Long lost Robert Anton Wilson book, Starseed Signals, to be published

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RAWIllumination.net announced yesterday that a manuscript by Robert Anton Wilson has been found and will be published by RVP Publishers in the first half of 2017. The manuscript appears to be substantial, weighing in at 340 pages.

RAW and Discordianism scholar Adam Gorightly rediscovered the book and wrote a forward for it. And although the book was never published, it formed the basis for later work, Gorightly writes in his forward: "Starseed Signals laid the foundation for RAW’s landmark work Cosmic Trigger, The Final Secret of the Illuminati, so don’t be surprised if some of the passages in this book seem familiar, to be later lifted and inserted into the Cosmic Trigger narrative."

I assume this book chronicles, at least in part, the period in the early 70s when Wilson and Timothy Leary were convinced that they were in communication with beings from the dog star, Sirius. In the end, RAW wrote off much of the episode to drugs, delusion, and wishful thinking -- and found it all a fascinating experiment in extra-human communications.

[Image via Robert Anton Wilson: The Map Is Not The Territory: The Future Is Not The Past] Read the rest

Learn tools as you put them to use in projects from Make's new tool book

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One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about Charles Platt’s Make: Electronics series (which I instigated as an editor at Make: Books) is his “Learning by Discovery” approach. You learn about electronics by doing the electronics and then learning about the science and engineering behind what you just did. So I was thrilled to see that in Platt’s latest book, Make: Tools, he uses the same project-based learning approach. Here, you do various, mainly wood-based, projects and learn about the tools as they are needed. For instance, in the first project, which is a wooden puzzle, saws are discussed as one is called for, then mitre boxes, clamps, rulers and squares, sanding and finishing tools. In the end, you’ve been introduced to each of the the tools in action and you have a fun puzzle to show for your efforts.

Charles always picks clever projects and Make: Tools is no exception. Projects here include a set of jumbo wooden dice, a pantograph, a Swanee whistle, parquetry, some wooden and plastic boxes, basic bookshelves, and even a few useful shop jigs. Through the course of each chapter, the project reveals the tools needed and explains how they’re used, their features and variations, and any safety precautions. Each chapter is also followed by a fact sheet that delves more deeply into a featured tool or material introduced in the chapter. Charles is known for his intense attention to detail and there’s plenty of evidence of that here. Each of the handsomely-designed pages (photographed and illustrated by Charles and designed by his wife, Erico Platt) has a lot going on and close examination pays off. Read the rest

Master prop fanatic Shawn Thorsson shares his shop secrets

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While at Make: for many years, I had the pleasure of working with and getting to know Shawn Thorsson, author of Make: Props and Costume Armor. Shawn was one of the first serious amateur prop builders that we featured. He and one of his Space Marine costumes even made it onto the cover of the magazine. When Shawn launches a project, he’s like a torpedo in the water. You either get out of the way or you prepare for impact. You can feel this passion for what he does (and how he does it), in person, on his project blog, and thankfully, in the pages of this wonderful new book from Make:.

I love the way Make: Props and Costume Armor is organized. There is an amazing set of sci-fi costume armor and a prop gun (from a comic book called The Final Hunt) on the front cover and a Wolf Warrior costume on the back. The bulk of the book is taken up with each chapter detailing one of the elements of each costume. If you make all of the projects from the book, you will end up with these two very different types of weapons and armor, one sci-fi, one fantasy.

Each chapter examines a different prop-making technique, from vaccumforming to 3D modeling using Pepakura software, to working with EVA foam, and finally, finishing, painting, and weathering. While the book is an amazing introduction and beginner’s guide to prop construction, the text is peppered throughout with enough expert tips and tricks to make this relevant to prop makers and cosplayers of any level of expertise. Read the rest

Stay abreast of all things DIY with the weekly Maker Update show

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Donald Bell, Make:'s former Projects Editor and now a freelance writer for Autodesk, has recently launched a weekly YouTube show, called Maker Update. Every Wednesday morning, Donald presents a recap of his online explorations in making and the maker movement. He covers promising new tools and technologies, some of his favorite projects from sites like Instructables, Thingiverse, and Make:, and he includes a calendar of upcoming Maker Faires from around the world.

