An American artist illustrates a webcomic love letter to her hometown of Wuhan

Laura Gao was born in Wuhan before moving to the US at the age of 3. An experienced graphic designer who now works for Twitter, Gao has been — understandably — frustrated with the virulant racism that's accompanied the worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus, and Trump's continued insistence on blaming China for the virus.

But Wuhan isn't as well-known as other cities in China, even though it has a larger population than London or New York. So instead of letting her hometown continue to be associated with a pandemic, Gao wrote and illustrated a new webcomic to help people get to know the city where she was born, beyond those gross racist implications.

It's a short read, but it will remind you that Wuhan is indeed a place of humans, culture, and history, all of which deserve appreciation and respect.

The Wuhan I Know [Laura Gao]

Image: Creativity City in Wuhan by Majorantarktis / Wikimedia Commons (CC 4.0) Read the rest

The Dresden Panometer gives visitors an immersive experience on a 1:1 scale of the Allied bombing raids of 1945

The Dresden Panometer is a converted former gasometer that exhibits 360°  panoramas created by the artist Yadegar Asisi.

“The 15 m high visitor’s tower provides you with a 360-degree view from the tower of Dresden’s Town Hall and reveals the extent of the destruction in the panorama by Yadegar Asisi, almost 3,000 m² in size.”

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"The Fuddy Duddy Walk," is the ‘60s dance craze that never was

Jack Nitzsche was a legend in his own time; an arranger, producer, songwriter, and Academy Award-winning composer. His disparate discography includes collaborations with Phil Spector, the iconic 1966 Batman theme, titles by The Rolling Stones, Doris Day, Ike & Tina Turner, The Monkees, Glen Campbell, and the Ronettes, as well as several film soundtracks, including PerformanceThe Exorcist, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and An Officer and a Gentleman. But one of his earliest known arrangements was for a song so unlistenable it isn’t even named on any of his published discographies.

The title dates from 1963, when a hit song that doubled as a dance craze was the holy grail of the Top 10. But not even the hand of Jack Nitzsche could get this eminently abrasive earworm, "The Fuddy Duddy Walk" by The Entertainers, to join the ranks of "The Twist," "The Mashed Potato," or "The Watusi." "The Fuddy Duddy Walk" is more like proto-punk dance craze anarchy, and it’s not hard to imagine a crowd of pencil-skirted and flat-topped teens covering their ears in buzzkill horror, stampeding from the dance floor and fighting their way to the nearest exit. It’s an aural assault strictly for music masochists, with a nearly unintelligible vocal that codes neither male or female, rock or soul, black or white. Just sweetly painful. Read the rest

If you loved HBO’s "The Deuce," The Rialto Report will leave you spellbound

The Rialto Report is a podcast series and digital library that archives oral histories, images, magazines and books covering the golden age of the adult film industry in New York, from the early-1960s to the mid-1980s. It’s the project of adult film historians Ashley West and April Hall, both of whom served as consultants for HBO’s The Deuce.

Their podcast interviews are in-depth, intimate, and unrivaled, featuring some of the industry’s biggest and most influential names of the era; Seka, George Payne, Candy Samples, Hyapatia Lee, Jerry Butler, Candida Royalle, and Uschi Digard are among other well-and-lesser-known performers and industry stakeholders featured throughout the series.

Certainly, this “golden age” wasn’t exactly golden for all involved. Many performers—both women and men—were exploited, underpaid, mistreated, abused, or worse, and the Rialto Report doesn’t sugarcoat. Their interviews pull no punches and never miss an opportunity, allowing their subjects the space to share their perspectives and tell their own stories—many of them surprising, some of them shocking, all of them intriguing—bringing listeners to the inside of an opaque industry during New York’s epoch of the X-rated.

 

 

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Trailer for "Insert Coin," a new documentary about the creators of the biggest videogames of the 1990s

"Insert Coin" is a new documentary about Midway, the Chicago-based videogame developer that transformed the industry with Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and other coin-op classics. Director Joshua Tsui funded the film via this Kickstarter and will premiere at the SXSW Film Festival later this month. From the film description:

Eugene Jarvis, the creator of 80s classic videogames such as Defender and Robotron, returns to the industry in the 90s. In the process, he assembles a team that pioneers the concept of bringing live-action into videogames, kickstarting a new era in the arcades.

The technology mushrooms into massive hits such as Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam and soon the team begins to conquer the world. What began as a small tight-knit group begins to deal with success and eventually the rise of home consumer technology.

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More fun mortuary history with Caitlin Doughty

Since my post about dead babies wearing other babies' skulls as hats went over so well, I thought I'd share several more videos from my favorite funeral director and "death enthusiast," Caitlin Doughty.

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Play 17th-century London Death Roulette

Matt Round's Death Roulette is a game that randomly selects for you one of the many deaths recorded in 17th-century London.

