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Edward Gorey’s ‘anxious, irritable’ tarot card set is predictably perfect
02.24.2015
10:04 am

Topics:
Amusing
Art
Games
Occult

Tags:
Edward Gorey
tarot


 
Since he supplied us with a visual vocabulary for cutesy dread over many decades, perhaps it comes as no surprise that Edward Gorey designed a set of whimsical tarot cards. The set is called the “Fantod Pack,” the word fantod signifying “a state of worry or nervous anxiety, irritability” and thus possibly the most Edward Gorey word ever. (David Foster Wallace was fond of the word as well, using the phrase “howling fantods” multiple times in Infinite Jest; the main clearinghouse website for DFW information is called The Howling Fantods.) 

Not surprisingly, Gorey’s tarot set is (a) not precisely a tarot set, (b) reflexively downbeat, (c) more like a parody of a tarot set, and (d) utterly hilarious. Seriously, and I know that he is known for this style of humor, but looking over the Fantod Pack will give you a whole new appreciation for the possibilities of the deadpan mode of humor. Why is the “Stones” card so funny, when it’s just a little drawing of three plinths of varying size? Somehow the silly self-seriousness of the project is communicated. The backs of the cards feature a typically Goreyish creature called a “Figbash.” Here’s one now:
 

 
Authorship of the Fantod Deck is attributed to a “Madame Groeda Wyrde,” which might engage the minds of those of you who enjoy anagrams. The instructions are as hilarious as the other elements of the set, as for instance:
 

Interpretation must always depend on the character and circumstances of the person consulting the pack. What might portend a wipe-out for a teenage hotdogger from Yokohama, might warn an octogenarian spinster in Minot, North Dakota, of a fall in the bathtub, though, of course, the results might come to much the same thing.

 
Ahem: “To read your fortune, first shuffle the pack and take it in your left hand. Stand in the centre of a sparsely furnished room and close your eyes. Fling the pack into the air. Keep your eyes closed. Pick up five cards and place them face up in the form of a cross.” Then you’re supposed to read the cards in the following fashion. The center card shows your current situation, the top card depicts “something from the past that continues to affect your future,” on the left is your “inner self,” the card on the right shows “the outer world,” and the bottom card displays “something about to come into being in the near future.”
 

 
Every card comes with an evocative list of associated words, and these too are simply brilliant. Unfailingly austere and morbid—nobody’s meeting a dark & handsome stranger in this set—the peculiar word choices only enhance the grim comedy, with bizarre words like chagrin, bêtise, megrims, impetigo, catarrh, inanition, cafard, barratry, and champerty lending everything a flushed air of erudite and anemic horror.

Some sources falsely attribute the deck to the 1995, which is when Gorey made the first set available. Its origins actually trace back to an issue of Esquire in the 1960s. An unauthorized deck was printed in 1969, after which an authorized limited edition of 776 copies was created (750 numbered, and 26 lettered) in 1995. Since 2007 it is available as an unlimited deck; you can get it from Amazon for about ten bucks. Copies of the 1995 limited edition set run much, much higher, though—there are three of them available on Amazon for $450 each.   
 

“The Sea”
January / wasting / loss of ears / an accident in an elevator / lurching sickness / cracks / false affection / vapors / a secret enemy / misdirection / demons / estrangement / chagrin

 

“The Limb”
February / miscarriage of justice / gapes / a forged snapshot / morbid sensations / a useless sacrifice / alopecia / a generalized calamity / broken promises / ignominy / an accident in a theatre / fugues / poverty

 

“The Stones”
March / a forged letter / paralysis / false arrest / falling sickness / evil communications / estrangement / a sudden affliction / anemia / strife / a distasteful duty / misconstruction

 
The rest of this great tarot deck is after the jump…..

