Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
The Ames Window is an optical illusion, in which a strangely-shaped window (with a stick running through it) is rotated slowly. Because we assume it to be a normally-shaped window, our brains perceive the window and the stick interacting in strange ways, seeming to change shape in ways that don't align with normal perspective shifts. The illusion was designed by Adelbert Ames, Jr., an American artist and psychologist. Ames also created the Ames Room, a similar perspective illusion that was later used to... READ ON
Authors love to make up games for their fictional worlds -- but these games are typically unplayable in the real world. Quidditch served as the backdrop for plenty of dramatic action in the Harry Potter books, but it involves flying broomsticks and magic balls. Calvinball provided philosophical fodder in Calvin and Hobbes, but its ever-shifting ruleset makes real-world play confusing at best. But guess what? We've tracked down some bizarre examples of fictional sports performed in the flesh.
1.... READ ON
One of my favorite video games of all time is The Secret of Monkey Island, an adventure game published by Lucasfilm Games in 1990. Monkey Island successfully combined humor, adventure gaming (walking around, picking stuff up, talking to people), and terrific music. It was also notable in its emphasis on fun and puzzle-solving -- you can't die, and puzzles are always solvable. It's sort of a low-key game in that sense: though there is some light swashbuckling, it's never about jumping or clicking fast... READ ON
It's a lazy Thursday afternoon...wouldn't you like to know how globes are made at the globe factory*? I thought you might. So have a look.
Representative quote: "One false move, and they could lose parts of Japan."
* = Specifically, this is from the Replogle Globes, Inc. factory in Chicago.
There's more cool stuff on Youtube from The Chicago History Museum.
(Via... READ ON
I worship David Byrne, the lanky Scot frontman of Talking Heads. He's a sort of lyrical god to me. If he told me to do something, you know what? I'd do it. So when I tried to think of a topic for my first Late Movies installment, I had to go Byrne. Here are some favorite tunes from Talking Heads, courtesy of YouTube. Get 'em now while they're extremely hot.
"This Must Be The Place (NaÃ¯ve Melody)" - 1984
In this performance from Stop Making Sense, Byrne dances with a lamp. It's catchy and... READ ON
I've mentioned statistician Nate Silver before (How Nate Silver Predicted Obama's Win; Nate Silver's Oscar Predictions, Reviewed). He's best known for his statistical work on the 2008 US Presidential election, in which he analyzed various publicly available poll results, handicapped them using baseball-style analysis, and did a surprisingly good job of predicting how specific areas of the US would vote. After the election, Silver gave a TED Talk in which he talked about racism as a factor... READ ON
Steve Wiebe, the hapless hero of the video game documentary King of Kong, is trying once again to beat Billy Mitchell's record on Donkey Kong. Why is this news? (After all, he's been going back and forth with Mitchell for years.) Well, it's news because Wiebe is doing it right now (mid-day Tuesday, June 2, 2009). You can watch Wiebe play Donkey Kong live right now! This morning, his first attempt ended at a respectable (but not record-breaking) 923,400 points. Reports suggest that we will make two... READ ON
David Lynch and his son Austin have just launched a web series called Interview Project. It's a 121-part (!) short-form documentary series, and the first episode went live today -- have a look!
The Interview Project interviews were conducted during a 70-day road trip, and feature regular people talking about their lives. Directed by Austin Lynch, the material is both intimate and ordinary -- a powerful combination, if you ask me. Of course, David Lynch's introduction to the project is bizarre and... READ ON
You know the giant piano at FAO Schwarz? It was featured in the Tom Hanks classic* Big, in which Hanks and Robert Loggia play "Heart and Soul" by dancing around. Well, the employees at FAO Schwarz are shockingly good at playing that piano. Here's a clip of two Schwarz staffers playing, no kidding, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor on the Big Piano:
After the jump, a few more impressive... READ ON
In the late 1960s, researchers at Stanford devised what's now known as the "marshmallow test" to test participants' ability to defer gratification. The test went like this: put a marshmallow on the table in front of a four-year-old; tell the child that he or she can either eat the marshmallow now, or leave it uneaten for a while (15-20 minutes) and receive a second marshmallow at the end of the test; have the researcher leave the room for the prescribed period of time; if the child sits alone with the... READ ON
Pepsi-Cola was originally called “Brad’s Drink.”