There's still magic in the world, as evidenced by this fairy's-eye view of Children's Fairyland, that charming 70-year-old storybook theme park in Oakland, California.
You might remember that when I'm not blogging, I work with Fairyland. WELL... months before we were mandated to shelter in place, a local photographer, Stephen Loewinsohn, contacted our team at Fairyland. He wanted to know if he could come in and capture the park by drone. He showed us some of his work samples (um, wow) and told us he was a lifelong fan of the park. He also told us the finished product would be a gift to us, no strings attached. OF COURSE we said yes! Naturally, none of us realized at the time that it would be the first comprehensive look our community would get from inside the park for months. But that's part of what makes it extra special. We premiered the video on Thursday evening, with great success, as the "cherry on top" to our reopening fundraising announcement.
At my request, Stephen shared his inspiration and thoughts on creating this video:
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I grew up in Oakland and went to Fairyland as a kid. Now I have two young kids of my own, so Fairyland is a really special place for me and my family.
I've been working as a professional photographer and filmmaker in the Bay Area for many years, and lately I've been experimenting with building and flying custom camera drones with amazing acrobatic capabilities for specialized filming applications.
We've been writing about Lea Redmond since 2009 here on Boing Boing. She's just one of those kind of people who consistently makes neat things — a real Happy Mutant! Well, her latest creative venture is Home Sweet Home, an activity deck for kids (and the young at heart). It offers inspiring prompts for whimsical, reflective mini-adventures in and out of the home. Half the deck is available now for free download, and the second half will be available as part of a full physical deck (when it's safe to get them printed).
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Listed at $159,900 this 1,075 square-foot home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is bland on the outside but features rooms with outer space, submarine, tropical island, and moonbase motifs. The owners put a lot of work into it!
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The "transient bazaar" known as Lost Horizon Night Market is a covert operation. Worlds are imagined and then built inside the blank canvasses of empty box trucks. For the event, all the "proprietors," and their appointed box trucks, convene in an unsanctioned, though discreet, location. This location is disclosed to would-be "shoppers" via text just a few hours before it starts. Word of the market generally spreads rapidly but not publicly, definitely not by social media. If you're lucky enough to hear about it, you should go.
So, Happy Mutants, this is your heads up. Lost Horizon Night Market: Quarantine Edition is happening Saturday, May 9, from 6:59p EST until 11:59p EST, "rain or shine." This one is a little different, as the spaces are virtual, not in actual, physical trucks. I got a sneak peek yesterday of what's been created and can't wait to dive in deeper. Admission is free, though tips are appreciated. RSVP here.
Previously: Secret box truck 'night market' pops up again in NYC Read the rest
My friend Rodney Orpheus (he of the legendary darkwave electronica band, The Cassandra Complex) has been doing a terrific weekly streaming show, called Desert Island Nerds. The premise is that we're all on our own little desert islands in isolation now, so we might as well play the Desert Island game.
Each week, Rodney has on a "nerd hero" and asks them random questions from a list of 20 (chosen, natch, by rolling a d20). Questions are the typical (what album would you take to a desert island? what book? movie?), but also unusual things like companion animal? luxury item? Outfit?
The show, done from Rodney's own little nerd island in the UK, is surprisingly well-produced and great fun to watch. He's done three episodes so far and each one has been tasty nerd candy. The first episode was with Brian Freisinger, visual FX guy who worked on The Matrix Reloaded, Constantine, and Serenity, Antony Johnston, the man behind the video game Dead Space and writer of the movie Atomic Blonde, and Christina Z, the most successful female comic book writer of all time, creator of Witchblade and Tigra and writer for the Powerpuff Girls comic. The Desert Island conceit is really just an excuse for two uber nerds to enthusiastically yammer on about the novels, comic books, RPGs, video games, music, movies, etc. that they adore.
Next week, Rodney's guest is [reads cue card] Holy shit... ME! We'll be talking about some of my desert island picks and some of the high weirdness and nerd-worthy things I've gotten myself up to over the decades, including writing for this Directory of Wonderful Things. Read the rest
Over the past decade or so, Lauren McLaughin (previously
) has written a handful of outstanding YA novels, each dealing with difficult issues of gender, personal autonomy and the casual cruelty of teens, starting with Cycler
(and its sequel, Re-Cycler
) (a teenaged girl who turned into a boy for four days every month); Scored
(a class-conscious surveillance dystopia); The Free
(a desperate novel about a teen car-thief in juvie) and now, her best book yet: Send Pics
, a gripping thriller about sextortion, high school, revenge and justice.
