Alligator sightings are pretty common in South Carolina's Lowcountry region around this time of year. But a genuine gentleman alligator whose momma raised him to ring the doorbell when he comes a-callin on a human neighbor--well, that's just downright precious.
The first Navy drone ship is a 132-foot ACTUV (Antisubmarine warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel) known as Sea Hunter, which cost around $120 million to build. The military says more can now be produced for $20 million or so each. But some are concerned that with no humans at the controls, these “robot ships” could be hacked, pwned remotely, and used by America's enemies to attack the United States.
Chloe from Portland's Reading Frenzy writes, "Six of our favorite Social Justice Kittens are back in postcard form! Next up: MRA Puppies! Postcards by Sean Tejaratchi/LiarTownUSA (previously) published by Show & Tell Press!" (more…)
When I was a wee lad, the first LP I owned was Timbertops, a children's "concept album" released by The Buttercups in 1974. I was captivated by the premise—a young girl is visited by all sorts of peculiar anthropomorphic characters in her treehouse— and by the music, which was already dated (it was by then the mid-80s) but full of fun and very catchy.
If you tried to find MP3s or the band online, you wouldn't have had much luck before today. But for a couple of UK library references, it's as if it never existed. And the band (not to be confused with the new The Buttercups) never did another record. I still have no idea who the singer is! The writers were Ken Howard and Alan Blaikley, one of the great songwriting partnerships you've never heard of. My best guess is that it was a quick, one-off stab at the kids' music market that came to nothing.
Anyway, I finally remembered it and spent ages tracking down an LP, digitizing it and uploading it all to YouTube, no copyright intended. It was really something to reacquaint myself with the cast, and I'm pleased to report that the creators mostly avoided stereotypes and other crutches oft-found in similar stuff from the era (Note: mafia frogs Ricky and Rocky are vaguely coded Italian; Welsh witch Myfanwy is depicted as a gypsy, and then there's MacGregor, a gruff Scottish terrier with a plaid beret.)
It's true that Timbertops might be a bit too kiddie for most grown-ups. The album doesn't really have a narrative; it's just vignettes of the oddballs that visit Jo in Timbertops. The best tracks are probably Red (a hippie fox; the last line of the song offers an early taste of post-McGovern liberal self-doubt) and Sharkey (a promiscuous cat whose adventures could be a parody of at least half a dozen Morrissey songs.)
About four months ago, cigar boxes, matchbooks, and coffee tins bearing the name and likeness of 19th-century poet Walt Whitman began appearing on the Show & Tell section of Collectors Weekly. Turns out, as Lisa Hix learned when she spoke to Ed Centeno, who posted the items from his personal collection, Whitman's name and bearded visage were once used to sell everything from tobacco products and booze to apple sauce. For the record, Whitman did not smoke, and as the son of an alcoholic father, he argued on behalf of Temperance causes. Presumably, Whitman ate apple sauce, but marketers never asked his permission to to sell stuff when he was alive (1819-1892), nor was Whitman ever compensated for the use of his good name.
All this advertising attention to Whitman is curious since, in general, poets don't make good marketing tools. The Whitman name is particularly problematic. While some people are inspired by his steadfast support of the Union cause during the Civil War, imperiling his own health to work as a nurse in a Washington, D.C., Army hospital, others see him as a very early champion of gay identity, as well as a hell of an erotic writer. Being patriotic and gay are obviously not incompatible, but the latter often gives those who would make money off the former pause.
Here's a snip:
During the Gilded Age, new industrial technology, particularly in chromolithography and tin-stamping, caused an explosion in product branding and advertising with colorful product labels, tin boxes, and tin signs. This new era of marketing meant familiar literary characters and beloved authors could be used to drum up excitement for an unknown products.
So when cigar maker Frank Hartmann bought the Spark Cigar Factory in Camden, New Jersey, in the late 1880s, the celebrated local bard was an obvious mascot. By 1890, his company introduced its Walt Whitman brand of cigars. But Hartmann wasn’t the only entrepreneur to have this idea: At least a few companies in the cigar manufacturing center of Binghamton, New York, started offering their own Walt Whitman cigars around the same time. The branding arrived as Whitman was facing his mortality and doubting whether Americans were truly touched by his life’s work. When Whitman disciple Horace Traubel presented the poet with an 1890 envelope advertising Walt Whitman cigars, he reported that Whitman exclaimed, “That is fame! … It is not so bad—not as bad as it might be: give the hat a little more height and it would not be such an offense.”