As someone who also covers this same territory, I've been surprised at how many cool things Donald has introduced me to. The shows always have a nice mix, all delivered by a talking head Donald in a very straight-forward, likeable, and lighthearted manner. He's only 8 episodes in, but I've already become a big fan and now count Maker Update as part of my weekly must-see maker TV. Read the rest

A Walk in Eden – Anders Nilsen's surrealist paradise is a haunting adult coloring book

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In previous books, like the strange and cinematic Big Questions, Anders Nilsen has used his gorgeous pen and ink, stipple, and hatch technique, amidst generous white space, to create surprisingly dense and dreamy worlds. In A Walk in Eden, he builds a wonderful narrative backdrop, an abandoned Eden, and invites us in to finish it with “magic markers” and our undivided attention. But this isn’t any Eden you’ve imagined or heard of, this is a tripped-out surrealist dream-Eden if drawn by Dali, Ernst Haeckel, and kiddie-show cartoonists (maybe after a little bump of ether). Over the pages, the scale of what you’re looking at, from the seemingly diatomic to full-size flora and fauna, changes until you feel as though you’re really examining this world in a unique and thorough way. The book is really engaging and wants to tell you its stories, as-is, but I can only image how much richer it becomes after coloring it in yourself.

The adult coloring book is all of the rage these days and I, for one, am a fan of this perhaps shortlived, gimmicky genre. A Walk in Eden takes the genre for a stroll in a very fun and promising direction. And like any coloring book worth its bold outlines, it was hard to get through this without wanting to grab my Crayolas, stick my tongue out like a five year old, and start coloring.

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

A Walk in Eden: A Coloring Book by Anders Nilsen by Anders Nilsen Drawn and Quarterly 9.8 x 9.9 x 0.4 inches (softcover) $17 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Help re-illustrate Robert Anton Wilson's "Prometheus Rising" book

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Hilaritas Press, the publishing company started by Illuminatus! co-author (and Boing Boing Patron Saint) Robert Anton Wilson's daughter Christina and Bob's friend Rasa, have been doing a wonderful job re-releasing much of Wilson's back catalog under the new imprint. But they've hit a snag. New Falcon Publications, RAW's previous publisher, claims to own the Israel Regardie intro and the comic illustrations in Bob's popular title Prometheus Rising and they're apparently not interested in negotiating with Hilaritas on a license to use them. So, Christina and Rasa are turning to RAW's fanbase and the online art community in search of worthy new illustrations to replace the existing ones. Rasa writes:

I have mixed feelings about this whole endeavor. I’ve always loved the cartoons in Prometheus Rising, and I really hate to see them go, but the previous publisher’s poor printing in subsequent editions of Prometheus Rising left a lot of the images in a very poor state – something we lamented in putting together our new edition. However, Bob was an optimist, and in that same spirit, both Christina and I are looking forward to this opportunity to update this amazingly relevant book for the delight of both new and old readers.

They only have until November 15th to replace the art (37 pieces!) and the introduction. A tall order. I would love to see a pie in the face of this flapdoodled foolishness and see RAW's optimism properly served with a new introduction by someone equally as iconic as Israel Regardie and a new set of incredible cartoons. Read the rest

Cheap Novelties – RAW's Julius Knipl, real estate photographer, finally finds a suitable home

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Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay by Ben Katchor Drawn and Quarterly 2016, 112 pages, 8.8 x 10.9 x 0.7 inches (hardcover) $23 Buy a copy on Amazon

Like a lot of bourgeois bohemians in the 1990s, I was a huge fan of the RAW comics anthologies which, among other incredible discoveries, introduced me to the work of Ben Katchor. One might not think that a comic strip about urban architecture, culture, city development and decay, real estate photography, memory, and loss would make very compelling comics, but then you probably haven’t met Katchor’s beloved comic strip character, Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer.

