Abracadabra!

Can you begin to imagine the amount of time spent by the human race in pursuit of magic? I am not speaking metaphorically here. I mean can you imagine the sum total man-hours devoted to actively invoking, incanting, intoning, beseeching, divining, scrying, summoning, chanting, conjuring, and casting? And though, so far as we know, not a single minute of all that feverish sorcery yielded the intentional result with greater efficiency than chance, magic continues, and will continue, probably forever. And do you know why? Well, setting aside the fact that the whole endeavor is damn poetic specifically because of its futility, fascinating because of its baroquely fanciful trappings, pathos-packed because of its provenance, and let’s face it, pretty hilarious on the whole, there is another, simpler reason; one which I believe will be self-evident if you take a gander at what I’ve set out for you below…

06.11. filed under: belief. history. humanity. play. 7

Crows and Coins

Or: Extrapolations from Josh Klein’s Vending Machine

When I first read about Josh Klein’s “Crow Vending Machine” I laughed. It seemed funny as hell somehow. After heading over to Klein’s site to read some more about his invention and intentions I stopped laughing. For one thing it’s supervillian clever. Successfully training crows to scour the earth for cash with nothing more than the promise of a peanutty reward is ingenious. More than that though I stopped laughing because I began thinking about the crows themselves and couldn’t help but extrapolate…

03.08. filed under: ideas. observations. play. 8

Robert Edward Auctions, an auction house specializing in baseball memorabilia, recently came upon a document which is not only illuminating, but may represent the most amusing chunk of writing to be officially issued by Major League baseball in existence. Today the league is having some serious public relations problems wrestling with the use of performance enhancing drugs, in the 1890’s, when the document in question was issued, they were having serious public relations problems of another kind. Specifically they were wrestling with the constant stream of terrifically filthy language which evidently issued from their players’ mouths, in every possible direction- at umpires, opposing players, fans, women, kids, nuns, diapered toddlers…

01.26. filed under: history. misc. play. 6

A little something for all my NYC readers in tha house… For a year now I’ve been wondering when some enterprising “urban fashion” brand would seize upon the T-shirt design just staring them in the face every morning and night, on the subway and on the bus flanks, but it never, to my knowledge, materialized. So today, coming across a New York Times article revisiting the subject, I decided to just whip the damn thing up myself. And thus, I give you- “1,944 Snitches.” Perfect for that hustlin’ New Yorker keepin’ it really really real. Larger image here, and see the alternate version, with underscoring MF Doom quote, here. Hands-off Sean John.

01.08. filed under: design. play. 7

In 1846 Dr. Andrew Comstock, proprietor of one of the oldest commercial language schools in America, called Dr. Comstock’s Vocal Gymnasium and Polyglot Institute, published his Treatise on Phonology. In 2008 I came across it on google books and, reading its simultaneously bitchy and braggadocios full title– A Treatise on Phonology: Comprising a Prefect Alphabet for the English Language; a Specimen Exhibition of the Absurdities of Our Present System of Orthography, I laughed. Reason enough to whip-up a quick post, so far as I’m concerned.

01.05. filed under: books. history. ideas. people. play. 3

The Repugnant Mugs of Ugly Bugs

Bugs- weird, off-putting, unknowable, swarming and creeping and crawling masters of the Earth. Even when seen from across a poorly lit room, at only a few millimeters long, scurrying for cover, we, the thumb-flexing warhead-builders, fear and revile them. Their “otherness” disturbs us I’ll venture to guess, because in nearly every encounter we reflexively let the boot-heels fall. So how, as a species, do we usually come to terms with things which we do not understand? Why, by looking at them more closely of course! Were we to make the effort and take the time to look at our insect neighbors more closely, face to face as it were, we’d see something in them that would bridge that gap of “otherness” and quell that deep-seated horror; we’d approach some new enlightened understanding which would, over time, in perhaps as few as two generations, effectively curb our instinct for instant murder, replacing it instead with feelings of fellowship for they who are, after all, not so very different from ourselves… right? Uh… think again.

