Robert Pirsig, Author Of ‘Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance,’ Dead At 88

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Robert M. Pirsig, author of the influential 1970s philosophical novel “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” died on Monday at the age of 88, his publisher said.

William Morrow & Co. executive editor Peter Hubbard said in a statement that Pirsig’s wife Wendy had confirmed his death at his home in Maine “after a period of failing health.”

Published in 1974 after being rejected by more than 100 other publishers, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” was the father-son story of a motorcycle trip across the western United States. Loosely autobiographical, it also contained flashbacks to a period in which the author was diagnosed as schizophrenic.

The book quickly became a best-seller. Pirsig said its protagonist “set out to resolve the conflict between classic values that create machinery, such as a motorcycle, and romantic values, such as experiencing the beauty of a country road.”

Born in Minneapolis, Pirsig had a high IQ and graduated high school at the age of 15. He earned a degree in philosophy and also worked as a technical writer and instructor of English before being hospitalized for mental illness in the early 1960s.

His philosophical thinking and personal experiences during these years, including a 1968 motorcycle trip across the U.S. West with his eldest son, Christopher, formed the core of the narrative of the novel.

Pirsig worked on the sequel, “Lila: An Inquiry into Morals” for 17 years before its publication in 1991. The story traced a sailboat journey taken by two fictitious characters along America’s eastern coast.

Pirsig lived the last 30 years in South Berwick, Maine and is survived by his wife Wendy, two children and three grandchildren. His son Chris died in 1979.

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Do You Know Where Your Clothes Come From?

Have you ever considered where your clothing comes from? No, not the brand name, but the workers who stitched together your outfit at a tremendously small wage. Fast fashion brands like H&M, Nordstrom, GAP, and Forever 21 depend on vastly underpaid workers (as little as $4/hour) to make clothing at alarming rates to meet consumer demand.

Most fast fashion brands can’t afford to be ethical, but you can. As today is Fashion Revolution Day, we urge you to consider the implications of your clothing choices. Today is designed to draw attention to the fact that much of the global fashion industry is opaque, exploitative and environmentally damaging.

The fashion industry desperately needs revolutionary change. While we all love fashion, our clothes shouldn’t come at the cost of people or our planet. So, check out the video above from Remake. Perhaps it will help you reconsider how you consume clothing. There are ethical fashion brands out there, but you have to make the choice to seek them out. That’s what real change looks like.

For more on how you can make a change with your clothing head over to Fashion Revolution Day’s website. It’s a valuable resource for information, activism, and how you can get involved.

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Everyone Missed Something In Those New ‘Game Of Thrones’ Photos

Few things are as great as knowing something before you’re supposed to. It’s the same feeling you get from yelling at Steve on “Blue’s Clues” about what the clues actually mean. He’s giving you that blank stare, not because he’s actually staring into a camera lens and can’t hear you, but because you’re a total boss.

Jon Snow will never have that feeling. Jon Snow knows nothing. However, we might know something new about him and where “Game of Thrones” is going. It’s all because of this photo:

After HBO released Season 7 photos, including this one of Sam and Gilly, fans have been frantically trying to decode what Gilly is reading.

Now, apparently, they have.

As reported by “Game of Thrones” fan site Winter is Coming, Redditor itsjayrr pointed out that the page seems to be out of George R.R. Martin’s book The World of Ice & Fire, which tells the history of Westeros. The passage talks about Azor Ahai, the person who’s supposed to save everyone.

See it here:

Upon our own inspection, it does seem like key words in the image do match up with the text from the book.

On the page from The World of Ice & Fire, we hear about “The Long Night,” a time when winter supposedly lasted for a generation. Then, a hero known as Azor Ahai came along to help rid the land of the White Walkers. A prophecy tells of the return of Azor Ahai, sometimes used interchangeably with the term The Prince That Was Promised. Either way, this legendary character is seen as the person who will ultimately save Westeros.

The paragraph further emphasizes the importance of the prophecy within the “Game of Thrones” universe and makes us wonder: who will be Azor Ahai?

Is it Dany? Is it Jon Snow? Someone else? The debate can go on and on.

Kit Harington told HuffPost that he didn’t care if his character, Jon Snow, is the Prince or not, which is probably for the best. If the page Gilly’s perusing is from The World of Ice & Fire, Snow has bigger problems.

Something is coming to “Game of Thrones,” and it ain’t winter … 

It’s Ice Spiders.

Oh what a tangled ice web we weave …

Following the revelation about the book, we checked out our own copy of The World of Ice & Fire.

