Shared posts

20 Jun 13:25

The bell hooks Hotline: For When You'd Rather Not Give Out Your Number

by Emma Carmichael
by Emma Carmichael

An anonymous angel from New York delivered a wonderful public service today: "a phone line that automatically reads quotations from bell hooks." From our savior, via email:

The idea came to me after the NYPost printed bikini photos of the woman who "spurned" Elliot Rodgers. Despite the fact that she was only 10 years old at the time they met, she was portrayed as having romantically rejected Rodgers.

The idea is to pass that off as one's own number if you're in a dicey situation, afraid to give out your personal cell phone number or outright reject somebody. The number is 669-221-6251. (We originally wanted 669/UGH-ASIF, but it was taken…)

It will automatically respond to text messages as well as calls! That way, you don't have to deal with a threatening person, *and* they get some free feminist lessons thrown in.

We are thinking of putting up a gmail account too, which would automatically respond with "Thank you for your note. However, I am away on vacation — from the patriarchy."

Give it a try, and then promptly memorize the number: 669-221-6251. [Feminist Phone Intervention, screengrab via Bitch Media]

10 Jun 13:03

Bosch's 600 year old butt-music from hell

by Cory Doctorow

Robbo writes, "My friend, SF author J.M. Frey, posted this curious thing she found where a detail in Hieronymus Bosch's painting 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' features musical notation inscribed on some dude's ass. Of course, someone has taken the time to transcribe these notes and have now presented to the interwebs a piano interpretation of the 600 Year Old Butt Music From Hell of Hieronymous Bosch. Feel free to gavotte along." Read the rest

06 Jun 16:28

Harvard admits to owning book bound in human skin

by Bryan Alexander

Harvard University's libraries own at least one book bound in human skin, they allow.  Arsène Houssaye's Des destinées de l'ame underwent a series of forensic tests, and the conclusion was anthropodermic bibliopegy:

“The analytical data, taken together with the provenance of Des destinées de l’ame, make it very unlikely that the source could be other than human...”

This note helps clarify the story.

Here's the book's front cover:


Let's take a closer look, shall we? Book_boundinhumanskin_Haavaad_closeup

Such fine texture. What a surface! Sometimes beauty is skin deep.

(thanks to Jesse Walker, Steven Kaye, and other Infocult ghouls)

06 Jun 16:21

LEGO Figures Make Perfect Cable Holders

by Melanie Pinola

Sadly I think this will only work for device charging cables and not a lot of PC cables (like monitor or desktop power cables) but still. Most adorable cable management yet.

LEGO Figures Make Perfect Cable Holders

Who knew that LEGO designed their figures' hands perfectly to hold Apple lightning and other types of cables? Stick a LEGO brick on your desk, attach LEGO figure(s), and, voilà, an ingenious cord-catching solution.


06 Jun 16:19

HBO's Historical Revisionism

by John Herrman
by John Herrman

Congratulations to Game of Thrones and its infinitely frustrating creator: The show is now the "most popular series in HBO’s history." That's an average audience 18.4 million compared to 18.2 for The Sopranos.

Speaking of history! HBO has a strange sense of its own. The network has, for the last ten years, minimized its pre-Sopranos existence as much as possible, full as it was with late night softcore porn and of-the-moment comedy specials. Now, with HBO Go, the company has been given a chance to fully rewrite its story, and it has taken it: The "All Series" section of HBO Go presents what looks and feels like an exhaustive look back at HBO's original programming history (Little Britain USA is right there next to The Wire). The popular series you're looking for is probably there. There's porn and boxing and documentaries and children's programming. The network's rotating lineup of movies gets a section, as does HBO Latino.

But "All Series" does not mean "All Series," or anything close. The further back you go, the thinner things get relative to HBO's actual catalog, until there's almost nothing at all (there seems to be an unofficial soft cutoff at about… Oz). This is intuitive enough: Potential viewership for 1st & Ten is low, and rights issues seem like they would be more complicated over time—I mean, I don't know, if some HBO executive said these things to me I would think, ok, sure, that explains why there's no Tales From The Crypt on my Apple TV. But a lot of the network's older shows are genuinely interesting, both as entertainment and as curiosities. I'd love to revisit Tanner ’88, maybe, for an episode or two! (I suppose I can, but only on Hulu Plus or DVD.) I would also like to take a look at Dream On, the show that gave us the ubiquitous HBO static intro. The Larry Sanders Show certainly holds up well: I know because I watched the entire thing on Netflix, from which it has since been removed, and then began watching it again on Amazon before it was removed from that, too. Amazon recently inked a fresh deal with HBO, which seems to mirror HBO Go's content, but which does not include Larry Sanders. Garry Shandling has been written out of HBO's past.

And what about Mr. Show? Here's what its creators said about the show's exclusion from Go in a q&a last year:

(Bob here) HBO has a hate-hate relationship with the show.
(Brian here) They are not aware that we did the show.
(David, back) They hate having to google Mr. Show.

A legitimate cult classic! But again, these are shows from the before times, pre-David Chase and prior to cable's prestige programming rush. It is not unusual for old shows from any network to be sent to the licensing and syndication glue factory for processing and extraction. HBO's treatment of more recent shows, however, is outright revisionist. Luck, which was available as it was airing on HBO Go, has been removed. There's no John From Cincinnati (though David Milch can still revisit old episodes of Deadwood, if he wants). Funny or Die Presents has been pulled, as has The Life and Times of Tim. HBO is actively curating Go like some sort of premium cable dating profile: Carnivale wasn't there and then it was; In Treatment just showed up one day, mysteriously, just like Tell Me You Love Me. Pulled shows exist in HBO Go's search results, but any attempt to watch them returns an "Unknown Error."

This is always what happens when data gets vacuumed up into some new app or service, even the ones that imply completeness; Google does not actually "organize the world's information;" Wikipedia is a great summary of information about the world that was already on the internet; Spotify and iTunes are staggering resources with no deliberate sense of history or context. The Kindle library is arbitrarily selective but purports, or at least feigns, to serve as the be-all, end-all of words on pages.

But HBO can do whatever it wants, all it has to do is digitize and host its own shows. It's a TV network's job to figure out what to write out of its future, not what to delete from its past. Give us the bad stuff with the good! HBO, own your turds! They're better than most of what's on Netflix, anyway, and I'm getting tired of clicking.


The post HBO's Historical Revisionism appeared first on The Awl.

