DIY Catface N95 mask cover, whiskers and all

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

Check out Money Mark's fantastic daily musical experiments!

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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

A post shared by Money Mark (@moneymarkofficial) on Mar 17, 2020 at 3:45pm PDT

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.

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Look kids, it's a tour of the 1951 A.C. Gilbert Radioactive Atomic Energy Lab Kit, now with seven sources of radiation!

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.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

88 Names: Matt Ruff's MMORPG heist novel is "Snow Crash meets the King and I"

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."

Choir! Choir! Choir! to host online "Social Distan-Sing-Along!"

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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Watch the trailer to "The Booksellers," a documentary on the enduring, eccentric world of rare book selling

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

Upright Women Wanted: be gay, do crimes, circulate books

Sarah Gailey is one of science fiction's great new talents and their 2019 debut novel Magic for Liars was incredibly strong; now they're back with Upright Women Wanted, a feminist, genderqueer science fiction western novel about gun-toting roving librarians who are secretly the heart of an antifascist resistance. Read the rest

Spike Lee to direct a film version of David Byrne's "American Utopia"

According to an article on Deadline, Spike Lee has signed on to direct a film adaption of David Byrne's Broadway hit, American Utopia.

Oscar winner Spike Lee has signed on to direct a filmed version of the acclaimed Broadway show David Byrne’s American Utopia. Participant adds another title to its portfolio of films meant to engage positive social change, as it will be lead financier and executive producer for the project. It is financing the film with River Road Entertainment and Warner Music Group.

...

Said Byrne: “Pinch me. This couldn’t have worked out better for this project. Spike Lee directing and Participant producing — two socially engaged teams, well, three if you count us in the band, coming together in what I feel will be something moving, important, and unlike anything anyone has seen before.”

Read the rest on Deadline. Read the rest

RIP, Jason Polan, who tried to draw every single person in New York City

12 years ago, I covered the launch of artist Jason Polan's project to sketch every single person in New York City (he'd previously sketched every work of art in the MOMA). Read the rest

I reviewed William Gibson's novel "Agency" for today's LA Times

My latest LA Times review is for William Gibson's new novel Agency, sequel to his outstanding 2014 novel "The Peripheral," which marked his return to explicitly futuristic science fiction after his amazing and audacious "Pattern Recognition" novels, which treated the recent past as though it was a speculative future setting. Read the rest

Howto: roleplay a suit of armor filled with bees

Snickelsox's guide to playing animated armor that is full of bees is full of surprisingly well-thought-through advice for anyone who should be tempted to role-play such a thing, despite their protestations that "this is dumb." Read the rest

Uncovering two lost comedy albums from cult comic Dick Davy, who once championed civil rights and antiracism

Jason Klamm from the Comedy on Vinyl podcast (previously) writes, "In late 2018, I uncovered the true identity of comic Dick Davy. Since starting his archive, I've come across some real gems, but in August, one find took the cake. His niece, Sharon, mailed me two records that had been sitting in a box, and it turns out these are unreleased acetates of material no one has heard in almost sixty years. I had Firesign Theatre archivist Taylor Jessen transfer and do a quick clean-up of them. This episode discusses their contents and what their future might be." (MP3) Read the rest

Radicalized is a Canada Reads finalist, will be a graphic novel, and is eligible for the Hugo Award!

My 2019 book Radicalized has been named one of the five finalists for Canada Reads, the CBC's annual book prize -- Canada's leading national book award, alongside of the Governor General's award! Read the rest

Year of the Rabbit: a graphic novel memoir of one family's life under the Khmer Rouge

In 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia after expelling a US puppet regime, surviving a brutal US bombing campaign despite the massive asymmetry between the Cambodian forces and the US military. Tian Veasna was born three days after the Khmer Rouge took power, and spent his formative years in forced labor camps as his family were beaten, starved, tortured and murdered. Today, Veasna is a comics creator living in France, and in Year of the Rabbit, Veasna creates a coherent story out of his family's narratives, giving us a ground-level view of the horrors of the Pol Pot regime, whose campaign of genocide led to the deaths of more than a million people.

The Picard sweater

Chicago's Volante (previously) bills itself as "streetwear for superheroes," and I love their clothes. They've just released an addition to their existing canon of Star Trek-themed, cosplay-adjacent clothes: the Picard Sweater, a stretchy knit tribute to Jean-Luc himself, the perfect thing to wear while you're watching Wil Wheaton host "The Ready Room," which airs after every episode. Read the rest

McMansion Hell awards its annual prize for the best gingerbread McMansion!

Last year, McMansion Hell (previously) inaugurated its annual gingerbread McMansion competition, inviting America's bakers to challenge themselves to build the largest, most ostentatious, most ill-conceived McMansion in gingerbread form. Read the rest

Art installation uses science to age e-waste in geological time

Nathaniel Stern writes, "The World After Us: Imaging techno-aesthetic futures (Flickr set) is an art exhibition that asks, 'What will — and what can — happen to our gadgets over geological time?' For the last few years, I have been working scientists to artificially age phones and computers in different ways, growing plants and fungi in watches, phones, laptops, and more, and turning phones into ink (via blenders and oils), iMacs into tools (melting down the aluminum, and shaping it into a wrench, hammer, and screwdriver), and otherwise spiking electronic waste onto 12 foot towers and/or 'growing' them (intermingled with botanicals) across 1000 square feet of wall space. Here I want people to think and act differently in and with their media devices, their electronic waste, and the damage it does to create both in the first place." Read the rest

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