When you look at the specific section of text, it’s easy to notice that the rest of the page has a reference to the White Walkers using giant ice spiders. There’s even a picture of White Walkers with the spiders. If the book Gilly is using is some version of The World of Ice & Fire, continued reading will reveal the same. 

Giant ice spiders have already been mentioned on the show. Old Nan told Bran about them back in Season 1, saying the White Walkers’ spiders were as big as hounds. 

Are the spiders coming? Time will tell.

But, yeah, duh, why not? 

If this book on the show is being looked to as fact, Sam and Gilly better hope they have Hagrid from “Harry Potter” coming to help. That dude loves spiders. Ron will probably want to stay home.

Ice spiders are coming.

“Game of Thrones” Season 7 premieres July 16.

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An Artist Tells The Story Of Her Rape Through Thousands Of Tally Marks

At first, Shannon Mackenzie’s “Rotatio” appears like a vast mandala of tally marks, arranged on a white wall in a six-foot wide circle. Look closer, however, and you will notice words embedded within the tallies, softly vying for your attention.

“His kiss was a bomb,” reads one. “I blacked out,” another. Together, these gasps of written texts tell a story ― the story of when Mackenzie was raped. 

“When I first imagined the piece, actually making it felt like one of the scariest things I could do,” Mackenzie wrote in an email to HuffPost. “I was afraid to tell people what happened. I was afraid to share it with people I loved. I was afraid to use his name. I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to finish it. At the same time, I knew that not making it would hurt me even more.”

Mackenzie began sketching and participating in drawing exercises following her assault as a way to alleviate stress and anxiety. The simple action of applying thousands of tick marks, one after another, became, for the artist, a means of survival, a reason to keep going and keep marking. One night, the artwork she’d subconsciously embarked upon revealed its final shape: a conglomeration of simple tally marks stretched into a dark orb of uniform markings. A shadowy circle, whose edges were already bleeding beyond their allotted edges. 

“The circle has always been a powerful symbol,” Mackenzie said, “representing a whole, feminine energy, cycles, the universe.” She was particularly influenced by a Thomas Moore quote, which she shared: “All the work on the soul takes the form of a circle, a rotatio.” 

For 33 hours over the course of two weeks, Mackenzie participated in the meditative ritual of applying mark after mark, sprinkling in the painful details of the night she was attacked. She includes the name of her rapist in the piece, a decision not rooted in revenge, as the artist explained, but in her desire to tell her story without shame or censorship, relieving herself of some of the weight of the abuse she’s continued to carry. 

“Its creation was about storytelling, but only to those who wanted to hear the story, to read it,” the artist said. “It was a way for me to finally share what happened to me so that I could stand on it and justify its reality in my life.” 

Many of the people who saw the piece in person, Mackenzie recalled, didn’t even realize that language was buried amid the lines. They took in the image as a whole but did not absorb the entirety of the narrative and the strength it required.

At the end of the performance, Mackenzie painted over the outcome of her work with white paint, marking the piece’s conclusion with a blank canvas, a new beginning. The only record of the piece lives in a short documentary Ian McClerin made of the piece in 2015, also titled “Rotatio.” 

Initially Mackenzie never intended the piece to be viewed by a large public audience; it was her project, her story, her healing process. But McClerin, who documented the piece from start to finish on film, encouraged Mackenzie to share her story, “take the leap,” submit to film festivals and reach out to a wider viewership.

“To be completely honest, I made this piece with no expectations of feedback beyond the small group of people that saw it in person,” Mackenzie said. “I was terrified of what the feedback might be. And now, I am blown away by the responses ― so much positivity, from individuals who I’ve never met to people in my own community, that have been able to reach out to me in collective support. The feedback and the entire process has truly changed me life in a way that I never could have imagined.”

Under four minutes long, McClerin’s short film has now been viewed over 80k times on Vimeo. The simple image of a floating circle infested with tally marks speaks to the universality of the pain of being a survivor of rape. The language interspersed throughout reveals the individuality of every unique instance.

Mackenzie’s ritual was a monumental purge ― a rejection and ejection of fear, of shame, of painful memories, of fragments of old self, of silence. “There is a saying that you get out as much as you put in,” the artist says in the video, while painting over her labor-intensive creation, ruminating on its lasting impact. “This is post-traumatic growth. This is something you carry forever, regardless of how it affects you.”

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You Can Now Download And Use The Fonts Of Your Favorite ’90s TV Shows

If you’ve longed to write “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” fan fiction in the exact font the iconic ‘90s horror anthology used for its logo ― well, dedicated SNICK follower, your time has come.

