This is not a box of chocolates (it's felt art by LeBrie Rich)

During a recent stopover in Portland, Oregon, it was delightful to once again hang out with the "Duchess of Felt," artist LeBrie Rich. Read the rest

Crocs gloves: "dad’s favorite shoes... for your hands"

Entrepreneur and Product Designer Matt Benedetto is an inventing machine. Under the umbrella of "Unnecessary Inventions," he's brought the world a-mazing, and absolutely absurd, creations. His latest pièce de résistance? Fingerless Crocs Gloves. Yup, he's made Crocs that you can wear on your hands. And, no, he didn't cut up a pair of shoes. No, no. These little beauties were 3D-printed. Watch the video to see the entire process to get from idea to prototype. It's impressive! Read the rest

Runner maps portrait of Frida Kahlo on his nearly 30-mile run around San Francisco

Last weekend, long-distance runner Lenny Maughan ran 28.93 miles through the hilly streets of San Francisco to complete this mapped portrait of Frida Kahlo. Visible through the Strava fitness app, his "Frida Run" took him six hours and eight minutes to finish and was carefully planned out before he left his house. This isn't his first specially-mapped run, he's added over 30 pieces to his "Running Art" project in the past three years (some of those are visible here).

SFGate:

He describes the process of planning a piece as pretty analog. He prints out a paper map and highlights his route. He usually goes through several different iterations of the map before he sets off on a run. While he's on the road, he must be very careful to follow it – if he makes a wrong turn it has the potential to ruin the whole piece.

"You can't see the lines drawn until after you finish your run, so it's such a joyful feeling when you put in all of that work and you finally finish and get to see what you envisioned at the end," recounts Maughan...

"San Francisco is my canvas. I use the streets as framework for what I want to do, find shapes, and make it work. Kind of like how little kids look up at the clouds."

image via Lenny Maughan/Strava

(RED) Read the rest

From #TelegramGate to #RickyLeaks: Puerto Rico is on 🔥!

Two weeks ago, Puerto Rico's Center for Investigative Journalism published one of the most consequential investigative stories in the island's history: a trove of leaked private Telegram chats between Governor Ricardo Rossello and his most senior advisors and officials, in which the group use crude, homophobic and misogynist labels to mock and degrade opposition figures, Puerto Rican celebrities, and the people of Puerto Rico as they struggled with the aftermath of hurricanes Maria and Irma, left to swelter and die by a local and national government that had abandoned them. Read the rest

Artist paints playful shadow art on sidewalks

Artist Damon Belanger's "Shadow Art" installations are making the rounds on the internet and for good reason, they're terrific! Using grey paint designed for concrete patios, he first created these street art pieces on commission back in 2016. They're a permanent installation, so you can still find all 22 of the fantastical shadows, ranging from anthropomorphic flowers to critters to abstract designs, on the downtown sidewalks of Redwood City, California.

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In use... #redwoodcity #visitredwoodcity #shadowart

A post shared by Damon Belanger (@dmn.belanger) on May 29, 2016 at 9:32pm PDT

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#redwoodcity #cityofredwoodcity #publicart #streetart #visitredwoodcity #rwcparks #redwoodcityshadowart #shadowart

A post shared by Damon Belanger (@dmn.belanger) on Jun 8, 2016 at 7:46pm PDT

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Dog the Cat. One of about twenty shadow art pieces I painted in downtown #redwoodcity. #rwcparks #visitrwc #redwoodcityshadowart #publicart #shadowart

A post shared by Damon Belanger (@dmn.belanger) on May 21, 2016 at 11:23pm PDT

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Robo Band. One of about twenty shadow art pieces I painted in downtown #redwoodcity. #rwcparks #visitrwc #redwoodcityshadowart #publicart #shadowart

A post shared by Damon Belanger (@dmn.belanger) on May 21, 2016 at 11:28pm PDT

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Hydrant @ El Camino. One of about twenty shadow art pieces I painted in downtown #redwoodcity. #rwcparks #visitrwc #redwoodcityshadowart #publicart #shadowart

A post shared by Damon Belanger (@dmn.belanger) on May 21, 2016 at 11:33pm PDT

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Parking Monkey. One of about twenty shadow art pieces I painted in downtown #redwoodcity.

