• Florida student sues the state over "Don't Say Gay" bill

    Zander Moricz is the first openly gay class president at his Sarasota, FL high school. He is also now the youngest public plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against the state of Florida to strike down the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill.

    Moricz also recently learned that his principal is forbidding him from mentioning his queer identity, his activism, or the lawsuit in his upcoming graduation speech. The principle warned that if he mentions any of these things, his mic will be cut off and the ceremony with be interrupted. 

    Image: Screengrab

  • Jack White makes a shop stool for Adam Savage

    As if Jack White talents as an artist and musician weren't enough, he's also an accomplished designer and maker. In this Show & Tell on Tested, Adam Savage gushes over the new stool that White upholstered for him (White apparently worked as an upholsterer). Not only is the stool lovely, but Jack encoded a lot of thoughtful symbolism into the material choices he used.

    As Adam says in the video, "as a maker, there are few lovelier things that one can do than making something for someone else that they will use. It is one of the great pleasures in life. I love exercising that pleasure and what a delight to be on the receiving end."

    Image: Screengrab

  • Get $1000 worth of printable miniatures for $50 and support humanitarian aid in Ukraine

    From Jeremy Pillipow of Black Magic Craft, I learned of this effort to raise money for Ukrainian humanitarian relief.

    A group of miniature designers from around the world have donated 3D design files (STL files) of gaming miniatures that can be 3D printed. The retail value of the files is $1000, but you can have them for a $50 pledge.

    The campaign was funded in ten minutes and (as of this writing) has raised over $205,000. I just funded this effort and hope that other Boingers will, too.

    Image: Image grab

  • The Last Prospector, a clever new campaign supplement for the sci-fi tabletop miniatures game Stargrave

    I love following the career of a talented game designer when you can clearly see the mechanisms of their design process and their creativity on fire. Such is the case for me with Joseph McCullough, creator of the widely-acclaimed and beloved tabletop skirmish games Frostgrave, Stargrave, Rangers of Shadow Deep, and Silver Bayonet.

    I have followed McCullough's work from the original Frostgrave, released in 2015, and have been impressed with everything he's done. Thanks to him, I have spent countless hours painting Frostgrave miniatures, building terrain, crafting my spell lists, planning my warbands, and playing in the frozen city. I haven't gotten a chance to play Stargrave (aka "Frostgrave in space"), but I've read the rulebook and its two supplements to date, Quarantine 37 and the just-released The Last Prospector.

    Divining Joe McCullough's creative process is no great feat of magic because he always writes a thoughtful introduction to his game books describing his thematic motivations, new game ideas, and the fresh mechanics behind each new release. The Stargrave supplement Quarantine 37 takes place on a derelict research station and was an opportunity for McCullough to introduce zombies and Gigeresque aliens into the ravaged galaxy of Stargrave. The Last Prospector was inspired by westerns and westerns in space, like Firefly, Star Wars, and movies like Outland.

    In The Last Prospector, your crew finds itself in an asteroid mining belt hot on the heels of a prospector who alerted you to a big score… and then promptly vanished. Over ten scenarios, the crews of the two players attempt to follow the trail of the titular prospector, gathering information (and experience and loot) as you go.

    One unique design feature of the campaign is that the scenarios are not done in a narrative sequence (except for the initial and final ones). After the opening scenario (a saloon scene, as required by any self-respecting Western-inspired game), the winner of that scenario gets to choose the next one, and the winner of the 2nd adventure gets to choose the next, etc. The campaign finale is designed to be longer and more dramatic than the others; to play like the final showdown in a film.

    Another clever feature of The Last Prospector is Faction Standing. Within the asteroid system there are six different factions. As you play through the scenarios, depending on your actions, your standings with these factions will change. Positive standings give your crew various bonuses (e.g. curry favor with Pa–the mysterious unseen entity that rules over Penthalia Station–and you're given access to the station's medical bay to heal up, or treat Molly right–the derelict space hauler that's home to a grav-bike-riding gang called The Gliders–and they'll give you access to the system's black market tech). Balancing these faction standings as you work your way through the campaign adds another layer of strategy, intrigue, and fun to gameplay.

    If that's not enough cool new mechanics for a supplement, The Last Prospector also introduces the Investigation Score. The campaign theme is a mystery after all–to figure out what happened to the prospector and to find and nab his haul. For each loot token a crew acquires, they also get one Investigation point. These Investigation points serve as the victory condition for each scenario, allowing that player to choose the next scenario. "Secret" and "Information" loot that's discovered conveys additional Investigation Points.