Cheap Novelties: The Pleasures of Urban Decay, a collection of Katchor’s Knipl strips, was originally published in 1991 by RAW/Penguin as a cheap paperback. Twenty-five years later and Drawn & Quarterly finally gives Katchor and Knipl their due in a lovely hardbound, landscape edition of the original RAW strips.

If you’ve ever stared in wonder at the decades-old, sun-bleached product boxes inside of the display window of the only original hardware store left in town, or smelled an old typewriter repair shop, or purused gag gifts and tricks in a magic shop that’s been in the same city location for generations, then you’ll understand some of the lost urban culture that Cheap Novelties so deftly and melancholically evokes. As Julius Knipl is called out on building photography assignements, we see these vanishing haunts through his lens, momenents before they leave the city landscape forever, and we hear Knipl’s thoughts on the loss, reflections on his own rather homely life, and urban trivia – all rendered in a very confident and characterful hand in ink-and-gray marker washes. Read the rest

Stranger Things gets badass Buffy-style intro credits

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Nerdist found this wonderful fan-edit mashing up scenes from Stranger Things in a style of the opening credits from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Read the rest

George Pendle on the death of space art

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The always-engaging George Pendle (Strange Angel, The Remarkable Millard Fillmore) has a fascinating piece on Atlas Obscura on the history of space art and NASA's (and the government's at large) current awkward relationship with the art world.

Yet when the NASA scientists asked the attendant artists to refrain from posting pictures of the meeting on social media, it seemed to sum up both a generational and a temperamental mismatch. (In an email, a NASA spokesperson said that "participating artists are free to discuss their attendance.")

From a NASA perspective, the secrecy was a budgetary imperative. In 2003, the renowned performance artist Laurie Anderson was appointed NASA’s first “artist-in-residence” with the remit of creating art about the agency’s exploration of space. Republican congressmen quickly seized on the move as a sign of wanton profligacy. “Mr. Chairman,” sputtered Representative Chris Chocola of Indiana on the floor of Congress, “nowhere in NASA's mission does it say anything about advancing fine arts or hiring a performance artist.” There has been no artist-in-residence since and the reverberations were no doubt part of the reason why NASA’s workshop at Grace Farms seemed tentative and vague.

In the not-so-distant past, though, space and art intermingled happily. Artists were crucial to NASA’s development, at times outpacing the science of space travel itself. What happened?

The above illustration is NASA concept art of a moon landing, from 1959. Read the rest

More seafaring, suicidal bird boozing as Drinky Crow Drinks Again

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Drinky Crow Drinks Again by Tony Millionaire Fantagraphics 2016, 128 pages, 10.8 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches (hardcover) $19 Buy a copy on Amazon

Captain Maak (captain of the ship), Uncle Gabby (the Irish monkey), Gunslinger Jesus, Phoebe Bird, and everyone’s favorite violent, binge-drinking, suicidal avian anti-hero, Drinky Crow, are all back and more beautifully bizarre than ever in Maakies: Drinky Crow Drinks Again. From the confident, well informed, but often fevered hand of well-known American weekly comic strip artist Tony Millionaire, comes this new Fantagraphics landscape hardback collecting recent syndicated strips (along with some additional material). The book is as handsome as you’d expect, coming from this artist and this publisher (even if it’s the first Maakies collection not designed by Chip Kidd).

You never know what you’re going to get from Tony Millionaire, but you know it will never be boring and it will always be beautifully rendered. Even more so than most, Millionaire’s comic strips feel like you’re mainlining the author’s own insane membrane, watching him think out loud and exorcising his demons with pen and ink on paper.

