Posts Tagged ‘humor’
xkcd (zoomable version here)
As we muse on the ways in which the map is not the territory, we might recall that it was on this date in 1870 that America’s first asphalt pavement was laid in front of City Hall in Newark, N.J. Edmund J. DeSmedt, the Belgian chemist who oversaw the work, had received a U.S. patent for this asphalt paving method two months earlier. Later that year, DeSmedt became the inspector of asphalt and cements for the District of Columbia, and oversaw wide application there.
A list of summer camp names found in movies, television shows and books: “Fictional Camps.”
* Popular slogan on Pinterest and Etsy
As we pack an extra towel, we might send birthday greetings soaked in repellant to Drell Marston Bates; he was born on this date in 1906. One of the world’s leading experts on mosquitoes, his work for the Rockefeller Foundation led to the understanding of the epidemiology of yellow fever.
The modern claw machine typically stands vertically, lit from the inside with eye-searing brightness, and can tempt passersby with everything from cheap plush toys to Beats headphones or iPods. For 20 or 30 seconds, the user is in charge of operating a motorized trolley with the potential for reward; to see the multi-pronged claw scrape the sides of a stuffed panda, its grip strength too weak to snatch it from its Plexiglas prison, is to know true disappointment.
The components may have changed, but that hypnotic interaction between player and claw has been going on for nearly 100 years. Some amusements historians believe the machines existed as early as the 1890s, mechanical dioramas that were built to entice people fascinated by the machinery used in constructing the Panama Canal.
But the first mass-produced unit didn’t arrive until 1926. That’s when the Erie Digger began inhaling the spare change of players.
“It’s a very complex little machine,” says Roller, who worked in carnivals from 1960 to 1977 and now restores antique diggers for collectors. “It took skill that had to be taught and demonstrated”…
Stroll down the midway at “Dime After Dime: A Gripping History of Claw Machines.”
* Victor Hugo
As we hold out for the toy dinosaur, we might recall that it was on this date in 1956, at the Heidelberg Race Track in Pittsbugh, Pennsylvania, that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus ended its season early, when President John Ringling North announced that it would no longer exhibit under its own portable tents, but (starting in 1957) would exhibit in permanent venues, sports stadiums and arenas that had the seating already in place.
“In a magazine, one can get – from cover to cover – 15 to 20 different ideas about life and how to live it”*…
Magazine publishing is a dark art. But the world of niche publishing—people who create magazines for necrophiliacs or donkey hobbyists, or for those of us who like to ride really small trains—features its own requirements…
See for yourself: “Brief Interviews With Very Small Publishers.”
* Maya Angelou
As we turn the pages, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981 that the first issue of The Record, Canada’s music industry magazine of record, was published. For two decades it provided the canonical sales charts for the Canadian music business both directly and as part of Billboard‘s “Hits of the World” section. It ceased print publication in 1999, surviving as a website for another three years before closing altogether in 2001.
“Either you get eaten by a wolf today or else the shepherd saves you from the wolf so he can sell you to the butcher tomorrow”*…
… or you make a break for it:
A flock of over 1,000 sheep was spotted roaming through the city centre of Huesca, northeastern Spain on Tuesday after escaping from their shepherd when he fell asleep.
Police were alerted to the sizable flock making its way through the centre of the city at around 4.30am when a local resident called the emergency number 112.
The shepherd was supposed to be guiding his sheep onto the pastures of the Pyrenees, where they will spend the summer, when he dozed off…
* Ogden Nash,
As we wonder of the shepherd was counting his flock when he dozed off, we might recall that this a big day for animals in the street: the start of the annual fiestas of San Fermin are celebrated in Irunea/Pamplona, the centerpiece of which is the well-known “Encierro” (running of the bulls).
The Encierro takes place from July 7th to 14th and starts at the corral in Calle Santo Domingo when the clock on the church of San Cernin strikes eight o”clock in the morning. After the launching of two rockets, the bulls charge behind the runners for 825 metres, the distance between the corral and the bullring. The run usually lasts between three and four minutes although it has sometimes taken over ten minutes, especially if one of the bulls has been isolated from his companions… [source]
“Nothing can better cure the anthropocentrism that is the author of all our ills than to cast ourselves into the physics of the infinitely large (or the infinitely small)”*…
* Julio Cortázar,
As we step on the scales, we might send fiendishly ingenious birthday greetings to Rube Goldberg; he was born on this date in 1883. A cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor, he is best remembered as a satirist of the American obsession with technology for his series of “Invention” cartoons which used a string of outlandish tools, people, plants, and steps to accomplish simple, everyday tasks in the most complicated possible way. (His work has inspired a number of “Rube Goldberg competitions,” the best-known of which, readers may recall, has been profilled here.)
Goldberg was a founder and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society, and he is the namesake of the Reuben Award, which the organization awards to the Cartoonist of the Year.
A display of concept drawings by the seminal movie artist Albert Hurter have shed new light on some of the rejected characters who didn’t make the cut in Walt Disney’s 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The final lineup – Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy and Dopey – was selected from a pool of around 50 brainstormed by his team; in the Grimms’ original 1812 story, the dwarves are anonymous.
Although many of the ultimately rejected names – including Jumpy, Deafy, Dizzey, Hickey, Wheezy, Baldy, Gabby, Nifty, Sniffy, Swift, Lazy, Puffy, Stuffy, Tubby, Shorty and Burpy – were already known, the artwork reveals how close some of them came to actual animation. The drawings were sold as part of an auction of 400 pieces at Bonhams in New York that raised a total of £500,000…
* The Evil Queen, Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
As we whistle while we work, we might spare a thought for James Gilmore “Jim” Backus; he died on this date in 1989. A voice and screen actor, Backus appeared in myriad television and radio programs and films, from Francis in the Navy and Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town to Rebel Without a Cause and Hurry Sundown. But he is surely best remembered as Thurston Howell, III, on the 1960s sitcom Gilligan’s Island, and as the voice of the amusingly visually-challenged cartoon character Mr. Magoo,