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Cold case playing cards highlight unsolved murders
01.20.2015
09:33 am

Topics:
Crime
Games

Tags:
police
murder
cards


James Foote, Florida (SOLVED)
 
In 2007 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Department of Corrections, and the Attorney General’s Office worked with the Florida Association of Crime Stoppers to forge a new way to solve some of the state’s unsolved cases. It’s a regular deck of cards in which the face of each card features a photograph and some factual information about an unsolved homicide or missing persons case. In July 2007, 100,000 decks of cold case playing cards (two decks highlighting 104 unsolved cases) were distributed to inmates in the Florida’s prisons. Two cases, the murder of James Foote and the murder of Ingrid Lugo, were solved as a result.

Connecticut and Indiana have also taken up this idea, and produced decks of cards with homicide victims (sometimes missing persons) on them. We found a few images of the cards to show you. A friend of mine gave me a deck of the Connecticut set at a party recently, where they made quite the impression. They’re a little bit reminiscent of the “Iraqi Most-Wanted” playing cards that coalition forces distributed after the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
 

Maurice White, Indiana
 

Linda Weldy, Indiana
 

 

Ingrid Lugo, Florida (SOLVED)

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Scenes from ‘A Clockwork Orange’ recreated using Grand Theft Auto V


 
A pretty impressive homage to Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 masterpiece A Clockwork Orange hosted by Grand Theft Auto Online on YouTube. It took more than a dozen people to recreate some of the most iconic scenes from the movie using Grand Theft Auto V. Now I’ve played GTA a few times myself—this was years ago, btw—and I can’t figure out for the life of me just how they were able to recreate a few of these scenes. Incredible work!


 
With thanks to Edward Ludvigsen!

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Nerd Alert: The Internet Archive releases thousands of classic MS-DOS games
01.07.2015
09:46 am

Topics:
Games
Science/Tech

Tags:
Video Games

Oregon Trail
 
If you like your game play pixelated and your background music repetitively bleeping, or if you just want to take a look at how far along video game design has come over the last thirty-or-so years, you’re in luck! The Internet Archive has just released a collection of over 2,000 MS-DOS games that you can play through your Internet browser right now.

The collection, which you can find here, holds some popular titles you’ll probably recognize if you’re of a certain digital vintage including Q-bert, Ms. Pac Man, The Oregon Trail, Double Dragon and a couple of titles from the Street Fighter series, to name just a few. You’ll also find lesser known (at least to me) games, some of which are bound to generate a laugh or two such as Sex Vixens from Space, Tongue of the Fat Man and the inexplicable Captain Bible in the Dome of Darkness.

By the way, the page for these selections warns that the “EM-DOSBOX in-browser emulator” used to play these games can be a little buggy. So watch out for that I guess.

Below you’ll find a clip just over 13 minutes long of somebody playing the aforementioned Tongue of the Fat Man created in 1989 that might give you an idea of the kind of wacko video game action that we’re talking about here in some cases.
 

 

Posted by Jason Schafer | Discussion
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F**ktionary: The board game for cunning linguists


 
If you know your “Pearl Necklace” from your “Red Rocket” then you’ll probably love F**ktionary—the board for (im)mature players who have an impressive knowledge of filthy words.
 
11fcktnry11.jpg
 
The game is a bit like Viz Comic‘s Profanisaurus, which as regular readers to that robust organ (fnnar, fnnar...) know is the world’s foremost dictionary of crudeness, rudeness and profanity. Viz encourage readers to send in their amusing and often obscene definitions for slang words which are then added to the “Das Krapital” of profane language.
 
ccfcktnrycc.jpg
 
F**ktionary is played by four players and a set of 300 specially embossed definition cards from which one player gives a word, say “Etch-a-Sketch” which the other three then have to define to the best of their dirty imaginations. Of course there are a few bogus words slipped in to keep the game lively and the minds dirty.
 
bbfcktnrybb.jpg
 
If you think you’re up to the challenge and can separate your “Chug Nuts” from your “Turkish Delight” then order F**ktionary here.
 

