Merry Kitschmas!

Last year, Mark Shea linked to and reposted this set of pictures of weird nativity sets and other kitschy Christian art.  The title is “The 42 Worst Nativity Sets,” but I’d suggest another title: “A Thousand Kinds of AWESOME.”  Who could possibly resist the Chicken Nativity?

Or the Mermaid Nativity?

Granted, the Zombie Nativity might be a bit too sacrilegious for some:

Though I don’t think it’s as bad as any of the various sets made out of pigmeat, such as the Bacon & Sausage Nativity or the Spam Nativity.  Not only were Jesus and his family Jews who certainly kept kosher, but there’s the additional problem that the standing figures in the Spam Nativity are shaped like penises:

Circumcised penises, I grant you, but it is still disrespectful.

Perhaps the most reverential item included is the least conventional, Sebastian Bergne’s “Colour Nativity.”  I want it!  But only if I can put it on that table, in front of that wall.  Since neither of those things is in my house, I suppose there wouldn’t be much point in actually buying it.

 

 

King Kong falling off the Empire State Building

This animated gif appeared in Slate some time ago, I love it:

JFK, George Quintana, and tumblr

Our tumblr page is called “Thunderlads After Hours.”  If you are a tumblr user, you will be familiar with the service’s “Dashboard” feature.  All the posts on all the tumblr pages you follow appear before you in a constant stream. We follow lots of people, so we see lots of images when we log on there.  Below are a few we’ve seen there.

This is the avatar for a page we follow that goes by the name “Jack Ruby Tuesday“:

President John F. Kennedy projected a public image that was in many ways the opposite of the image Colonel Harlan Sanders projected.  They both came to international prominence in the 1960s and have remained familiar ever since, and each is strongly associated with a three-letter abbreviation.  So I think this image is worth a chuckle.  Because it simply replaces Colonel Sanders’ three-letter trademark “KFC” with Mr Kennedy’s familiar “JFK,” I think it is much funnier than the image on this T-shirt.

Also, this image caught my eye a few days ago:

I’d say this picture is sensational in more than one sense of the word.  The artist worked under the name George Quintana, though his given name was George Quaintance.

Composite faces

This gallery consists of computer-generated 41 composite photographs.  Each composite was made by overlaying digital images of several women of the indicated ethnicity and averaging their facial characteristics.

Back in February, this gallery provoked a great deal of public discussion.  Some people behaved as though it revealed a deep truth about the racial divisions of humankind, while others not only rejected this idea but regarded the whole thing as a joke in questionable taste.

What I’ve been waiting for is for someone use the same technology to to do something useful, or at least something more interesting than this.  For example, a composite photo of the 43 men who have served as US president might be interesting, especially if presented as a series of 43 slides.  Slide 1 would show George Washington, slide 2 would show George Washington + John Adams, slide 3 would show George Washington + John Adams + Thomas Jefferson, etc.  The change in appearance of the composite would of course be less each time, as  each successive president contributed a smaller share to the adjusted average, but it might be interesting to see the final image gradually crystallize.  It would be especially intriguing to compare the development of that composite with a similarly presented composite of a line of hereditary monarchs.

Punchline search

I started using the web back in the mid-90s, when the top search engine was Yahoo.  I loved its “ontology,” the categories and subcategories into which it divided sites.  I would sometimes click on a heading for a topic I didn’t know much about, then on a subheading that I knew even less about, and end up with links to a dizzying array of sub-sub-sub-categories I would never have dreamed existed.  It was great fun.  Long before the success of Google’s radically simple format forced Yahoo to scrap its ontology, however, I had tired of that little game, and simply typed text into the search window.  So the switch to Google was seamless for me.

I’ve been wondering if people would use Google differently today, and if the web would therefore be structured differently, if the first generation of Google users had not included such a high percentage of people whose first experience of search engines had involved a lot of time monkeying around in the labyrinth of Yahoo’ old ontology.  For people like me, the search window was a straightforward place for relatively serious business; the ontology was for goofing off.  So when Google came along, we may have used it as a tool to find fun things, but we didn’t see it as a toy in itself, not at first.

The other day I passed a few idle minutes on Google typing in punchlines, looking for the jokes that went with them.  I was surprised at how little I found.  After a moment of thought, I was surprised that I didn’t run a series of searches like that the first day I used Google.  Without the experience of the old Yahoo, I suspect I probably would have done so, and that a great many other people would have done so as well.  That initial burst of inquiries might have led to the creation of any number of sites matching jokes with punchlines.  Such sites might have become one of the major components of the web, up there with blogs devoted to people telling stories about their cats and conspiracy theories that begin in the 1960s and experiments with Photoshop.

