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Friday, January 30, 2004
Still away, I´m afraid. Missing out on all that lovely snow in London...

Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Technological ease of use inevitably leads to an explosion in creativity (that word again). Discuss. Aardvark makes the point of how Apple's iLife suite is, apparently, leading to hours of uninspiring GarageBand-recorded music and iMovie-authored home movies. Is it elitist to dismiss this surge in cultural creation out of hand? Perhaps. The standard 1970s suburban joke was having to sit through an insufferably dull evening of holiday slides taken by your neighbours, as they exploited the best available technology for their own amusement.

Substitute a DVD with all the bells and whistles (wipes, fades, background music, titles, voice overs, etc. etc.) or a CD cobbled together using a bunch of copyright-free loops, and you have the recipe for a similarly uninspiring entertainment - not the sort of thing to inflinct on friends. So does this mean we will increasingly spend less time consuming and more time producing, firing up a programme (even one as limited as sound mixer, via Sachs Report) when we want to hear music, rather than putting on a 'real' CD?

Another searching question: Have we got too good at explaining design? 'Daniel Liebeskind is a great architect but may be almost too great an explainer. Every aspect of his master plan for the World Trade Center site comes bundled with newly-minted brand names (Freedom Tower, Memory Foundations, The Wedge of Light) and each of those names carry their own built-in metaphors.' Interesting article by Michael Bierut at Design Observer on the increasing need to build-in meaning and metaphor in such a way that personal interpretations of a building are now guided by the architect, who may in turn be seeking to influence Jury members, committees, etc.

Hulks of industry. In Joel Sternfeld's 'Walking the High Line' (where others have also been), there's a great shot of the Starrett-Lehigh building on the Lower West Side. Recently given a $20 million renovation, here's a 1936 image of the Starrett-Lehigh by Berenice Abbott (see her Changing New York 1935-38 series at the NY public library). There must be countless such industrial hulks awaiting new uses, especially in the US.

Some other things. Lorbus is a weblog with a design emphasis, and it's where we find the Robot Hall of Fame and these ghastly retro televisions from Predicta. Best of all, though, is the cute flash application tinygrow, which gives anyone green fingers / Squalor Survivors (sic) seems like an American version of How clean is your house (which dispenses with a question mark for some reason) / Is this you?, more found photos, this time with an interactive slant (via Phathouse) / the films of Hal Ashby, via Life in the Present.

Brixton then and now at Urban 75 / huge collection of historic photos from CGBGs (via The Cartoonist) / a photolog from Berlin / miniature books / ping pong ball avalanche (via muxway) / the space age house from Woody Allen's Sleeper, one of many things gleaned from Ask me-fi, which is fast becoming a source of more fascinating stuff than the main page. Take this fascinating query about John Titor, alleged time-traveller who contributed vital future research to IBM's 5100 series computer. Speaking of the future, check out Marc Newson's concept jet, exhibited at the Fondation Cartier earlier this week (thanks to LB for the pic).

Strange Attractor, a new journal, is now taking orders. Read the press release and see sample layouts: I, II, III. Fascinating stuff.

As you can see, we're packing our bags and heading off for a week or so. Updates will hopefully happen, but in the meantime, check out our archives and don't forget that things 17-18 is now ready to order.

Monday, January 26, 2004
S.M. Prokudin-Gorskii, Photographer for the Russian Empire. Hugely innovative - and confusing - colour imagery from pre-Revolutionary Russia. See also the online exhibition The Empire that was Russia. The vivid colours, made using a three plate process, compress any sense of historical distance. These could have been taken yesterday. The atmospheric veneer created by sepia or black and white imagery is wrenched away: instead you get glimpses of modernity existing in a pre-modernist era, a paradox that is a struggle to comprehend. Related: the Moscow House of Photography, with historic galleries like these fashion images and a history of aviation (check this remarkable transport plane, Andrei Tupolev's ANT-20bis, via

Another kind of utopia. A fascinating history/explanation of the Garchey waste disposal system in London's Barbican complex. See also this early instruction booklet. Barbican Living is an excellent site, chronicling the history of the site and its subsequent development: 'In a single night of incendiary bombing on 29th December 1940, every street from Moorgate to Aldersgate Street, covering thirty five acres, was destroyed.' (via

Abandoned paper mill in Paris, via tmn / Zagato Cars, for eccentric Alfa-istas / java-based flight simulator set on Mars / Non-Standard, an exhibition of new architectural forms at the Pompidou Centre (via Beverly Tang's Btang Phlog, 'a photographic blog of the real, surreal, and unreal').

A gallery of pill packaging, via Caterina. Related: 100 activities to stop you thinking about sex, via Boing Boing. Possibly related as well: Babysafe, a Teletubbies-style application for your Mac (via Dive into Mark).

Super Size Me, 'a film of epic proportions' (via J-walk). Last week, a BBC documetary seemed to suggest that the reason the Atkins diet worked was that protein suppresses appetite. So even though you can allegedly eat as much you like, Atkins followers tend to eat less. And lose weight. Also via J-walk, photographers in action. This is a delight

Friday, January 23, 2004
One to catch quickly: raiding the 20th century - (a history of the cut-up) by DJ strictly kev. This 53mb download is the bootleg mash-up to end all mash-ups, a virtuoso 39 minute journey through pop, past, present and future. There are literally hundreds of artists sampled, layered, spliced, time-stretched, edited and compiled. It’s quite amazing, although whether you’d want to listen to it on a regular basis is quite another matter. All human life is here: S-Club, Jimi Hendrix, the Strokes, Missy Elliot, U2, Pointer Sisters, Madonna, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Pink, the JAMMS, etc. etc. etc. (full track-listing - you have to admire this guy’s record collection if nothing else). The relentless switching between the tracks doesn’t half inspire you to check out the originals again...

Arcspace has a selection of the architect Richard Meier’s collages. I like these – I like Meier’s architecture in general – and have had the accompanying monograph for many years. But there’s something awfully deriative about them, a mish-mash of cubism, constructivism, futurism, vorticism, Merz and more. They undermine his creative originality - his early domestic work in particular is very Corbusian (Douglas House, Smith House) - and the collages reinforce this debt, rather than signify a clear progression. In this respect, they're almost anti-modernist, despite their explicitly modernist inspiration.

Hand-painted & hand-crafted signs are fossils in our visual landscape according to this elegaic piece on the loss of individual craft in the built environment. Check the galleries for many examples. There's also the American Sign Museum (via City of Sound, who has a nice set of images of the wonderful dairy farmer shop just down the road from us. Don't forget Phil Baines's excellent Public Lettering site either.

