Juggler and impresario Mat Ricardo sez,
After six months of sell-out shows and fun times in London, we've arrived at the Edinburgh Fringe where Mat Ricardo's London Varieties has become The Voodoo Varieties! We're all very excited - we have a completely different line-up of the best cabaret, variety, circus and comedy acts every single night - and we've got some amazing guests in the next few days, including professional wrestling superstar MICK FOLEY, Scary genius RICHARD WISEMAN, comedy star THE BOY WITH TAPE ON HIS FACE, PIFF THE MAGIC DRAGON and lots and lots more.
Every night is going to be a one-off, unique show, and we're adding more names all the time. I am, if you can't tell already, giddy like a schoolgirl about some of the people I'm going to get the chance to host. The show is running at The Ballroom, The Voodoo Rooms at 8.15 every night except Mondays, and my new one man show "Vaudeville Schmuck" is at the same venue at 5.45pm every night.
Boing Boing readers have been so supportive of the Varieties project, so I wanted to make sure that any of you that are around the fringe this month knew what fun would be going on over at the Voodoo Rooms. You can book tickets for the Varieties here and for Vaudeville Schmuck here.
Timothy Arnold, a student at the University of Central Florida, produced a app called U Could Finish that automated the process of hunting for vacancies in popular courses. After the app was the subject of a popular Reddit post, the administration at UCF punished Arnold for doing this, on the grounds that it had overloaded their servers. As a persuasive presentation from Arnold and friends documents, this claim is not very plausible. Nevertheless, the project has been terminated and Arnold faces three semesters of academic probation, a paper in which Arnold must explain why what he did was naughty and why the system's administrators are good people, and a coaching session on making good life sessions.
The Reddit post on the shutdown is full of good examples of universities that rewarded students who improved their systems rather than reacting with immediate and thorough reactionary discipline.
My wife Alice is a retired pro twitch-gamer, and when she gets excited about a new pointing device, I pay attention. Last night she glommed onto Chris DiBona's remarkable Rat Mouse, played with it, and pronounced it good.
Want want want want want! I just used one too, and they're quite remarkable. Easy to use. Kinda heavy - to be expected - but many many benefits. Also, hawt.
Well, that's Christmas sorted.
Many's the time I've rolled around on the ground, grimacing and making animal keening noises and wondering why the hell humans evolved to experience such dramatic pain from toe-stubbing. Here is a plausible-sounding threefold answer from Chris Geiser, director of Marquette College's College of Health Sciences athletic training program. Part one is that we've just got a lot of nerves in our extremities because they're our interface to the world. But more interestingly:
Secondly and related to the first point, there is very little tissue in our toes to absorb this type of impact. Much like hitting our shin, there is no fatty tissue or muscle tissue overlying the bones in the toe to cushion the impact. Every bit of the kinetic energy created in moving our legs forward is absorbed by the skin and bone of the toe, resulting in very high compressive forces on the many nerve endings that reside there. Because the foot is at the end of the longest lever system in the body — the leg — feet tend to be moving much faster than any other part of the body when they come into contact with an unknown object. For these same reasons a pitcher can throw a baseball 90-plus miles per hour and a soccer player can strike the ball at roughly the same speed; the further away from the axis of rotation, in this case our hip, the faster the end of that segment is moving. Add the mass of our entire leg to this equation, and there's a large mass applying force to the toe at a great velocity in a small area not capable of adequately dissipating that impact. OUCH!
"The last part of this explanation comes from an evolutionary perspective. In the not so distant past, infections killed many people. Stubbing a toe can open wounds on the feet, which are constantly in contact with the bacteria-laden environment. It has been suggested that individuals who received lots of sensory information from their toes were less likely to strike them, creating an evolutionary advantage for people blessed with this type of sensory information. So there are many components to this amazingly painful question."
