Archive for October, 2016

UPG Picks – Jay

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

The Green Lantern Corps Mug is my favorite mug ever.

I’m not a Green Lantern fan. But I don’t have to be to appreciate true beauty. The execution of this product is pretty much perfect. It does everything we want it to do and it does it well.

When we started talking about making things with DC Comics, we brainstormed some ideas for heat-sensitive transforming mugs. We had to do the obvious ones: Clark Kent turning into Superman, Batman answering the Bat-signal. But we wondered about delving further, and thought it would be fun to do something with the Green Lantern. The Green Lantern flies through space, on an important mission. Add hot water, and the Green Lantern Corps appears behind him to back him up!

We quickly settled on this image from the cover of “Tales of the Green Lantern” Volume 1, issue 3. It has it all – a heroic full-body image of Hal Jordan, and the whole array of the GL Corps lines up behind him.


The heat-sensitive technology on these mugs is a little finicky. Only dark colors can “disappear” effectively, and sometimes the images revealed underneath can have a ghosting effect on them, so they don’t appear very sharp.

The Green Lantern Corps cover image avoids all these problems. It looks just great. Not only is it great comic book art, the colors transfer really well to the mug.

Watching the Corps appear behind Hal Jordan is immensely satisfying. I defy you to not feel the thrill of adventure as the image changes and the army of heroes flies onwards. And it works every time.


Blog of Terror – Shakespeare’s Ghosts. Which one do you believe in???

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

This October we’re being spooky here on the PhLog.

Today’s post is about Shakespearean ghosts!

Ghosts are a staple of Elizabethan theater, but how scary are they?

It depends on whether they’re “Catholic” ghosts or “Protestant” ghosts.

In the living memory of Shakespeare’s time, England had been Catholic, then Protestant, then Catholic, then Protestant again. It was a hot issue. Officially England was Protestant when Shakespeare was writing his plays, but many people were still secretly Catholic. There is even conjecture that Shakespeare was himself a secret Catholic.

The Ghost in "Hamlet." Good or evil?

The Ghost in Hamlet. Good or evil?

Let’s look at how this plays out in a very ghostly play of Shakespeare’s: Hamlet.

The entire action of Hamlet revolves around the appearance of a ghost. If the ghost of Hamlet’s father hadn’t set events in motion just before scene 1, then no play. But is Hamlet’s father a Catholic ghost or a Protestant ghost?

Catholics of the time believed in purgatory, a stopping-over place / rest stop for the spirits of people who were unable to go on to heaven or hell. So if a ghost showed up, he or she was the ghost of someone caught between Earth and their just desserts who was here to convey a message of some kind. A warning, a plea for justice. Like Hamlet’s dad.

But the people of England were officially Protestant. And Protestants saw ghosts as demonic forces here to trick and ensnare humans. Ghosts to Protestant England were like witches: 100% evil.

If the ghost in Hamlet was a Protestant ghost, he was a demon appearing to entice Hamlet to carry out a fiendish plan. Start killing people for revenge and see how many die! Which is exactly what happens in the course of the play.

Of course, if the ghost in Hamlet was a Catholic ghost, he was indeed the spirit of Hamlet’s father and he was there to set things right.

So which was he? And what about the next ghost you see? Will it be Catholic (possibly friendly albeit terrifying) or Protestant (pure evil)?

Let’s all hope it’s not one of those Chinese hungry ghosts.

Blog of Terror – The Body of Jeremy Bentham

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

A wooden cabinet in the main building of University College London contains a grisly item. At first glance, you might think it is a mannequin. But in fact, it is the earthly remains of philosopher Jeremy Bentham.


Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, was a practical man, interested in logic and science. He left instructions in his will for his friends to gather round as his body was dissected. Afterwards, he was to be preserved as an “auto-icon” with skeleton dressed in one of his black suits, and his mummified head placed on top.

Everything went according to plan until they got to his head. Then something went horribly wrong during the mummification process.

He did not look good.


The head of Jeremy Bentham (with glass eyes)

So instead, a wax head was created and placed on top of the body.

Oddly, although his real head was deemed too disturbing to place on top of Bentham’s body, it was displayed in a box for several years before being removed to storage.

Contrary to myths, the body is not regularly wheeled out to attend board meetings, but it’s still creepy.

Behold the virtual auto-icon… if you should think doing so is a morally good action.

Blog of Terror – Murder at Taliesin

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

This month, in honor of Halloween, we’re posting tales of terror!

Today’s post is about when terror came to visit Frank Lloyd Wright.

Taliesin, Wright’s estate, is a National Historic Landmark. What you may not know, is that it is also the site of a brutal mass-murder.

Wright built Taliesin to house his mistress, Mamah Borthwick. The two had left their spouses and run away to Europe together, and when they came back they needed a place to hide out away from scandal. So Wright built a home on his family’s farm.

In the summer of 1914, Wright was working in Chicago and Borthwick was living at Taliesin with her two children. (Wright had abandoned his own six children by then.)

On August 15th, Julian Carlton, a disgruntled servant, brutally murdered Borthwick and one of her sons with a hatchet. He then bolted the door on her other son and a group of servants and employees who were having lunch in another room, and set the place on fire. Seven people died.

To this day, no one knows exactly why Carlton did it. He never gave a reason before he died of starvation in prison several weeks later. Of course there were some wild theories (Wright ordered the murder; Borthwick fired Carlton and he took revenge; Carlton enacted divine retribution for Wright’s and Borthwick’s immoral lifestyle), but we’ll surely never know the real motive.

Wright buried Borthwick on the property and rebuilt Taliesin. It burned down again in 1925 – this time due to an electrical fire – and once again Wright rebuilt it once more.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t haunted.

The hatchet used in the murders

The hatchet used in the murders.