For Christmas, I gifted myself with a New Yorker subscription. At the end of January, in my inbox zine, I wrote about becoming a little obsessed with the magazine's cartoon caption contest, and how I had shared the fun with my 15-year-old daughter. I then found myself searching and following all the New Yorker-published cartoonists I could find on Instagram.
That search led me to Brooklyn-based Drew Dernavich (and, boy, I sure am glad I found him!). On top of The New Yorker, he's been published in Time, the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, and other well-known publications. He's also a graphic recorder, aka a "visual note-taker."
On February 6, he posted this photo. It shows the reality of his business as demonstrated by two piles of paper: his rejected cartoons and his accepted ones:
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Before I started submitting digital sketches to @newyorkermag a few years ago, I was doing them the old-school way: Sharpie on paper. But that takes up too much space, so I’m cleaning house. Here is the pile of ideas that got published vs. the ones that got rejected. And in multiple views so you can see the actual ratio. Cruel business, my friends. I’m still generating a lot of crappy rejected ideas, they’re just in digital form now!
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Before I started submitting digital sketches to @newyorkermag a few years ago, I was doing them the old-school way: Sharpie on paper.
I met Seattle artist Marcia Wiley through my inbox zine a couple months ago. I had written about the idea of the "positive deviant," basically someone who strays from the norm but brings value rather than pain (akin to the "happy mutant"). The concept really resonated with me and I asked readers to send along names of positive deviants who they were aware of because I wanted to start a list. Marcia rightly offered up her own name, and, in our most recent communication, she shared a project of hers with me: "Miss Direction's Ride Service."
Since 2005, she has been bringing unexpected delight to strangers in a really fun way. Dressed in her alter ego "Miss Direction" driving outfit (below), she gives people waiting at bus stops a free ride to their destination in her Honda SUV. In exchange for the complimentary pickup, passengers share their story with her. It's been a great success.
Now she's looking to start "Miss Direction's Checker Cab Service." A 1967 Checker Cab has already surfaced for the job, but it needs some restoration work before she can take it to the streets. So, she's started a Kickstarter campaign to fund her dream of bringing "everyday magic" to Seattle, a place, she writes, "that is changing so rapidly that people often feel a loss of connection and have a sense that the city is losing its soul and becoming less unique."
This is her vow:
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I'm committed to having Miss Direction’s ’67 Marathon Checker Cab on the road by November 11, 2018.
I've experienced other incredible interactive-type adventures (for instance, 49 Boxes, Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return, and the Jejune Institute along with its offshoot, the ongoing Elsewhere Philatelic Society), but I had never gone through an escape room proper before. I was definitely not disappointed.
Late Saturday afternoon, I arrived in Los Angeles to host a meetup I had planned for the readers of my inbox zine. A new Koreatown escape room called Stash House topped our agenda.
Per the instructions emailed to us at the time of booking, our party of seven arrived promptly at 6 PM to a storefront painted matte black. A green glass light clued us in that we were at the right door. I buzzed the video doorbell, the door cracked open, and the fun began.
For a little over an hour, we chaotically cracked codes and solved puzzles in small groups which then led us to more clues and surprises. Our host watched us through surveillance cams in the back room and, when we appeared to be getting stuck, offered us gentle clues through texts on a provided cell phone. For the finale, we all gathered to crack the last code together. Everyone seriously had a blast. Stash House has my highest recommendation.
The object of the Stash House escape room is to find the six little baggies of coke a drug dealer named Ray has hidden in his apartment and flush them down the toilet (shown above in the "Shitter" cam) before the cops arrive. Read the rest
Unusualist Raymond Crowe has created something really special with his hand shadow puppet performance of Louis Armstrong's 1967 hit "What a Wonderful World." In this video, the Australian-born entertainer is presenting his now-signature piece in front of Queen Elizabeth at the 2007 Royal Variety Performance.
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"Light Up Someone's Holiday" is Improv Everywhere's latest mission and it's a heartwarming one.
...We created a custom-built set that allowed random New Yorkers to instantly deliver a card and light up someone’s holiday. Participants were surprised as Christmas lights lit up the plaza and their message was displayed on a 30-foot wide screen above.
This project is a collaboration with Hallmark, who provided us with an assortment of Hallmark Signature Cards for the project.
See how they pulled off this stunt on their blog. Read the rest
For me, it's often the little things at Burning Man that touch me the most. It's the understated art quietly sitting all alone on the playa that can really wow me.
Like this piece I stumbled upon on one of my early morning bike rides. It immediately made me think of one of those emergency highway call boxes.
Etched on one door is "IN CASE:" and the other is "A UKE."
"IN CASE: A UKE"... It is an emergency call box but instead of a phone, it had three ukuleles inside!
Check out that logo. It might be hard to see, but the little ukulele has a tiny "emergency cross." Love it!
I did a little digging and learned the artist is Justin Lange, a creative technologist from Brooklyn. He received a grant from Burning Man to produce it.
What if our public infrastructure was built to respond to the emotional needs and inner crises of its citizens? Distributed throughout the playa are a few highly visible red cabinets modeled and finished in the style of pre-war, cast-iron emergency call boxes that provide immediate ukulele access.
For me, it's all about surprise and delight when it comes to playa art and "IN CASE: A UKE" really hit that mark for me. Thanks, Justin!
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This. is. awesome.
Go to Noah Levenson's Weird Box site and enter your Instagram handle. Then sit back and enjoy the ride.
Mr. Levenson, respect.
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