Welcome to this week's selection of Picks, where we start with more than 900 nineteenth century pictures from Asia, Australia, Oceania, and North Africa, all preserved in the Library of Congress's Around the World in the 1890s exhibit. These black and white photographs and color lantern slides were taken by William Henry Jackson for the World's Transportation Commission; a variety of transportation methods are well represented here, including railroads, rickshaws, and camels. You can browse the collection by country, keyword, or subject. Be sure to click on the thumbnail pictures to see the historic images up close.
Speaking of world travel, the weather's bleak but the welcome's warm at Nunavut, the Arctic Canadian home of the Inuit. Hundreds of intrepid travelers head up every summer to munch on whale blubber, ogle at caribou, take in the Tundra, and bask in 24 hours of sunlight a day. If anything, go for the food: musk-ox jerky, smoked char, caribou sausage, and piping hot bowls o' Quagg. Covering a fifth of Canada, Nunavut is home to over 18,000 Inuit, who have been bailing out confused Northwest Passage explorers for hundreds of years. The friendly folks at Nunavut's tourism board give up the goods on cheap plane tickets, igloo stays, floe edge visits, and dog sled tours. Since we've only seen bored, zoo-bound Polar bears sitting in empty swimming pools, the Nunavut site had us running for our mukluks.
Consumptive girls, prune people, deranged cousins, and wuggle umps all share a dank cellar in the Goreyography, a "graphical galleria of gratuitous Gorey, a continuous choreography of calamatious characters." Dedicated to the twisted talents of illustrator Edward Gorey, this grim little gallery features artwork from the author of such modern classics as The Lethal Lozenge, The Glorious Nosebleed, and The Tunnel Calamity. With this evidence, we tend to think that Mr. Gorey spent his childhood locked in the orphanage basement. Check the South Wing of the Gallery for loads of links to related online shrines and collector's groups. Browse through cryptic interviews, peruse the bibliography, or admire drawings that give adults the giggles and children the nightscreams.
Equally frightening to some is the razor-sharp wit exhibited in the iconoclastic comic strip Doonesbury. Most concerned are those who are the real-life subjects of Garry Trudeau's daily musings on politics, morals, mores, and, um, more morals. For more on this, check out The Controversial Doonesbury Strips, where you'll find that Trudeau has rankled more than his fair share of heavy-hitters. Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Dan Quayle, Frank Sinatra, and former House Speaker Tip O'Neill are all among those to sit grim-faced over their morning paper after they finish reading "The Family Circus" and move on to Doonesbury. There are 25 or so strips here, including ones dealing with safe sex, Watergate, and longtime character Zonker's affinity for hashish. Many of these strips resulted in cancelled subscriptions, angry letters, public denunciations, and much weeping and gnashing of teeth.
If most modern art leaves you in the dark, then cast your eyes upon The Shadow Server. This online plaything from Berkeley, California, consists of a "lightproof box that contains physical objects, some of which move of their own accord," and a web page that allows users to turn on different combinations of lights, thereby creating rather Rorshachian shadows. Said shadows are instantly captured via digital camera and transmitted back to your browser. Artist Ken Goldberg suggests that there is even a mysterious sixth button, which "illuminates hidden secrets in an alcove of the apparatus...." We've looked and looked and can't seem to find the mystery button, but then again, we're not the brightest bulbs in the chandelier...
Finally, do you remember the telephone, that kooky little communications tool that predates the Internet and email? Get this, people actually used the device to talk to each other. Apparently, a number of people still do. This according to the folks at AT&T; Labs, who've put together a site called Brain Spin as a way to teach us about telecommunications. While it's intended for kids and includes a teachers corner, we found the "knowledge bytes" gathered here to be of interest to just about everyone. Learn about the numbers game, brush up on your Alexander Graham Bell trivia (he tried to teach his dog to talk), and route a couple calls of your own at this informative site. Each section includes its own teaching aid, in the form of a Shockwave game. Hey, one more thing: have your people call our people, we'll do education.
Hey, it's either that or peruse the first issue of Buzzcutt, "the journal of modern mythology." Among other things, you'll find a preview of Babylon 5 special edition trading cards, first impressions of the movie "The Fifth Element," and an in-depth profile of and interview with artist/illustrator/comic book guru Jim Steranko. Enough good reading to keep you busy 'till--well, 'till next week. Take your pick(s).
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