1. VisitBritain.org Knows How to Make You Foreigners Comfortable

    Britain’s tourism agency, VisitBritain, has come through with a list of handy stereo… I mean, tips, on how to handle the strange  foreign visitors that may stumble onto the shores of Airstrip One.  Choice cuts:

    Do not be alarmed if South Africans announce that they were held up by robots.
    To a South African the word robot means traffic lights. ‘’Takkies’’ means trainers, a barbecue is a ‘braai’, and ‘’howzit’’ is an informal way of saying hello. When in a social situation with a South African do not place your thumb between your forefinger and your second finger – it is an obscene gesture.

    Avoid physical contact when first meeting someone from India.

    Avoid saying ‘’thank you’’ to a Chinese compliment.
    Instead, politely deny a compliment to show humility. If you compliment a Chinese person, expect a denial in reply. The Chinese are famous for communicating by “Saying it without saying it.” You will have to learn to read between the lines. Use only black and white materials for presentations, as colours have significant meanings in Chinese culture.

    Never imply Poles drink excessively.
    Despite stereotypes, Poles are not large consumers of alcohol and excessive drinking is frowned upon.

    What, no “Americans are heavily armed at all times”?  Nothing about the Germans having a strip of LEDs running down their shinbone?  What are we learning here, really?

  2. Versus Ugly Infrastructure and Useless Monuments

    Every reputable blog has been posting these amazing mockups for Choi and Shine Architects’ The Land of Giants project.   Such images instantly evoke that gut feeling of ‘why the hell haven’t we been doing this all along?’

    The chronicle of the infrastructure achievements of the 20th century will surely include the phrase ‘done on the cheap’.  Whereas once public works were a canvas for artisans and a symbol of the munificence of the rulers who ordered their construction, rarely has something functional been built in the modern age that has been a delight to behold.  Functionality with minimal adornment has been the  norm, replacing craftsmen with workers and leaving the most grand and inspiring of plans on the drawing board or, at best, the pages of architecture journals.

    Bursts of public beauty can be found in the trend across cultures to invest in monuments, often in remembrance of people or events.  It’s a strange contrast to infrastructure though, in that it seems almost taboo for a monument to serve a purpose other than memorial.  Perhaps it’s religion that inspires this disconnect.  After all, many religions apply a strict separation between sacred and profane places.  Think of Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple and the restrictions many indigenous religions place upon who and how one may ascend sacred mountains.

    Perhaps this is the lead we follow in making our monuments as a break from the function of our living spaces.  We carve out a small section reserved as the domain of the gods, of heroes, of victims or of ancestors.  This has its worth when such a space creates a contemplative mood vital for meditating upon the significance of the thing referenced, such as the Vietnam Wall or the Battery Park East Coast Memorial.  However, quite often monuments are not contemplative spaces.  Manhattan is littered with statues, obelisks, and granite gardens with no place to sit or worse, fenced off from any interaction with their viewer.

    By building anything, we are sacrificing a natural space or the potential for the recreation of one.  If we are to forever alter our landscape (and our mindscape with it) by building, isn’t it imperative upon us to make something at least as functional, beautiful and inspiring as a stand of trees, a river or a beach?  What kind of people could we create by giving them a landscape alive with beauty that still cleans the air, filters the water and generates the power necessary to support human life?

    What especially impresses me about the project is its marriage of attention to the practical needs of production with the grandeur of a landscape of colossi:

    Despite the large number of possible forms, each pylon-figure is made from the same major assembled parts (torso, fore arm, upper leg, hand etc.) and uses a library of pre-assembled joints between these parts to create the pylon-figures’ appearance. This design allows for many variations in form and height while the pylon-figures’ cost is kept low through identical production, simple assembly and construction. (from Choi + Shine)

    What would have to change in our values and in the way we live our lives to demand that the aesthetics and artistic worth of structures be accounted for alongside their mere cost-effectiveness?

  3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Rip Off the Skateboarders From Hell

    Dangerous Minds tipped me off to this particular piece of cinema history. (Oh, NSFW, by the way… there’s like, four nipples shown).  The trailer for Skateboarders from Hell is one piece of 1980’s Loose Shoes, a movie composed of genre spoofs filmed as trailers for nonexistent movies.  Kind of like a whole movie made out of the intermission of Grindhouse.

    What really grabbed me, though, was the motorized skateboarders these feral thrashers use to reach the podunk town they terrorize.  They give a quick closeup at about 0:19 in the video above.  They appear to be the lovechild of a weedwacker engine and a skateboard, complete with a handheld throttle and some kind of brake.

