From the Archives

And I mean the way-back days. Sheila Ryan Coiffed like a Pinhead. One of the first things I remember seeing in my early days here. For the record, I believe the chick in the photo is now a regular on American Horror Story Asylum. I am addicted.

See the world without leaving China

The Window of the World is a theme park located in the western part of the city of Shenzhen in the People’s Republic of China. It has about 130 reproductions of some of the most famous tourist attractions in the world squeezed into 48 hectares (118 acres). The 108 metre (354 ft) tall Eiffel Tower dominates the skyline and the sight of the Pyramids and the Taj Mahal all in proximity to each other are all part of the appeal of this theme park.

(via Wikipedia)

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Headline of the day

New cunning linguist computer has got ancient tongues licked

from the archives: August 2, 2010

Dear clusterflock: Today’s Dilemma:

Can I do this unobtrusively?

This being: return to the roadside motel where I lived for the past three months, dive into the dumpster to retrieve a garbage bag, open it and retrieve a small trashcan liner filled with vomit and other detritus, and swirl through it in search of a diamond ring that belonged to my mother.

I don’t think I can do this unobtrusively.

Happy Funky Halloween

Okay, so they dress like mummies and they’re on the Bob & Tom Show sometimes. But they lay down the serious funk — old skool style. Their songs include Booty, Fenk Shui, Ra Ra Ra, and Attack of the Wiener Man. They’ve been around for over a decade. I don’t get out much.

Rumor has it Here Come the Mummies are Nashville heavy hitters who play incognito due to contractual complications. Who cares? Let’s dance!

Fat Man’s Misery

“I’d like a Fat Man’s Misery, easy on the mayo, and a glass of buttermilk. The little lady here will have the Ruins of Karnak and a cup of Postum.”

From the menu of the Mammoth Cave Hotel. (NYPL Restaurant Menu Collection.)

Wanted: T-Shirts you don’t wear

Posted to the Dubuque Freecycle list:

I am looking for your T-shirts you don’t wear anymore and they are just sitting in your closet collecting dust.

Sign of the Times (and the Place)

Half a dozen Russian speakers, all under thirty, packed up their car after a weekend rental of one of my neighbor’s cottages here in the Driftless Regional Resort Region. A few may have glanced at me as I scrabbled in the dirt, digging up buried money and muttering, “I am uncovering my wealth.”

What is the proper way to dispose of the American flag?

Found. December 31, 2011.

Chicago Screenshots

Chicago Screenshots is a (slowly growing) collection of Chicago-centric movie and television stills, presented as architectural and urban landscape photography.

image out of context

headline of the day

Magical Viking stone may be real

The world of the heterosexual

Commentary courtesy of Aunt Ida (Edith Massey), “Female Trouble” (John Waters).

You’re built like a car (You got a hubcap diamond-star halo)

Europeans have all the fun: lower drinking ages, funner beaches, easier lifestyles and . . . dinosaur skeletons having sex in their museums. This exhibit, which clearly shows two T-Rexes “mating”, is located in the Jurassic Museum of Asturias in Spain.

Via @leatherarchives.


“And this is where it starts.”

Living in the county long enough, you begin to feel that you know every road, every creek, and even every cow; but there are still places hiding out there, waiting, scattered amid the leaves, in the lonely hollows.

But where are we? Where have we gone?

Somewhere Beyond the Corn.
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the works of the old men

Archeologist David Kennedy has been studying stone geoglyphs that can be seen from the air across Syria and Saudi Arabia. The drawings are perhaps 2,000 to 9,000 years old, and no one knows much about what they were used for or what they represent.

Some of the wheels are found in isolation while others are clustered together. At one location, near the Azraq Oasis, hundreds of them can be found clustered into a dozen groups. “Some of these collections around Azraq are really quite remarkable,” Kennedy said.

In Saudi Arabia, Kennedy’s team has found wheel styles that are quite different: Some are rectangular and are not wheels at all; others are circular but contain two spokes forming a bar often aligned in the same direction that the sun rises and sets in the Middle East.

The ones in Jordan and Syria, on the other hand, have numerous spokes and do not seem to be aligned with any astronomical phenomena. “On looking at large numbers of these, over a number of years, I wasn’t struck by any pattern in the way in which the spokes were laid out,” Kennedy said.

A gallery of ten more images here.

That Inspired Extra Seventh

Scholars at the Hebrew University have spent the last 53 years studying variations on the ancient text in order to publish an authoritative version of the Hebrew Bible. Along the way, they made some interesting discoveries about the evolution of the holy book:

The Book of Jeremiah is now one-seventh longer than the one that appears in some of the 2,000-year-old manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some verses, including ones containing a prophecy about the seizure and return of Temple implements by Babylonian soldiers, appear to have been added after the events happened.

