Cooking with Wool: Watch Mouthwatering Tiny Woolen Food Animations

Our fascination with tiny food can be traced to the mouthwatering illustrations in Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice.

Just like the dollhouse-sized comestibles that so confounded the titular rodents, Tom Thumb and Huncamunca, animator Andrea Love’s miniature pasta with red sauce is as inedible as it is appetizing.




The self-taught stop motion specialist’s medium of choice is wool.

In an interview with Dragon Frame stop motion software’s company blog, when they featured Cooking with Wool: Breakfast, above, Love explained:

I like to make short personal projects experimenting with the different ways to animate wool. The technique is called needle felting and it involves shaping wool with a barbed needle. I love the fuzzy aesthetic, and feel like the possibilities are endless. Everything in this video is made out of wool or felt, and is built over rigid insulation foam. This was a weekend/evening project, done over the course of three days… It is very challenging working with tiny bits of wool, but also amazing how much detail can be achieved on a small scale when you consider that it is just tiny clumps of fur.

Forget the showstoppers—the melting butter, the fried eggs flipping in the pan, the steam rising from cup and kettle…

Let’s take a moment to admire the attention to detail that went into the background aspects—the rubber spatula, the bananas, the cheery flecked wallpaper…

The only thing missing is a potholder to handle that piping hot cast iron skillet.

Perhaps she ran out of wool?

The Port Townsend, Washington resident, who graduated from Hampshire College with a concentration in film studies and sustainable agriculture, whips up her teeny weeny wooly meals in the same basement studio where she crafts promotional videos for local businesses, including the yarn shop where she sources her wool rovings.

View more of Andrea Love’s fiber-art stop motion animations, including a “digital” banana painting created with a woolen tablet and stylus, on her website and Instagram page.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, February 3 for New York: The Nation's Metropolis the 21st installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

An Animated Look at the Charade of the Global Elites: Claiming They Want to “Change the World,” They End Up Preserving the Unjust Status Quo

From Peter Kropotkin to Leo Tolstoy to Noam Chomsky, some of the most revered anarchist thinkers have exhausted page after page explaining why power over others is unjustified, no matter how it justifies itself. To those who say the wealthy and powerful benefit society with charitable works and occasionally humane policy, Tolstoy might reply with the following illustration, which opens Time editor Anand Giridharadas’ talk above, “Winner Take All,” as animated by the RSA:

I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all means possible… except by getting off his back.

The author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, Giridharadas doesn’t make the case for anarchism here, except perhaps by the slightest implication in his choice of epigraph. But he does call out the “winners of our age,” no matter how much they determine to make a difference with humanitarian aid, for being “unwilling to get off the man’s back.” Unwilling to pay taxes, close loopholes and tax shelters, pay higher wages, or stop lobbying to slash public services. Unwilling to reinvest in the communities that made them.




“What does it look like to imagine the kind of change,” Giridharadas asks, “that would involve the winners of our age stepping off that guy’s back? Or being made to step off that guy’s back?” Here, he leaves us with an ellipses and moves to critique the idea of the “win-win” as a means of making change, rather than just exchange.

The market economy has imported the criteria of exchange into politics and social action. Everything is transactional. But in order to address the gross inequities that result in people figuratively sitting on the backs of others, some must gain more power and others must have less. The parties do not meet in a state of ceteris paribus.

One might take issue with the very terms used in "win-win" thinking. Rather than winners, some would call powerful capitalists opportunists, profiteers, and worse. (The term “robber baron” was once in common circulation.) To claim that good works and good intentions obviate massive power imbalances is to presume that such imbalances are justifiable in the first place. Answering this theoretical question doesn’t, however, address the practical problem.

In the current system of corporate misrule, says Giridharadas, “when everything is couched as a win-win, what you are really saying… is that the best kinds of solutions don’t ask anyone to get off anyone’s back.” Unfettered capitalism has brought us the “privatization of public problems." That is to say, companies profit from the same issues they help create through pollution, predatory schemes, and undue political influence.

