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‘The Lottery’: Do you remember seeing this horrifying and scary film in grade school?
02.28.2017
10:54 am

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The Lottery
 
Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery,” appeared in the June 26, 1948, issue of The New Yorker. The response to the fictional piece, which concerns a small-town tradition that ends in horrific violence, was profoundly negative. While many were dumbfounded by Jackson’s story, others were deeply disturbed. Here’s one such response: “I read it while soaking in the tub…and was tempted to put my head underwater and end it all.” Readers were shaken and outraged by it—even Jackson’s own parents let her know they didn’t like the piece. In all, the author received over 300 letters about “The Lottery”; only thirteen were positive. But what was the moral of the story? Thoughtless conformity can lead to cold-blooded killing? Ordinary people are capable of committing unspeakable atrocities? Cruelty is random? In July 1948, Jackson explained what she was trying to convey.

I suppose I hoped, by setting a particularly brutal ancient rite in the present and in my own village, to shock the story’s readers with a graphic dramatization of the pointless violence and general inhumanity in their own lives.

 
Shirley Jackson
 
Two decades later, a film adaption of “The Lottery” was produced by the Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation. The 1969 short went on to become one of the bestselling educational films of all time.

I first saw The Lottery in a middle school English class, and was around twelve years old. I was wholly unfamiliar with Shirley Jackson’s story, and as my teacher didn’t introduce the film, I was completely unprepared for what I was about to see. During the final moments, the matter of fact nature of the violence was so shocking…I mean, I was stunned. STUNNED. When the film ended, so did class, and I have no memory of talking to anyone about the film. What I do remember is that I had gym next, and vividly recall sitting on a bench in the boy’s locker room, dazed and shell-shocked, trying to make sense of it all. The Lottery scared the shit out of me, and I’ve never forgotten that moment. Thanks to the Internet, I know now I wasn’t the only one so strongly affected by it.

I never read the short story, so watching this short film was a true shocker for me. Like many other people, I saw this in my English class a long time ago, and since then, I still haven’t seen it. But I still remember that time; it really stays with you. I remember everyone in my class with their jaws dropping, we couldn’t believe it. (IMDb user review)

More after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Meet the Cubies: Modern Art spoof from 1913
02.27.2017
09:54 am

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The wrong side of history

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The revolution started on February 17, 1913, when four thousand members of the American public were confronted by the work of a group of European artists exhibited at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue, New York. The shock of this cultural invasion, called the Armory Show, claimed many. Some laughed. Some fumed. Some had an attack of the vapors. There were even those who felt their senses had (somehow) been physically assaulted by the canvases painted by artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and in particular Marcel Duchamp whose Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 proved to be the most sensational exhibit on display. This, many critics and members of the public claimed, was not art, it was mere childlike daubing. It was anarchy. 

When the exhibition arrived in Chicago, the Illinois Legislative Investigators probed “the Moral Tone of the Much Touted Art” over its “many indecent canvasses and sculptures.” When a third city Boston capitulated to the exhibition later that year, Modernism had arrived in America and nothing would ever be the same.
 
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Press respond to the Armory Show from 1913.
 
While some welcomed this cultural shift, there were many who clung to the security of the old order of classical art. In 1913, writer Mary Chase Mills Lyall (1879-1963) and illustrator Earl Harvey Lyall (1877-1932) produced an ABC book—intended for both adults and children—which poked fun at this strange new art. Their book The Cubies featured three ultra-modern, triangular figures of indeterminate sex who “moon over anything Cubist and scorn objectivity.” They owed their “incubation” to the Association of American Painters and Sculptors who had organized the Armory Show. Together these three characters lead the reader through their modernist manifesto of art:

A is for Art in the Cubies’ domain–
(Not the Art of the Ancients, brand-new are the Cubies.)
Archipenko’s their guide, Anatomics their bane;
They’re the joy of the mad, the despair of the sane,
(With their emerald hair and their eyes red as rubies.)
—A is for Art in the Cubies’ domain.

