Boing Boing 

Lynda Barry’s irresistible lesson plan for “drawing the unthinkable”

Professor Lynda Barry has been on a roll of late. First, she published her astonishing and inspired writing-workshop-in-a-book, What It Is. She followed that up with Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book, which covered drawing in much the same way that What It Is approached writing. In Syllabus, Barry has published her actual hand-drawn lesson plans from her popular college class entitled “Drawing the Unthinkable.”

There is something profoundly dream-like in Syllabus – in all three of these books – like you’re mainlining Barry’s bizarre and fertile imagination, and tapping into your own via a kind of contact high. There are visual invitations on every single page of this composition-styled, hand-drawn notebook to get out your own crayons, pens, and notebook and get to work. There are a series of lessons in the book, class announcements, examples of student work, and related class notes. Where I loved and was inspired by Barry’s first two workshop books, Syllabus finally pushed me to start doing a daily art journal, one that grants me permission to play, to “draw the unthinkable” (i.e. just do it, don’t overthink it, and do it for the process, not the product). I’m 19 days in and absolutely having the time of my life.

See sample pages of Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor at Wink.

Crypto puzzles and games for kids

Dev Gualtieri's newly published Secret Codes & Number Games: Cryptographic Projects & Number Games for Children Ages 5-16 is a thoughtfully designed introduction to crypto for kids.

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Lauren Ipsum: The Phantom Tollbooth meets Young Ladies' Illustrated Primer

Lauren Ipsum is an absolutely brilliant kids’ book about computer science, and it never mentions computer science—it’s a series of witty, charming, and educational parables about the fundamentals that underpin the discipline.

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How Kazuo Ishiguro wrote "Remains of the Day" in 4 weeks

In 1987, motivated by anxiety over his inability to produce a followup novel to his earlier sucesses, Ishiguru made a deal with his wife Lorna: he would write every day from 9h-2230h, with brief meal-breaks, 6 days a week: four weeks later, he finished Remains of the Day.

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Atlas of Cities – Dissecting the anatomy of cities from around the world

The Atlas of Cities does not graph the usual geographic shapes of cities, but tries to diagram the many other dimensions within cities around the world. Taking example from many specific cities (such as Istanbul, or Cairo) it tries to dissect, almost like an x-ray, the many organs, tissues, cells, and anatomy of a typical city. In fact a better title for the book would have been Anatomical Atlas of Cities. It uses charts and graphs to show how cities remain healthy, or how they get sick. Since 50% of the humans alive today live in an urban neighborhood, this book will likely illuminate your world.

See sample pages of Atlas of Cities at Wink.

Delware school district wants kids to get signed permission before checking out YA library books


The Appoquinimink, DE school board is contemplating requiring parental permission slips for students who want to check YA novels out of their school library; district secondary education curriculum director Ray Gravuer came up with this silly idea in response to a parental complaint.

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Discounted ebooks for readers who own Dilbert, Oatmeal and Nom Nom Paleo books


Peter writes, "Vancouver based ebook bundling start-up, Bitlit has signed a deal with Andrews McMeel publishing. The deal allows readers who own a paper copy of an Andrews McMeel book to get the eBook for 80% off. The deal includes comic collections from Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) and Scott Adams (Dilbert), and Michelle Tam's bestselling cookbook Nom Nom Paleo."

Tldrbot: great works of literature in seconds

Tldrbot is the latest bot from Shardcore (previously, previously, previously) that slurps up great novels, algorithmically summarizes them to 1% of their length, then spits out audio files of a synthetic Scottish woman's voice reading those summaries aloud.

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Vast Humble Comics Bundle


The latest Humble Bundle features an indescribably vast array of comics from Mega, including work from Mark Waid, Darick Robertson, Garth Ennis, Gail Simone, Kevin Smith, Alex Ross, J. Michael Straczynski, David Mack, Howard Chaykin, Bill Willingham, Sean Phillips, Tim Seeley, Chuck Dixon, Andy Diggle, Duane Swierczynski, Joshua Hale Fialkov and others.

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Pippi Won’t Grow Up – Whimsical, charming and wonderfully absurd

Just released today is Pippi Won’t Grow Up, Drawn and Quarterly’s third volume of Pippi Longstocking comics. Last spring I reviewed the hilarious second volume, Pippi Fixes Everything, and this one is just as whimsical, humorous and utterly charming.

