The following was submitted for publication by a reader who asked to remain anonymous — Rob
I just finished Pirate Cinema and felt the need to write something about it, because it concerns a cause that's near to my heart. I saw myself in protagonist Trent McCauley, who makes new movies by chopping up footage from popular films, despite the consequences of getting his Internet taken away or being fined or imprisoned in the book's near-future scenario.
This is because I do the same thing. I'm one of those people who remixes different media and posts the finished pieces online. I combine Japanese television dramas, films, PVs, and clips from variety shows with mostly American songs, however, because I like the contrast of Japanese visual media with American music.
Yesterday I posted an illustration by the famed pulp illustrator Norm Saunders. Coincidentally, Abrams ComicArts just released a book commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Mars Attacks trading cards, which the Topps Company issued in 1962. Saunders' lurid paintings for the series depicted a horrific invasion of Earth by hideous looking Martians with giant exposed brains and rictus leers. When parents discovered the gruesome, violent, and sexually explicit images on the cards, Topps was forced to pull them off the shelves, making them instant collectors' items.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Mars Attacks, this comprehensive book is the first-ever compilation of the infamous science-fiction trading card series produced by Topps in 1962. Edgy, subversive, and darkly comedic, this over-the-top series depicting a Martian invasion of Earth has a loyal following and continues to win new generations of fans. For the first time, this book brings together high-quality reproductions of the entire original series, as well as the hard-to-find sequel from 1994, rare and never-before-seen sketches, concept art, and test market materials. Also included are an introduction by series co-creator Len Brown and an afterword by Zina Saunders, daughter of the original artist, providing an insider's behind-the-scenes view of the bizarre and compelling world of Mars Attacks.
We're doing a few Judge John Hodgman shows in New York. We just sold out our show Monday night and added one on Sunday night. We'll have special guests (very special guests), and I will be wearing a real bailiff outfit based on Bull from Night Court.
Also, importantly, we are looking for litigants, so if anyone has a personal dispute to be judged by The Judge, they should send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and include their phone number(s) and a note that they're local to NYC.
Ruben Bolling alerted me to this cool website. You enter a month and year, and it will return a page of thumbnail images of all the comic books that were available on newsstands for that month. Above, a few of the comic books available in February 1973, the month that I first became seriously interested in comic books, mainly because I discovered Jack Kirby's Kamandi.
Photographer and porn performer Kimberly Kane interviews friends and fellow adult film travelers Zak Sabbath and Mandy Morbid in Vice. "Last year, Mandy was diagnosed with Ehlers–Danlos syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes loose joints, damage to blood vessels, and skin that stretches and bruises easily. Her diagnosis was a relief in some ways. For years, doctors had no idea what was causing her debilitating pain, and her health deteriorated until she was often unable to get out of bed, let alone work. Some days are better than others, but if Mandy leaves the house she must do so in a wheelchair or with a cane."
Among my favorite parts of New York Comic Con was getting to interview Rod Maxwell, special effects makeup artist and a (sadly, former) contestant on Syfy's competition show, Face Off. He's been working with the anti-smoking campaign The Truth to create the Flavor Monster, a freaky embodiment of how cigarette manufacturers target teenagers and young adults by adding appealing flavors to tobacco products. Maxwell's involvement isn't just artistic, it's personal. But we also talk about his awesome makeup skills and his time on the show. For instance: Is everyone really that bad at managing their time? (By the way, in case you've been watching Face Off, his arm is doing great!)
You can purchase the sheet music for John Cage's 4' 33" from Sheet Music Plus. It's $5.95 and that will be money well spent. (For those not hip to this challenging 1952 composition, it is a classic of avant-garde music in which the performer plays nothing for the duration of the piece.) "4' 33" sheet music(Thanks, Syd Garon!)
With just a day to go, my favorite San Francisco singer/songwriter Diana Gameros is approaching her Kickstarter goal to fund the recording of her first full-length album. As I've posted before, Diana "creates soulful, passionate, and enchanting music infused with her Latin heritage… She was born in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, (and) writes songs that reflect the 21st century experiences of a young indie artist at the borderlands between cultures, languages, and genres." The pledge rewards range from digital downloads to a house concert to an opportunity to busk with Diana. ¡Buena suerte, Diana! Diana Gameros Kickstarter
(Full disclosure: My 6-year-old son is one of Diana's many backing vocalists.)
