In 1937, a long-lost Vermeer was revealed at auction, heralded by experts as one of the Dutch painter's greatest works. Only it wasn't a Vermeer at all. A man named Han van Meegeren had produced this and many other expensive forgeries. Once he stepped forward, their value dropped like the jaws on his customers. Why?
Considering how lazy many e-daters are, and how clever many other e-daters are, it should come as no surprise that plagiarism runs rampant in the online dating world. On Friday the Wall Street Journal reported on copycat personal profiles, mentioning that in one survey 9% of respondents admitted to lifting material from someone else, and that lines from some sources appear on dozens of people's profile pages. In some cases people cop to lack of imagination, but I suspect in others people subconsciously appropriate the sentiments behind the words so as to justify their claims of authorship.
Focus on Hallucinogens: This is a little gem I've held onto since my friends Ken and Glen mailed it to me as part of a care package when I was working in Alaska after high school. It's from 1991 and out of print but still in near-perfect condition. I wrote children's science books for two years but never wrote one as fun or useful as this. It explains to 9-year-olds everything from neurons to shamans. Rad!
It's basically a My First Reader version of D.M. Turner's The Essential Psychedelic Guide, minus the special section on how much ketamine to inject when you're on DMT and nitrous. The prose is lucid, but the pictures crack me up. Take the cover. Look kids, in a drug free zone, you can do all kinds of things, like play tic-tac-toe. Or watch people play tic-tac-toe. And remember, friends don't let friends wear non-footie pants.
In some cases the book might be counterproductive: "Have you ever looked at yourself in an amusement park mirror? Look what happened to you! Now, try to imagine that the whole world looked that way to you." Awesome! Where can I get some?
The best pictures are in the chapter on LSD.
The text above this one reminds me of an Ali G interview with a drug expert:
Ali G: And what is its effects? Guy: You can go paranoid, which means you think people or things are coming at you. It makes your heart race. Your blood pressure can go low, so you can feel a bit woozy sometimes. It’s got a lot of medical effects on the body. Ali G: And is there any negative effects?
Ali G: Which is the type of acid that actually make you fly? Guy: No acid makes you fly. Acid can make you think you fly. Ali G: But ain't there one, cause me mate Dave said that he took this type, and he flew all around the room and then his mum told him to get some ciggies from the shop, and he actually flew there and flew back and was back in like five seconds or whatever, but he'd forgotten to buy ciggies.
This picture just makes me wonder what's wrong with this dude's friends. I mean, he's obviously flipping out about something, and they're just standing there waving at him with those shit-eating grins. Seriously kids, that is your brain on tic-tac-toe.
I'm sure a lot of people think of Burning Man as a big mindless party, but a more accurate (albeit only slightly less simplistic) account would have it as a rave in an art museum. The playa would be nothing without the art installations dotting the landscape (to say nothing of the art people wear and ride and drive, etc.) Here are a few of my favorites. Award for Best...
Explaining the geometry of this one is a bit tricky so I'll just let you look at the picture. Yes, those are 18-wheeler tanker trucks stuck together and planted in the desert. You can see people climbing on them, but what you can't see is people climbing IN them. The inside is a jungle gym filled with fake vines, and you could go all the way to the top. When I reached the tip, I found one of the builders lounging on pillows sans clothing. He looked like he'd been there a while and asked if anyone had any games to play. Devoid of Pictionary, we thumb wrestled. (Here's a video and an article about the Jig.) [image source]
This one elicited more simultaneous "Holy shit!"s from spectators than any other installation (non-explosion division). The 24-foot-tall zoetrope had 30 arms, each with an ape-type creature and snake in slightly varying positions. At night, strobe lights would start up, the device would begin spinning rapidly, and then when its velocity hit that sweet spot, the planets aligned. Suddenly we were looking up at 30 monkeys smoothly swinging from branch to branch, as serpents slithered down and placed apples in their mouths. There are so many metaphors mixed up in this thing I can't even stand it. (Or can, and love it. Hooray for Burning Man!) [image source]
Bang for the Buck: Skyline At night, from a distance, it was just a line of bright dots stretching into the sky. Easy to miss when in every direction on the horizon you see mushroom clouds of flame. But then you spot it and try to figure out what it is. My first hunch was a big balloon attached to a string with lights, but then it starts to move in weird, snakelike ways. It's not immediately obvious that it's hundreds of balloons, attached 5-6 feet apart, each with its own LED. I watched as other people tried to figure it out too. The artist told me his goal was to make it a mile and a half long. So with just some balloons and LEDs and fishing line, you have a playaful of people staring at the sky and and scratching their heads.