You don’t have to be an anarchist to see a serious problem with that. But if you see the problem, you should want to imagine how things could be otherwise.

via Aeon

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

A Brief Animated History of Alcohol

Almost anything can be preserved in alcohol, except health, happiness and money…

Roderick Phillips’ Ted-Ed lesson, a Brief History of Alcohol, above, opens with a bon mot from early 20th-century quote maven Mary Wilson Little, after which, an unwitting chimpanzee quickly discovers the intoxicating effects of overripe plums.

His eyes pinwheel, he falls off a branch, and grins, drunk as a monkey’s uncle.

And though the subject is alcohol, this primate is the only character in Anton Bogaty’s 5-minute animation who could be hauled in on a drunk and disorderly charge.

The others take a more sober, industrious approach, illustrating alcohol’s prominent role in early medicine, religious rituals, and global trading.

Ancient Egyptians harvest the cereal grains that will produce beer, included as part of workers’ rations and available to all classes.

A native of South America stirs a kettle of chicha, a fistful of hallucinogenic herbs held at the ready.

A Greek physician tends to a patient with a goblet of wine, as a nearby poet prepares to deliver an ode on its creative properties.

Students with an interest in the science of alcohol can learn a bit about the fermentation process and how the invention of distillation allowed for much stronger spirits.

Alcohol was a welcome presence aboard seafaring vessels. Not only did this valuable trading commodity spark lively parties on deck, it sanitized the sailors’ drinking water, making longer voyages possible.

Cheers to that.

Educators can customize the lesson here.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC tongight, Monday, January 6 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates Cape-Coddities (1920) by Roger Livingston Scaife. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Why You Should Read Dune: An Animated Introduction to Frank Herbert’s Ecological, Psychological Sci-Fi Epic

A vision of humanity's future without most of the high technology we expect from science fiction, but with a surfeit of religions, martial arts, and medieval politics we don't; pronunciation-unfriendly names and terms like "Bene Gesserit," "Kwisatz Haderach," and "Muad'Dib"; a sand planet inhabited by giant killer worms: nearly 55 years after its publication, Dune remains a strange piece of work. But applying that adjective to Frank Herbert's highly successful saga of interstellar adventure and intrigue highlights not just the ways in which its intricately developed world is unfamiliar to us, but the ways in which it is familiar — and has grown ever more so over the decades.

"Following an ancient war with robots, humanity has forbidden the construction of any machine in the likeness of a human mind," says Dan Kwartler in the animated TED-Ed introduction to the world of Dune aboveThis edict "forced humans to evolve in startling ways, becoming biological computers, psychic witches, and prescient space pilots," many of them "regularly employed by various noble houses, all competing for power and new planets to add to their kingdoms." But their superhuman skills "rely on the same precious resource: the spice," a mystical crop that also powers space travel, "making it the cornerstone of the galactic economy."




Herbert sets Dune — the first of five books by him and many successors by his son Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson — on the desert planet Arrakis, where the noble House Atreides finds itself relocated. Before long, its young scion Paul Atreides "is catapulted into the middle of a planetary revolution where he must prove himself capable of leading and surviving on this hostile desert world." Not that Arrakis is just some rock covered in sand: an avid environmentalist, Herbert "spent over five years creating Dune's complex ecosystem. The planet is checkered with climate belts and wind tunnels that have shaped its rocky topography. Differing temperate zones produce varying desert flora, and almost every element of Dune's ecosystem works together to produce the planet's essential export."

Herbert's world-building "also includes a rich web of philosophy and religion," which involves elements of Islam, Buddhism, Sufi mysticism, Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism, all arranged in configurations the likes of which human history has never seen. What Dune does with religion it does even more with language, drawing for its vocabulary from a range of tongues including Latin, Old English, Hebrew, Greek, Finnish, and Nahuatl. All this serves a story dealing with themes both eternal, like the decline of empire and the misplaced trust in heroic leaders, and increasingly topical, like the consequences of a feudal order, ecological change, and wars over resources in inhospitable, sandy places. At the center is the story of a man struggling to attain mastery of not just body but mind, not least by defeating fear, described in Paul's famous line as the "mind-killer," the "little-death that brings total obliteration."

