A few weeks ago, the Pasadena Playhouse, a historic theater just outside of Los Angeles, announced that it's totally out of cash and shutting its doors. The news was a blow to the L.A. theater world, as the Playhouse has nearly a 100-year history of great performances and arts education. It was especially bad news for the Furious Theatre Company, the Pasadena Playhouse's current company-in-residence, known for its challenging, intense, controversial, and critically-acclaimed productions. It was also bad news personally, as my brother Robert Pescovitz had been deep in rehearsals with the rest of the Furious ensemble for their latest production, a contemporary black comedy about government/corporate conspiracy titled Men of Tortuga, by Jason Wells. The show was supposed to open last weekend, and suddenly Furious found itself scrambling for a new space. At the eleventh hour though, Furious managed to secure the Pasadena Playhouse for one more month to stage this play. The rescheduled opening night is tomorrow, Saturday, February 26. I haven't seen Men of Tortuga yet, but it sounds like a terrific piss take on corporate politics and shady power brokers. The show runs until March 28.
Three power-brokers scheme with a weapons specialist to assassinate a despised opponent... Too bad they’re all such incompetents. The bungling only gets worse as Maxwell, the senior power-broker, takes a young idealist under his wing. Suddenly his long-dormant conscience begins to reawaken. This comedic thriller discloses a sharp parable that takes a crack at the nastiness of covert governmental and corporate operations.Furious Theatre Company: Men of Tortuga
UPDATE: Furious Theatre Company has kindly offered Boing Boing readers a $10 discount on tickets. When purchasing tickets online, just enter the code: boingboing
Sexy Librarians is just one of several fantastic embroidery patterns made by Sublime â™¥ Stitching and for sale in the Boing Boing Bazaar. There's also Meaty Treats, Vital Organs, and Lucha Libre. Check them all out here. And check out the rest of the Makers Market for more maker-made marvelousness.
I'll be attending a screening of the much-tweeted horrorschlock instaclassic Birdemic tomorrow night in LA, hosted by Tim & Eric ("Season Cinco" of their show debuts Sunday night, and also promises to be great).
Directed by James Nguyen, Birdemic is sort of The Birds meets The Room. Richard Metzger has a comprehensive post about Birdemic over at the LA Times "Brand X" blog. LA folks: The Saturday night Cinefamily screening of Birdemic is sold out, but they've added a second one for March 5. And LOL and behold: Birdemic's on Twitter.
Holy crap, this video truly is the most awesome thing ever!!11one!11. I know nothing about this, other than what's on the YouTube description: "Promo for Giorgio Moroder taken from a Casablanca Records promo tape." I was talking with Joel Johnson about how creepy Moroder seemed in this video, with the pervo-stache and the cocaine shades. "But he mades the trains boogie on time," says Joel. Mr. Moroder is still very much with us, btw: he is 69 years old, and actively composing. Here's his website.
Predictably Irrational author Dan Ariely used to enjoy taking Airborne, until he read reports that it didn't prevent colds. Before he read the reports, he was "97.5% sure" Airborne didn't work, but that tiny bit of doubt was enough for the placebo effect kick in. The news reports killed the placebo effect. He was sad that he didn't have a cold placebo to depend on, but his mother recently sent him a new nostrum and he is happy again. (I think it is Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic "medicine.").
In 1995, astronomer, amateur hacker tracker and Klein-bottle maker Clifford Stoll wrote an essay (and a book, too, but I haven't read that) explaining why this Internet thing will never work. His main argument seems to be, "Hardware and software will all top out in the mid-90s and, thus, the Internet will never ever get any more user friendly or portable. Also, it is different and scary." Hilarity ensues.
The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works ...
What the Internet hucksters won't tell you is that the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don't know what to ignore and what's worth reading. Logged onto the World Wide Web, I hunt for the date of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hundreds of files show up, and it takes 15 minutes to unravel them—one's a biography written by an eighth grader, the second is a computer game that doesn't work and the third is an image of a London monument. None answers my question, and my search is periodically interrupted by messages like, "Too many connections, try again later." ....
Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet-which there isn't-the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.
Why the Internet Will Fail, essay reprinted from Newsweek
Via Unlikely Words
We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert, when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like: I feel a bit lightheaded. Maybe you should drive. Suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us, and the sky was full of what looked like huge bats, all swooping and screeching and diving around the car, and a voice was screaming: Holy Jesus. What are these goddamn animals?
Las Vegas Review reporter Corey Levitan writes an article in which he tries to figure out what was real and what wasn't, which as might be imagined when dealing with Thompson seems like a tough thing to figure.
