Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Brilliance of B.K. Taylor

B. K. (Bob) Taylor is an American illustrator, cartoonist, writer, production designer, costume designer, puppeteer, and musician known for his work on theOdd Rods collector stickers of the late 1960s, his covers for Sick magazine, his comics in National Lampoon, and for his work as a staff writer on ABC’S popular sit-com, Home Improvement. He lives in Metro Detroit and continues to work as an illustrator and writer, performing occasionally in a local rock band... National Lampoons "Funny Pages" section, Taylor alternated between two and sometimes three strips of his creation: 
"The Appletons: A Saga of an American Family" - featured Helen, the earnest and clueless mom; Kathy and Bobby, the mischievous and somewhat less clueless kids; and Norm, the mischievous and subversive dad (imagine Ward Cleaver with a penchant for elaborate and dangerous practical jokes). 
"Timberland Tales" - featured Doctor Rogers, an earnest Mark Trail-type; his girlfriend Kathleen; Maurice the Indian Boy ("some call him the joker"), an unbelievably naive and bulbous teenager; and Constable Tom ("rumored to have a small amount of brain damage"), a dimwitted, musclebound Canadian Mountie. The latter two characters were featured much more frequently.
(be sure and check out this excellent B. K. Taylor fan site)

Here's Looking At You

(via puppet)

Berserk fp - wip1 by Bluoxyde

Welcome To Weirdsville: The Not-Tall Tale Of The Very Tall Potsdam Grenadiers

Here's another fun article from my new book, Welcome to Weirdsville - this time on the (rather) tall Potsdam Grenadiers:

The Not-Tall Tale Of The Very Tall Potsdam Grenadiers 

If you're going to dream, the old saying goes, then you might as well dream big. But Friedrich Wilhelm I did more than dream because, as another expression says all too well: It's good to be the King.

Friedrich, born in 1688, was just one in a series of notable Prussian leaders. Friedrich, though, unlike his father, Frederick I – who achieved much during his reign, including wearing the crown for the first time, or Friedrich's son – Frederick II, who was a reformer and fervent supporter of reason and the arts – Friedrich, to put it mildly, loved a man in uniform ... in a secularly big way.

Friedrich, you see, had this thing about the military. Oh, sure, he did, during his reign, improve his then-tiny country's defenses, and carefully – almost pathologically – controlled Prussia's economy to the point when he finally passed away he left behind an awesome surplus. But Friedrich's military obsession wasn't really about keeping his people safe, or even about acquiring new territories: Friedrich liked – really liked – a grand spit and polish display.

How big? How grand? Well, Friedrich's all-consuming passion was for his grenadiers, a Regiment hand-picked not for their skill in battle, their heroic abilities, but for being tall.

In a time when the average height was probably around five foot something, the grenadiers – which quickly became known by the Prussians as the Lange Kerls (Big Guys) – began at six feet and went up up from there.

The Big Guys – and some of them were very big, coming in around seven feet – were the king's all-consuming passion, to the point where it became common for foreign dignitaries to use 'gifts' of very tall men to curry favor with Friedrich. But even these presents, many of them with little say in the matter, weren't enough to satisfy Friedrich's obsession: his agents, promised huge rewards, were dispatched to the far corners of Europe to get, by any means necessary, the tallest people they could find.

To say these agents were zealous would be an understatement: there are tales of them kidnapping farmers from their fields, innkeepers from their taverns, an Irish priest in the middle of a sermon, and they even had the audacity to try to grab a Austrian diplomat. There's even the story of one poor soul who was snatched off the streets of some foreign city and shipped back to Prussia, but who arrived stiff and cold because the agents forgot to punch air-holes in the crate.

Friedrich was so determined to fill the ranks of his grenadiers he even began his own program of selective breeding, offering tall women and men rewards to produce even taller children – and heaven help you if you knew someone nice and tall and didn't tell the king about it.