    With a solid core rulebook (based on an already-successful hit game), two compelling supplements, an coveted line of multi-part miniatures, commercial success and a fanatical fan base, it looks like Stargrave is going to be around for awhile. I can't wait to see Joseph McCullough giving those designer chops of his even more of a workout.

    OnTableTop just did a Stargrave: The Last Prospector Week. Watching this is a great way to explore the game to see if it might interest you. Here is Joe McCullough talking to the OTT team about Stargrave and the new Lost Prospector supplement (and announcing news of a forthcoming solo/coop expansion).

    Images: Screengrabs

  • Twin Peaks and Star Trek: Discovery actor, Kenneth Welsh, has died

    Canadian actor Kenneth Welsh, probably best known for his villainous role as Windom Earle on Season 2 of Twin Peaks, has died at 80. The cause of death has yet to be released, but he died peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones, his family reports.

    Besides Twin Peaks, the busy actor appeared on numerous TV shows including The X-Files, Law & Order, The Practice, Star Trek Discovery (playing Admiral Senna Tal in season 3), the Charmed reboot, and (in my book), the criminally underappreciated Lodge 49. Welsh also appeared in movies such as The Aviator, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and the Canadian comedy, Reno and the Doc.

    Welsh is survived by his son, musician Devon Welsh.

    Image: Twin Peaks screengrab

  • Meet Sir Matthew Hale, the 17th century misogynist that Justice Alito mentioned 9 times in his leaked SCOTUS opinion

    On The Reid Out, Joy Reid introduces us to a lovely English chap from the 17th century named Sir Matthew Hale. A barrister, judge, and jurist, Hale was responsible for such arguments as the fact that witches must be real because there were laws against them and that it was impossible for a husband to rape his wife. And, of course, he was vehemently against abortion.

    Hale was responsible for the 1662 judgement that sent two women accused of witchcraft to their deaths. The case would serve as inspiration for the Salem witch trials. His ideas on rapeless marriage were the law of the land in England until 1991 and have continued to be cited in court as recently as 2009.

    In Justice Alito's leaked draft SCOTUS opinion on overturning Roe v Wade, he felt it worth citing the work of this "great common-law authority" nine times. That's nine citations in a 98-page document.

    Republic of Gilead, I am in you!

    Image: John Michael Wright — Public Domain

  • Howie Pyro, bassist for D Generation and Danzig, dies from Covid complications

    Via Kid Congo we have learned that New York bassist, DJ, and veteran of the NY punk rock scene, Howie Pyro, has died of complications from Covid-19. Pyro had been struggling with liver disease and transplant. He was 61.

    As a musician, Pyro played with the Blessed, D Generation, Freaks, Genesis P. Orridge, Danzig, and others. Pyro was also a well-known DJ in NYC and LA and hosted the Intoxica Radio podcast.

    Kid Congo wrote on his Facebook page:

    We met as pimple faced teens in the late seventies, NYC and LA, and stayed close pals till this very day [May 4th] when you left the planet. So many laughs and thrills and spills.. brother material, loved our time together. . . Miss ya already, Howie. All hail!

    Fellow D Gen bandmate, Jesse Malin, posted on Twitter:

    Read the obits at Variety and Rolling Stone.

  • The seven-decade success of Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner

    A few nights ago, my wife and I stumbled upon this RerunZone segment on the history of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons. We had a surprising amount of genuine laughs over it, reminding us that childhood nostalgia is a hell of a drug.

    There is some interesting stuff here, like the origins of "Beep, beep," the censoring of the cartoon violence of the show in the 1980s, and the dueling duo's surprising longevity.

    Image: Screengrab

  • Innovative post-punk guitarist John McGeoch gets his propers

    The Guardian has a piece celebrating John McGeoch, the often-overlooked 80s guitarist. McGeoch played with such bands as Magazine, Siouxsie and the Banshees, PiL, Visage, and was hugely influential with fellow guitarists like Johnny Marr (The Smiths), Jonny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien (Radiohead), Steve Albini (Big Black), The Edge (U2), and countless others. But unlike those musicians, far fewer people know of John McGeoch.

    McGeoch was a Scottish fine art student and when his flatmate Malcolm Garrett (who would design artwork for Buzzcocks, Duran Duran and Simple Minds) told Howard Devoto, who'd recently quit punk pioneers Buzzcocks, that McGeoch could play all the parts of Television's Marquee Moon, Devoto was impressed. "That made me think he would be somebody worth knowing," he recalls in The Light Pours Out of Me, a new biography on McGeoch by Rory Sullivan-Burke.

