Saturday, August 17, 2013

Let's Go Surfing!

Those of you who are regular readers and who assiduously study the Blog Roll over in the left-hand column (scroll down, you'll find it) will notice a few new additions.  You know what that means! Time once again to help you break up the boredom with another collection of some of the niftiest stuff I've found out there in my travels across the big, wide Internets.  When you're not spending your time here, take a moment and drop by these sites.  In no particular order...

This Charming Charlie
I have noted before that I generally don't get Tumblr blogs, but I do know a damn brilliant concept when I see it, and This Charming Charlie is about as brilliant a concept as I've seen on the Internets.  Like most examples of genius, it's a simple proposition: mash together frames from old Peanuts cartoons with lyrics from The Smiths.  So basic, and yet each new creation has me gnashing my teeth saying "I wish I'd thought of this first!"  Whether it's Lucy sitting on a front stoop musing "Now I know how Joan of Arc felt," Snoopy and Woodstock thinking "That joke isn't funny anymore," or Charlie himself quoting "How Soon Is Now," the concept works so well because the lyrics are so perfectly matched to the personalities we know these characters to have.  Well played.

Arcane Radio Trivia
For a broadcasting history buff like me, Arcane Radio Trivia is a treasure trove of neat stuff.  You'll meet a collection of the most fascinating characters to ever take to the airwaves; you'll hear scratchy audio of early broadcasts rescued from chipped and deteriorating transcription discs; you'll learn about the technological advances that made broadcasting possible in the first place.  Recent posts have included a review of the spectrum of sounds that actually make up what you and I hear as static, a report on the finding of a stash of operating logs from Franklin & Marshall College's WFNM dating from 1976, and rescued audio of the final outs of  the second game of the 1947 World Series.  Bookmark this one!

"Genre Films," the flip side of the Art Film coin, are celebrated in both the blogosphere and the print world thanks to the utterly wonderful Paracinema.  The online presence both supplements the far-too-sporadically published magazine of the same name, and stands independently of it; together they gather some of the best independent writing critically assessing everything from Spaghetti Westerns to Sexploitation flicks to direct-to-video films of all stripes, and much more celluloid insanity.  If you're looking for an explanation as to why Phoebe Cates' pool scene in Fast Times At Ridgemont High became such an iconic '80s moment or a history of how the non-existent Alan Smithee came to direct so many films, the folks at Paracinema are waiting for you to stop by. And at $7 an issue delivered, it's well worth supporting.

Or, As We Used To Call It: Talking To Yourself
So, a good friend I've known since eighth grade started up a blog a short while back.  Since he doesn't use his name on the blog, I won't give it away here.  I will just say you are missing out some excellent commentary on cultural current events and truly intriguing essays on assorted films (the Film Friday posts are not to be missed!) if you are not treading this one.  No frills here - no flashy images or fancy backgrounds, just damn good writing.

*stills is a fascinating commentary on our cultural history from the early-to-mid 20th century, done without words.  For many years, silent 8mm home movies were the way families documented the important events in their lives - more often than not, the annual family vacations.  Emma Hurst worked as a research intern under Rick Prelinger, scouring through thousands upon thousands of home movies as part of the creation of his 2012 film No More Road Trips?, and in this Tumblr blog she collects some of her favorite still frames from those movies.  Simultaneously nostalgic and telling, you see what was important to our parents and grandparents without having to sit through hours of clacking home projectors and bad splice jobs. Remember kids, one day this is how future generations will look at your Instagram shots...

Everything Is Terrible
Quickly becoming one of my favorite sites to visit each day, Everything Is Terrible proclaims itself to be "this world's only psychedelic found footage comedy website that tours the Earth with face-melting live shows that include puppets, Jerry Maguires stacked to the heavens, and adoring cloaked followers begging EIT! for more! And we make DVDs!" Imagine taking the contents of your local video rental shop circa 1984, pouring it all into a blender and pressing "puree." All kinds of neat things surface here, remixed and video-collaged into handy little chunks of head-shaking, jaw-dropping goofiness. An instructional tape for how to play (not necessarily how to win, but how to play) Las Vegas slot machines, a recruiting tape to try to sell you on running your own 1-900 phone line (remember those?), and Goldie Hawn and the Harlem Globetrotters singing "Short People" are just some examples of what you're in for here.  Mind-numbing fun!

Weird Universe
In a similar vein, Weird Universe is a repository for, well, damn weird stuff of all types.  Where Everything Is Terrible has a specific niche, Weird Universe casts as wide a net as possible, finding strange old advertising, unusual news items, rare clips from the early days of television, and more.  I have literally found myself spending hours digging through the site's archives. So much weirdness = so much good stuff.

Zombie Dead Blog
Blogging can be a chore.  Many, many folks start out with great intentions of creating their own little corner of the Internet where they can hold court on any number of topics.  Many, many folks find that they burn out after a short while.  A precious few continually struggle onward, sometimes going on brief hiatuses here and there, but never giving up.  And then there are those who never quite got out of the gate.  It is those bloggers whose candle burned out moments after coming up with a great blog name, or those whose debut post turned out also to be their swan song, who are celebrated at Zombie Dead Blog.  Think of it as a virtual tour of the abandoned houses and forgotten ghost towns of the blogosphere, or a brief glimpse of what could have been if so many muses hadn't gone silent.  Fascinating.

The History Of Phone Phreaking Blog
Many people think the rise of the Hacker is a relatively recent phenomenon, tied to the 21st century technology surge, computer viruses and online trolling.  In fact, hacking has been around since long before the Internets arrived in our homes, and many of today's hackers - from the amateur just curious to try to figure out how all this tech stuff works to the seasoned pro who can seem to find a way into any system and cause all sorts of havoc - can trace their lineage back to characters like Joe Engressia, the mysterious Captain Crunch, and a couple of fellas named Wozniak and Jobs who, in the 1960s and 1970s were exploring the labrynthian telephone systems of the world with a whistle and a blue box. Go, read, learn.

I'll Take Ten!
What's that? You say you need a cat hammock, a roll of glow-in-the-dark toilet paper, and some bacon lollipops, but you just don't know where to go to get them? You want to fry an egg in the shape of a handgun and open your mail with miniature samurai sword, but your stumped as to how to make that happen? Can't make it through another day without french fry lip balm and caffeinated soap?  All this and more can be yours at I'll Take Ten!  Me, I'm saving up for the $350K life-size moving triceratops...

OK, so there's my current list of neat items that I think are worth sharing with you.  If you've missed any of the previous times I've recommended blogs, books, podcasts, etc., click on the "Recommended" link at the top of the page.  Also, please check out the sites listed on my blogroll on the left-hand side of the page (keep scrolling, you'll find it).  I share these items with you because I think they are worth your time and attention - I'm not receiving any compensation from any of these folks for pointing you towards them.  Heck, most of them have no freaking clue who I am!  Still, if you find something you like, let me know in the comments below.  Similarly, if you have some recommendations to add, feel free to list them in the comments, or contact me through the blog's Facebook Page to talk about a guest post.  Let me hear from you!
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