Graphic designer Peter Saville tells the fascinating story of the iconic cover art he created for the 1979 Joy Division album Unknown Pleasures. The intriguing graphic, which has turned up on everything from T-shirts to tattoos, is a data visualization of the signal emanating from the first pulsar to be observed by scientists. The video was directed by Eric Klotz & Volkert Besseling for the Visualized Conference, which takes place November 8 & 9 in New York City.
The subject was particularly challenging: because the hare's fur lay in different directions and the animal was mottled with lighter and darker patches all over, Dürer had to adapt the standard conventions of shading to indicate the outline of the subject by the fall of light across the figure. Despite the technical challenges presented in rendering the appearance of light with a multi-coloured, multi-textured subject, Dürer not only managed to create a detailed, almost scientific, study of the animal but also infuses the picture with a warm golden light that hits the hare from the left, highlighting the ears and the run of hair along the body, giving a spark of life to the eye, and casting a strange shadow to the right.
We've hit the halfway mark on the Humble Ebook Bundle, a name-your-price, support-for-charity, DRM-free ebook promotion. With one week to go, we've added in FIVE more books: XKCD Volume 0; Zach Weiner's Save Yourself, Mammal and The Most Dangerous Game; Penny Arcade: Attack of the Bacon Robots; and Penny Arcade: Epic Legends of the Magic Sword Kings.
If you've already bought the bundle and paid more than the average, these are unlocked and ready for you to download. If you're new to the bundle, you have seven days to buy these ones. Don't miss out!
Update: Derp -- misunderstood who got the new titles! If you've paid, they're yours.
(Video link) Right before New York Comic Con's Evil Dead panel (which I could not resist writing about first, because it's what I like to call "my jam") was the panel for the remake of Carrie, directed by Kimberly Peirce and starring Julianne Moore and Chloë Grace Moretz, all of whom were in attendance along with producer Kevin Bishop. I'd have to say that the audience was a little more resigned to a remake of Carrie than they were to Evil Dead (maybe because Carrie has been remade a couple of times already), but it didn't make the discussion any less entertaining.
Ransom Riggs, author of the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, is a collector of vernacular photography. Maggie posted about his collection several years ago. And his Miss Peregrine's novel featured a number of those great old snapshots in the book. (The beautiful and weird photo on the cover recently sold on eBay for $600!) Since then, Riggs has compiled his favorite snaps into a new book just published today: Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past." Importantly, the book also reproduces the curious notes and captions scrawled on the backs of the prints.
Today I stopped in at the Whitman Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library to participate in the Field Family Teen Author Series, which distributes books to teens, then brings their authors in to speak about them. The kids' librarian at the branch was the brilliant Heather Warren, who's overseen a total overhaul of the way kids' services are provided at her branch. She also has a completely awesome kids'-literature-inspired sleeve tattoo (done by Bird of the Black Vulture Gallery, which she graciously allowed me to photograph and post here. Thanks, Heather! (And thanks to the Aurora and the folks from the Fields Series and the kids who came down, too!)
This year is the 30th anniversary of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Above is a clip from Henry Thomas's audition for the roll of Elliott. In a recent Esquire interview, Thomas recalled his audition for Steven Spielberg:
I read a scene from some early version of the script, and then I was asked to do an improvisation. I think the gist of the improv was, "You found someone, and they're going to take them away from you, and it's your friend, and you really don't want your friend to go away." So I started crying, and really going for it I guess.
For the last year or two I have been using a free location–sharing app on my iPhone called Glympse. It's purpose is simple: when you are driving somewhere to meet someone, the app generates a URL so they can see where you are on a map and track your progress as you are driving.
Today, Glympse introduced a new version of the application, and it has interesting improvements.
Glympse Groups allows users to share and interact via common activities, such as sporting or industry events, meetings or social gatherings. Glympse reveals group members’ real-time locations on a map for a set amount of time, encouraging local interaction and social discovery.
Glympse allows users to automatically schedule location updates to everyone associated with a specific calendar event, virtually replacing the need for “Running Late” or “On my way” emails, texts or phone calls.
When Glympse first debuted, it made it fast and easy for users to “Share Your Where” with others, for a specified period of time without creating yet another network. Now, the new Glympse turns the tables and makes it just as easy to ask your friends, family, and colleagues, “Where are you?” With the new “Request a Glympse” feature, users simply send a request via text or email and recipients can instantly accept and start broadcasting their location for the given time period.
Plinth's "Collected Machine Music" is the latest from Aquarius-beloved label Time Released Sound, whose releases are as much art as music, an insane amount of time and energy put into the packaging for every release. This one comes from an artist called Plinth, whose strange and wondrous music is created using a collection of calliopes and Victorian music boxes, antique sound makers and wheezing creaking mechanisms from way back when.
