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
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.
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.
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!
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!
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
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!"
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.
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."
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.
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:
...are gone when the email you receive contains trigger words:
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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.
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.