    Besides wracking my brains for a plan to make one, what struck me was the similarities to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s ride of choice: The Cheapskate.  (Image from Amazon)

    While the toy sports some dumb, oversized hardware add-ons (the spotlight, the fan, a flag…c’mon, aren’t sewers too cramped for this Winnebago of skateboards?) I dimly recall that in the comics and the cartoon, the turtles carvied up the sewer pipes in more compact versions that closely resemble the sweet boards sported in Skateboarders from Hell.

    While at first blush these boards look like the sort of backyard engineering that chews off limbs and makes legends, these motorized skateboards are MotoBoards, a product that debuted in 1975, apparently still made to this day.  If you’ve got a spare $750 hanging around, these guys will get you on your way to full body road rash.  Other Wile E. Coyote-style transport like gas powered skates are available too.

    This being the internet, there’s a community Wiki for MotoBoard product enthusiasts.  Naturally.

    By no means are MotoBoard and Donatello’s workshop the only game in town for motorized skateboard enjoyment.  There’s an electric version on offer by some Australian fellas that looks pretty slick.  (watch out for those shipping costs before you do some drunk eBaying)

    For an exhaustive video survey of motorized boards, look no further than this here link.

    And if you’re dying to make one of your very own, after the jump there’s a gentleman with a duct tape band-aid who will walk you through how he made his own death machine out of a skateboard and a chainsaw.  (hint: it’s helpful to have a friend who’s a machinist)

    Read the rest of this entry »

  4. Dave Valentine’s £10,000 ($15,671) Crisp (Chip) Packet Collection

    Dave Valentine loves crisps, or more specifically crisp packers from the 1980’s. Accoring to his 1980’s Crisp Packet group on Facebook he started the hobby as family was poor and he could not afford to collect the usual childhood staples. His parents encouraged him to “keep Britain tidy” and the net result is he has a £10,000 collection. Unlike stickers or trading cards, this hobby paid off.

    Does he plan on selling them? No. According to Children’s BBC (always a good source):
    Dave Valentine has more than 500 different packets which he holds on to after he’s eaten the snacks inside.

    Most of them you can’t buy any more, and they’ve been valued at thousands of pounds.
    But although they may be worth a small fortune but Dave says he’s not planning on selling them and wants to keep collecting even more!

    Those interested in crisps, package design, or 1980’s design should check out the photo section of his 1980’s crisp package group. Some real gems there.

  5. New Aphex Twin? Nope, Tshe Tsha Boys of South Africa

    Now that the bad taste of the vuvuzela has left the mouth of those who watched the World Cup, check out this track by the Tshe Tsha boys of South Africa. It’s a mashup of Shangaan music from northern South Africa and Braindance/IDM electronic. The dancing– well that speaks for itself.

  6. Every Japanese Corporate Mascot

    Working as a nice little followup to our post on Brands of the World, Pink Tentacle has the scoop on the Japanese Figure Trademark Database.

    As you may or may not know, it’s damn near a requirement for any company operating in Japan to have some kind of cute cartoon mascot to front the business and appeal tot he inner six year old girl in all of us.  On occasion, these mascots may actually have something to do with the business’ method of acquiring black ink but often it’s just a weird-ass concoction from the witches brew of the company president’s sympathies, popular trends at the founding of the company and whatever acid is still floating around the heads of the marketing department.

    I myself spent a year and a half working for the company with the pink rabbit with the cape and the duck’s beak.  (The beak stood for embezzlement, maybe?)

    At any rate, if you’re looking for inspiration for the next Twitter bird, you could do a lot worse than browsing through the 99 at Pink Tentacle or braving the arcane search process at the Japanese Figure Trademark Database.

  7. The Future is Now and Attached to Your Neck Like a Vise of Icy Comfort

    Now this isn’t some kind of  blog where you come and ooh and the shiny bullshit that the machine keeps spurting out onto the shocked and adoring faces of the consuming, swollen masses. But… Well, I’ve spent half this goddamn summer completely incoherent, stumbling around the streets gibbering at the bodega men to hydrate me in a desperate attempt to cool down the internal temperature so as to birth a single thought that isn’t half boiled and wrung out of all meaning.


    I mean, just look at that chief!  He looks happy right?  Like some panting dog, cool and safe and digging that breeze those jet engines or whatever are blowing on his meaty all-American neck.  Seriously, it’s time we just admit it: our loathsome sweaty bodies have betrayed us for too long and the least stumbling first step we can take towards post humanism is looking like a dork while cooling down the back of your neck.

    Yeah, you can find this ungodly awkward bullshit at the Sharpe Image, obviously, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna link there so HERE YOU GO.