Oh, how the king loved his grenadiers: he would lovingly paint their portraits from memory, or order them to march for hours and hours around his palace courtyard just so he relish in their military tallness, and, if the king was feeling under the weather, he would even have them thunderously circle his bed until he got better. As he told the French ambassador: "The most beautiful girl or woman in the world would be a matter of indifference to me, but tall soldiers – they are my weakness."
Yes, it was very good to be the king – but, alas, it was not so grand to be one of his grenadiers. Even though Friedrich doted over them, many of his giants were in agony from diseases related to their gigantism, were painfully depressed after finding themselves in a unfamiliar land and unable to speak a word of German, or who – again as a tragic effect of their great height – were mentally the age of a young child. Desertions were common, but since the giants were, well, 'gigantic' they were quickly caught and subsequently, and brutally, punished. Some, sadly, made the ultimate escape – but even suicides didn't dissuade the king from begging, borrowing, or out-and- out stealing tall men for his grenadiers. At its (excuse me) 'height' the flamboyant regiment numbered over 3,000 men.

Not surprising, considering how incredibly infatuated Friedrich was with them, the grenadiers were never sent into battle.

Eventually, though, the king died, and with his death the kingdom, and Friedrich's beloved Potsdam Grenadiers, were passed down to his son, Frederick II. But while his father adored brass fittings, a good uniform, and everything else stern and military, the son – having been raised by a stern and military father – absolutely did not. Ironically, though, Frederick II did attack neighboring Austria, putting into practice some of his father's teachings. He also, after a time, put into actual combat what few of Friedrich's grenadiers remained.

There was one problem, though. Because they were considerably taller – very considerably taller – than their fellow soldiers, these surviving grenadiers didn't survive very long: they simply too big to miss.

Absolutely, if you're going to dream you should dream big. But if you're lucky – and you're a king – you don't have to settle for only dreams: you too, like Friedrich, can have your own marching, thundering fantasy brought to remarkably, and legendarily, tall life. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I (Heart ) jellies

(via japanlove)

Putting On My Top Hat -

[via How to be a Retronaut]
Here’s an event we wish we would happen more often. 
These awesome photos, taken at a Beaux-Arts Ball in New York City on January 23, 1931, show a gathering of famous architects dressed up as the equally (if not more) famous buildings they designed. 
Picture from left to right are: A. Stewart Walker (Fuller Building), Leonard Schultze (Waldorf-Astoria), Ely Jacques Kahn (Squibb Building), William Van Alen [looking particularly splendid] (Chrysler Building), Ralph Walker (1 Wall Street), D.E. Ward (Metropolitan Tower), Joseph H. Freelander (Museum of New York
So why don’t architects do this more often?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

You are a fluke of the universe


(You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.)

Go placidly amidst the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.

Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep. Rotate your tires.

Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself; and heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.

Know what to kiss - and when.

Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do.

Wherever possible, put people on hold.

Be comforted, that in the face of all irridity and disillusionment, and despite the changing fortunes of time, there is always a big future in computer maintenance.

(You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.)

Remember the Pueblo.

Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.

Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.

Exercise caution in your daily affairs, especially with those persons closest to you... That lemon on your left, for instance.

Be assured that a walk through the seas of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet.

Fall not in love, therefore, it will stick to your face.

Gracefully surrender the things of youth: the birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan - and let not the sands of time get in your lunch.

Hire people with hooks.

For a good time, call 606-4311, ask for Ken.

Take heart in the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese.

And reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Milwaukee.

(You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.)

Therefore, make peace with your god, whatever you perceive him to be: hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin.

With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal, the world continues to deteriorate. GIVE UP!

(You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.)



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Horrible Histories (Via the BBC)

Chinese magic mirrors

(via orientallyyours)

Chinese magic mirrors. Date and maker unknown. In the Bill Douglas Collection, University of Exeter. Reference #: BD069079, BD069083

The proper term for Chinese magic mirror is Tou Guang Jing 透光镜. It can be traced back to the Han dynasty era and was made of  solid bronze with a shiny polished surface on one side with a design cast in bronze on the back. When sunlight or another bright light reflects onto the mirror, the mirror appears to become transparent. If the light is reflected from the mirror onto a wall, the pattern on the back of the mirror is then projected onto the wall, similar to how light reflects from ripples on water. Due to this transparent effect, they were called ‘light-penetration mirrors’ by the Chinese. This phenomenon of the mirror had puzzled people, including scientists for centuries. They became popular in Europe in the early 19th century and today imitations are made to amuse collectors as optical toys.

Image Source: University of Exeter Digital Collection, 1, 2

Saturday, August 25, 2012



(via retrogasm)

The New Game of Human Life

(via findlight)

‘The New Game of Human Life’,  published John Wallis and Elizabeth Newberry, England, 1790.

