This Saturday, September 8th 8PM, at the Fanatic Salon, Betty Thomas seeks to answer one of the enduring questions of improv: "Who was Del Close?"
Every student of Del, myself included, has their share of stories about working with one of the greatest minds in comedy. Del, a member of the Compass, director of the Committee, Second City and countless improv troupes, helped form the basis upon which modern improvisational theater stands. He was colorful, brilliant, inspired and inspiring. See the embedded video for a bit of Del describing his work and the improv form he created, called the Harold.
Accompanied by the musical genius of Fred Kaz, Thomas has gathered together an incredibly talented group of improvisors: Rob Janas, Dan Bakkedahl, Dan Antonucci, Joe Canale, Kevin Fleming, Matt Craig and Jay Leggett, Jean Villepique, Celeste Pechous, Molly Erdman, Carrie Clifford and Shulie Cowen -- all of whom have worked or trained with Del.
This insanely talented group will perform two Harolds, both formed around their own experiences and the audiences answer... "Who was Del?"
Ian Alexander Norman contributed his long-exposure pic of this year's Temple of Remembrance at Burning Man to the Boing Boing Flickr pool. The Temple is a huge, ornate structure that burners fill up with their regrets, grief, memorials and testaments to their dead, their lost, and their sorrows. Last Sunday night, we burned the Temple in near silence (one jackass in an art car broke up the silence by repeatedly blasting Freebird), and watched the sorrows go up in flame. I wrote a remembrance there for my good friend Possum Man, and it was cathartic to see it all burn, surrounded by tens of thousands of other people watching their own fires.
Update: Xeno Evil sez, "I just wanted to say that the rendition of Freebird that you heard was not a jackass. It was a tribute to a dear friend and solid DPW member who used to always play the song before he was killed a couple months ago in Austin. His name was Joey Jello and he was an exemplary human being, he actually made most of DPW take stock and try to be better people. He had 'Never Betray' tattooed on his neck backwards so that whenever he looked in the mirror, he'd be reminded of his commitment to live by his moral standards. When we play freebird (and I, personally, HATE the song) it's not to bother other people, it's to remind us to be better people because Joey was better than all of us, he was amazing, weird and great. His absence has left a void of awesome that all of us in DPW feel needs to be filled. Working DPW is weird and hard and it takes a certain punk rock lifestyle... it takes its toll and we all die a little too soon. Joey's not the first of us to die, but I'd like you to know why Freebird was playing,
Nathan Kensinger is an artist "whose work explores hidden urban landscapes, off-limits structures, and other liminal spaces." He told me about a project that he, Laura Chipley, and Sarah Nelson Wright are working on called The Newtown Creek Armada:
It's a public art installation that is using remote control boats and underwater cameras to explore the Newtown Creek, a federal Superfund Site in New York City.
The installation opens this weekend, when we will be inviting the public to pilot our fleet of nine miniature boats, and to film their own voyage on the Newtown Creek. We will also be presenting several videos of our voyages that document the more polluted parts of the creek, which is home to the second largest oil spill in the United States, and has been used as a dumping ground for heavy industry and raw sewage for over 150 years. Despite this history, nature is slowly returning to the area, as we discovered on our voyages.
[Video Link] Dead Europe, a new movie by Tony Krawitz, is premiering at the 2012 Toronto International Film on Friday.
Dead Europe, from the producers of Shame and Animal Kingdom, is a tense and moody mystery set on the turbulent streets of contemporary Europe. The film follows a young photographer named Isaac (Ewen Leslie in a breakthrough performance) who -- while taking his deceased father's ashes from Australia to Greece -- comes to learn that something sinister happened in his family's past involving a young Jewish boy. Despite an effort to distract himself with a mix of random sex and drugs, Isaac's world begins to unravel as he realizes that he cannot escape the ghosts of the past.
It's Anil Dash's 37th birthday, and he's asking his friends and fans to donate $37 to charity:water, to provide clean water for a whole village. His post gives the background on this: he grew up playing with cousins in India, and later in life discovered that the entirety of a neighboring village was wiped out by cholera, with 100 percent mortality.
* I'm running a charity: water campaign to raise $5000 to provide a clean water for an entire village. charity: water is well-known, reputable, efficient, trustworthy and effective in delivering new water wells to areas of the world that need them. I've sponsored wells before, and this is the most meaningful thing we can do. Your entire donation will go to funding water projects, not overhead.
* You should give $37. It's my 37th birthday, and that makes for a nice number. But it's also enough that you'll feel your gift. I don't want this to be a $10 pledge you absentmindedly send to a Kickstarter campaign, or a $5 gift that's "as much as you'd pay at Starbucks". I want you to make a choice, to spend enough money that you have to think about it and compare it to how much you pay for your own water bill. I know you are generous.