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Magical Women: a new anthology of feminist science fiction by women from India

Factor Daily's Gautham Shenoy (who reviewed the Gollancz Book of South Asian Science Fiction) reviews Magical Women, a new Indian feminist science fiction anthology edited by Sukanya Venkatraghavan. Read the rest

The World’s Smallest Post Service to open a magical brick-and-mortar experience in Oakland

After ten years of making and sending custom tiny mail for people via her online transcription service, Postmaster/artist Lea Redmond is dreaming big. She is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter to bring a magical brick-and-mortar World’s Smallest Post Service to a vintage storefront in downtown Oakland. Yes, you'll be able to experience the joy of tiny mail in person!

The installation will feature an early 1900s oak post office counter (which she scored off of Craigslist), a bank of brass eagle P.O. boxes, and other delights such as dioramas and letter-writing nights. Back her Kickstarter project to send tiny mail and to get some gorgeous commemorative faux postage stamp sheets by Oakland artist Michael Wertz (shown above).

The World’s Smallest Post Service started out as a quirky roaming postal office around the SF Bay Area, and since then Lea and her postal pals have crafted and sent tens of thousands of tiny letters and packages to loved ones all over the world. In addition to single custom tiny letters and packages, they offer DIY tiny mail stationery kits, tiny serial stories called “Keep Me Posted,” secret admirer Valentine’s chocolates, and other charming wee things.

I'm a huge fan!

(RED) Read the rest

Amelia Foxtrot is an olde tyme-y DJ who spins on antique phonographs

There are old-school DJs and then there's DJ Amelia Foxtrot of Austin Phonograph Co. in Texas. Her turntables are antique hand-cranked phonographs and her records are scratchy-sounding 78s.

Of course, I was immediately charmed by all of this. I reached out to her and she shared:

I've been doing phonograph DJ work for 7 years. I started in 2012 because I wanted to buy a phonograph. Being an entrepreneur at heart, I thought if I created a business DJing with it, my hobby would fund itself. And I got to buy two!

She mostly plays private events like seances (!), weddings, and fancy birthday parties. Though, on March 24, you can catch her at the Jazz Age Sunday Social in Dallas.

Amelia also co-owns and runs Sweet Ritual, a popular dairy-free ice cream shop in Austin. Additionally, she teaches Cool School for budding vegan ice cream parlor owners.

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The Mills Bros, “How Am I Doing, Hey Hey” played on my 1907 Victor II Phonograph. #phonograph #gramophone #millsbrothers

A post shared by Amelia Foxtrot (@austinphonographcompany) on Oct 1, 2017 at 1:22pm PDT

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At the Winfield Inn out in Kyle, Texas, sound testing my favorite Cliff Edwards ukulele song to play at weddings, "June Night." #phonographdj #phonograph #gramophonedj #gramophone #cliffedwards

A post shared by Amelia Foxtrot (@austinphonographcompany) on Apr 23, 2017 at 2:58pm PDT

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#Repost @phonographfilm ・・・ “Once & Again” Official Trailer. “Once & Again,” a documentary short about three Austin-based antique phonograph collectors, explores the human desire to connect with the music and voices of the past.

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Sarah Petkus' She Bon project: tech augmentation for sensing and expressing female arousal

I have followed the work of the brilliant indie hardware engineer, Sarah Petkus, for years. Her first projects to capture my attention were her delta robot army and NoodleFeet (see her YouTube feed for project videos). Sarah is an extremely talented engineer and artist whose design and fabrication skills are undeniably impressive. With her high-tech engineering skills, her unique and sincere presence, and her overall deep-geek badassery, Sarah wouldn't be out of place in a Gibson cyberpunk novel. Read the rest

Find the cuss words in these delightfully subversive 'swearing patterns'

This week, on the same day, I had not one but two friends tell me about designer Sonia Harris' "swearing patterns." Of course, I instantly became a fan. Her hidden-in-plain-sight patterns are subversive yet perfectly understated.

For example, this t-shirt's design appears to be a fancy mandala at first glance. But look closer and you'll see the words "Insufferable Wanker" cleverly incorporated into the pattern. (Ms. Harris, you get me.)

