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  • ‘You’re short, bald and ugly, Charlie Brown’: Marvelously crude and nasty Peanuts remix
    11:48 am


    Joe Matt
    Chester Brown

    We’ve all seen “Nietzsche Family Circus” and “Garfield Minus Garfield”—personally, I find “Shut Up, Garfield!” a more elegant and incisive take on the sad dementia of Jon Arbuckle. Not long ago we also had Danziggy.

    Such rude interventions into the iconography of comics are nothing new; Robert Armstrong was messing around with “Mickey Rat” (a scurrilous take on Disney’s Mickey Mouse, natch) in 1971, and Mad Magazine’s Mickey Rodent popped up way back in 1955. Still, the joys of stumbling upon a new variation of Archie and Jughead as gay lovers or Nazi sympathizers (depending on one’s mood) never gets old.

    I recently learned of a version of the culture-jamming approach used on Peanuts, the nearly universally beloved strip by Charles Schulz, with an unusually high pedigree. In 1993 a self-published mini-comic with a small run of 300 started making the rounds, with the title “You’re Short, Bald and Ugly, Charlie Brown!” in the familiar bubble letters similar to the ones Schulz used in many Sunday strips. The small volume was credited to “Dr. Casey ‘Sparky’ Finnegan,” which apparently is a reference to a Canadian children’s television series called Mr. Dressup (“Sparky” was the real life nickname of Charles Schulz). The volume was billed as a “A Roasted Peanuts Book.” At first glance, it was easy to take the strange strips inside for actual Peanuts strips, until one looked closer….. the dialogue didn’t match, indeed it was very rude in places.

    “You’re Short, Bald and Ugly, Charlie Brown!” has three sections, each the work of an individual detournist using a similar technique of replacing Schulz’s original dialogue. The first section simply places R-rated dialogue into the bubbles of Linus, Sally, Lucy, and the like, while the third section has Linus crushing hard on the kid with the big round head. The middle section, titled “Billiards,” takes a more original approach, turning a bunch of Charlie Brown/Linus panels into a kind of telenovela, perhaps, or a workaday translation of a finely wrought Argentinian novel, as in: “Juan, is your mother still playing herself silly with the billiards table that is in your family’s home?”

    As Shaenon Garrity has pointed out, it’s the “Billiards” section that makes “You’re Short, Bald and Ugly, Charlie Brown!” worth the trouble.

    More crudely modified ‘Peanuts’ after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Photos from the early 1900s of the mysterious ‘Hula Hoop’ girls of the Ziegfeld Follies

    A Ziegfeld Follies girl and her hula hoop. Photograph by Alfred Cheney Johnston, early 1900s.
    Sometime around 1917 the photographs of Alfred Cheney Johnston caught the eye of Florenz Ziegfeld the founder of the glamorous Ziegfeld Follies. The Follies were a musical and vaudeville revue that featured beautiful women clad in glamorous gowns as well as more risqué attire. At times some were partially nude. Johnson struck a deal with Ziegfeld to become the official photographer for the Follies and would go on to photograph Ziegfeld’s girls in various poses and stages of dress and undress for advertisements or lobby posters to help entice patrons to come on in and see the show.

    Though it sounds like Johnston had landed the greatest gig ever, according to his job description he was only allowed to photograph Ziegfeld’s girls with no more than an exposed thigh for it to be commercially viable. But that didn’t exactly stop Johnson from taking nude photos of the gorgeous girls of the Follies for over fifteen years.  His provocative images were quite the “hit” for all the right reasons. I recently came across photos taken by Johnston of some of the Ziegfeld girls posing with hula hoops and while many of them are far too risqué to post in a family publication (you can see them here if you’d like), I was able to find quite a few that I know you will enjoy oggling.

    Apparently nobody is quite sure what inspired Johnston to use the hula hoop as a prop but I for one am glad he did as they are wonderfully whimsical time capsules that defy explanation. The hula hoop most of us remember playing with came to be in 1958, although the history of a similarly-sized hoop dates back as far as ancient Egypt when in order to develop agility men would use a hoop to play a game using sticks, the objective was to control the hoop between them. Mind blown.

