What's cozier than a tiny breakfast made out of wool? Artist-filmmaker Andrea Love brings her needle-felted creations to life in short animated videos featuring crafty kitchen fantasies and scenes from the natural world.
Love's most ambitious felted short film is Tulip, an adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's classic Thumbelina. The film is currently on the film festival circuit. Catch it at the San Francisco International Film Fest this week.
In one of those triumphant stories that reaffirms every junk hound's eternal quest for treasures, antiques dealer Robert Swope and his partner Michel Hurst stumbled across a collection of photos at a flea market that revealed an underground community in the Catskills that may have otherwise remained a secret forever. The early '60s photographs featured vacationers who were assigned male at birth, dressed in feminine frocks at a summer resort in the country. What struck Swope was the naturalism of the images. This wasn't camp or drag, but people who were gender non-conforming – queer, trans, heterosexual, or otherwise – who found a safe haven to express their femininity.
Casa Susanna was founded and managed by Susanna Valenti, sometimes known as Tito, and her wife Maria, who also owned a successful wig store in NYC. Their resort was designed to be a sanctuary for cross-dressing, considered a perversion and largely illegal at the time. People from the city who lived conventional lives, escaped to Casa Susanna for a chance to live freely as women for either a weekend or an entire summer. The extended stay guests often took finishing school classes from Susanna, learning how to hide a 5 o'clock shadow or master walking in pumps.
Much of the information about Susanna and the resort came from a magazine called Tranvestia (1960 – 1980), published by resort visitor Virginia Price, who gave Valenti her own column. Tranvestia also first published many of the photographs taken by Andrea Susan, also known as Jack Mallick, the official resort photographer. It was these very photos that were later unearthed by Swope and Hurst.
Swope and Hurst compiled and published the original photos (uncredited) as a coffee table book, which went on to inspire a play called Casa Valentina, written by Harvey Fierstein.
Though existing outside a binary may have only entered mainstream conversation in recent years, it's important to discover and preserve history like Casa Susanna, to underscore that gender has always existed on a spectrum, across timelines and cultures.
Like many of you, I was enthralled by #TheStory. Unfolding over the course of 148 tweets, this was a batshit crazy first-person account of an epic saga between a black woman dancer named "Zola" (our fearless narrator) and a skinny white girl Hooters customer named Jessica who invites her on a road trip to work a club in Florida. There are a multitude of morals that emerge during this story, but the first one might be the most important: "Don't get into a car with strangers". Insanity ensues. According to this Rolling Stone article, some of the original story, like Jarret's suicide attempt, were embellished, but many of the key elements – a brutal pimp, a tormented boyfriend, gaslighting, kidnapping, sex trafficking – remain tragic, wild, and true. And has now been adapted into a new film, written and directed by Janicza Bravo.
The notoriously sticky concrete or tile theater floors experienced a makeover in the '90s. Teal, purple, and yellow confetti star and squiggle carpets became ubiquitous in multiplex theaters around the country. But how did this trend start and who was responsible? Indie production house A24 embarked on an impressively exhaustive deep dive into carpet etymology, discovering that, yes, the busy design served a dual purpose of offering a futuristic experience while also camouflaging the pastiche of melted Jujubees and spilled soda byproduct of excited theater patrons.
"The Dimensional Innovations team would actually dump Coca-Cola on these new carpets, let it soak in, walk all over them, and check to see if it changed the colors. It didn't. Even blacklight lights wouldn't reveal the stains.
"…They officially branded this genre of carpeting as Electra-Dye. The chaos was a response to the desires of multiplex owners in the 1990s. They wanted something outlandish, that made you feel like you were at a theme park—and they got it. The Durkan Fun Time Collection of patterns was born, a carpet catalogue containing a boundless galaxy of squiggles, stars, planets, movie reels, gradients, confetti, swirls, soundwaves, swishes, and more."
San Francisco's PBS affiliate KQED launched the Homemade Film Festival last year as a means to stay connected and creative during shelter-in-place. The festival received such a positive response that first year, we decided make it an annual event.