Thanks to this website, you can write all the teenage campfire drama you want, in the Benguiat Bold typeface you’ve come to love. In fact, you can even read a bit about the font’s origins, and other typefaces destined for ‘90s TV show stardom, thanks to typography expert Alexander Tochilovsky, the design curator of the Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography in New York City.

“The ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ logo is an interesting one,” he explains on the site. “While it’s seemingly very simple with the oval and a clip art like hand, the decision to use this particular typeface is slightly more sophisticated. Conceptually, though, it fits the show perfectly and has the right feel for the intended audience ― especially with the ‘glow in the dark’ vibe it carries.”

Not interested in Tochilovsky’s breakdown of “AYAOTD?” font? (For shame.) How about his take on the “Frasier” typeface? Or “Rugrats”? Or “Fresh Prince”? Or “Twin Peaks”? 

The list goes on. Tochilovsky’s got a whole host of downloadable fonts on the site, courtesy of interactive content creation platform Ceros, along with blurbs that let you know that Gabriel Weiss’ “Friends” font is hand-drawn, and that the “Law and Order” typeface is called Friz Quadrata Std Roman, while the “90210” font is Newhouse DT SuperCondensed Bold. 

Typography devotees, go ahead and enjoy a little bit of nostalgia with your dose of design.

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Target Turned Its Shopping Carts Into ‘Mario Karts’

Mario Kart fans, get pumped!

In honor of the April 28 launch of Mario Kart 8 for Nintendo Switch, Target has unveiled themed shopping carts, entrance music and more. 

On April 20, over 650 Target stores across the country went into “full game-on mode” with Mario Kart carts featuring Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach. This is the first time Target has decorated its iconic red carts.

The stores also feature big round Mario and Luigi bollards, and the entrances have been transformed into starting lines. “As you walk through, motion sensors fire up flashing lights and play Mario’s catchy theme song,” states a press release for the video game festivities.

“Experience counts—it’s what keeps guests coming in and coming back to our stores,” senior vice president of merchandising, Scott Nygaard, notes in the press release. “So we’re delivering the fun like only Target can, giving generations of Mario fans a shopping trip they won’t soon forget.”

Indeed, both parents and kids who love Mario Kart have been enjoying the new additions.

But not everyone is a fan. Writing for Scary Mommy, Valerie Williams noted that while mothers love Target for its breastfeeding policies, empowering clothing options and more, this latest innovation may not be ideal for all parents. 

“Ugh. So that means if we have our kids with us, they’re going to beg for one of the few Mario Kart carts and then possibly mow people down while we mull over our face wash options?” she wrote. “And that’s assuming we can get one and they aren’t throwing a fit because there are no Princess Peach carts left.”

If you share Williams’ concerns, fear not! The Mario Kart elements are part of a limited-time experience expected to last only a few weeks.

So for everyone else, get your fix while you can.

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Happy 50th Anniversary To ‘The Outsiders,’ The Book That Created A Genre

While other teens spent their time navigating the frustrating social hierarchies of high school, S.E. Hinton deigned to write about them. The result ― the classic, best-selling novel The Outsiders ― was published in 1967, 50 years ago today.

The coming-of-age book, which is often studied by young readers in school, follows Ponyboy Curtis and his friends, who are jumped after leaving a movie theatre. Ponyboy’s a member of the Greasers, and the kids who jump him are Socs; he thinks it’s impossible for members of the different gangs to get along, until he spends time with one of the Socs’ girlfriends, Cherry Valance.

This breach has consequences, though. Ponyboy and his friend Johnny find themselves in increasingly dire scenarios, culminating in a church fire.

Hinton was only 15 when she started writing the book, which was later turned into a film, and 18 when it was published. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she said, “There was nothing realistic being written for teens at that time. It was all, like, Mary Jane Goes to the Prom. And I’d been to a few proms, and that was not what was happening. I really wanted to read a book that dealt realistically with teenage life as I was seeing it.”

So, instead of penning what was essentially an instruction manual for how teens ought to behave, Hinton took a critical look at how kids did behave, where she lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Outsiders examines class, and the role it can play not only in how students interact, but in their ability to put their best foot forward in school.

By the end of the book, it’s revealed that Ponyboy’s story is being told for an English paper. He’s at risk of failing the class, but his teacher has allowed him a shot at passing if he’s able to pick a compelling topic. So he chooses his own experiences.

