Carboard Dueling: Through A Series of Tubes


A week ago, in a fighting rink hidden behind trees in the middle of San Francisco, I witnessed a grand melee. As dust rose and danced in the July light, a tournament of warriors fought each other for honor and glory. It was an epic battle of worthy and agile opponents: children, grown men and women, and elderly paladins alike. The game stretched on for several hours. Competitors were eliminated after rounds of bludgeoning each other with swords, their broken weapons littering the ground.

If you’re a little bit worried about casualties – don’t bother. The key element to this glorious battle was its weapon of choice – a cardboard tube. “Tube Fighting” is all the rage right now, even though the concept is only two years old, officially. While living in Seattle, a fellow named Robert Easley pondered ways to encourage friends and strangers to go out into the summer sunshine and do something playful, interactive and free. Eventually, he brainstormed the idea of hosting a melee with cardboard swords.


Since its inception, the game has grown into a large-scale network, with official chapters in cities like San Francisco and Sydney, as well as scores of unaffiliated gatherings taking place globally every summer. The rules of the game are simple –show up to the meeting spot and sign up on the list to be matched with a friend, or stranger, in battle. Regulation cardboard tubes are available for free if you are participating in one of the events organized by an official chapter. Otherwise, bring your own. The objective is to so thoroughly batter your opponent’s cardboard tube that it will break, thus disqualifying your competitor from advancing into the next round. Nobody actually hits each other – it’s their tubes that take all the beating.

Besides being a fun and cathartic form of stress release –drawing a large audience cheering from the sidelines– the tournament also encourages creativity, as many people make elaborate armor and helmets out of cardboard. Nothing is quite like the sight of a trio of Vikings in a cardboard ship being chased by a cardboard-headed robot, or a 5 year old girl pumping her fists in the air victoriously after winning yet another round of the tournament.

Tube Vikings Kristin, Layla and Jinny.

For official rules, check out If a League game isn’t officially scheduled in your home city, why not start your own? Just get some cardboard tubes, invite some friends and head out to a park or city square. (Make sure to double check regulations about large gatherings, before arranging a melee, of course). These photos from a week ago may prove inspirational.

More photos from Tanya’s outing after the jump. Not to be missed!

I Love Sarah Jane (and the Zombie Genre in General)

Sheesh. There sure are a lot of cynical snarkmuffins out there, rolling their eyes, quick to dismiss an entire genre out of hand: “Oh, that whole zombie thing? So over, man. Played out. Vampires are the new cosmonauts are the new ninjas are the new unicorns are the new zombies are the new pirates. NEXT FAD, PLZ. KTHXBYE.” Jaded much? Bite me, guys. You shall pry my love of the living dead from my cold, dead, grabby hands.

Decades before movies like 28 Days Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake reanimated the genre, before the rise of zombie flash mobs, or the obvious necrotization of Joaquin Phoenix, an immense zombie canon had long been informing, inspiring, and most definitely infecting swarms of Fulci and Romero obsessed nerds the world over.  And just because the culture at large has had their fifteen-minute-fill of brain-eaters doesn’t mean we have!

A still from I Love Sarah Jane.

In my opinion, the visceral metaphors are as culturally relevant now as they were back in 1968, when “they’re coming to get you, Barbara” first became a household phrase. It’s deeply sad that due to short attention spans and media over-saturation, a lot of potentially fascinating zombie-related films have never gotten off the ground. For instance, the scrappy, long-struggling DIY project, Worst Case Scenario. (Check out these stunning trailers, sporting undead nazi balloonists and an original score from J.G. Thirlwell!) The producers of “the greatest zombie movies never made” finally conceded defeat in May 2009.

