Boing Boing 

Drew Friedman visits MAD Magazine, 1974

Mad Souvenir

In 1974, my favorite portrait artist Drew Friedman, then 15-years-old, visited the offices of MAD Magazine. And all he got was the crummy souvenir above. Actually, he also got a terrific blog post out of it that he's just now published. From Drew's site:

 -Mfy2Y3Dii9U Ub7U2P Pgmi Aaaaaaaad2C Opkhacm1Tdm S1600 Mad:Gaines007

(MAD publisher) Bill Gaines' office was a cluttered, messy mini-museum, filled with Zeppelin artifacts (he was obsessed with dirigibles, King Kong and the Statue of Liberty), A human skull (which he told me belonged to his father) stacks of MAD's and EC comics book collections and comic fan magazines (Squa Tront, etc). Instead of a view of the New York skyline, the lone window had a giant King Kong head peering in…

Amongst the debris and wall decor there was of course a lot of MAD and EC items, including 3 large framed color paintings above his desk depicting the three EC horror mascots, the Vault Keeper, the Crypt Keeper and the Old Witch, all of which I studied up close. I was in heaven…

"A Visit to MAD Magazine"

Wall ... explodes?

During the storm a couple of nights ago, we heard an almighty thunderclap and our dogs came dashing into the house. Once the rain ebbed and we went outside, we found this scene just around the corner: a wall apparently blown to pieces, with cinderblock chunks thrown as far as 40 or 50 feet. It seems too far for a plain old wall collapse. Could that have been caused by the lightning strike? If so, how? Steam pressure from the waterlogged bricks being suddenly superheated, like a tree strike?

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Singularity and its skeptics, in haiku

Jill from Tachyon Books sez, "Is the Rapture of the Nerds just around the corner? Or is the Vingean posthuman technological Singularity the biggest myth since Y2K? You know—and you can prove it in verse. Post or email (tachyon@tachyonpublications.com) Tachyon a haiku that is either pro- (it's totally gonna happen) or con- (as if!) Singularity. There will be two winners, one for each argument. In addition to getting a signed copy of Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology, attendees at Chicon 7, the World Science Fiction Convention, will be treated to A FREE LUNCH with James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel."

Neal Stephenson's Some Remarks, a remarkable essay collection

Neal Stephenson is a talented essayist, a fact that anyone who read his seminal In the Beginning... Was the Command Line will be aware of. Some of the finest moments in his fiction is really nonfiction, essays that make up part of the story, which some critics take umbrage at. I love it. I happen to love discursive novels. But that said, Stephenson's essays are even more enjoyable than the discursions in his novels, which is saying something.

Some Remarks is a new collection of mostly reprinted, mostly nonfiction. I've read nearly every word in this collection before, some of it multiple times, but nevertheless found it to be a breezy, fast, and thoroughly enjoyable read.

The collection is dominated by Mother Earth Mother Board a "hacker tourist" travelogue that tells the story of the FLAG transoceanic cable, a pioneering privately funded project that was originally published in Wired magazine, which deserves kudos for having the bravery to commission an essay that runs to more than 100 pages in this 300-page book. This essay still stands as a kind of Moby-Dick for undersea cabling, a ferociously detailed, gripping account of an obscure but vital field that manages to be both highly technical and highly dramatic. I found my 2012 re-read of this essay much different from my original reading of it in 1996, in particular because of all the references to politics in middle eastern countries like Libya and Egypt, which have been so much in the news lately. There's a little frisson of history-in-the-making from this essay, as you realize that the establishment of redundant, high-speed network links into the region prefigured a vast, global change that we are still experiencing.

There are many other pieces in this book, including two pretty good short stories (Stephenson readily admits that he's at his best with fiction at much longer lengths), as well as some classic interviews and a speech in which Stephenson lays out a theory of the sort of work that he writes and its place relative to literature and culture.

There's an unabashedly esoteric and absolutely delightful account of Leibniz's metaphysics, and an evocative piece on life as a child in a midwestern college town. In short, there is the sort of highly varied and erudite contrasts that make Stephenson's novels so pleasurable (and important).

Stephenson lightly edited these essays to remove anachronistic irrelevancies, but some of them still stand as perfect reflections of the period in which they were written, time capsules and core samples of the heroic days of the early commercial Internet. This is, in short, a fantastic book and an indispensable companion to Stephenson's canon.

I'm also delighted to note that there's a Brilliance audio MP3CD unabridged audiobook edition.

Some Remarks

(Image: Neal Stephenson Answers Questions, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from jmpk's photostream)

Brain Rot: Hip Hop Family Tree, Soul Train and more...

Read the rest of the Hip Hop Family Tree comics!

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First teaser for procedurally-generated Tweedpunk shooter "Sir, You Are Being Hunted"

Just perfect. Can't wait.

The Robotic Arms: Sir, You Are Being Hunted’s Teaser [RPS]