She got started drawing the patterns (using an iOS app called Amaziograph) while she was going through treatment for breast cancer, writing that swearing is a meditation for her:

Despite my desire to create and soothe myself with art, I was also very angry at the bad luck of having spent decades dealing with pain from endometriosis only to get breast cancer just as I thought there was an end to it. The disgusting effects of the treatment, the frightening and painful experiences kept on coming... Hence my patterns contained a lot of profanity. I wanted to swear and I needed to swear. If I could have, I’d have been shouting those profanities from the rooftops! But I had no strength to raise my voice or even stomp around, so that left my drawings. I could write down an exclamation of disgust, carefully and lovingly so that seeing it gave me strength, reminded me that I have a voice and I am still alive. Seeing the repetition of my words and patterns calmed me, the inherent beauty of them made me feel in harmony with life again and able to rest.

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Why Do Birds: Damon Knight's amazing, underappreciated science fiction novel about putting all of humanity in a box

In 2002, a mysterious man is arrested for illegally occupying a hotel room: he says his name is Ed Stone, and that he was kidnapped by aliens from the same hotel room in 1931 and has just been returned to Earth, not having aged a day; the aliens have told him that Earth will be destroyed in 12 years and that before then, the entire human race has to put itself in a giant box (presumably for transport to somewhere else, though Ed is a little shaky on the details), and to help Ed with this task, the aliens have given him a ring that makes anyone who touches it fill with overwhelming good feelings for him and a desire to help him. Read the rest

Artist lovingly paints Texas fast food joints in Kinkade-esque scenery

San Antonio artist Michael Esparza's oil paintings put Texas-based fast food restaurants in the center of bucolic landscapes. It's hard not to compare his work to Thomas Kinkade's but that's the point. (The main difference, imo, is that Esparza's pieces are actually palatable.)

Texas Monthly:

The idea for the series, which Esparza describes as “a little bit Bob Ross and a little bit Thomas Kinkade,” came to him 2012, just after he came back to Texas from a year of studying art in Italy. In Italy, nothing was built taller than a church, so it was a shock when Esparza returned to San Antonio, the size of roadside signs were particularly jarring. “I was just seeing how iconic they are, but also from the Italian perspective, how ridiculous they are. From that point of view, it’s like, ‘What are you doing, Texas? What’s going on with these big signs that you have on the side of the road?'” he says. “But the first thing I did when I got back from Italy was I went to Whataburger, and then right after that, I went to Bill Miller’s. I just needed a burger, and I needed a po’ boy. I was already full after Whataburger, but I didn’t care.” Esparza says he wants the paintings to evoke the sense of homecoming you feel when you see those signs after spending time in a place where they don’t exist—be it Italy or elsewhere. “They become your own little beacons for where you live,” he explains.

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LiartownUSA's Social Justice Kittens calendar

Add this to the ongoing list of "quirky and downright strange" calendars for 2019: Sean Tejaratchi of LiartownUSA's Social Justice Kittens.

It’s 2019. All around us, ancient evils lurk in the deepening shadows, growing more powerful by the hour, feeding on hatred and centuries of oppression. The signs and symbols are everywhere for those willing to see.

Thanks to LiarTown, you can now take the most courageous step of all: remaining silent while others speak. Once again it’s time to amplify the voices of those fluffy little activists, the Social Justice Kittens! They’ve returned, rested and ready to call out and clap back!

But don’t think for a minute these woke, whiskered warriors have come alone! Get an eyeful of the all-new litter of Social Justice Puppies scrambling along behind them! These progressive pups have endured marathon struggle sessions and merciless “self-crit” to achieve dizzying levels of abject submission and self-debasement. They’re determined to be on the right side of history, and positively squirming for a chance to recite their gut-wrenching confessions!

It’s up to you. Will you celebrate the voices of the marginalized, or further stain your soul with murderous complicity? Every moment you delay causes further abuse and gentrification. Those far more woke than you roll their eyes at your absurd doubts and questions! Desperate times call for desperate measures! Answer that call NOW…with kittens!

Please note: As usual, every bit of kitten and puppy dialogue is sourced from genuine social media posts. Nothing has been taken out of context or misrepresented.

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The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, 2017 documentary about 'Tales of the City' creator

In anticipation of the brand new Tales of the City series (!!), Netflix is now playing the documentary about its creator, The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin.

