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.

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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":

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

"Mysterious medallions" popping up on Bay Area sidewalks

There's a Happy Mutant reality hacker on the loose in Berkeley, California... affixing "mysterious medallions" on the city's sidewalks.

Berkeleyside reports:

There is a person out there with a sly sense of humor, a way with words, a working knowledge of Berkeley history and a desire to impart pithy observations.

He or she or they has been going around town the past few months affixing round metal medallions with clever sayings to sidewalks around Central Berkeley...

No one seems to know the creator’s identity, even though the question has been posed on Facebook and Twitter and even on Tom Dalzell’s Quirky Berkeley website.

“These days, just everybodytout le monde – is talking about the mysterious medallions that are appearing in Berkeley’s sidewalks,” Dalzell wrote. “You read about them in Berkeleyside, you see them on Twitter, your hip friends are talking about them. “Plaque” might be a better word for what these are, but medallion gives us alliteration with mysterious.”

images via a friend Read the rest

David Byrne brings the world "Reasons to be Cheerful"

In an effort to fight cynicism, David Byrne has started a new online editorial project called Reasons to be Cheerful. It's described as a "self help magazine for people who hate self help magazines."

He writes:

It often seems as if the world is going straight to Hell. I wake up in the morning, I look at the paper, and I say to myself, 'Oh no!' Often I’m depressed for half the day. I imagine some of you feel the same.

Recently, I realized this isn’t helping. Nothing changes when you’re numb. So, as a kind of remedy, and possibly as a kind of therapy, I started collecting good news. Not schmaltzy, feel-good news, but stuff that reminded me, Hey, there's positive stuff going on! People are solving problems and it’s making a difference!

I began telling others about what I’d found. Their responses were encouraging, so I created a website called Reasons to be Cheerful and started writing. Later on, I realized I wanted to make the endeavor a bit more formal. So we got a team together and began commissioning stories from other writers and redesigned the website. Today, we’re relaunching Reasons to be Cheerful as an ongoing editorial project.

We’re telling stories that reveal that there are, in fact, a surprising number of reasons to feel cheerful -- that provide a more optimistic and, we believe, more accurate depiction of the world. We hope to balance out some of the amplified negativity and show that things might not be as bad as we think.

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Wigs for cats (and for jars of Fluff)

When tiny wigs land in your life, what else can you do but open — not one, but two — pop-up wig shops? One for cats, and one for jars of Fluff.

No joke.

This one is called the "Cousin Oliver":

Hey, since you're here, I wanted to share that I was recently a guest on the Archie McPhee podcast! I talk about my work as a blogger, how I learned I was a superfan of Fluff, and what I know so far about working with Children's Fairyland. You can listen to it here. (Someone asked if we were high when we were recording it. Nope, we just get extra silly and giggly when we get together.) Read the rest

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

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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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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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.

Read the rest

A peek into Amy Sedaris' quirky Greenwich Village apartment

Pink paper towels, a lampshade covered in hair-dye sample swatches, and a fake glass of white wine from Japan are just a few of the eclectic things you'll find in Amy Sedaris' rabbit-nibbled one-bedroom Greenwich Village apartment. New York Magazine's Design Editor Wendy Goodman got a tour of Sedaris' delightful home despite not bringing a gift. Read the rest

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