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Stross's Merchant Princes books in omnibus editions


Charlie Stross's "Merchant Princes" series-- a sly, action-packed romp that blends heroic fantasy, military science fiction, economics, politics, and alternate worlds -- originally published as six mass-market paperbacks, is now available in three handy trade-paperbacks.

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David Nickle and Karl Schroeder's "The Toy Mill"


"His hair was whiter than his flesh. Thick whorls of ice embedded his beard in icicles like a January cataract; more separated the thick hairs of his eyebrows into individual daggers, pushed back by the yuletide winds of the stratosphere so that they swept down to meet at the bridge of his narrow, blue-tinged nose."

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The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Procedure

Nathaniel Burney continues his project to create an entire law-degree in comic-book form with The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Procedure, Vol I: Parts 1-3, the followup to his brilliant 2012 book Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law. Never has the Fourth Amendment been more graphic and accessible: Cory Doctorow is learning everything he needs for a life of successful criminal law and/or crime.

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Forbidden Activities for Neglected Children celebrates the wonderful grotesquery of the late 1970s

Here is a snapshot of my room in 1979: A box of Warren horror magazines, with assorted outliers such as Psycho and Scream; a stack of Dungeons & Dragons books, including some of the earlier supplements such as Eldritch Wizardry; a shelf displaying various Aurora monster models; a bookshelf holding any number of supernatural and horror short story anthologies; and my beloved but completely dog-eared copy of A Pictorial History of Horror Movies by Denis Gifford.

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Weird fiction Storybundle to benefit Helsinki Worldcon bid


Crystal writes, "Love indie fiction? Want a choose-your-price set of Weird Fiction ebooks that will help support the Helsinki bid for Worldcon? We want to bring Worldcon to Helsinki in 2017, to boldly go where no Worldcon has gone before.

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The book of Genesis

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If you grew up in the comfortable eighties, you might still have memories of the 16-bit console war, the perverse thrill of wishing for a Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis, and then arguing with other children on the playground about which was better.

These days being a Sega Genesis fan is a little bit weirder -- you chose the camp that would be basically out of the hardware market by the new millennium. A new book, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works brings that beauty and weirdness to full-color life in a celebration of the Genesis by Guardian games editor Keith Stuart (disclosure: he commissions, edits and pays me when I write about games at the Guardian, which is sometimes).

The Verge's Chris Plante loves the book:

A 30-page history of a 1990s video game console serves a certain niche audience, but the 28 interviews with the people responsible for Sega’s hardware and most cherished games are more digestible and should pique the interest of anyone who owned the system. And there are dozens of glossy pages containing design documentary, hand sketches, key art, title screens, and photography. It's easy to zone out, turning between one drawing and the next.
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works is available for £35.00, while an extra £15 gets it to you by Christmas.

Felicia Day's memoir: "You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)"


Nerd hero and all-round awesomesauce dispenser Felicia Day has announced a memoir, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), which will be published in 2015.

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Hand-illuminated edition of The Silmarillion


Benjamin Harff produced a hand-illuminated edition of Tolkien's The Silmarillion (a famously dense set of myths and background for Middle Earth) as a final project at art school; in this interview, he explains his motivation and his process.

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Now I Know More: the revealing stories behind even more of the world's most interesting facts

Last year I reviewed Dan Lewis' book, Now I Know: The Revealing Stories Behind the World's Most Interesting Facts. Dan recently released a followup title, called Now I Know More, and like its predecessor, it's chock full of fascinating true stories about things you thought you already knew about.

In this volume, you'll learn:

  • Why Congress gets free pornographic magazines
  • How to steal the Empire State Building
  • What not to do with a check for a million dollars
  • About the college student who micro-funded his scholarship

And 97 other strange-but-true stories.

Buy Now I Know More on Amazon

World War 3 – It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I don’t feel fine

Since 1979, World War 3 Illustrated has been a forum for those who chafed at the treacly bromides of Ronald Reagan, who heaved on the endless hypocrisy of religion, who were seriously cheesed at the presumption of male politicians to deny woman their reproductive rights, and who had nothing but contempt for the fearmongering that followed the tragedy of 9/11.

