The Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps were a group of 40 woman artists from NYC and Philadelphia ("in perfect physical condition") who devised camouflage systems for fighters and materiel during WWI, testing their theories by hiding in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx -- where the local cops grew accustomed to having seeming rocks and trees spring to life as they passed. Read the rest
From Great Big Story:
America's movie and film archive is located in an underground bunker in Culpepper, Virginia. The bunker was originally a gold storage unit that doubled as a fallout shelter for the U.S. president and his cabinet during the Cold War. Today, the Library of Congress stores all manner of film here. Archivist George Willeman is in charge of the nitrate vaults, where fragile (and combustible) old films sit undisturbed and well preserved.
In a brand new series for the Webby Awards where I'm editor-at-large, I commissioned the talented comic artist Andy Warner to illustrate the wild history of the Web, from inspiring eureka moments to crackpot ideas that changed the world to fantastic failures.
The first comic in the series is: "Twitter's First Chirps"!
And for more of Andy's work, I highly recommend his absolutely wonderful book just out this week, Brief Histories of Everyday Objects, the illustrated stories behind life’s most common and underappreciated items. Read the rest
Novelist Norman Ohler became fascinated with the Third Reich's reliance on opiods and methamphetamines when DJ Alexander Kramer mentioned it to him in passing; he set out to write a novel, but in Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich he produced what historian and authority on the Third Reich Ian Kershaw called "a serious piece of scholarship." Read the rest
Thank you to the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, for recognizing the greatness of French food and imported macaroni and cheese where it has (d)evolved into its own food group.
Lemmings is one of the best video games of all time, and seemed in the 90s to be on the verge of becoming an explosive media phenomenon. Its tiny animated characters are fab: adorable yet down-to-earth, capable yet doomed, a smorgasbord of sarcastic bite and hurt/comfort neediness. After publisher Psygnosis was bought by Sony, though, the Lemmings soon vanished into the corporate archives. The creators went on to make the Grand Theft Auto series. But perhaps their first mega-hit could have its day again.
‘I would have loved to take the characters and do something different with them,’ says [co-creator Mike] Dailly. ‘But we never got the chance. When you get down to it the original game was brilliant, and the sequel had brilliant tech. But the characters themselves are what makes the game. And they should be used for more, for far more.’
In today’s nostalgia-hungry industry the return of Lemmings is hopefully a matter of time. Updating a classic is never easy, of course, but the game is so original and well-loved it’s amazing no-one has tried to do what Championship Edition did for Pac-Man. That may be Lemmings’ beauty and its curse. There is not a single element of the game that could be removed without changing the whole thing. Adding more stuff, as with the sequel, doesn’t make it better. And how can you update visuals that are iconic because they’re 8×10 sprites?
In the leap from cult hit to world-spanning franchise, there are hard marketing problems when your entire premise is "100 literally identical characters, constantly and comically brutalized". Read the rest
Socialist minister Francis J. Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1890s in an effort to paper over the post-Civil War divisions; to accompany it, he devised the "Bellamy Salute": "raise your right hand, flip your palm down, point it toward the flag in a salute and recite the words." Read the rest