A concise list of every landing mankind has ever made on other planetary bodies. Have to say, I did not know that the USSR had sent that many probes to Venus. (Via Betsy Mason)
At Institute for the Future, we've started a project looking at the future of persuasion and how technology affects behavior. The researchers are blogging on the subject here, mostly as a way for us to share examples, initial thoughts, and essays-in-progress with each other (and anyone else interested in the subject). Today, my friend Mathias Crawford wrote a very thoughtful and provocative post about persuasive game designed to, say, persuade you to eat less, exercise more, or increase your productivity. In his essay, Mathias suggests that the real potential for persuasive games isn't just to change behavior but also to help us understand why we behave a certain way. From the essay, titled "Ends vs. Means and Persuasive Games" on IFTF's Persuasion blog:
As (Carnegie Mellon professor Jesse) Schell points out (in a videotaped speech making the rounds this week), persuasive technologies like the Ford Fusion dashboard, are already being designed with game-like feedback in mind. To him these technologies fall short, however, because they are being engineered by people who are not game designers. If game designers would start to design reward systems that aimed to improve behaviors, we'd have feedback mechanisms that are much more enjoyable, and as a corollary that are much more effective."Ends vs. Means and Persuasive Games"
Though I agree with his conclusion - that there is a clear need for people with game design expertise to design things that can help people improve behaviors - by focusing on creating technologies that aim to achieving measurable ends, Schell misses a much more important use of persuasive technologies: namely, technology that aims to influence means.
The Smithsonian National Zoo just got a Pacific Giant Octopus. (Weeeelll, sort of. It's a baby, and currently only about three pounds. But it'll be giant someday, promise.) The little critter doesn't have a name yet, but he (they think it's probably a he, maybe) does have a web cam. The camera is set up to capture the octopus at feeding times—11 and 3 Eastern, daily. Which is, coincidentally, right about the time I could use a good cephalopod fix in my day.
Even better, this announcement led me to discover that the National Zoo has a ton of different animal web cams. Seriously, they're set up like a bunch of teenage emo girls over there. Lions, naked mole rats (!!), single-celled organisms, sloth bears (?!): You can watch 'em all live.
Kevin Bankston at the EFF blogs,
Yesterday evening, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to renew three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act, after the Senate abandoned the PATRIOT reform effort and approved the extension by a voice vote on Wednesday night.EFF: Epic Fail in Congress: USA PATRIOT Act Renewed Without Any New Civil Liberties Protections
Disappointingly, the government's dangerously broad authority to conduct roving wiretaps of unspecified or "John Doe" targets, to secretly wiretap of persons without any connection to terrorists or spies under the so-called "lone wolf" provision, and to secretly access a wide range of private business records without warrants under PATRIOT Section 215 were all renewed without any new checks and balances to prevent abuse.
The victim told police that he was asleep about 7:30 p.m. when he was awakened to find the pair standing over him. At first, the men yelled that they were cops, then threw the blanket over him."Ogden cops have out clown posse - literally"
"The guy said he could still see from under the blanket though, and he described one of them as having 'clown eyes.' "[The victim] said he knew him as 'Happy,' because he had been staying there with him until recently," Sangberg said.
(The following essay was written by my pal, writer Bill Barol. Look for more from him on Boing Boing in the future! -- Mark)
Even if the Hipstamatic were just another iPhone app it'd be worth your two bucks. What's not to like? The Hipstamatic 110 (the next-gen 150 is in review at the App Store) is a great little photo app that attempts to replicate the experience of shooting with a cut-rate '80s snapshot camera, right down to the leatherette "skin" and the big clunky shutter button. But the app isn't aping just any cheap camera; it's the reincarnation of the mysterious, beloved Hipstamatic 100, and right there is where the story takes a turn.
The original Hipstamatic was the invention of two Wisconsin brothers, Bruce and Winston Dorbowski. In the winter of 1982 they came up with what their big brother Richard later called "a million dollar idea for bringing photographic art to the masses cheaply" -- a camera inspired by the popular Kodak Instamatic (and probably by the Russian Lomo) but made entirely of plastic, right down to the lens. The brothers set up a fabricating shop in a tiny cabin on the banks of the Wisconsin River and got to work. Over the next 18 months they produced just 157 cameras, at $8.25 retail apiece. In the summer of 1984 they were on their way home from signing the lease on a new production facility when they were killed by a drunk driver. Nine years later the family lost most of the brothers' photos and work archives in a fire, and the Hipstamatic slipped into the half-light of photo history.
The story would have ended there, except for Richard Dorbowski. Read the rest
Read the rest
Photographer Glen E. Friedman remembers Bob "The Bullet" Biniak, a hero in the early days of skate culture who was a member of the original "Z-Boys" team. Biniak suffered a massive cardiac arrest on Sunday, and passed away Thursday at 12:51pm EST in Florida. From Glen's blog post:
Back in DogTown's heyday Biniak was known as one of the toughest, hardest skating dudes out there. Few could match his skills skating the infamous pipes out in Arizona or on the vertical flat wall of Mt. Baldy. In pool skating he was a clear innovator as witnessed by my lens, and Craig Stecyk's even earlier when he was interviewed in SkateBoarder magazine's first ever "Pool Riding Symposium." Bob early on received the coveted "Who's Hot" bio, and later, only for the most respected riders, a full length interview in SkateBoarder. He was also voted as one of the top ten Skateboarders of the year in SkateBoarder magazine's first annual poll held in 1977.Bob "The Bullet" Biniak, original Z-Boy, Bad Ass Mother Fucker, R.I.P. (Idealist Propaganda)
Biniak's passing follows the recent loss of fellow early Dogtown greats Baby Paul and Dennis "Polar Bear" Agnew. There will be a memorial skate for Biniak at the Venice Skate Park (named for Agnew) this Sunday, according to Yo Venice.