Monday, 2 August 2021

aces & eights

Referenced throughout popular culture including tattooed on McMurphy’s shoulder in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the cards drawn in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and numerous law enforcement emblems—especially in Las Vegas, the Old West Wild Bill Hickok folk hero had just been dealt this allegedly cursed poker hand (with a fifth unrevealed wild card) on this day in 1876 during a heated game at Nuttal & Mann’s Saloon in Deadwood, Dakota when shot in the head by a drunk Jack McCall. A bit of creative retconning fifty years on solidified this narrative, whereas previously the Dead Man’s hand referred to a full-house with three Jacks and a pair of Tens and regarded with suspicion.

Saturday, 31 July 2021


70% cรดte d’ivoire, 66% cyprus, 65% republic of ireland: doodle world flags and let a computer guess—via Web Curios  

peaky finders: a selection of interactive mapping application still functional and chugging along a decade later  

cult of the sun: a look at the Athon, a 1980 Lamborghini concept car  

ss experiment: an unsuccessful ferry, powered by eight horses on a treadmill  

astronomia: a lovely antique deck of playing cards with celestial charts and information on the planets and stars 

flsa: US congressional representation introducing legislation for a four-day work week—see previously here and here  

google doodle: a selection of the best commemorative banners—via Things Magazine

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

eight of swords

Via Super Punch, we discover a text-to-image generative experiment that applies some 1970s sci-fi paperback covers filters to the classic Rider-Waite-Smith iconography to dream up a tarot deck hybrid. We especially liked this Seven of Pentacles card that seems inspired by the novel and film Silent Running.

Saturday, 24 July 2021


yรคchtley crรซw: a cover band’s homage to the genre (previously

sky mall: the inevitable fate of all platforms, selling botware to other bots in glossy format—via Things Magazine plus an update on the Metabolist capsule hotel of Kisho Kurokawa 

๐’€ญ๐’„‘๐’‰‹๐’‚ต๐’ˆจ๐’Œ‹๐’Œ‹๐’Œ‹: assaying the Epic of Gilgamesh—previously here and here  

this beach does not exist: using generative adversarial networks (previous snowclones) to create fantasy shorelines—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

hearse: a concept Airstream funeral coach, circa 1981, which never caught on—also h/t to Things  

not affiliated with project shield, loki or the world security council: an exclusive exposรฉ on cyber surveillance abuse on a global scale 

 transatlanticism: US withdraws objections to completion of Nord Stream 2—previously, now ninety-eight percent done—after negotiations with Germany 

 murphy’s law: an abcedarium of the maxims of management—see also

Wednesday, 30 June 2021


billboards and hoardings: the evolution of outdoor advertising  

ptychography: a high resolution imaging of atoms—see previously  

the village: lovely Mid-Century Modern accommodations in Portmeirion—where The Prisoner was filmed  

vqgan+clip: Picasso’s Persistence of Memory with Lisa Frank filter applied—via Waxy  

ems: composer and sampling pioneer Peter Zinovieff has passed away, aged eight-eight—via Things Magazine  

pulp tarot: a divining deck (previously) informed by Mid-Century illustrations from Todd Alcott

siss-boom-bah: a Japanese pyrotechnics catalogue (see also) from the 1880s  

indexing: a look at how the adoption of vertical filing helped ushering the Information Age—see also here and here

Thursday, 4 March 2021

The visual search engine Same Energy has been circulating for a few days and while we found it to be a clever idea and there was definitely correspondence among images by a word prompt it seemed a little predictable. Uploading a picture, however, like I did with this art work from Tadami Yamada Japanese surrealist in this 1983 composition that features elements of a still life, chequerboard and a strange framed tarot motif in the background and taking in a mosaic of what the algorithm makes of the visual cue really is engaging and demonstrates a virtuosity that we weren’t expecting. Do give it a try and see what it serves up. 