The scope, complexity, and sheer oddity of Herbert's vision has repeatedly tempted filmmakers and the film industry — and repeatedly defeated them. Perhaps unsurprisingly Alexander Jodorowsky couldn't get his plans off the ground for a 14-hour epic Dune involving Pink Floyd, Salvador Dalí, Moebius, Orson Welles, and Mick Jagger. In 1984 David Lynch managed to direct a somewhat less ambitious adaptation, but the nevertheless enormously complex and expensive production came out as what David Foster Wallace described as "a huge, pretentious, incoherent flop." Dune will return to theaters in December 2020 in a version directed by Denis Villeneuve, whose recent work on the likes of Arrival and Blade Runner 2049 suggests on his part not just the necessary interest in science fiction, but the even more necessary sense of the sublime: a grandeur and beauty of such a scale and starkness as to inspire fear, much as every Dune reader has felt on their own imagined Arrakis.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch The Insects’ Christmas from 1913: A Stop Motion Film Starring a Cast of Dead Bugs

Kind Reader,

Will you do us the honor of accepting our holiday invitation?

Carve five minutes from your holiday schedule to spend time celebrating The Insects' Christmas, above.

In addition to offering brief respite from the chaos of consumerism and modern expectations, this simple stop-motion tale from 1913 is surprisingly effective at chasing away holiday blues.

Not bad for a short with a supporting cast of dead bugs.




Animator Ladislas Starevich began his cinematic manipulations of insect carcasses early in the 20th century while serving as Director of Kaunas, Lithuania’s Museum of Natural History. He continued the experiment after moving to Moscow, where he added such titles as Insects' Aviation Week, Amusing Scenes from the Life of Insects and famously, The Cameraman’s Revenge, a racy tale of passion and infidelity in the insect world.

The Insects' Christmas is far gentler.

Think Froggy Went a Courtin’, or Miss Spider’s Wedding with an old time Christmas spin

Shades too of Johnny Gruelle’s Raggedy Ann and other stories wherein toys wait for their human owners to retire, so they may spring to life—though Starewizc’s sleepy doll seems to have more in common with the Christmas tree's absent owners than the tiny Father Christmas ornament who clamors down to party al fresco with the insects.

Contemporary composer Tom Peters underscores the wholesome vintage action—skiing, skating, squabbling over a Christmas cracker—with a mix of traditional carols and original music performed on ukulele, drum, and a six-string electric bass with a 5-octave range.

And the moment when Father Christmas conjures festive decorations for a Charlie Brown-ish tree is truly magical. See if your littlest Hayao Miyazaki fan doesn't agree.

Enjoy more of Ladislas Starevich’s stopmotion ouevre on YouTube, as well some of Tom Peters’ other scores for silent films.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, January 6 when her monthly book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain celebrates Cape-Coddities (1920) by Roger Livingston Scaife. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

For the First Time, Studio Ghibli’s Entire Catalog Will Soon Be Available for Digital Purchase

Some describe Studio Ghibli, the animation company founded by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, as "the Japanese Disney." That does justice to the true nature of neither Ghibli nor Disney, though both ventures have displayed an uncanny ability to produce beloved animated films — and beloved animated films that haven't always been easy to see on demand. Just this past summer we featured the release of Ghibli's Spirited Away in China, eighteen years after its premiere, but even in less politically sensitive territories, fans have had their challenges: finding a way to stream Ghibli movies, for instance, which (at least in North America) will become much easier on December 17th.

On that date, reports Variety's Dave McNary, "GKids will release the entire Studio Ghibli catalog of animated films for digital purchase." From Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and My Neighbor Totoro to From Up on Poppy Hill and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Ghibli's films "will be available to purchase in both English and Japanese languages on all major digital transactional platforms."




