New podcast interviews me on why I quit my day job to become a blogger and 'artrepreneur'

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

9-year-old girl given big "Hamilton" surprise in Zoom, thanks to John Krasinski and friends

ICYMI, Actor John Krasinski has a new web show made up entirely of positive news stories aptly called, Some Good News. It's resonating with folks, its first episode came out a week ago and already has 13M views. Episode 2 dropped Sunday and included a big surprise for Aubrey, a 9-year-old girl who missed out on going to see Hamilton for her birthday because of the coronavirus situation. I won't spoil it, but it's a lot of fun and totally 100% heartwarming. I may have cried.

screengrab via Some Good News/YouTube Read the rest

Download this free Danny DeVito as a merman coloring sheet

Danny DeVito is having a moment. Break out the gel pens and ride the wave with this "Mermanny DeVito" coloring sheet by Oakland Illustrator Shannon Taylor. It's available to download for free on her website. Read the rest

Little Free Library in Seattle converted into a "Peep Show"

I've seen reports that Little Free Libraries are being turned into free food pantries to help folks in this time of coronavirus. Now, hilariously, there's one in Seattle that's been converted into a "Peep Show," complete with a hot pink neon sign, and a rooftop one that reads "Chicks! Chicks! Chicks!" But you won't find anything lewd inside. Instead, you'll find a fun diorama of marshmallow Peeps.

On Nextdoor, the Peep Show's creator, Cristie Kearny of Seattle's Crown Hill neighborhood, explains:

I've removed books from my Little Free Library to help slow the spread of COVID-19! I've converted it to a Peep Show, featuring Mary Peepins! Come by and take a peek! Social distancing approved! Hands free viewing or use provided sanitizing wipes for light switch.

She plans on changing her Peeps-filled diorama out every week. If you're in the area, you can go check it out at 9709 14th Avenue NW. She tells Boing Boing that she's already working on the next one: "Peeper Pan."

Thanks, Marcia!

photos by Cristie Kearny Read the rest

Pee-wee Herman reveals the inspiration behind the Playhouse's Picture Phone: MAD Magazine!

Today I learned that Pee-wee's Picture Phone was inspired by MAD Magazine!

So, there's this story going around about a guy who fooled his coworkers into thinking he lived in a luxury apartment. By sitting in front a backdrop he printed out and taped together of an "apartment interior," he made them believe he was living in a nicer, and cleaner, place than he actually does.

Ok, so, the man, software engineer Andrew Ecklel, said he was inspired by the Picture Phone from Pee-wee's Playhouse. If you remember, Pee-wee would answer calls from his Picture Phone in front of a variety of backdrops, usually in a coordinating costume.

Well, Pee-wee heard Andrew's story and wrote a blog post about it. In it, he reveals his own inspiration for the Picture Phone — MAD Magazine!

He writes, "This was featured in a 1957 issue. I saw it years later and was inspired to bring it into my Playhouse!! I bet you didn’t know that!! We used a different backdrop for every call for all five seasons. We never repeated one. Many times I had a hat or some kind of prop or both that went with the backdrop. True story!"

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image via Andrew Eckel/Imgur, screengrabs via Pee-wee's Playhouse, MAD Magazine image via Steve Bellovin Read the rest

Furloughed sports commentator starts covering scenes from everyday life

Without live sports, what's a rugby commentator supposed to do during this coronavirus situation? If you're the brilliant Nick Heath of London, England, you bring your work skills to your everyday life. Over on Twitter, he's been sharing videos he shot around his neighborhood — made better with his hilarious commentary! (Buy this man a coffee.)

Thanks, Veek!

(The Poke)

image via Rugby Media Read the rest

Artist makes travel posters for National Parks based on their worst 1-star reviews

"There are bugs and they will bite on your face." -- a bad review about Sequoia National Park

This is hilarious. Designer Amber Share discovered that there were one-star reviews for all 62 of our National Parks and decided to illustrate and hand letter travel posters for them "as a way to put a positive, fun spin on such a negative mindset." She calls her Subpar Parks series a "snarky love letter to the National Parks System" and it's absolutely delightful.

See the entire series on her Instagram, and purchase stickers and postcards (mugs and calendars to come) on her website.

View this post on Instagram

If you would just pave all of the hiking trails, we wouldn't have this problem, @cuyahogavalleynps. ⁠ .⁠ .⁠ .⁠ .⁠ #cuyahogavalleynationalpark #naturalohio #goparks #weareparks #nationalparkgeek @nationalparkservice #nationalparksusa #illustrationnow #passiontopaid #passiontopaid2019 #usnationalparks

A post shared by Subpar Parks by Amber Share (@subparparks) on Feb 26, 2020 at 7:31am PST

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Call me McKayla Maroney because I am unimpressed, @grandcanyonnps. #handlettering #handlettering #illustration #handdrawntype #passiontopaid #passiontopaid2019 #nationalparks #grandcanyon @nationalparkservice

A post shared by Subpar Parks by Amber Share (@subparparks) on Dec 18, 2019 at 6:44am PST

(MetaFilter)

images via Amber Share, used with permission Read the rest

Rest in Power, Allee Willis — Queen of Kitsch

Allee Willis with psychedelic Fluffernutters

It's never fun to report that someone in our tribe has passed. That's especially true when that person is also someone you know and love.