Years before I was blogging for Boing Boing, I had a string of regular jobs, ones that paid the bills but didn't feed my soul. That's not to say I haven't been a lifelong Happy Mutant, no no. I just hadn't realized that it was possible to make a living off of what you love to do. It seemed "decadent" to even entertain that idea. But, here I am. In a new podcast called Escape 925, my new pal Paxton Hare interviewed me about my journey from a nine-to-fiver to whatever I'm calling myself this week: Professional Free Spirit, Artrepreneur, Blogger, Fluff Superfan.
You can listen to the interview here. Show links here. And when you're done with my episode, listen to this one with inventor Mike Doane — wow, he's got a neat story!
Thanks for the intro, Mike!
image via my daughter, a few years back Read the rest
Wendy Liu grew up deeply enmeshed in technology, writing code for free/open source projects and devouring books by tech luminaries extolling the virtues of running tech startups; after turning down a job offer from Google, Liu helped found an ad-tech company and moved from Montreal to New York City to take her startup to an incubator. As she worked herself into exhaustion to build her product, she had a conversion experience, realizing that she was devoting her life to using tech to extract wealth and agency from others, rather than empowering them. This kicked off a journey that Liu documents in her new book, Abolish Silicon Valley: How to Liberate Technology from Capitalism
, a memoir manifesto that's not just charming -- it's inspiring.
There are little lights in this darkness that shine through and make, for a brief moment, the invisible zombie apocalypse seem a bit less horrifying.
One of these for me has been Robert Fripp and his wife Toyah cracking themselves (and the internet) up on her twitter channel.
Watch them as they play DIY Dancing with the Stars in their kitchen and flit about as pollinating bees in their back garden.
And yes, that is Robert Fripp, he of the impeccable 3-piece suits and dour resting face, in a full-on bee costume and sheer black stockings. Nice gams, Bob!
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EraseCOVID is what happens when creative folks work together for the greater good. A fantastic gang of artists and designers (including Ruben Bolling) have joined forces to create some really terrific "Public Safety Art," which is all available to purchase as posters, greeting cards, and more! Proceeds benefit chosen charity MusiCares, the artists, and the ongoing work of EraseCOVID.
The art is aces — I've already spent $50 there today. One awesome thing to note: If you buy a "single poster set" ($30), you actually get TEN posters! They encourage you to share.
Thanks, Tweedlebop! Read the rest
You might remember that when I'm not blogging for Boing Boing, I can usually be found at my other gig — Children's Fairyland. Of course, the Oakland, California kiddie theme park is closed now and will be until it's safe to reopen. But, we do have a skeleton crew of essential "elves" who are on site to care for the donkeys, miniature horses, and other animals. While there, they also water our plants and check our mail. That's when we got the idea to offer the children in our community a chance to became pen pals with these "elves." We already have stacks of super-fun, kid-sized stationery, so launching it was just a matter of announcing it on social media.
Play with us! Have your child draw us a picture or write us a note, and then snail mail it to us. Our "elves" promise to write back (on special Fairyland stationery designed by Oakland artist Michael Wertz, no less).
Send to: 699 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610
Well, in just a week, the response has already been incredible. Local children, plus some as as far away as Texas and Utah, have been sending us snail mail like crazy. Read the rest
Anyone who's ever gone to Burning Man is undoubtedly already familiar with the N95 mask, the particle filters that also protect from inhaling playa dust. And Burners are also familiar with "radical self expression." So, it comes as no surprise that the happy mutants over at Burner-friendly Grassy Knoll Industries have taken it upon themselves to make an otherwise plain-looking mask better — by turning it into a "Catface." Whiskers and all. They describe it as "Quarantine Couture." Even if you have no plans to "cattify" a mask, you should go read the instructions because parts of it are pretty funny. Cats not your thing? There are other fun mask ideas in their "Social Distancing Can Be Fun" Facebook page. Read the rest
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You don’t wanna miss *tomorrow’s post* it’ll be good. But for now this experimental piece inspired by John Cage. Been washing my hands so much in the basin—made me think of Water Music. My classic CR-78 and metal meets water. Our world, our habitat is a giant experiment! In geological time—-we’ve been here for the tiniest fraction. C’mon, let’s make it good. Everybody In. March 17,2020 #isolationjams
My pal Money Mark, longtime key(board) collaborator with the Beastie Boys, is one of the most creative and inspiring music makers I've ever met. Since California's shelter-in-place order began, he's been sharing daily "Isolation Jams" on Instagram! The truly "experimental" music brings me great joy. See more below and @MoneyMarkOfficial. Here's what Mark told me:
Making Isolation jams is a daily meditation. I call them 'Song Poems’ or ‘Sound Poems,' an exercise I’ve kept for years. Only now, I realize, documenting them and posting the audio/video is helping others. Routine is power like the sun rising and setting.
