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2001: a board meeting - 2015, September 22 / ARTS
2001: a board meeting

More cartoons and artwork here.

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Yes, but it's... - 2015, April 16 / ARTS
cartoon about energy efficient houses

Inspired by the ongoing destruction of pre-WW2 craftsman houses in Portland Oregon (my home). Invariably they are replaced by pastiche replicas that are 50% bigger than the surrounding homes, with a two car garage mutilating the pavement, or worse, a modern carbuncle that looks like something from an Orwellian dystopia - built to withstand a zombie apocalypse.

When the signage is put up by the builders, there is guaranteed to be a blurb about the new monstrosity being 'green' or 'energy efficient'.

The Last Tribes - 2014, August 1 / HISTORY

(The poem in the image above is by the Irish poet Michael Hartnett. Though written to describe the Finns, it applies to many displaced and colonised peoples).

Messy Nessy article about the photographs of Edward Curtis, who saw the rapidly disappearing way of life of the North American Natives, and photographed it. A sad story from every angle.
In 1913, Curtis’ unlikely financier, J.P. Morgan died suddenly. The banker’s son significantly cut sponsorship which soon forced Curtis to abandon his work. During the years he had been away, the photographer’s absence has taken on toll on his family life and several years after his funding dried up, his wife Clara filed for divorce. She was awarded his studio and the family home but Curtis made sure she wouldn’t get his work. Together with his daughter, he made copies of some of his glass plate negatives and then destroyed the originals.

But Curtis was already a ruined man. In a last-ditch attempt, he had tried to make a motion picture for Hollywood, but the film flopped, along with his $75,000 investment. The American Museum of Natural History bought the rights to the movie for $1,500. He then tried to strike a deal with the Morgan Company that saw him give up all his copyrights on the images for The North American Indian in exchange for some minimal funding to return to his field work.

But it was too late, the traditional tribal life he had visited in his earlier career had disappeared...
An archive of his photos on flickr.


To Boldly Grow (Cover) - 2014, July 29 / ARTS

Here's a recent image of mine - a cover for a work-in-progress (click on the image for the link to the post on my animation blog,


Digital Malefactor - 2014, July 18 / ARTS
For those who want to see my animation tutorials: angry animator
My finished films and major work in progress: incubate pictures

Magazine covers, book covers and movie posters have suffered a serious decline in quality over the last 20-25 years. Why is this?

This ~2002 article by Coury Turczyn described the death of magazine cover design:
Today, the art of the magazine cover has been vanquished by celebrity worship and bad taste. Designers are simply fulfilling the dictates of their industry, not unlike the paint person on an auto assembly line. Innovation, creative expression, or even cleverness has been mostly abandoned. Artistic considerations are limited to how much retouching the celebrity headshot requires in Photoshop and how many headlines can be crammed in before the cover looks too "busy." The result: A world in which it's difficult to tell the difference between Playboy and Harper's Bazaar without cracking them open.
Coury posts some examples to illustrate. See page 1, page 2 and page 3. Below are some depressing samples from his 3 pages:
In 2004, Michael Bierut, on the collapse of the American cover:
Today, you'd search in vain for a magazine that commissions covers like those. The best-designed mass circulation American magazines today - Details, GQ, Vanity Fair and, yes, Esquire - usually feature a really good photograph by a really good photographer of someone who has a new movie out, surrounded by handsome, often inventive typography. The worst magazines have a crummy picture of someone who has just been through some kind of scandal, surrounded by really awful typography ... today I also think that there is simply a general distaste for reckless visual ideas.
Back to Coury:
Why has the mainstream magazine publishing industry come to this artistic nadir? Publishers would tell you that the only way they can compete with television and the Internet is through the magic drawing-power of celebrities. When faced with a choice between an illustrated cover or Julia Roberts, consumers will pick Julia every time, they say. Publishers may be right–but why did uninspired shots of celebrities promoting their latest products become the only answer? Why did putting almost the entire contents page on the cover become required? What's worse about these simple-minded solutions is that not many designers or editors trouble themselves over the inherent esthetic failings–this is the only way they've ever known magazines to be, so how can they be any different?
Neither passage explains why the decline happened when it did.


Dr Katz - 2014, July 14 / HUMOUR
One of my favourite shows from the mid 1990s was 'Dr. Katz'. The style isn't typical of recent American TV, as it has a quiet pace, wit, absurd humour and charm over frenentic tricks and loud gags. Wiki:
dr. katz

Dr. Katz was a professional psychotherapist who had famous comedians and actors as patients, usually two per episode. The comedians' therapy sessions generally consisted of them doing their onstage material while Dr. Katz offered insights or simply let them rant. Meanwhile, therapy sessions featuring actors and actresses offered more interpersonal dialogue between Katz and his patient to better suit their predisposition. Dr. Katz is a very laid-back, well-intentioned man who enjoys playing the guitar and spending time at the bar with his friend Stanley and the bartender, Julie.