The incredibly meticulous old-school draftsmanship, the many allusions to old comic strips and classic art, lots of clever twists and brilliant pay-offs, strips that dead end, and ones that go completely off the rails, often ending in violence or suicide – it’s not always the smoothest ride, but it’s one you’re compelled to take, even if just for the gorgeous scenery. Luckily, Tony Millionaire, Maakies, and Drinky Crow have far more riches to offer than that. Read the rest

The hidden lever to raise aisle seat armrests on commercial planes

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My friend, the brilliant Pam Grossman (What is a Witch, Phantasmaphile), posted the following discovery on her Facebook page. You are undoubtedly already familiar with the fact that the armrests on plane seats can be raised and lowered, all expect for the aisle rest. Turns out, that one can also be raised, if you can find the lever. It's under the armrest (if it exists on your model aircraft) and probably looks something like the one above. Pam describes her squee in finding it to be a for-real feature:
I have been taking a lot of flights of late, and so I have garnered a few tips to offer re: how to make things *slightly* less horrid when doing so. But holy horses, this one changed my life on this last go-round. When I tried it - and it worked! - it was all I could do to keep from leaping to my feet and crowing about it to my fellow passengers like some sort of zealous banshee.
In the responses on her FB page, someone asked about the other "few tips" she alluded to. I asked Pam's permission to include her reply here. There may be a few useful ideas in here for you. I have recently become a convert of 1 & 2:
Oh, not secrets. Just silly little tips. Here are a few more: 1. TSA Pre-Check is highly worth it and makes everything so much better. 2. Buying a carry-on wheelie bag with 4 wheels that go in all directions is worth it 3.
Read the rest

Dear Data – Two women explore their friendship through data analysis and mail art

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec Princeton Architectural Press 2016, 288 pages, 8.4 x 11.2 x 1 inches (softcover) $32 Buy a copy on Amazon

I have always had a deep fascination with the graphical representation of data. Being mildly dyslexic, numbers make my head hurt. Being extremely visual, numbers only come alive for me when they take color, shape, or are otherwise rendered in some visual way. Show me numbers and they will have little impact. Show me a beautiful graphical representation of those numbers and I will remember them forever. Dear Data is a rich and inspiring teasure-trove of creatively rendereded data, giving visual shape to the more mundane aspects of the two authors’ lives.

Dear Data is the result of a year-long project that two designer friends undertook. For one year, Giorgia Lupi, an Italian living in New York, and Stefanie Posavec, an American in London, gathered data around a theme each week, things like the number of times they said “Thank you,” the numbers of people they met (and how they connected), the numbers (and types) of doorways they walked through, the number of times they each looked at a clock, etc. With this data in hand, they would render a postcard with an artful, graphical presentation of their week and send it to the other. This book collects all 52 weeks, along with lots of additional art, insight, and asides.

The result is a very lovely book and a very unique way of exploring a friendship while more deeply exploring oneself in the process. Read the rest

Video for High on Fire's "The Black Plot" will melt your face off!

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If this retro, psychedelic D&D/Masters of the Universe animation meets a crank-boosted acid trip doesn't blow your neck bolts, I don't know what will. This animated short film/music video for Oakland doomy metal legends, High on Fire, was put together by "psychedelic nightmare" painter, Skinner (also from Oakland) and New York design and animation house, Hey Beautiful Jerk.

For best results: View in the dark, on the widest possible screen, with the volume cranked up loud enough to rattle your neighbor's windows. Read the rest

Jack Kirby's long-lost, incomplete "The Prisoner" comic book

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Forces of Geek has unearthed an amazing gem. To introduce it, they write:
In the March 21st, Entertainment Weekly ran an article called In Search of Pop Culture’s Holy Grails, listing, “some hallowed projects (that) evade(d) our grasp. A guide to our great white whales.” Over two dozen, “lost” projects are listed. But in the FOG! world of pop culture, not everything is lost. So, in the coming weeks, we’re going to uncover a number of those projects, including our first, Jack Kirby’s The Prisoner, which EW describes as, “a comic based on the gonzo sci-fi show. Kirby never finished issue No. 1.”

Read the rest of the issue here. And, as FOG points out, it appears that the issue was actually complete, except for some final lettering and inking by Mike Royer.