Why write something off just because it’s a certain genre? “Oh, I’ve seen it all before.” What if you haven’t? Hell, what if I haven’t, and I don’t want you cockblocking me?! Besides, if the tale being told is engaging, who cares what overused pigeonhole it goes in? At the heart of good storytelling, whatever the medium, is a solid narrative and compelling cast of characters. Case in point, the following short indie film from Australia, I Love Sarah Jane.* It’s a riveting coming-of-age vignette with a richly implied back story that just happens to take place the middle of a zombie apocalypse. The wonderful cinematography, AD, editing, and truly disgusting gore effects are all gravy:

I Love Sarah Jane. A short film from Australia, written by Spencer Susser & David Michôd. Directed by Spencer Susser.

While it stands well on it own merit, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing the story of Jimbo and Sarah Jane expanded. Or those of Max Brooks’ World War Z characters. Shit, just give us a proper a theater re-release of Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, and we’ll call it a day!

*Thanks to Ed Brubaker for the heads up. Speaking of great storytelling, Ed’s pulp thriller webseries, Angel of Death, is now available on DVD. Go get some. Y’know, unless you’ve had your fill of Zoe Bell kicking ass and cracking wise. In which case, you must be brain dead.


July 31st: untold years into the future. The incept date of a mysterious being known in this dimension as Zoetica Ebb. Deep in the dank, aromatic depths of the Coilhouse Catacombs, we’d all been wracking our brains as to how to best celebrate another year of the glorious Zobogrammatron’s dalliance in our own space/time.


We know she likes shiny baubles. And pure electricity. And raw meat. So, for weeks, we all pooled our modest resources, collecting them in a special porcine receptacle with the intention of taking Z out for sushi tonight, followed by dancing and Jacob’s Ladder-licking at the Edison Lounge. Also, Nadya and I spent countless nights sneaking away to a top secret, tucked-away laboratory alcove of the Catacombs. Combining our formidable thaumaturgical and soldering skills, we crafted a Rundell Tiara facsimile from unclassifiable, glittering glassine fragments found lining the deep crater in Siberia where Zoetica was said to be discovered.

The ominous crown was finally completed in the wee hours of this very morning. So very proud we were, and so very tired, we forgot to engage the Catacomb’s alarm system before passing out cold in our cots. Or to feed Ross Rosenberg (our brilliant but pathologically ill associate whose cage office is also located here) his daily can of uncooked Spaghettios.

A few hours later, we were awakened by the sound of maniacal cackling. Rushing into the central chamber, we caught a glimpse of Ross clambering out of the jimmied escape hatch with our piggy bank tucked under one arm and the precious Doom Tiara perched askew upon his malformed cranium. “I’M A PRETTY PRETTY PRINCESS. SAY IT!”

“Yes, Ross! You are! You’re the prettiest princess in all the land! Please, just put down the pig!”


“Ross! Nooooooooo!”

“SEE YOU IN HELL!!” With that, he slammed the escape hatch shut, leaving us bereft in the moldering darkness. But let it never be said that we are not resilient, resourceful gals. At the very last minute, through the magic of some hastily cooked up bathtub MDMA, Ross’s discarded balloon stash, and the Craigslist strippergram directory, we are still going to be able to observe Zoetica’s special day with an appropriate degree of sexiness and aplomb.


Happy birthday, Z. Love ya.

The Internet Finds Phineas Gage

As far as medical curiosities go few are as famous in professional circles as Phineas Gage. Gage was 25 years old and working as a foreman for a blasting crew preparing a railroad bed outside of Cavendish, Vermont when, on September 13, 1848 he became the victim of an unfortunate accident. While using an iron rod to tamp gunpowder and sand into a hole in the rock a spark was struck and the resulting explosion sent the 3’7″, 13 and 1/2 pound rod through his left cheek and out the top of his skull. Amazingly, he did not die. When he was brought to Harvard University, doctors there made a cast of his head. It, along with Gage’s skull and the tamping iron that changed his life, remain on display at the university’s Warren Anatomical Museum.