* I tell you the story of how the lack of clean water impacts people a part of the world where I have loved ones because I need you to understand that this isn't some abstract threat that happens to "those people over there" living some exotic life you only see in TV specials. People who die, or have their lives dramatically affected, by the lack of fresh water are exactly like me. Their family is from where mine is from, they speak English as well as I do, they use smartphones to communicate, they are like me in every way except their parents didn't get on a jet and come around the world. And as a result, they can be put in mortal danger by having a glass of water to drink.
I've just donated. Will you?
Here's an exclusive excerpt from Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time. by Ed Stafford.
In April 2008, Ed Stafford embarked on a journey to become the first person to walk the entire length of the Amazon River. In what was supposed to be a year long journey, Stafford followed the Amazon River from its known source in the Peruvian Andes to its end off the coast of Brazil 860 days later, which eventually led to a two-part documentary on Discovery Channel.
In Walking the Amazon Ed Stafford recounts his thrilling, yet often dangerous, expedition across Peru and the Andes including:
- Drug trafficking trails of Colombia
- Navigating the densest parts of the rainforest in Brazil
- Near mental breakdown in the final stretches of the trek
- Threat of machete-wielding indigenous tribes
- food shortages, poisonous animals, injuries, tropical storms
Despite it all, Stafford was able to use his expedition to successfully connect with schools and raise awareness on environmental issues in result of the deforestation of the Amazon. Currently working with Discovery Channel on a new project, Stafford currently holds the Guinness World Record for completing the longest jungle expedition, named European Adventure of the Year and nominated as one of National Geographic’s “Adventurers of the Year” for what was previously thought of as an impossible feat.
Exhilarating from start to finish, Walking the Amazon is a true account of a world-first expedition that takes readers on the most daring voyage along the world’s greatest river and through the most bio-diverse habitat on Earth.
In 1905, the St. Louis post office built a two-mile pneumatic tube system to deliver mail between the train station and the post office. It was expensive to maintain ($17,000 per year per mile of tube) and ruined a lot of mail.
St. Louis's tubes ran a little less than two miles; by contrast, New York's system, the largest in the U.S., was 27 miles, not counting the tube that ran under the East River to Brooklyn. It was also the least efficient: Most of the time, the tubes, which were open from 4 a.m. to midnight six days a week, ran at only 26 percent capacity, except between 7 and 9 a.m. when the two big mail trains arrived. Then it was overwhelmed and the mail would be delayed for as long as 20 minutes. That was about five times as long as it took normally for the capsules to whiz their way from the train station to the main post office.
The tubes themselves were eight inches in diameter. The capsules were seven inches in diameter and 22 inches long; they could each hold about 600 letters. They didn't look much different from the capsules that are still used in banks. (Why mess with good technology?) Underground, they traveled at 30 miles per hour, propelled along by a system of fans and pumps that would either blow them forward or suck them backward.
Here's USPO's pro/con list of the system:
Read the rest
Brian Krebs, who has written many excellent investigative pieces on ATM skimmers, spent several hours watching footage seized from hidden skimmer cameras, and has concluded that covering your hand while you enter your PIN really works in many cases -- and that many people don't bother to take this elementary step.
Some readers may thinking, “Wait a minute: Isn’t it more difficult to use both hands when you’re withdrawing cash from a drive-thru ATM while seated in your car?” Maybe. You might think, then, that it would be more common to see regular walk-up ATM users observing this simple security practice. But that’s not what I found after watching 90 minutes of footage from another ATM scam that was recently shared by a law enforcement source. In this attack, the fraudster installed an all-in-one skimmer, and none of the 19 customers caught on camera before the scheme was foiled made any effort to shield the PIN pad.
Krebs goes on to note that this doesn't work in instances where the skimmer includes a compromised PIN pad, and it seems likely that if covering PINs became more routine that crooks would take up this technique more broadly. But for now, covering your PIN with your free hand is a free, effective means of protecting yourself from ATM skimmers.
Musicians DJ Food, Cheeba, and Moneyshot spent three years recreating the Beastie Boys masterful Paul's Boutique from "all the original samples plus a cappellas, period interviews and the Beasties’ own audio commentary from the reissued release." This is a sequel-of-sorts to Cheeba and Moneyshot's "Beastie Boy Beats: Check Your Head." DJ Food's post on the project includes a full tracklist with source material references. "Caught In The Middle of A 3-Way Mix – a tribute to The Beastie Boys‘ ‘Paul’s Boutique’ album"
This is Joyce Coffey who was arrested four times in 26 hours last week. Reportedly, the first three times were for playing loud music, including AC/DC's "Highway to Hell." The final time was after she threw a frying pan at her nephew. "Police: Woman arrested 4 times in 26 hours" (AP, thanks, Rick Pescovitz!)