03 Jun 12:37

How to Make a Good Salad Without Dumb Leaves

by Dan Nosowitz
by Dan Nosowitz

kaaaaaaleWhen someone says salad, your first thought is probably a bunch of leaves, like lettuce or spinach or kale, plus some other stuff, and a dressing. Here’s the thing about the word “salad”: it means nothing. It doesn’t mean something cold; it doesn’t mean something raw; it doesn’t mean something with lots of different ingredients; it doesn’t mean something vegetable-based; and it CERTAINLY doesn’t mean a pile of leaves.

Leaves, even the stronger-tasting ones, are filler. No one has ever once thought, “Dang, this salad is good, but it’d be more good with more lettuce in it.” This idea of a leafy salad is perpetuated by make-your-own-salad joints that ask you to pick which kind of leaves you want. Do you want the spinach? How about the baby spring mix? Have you ever said “no leaves, thanks?” THIS WILL FLUMMOX MOST SALAD-MAKERS.

But there are a lot of reasons to ban leaves from salads! They go bad quickly, forcing you to consistently throw out half of each bag of salad greens you buy; they wilt even once they’re in the salad; they cannot be kept as leftovers, ever, since they rapidly turn into slimy organic compost. Also, making your salad consist of anywhere from thirty to sixty per cent leaves really limits your creativity. So let us forgo leaves. Let us not require our salads to rely on our least-favorite ingredient. Let us shape our own salad destiny.

Here are some good leaf-free summer salads.

1. Some version of a som tam salad.
Som tam is a Thai salad consisting of green, unripe papaya as its base. Other essential ingredients include peanuts and a lime/fish sauce dressing. Here is a good recipe. But it, like all salad recipes, is flexible. If you can’t find green papaya (I usually cannot!), you can substitute pretty much anything that’s crunchy and mild. Cucumber, zucchini, summer squash, sugar snap peas, and green beans all work very well when raw or very lightly cooked. You can substitute brown sugar for palm sugar, sambal oelek for fresh chili, and omit the dried shrimp if you can’t find any. The dressing—savory from the fish sauce, tart from the lime juice, sweet from the sugar, and spicy from the chili—is PERFECT. It can be hard to go back to vinaigrettes after you’ve made it. Note: this can also be done as a stir-fry (AKA “hot salad”): stir-fry some garlic, ginger, scallions, and chili in the bottom of a wok, add peanuts, then add in whatever (non-cucumber/mango) vegetable you’re using. Top with the same dressing.

2. Israeli salad
Israeli salad can and should only be made in the summertime, when you can get good tomatoes. Do not make this with bad tomatoes! If you do you’ll eat it and be like “IDK that was fine, I guess.” At its core, it is very simple: chopped tomato, cucumber, red onion, and parsley, with lemon juice and olive oil. But you can add lots of things to it: chickpeas for protein or feta cheese for salt and creaminess or bits of toasted pita chips for more crunch are both very good. This recipe recommends adding sumac. I’ve never done that, but sumac is good as heck; maybe I’ll try it and maybe you should too.

ceez3. Non-leaf Caesar salad
Caesar salad is, like, really delicious, if it’s done right. That anchovy-mustardy-lemony dressing is pretty amazing. So don’t ruin it by dumping it on some dumb Romaine lettuce that can never really appreciate its charms. Caesars are great with pretty much any raw vegetable, but right now is asparagus season, so let’s do that! Here’s a good recipe.

tatoes 4. Potato salad
I like the supermarket jugs of near-mashed mayo-y picnic salads as much as anyone, and I appreciate that potato salad has no leaves, but I think—as with coleslaw—that a vinegar-based dressing makes for a better, more refreshing, less-likely-to-make-you-feel-like-you’re-gonna-ralph salad than mayonnaise. Mark Bittman has a good recipe for a potato salad with a mustard vinaigrette, which I have tried and which is excellent. This salad is also good with pickled red onion/shallot.

5. Celeriac remoulade
This is a Jurassic-era French recipe, the kind of thing Julia Child would make and that I feel like you’d have a hard time finding in Paris today. I first had it in Montreal, where they still serve a lot of these old-ass uncool French dishes, and MAN IT IS DELICIOUS. Celeriac, or celery root, is the, um, root of the celery plant. It looks like a dumb idiot gnarled cancerous root system, but if you cut away all that nonsense and peel it, it turns out to be this fragrant delicious root vegetable that’s reminiscent of, but not quite like, celery. Celeriac remoulade calls for raw, grated celeriac, plus a very sour mayonnaise (the sourness coming from mustard and lemon juice). It’s kind of like French coleslaw! Here’s a good recipe.

berrybro6. Fruit salad
I LOVE FRUIT SALAD. Never ever buy a fruit salad. Always make your own fruit salad. If you make your own fruit salad, you will never again eat cantaloupe or honeydew with the flavor and texture of a raw Idaho potato. You are garbage, prepackaged fruit salad melon! Get in the garbage! Anyway, the key to fruit salad is to not be lazy. Don’t put a segment of orange or grapefruit in there with the pith or skin still on it. Supreme your citrus. Do not put whole strawberries in there; trim and slice them. Fruit salad should have a dressing, and it should have fresh herbs, like chopped-up basil and/or mint. Always. It’s also good to squeeze a little bit of lime juice and maybe some honey over the top to add some extra kick. As for ingredients, I don’t care, add literally whatever you want, but try to have a variety of flavors and textures. If you have something sweet and soft, like a banana, try to add something crunchy and tart, like a Granny Smith apple. Also, avocado is a fruit. Add it to fruit salad! Especially if you have grapefruit in there too.

7. Chana chaat
Chana chaat is an Indian chickpea salad, although I don’t think they refer to it as a salad? it seems like a salad to me. Anyway, chana chaat is basically chickpeas with a dressing, often with tamarind. This recipe is pretty good, although obviously you can use canned chickpeas and cumin powder (instead of toasting and grinding whole cumin seeds). Sure, it’d be better if you made your own chaat masala spice blend with whole spices and sure it’d be better if you used asafoetida (a spice which smells like actual poop), but, like, you don’t need to. Mostly this salad is about the chickpeas and the tamarind dressing, which is spicy and sour and sweet all at once. (Tamarind paste can be found in Indian and Mexican markets or Whole Foods, obvs.) I’d recommend adding a few things to this recipe (not leaves!), like sliced radish or cucumber or carrot or cauliflower for some crunch, and maybe some boiled potatoes because potatoes are good.

Armed with these recipes you can go forth and ENJOY your salad, rather than just eating it because it’s salad and you’re supposed to eat it to look thin and beautiful even though it looks and tastes like something you raked up. Eat good salads! Leave Leaves Behind!

