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McLaren+Torchinsky

Carrie McLaren & Jason Torchinsky are coeditors of _Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture_. In previous lives, they worked together on the hopelessly obscure and now defunct Stay Free! magazine. He lives in LA and writes for the Onio

Thanks for having us!

Carrie McLaren and Jason Torchinsky are guest bloggers! Well, they were.

From Carrie: Many thanks Boing Boing and goodbye everyone. I've had loads of fun. If you're ever in Brooklyn, come on down to our useless lectures series, Adult Education. The next show, on September 8, will focus on beer.

From Jason: This was a blast. Thanks very much to Mark F. for letting us do this, and for everyone for reading, commenting, and silently eye rolling when you didn't think I could see. And, if you don't mind, why not buy our book, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture! We appreciate it.

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Incredible Thai Etan Trucks

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

I've been fascinated by these for quite a while, and I'm gathering information on them for a future book project: "These" and "them" are Thai Edan trucks-- possibly the only cottage-industry motor vehicles in the world.
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Some Final Images of Mild Interest

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

My tour of blogging duty is wrapping up here, but I wanted to put up some photos I had set aside here for possible blogging use. Here we go:

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This squirrel got himself stuck in our homemade squirrel feeder. Ha ha ha! Idiot! (I got him out okay; he's fine.)

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Lysa Provencio's Custom Guitars

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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Fender has had a program where they're finding up-and-coming artists to paint guitars; my friend Lysa Provincio has done a few of these, and they look pretty great. In addition to this one, there's more on her site. Enjoy!

Ad Nauseam Reading Aug. 8 in Los Angeles!

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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For those of you in the greater Los Angeles area who are either interested in the book Carrie and I wrote/edited, or if anyone just wants to berate me for any of the posts I've put up here these past two weeks, then come on out to Book Soup in West Hollywood where I'll be doing a reading from the book, answering questions, and maybe some small appliance repair. Hope to see you there, internet!

Download Stay Free issue #21 (psychology)

Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

Before signing off from our stint as guest bloggers, I thought I'd post a back issue from Stay Free! The "psychology" issue has been unavailable for quite some time, so here it is in convenient pdf form.

  • Better Living Through Lobotomy: What can the history of psychosurgery tell us about medicine today?
  • Interview with historian Elliot Valenstein
  • Lawrence Kirmayer discusses cross-cultural mental health
  • A brief history of employee personality testing by Ana Marie Cox
  • Curious Mental Illnesses of the World
  • The history of psychosomatic illness (interview with Edward Shorter)
  • Enter the Wolfman: The syndrome that makes one howl at the moon
  • More!
  • szondi-test.jpg

    The Szondi personality test (above) started with the assumption that everyone is a little crazy and proceeded to unearth which disorder was the cause. Each test subject was shown photos of people and asked to pick out the one they'd most like to sit next to on a train trip. Little did subjects know that the people they were shown were all "thoroughly disordered"--a homosexual, a sadist, and an epileptic, among others. The "disorder" that subjects selected was presumed to indicate their own disposition. -- from "Test Mania!"

    Link (pdf)

    The Amazing Unseen Hitler Films

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    Back when my old comedy group, the Van Gogh-Goghs, used to be in North Carolina, we often met to practice in one of our members basement. The basement belonged to Galen, who was fond of looking for interesting things at tag sales, estate sales, auctions, and the like. One night, after we'd resigned ourselves to the fact that not much was going to get done, Galen pulled out a stack of old 8mm film reels he'd purchased at a recent tag sale.

    It being a summer night in North Carolina, and Galen's basement being cool and relatively mosquito-free, we stayed to watch the films. I don't think any of us were really prepared for what we saw.

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    A Fortsas Hoax of 1840

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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    I love a good hoax, and this one seems particularly well done: essentially, Renier Hubert Ghislain Chalon, a historian, researched the sorts of books that Europe's most noted book collectors would find irresistible. He then made up a Count, Jean Nepomucene Auguste Pichauld, Comte de Fortsas, who had a book collection of only one-of-a-kind books. If another was found of any book, the Count would burn it, insuring he held the only known copy. Each of the 52 books listed in the catalog was specifically designed to appeal to a particular collector.