This marks "the first time the Studio Ghibli films will be available for digital purchase anywhere in the world," including the studio's homeland of Japan — a country, in any case, with a slightly different relationship to the internet than most, and one that tends to result in a preference for physical distribution over digital.

If you've never seriously watched Studio Ghibli's films, don't be fooled by the name GKids: the American distributor specializes in artisanal animation, mostly but not entirely Japanese (its catalog also includes Nina Paley's Sita Sings the Blues), and those in charge there know full well the draw of Ghibli for demographics far beyond those still in childhood. One can fairly argue, in fact, that youngsters aren't Ghibli's primary audience; whereas Disney makes animation for kids that many grown-ups can enjoy, Ghibli in some sense does the opposite. The films of Miyazaki, Takahata, and Ghibli's other stalwarts will thus make ideal material for the all-ages at-home movie marathons without which no holiday season is complete, seeing as their animated magic will arrive in the realm of on-demand not a moment too soon.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinemaand the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future? Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch a Hand-Drawn Animation of Neil Gaiman’s Poem “The Mushroom Hunters,” Narrated by Amanda Palmer

The arrival of a newborn son has inspired no few poets to compose works preserving the occasion. When Neil Gaiman wrote such a poem, he used its words to pay tribute to not just the creation of new life but to the scientific method as well. "Science, as you know, my little one, is the study / of the nature and behavior of the universe," begins Gaiman's "The Mushroom Hunters." An important thing for a child to know, certainly, but Gaiman doesn't hesitate to get into even more detail: "It’s based on observation, on experiment, and measurement / and the formulation of laws to describe the facts revealed." Go slightly over the head of a newborn as all this may, any parent of an older but still young child knows what question naturally comes next: "Why?"

As if in anticipation of that inevitable expression of curiosity, Gaiman harks back to "the old times," when "men came already fitted with brains / designed to follow flesh-beasts at a run," and with any luck to come back with a slain antelope for dinner. The women, "who did not need to run down prey / had brains that spotted landmarks and made paths between them," taking special note of the spots where they could find mushrooms. It was these mushroom hunters who used "the first tool of all," a sling to hold the baby but also to "put the berries and the mushrooms in / the roots and the good leaves, the seeds and the crawlers. / Then a flint pestle to smash, to crush, to grind or break." But how to know which of the mushrooms — to say nothing of the berries, roots, and leaves — will kill you, which will "show you gods," and which will "feed the hunger in our bellies?"




"Observe everything." That's what Gaiman's poem recommends, and what it memorializes these mushroom hunters for having done: observing the conditions under which mushrooms aren't deadly to eat, observing childbirth to "discover how to bring babies safely into the world," observing everything around them in order to create "the tools we make to build our lives / our clothes, our food, our path home..." In Gaiman's poetic view, the observations and formulations made by these early mushroom-hunting women to serve only the imperative of survival lead straight (if over a long distance), to the modern scientific enterprise, with its continued gathering of facts, as well as its constant proposal and revision of laws to describe the patterns in those facts.

You can see "The Mushroom Hunters" brought to life in the video above, a hand-drawn animation by Creative Connection scored by the composer Jherek Bischoff (previously heard in the David Bowie tribute Strung Out in Heaven). You can read the poem at Brain Pickings, whose creator Maria Popova hosts "The Universe in Verse," an annual "charitable celebration of science through poetry" where "The Mushroom Hunters" made its debut in 2017. There it was read aloud by the musician Amanda Palmer, Gaiman's wife and the mother of the aforementioned son, and so it is in this more recent animated video. Young Ash will surely grow up faced with few obstacles to the appreciation of science, and even less so to the kind of imagination that science requires. As for all the other children in the world — well, it certainly wouldn't hurt to show them the mushroom hunters at work.

This reading will be added to our collection, 1,000 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free.

via Brain Pickings

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinemaand the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future? Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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