There are neat things lurking in Jewelboxing, Coudal Partner’s website for their new jewelbox DVD packaging system, like these examples. There’s even a weblog. Also via Coudal, an amazing graphic re-interpretation of the Donald Sutherland/Julie Christie classic Don’t Look Now. What's remarkable is how much of the narrative survives the process. And how few cuts there are. Just as someone lined up the end credits of movies old and new, it would be instructive to see how many cuts the contemporary picture has compared to its 1960s equivalent.

Susan Dobson's photographic series Home Invasion, chronicling the relentless march of serried ranks of suburban homes - made all the more sinister by their blank windows and gaping doors. E.M Forster described the Edwardian suburbs looping out of London as a 'creeping red rust on the horizon' in Howard's End (an unconscious nod to War of the Worlds?). See also the work of Andrew Cross, who frames suburbia once it's had a chance to settle and integrate with the landscape.

Some other things. Foreword, the book design blog / vote for the Conscientious Photography Award. Oh, too late / interesting chart of global house prices. One can begin to understand the European penchant for renting versus the Anglocentric mania for mortgages when confronted with statistics like this / Prisoner's Inventions, fascinating-looking book, via Caterina.

Anti-mega visits Arne Jacobsen’s Radisson Hotel / how to play poker (flash) / FBI raid programmer's home in search for missing Half Life 2 code. Apparently this is where you go to find out who actually did it. (Strangely the BBC decided to link this page and not the actual weblog entry) / every day at nine minutes past nine, Jean-Michel posts a picture of himself. A more exacting (but somehow less composed) version of Matt Haughey’s Ten Years of My Life.

Are weblogs the new punk rock? Counting down the hours until some wag puts together a 'what punk rock band are you?'-style web questionnaire / coming soon, the new website for dreamy Icelandic pop outfit múm, designed by the nice chaps at / illustration by Leela Corman / the story of the heavy metal umlaut, that typographic symbol of terror, at / HelloOK!, broad satire, but occasionally amusing.

Not that we’re complaining, but where is all our spam? used to get perhaps 30 or 40 pieces of junk a day. Now it’s just one. My other yahoo account still gets spam. Confusing. And why did spam suddenly start appearing in my other account only after yahoo introduced the bulk email folder? One account had a new button today - the 'spam' button. I suppose they're trying.

Thursday, January 22, 2004
The great digital vs analogue debate. This me-fi thread tackles this breezy BBC article about just how great digital cameras are. But do they improve your photography skills or just increase the ratio of signal versus noise? What's indisputable is that internet distribution means that more photography is being made - and seen - than at any previous point in history. Before the advent of digital cameras and global distribution, most people would only have seen photographs created by their close circle of family and friends.

Granted, the sheer volume of images out there means that there's also more 'bad' photography. But everyone edits, and perhaps photobloggers edit more than most, because when people take time and trouble to post online galleries, they are invariably fascinating. By comparison, most amateur snappers have shoeboxes-full of developed 35mm films, all the ones that didn't make it into the albums. But maybe the loss of these rejections is a bigger problem.

Found photos have gone from being a fringe interest to a full-on web obsession; witness sites like Spillway that eke fascination, wonder and imagined memories from objects rejected or neglected by their owners. Other found links (culled from cardhouse): 404, ausgang, museum of find arts. Where will the 'found' objects of the digital generation be discovered?

A great deal of the hype that surrounds digital products is concerned with sharing moments rather than things. Obviously, this is a copyright and hence profit issue, but no-one could have failed to notice the countless ads urging us to snap away, print, crop, burn, share, share, share. It’s not crafts as such, not even the sharing of ideas. Instead, it’s a different kind of gift exchange, the commodification of memory. But these objects will be bereft of the patina of age, the rips, tears and stains that create a sense of history. Tomorrow's archaeologists, sifting through landfills brimming with rejected CDs, extracting their precious data, will unearth a past that's still shiny and new.

Some photography. A huge gallery of daily shots by Jessica Chan-Norris; bathrooms by Marian Starosta; thousands of images at Supersnail (swirl); Rosebaby; Michael Danner's Suburban Skies, images of London suburbs. See also his shots of Istria and Madrid. It's also about time we added Royal Journal to the sidebar. Where else could you find gems like this?

Some other things. Elegant furniture at R20th Century / art projects at Terminus 1525 / Airbag (‘the world’s safest website’), a weblog / fawltysite, all about Fawlty Towers / mystery and misery, a weblog.

An epic interview with Henry Petroski over at tmn. I wasn’t aware of the word ‘celebrified’ before - a bit like reified, perhaps, but not. Petroski talks about the definition of design, the role of branding and we also learn about the fabled Eberhard Faber Blackwing pencil, lost to the world following an eraser crimping machine accident in 1998 (thank you to Pencil Pages, 'the world’s Most Comprehensive On-line Resource for Pencil-Related Information....').

Wednesday, January 21, 2004
The Tricorn Centre is coming down, finally. Portsmouth's most radical building - and some say the most hated structure in Britain - is due for demolition in March. The site will fester for a few months (years?) as a car park, before being turned into the snappily-named Northern Quarter. The building has had a stay of execution before, but this might finally be it.

When I first started writing about the Tricorn Centre about six years ago there was scant information and even less enthusiasm. The received wisdom was that this was a monumental white elephant, an architectural blunder universally loathed since its exception. To a certain extent this is true (see the timeline): some stores were never let, the design proved tricky to police and British weather brought out the worst aspects of the concrete construction.

In the past couple of years or so a number of websites relating to the building have sprung up: a sure sign of renewed public interest. See shopping in the sixties (at the excellent fifties and sixties and its sister site seaside history), several pages of photographs, even more photos at garfnet, the cheery Proles for Modernism (which aims to save the building), the local council's page on Tricorn history and the excellent set of links and information from The Portsmouth Society.

Proles for Modernism have a point: it's a bold utopian statement, the likes of which are nearly impossible to replicate at a time when shopping centres are systems-built, empty vessels given character and life only by the brands which inhabit them. PforM aim 'to undermine the aesthetics of consumption by consuming aesthetics', suggesting that the public realm needs a certain degree of challenging abstraction. Their argument, fringed with mythological and pagan beliefs, is that the building is a 'machine for revolution' in that it 'negates bourgeois culture. It puts people off shopping' (my italics).