    The eager collectors were instructed to arrive in the Belgian town of Binche for the auction, where they were all roundly zinged. They all descended on the town, a long, difficult journey for many of them, only to find that the town had decided to buy the incredible collection for their library. Only none of the locals knew about the count, the books, or even their town having a library. All the noted collectors, many of whom bore heated rivalries with one another, had all been led on a wild goose chase, and were now crammed, fuming, in the local tavern. Eat it, mid 19th-century noted rare book collectors!

    There's more details here as well, from a 1909 book of "literary curiosities."

    It's Questionable Video Saturday!

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    Last Saturday, the day of no rules, I posted a video made by my old comedy group, the Van Gogh-Goghs that took the old Knight Rider conceit and added a colostomy bag. This week, we're taking the Spiderman story and replacing the spider with a pack of radioactive bears, who do something worse than biting.

    So, people with decency, you've been warned. Of course, it's probably NSFW. To be safe, I'll include the video after the jump. If possible, enjoy.

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    How to avoid ads in Gmail (or not)

    Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

    Someone called Joester is purporting to show us how to block out gmail ads by using magic words in email messages, such as 9/11 or "suicide."  In other words, the ads that appear when your email is catastrophe-free:
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    ...are gone when the email you receive contains trigger words:
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    But it's not as easy as it sounds. Putting the key words in a signature file doesn't work; the ads return. Also, writes Joester:
    If the message runs long google turns the ads back on. However, if you add another "sensitive" word they go off again. After extensive testing I've discovered you need 1 catastrophic event or tragedy for every 167 words in the rest of the email.
    Questions remain. What are all the trigger words? How do you avoid scaring the people who receive your emails with your seemingly pointless references to incest and gang rape? More importantly, shouldn't this be more accurately described as a method for helping the people who you email who have gmail avoid ads?

    Link (via Adlab)

    People Like Angry Car Faces. I Don't.

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    First off, I love cars, I own an odd one, and, thanks in part to Make: magazine, I've even raced them a little bit. That's why I've deluded myself into thinking my opinion on this has any relevance here at all. So, if you don't mind, indulge me.

    Recently, a study showed that people tended to prefer cars with "angry" faces. Auto designers have known this for a while, as the vast majority of cars available today have "faces" (you know, the front end arrangement of headlights, grille, and shapes that we tend to read like a face) that are at least aggressive, and at most absolutely freaking livid. This is across the board, too-- from entry-level cars to minivans to expensive sports sedans-- they all look like pissed-off turtle robots. There are exceptions, of course, but many of the most notable ones (New Beetle, Mini) are modern updates of vintage designs.

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    Electro-Mechanical Arcade Games

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    Before computers became small, cheap, and reliable enough for this purpose, people still had the desire to stand in front of armoire-sized cabinets, stare into a glass panel, and pretend to do things they normally didn't do, like kill aliens, drive like a madman, or work in a junkyard. The way they did these things was with wonderful, complicated electromechanical arcade games.



    These electromechanical games are incredible contraptions, using every kind of trick-- projections, spinning drums, remotely articulated models, whirring discs, mirrors, lights-- to give the illusions of speed, action, explosions, distance, and more. Looking at them, it's amazing they worked so well in such a high-abuse public environment. These are real engineering gems, long gone, and very rare now. Luckily, there's a bunch of videos out there, since stills really don't do these justice: Speedway, Hill Climb, Invaders, Haunted House. Enjoy!

    Blue Food Coloring Un-Paralyzes Rats

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    This article at National Geographic gives a good gist of what's going on: apparently, regular old blue food coloring, like the stuff you find in Gatorade or M&Ms, has been found to reduce spinal cord trauma and inflammation, leading to at least a partial reversal of paralysis, at least in some mice. And, unlike other treatments, there's no toxic effects.

    And the best part? They turned blue! Now there's hope for anyone hoping to both regain use of paralyzed limbs and a desire to look like a really cold guy in a cartoon.

