If you've seen an insect in a movie, there's a good chance it was a prop made by insect artist Graham Owen. He specializes in the "design and fabrication of intricate life-size insect replicas" that are frequently used in movies and TV shows. His most famous insect might be the fly that tormented Walter White in an episode of Breaking Bad.
A recent article about him offers more details about his art and career. And the article included this piece of info, which was new to me:
While the nature of real insects makes them difficult to use, there is another reason Owen’s replicas are in high demand: American Humane Association guidelines prohibit dead insects from being filmed, he said.
Auroratone was a "process for translating music into color" invented circa 1940 by Englishman Cecil Stokes. The music vibrated an emulsion of crystallizing chemicals, and this was then photographed by a color movie camera, producing a kind of psychedelic movie of shifting colors synchronized with music (but this was the 1940s, before the concept of psychedelics was known in popular culture).
The hope was that these auroratone films could be used to treat psychiatric patients, and they were experimentally shown to soldiers in an army hospital suffering from psychotic depressions. Conclusion: "Observation revealed that these patients were intensely absorbed in the films, that their span of attention to the films was appreciably lengthened after exposure to the films. Weeping and sobbing was observed in some patients. Many patients became more accessible to individual and group psychotherapy immediately folllowing exposure to these films."
Their effect was also tested on juvenile delinquents. One kid told the experimenter, "I think God must have painted those pictures."
A company was formed to commercialize Auroratones and guide their development. Investors in this company included the Crosby Brothers (Larry and his famous brother Bing). Bing sang the music for many of the auroratones.
Treating psychiatric patients wasn't very profitable, so there was hope to find more lucrative applications of the auroratone process. One idea was to transfer auroratone color patterns onto textiles and ceramics. Some silk scarfs printed with visualizations of Bing Crosby singing "Home on the Range" were apparently manufactured, but never sold.
Not many auroratones still survive, but an example of one can be viewed on YouTube:
The Pickle Wizard promises that if you pay him $5.99, he'll send a slice of pickle to a person of your choosing. He writes:
What could be more satisfying than the confusion of a friend or foe when they receive a pickle in the mail with a mysterious note? The answer you ask? Nothing. So get on it, and send those expecto patronads a damn pickle!
Here on WU, we've previously posted about Feces by Mail and Mail-a-Spud, so the Pickle Wizard is the latest variation on that theme of Mail-a-Prank. The Pickle Wizard claims that, to date, he has mailed 520 pickles.
One more oddity I encountered on my New Zealand trip: the town of Bulls (population 1755), "a town like no udder." It's the town where everything is a pun on its name. Even the individual shops play along with the punning. So, for instance, you get the "Coffee on the MOOve" cafe, and the What A Load of Bull Deli, which serves "palat-a-bull" products. The puns just go on and on.
Recent marketing makes puns with the name, for example "New Zealand gets its milk from Bulls" or the sign for the local police station "Const-a-bull".
The town's sister city is Cowes, England.
The town is named after James Bull, who founded the town and owned the first general store there. The town was originally called Bull Town, but this was changed to Clifton and then renamed back to Bulls at the urging of Sir William Fox.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.