Boing Boing 

Scenes from "Petrochemical America"

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Over at my sister-in-law Heather Sparks's new Science Sparks Art tumblog, selections from Richard Misrach and Kate Orff's book Petrochemical America, a collection of Misrach's photos and Orff's "ecological atlas" documenting Louisiana's "Chemical Corridor," aka "Cancer Alley." Above, Taft, Louisana's Holy Rosary Cemetery purchased by Dow Chemical. Petrochemical America

Follow along as Felix Baumgertner skydives from space

Felix Baumgartner is going to skydive from space today. At Popular Science, editor Jennifer Bogo is on site and live blogging the whole thing. As of 12:18 Central time, Baumgartner was in his capsule and preparing for the inflation of the balloon that will carry him into the stratosphere. From which he will jump.

Replicating John Lennon's "Mr. Kite" poster

The Beatles tune "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" was inspired by an 1843 circus poster that John Lennon purchased at an antiques store and hung in his music room. London designer and Beatles superfan Peter Dean recreated this poster in obsessive detail. He went so far as to collaborate with a wood-engraving artist and had the final poster letterpress printed. Now you can own it too, for £245.00 GBP. "Kite"

Mark and Joshua Glenn talk about Unbored, an activity book for kids live on G+ now

Joshua Glenn, co-author of the great new kids' activity book, Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun, and I are talking in a Google hangout right now.

Unbored is the guide and activity book every modern kid needs. Vibrantly designed, lavishly illustrated, brilliantly walking the line between cool and constructive, it's crammed with activities that are not only fun and doable but also designed to get kids engaged with the wider world.With contributions from a diverse crowd of experts, the book provides kids with information to round out their worldview and inspire them to learn more. From how-tos on using the library or writing your representative to a graphic history of video games, the book isn't shy about teaching. Yet the bulk of the 352-page mega-resource presents hands-on activities that further the mission in a fun way, featuring the best of the old as well as the best of the new: classic science experiments, crafts and upcycling, board game hacking, code-cracking, geocaching, skateboard repair, yarn bombing, stop-action movie-making-plus tons of sidebars and extras, including trivia, best-of lists, and Q&As with leading thinkers whose culture-changing ideas are made accessible to kids for the first time.Just as kids begin to disappear into their screens, here is a book that encourages them to use those tech skills to be creative, try new things, and change the world. And it encourages parents to participate. Unbored is exciting to read, easy to use, and appealing to young and old, girl and boy. Parents will be comforted by its anti-perfectionist spirit and humor. Kids will just think it's awesome.Contributors include: Mark Frauenfelder of MAKE magazine; Colin Beavan, the No Impact Man; Douglas Rushkoff, renowned media theorist; Geoff Manaugh, author of BLDGBLOG; John Edgar Park, a CG supervisor at DisneyToon Studios; and Jean Railla, founder of GetCrafty.com and Etsy consultant.
Mark and Johua Glenn on G+ hangout

$100k chicken coop

Neiman Marcus sells this chicken coop for $100,000.

Your custom-made multilevel dwelling features a nesting area, a "living room" for nighttime roosting, a broody room, a library filled with chicken and gardening books for visitors of the human kind, and, of course, an elegant chandelier. The environment suits them well as you notice the fresh eggs awaiting morning collection. Nearby, you pick fresh vegetables or herbs from your custom-built raised gardens. You've always fancied yourself a farmer—now thanks to Heritage Hen Farm, you're doing it in the fanciest way possible!
Beau Coop (Thanks, Mister Jalopy!)

Remembering the Tomy Mighty Men and Monster Maker kits


On TheFwoosh, Themanintheanthill has a detailed remembrance of Tomy's Mighty Men and Monster-Maker kits, which John at Super Punch calls "the toy from my childhood I most regret not keeping." I'm with John. I loved these things -- you assembled templates for monsters/superheros in a frame, inserted a sheet of paper overtop, did a "brass rubbing" of the outlines, and got a custom line-drawing to color in. My set got a second life when I fell in love with Villains and Vigilantes, a superhero RPG, and made the world's greatest character sheets.