    A Ziegfeld girl with her ‘smoking doll.’

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    High school kids win spot on 1981 LP with their wonderfully shambolic cover of ‘Highway to Hell’
    10:46 am


    Brown Bags to Stardom

    Angus Young
    The obscure 1981 compilation album Brown Bags to Stardom was the result of a contest established the previous year by Honolulu radio station KIKI. 200+ Hawaiian high school acts competed for a spot on the LP, with nineteen ending up on the record. The highlights of Brown Bags to Stardom are the ramshackle contributions from teen rock bands Black Rose, and Brain Damage (Ha! Love the name!). “Rockin’ Roller” by Black Rose could pass for an AC/DC song—bonus points for the defiant lyrics about the contest—and is the vocalist a girl or just a very young boy? Brain Damage’s entry is an AC/DC song, a snotty, perfectly chaotic version of “Highway to Hell.” Sooooo great. 
    Brown Bags to Stardom
    Those are KIKI DJs—not very mature-looking teens—on the cover.

    I first got wind of these winning tracks via WFMU’s Beware of the Blog. In his post, DJ Tony Coulter nailed it when he referred to Brain Damage’s AC/DC cover as “wonderfully shambolic.”
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
    Nightmare fuel: Creepy animatronic characters from beyond the ‘uncanny valley’ of the dolls
    10:07 am



    Not that most folks ever go out looking for nightmare fuel, but just in case you happen to be in the market for some, might I recommend the website of Characters Unlimited, Inc.?

    Nevada-based Characters Unlimited, Inc. specializes in creating life-sized animatronic characters. These automatons have voice-activated jaws which will move to pre-recorded messages or respond to audio input from a wireless microphone.

    In aesthetics the “uncanny valley” is the notion that replicas appearing almost-but-not-quite human create feelings of uneasiness in the observer.

    Now, we’ve all seen these sorts of coin-operated dummies in fortune-telling booths and marksman games and novelty pizzerias, but these particular specimens are extra-special. It’s not really any kind of uncanny-valley-ness that makes them so horrifying. In fact, no one would mistake these grotesqueries for being anything close to human, and it would be difficult to pick any single one as the most frightening. They’re ALL pretty creepy.

    The site claims that prices on these things start at $495, which is a small price to pay for something that could potentially make SO MANY children cry.

    Check these guys out. My favorite is “Man With Black Face: Man Dressed as African-American.”

    More nightmare fuel after the jump…

    Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
    Unseen video of the Micronotz, Kansas punk comrades of William S. Burroughs, a DM premiere

    Randy “Biscuit” Turner’s cover art for the Micronotz’ third LP, The Beast That Devoured Itself
    Last year, I posted about the Micronotz (originally named “The Mortal Micronotz”), a punk band from Lawrence, Kansas that released four albums and a live EP between 1982 and 1986, all out of print for yonks. Hoboken’s Bar/None Records has just digitally reissued the band’s entire catalog, and to celebrate, we’ve got previously unseen video of the Micronotz playing at Minneapolis’ First Avenue 31 years ago, to the day!

    As you may know, William S. Burroughs was a punk sympathizer. He sent the Sex Pistols a telegram as a gesture of solidarity in ‘77, and when he moved to Lawrence in ‘81, he gave the local teenage punk band a song lyric he’d written. This nursery rhyme about a woman eating her children became “Old Lady Sloan,” a thrash tune on the debut The Mortal Micronotz. Years later, the author contributed to a Micronotz tribute album, doing his own interpretation of “Old Lady Sloan.”

