960, when Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Sverdlovsk, causing an international incident. Manned flights over Soviet territory came to end with Powers' capture, although the U-2 continues to play a valuable role even today.

The Blackbird

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Finally, we get to the almighty Blackbird—for many the ne plus ultra of flying machines. Although most folks are most familiar with the SR-71 variant, the Blackbird family actually began life thanks (again) to the CIA and Project Oxcart. Even as the U-2 was entering service in 1956, it was recognized that it would shortly be vulnerable to the Soviet's new SA-2 SAM (although it took another four years for this to be proved without a doubt). The solution would be to somehow design a plane that could fly even higher than the U-2—above 90,000 feet (27,432m)—and much, much faster: more than three times the speed of sound (2455mph/3951km/h at altitude). The new plane would also incorporate design features that helped reduce its radar cross-section, something we now call "stealth."

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In 1958 and 1959 Johnson presented the CIA with design proposals for the new aircraft, before being awarded the contract to build 12 at the end of January 1960. Oxcart would require advances in a number of fields to meet its extreme performance targets. It would be made from titanium to withstand the heating imposed by flying at Mach 3—titanium that ended up being ironically sourced from the same USSR the plane was meant to surveil. (Steel, as used in the XB-70 was considered and then rejected as it required a clean-room environment.)

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Working with titanium meant learning a whole new bag of tricks. Cadmium-plated tools were discovered to "poison" the metal, so they had to be banned from tool boxes. Spot welds failed if they were performed in the summer but not winter, a problem that was traced to chlorine contamination in Burbank's water (chlorine was added during the summer months to keep algae under control). Drill bits destroyed themselves after 17 holes until special ones were imported from West Germany. And so it went.

New fuels would also be necessary to power the mighty J58 engines, which operated partially as turbojets and partially as ramjets—and which were designed to cruise on afterburners engaged. Liquid hydrogen was considered and then abandoned due to the inconvenience it would create when operating abroad or refueling in-flight. Coal slurries were investigated and then rejected for damaging turbine blades. Boron slurries played havoc with injectors and afterburners. Eventually a special blend of hydrocarbon fuel (called JP-7) was developed, capable of handling temperatures between -67˚C (-90˚F) and 345˚C (650˚F).

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The extreme range of operating temperatures meant the plane also needed special hydraulic fluid, bespoke plastics, and custom-manufactured avionics, too. One by one the problems were eliminated; one of the most daunting was the inlet design for the J58, which would use movable spikes to modulate the intake of air into the engines across a huge range of airspeeds. Ben Rich, the Lockheed engineer who worked under Johnson and would eventually replace him as head of the Skunk Works when Johnson retired, claimed in his autobiography that tackling the engineering challenge of the spiked inlet design "took about twenty of the best years off my life."

The issues were all eventually solved through careful engineering, and the first Blackbird—officially known as the Lockheed A-12—was transported to Groom Lake and flew in 1962. The A-12 was used exclusively by the CIA from 1967-1968, and then was retired because of a complicated multi-front political battle in Washington (the rapidly maturing KEYHOLE spy satellite program was seen by many as a more appropriate use of CIA dollars, and the Air Force was also uneasy with the CIA operating its own "rogue" fleet of aircraft). But the Blackbird story was only getting started.

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The USAF was first offered a high-altitude, two-seat interceptor version of the Blackbird, called the YF-12, and it ordered three test planes in 1960. The YF-12A first flew in 1963, and the following year the aircraft was announced to the world by President Lyndon Johnson (no relation to Kelly), in part to give some official cover to the CIA's A-12s. The "Blackbird as high speed fighter/interceptor" idea had some support in the Air Force, and an order was placed for 93 F-12B production aircraft in 1965, before being cancelled due to budget constraints imposed as a result of fighting an insurgency halfway around the world (gee, that sounds familiar).

Even though the Air Force abandoned the idea of a Blackbird fighter, it then ordered its own reconnaissance version of the A-12 in 1962, designated the SR-71. Slightly less capable than the A-12 (it flew a little slower, was longer and heavier, and in its first-generation form had slightly inferior cameras and sensors, though that was quickly remedied), the two-seat SR-71 went into service in 1966 and began a long and successful service life. SR-71s operated from the US, UK, and Okinawa, Japan, and flew sorties over Vietnam, China, North Korea, North Africa, the Middle East, and elsewhere.

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Sadly, a lack of support from the Pentagon in the 1980s doomed the Blackbird—it turns out that Air Force generals like to brag about the size of their wings, and classified aircraft you can't talk about don't make for good bragging. The SR-71 program survived within the Air Force mostly because SR-71 pilots and squadron commanders were promoted up in the Pentagon, and eventually as the 1980s dawned, the plane's supporters retired or moved on with their careers. Plans to update its sensors and add satellite links were rejected, and its critics attacked it as expensive to operate and a waste of time. Dick Cheney in particular hated the SR-71, and in 1989 the mighty Mach 3 spy plane was formally retired. NASA continued to fly a pair of Blackbirds as research craft and the SR-71 program underwent a brief reactivation in the 1990s, but today all of the remaining titanium-bodied birds are museum pieces.

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Nightmare On Elm Street Artist Releases New Poster For 1991’s Freddy’s Dead

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A Nightmare on Elm Street artist Matthew Peak releases a brand new poster for 1991 sequel Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. Wes Craven's original horror masterpiece was released back in 1984, and Peak was the man responsible for the iconic poster. Peak would then go on to hand-paint the posters for several of Nightmare on Elm Street's sequels.