B is for beauty as Brancusi viewed it. C is for “Color Cubistic” where artists are advised to throw paint on a canvas and then exhibit it. D is for Duchamp “the Deep-Dyed Deceiver.” And so on and so on.

Their intention was to belittle and to deride the pernicious influence of this “shock of the new.” What happened next to this husband and wife team is unimportant. It was how America’s artists responded to the challenge set by the Armory Show that mattered. Artists responded not with a hankering for the past but with radical imagination and innovation which placed the United States at the center of Modern Art for the next sixty years.
 
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Read the rest of ‘The Cubies,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Haunting photographs from ‘The Blue Bird’ a fantasy play performed in Moscow in 1908
02.24.2017
09:07 am

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Actress Maria Germanova in character as a fairy for the 1908 stage production of ‘The Blue Bird.’
 
The captivating images of actors in full costume and character for a performance of The Blue Bird are apparently the only extant visual reminders of the play as it premiered, originally directed by Konstantin Stanislavski in 1908 at Moscow Art Theatre. Written by Belgian playwright and poet Maurice Maeterlinck, it has had many adaptations throughout the decades since, most notably the 1940 film by director Walter Lang who cast a twelve-year-old Shirley Temple as an irritable child who, with her brother, set out in search of the Bluebird of Happiness. The intention of 20th Century Fox was to give the smash The Wizard of Oz a run for its money, but it was a dismal box office failure. To its credit, the film would later be nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects. Another notable adaptation would come in 1976 when director George Cukor would try his had at another remake of the film this time with starring Elizabeth Taylor. Though it was packed with star power—including Jane Fonda and Ava Gardner—it was a twelve million dollar flop.

At its foundation, Maeterlinck’s play is a story of wistful yearning told from the perspective of a brother and sister who are dissatisfied with their lives. When a fairy becomes aware of their discontent, she sets them off in search of the Blue Bird of Happiness. The pair travel through various fantasy worlds in search of the elusive bird—which serves as a metaphor for their search for their own spirituality. If after reading this description you feel a little lightheaded—it’s perfectly understandable. The Blue Bird is a weirdly, wonderful story that closely parallels plotlines in The Wizard of Oz. The concept for the wildly creative costumes worn by the actors at the Moscow Art Theatre was conceived by the theater’s owner Constantin Stanislavski who enlisted the help of artist V. E. Yevgenoff to create them.

According to historians well versed on the Moscow Art Theatre, which at the time was considered one of the most vital dramatic arts communities in the world, anything connected with the 1908 production was destroyed once WWI commenced in 1914, with the exception of these photographs. Despite their age and lack of color, they are remarkably vivid. While they are all stunning, the images of actress Maria Germanova (who played the mythical fairy in The Blue Bird and is best known for her role in the silent film based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel Ana Karenina) are particularly arresting.
 

Maria Germanova.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
An erotic alphabet based on the Kama Sutra (NSFW)
02.16.2017
11:54 am

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In 2012 Penguin published a new “deluxe” edition of the Kama Sutra translated by A. N. D. Haksar. For the cover art Penguin hired a brilliant graphic artist named Malika Favre, who incontestably came up with a marvelous and witty design by inventing an entire sexy alphabet based on the positions in the book.
 

 
If you take the jacket off of the hardcover edition and spread it out, it spells “KAMA SUTRA” in Favre’s alphabet.

There’s a website dedicated to the alphabet in which you can see the entire alphabet ... in motion! On the site you could once purchase lovely prints of individual letters, but it looks like they’re all sold out.
 
A closer look at the individual letters, after the jump…...
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
This new Japanese reference book is designed to help you draw lazy people
02.14.2017
01:11 pm

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If you have ever taken a serious art class, you probably used a guide to drawing the human figure, such as Harold Speed’s The Practice and Science of Drawing, Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, or some other one. Not everyone is born with top-notch draftsmanship skills, so for the rest of us such instructional resources can be indispensable in helping incipient artistes bring some order and proportion to their imagery. 

