Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980

Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980

Post-war Eastern Europe went through radical change at the hands of communism. Brutalism married up with the harshest sociopolitical conditions and defined many landscapes, particularly in countries like Yugoslavia.

Martino Stierli and Vladimir Kulić examined the nation’s architecture and how it shaped the state when they visited MoMA’s Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948–1980 exhibition in 2019.

It was really an important contribution to create some kind of a life space for citizens in Yugoslavia. The end of World War II, there was a moment of destruction and trauma but then was transformed into a great source of energy for the reconstruction of the country. Hundreds of thousands of young people contributed to the construction of new railway lines, highways, dams, factories. The war really had left deep scars that produced an enormous forward-looking utopian vision of a better world. And architecture played a fundamental role.

HOW TO SEE | Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia, 1948-1980

Leslie Nielsen's Fart Machine

leslie nielsen

The Naked Gun films are some of my favourite comedy films of all time and it’s thanks to Leslie Nielsen.

The late Canadian actor was known for his absurdist comedy and one of his best-known gags was the fart machine. Nielsen would often use it in interviews and cause the interviewer(s) to act quickly. The machine itself was just a short rubber cylinder with a hole in it which you squeezed to make a fart noise. I have one and it’s really difficult to get a plausible fart sound but Leslie mastered it.

Stream an early appearance of the contraption with David Letterman below and a TV-AM appearance below that.

LESLIE NIELSEN FART MACHINE EARLY LETTERMAN APPEARANCE
Late great Leslie Nielsen and his farting machine.

Los Angeles’s Hidden Japanese Village

Hidden in a 5,000 sq-ft warehouse in Los Angeles lives the Japanese Cultural Village. Fashion designer Peter Lai is the owner of the space and it holds a tremendous collection of Japanese art, antiques, and design.

Lai was born in Hong Kong and initially went into the family business as a costume designer. But in a bold move, he decided to leave China and move to Los Angeles to pursue fashion, an endeavor in which he was extremely successful. His eccentric and flamboyant designs, inspired by traditional Japanese and Chinese styles, were highly acclaimed and have been worn by Hollywood celebrities.

Not sure on the protocol for visits but regular visits and guided private tours were $15 and $30 respectively and available by appointment only, according to Lai’s Facebook page.

The Secret World of Los Angeles’s Hidden Japanese Village

(via Atlas Obscura)

Is milk a healthy drink or a poison?

A glass of milk

Who knew milk could cause such a stir? With the UK leaving the EU, a US-UK trade deal could see cow’s milk contain an undesirable ingredient: more pus.

US rules allow milk to have nearly double the level of somatic cells – white blood cells that fight bacterial infection – that the UK allows. In practice, this means more pus in our milk, and more infections going untreated in cows. Much US milk would be deemed unfit for human consumption in Britain.

With this in mind, Kurzgesagt produced a video entitled “Milk. White Poison or Healthy Drink?” for its channel:

Over the last decade, milk has become a bit controversial. Some people say it’s a necessary and nutritious food, vital for healthy bones, but others say it can cause cancer and lead to an early death. So who is right? And why are we drinking it anyway?

But it’s not just cow’s milk that has its share of controversy. Oatly, the popular oat milk brand, has been in the news after selling its stake to Blackstone, a private equity firm accused of contributing to deforestation in the Amazon. It’s also linked to President Trump.

There are also environmental issues with other cow’s milk alternatives such as almond milk. According to Pete Hemingway from Sustainable Restaurant Association, it takes over 6,000 litres of water to produce a litre of almond milk. Not exactly eco-friendly. If someone in your family is suffering, it better to ask your doctor is diverticulitis hereditary.

We still have pea milk, moose milk and donkey milk, I suppose.

Milk. White Poison or Healthy Drink?

Hellboy Right Hand of Doom Hot Sauce

Hellboy Right Hand of Doom Hot Sauce

Fancy a taste of hell? Then you should try Hellboy Right Hand of Doom hot sauce from Pepper Explosion.

According to the site, the hot sauce was officially licenced for the 2019 remake of Hellboy and sizzles at 6.66 million Scoville Heat Units. This is thanks to a demonic blend of Trinidad Scorpion Butch T peppers and red Habanero peppers.