Ten years worth of entries for the Oklahoma Microscopy Society’s Ugly Bug Contest, which are essentially micrograph mug-shots, ought to dispel any of those human/insect utopian notions. Check it out: 07, 06, 05, 04, 03, 02, 01, 00, 99, 98, 97. Yeesh. Where did I put my hobnailed boots ?

01.03. filed under: play. science. 5

Shadow Play

Though the term “shadow play” might bring to mind some sort of salacious fetish practiced by overzealous goths and pre-teen wickans, it is, of course, no such thing. Shadow play refers instead to one of the more ancient forms of theater, one whose roots are so old as to be, beyond a certain point, seemingly untraceable, whose practice can be found, in varying incarnations and distinct traditions, all across the world, and whose contrivances account for some of the most gorgeous puppets to ever to cavort, skulk, vault, or swoon across a stage.

12.04. filed under: art. design. history. play. 4

If you are anything like me good reader (and since you are here at all I must assume that, in some small way at least, you are) you look at the image above, and you read the caption, and you wonder, “what does that mean?” It seems simple enough. A quirky drawing; a short caption. You can’t help but run through possibilities– A comic strip? A children’s book? An illustration from an exposé on the secrets of magic? A rejected New Yorker Cartoon? And yet… it remains opaque somehow doesn’t it?. I mean “M. Ivorde’s little man?” That seems odd. And what’s with the space helmet? And what’s that he’s holding? A metal detector? A street sweeper’s dust-pan? Just what exactly is happening here?

I came across this image accidentally, much as you have, and if you’re anything like me you’re a curious sort and would like nothing better than to just click a link real quick, satisfy that curiosity, and move on. Well, having been down that road I have to ask you, in all seriousness, is that really what you want? I mean, couldn’t you just let it go?

11.28. filed under: ideas. misc. play. wtf. 11

Seed text: The first 6 lines of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s poem I Am Waiting (a critique of the American status quo, touching on false religiosity, crass consumerism, and the general absurdity of it all c.1958) which are as follows–

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail.

Filtering mechanism employed: Google Maps.

Result: Voxx, 8230 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA.

Quote: “Voxx is the world’s most pre-eminent scholar regarding Demonology and Witchcraft. Voxx is featured in the book, “The Top 100 Psychics in America.” She is an initiate of several magickal orders, and is the High Priestess of the Circle of Aradia. Among her abilities are the casting of Astrodice, Bibliomancy, Channeling, Pyromancy, Scrying, and Spirit Evocation. She is one of a handful of individuals who can fluently speak the the Magickal Enochian language. Voxx has appeared on many national television and radio shows, as well as in several films. Voxx is a published poet. Voxx is also a Screenwriter, Filmmaker, Photographer, Painter, talented electronica musician, and Multi-Media Artist. Voxx’s clients (who include the members of Motley Crue, Tara Reid, and Howard Stern) have been regularly astounded by her ability to successfully and accurately predict the names, dates and details regarding their future Soul Mates, as well as the subsequent birth of their children.” 

This result was the first returned because Voxx is mentioned on a site called rip-off report by a consumer in Staten Island who had paid for and cast Voxx’s “spells” but wasn’t initially satisfied because his “demands were not being fulfilled.”

Conclusion: Intentional misuse of data filtering tools shifts context and allows for the machine discovery of multilayered, wail-worthy, illustrative perfection. Truly a wonder.

11.23. filed under: bits&bytes. misc. play. 2

Little Wars

Or: a brief appreciation of carousels

Quote: “The earliest carousel is known from a Byzantine Empire bas-relief dating to around 500 A.D., which depicts riders in baskets suspended from a central pole. The word carousel originates from the Italian garosello and Spanish carosella (“little war”), used by crusaders to describe a combat preparation exercise and game played by Turkish and Arabian horsemen in the 1100s. In a sense this early device could be considered a cavalry training mechanism; it prepared and strengthened the riders for actual combat as they wielded their swords at the mock enemies. European Crusaders discovered this contraption and brought the idea back to own their lands, primarily the ruling lords and kings. There the carousel was kept secret within the castle walls, to be used for training by horsemen; no carousel was allowed out in the public.”

11.11. filed under: design. history. play. 6

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