Perhaps this is the Tricorn's problem: a resolute anti-commercial appearance. The building never functioned as an attraction, but as another component of the city, even a small city-state in its own right with its own flats and pubs. Compare it to Portsmouth's other main shopping centres, both of which post-date the Tricorn. The Cascades and the more recent Gunwharf Quays are 'destinations.' The former offers 'shopping without the weather', and the latter offers the 'ultimate waterfront destination' (and is the location of the half-finished Spinnaker Tower). These are modern shopping centres, places to spend a whole day, to eat, to watch movies and, above all, to buy. The Tricorn's streetscapes were meant to be used like just another part of the city, a zone of passing, looking and experiencing, engaging with consumption and consumerism, but not, in any way, being overwhelmed by the experience. I suspect it'll be missed once it's gone.

Some other things. The nominations for the 2004 bloggies are up and awaiting your votes. As ever, clicking on the unknown is informative: shiny plastic bag, chocolate & zucchini, and, from the criminally overlooked category, broken type. Elsewhere, some more well-designed personal websites that have caught our eye like diamonds in the rough: accidental, a large head and cloudiness (with excellent photos).

Kultureflash publishes an incredible gallery of Brasilia photographs by Michael Wesely, who specialises in long exposures / No Sense of Place celebrates Tintin’s 75th anniversary / play classic Sim City online / artist’s studios, via the cartoonist / big, arty gif / game girl advance muses on the virtual simulation of familiar places – or recognising your home town in computer games.

The weird world of Jani Kaunisto, via Ella Guru’s Voodoo kitchen, who also links to goose diapers, this virtual guitar and the photography of Alison Wonderland (including a great music section) / more snow! / cooking with spices, the amazing collective knowledge harness that is ask me-fi once again comes up trumps.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004
The Moon Resort and Casino. When I first looked at this I was puzzled as to why you'd want to go all the way to the Moon just to gamble. But the resort is very earth-bound (and seemingly closely related to The Palm in Dubai), with 'various global locations' currently under investigation (the 'current front runners [are] located in the Far East, North America and the Caribbean,' which hardly narrows it down). Related: notes on post-modern architecture.

Also noted, Too Much Froth, or why the 'latte quotient is a bad strategy for building middle-class cities' - what happens to 'hip cities' when the buzz dies down. Joel Kotkin and Fred Siegel's rather belligerent essay is especially caustic about the Memphis Manifesto (available as a rather retro-looking pdf), a prominent 'call to action by the Creative Class for communities of North America' ('The 1934 Soviet constitution couldn't have said it better,' retorts Too Much Froth).

The authors are probably right to criticise the elevation of 'creativity' into a frothy salve that's seen as both economic cure-all and blueprint for high quality of life, but their glee at the apparent economic failure of 'hip' is tempered by an aloof, condemnatory attitude. Surely 'hipness' is just another facet of market forces, for better or for worse. The infamous 'Latte Index' (not this one) - which examines the density of Starbucks outlets - has everything to do with the coffee chain wanting to make money, not appear to be hanging out in the coolest parts of town. I thought the 'creative classes' were fighting to keep Starbucks out...?

Elsewhere. La Couturiere Parisienne, five hundred years of costume and clothing history, in paintings and fashion plates (e.g. Fashion of the Golden Twenties, 1920-3), with downloadable patterns you can make yourself. There are also virtual visits to the fashion collections of the V&A and Bath's Museum of Costume, and lots, lots more (shoes). There might be an embedded MIDI file in there too, so turn your speakers off. See also the official V&A site, official Museum of Costume site, with the fascinating Dress of the Year section, which presents a single dress from each year since 1963.

Some other things. Edblog, a weblog found in our referrer logs with a good eye for interviews and features, such as this chat with New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane ('...I have the feeling that writing can be all the better for being squeezed in around life.' and 'The truth is, that if you're working on a piece at three in the morning, you're not Keats; you're just late.'), and a link to splinters, the Spike Magazine weblog. This in turn takes us to Glamorama, a weblog focused on music and books.

'The School', a wonderful short story by Donald Bartheleme. Thanks to Jessamyn for drawing attention to him in this Ask me-fi thread / the postcode project looks like the start of something similar to Ben Fry's clever zip code locator (which we linked earlier in the month) / the fashiondig links portal / Henk's Portal, huge collection of links / pleasing snowfall from plasticbag.

Monday, January 19, 2004
There's nothing so frustrating as being trailed an interesting new website only to discover that it hasn't made its deadline. Never mind, for Evidence in Camera should go live any minute [update: it seems their server is not as beefy as it should have been. Shades of the 1901 census]. Here's a preview at the BBC and an article at the Guardian. We're promised a photographic survey of World War II, a selection from tens of thousands of reconnaissance photographs that were taken yet never studied in detail ('the RAF's photographers fired their cameras as fast as machine guns'), perhaps not even processed, until their contents were strategically irrelevant. It's indescribably tragic to imagine the images of Auschwitz filed away in a drawer, unseen and gathering dust when there were people who might have been spurred to action had they actually had time to analsye the films.

obscurantist tackles the latest [grid::blogging] topic: ritual. We'll stay well out of it because last time what we wrote was not true. Related: 10 handy tips for writers (how not to lean on 'crutch words', for example. We do this all the time. 'For example' being a primary example. And over-use of the word 'actually'.

Other things. Sore Eyes, a weblog / cute little crawling bugs at Adrian Lafond's site (via Jenett.Radio), one of many flash experiments on the site. Our favourite is the Little Microbe Pen. The isometric constructor is neat too, though whether anyone would have the patience to build something with it is another matter (see, nearly used the word 'actually' again). Battle Bots passes a few minutes admirably as well.

Tintin and cars / sniggle, subversive culture / alttext, a weblog / Life in the present has moved - update your bookmarks / cruise ship webcams (via information junk). This would be less troubling if this one ship didn't appear to be in four different places at once, Philadelphia Experiment-style.

Friday, January 16, 2004
Some galleries. British Library images online / English Heritage's viewfinder, Europe from MET-7 satellite / aerial views of San Francisco Bay (via information junk) / AllSportAuto, a database of automotive imagery. Related. Living with your data, early forays into visualising huge quantities of data, back in the day when everyone imagined that three-dimensional representations would be the only way we could possibly navigate all this information. It never happened, certainly not on a day to day basis. The idea was that the stock market, for example, could be illustrated as a huge field of corn, waving gently in the wind, with poorly performing stocks indicated by stunted growth, etc. Poetic, but market traders probably didn't like the idea of transforming themselves into virtual farmers.

More past futures. Now that we're going back to the moon (and 'to worlds beyond' - love the disclaimer), Wired muses on the legs of the Space Race that were never run, like 1959's Project Horizon. The Cartoonist has been digging up countless retro-space links these past few days to add a visual sheen to these grand plans.

The architecture writings of James S. Russell. See also the City Review. In The Post-Spectacular City John Thackera muses on a world where meaning has been squeezed out of the urban environment, 'made blind by spectacle' and consumed by consumption. To see what he means, enter the world of Burgher Deluxe, an article at The Atlantic tackling the very visible return of conspicious consumption.