    The pair connected and this materialised into Magazine and their revelatory debut single Shot By Both Sides. Despite the riff being a hand-me-down from Buzzcocks, McGeoch's playing on it – as urgent and taut as it was fluid and melodic – quickly grabbed people. Siouxsie Sioux recalled: "everyone was saying: 'who is playing guitar in Magazine?'"

    It captivated a teenage Johnny Marr. "Shot By Both Sides was so arresting," he tells me. "The sound and attitude was very modern – it sounded like it had an agenda." The track was a line in the sand for Marr. "Punk wasn't the letter A in a new alphabet, it was Z in the old lexicon and then after was a clean slate."

    Read the rest.

    In June, Omnibus Press will be releasing a biography of McGeoch, The Light Pours Out of Me.

    [H/t Chris Burke]

    Image: Screengrab

  • Taking a look at Star Trek: Strange New Worlds

    Gizmodo takes a peek at the next series in the seemingly inexhaustible Star Trek franchise, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (premiering May 5 on Paramount+).

    On the surface Strange New Worlds, set to premiere May 5 on Paramount+, sits at a peculiar crossroads. It is, technically, a spinoff-prequel-sequel to the second season of Star Trek: Discovery—a show now waiting for its fifth season on the horizon—which introduced the main trio of Enterprise officers Strange New Worlds returns to: Anson Mount as Captain Christopher Pike, Ethan Peck as a younger Lieutenant Spock, and Rebecca Romijn as "The Cage" pilot episode character Number One, now finally named all these decades later as Lt. Commander Una Chin-Riley. As Discovery went on after its second season to blaze a path in a future farther than any Star Trek show had seen before, Strange New Worlds inherits that show's original legacy as a predecessor to the titan of all Trek, the original series.

    That is the other shadow that Strange New Worlds finds itself in, perhaps even more explicitly so than Discovery ever was. Where that series juked away from the aesthetic and tonality of the original Star Trek to differentiate itself, Strange New Worlds wholeheartedly embraces it from top to bottom. Not just because it is set on the Enterprise mere years before Captain Kirk will sit in its command chair—hell, Kirk's meant to appear in the show's second season in some capacity. But because Strange New Worlds' earnest embrace of the retro-cool look of the original Trek is worn on its sleeves with pride. Modernizing a Technicolor '60s aesthetic that balances the lavish streaming-platform budgets of its contemporary shows with everything from bright-colored classic Trek uniforms to dazzlingly, gleefully retro knobs and switches, all lit up across the Enterprise's rainbow-colored bridge, Strange New Worlds maybe sets a gold standard for Star Trek trying to provide a contemporary imagining of its earliest history. And that translates into the vistas the crew visits week in, week out on their adventures: dangerous, beautiful space anomalies, stunning landscapes, alien cities, or even sumptuous Federation star bases. Strange New Worlds feels like it's just gagging to show you a big and often eventful universe, and hopes you have as fun looking at it as its heroes are meant to.

    Read the rest.

    Image: Paramount promotional image

  • Simone Giertz announces a product development company

    We've been covering the crazy creations of maker-humorist Simone Giertz since the very beginning. As she points out in this new video, announcing her new company, Yetch, for years people have been responding to her funny inventions with the "Take my money" meme. So, she is now prepared to do just that. She has put together a small development team and will be releasing products based on her ideas.

    The first of her offerings include screw head and screw driver rings and an all-white puzzle that comes with a piece missing.

    I'm so looking forward to what other craziness she brings to market. I already want one of the screw driver rings.

    Image: Screengrab

  • A game terrain professional shares his ten best modeling tips

    For those of us who do tabletop gaming, trying to find more effective and quicker ways of getting our miniatures and terrain pieces painted and on the board is a constant learning process. I've been playing these games for most of my adult life (on and off), and I have also covered the gaming world professionally, and I'm always finding new and better ways of doing things.

    Case in point is this Zorpazorp video on ten methods of terrain modeling that he thinks are the best. One of the biggest aha ideas for me was adding materials (sand, rubble, grasses) to bases and terrain pieces after painting for greater realism. I've always done the opposite (fully base, prime, paint). The other idea that seems all the rage these days is using oil washes instead of acrylics to add aging, weathering, etc. And the way he creates realistic rock colors by splashing on oil washes of different colors is a real eye-opener.