Interspersed with these scenes were scenes involving Dr. Katz's daily life, which included his aimless, childish 24-year-old son, Ben (Jon Benjamin), his uninterested and unhelpful secretary, Laura (Laura Silverman), and his two friends: Stanley (Will LeBow), and the barmaid, Julie, voiced by one of the show's producers, Julianne Shapiro. In later episodes, Todd (Todd Barry), the video store clerk, became a regular character.

Each show would typically begin with Dr. Katz and Ben at breakfast and initiating a plotline. These plots included events like Ben attempting to become a radio personality, believing he is in possession of ESP, or the moral conundrum he suffers after receiving a chain letter. The development of these plotlines would occur in alternation with the segments between Dr. Katz and his guests.

The show would end in a similar way each week: while Dr. Katz was in a session with a patient, music signaling the close of the show would begin to play. Katz would acknowledge it by saying, "Whoops, you know what the music means... our time is up" or some variant thereof.

Click to read more.

Down with Jazz - 2014, June 1 / HISTORY
irish trumpeteers in the 1930s, from the Eucharistic Congress

A marvellous radio documentary from Irish National broadcaster RTE:
On New Year's Day 1934, Fr. Conifrey led a march through Mohill, County Leitrim, in which demonstrators shouted "down with jazz" and "out with paganism" and called on the government to close the dance halls and ban all foreign dances in Ireland.

De Valera sent a representative to the rally and wrote a letter of support.

Jazz, the campaign argued, was "abominable" music that originated in central Africa and was exported to the West by "a gang of wealthy Bolshevists in the USSR to strike at church civilisation throughout the world."

Jazz was an "engine of hell" deployed to do the devil's work.
The Gaelic League weighed in on the day with an attack on then-Minister of Finance Seán MacEntee, who, in allowing jazz to be broadcast on Radio Eireann, was "selling the musical soul of the nation for the dividends of sponsored jazz programmes.

This documentary looks back at that anti jazz campaign.
Click to read more.

Disney Tarot - 2014, May 13 / OCCULT
Via boingboing and neatorama, an amazing fusion of classic Disney and the major arcana of the Tarot! Hopefully the artist will get around to completing the minor arcana at some point:

D'Morte's blog and deviantart page.

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Unexplained Magazine, Issue 5 - 2014, May 4 / OCCULT
Issue 5 of 'The Unexplained'. Complete list of current scans.

  • BLACK HOLES: Building a black holeby Adrian Berry
  • HUMAN COMBUSTION: Mysteries of the human bonfireby Bob Rickard
  • UFO TECHNOLOGY: On an H-Bomb to the starsby Tony Osman
  • SEA MONSTERS: Monsters of the deepby Janet & Colin Bord
  • KIRLIAN PHOTOGRAPHY: Reading between the linesby Brian Snellgrove
  • UFO CASEBOOK: Silently, out of the night skyby Charles Bowen
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Medieval Dublin - 2014, May 1 / OCCULT
Poster: Dublin c.840~c.1540 'The years of mediaeval growth'.

During the years 1986-88 I worked for my uncle Liam O Connor, who was a good friend of the poets James Liddy and Michael Hartnett. Liam had this poster hanging in his studio, and it was the one possession of his that I wanted after his death in 2010.

Click on the image above for the full sized version, which is very large.

The poster is from the late 1970s, so no doubt some of the archaeology is out of date, but there's a great deal of information in it that will be of interest to anyone familiar with Dublin. Note 'The Green Area of St. Stephen', which is now St. Stephen's Green - this will allow moderns to locate the general area of today's Grafton Street. Also note that hangman's lane and the gibbet mede are very close to today's Four Courts, so that part of Dublin has had the same function for at least 500 years. Also, Dolphin's Barn is 'Dolfynesberne' - the story that it was named after the French Dauphin being a myth, sadly (Dolphyne was a family who owned a storehouse there). Thomas Street is still there - and was where I spent a farcical 9 months in a so-called Art College in the mid 1980s.

I spent about 2 weeks working on the image in Photoshop, cleaning it up, removing scratches and creases, fixing the contrast.

Unexplained Magazine, Issue 4 - 2014, Apr 27 / OCCULT
Issue 4 of 'The Unexplained'. Complete list of current scans.