Mercator Rotator

Usually when we think of the Mercator Projection, we think of this map with the geographic North Pole at the top, Antarctica at the bottom, and the relative size of the Northern Hemisphere severely exaggerated:

Months ago, this picture appeared on a site called Apathy Sketchpad:

The map is also the Mercator Projection.  Mercator’s contribution was not in putting north at the top, but in developing a particular mathematical formula for representing the planet’s roundish surface on a flat map.  As the author of Apathy Sketchpad puts it, “the Mercator projection doesn’t need to make Africa small and Greenland big. It can do anything you want it to.”  Producing a map with Africa at the top, he explains:

In principle a Mercator projection can be continued infinitely in the vertical direction, and in this case the ‘north’ pole is in Africa, so the map would be Africa all the way up. The level of detail would, source image notwithstanding, get bigger and bigger until eventually sub-atomic particles started to appear. Theoretically, you could exploit this to produce a map where Britain opened out as Africa has at the top, and extend the map up to include a road map of England, including  a large-scale street map of Manchester, eventually opening out to provide a floor-plan of one particular building, then room, and eventually the layout of one table. This, however, seems like it would be very difficult so I haven’t bothered.

In the comments on this post, I remarked that I’d long thought someone should create a flash app called “Mercator Rotator” which would enable a user to put “north” wherever s/he liked and see the resulting Mercator map of the earth.  I have no intention to produce such an application myself, but if you, the reader, have the requisite computer savvy and some time on your hands, I recommend that you do so and let us know about it in the comments.

“How and What to Tell a Communist”

 

 

I hope the Communist is the guy pointing and talking.  He looks pretty obnoxious, and it would be reassuring to know “that his scheme for world domination is doomed to failure.”   

Who among the people depicted below is still alive?

For some time now I’ve kept typing into Google variations on this question: “Which of the people represented on the cover of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band are still alive?”  Lots of sites identify the people, but nowhere does it seem that there is a list of who’s alive and who’s dead.  So I decided to take a few minutes on Wikipedia and make up such a list myself.

Alive (UPDATED)

Larry Bell

Bobby Breen

Dion diMucci

Bob Dylan

Paul McCartney*

Ringo Starr

Shirley Temple

Dead (date of death in parentheses)

Tony Curtis (29 September 2010)

Richard Merkin (5 September 2009)

Karlheinz Stockhausen (5 December 2007)

Marlon Brando (1 July 2004)

Albert Stubbins (28 December 2002)

George Harrison (29 November 2001)

Huntz Hall (30 January 1999)

William S. Burroughs (2 August 1997)

Terry Southern (29 October 1995)

Marlene Dietrich (6 May 1992)

Fred Astaire (22 June 1987)

Diana Dors (4 May 1984)

Johnny Weissmuller (20 January 1984)

H. C. Westermann (3 November 1981)

John Lennon (8 December 1980)

Mae West (22 November 1980)

Richard Lindner (16 April 1978)**

Issy Bonn (21 April 1977)

Wallace Berman (18 February 1976)

Sonny Liston (30 December 1970)***

Lenny Bruce (3 August 1966)

Simon Rodia (16 July 1965)

Stan Laurel (23 February 1965)

Aldous Huxley (22 November 1963)****

Max Miller (7 May 1963)

Marilyn Monroe (5 August 1962)

Stu Sutcliffe (10 April 1962)

Carl Gustav Jung (6 June 1961)

Tyrone Power (15 November 1958)

Oliver Hardy (7 August 1957)

Albert Einstein (18 April 1955)

Dylan Thomas (9 November 1953)

Parmahansa Yogananda (7 March 1952)

George Bernard Shaw (2 November 1950)

Tommy Handley (9 January 1949)

Aleister Crowley (1 December 1947)

W. C. Fields (25 December 1946)

H. G. Wells (13 August 1946)

Tom Mix (12 October 1940)

Sigmund Freud (23 September 1939)

Sri Yukteswar Giri (9 March 1936)

T. E. Lawrence (19 May 1935)

Oscar Wilde (30 November 1900)

Stephen Crane (5 June 1900)

Aubrey Beardsley (16 March 1898)

Lewis Carroll (14 January 1898)

Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (26 September 1895)

Karl Marx (14 March 1883)

David Livingstone (1 May 1873)

Robert Peel (2 July 1850)

Edgar Allan Poe (7 October 1849)

*If you are of this opinion, go ahead and comment.  Someone might respond.  I won’t, but someone might.

**He died on his 50th birthday

***That’s when the police say he died, but there’s a controversy about it

****The same day C. S. Lewis died.  And John F. Kennedy, also.

New Post on Weirdomatic

FotB Alexandra has posted a new gallery on her terrific site, Weirdomatic.  The title is “Happy Things Pictures,” and it’s irresistible. 

Pattern for Plunder

How Shirley Temple earned her ambassadorship

Lately I’ve been looking at Pattern for Plunder, a website that collects found images.  Most of the pictures are disturbing in some way.  A few sfw examples follow the jump.

(more…)

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