However, Right Hand of Doom is not cheap, coming in at $17.98. But if you’ve got the money burning a wallet, use it to buy some sauce that can burn a hole in your stomach lining.

For more hot sauce extravagance, check out Gabrielle Union on Hot Ones, the world’s hottest gummy bear, and the funniest chili pepper challenge I’ve ever seen.

Phil LaMarr on his most iconic voices

phil lamarr

Phil LaMarr sat down with Vanity Fair and discussed some of his most iconic character voices, including Hermes Conrad from Futurama, Ollie Williams from Family Guy, Green Lantern from Justice League, Jack from Samurai Jack and Virgil aka Static from Static Shock.

Amongst the characters he discussed, Phil went into how Hermes could have disappeared if it wasn’t for one vital change.

Then about three episodes in, the writers sort of realized that the Hermes character was fine, but they didn’t really have anything that was working, working. And I remember Matt Groening coming up to me in the hallway, and said, “Well, we just wanna try something with Hermes. Can you do a Jamaican accent?” I said sure, I can do that. I auditioned for Cool Runnings just like every other Black man in 1980 whatever. Adding the accent gave the character another dimension, added depth. ‘Cause all of a sudden instead of just writing accountant jokes, they were writing Jamaican jokes. And then laying accountant stuff on top of ’em. Like okay, so what if he’s sort of laid back but not laid back at all. I think actually, had Matt not suggested that, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here. I probably wouldn’t have made it past episode four.

Phil also talked about what inspired each voice and how they brought his characters to life, like the Green Lantern.

It was wild to be The Green Lantern. I’d seen Bruce Timm’s work on Batman Beyond and knew the character designs and all that. And in terms of finding the voice, that was sort of easy to do. Because the way he draws men, they’ve got these little tiny legs and these great big chests. So you feel like everybody’s gotta have a deep voice. They talked about the character. It was like, well, he was a Marine. He was from Detroit. And I’m like oh well my dad’s from Detroit. So I added a little bit of a level, sort of an homage to my dad, because my dad was like a, you know, sort of this smoky voice, so I wanted to put a little of that in there. So it wasn’t just, you know, I’m big hero. It was also a little bit of this, you know. The guy has, he’s been somewhere. He’s done some things, you know.

Phil LaMarr Breaks Down His Most Famous Character Voices | Vanity Fair

Over It

Over it

2020 is the year of being “over it”. Over what? Specifically everything.

Reza Farazmand is the creator of Poor Drawn Lines and draws comics 3 times a week for our amusement. For yesterday’s edition, we see a pigeon claiming they are “over it” to which their feathered companion asks what they’re over.

“All of it.”

“Can you be more specific?”

“Specifically everything.”

I’ve never felt so connected to a pigeon in my life.

20th Century Flicks: the last video rental shop

Nestled in an alleyway in Bristol is 20th Century Flicks, the world’s last video rental shop. Arthur Cauty directed a short documentary film about the shop, which has been open since 1982, featuring the owners and its employees talking about what it means to them and the community.

It’s an ode to the video shop experience and a bygone way of watching movies. With studios like Disney launching their own streaming services and joining industry kingpins such as Netflix and Hulu, we have an almost endless flow of entertainment available at the click of a button. It’s amazing to me that a little independent video store can survive the Netflix cull and even outlive Blockbuster. Drop into the shop next time you’re in Bristol for a dose of movie nostalgia, have a chat about film and go home with a VHS rarity and a bag of popcorn.

And if you’re wondering how 20th Century Flicks is doing during the pandemic, the shop isn’t open but a reduced service is underway:

We are currently on lockdown to keep the shop, staff and stock healthy. We are still able to post movies out to you (3 at a time for £12) including a clean prepaid envelope to return them. We’d like them back a couple of weeks after you’ve received them. For details and instructions, click here!

Imagine getting a late fee in 2020 from the oldest video rental shop in the world. I’d be so embarrassed.

Stream the documentary below and for more VHS nostalgia, check out the guy who made a fake video store in his basement.

The Last Video Store | a documentary on the World's oldest VHS & DVD rental store

(via Kottke.org)

5 retro videos from The VHS Vault

xena: warrior princess

VHS might be old hat now but that doesn’t stop people from collecting them or keeping them around. Check your attic, I bet you’ll find boxes of tapes. My love of VHS is more overt as I have two VCRs in my house (although one is broken so that’ll need replacing) and a humble collection of tapes, some recorded, some official.

