Minatur Wunderland Hamburg

One of my contacts on Flickr recently posted some photos he took at Minatur Wunderland Hamburg, “The largest model railway in the world and one of the most successful permanent exhibitions in Northern Germany.” I’m not a model railroad geek, but I love miniature stuff. And Wunderland is nut-butty insane. It’s on my list of must-sees if I ever go to Germany. Because it’s not just the train stations…

…but the outdoor rock concerts…

…and the flash mobs…

…and the protests in the street!
And so so so much more.
Here’s a 5,135 and counting photo stream on Flickr for your perusal.
Here’s the official site.

It’s official: Women Are Getting More Beautiful

A hot woman from Finland, yesterday.
According to some researchers
at the University of Helskinki, evolution is making more and more hot women.

FOR the female half of the population, it may bring a satisfied smile. Scientists have found that evolution is driving women to become ever more beautiful, while men remain as aesthetically unappealing as their caveman ancestors.

The researchers have found beautiful women have more children than their plainer counterparts and that a higher proportion of those children are female. Those daughters, once adult, also tend to be attractive and so repeat the pattern.

Over generations, the scientists argue, this has led to women becoming steadily more aesthetically pleasing, a “beauty race” that is still on. The findings have emerged from a series of studies of physical attractiveness and its links to reproductive success in humans.

I took a walk down State Street the other day and confirmed this. Then I spent the next day walking about K-Mart and the theory was disproven aisle after aisle.

Nerve.com: My Ten Favorite Festishes

Above: The best orgasm I’ve ever had.
Lifelong sex researcher Kris Saknussemm tells us about his favorite festishes, most of which, even though I spend way too much time on the web, I have never heard of.

Chremastistophilia — Excitement at being robbed or held up
One British gentleman proudly displayed the scar he received from a knife wound in the course of a mugging — an event which he said led to a spontaneous ejaculation, the most powerful and substantial he’d ever experienced. (While the sight of the knife wound continues to unhinge me.)

The others are just as strange.

David Foster Wallace on Roger Federer

David Foster Wallace had a great article in 2006 on tennis player Roger Federer. This is one of those essays that make you feel way more knowledgeable about a subject you may not know anything about once you finish. And suddenly you look at that subject in a completely different way.

Interestingly, what is less obscured in TV coverage is Federer’s intelligence, since this intelligence often manifests as angle. Federer is able to see, or create, gaps and angles for winners that no one else can envision, and television’s perspective is perfect for viewing and reviewing these Federer Moments. What’s harder to appreciate on TV is that these spectacular-looking angles and winners are not coming from nowhere — they’re often set up several shots ahead, and depend as much on Federer’s manipulation of opponents’ positions as they do on the pace or placement of the coup de grâce. And understanding how and why Federer is able to move other world-class athletes around this way requires, in turn, a better technical understanding of the modern power-baseline game than TV — again — is set up to provide.

The whole article is great, read it.

What the world needs now is another Michael Jackson post

Let’s celebrate the black Michael.
However, his passing/suicide (?) has made for some good articles, and here are my favorites.
First, the Ian Halperin piece in the Daily Mail that details his final days: closeted, balding, up to his surgeried eyeballs in debt, anorexic, and with a degenerative lung disease that meant he could no longer sing. If he hadn’t died before the tour, the tour would have killed him. Surely this is the tragic end that our culture secretly wanted. And we got it!
‘I’m better off dead. I’m done’: Michael Jackson’s fateful prediction just a week before his death

Many in his entourage spoke frankly to me – and that made it possible for me to write authoritatively last December that Michael had six months to live, a claim that, at the time, his official spokesman, Dr Tohme Tohme, called a ‘complete fabrication’. The singer, he told the world, was in ‘fine health’. Six months and one day later, Jackson was dead.

So take that!
Onwards to the recollections. Robert Hilburn’s was one of the most poignant which wasn’t just ass-kissing.
Michael Jackson: the wounds, the broken heart

During weekends I spent with him on the road during the Jacksons’ “Victory” tour in 1984, I learned that he was so traumatized by events during his late teens — notably the rejection by fans who missed the “little” Michael of the Jackson 5 days — that he relied desperately on fame to protect him from further pain. In the end, that overriding need for celebrity was at the root of his tragedy.