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer/editor who lives in Brooklyn. He has serious opinions about the MTV Real World/Road Rules Challenge.

Photos by Dwight Sipler, Young Sok Yun, Lynn Gardner, Jacqueline, tracy benjamin, Daniel, madlyinlovewithlife, and Garrett Ziegler, respectively, via Flickr Creative Commons


The post How to Make a Good Salad Without Dumb Leaves appeared first on The Awl.

29 May 20:30

Google offers new tool to confirm that your ISP sucks at video

by Xeni Jardin

Does YouTube stutter and buffer poorly when you try to stream a video? If you're in the USA, check out Google's new Video Quality Report, in which major internet service providers are ranked on the quality of their YouTube stream delivery.

Read the rest
28 May 13:43

Chilling New Website Documents What Happens To Women Who Reject Men’s Sexual Advances

Elliot Rodger, UCSB shooter

Elliot Rodger, UCSB shooter

CREDIT: Screenshot of YouTube video

A woman attacked with acid. A teenager stabbed to death. A woman raped and beaten. Women smashed in the head with bowling balls and glass bottles.

Those are real life examples of violence that women have experienced after they rejected the sexual advances of men — when they refused to flirt with them, dance with them, go on a date with them, or have sex with them — being collected by a new Tumblr page called “When Women Refuse.” The recent mass shooting in Santa Barbara, which was perpetrated by a young man who wanted to punish the women who weren’t attracted to him, is the latest example of a tragedy that fits this profile.

“We still don’t view gender based violence as a large cultural issue — we tend to think of these as isolated incidences,” Deanna Zandt, the co-founder of the digital strategy group Lux Digital and the feminist activist who started the Tumblr, explained in an interview. “We still don’t view it as a larger problem within rape culture.”

After news broke about this weekend’s shooting rampage, Zandt said that many of the men in her social networks were quick to assume that the perpetrator, Elliot Rodger, represents an extreme outlier. She wanted to do something to help people realize that what happened in Santa Barbara is actually all too common, thanks to our culture of violence and misogyny against women. So when she noticed the writer Kate Harding collecting similar news stories on her Facebook page, Zandt decided to house them on a public site, and “When Women Refuse” was born.

The site took off. Twitter users were quick to share it under the hashtag #YesAllWomen, which has emerged as a space for women to share their own personal experiences with violence and misogyny in the aftermath of the shooting.

“There’s been a really positive reaction from both men and women,” Zandt said. “I think it’s been really eye opening for many people. The most common response has been — ‘oh my god, I had no idea.’ ”

Thanks to the online tools that are now available to feminist activists, social media users are increasingly taking the opportunity to drive conversations about victim-blaming and gender-based violence. Earlier this year, feminists used Twitter to amplify women’s experiences with rape culture — a concept that was once relegated to the feminist blogosphere, but that has recently gained recognition in more mainstream circles. Now, the coverage around the Santa Barbara shooting has put a spotlight on the “Pick Up Artist” (PUA) community, which has a long history of treating women like objects that men are entitled to.

“The fact that this conversation is happening now is a huge indicator of the structural connectivity work that online feminists have been doing for years,” Zandt noted. “We’re in a different place than we were five years ago… We’re creating a space for these discussions.”

The post Chilling New Website Documents What Happens To Women Who Reject Men’s Sexual Advances appeared first on ThinkProgress.

28 May 13:23

Really Creepy Bundle: name your price for amazing, transmedia horror

by Cory Doctorow

Jamie from Vodo writes, "We've launched the Really Creepy Bundle, a brand new collection of terrifying, chilling and downright disturbing indie creativity that includes four highly-rated games (Oknytt, Finding Teddy, The Path and Sang Froid), award winning fiction (Nebula nominee Stranger In Olondria, and a month subscription to Nightmare magazine), four spooky short films, an 8 track compilation from LA's Not Not Fun Records, laden with doom plus the definitely disturbing and massively entertaining graphic novel (The Furry Trap) -- which Boing Boing rated one of the best damn comics of the year in 2013.

Read the rest
22 May 17:05

Reading Assigned

by John Herrman
by John Herrman

"To proudly claim the veteran and disown the slaveholder is patriotism à la carte. A nation outlives its generations."—What is an ambitious, bold, beautifully written magazine cover story worth in 2014? That is to ask: Can it still force people to talk, or is the power of the information void such that it will be merely processed and forgotten, filed away in the abandoned longform warehouse? This is as good a month as any to find out.


The post Reading Assigned appeared first on The Awl.

22 May 12:55

Kickstarter: Edward Gorey documentary

by David Pescovitz

BB contributor Mark Dery, who is busy penning a biography of Edward Gorey to be published by Little, Brown, points us to Christopher Seufert's Kickstarter for The Edward Gorey Documentary Project, a feature-length film containing unseen interviews and fantastic cinema-verite footage of Gorey in his native habitat!

22 May 12:51

Met releases 400,000 hi-rez scans for free download, claims copyright over the public domain

by Cory Doctorow

Robbo sez, "The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just released almost 400,000 visual works in an online searchable database. The images are high rez (10 megapixels) and free to download.

Read the rest
12 May 13:24


by Bryan Alexander

A fun set of Gothic literature infographics - really - comes from the Guardian this week.  Check out "How to tell you're reading a gothic novel – in pictures".

For example,


The creators did a fine job of researching classic and important Gothic novels from the 18th and 19th centuries. Kudos for including American and Irish texts.

(thanks to Chris Lott)

12 May 13:09

Download 55 free online literature courses: from Kerouac to Tolkien

by Mark Frauenfelder
Open Culture's online literature courses look good, especially the ones by “Tolkien Professor” Corey Olsen.
01 May 13:20

Sugar skull spoons for sale

by Cory Doctorow

Remember the kickstarter for the sugar skull spoon? They not only completed successfully, but are now in full production, and are available retail through the Colossal store for $13.

30 Apr 14:45

The Lost Art of Dress: A Conversation with Historian Linda Przybyszewski

by Grace Bello
by Grace Bello

In The Lost Art of Dress, historian and dressmaker Linda Przybyszewski explores how American women's fashion went from floor-length dresses to bloomers to shirtwaist dresses to, yes, flour sack dresses. Before ready-to-wear and before fast fashion, American women created affordable clothing for themselves and their families with help from the Dress Doctors—the thrift experts, home economics professors, and fashion guide authors who advised women how to craft the most appropriate looks for less. Style changed with every step forward for women: gaining the vote, entering the world of work, heading academic departments. Recently, Przybyszewski and I talked about the evolution of American style, the fraught subject of home economics, the lack of fashion and beauty advice for black women, and how to dress like a streetwalker in the 19th century.