In Japan there is a new manual that specializes in drawing what can be described as “lazy people in casual poses.” No, really—the title of the book is Daratto shita Pose Catalogue, which translates to “Lazing About Pose Catalogue.” Sure enough, many of its 800 pictures feature young men and women slumped down, slouching, draped over a table listlessly, lolling around in bed, and so on.

Why, it’s enough to make your average member of the Baby Boom generation have a fit! Quit that lollygagging and get a job!!
 

 
It’s difficult to know how accurately to take that translation, “Lazing About Pose Catalogue”; it could be that the original verbiage means “casual” without much judgment. And this could also partly be an offshoot of what Americans regard as a more formal public culture in Japan—maybe it’s a little bit harder to get models to simulate a state of repose, thus creating a demand for a book like this as a counter-measure. Who knows, it’s all possible.

Even if all of the above might be true, let’s face it, judging from the pictures, this book really does feature models hitting some exceptionally lazy-looking poses!

This one spread is useful for depicting lazy people on a variety of furniture, such as chairs and sofas.

 
The book is available from Amazon Japan for 2,700 yen (about $23) starting March 6.
 

 

 
More lazy-ass poses after the jump….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
None more black: The grim American gothic horrors of ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’
02.13.2017
11:56 am

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Black River Falls’ Miss Congeniality circa 1890

Between the years 1890 and 1900, something terribly wrong happened to the good people of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. A tiny mining town populated mostly by Norwegian and German immigrants lured by the promise of cheap land, the once-bustling community fell into disrepair in the late 1880s when the inhospitable climate caused the mines to shut down, essentially dooming the town and everyone in it. While the town did ultimately survive, the ensuing decade was merciless to Black River Falls residents. A thick, impenetrable darkness descended on the town as the population withered, succumbing to poverty, disease, madness, murder, and worse.
 

 
In 1973, Michael Lesy told the terrible true tale of Black River Falls in Wisconsin Death Trip, a book that juxtaposed stark images shot by photographer Charles Van Schaick, who documented the town’s downward spiral in a series of jarring portraits, with matter-of-fact newspaper reports of all the murder, mayhem, devil-worship, suicide, hauntings and general bedlam that infected the town like a virus. If ever a place was cursed, it was Black River Falls, and Wisconsin Death Trip remains one of the bleakest, most devastating accounts of rural American life ever published. Seriously, this place was essentially Hell on Earth.
 

All this and diphtheria, too: a typically unsettling slice of life death in Black River Falls.
 
Witness, if you will, just a smattering of the horrors within:

A ten-year-old boy and his younger brother run away from home, find a remote farm several miles away and promptly blow the owner’s head off. They spend the rest of the summer frolicking at the ill-gotten farmhouse until the farmer’s brother comes for a visit. The boy is sentenced to life in jail.

A funeral director is suspected of botching a burial. The woman’s body is exhumed and the woman is found to have been buried alive, her fingers bitten half off in madness after discovering her horrific fate.

A sixty-year-old woman, afraid that the rash on her back would kill her, steps into her backyard, douses herself with gasoline and self-immolates.

A young mother takes her three children out for a day at the beach, and then drowns them, one by one, while the others watch. A fifteen-year-old Polish girl burns down her employer’s barn—and his house—because she wanted some “excitement.” 

A young German man, having only moved to Black River Falls a month prior, attempts suicide by train, lying down on the tracks and refusing to move. He is finally removed by four men. He later vanishes.

A teenage girl, jilted at the altar by her fiance, goes mad with grief, hanging herself in the local asylum. Meanwhile a young man, also recently jilted, shoots his ex-fiance and then himself. A recently divorced man shoots his ex-wife and her family dead in the crowded town square.

