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Killers, crooks and vampires: Thrilling pages from Penny Dreadfuls

001pendread.jpg
 
The “penny dreadful” was the name given to an incredible publishing phenomenon that flourished in Victorian Britain between the mid-1830s and the early 1900s. The penny dreadful or “penny blood” was a luridly illustrated booklet or magazine—usually of some sixteen pages in length—filled with sensationalist tales of highwaymen, murderers, cannibals, bounders, vagabonds, vampires and thieves. 

The first known penny dreadful was published on Saturday April 30th, 1836 under the title The Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads and Murderers. The cover featured a fight between a gang of ne’er-do-wells—led by Grimes Bolton, a notorious robber and cannibal—and a group of gamekeepers. The success of The Lives of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads and Murderers led to an unprecedented range of similar publications which reached their height around the mid-1860s.

Originally penny dreadfuls focussed on thrilling tales of adventure but through time these fell out of fashion as the audience demanded increasingly lurid stories. These magazines hit pay-dirt with tales of true crime (Jack the Ripper being the best known subject) and grotesque fantasies of such creations as the murderous Sweeney Todd—the Demon Barber of Fleet Street; the bloodthirsty Varney the Vampire or the demonic urban legend of Spring-Heeled Jack—The Terror of London.

The penny dreadful ushered in a new era of publishing—launching a whole range of magazines and periodicals that benefitted from new printing technology and from the markets opened up by the penny dreadful. Political and educational serial publications similarly benefitted from the pioneering work of penny dreadfuls. But it wasn’t all money-making business. Before the Education Act of 1870 introduced free education for all, the penny dreadful can take some credit for encouraging generations of young men and women to read.

As tastes changed, the penny dreadful dropped in popularity—the now literate audience wanted more nuanced and stimulating tales. However, the genres it launched (horror, detective and true-life crime) continued and flourished under writers like Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells.
 
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More pages from penny dreadfuls, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Did Charlie Chaplin really lose a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest?
06.29.2016
01:10 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Movies

Tags:
Charlie Chaplin


 
There are some ideas that are so irresistible that mind gravitates towards them whether they’re true or not. For instance, you’ve probably heard it said more than once that you can boil a frog by increasing the temperature slowly over a period of time, and the frog will not notice and neglect to jump out in time. It isn’t true, but that will do nothing to prevent you from hearing it several more times, I’ll wager. Similarly, the idea that Eskimos have some preposterous number of terms to describe snow is, at best, a highly contested one, but something that comes up a lot as well.

Another such idea is that Charlie Chaplin failed to win a Charlie Chaplin lookalike contest. I’ve been hearing this one for many years—I think it was actually featured on a Trivial Pursuit card back in the ‘80s—but I’ve always wondered what the truth was.

What’s for certain is that the necessary ingredients for such a tale did exist. In other words, Chaplin’s first movie successes around 1914 sparked a worldwide phenomenon called “Chaplinitis,” in which audiences simply could not get enough of his winsome Little Tramp character. For later generations the obvious comparison is the Beatlemania that hit in 1963 and 1964. It seems incontestable that Chaplin was the first authentic mass media phenomenon, quite possibly the one against which all others must be judged.

The power of Chaplin rested in part on the ability of the newish technology of motion pictures to resonate instantly among mass audiences—there was no barrier to entry whatsoever. As Charles Silver writes in his MoMA monograph Charles Chaplin: An Appreciation, “No particular level of sophistication or even literacy was necessary ... to see that he was special; you only had to see.”
 
Much more after the jump…....
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Grand Theft Auto vs COSMOS: Carl Sagan’s narration over GTA scenes is actually pretty amazing


 
An Irish YouTube user by the name of Duggy uses the Editor function in Grand Theft Auto V to create his own short video works, or as he puts it, “I attempt to put scenes from my head onto GTA’s world.” His most successful pieces are three shorts, created over the course of the last year, that drop GTA scenes under Carl Sagan’s narration from the original 1980 mini-series Cosmos.