Wednesday, 3 March 2021


spongmonkey: though not a cultural shibboleth for myself personally, this history of the Quiznos’ submarine sandwich franchise’s mascot was an interesting object lesson in internet culture—via Miss Cellania  

backmasking: fun with that portrait animation application, via Super Punch  

puce chintz alert: a truly cursed McMansion built in 1978  

micro-face: a fascinating, multistage look at the process of acquiring a super hero with the Planet Money podcast  

garage mahal: vlogger pays house-calls to the ostentatiously wealthy, asks what they do for a living

previous tenants: buildings that used to be a Blockbuster video rental shop—in the tradition of This Used to be a Pizza Hut—via Things Magazine

Sunday, 28 February 2021

the queen of wands

Having encountered the iconic Mountain Dream Tarot deck, the first complete major and minor arcana in photographic format previously, we appreciated this update in the form of an interview with the artist behind the project, Bea Nettles, who discusses her five-decades long career and has recently released a third edition of her famous tarot deck.
We have it much easier nowadays with accessible and intuitive digital cameras and photo-editing software and here’s a scalable clip-art template to frame and label your suites sourced from your own picture albums in the Smith-Waite style. Do share your King of Cups, Fool or World if so inspired, and find out more at Nag on the Lake at the link above.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

king of rods

Brilliantly a clever graphic designer and Trek fan took advantage of the correspondence between the classic Thoth tarot deck used for divination—the twenty-two card Major Arcana (Greater Secrets) plus the fifty-six suite Minor Arcana (Lesser Secrets) –and the seventy-eight episodes of the Original Series creating a custom deck with a fortune-revealing homage to some of the franchise’s most memorable, founding characters. What’s in the stars for you? Much more to explore at the links above.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

major arcana

We rather enjoyed this preview of an anthology of plus centuries of divinical card decks (see previously for more on the subject) surveyed in the upcoming coffee table, conversation piece book Tarot from Taschen.
Over five hundred cards are featured from Antiquity, to the Middle Ages to Post-Modern times whose iconic symbolism is enchanting on so many levels and we particularly liked these contemporary interpretations from Olivia M Healy whose Fool, classically depicted as someone standing on the edge of a precipice and usually is understood to signify a point of departure, is evocative of spiritedness associated with Carnival. The Pre-Raphaelite vision of Treviso-based graphic artist Elissabetta Trevisan’s Justice, meaning probity and prevailing of the virtuous, was also quite arresting. Learn more at Colossal at the link up top.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

mister resetti

A talented cartomancer called Silkirose is creating a tarot deck (see also here, here, here, here, here and here) whose Major Arcana, greater secrets, features characters from Animal Crossing.
Admittedly while I like the idea of social simulations in video games, world-building and civic-engineering, the social platform and the idea of inhabiting that world with others is kind of a turn-off, though this title from Nintendo (see previously) with all its possibilities for mirroring the real life does seem worthwhile, worth looking into and genuinely relieving.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020


paperback writer: the cinematic portfolio of Matt Stevens in old book covers, via Things magazine

live-feed: snapshots of deserted public places around the world gleaned from web cams, via Kottke

social distance: the inspiring latest torch song from Randy Rainbow, via Miss Cellania

 ๐Ÿค : lone security guard of the National Cowboy Museum virtually engages his visitors

 ๐Ÿ˜ท: the origins of surgical masks and respirators

they laugh and love: John Carpenter announces sequels to his 1988 sci-fi thriller
major arcana: an automated tarot reader that seems to never have gotten off the drawing board

still buffering: the lagging evolution of the video teleconference

Thursday, 7 November 2019

minor arcana

For the eighteenth iteration of James Bond in the film Live and Let Die (1973), producer Albert Romolo Broccoli (not to be confused with an Alan Smithee credit, a pseudonym adopted by individuals wanting to disown the movie) commissioned from Salvador Dalรญ a deck of tarot cards to be used as a prop for a pivotal scene featuring a psychic played by Jane Seymour. Over budget, the studio went with another artist in the end but Dalรญ nonetheless completed his assignment, limning all the seventy-eight trump and numbered suites.