And then the analysis:
K-Punk quoting Greil Marcus at length here:

The pop explosions of Elvis, the Beatles and the Sex Pistols had assaulted or subverted social values; Thriller crossed over them like kudzu. The Jackson-ist pop explosion … was brought forth as a version of the official social reality, generated from Washington D.C. as ideology, and from Madison Avenue as language … a glamorization of the new American fact that if you weren’t on top, you didn’t exist.

Going back to the music, K-Punk lauds “Off the Wall” as the last time the music contained any real joy. I agree. I love all the Jackson 5 records I have, and the disco jams on “Off the Wall” are great. And beyond the unstoppable groin pulse of Billie Jean, there’s little on Thriller I like. (Well, Pretty Young Thing is pretty good). But Thriller sets the stage for the rest of the career: paranoid aggression (“Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” and the endless commercial drone of “Beat It”…which then leads to all the angry stuff like “Bad,” “Leave Me Alone,” etc.), soppy love songs, and a thread that will lead to even soppier “Heal the World” drivel. I feel all the songs are a gaze into Jackson’s crumbling psyche, but because he lived in a country-sized state of denial, there’s none of the awareness that makes such psychological journeys from other artists so palatable.
K-Punk:’…and when the groove is dead and gone.’

…what’s haunting me is the difference between Jackson in the Off The Wall videos and how he looks in the Thriller clips. I’m not talking about the surgery, or rather I’m not only talking about that. The surgery – by then, ‘only’ a Disney eye-widening, a Diana Ross nose-narrowing, and a little skin-bleaching, as nothing compared to the collapsing Cronenbergian butchery of later years – is but a symptom of the change that you can see in Jackson’s face and body. Something had already disappeared that early, never to return.

Read somewhere that daddy Jackson, surely a monster if there ever was one, used to don a monster mask and climb into young Michael’s open window at night to scare the bejeesus out of him. All to teach him a lesson about keeping the window closed, lest somebody kidnap him. And I’ve been thinking about that anecdote and how it relates to the end of the “Thriller” video…zombie Michael staggering towards his hysterical date, changing back to “regular” Michael, and then giving us that one last glance to let us know that the monster is still inside him. And how the monster in the window reminds me of the Bob/Dad molester scene in “Fire Walk With Me,” stealing in the bedroom of Laura Palmer to rape her nightly.
Sins of the fathers…and as consumers we get to share in them being played out.

“They’re out to get you, there’s demons closing in on every side…”

The Gore Gore Guys

Forget those YouTube “Top Ten Gory Moments in Horror Films” videos, this workplace safety video from 1998 has crushed hands, impaled bodies, mangled arms (on lathes!), burnt faces and hands, and a painfully ripped off finger! All that’s missing is a killer standing nearby to offer an ironic quip. Maybe Dick Cheney is available.
Found at Boing Boing.

Urban Camouflage

From the statement of purpose:

Urban Camouflage deals with the question how to camouflage
oneself and one’s identity in the urban space. Our costumes are
inspired by the ghillie suits, the military camouflage suit. It was
an adventure to wear the suit in the stores because of the conflicts
with the employees, the reaction of the customers and also to see
the pretty well camouflage effect in a real situation.

Don’t forget to check out the video section too.

Extreme tourism

Italian tourist turns up in Iraq, looking to tour the country. Iraqis are baffled. Who is this guy? And is he naive or just plain crazy?

“I am a tourist” were his first words. The telephone line from Falluja was bad, but there could be no mistake. Possibly Iraq’s, and certainly Falluja’s, first Western leisure visitor was in town.
Not for long though. A guard at a checkpoint caught sight of Luca Marchio among the Iraqi passengers on a bus that was heading from Baghdad to the once-notorious – and still tense – western city and alerted his superiors.
Marchio, 33, a native of Como, Italy, soon found himself in the Falluja police headquarters surrounded by bewildered officers trying to make out why a Westerner would wander around their city without a translator or guards. Marchio may have worried the police, but his main concern was saving money.
In two telephone conversations with journalists, he brushed away concerns for his safety and offers of help. “I am a tourist,” he said. “I want to see the most important cities in the country. That is the reason why I am here now.

There’s a delightful movie in this somewhere. That is, if he survives.