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Gweek podcast 135: The Weird World of Aurora

In each episode of Gweek, I invite a guest or two to join me in a discussion about recommended media, apps, and gadgets. This time my guests were Peter Bebergal,the author of Too Much to Dream: A Psychedelic American Boyhood, and Dean Putney, Boing Boing’s software developer and author of Walter Koessler 1914-1918: The personal photo journal of a German officer in World War I.

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Show Notes:

Peter's picks:

Feeling more nostalgic than usual with the recent death of my dad, so have been looking at some cool stuff from the 70s that my father turned me onto at the time, such as Aurora monster models, and the Warren Publishing archives on On that note, Ares Magazine successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign to relaunch the magazine and you can pre-order one now.

Raagnagrok’s Man Women Death Birth Infinity by Mark Pilkington and Zali Krisha. Related, this is a good time to browse Pilkington’s press Strange Attractor for the best in the underground occult-weirdness.

Mark Waid just completed his run on Daredevil, one of the best superhero comics in years.

Dean's picks

Really3D YouTube Channel

Whoever runs @DietCoke’s twitter account is a master of the absurd

Mark's picks:

Shelf Space: Modern Package Design 1945-1965This era was a golden age for package design - cereal boxes, plastic soap bottles, TV dinners, motor oil. It’s not about retro, it’s about better. You can buy this book for one cent on Amazon. I run an occasional “Then and Now” post on Boing Boing/ The Voyeurs by Gabrielle Bell. Funny autobiographical comic books stories written by an introvert.

Frazettagirls on Instagram.

And much more!

Forgotten placeholder text

There's nothing wrong with using placeholder text. It's hard to imagine design without it. But it creates the unique danger that you forget your text and leave it behind. Here's a rather good roundup of forgotten placeholders in contexts ranging from newspaper headlines to error messages to bottles of wine. Alas, the images appear to be uncredited ganks from around the Web (the headline above, from Cape Town, may have come from this 2011 article, though that credits a tweet as its source).

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Edgar Allan Poe's interior design proscriptions

In The Philosophy of Furniture," an essay in the May 1840 issue of Burton's Gentlemen's Magazine, Edgar Allan Poe decries the interior design sense of the world (the Italians have "have but little sentiment beyond marbles" and the Americans worship an "aristocracy of dollars"). He ultimately describes his ideal room, and sets out the exact characteristics that Poe-compliant designers should hew to in order to make for harmonious interiors:

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Classic picture books as color wheels

Arthur Buxton writes, "Here's a tribute to three classic children's books - The Snowman, Where the Wild Things Are and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Using custom software, I've reduced each page in all three books to its main five colours proportionally according to size, then arranged each resulting chart in sequence."

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Miniature midcentury media center (Just add iPad Mini)

DuMont is the latest design from Jeffrey Stephenson: "Watch I Love Lucy reruns or use as a Pandora box. For me it locks together two devices that are bluetooth tethered and travel around together anyway. Another one of my products for a parallel universe."

Landscape alphabet (c.1818-1860)


In the 19th century, Charles Joseph Hullmandel illustrated a glorious series of landscapes shaped as the letters of the English alphabet. You can see them all in the British Museum's online collection: The Landscape Alphabet (via Juxtapoz)

Door based on rotating squares

Klemens Torggler's designed a thoroughly wonderful and mind-melting door system based on rotating, interlocking squares. There are several variations on the theme on his site, but the one above is the most elegant and polished of the lot.

Klemens Torggler`s doors and paintings (via JWZ)

The Haunted Mansion, the Haunting, and "Boo" vs "Brr" in spook-house design

Long Forgotten, the very best Haunted Mansion blog on the net, has a stellar piece on the influences that went into the Haunted Mansion's scary corridor of doors, and the delicate balance the corridor strikes between two different kinds of scariness, called "Boo" and "Brr." The piece starts from the premise that the Imagineers who designed the Haunted Mansion were heavily influenced by the 1963 classic horror film The Haunting (the film adaptation of Shirley Jackson's horror novel The Haunted of Hill House, later remade as a 1999 film with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Liam Neeson). This isn't a very controversial idea, as there are many parallels between the Mansion and The Haunting, though Long Forgotten finds some particularly subtle and fascinating lifts I'd never seen mentioned before.

More interesting, though, is the way the corridor -- and the Mansion itself -- slides from "Boo" to "Brr" as you pass through it, and the ways that subsequent fine-tunings and renovations have changed this calculus. As with all of Long Forgotten's pieces, it's a very well-argued and illuminating piece of design criticism that made me rethink something with which I'm very familiar in a totally new light.

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Archway of books

Vivs Ngo snapped this wonderful shot of Los Angeles's Last Bookstore, an exuberant temple of the bookseller's faith.

Creating a font from a classic comic

Typographer Nate Piekos describes how he created a 21st-century typeface from a 1980 issue of Elfquest—just in time to begin lettering the comic series’ conclusive installment.

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Cthulhoid damask wallpaper (also fabric & wrapping paper)

Megan Rose "Rosalarian" Gedris has created a cthulhoid damask pattern that's available on Spoonflower as a wallpaper, fabric, and gift-wrap. If you like this, don't miss her zombie brains pattern.

I Love Craft (Cthulhu Damask) (via IO9)

Pirate Cinema and Homeland covers shortlisted for the Kitschie for best cover

The Kitschies are a British award for science fiction and fantasy; every year they choose some marvellous books to honour. This year, I'm proud and pleased announce that they've shortlisted the UK editions of my novels Pirate Cinema and Homeland for the "Inky Tentacle" award for best cover. Both covers were designed by the studio Amazing15 for my British publishers, Titan Books. I'm indebted to the judging panel and the Kitchie volunteers -- thank you!

Mezzanine and stairs made out of dismembered pianos

Back in 2012, Tim Vincent-Smith inherited a pair of unserviceable upright pianos. He took these to bits, and using "nose to tail carpentry," used their every morsel to build a staircase and mezzanine in box-shaped room. The deconstruction process was an education into the craft, skill, complexity and ingenuity of piano manufacture, and the end result was a gorgeous piece that enriched the life of Vincent-Smith's client, a cellist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

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Hoefler vs Frere-Jones

The most famous contemporary typeface designers are at legal loggerheads over ownership of their foundry, Hoefler & Frere-Jones. [Fast Co Design] Rob 6

Brilliant NSA scandal illustrations

Stephen Levy's Wired feature How the NSA Almost Killed the Internet is a masterful summary of the NSA scandal to date and its fallout, but even better are Christoph Niemann's, Zohar Lazar's, and others' graphics, which are the best NSA-scandal illustrations to emerge since Hugh D'Andrade's NSA/ATT eagle.

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