You wrote that “the Dress Doctors were eager to prepare women for new roles in American life.” So can you describe the cultural and economic climate these Dress Doctors were in? Why did American women want to and need to change the way they dressed?

There were several things going on at different levels and different arenas of life. One was, by the late 19th century, more and more women were getting educated at college—middle-class women. They needed something to wear because dresses then could be very fancy and frilly. Essentially, women started wearing suits instead of dresses.

World War I, which didn't affect the United States as much as it affected, say, Britain, did require women to go into jobs that men had formerly held. And women who were volunteering for the ambulance corps, etcetera needed really practical clothing to do their jobs. They needed shorter skirts, things like that. Lots of working class women and some middle-class women were moving into wage work in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They needed clothing that they could keep clean if they were working in factories, for example. So there was a big increase in the popularity of what they called the shirtwaist and what we call the blouse.

In the late 19th century, there was also a move to get young women to exercise. In the 19th century, dresses went all the way down to the ground. So if they were going to exercise, they needed new things to wear. So they came up with divided skirts with bloomers underneath for bicycle riding or golf and slightly shorter skirts for tennis.

Also, women had the vote in various Western states in the late 19th century but didn't gain the vote nationwide until 1920 with the 19th amendment. A lot of the Dress Doctors saw this as a new phase, full citizenship for women. Obviously, women had participated in civic life. But to actually have the vote guaranteed by the Constitution was a big step forward. And the ways in which women would need to act in public life, they needed to look serious if they were going to take on important, civic issues.

Can you tell us about the home ec movement? It was about thrift, but it was also a way for women to make money at a time when not a lot of jobs were open to them.

Home economics started in the 19th century as a movement to bring a more systematic way of running the home to all American women. It's interesting because the women who taught home ec and wrote the books, they were professionals. They were carving out a space for themselves in a world that pretty much divided the public world and the private world.

Via Maryland State Archives. 

Men functioned in the public world mostly, and women functioned mostly in the private world. Well, the home falls into the private world, but teaching home ec means you need to look into textiles, chemistry, nutrition, and food science. So home ec became the way in which women created a safe space for themselves at universities. Which is why, startlingly, by 1960, out of the about 475 women at universities teaching science, 300 of them were in home economics departments. So it did give them an entryway in the sciences, it gave them an entryway into the university in a space that was supposed to be only for women. Women were the deans of home economics colleges. So that meant women got into higher administration in the universities as well.

We can criticize them in the long-run by saying that safe space ended up becoming a ghetto. But at the time they started it, it was a very effective way to allow women into higher education without having to argue with men about how much space they could have.

That's fascinating.

I think most of us think of home economics as sort of backwards. [laughs] But this whole world of work opened up for women through home economics.

Can you talk about some of your favorite bizarre fashion trends? You mentioned the flour sack dress.

I love the flour sack dress! It's the epitome of thrift. The idea that farm women will go into a feed store and buy feed for their chickens but make sure that the big bags it came in were in an attractive, floral print—I find that the most thrifty story in American clothing history. A lot of these things were actually really pretty. You can go onto eBay and other sites and find people selling bits of these cotton prints. They're actually very attractive.


I tell you this because I'm a dressmaker myself. I went to graduate school and was self-supporting, which really means I was poor. [laughs] I went to Stanford. Palo Alto, Menlo Park are very nice suburbs that I couldn't really afford to live in. But that also means their Junior League [thrift store] has great stuff. So I would take stuff that was too big—beautiful, wool crepe that I could never afford to go buy the yardage for—but I could take it apart and cut it down and make something completely different.

So flour sack dresses are an old tradition. Recycling, upcycling—it's been going on for a long time.

In the book, you say of the Dress Doctors' advice, “How valuable would this advice be today when American women are mired in credit-card debt, urged to shopping frenzy.” What do you think the Dress Doctors would say about our fast fashion habits?

Fast fashion is so interesting because I think the Dress Doctors would think that we're all shopping like teenagers now. They expected women to have different values or energy levels at different points in their lives. So they realize, here are young people full of energy and enthusiasm liable to chase one fad after the other—and that's fine. As long as they don't get into debt. Getting into debt for clothing was horrifying to the Dress Doctors.

Source: Nina Leen—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Teenage fashions, 1944

So I think they would think two things: One, they would dislike debt itself, especially for clothing because clothing wears out. You're in debt for something that is slowly losing value as you use it. And secondly, they would not expect us to be overly excited about new and novel looks when we're older. Not that women shouldn't be interested in fashion. But you need to choose what really suits your life and what suits your body.

Novelty was not the goal. Beauty was the goal.

The Dress Doctors often overlooked black women. Can you explain a little bit about that conflict?

Almost all of the Dress Doctors were white. When they laid out the range of complexions—they get no darker than a light-skinned Hispanic coloring. The reason they even got that dark was because, in the 1930s when many of the Dress Doctors started writing their most elaborate textbooks, there were Hispanic movie stars like the woman who played Dolores del Rio in Flying Down to Rio.

There are just a few textbooks that talk about women of color. What actually happened was, there were at least a couple of black women who got degrees in Home Economics who wrote their own books in order to offer young African American women the same sort of knowledge about color and complexion that white girls just took for granted. And at least one of those books, which was first published in the 1930s, got reprinted over and over. I think it probably got pretty good play in the black community.

Howard University Queen contestants, 1947, via.But otherwise, for the Dress Doctors who were working with the really big publishers, it wasn't until the civil rights movement came along that they realized that they had simply defined African American women as outside of those standards. And some of the very last of the Dress Doctors started modifying their textbooks to try to make up for what had been decades of complete neglect.

I love this part of the book: “Since the whore was the most public working woman of the nineteenth century, respectable middle-class women had long avoided the styles she wore to advertise her wares.” Can you tell us more about this? What was the difference, style-wise, between a so-called respectable woman and one who was considered vulgar?

I don't think anyone's managed to, how do I put this, curate a prostitute's wardrobe from the 19th century. All we have is commentary from middle-class writers.

It's clear that middle-class women didn't want to wear anything flashy. Bright colors worn in public was definitely considered vulgar. Good women should not be wearing them. Everything that they would associate with the whore or the woman of the town or street worker were things that said, "Yoohoo! Notice me!" So, bright or bare or flashy or loud, these are the kinds of words that they would refer to.