A YouTube clip of Michelle Obama's DNC speech, embedded on BarackObama.com, was blocked due to a copyright complaint "from WMG, SME, Associated Press (AP), UMG, Dow Jones, New York Times Digital, The Harry Fox Agency, Inc. (HFA), Warner Chappell, UMPG Publishing and EMI Music Publishing." It's not clear what happened, though my money is on some combination of YouTube's copyright bots detecting the incidental background music from the convention; and several broadcasters uploading their own version of the footage and registering it as belonging to them with the YouTube copyright bots.
A YouTube spokesman downplayed the blockage: “After tonight’s live stream ended, YouTube briefly showed an incorrect error message,” he said via e-mail. ” Neither the live stream nor any of the channel’s videos were affected.”
It’s not clear what he meant by none of the channel’s videos were affected as the video was unplayable.
The most likely culprit is YouTube’s pre-emptive content filters, which allow large media companies to upload content they claim to own and automatically block videos that an algorithm decides matches their own. That would make the glitch the second livestream copyright-policing snafu in the span of a few days: On Sunday, a similar algorithm at uStream interrupted the livestream of the Hugo science fiction awards. The award show included clips of copyrighted videos, though the algorithm didn’t know that the clips had been authorized.
In early August, an official NASA recording of the Mars landing was blocked hours after the successful landing, due to a rogue DMCA complaint by a news network.
A group of UK MPs, the Daily Mail and religious pressure groups are pushing for a law that would require all new Internet subscribers to opt out of an unaccountable censorwall, which will silently block a secret list of websites from their Internet connections. This is bad enough. Unaccountable block-lists are an attractive nuisance -- as we saw with the Swedish and Danish child porn filter leak, 98.3 percent of the material on the secret blacklist wasn't child porn.
But it gets worse: once the legitimacy of secret, privately maintained censorship lists has been integrated into UK Internet service, it will be trivial to add new censorship to the service without fanfare or debate. And as we've seen, this won't stop kids from seeing porn, but it will incorrectly block non-pornographic material because of incompetence and/or malice.
The Open Rights Group needs you to write to your MP today to stop this absurd, evidence-free push for national, Chinese-style censorship in the UK.
Some MPs and religious groups are mounting a campaign to push 'default on' network level blocking on the UK Internet.  There is now a public consultation considering this idea.
However well meaning, we know from our own research  what happens when ISPs put blocks on the Internet. Through accident or abuse, censorship leads to lots more content being blocked than originally intended.
Sites will get blocked if they casually mention sex. Sexual health sites will get caught. The websites of clubs and bars, personal blogs and community sites get filtered. Chat sites may be banned – because they might not be sufficiently “policed”. In short, if you’re small and independent, you will suffer.
Innovation and free speech are threatened by this clumsy website blocking. And the government is considering turning this on by default. You may be presented with a list of ticked “filtered” categories, and have to untick them if you want to avoid the filtering.
And if this happens at the network, then future governments can easily extend what gets filtered without having to ask you. Mass censorship would be couple of clicks away.
A 2011 piece from the NYT's David W. Dunlap tells the story of the recovery of a long-lost wallet that was stolen from a Times art director in 1970, and which was recovered from "a void between an old unused window on the second floor and the masonry seal behind it" in fall of 2010. The wallet is a miniature time-capsule of iconic and odd items from the era, collected in this Retronaut set.
Mr. Rodriguez happened to be on duty at the security desk and seized his opportunity. He showed the wallet to Mr. Thompson. Mr. Thompson called this reporter, who's something of a Times historian. This reporter called Mr. Resta, who retired in 1999 but still lives in New York. Mr. Resta, laying aside his understandable suspicions, agreed to meet all of us at 229 West 43rd Street, share some memories and get his wallet back.
When Mr. Cisneros handed the wallet to him, Mr. Resta opened it gingerly and turned away for a moment, overcome by the tide of memory. After composing himself, he gave Mr. Cisneros a grateful kiss. And he didn't lose a moment showing off the glamor-puss shot of Mrs. Resta from 1963. ''She still is glamorous,'' he said, with evident pride and pleasure.
Before coming into Manhattan on the morning of our meeting in November, Mr. Resta told his wife that he knew he'd find a clipping in the wallet from 1968 - Senator Edward M. Kennedy's eulogy for his brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Mr. Resta can still recite the phrase that meant so much to him: ''Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.''