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    A Few More Questions

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    1. If you were designing your own superhero costume, how would you accessorize?
    a. Cape
    b. Scarf
    c. Sidekick
    d. Gun
    e. Stack of fliers saying you are a superhero


    2. What part of Canada would you most like to sleep with?
    a. Victoria
    b. Regina
    c. Moosejaw
    d. Calgary
    e. Prince Edward Island


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    Awesome jump blues/swing duo doing "Nagasaki"

    Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

    I was all set to post the Philharmonicas doing Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" but just realized that Mark already did. Fie! Well, here's an equally swank soundie: the Don Redman Orchestra featuring a curious duo known as Red and Struggie, who = the bomb. Totally hilarious. (Both of these appeared on a 1994 MGM swing compilation.)

    Here's an index for our book, Ad Nauseam

    Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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    It's a long (or, rather, uninteresting) story but our book, Ad Nauseam, doesn't have an index. I was hoping that Amazon's "search inside" feature could help fill that gap, but our publisher says it takes a while for Amazon to make it functional.

    So I've gone ahead and made an index myself. I have no idea how to make an index, frankly, and there are no doubt a number of typos, but for those of you who have bought the book or are considering buying it, it's better than nothing. And if anyone wants to list typos in the comments, I'll update the index accordingly. Thanks.

    Link (pdf)

    Some Mighty Fine Turbine Porn

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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    If you're one of the (most likely imaginary) people that have been following my posts religiously, you might remember when I posted about the Black Widow turbine-powered Beetle a few days ago. Now, I have some scans from Turbonique's Hot Rotor magazine, which is jam-packed with great pictures of truly bonkers jet-powered vehicles, and jam-unpacked with words.

    Many of the images have the parts presented on flat-color backgrounds, making for some really satisfying compositions, aesthetically. And, in the few pictures with people, they always appear stiff and with oddly blank expressions, which makes the images even better, somehow. Enjoy.

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    (Thanks, Chris!)

    Maybe These Massive Wheel Spikes Shouldn't be Legal

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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    By nature, I'm not a guy particularly interested in safety concerns, but when I saw these massive wheel spikes on this big rig on the 5 freeway the other day, I couldn't help but wonder if having something normally associated with a brutal chariot race is such a hot idea.

    This picture doesn't quite do them justice, but these spikes are no joke; they could easily turn a close call into a harrowing, screaming gash torn into the bodywork of your car. I've never seen these before, but, then again, I don't really do that much driving in a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland ruled by gangs of mechanized toughs.

    Is this the first D-pad?

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    To a certain group of dedicated dorks, videogame controllers and their history is fiercely interesting, even to the point of having dedicated T-shirts. It's to those folks I present this discovery: this looks like it may be the first product (image from a 1977 ad) with a joypad-like device, used for user input (enlargement mine):
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    Ah, the CALCUPEN. Now, I know Gunpei Yokoi usually gets credit for those little 4-way rocker switches first used on the famous Game & Watch series, but it sure looks like our little Calcupen has five of the things running up its nerdy spine there. Granted, they're used for numerical input as opposed to direction control, but it's essentially the same device. I bet, if one was lucky enough to find one, a Calcupen could be wired to act as an old Nintendo controller!

    Maybe the Calcupen is really that missing link between nerd productivity culture and nerd time-wasting culture. I smell a dissertation.

    Strange Architectural Typeface Choice

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    This is a building in downtown Los Angeles. It's a pretty straightforward classic-style building, what with doubled Ionic columns and all the usual classic Greek/Roman detailing one expects out of these sorts of buildings. But, at some point in the building's life, it was renovated, and whoever was in charge decided the best typeface to use on the pediment there would be something that made the building look like a backdrop in a bad 80s scifi movie. Like that really should say "Terran Space Senate Headquarters" or something.

    It's such a strange and jarring contrast, I'm surprised it got the go-ahead. But I think I like it.

