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Thursday, December 19, 2002
Perhaps we were a bit premature in announcing the newthings Christmas hiatus a few days ago. Now is definitely the time, so we'd like to thank all our readers, new and old, for your support during the year. Here's hoping you all have an excellent Christmas and New Year. We're off for a few weeks - visit the archive for your things fix - and normal service will resume some time in January 2003.


Wednesday, December 18, 2002
An unexpectedly generous archive of images from the National Geographic can be found here (seemingly just creamed from an NG CD-Rom). There’s also an intriguing narrative to be weaved around the evocative Almasy Photographs (see especially: stuck and bi-plane). The English Patient, which was based on the life of László Ede Almásy, was apparently not nearly as dramatic as the reality.

Images of Bauhaus and post-Bauhaus architecture. Those masters were on to a good thing, for a while. These galleries are part of a growing visual archive of modern architecture: their collection of post-1945 American universities gathers together some good Mies IIT shots. Perhaps this will spur us on to visit the Whitechapel's current show - does anyone fancy writing a review for future publication?

Elsewhere. Ferrari wrecks. A very big digger (courtesy of textism, which is becoming a great source of very clever bits of code for your website. All utterly impenetrable to us, sadly). Finally, Dream Anatomy is a wonderful exhibition of our fascination (ongoing) with what goes on inside us, with extensive galleries. We were especially interested in the anatomical frontispieces and the section entitled Dreaming the Industrial Body, the machine age response to the mysteries of the body by semi-seriously imposing industrial order on fleshy uncertainty.


Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Le Corbusier’s last building, the Heidi Weber Museum in Switzerland now has its own site, although the museum itself appears to be closed until next summer. The building isn't one of his best, but has a certain poignant status due to its completion two years after Corb's death in 1965. At the last minute, it seems that the all-concrete concept was swapped for lighter steel construction.

Some more of the architect's designs were completed posthumously, including the remarkable Saddam Hussein Gymnasium in Baghdad. Designed in 1964, but not completed until 1980, we've only ever seen this building published once in an obscure monograph. Finished in muscular, brutal concrete, it's a powerful architectural statement. Is it still standing?

Now this is odd. The throwaway reference to an obscure guidebook on tmn revealed this little nugget: ‘The island is rarely visited, but two events in its history are rather mysterious: first, a sunken lifeboat and assorted supplies were discovered on the island in 1964, but their origin could not be determined .Then, in September 1979, a thermonuclear bomb blast was detected to the west of Bouvetoya, though no country ever admitted to setting off a nuclear device there.’ A few searches confirmed that the mystery remained unsolved, although the finger of suspicion pointed to South Africa. We also like the idea of non-existent islands, rising and falling thanks to constant seismic activity. Visit some end of the earth maps, old and new, for chilly inspiration.

Elsewhere. Two fine Photographica galleries: I, II. Roadside America's parking lot remnants: I, II.


Monday, December 16, 2002
A link so good we had to share – flight stewardess uniforms (via Coudal). Sadly, these are displayed on mannequins, so if you want real style you have to go with Braniff International, where a certain style was guaranteed wherever one looked (thanks largely to the work of Emilio Pucci (more: I). These excursions led us to this entertaining essay about the ‘golden age’ of the air hostess in the excellent 2wice magazine. As well as fashion, it deals with the issue of in-flight flirtation (as imagined in the mind of the (male) passenger), and also throws welcome light on the origins of the phrase 'Coffee, Tea or Me?'.

Mind you, Braniff hardly underplayed the innuendo: 'does your wife know you're flying with us?’ read one of the airline’s ads. And where Braniff led, the others followed, sending hemlines shimmying up nylon-clad legs and fixing permanent smiles across the friendly skies. The 70s and 80s gradually saw the blatant sexism seep out of the stewardesses’ role, but the the ‘I’m Mandy, fly me’ stereotype was hard to completely erase from the mind, and the idealised stewardess is gradually creeping back into currency. Pucci is freshly fashionable, and new, design-led airline image overhauls are once again placing the emphasis on fashion.

As we've often remarked, the internet is a natural home for collectors. Aviation enthusiasts proliferate, as do one of their commonest preys - the airline safety card. Some galleries: I, II, III. There's also a new book on the subject, but damned if we can find it at the moment (even the book has vanished, Bermuda Triangle-like, into our bookshelves).