In the week of July 11th, 1665 you died from Imposthume (swelling or abscess)

The use of scans of the actual records is very effective! Read up on the death searchers. Read the rest

Pop-up book of classic Sega arcade cabinets

Sega Arcade: Pop-Up History [Read Only Memory] is a beautifully-illustrated hardcover book about six classic Sega "body sensation" arcade cabinets – Hang-On, Space Harrier, Out Run, After Burner, Thunder Blade and Power Drift – complete with pop-up cardboard models.

Accompanying this 3D showcase is a written history from Guardian games writer and best-selling novelist, Keith Stuart, punctuated by specially restored production artwork and beautifully reproduced in-game screens. The book features contributions from arcade game innovator Yu Suzuki, who offers first-hand insight into the development of these groundbreaking games and the birth of the Taiken cabinet phenomenon.

The book's £35 and shipping now.

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Powerful Iwo Jima WWII footage shot by marines in combat and never seen publicly

Today is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Iwo Jima, when the US Marines and Navy invaded and captured the island from the Imperial Japan Army. Almost 7,000 Allied troops and 18,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. The University of South Carolina's Moving Image Research Collections is now helping the History Division of the Marine Corps digitize and make public mostly unseen film footage shot by marines in combat during the battle. There are 14,000 cans of film undergoing the digitization and preservation process. The videos above and below are barely a teaser of what's to come. From the University of South Carolina:

From the beginning, Marine Corps leaders knew they wanted a comprehensive visual account of the battle — not only for a historical record but also to assist in planning and training for the invasion of the Japanese main islands. Some Marine cameramen were assigned to the front lines of individual units, and others to specific activities, such as engineering and medical units. Films from these units show the daily toll of the battle such as Marines being treated in the medical units or being evacuated off the island to hospital ships as well as essential behind-the-lines tasks of building command posts or unloading and sorting equipment on beaches....

Another goal of the Marine Corps film project is to identify and label as much of the historical information in the films as possible, such as Marine Corps units and equipment. In addition to manually scanning the films for this information, Moving Images Research Collections has partnered with Research Computing and the university’s Computer Vision Lab, a research group within the College of Engineering and Computing, to use artificial intelligence to recognize text in the films to help identify units as well as individual Marines, airplanes and ships.

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The History Guy explores our 5,000 year love affair with chocolate

In this video, The History Guy looks at our 5,000-year-plus love affair with chocolate. Some really interesting things that I was not aware of. Like the fact that for most of chocolate's history, it has been a bitter, often fermented drink. The Spanish word, chocolate, is a translation of an Aztec word which may have meant "bitter drink."

The sweet and milk chocolate candies that we know today are a surprisingly modern invention, coming into their own in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as industrial machinery allowed for the refining, mixing, and processing of chocolate with other ingredients.

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Disputed Rembrandt is real, say experts

This 1632 portrait of a young woman was painted by the Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, says Allentown Art Museum, contrary to the judgement of the Rembrandt Research Project, which long-ago determined the painting was by an assistant or student.

Earlier X-ray analyses had led some historians to question the authenticity of the brushwork on the subject's face. The apparent lack of clarity in her clothing further fueled doubts, while additional concerns were raised over the artist's signature, which is painted differently from those found in many of his other works. But after embarking on conservation efforts in 2018, experts noticed signs that it may be an original Rembrandt. According to Shan Kuang, a conservator at NYU's Institute of Fine Arts who worked on the project, thick layers of varnish from a previous restoration had darkened over time, obscuring the brushstrokes and hiding the depth of appearance the artist was celebrated for.

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Shan Kuang–Old Master painting conservator at @nyuifa–shares the science behind restoring the Allentown Art Museum’s "Portrait of a Young Woman," recently reattributed to Rembrandt. The painting will return for viewing in the Museum’s Kress Gallery. • #atownartmuseum #artgallery #artwork #artlovers #artofvisuals #artstagram #artcollector #artlife #artmuseum #artmuseums #allentown #allentownpa #lehighvalley #liftyourspiritsdlv #discoverlehighvalley #downtownallentown #rembrandt #rembrandtartexperience #rembrandts #restoreart #restoringart #artrestoration #artrestorer #artrestoring #artrestorationandconservation

A post shared by Allentown Art Museum (@atownartmuseum) on Jan 17, 2020 at 8:11am PST

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Watch this impressive c.1929 footage of construction workers atop NYC's Chrysler Building

No, they aren't wearing any harnesses. But some of them are sporting rather dashing chapeaus. From Speed Graphic Film and Video:

New York's Chrysler Building, one of the city's most iconic skyscrapers, was built in a remarkably short time--foundation work began in November 1928, and the building officially opened in May 1930. Even more remarkably, the steelwork went up in just six months in the summer of 1929 at an average rate of four floors a week.

Fox Movietone's sound cameras visited the construction site several times in 1929 and 1930, staging a number of shots to maximize viewers' sense of the spectacular heights. Movietone almost never put somebody in front of a camera without giving them something to say, so a number of scenes include some staged dialogue.

