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The old Ripley's Believe it or Not newspaper comic had a huge and lasting impact on me as a youngster. Neal Thompson has just published his new biography of Ripley, titled "A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Judging by Megan Abbot's lengthy review in the Los Angeles Review of Books, it sounds like terrific read!
An intrepid, curious traveler, Ripley roamed not just to see renowned wonders and not just to drink and tomcat (though he would do both, vigorously, through his entire life), but to unearth the unusual, the hidden, the specific. His travel dispatches, laden with stereotypes of the day, reflect Ripley’s private obsessions — in particular, “the inexplicable things people did for their gods,” particularly if they appeared, to American eyes, grotesque, such as the man Ripley dubs the “Hanging Hindu,” an adherent dangling from a tree via a hook stuck in his back."A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not!” (Amazon)
Ripley’s complicated relation to “the Other” is one Thompson explores in depth. He locates in Ripley a genuine desire to burrow into the cultures he explores and share the glories and mysteries of other places. But, in large part, the comic’s success hinged on Ripley’s expert skill not at penetration but at sensationalization.
"Megan Abbott on A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It Or Not!” Ripley" (Los Angeles Review of Books)
Japanese designer toy firm Medicom worked with Herman Makkink to recreate an edition of his iconic sculpture "The Rocking Machine," famously seen in the film A Clockwork Orange. It's almost three feet long and more than a foot wide. You can have one one of your very own for $1600 or so. "The Rocking Machine" (via Death Waltz Recording Company)
From the February 22, 1975 episode of Soul Train, the marvelous jam "Summer Madness" by Kool & The Gang, whose slick suits beat robot helmets any year.
The Wire posted a small photo gallery of electronic and avant-garde musicians and their studios, including Atom, Pierre Henry, and Terry Riley. Above, JG "Foetus" Thirlwell's Brooklyn studio photographed by Daniëlle van Ark. At right, Madlib at home in Los Angeles, shot byJeremy & Claire Weiss. "Studio Envy"
...California is a no-fault state, meaning the dissolution of our marriage didn’t require a showing of wrongdoing by either person. Thank. God. Because I did some serious wrongdoing. There were addiction issues (mine) and excessive career demands (his). I got lost for a while. There are an endless amount of bad choices to be made if one wants to focus their attention away from a divorce. I drank. I started smoking again. I became a crappy friend. These choices caused a shit-ton of wreckage that I now have to work through as well. So don’t do that. Look at the divorce as an opportunity to grow, not an excuse to go backwards."How To Survive A Divorce"
The legality of splitting up is absolutely overwhelming. California is a community property state, meaning all the crap you acquire during your marriage is equally owned. So there’s the potentially nail-biting adventure of dividing up furniture, plates, art, and everything else. We didn’t have this problem. Neither of us cared much for stuff.
Could the flickering and winking of some stars be a kind of Morse Code that extraterrestrials are using to communicate across space? Princeton University astrophysicist Lucianne Walkowicz and her colleagues are exploring that very question. Her team is using algorithms to sift data from the space observatory Kepler for flickering patterns that don't appear to be the result of passing planets, sunspots, eclipses, or other known reasons. “What would lead us to say it really is an alien signal?” she asks. “I don’t know, but in my book, finding things you can’t explain is interesting no matter what it is."
And just to be clear, this has nothing to do with the star twinkling that we see, which is caused by atmospheric turbulence on Earth. Or so they'd like us to think. "Flickering Stars: Could Aliens Be Sending Us Signals?" (Thanks, Jake Dunagan!)
Here are the first 20 years of Wired covers in less than 30 seconds. I met Mark in 1993 around Wired's birth when we both worked at the magazine. I was Mark's intern! My first day on the job, Mark brought me downstairs to meet his wife Carla Sinclair who was editor of bOING bOING the print 'zine that I had been reading since 1990. Mark and Carla assigned me an article on the spot, handed me a half-empty bottle of Vasopressin, and we quickly became best pals. Ah, the good ol' daze.
Austrian avant-garde filmmaker Peter Tscherkassky makes compelling cut-up movies from "found" 16mm and 35mm footage and samples from other movies. All of the frames and clips are treated in the darkroom, without digital tools. For Outer Space (1999), seen above, Tscherkassky chopped up and decolorized bits from The Entity, a 1982 horror film starring Barbara Hershey.
Carlo Zapponi created Bolides, a fantastic animated visualization of meteorites that have been seen hitting the Earth. The data source is the Nomenclature Committee of the Meteoritical Society's Meteorite Bulletin. "The word bolide comes from Greek βολίς bolis, which means missile. Astronomers tend to use bolide to identify an exceptionally bright fireball, particularly one that explodes." Bolides
At last night's opening for Camille Rose Garcia's breathtaking "Down The Rabbit Hole" painting exhibition at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, I bought a copy of Camille's illustrated edition of Snow White. This is not Disney's delightful Snow White story though, but rather the darker, creepier tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. Camille's goth-inspired, phantasmagoric fine art bring the classic story to life once again. Snow White by the Brothers Grimm and Camille Rose Garcia (Amazon)
BB contributor Mark Dery says:
Rick Poynor, an unapproachably brilliant writer on design and visual culture, has generously posted at Design Observer the glossary of Surrealist concepts from his catalog to an exhibition of Czech Surrealist works. BB readers should print this out and keep it within handy reach on the night table, to be repurposed as a road atlas for dreaming.