I could digitise them but that costs money on equipment and I don’t care enough to do it. Fortunately, some people did and uploaded their works to The Internet Archive’s VHS Vault. It’s a treasure trove of nostalgia with over 25,000 uploaded videos covering all kinds of genres.

I’ve picked 5 to look through:

1. Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout

(Content warning: contains nudity from the offset)

If the horror part is watching a naked woman not wash her legs in the shower, consider this a scarefest. In fact, why did it even start with a sultry shower scene when it’s not a porno? Here’s the synopsis from IMDB:

After a nice shower, Linnea does some warm-up stretches and then goes for a run. She encounters some flabby zombies who follow her back to the house, where she leads them in some poolside aerobic routines. Later she unwinds by inviting some girlfriends over for a slumber party and some exercise. When something goes bump in the house, her friends begin experiencing an attrition problem.

What’s the point in weight loss for the undead? Fatphobia is truly boundless.

2. Microsoft Windows 95 Video Guide

This is still pretty famous now and back in 1995, it was a masterstroke having two famous actors demonstrate how to use Windows 95, if a little peculiar.

The video guide was split into three sections:

Our guide is separated into three sections.

  • Section one presented the world’s first “Cyber-Sitcom”, starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry set in the Bill Gates’s office.
  • Section two gives a step-by-step review of all the Windows 95 components demonstrated in section one.
  • Section three answers the 20 most asked questions about Windows 95.

I’m sure this wonderfully hilarious 25 years ago but it just seems very cheesy and outdated.

3. Power Rangers In Space Psycho Ranger Saga

AJ Brown is a Power Rangers fan so I’m sure he’d appreciate this and correct me if I’ve got anything wrong in this description.

This video appears to be an episode from the “Psycho Ranger” story arc where the evil Astronema creates a team of Psycho Rangers to gain more power. I only ever watched Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers but I did notice Zordon and Bulk & Skull in the credits so that was pleasant to see.

4. VHS 1987 – 1998 – ThunderCats, DuckTales, Pooh, Donald Duck, ScoobyDoo, Ghostbusters, Flintstones

That’s right—it’s a collection of 5 videos featuring episodes of:

  • ThunderCats
  • Duck Tales
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Donald Duck
  • Scooby Doo
  • Ghostbusters
  • The Flintstones

It’s a childhood dream for any millennial. There are some tracking issues (when the picture gets distorted and those lines wipe down the screen) but that adds to the charm.

5. The Ultimate Xena Warrior Princess Video Tape

To complete the 90’s fest, here’s “The Ultimate Xena Warrior Princess Video Tape” starring an intro with Lucy Lawless, loads of bloopers, and interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

For any Xena fans, this will be a dream come true.

STiCH and its Basquiat-inspired art

STiCH is an “artist, machine, design researcher and artist intelligence” according to Urbancoolab, its creator. The AI machine spent over 700 hours learning the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat to produce a series of art in the late artist’s style (or an adaption of it).

For me, the results are derivative and closer to mediocre Picasso than anything else. Basquiat’s work and style had specific meaning and context—his life, surroundings, and, most importantly, his Blackness. AI could never replicate that because it’s AI and using Basquiat for this was a bad idea.

“Our team met the challenge to see how an AI machine with no emotion can learn to express itself with gestural abstraction while remaining to be visually intuitive. We’re focusing on Basquiat as his work continues to inspire others, and his message continues to be relevant. There would be nothing more incredible than to have Basquiat’s work continue. His conceptual and aesthetic appeal will always remain strong because of the inherent emotional depth and power it communicates.”

Quote from Urbancoolab founder Idris Mootee via Creative Boom

There was no malice in this, I’m sure, but it’s tiring to see Basquiat recreations in AI or yet more of his work selling for millions at Christie’s.

Clarissa Explains It All, Explained

Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All with her mouth open

Thanks to the rare joys of the YouTube recommendation algorithm, I found PushingUpRoses, an awesome channel that runs through classic shows such as Murder She Wrote, Golden Girls, and Goosebumps. But for this video, PUR looked at the history and influence of “Clarissa Explains It All”.