Other things. In the belly of Saint Paul, the website to accompany the first publication from Underworld Print / cartoon pin-up art from Shane Glines / punk rock in Malaysia (see also this database of the Malaysian underground) / de-fragment your brain.

things 17-18 includes a new short story by Tobias Seamon, of Whalelane notoriety. Seamon's fiction encouraged us to find out more about the Emir of Bokhara and his infamous ‘bug pit’.

Thursday, January 15, 2004
You can now listen to Radio 3's The Verb on line, in which things editor Hildi Hawkins talks about the magazine, the weblog and the latest issue. Not sure how long the audio stream will stick around - presumably it'll be replaced by the latest programme this Saturday. So move quickly...

The Royal Mail’s new smart stamps concept was mentioned on the radio this morning. Pay an annual licence fee (of around £50) and you get the ability to design and print your own stamps from your PC (hopeless flash demo of the concept, thrown together as a corporate presentation or something). We like this idea a lot, although we're not sure what stamp collectors will make of it. It also sounds like a gift to hackers with big mailing lists. You can already put your own photos on stamps, with the execrably-named smilers.

This ties in nicely with something written over at daring fireball about Apple's new GarageBand software. A big garage: ‘people want to be producers, not consumers.’ Yet we still have to consume to produce. And software like GarageBand is a product that allows a different kind of productivity. It's the old suffering for one's art paradox: does the starving artist, scraping around for food, heat, light and materials, produce better work than the artist who can drag and drop with ease?

Larsholst sets out some of his favourite well-designed weblogs, lots of links to chase, meaning more time is spent procrastinating instead of doing the things we should be doing. Gems include Marking Time, whose post on web display cases is right up our street. Of the examples cited, Do you remember when?, an exhibit at the United States Holocaust Museum, and the Smithsonian's Revealing Things are still on line. We're also grateful for the link to the William Morris Internet Archive.

Some other things. South London landmark, the pink tank / I see Jesus, taking religious simulacra to its logical conclusion (via me-fi) / gorgeous vapour trails: six photos of aeroplanes at peppered, part of a list of things - compulsive reading and clicking (toy car). Thanks to Johan for the link / frosty grass by Jason Zada.

Wings of Change, a National Geographic feature (the first to be shot entirely digitally) / a map of the universe (via tmn) / monster hail stones at stormgasm (via Coudal) / consumptive links to Salt Mine, a photography magazine.

Women in Trousers is the most phenomenally sexist book I have ever seen. There's a copy in Oxfam's Goodge Street store if you don't believe me / is the new online store from Warp Records. Try before you download; a kind of iTunes for the glitch rock generation.

Apologies for the lengthy site outage. We're back now, and will try not to vanish like that again. It was the virtual equivalent of tripping over the mains cable and yanking it out of the wall, I think. Amongst other things, being off-line for 12 hours cut our spam intake down from about forty items to just one. Anyone know why this should be?

Wednesday, January 14, 2004
Cover art from Commodore 64 games, from the days when the atmosphere conjured up by the cover art went a long way towards creating the mental picture you formed to accompany the rudimentary graphics. Today, cover art has the opposite function; the worlds are contained within, and there's no need to bolster the gameworld with detailed illustrations. Via Muxway, which also links slit camera and the railway photo library.... Use the Japanese language pages to see the actual images, which are very long, like trains. Samples here - they scroll past in an excitingly train-like fashion as well (select fast scrolling for accurate express trains). The link was also seen at consumptive. Related: stop motion studies of commuters (via empty bottle), at the Turbulence Gallery of net art.

Staying with the 1980s, cast your mind back to 1983 with this collection of Ceefax pages (via diamond geezer, who waxes nostalgically about the (still-running) service). Linking to the frames unfortunately breaks the nice Ceefax-size windows, but just to show you that some things never change. Other time-warp snippets: interest rates at 9%, cooking with Delia Smith, and a half-decent top 40. There's much, much more retro broadcast technology at mb21, including this gallery of transmitter masts, with a special focus on Emley Moor, rebuilt after a collapse and now the tallest self-supporting structure in Britain. Another TV mast that caught our eye recently, the extraordinary Riga TV Tower. Another image at world landmarks.

MDN Studio counters our thoughts on brands (originally put together as part of Ashley B’s grid::brand exercise). Our thoughts get somewhat stamped on. Staying with brands and trademarks: Adobe, fresh from preventing the amateur forger from learning their trade, moves to conquer common linguistic errors: Trademarks are not verbs. Trademarks are not nouns (via memepool). Related: former trademarks used generically (via tmn). And that surrealist, quasi-concrete poetry from yesterday? 'Random acts of spamness', Wired news goes behind the trend for nonsense spam.

whybark, a weblog / weblog recommendations at ask me-fi, including Weirdsmobile (with the frightening fiction bitch) and The Elegant Variation, which has a literary focus, including gossip, reviews and links, like this one to the Australian Book Review. Keeping up with reviews is near impossible / the adventures of Dr Nordten / Hugo: dreams of economics and game theory / abandoned Christmas trees in New York, courtesy of RachelleB.

We seem to be living in an Age of Inquiry (I, II, III), yet not a lot is actually being learnt. In our online incarnation we are just as guilty - all this information, so little analysis...

Tuesday, January 13, 2004
A selection of other things today. The abandoned bicycles of New York (via Gawker) / so why is that DVD player so cheap? Because the people assembling and selling it are getting next to nothing (via gizmodo, busy bringing us truckloads of shimmering silver technology from the CES show) / an incredible flash site:

There are new articles at Art and Architecture, including Wayne Hemingway on social housing and the work of the mystery A59 photographer, who travelled to Mostar, Egypt, Rouen, Moscow in days of yore, but managed to remain anonymous / before the Bam earthquake: I, II / cityscapes at Digitalfetish and at the the daily dose of imagery

The credits just keep going and going... (via tmn) / Photoworks - contemporary photography in the South East of England / music video links / crash testing in Sweden at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, home of the Mooses II dummy (evaulation) / in the bunker, Cold War chic via Sachs Report.

Commercial animation art produced by the Ray Patin Studios in the 1950s and 60s (via dublog): pistol-packin’ squirrels and cute bunnies / a scan of the original manuscript of Robert Tressell’s Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, the oft-cited work of social history (via diskant. Tressell’s original, scribbled-out title was ‘Being the story of twelve months in hell, told by one of the damned’.