You know they burned the Man (twice.) You may even know about the annual Temple burn. But this year they were both outshone by Crude Awakening: a 90-foot tall wooden oil derrick with eight giant metallic worshipers bowing to it. The characters' insides pulsed with their own fire effects [image source], but on Saturday night after an elegant fireworks display we witnessed something truly grand. Just watch this video.
Despite days of anticipation, and a proximity much closer than that of the camera used for that video, Katie, Suzie, and I just couldn't keep our eyes open. It had been a long week, and we were in for a, ahem, crude awakening. [image source]
Thousands of changing lights enacting dozens of patterns in a 3D space, from the organic to the formally geometric. You have to watch videos to get the effect of this one. Overheard at Burning Man: "It's like a giant hippie bug zapper!" [image source]
You know what I hate? The use of the pilcrow (paragraph sign, ¶) as a design element. Often in magazines, articles will begin with a block of text that's in bigger type than the rest of the piece. If the part of the story filling that block is more than one paragraph long, instead of using a line break and an indent as usual the designer will keep the text flowing but stick a pilcrow in there.
There are several reasons to stop this. First, it's an ugly, elaborate character, especially for what it does. Use a pipe or a bullet (| or •) or some other arbitrary symbol, as long as it's clean.
Second, it's too explicit. The reader shouldn't stop to think, even subconsciously for a few milliseconds, "Oh, that symbol looks like a backwards P with an extra leg, and P stands for paragraph, and they're telling me that they're starting a new paragraph here." No, don't spell it out. Keep it simple. Again, any subtle visual cue would work. Did I mention the bullet?
Third, it just looks like someone forgot to turn "display formatting" off. Stop being meta and trendy.
I hate heather grey. It just might be the worst color there is. I don't understand why people wear heather grey clothes when they don't have to. Once in a while I can make an exception for a t-shirt or sweatshirt, like if it has a school logo on it (as if you're at team practice!), but anything beyond that is beyond me.
Heather grey has several associations I can't suppress. It reminds me of a high school gym class. The kind in 80's movies where they suit you in heather grey duds, presumably the cheapest cloth available, where appearance is not an issue. Why would you wear a blouse made out of gym clothing material? Related: I expect to see sweat stains on anything made of that stuff. And heather grey tube socks I won't touch even if they're clean.
What gives it that cheap look? I can only assume that the manufacturer doesn't bother to fully mix the solid grey and the solid white. It looks like it's made of random shreds of cotton half-assedly blended together and then somehow melded into a fabric. Heather grey is the sartorial equivalent of chipboard.
Heather grey accent stripes elicit this response: Oh, they almost had enough normal material to make a full shirt. All but those thin stripes. So close!
Esa Virko Esa "Wild Bill" Virko, also known as "The Chair Wrangler of the North," demonstrates his perfected headlock technique on an unruly specimen. He's the reason the department no longer invests in Aerons.
Eero Juntilla Eero Juntilla (translation: "Euro Giantilla") prepares to make kindling so that he might roast a wild boar to tide him over until the departmental tea.
Anne-Maj Laine You see that shit she's holding? That's a pegleg. A fucking pirate's leg! Cross her and suffer the same face-cracking and subsequent skull-pegging that Cap'n Jack Rackham suffered from his own appendage before making his generous donation in kind to the school.
Seppo Ikävalko "The Baron," exuding stately pride over all that he surveys, descends from a long, esteemed line of Nordic Appalachians.
Marjatta Nurmikari-Berry "The Matriarch." Through rigorous exercise, she keeps her spine so straight she will slip it out and harpoon you with it at the drop of a book. That book, incidentally, will not be one of the wisdom-infusing tomes on her head. They are attached.
Keijo Kinnunen "The Thinker." Do not interupt him! He's busy thinking.
Kristian von Pfaler West Side Choppers has nothing on this dude, who hand-crafts the fastest Vespas in Finland out of other Vespas and human teeth. Dare him to turn around and risk being blinded by "badditude" bejeweled onto the ass of his leather slacks.
Esa Kaven "The Flash." He actually does not run very quickly, but do not try to serve him, for he will throw down cardboard and windmill your legs out from under you faster than you can say "The Fla." Ghetto Blaster not included.
Paula Mattsson Avoid messing with, or looking directly at, Paula, whose implanted video screen will enslave your mind ALMOST as fast as her ego-withering glare. (Tweak the right knob, though, and guess what? Endless Tubby Custard!)