Elsewhere. Department store photography, via Portage. Thumbnail galleries of BBC's Blake’s Seven, a shoddy but compelling science fiction series from the 80s. Gorgeous jellyfish photos at the impressive Monterey Bay Aquarium (especially the awesome Outer Bay tank). The New York blogger map.


Saturday, December 14, 2002
In case it gets a bit hectic in thingsland in the next few days, we'd like to take the opportunity now to wish a Happy Christmas and New Year to all our readers. Updates will be intermittent until the end of this week, and then newthings will shut down for a three week break. Join us again in 2003.


Friday, December 13, 2002
Architecture. Architoys is an archive of all your favourite architectural construction toys. There are hundreds and hundreds here. For someone who grew up with Lego ('bricks that interlock'), against strong family pressure to use a more technical system, the absence of Meccano is quite galling, especially as the toy's online presence isn't exactly low (excellent links here: I, II, III. Any toy that had a light red and green period has to be admired). Another shocking admission is Fischer Technik, a German system with an almost Bauhaus-like devotion to packaging and presentation. See some instruction manuals here. There are no Sticklebricks either!

We especially like the systems that mirrored the architectural vogue of their era, such as Supercity (which even sounds like a 1960s avant-garde movement), curtain wall builder (recreate the international style in your playroom), Siolet Chalets and California Bungalow Building Blocks. Frank Lloyd Wright was alleged to have learned his craft as a child using Froebel bricks, although this may have been a myth. And no mention of architectural toys can be complete without another link to the Brickshelf library, that fantastic repository of Lego instruction sets.

Try making one of these from little bricks. The Silo home is a must for every paranoid homeowner. There are extensive galleries of contemporary- and iconic - works at 0lll.com, while this is a good look into the brave new world of starships and space colonies.


Thursday, December 12, 2002
Is this a first? Canongate Books have created an online promo game for Yann Martel's Booker-winning 'The Life of Pi'. We haven't had a chance to experience this properly yet, but visually it looks like a extension of the book's gorgeous cover art. We haven't read the book yet, either. Obviously.

A selection of galleries showing days and places past. The web isn't the most obvious medium for nostalgia, but it nevertheless flourishes, and the combination of official on-line resources and the work of amateur historians and collectors turns it into an ongoing show and tell session. For example, you can visit Dorset at the turn of the last century, or see the golden age of motoring with this postcard collection (also, old trucks and vintage CB radio).

And there's more. Andreas Praefcke's fantastic postcard collection is devoted to theatres from around the world, old and new. As well as a profusion of European and South American baroque, there's the odd modernist gem - we especially like Ghana's National Theatre. Cambridge 2000 is another remarkable resource, a comprehensive gallery of the university city's architecture, with 650 photos of academic gems, not to mention plenty more. Some other galleries. Chester. City of London churches, Sonoma County.

Elsewhere. Great photos at Blurbism. The panty house packaging gallery did the rounds a week ago, but is worth noting again, especially since the genre hasn't really advanced all that much. Someone has seen fit to collate a page dedicated to the girls of Doctor Who, a homage to the science fiction sirens associated with the BBC's seminal low-budget drama series. More sci-fi with Metropolis's look at the House of the Future. Columbia University's architecture department has a good site, with lectures that make us long to return to academia.


Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Randomness today. Royalty free military images, if that's your kind of thing. Example: 'Master Sgt. James Williams shows one of a variety of edible plants to members of the Chilean Air Force.’ Is the classic magazine story dead? The charge is harsh, but probably fair: ‘[Magazines] are... repositories of artfully photographed products and life-style accoutrements.' Galleries of uncompromising brutality - the architecture of Josep Lluis Sert. There are some good links to be found at Last Plane to Jakarta.


Tuesday, December 10, 2002
No Sense of Place is a new addition to the sidebar. Their ‘space oddity’ section is worth the visit in itself – any list that includes the Citroën SM, the art of Chesley Bonestell, magical gadgets (really quite excellent), science-themed folk songs and the AMC Pacer Club is highly prized.

Elsewhere. Nice illustration portfolio in flash. How to deal with those irritating 419 scam letters (if you have a lot of time on your hands). Rebuilding Manchester is a good photographic survey of the huge building work undertaken after the 1996 IRA bomb.

Finally. ‘As I was filming this I thought to myself, "No way can he catch that cat." I was wrong. I lost a cat but gained a great film.’ Move over Tim Burton.


Monday, December 09, 2002
We saw a wide-screen television in a skip today, the first sighting of this particular piece of technology on the trash-heap. Then, on the tube, the chilling 'Inspector Sands' announcement was given out twice by a pre-recorded voice. The headline of Metro, glimpsed as we descended into the depths of the Jubilee Line, read 'Prepare for Terror Attack'. It was a bit like living inside a GYBE album.

