December 20, 2012
Remember the shoddy toys you begged your parents to buy while waiting in the supermarket checkout line, then promptly lost interest in before the day’s end? Those cheap plastic knock-offs have mostly been ignored by collectors, too, consigned to the dustbins of history almost immediately after purchase.
“I had things like ‘Annie’ curlers hanging on the wall—just crazy, weird toys all over the place.”
But Brian Heiler represents the exception … (continue reading)
December 18, 2012
It’s easy, as an adult, to get bogged down in the un-fun, stressful aspects of Christmas. The mall becomes a madhouse that empties your wallet. Meals have to be planned and cookies baked. The house has to be decorated, inside and out, cards must be sent, and presents need to be wrapped. And that’s not to mention all the tension and drama that can … (continue reading)
December 11, 2012
You’ve heard the rumor that Santa Claus will leave a lump of coal, possibly some switches, for children who rank on his “naughty” list. But did you know that before the 20th century, old Saint Nick—that is, the European St. Nikolaus—had a devil sidekick do his dirty work? Krampus, a furry, horned, cloven-hooved creature with a disturbingly long tongue, was in charge of filling boots with spanking … (continue reading)
December 10, 2012
Traditional tattoo designs, like anchors, swallows, and nautical stars, are popping up on the arms and ankles of kids in every hip neighborhood from Brooklyn to Berlin, Sao Paulo to San Francisco. Yet these young land lubbers probably don’t even know the difference between a schooner and a ship, much less where the term “groggy” comes from. (Hint: Grog once referred to a watered-down rum issued by the British … (continue reading)
November 28, 2012
Tavi Gevinson was just 11 when she appeared on the fashion scene in 2007, not via New York or Paris, but through her PC in Oak Park, Illinois. Through her insightful and whimsical blog, Style Rookie, Gevinson mused on topics ranging from couture collections to middle-school dress codes, building an online fan base of teenagers and adults who loved her then-signature gray hair and eccentric sense of … (continue reading)
November 19, 2012
In his seventh book “Retromania,” British-born rock critic and music memorabilia collector Simon Reynolds asserts that there’s never “been a society so obsessed with the cultural artifacts of its own immediate past” as ours. Of course, collectors have always been fascinated with antiques and objects from history. But now web archives like YouTube, Wikipedia, and Tumblr have made it possible for anyone to get lost reliving the … (continue reading)
November 13, 2012
In 1964, a geologist in the Nevada wilderness discovered the oldest living thing on earth, after he killed it. The young man was Donald Rusk Currey, a graduate student studying ice-age glaciology in Eastern Nevada; the tree he cut down was of the Pinus longaeva species, also known as the Great Basin bristlecone pine. Working on a grant from the National Science Foundation, Currey was compiling the ages of … (continue reading)
November 5, 2012
If you were committed to a psychiatric institution, unsure if you’d ever return to the life you knew before, what would you take with you? That sobering question hovers like an apparition over each of the Willard Asylum suitcases. From the 1910s through the 1960s, many patients at the Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane left suitcases behind when they passed away, with nobody to claim them. Upon the center’s closure … (continue reading)
November 1, 2012
“Do hormones drive women’s votes?” That headline is not from a newspaper published in 1892 or 1922, but from CNN online in 2012. Posted just last week, the story survived all of seven hours, weathering ridicule from the blogosphere, before the news hub “determined that some elements of the story did not meet the editorial standards of CNN.”
“Should women with school-age children work? Should men co-parent? We’re … (continue reading)
October 25, 2012
You can buy practically anything on the Internet, so why not ghosts? For shipping convenience, the ghosts have attached themselves to objects—often dolls, clowns, and idol figurines, or Ouija boards. But wearables like clothes and jewelry, art like paintings and photographs, as well as household objects like wooden boxes, furniture, and musical instruments seem to be popular places for lost souls to take up residence. Really, if you … (continue reading)
October 18, 2012
You know the trend: Every year on Halloween, adults turn even the most innocuous sounding costumes into lust-fueled fantasies. Sultry Santa? Done. Sexy real-estate agent? Check.
At the risk of being counterintuitive, we’ve compiled a selection of our favorite unsexy costumes from holidays past, outfits that would make Marilyn Monroe look like a dowdy freakshow. Their proven ability to unflatter is downright frightening. Happy Halloween!
October 9, 2012
John Cozzoli’s collection is frightening. Not because of its sheer size (though he does have over 500 film artifacts), but because Cozzoli’s ephemera all relates to lesser-known horror movies of the 20th century.
Primarily devoted to Mexican lobby cards, or small placards displayed in theater entrances to advertise upcoming films, and American pressbooks, which provided promotional guides for theater owners, Cozzoli has curated an extensive array of cult … (continue reading)
October 3, 2012
Their members use secret handshakes and coded language. In temples, they don ancient regalia, helmets, or masks. Thanks to their veils of secrecy and archaic symbols like the All-Seeing Eye, outsiders find fraternal orders endlessly fascinating. But what does it all mean?
By the early 20th century, nearly all of America’s white wealthy elite belonged to one secret society or another. That fueled suspicions—still rampant today—that Freemasons, Odd Fellows, and … (continue reading)
September 7, 2012
Score one for the Internet. Not long after Bic launched its new line of “Bic for Her” ballpoint pens—boasting an “elegant design” that “features a thin barrel to fit a women’s hand”—women and men alike hopped on Amazon.com to bombard the product page with hilarious and brilliantly snarky reviews.
One woman writes, “Someone has answered my gentle prayers and FINALLY designed a pen that I can use … (continue reading)
September 5, 2012
Everyone hates hipsters. Yet we can’t stop buying iconic “hipster” accessories, like fixed-gear bikes, vinyl records, and Buddy Holly glasses. As these products are adopted by everyone from investment bankers to organic farmers, our hostility towards the elusive hipster grows. After all, he killed authenticity and watered down the counterculture, right?
The real reason hipsters are so easy to vilify, and impossible to identify with, is that they never existed … (continue reading)