    The Micronotz’ early records have the anger and momentum of punk, and the melodies and chords are continuous with garage rock tradition (i.e., not Flipper). They played with everybody, or everybody who came reasonably close to Lawrence: X, REM, Minor Threat, Hüsker Dü, Suicidal Tendencies, TSOL, et al. They even opened for SPK at the mindhurting Lawrence show captured on The Last Attempt at Paradise. American Hardcore (the book) likens them to the ‘Mats:

    TAD KEPLEY (Anarchist activist): The Micronotz from Lawrence were one of the original American Hardcore bands. They started playing in 1980, and broke up in 1986 after an album on Homestead. They never got the recognition they deserved. They were along the lines of the Replacements — and were equally as popular in the Midwest. They played Minneapolis all the time at First Ave/Seventh Street Entry, and they played Oz in Chicago. The first Micronotz record and EP could easily fall under Hardcore — the other bands back then certainly considered them to be Hardcore.

    More Micronotz after the jump…

    Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
    Meet the original Dairy Queen: Work by America’s first known butter sculptor
    08:38 am


    butter sculptures
    Caroline S. Brooks

    Caroline Shawk Brooks (1840 – 1913) charged a quarter for members of the public to come and watch her create sculptures from butter. Brooks was America’s first known butter sculptor. Her work attracted thousands of visitors to galleries when it was exhibited. Her most famous sculpture was of the blind princess Iolanthe from the verse drama King René’s Daughter by Danish poet Henrik Hertz. This beautiful butter sculpture alone drew a staggering two thousand paying visitors when it was exhibited for two weeks at a Cincinnati art gallery in 1874.

    Brooks was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. From a very early age she exhibited considerable aptitude in painting, drawing and sculpture. Her first known sculpture was a bust of Italian poet Dante made of clay taken from a local stream.

    By twelve she had won her first award—a gold medal for her sculpture of wax flowers. But alas a career in art was not considered a suitable occupation for a young woman. Brooks married a railroad engineer. Together they moved from Memphis, Tennessee to a farm in Phillips County, Arkansas. It was here in 1867 that Brooks made her first butter sculptures.

    Taking her lead from neighboring farmers’ wives—who made small floral designs using butter molds—Brooks began making original butter sculptures to supplement the family’s income. Rejecting the sculptor’s traditional tools—perhaps because they were difficult to obtain and too expensive—Brooks used the traditional dairy farmer’s “common butter-paddles, cedar sticks, broom straws and camel’s-hair pencils” to make her buttery creations.

    For around two years Brooks developed her sculptural talents. She then took time out to raise her daughter Mildred and work on the farm.

    In 1873, Brooks returned to butter sculpture when she made a bas relief for her local church. This particular work became the stuff of legend—it proved so popular people visited the church from neighboring states. One man from Memphis commissioned Brooks to produce a large butter sculpture of Mary Queen of Scots. It was the start of Brooks’ professional career as a butter sculptor.

    The very same year, Brooks produced her most famous work Dreaming Iolanthe, which was reviewed as a work of art by the New York Times. The paper said the “translucence” of the butter: to the complexion a richness beyond alabaster and a softness and smoothness that are very striking…no other American sculptress has made a face of such angelic gentleness as that of Iolanthe.

    By public demand—and because of the obvious impermanence of her sculpting materials—Brooks made several versions of Dreaming Iolanthe. One version was exhibited at the Centennial Exposition or World’s Fair in Philadelphia in 1876 where it was described as the “most beautiful and unique exhibit” on show.

    Unfortunately, Brooks did have her detractors—mostly idiotic men who claimed that only a man could be responsible for producing such beautiful, perfect butter sculptures. Brooks was unfazed. She decided to set up a workshop demonstrating her sculpting talents to a panel consisting of board members from the Exposition, a handful of newspaper hacks and a few of her most vociferous critics. In under two hours, Brooks produced yet another Dreaming Iolanthe.  It killed all criticism dead—much to the chagrin of a few cigar-chompin’ male chauvinists. Brooks was thereafter hailed as the “Butter Woman.”
    A newspaper advert for Brooks demonstrating her talent as a butter sculptor at the Armory Hall, Boston in 1877.
    Following directly on from her success at the Centennial Exposition, Brooks was asked to sculpt a life-size version of Iolanthe which was then sent to Paris for exhibition at the World’s Fair in 1878. It was a tremendous success. Brooks was now internationally recognized as a talented, pioneering butter sculptor.