California filmmakers of all skill levels are invited to showcase their iPhone filmmaking prowess and create a short movie at home. Films are judged on creativity, not high production values, so use whatever you have on hand. 5 films will be selected to stream in a week-long festival on KQED's YouTube channel and website. Prizes include one $1000 grand prize winner, one $500 audience award winner, and one $250 youth award winner (age 13 – 18).
All films must be made at home, under 10 minutes long, and (some of you will hate this) created by a California filmmaker.
One night in 1970, daredevil Evel Knievel was preparing to jump his motorcycle over 11 vehicles in front of a packed stadium in San Francisco. Apparently, jumping a motorcycle over a fleet of cars in a confined space wasn't quite butch enough because Knievel also decided to start an epic brawl with the Hell's Angels.
This wasn't long after the disastrous and deadly Stones concert at Altamont, where Hell's Angels were loosely hired as "security", resulting in multiple fights and a murder. Tensions were compounded by the fact that Evel Knievel hated the Angels' nihilist thug behavior anyway. The most significant contributing factor, of course, was that one of the Angels threw a tire iron at Evel, a man who took no shit.
"I always wanted to punch one of them anyway. So I rev my motorcycle up and I threw it into a slide and I knocked this guy piss over teakettles. All of a sudden, about 500 people jumped out of the grandstand and grabbed these 4x4s and these 2x4s and they absolutely beat the hell out of these Hell's Angels"
Long before Amelie was relocating garden gnomes and Helena Bonham Carter was liberating laundry, there was the unbeatable free spirit prototype, Maude. 50 years ago this December, Harold and Maude's titular septuagenarian was stealing hearses from funerals, hijacking trees to replant in the forest, and outsmarting cops like a flower powered Bugs Bunny.
Sadly and unsurprisingly, audiences in 1971 were too boring to embrace an elderly woman having a romance with a younger man, so Harold and Maude tanked at the box office.But history has since redeemed this dark comedy love story between two eccentric funeral crashers, a morose suicidal youth and life-loving old kook. It's a cult classic, it's on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Funniest Movies of all Time, and it was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". Not to mention, the soundtrack by Cat Stevens is banging.
I only recently learned that screenwriter Colin Higgins had envisioned a prequel mash-up to Harold and Maude that I would personally kill to see called Grover and Maude where Maude learns how to steal cars from Grover Muldoon, Richard Pryor's character in Higgins' 1976 film Silver Streak.
What makes Mexican jumping means jump? The answer is less cute than you may have suspected.
Often sold as novelty items and exported worldwide, Mexican jumping beans are actually the seed capsules of a shrub (Sebastiania pavoniana) that have been taken over by the tiny larvae of an attractive grey moth (Cydia saltitans). The moth lays its eggs on the green immature capsule of female flowers in the spring and summer, and the immature larvae bore into the young seed capsules.
The developing seed will be home and food for the larva as it grows. By late summer, the capsules separate into three sections, falling to the ground. The seed capsules with larvae inside them hop around on the ground, to avoid overheating in the harsh sun of the Sonoran Desert. To do this, each larva weaves a silk lining along the seed interior, grabs on with its hind legs, and thrashes its head against the walls. The force topples the seed, as the larva uses its finely-tuned sense of temperature to seek shade.
Could there be a more coveted dream job for a cartoonist than working at MAD Magazine? And could there be bigger shoes to fill than Al Jaffee's? Jaffee, who turns 100 years old this weekend, has been responsible for every MAD Magazine back cover fold-in spanning from the 1960s up until just last year when he retired at the age of 99.
Oddly enough, Jaffee's successor doesn't have a deep history with comics or publishing. He had been a storyboard artist and illustrator until a fateful assignment from Pitchfork Review in 2013 where he was asked to spoof a MAD fold-in. That gig put him on a new path as a cartoonist. He began drawing comics for outlets like Vice and The Stranger until ultimately landing the crown jewel of cartooning jobs.
