Thursday, December 25, 2014

TWIC: An overview, Drawing Nancy and making pliers

Creativity is messy.  This is a good overview of the science of creativity but I'm most impressed with the profanity - not often seen at Scientific American.

Ivan Brunetti was hired to draw Nancy long after the original artist had passed away.  At Boingboing, he describes the experience and what he learned.
I don't know where Woodring got this, but it does make you wonder what context could possibly fit.
Make wooden pliers using only ten cuts to basswood. i wouldn't say they're all that functional, but they are that cool.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

TWIC: Make your own boardgames, sexy interior decorators, cool knife makers

I work with some of my higher level ESL children's classes to make boardgames to use with lower level students.  My main contribution is to bring a lot of small Postit notes of a  variety of colours.  These can be used to make a here-to-there game (like Snake and Ladders) or collection game (like Monopoly) with squares in different colours depending on the actions required on them.
Rick Marizzani offers suggestions and equipment to make a broad variety of such games.
Blank notecards. There are even greater possibilities from a deck of blank cards.  You can make your own custom Top Trumps deck (Top Trumps is known in the US as “What is that card game school boys play in England again?”). Or create an entire new game using a framework like Dvorak.Overflowing handfuls of dice is a powerful feeling. Like being an ancient deity that can roll the fate of an entire civilization! That is why there are so many dice here. They put a firm stamp on the tool box as made for games. But dice are useful beyond randomizers.  All these different colored dice can be used as game markers, and the pips as indicators to the strength or health of the die unit.  Like DiceWars in the real world.Play money and coins. Nothing abstract about this faux moolah. It feels great to have a stack of cash in hand as a meter of game success. And, more than chips or play money, plastic gold coins are the gold standard of game currency.  Gold coins can spin a theme towards pirates or fantasy. They have a presence and heft beyond their plastic patina.Poker chips. These need not be proxies for money in a game.  They make great counters, turn markers, or modifiers for other board pieces.
...BONUS INGREDIENT: D20 Something that was not at the Dollar Store that I would add to the ideal game design box is a set of polyhedral D&D dice. There is something magical about the shapes and colors.  When first encountered they are understood, yet completely from another world. Consider putting a full set of D20 type polyhedra in your gift kit. 
Via Boingboing
Added only a few hours later:
 Boingboing also describes one bloggers challenge to find new tools, toys and equipment at dollar stores for Dungeons and Dragons.  The Boingboing link is from today but it links to a post from 2013.  Here are about ten posts on the original site (about ten because three are in one post - probably three trips to a dollar store).
Boingboing also links to a site that teaches how to make video games.
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness is a documentary which presents a year in the life of Studio Ghibli and its famed director, Hayao Miyazaki. The year in question was a particularly interesting one during which Miyazaki announced his retirement. 
The trailer for this documentary is available at the link above
Sci Am looks at how sexy various creative endeavors are:  Interior decoration, from the title, is not considered hot.  First: this is a topic for science?
According to evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller,creative displays in humans are analogous to the peacock’s tail: they serve the function of attracting mates by serving as indicators of mental fitness (cognitive functioning and personality).
Extending this argument, personality psychologist Gregory Feist made a key distinction between applied/technologicaldisplays of creativity (seen in modern domains of technology, science, and engineering), andornamental/aesthetic displays of creativity (seen in modern domains of art, music, and other aesthetic domains). According to Feist, ornamental/aesthetic forms of creativity– which play on our evolved perceptual functions and evoke strong emotions in the perceiver– were shaped primarily by sexual selection pressures and are therefore more likely to receive a sexual response than applied/technological forms of creativity.
At Kottke, a video of a knife maker and a link to watch axes and chisels being made.