Allee Willis, Happy Mutant Extraordinaire, died just after 6 p.m. on December 24 of cardiac arrest. She was 72.

My friend Heather was in tears when she phoned me to tell me the news. It was 10:15 p.m. on Christmas Eve. She had just read about Allee's sudden and unexpected death in Variety. We were both shocked and deeply saddened. We pondered together on the call, "How is it possible that she's gone?"

I first met Allee back in the February of 2011. Friends of mine here in Alameda, Jessica and Mel, introduced me to her. "You HAVE to meet her!" they insisted. At that time, a TV show called Clean House was filming the decluttering and redecorating of their home. Their excess stuff was soon to be sold in a televised public sale. Since they are well known for their massive collection of pop culture kitsch and, being the Queen of Kitsch, Allee was compelled to drive up for the sale. And because their house was out of commission for the show's filming, I offered up mine to host a party in Allee's honor, not entirely sure what I was getting myself into or, honestly, grasping the full understanding of who she was. But I was game. I invited a group of local friends, all self-proclaimed kitsch lovers. Read the rest

TIL: John Mulaney has an upcoming kid's musical comedy special

Today I learned (on Conan O'Brien's podcast) that comedian John Mulaney has made a children's musical comedy special for Netflix. What?! Terrific!

The show's official description states he and his "kid pals" "tackle existential topics for all ages with catchy songs, comedy sketches and special guests in a nostalgic variety special."

On Conan's podcast, he further describes it, "We have a lot of songs about anxieties and fear. There's huge, kind of, Broadway-scale numbers. There's small cameos from beloved people. There's show-stopping cameos from people. And there's lots of little interviews along the way... I cannot explain it well, and I never could pitch it well. And I sometimes couldn't discuss with my collaborators exactly what I was picturing but it is now done... I am more happy with it then I have been with anything I've ever done."

*That* is saying a lot coming from Mr. Mulaney. Count me in!

John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch will premiere Christmas Eve.

Here's its trailer: Read the rest

Frosty the Cheeseball Man is a holiday party must-have

A few years back, Charles Phoenix, the creator of kitchen kitsch behind the Cherpumple and other outrageous recipes, made something that's perfect to serve at a holiday party: Frosty the Cheeseball Man. It's a whole lot of Velveeta, cream cheese, and subversive, melty fun.

At my holiday parties, I delight in serving Charles' Frosty because it's a real crowd favorite. Everyone loves to watch poor Frosty slowly melt into a goo that tastes delicious with corn chips. Now, I don't have a stylish vintage electric skillet like he does, but I do have a modern electric fondue pot and that works just as well.

This would also be a good time to tell you that Charles has a new book, one full of "Classic & Kitschy Festivities and Fun Party Recipes" (yes, of course!).

Get a signed copy of Holiday Jubilee from the Ambassador of Americana himself for $29.95.

-- Yes, Charles Phoenix has been on Boing Boing before Read the rest

I chatted with Danny Elfman about his new MasterClass, and his ventriloquist dummy "Buddy"

You may remember I recently blogged about Danny Elfman's new "music for film" MasterClass (which launched on Halloween, naturally). A day or so after it posted I got an email from someone on his team asking if I wanted to interview him. My response, "Uh, who could say no to that...?!" I soon found myself Skyping with the founder of Oingo Boingo, the father of the Simpsons' theme, and one of the most prolific film composers of all time — Happy Mutant extraordinaire, Mr. Danny Elfman.

Here's what we chatted about:

Rusty: Hi there, Danny. I'm thrilled to speak with you today.

Danny: Hello, thank you.

Rusty: I wanted to share a couple of things we have in common real quick before we get into it. One... we're both redheads.

Danny: I was just going to say that. That's got to be the first thing.

Rusty: Right? Well, it's obvious. Two... we both collect strange and unusual objects.

Danny: Ooh...

Rusty: Just saw an article about your strange and unusual collection and they shared a picture of you with your creepy ventriloquist dummy.

Danny: Buddy!

Rusty: Yeah, Buddy! Well, I wanted to tell you, you must know Archie McPhee...

Danny: Yeah.

Rusty: So, a couple of years ago, they made my likeness into a product. I'm a creepy ventriloquist dummy toy, a finger puppet.

Danny: Really...?!

Rusty: Yes.

Danny: Wow... Oh my god, that's so cool. What an honor. You should be honored.

Rusty: Oh I am.

Danny: Wow. Well, you have to go look at my nine episodes of "Danny and Buddy." Read the rest

Tiki bar pulls thousands of dollars from ceiling and walls, donates it

It started innocently enough. A single dollar bill was pinned to the ceiling of a tiki bar in California — with a tiny paper umbrella, no less. That lone bill soon inspired many more.

For over 10 years now, patrons of Forbidden Island, a popular tiki lounge in the island city of Alameda, have been leaving legal tender suspended above their rum-filled cocktails. Using their drink's umbrellas, or swizzle sticks, the bar's customers stick the cash up, but not before they decorate it in some way. Some pen their name and the date, while others get more elaborate and make their offering a rectangular piece of art.