Angelina Jolie on a secret hunger strike to call attention to Syrian refugees, and other tabloid stunners
[My friend Peter Sheridan is a Los Angeles-based correspondent for British national newspapers. He has covered revolutions, civil wars, riots, wildfires, and Hollywood celebrity misdeeds for longer than he cares to remember. As part of his job, he must read all the weekly tabloids. For the past couple of years, he's been posting terrific weekly tabloid recaps on Facebook and has graciously given us permission to run them on Boing Boing. Enjoy! - Mark]
Pictures never lie, do they?
So there’s no arguing with the graphic video footage that the National Enquirer’s latest edition offers showing singer Prince’s last moments dying in an elevator at his Minnesota mansion, and of a suicidal O.J. Simpson trying to hang himself in his prison cell.
Dramatic images indeed - if the video actually existed, and if the Enquirer had it. Which it doesn’t.
But somehow that doesn’t stop the from littering its cover with photos of Prince sprawled lifeless on an elevator floor, and of prison guards cutting O.J. down from his hand-crafted noose (apparently an impromptu concoction of towels, sheets and old shirts like you might find at a Maker Faire run by Dr Kevorkian.)
Beneath the blazing “World Exclusive” headlines you have to look really closely to find the hidden words: “Photo Recreation” on these pictures. And it’s far from certain that they are recreating video that even exists. Prince had video surveillance at his home studio, but were there cameras in his elevator, and did they film his demise? Prison CCTV cameras may cover hallways, but rarely peer into individual cells. There’s some wild speculation at play here, which is business as usual in this week’s tabloids.
Katie Holmes is expecting Jamie Foxx’s love child, and singer Rihanna is pregnant with Leonardo DiCaprio’s baby, claims the Enquirer. I don’t think we’ll have to wait nine months to discover the truth of these speculative allegations.
Imaginations simply run wild at the Enquirer this week, where the ever-thin Angelina Jolie is now reported to be “on a hunger strike to call attention to the plight of Syrian refugees.”
There’s only one small problem with that scenario: Jolie would have to be publicizing her hunger strike in order to draw worldwide attention to the refugee crisis. Having a hunger strike in secret defeats the object of the exercise. Or could this just be more wishful thinking on the part of the Enquirer?
The Globe claims to have uncovered Prince’s “tragic suicide note” in the vault at his Paisley Park home, allegedly writing about his loneliness and desire for someone in his life.
But this purported note doesn’t include any mention of wanting to kill himself - traditionally the hallmark of a suicide note - and in fact sounds remarkably like what is known in the music industry as “ideas for a song.” The Globe also boasts a remarkable photo of Prince laying dead on the autopsy table, though the small print says - you guessed it - “photo re-creation.”
Britain’s Prince Harry tells People magazine “I don't play Xbox or PlayStation any more,” and that “There’s been times I’ve been put off having children.” After all, why have children if you can’t be bothered to play Xbox games with them?
And Us magazine reveals that Ashley Madekwe (Seriously - Who she, Ed?) wore it best, that Billy Idol was kicked out of the Boy Scouts at age ten, and that Cyndi Lauper carries Burberry perfume, Mac lipstick and a copy of Reza Aslan’s Zealot (as if she didn’t know she’d be emptying her purse for a photoshoot and dumped the Jackie Collins novel) in her MZ Wallace tote. The stars are still just like us, says Us mag: they sunbathe, walk their dogs, and carry bags. The revelations never end.
Thankfully the National Examiner gives us two pages of photographs of dogs eating peanut butter - and why not? - and reveals that wooly mammoths will “walk the earth once more,” as “scientists use DNA to recreate massive mammoths for a real-life Jurassic Park in Russia.”
Who cares that this story first broke in March 2012, when even the BBC jumped on board? Some stories are simply too much fun not to repeat once everyone seems to have forgotten about them. Performing this experiment in Spielbergian cloning is the implausible-sounding Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk, which against all tabloid logic actually exists - which is more than can be said for Prince’s suicide note and video evidence of his death, O.J. Simpson’s suicide bid, and the pregnancies of Katie Holmes and Rihanna.
Onwards and downwards . . .