    Eventually she moved on from sculpting in butter to working with marble, stone and clay. However, Brooks always said she preferred working with butter as it was more malleable and delivered better results. Her later works included marble portrait busts of Thomas Carlyle, George Elliot, James A. Garfield, Emanuel Swedenborg, and members of the Vanderbilt family.

    Apart from dealing with petty and truculent men, Brooks had to devise ways to transport her butter sculptures far across land and sea. Brooks invented special tanks filled with ice which kept her work chilled. This was understandably problematic on long ocean voyages where maintaining the correct temperature was difficult. When her work arrived in France, Brooks found it amusing to see customs officials itemise her work not as sculptures but in terms of pounds of butter.

    Due to the nature of her materials there are only a few photographs of Brooks’ butter sculptures available. But thankfully what we do have is a beautiful testament to Brooks’ extraordinary talents. Someone should really think about making a film about this pioneering artist’s life.
    Feminist artist Caroline S. Brooks in front of one of her butter sculptures.
    ‘A Study in Butter’ Life-sized version of ‘The Dreaming Iolanthe,’ ca. 1878.
    More of Caroline S. Brooks’ butter sculptures, after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ gets vintage cover from pulp master Robert E. McGinnis

    TV fans are already lamenting the impending resolution of Game of Thrones likely to arrive in 2018 with a shortened 8th season, and so the chase for a suitably addictive replacement has been underway for some time now. Right now the heir apparent to take over that hole in our hearts is, without question the Starz adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

    For those wondering how you can get roughly 60 episodes of TV mega-narrative out of a brisk 465 pages (brisk next to George R.R. Martin’s projected five doorstops, anyway) will be relieved to hear that Gaiman will permit Starz to draw from the book’s companion novel Anansi Boys as well. Bryan Fuller, recently of Hannibal and Pushing Daisies, will be the showrunner for the series with writer Michael Green.

    Yesterday Gaiman took to his blog to tell readers about a development of no small excitement for the writer. Gaiman explained that he was waxing wistful with his HarperCollins editor about the fantastic painted paperback covers of pulp novels from the mid-century era and wondered if HarperCollins might be willing to release a set of paperbacks with new covers in that style. The answer, he learned, is yes.

    Gaiman has long admired the covers of Robert E. McGinnis, best known for the posters for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Diamonds Are Forever as well as the covers of literally hundreds of crime novels from the postwar years, but had supposed that anyone whose heyday was so long ago must surely be dead or at least retired. It turns out that his hero was not only alive (he recently turned 90) and is “pretty much” retired but not very long ago was still churning out terrific covers for the Hard Case Crime imprint.

    McGinnis agreed to do the covers for the forthcoming HarperCollins series, and the first cover to see the light of day is for Gaiman’s American Gods, of which, due to the increased media attention due to news of the impending Starz series, the publishers currently have hardly any copies in stock to sell. Thus the need for a new edition, which will have the gorgeous new McGinnis cover seen below.

    As Gaiman points out, there is a recent coffee table book celebrating the alluring cover artist under the title The Art of Robert E. McGinnis.


    Lots more McGinnis art after the jump, including the new cover for ‘American Gods’

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Sculptures of post-apocalyptic people in disturbing situations
    12:33 pm


    Kirsten Stingle

    A curious sculpture by Kirsten Stingle
    Atlanta-based sculptor and ceramist Kirsten Stingle found her calling after being profoundly affected by the horrific events of 9/11. She decided that she needed to get back to the creative roots that she had originally grown while a member of a long-running theater group in Florida. So she left her career in social welfare, but this time instead of getting her creative kicks from acting, Stingle delved into the delicate art of ceramic sculpture. Her profound works reflect the artist’s desire to push her voice “inside” her creations via the medium.

    It would be easy for the grim overtones of Stingle’s art to overshadow her accomplished handiwork. The graceful flow of her figures make them appear as if they are about to move. Like a despondent street-corner mime, they are impossible to look away from. Her highly detailed works have distinct personalities that they wear in their frozen faces. Some resemble silent movie star Clara Bow if she had been catapulted into some future world (nearly) devoid of color. Here’s Stingle elaborating on the thought process that helps inspire her while when she’s busy building her perplexing “people.”