In the EW interview, Hinton said her book is “basically” responsible for creating the entire genre of YA. While the book wasn’t an immediate hit ― “my success was slow,” Hinton said ― her publisher noticed that it resonated with a certain market.

“Teachers were using it in classrooms and kids were passing it along by word of mouth. All of a sudden it was like, ‘Oh, there is a market we can specifically tap into there.’” Hinton told EW.

Before that, books about young protagonists weren’t necessarily written for young readers; Hinton cites Catcher in the Rye, but there’s also Twain and Dickens, and others whose language is suited to adults.

Today, realistic YA is a huge genre, with authors like John Green, Nicola Yoon and R.J. Palacio getting their work turned into popular movies. Those writers may have Hinton to thank ― her classic book has, thankfully, stayed gold.

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Chris Pratt Tried To Get That ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Easter Egg Out Of James Gunn

(Warning! Minor “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” spoilers below.)

Guardians of the Galaxy 2” is just about as eggs-cellent as the first movie.

Everything down to the logo on Star-Lord’s shirt appears to be a surprise Easter egg or reference, but before we can focus on the new installment, there’s still one mystery remaining from the original. And Chris Pratt wants to get to the bottom of it.

After the first “Guardians of the Galaxy,” director James Gunn teased one big Easter egg that no one had been able to find. Since then, the conundrum has given the internet conniptions, with countless heroes failing to figure out the secret. Thankfully, Pratt wants to tell us exactly what it is. The only problem is he doesn’t know “shit.”

“[Gunn] won’t tell me what it is. I asked him. He won’t tell me. I’m like, ‘C’mon, man. Don’t you trust me?’ He’s like, ‘No.’ He thinks I’ll spoil it. He won’t tell me shit,” Pratt told The Huffington Post in a recent interview.

Yeah, not even Star-Lord knows.

Pratt added of Gunn, “He won’t tell me stuff. There are certain elements that he just won’t tell me. He loves to withhold information from me. That pisses me off so much. But I totally trust him, and he’s really smart too, because I would be blabbing all over the place.”

Pratt continued chatting with HuffPost about the stuff he could blab about, such as getting a “Jurassic World” meme sent to him by Robert Downey Jr., how he now gets his life advice from Iron Man, and why Star-Lord would get his “ass kicked” by The Avengers.

You said your shirt was an Easter egg for a candy bar. Is that candy ever going to be on “What’s My Snack?”

Oh my God. Well, if it does, I’ll give you credit, Bill. That’s amazing. That’s exactly what should happen. From my understanding, it’s a logo from a piece of candy or candy bar, some sort of snack, from the first movie; this space candy, maybe like these little gummy drops or something. James [Gunn] really loved the font, this made up alien font, and they ended up using that image on the shirt … I pictured it as a guy who would wear a Reese’s Pieces shirt ironically. He’s like wearing space candy on his shirt. He knows that other people know what it is and think it’s funny.

Kurt Russell plays your dad in the movie. What’s it like playing catch with him and an energy ball?

It feels so great. It’s like “Field of Dreams” in real life. We had that moment, and they’re shooting it on a beautiful, big, 65mm digital camera, and shooting it at 60 frames. I’m playing like slow-motion catch. I’m playing catch with a dude who literally was a pro baseball player, like an icon of my childhood, in a film that was costing a couple hundred thousand dollars a day, and I was like the center of it. Honestly, I don’t have the words to express how cool it was. 

Robert Downey Jr. sent you a meme of your “Jurassic World” character holding back the Avengers …

Oh, man. That was so surreal. It was really cool. It is one of the many examples of what a class act Downey is. He is so great. On set, when we were working on “The Avengers,” he’s the captain. He takes care of everybody. He has experience in a realm that very few people on the planet do, and he’s open to share that for the benefit of me and other people who have that in common with him. That’s really cool because there are very few people I can turn to for advice in certain avenues of my life now, and he’s become one of those people. He let me know that immediately. He said, “Listen, you’re gonna have some questions, and I’m the guy you call.” It’s pretty fucking cool. 

How would Star-Lord do in that position? We know the Guardians of the Galaxy are in the upcoming “Avengers” movies. What do you think about possibly bringing that moment to life in the future?

I know that the fans have really wanted to see the Avengers and the Guardians together. I’ve heard it basically since the first movie came out and was a success. The fans are gonna get that. I don’t know how he’d fare. Peter Quill’s not Thor. He’s not Hulk. He’s not a god. He’s not even a superhero. He’s a part of a family. He’s a part of a team, which is a little bit what sets the Guardians apart from the Avengers. So, I think he’d probably get his ass kicked, unless he had a lot of help from his team. He probably would always have a lot of help from his team, so maybe he’d fare all right. If it’s mano a mano, he’d get his ass kicked. 