Punk rock flyers: California, New York and Philadeplphia (via irregular orbit / Vintage Postcards is searchable, purchasable and highly fascinating / very interesting interview with Christopher Guest, from where we learnt the term 'Newgate Fringe', and the origins of this especially folk-favoured facial hair (also seen on Glastonbury's Michael Eavis).

Finally getting round to reading Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy, many months after everyone else. The way technology progresses, or doesn’t progress, in the various alternate worlds is an essential detail of the books. In particular, the idea of vast armoured cargo and passenger Zeppelins had us musing. Visit the Airship Heritage Trust – a fabulous resource. Individual pages include this one on the ill-fated R101 (originally found at Diamond Geezer).

There’s a burgeoning ‘lighter-than-air’ scene on the web. Airship is another comprehensive site, with pages on airships in feature films and on stamps. For example, Soviet Airships on stamps (part of the Russia and Soviet Union Pavilion at the Airmail Stamp Museum). Airship also has a list of contemporary manufacturers.

Lunar base prototypes / Mars Panorama / incredibly strange cars / the way out tube map (not spacy, but showing where the best exits are), via delicious / the snow show, icy sculptures in Finland.

Does anyone else get spam with an auto-generated nonsense subject line? Just recently we’ve had ‘capsize cantonese biplane’ - a surrealist spam generator is surely at work.

Monday, January 12, 2004
We recently learnt some fascinating things about the late George Harrison’s home in a, cough, men’s magazine. Friar Park, near Henley on Thames (early postcard) was a sizeable mansion - the epitome of the eccentric Victorian magnate's home (more images at this gallery). According to Wax Rhapsodic, the house was once known as ‘Crisp’s Folly,’ after Sir Frank Crisp, a 'lawyer, botanist and eccentric' (1843-1919). Not only do the gardens contain a stone replica of the Matterhorn (accounts of its size vary between 30ft and 100ft high - perhaps it was imitated by Disneyland?) but there are also a network of underground waterways beneath the house. ‘Caverns, lakes, and waterfalls, all linked by an underground river.’

Sir Frank collected garden gnomes, amongst other things, and Harrison paid homage with the cover art for his album All Things Must Pass. More portraits of Harrison at the house. There's even more about Crisp’s eccentric garden in the article linked to by Wax Rhapsodic: Eccentric Enthusiasts - Stories from the Far Side of the Garden, by Ilene Sternberg.

Best of all is this portrait of Sir Frank Crisp at the Science and Society Picture Library (and an even better one, where he looks a bit like Professor Tarragon from the Seven Crystal Balls, fromMarlinspike Hall is a good Tintin site). Related: take the Tintin trivia quiz (Who’s Carling?). Coming soon: The Adventures of Tintin at Sea at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. But we digress.

This is what Christmas 2003 should have been like (via Boynton, via Collision Detection). It’s the usual retrospective schadenfreude at hopelessly optimistic predictions. But we like the speculation about future gifts. Will technology ‘lead to a revival of handicrafts of all kinds, both because everyone will have more time for the craftsmanship involved and also because of the sheer unattractiveness of many mass-produced goods.’? In which case, gifts ‘would probably be hand-made garments, handbound books, and beautifully-made objects in such materials as silver, gold, porcelain and fine china.’ Alternatively, ‘interest in handicrafts might eventually die completely. If that happens, your 2003 Christmas present is more likely to be something like a miniature pocket computer, or maybe a ticket for a day trip in orbit round the Earth!' Nearly. Looks like the entertainment will be depressingly familiar, though.

Other things. A chance to re-visit SA+BM’s winning entry for the Cedric Price Memorial competition (pdf download. Apologies for getting the name wrong before) / Yorkpete has a fine set of London photos, including this gallery of the Trellick Tower / the Architect’s Newspaper, an American version of Building Design?

Robots march ever onwards – the Enryu T-52 HyperRescue Robot, via BoingBoing. Fans of Honda’s anthropomorphic Asimo can catch the device giving a series of guest ‘performances’ at London’s Science Museum next month. Details to follow.

Is this faked? Body building - a gradual transformation. Charles Atlas (‘the world’s most perfectly developed man’) would be proud. In particular, this page (long download) is impressive. Related: Hey Skinny! / American Sports and Muscle Cars.

Scottish OS maps from the 1920s, via Simon’s Skip (the Austin Allegro Equipe has to be seen to be believed, as well) / World’s Fairs, all about international expos, past, present and future. Here's hoping that Aichi 2005 will be a serious technology fest in the same way that Osaka 1970 was. See also Expo Museum.

The first desktop terabyte hard disk (via haddock). You can store one month’s worth of MPEG-2 video or two years of music / after last week's rash of house snooping sites, Patricia from bitlounge emails to remind us of the greatest house site of all, / the usual ephemera, a weblog / Negative Velocity, a weblog.

SCIN, an online design portfolio, or 'interior design toolkits', as they like to say. A place to get pictures of pebbles and swatches of steely grays. We found this at Phathouse, a great UK-centric art and design weblog. Other links include Moomin products and this lovely castle.

Watch this space: The Verb, on Radio 3. Our segment should go up mid-week. And don't forget: things 17-18 is now available to order.

Saturday, January 10, 2004
Saturday news. UK readers should listen to BBC Radio 3's The Verb tonight (2155), when things Co-Editor Hildi Hawkins will be talking about the new issue and things in general. We think that the BBC will put a copy of the recording online in a few days - check The Verb's website for details.

And finally, things 17-18 is now available to order. We expect deliveries in a matter of weeks: click here to read about the various ways you can pay.

Friday, January 09, 2004
Galinsky, helping people enjoy buildings. A resource of contemporary architecture - most of it accessible to the public. Related: From Here to Modernity, essays on modern architecture at the Open University. Finally, Memento Mori, a critical essay over at V-2 on the latest pride of Tokyo, the Roppongi Hills development. The publicity material might claim the environment 'nurtures people with "open-minds", but the author instead sees it as part of the ongoing tendency to 'fetishize Japaneseness'. Japan, he believes, 'enjoy[s] a sort of perverse, condescending exemption from all the rules that apply elsewhere, and that this exemption will underwrite still further and more serious departures [from reality]'. Related: drum machine, a flash animation by Drew Cope of Tokyoplastic.

'For no particular reason', Sippey's blog-snaps, a snapshot of the world's leading weblogs, c. January 2004. A useful design resource, if nothing else. From left to right: boingboing, plasticbag, anil dash, raelity bites, the historical present, kottke, sippey, sylloge, veen and waxy.

Other things. Contemporary metalwork at Velvet da Vinci / real escapes from Alcatraz / media player classic, a riposte to bloated software / Maps and Territories, another weblog about cartography and sister weblog to Parking Lot. More on maps is always welcome.