After five twisted movies about the man with knives for fingers, New Line Cinema decided it was time to officially kill off Freddy Krueger. While that was the way the film was marketed in the 1990s, Robert Englund would return as Freddy for Wes Craven's New Nightmare and also Freddy vs. Jason in 2003. The sixth film in the A Nightmare on Elm Street series takes place in a world where Krueger successfully killed almost every child and teenager in Springwood, Ohio. Freddy's Dead sees the dream demon going head to head with a new group of teenagers, as well as his daughter (played by Lisa Zane). Freddy's Dead was panned by critics upon its release, but now fans of the film can feast their eyes on a brand new poster.

Peak has come out with a new poster for Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, which he's currently selling on Bottleneck Art Gallery. The artist is currently offering two different versions of the poster (text or textless), both of which are limited edition prints. The new poster features some of the most memorable images from the film including the dream demons and the 3D glasses, the latter of which was used as a marketing ploy for the film. Peak's new poster for Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare can be viewed below.

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While certain sequels to A Nightmare on Elm Street, specifically Freddy's Dead, didn't do great with critics, there's no denying that Freddy has become a horror icon right up there with Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees. The series received a remake in 2010 with Jackie Earle Haley in the role of Freddy, but there have also been rumors about another Nightmare on Elm Street reboot for quite some time now. While that movie hasn't really come together just yet, Englund did appear on last year's Halloween episode of The Goldbergs, which was the first time he'd played the character since 2003. Englund has teased that he might be up for playing Freddy in one last movie, and Heather Langenkamp (Nancy Thompson) is even eager to do another sequel.

Even though there aren't any concrete details on a new Nightmare on Elm Street movie, fans still have plenty of artwork to keep them preoccupied until more news comes out. With as popular as A Nightmare on Elm Street has become since the 1980s, fan art has never really stopped, but fans will likely be thrilled to see the original poster artist return to the franchise. Even if they didn't necessarily enjoy the sixth A Nightmare on Elm Street movie, most fans will be eager to get their hands on this limited edition poster for Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare. 

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Emory’s Porsche 356 RSR Bridges The Gap Between Classic & Contemporary

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If you’ve been following the Porsche brand for any length of time, you’d know that the 356 is widely considered to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing cars they’ve ever produced. From purists to privateers, the lust for a classically-inclined example transcends that of the German manufacturer’s other offerings — and now, a Los Angeles-based restoration company helmed by Porsche specialist Rod Emory has done the unthinkable by bridging the gap between the classic car and its modern-day counterparts.

The 1960 Porsche 356 RSR Coupe is an exercise in insanity — a short order for Emory’s aptly named LA workshop, Emory Design. Built as an homage to the Porsche works 935 competition cars of the 1970s, the bestial 356 exudes an aura of pure criminality (harkening back to its roots as one of the company’s “Outlaw” variants), while retaining much of the poise that defines the brand. The preservation of the car’s original DNA was no afterthought — Emory and his team established a strict adherence to the design language of the classic Porsche, combining aspects of both the 911 and the 356 to create the masterpiece that you see before you. Beyond the platform’s striking aesthetic presence, the inclusion of a 2.4-liter “Outlaw-4” twin-turbocharged engine (a first for the car), Rothsport fuel injection, and Motec-managed ignition bring the RSR to a substantial 400-horsepower. But, as with most of Emory’s projects, there’s much more going on behind the scenes — a 90s-era 964 C2 chassis outfitted with all-original suspension pick-up points and a hand-formed nose, tail, deck, and bonnet give way to the car’s adopted 964 suspension and steering systems. The RSR’s interior is dressed accordingly — boasting custom 911-inspired seating, fiberglass footboards/dash caps, and MOMO peripherals from head to toe.

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ROLLS-ROYCE CHAMPAGNE CHEST

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Each Rolls-Royce product is a work of art, from their sought-after vehicles to this luxurious champagne chest. To create the chest, Rolls-Royce used the same approach and materials they employ on their vehicles, including a chassis made from machined aluminum and carbon fiber that is covered in natural grain black leather and flanked by Tudor Oak. The newest member of the Rolls-Royce Bespoke Design Collective, the chest opens to reveal a champagne set for four and an exterior lid that turns into a serving tray made from Tudor Oak with a laser-cut stainless steel inlay. The interior is illuminated from the central bay, and details include four hand-blown crystal champagne flutes, two hammocks in "Hotspur Red" Rolls-Royce leather to hold champagne, caviar, or canapés. Everything in this remarkable chest is kept at a perfect temperature via thermal champagne coolers made from black anodized aluminum. $47,500

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AI SPACEFACTORY MARSHA MARS HABITAT

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Life on Mars is closer than you think. Many companies have already begun working on transportation to and from the Red Planet, and now a housing solution is in the works. NASA sent out a call through their Centennial Challenge, seeking the greatest architectural talents to design a habitat that could stand up to the conditions on Mars. AI SpaceFactory answered with MARSHA. The award-winning dwelling is a 15-foot interplanetary structure. Its pod-like form is 3D printed using biodegradable and recyclable basalt composite — a native Martian material that is strong and durable enough to handle pressure, smoke, and impact. The interior is spread throughout four levels and consists of "human-centric" features to support a life mostly lived indoors. Their design beat out 60 other entries and earned them a $500,000 prize.

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LEGENT BOURBON

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Centuries of Kentucky bourbon-making heritage collide with Japanese whiskey blending artistry in this unique spirit. Legent begins with a historic recipe from Fred Noe's family, and after distillation and some time aging in new charred oak, the legendary Jim Beam Master Distiller transferred the whiskey to sherry and red wine casks. Suntory Master Blender Shinji Fukuyo steps in next, blending the bourbon together into an expertly balanced final product. The rare collaboration steps beyond bourbon's typical boundaries and is bottled at 94 proof at a very generous price. $35.00

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