The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Entries from February 2009

Children’s Card Games (48)

February 27th, 2009 · 1 Comment

We’ll have one more specimen of “Happy Families” before we move on.  This one is “Flower Families,” from Piatnik, in Vienna.  There’s no date, I’m afraid.  But we are, for once, given the name of the artist: Hubert Lechner, of the Vienna Academy. This game is also somewhat unusual, in that it apparently assumes that the players […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

Moses Battles the Pterodactyls (3)

February 27th, 2009 · No Comments

[We continue to mark Darwin's bicentennial by serializing my talk on the cultural impact of his work.  So far, we've touched on some of the popular misconceptions of his ideas, and on the flurry of legislation leading up to the Scopes Trial in the U.S.] Meanwhile, paleontologists, like dirty little kids, had been scrabbling in […]

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Tags: Animals · Belief Systems · Education · Misconceptions · Politics

Crab Canons

February 25th, 2009 · No Comments

We began the year with a crab canon; I had vowed to return to the subject, and here we are. A crab canon is, simply, a palindromic canon.  Or, to put it differently, a tune that harmonizes with itself backwards.  They’re not necessarily hard to write: you just start from both ends, and meet in […]

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Tags: Music

Children’s Card Games (47)

February 20th, 2009 · 3 Comments

“Happy Families” is a small deck, cheaply printed, and carrying no information on publisher or date.  We are only told that it was “Made in Hong Kong.”  Obviously, it carries on the tradition of “Dr. Busby” (you remember him, scowling at you from #40 of this survey).  The child is meant to collect the four members of […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

Moses Battles the Pterodactyls (2)

February 20th, 2009 · 5 Comments

[We resume the serialization of my talk on the cultural hurly-burly that greeted Darwin's theories.  As we open this section, our animal friends are really going at it.] Lions and tigers make ligers and tigons; camels and llamas make camas; antelopes give taxonomists nightmares.  Mules have been known to foal baby mules; yaks, bison, and […]

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Tags: Belief Systems · Education · Misconceptions · Politics · The Ineffable

Children’s Card Games (46)

February 14th, 2009 · 5 Comments

This week brings you another game based on folktales: “Story Cards: A Fairy Tale Card Game,” published in 1965 by Ed-U-Cards.  Three tales are in it: “Red Riding Hood,” “Puss In Boots” and “Jack and the Beanstalk,” all illustrated in a curiously primitive and expressionistic style.  It’s hard to choose; but I can’t resist offering […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

Moses Battles the Pterodactyls (1)

February 14th, 2009 · 1 Comment

[It's the Darwin bicentennial; it's time to party like primates.  I'll tip my bit into the punchbowl by serializing, sip by sip, a talk I gave at the 2006 "Fortean Times" UnCon and the 2007 INFO (International Fortean Organization) FortFest.  It's mostly about the confused interbreeding of evolution and American culture.  I'll update it a bit as I post it; […]

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Tags: Ancient History · Animals · Belief Systems · Education · Forteana · Literature · Misconceptions

Children’s Card Games (45)

February 8th, 2009 · 6 Comments

We have another example of a game based on folktales; this one, “Fairy Tale Families,” was published by Piatnik, in Vienna.  The deck includes such old favorites as Red Riding Hood and Cinderella; I’ve chosen an image from this less familiar Grimms’ tale. (Posted by Doug Skinner) 

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

The Digital Backlash (4)

February 1st, 2009 · 2 Comments

Our last digital update set me to wondering: why haven’t our hi-tek overlords marketed electronic tampons?  The consumer-congregants have already been trained to crave phones that take photos.  Surely there must be some way to sell them tampons rigged with needless gizmos.  Perhaps sound chips could play soothing melodies, motivational slogans, or Bible verses, to ease the […]

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Tags: Suggestions · Technology