Realize, too, that men were wearing dark suits. In the 18th century, it was basically court wear: bright colors, embroidered things. That's what you would have seen in Britain. And the colonists who had money wore those kinds of things, too. And then with the American Revolution, you get a sort of emphasis on plain dressing men, brown suits because they're not aristocrats. That anti-aristocratic urge gets confirmed in the early 19th century with these dark suits.

The contrast between men on the streets in dark suits and women of the streets in bright clothing would have been particularly noticeable. So if the middle-class woman was in the street, she wanted to wear dark, unobtrusive clothing because she was not trying to get men's attention.

That leads me to another question. I don't know if you've heard of this term normcore?

Oh my God! I saw that in The New York Times!

What's interesting is you just said there was this movement to not look aristocratic, and I wonder if you think that that's maybe a driving force behind normcore? We're trying not to look elite?

I don't even know. I just read the one article, so I couldn't tell you.

I remember reading about how in Silicon Valley, you're not supposed to dress up. So some men, one thing they can do is wear fun socks. Even if you're a multimillionaire in Silicon Valley, and you can appreciate a beautifully tailored suit from Milan, you're not allowed to. Which I think is fascinating. It tells you, though people say you can wear whatever you want, you actually can't. If you wear a hat today, people really do notice it. If you're in Silicon Valley, and you wear a beautiful suit, apparently they won't take you seriously anymore.

What are some of fashion trends that you wish would come back?

It's weird because this is during The Great Depression, but the day dresses of the mid-1930s were wonderful. They moved away from that 1920s waist-at-your-hip look. That didn't look good on most women. Then in the '30s, the waist was at the natural waist. This is really when they put a lot of attention on bringing interest up to the neckline so that the bodices of a lot of the dresses have such creative, inventive collars. Even the sleeves and the cuts were so interesting. As a dressmaker, I'm amazed. I've never seen anything like that. They're very attractive. They don't look outlandish. They look like they have a lot of thought put into them. Those dresses, I think we could learn a lot from.


Previously: How Your Sweet Valley High Gets Made

Grace Bello is a freelance writer based in New York. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_land.

30 Apr 14:05

MC Hammer Watch: Beneath The City Is Turn-Based Thief

by Nathan Grayson

Well now, here is a brilliant little surprise. Who’d have thought the best game set in the Thief universe this year would be an itsy bitsy isometric Ludum Dare 29 entry? Maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement, but Beneath The City really is a smart (though sadly brief) execution of a really fun idea. In short (but undeniably stout), it’s a real-time turn-based stealther set in Thief’s City. Each time you dash in any direction with a lithe tap of an arrow key, so too does every guard on the map. There’s also light sources to account for, water arrows to fling, and a mystery to partially unravel. Garrett – the real Garrett – would be proud.

… [visit site to read more]

30 Apr 14:00

Exploding corpse in Florida

by Bryan Alexander

Florida offered another bit of real-life Gothic this week, as bad things happened around a dead body.

It begins with one of those sad stories about neglected people dying alone:

The deceased elderly woman, who apparently passed away from natural causes, lived alone with her dogs. After she died, her body went undiscovered for two weeks before a noxious odor began to fill the adjacent units.

Then some body-eating by beloved animals:

Explosion_KevinDooleyAfter complaints from neighbors, maintenance workers entered the apartment and found that the dogs had eaten her remains, according to Courthouse News.

Then, well, the exploding corpse:

The undiscovered body went through its normal decaying process and eventually bloated to the point that the gasses inside the corpse built enough pressure that it caused its abdomen to burst. This released gases and fluids, which is what leaked down into Rodrigo's apartment.

Followed by a Florida-style legal battle:

"The plain meaning of the term 'explosion' does not include a decomposing body's cells explosively expanding, causing leakage of bodily fluids," they court stated, per the New York Post.

The court went on to say that Rodrigo failed to establish that the woman's corpse was "tantamount to an explosion."

Florida: Infocult needs only observe to share the horror.

(link via Naked Capitalism; photo by Kevin Dooley)

30 Apr 13:38

Where are the stolen girls of Nigeria? And why don't we care more?

by Xeni Jardin
Photo: Reuters. Families of kidnapped schoolgirls attend a meeting with the local government in the remote town of Chibok, Nigeria.

Photo: Reuters. Families of kidnapped schoolgirls attend a meeting with the local government in the remote town of Chibok, Nigeria.

_74516199_nigeria_chad_cameroon Three weeks ago in the remote northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok, over 200 girls were kidnapped from their boarding school dormitories in the middle of the night. By some reports, as many as 275 children may have abducted; more than 40 escaped. The militants who abducted the mostly 16-18 year old girls are from Boko Haram -- a group whose name means "Western Education is Forbidden." As the name implies, they are on a murderous campaign to eliminate education in West Africa.

Reports are surfacing this week that the militants are treating the girls as sexual slaves, "marrying" them to soldiers who have carried them off to neighboring states including Chad and Cameroon. In plain words, this means the girls are being raped and impregnated against their will -- and who knows what additional forms of torture and abuse, or how many have died.

Why has this story received so little attention in the West? For example, the New York Times has published exactly one reported piece, on April 17. Perhaps if the girls were on a ferry in Korea, a jet liner in the Indian Ocean, in the owner's box at a Clippers basketball game, or if they were white, we'd care more.

Today in Nigeria, women are marching to demand more resources to find the young women.

In the New Yorker, the voice of a girl who escaped and survived.

From NPR:

"It's a situation of present, continuous agony. Everybody is terrified at the thought of what they might be going through. There's just no reason why these girls could have been targeted. They're so innocent, so harmless," [Author Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani] says. "They're probably Muslim and Christian. It's frightening. They're not being seen as Hausa, Yoruba or Igbo [three of Nigeria's major ethnic groups]. They're not being seen as northerners or easterners. They're just seen as children."

Some of the women who'd gathered (7hrs) early at Unity Fountain for the rally. #Bringbackourgirls #Nigeria #Abuja

— Nkem Ifejika (@nkemifejika) April 30, 2014

By joining the March today, you are make a statement that these our Girls' MOTHERS are not ALONE in their pain.