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    Books by people who have raised apes in their homes

    Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

    As mentioned earlier, I collect books by people who have raised apes or monkeys in their homes, so, as a service to Boing Boing readers, I thought I'd review them for you.
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    Toto and I: A Gorilla in the Family, by A Maria Hoyt (1941)

    A charming memoir by an eccentric heiress who brought Toto home after her husband, working for the Museum of Natural History in New York, shot Toto's mother on the hunt for a specimen. Despite marrying a mommy killer, Hoyt goes to the wall to help young Toto, even moving to Cuba to accommodate her charge. There are lots of choice anecdotes in this book but my favorite involve sleep training the gorilla. Like many children, Toto insisted on sleeping with her parents. Caregiver Thomas and Toto slept in separate beds in Toto's room; each night over the course of month, Tomas moved his bed farther and farther away from Toto until he was actually out of her room. (Incidentally, this is essentially the same method recommended by the Sleep Lady.) Before Toto was weaned from cosleeping, however, she "punished" Tomas by locking him in her bedroom:

    [Toto] slammed the door after him, deftly locking it from the playroom side. Since the windows were heavily barred, Tomas was now securely confined with Toto, his jailer, dancing in triumphant joy in the other room.... For over an hour, he stayed there securely locked up. Then, growing a little weary of the game, he called Toto to the door, scolded her severely and told her to unlock it and let him out. Shamefacedly, she obeyed...

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    Lucy: Growing Up Human, A Chimpanzee Daughter in a Psychotherapist's Family, by Maurice K. Temerlin (1972)

    Touchy-feely account by a nut job (Maurice Temerlin, aka Maury) who goes to great lengths to maintain a relationship with his chimpanzee "daughter." Lucy is by all accounts an extremely precocious chimp; the stories here are lively and engaging but often for the wrong reasons. I could write at length about this book but instead I'll just share one telling anecdote. Maury, like many caretakers of primates, insists on calling Lucy his daughter. Most of such quasi-parents keep their charges in cages and use cattle prods or other devices to keep them in line. Not Maury. But he's got his own bizarre ideas of what it means to be a dad:

    Lucy attempts to mouth my penis whenever she sees it, whether I am urinating, bathing, or having an erection. As a matter of fact I think it is accurate to say that Lucy is fascinated by the human penis since she attempts to explore it with her mouth whenever she can, unless it is mine and she is swollen in estrus.

    So Maury frequently has erections in the company of his "daughter" and observes her putting penises (not just his own!) in her mouth. And, wait, there's more: "I found this a very interesting observation as throughout the years of my deep affection for Lucy I never experienced sexual desire for her. " Interesting? Really? She's supposed to be your daughter? And a chimp!

    Maury ended up getting fired from his job as head of the psychology department at the University of Oklahoma. Lucy, however, triumphed: after nearly 18 years with crazy Maury and his wife (a record), she became one of the very rare chimps who was successfully re-introduced into the wild in Africa.

    Read the rest

    Let Go, Let Brown

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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    Are you one of those folks who loves God? I mean really loves God? As in enough to make the visual association between your Lord and a noted package delivery company?

    Because, friend, that's what it takes to wear this garment. If you're just one of those fly-by-night, loves-God-only-enough-to-associate-Him-with-a-soft-drink types, then keep walking.

    (Thanks, Galen!)

    Movie recommendation: People of the Forest: The Chimps of Gombe

    Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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    Though I consider myself an ape enthusiast, I've never really cottoned to movies starring chimps. Chimps dressed in clothing performing slapstick gags just isn't my thing. Documentaries about primates usually aren't much better; they tend to be dry and humorless, sucking all the spirit out of their subjects while portraying their depressing circumstances. Also, there's just something incongruous about watching "nature" documentaries on TV screens. But People of the Forest: The Chimps of Gombe transcends all this. In a word, it's awesome. The documentary draws on 20 years of footage to tell the stories of a group of chimps that Jane Goodall followed in Gombe, Tanzania. It's as sweet and funny and heart-rending as any great feature film. Highly recommended. (The movie is out of print, but Amazon has a few copies, or you may be able to get it via P2P.)

    Kerry Tribe's H.M.

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    Earlier this year, I did a bit of technical work for an artist, Kerry Tribe, on her installation/film project called H.M. It was a remarkable piece. At its core, it was a documentary about a man who had some experimental neurosurgery that left him with an active memory of 20 seconds. What made the piece so remarkable was that it played back on two 16mm projectors, the film being delayed by exactly 20 seconds from one to the other. The film was shot in such a way that the two projections, displaced in time by 20 seconds, worked together uncannily well, sometimes displaying complementary images, and even, in one visually notable part, forming a complete image that spanned over the two screens. It's pretty great.