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For 13 years, this photographer has been building an incredible 3D digital model of Athens

Starting in 2007, photographer and visual effects artist Dimitris Tsalkanis has been building a digital 3D model of ancient Athens. The result is an immersive historical recreation where everyone online is invited. How did Tsalkanis handle this Herculean (rather, Heraklean) task? He learned as he went. From Sarah Rose Sharp's article about Ancient Athens 3D in Hyperallergic:

“I had no previous experience on 3D and I started experimenting in my spare time,” said Tsalkanis in an email interview with Hyperallergic. “I always liked archaeology and since I am from Athens, I was always interested in its monuments and history. During my research, I realised that up until then no one had attempted a complete 3D reconstruction of ancient Athens..."

Tsalkanis stays up to date with his fantasy city, updating reconstructions constantly for better quality of models and better archaeological and historical accuracy...

Visitors to the site can browse reconstructions that date back as early as 1200 BCE, the Mycenaean period — or Bronze Age — through Classical Athens, featuring the rebuilds made necessary by the Greco-Persian War, and ages of occupation by Romans and Ottomans.

"Explore Ancient Athens Online Through 3D Models, Created by One Animator Over 12 Years" (Hyperallergic, thanks Mark Dery!)

Images below: "Aerial view of the Library of Hadrian" and "Panoramic view of the Acropolis," Dimitris Tsalkanis/Ancient Athens 3D

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1982's porn computer games of tomorrow

In 1982, at the height of the first video game boom, the magazine Porn Stars imagined what the porn titles of the future would look like. Bacchus at Erosblog fished out the amazing mockups. You can see the full NSFW spread there; here's Ron Jeremy's idea for Penile Command, a pisstiche of the then cutting-edge Missile Command.

Kinky aliens are trying to destroy the earth with golden showers. Defend your cities with a giant umbrella or build an ark to prevent ultimate destruction.

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Today in History: Bob Marley was born. He'd have been 75 in 2020.

Reggae legend and activist Bob Marley was born on this day in 1945. He would have turned 75 this year. Read the rest

The ancient world's greatest board games

Ludus Latrunculorum. Senet. Chaturanga. And don't forget Hnefatafl. These were just some of the board games that ancient people were into thousands of years ago. Over at Smithsonian, Meilan Solly explains "The Best Board Games of the Ancient World." From the magazine:

The rules of Mehen remain unclear, as the game faded from popularity following the decline of Egypt’s Old Kingdom and is sparsely represented in the archaeological record.

Writing in 1990, Egyptologist Peter A. Piccione explained, “Based upon what we know of this game ... the feline game pieces moved in a spiral along the squares, apparently, from the tail on the outside to the head of the serpent at the center.” The spherical, marble-like tokens may have been similarly rolled through the “longer spiralling grooves.”

In Patolli, a gambling game invented by the early inhabitants of Mesoamerica, players raced to move pebbles from one end of a cross-shaped track to the other. Drilled beans used as dice dictated gameplay, but the exact rules of “entry and movement” remain unknown, as Parlett notes in the Oxford History of Board Games.

Among the Aztecs, Patolli held unusually high stakes, with participants wagering not just physical goods or currency, but their own lives. As Diego Durán, a Dominican friar who authored a 16th-century tome on Aztec history and culture, explained, “At this and other games the Indians not only would gamble themselves into slavery, but even came to be legally put to death as human sacrifices.”

Images from top down: "Senet from the Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund; "Mehen" by Anagoria (CC BY 3.0 Read the rest

A guide to Silicon Valley’s High-Tech Heritage Trail

Over at The Startup on Medium, David Laws, semiconductor curator at the wonderful Computer History Museum, has prepared a fascinating guide to Silicon Valley's "high-tech heritage trail exploring places that housed the early stirrings of the digital revolution." Covering the "30-mile corridor from Stanford University to the former IBM disk-drive campus," Laws visits dozens of historical locations in the area including the spot where in 1908 Cyril Elwell demonstrated wireless telephony, the Stanford Research Park where Russel and Sigurd Varian invented the klystron microwave tube in 1937, and the location of Fairchild Semiconductor, fabricators of the first "monolithic integrated circuit (computer chip)" in 1960. Here are a few other great stops on the tour:

Apple and Steve Jobs, the most famous beneficiaries of Xerox innovations, borrowed the Alto’s GUI, mouse, and other features to differentiate the Macintosh from the rest of the early PC pack. Together with Steve Wozniak, Jobs co-founded Apple Computer and built the Apple 1 in his parents’ suburban tract home... at 2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos. Private residence, do not disturb...

Mountain View

Scientists and engineers fabricated the first silicon devices in the Valley at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in a former apricot packing shed at 391 San Antonio Road, Mountain View in 1956. Razed in 2014 for a multi-use commercial development, the lab site is commemorated with an IEEE Milestone plaque, an interpretive panel, and towering semiconductor device sculptures mounted in the sidewalk. (photo above)...

South Valley

Known as Andy Capp’s Tavern in 1972, Rooster T.

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