The tiles represent heroic and monstrous archetypes of the 20th century. You’ve got both Marvel- and DC-style heroes, a Flash Gordon/Buck Rodgers-type spaceman, a Frankenstein Monster and Mummy, as well as some truly interesting “alien” designs that look like something out of Barlow’s Guide to Extraterrestrials. The art is terrific, top-notch spot illos by Dave Stevens, who later went on to create a little comic called The Rocketeer.

TOMY’s MIGHTY MEN and MONSTER MAKER KIT! (via Super Punch)

Statefarmbug

Psychic Teens: "Tape" music review

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While the rest of the world has been reveling in the resurgence of the cassette tape, some folks have been taking it a step further, and going full VHS! Video Horror Show is a label that only releases VHS tapes, which feature not only music, but also appropriately enough accompanying psychedelic visuals. Past releases have included the electro goth witch house of Masacara, and the droned out abstract psychedelic black metal of Suffer The Shards Of The Lost Cult Of Silence, which was in fact members of Woe and Absu, and now here comes Psychic Teens with Tape, which weirdly enough might sonically fall right in between.

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Extreme EPCOT geekery from the Norway pavilion

Jeff sez, "Disney nerds rejoice! Last week, to celebrate EPCOT's 30th Anniversary, Communicore Weekly had a live show in the Norway Pavilion's VIP Lounge. We geeked out over EPCOT History and interviewed Ron Schneider, the original Dreamfinder!"

Communicore Weekly - Live Show for EPCOT's 30th Anniversary in the Norway Pavilion (Thanks, Jeff!)

The City Museum: St. Louis' Happy Mutant wonderland

At one point — I think it was about halfway through climbing the twisting warren of dark staircases and pipe organ parts that leads to the top of the 10-story slide — I turned to my husband and asked, incredulous, "Why the hell wasn't this place in American Gods?"

Opened in an abandoned shoe factory and warehouse in downtown St. Louis in 1997, The City Museum is not so much a museum as it is a massive, rambling fantasy playground. From the rooftop to the strange subterranean tunnels built beneath the lobby floor, sculptor Bob Cassilly and a team of 20 artisans have, bit by bit, created something truly wonderful. Imagine what might happen if somebody turned Maker Faire into a full-scale amusement park. That's The City Museum.

There's a 1940s ferris wheel creaking and groaning its way through a glorious, rooftop view of the city. There's a human gerbil trail that winds around the first floor ceiling, providing great spots to check out the intricate tile mosaic fish that swim across the floor. There are columns covered in gears, and columns covered in old printing press plates. There's a giant ball pit; two gutted airplanes suspended in midair; and so many chutes, and slides, and tunnels that, by the time you walk back to your car you will find yourself thoroughly conditioned into reflexively contorting yourself into every dark hole you happen to see. Also, there are bars. Also, there is almost entirely zero supervision.

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Chic's "Le Freak" and post-punk

I'm reading Simon Reynolds's absolutely fascinating and comprehensive book about the history of post punk, titled Rip It Up And Start Again. In this book, as in his latest Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to Its Own Past, Reynolds does a masterful job at connecting the dots between people, bands, scenes, memes, and even business shenanigans that drive avant-garde (and ultimately pop) culture forward. I had just been reading in Rip It Up And Start Again about "mutant disco" and its international cousins when my pal Patrick Kelly sent me the link above to Chic performing "Le Freak" in 1978. Turns out, Chic -- from the funky drums to Nile Rodgers' chunka-chunk guitar -- was an influence on numerous post-punk bands ranging from The Beat (known in the US as The English Beat) to Orange Juice.

Also, I haven't read it yet but Nile Rodgers's memoir Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny is said to be terrific.

NBC delays Community -- so it can actually promote it

While everyone is enthusiastically awaiting the return of NBC's Community this fall, news broke today that the network was delaying its fourth season premiere indefinitely. Now, when I first read this, my first thought -- and many probably thought the same -- was that NBC was screwing over Community, yet again. But, as it turns out, it's the total opposite. Instead of just taking it off the schedule, launching it into further obscurity so it can die a quiet death, the network wants to put the proper spotlight on it and spend more time marketing it.

NBC released a statement saying that their current lineup of new shows is benefiting from their attention, so they've chosen to shelf the premieres of both Community and Whitney, which were originally going to premiere next Friday.