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Isolation jams number 9. Feedback studies I did in the 90’s spawned over a dozen pieces inspired by #johncage ...@realkidkoala Kid Koala and I toured the world together and I would open the show by walking thru the crowd with a boom box and microphone; taped on the back, a small drum machine and an echo pedal. Jimi Hendrix made it popular and I thought I’d take it to the next level.
I have always been intrigued by the Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Lab Kit that was only sold for a year, starting in 1951. The kit included a Geiger counter, a Wilson cloud chamber, a spinthariscope, a electroscope, and a comic book in which Dagwood splits the atom. It also came with three sources of radiation and four samples of Uranium ore, also radioactive. It's the most DEVO-esque toy I could imagine.
While it is often identified as one of the world's most dangerous toys--what with the radioactive samples and all--as one commenter to this Chicago Museum of Science and Industry video tour states: Far more dangerous is the progressive dumbing down of scientific toys that has occurred in the past few decades and its impact on childhood curiosity and discovery.
As this video points out, the kit wasn't short-lived because of its dangers ("Dagwood, don't eat the Ru-106!"), but rather, its price tag of $50, which would be around $520 today.
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Matt Ruff is one of science fiction and fantasy's most consistently brilliant and innovative authors, whose recent work includes The Mirage
(an incredible alternate history in which the Global War on Terror is kicked off when Christian crusaders from the blighted, tribal USA fly a plane into the United States of Arabia's Twin Towers in Dubai, giving the hawkish CIA chief Osama bin Laden the chance to launch the all-out war he's been champing for), and Lovecraft Country
(an anti-racist reimagining of Cthulhu set in Jim Crow America where the real horror is white supremacy -- now being adapted for TV by Jordan Peele
). In his new novel, 88 Names
, Ruff adds to the canon of MMORPG heist novels (Charlie Stross's Rule 34
, Neal Stephenson's Reamde
, and my For the Win
, to name three) with a unique take that he dubbed "Snow Crash meets The King and I."
Get ready to sing. With thousands of other people. Alone at home. That's the idea behind the upcoming Choir! Choir! Choir! Facebook Live event, "Choir!ntine: EPIC Social Distan-Sing-Along!"
The experts have spoken and we’re seriously taking their advice that sticking close to home, and limiting exposure to other people will help reduce the spread of the corona virus. At the same time, it’s been sad to have to postpone gigs in Toronto and around the world. But just because we're now in a time of “social distancing”, doesn’t mean we can’t hang out, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do this Tuesday!
Presenting: "Choir!ntine" - An EPIC Social Distan-Sing-Along!
Starting at 8pm EST, DaBu will broadcast from their living room and everyone is invited to log on and sing with us. And just like our shows, we’ll hang out, share some laughs and hold our C!ommunity close. Whether you've ever come out to Choir! or not, you are invited to join us online.
Want to be part of it?
First, download the lyrics. You'll be belting out familiar songs like "Lean on Me," Bowie's "Space Oddity." and the Golden Girls' theme, "You've Got a Friend."
Second, head to the Choir! Choir! Choir! Facebook page on Tuesday, March 17 (8 p.m. Eastern/5 p.m. Pacific).
Third, SING YOUR LITTLE HEART OUT. (Again, home alone.)
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Attention bookworms and rare book nerds. The Booksellers, opening in March, is a documentary celebrating bookstores and the peculiar business of collecting and selling rare books.
Literary Hub writes:
Have you ever dreamed of becoming an antiquarian bookseller? Or just wanted to get to know one better? Or maybe you just like old books a lot. Either way, this is the documentary for you. Directed by D.W. Young and executive produced by Parker Posey, the film features interviews with rare book dealers of all stripes, as well as collectors, auctioneers, and writers like Fran Lebowitz, Susan Orlean, Kevin Young, and Gay Talese—-true book believers all.
Read the rest on Literary Hub. Read the rest