This is one in a series of essays about enthralling books. I asked my friends and colleagues to recommend a book that took over their life. I told them the book didn't have to be a literary masterpiece. The only thing that mattered was that the book captivated them and carried them into the world within its pages, making them ignore the world around them. I asked: "Did you shirk responsibilities so you could read it? Did you call in sick? Did you read it until dawn? That's the book I want you to tell us about!" See all the essays in the Enthralling Book series here. -- Mark
I had not heard of Grotowski until 1977 when I witnessed a film document of his Polish Theatre Lab's performance of Akropolis. As I left Berkeley's Pacific Film Archive screening, I wandered the streets in shock and awe. Though I had eight years' experience performing, writing, and directing experimental theatre, nothing could prepare me for Grotowski's visceral explosive and revelatory "paratheatre." I immediately walked down Telegraph Avenue to Moe's Books and found a copy of Grotowski's book, Towards a Poor Theatre. Sitting there on the floor in the Theatre section, oblivious to the world, I was enthralled and astonished by what I was reading. Grotowski's radical premises were so dynamic, yet so clearly pragmatic, they advanced the culture of theatre beyond the previous gold standard of Stanislavki's method. My young 25-year old heart, mind, and body was on fire! I knew right then and there what I would be doing with the rest of my life and that was: some version of this.
Cut to present time. For the last thirty-five years, I have been in the practice and teaching of a version of paratheatre I have been developing in groups with hundreds of actors, dancers, singers, and martial artists. It's not been a career as much as a calling that brought me to this place. Reading Towards a Poor Theatre lit the fuse on an internal time bomb that was already primed to go off to either send me to prison for very bad behavior or explode my meaningless life into smithereens. The book saved me from myself.
The dog-eared copy became my bible yet I felt that I would betray my early theatrical experience if I followed it to the letter. Instead I chose to relate with the book as a source of inspiration in an ongoing process of developing paratheatrical experiments, new techniques, and eventually finding and defining my own version of paratheatre. I even wrote a book on my paratheatrical research (Towards an Archeology of the Soul; Vertical Pool Publications. 2003). To say Towards a Poor Theatre changed my life may be an understatement. It's more like the book gave me life. And when someone of something gives you life, I don't know about you but I feel like giving life back.
Explaining the content of Grotowski's book is pretty much impossible; its luminous threads of white hot intelligence weave across the fabric of world theatre, the inspired madness of Artaud, numerous practical notes on the Actor's vocal and physical training, all towards a methodical science of the acrobatic body as the final source of energy and text as the critical framework for its articulation. My descriptions here fall way short. They also fail to convey the lucidity by which Grotwoski explains the fundamental principles and premises of his "poor theatre", a place where the actor is left alone without props and tricks, with only his naked self to plumb the depths of humanity and then, finally, share the revitalizing fruits of a terrible labor of love.
Buy Towards a Poor Theatre on Amazon
In April, 2011, the engineers at JPL gave Boing Boing permission to visit the clean room where the next Mars rover, Curiosity, had just been completed, for an exclusive first look.
The full Boing Boing photo gallery is here, with caption assist from JPL.
Above, the Mars Science Laboratory's descent stage, which files the rover down to Mars' surface using eight rockets, and lowers it on a tether for landing. The orange spheres are propellant tanks.
Here's a roundup of ways to watch, as Curiosity attempts landing the night of Aug 5 (that's tomorrow).
* There are even more images on Joseph's site (pssst: news orgs, they're available for licensing, ask him.)
- Mission to Mars: Anticipating NASA rover 'Curiosity' touchdown ...
- Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity headed for Mars landing ...
- Are we all Martians? The curious hunt for life on Mars
- NASA's Ashwin Vasavada talks Mars Science Laboratory and ...
- William Shatner and Wil Wheaton welcome NASA's Curiosity rover ...
- NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover as Art
- 1909 Lincoln Penny goes to Mars on Curiosity
- Curiosity rover on its way to Mars -