 
Via Nerdcore.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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People who paid six bucks for shit from Cards Against Humanity were startled to receive just that
12.16.2014
10:00 am

Topics:
Amusing
Games

Tags:
Cards Against Humanity


 
Everyone’s favorite grassroots card game company Cards Against Humanity pulled off a neat trick a couple of weeks ago, grossing—hehe, “gross”—$180,000 (!) by offering some addlepated customers an opportunity to buy “Bullshit” for six dollars on that most maniacally consumerist day of the year, Black Friday. They removed all of their products from their online store on the day after Thanksgiving and instead sold 30,000 instances of “Bullshit.” People can’t say they weren’t warned, either—the product billed as a “once-in-a-lifetime offer” promised to include “literal feces, from an actual bull” that “looks, smells, and tastes like shit. Because it is.”

Over the last week or so the boxes of poop have been distributed all over the country—nay, the world—and customers are somehow still poleaxed that their promised packages didn’t actually contain some awesomely fun surprise gift, like when you paid to see that band South of Hell because your asshole cousin swore that it was actually Slayer playing a super secret gig but it turned out to be just a regular satanist speed metal band? Yeah, it was a lot like that.

Here’s a mildly repulsive and hilarious “unboxing” video that shows some dude using his fingers to break apart the poop to see if there is an excellently nifty secret Cracker Jack prize hidden in the poop. But there isn’t, because he spent six bucks for bullshit “hand-packaged inside a custom bullshit box,” and that’s what he got.
 

 
via Uproxx

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Hawkwind’s ‘Galactic Tarot’ deck, 1971
12.02.2014
10:44 am

Topics:
Games
Music
Occult

Tags:
Hawkwind
tarot


 
A couple of weeks ago Arthur’s Jay Babcock tweeted that he had stumbled upon a fascinating two-page Hawkwind spread while “trolling thru the online International Times archive.” It turns out it wasn’t just any Hawkwind spread, it was a full Hawkwind tarot deck! Here’s a look at the spread, rotated 90 degrees. (If you click on the image, you can see a much larger version.)
 

 
This spread appeared in Issue 117 of International Times, or IT, which bears a publication date of November 18, 1971, a date that coincides neatly with the release of Hawkwind’s second album, In Search of Space or X In Search of Space, depending on who you ask, which had come out just a few weeks earlier. Linking to Babcock’s tweet a couple of days later, John Coulthart speculated, “Is this an overlooked Barney Bubbles design?”

Bubbles had designed the cover for In Search of Space, which featured a die-cut interlocking foldout. Coulthart himself designed the covers for the 1980s Hawkwind comps Zones and Out & Intake. According to Paul Gorman’s Reasons to Be Cheerful: The Life and Work of Barney Bubbles, Coulthart once credited Bubbles with inventing “cosmic art nouveau” in his early work for Hawkwind.

For any readers of IT wanting to make a deck of their own, the following instructions are provided: “Paste this page down onto a stiff sheet of cardboard. Wait till it’s dry. Then cut out each card until you have a pack of 21. Shuffle and deal into three rows of seven. Read the image / word combinations thus formed. The Galactic Tarot does not speak of the future or the past, for all galactic time is contained in the present.” Yeah, man, faaaar out….. (Cannabis and quaaludes are not mentioned.) If you’d like help deciphering the text, this page is very helpful.

Here are the cards. The text on the cards is a little bit puzzling. If you forgive a transposed word or two, the cards contain the full text of two Hawkwind songs: “Born to Go” and “Infinity.” (If you order the cards Earth-Atlantis-Pluto-Jupiter-Flying Saucer-Sun-Pyramid-Alien-Horus-Machine, you get the verses and chorus for “Born to Go,” and if you order the cards Winged Hero-Icarus-Mercury-Time Card-Aquarian Age-Galaxy-Mars-Saturn-Venus-Infinity, you get the verse and chorus for “Infinity.”) The truly bizarre thing is that neither of those songs appears on In Search of Space—“Born to Go” first appears on the live album Space Ritual, which was released in 1973, while listeners had to wait eight solid years, until 1979’s PXR5, to hear “Infinity.” (Since not everything works out so neatly, the left-over “Space” card has a line from “Black Corridor.”)
 