These work surprisingly well, and probably not in the way you might be thinking—rather than relying on a collision of Sagan’s optimistic, wonder-filled exposition against the game’s notorious violence to achieve a cheap, ironic laugh, Duggy plays these straight, and the results are actually quite poignant! So yes, some of their effectiveness derives from a holy-shit-this-is-from-GTA frisson, there’s a bit more more going on than that.

I’d love to see some of these with voice-overs from the 2014 series hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Ridiculous Vines of hip-hop beats dropped behind fast-talking auctioneers
06.28.2016
12:13 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Hip-hop

Tags:
Auctioneer Beats

 
Here’s something at least mildly amusing of your midday yucks: Vines of fast-talking auctioneers with hip-hop beats!

There’s not much say as the videos certainly can speak for themselves. Play them all at once for a total mindfuck and watch the whole world collapse in on itself.

If you want to see more, you can follow Auctioneer Beats here on Vine.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Awesome anatomical models of cartoon, video game and toy characters
06.28.2016
08:46 am

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Amusing
Art
Pop Culture

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Jason Freeny


 
These are just great—sculptor/illustrator Jason Freeny produces anatomical models of well known animated characters—Bugs Bunny, Popeye, a certain notoriously litigious mouse. Some of them are mass-produced (his Bugs and Batman are on Amazon, and many others are available on his web store), some are one-of-a-kind. The individual sculptures, as you’ll see in Freeny’s time-lapse demonstration video below, are made by building individually crafted skeletons and organs into existing vinyl figures that he carefully opens up. The results are seamless and often hilarious. While the originals can be cost-prohibitive, he’s so accommodating as to offer prints of his work for the many among us who just can’t spring four figures for a Mr. Potato Head autopsy, as much as we’d like to.
 

 
Plenty more after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Ouija board, ouija board would you work for me?’: Morrissey-themed ouija board
06.24.2016
01:55 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Belief
Music

Tags:
Morrissey
ouija board


Image via Little Lost Robot on Flickr
 
Here’s another one of those, “WHY didn’t I think of this!” ideas. Seems like an obvious thing to make, yet no one really has except for artist Mike Maas. It appears Maas made these glorious limited-edition ouija boards a few years back. Whether or not any are still available or can be purchased, remains unseen. I couldn’t find any on his website. Perhaps they’re all gone. Boo!

If you’re interested in owning one, there is a contact section on Maas’ website. You never know!


 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
A breakdown of what John, Paul, George & Ringo were worth back in 1966
06.24.2016
11:38 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
The Beatles
1960s


Rave Magazine, December 1966.
 
In this fascinating article from the December 1966 issue of English pop-music magazine RAVE, George Tremlett (a pop music writer and author of various cash-in paperback books on David Bowie, David Essex, and The Who) broke down how much each member of The Beatles were worth back back then.
 

 
Armed with data collected from the London Board of Trade, Tremlett was able to ascertain that the fab-four were pulling in approximately £4 million pounds collectively a year with help from such endeavours as record sales, songwriting royalties, films and live appearances. With all that cash floating around you’d think that perhaps the band would had a good grasp on how much they were worth—but John, Ringo and George were fairly clueless when they were asked if they knew how rich they actually were:

John Lennon: We’ve asked them to to tell us how much we’ve got but they can’t—the money comes in from so many places

George Harrison: I never buy anything without asking our accountants—I just phone them up and they tell me whether I can afford it.

Ringo Starr: The accountants say I’m alright—that’s all I want to know.

The English pound sterling was basically a £1 to $2.80 exchange rate back in 1966. £1 in 1966 was equal to £$7.43 in 2016. Considering that the modern music industry was still then in its relative infancy, that’s some amazing earnings, which would only have gotten better for Lennon and McCartney once their songwriting royalties would have picked up in the latter part of the decade. Or at least one would have thought…

Of course that year’s Revolver begins with George Harrison’s lament about the “Taxman” and here’s the rub: The Beatles were in a tax bracket that I cannot imagine most people in Britain found themselves in other than maybe Sean Connery and a few captains of industry. Taxes in 1966 were notoriously confiscatory in Britain in the 1960s reaching as high as 85% for the wealthy, but there was also a “super tax” surcharge of 15% on top of that. For those making over £1,000,000 the progressive tax rate during Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s Labour party administration was 95%. Think about that for a second. No wonder the Beatles seemed to have no idea what state their finances were in.