The game is played as a journey through life from the age of 1 to 84. The Age of Man is divided into seven periods, each of twelve years: Infancy to Youth, Manhood, Prime of Life, Sedate Middle Age, Old Age, Decrepitude and Dotage. He passes through life in a variety of situations that are arranged in the order in which they generally succeed each other. The game is played with a teetotum, an early form of dice. The ‘Utility and Moral Tendency’ of this game is described thus:

‘If parents who take upon themselves the pleasing task of instructing their children (or others to whom that important trust may be delegated) will cause them to stop at each character and request their attention to a few moral and judicious observations, explanatory of each character as they proceed and contrast the happiness of a virtuous and well spent life with the fatal consequences arising from vicious and immoral pursuits, this game may be rendered the most useful and amusing of any that has hitherto been offered to the public.’

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Labours of Alexander

(via nosex)

rené magritte, the labours of alexander, 1962-67

But Think Of The View!

(via ryanpanos)

The architect and city planner Oscar Newman, better known for his dreadful “Defensible space theory“, (pdf here) also fostered in 1969 the bizarre possibility of clearing out, with nuclear explosions, a massive underground sphere beneath Manhattan. The hollowed space would be then occupied by just a half of the volume with a regular city with a grid of streets and buildings, several levels of further undeground spaces and giant “air filters” reaching the surface.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Singularity Transmissions

(via lonelycoast)

Singularity Transmissions is a sculptural interactive 40’ tower designed to simultaneously converge the voices of up to 16 individuals into one unified voice through the use of tin-can phones. The crude analog phone transmission is recorded digitally at the tower’s sound board apex in real time and output into a womb-like listening chamber at the tower’s base.”

Edward Hopper

(via midcenturymiskatonic)

New York Office (1962) by Edward Hopper

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Still from “Rivers and Tides”


(via fuckyeahearthworks)
Still from “Rivers and Tides” 
Goldsworthy heads to the shore early in the morning when the tides are low. He begins to collect wood and pile them up to create a dome on the rocky landscape of the banks. He starts by building it in a circle around himself. The process is tedious because a small twig in the wrong place can dismantle the entire piece.  As his work is nearing completion, the water level rises and begins to seep into the dome. Against the setting sun, the tide engulfs his work and it begins to fall apart. The piece floats away, perhaps, never to be seen by the artist.

Zany Afternoons


From Bruce McCall’s Zany Afternoons

Cuisine and Crime Solving: I Want To Belong To The The Vidocq Society!

Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Kojack, those guys from CSI, they are all brilliant minds on their own, but what if they all got together to solve the toughest criminal cases in history? They’d have a much better chance of success, at least in theory. That’s what the Vidocq Society is all about, bringing together the most brilliant minds in criminology and trying to get to the bottom of hundreds of thousands of unsolved cases. Once a month, the members of this 20-year-old exclusive club assemble in an old Victorian dining room, to enjoy fine cuisine and talk about unsolved murders. As their motto (Cuisine and Crime Solving) suggests, crime is always on the menu at Vidocq Society meetings. On the third Thursday of every month, some of the world’s greatest crime specialists meet up in Philadelphia to try and solve some of the toughest murder cases in history, over a delicious lunch. This is the Vidocq Society. 
Vidocq Society2 550x365 The Vidocq Society   Solving Tough Murder Cases Over Lunch
Photo: Paris Match 
The mysterious crime-solving club was named after Eugene Francois Vidocq, an 18th century crook-turned-crime-fighter, considered to be the father of modern criminology and the world’s first private detective. William Fleisher, Richard Walter and Frank Bender, the three founding members of the Vidocq Society, began gathering experts in criminology in 1990, and now the club numbers 82 retired cops, ex-FBI agents, profilers, coroners and even a psychic, from 17 American states and 11 countries across the globe. On their monthly meeting, they all brainstorm to try and solve cold cases, and many times these last chance detectives manage to bring peace to families of victims whose killers were never caught. 
Vidocq Society The Vidocq Society   Solving Tough Murder Cases Over Lunch
Photo: Wikileaks News 
Vidocq Society gatherings start off like a normal lunch, only some of the members go easy on the food, knowing that after coffee they’ll be treated to some horrific crime scene photos. One of the club’s founding members admits that at first, their only purpose was to get together over lunch and just enjoy themselves. But after one of them was asked to speak at a conference in Texas organised by parents of murdered children, they decided to change the purpose of their little secret society and try to solve cases for people who are hurting. And that’s exactly what they have been doing. The Vidocq Society reckons it has helped solve around 300 murders, and provided valuable information to official investigators on about 90% of the cases presented before its members. 
The Vidocq Society invites criminal detectives from all over the United States to present their cold cases in hopes of gaining new insights that might eventually help solve them. In most cases, they leave impressed by the members knowledge and expert opinions, and with plenty of valuable information. 
If you want to learn more about the fascinating Vidocq Society, you can visit their official site or read Michael Capuzzo’s book, The Murder Room. He spent three years with the members of this unique group and documented some of the cases the society has worked on during that period. 
The Vidocq Society – Solving Tough Murder Cases Over Lunch was originally posted at