    Image: Screengrab

  • Trevor Noah's powerful closing remarks at this year's White House Correspondents Dinner

    On Saturday night, to close the proceedings for the 2022 White House Correspondents Dinner, host Trevor Noah (The Daily Show) got serious for a moment.

    If you ever begin to doubt your responsibilities, if you ever begin to doubt how meaningful it is, look no further than what's happening in Ukraine. Look at what's happening there.

    Journalists are risking and even losing their lives to show the world what is happening. You realize how amazing that is? In America, you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it makes people in power uncomfortable. Even if it makes your viewers or readers uncomfortable. You understand how amazing that is?

    Ask yourself this question: If Russian journalists who are losing their livelihoods… and their freedom.. for daring to report on what their own government is doing — If they had the freedom to write any words, to show any stories, or to ask any questions, if they had, basically, what you have, would they be using it in the same way that you do?

    See the full closing remarks here:

    Image: Screengrab

  • How hobby drones and 3D printing are being effectively used against the Russian invasion of Ukraine

    This fascinating Twitter thread shows how Ukrainians are modifying hobby drones and turning munitions used in AG-17 grenade launchers into aerial anti-personnel bombs by adding 3D printed fins.

    Warning: The footage of one of these bombs sailing through the sunroof of a vehicle full of Russian soldiers is gruesome, at least by implication.

    Image: Twitter screengrab

  • Makers talk about creating PPE for healthcare workers during COVID
    Image: screengrab via YouTube

    Years ago, I did a residency at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. One night, I gave an enthusiastic lecture about the maker movement. During the Q&A, one of the professors asked: "But what is the usefulness of all this? Like 3D printing — is anyone making anything practical with it or just plastic whistles and Yoda statues?"

    I was caught off guard by the question. While I certainly knew of people creating real-world solutions with maker technologies (and I stumbled through some of those in my answer), she did have something of a point. I started thinking that something would eventually come along that would really allow the maker movement to show its mettle.

    That turned out to be COVID-19. As this Hackaday video recounts, during the early days of the pandemic, when the world's PPE (personal protective equipment) was in perilously short supply, many makers stepped up to 3D print PPE, touchless door openers, ventilator parts, and other necessities. Some hackerspaces and maker companies even started mixing their own hand sanitizer and giving that away.

    Image: Screengrab

  • The unique etching and printing process of William Blake
    Video and thumbnail image © The British Library Board

    Anyone who knows me knows that I've been a near-lifelong armchair student of the 18th/19th century artist, poet, printer, engraver, and philosopher, William Blake. Because of this association, whenever something Blake-related is trending, I hear about it because friends and family start sending me the link. This video, which I've long admired, must have resurfaced recently because my inbox suddenly overfloweth.

    First released online in 2014, this 8-minute video, produced for the British Library, shows Blake researcher and printmaker, Michael Phillips, taking a reproduction of William Blake's etched copper plates from inking through printing. The narration (by Phillips) not only does an excellent job of explaining what we're seeing, but it's also a decent thumbnail introduction to Blake's inventive approach to his art.

    Here is a video from the Ashmolean Museum which includes more of Michael Phillips talking about Blake's printing process.

    Video © University of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum of Art & Archaeology [YouTube]

    It's a shame that there doesn't appear to be a comparable video on the etching process that Blake used or one on how he finished the resulting "illuminated prints" with watercolor and sometimes gold leaf. A modern approximation of his process can be found at the 54:56 mark in this lecture series from Vancouver Island University.

    For a thought-provoking and very accessible introduction to Blake, his work, and the complex mytho-poetic cosmology that he created, I can't recommend John Higgs' recent William Blake vs. the World highly enough. One of the best Blake explainer books I've read.

    Video and thumbnail image © The British Library Board

    [H/t Peter Bebergal]

    Video and thumbnail image © The British Library Board

  • An update on what Dutch kinetic sculptor Theo Jansen has been up to

    This gorgeous 4-1/2 minute video features some of Dutch kinetic sculptor, Theo Jansen's, most recent creations. He writes in the video's description:

    Strandbeest Evolution 2021 provides an update on the evolutionary development. Every spring I go to the beach with a new beast. During the summer I do all kinds of experiments with the wind, sand and water. In the fall I grew a bit wiser about how these beasts can survive the circumstances on the beach. At that point I declare them extinct and they go to the bone yard.

    Image: Screengrab