Pathetic motorways (via Veen). The galleries convey a fine sense of contemporary ennui / ever since discovering the joys of House in Progress, I’ve become vaguely obsessed with looking around other people’s houses online. Anyone know of any more?

Spinning tops, just one of many things on show at Canadian Mail Order Catalogues, a huge compilation dating from the late nineteenth century, with scans all present and correct (via Fantastic fashions, hunting supplies, babyfood, colour TVs and much, much more.

Found Photograph and the Limits of Meaning (via Consumptive) / a catalogue of Monolisiana / Not Fooling Anybody: bad retail conversions (via magnetbox) / Paradoxa, articles on genre literature / The Big Smoker, a weblog / a doggerel.

The story of Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, installed in New York’s Federal Plaza 1981, and destroyed, after a court case, in 1989. Part of’s feature 'Flashpoints', all about controversial art, music, literature and film/

Observed being read on the train by a frightened-looking woman: ‘Witchcraft’, by Nick Godwin. Back-cover blurb: ‘Are the devil’s covert tactics operating in your life?’ Considered giving her a long, penetrating stare, but she already looked far too freaked out.

Thursday, January 08, 2004
Slower muses on the nature of photologs, pointing to a few dazzling images along the way - such as this one. Also a link to the daily picture at 40h. Manhattan images and musings from Sasha Frere Jones. More photos: by now, we think that every blogger who’s even remotely handy with a camera has been here.

Other things. Some robots. Some more robots. Time lapse image of robot construction at MIT’s Autonomous Robot Design Competition / free retro clip art at artbitz / extraordinary animation at We Fail / Badassmovieimages / bento moblog, the art of the lunchbox.

Letters, data and metadata, Plasticbag on the layers of meaning that even the very best digital data cannot hold. For now. The Pencil, The Monkeys, instant fiction from Ftrain. Triplux, including the highly ambitious 1001 day project - 101 tasks to be completed in 1001 days.

Dunun, a neat flash site (via Coudal). Also via Coudal, the decline of fashion photography: 'if photographers and editors really cared about the role of women in society, they would use models above the age of 20, who look like they could complete a sentence.' Related: a gallery of the work of Cecil Beaton / Flash-based Karma Sutra / the creepy Milgram Experiment (via bitter pill). Become a tailgate stalker, courtesy of the (still sleeping) Sharpeworld.

A history of the Metropolitan Opera. Related: Berenice Abbott's Changing New York, an exhibition at the Museum of New York (via Gothamist). If only the Museum of London could put its (surely comparable) collection online like this. Then we'd be happy.

Collected oddities. 'The last pterodactyl?,' in which an article from the February 9, 1856 issue of the Illustrated London News is 'analysed' by Creation Tips. The site also shows you how to spot a fake dinosaur photo. Update: the Illustrated London News was quietly relaunched last month.

Screen Memories, 'An Exploration of the Relationship Between Science Fiction Film and the UFO Mythology' (via consumptive). Does the dominance of the UFO in cinematic and televisual fiction make sightings a self-fulfilling prophecy? Although the author casts doubt on the idea that the release of Spielberg's Close Encounters generated a global wave of sightings, the links between media representations and sightings are undeniable. Related: Fantastic Plastic (via The Cartoonist), with sections such as 1950s concept spacecraft.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004
London things. A huge collection of images and information on the (ongoing) redevelopment of London’s South Bank, and the countless schemes that have been mooted for the area near Waterloo Station. While we’re on the subject of London old and new, re-live the slow death of the mighty Nine Elms Cold Store (has anyone heard the Cold Store Tapes?). The store, which once housed 20,000 tons of meat, has been replaced by St George’s Wharf, perhaps the worst new building in the whole city. Unsurprisingly, the development's website is strangely coy about showing images of the whole scheme, but as the site plan shows, it is vast. At the time of writing, just 3/5 of the scheme has been completed.

The developers, St George, are busy wrecking the riverfront downstream with Battersea Reach - a far more 'sophisticated' sounding title than the site's original name of Gargoyle Wharf. Same architects, too. Not everyone was happy - the empty site was a high-profile squat for a while in the mid-90s, the Wandsworth Eco Village. More capital concerns: London Geezer has started a new weblog collating the best of their London-centric posts. We've also re-visited Ideal-Homes, which contains countless beautiful images of pre-sprawl Georgian and Victorian London.

Great British journalism at work as Retrocrush gets the tabloid plagiarism treatment - reminiscent of the Daily Mail's close scrutiny of TV Cream and their fracas with Mil Millington (more at The Register and the Wikipedia). Grayblog has had similar problems. Naturally, our one-update-a-day policy means we’ve been scooped by me-fi. More media news. Bowblog's enthusiastic review encouraged us to check out the Digital Guardian, currently in beta. He's right - it's very intuitive and easy to use.

Modern Matters on modish plastic. They also have a Space Age Electronica section / Shocking! The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli, an online exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, via ThatRabbitGirl. Schiaparelli's 12 Commandments for Women are typically strident ('Remember-twenty percent of women have inferiority complexes. Seventy percent have illusions' and 'Never fit a dress to the body, but train the body to fit the dress').

The art of Edmund Dulac, illustrator of Grimm's Fairy Tales, Sinbad the Sailor and the Arabian Nights. Art passions also has galleries of those other romantic favourites, Aubrey Beardsley and Arthur Rackham (including the latter's swirling, delirious illustrations for Wagner’s Ring). Modern fantasy: the art of acid (via me-fi).

Other things. Underground train drawing at Rodcorp. We like the post about 'becoming Homo moblis' as well: I can identify with that 'phantom tingle' pathology generated by the constant use of a vibrating mobile phone. The site links to a fascinating visual history of bloodletting / German TV ads from the 1950s, part of TV History / old stereo manuals.

Recipes at Foodster / a beautiful little tree animation from onfocus / New Yorker, evocative photo at Meccapixel / Classic Gamer magazine / how can this be true?, a mathematical illusion / from yesterday’s comments, House in Progress on the nature of Kitsch. They ask, quite reasonably, how can you tell the difference between kitsch and tacky? Their handy quiz will show you how / the photography of Moriya Madaido, via Raccoon.

Seamless City, 'the first single continuous image of a complete city in history'. Related: things has a more modest equivalent: Bellenden Road, a minor piece of urban history catalogued on the 22nd March 2003.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

'Kitsch is the opposite of the public space, of the public conversation, of the demand for objectivity and functionality. Kitsch is the intimate space, our selves, our love and our congeniality, our yearnings and our hopes, and our tears, joys and passion. Kitsch comes from the creative person’s private space, and speaks to other private spaces. Kitsch deals therefore with giving intimacy dignity.'