It's become such a popular pastime, the bar keeps a bucket of markers and unused umbrellas for those who want to leave their mark.

But it recently got out of control, at least in the eyes of my pal Michael Thanos, the bar's owner. He invited me down to get the whole story.

"There was simply no more room to put the money in the ceiling," Thanos told me. "So people started sticking money all over the place," motioning to the Lauhala-matted walls and tapa-covered light fixtures.

"It was just too much."

Before (photo by Alex T./Yelp) and during (photo by Michael Thanos)

So, in October, he and his staff spent an entire day carefully pulling the cash off of everything.

It was a bigger job than they had first realized. As it neared opening time, they had to stuff the cash in four big garbage bags to deal with at later time. Read the rest

Danny Elfman is teaching a MasterClass: "It's okay to fail"

Never have I wanted to learn about creating music for film more than before watching the trailer for Danny Elfman's new MasterClass ($90). In it, he talks about being "constantly insecure" despite having over 100 film scores under his belt. But quickly follows up with, "It's okay to fail." I mean, that's just solid advice for anyone pursuing creative activities. I appreciate that he goes beyond the "how-to" of composing a film score and goes into what it means to be a working artist -- being filled with doubts and insecurities and doing it anyway.

And I think all artists that are worth their anything are filled with doubt all the time. And the few that just don't have any doubt, I think they're destined become-- they could be very successful. They could be good workmen. They could be good craftsmen.

But they're not gonna be the really great artists. Because I think doubt and art are kind of combined. They're just-- it's almost impossible to pull them apart doubt.

Doubting yourself and then finding confidence and moving forward and then doubting what you've just done and then working through that, I think this is the life of a composer, and I think it's the life of an artist in general. And it's OK to feel that way.

The class is 21 online sessions, including one that's a Nightmare Before Christmas case study. The single class costs $90 or you can get an "all-access pass" for $15/month that allows you to watch other MasterClass classes (David Lynch, Penn & Teller, etc.). Read the rest

Puddles covers Lizzo's "Juice" in a sultry way

"Heard you say I'm not the saddest clown, you lied"

You haven't heard Lizzo's "Juice" until you've heard a sad 6'8"-tall clown sing it. Puddles does this one "Quiet Storm Style."

Our friend, Rebekah Del Rio, asked me how I would feel about doing Lizzo's song. I said I'd give it a go. I like saying yes first. This is how it turned out. I don't understand some of the references in it but I love me some Lizzo. Jonathan Burns helped me transcribe the lyrics. I especially like the David Copperfield lyric. And yes, that's really my voice. I didn't know I could do that before.

Read the rest

Inventor figures out how to sync music to windshield wipers

And you can bid on the invention's intellectual property rights next week.

Inventor/Artist (Inventist?) Ian Charnas has devised a way for windshield wipers to be in sync with the beat of the music you're listening to. Now, you can't just go out and buy his Dancing Wipers at the store. No, no. But you can bid to gain their IP rights on eBay next Wednesday.

His thoroughly entertaining 15-minute-long pitch video explains it all. You get quite a bit of insight into the creation process which is valuable and fun!

Know someone who has to have this? Is that someone you?

Mark your calendars for that eBay auction: October 16, 2019 Noon EST Bidding starts at $1. The Buy it Now price is $25,000.

Thanks, Mark! Read the rest

Disneyland Evil Queen slays it

There are actors and then there are people who really get into a role and make it theirs! This Evil Queen at Disneyland is definitely in the latter category. Watch her play around as her big, bad, narcissistic, villainous self with guests of the park.

Here are longer videos of the Queen from Fatima Lakhani, a YouTuber who specializes in "character interactions":

https://youtu.be/gc0JWIQIXHs

https://youtu.be/5kYND1RPwGY

https://youtu.be/b038OArXRN8

https://youtu.be/ZUVpqMRlzfY

https://youtu.be/V4y2BL7dI4Y

screenshot via GMA Read the rest

Charles Phoenix's "Raw" Turkey Tiki Meatloaf Mug

Pop culture humorist Charles Phoenix (previously) has been busy this year. He's written a book:

Holiday Jubilee is loaded with original eye-popping “test kitchen” recipes and over 500 vintage images, serving up an intoxicating, action-packed extravaganza of America’s favorite seasonal traditions past, present, and future. Your imagination will be inspired and your spirit will soar!

And he's created this hilarious and kitschy "Raw" Turkey Tiki Meatloaf Mug ($80). This "meatloaf pan-shaped Moai" is inspired by his Tiki Turkey Dinner, an alt-Thanksgiving recipe found in the book.

Hey! Charles will be at Soap Plant WACKO in Los Angeles this Sunday, September 15, signing that new coffee table book of his from 2 to 4 p.m. This line alone, from the event page, makes me want to hop down to LA this weekend: "LIFE ALTERING SNACK and ARTIFICIALLY COLORED AND FLAVORED REFRESHMENTS will be served." Read the rest

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