    We try to appear very normal, but how we struggle with those different layers makes us human. We need to not only look at them but recognize the choices we make. I’m looking at the search for truth and struggle for redemption, as well as our own personal and societal limitations. How we adapt to those limitations is what shapes who we are.

    Stingle will be showing the newest members of her ever-growing ceramic army in a solo exhibition in Atlanta called “Sacred and Profane” at Signature Contemporary in October.


    ‘Little Cuts’
    More of Kirsten Stingle macabre sculptures after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Pokémon Go-inspired dildos are finally here!
    12:10 pm



    Is this the final nail in the coffin for Pokémon Go? If not, can it be? Please? When you think or least hoped you’ve heard the last about Pokémon Go, lo and behold someone goes and designs Pokémon dildos. Yes, Pokémon dildos.

    Etsy shop Geek Sex Toys is making these and has appropriately called them PokéMOANS. We now have Pokémoans on this planet, folks.

    A description from the Etsy listing:

    ‘Bulby’ - A grass type Pokémoan. Bulby has a large seed tip making it a very pleasurable friend to have. It’s seed is 5cm wide and 4cm tall and its body is 16cm tall and 3.5cm wide.

    ‘Charmy’ - A slightly thinner, fire type Pokémoan with a flaming tail. Standing 18cm tall and 4cm wide at its widest point Charmy gives intense orgasms everywhere it goes.

    ‘Squirty’ - A water Pokémoan. Squirty has a smooth round head with a large grooved turtle shell on its back. Its bubbly head measures 4cm wide whilst his body measures 6cm wide and 14cm tall.

    ‘Piky’ - This small electric type anal Pokémoan is a perfect size for the average Pokémoan trainer. Piky is an extremely cute yet essential addition to your team. Its insertable size is 2.5cm wide by 4cm tall and his tail is 8cm long.

    Apparently there are only 100 left in stock. So you gotta get ‘em all while you can! A limited-edition set of four will set you back about $270.00 or each one sells for around $68.00. A bargain indeed.


    More after the jump…

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    Gruesome and bloody Chinese torture methods from the distant past
    11:46 am



    Execution of a Chinese prisoner by beheading
    In China, over many, many centuries, dating back more than two thousand years, two philosophies known as Confucianism and Legalism have played out an extended battle in the public realm as to the nature of human beings. Confucianism, which is fairly well known in the West, emphasizes virtue as the key to a healthy society—its counterpoint, Legalism, argues that human beings, motivated entirely by self-interest, are more inclined to do wrong than right. In a general way, the Western analogues for Legalism are Machiavelli and Hobbes, although those two men lived many centuries after the original Legalist writers such as Han Fei and Li Si.

    For reasons I don’t fully understand, the pessimism of Legalism led to Chinese dynasties practicing punitive measure of torture that were almost comically exaggerated, including the practice of lingchi or “death by 1000 cuts,” which actually meant anywhere from 100 to 3,000 cuts depending on what century it was happening. Yikes!!

    Here’s Li Si arguing in favor of extraordinarily harsh punishments for even very lenient crimes:

    Only an intelligent ruler is capable of applying harsh punishments to light offences. If light offences carry heavy punishments, one can imagine what will be done against a serious offence. Thus, the people will not dare to break the laws.

    Amusingly, the two great Legalists Han Fei and Li Si knew each other, and their relationship ended in a manner reminiscent of a Tarantino movie: Han Fei was poisoned by his envious former classmate Li Si, who in turn was killed, according to the law that he had introduced, by the aggressive and violent Second Qin Emperor that he had helped to take the throne. Oh well!

    The remarkable thing about these incredibly severe punishments is that they lasted for centuries. The bizarre images found here all date from the 1850s, but they document practices that had scarcely changed over the previous thousand years.

    A Chinese torturer disembowels a decapitated man

    A Chinese woman being tortured by two men
    Many more of these ghoulish images after the jump…..

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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