PUR runs through how it came to be, how different it was to have a young teenage girl take centre stage in a 90s kids show, and all the complexities and nuances of the cast. It reminded me how much I loved Clarissa and how much leading TV women influenced my childhood, including Wonder Woman and She-Hulk. Clarissa wasn’t a superhero in the literal sense but I’m sure fans felt her presence in the 90s.

The History and Influence of Clarissa Explains It All

Batman's Movie Lips Ranked

Val Kilmer smiling, as Batman

Slow news day? Perhaps it was in February when Gizmodo published its Cinematic Batman Lips list but this kind of absurd piece fits right in with the omnishambles that is 2020.

Writer James Whitbrook felt inspired to write the piece after the reveal of Robert Pattinson’s Batman. There were 2 rules for the list:

  • No TV-only Batmen.
  • Lips were only rated as part of the whole Batman outfit (so no Bruce Wayne lips, if that makes sense)

This left 8 in total. I won’t spoil the list but I will reveal one part: Robert Pattinson’s Batman—the one who inspired the list—came in last. Ouch. The rest follows what I’d expect, although I would have swapped 2nd and 3rd.

Val Kilmer’s lips were my personal favourites.

Anyway, stream the most famous Batman lips scenes in Batman lipstory (from Batman Returns) below.

Batman Returns (1992) - A Deadly Kiss Scene (6/10) | Movieclips

Killing the planet is the new black

Every year, Pantone Color Institute releases its colour trends report and the fashion world clambers to follow it. But with all trends, they’re fleeting. People spend billions on clothes and dispose of them within months, only for those colours to return in future years.

Elizabeth Sergan wrote “Our obsession with ‘color trends’ is killing the planet” for Fast Company back in February to illustrate how harmful these colour trends can be.

Companies from H&M to Target have figured out how to manufacture the latest styles quickly and cheaply, making them accessible to a broader range of consumers—but also adding to the waste problem.

All of this has sent us into a state of massive overconsumption. Most of us have about 150 items in our closet. The number of times we wear each item before throwing it out has gone down by 36% since 2000, and many of us only wear an item seven to 10 times before it goes in the trash. And all of this waste is clogging up our landfills and oceans, and spewing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.

If you’re not into fast fashion, maybe you’d consider clothes made by fish leather (providing it doesn’t contribute to overfishing).

The controversial story of Comic Sans

Comic Sans in German that says "Tschudin Gartengestaltung"

Jon Robinson wrote an article about the history of Comic Sans for UX Planet, arguably the most derided font of all-time.

The short version is that Vincent Connare created the font in the mid-90s, inspired by the handwritten lettering from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller.

Connare recognized that comic books employed lettering that was hand-drawn to fit each individual box or bubble, providing both flexibility and variety. He drew each letter numerous times until satisfied that every glyph had it’s own unique shape and curve, while still functioning as a family.

Due to its form we classify it as both a sans serif and a casual script font, because the letters mimic handwritten characters that do not connect; but it’s not considered a typeface by most due to the lack of an italic or bold variant. Overall, Comic Sans is composed of rounded letters that would appear to have been drawn carefully in thick black marker by a child learning the alphabet. No sharp points are found in its letterforms. It’s the result of someone attempting to make a font out of alphabet soup.

And now it’s everywhere and polarises everyone who sees it. In fact, I wrote a disparaging article about it years ago (no longer online). But there have been suggestions that Comic Sans is good for dyslexic readers (although this has also been refuted).

If you want to use a font made for low vision readers, I suggest Atkinson Hyperlegible.

Marvel Comic Characters on Tableau

Marvel Comic Characters on Tableau

Thanks to my friend Soph for putting me onto this.

Pradeep Kumar G made a Tableau workbook using data on Marvel comic book characters:

Did you know that the first Marvel comic book was published in 1939 by Martin Goodman? Today, the number of Marvel comic books published is over 30,000. Check out this #IronQuest visualization by Pradeep Kumar G to learn about all of the “good” and “bad” characters that have appeared in Marvel comics over the years.

As Soph pointed out, only ~25% identified as female and ~6% agender, genderfluid (only 1 character) or unknown. There wasn’t any racial demographic data but I’m sure the disparity would have deepened further. For info on Black superheroes, check out my ongoing list.