These are the thoughts of artist Odd Nerdrum, self-published in ArtNews in April 2000 as a challenge to the modernist art establishment (we culled it from Giornale Nuovo’s typically well-illustrated and composed post on Nerdrum's paintings). Nerdrum has obviously given the nature of kitsch a great deal of thought, concluding that the modernist characterisation of kitsch as 'bad taste' was a useful device for dismissing work which didn't conform to progressive ideals, regardless of the level of skill demonstrated in its execution: 'You mean then that the word 'art' became used as an attack against craftsmanship and thus against the representational and the sensual?'

Walking around the pound shops of South London at the weekend gave us similar grounds for dissent. Just what is it that separates the knowingly kitsch object - of the type that fill the shops, most especially at Christmas - from the irredeemably tasteless? Not a lot, we'd wager. Context is everything: the dancing Santa might have been amusing for a scant micro-second, but stacked in rows and given a light coating of sticky pound shop dust, the object swiftly becomes tragic.

Yet we're all Post-Ironic Consumers now, with responses determined almost entirely by the external environment, not our internal compasses. This allows the knowingly kitsch object to be constantly re-packaged and re-positioned. High fashion has known this for ages, and its flirtations with kitsch grow increasingly overt (the latest issue of Berlin-based uber-glossy Qvest places the subject on its cover). That which once defined kitsch - the different strata of taste and sophistication - no longer exists. High and low culture are conjoined in their love of the fleetingly peripheral, outsider art embraced and rejected in a matter of minutes. William Shatner is recording a new album, a perfect symbol of the Post-Ironic Age.

Other things, kitsch or not. The photography of Jem Southam. Very No Place. Sort of related: images of parking garages by David Adam / Kill from the Heart, hardcore punk rock around the world / fresh scans of kitsch delights at Ephemera Now / the art and illustration of FWIS, via Coudal / the work of Matthew Cusick, crisp architecturaly-themed paintings about modernism, elegance and disaster (sources).

Nobody's Doll, a weblog / creativity/machine, a weblog / historical images of Alaska / a day in the life of Africa, a photo-essay / 'Japanese firm crashes into charts' - pop success for Japanese demolition company Nihon Break Kogyo's corporate anthem (an mp3 of the track is linked at Achikochi). The BBC characterises it as punk, but I really beg to differ / Screenonline, the British Film Institute's archive site, via rogue semiotics.

Monday, January 05, 2004
The Hidden Song archive catalogues those tricksy artists who like to slot in an extra track on the very end of a CD album or single (via Bifurcated Rivets). Although the nature of CD technology means that this was never exactly a well-concealed device, put in a ‘hidden track’ album, such as PJ Harvey's Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (the track 'This Hidden Tongue' is tucked away at the very end: it's credited, but not given a track number and is therefore not mentioned on the Hidden Song site) and you’re duped into thinking you’ve a much longer disc than you actually have.

So, less of a hidden delight, then, and more of a bit of a disappointment (although few of us haven’t been caught out by the hidden track bursting into life after ten minutes of relaxing silence, in which time you’ve assumed the disc has come to a stop). What's surprising is that no-one has used the device to really freak people out. Imagine spooky ambient noises slowly fading up, all creaking floorboards and distant footsteps, perhaps with whistling wind and clanking chains thrown in for good measure. These sounds could be purloined from the BBC’s excellent series of 1970s Sound Effects records, brought to life by the corporation's humming electronics laboratory, the Radiophonic Workshop. See the covers of some of these classic, and now highly sought-after, horror sound effect albums.

However flawed the idea of 'hiding' tracks on a CD is, though, it's just one more that'll be lost as music slips its phyiscal moorings and becomes a wholly digital entity. Stephen Moss's 'iPod – therefore I am' in last week's Guardian was a brief look at the gadget's swift ascension to urban essential, and the accompanying evangelical zeal of the device's users. For the record, things doesn’t have an iPod just yet, despite being overrun by many, many gigabytes of mp3 files. They’re delightful objects, to be sure, but we’ll resist the total separation of music and object for now (related: this is not the new mini iPod).

But as for hidden tracks, surely hiding - embedding - digital music will be the simplest trick of all? Who knows where new songs will lurk? As Easter Eggs in the operating systems of electronic gadgets, or covertly downloaded by our mobile phones or Tivos and only offered up if we’ve taken the trouble to watch everything we recorded (which, as everyone knows, is not what such recorders are for – just like Douglas Adam’s Electric Monk)? Will embedded music be a new form of spam?

Other things. Read the background story of Nigel Kneale's terrifying 1958 television drama 'Quatermass and the Pit' (more), later re-made as a film. Explore this online museum of science fiction toys and collectables, courtesy of the Learn fun facts about Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion Ride (see also, the ride's slick but unofficial tribute page).

Photography by RoTK star Viggo Mortensen (via cup, half empty). Reminscent of that other movie star photographer, Jeff Bridges / what was hot in 2003, courtesy of Google's Zeitgeist. Isn't it strange that a low-volume, prestige manufacturer like Ferrari should be the number one brand of the year? The graphical depictions of the ebb and flow of search terms are most revealing: SARS, Paula Radcliffe, Iraq, NASA.

George Eastman House is home to the International Museum of Photography and Film, and, as you'd expect, hosts many online galleries. See spirit photographs, stereo views, an incredible series of the moon, real and fictional, images of auto racing in the 1910s (unbeatable), and the occasional exhibition, such as The Object Photographed, with its emphasis on Surrealist and Modernist imagery. Related. Postcards from Mars, the first images from NASA’s Spirit Rover.

A visual diagram of computer evolution (via muxway), including how did this happen?, Alan Turing’s perplexed scribble on an early Autocode print-out. For some reason this made me think of the hand-written tape covers that accompanied the saved copies of laboriously typed out program listings from computer magazines / Basingstoke Life, a weblog / Slip Ups, which unusually includes books as well as the usual continuinity errors, factual blunders and fluffed lines from movies and TV / Utopia Station, 158 artist-designed posters to print out.

Barista, a weblog / things Creationists hate, via Oblinks / early comics archive at Bugpowder / we came to the Anti-Mega Christmas quiz, 58 London Things too late to have a decent crack at it, but it’s still worth a visit for a tour around some of London’s more obscure architectural elements / California Architecture, via Plep. New Libeskind building in collapsing shock.

Sunday, January 04, 2004
'World's most mysterious book may be a hoax: ongoing research into the mysterious Voynich Manuscipt (via the daily jive). The manuscript was bought in 1912 by book collector Wilfrid M. Voynich (but who from?), and subsequently donated to Yale. It purports to be a medieval herbal, with illustrations of plants (along with strange cosmological diagrams) interspersed with an indecipherable script. The first link concludes that for all its charm and mystery, the Manuscript might just be 'elegant gibberish'...