But in the hands of founders Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper, along with an ever-changing roster of new and returning artists—from Eric Drooker, Sabrina Jones, and the late Spain Rodriguez, to Sue Coe, Art Spiegelman, Chuck Sperry, and Tom Tomorrow — World War 3 has been more than a vehicle for artists to vent their anger, although many of them have done that exceedingly well. More importantly, World War 3 has been a place to build a counter narrative to the pablum ladled into the trough we know as the mainstream media, a place where the most unflinching and searing critiques can bud and flower before blasting the corpulent ruling classes to smithereens.

See sample pages from World War 3 at Wink

Lawquake! Judge rules that explaining jailbreaking isn't illegal


A federal judge in New York has ruled that telling people where to get DRM-removal software isn't against the law -- it's a huge shift in the case-law around DRM, and it's an important step in the right direction.

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The creator of those great 1960s kooky car and monster models

If you’re a fan of 1960s lowbrow culture you know his art, but you might not know his name or his story. This large full-color book is crammed with the fabulous Weird-Oh art of Bill Campbell.

Ed “Big Daddy” Roth was probably more famous for his Rat Fink character and wild custom cars, but Bill Campbell had just as big an influence in the kids’ world of models and toys – and according to this book, was actually first! The history of Hawk models is explored from early plane kits to their breakout Weird-Ohs models: “car-icky-tures” of kooky characters in crazy vehicles like Digger, the Way Out Dragster.

Campbell went on to create whole weird worlds of sports figures as well as his spin-offs Silly Surfers and The Frantics. The book features reproductions of sample tooling photos, early sketches, renderings and illustrations, package art, fine art paintings, and sculpted dioramas. Did you know there even was an all-CGI TV show of the Weird-Ohs in 1999? And get a load of the sketches and plans for models that weren’t produced: the Weird-ohs that never were. I also enjoyed reading about Campbell’s adventures in “Mad Men” era advertising (like getting stiffed by the Keebler elves!). Just like with your old Weird-oh models, your mom won’t like this new book, either – but you will!

See sample pages from A Weird-Oh World: The Art of Bill Campbell at Wink

BOOK: Incredible LEGO Technic: Cars, Trucks, Robots & More!

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Pawel "Sariel" Kmiec's Incredible LEGO Technic: Cars, Trucks, Robots & More! is an inspiring gallery of amazing LEGO creations. Using the Technic system, and years of experience, Kmiec's work is stunning.

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The high cost of being poor

An excerpt from Linda Tirado's 2014 book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America lays out some of the ways that being poor costs more than having a comfortable income -- it's more than having to pay for high daily rents in a motel because you can't afford first-and-last.

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Bill Gates: the best books I read in 2014

Philanthropist Bill Gates recommends five favorite books he read this year.

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High court rules that English/Welsh prisoners should be allowed to read books


Tory justice secretary Chris Grayling enacted a ban on sending reading material for prisoners as a way of throwing red meat to his base, who bay for maximum cruelty to "bad people" -- but a high court judge agreed with English PEN and the John Howard society and struck down the ban.

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Brian Krebs's "Spam Nation"

In Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door, Brian Krebs offers a fascinating look at the mass-scale cybercrime that underpins the spam in your inbox and provides an inside peek at a violent fight among its principle players. Cory Doctorow reviews.

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The 10 best adventure novels from 1965

Joshua Glenn shows why 1965 was a very good year for science fiction, comic books, and spy novels.

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Custom literary matchboxes for chasing away poo-gas


From Burlington, VT's Dippy Lulu, Literary Lites are custom-made matchboxes that look like Penguin classics, with punny, poop-oriented titles, intended for use in the bathroom to light after particularly stinky Number Twos. They come in six, color-coded sets of three match-boxes each.

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Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague

In Second Avenue Caper: When Goodfellas, Divas, and Dealers Plotted Against the Plague, “Ray” recounts his brave, quixotic, tragicomic adventures as an experimental AIDS drug smuggler who funded his operation by selling weed out of his New York apartment, during the early years of the “gay plague.” It’s a strangely fitting subject for a graphic novel, and Joyce Brabner and Mark Zingarelli graphic novel make it work as a history book that’ll make you laugh and cry. Cory Doctorow reviews.

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