Monday, August 20, 2012

RIP William Windom

Very sad news: I just heard that the wonderful actor William Windom passed away.  In his memory here is a brief piecce I posted about his work on one of my favorite TV shows of all time: My World and Welcome to It 

From Wikipedia:
My World and Welcome to It was a US-made half-hour sitcom based on the humor and cartoons of James Thurber (1894-1961). It starred William Windom as John Monroe, a Thurber-like writer and cartoonist who works for a magazine that closely resembles The New Yorker, called The Manhattanite. Wry, fanciful and curmudgeonly, Monroe observes and comments on life, to the bemusement of his rather sensible wife Ellen (Joan Hotchkis) and intelligent, questioning daughter Lydia (Lisa Gerritsen). Monroe's frequent daydreams and fantasies are usually based on Thurber material. My World — And Welcome To It (note slight variation from television title) is the name of a book of illustrated stories and essays, also by James Thurber.
The television series ran just one season, 1969-1970. It was created by Melville Shavelson, who wrote and directed the pilot episode and was one of the show's principal writers. Sheldon Leonard was executive producer. Another of the show's producers, Danny Arnold, co-wrote or directed numerous episodes, and even appeared as Santa Claus in "Rally Round the Flag." 
Most episodes open with Monroe arriving in front of the house from the Thurber cartoon "Home," which in the original cartoon has a woman's face on one side of it. In the show the house is initially house-shaped. The woman's face is often animated to appear, as Ellen says something to John. The "Home" house, without the face, is used as an establishing shot throughout the episodes. Other Thurber cartoons are similarly animated over the course of the series, sometimes in the opening sequence, sometimes later in the episode. The episode "Cristabel" begins with Monroe lying on top of a cartoon doghouse, a reference to the non-Thurber cartoon character Snoopy. The animation for the series was by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises
 Live action adaptations of Thurber's writing are another show staple. For example, "Rally Round the Flag," in which Monroe purchases a very large flag as a gift, is loosely based on a Thurber piece called "There's a Time for Flags." An incident with a policeman in "Christabel" is an almost verbatim transcription of the Thurber story "The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery". Fables for Our Time is another source, as when John Monroe sees a unicorn in the back yard, a reference to "The Unicorn in the Garden." Many of the episode titles are taken from Thurber's Fables for Our Time (e.g., "The Shrike and the Chipmunks") and other writings ("Rules for a Happy Marriage" and many more).
Aside from his obvious resemblance to Thurber himself, John Monroe is based on one of Thurber's characters, who appeared in several short stories including "Mr. Monroe Holds the Fort" and "The Monroes Find a Terminal." Monroe and his family first came to television in a 1959 Alcoa Theatre/Goodyear Theatre production called "Cristabel (The Secret Life of John Monroe)", also written by Melville Shavelson. The dog Cristabel was named after a dog Thurber gave to his daughter.

- this show is also a testament to the wonderfulness of my beloved Jill as she gave me a holiday present of the entire series. She could make even notorious curmudgeons like John Monroe, James Thurber, and I smile sweetly.

Rod Serling




The Atomium


Thanks, bro!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Lichen It! by Carol Humme


(via miss-mary-quite-contrary)

Lichen It! by Carol Hummel

Yarn bombing inspired by lichens, the symbiotic relationships between a fungus and other algae or cyanobacteria.

Robert Williams

Robert Williams, “Death on the Boards”