The Massey Lectures are an annual event in Canada, where one person gives five different public speeches over the course of a month. This year, the speaker is theoretical physicist Neil Turok. He's also the director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Institute is sponsoring a contest where you can win tickets to the lectures (there are two left) or copies of Turok's latest book. The grand prize, though, is the really exciting bit. One lucky winner will get a 7-day trip for two to both the Perimeter Institute and CERN (home of the Large Hadron Collider). Feeling lucky? Enter your name in the drawing by October 24.
Allow your skepticism about the new Evil Dead movie to die now. This weekend, New York Comic Con attendees were treated to exclusive footage of the movie that is not a reboot, nor a remake, but a new entry in the classic horror franchise. And it was sick. I'll admit, I got a little choked up like a mother watching her daughter nail a ballet recital. A bootleg version of the footage is floating around today (for the moment), but when I tell you it doesn't come near the impact felt by those of us in the IGN audience, I'm not exaggerating. We felt collectively punched in the face. And then, there was Bruce Fucking Campbell.
It's not sympathy for ViolentAcrez that moves me, but rather contempt for the deep hypocrisy of Gawker, along with its always-hilarious sanctimony of convenience. I would argue that, in fact, Gawker's writers and audience partake in essentially the same thing that many Redditors who frequent the uglier sub-Reddits do: being titillated, in various ways, by content that they simultaneously disclaim and enjoy.
Without casting aspersions on deBoer's motives here, I can't help but notice that this looks a lot like the oldest steering trick in the book: if you don't like something that someone has written (or the journalist who wrote it), try and associate it with the publisher.
I'm happy this documentary about the incredible recording pioneer Joe Meek is going to get funded. It's a project nine years in the making.
Who is Joe Meek?
Born in 1929 and raised in rural Newent, England, Joe Meek spent his youth working on his family's farm while dreaming of recording sound, creating music and making records. Realizing that he didn't fit in, either socially (he was a closeted homosexual) or professionally, Joe eventually made the necessary move to London to explore his true, driven ambition.
By the mid-1950's, Joe Meek was one of the UK's most requested recording engineers (working for producers like George Martin) – an upstart talent who refused to play by anyone else’s rules in an industry that was ALL rules.
By the end of the decade he had broken away from the major studios and did the unthinkable: he became England’s first independent pop record producer. By the early 1960’s, he was recording #1 chart hits from a converted home studio in a then-dodgy area of London – including his masterpiece, TELSTAR; to this date the most successful pop instrumental ever recorded.
Considered a Svengali by some in the industry, Joe nurtured hundreds of teen artists such as Jimmy Page (later of The Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin), Steve Howe (of Yes and Asia), Ritchie Blackmore (later of Deep Purple and Rainbow), session guitarist extraordinaire Big Jim Sullivan and Chas Hodges (of Chas 'n Dave) that helped define new, exciting, commercial sounds and produced pop/rock records that were the first specifically targeted at the post-WWII teen market.
Sign of the end-times part MMMLXVII: Justin Bieber duct-tape is a thing. "Containing four black and white images of the teen idol and incorporating hints of his favorite color -- purple -- the tape is sure to be a number one hit with 'Beliebers' everywhere."
I recently wrote about a meaningful gift I received from my friend Michael Pusateri, at the end of my primary treatment for breast cancer: this wonderful medal. So, today, Michael explains how to order one yourself. Give one to a cancer patient in your life! It's a really cool way to recognize what can be a confusing, ambiguous, strangely depressing milestone. Before all the "what's next" and "what if" thoughts take over, taking a moment to acknowledge the importance of that milestone is really beautiful.
I met Jimmy Lin last year at TED. He's a research instructor at Washington University in St. Louis and founder of the Rare Genomics Institute, a "non-profit that makes cutting edge research technologies and experts accessible to rare disease patients." Today, Jimmy announced a rare disease competition for the best research proposal. He says:
Today, Rare Genomics Institute and Assay Depot announced an innovative international contest to catalyze rare disease research. Rare diseases affect over 250 million people worldwide, yet less than five percent of the 7,000 known rare diseases have any therapy. We have gathered 19 companies to donate $400,000 worth of cutting edge technology, services, and cash. Our hope is that this will encourage non-profits, academic researchers, rare disease advocacy groups, families of rare disease patients and for-profit companies to collaborate to advance rare disease research. In addition to expert scientific review, we will also be awarding a $10,000 prize for the best idea that will be determined by Facebook voting.