Earth: “We Were Born to Go / We’re Never Turning Back”
Pyramid: “We Were Born to Go / As Far As We Can Find”
 

Atlantis: “We Were Born to Go / And Leave a Running Track”
Flying Saucer: “We Were Born to Blaze / A New Clear Way Through Space”
 

Space: “Space Is the Absence of Time and of Matter”
Alien: “We Were Born to Blow / To Blow the Human Mind”
 

Time Card: “Infinity So Beautiful / Has Turned My Soul to Ice”
Machine: “We’re Hatching Our Dreams”
 

Sun: “A Way Out of the Maze / That Held the Human Race”
Winged Hero: “I Used to Be of Human Kind / I Had a Life to Lead”
 

Galaxy: “I Met Her in a Forest Glade / Where Starbeams Grew Like Trees”
Horus: “We’re Breaking Out of Our Shell / We’re Breaking Free”
 

Icarus: “But Now I’m Frozen in a Dream / My Life Is Lost It Seems”
Aquarian Age: “And Crystallized Eternity / For All My Future Time”
 

Infinity: “In a Dream / Infinity”
 

Mars 12a: “I Did Not Take Her for a Witch / She Wasn’t What She Seemed”
Jupiter 12b: “We Were Born to Learn / We Were Born to Grow”
 

Saturn 12c: “She Led Me to a Palace Gate / With Constellation Towers”
Venus 12d: “She Is the Keeper of My Fate / I Sleep Locked in Her Powers”
 

Pluto 12e: “We Were Born to Go / And Leave No Star Unturned”
Mercury 12f: “She Turned the Key / Of Endlessness and Locked Me”
 
“Born to Go”:

 
“Infinity”:

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Uterus Man: The video game super-hero with all the powers of the womb!
11.14.2014
06:43 am

Topics:
Games

Tags:
video games


 
Medically-minded tech artist Lu Yang has a proclivity for the less sentimental aspects of anatomy and biology. Her 2012 work, “Revived Zombie Frogs Underwater Ballet,” was a chorus line of little dissection specimens arranged in a tank, which Yang reanimated with electrodes and a MIDI controller for a little froggy choreography (the frogs were recycled from previous use—no animals were harmed in this corpse ballet). Yang also makes some disgustingly compelling 3-D printed jewelry modeled after cancer cells. Her most high-concept work however, is definitely Uterus Man, an animation and video game based on a male superhero who derives his power from the uterus. How did this concept emerge? Yang says:

I’ve always thought that the shape of the uterus looks like a human figure with arms stretched open and legs crossed. So when I designed Uterus Man, you can identify different parts of the uterus on different parts of his armor. From an ambiguous sexual view, this superhero with unusal powers may look like a man, but the source of his powers actually springs from the generative capability that belongs to a woman. This is an ironic design that sort of satirizes and questions the principle of biological reproduction in our world

Go onnnnnnn…

UterusMan can use various tricks to fight enemies. Some of these tricks are attributed to genetic and hereditary properties, such as changing the enemy into a weaker and lower-level evolutionary species, and then attacking. Or causing hereditary diseases or changing the enemy’s sex to lower its fighting ability, and then attacking.

 

 
I am 100% sold on this hilariously subversive concept. First of all, Uterus Man gets a sort of HR Giger-looking “pelvic chariot”—arguably the most mental superhero vehicle of all time. When he’s not cruising around in a skeletal ride, he has a skateboard modeled after a bloody maxi pad, and can propel himself on a high-pressure stream of… red liquid. He can also make babies, who fight for him at the end of an umbilical leash—there’s even enter something called “baby beast mode,” which sends feral infants to do your bidding!

You can see the animation for Uterus Man above, and a sample from the video game below—it looks really fun and well-designed! The game was recently featured in arcade console form at Yang’s latest show, and an open-source version of the Uterus Man video game is apparently still in the works.
 

