Maybe These Massive Wheel Spikes Shouldn't be Legal

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.

Is this the first D-pad?

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):

Strange Architectural Typeface Choice

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.

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.

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....

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Let Go, Let Brown

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?

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.

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.)

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Kerry Tribe's H.M.

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.

Coincidence?

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 Most Elephantest Switch You've Ever Seen

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!

More Griping About Advertising: Bing Edition

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."

Old Ad for Fake Guns

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.

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.

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.

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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.

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)

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Hidden Booze Treasure Ad Campaign

I'm more used to being a critic of advertising, but I have to admit, I kind of like this old late 60s-early 70s ad campaign/stunt for Canadian Club whiskey. The idea is really simple: the company hid cases of the whiskey in remote locations throughout the world, and daring go-getter boozehounds with, I imagine, a good bit of disposable income, would go off in hunt of them. The ad I have here describes one at the bottom of Devil's Backbone Reef in the Bahamas. Here's an old article about it, too.

The Black Widow

I've always been fond of VW Beetles, and any real Beetle lover should set aside a special place in their gas-fume-smelling heart for one particular Beetle, the Black Widow. The Black Widow started life as a 1955 oval-window Beetle, boasting a small stable of 36 horses for power. Then, the kooks over at Turbonique, makers of some truly bonkers small jet engines for daredevils and other fun-loving loons, put one of their engines in the Bug, along with the VW/jet engine transaxle they developed. The result was a Beetle that made about 850+hp and weighed about, oh, half of a modern Honda Civic.

When These Robots Enslave Us, It'll Be an Adorable Enslaving

As a kid, I remember that a suspicious number of my toy robots seemed to originate from Tomy what I always pictured as a sophisticated Japanese concern, headquartered in a gleaming steel building on, probably, a hovering island off the coast of Hokkaido.

"Iraq Campaign 1991" by Phil Patiris is now online

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.

One of my other favorite films from the Illegal Art Exhibit was Phil Patiris' "Iraq Campaign 1991," a genius bit of agitprop he created in 1992 using TV footage of the first Gulf War. It was especially a hit at lefty media conferences. I wanted to put this up on the Illegal Art site back in the day, so I'm psyched to see that it has finally made its way online. Enjoy.

Link

(Thanks to Craig B. back in the day) Read the rest

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