Far more fun. Old Christmas Lights is exactly what it says - a visit to vintage illuminations past. Knitty is an on-line knitting zine - and a good-looking one at that. Make Christmas crackers. A light made from a cheese grater.

Portage draws our attention to two other advent calendars, Leslie Harpold's beautifully conceived effort (we like this on best, so far) and Artcylopedia's artistic version, which has decent size reproductions of frosty Bruegels and the like.


Friday, December 06, 2002
Fiat is in crisis. With 5,600 temporary redundancies and imminent strikes, Italy's best-known car maker is heading down the tubes. There was outrage yesterday when Silvio Berlusconi offered the troubled company some unwanted advice. His tips included scrapping the [Fiat] brand name and rebadging the cars as Ferraris [also owned by Fiat]. The Fiat Stilo could be restyled as the ‘Ferrari Woman’ or ‘Young Ferrari.’

Someone hasn’t been studying their branding text books - compare and contrast: Stilo vs Ferrari. We don’t mean this in a snobbish way, but if you’d spent a six figure sum on the exclusivity of a Ferrari badge, you wouldn’t be hugely bolstered by the sight of someone tootling around in a car that cost 1/10 of yours but with exactly the same badge.

Fiat’s main problem is that its current line-up is dull and pedestrian. Of the current range, the Multipla is the only interesting-looking car (and still isn’t a patch on its original incarnation). It's unlikely that radical suggestions like the Ecobasic will make it to production in order to save the company.

Elsewhere. Finnish car adverts. Classic motor posters. Remnants of old garages. Hi-tech easel (via haddock, requires Quicktime). Modernist classic for sale.


Thursday, December 05, 2002
Douglas Adams and John Lloyd's The Meaning of Liff is online. This classic dictionary takes place names and somehow weaves them a new, entirely plausible meaning. The new word usually describes a feeling you had previously been unable to express.

HAMBLEDON (n.) The sound of a single-engined aircraft flying by, heard whilst lying in a summer field in England, which somehow concentrates the silence and sense of space and timelessness and leaves one with a profound feeling of something or other.

Totally unrelated to the above. The collection of shopping mall evangelist Victor Gruen is held by the University of Wyoming's American Heritage Center, but it's a skimpy on-line experience. There are better Gruen resources here, including heroic images of his million-square foot consumer utopias. Information on shopping from an earlier age can be gleaned from this thesis on Parisian department store history - a far more sedate affair.

A little late, but here's a flash-based advent calendar (thanks tmn). Some alternatives: I, II.



Wednesday, December 04, 2002
Implosionworld made it to metafilter and the ensuing discussion included a link to this Vegas-specific page. While we weren’t there to witness the demolition of the old Aladdin Casino in person, things got to sneak around the half-empty casino a couple of weeks beforehand. It was a thrilling experience. Acre upon acre of gaudy carpet, all the better to conceal cigarette burns, stiletto marks, lost quarters and spilt cocktails, were strewn with litter, stripped of the blinking lights and constant chatter of the slots. In one corner of the huge room, piles of old slot machines were stacked up, in another, the video recording devices and ceiling cameras from the surveillance system. More demolition, this time in Europe, with movies too.


Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Apologies for yesterday's link drought - there's nothing like a well-yanked wisdom tooth to put one off doing anything terribly constructive.


Monday, December 02, 2002
Paul Ford's wonderful 'Looking it Up' is a paean to the glories of the literary reference book and obscure text book, a walk through a landscape of knowledge, outdated, forgotten or eternal. Amongst other things, Ford ruminates on the strange associations that arises from alphabetical listings.

Visual links. Ruavista (via exploding fist) is subtitled 'Signs of the City,' which doesn't really do it justice. Here is a monumental, and highly personal, reference work, a compilation of urban imagery new and old from around the globe. Parisian postcards from the turn of last century jostle with contemporary visits to La Paz and clickable walks through São Paulo. The graphic city sections take you on a more detailed tour through shop signs, manhole covers and the other unfamiliar objects of urbanity.

Rural symbolism. Monograms on mountains is a curiosity, a visual chronicle of the monumental letterforms that are located near many American towns. Don't worry, answers are contained within. In Britain, the best-known hillside art are white horses. Symbolism explained at Geobop.

Finally, a classy black and white gallery courtesy of Fork in Socket.