Jere7my sez, "This lovely young woman brought the house down at Arisia this year with her stunning "TARDIS Princess" dress. A "door" on the skirt opened to show the TARDIS control room, giving it the illusion of being "bigger on the inside"... I believe the creator/model is Sasha Trabane."
Zack sez, "Mel Birnkant, creator of the Outer Space Men and major Disney collector, has a section on his website paying tribute to his friend Charles Ponstingl, who did amazing, elaborate wood carvings based on classic comic strips. Check out these dioramas based on Winsor McCay's "Little Sammy Sneeze" and Little Nemo or these elaborate pieces recreating an old Disney picture book.
On the first day of the first Brimfield Flea Market of 1978, Ron told me he had something he thought I would like. And took me to his van to show me four shadow boxes with scenes carved out of wood. They were a little primitive, a little naive, but quite fabulous. Ron, as usual, was right; they were, indeed, something I would like. He explained that they were four of sixteen, the rest of which were various sizes, some smaller, some larger. He had put four in his van to show me and left the rest at home. If I was interested, he would deliver the other twelve to me.
It is amazing how even these, the first four carvings that Ron showed me displayed characteristics that proved to be prophetic; touches of unspoiled freshness that have never faded from Charles’ art, in the many years that followed. This first, in which the Little Bad Wolf is handing his dad a can of beans, while Papa studies a book of pork recipes, is typical of Charles' propensity to portray a scene that often seems elusively arbitrary; characters caught in mid-action, rather than posing for the camera in an iconic fashion. Then, he freezes the moment in wood for all Eternity.
And this is the story that Ron told me: An old time toy dealer, who I’ll call “Tom”, had acquired these carvings, of which there were twenty. It seemed that Tom was keeping four and sold the remaining sixteen. They were the work of a man who Tom’s son had met at work. This guy was described as a “crazy old coot”, a cantankerous old timer, who refused to take suggestions or requests, and just carved what he pleased. None of that mattered, anyway, as has he had stopped at twenty carvings, and was never going to carve again!
Last night I finally got to see one of Evil Miss Cakehead's edible horror installations in person. The Helpers is a grotesque, edible pop-up shop in Bethnal Green Road near Brick Lane, which opened last night. It features dismembered bodies, murder weapons, cigarette butts, car batteries with wires, blood-spattered knives, bags of vomit, Chinese takeout meals, and even a television -- all made of cake, all edible, and all delicious. There really are no words for the dissonance presented by such a scene. But it's pretty special.
So last night we opened The Helpers – a experiential experience serving cocktails and cake all themed around the movie of the same name – a stunt for Koch Media. The creations were incredible and (never thought I would say this) we pushed the limits so far we are all looking forward to some pretty cake projects for Valentine’s Day and beyond. You can see all the cakes over on Miss Cakehead’s Facebook page, and them featured on This Morning here. Just bear in mind they were for a horror film so they are made to the brief set by our client Koch Media. We have not just lost our minds and started making really dark cakes. In fact the chocolate gun was so disturbing and realistic we gave it as an extra present to someone who has always been massively supportive of our work (I had to get it out of there!). Huge thanks to Original Content London for creating an awesome and very disturbing set.
Interview-by-postcard that HP Lovecraft filled in with a sewing needle dipped in ink and a magnifying glass
Update: The joke's on me. Nick Mamatas sez, "Thanks for the ink, but I should tell you that my piece in The Revelator is fiction. The 'from the vaults' feature of the magazine is always a fiction that purports to be a true story or interview connected with the largely imaginary history of The Revelator itself."
Nick Mamatas (author of such wonderful books as Sensation) formerly lived in Battleboro, VT, once home to amateur press enthusiast Arthur H. Goodenough, who was a correspondent of HP "Cthulhu" Lovecraft's. Nick discovered a postcard containing an interview between Goodenough and Lovecraft, entirely conducted on a single postcard. Goodenough kicked it off by sending Lovecraft a postcard with some questions, and Lovecraft answered them in minute writing in the whitespace on the card, using a sewing-needle dipped in ink, then posted it back to Goodenough. Seriously.
