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Rug Burn

July 10, 2009

As Strange Mats points out, a rug can really tie a room together!


Apparently, these types of war rugs go back a long way in Afghani culture. This one seems to be generally triumphant about driving out both the Taliban and the Soviets, and is actually taken from an old template from the Soviet invasion days.

An interesting afterthought: in weaving recent history into mats, these Afghan artisans are unwittingly imitating the tapestry-as-news school of carpetry that had its most famous early example in the Bayeux Tapestry, which detailed William the Conqueror’s usurpation of the English throne.

Lots of insightful comments beneath the post (who knew this blog was so smart and popular?), including a link to this rug:


I’m In Love With A Jersey Girl

July 3, 2009

I can’t lie — I’m pretty stoked that I helped spark an internet flavor-of-the-week. FourFour is one of the first blogs I started reading regularly about 5 years ago, and during America’s Next Top Model season I wait breathlessly with the rest of the internet for Rich Juzwiak‘s incomparable weekly recap. But I am more than a fair weather fan – Rich is also an incredible aficionado of House music, R&B, gore films, and new surprises all the time — he is really wise beyond his years.

Every summer Rich heads home to New Jersey and visits the boardwalk at Wildwood where he documents it in all it’s trashiness and throw-back, out-of-place-redneck glory. So three years ago I dubbed him a VHS copy of Atlanta homegirl Ruth Leitman‘s 1992 documentary WILDWOOD NJ. This was a tape that I rescued from Videodrome‘s sale bin because I always loved it, and all of her other films including ALMA and LIPSTICK AND DYNAMYTE. I had the honor of doing a lecture with her several years ago at The Contemporary on kitch films from our childhood (Me: OKLAHOMA!, her: BILLY JACK). She was also a customer at Movies Worth Seeing where I worked for years and we used to chat a lot about documentaries before she moved away from Atlanta.

So it was crazy yesterday to see stills and clips from my tape all over the internet because of Rich’s wonderful review! Here’s his highlight reel (which has generated over 50,000 views in 2 days!):

The story also got picked up by Jezebel, Buzzfeed, and on G4 Tv‘s “Around The Web” it was selected as the #1 video of the day! (Thanks, BazookaLuca!).

Ruth says she’s getting DVD orders by the second, so you should contact her and ask for yours – it’s truly amazing and would make a great, if much more heartfelt, double feature with Heavy Metal Parking Lot. She is in the process of  remastering it now due to all of the sudden demand and will have it available on her site in a few days for $22.99 shipped. We’ll definitely get a copy for at Videodrome ASAP.

UPDATE: It’s available now – click on the “Wildwood” button. I ordered it for Videodrome.

Molasses in January: WAY Faster Than You Think.

June 27, 2009

Streeter Seidell, a comedian, College Humor editor, and creator of the dead-on First World petty complaint aggregator White Whine has a knack for finding obscure (to me anyways*) historical disasters on his personal blog. It’s with great shame that I must admit to missing the 90th anniversary of The Great Boston Molasses Disaster back in January.

The El Got De-elevated By A Sugar Rush

The El Got De-elevated By A Sugar Rush

Perhaps this is a well-known event in Boston history, but, if so, why haven’t they been telling the rest of us about it?? The story is simple yet amazing and one, I believe,  best told in bullet points:

  • It happened on an unusually warm day in January.
  • The container was 50 feet in diameter and contained 2,300,000 US gallons!
  • The molasses tsunami was 8 to 15 feet high and rushed through the streets at 35 miles per hour!
  • 21 people were killed and 150 were ‘injured’ — which I imagine means they were all stuck together.
  • The Elevated Train was lifted off it’s tracks and a truck was hurled into Boston Harbor.
  • It took over 87,000 man hours to clean the goo off of the streets, business, cars, cats, dogs, you-name-it.
  • Some folks say the area still smells like molasses occasionally. If only New Yorkers could have so easily identified a similar smell!

I’ll stop here because there are just way to many startling aspects to this event. Do yourself a favor and read every tantalyzing line of what might be the most captivating Wikipedia entry ever. Nearly every sentence is unbelievable.

Gookleur Fallout

Gookleur Fallout

*UPDATE: I’ve just been advised that every schmuck in the freakin world knows about this besides me.

PayPal, DVDs, Fax Machines, and North Korea!

June 15, 2009

I’m always scrounging around for any undercover documentary or other information about the DPRK, and today I discovered that one can purchase documentaries and other DVDs directly from the source: The North Korean government’s official website!

Who wants to take one for the team and set up a login there — and then pay them via PayPal? For a mere €30 (US $41) extracted from your bank account, you can choose from non-subtitled selections like “55th Anniversary of Founding of the DPRK“, “Extra-Large Inhumane Crime in the 20th cent“, and “A Traffic Controller on Crossroads“. All you have to do is give the North Korean government your personal details!


Yes, they have found an eCommerce Solution! Let's See What We Have here....

You can even sign up to become a member of the Korean Friendship Association. You get a friggin membership card for christsakes! Someone do it!* It’s free and there are only two conditions!

1. You respect the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its leaders.
2. You respect the other members in the KFA and the goals of the KFA.


*Only if, again, you feel comfortable giving a totalitarian regime your address, telephone, “home page”and fax number.

Hacking Pyongyang’s Secrets…

June 11, 2009

(via Gizmodo)

One very ballsy PhD student by the name of Curtis Melvin has used Google Earth as a platform to lay bare the infrastructure of North Korea. He is utilizing intel gathered by a network of amateur spies! It’s now at version 17, so it’s really up to date and a constant work-in-progress.