An outbreak of diphtheria kills off a score of local children. The school is closed and the houses of the afflicted burned to the ground. A formerly world famous opera singer moves to town and within a month is reduced to eating chicken feed to survive.

A farmer decapitates all of his chickens and burns down his farmhouse, convinced that the devil has taken over his farm. A drifter is taken in by a kindly family. He has dinner with them and as they sleep, he shoots them all and then himself.

And there’s more, so much more. Just endless misery death, murder, mutilation, arson, starvation, cruelty and unrelenting depression. And all in the space of just a few years.
 

 
In 1999, a highly unsettling documentary based on Lesy’s book was released. Also titled Wisconsin Death Trip, it showed the photographs, recounted the newspaper reports, and recreated many of the crimes in black and white, bringing Black River Falls’ grisly past to life. The film also juxtaposes the town’s lunatic ancestors with dead-eyed portraits of the then-current residents, less murderous but still as dazed and depressed as ever, staring blankly into the camera at nursing homes or bus stops, clearly waiting for the Lord or somebody merciful to end their dreary, pointless existences. I would not recommend consuming both the book and the documentary in one sitting unless you have a bucket of Prozac handy, but I will say this: You might think you’re pretty goth ‘n all with your serial killer books and your Bauhaus records, but you are definitely not Black River Falls goth. Those motherfuckers were the real deal.

Watch ‘Wisconsin Death Trip’ after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
Hell in 3-D: Stereoscopic pictures of Satan and his Underworld from 1875
02.09.2017
09:48 am

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‘Hell.’
 
Welcome to Hell!

As your tour guide today to our great Satanic Majesty’s diabolic underworld, may I suggest you pay close attention to the handy stereoscopic guide which was issued to you on your arrival. This is our most up-to-date edition which was published in 1875. Now I know some of you are already complaining it’s not on Kindle or Oculus Rift or whatever that new-fangled virtual reality shit you have up there. Well, this is Hell. Things aren’t meant to be easy here. In fact everything is meant to be a pain in the ass—though admittedly the music is pretty good down here. Anyway…

Stereoscopic images are very popular here as they once were back in the 1800s. It’s a simple way to see things in 3-D.

This infernal guide book was produced by two Frenchmen, François Benjamin Lamiche and Adolphe Block, sometime during the late 1860s and early 1870s. And as you can see from their exquisite handcrafted models—which always remind me of those skeletons Ray Harryhausen made for Jason and the Argonauts—Hell has plenty of interesting torments, punishments and the odd occasional pleasure…but not for you.

So, why not browse the brochure and get ready for some unrelenting torment, hm? Any questions? What? Oh, no, no, no. There are no rest rooms down here—you should surely know by now Hell is an eternity without relief.

Click on the double images for a closer look.
 
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‘Hell.’
 
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‘The railway to Hell.’
 
More old fashioned 3-D pictures of Hell, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Lurid covers from ‘Killing,’ the transcendentally trashy European murder comic
01.31.2017
11:00 am

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Crime

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In the early ‘60s, a distinctive anti-hero theme emerged in Italian comics. It was typified by Diabolik and Kriminal—both masters of disguise, and both thieves who preyed upon other criminals. Diabolik came first, in 1962, and Kriminal followed in 1964, adding the wrinkle that the protagonist was also a remorseless killer.

And in 1966, Killing blew both of them out of the water. The title character swiped Kriminal’s costume—a skeleton costume topped with a skull mask—but Kriminal’s was bright yellow, and Killing sported a more standard Halloween-issue black and white union suit. Killing (a/k/a Satanik, a/k/a Sadistik, a/k/a Kilink…) further upped the ante in the violence department by eschewing comic book style drawings in favor of photo illustrations, so all the violence was represented graphically with Grand Guignol theatrical effects. The resulting book was misogynistic as hell and utterly without redeeming value, so naturally it became a trans-oceanic phenomenon, published under the various names listed above not just in Italy, but Germany, Belgium, and several South American nations.
 

