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
12:38 pm
Sun February 12, 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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Commentary
12:52 pm
Tue January 31, 2012

Into It: Rabbit Jumping

January brought the return of a fledgling UK tradition: the Rabbit Grand National competition. While most people are familiar with equestrian show jumping, where horses are jockeyed through a course of hurdles, this competition hosts an assembly of agile rabbits, all competing for the highest and longest jumps.

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Commentary
9:22 am
Tue January 17, 2012

Into It: Tremolo

A 1949 U.S. tremolo patent.

What is perhaps the most basic musical effect, tremolo—the undulation of volume—has a remarkable history that has yet to be fully documented.

The formal use of tremolo dates back to the 16th century when orchestral shuddering was marked on the page by three lines through a note’s stem and executed by trained bows.

In America, tremolo has long been present in the natural wobble of accordions and harmonicas. In modern electronics, however, tremolo has only been on the map since the 1930s, when it began frequently appearing in organs.

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Commentary
1:33 pm
Tue January 3, 2012

Into It: Time Zones

A map of world time zones.
Rosie Rosenberger Flickr

Time zones are as much about politics and commerce as they are about the correct time itself.

The South Pacific nation of Samoa skipped December 30, 2011, all together. Once resting just twenty miles east of the International Date Line, Samoa skipped that Friday as the line was redrawn. The switch came just in time. The firework flares and car honking that began in Samoa soon chased the New Year around the globe one hour at a time.

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Commentary
10:15 am
Tue December 6, 2011

Into it: Auto-Tune

Auto-Tune has become an overwhelmingly familiar sound in music.

From overt shifts to subtle nudges on albums and in live concerts, Auto-Tune has become a ubiquitous force in pop music since its release. Its first notable appearance was in Cher’s 1998 hit “Believe.”

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Commentary
9:14 am
Fri November 18, 2011

Into It: Lionfish

Lionfish have become a threat to some ecosystems and fishing industries.
Wikipedia

This week on Into It, Andrew Bales tells us that rodeos aren’t just for dry land.

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Commentary
12:00 am
Tue November 8, 2011

Into It: Minitels

A minitel from 1982.
Tieum

France Telecom recently announced their intentions to pull the plug on what has been the communications hub of French homes since the early ‘80s. Minitel terminals, which resemble antiquated Apple computers, will become the latest old-world victim of technology’s forward rush.

But this text-based, modem-dialing machine hasn’t gone without a fight. In the ‘90s, while Americans stocked up on personal computers and moved online, France stayed the technological course with the Minitel’s simple text interface, and not without reason.

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Commentary
10:19 am
Tue September 27, 2011

Into It: Butter Sculptures

Caroline Brooks, an early butter sculptor, at the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

As you wound your way through the Kansas State Fair this year, perhaps you stumbled upon this surreal scene: standing in front of a refrigerated case, a group of wide-eyed Mennonite girls stare at 700 pounds of salted butter that has been reformed into a wild scene of two monkeys riding the backs of bucking sheep. Butter sculptures like this one, best known their pastoral or quirky representations, have surprisingly privileged origins.

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Commentary
8:00 am
Tue August 30, 2011

Into It: Submarines

In 1620, the first submarine was built under the direction of King James I. The wooden boat managed to lumber along at fifteen feet below the surface of the Thames, like a whale propelled by twelve rowing oars.

The development of the submarine took hundreds of years of trial and error across the globe.

In 1620, the first submarine was built under the direction of King James I. The wooden boat managed to lumber along at 15 feet below the surface of the Thames, like a whale propelled by 12 rowing oars.

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Commentary
8:00 am
Tue August 16, 2011

Into It: Blue Holes

Great Blue Hole in Belize.

Blue holes are ancient, flooded caves. To date, over one thousand blue holes have been discovered both inland and in shallow waters from Australia to Egypt to Belize. These water-filled cylinders, like sink holes, are portals to vast caverns, forests of stalactites and stalagmites, hundreds of feet of sheer drop leading to winding tunnels that can branch out for miles.

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