LeVar Burton remains just as righteous today as he was years ago as the host of Reading Rainbow, the PBS series that encouraged children to love reading. Anderson Cooper had Burton on the CNN show Full Circle as part of "Read Across America Day". The two discussed the decision by Dr. Seuss' publishers to discontinue six of its titles after a study found that 43 out of 45 characters of color contained harmful racist stereotypes.
"Actually, I think that, in the general sense, once you know better, it is incumbent upon you to do better, and that's exactly what Seuss Enterprises is doing here. They are being a responsible steward of the brand and they looked at these six titles and determined that in the light of today, they really don't fit with the values that we've all come to know Dr Seuss for. Look, all of our heroes are human; they are all flawed. It's one of the things I learned from Gene Roddenberry, one of my storytelling mentors. Gene was a guy who had this great vision, but he also wanted all the women in short skirts, so our heroes are flawed."
If you're planning your midlife crisis and too tired to date a younger person and too broke to buy a sports car, might I suggest you take the road less traveled and apply to drive the Planter's NUTmobile instead?
The NUTmobile is perhaps less well-known than its spiritual twin The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile, but its debut technically precedes its more active counterpart by a year. An enterprising Planters salesman built and used the first one in 1935.
In 2011, Planters unveiled an eco version of the NUTmobile to celebrate its "Naturally Remarkable" campaign. This new vehicle was powered by biodiesel, solar panels, a wind turbine, and has a floor made from reclaimed barn wood.
The newest NUTmobile is likely similar to the 2014 model: a 26-foot-long fiberglass peanut featuring smart technology and customized interior.
If you get the job, please come pick me up on your way out of town!
Thai American artist Astria Suparak's Virtually Asian is a short video essay that looks at how science-fiction filmmakers fill the backgrounds of their futuristic worlds with nebulous Asian faces while filling their featured cast with white ones. Particularly prevalent are the Asian hologram advertisements that apparently occupy every cityscape in the future, from Blade Runner (1982) to A.I. (2001) to Minority Report (2002), and do we even need to start in on Ghost in the Shell (2017)?
A special gift for all of my fellow anxiety sufferers: Space hurricanes! Before now, scientists were uncertain they even existed, but a new study shows a 600-mile-wide mass of swirling plasma above the North Pole. The hurricane showered down electrons instead of water and lasted for about 8 hours. The images had been captured by satellites in 2014 and only recently discovered.
"Space hurricanes, like other space weather events, are caused by streams of plasma unleashed from the sun in what's known as the solar wind. As these clouds of charged particles hurl through space, they can fuel magnetic storms and trigger stunning displays of the northern or southern lights."
Bowie puts VJ Mark Goodman in the hot seat over MTV's lack of representation in this 1983 interview. Cringe along as Goodman back pedals his ass straight off a cliff. First, he denies that the station fails to play Black artists. He then takes a sharp turn into oncoming "aw hell no" traffic, explaining that MTV doesn't play Black artists because they don't want to scare white children in middle America.
"That's very interesting. Isn't that interesting," Bowie responds. Our in-house professional translators have verified that this is polite British speak for "What a lamentable crock of horse shit."
On the day of the photo, I remained in the tide pool as the tide was too low to venture outside of its boundaries. In one of the shallowest parts of the pool, I noticed an octopus. I placed my camera near its den and the octopus started interacting with it. It came completely out of the den and to our amazement, it started shooting pictures! My son (3 years old, in the background) was very curious about the octopus.
The 56-bedroom Hope Cover Bunker in Devon was turned into a nuclear fallout shelter in the '50s. The base was designed to house 250 government workers in a sealed sanctuary for 35 days in the event of an attack. It remained operational into the 1990s and now wants to make your haunted commune/hotel/roller rink fantasies come true.
"Various original features are still visible today. These include several maps which would have been used to help with any response to an attack. And there are soundproofed radio station booths where broadcasts would have been made to share with any remaining public."