    Kerry and I are in the early stages of a collaboration I'm quite excited about, but even if I wasn't I'd encourage everyone to check out more of her work. There's not really a good way to see H.M. online, since the mechanical projectors and the maze of looped film form such an integral part of the piece, but I think it is traveling around a bit, so the best I can tell you is to keep your eyes open for it.

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    Coincidence?

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

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    This is something I found a good while ago, and have posted at other places online; but it's just one of those things that I think merits looking back at, periodically, to help better understand the mysteries of existence.

    The top, of course, is that famous picture of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. The bottom is the cast of Bagger Vance, horsing around at the opening night party, as seen in Variety.

    Were they trying to recreate this image? If so, why the hell would they do that? Did the photographer see the resemblance? There's so many questions here, all vastly more interesting than anything Bagger Vance normally produces.

    Man. It gives me chills.

    The Most Elephantest Switch You've Ever Seen

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    This is a power switch salvaged from an old PC. It is also the switch that most resembles an elephant, beating out its nearest competitor by a factor of 5. In fact, on the SPRS (Standardized Pachyderm Resemblance Scale) it scored an incredible 8.4-- a mammoth only scores 8.2!

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    Remember this day. One day, your kids will ask where you were when you saw it.

    More Griping About Advertising: Bing Edition

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    My previous rant about an advertising campaign had pretty mixed results, so let's try again. This time I want to talk about the television campaign for Microsoft's new search engine, Bing.

    My problem with these ads is that they rely on one of the oldest, hoariest advertising tricks in the book: make up the disease, then sell the cure. This has been done for years; occasional bad breath became the dread disease "halitosis" in the 1930s, thanks to Listerene (which had previously been sold as, among other things, a dandruff tonic), for example. Now Microsoft is going to save us from "Search Overload Syndrome."



    Read the rest

    Old Ad for Fake Guns

    Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

    You know how hard it is to find that perfect gift for that special someone in your life who really wants to get killed by a cop, but doesn't want to actually endanger anybody? I think I may have the answer right here. All you need is $44.95 and probably a time machine back to 1977, because I can't imagine this is legal now.

    This ad brings up so many questions: who is this targeted at? Even in a theater prop sort of context, I don't see how the weight and feel would matter. Is it for potential criminals, who want the intimidation of a gun but are hedging their bets if they get caught, it won't be with a deadly weapon? It does say "will fool experts," I bet especially if the "expert" is looking down the barrel of it.

    The best line is, of course, "Decorate your den, office, rec-room." I can just imagine it. "Oh, your potpourri bowl artfully strewn with pistols is absolutely wonderful!" A few handguns tossed around in just the right spots really makes a rec-room, too.

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    New book on viral culture: And Then There's This

    Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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    My friend Bill Wasik has a book out now that should appeal to Boing Boing types, And Then There's This: How Stories Live and Die in Viral Culture. Several years ago, Wasik started the Mob Project, which launched flash mobs as an insanely popular fad in New York, then globally. We interviewed him in Stay Free! about it a while back.

    Wasik's book looks at how ideas spread online through social networks and other media channels. In each chapter, Wasik, who is an editor at Harper's magazine, conducts some sort of prank to explore the ways single messages can evolve and have massive ripple effects. I especially dug his observations on how the internet and mp3 swapping have affected indie rock (since, as a clueless middle-ager, I haven't kept up): with bands and their careers now playing a much smaller role than individual songs and musicians.

    Top 10 Ironic Ads From History

    Carrie McLaren is a guest blogger at Boing Boing and coauthor of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. She lives in Brooklyn, the former home of her now defunct Stay Free! magazine.

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    Earlier this month, Jason and I guest blogged at Consumerist. Here's something I posted there that might interest you all as well:
    Remember when you could buy barbiturates for the baby? Cover your house with asbestos? Or get heroin from the doctor? Okay, probably not, but thanks to the immortal beauty of advertising, you can take a trip back in time. Here's our pick of some of the most ironic ads in American history.
    (with apologies to my writing partner, Torchinsky, who loves Corvairs)

    Link