— oby ezekwesili (@obyezeks) April 30, 2014

29 Apr 19:52

"In the Dead Girl Show, the girl body is both a wellspring of and a target for sexual wickedness"

by Jia Tolentino
by Jia Tolentino

Alice Bolin has a terrific essay up at the LA Review of Books right now:

The Dead Girl Show’s most notable themes are its two odd, contradictory messages for women. The first is to cast girls as wild, vulnerable creatures who need to be protected from the power of their own sexualities. True Detective demonstrates a self-conscious, conflicted fixation on strippers and sex workers. [...] “How does she even know about that stuff?” Hart asks in 1995 when he and his wife discover sexual drawings his elementary-school-age daughter did. “Girls always know first,” his wife replies. This terrible feminine knowledge has been a trope at least since Eve in the Garden. Marcus compares Twin Peaks’s victim Laura Palmer to the teenage “witches” in Puritan New England who were burned to purge and purify their communities. In the Dead Girl Show, the girl body is both a wellspring of and a target for sexual wickedness.

The other message the Dead Girl Show has for women is more simple: trust no dad. Father figures and male authorities hold a sinister interest in controlling girl bodies and, therefore, in harming them. In True Detective, the conspiracy goes all the way to the top, involving a US senator and his cousin, a powerful minister. [...] Externalizing the impulse to prey on young woman cleverly depicts it as both inevitable and beyond the control of men.

"All Dead Girl Shows betray an Oedipal distrust in male authority figures, but in Twin Peaks and True Detective, the central characters are male authority figures," writes Bolin. Every other line in here has something fascinating to hang onto, so let me just recommend to all Dead Girl Show lovers/haters (Pretty Little Liars is the one that actually wins this, I gather?) that you go on and read the rest at LARB.

29 Apr 19:39

Attention All Roleplayers, Fanfic Authors, and Simmers: Drop What You’re Doing And Play Storium

by Becky Chambers

I’m no stranger to group storytelling. In high school, I wrote fanfic with a friend, swapping a spiral-bound notebook back and forth. During that same time I was working at a renaissance faire and my inbox overflowed with email threads of in-character letters. When I was in college, I was an active participant in a Star Trek sim. My World of Warcraft guild forums had a section dedicated to roleplaying. And in recent years, after I moved countries, my previously-local friends and I went through a short period of playing Parsely and Dungeons & Dragons via Google Hangouts.

So believe me when I say — if you like to roleplay, if you like collaborative storytelling, if you have gaming friends you can’t meet in person, Storium is what you’ve been looking for. 

I went into this one blind. April has been a hectic month for me, and though I had given the game a cursory look before I agreed to dig deeper, I didn’t have a solid understanding of what Storium actually was. “It’s a…simming game, kind of,” I said to my partner over dinner, after she asked what I was going to play that night. “With action cards, I think.” I shrugged, and took another bite of pasta. “It looks promising.”

It’s very promising. It’s also one of those games that’s difficult to condense into a pithy description (”online storytelling game” doesn’t do it justice). After I’d logged into Storium (it’s browser-based), watched the video, and skimmed through the instructions, I still didn’t have a good feel for it. That’s more on me than the developers — I learn by doing. I needed to dive in.

As I quickly figured out, Storium is essentially an elegant framework for simming, with the added kick of card game-ish mechanics. For the uninitiated, a play-by-post game (also called a sim) traditionally takes place on a message board or through an email list. There’s a basic premise, and a host who wrangles the players. Depending on the game, players either create whatever characters they fancy, or are given clearly defined roles (such as in the Star Trek sim I played — I was cast as the first officer, but was allowed to build my own character within that role). The players then take turns writing chapters or scenes, typically tagging other characters to pick up where they left off.

Storium operates similarly, but it’s got a structure more like a pen-and-paper RPG. Each story is a world, and every world has a narrator (read as: game master). Now, I imagine Storium is most fun when writing your own story from scratch, but it’s also got a set of pre-built templates you can use right away (which was perfect for me, as I lacked an abundance of time). The templates can serve as a customizable jumping-off point, or you can use them as-is. There’s a whole bunch of template worlds available — Urban Fantasy, Steampunk, Occult Horror, and so on. Me being me, I went with Space Adventure.

The narrator’s first task is to set the stage. Write your premise. Find a pretty picture to go with it. Specify whether this game will be public (which anyone can read and/or request a spot in) or private (just for you and your buddies). Specify how much of a time commitment your game will require (for example, 2-3 scenes per week). Line it up, and let it go.

If you don’t have specific players in mind, this is the point where you sit back and wait for folks to sign up. Otherwise, you can send email invites to friends. The narrator has complete control over who joins their game. If someone submits a character who doesn’t fit, you can send the request back, asking for revisions. You have this kind of control over invitees as well. As someone who has watched many an RP session crash and burn due to nonsensical characters, trust me, this is an awesome feature.

I enlisted my partner as my guinea pig. Side by side on the couch, we oooh-ed over how smooth the whole process was. I sent an invite. She got a tidy little character creation form, which she filled out and submitted. A minute or so later, I got an email notification letting me know someone wanted to join my game. Easy peasy.

Once I had a player on board, I was free to post a scene. The narrator can sow a scene with cards — challenge cards which will affect the narrative, item cards which can be required for later challenges, goal cards which behave like side quests. My partner had cards of her own, which she selected during character creation. Strengths and weaknesses (I was somewhat reminded of GURPS in this respect), assets, and a subplot (!), which gave her extra flavor. Each of my challenges required her to play a set amount of cards to overcome them, but she also had to describe the action taking place.

I could give her a setup, and I could try to guide her actions, but the decisions she made were ultimately her own, and they affected the way I wrote subsequent scenes. It’s a dynamic that’s instantly recognizable to anyone who’s ever roleplayed around a table. We were both delighted by it.

“This is exactly what we’ve needed,” she said. “We need to get our stateside friends in on this.”

Because, see, the reason the G+ Parsely and D&D sessions were short-lived is that my friends and I are busy. We all have various combinations of jobs and spouses and families, and as much as these things interfere with in-person gaming sessions, it’s exponentially worse when you factor in four different time zones. Storytelling games wither without the momentum generated by regular sessions, and preventing that wasn’t practical for us.

But an online game people can play on their own time, which automatically sends email updates when there’s something new to read, which requires you to check in just a couple times a week — that’s ideal for me. I bet it’s ideal for a lot of people. Not to mention this game’s presentation is slick. A friendly, easy-on-the-eyes user interface. An unobtrusive sidebar for out-of-character conversation. The means to nudge players that need to get moving (players can nudge the narrator, too). Storium streamlines everything that is messy about group roleplay. It’s like the Ikea closet organizer of online storytelling — simple, effective, uncomplicated.