 
Via ANIMAL

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Let’s play Revolution: Gorgeous but violent Soviet board games, 1920-1938
11.11.2014
11:50 am

Topics:
Art
Design
Games
History

Tags:
Soviet
board games


“Chemical War,” 1925
 
The phrase “war toys” usually evokes images of little plastic guns, gritty action figures with kung-fu grips and more recently the first-person shooter video game. In Soviet Russia however, bloodthirsty board games were incredibly popular. I’d imagine this was partially due to a national penchant for games of strategy (like chess), but also probably owing (at least somewhat, if not to a great extent) to manufacturing considerations. Russia was still attempting a massive industrialization project throughout the 1930s, and board games were pretty quick and easy to produce without much in the way of materials or tools.

Obviously not every Russian board game had the hawkish tenor of most of the games below (“Electrification”), but there’s certainly enough of them to see palpable themes of nationalism and war. You’ll notice the game “Battle” looks pretty wholesome at first glance… until you realize that the players are engaging in a leisurely game on a battlefield, seemingly unaware of the carnage taking place directly behind them. Despite the intriguing cover art, I can’t find much on the rules or premises of these games, except they they were educational tools and often contained a military trivia component. Still, as far as insidiously nationalist, war-mongering propaganda goes, don’t they look kind of… fun?
 

“Revolution,” 1925
 

“Air War,” 1925
 

“Battle,” 1938
 
More Soviet games after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be’: Crispin Glover’s concept album, 1989
10.09.2014
06:39 am

Topics:
Games
Music

Tags:
Crispin Glover


 
In 1989—not so long after he starred in River’s Edge, tried to kick David Letterman in the face and published his first book Rat Catching—Crispin Glover released an album. More than a mere new wave or spoken word record, The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be presented itself as a riddle. On the back cover, above a collage of nine items including photos of Hitler, Charles Manson, unidentified clowns, and Glover as Jesus crucified, these lines of text dared listeners to reach out and touch someone:

“All words and lyrics point toward THE BIG PROBLEM. The solution lay within the title: LET IT BE. Crispin Hellion Glover wants to know what you think these nine things all have in common. Call (213) 464-5053.”

(It was rumored that Glover sometimes picked up, but every time I dialed this number I got the answering machine of his press, Volcanic Eruptions.)

Recorded with Barnes & Barnes of “Fish Heads” fame, the album included readings from Glover’s books Rat Catching and Oak Mot; indelible interpretations of “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze,” Lee Hazlewood’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking” and Charles Manson’s “I’ll Never Say Never to Always”; and originals that ranged from a ballad about hygiene (“The New Clean Song”) to a rap about masturbation (“Auto-Manipulator”). Promotion (*cough*) seems to have been limited to a video for “Clowny Clown Clown,” whose lyrics referred obliquely to Glover’s character, Rubin Farr, in the excellent cult comedy Rubin and Ed. At the time, the reference was all the more oblique because the straight-to-video movie did not come out until 1991, two years after the release of The Big Problem. In the video, Glover appears dressed as “Mr. Farr” at the appropriate moment in the song.

The entire album is now up at UbuWeb. Wikipedia and UbuWeb both report that the phone number printed on the sleeve has been disconnected. However, they fail to mention that Glover’s—or that of Volcanic Eruptions—current number, (310) 391-4154 is posted on his website. Why don’t you give him a call? The nine items on the back cover of The Big Problem are:

I. The killing and maiming of defenseless animals?
II. Cleanliness?
III. Indignant, righteous, self manipulation, with discrimination against others?
IV. Clowns?
V. Getting out of bed?
VI. Boots?
VII. The daring young man on the flying trapeze, who might just as easily be called a gloating woman seducer?
VIII. Charles Manson never saying “Never” to always?
IX. Oak Mot?
  A. Adry Long circa 1868?
  B. Adolf Hitler circa 1932?
  C. Adry/Hitler in the minds of history forevermore?

What do these things have in common? If you find out, let us know.

The video for “Clowny Clown Clown”

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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