The University of Guelph has a class on Japanese knife making, if anyone wants to learn.  Ah, that link is a little old - I thought the classes were a regular thing. YMMV.
The real patron saint of Journalism.  Writings by George Orwell.
Sometimes, too, he shows himself adept at the why-oh-why column now a Daily Mail staple. Why is handwriting so awful these days? Why are so many foreign words supplanting perfectly good English terms?
He had a gift for the arresting opening line. To wit: “Rudyard Kipling was the only popular English writer of this century who was not at the same time a thoroughly bad writer.” Or this: “There is one way of avoiding thoughts, and that is to think too deeply.” 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Draplin designing a logo

Aaron Draplin Takes On a Logo Design Challenge from on Vimeo.
Via Kottke.
Yet another professional who makes it look so very easy.  I could become a designer.
Among other things, I like that he gets into the nitty gritty - not just a logo in a PDF surrounded by white, but on a business card or as a watermark or T-shirt.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

TWIC: Bruce McCulloch, Buzz Feed and a lot of Boingboing

I watched Bruce McCulloch and the rest of the Kids in the Hall with my dad.  As a young adult, it was one of the few things we both enjoyed.  He now has a book out.  Bruce, not my dad.
Buzzfeed is looking for science reporters in the US.  I find it interesting to look at what professional writers are expected to do as opposed to what amateurs or laypeople think is required.
Responsibilities:Find stories that make people who don’t care about science sit up and take notice
Always be reporting: Strive to get exclusives, from places where no one else is looking
Pitch early and often -- and be willing to regularly spitball the other reporters’ ideas
Work quickly
Work on more than one story at a time
Methodically fact-check every draft
Understand basic statistics (or have a statistician on speed-dial)

Requirements:A proven track record and great clips of science reporting
Proven ability to turn complicated/subtle/contentious ideas into clear and lively prose
Must have specific beats that you’re not only interested in, but have a track record of covering well
Genuine enthusiasm for reporting, even when it’s annoying
A critical, skeptical eye for hype / baloney
Love for and excitement about the internet
CBC has been promoting the Hour Of Code,
When is the Hour of Code?
Anybody can host an Hour of Code anytime, but the grassroots campaign goal is for tens of millions of students to try an Hour of Code during December 8-14, 2014, in celebration of Computer Science Education Week. Is it one specific hour? No. You can do the Hour of Code anytime during this week. (And if you can't do it during that week, do it the week before or after).
Why computer science?
Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity. By starting early, students will have a foundation for success in any 21st-century career path. See more stats on
How do I participate in the Hour of Code?
Sign up to host an Hour of Code event here and start planning. You can organize an Hour of Code event at your school or in your community — like in an extracurricular club, non-profit or at work. Or, just try it yourself when Dec. 8 arrives.
Hugh Howey is famous for his self-published books.  Ah, I'm sure he's famous for the content of the books as well.  Many have described their awe at his skill.  Recently, he offered a video showing how he goes from a document to a paginated book.
 I’ve had a few requests for details about how I paginate my print books, so here goes. Below you’ll find a 50-minute video of me walking through my pagination routine. It’s not quite everything, but I show 95% of what’s involved for a few sample chapters. From there, it’s just a matter of repeating the steps throughout the book. Once you do a few of these, it comes very naturally. You’ll also find that the process speeds up with practice.
Work on the right thing.  Nikole Dieker describes a variety of creative project she worked on until one just felt right and comfortable to her.
I brought the same Nicole to every project, and every time I started a new project I was prepared to become a professional children’s theater director or project manager or indie musician or whatever it was.
And I’d say I was reasonably successful at many of these potential life paths. Hard work, persistence, and natural ability does get you pretty far.
But it was only when I ended up on the writing path—and I did “end up” there as a fluke, when I started looking for ways to make extra money between indie musician gigs—that I realized my work felt different than all of my previous jobs.
Dungeons and Dragons can protect your creativity and imagination.
The French Situationist author Annie Le Brun, in her 2008 book The Reality Overload: The Modern World's Assault on the Imaginal Realm, suggests that information technology is causing blight and desertification in the world of the imagination just as surely as pollution and global warming are causing blight and desertification in the physical world. We are gaining the ability to communicate and hoard information, but losing the ability to imagine.
literally cannot get my head around what it must be like to be a child or teenager now, raised in a completely digitized world -- where fantasy and long reverie have given way to the instant gratification of electronic media. There can be no innocence or imagination or wonderment in the world of Reddit, Pornhub and 4Chan 
I think the fear of electronics killing unstructured play and imagination is overblown, the newest form of "kids these days".  But maybe there's something to the value of collaborative imagination, where a group works together to visualize and understand the bizarre.
And, my son would love the URL for the post above: it ends, "/the-awesome-glory-that-is-dung.html"