Storium’s currently in open beta, though it requires a Kickstarter backing to play (they hit their funding goal in twenty-four hours, so yes, this is happening). To sweeten the deal, they’ve got an impressive roster of authors and game designers slated to create worlds (Mur Lafferty, Elizabeth Bear, and Nancy Holder, to name a few). I highly recommend that you check this one out.

Becky Chambers writes essays, science fiction, and stuff about video games. Like most internet people, she has a website. She can also be found on Twitter.

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24 Apr 16:14

Nendoroid Sakura Kinomoto

by gsckahotan

Aaaaaah, so adorable~

I know everyone has been waiting for this one!! ♡

Hello everyone, Kahotan here! (@gsc_kahotan)

Today there is no time for stories, I need to get straight into the review!

Nendoroid Sakura Kinomoto! ♪

From the anime masterpiece ‘Cardcaptor Sakura’ comes a Nendoroid of the main character, Sakura Kinomoto! She comes with three expressions including a gentle smile, a more serious expression to pose her sealing cards as well as the adorable face she made whenever she saw something she liked! She also comes with her Sealing Wand and a Clow Card to bring out the story of the series!

Alternate lower body parts are also included together with a special version of her wand allowing you to display her using the ‘Fly’ spell, and Keroberos (Kero-chan) is also included to display by her side! Sakura has jumped back from the past as a Nendoroid, ready to be loved by all her fans once again! ♪

Sakura-chan!! (*´▽`*)

She’s finally here!! Nendoroid No.400!
Dressed up in her most well-known pink and white outfit!

The giant ribbon has been faithfully kept in Nendoroid form! (`・ω・´)

Her frilly, layered skirt and all the smaller ribbons scattered around her outfit have also been beautifully sculpted!

She also comes with her Sealing Wand… and even a Nendoroid-sized version of Kero-chan (Keroberos) to display beside her!

The shape of his stomach is somehow so adorable!! (*´Д`)

How could anyone not fall in love with Kero-chan’s cute, fluffy appearance! ♡

His cute little wings are also faithfully sculpted, down to the little twist at the center! ♪ Not to mention that his neck and tail are articulated allowing you to alter his pose to match however you choose to pose your Sakura-chan!

Now that I think about it… I actually still have a talking Kero-chan plushie at home… ( -ノェ-)

As I’m sure everyone has noticed, she also comes with a Clow Card to hold… but look at how detailed the design on the reverse side is! ヽ(*・ω・)人(・ω・*)ノ

It’s a bit hard to tell from my photo… but I’m sure many of you already know which card it is! ε=(。・д・。)

She even comes with an alternate lower body part and wand to display her in a flying pose to match the card!! (`・ω・´)

I’ve always wanted to pose Sakura like this!! (´;ω;`)

I just had to include the option for the Nendoroid!

Even now the episode where she flies with wings on her back sticks in my mind… and seen ‘The Fly’ Clow Card was also included… these parts simply had to be included too! ( -ノェ-)

The flying parts give the Nendoroid an amazing presence too!

The alternate lower body also allows for other poses such as sitting with bent legs! Speaking of Clow Cards… she can also be displayed in this very special pose!


Sakura-chan is well known for her lovely smile, but she has a more serious side as well! ♡

The sealing scene was another scene I really wanted to see in Nendoroid size! There are so many wonderful possibilities with Sakura-chan!! The tip of the Sealing Wand comes in an replaceable form with the Clow Card on the end to recreate this pose! (`・ω・´)ゞ

This pose keeps her cute side but also has such an epic feeling to it! I love it!! Not to mention that if you look at her feet… you’ll notice the magic circle from the series is also included!

We really strived to get the circle looking just like it did in the series! There is a hole in the circle allowing it to be attached to the center of her Nendoroid stand with ease!

Combining the serious expression with the flying parts also makes for a more combat-orientated pose! She looks ready for anything! We got a load of help from Kodansha with regard to getting Sakura-chan as perfect as possible – from various checks to providing us with original designs from the series – they were a great help in helping us perfect Nendoroid Sakura-chan!

A big thanks to them for all the support!!

There is still a lot more that I’d like to point out to everyone with regard to the smaller sculpting details and more… but I think I’ll wait for her release to really get into the details! (`・ω・´)

Keep the timeless heroine my your side to love forevermore! ♡

Nendoroid Sakura Kinomoto!

She will be up for preorder from tomorrow!!

Those who order from the GOOD SMILE ONLINE SHOP will also get a little bonus! ♡

The Sealing Wand… in Key Form! ★

This photo is actually of the coloring prototype, but the final version is planned to be a charm to attach to your keys, phone, bag or anything else! Be sure to check the GSC Online Shop tomorrow for more info! (σ・∀・)σ

But wait… are there only two expressions?

Of course not! There is one more expression that I haven’t revealed anywhere except for the live broadcast last night!

If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ll have to check the official product page tomorrow!!

゚・*:.。..。.:*・゚゚・*:.。..。.:*・゚ ゚・*:.。..。.:*・゚゚・*:.。..。.:*・゚ ゚・*:.。..。.:*・゚゚・*:.。..。.:*・゚

/Kahotan’s Inner Voice\

 ( o・ω・).。0   (Catch you, catch you, catch me, catch me~!)
 ( つ⊂ )

Anyway, I hope to see you all again tomorrow!

Planning Team / Kahotan
Twitter ID: gsc_kahotan


ⓒ CLAMP・ShigatsuTsuitachi CO.,LTD./講談社

24 Apr 13:38

In a Bizarre 1976 Comic Book, Spider-Man Fought the Villain of Misleading Sex Education

by Sarah Mirk

Last week, I came across a very strange comic book: in 1976, Planned Parenthood teamed up with Marvel to publish a one-off comic in which Spider-Man defends America's youth from misleading sex education.

read more

24 Apr 13:31

FTL Meets Dwarf Fortress: Universe Edge

by Adam Smith

This is probably one of those games that I will appreciate the existence of, but never actually be able to play with any facility.

When we asked readers how they had chosen to spend their eggstra long weekend (for those in countries without a Holiday Eggfest, my apologies), I learned one thing – with the release of the expanded edition, FTL has ensnared the crew of the good ship RPS once again. I enjoy the game – Captain’s Edition, naturally – but I crave a more complex ship management and construction component. Universe Edge may have me covered. Citing Gnomoria, The Sims and EVE Online as inspirations, the space exploration simulation is seeking Kickstarter funding right now.