Lovecraft was acquainted with Goodenough, and Lovecraft’s visits to Goodenough in Vermont in 1927 and 1928 are the basis of his wonderful novelette “The Whisperer in Darkness.” After the story was published in Weird Tales, Goodenough sent Lovecraft a congratulatory card, and also asked the author a couple of questions. Rather than responding with a card or letter of his own, Lovecraft wrote the answers in a tiny hand and then apparently gave the card to Vrest Orton — a bookman and eventual founder of The Vermont County Store — who returned the card to Goodenough personally during a trip to the Green Mountain State. Then Goodenough sent the card back to Lovecraft again, with follow-up questions written in a nearly microscopic hand. I suppose he knew the local postmaster, and was able to get the card back into the mail system without a problem. Amazingly, Lovecraft managed to fit the answers to the questions on the postcard in an even smaller hand. Sherwood told me that he’d guessed that Lovecraft used a magnifying glass and a sewing needle dipped in ink. Here’s an odd thing; Sherwood had found the postcard at an estate sale. It had been protected from the elements because it had been used as a bookmark in a 1935 number of The Revelator, and that number was a special issue dedicated to the “gothic tales” of Isak Dinesen.
I bought the card and kept it with me for years — I moved to Boston, and then to California. Only recently have I been able to spare the time to closely examine and transcribe the postcard. It took a few weeks. Lovecraft’s handwriting was difficult to read in the best of times, as I learned in 2007 when writer Brian Evenson took me and my friend Geoffrey Goodwin to the library at Brown University to check out some of Lovecraft’s papers. If anything, Goodenough’s penmanship is even worse, especially in the last unanswered round of questions. There are a few ink splatters on the postcard as well, but only one seems purposeful, as I make note of below. I took the card to work and abused my photocopy and scanner privileges to blow up sections of the card, then turn them into a series of PDFs. I then zoomed in on the PDFs as much as I could, to turn the tiny letters into great abstract shapes, to better see what we would call “kerning” if the text had been typset. To decipher this postcard, I not only had to read between the lines, as it were, but I had to make sure I was properly reading between the letters.
Mamatas and a friendly googler who specializes in fonts managed to transcribe the card, and the link below contains the whole interview.
Dark Roasted Blend has a beautiful gallery of Spreepark PlanterWald (originally called Kulturpark Planterwald) a Soviet-era abandoned themepark in central Berlin, which is gracefully rotting away. This is a Boing Boing/Cory Doctorow trifecta: abandoned themeparks, Soviet kitsch, and urban exploration. Yes, please!
When it opened in 1969 as Kulturpark Planterwald, it was the "only constant entertainment park in the GDR, and the only such park in either East or West Berlin". However, the Berlin Senate did not seem to have provided for enough parking space... which is quite silly, all things considered. Plus, the forest around the park was deemed to be doomed from the impact of visiting crowds. In any case, the socialist and then private owners were left with a bunch of debt and the place got suspended in limbo... But the story does not end there (read on).
This long-read from Bloomberg about China's "Princelings" -- the generation of hyper-rich oligarchs' children, descended from Mao's generals -- is endlessly fascinating. Wealth in China is even more concentrated than Russia, Brazil or the USA, and the Chinese looter-class use complex screens that take advantage of different ways of representing their names in English, Cantonese and Mandarin to obscure the ownership of former state assets, flogged at pennies on the dollar in sweetheart deals for the hyper-privileged. The Princelings are western-educated, mostly in the USA, and flaunt expensive luxury-brand accessories on their social media profiles. The accompanying interactive graphic lets you explore the intertwining relationships between the families of the "eight immortals."
Opportunities for the princelings surged in the 1990s after Deng kick-started another wave of economic changes. They jumped into booming industries including commodities and real estate as new factories and expanding cities transformed China’s landscape.
Two of Deng’s children -- Deng Rong, 62, and her brother, Deng Zhifang -- were among the first to enter real estate, even before new rules in 1998 commercialized the mainland’s mass housing market. Two years after Deng Rong accompanied her father on his famous 1992 tour of southern China to showcase the success of emerging export center Shenzhen, she was in Hong Kong to promote a new development she headed in Shenzhen.
Some apartments in the 32-story complex were priced at about $240,000 each, according to a front-page story in the South China Morning Post. Corporate records show that by the late 1990s half of the company was owned by two people with the same names as Deng Rong’s sister-in-law, Liu Xiaoyuan, and the granddaughter of Wang Zhen, Wang Jingjing.
Deng Rong and Deng Zhifang didn’t respond to questions sent by fax to their respective offices in Beijing. Liu couldn’t be reached for comment through one of the companies with which she’s associated. Wang Jingjing didn’t respond to questions couriered to her office in the Chinese capital and a reporter who visited on two occasions was told she wasn’t there.
This handmade custom Super Mario belt, depicting the final level, was apparently created by Etsy seller SalukiFeathers, though the belt is not actually available through that store. The corresponding Reddit thread is kind of a mess, with the poster claiming that the belt was made as a Christmas gift for himself and/or his brother, by his sister, and so forth. Nevertheless, this definitely falls into the category of "awesome nerdcraft," and also, "shut up and take my money."