Rather heartwarming to discover the fact that each of the Fab Four used some of their earnings to purchase homes for their parents (or in John Lennon’s case a home for his Auntie). Awww.

Check out the Beatles cash-flow breakdown after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Dave Grohl, Lemmy, The Dude, ‘American Psycho’ and many more garden gnomes
06.23.2016
12:38 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Movies
Music

Tags:
gnomes


American Psycho gnome here.

If you, like me, are tending a garden and feel it needs something extra… then why not adorn it with with one of these delightful garden gnomes by Ian the Gnome? I mean, there’s something for everyone! If you love The Big Lebowski there’s a gnome for that. If you’re a Doyle from The Misfits fanatic… there’s a gnome for that, too!

The prices for the garden gnomes can range anywhere from $40 to $85. I put a link below each gnome to direct you to its page and where to buy.

Happy gardening.


Dave Grohl gnome here.
 

A Clockwork Orange gnome here.
 

The Dude here.
 
More gnomes after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Mabel: 1970s Danish disco glam rockers go all hair metal & take some bad advice from David Lee Roth
06.23.2016
10:33 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
Denmark
David Lee Roth
Mike Tramp
Mabel


An early promo shot of Danish band Mabel with a shirtless teenage Michael Trempenau (aka Mike Tramp of hair metal band White Lion) second from the left.
 
Hailing from a part of the world that seems to produce more blonde-haired people than anywhere else, Danish glam band Mabel got their big break sometime in the mid-70s when their vocalist Gert Von Magnus caught the eye of Tam Paton—a man who was overseeing the burgeoning career of the Bay City Rollers and got the band the opening slot for his teenybopper idols at a gig in Copenhagen.
 

Mabel, 1978.

But poor Magnus never got to taste the success Mabel would go on to have as he was quickly replaced by another Dane, fifteen-year-old Michael Trempenau who was going by the name “Mike Tramp.” And if that name has got your heavy metal bells ringing it’s for good reason as Tramp would eventually go on to front early-80s hair band White Lion. With Tramp’s addition to Mabel the band started their slow slide toward a more disco sound—a move that made the band a hugely popular attraction in Germany and Spain. In the late 70s Mabel moved their operation to Spain after gaining more notoriety when their catchy number “Boom Boom” was chosen as the official Danish selection for the Eurovision Song Contest in 1978. Things were going well for Mabel but their young vocalist wasn’t super into the band’s pop-music vibe and was instead digging heavily on bands like Van Halen and AC/DC. Tramp convinced his bandmates to switch things up by changing their name from Mabel to the more manly sounding “Studs” and trying their hand a more rock-oriented sound.
 
Keep rockin’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘I know it’s illegal, but it’s the weekend’: Man with 80 speaker sound system in his van rocks out
06.23.2016
10:15 am

Topics:
Amusing
Music

Tags:
sound systems
vans


Image via NYPD 110th Precinct on Twitter
 
THIS! This is what vans are made for! Meet Nelson Hidalgo, a 47-year-old man from Queens, who was busted by the cops over the weekend for allegedly playing loud as fuck rock music through his 80 speaker sound system. This guy knows how to party. He’s my new “van man crush”!

Nelson Hidalgo, with Coors Light in hand, allegedly plastered the back of his van with about 80 different speakers ranging in size and swung the doors open, blasting music through Willets Point on Saturday night.

Hidalgo, armed with several high-output amplifiers parked at the intersection of 127th Street and 35th Avenue at about 10:45 p.m., and drew a large crowd, police said.

According to reports, police received numerous noise complaints over Hidalgos’ boss 80 speaker sound system. “I spent over $20 grand on this equipment,” Hidalgo allegedly told police, according to court records.

Hidalgo supposedly went on to say, “I know it’s illegal, but it’s the weekend.” ROCK THE FUCK ON!

Hidalgo, who has no prior arrests, was charged with second-degree criminal nuisance, general noise prohibition, disorderly conduct, and obstructing the driver’s view.

He was released without bail, and is expected to be in court on August 1.

I love this man and his van full of speakers.

via Arbroath

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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