… [visit site to read more]

23 Apr 16:38

Here’s Why This City’s Businesses Love Its Paid Sick Days Law

Paid sick days banner

CREDIT: Flickr

The majority of Seattle businesses support the paid sick leave requirement that went into effect in September of 2012 and report few, if any, costs or challenges, according to a new audit from the Seattle Office of the City Auditor with help from the University of Washington.

Seattle’s paid sick days law requires employers with more than four employees to provide leave for those who are sick or need to deal with a critical safety issue to all workers, including those who are full time, part time, and temporary.

The audit found that 70 percent of employers in the city support the law, with 45 percent saying they are very supportive. This held true for businesses of all sizes. “These business owners, managers, and human resources professionals view paid leave as a valuable and important benefit for their workers,” the report says.

It’s not hard to see why they might feel so supportive. The costs and impacts “have been modest and smaller than anticipated,” the audit notes. The majority report no effect on profitability or customer service, with just 17 percent believing that it made them less profitable. The average reported cost of implementing it was about one eighth of a percent of their annual revenue and providing the leave for the first year was on average four tenths of a percent. To deal with any costs, 8 percent raised their prices or otherwise passed the cost on to consumers, 6 percent decreased raises or bonuses, 5 percent decreased vacation time, and just 2.7 percent reduced employment while only 0.7 percent said they closed or relocated.

Businesses also didn’t find it hard to put into practice. Most didn’t find it difficult to implement the various aspects, although the biggest challenge was record keeping, which almost a third said was difficult. Less than a third found it difficult to reassign the work, but for most, they had absent employees either do the work later or other employees cover it, with about 20 percent saying the called in other employees and just 1.4 percent hiring an outside replacement. And despite fears of widespread abuse, “workers used far less paid leave than employers had anticipated,” the audit notes, and most have no concerns or moderate ones about abuse. “Overall, employers judged the impact of the Ordinance as small or negligible.”

Besides the individual impacts, the audit found that the paid sick days law didn’t harm business, job, or wage growth in the city. All three measures grew over the first year after it took place. The number of employers grew more in Seattle than nearby cities. “If anything, the Ordinance seems to have had a positive effect on the hiring sector,” the report notes. While total wages grew more slowly in Seattle than the other cities after it took effect, the report notes, “This effect is not strong statistically and should be interpreted cautiously.” Wages grew both before and after the ordinance, and the researchers found weak correlations between the law and the slower wage growth.

Past preliminary data had come to the same conclusions. It found that job growth, new businesses, and business sales in Seattle weren’t negatively impacted by the law. Job growth was actually stronger, including in retail and food service.

And it’s not the only place to have this experience. In Connecticut, which has had a paid sick leave law in effect for two years, employers have experienced few costs and difficulties and little to no abuse. There, more than three-quarters of them support it, with nearly 40 percent very supportive. San Francisco has had a law in effect since 2007 and business growth increased after it was implemented while jobs weren’t harmed and businesses saw little impact. A majority of employers support it. And in the time since Washington, D.C.’s law went into effect in 2008, business owners haven’t been discouraged from opening up in the city or encouraged to relocate. There are now four other paid sick days laws in effect in the country, and more may soon join.

The post Here’s Why This City’s Businesses Love Its Paid Sick Days Law appeared first on ThinkProgress.

21 Apr 12:37

Japanese ghost stories, blogged

by Bryan Alexander

The Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai blog does a fine job of posting Japanese ghost stories and related creepy tales.


(thanks to Randy McCall)

16 Apr 19:13

“I learned that keeping players on the field was a priority.”

by Maya

In case you forgot that things culturally associated with men's concerns, and things that make a lot of money, are more important than silly things like women's human rights and safety.

Jameis Winston

(Photo credit: Phil Sears/Associated Press)

If you want your head to explode with rage this afternoon, go read The New York Times in-depth report on the investigation — or rather, lack thereof — into the rape accusation against Florida State University football star Jameis Winston. As the Times reports — and then methodically and devastatingly documents — “there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.” It will be one of the more infuriating things you read this month, I promise.

15 Apr 12:09

Lovecraftian Freeware Pick: The Rats in the Walls (Shilov)

by John Polson

rats in walls.pngPartially based on H.P. Lovecraft's work, Shilov's The Rats in the Walls is a short experimental horror adventure. Players make their way through a seemingly deserted mansion, haunted by many things, but none seem more maddening than the rattling rats.

[Download The Rats in the Walls at Game Jolt]

15 Apr 12:09

Donationware Pick: Horror Vacui (Skelefactor)

by John Polson

horrorvacui.jpgSkelefactor's Pac-Man-like game Horror Vacui requires patience to trick enemies that roam and lasers that surround the grid you try to claim as blue. Each death resets the grid and yourself to gray, and in the case of fiendish boss fights, their health bars reset, too.

You slowly gain up speed as you claim the grid, until you get a dash of invincibility you can use to crush enemies. As long as you are blue, at any speed, you can take down the enemy spawn portals.

I would prefer to have some of the stages cut before the first boss fight, as they don't feel too varied. Those that hang in there might feel like the game was child's play up to that battle, though. It's super tough! As the trailer below shows, even crazier challenges await:

While this shares the title of Shaun Inman's Horror Vacui, a quick glance will let you know the two games are different. If you're not sure how much you want to pay for Skelefactor's Windows and Mac game, you can download it for free first and then return to pay what you want.

[Pay what you want to download Horror Vacui]

14 Apr 13:15

How Bookstores Survive

by Choire Sicha
by Choire Sicha

Here's a look at how six great independent bookstores make it in the big city, which is actually a question I have always wanted answered. The Park Slope Community Bookstore has done it in part by catering to Park Slope's child-related needs, which seems obvious; BookCourt did it by buying their building and, eventually, the building next door. PowerHouse Arena, as anyone who goes to things knows, does it by tirelessly having things to go to (and lots and lots of space rental). The lovely Greenlight books did it through canny investment and fundraising and by being a bookstore where a bookstore was needed. And Sarah McNally of McNally Jackson does it by selling a crapload of books:

She attributes more than $4 million in sales last year to an obvious factor: volume. “Instead of getting rid of shelf for display,” she says, “we’ve gotten rid of display space for shelf space.” So 65,000 books have been squeezed into 7,000 square feet (along with a café), while creative organizing keeps them compulsively browsable.

My only complaint about these bookstores is that, with the exception of BookCourt's cat (pictured!), there aren't enough cats in them.


The post How Bookstores Survive appeared first on The Awl.