”Guardians of the Galaxy 2” hits theaters May 5.

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Kendrick Lamar’s Mom Texted Him An Album Review That Only A Mother Could

Kendrick Lamar’s biggest fan could not keep it together after listening to K. Dot’s latest album, “DAMN.”

On Saturday, Lamar posted an album review that only a mother could write to his Instagram account. In an emoji-riddled text message, his mother, Paula Oliver, made it clear that she was in awe of her son’s latest work.

“OMG. This cd is bombbbbb!  ,” his mom’s praise begins. “You should of put me and your daddy on this one too     j/k.” 

(In Lamar’s “Good Kid, m.A.A.d City,” a duo posing as his parents make a comical appearance toward the end of “Money Trees.”)

”This your best one to me, no bullshit  ,” she continued. The text also relays that his mom isn’t the only fan of the album. Someone else whom Oliver refers to as “lil ken ken” is said to have been milly rocking to “DAMN.”

Lamar’s studio work isn’t the only reason the rapper has been making rounds in the news. As one of this year’s Coachella headliners, he wowed fans as he closed last weekend’s performances with a midair rendition of “Money Trees.” 

While mama Oliver wasn’t able to watch the performance, she said she heard about the set from Lamar’s fans, whom she refers to as “diehards.” 

The “Humble” rapper acknowledged his mother’s acclaim with the praying hands emoji. But he seemed to be most intrigued by Oliver’s own use of emojis. 

“You going emoji brazy. Who taught you ‘ ’? Lol,” he responded. 

Who knows, K. Dot. They’re getting so advanced these days.

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This Poem About The Darkness Of Depression Gets Beautifully Animated

I first began writing poetry when I was in high school to escape the constant and merciless torture inflicted on me by the homophobic monsters I called my classmates. My biology teacher, bless her, let me hide out in her lab during lunch or other free periods so I could avoid whatever living nightmares awaited me in the school hallways, and I began to write as a way to process the agony I was living through.

20 years later, I’m alive and thriving, and I credit poetry as playing a large part in me still being on this planet. Today, I have an MFA in poetry from New York University, and while my job as editorial director of HuffPost Voices makes it hard for me to dedicate the kind of time and energy I’d like to my poetry, I still write ― often to work through confusion or pain or other emotions in the same way I did as a 14-year-old.

Last year, in the midst of a particularly bad bout of depression, I wrote a poem entitled “This Might Not Make Sense Now, But Don’t Worry, It Will.” The poem deals with the strange and devastating feeling of being so distanced from the things that made me happy that, while not being suicidal, I worried that I had become so apathetic about my life that it now held little meaning for me.

After reading the poem, Carina Kolodny, a creative director at HuffPost (and a friend of mine) asked if Ji Sub Jeong, one of HuffPost’s talented multimedia producers, could have a go at animating it, and I was incredibly moved by the poem’s transformation from written word to animated short. 

Today we’re sharing the piece as part of National Poetry Month. Check it out above and read the poem below.

 

This Might Not Make Sense Now, But Don’t Worry, It Will
for Paolo Fanoli

When I ask Paolo how to draw the line between 

not wanting to live anymore and wanting to die, 

all he’ll quietly commit to is “that isn’t funny.”

 

I’m worried I worry him.

 

He says if I ever left him he would keep my body 

under his bed and drag it out once a day to remember me, 

prop up the less and less of me that’s left of me 

and remind me of the world I left behind me — just look! 

Some people can wake up every morning, open their 

eyes and recognize something beautiful, even if it’s 

just the sun slobbering across the bedroom floor with its 

hot black tongue, 

 

so, why can’t you?

 

He’s right, of course, but when I was 14, nothing was 

more beautiful than the thought of the heavy gray 

garage door guarding the far edge of my family’s driveway 

and how sweetly, how surely it could kiss my head

apart from the rest of my body if only I asked it sweetly 

enough.

 

Things were different then

 

I still was afraid to ask for what I wanted then and I 

spent my lunch hours holed up in the biology lab hiding 

from the other boys, sobbing into my sandwich, another 

pickled frog prince bobbing in his embalming fluid, one more 

never-born piglet day-drunk on the useless daydream of 

one day living someone else’s life on the other side of the glass 

 

but we both know how that story ends.

 

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