[H/t Chris Burke] Read the rest

Frostgrave – An approachable miniatures game in the spirit of old school dungeon delvers

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City by Joseph A. McCullough (author) and Dmitry Burmak (illustrator) Osprey Publishing 2015, 136 pages, 7.7 x 9.9 x 0.6 inches (hardback) $17 Buy a copy on Amazon

With the great success of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, the popularity of shows like Stranger Things riding a growing 80s nostalgia wave, and the success of game-based YouTube channels like Tabletop and Critical Role, there’s no doubt that we are in a tabletop/RPG gaming renaissance.

Two of the hallmarks of modern fantasy, sci-fi, and horror games are faster game play and more streamlined rules. The skirmish game, played with small numbers of miniatures, and the hybrid board game, combining miniatures and a game board, are all the rage these days. Into this moment of 80s D&D nostalgia and newfound enthusiasm for tabletop gaming comes a game that seems designed to hit all of the sweet spots: Osprey Publishing’s Frostgrave: Fantasy Wargames in the Frozen City.

Everything about Frostgrave is about economy. The book itself, gorgeously and profusely illustrated by Russian artist Dmitry Burmak, is compact, under 8 x 10, and only 136 pages. The backstory is simple, but highly evocative, the rules are basic and concise, trading off realism for fun. To play, you need only this inexpensive rulebook, around ten miniatures for your warband (taken from any 28mm fantasy range), and whatever terrain and random monsters you might encounter during the game. And some 20-sided dice and a tape measure. Read the rest

The US sics its robot drone army on Canada’s water supply in "We Stand on Guard"

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

We Stand on Guard by Brian K. Vaughan (author), Steve Skroce (artist) and Matt Hollingsworth (artist) Image Comics 2016, 160 pages, 7.3 x 11.1 x 0.6 inches (hardcover) $17 Buy a copy on Amazon

You know those cheeky jokes about the United States invading Canada? No one is laughing in Brian K. Vaughn’s We Stand on Guard, an extremely tense, often brutal, military sci-fi thriller with an obvious political point to make.

Some 100 years in the future, an allegedly Canadian drone strike on the White House destroys it, killing the president. The US responds with everything it’s got while Canada screams false flag attack, an excuse for the US to come after Canada’s precious water resources (which, surprise, the US is plumb out of). The US deploys its immense drone arsenals, including giant, stompy mecha robots, and “hoser ships,” aerial tankers that fly over Canada sucking up all of her water. The story in the book revolves around a group of Canadian guerilla fighters trying to repel the US occupation.

While the subject matter is intense and the pacing of the book rarely lets you catch your breath, there is levity, too. There are plenty of insider Canadian jokes, a character from Quebec whose French dialog is never translated, and an ongoing bit about Superman having Canadian roots (he was co-created by Canadian artist Joseph Shuster). And while there is plenty of action, with everything from skirmish combat to giant, all-out battlefield hellfire, this is a very dialog-driven book and a book that is chalk full of interesting speculative tech and a believable near-future world. Read the rest

Kid Congo Dances with "La Araña"

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I love this new video from Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, from an album I love even more, La Araña es La Vida. I got a chance to see Kid in DC while he was on tour this year and it was one of my favorite shows of the year. The man knows how to bring himself fully to a show.

You may know Kid Congo Power's work with the legendary Gun Club, Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and I would hazard to say, his grossly underappreciated solo career, with albums like 2009's Dracula Boots and 2013's Haunted Head. La Araña es La Vida is Kid's 5th solo record.

The video for La Araña was directed by Alex Terrazas (aka Alex von Alex) and features an awesome Southern California backyard Chicano house party, complete with a visit from La Araña, the Teotihuacan spider goddess (of Pre-Columbian Teotihuacan civilization). A protector of the underworld, she is said to sprout hallucinogenic morning glory vines from her head. Here Kid explains why he chose to thematically invoke this bit of Mexican folklore on the record:

She sprouts hallucinogenic morning glories and protects the underworld. I thought that is very much like our duty as a band, to have the most open mind to vivid psychedelic dreams to create and protect the world of underground music, the music of the soul.

Morning glories, you say?

BTW, if you missed Kid's appearance on Amoeba Record's wonderful What's in my Bag? Read the rest

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