THE UNTOLD TALES OF ARMISTEAD MAUPIN examines the life and work of one of the world's most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels have inspired millions to claim their own truth. Jennifer Kroot's documentary about the creator of TALES OF THE CITY moves nimbly between playful and poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. With help from his friends (including Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen and Amy Tan) Maupin offers a disarmingly frank look at the journey that took him from the jungles of Vietnam to the bathhouses of 70's San Francisco to the front line of the American culture war.

On Netflix: The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin Read the rest

This artist uses jigsaw puzzles, with the same die cut pattern, to make these terrific mashups

Oh boy, I think I have a new hobby. I've just learned that you can combine puzzles, that have the same die cut, to make really awesome pieces of art. It had never occurred to me that manufacturers of mass-produced puzzles cut different puzzles of theirs in the same way, making the pieces interchangeable. It makes complete sense, of course, but my mind is still blown!

I learned about the art of "puzzle montage" from one of the readers of my inbox zine, Marcia Wiley (she's the gal in Seattle who's fixing up that cool old Checker Cab). She was visiting the Bay Area and we met up for the first time this past Friday. That's when she told me about her friend Tim Klein, who makes incredible puzzle montages. I'm excited to share his work with you.

In an email exchange, Tim told me that he learned about puzzle montages from the man who first made them, art professor Mel Andringa of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, "As far as I know, he and I are the only artists ever to pursue it seriously. And I think he's moved on to other things nowadays, so I may be the sole surviving practitioner."

And this is what Tim shared with me about his process:

...By selecting pieces from two or more compatible puzzles, I assemble a single "puzzle mashup" with surreal imagery that the publisher never imagined.

Sometimes the results are merely chuckle-making, such as my combination of King Tut's burial mask with the front of a truck, which I call "King of the Road".

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Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch puppeteer Caroll Spinney announces retirement

The Sesame Workshop is reporting that long-time Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney has announced his retirement, noting that he's performed on the program since its 1969 premiere. Spinney has played the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for nearly 50 years!

After five decades as the heart and soul of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, it’s impossible to entirely separate the man from the characters he so vibrantly brought to life. Big Bird visited China with Bob Hope in 1979. He’s danced with the Rockettes, and with prima ballerina Cynthia Gregory. He’s been feted with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, celebrated with his likeness on a U.S. postage stamp, and named a “Living Legend” in 2000 by the Library of Congress. Performing Big Bird has taken Caroll to China, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, Canada, and the United Kingdom. He has performed on hundreds of episodes of television, starred as his big yellow avatar in the feature film Follow That Bird, and conducted symphony orchestras throughout the United States, Australia, and Canada. Spinney even met his wife of 45 years, Debra, on the Sesame Street set in 1973.

Not to worry, Big Bird and Oscar are not going anywhere. They will be played going forward by puppeteers Matt Vogel and Eric Jacobson, with Spinney's blessing.

Also, if you haven't seen the 2014 documentary about Spinney titled I Am Big Bird, I urge you to do so. It's a truly beautiful portrait of a deeply creative man who chose to live his most authentic life. Read the rest

Seth Godin's Akimbo podcast is definitely worth a listen

I generally don't listen to podcasts. It's not that I don't want to, it's that it's difficult for me because a) I'm not good at multi-tasking (listening and writing do not go hand in hand) and b) I don't have a commute. But I do make exceptions, especially when a podcast has been recommended to me.

The rotten thing, in this case, is that I can't remember who to thank for recommending Seth Godin's podcast to me. I took two trips to SoCal in the past two weeks, one by car and one by train, and got hooked on Akimbo. I listened to as much of it as I could while watching the beautiful state of California fly by me.

It's about how to change culture and it's terrific.

Akimbo is an ancient word, from the bend in the river or the bend in an archer's bow. It's become a symbol for strength, a posture of possibility, the idea that when we stand tall, arms bent, looking right at it, we can make a difference.

Akimbo's a podcast about our culture and about how we can change it. About seeing what's happening and choosing to do something.

The culture is real, but it can be changed. You can bend it.

Now, I think of Seth Godin as a marketing guy, and he is. But this podcast is something more. It goes beyond that. I guess what I'm saying is that I think it would be interesting to non-marketing folks. . Read the rest

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