What happened to Gage after the accident mostly comes to us through a report by Dr. Henry Jacob Bigelow, published in Proceedings of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Gage apparently returned to work but was much changed since his accident, he was “fitful, irreverent, indulging at times in the grossest profanity”. (Author’s Note: It has come to my attention that the basis for this quote comes, in fact, from Gage’s physician John Martyn Harlow. See comments.) For a time he exhibited himself in P.T. Barnum’s American Museum in New York City. He also worked with Currier’s livery stable and coach business for a year and a half, and in Chile in the same capacity. He died in 1860, 11 1/2 years after the accident, in California. After his death a litany of odd facts were added to those 11 1/2 years. Gage’s mother related to Harlow that he would often make up stories to entertain his nieces and nephews. This may have contributed to later stories that embellished his personality shift, turning him into a abusive lunatic and liar. It was also related that he became a slovenly drifter who toured with circus sideshows, most likely due to people seeing the name P.T. Barnum, more famous for his circus than the American Museum.

The most glaring omission in the life of Phineas Gage, however, has been the lack of a photograph of the man. That is, until recently. In 2007 Beverly Wilgus posted a photo on her Flickr account that she and her husband Jack had owned for over 30 years. Thinking the man was holding a harpoon, they titled it “Daguerreotype – One Eyed Man with Harpoon”. There was some discussion as to whether the object in the gentleman’s hands was actually a harpoon and, in December 2008, a commenter suggested that “maybe you found a photo of Phineas Gage? If so, it would be the only one known.” Six months later, a few road trips and a correspondence with a leading expert on Gage under their belt, the Wilguses are certain they have, indeed, the only image of the man. In August the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences will be publishing an article detailing their findings.

via MetaFilter

Ghost Busters (1954)

Like any good, nerdly child of my era I was enamored with the Ghostbusters. The original film is a hallmark of my early years, though I will admit that the cartoon, which would eventually be called The Real Ghostbusters, probably exerted a greater pull on my psyche. It was these representations of the quartet of spirit exterminators whose merchandise adorned my room. These were the faces on the action figures and posters. They were the ones whose proton-packs were emulated by hollow plastic, complete with child-safe foam beam. Wherever I went, a cartoon-themed trail of plastic detritus followed.

The brand has its hooks embedded deep in me, then, so one may understand why I would be so bewitched by this alternate past version of Ghost Busters from Columbia Pictures starring Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, and Fred MacMurray. A Frankenstein’s monster of various films and television shows expertly edited and stitched together to form a pitch-perfect trailer for this horror/sci-fi/comedy from an other-dimensional 1954, featuring a number of subtle references and skillfully hidden nods to a much loved, childhood touchstone. It’s almost enough to make me dig out the old charged particle accelerator.

Hyungkoo Lee’s “Objectuals” and The Constant Siege

8-EP, by Hyungkoo Lee, from the series Objectuals.

If you’re not reading CONSTANT SIEGE, you should be. Photographer Clayton Cubitt’s tumbleblog diary is full of memorable quotes, photographs and footage, mixed in with Cubitt’s own work. The result is a voyeuristic glimpse at an artist’s audiovisual predilections, similar to Audrey Kawasaki’s ffffound page in the sense that you can draw interesting comparisons between what the author chooses to “clip” and what they produce. Most artists keep a secret stash of images they find interesting, and I appreciate those who share at least a small portion of that with the public.

Together, the past week’s eclectic collection of discoveries – which includes a sensual Gabriel von Max painting titled The Anatomist, a grisly early 20th-century Manhattan crime scene, a silicon sculpture of a human face that’s equally realistic and demonic, the Oriental rat flea, a fascination with with plague doctor masks spanning several posts, the first photo ever taken by Cubitt (at age 5), an SS recruiting poster from Norway that’s perfectly in keeping with Cubitt’s photographic color scheme, and the “Highlights from Wildwood, NJ” video – officially make this the Best Constant Siege Week Ever.