More details on the Voynich Manuscript at the Wikipedia, including a sample page (another sample), and the obligatory metafilter post. Fans of skewed linguistics can visit Cryptologia, a quarterly journal of cryptology (including this piece (pdf) on the Enigma Machines). Not to be confused with Cryptozoology, one of our pet passions - a science that seems to be shrinking fast as the known relentlessly overpowers the unknown, just as UFO photographs swiftly lose their sparkle (although this is neat. As is the 'Hampton Court Ghost', seen here in Ritilan's animated gif).

Streamliners, 'America's Lost Trains' (thanks to Coudal) / the architectural art of Alain Bublex. See also here and here / diamond geezer, a weblog / Christmas light trails / My Red Self, a personal art project that combines photography, portraiture, notes and more / this 'miscellany' over at Ramage provides us with an insight into the 'tastes and customs' of European rulers and peoples, courtesy of an archived issue of the Otago Witness (dateline 6 June 1895). Apparently, Persian (not Parisian) women 'ornament their faces by painting upon figures of insects and small animals'.

Worth checking in again: Product Placement, a 'packaging and ephemera' gallery at Irregular Orbit. Will our descendents look on today's advertising with similar fond nostalgia? There are so many factors that make old ads attractive, be it the no-longer-available art direction, forever abandoned innocence, or just plain technological schadenfreude at the ways things once were. Nonetheless, it's safe to assume that today's era will throw up similar anachronisms, despite our apparent 'sophistication.' So here's more of the old stuff to be going on with (thanks again to the Cartoonist, who has clearly been busy with his scanner): German film magazines from the 60s.

Friday, January 02, 2004 seems a bit sprawling and out of control at the moment, especially after having been left alone for a few days. There are all sorts of bits and pieces floating about and it feels a bit incoherent. Suggestions welcome. But as promised, here are a few tiny design tweaks. Nothing earth-shattering, I'm sure you'll agree. New year is a natural time to want to start afresh, so perhaps we'll work up something a bit more minimal to accompany the, wait for it, launch of things 17-18 in a few weeks time. That's right, we're finally ready to roll. Read the contents, preview the cover, and drop us a line if you want a reminder email sent out.

Enjoyed this thread over at kottke all about new magazines, with many links. I often think that there are too many magazines in the world, but every now and again something fresh and exciting comes along. Perhaps it's all about the thrill of a new layout and format, a brief thrill which swiftly fades. This probably explains why very little in the world of print tends to last for more than a few months: you have two or three issues to make an impact and state your manifesto, and after that everyone else is fresher-faced. Nonetheless, in the last year, we've enjoyed several publications, old and new, including Marmalade, the ever-wonderful Cabinet, the London Review of Books, Edge, Carlos, Zembla, Printed Project and After All. Publications linked above that are new to us include devil in the woods and Arthur Magazine. See also this ask me-fi thread about music webzines.

Over at Idle Words, a fascinating insight into the importance of patents and intellectual property on the early days of flight. Virtual Restoration, a digital take on the classic modernist St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, Scotland. This building was mentioned earlier on this page, but our useless search function doesn't help in the slightest... This is rather gorgeous: an axonometric rendering of 221B Baker Street, home to Sherlock Holmes (via the cartoonist). The annotated version is even better ('service revolver in top drawer of Watson’s desk', etc.). Also seen by the cartoonist, even more vintage paperback covers (memo to self - buy a scanner in 2004). You can search this site by genre, including science fiction, sleaze and lesbiana.

Assorted links. A multimedia repository of NASA crash tests (via / kitchen sink paintings (literally) of Maciej Ceglowski / very elegant American zipcode locator / slower makes concrete look great / wooden Atari (thanks Naz) / hire an Airstream or build a teardrop trailer / Merzhase, an elegant weblog.

.... and a happy new year. Welcome back - apologies for the wait since the last post. There's a minor design tweak in the offing - nothing serious, but just to sharpen things up for 2004. Some links. Page upon page of saucy exploitation schlock paperbacks. Also covers from post-war men’s magazines. Both from the vintage sex weblog, which unsuprisingly contains nudity.

Two collections. Toothpasteworld, via Muxway, including highlights of the collection, and Women and Dogs (thanks to Coudal). Related: the roots of hoarding, over at me-fi, a discussion of this NYT article (which will expire soon). Just what is it that drives people to collect compulsively? Most people cite behavioural disorders ('One woman, for example, found throwing out a newspaper so unbearable that her therapist instructed her never to buy one again.'), but what's surprising is how such case studies of borderline mental illness are making their way into mainstream entertainment. things 17-18 (forthcoming, forthcoming...) has a piece on the BBC show The Life Laundry, a program which combines home re-organisation with pop psychology. Even more disturbing is (UK) Channel 4's How Clean is Your House?, which delights in humiliating people who have let their personal and domestic hygiene slide into oblivion. It's all too clear - to the viewer, certainly - that the barely willing victims are blind to their sanitational transgressions, probably on account of some kind of behavioural disorder that the format of the show is utterly unable to tackle.

Strange, out of the way communities in the photographs of Justine Kurland / Cowes you cannot milk, amongst other vintage postcards of the Isle of Wight / the weblog of William Fields / we like Route 79, with its mouth-watering recipe for Aloo Gobi (the author posts his photos on Eton Grove). The fantasy art of Jeffrey Jones / the work of John Parot, via Lemonodor.

'We are now signing up Expedition Members For Our First Voyage to Inner Earth via the North Polar Opening!' (via memepool). Read The Smoky God, flat earth fiction at its finest, with gorgeous, albeit averagely-scanned, illustrations: "We were brought before the Great High Priest" / Victorian Web is an enormous reseource, whether for aspiring novelists, students of architecture or those with a passing interest in the age.

The early history of aeronautics (via the cartoonist). See also the latest issue of the utterly wonderful Cabinet Magazine, devoted as it is to flight. In particular, Clive Hart’s A Directory of Heavier-Than-Air Flying Machines demands your attention ('According to the poet Augié Gailliard, he dropped 'like a pig' close to the base of the tower and broke his neck.', c1550)

It appears that the Coen Brothers have re-made the Ealing Studios classic, The Ladykillers, with with Tom Hanks in the Alec Guiness role. Is this a good thing, or a bad thing? See the trailer here - it appears the action has been transported from post-war North London to the contemporary American south. Re-visit this excellent 'then and now' gallery of locations of the original film – set in and around Kings Cross in London, currently sheathed in scaffolding.