"Without having to launch these comedies on Friday at this time, we can keep our promotion focused on earlier in the week; plus, we will have both comedies in our back pocket if we need to make any schedule changes on those nights. When we have a better idea of viewing patterns in the next few weeks, we will announce new season premieres of Whitney and Community."

So, it's very nice of NBC to spare Community from being overshadowed by all the marketing they'll be doing for their new shows. It's also amazingly ironic, considering how they have had Community on their channel for three years and barely promoted it at all, then wondered why the ratings were so bad, and then banished it to Friday nights next to one of its most reviled new shows. So, now they're going to take the time to promote it? I suppose that if it has to be on Friday nights, it's a good thing they're finally going to give it the attention it deserves. But isn't that like having an aunt who says you never, ever visit her, then when she ends up in the hospital and you realize she might die, you go see her once -- for your own peace of mind?

NBC -- your best fair-weather nephew. Check this space for the new premiere dates.

Photo credit: Trae Patton for NBC

NBC Delays 'Community,' 'Whitney' Returns [The Hollywood Reporter]

Brain Rot: Hip Hop Family Tree, Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel

 Read the rest of the Hip Hop Family Tree comics!

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Cory in Deerfield, IL tonight

Hey, Deerfield, IL! I'll be at the Deerfield High School Auditorium tonight at 7PM for the latest stop in my Pirate Cinema tour. I've got two other stops in the Chicago area: tomorrow, it's Anderson's Books in Naperville; on Thursday it's the Evanston Public Library. From there, I go to NYC for Comic-Con and an appearance at WORD in Brooklyn (check out our mashup video contest!), and then to Philiadelphia and many other cities in the US and Canada. Here's the whole schedule. Be there or be oblong!

Vote for Mitt Romney

This is utterly convincing. [via Robert Popper.]

Wife-carrying champion defends title

Taisto Miettinen and Kristina Haapanen are once again wife-carrying world champions, writes Scott Thistle at the Oxford Hills Sun-Journal: "The prize, besides a check for $530 ... is the winning woman's weight in beer." [The complete leaderboard]

Pinkwater's Bushman Lives: absurdist misfit story is an insightful treatise on art

Daniel Pinkwater's Bushman Lives is another of Pinkwater's marvellous novels for young adults (and adults!) in which a misfit narrator embraces his inner weirdo and finds odd joy. Harold Knishke is a young man in late 1950s Chicago who finds himself with a lot of spare time thanks to weird political patronage at his high-school, which results in him serving as a corrupt hall monitor who can excuse himself from school grounds on his own recognizance. One day, he quits flute lessons, sells his flute to his relieved instructor, and uses the money to take up life-drawing classes at a beatnik art school across the street from a mysterious whitewashed house whose paint is constantly being replenished by mysterious, hissing humanoids all dressed in white wrapping.

Woven into this narrative is the story of Geets Hildebrand, Harold's best friend, who runs away to join the Navy. Geets and Harold share an obsession with Bushman, the Lincoln Park Zoo's storied gorilla, a tragic and dignified figure. Geets is discharged from the Navy and discovers a secret society of rural misfits in a state park who tell him about a hidden castle on a hidden island in the middle of a lake.

Harold's life is one odd thing after another. He meets a young woman training to be a wise-woman who hips him to Willem de Kooning and then gets him a mentor who is obsessed with mural-painting and baking potatoes. He is inducted into an artist's workshop in a mysterious transdimensional building. He learns that there is a folk song about him, but can't make out the lyrics.

But most of all, Harold learns about art -- about the techniques of visual art, about the weird phonies that haunt the art world, but most importantly (and movingly) about the drive to make art and the thing that art does for its audiences.

Daniel Pinkwater and his wife Jill are both visual artists, and Bushman Lives is, more than anything, a book about art, and a very good one. I'd read Pinkwater all day long even if his absurdist fairy tales were nothing more than odd little stories, but as Bushman Lives (and his other works) proves, Pinkwater's absurdism is a delivery system for profound and important insight that stay with you for years and decades.

Bushman Lives was serialized online prior to publication, and really rewards your attention.

Bushman Lives