My new favorite subreddit is r/TreesSuckingOnThings, a growing collection of photos of trees growing slowly to encase and envelope signs, railings, motorcycles and other things attached or adjacent to them.
Why buy one of those expensive and confusing universal remotes, clogged with enough buttons to launch a space shuttle, when you could accomplish the same electronic control right on your favorite mobile device? The Blumoo Universal Remote, now just $52.99 in the Boing Boing Store, harnesses the audio power of all your household equipment right into any iOS or Android smartphone or tablet (even an Apple Watch), offering just the mediascape you want with a simple, one-touch interface.
Plug it in, download the Blumoo app and within minutes, it immediately wraps your home’s audio capabilities under a 150-foot sphere of control, allowing you to control equipment, stream music from iTunes, Spotify or Pandora or find shows or movies for viewing.
The Blumoo functions with over 250,000 different audio and video components and even enjoys support from Alexa on Amazon Echo, Dot, Tap, Fire Stick & Fire TV. Once you’ve got all your home components and devices synced through Blumoo, you can even use Alexa to have your entire home entertainment system voice-activated.
Blumoo also offers an interactive channel guide customized to your cable or satellite TV service, allowing you to search shows right from the Blumoo app.
Ditch the mountain of remotes and start enjoying the streamlined world of life with Blumoo now at 47% off its MSRP.
The brilliant Jen Lewis, having untanned Trump to ghastly effect, writes that she "had another terrible thought." This time, she tried her hand at photoshopping his presidential rivals so that they have tans just like his. The results are nasty, as you'd expect, but not quite as nasty as the Flame-faced Fuckwit of Fifth Avenue.
Behold the space age beauty of the Paam Tube turntable, created by French designer Yonel Lebovici in 1968. On eBay, they appear to be listed in the $700 range or less if they're non-functional.
You'll know Ben Hatke as author of Boing Boing-beloved illustrated kids' books like Little Robot and Zita the Space Girl, but as this Children's Book Week video shows, Hatke is a literal fire-breathing, acrobatic, sword-fighting superhero! (more…)
From the classic Meco album, Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk (1977).
The Associated Press reports that the Stonewall Inn, birthplace of America's most fabulous protest, will become the first national monument to LGBT rights in the U.S.
The gritty tavern, known colloquially as the Stonewall, became a catalyst for the gay rights movement after police raided it on June 28, 1969. Bar-goers fought back, and many more joined in street protests over the following days in an uprising widely credited as the start of large-scale gay activism in New York and around the word. Annual pride parades in hundreds of cities commemorate the rebellion.
The White House declined to comment. Yet Obama has paid tribute to the site before, most notably in his second inaugural address in 2013. In what's believed to be the first reference to gay rights in an inaugural address, Obama said the principle of equality still guides the U.S. "just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall."
Tweet tip! Things that Stonewall was not:
LA Times reports that a 113 year-old Japanese American newspaper is in danger of going out of business.
For 113 years, the Rafu Shimpo newspaper has chronicled the story of the Japanese-American community in Southern California. It survived World War II, when writers and editors were shipped off to internment camps. Before leaving, they hid the paper's Japanese type under office floorboards. But if the money-losing paper doesn't raise about $500,000 in revenue-—by more than doubling its subscribers--it could close in December, marking the end of one of the last English-Japanese dailies in the U.S., and the oldest. "Some of the things we cover you can't get anywhere else," said Michael Komai, 64, the paper's publisher, whose family has run the Little Tokyo-based publication for three generations. "Some people aren't going to know they'll miss us until we're gone."
Pocket CHIP is a tiny, $50, ARM-based pocket games console with a full keyboard and a Bluetooth interface. (more…)
Polygraph studio created this great timeline of Billboard Top 10 songs from the last 60 years.
Judy Belushi and Dan Aykroyd are developing a kid-oriented Blues Brothers animated series with Bento Box, the studio behind Bob's Burgers. (more…)
After a solar eclipse last month, a fisher in Indonesia's Banggai island region found a female figure floating in the sea. He brought the figure to his remote village where some believed it to be a bidadari, a kind of angel.
Police noticed images of the figure on social media along with reports that the fisher spotted the angel "stranded and crying." The police investigated and quickly determined that the angel was in fact a sex doll. According to the BBC, the police confiscated the doll. What a shame.
"They have no internet, they don't know what a sex toy is," the police chief said.