As you can see, it really includes everything you can think about, from nuclear power plants to military communication towers to ostrich farms to not-secret-anymore prison camps. And of course, all surrounded by all kind of crap and poverty, all courtesy of Kim Jong-il, one of the biggest asses in the history of evil dictators.

How did Curtis get all this info? Easy—and risky: Using his own trips and a network of curious amateur spies who have been visiting the country through these two years. Truly impressive work.

Here’s the KMZ file (Google Earth required). Here’s Melvin’s site – North Korean Economy Watch.

Rachel Maddow interviewed Melvin as well:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Previously: North and South Korea – A Case Study in Linguistic Evolution

Green Tea Coca-Cola, Basil Pepsi, Garlic Sprite* Announced.

June 8, 2009

From The Daily Contributor, via Japan is Doomed.


Coca-Cola Japan has announced that it will be launching a green tea-flavored Coke for the Japanese market next week.

The drink contains antioxidants called catechins, making the new Coke a good choice for health-conscious younger women.

Green tea cola is nothing new, though. It has been around for a while now.

And catching up is Coke rival Pepsi, who will release basil-flavored “Pepsi Shiso” later in June. Shiso is a common herb used in Japan on pasta, salads, sashimi and even on pizza.

The always hilarious Japan is Doomed has made some other predictions: Pepsi Blood, anyone?


*kidding, but who knows?


UPDATEJapanese bloggers weigh in on Pepsi Shiso (via Japan Probe):

Positive: Kumaboshi – “It’s actually not bad, and does smell and taste (at least at first) like shiso.”

Negative: Gaijin Tonic – “While it might be refreshing on a humid summer’s day, there’s no escaping the fact that it tastes like mouthwash.”

If You Can Read This….

June 2, 2009


….then you are not in China. Or else, you are, and are pretty clever. The government has just banned WordPress, Blogger, YouTube, Twitter, Hotmail, and Bing. That should stop any descent that might (just maybe) arise on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre on June 4th.

Unfortunately, I’m sure the list will just keep growing. But at least we can be sure the geeks are figuring out workarounds – it’s a way of life over there.

Illustration: Guy Billout fo WIRED

Illustration: Guy Billout for WIRED

Chocolate + Records = Babe Magnet…

May 28, 2009

…well, perhaps in 1903.

Thanks to Wayne for this tip! (Warning – his blog is NSFW and Not Safe For Homophobes a great place to come to terms with your repressed homoerotic urges).

Now THATS Some Hot Chocolate@

Now THAT'S Some Hot Chocolate!

The two very rare tin phonographs pictured above were made in late 1903 and have to rank among the most unusual phonographs ever made: they were designed to play disk records made of chocolate! Made by the Stollwerck Chocolate company in Germany, the phonographs were powered by a tiny clock motor made by Junghans, a company still in the clock business today. Each machine measures a mere 8-1/2″ tall (including the horn), with a turntable barely 3″ in diameter.

Link Here.


A Playable and Edible Record. 1903

Pic Unrelated, kind of...Thanks Wayne!

Pic Unrelated, kind of...Thanks Wayne!

Coffee in a Can is Underrated

May 22, 2009

Over at BoingBoing Gadgets, Lisa Katayama laments the absence of canned coffee in US vending machines. I totally agree: There’s something to be said for getting a pick-me-up while waiting for a train or bus (and for only around US $1.20). Almost any of the Japanese brands are much tastier than the awful Starbucks Doubleshot which, at least here in the South, is our only option. Also, you have a choice of hot or cold – though ‘hot’ is usually only available in the cooler seasons.

This is no big news, but I was surprised to learn that the Japanese hot/cold vending machine has been around since 1973!

In the Line of Fire - Kirins Brand (as seen in my office).

In the Line of Fire - Kirin's Brand (as seen in my office).

Canned coffee is said to have originated in Japan in the late 1950s, but it really took off around 1973, when beverage company Pocca invented the Hot/Cold vending machine. After that, everyone from Coca Cola to beer manufacturers like Asahi and Suntory came out with their own versions of coffee in a can.

Photo by STBECK, Near Hamamatsucho station...

Photo by STBECK, Near Hamamatsucho Station, Tokyo...

It sure beats the hell out of this monstrosity I saw at the mall last week.

Your Coke stock at work...What overhead? 50" touch screens are cheap, right?

Reschedule Your Asian Sex-Tourism Plans…

May 18, 2009

From the Dept. of Premature-Coitus-Interuptus:

(via Jezebel, The Mail UK)

A sex theme park that featured explicit exhibits and sexual culture is being demolished before it can even open, a government spokesman in southwestern China said.

Exhibits had included giant-sized reproductions of male and female anatomy, dissertations on how the topic of sex is treated in various cultures and what the official China Daily newspaper called ‘sex technique workshops.’

The demolition highlights conflicted views on sex in modern China, where a prudish attitude toward discussion of sexuality is paired with an almost clinical approach to its physical aspects.

From Jezebel:

There also isn’t much awareness of sexual harassment and laws on sexual abuse are weaker in China than in many other parts of the world. Aside from Love Land, the second most widely reported sex-related story out of China last week was about a government official who paid to have sex with a 13-year-old girl, but was let off with a conviction for visiting a prostitute and a fine because he claimed he didn’t know how old the girl was.