 

 
Much more mayhem and ‘Killing’ after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Bettie Page, even more eye-popping in 3-D
01.30.2017
07:05 am

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The cover of 1989’s ‘The Betty Page 3-D Picture Book.’

Though I’m sure the first thing you will notice about this book of photos and illustrations by Hugh Fleming (and others) of Bettie Page is that her name is not-so-curiously misspelled as “Betty” and not “Bettie.” The alternative spelling of Page’s name as “Betty” is actually fairly common, and its use can likely be traced back to photographer Bunny Yeager who worked with Page in the mid-50s. We also see the alternate spelling of Page’s name credited to Dave Stevens, the illustrator behind early 80s comic The Rocketeer and a Bettie Page superfan. In the comic “Betty,” the girlfriend of “Cliff Secord” (the Rocketeer’s alter-ego) was modeled after Page. Then in 1987 a fanzine detailing the bombshell’s real-life exploits called The Betty Pages became hugely popular thanks to its founder Greg Theakston. There are also other, more modern publications that also refer to Page as “Betty” including this naughty fetish book by Dirk Vermin that we’ve previously featured here on Dangerous Minds.

According to the introduction written by Dave Stevens, the photos that were used in the book came to him through a man named Walter Sigg who had a stash of color photos of Page in what Stevens refers to as “3-D,” many of which had never been seen before. Stevens’ mention of “Walter Sigg” is also curious as the only Walter Sigg of note that I able to conclusively identify was a Swiss graphic designer from Zurich. While I was frustrated by the fact that is seems Walter Sigg might not even exist, as Stevens’ notes in the book’s introduction color 3-D stereo slides of Page do exist and sometimes pop up on auction sites on sale for as much as $500 bucks. When it comes to the book itself, you can find copies of it for anywhere from $10 to $100 depending on its condition on eBay. I’ve included a few photos from the book which is an absolute must-have piece of memorabilia for any Bettie Page fanatic, below. And since this is Bettie Page we’re talking about, they are NSFW.
 

 

 
More Betty/Bettie in 3-D after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
This is where it’s f*ckin’ at: Classic Penguin book covers get subversive makeovers
01.27.2017
10:20 am

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‘This is Where Its Fuckin At (At Least It Used to Be),’ artist Harland Miller’s take on what I wish was a real vintage Penguin book.

Before comedian Scott Rogowsky took to the New York Subway with his hilariously subversive “fake” book covers such as Ass Eating Made Simple, English novelist and artist Harland Miller was busy creating a series of dubious and inflammatory paintings based on the classic covers of vintage of Penguin Books in 2001. And like the books Rogowsky used to shock weary NY subway riders, I’d love to imagine stumbling across a vintage paperback with the title Health and Safety is Killing Bondage. Don’t laugh, it could happen.

Many of our Dangerous Minds readers are likely already acquainted with Miller’s contributions to the world of literature. His 2000 novel, Slow down Arthur, Stick to Thirty centered around a young child who sets off to explore the northern parts of England with a David Bowie impersonator. Even the cover of Miller’s debut is worth bragging about as it includes a small image of Bowie as Ziggy clad in ski gear embroidered on a sweater. The paintings Miller composed for his Penguin Book series are huge—perhaps over six feet in length. His nostalgic works are lovingly realistic thanks to his skilled painting technique by which he is able to create the tactile appearance of wear and tear on a book’s spine, or the distressing of color due to age, sun damage or mistreatment. Miller’s caustic sense of humor is on full display with these faux covers and of the many images I’ve included in this post below, I can guarantee there is something that everyone will identify with. Which helps to reinforce what a treasure Mr. Miller is.

Seemingly unstoppable, Miller has kept churning out more of his charmingly debaucherous book covers. The artist has sold many of his original paintings, and when he does they go for anywhere between $5,000 to more than $30,000. Some contain language and concepts that are slightly NSFW.
 

 

 
Many more after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
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