Matt sez, "For Christmas I decided to make a model Saturn V out of gingerbread. This one's 40 inches tall. I'm waiting for my niece and nephew to show up before we paint the flag and 'USA' on the sides."
Gary Gygax, co-inventor of Dungeons and Dragons, published this note explaining why Christians (like him) shouldn't celebrate Christmas.
A note from Gary Gygax in the IFW Monthly of February 1969. A topical historical curiosity, yes, but what does it tell us about who Gary was back then? First of all, he strongly self-identified as a Christian, an important counterpoint to the fundamentalist backlash against his later fantasy-themed games. Gary approached Christianity as a system with rules, which he researched and explored through a strict historical lens. If his readings differed from mainstream conventions, he was never one to bow to popular opinion. Sometimes he took things too seriously, sacrificing fun for accuracy. He was never shy about sharing his ideas and defending his position in public, but respectfully acknowledges the existence of dissenting views. These are all qualities we see reflected in his subsequent career as a game designer.
Scott Edelman sez, "In 1954, a year before to the Salk vaccine was revealed to the world, DC Comics was publishing ads advising kids how not to catch polio., as in this one from Action #196 (which would have gone on sale a couple of months earlier than its September 1954 cover date). The words of wisdom included 'keep clean' and 'don't get fatigued.' They might as well have said, don't be a kid!"
AsiaObscura has procured and posted a massive trove of hand-drawn Indian movie posters from Ramachandraiah, who works at 30"x20". He certainly manages to make the movies seem alluring!
Zack sez, "Retronaut has a collection of the gloriously gross Topps Ugly Stickers from 1965. Just in time for the holidays!"
These were my favorite thing in the world when I was a kid. Marc Lieberman and I used to go and collect empty beer-bottles left behind by teenagers under the bleachers at Vanier Collegiate, then cash them in at Brewer's Retail at the Peanut Plaza for nickels, which we'd spend on these at the Mac's Milk. My bedroom door was covered in them. When my parents bought a new house and I had to leave my bedroom, I had to leave the door behind. I never recovered.
From the Kansas Memory project, a collection of childrearing public information posters issued by the Kansas State Board of Health from 1900 to 1920. I like this advice for how to give your kid fresh air: Don't put him in a wheelbarrow, you dope! Build him a cage!
Today's post brought quite a treat: a box containing (among other things), Seth Godin's massive new book, called "This Might Work/This Might Not Work," which he launched via Kickstarter. At 800 pages and 19 lbs, this book is ridiculous. In a good way. I'm not sure if this is an article of commerce at this point, but when (if?) it is, count this as a strong "buy" recommendation.
Virtuoso hardware hacker Bunnie Huang is building an open hardware laptop. Want.
We started the design in June, and last week I got my first prototype motherboards, hot off the SMT line. It’s booting linux, and I’m currently grinding through the validation of all the sub-components. I thought I’d share the design progress with my readers.
Of course, a feature of a build-it-yourself laptop is that all the design documentation is open, so others of sufficient skill and resources can also build it. The hardware and its sub-components are picked so as to make this the most practically open hardware laptop I could create using state of the art technology. You can download, without NDA, the datasheets for all the components, and key peripheral options are available so it’s possible to build a complete firmware from source with no opaque blobs.
Bernardo sends us his "Unique sculptural mashup of beautiful Chinese Goldfish and Fabulous American 50's cars as produced by Bernardo. Each piece is handmade and hand painted by the artist."
Carp! by Bernardo (Thanks, Bernardo!)
Zaz Von Schwinn uploaded this 1969 Popular Mechanics diagram showing the specs for a spectacular dragster bicycle with all the trimmings.
Popular Mechanics July 1969 page 152 (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)
Dan Nguyen sez, "During the Hurricane Sandy aftermath, I was luckily spared any real hardship except for the power and heat being out. Everyday I walked to work and back in pitch darkness and I brought my camera to document what the city looks like when the only illumination is headlights and emergency lights. All the photos are available as Creative Commons."
These are beautiful and striking shots.
Javier sez, "This is a Chilean comic strip. On this strip the character tries to legally purchase some content and can't due to several explained reasons. Then on the last square some distributors complain that sales are low and one of them says that it is due to piracy."
Liammmin, a redditor, caught this incidental eyeball in a swirling drain. The origin story has a good moral: "My friend said something around the lines of 'Liam, you take too many photos.' So I ran around the room taking photos of everything and showing him all of them, then this happened and we got spooked." -- the moral being, "If you want to double your success rate, triple your failure rate."