Sunday, December 7, 2014

TWIC: Huronia, Ferguson, Alaska and beyond

Fellow Huronia creative Chrys Wiltshire recently offered two images (that was one, this is the other Larger size found at the link.).

Here is what I know about Werner Herzog.  He's a cranky but brilliant film maker.  Maria Popova of Brain Pickings has reviewed his recent book. Review, Amazon link.  From the review:
The bad films have taught me most about filmmaking. Seek out the negative definition. Sit in front of a film and ask yourself, “Given the chance, is this how I would do it?” It’s a never-ending educational experience, a way of discovering in which direction you need to take your own work and ideas.
I don't embed Tweets often.  This one was retweeted by .
Short Stories ExplainedMary Robinette KowalSaturday, January 24, 2015 from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM (CST)
Ferguson, MO
Class requirementsAn interest in writing and a willingness to learn are all you need to participate in this class. Bring your preferred writing tools, whether that's a laptop computer, notepad and pen, or a typewriter. If you don't have anything handy, paper and pens will be available.
FAQWhy do I need to register if it's free?It tells us how many chairs to set up. But if you don't know until the last minute, that's okay.We can do fiction or non-fiction stories? Really? Yes, with one caveat.  This workshop is focused on stories, not journalism or articles. So if you want to tell a story that is based on real life, (narrative non-fiction) the tools are the same as those for things that are made up.
In more personal news, I have bought Brick Flicks, a book on stop motion movie making with LEGO for my nephew for Christmas.  He's the 'Alaska' in the title of the blog post.  He saw this one I made for my students and was very excited with the idea.  Of course, now that I know such a book exists, I want it, too.

The C.B.T. is an English as a Second Language test my university students need to take.  Every year a few forget and it is so frustrating to total a student's scores and think, 'maximum of 80%.'

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dongseo University professor directing a film needs a foreign actress

The (Korean) professor is making a film about five foreign teachers living their lives in Korea. I don't know much more about the project but the professor is at my university, so that's neat.
From the Koreabridge ad.

We are looking for a foregin actress who can act for our
feature length film project aimed for international film fests.
It is omnybus styled narrative along with five english teachers
with different background living their lives in S. Korea.
30,000 won will be paid at the end of production and will get
certain amount of share if any profit was made during distribution.
Here is director's website :
Director is currently a professor teaching film in Dongseo University in Busan.

Tim Powers interview

I'm a huge fan of, I think, 80% of his books.  The others are so-so.  But the ones I love, I really love and I like hearing about how he writes.  Fortunately, he was interviewed earlier this year.
“And you need to remember that first draft work is supposed to be pedestrian and lifeless and stupid, and so if you write thirty or forty pages of first draft and you read it and find that it is in fact pedestrian and lifeless and stupid, you’ve got to tell yourself, good, we’re right on track, this is how it’s supposed to be. This leads to a finished book, which will ideally be good. This is one of the necessary steps. Rewriting and revision will make it, we hope, lively and interesting and suspenseful.
“I’ve always thought people who claim to have writers’ block are snagged at that point when they see that it’s stupid and tepid and lifeless. And obviously a person who has writer’s block isn’t claiming that they’re incapable of writing a sentence or a paragraph. They’re lamenting that when they do write a paragraph it’s dumb. And I would want to tell them, keep going, good, it’s supposed to be dumb. You’ll touch it up, you’ll fix it, you’ll polish it.