Interesting to see that the predictions of biblical scholars are now being verified – though, I imagine for many, these sorts of things won’t matter. Fun fact: the last member of the original team of scholars, who started with the project in 1958, died last year at age 90.

Iowa State Fair Update

Gigantor: A one-pound hamburger served between two grilled cheese sandwiches and topped with macaroni and cheese will make its debut at the Bird’s Nest at the top of the hill at 3000 East Grand Ave., by the AE Dairy Stage.

‘He picked it up as if it were a precious stone, knowing that it could offer an important clue about the age of the manmade cave’

The Greithanners, from the town of Glonn near Munich, are the owners of a strange subterranean landmark. A labyrinth of vaults known as an “Erdstall” runs underneath their property. It is at least 25 meters (82 feet) long and likely stems from the Middle Ages. Some believe that it was built as a dwelling for helpful goblins.

The geologists and land surveyors who appeared on Greithanner’s property at the end of June were determined to get to the bottom of the mystery. Three members of a group called the “Working Group for Erdstall Research,” wearing red protective suits and helmets, dragged the heavy concrete plate away from the entrance and disappeared into the depths.

An exploration of just one example of hundreds of man-made subterranean labyrinths to be found across Europe.

Why not now?

My Dallas friend Steve tipped me to a photo of a Dubuque ghost sign, a faded advertisement for Uneeda Biscuits that I’m certain I’ve seen (though I may be confusing it with another, a sign promoting Bull Durham tobacco).

And I remembered my favorite ghost sign ever. It was in Chicago. Maybe it still is, but it’s no longer visible, perhaps obscured by recent construction. I saw it every morning as I rode the El to work downtown at the Harold Washington Library. The hand painted sign read:

Why not now?

That is all.

Why not now?

Once I stumbled upon a possible clue to the slogan’s significance, but I can no longer recall what nor where. It may have been connected with a long-gone bar or tavern.

But I’m not sure whether I really want to solve the mystery.

The Great Dismal Swamp

A national park composed of vast acres of swampland, straddling the border of North Carolina and Virginia, was once home to runaway slaves, an anti-oasis of sorts in the South for people to disappear to.

The site was long known as a haven for escapees and members of Indian tribes avoiding European encroachment. Advertisements seeking the return of escaped slaves from the 1700s mention the swamp, and Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote about it as a place of refuge in the novel “Dred: A Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp.” The North Carolina legislature was even petitioned to do something about the settlements in the swamp, said Wanda Hunt-McLean, a local historian who studies the underground railroad.

“Many people were warned about traveling near the edge of the swamp because of stories about blacks living there,” she said.

But the only significant attempt to recapture slaves in the swamp came after the violent slave uprising led by Nat Turner in 1831, and that barely reached the fringes of the wilderness, Sayers said. The swamp was simply too dense and treacherous to make sustained efforts to capture slaves or their descendants worthwhile.

tweet of the day

bobbing for Osama

Bill Warren plans to dive for, photograph, and conduct DNA tests on Osama Bin Laden’s body.

“I’m doing it because I am a patriot American who wants to know the truth,” Warren told the Post. “I do it for the world.”

How Archivists Helped Video Game Designers Recreate the City’s Dark Side for ‘L.A. Noire’

Earlier this week, video game enthusiasts and fans of L.A. history cheered the release of Rockstar Games’ L.A. Noire, a police procedural game noted for its faithful reproduction of Los Angeles circa 1947. To recreate a city now hidden beneath 64 years of redevelopment projects and transformed by age and expansion, production designers with the game’s developer, Team Bondi, consulted several Los Angeles area archives.

Masks and Time

I found a wonderful little book at the used books place yesterday: Mexican Art: From the Beginnings to the Olmecs, Bernard Noel, Tudor Publishing Co., New York, 1968. It has many fine plates that I find somehow more pleasing because they are presented in black and white. The one above is a Guerrero mask. The text is wonderful too. Here’s a bit I read to Cindy yesterday as one of those things that confirms aspects of her fine knowledge of Mexican time:

The pre-Classic period began with the expansion of agriculture; it was a formative period during which societies organized themselves and invented a religion, which became more and more complex. This religion was fundamentally a worship of time. All agricultural societies have more or less deified time, but the Mexicans refined infinitely on this conception. It was not an abstract entity for them; it was bound to space and with it formed a unique substance which went through an endless cycle of birth, growth, decline and rebirth according to the pulsation of a rhythm that man maintained but did not control. Without man, time would have perished, so man had both to understand and foster it.

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