Saturday, 26 October 2019


best in breed: national banks in Turkmenistan under presidential decree to fund efforts to enhance the pedigree of the country’s Alabay dog

call of the wild: scientist record the mating sounds of the Amazonian bellbird, which can exceed the noise-level of a chainsaw at very close-range

zodiac killer: a treasury of Persian demons

not the doral: Number One Daughter celebrates her tenth wedding anniversary at Camp David

yip yip: a couple’s admirably coordinated costumes

major arcana: Salvador Dalรญ’s tarot deck re-issued

augmented roman: a truly phonetic-spelling reform measure for the English language, bringing the alphabet up to forty-three distinct letters

roaming costs: researchers tracking migrating Russian eagles are hit with hefty data tariffs once the birds cross borders, via Slashdot

Monday, 21 October 2019

ten of dowels

Via the always excellent Nag on the Lake, we are introduced to the handiwork of a creative called Hundred-Armed Sweater (that would be for the Hecatonkherires on your gift-list) through her IKEA-inspired tarot deck, recognising that the store and experience represents “a place of transition, a journey, a source of light and comfort but also strife.” The deck includes the major and four full suites of minor arcana.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

the queen of wands

We are directed to an exhibit that divines the often unattributed illustrator responsible for the most iconic and authoritative suites of tarot cards in existence out of obscurity and back into the prominence deserving of an individual that designed a deck that’s sold millions and the subject of frequent homage (see also here, here and here).
Pamela Colman Smith (*1878 – †1951)—who also went by the nickname of Pixie—was the amanuensis and muse of scholarly mystic Arthur Edward Waite (*1857 – †1942), to whom Smith was introduced by William Butler Yeats whilst working on commissions by the poet and playwright by mutual membership in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a society heavily into theurgy and cartomancy. Not to be pigeonholed only with the occult, Smith, aside from illustrating the works of Yeats, Bram Stoker and others also lent her talents to creating protest posters for the woman’s suffrage movement and for relief campaigns during the war for the Red Cross. In 1909, she interpreted Waite’s Key to Tarot in visual form and managed to produce eight refined pictures in the course of six months—two more cards than the standard major and minor arcana of seventy-eight with it being a mystery what those extraneous cards represented. Much more to explore at Hyperallergic at the link above.

Sunday, 6 January 2019


personality, wessonality: spot the celebrities at the 1986 All Star Party for Clint Eastwood

spargelzeit: a little education can be empowering for keeping the resolution to eat healthier, fresher foods

urban density: exploring the crowded high-rises of Hong Kong

ikumen: the rise of the Japanese hot dads is changing the traditional roles of parenting for the better

rubisco: botanists tinker with photosynthesis to make the process more efficient

fishbit and half-wit: an assortment of the dumbest smart gadgets premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) technology expo

minor arcana: the Tarot deck-like miniatures of Robert Coutelas 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

minor arcana

Via Boing Boing, we’re treated to a suite of Tarot cards generated with a procedural, algorithmic model that is similar to the technique used in video games to create virtual universes and randomised, extended landscapes and textures. This demonstration from developer Watabou was an entrant to a symposium dedicated to exploring the craft of making software that makes things.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

four of pentacles

Well prior to digital image editing, art student Bea Nettles undertook in the early 1970s the project of creating the first complete tarot card deck in photographic form. The Mountain Dream Tarot was an inspired vision and the resulting suits, not just the trump cards of the major arcana—improvised, intuitive and idiosyncratic but following the standard, established iconography—evoke a haunting feeling in keeping with the esoteric nature of cartomancy and employ models, props and backdrops from Appalachia.
The fifty six cards of the minor arcana (whose production must have been painstaking and required dedication and planning) are the wands symbolising the peasant class and the faculties of creativity and willpower, the coins or pentacles representing the merchants and material possessions and physical health, the cups or chalices of the clergy for emotion and love and finally the swords of the nobility or the executive that represent reason.  Be sure to check out the link up top for more information and to see a whole gallery of the cards.

Friday, 3 November 2017

major arcana

Despite the banal and unsurprising nature of the cards we are dealt by our daily social media digest, it’s still nonetheless exciting to forecast one’s fortune and fate. One clever illustrator from Italy named Jacopo Rosati, we were introduced to by Dangerous Minds, obliges with a collection of tarot cards that make up a narrative of the typical user experience.