  • BLACK MADONNAS: Virgins with a pagan pastby Richard Leigh & M. Baigent
  • ESP: Clues from clairvoyanceby Roy Stemman
  • UFO: Photo file
  • UFO TECHNOLOGY: Spinning through spaceby Tony Osman
  • CRYPTOZOOLOGY: Creatures from the voidby Janet & Colin Bord
  • HYPNOSIS: The case for Bridey Murphyby Charles Christie-Murphy
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Lawrence of Arabia Hospital Scene - 2014, Apr 27 ARTS/ HISTORY
Comparison of the famous hospital scene in the movie 'Lawrence of Arabia' with the actual account given by T.E. Lawrence in 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom':

The scene makes Lawrence seem to be callous, deranged and incompetent. Contrast this with his personal account from 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom':

At lunch an Australian doctor implored me, for the sake of humanity, to take notice of the Turkish hospital. I ran over in my mind our three hospitals, the military, the civil, the missionary, and told him they were cared for as well as our means allowed. The Arabs could not invent drugs, nor could Chauvel give them to us. He enlarged further; describing an enormous range of filthy buildings without a single medical officer or orderly, packed with dead and dying; mainly dysentery cases, but at least some typhoid; and, it was only to be hoped, no typhus or cholera.

In his descriptions I recognized the Turkish barracks, occupied by two Australian companies of town reserve. Were there sentries at the gates? Yes, he said, that was the place, but: it was full of Turkish sick. I walked across and parleyed with the guard, who distrusted my single appearance on foot. They had orders to keep out all natives lest they massacre the patients--a misapprehension of the Arab fashion of making war. At last my English speech got me past the little lodge whose garden was filled with two hundred wretched prisoners in exhaustion and despair.
This is the point where the book and the film diverge - as Lawrence deals with the situation:


Unexplained Magazine, Issue 3 - 2014, Apr 21 / OCCULT
Issue 3 of 'The Unexplained'. Complete list of current scans.

  • BLACK HOLES: Doorway to Beyondby Nigel Henbest
  • HUMAN COMBUSTION: A Strange Unnatural Burningby Bob Rickard
  • KIRLIAN PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of the Unseenby Brian Snellgrove
  • HYPNOSIS: Other Voices, Other Livesby David Christie-Murray
  • UFO: The New Zealand UFO filmby Charles Bowen
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To Boldly Grow - 2014, Apr 14 / OCCULT
'To Boldly Grow' is the third of five sequences from the film 'There's No Tomorrow' (34m) presented here by itself as a single work.

TBG works as a stand-alone, because it focuses on the central problem raised by TNT: the impossibility of infinite growth on a finite planet (such a statement should not be controversial, but for a great many people today, it is Blasphemy).

Canadian scientist David Suzuki has used the metaphor of the bacteria in the bottle, which you can see in 'TBG/TNT'.


Unexplained Magazine, Issue 2 - 2014, April 09 / OCCULT

Issue 2 of 'The Unexplained'. Contents are black holes, spontaneous human combustion, kirlian auras, past life regression and the New Zealand UFO film:

Here's the full-sized album on imgur, if you can't figure out the widget controls.

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Unexplained Magazine, Issue 1 - 2014, April 04 / OCCULT

A little joy and strangeness came into my childhood around 1980 with the arrival of 'The Unexplained', a publication by Orbis. 165 issues were published; contributors / consultants / editors included Peter Brookesmith, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, Professor A. J. Ellison, Brian Innes, Colin Wilson and Rupert Sheldrake. The tone of the magazine, contrary to popular perception, was more agnostic - many phenomena were actually debunked in the magazine, others left open.

I recently re-acquired my collection. This is the scan I made of issue #1. I'd like to make more - but it does take a shocking amount of time. Depends on how badly people squeak for episode #2.

Here's the full-sized album on imgur, if you can't figure out the widget controls.

Notice the absence of adverts (barring the one for the binder on the back cover). Also notice the simplicity of the design/layout. There are rarely more than two fonts per page, the text is spaced out for legibility, and there are no stapled inserts with free samples for mens' cologne.

Does anyone still create magazines like this?

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Utopia and the Illuminati - 2014, Mar 30 / OCCULT
A provocative clip from the UK TV show 'Utopia', in which the audience is left unsure as to which side they should support. This scene may be geo-blocked in some regions, but it's visible in the US:

Note the masonic symbols on the ceiling. Cheeky Illuminati Devils!

The Machine Stops - 2014, Mar 29 / LITERATURE

In the remarkable novella 'The Machine Stops' (1909), E.M. Forster described a system that very closely resembles the internet and modern life.
by E.M. Forster (1909)

Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric buttons, revived her. There were buttons and switches everywhere - buttons to call for food for music, for clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was the button that produced literature. and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.

Vashanti"s next move was to turn off the isolation switch, and all the accumulations of the last three minutes burst upon her. The room was filled with the noise of bells, and speaking-tubes. What was the new food like? Could she recommend it? Has she had any ideas lately? Might one tell her one's own ideas? Would she make an engagement to visit the public nurseries at an early date? - say this day month.

To most of these questions she replied with irritation - a growing quality in that accelerated age. She said that the new food was horrible. That she could not visit the public nurseries through press of engagements. That she had no ideas of her own but had just been told one-that four stars and three in the middle were like a man: she doubted there was much in it. Then she switched off her correspondents, for it was time to deliver her lecture on Australian music.
Click to read more.