Andrew Bales

Pop culture commentator

Andrew Bales is a Wichita native, co-editor of Fractions Journal and lead coordinator of Wichita’s annual LIV Music Festival. He is studying toward an MFA in Creative Writing at WSU, where he was the 2009-2010 Barr fellow.

He has presented at national conferences on subjects including pop culture and aesthetics, as well as pedagogy and post-contemporary genres.

His writing can be found in editions of NANO Fiction, Touchstone, Johnny America and Fast Forward: an Anthology of Flash Fiction.

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Commentary
6:00 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Into It: The Most Remote Inhabited Island

The island of Tristan da Cunha, known as "the remotest island."
Credit Wikimedia Commons

From the nearest port in South Africa, it takes six days on a fishing boat to reach the small island of Tristan da Cunha. Fifteen hundred miles out into the South Atlantic, simple white homes with bright colored roofs sit in rows on green fields. A sign reads “Welcome to the remotest island,” and behind it Queen Mary’s Peak towers nearly 7,000 feet high.

The most remote inhabited island stayed mostly under the radar for two hundred years.

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Commentary
7:25 am
Tue April 23, 2013

Into It: History Of The Horse Companion

Owners pair their horses with companion ponies, sidekicks that keep them social.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Horses get lonely, just like the rest of us. Left isolated, they become withdrawn and take on bad habits called stable vices.

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Commentary
6:00 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Into It: The Rise Of The Pedestrian Joyride

The word “escalator” was a trademark of the Otis Elevator Company, who used it to describe the wooden-stepped model they displayed at a Paris Exposition in 1900.
Credit Sam Howzit / flickr Creative Commons

The idea of the escalator has been around a lot longer than a working model.

Nathan Ames first patented “Revolving Stairs” in 1859, though he didn’t specify materials or have a practical use in mind.

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Commentary
7:00 am
Tue March 26, 2013

Into It: The Worst Of Super Nintendo

Shaq Fu is a 2D fighting game released on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and Super Nintendo game platforms on October 28, 1994.

Super Nintendo changed the gaming world, but not always for the better.

The 16-bit gaming boom took over the early nineties. It gave us classics like Super Mario World, but it also emboldened marketers to dream up spin-offs. In these crossovers, the best parts about pop stars, TV shows, and movies were often abandoned. The result was a string of glitchy maps and questionable plot.

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Commentary
8:40 am
Tue February 26, 2013

Into It: The Imaginary Island Of California

It wasn't until 1747 that the "Island of California" was decreed to not actually exist.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

California’s San Andreas fault is slowly shifting LA away from the mainland. But we don’t have to look to the future to imagine a disjointed coastline. Instead we can look to the past, to the maps of the 17th and 18th centuries that share a strange discrepancy: the inclusion of the Island of California.

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Commentary
6:19 am
Tue February 12, 2013

Into It: Henry Ford Builds Colony In Brazilian Forest

Felling a Favina Branca with hand axe, Fordlandia 1931.
Credit The Henry Ford / flickr

If there's a pilgrimage for the industrialized world, it probably ends in the Amazon Rainforest, at the center of a abandoned town called Fordlandia.

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Commentary
8:00 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Into It: Rubber Ducky

The various routes the spilled rubber ducks took back in 1992.

Back in the seventies, Sesame Street’s Ernie sang to us about his favorite bath time buddy. But the rubber ducky has seen adventures far beyond the tub.

In 1992, three cargo containers leaving Hong Kong spilled into the Pacific Ocean. This released a shipment of 29,000 ducks, leaving them to bob along the open waters. But they didn’t sit idly by for long.

The pioneer duckies set out on separate paths, aimed at far-flung shores. Ten months and 2,000 miles later, they first made landfall in Alaska. Next, they washed onto the coasts of Australia and South America.

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Commentary
7:51 am
Tue January 15, 2013

Into It: Lesser Water Boatman

The lesser water boatman is known for its male mating call.
Credit Piet Spaans / Wikipedia Creative Commons

The lesser water boatman is an insect usually found feeding on ponds and lakes across Europe. Only a few millimeters long, they look a bit like a sunflower seed with big black eyes and paddling arms.

They're not known for their good looks, but rather the male's mating call, which brings them the status of the loudest animal alive, relative to body size. The call is nearly 100 decibels, equivalent to standing a stone's throw away from a roaring freight train.

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Into It
8:04 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Into It: Space Dives

A famous image of Joe Kittenger's jump from 102,000 feet.
Credit Wikipedia

A year before cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth, American Joe Kittenger took a lift below a two-hundred-foot helium balloon. The ride took an hour and a half in a tiny open-air basket that took him 102,000 feet above New Mexico.

When he jumped from nineteen miles up, the free-fall lasted four and half minutes. Kittenger's space dive began a long and costly race. After Russian Eugene Andreyev set an official free-fall record, an American Nick Piantanida spent the mid-sixties trying to bring the record back to the United States.

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Commentary
8:05 am
Tue December 4, 2012

Into It: Crawlers

Crawlers are the unsung heroes of the United States space program.

Since the Apollo missions of the sixties, the Kennedy Space Center in Florida has been home to an odd couple: a pair of crawler-transporters. Weighing in at six million pounds, their gargantuan metal slab is reminiscent of an oil rig carted around atop four military tanks.

Every space voyage begins its journey on the back of a crawler. From the towering Saturn V rockets to the line of relatively compact shuttles that followed, the odd ritual looks like this:

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