Archive for November 30th, 2010

November 30, 2010


Halftone is the reprographic technique that simulates continuous tone imagery through the use of dots, varying either in size, in shape or in spacing. ‘Halftone’ can also be used to refer specifically to the image that is produced by this process. Whereas continuous tone imagery contains an infinite range of colors or greys, the halftone process reduces visual reproductions to a binary image that is printed with only one color of ink. This binary reproduction relies on a basic optical illusion— tiny halftone dots are perceived as smooth tones by the human brain.

At a microscopic level, developed black and white photographic film also consists of only two colors, and not an infinite range of continuous tones. For details, see film grain. Just as color photography evolved with the addition of filters and film layers, color printing is made possible by repeating the halftone process for each subtractive color—most commonly using what is called the ‘CMYK color model.’ The semi-opaque property of ink allows halftone dots of different colors to create another optical effect—full-color imagery.

November 30, 2010



Hedcut is a term referring to a style of drawing, associated with ‘The Wall Street Journal’ half-column portrait illustrations. They use the stipple method of many small dots and the hatching method of small lines to create an image, and are designed to emulate the look of woodcuts from old-style newspapers, and engravings on certificates and currency. The phonetic spelling of ‘hed’ may be based on newspapers’ use of the term ‘hed’ for ‘headline.’  The ‘Wall Street Journal’ adopted the current form of this portraiture in 1979 when freelance artist Kevin Sprouls approached the paper with some ink dot illustrations he’d created. The front page editor felt that the drawings complemented the paper’s classical feeling and gave it a sense of stability. Additionally, they are generally more legible than photographs of the same size would be.

Sprouls was subsequently hired as a staff illustrator and remained there until 1987. Today, there are six hedcut artists on staff. Each drawing takes between three and five hours to produce. First, a high quality photograph must be secured. This photograph is scanned, converted to grayscale, and the contrast is adjusted. The photograph is then printed and placed on a light table, and overlaid with tracing vellum. The illustrators then trace directly over this image with ink pens, recreating the source photo using specific dot and line patterns. Women are sometimes more difficult to depict than men as they tend to have more complicated haircuts, which are often cropped for simplicity.

November 30, 2010


Mao (also known as Chairman, Dictator, Point of Order, Bjorn, and Peebo among many others) is a card game of the Shedding family, in which the aim is to get rid of all of the cards in hand without breaking certain unspoken rules. The game is from a subset of the Stops family, and is similar in structure to the card game Uno or Crazy Eights. The game forbids its players from explaining the rules, and new players are often told only ‘the only rule you may be told is this one.’

The ultimate goal of the game is to be the first player to get rid of all the cards in their hand. Specifics are discovered through trial and error. A player who breaks a rule is penalized by being given an additional card from the deck. The person giving the penalty must state what the incorrect action was, without explaining the rule that was broken.

November 30, 2010


Anti-humor (also known as unjokes) are a kind of humor based on the surprise factor of absence of an expected joke or of a punch line in a narration which is set up as a joke. This kind of anticlimax is similar to that of the shaggy dog story. In anti-comedy the gist of the humor is in how poor the joke is or how poorly it was told. A popular kind of unjoke involves any seemingly humorous setup leading to the non-sequitur punchline of ‘No soap, radio’ or the joke ‘A man walks into a bar. He is an alcoholic and it’s destroying his family.’ Another form of anti-humor is poking fun at bad humor by the way of parody. An example is Jim’s Journal, a comic strip by Scott Dikkers, co-founder of The Onion, whose four-panel strips end without any sort of punchline.

Alternative comedy, among its other aspects, parodies the traditional idea of the joke as a form of humor. Andy Kaufman saw himself as a practitioner of anti-humor. Other comedians known for their anti-humor are Tim and Eric of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, Norm Macdonald, Ted Chippington, Neil Hamburger, Corey Mystyshyn, Jimmy Carr, and Bill Bailey.

November 30, 2010

No Soap Radio

no soap radio

Two elephants are sitting in the bathtub. One elephant says to the other, ‘Pass the soap.’

The elephant replies to the other elephant, ‘No soap, radio!

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November 30, 2010

Bacha Bazi

Afghan Hound by Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen

Bacha Bazi (literally ‘playing with children’), also known as bacchá, is a practice recognized as sexual slavery and child prostitution in which prepubescent and adolescent boys are dressed as girls and sold to wealthy or powerful men for entertainment and sexual activities.

This business thrives in southern Afghanistan, where many men keep them as status symbols. The bacchá tradition, historically more common, waned after World War I, was forced out by Victorian era prudery and colonial powers. The reverse of bacha bazi is bacha posh, where girls are dressed up as boys.

November 30, 2010

Bacha Posh

jenny nordberg

Bacha posh is a cultural practice in areas of Afghanistan where a family in which there are no sons may have a girl dress in characteristic male clothing and have her hair cut short, occupying an intermediate status in which she is treated as neither a daughter nor fully as a son. In Afghan culture, pressure exists to have a son to carry on the family name and to inherit his father’s property. In the absence of a son, families may dress one of their daughters as a male, with some holding the superstition that having a bacha posh will make it more likely for a woman to give birth to a son in a subsequent pregnancy.

As a bacha posh, a girl is more readily able to attend school, escort her sisters in public places and find work, in addition to helping overcome the shame that a family experiences at not having any male children. The girl’s status as a bacha posh usually ends when she enters puberty. Women raised as a bacha posh often have difficulty making the transition from life as a boy and adapting to the traditional constraints placed on women in Afghan society. The reverse of bacha posh is bacha bazi, where boys are dressed up as girls.