Enlarging My Right Hand with Gauntlet 1 by Hyungkoo Lee

Going a little further back, I was taken by these images from Hyungkoo Lee’s series Objectuals. Lee’s surreal augmentation of the face and body reminds me of Paddy’s Hartley’s experiments with face corsets, and faintly recalls my favorite shot from the movie Brazil. More images from the series after the jump, and yet more on Lee’s site.

Nerd Up, Fall On Your Sword. Nerd Up.

According to Fall On Your Sword, stuff Captain James T. Kirk wants nothing more than to make love to the mountain. (This, after ingesting too much LSD and wrapping his penis in pure alcohol.) Thanks, internet.

(Via Neil Gaiman. Cheers.)

BTC: Kooky Swedish Hottie, Cia Berg (and Ubangi)

Does anybody else who wore a flannel tied around their waist in the mid 90s remember the band Whale? Anyone? Kinda? Barely? Yeah… I know most of the hissing, static backwash of post-grunge era MTV Alternative Nation had all but evaporated from my palate. But to this day, there’s a place in my heart (and pants) for that frizzy-haired “Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe” and her mouth full of braces. In the Venn Diagram where silly and sexy intersect, stands Cia Berg.

Years after Whale had receded into distant memory, I stumbled across the above video of a super young, extra svelte Cia goofing off with her first band, Ubangi. I’d never heard of ’em before, but it was love at first listen. The guys in the group are hilarious; they reminds me of a low-rent, less dignified DEVO (if they’re derivative it’s in the best possible way!) and baby Berg looks quite fetching without the punk rock perm.

A few more adorable Ubangi clips (including a ditty called “Where Have All the Good Sperms Gone”??!) after the jump.

Interior Decorating

In my mind’s eye there stands a mansion. From the outside it appears somewhat modest, at least for a mansion. Comprised of brick, mortar, and stone its facade is dotted with windows. It is wider than it is tall, though not by a great degree. It has a circular car park in front of it which you reach by driving down a long, cobblestone driveway. It is surrounded by green, verdant lawns. It is a conglomeration of every Merchant Ivory movie ever made. The skies in this place are always gray. It is a pleasant gray if such a thing exists.

Inside this mansion things become askew. The interior space is an impossibility when one considers the exterior dimensions. Hallways stretch seemingly forever, leading to room upon cavernous room. The architect of my mind’s mansion clearly shows his Escher influences without shame. When you walk your footsteps echo.

And everywhere, everywhere, there are shelves and drawers; cupboards and cubbyholes. The mansion in my mind has a library the size of a sports arena, the shelves rising multiple stories accessed by stairs and platforms and ladders. To attempt to reach a book in my library is to taunt death. The mansion in my mind is a container, a repository for things; a dilettante’s warehouse.

The mansion in my mind is always under construction; though there is never any construction to be seen. Every time I open my browser an addition appears. Sometimes it’s just an another piece of furniture; yet another card catalog on Craigslist. Sometimes it’s an entire room. Today it happens to be a Romanian pharmacy. I think the mansion in my mind could use a pharmacy.

via Curious Expeditions

Android Fashion by Yuima Nakazato

I don’t write about fashion on Coilhouse as much as I used to. Haute Macabre and Stylecunt have really stepped up to fill the niche for the kind of fashion coverage I craved when Coilhouse first began. That said, something about the work of Yuima Nakazato felt exciting enough to warrant a post here. “Futuristic” fashion may feel incredibly dated, but I never get tired of seeing impossible heels, transluscent garments lit from within by pulsing lights, and stylized metallic augmentations of the body’s contours. I’d love to see a collaboration between Nakazato and photographer Benedict Campbell.

Other than that, things are pretty quiet over here this week. Mer, Zo and I convene in San Diego tomorrow to plot your doom. Ross is once again safely locked up at the catacombs after being allowed a brief visit to the orthodontist, the alectryomancer and the local screening of Harry Potter. David asked us to expense an armored personnel carrier – not sure what that’s all about. Will sort it when we get back.