31 March 2009

Evan Roth: Available online for free


Roads to Rome favorite Evan Roth is up to his awesome tricks again. This particular piece of work is a handy sticker you can download (for free, natch) and stick to any product anywhere any time, that is available online for free.

It's also the title of his first solo show, which is ongoing in Vienna. Unsurprisingly the catalog for Available Online For Free is available online. For free.

It was at the wonderful Urban Prankster where I first read about it.


30 March 2009

Doughs to Rome


I've lately been experiencing a resurgence in my Italophiliacity. It's in my blood, it's in my bones. The allure of the culture, the sounds, the smells, ebbs and flows. Right now it's flowing.

Fever dreams of traffic racing at a standstill beneath a golden orb. Roadblocks outsmarted by deathwish-bound drivers jockeying for parking, gleaming marble sculptures of maidens, monsters and heroes bursting forth from plumes of aqueduct water. The etiquette and ritual of impeccably (and occasionally outlandishly) dressed denizens, moving at one and a quarter speed, except after a meal of deep-fried delicacies and gelato, when they melt into their outfits. And of course - the almighty overseer watching it all- The Almighty Catholic church.

It's not Italy. Not exactly. It's Rome. And you can't have Rome (nor feverdreams of same) without its most famous monuments. Colosseums, fountains, popes.

And if these monuments are made out of fucking pizza?

Well, you pretty much just put Rome on a thousandwordsworth novelty keychain, stamped it ad alta velocità and sent it by wavelength to my subconscious.

Mamma Mia non possso creder!! Prudence Staite - tu sei com'e un dio con la forza creare Roma nella mia mente. Grazie! E' semplice, sublime, e troppo perfetto

Grazie anche a Webecoist, chi mi ha mostrato questo cosa incredibile - le sculture de pizza dough! Che magnifico!

500 pizzas worth of pizza dough - you couldn't have sacrificed yourself for a more noble cause.
Unfortunately, in real-life, Pope Bendict XVI is a controversy-mongering clod. But made out of pizza he's dee-licious.


27 March 2009

La Mort Subite: Undangerous


After nearly two years in Brussels I finally made my way to 'a la Mort Subite' a family-owned pub that's been a Brussels staple since 1928. I admit, I was mostly attracted by the name - drinking at a place called Sudden Death brings a welcome element of danger to a Thursday evening beer or two.

Sadly, the Sudden Death of the name refers to an old-timey dice game - there is no pit of snakes or lasergun duels. I didn't even see a single cyanide poisoning(!)

What is on hand is a surprisingly small selection of beers priced at a surprisingly inflated rate, and a whole lot of English speakers enjoying an approximation of a Belgian beer bar.

Again - no piranhas, no hatchet throwing, nothing that would suggest Sudden Death, unless overpaying for beers in what is essentially your standard Belgian bar would kill you. I give it four mehs out of five.

(I did enjoy the fact that while you could smoke in there, and despite the fact it was wicked crowded, it wasn't all smoky and shit).

Apparently they've got a great selection of geuze, so if you do end up at this Brussels institution I suggest having that. I suspect it may be overpriced, but it is their specialty.

If you're looking for a great Belgian beer, or a great Belgian beer bar, I suggest Moeder Lambic.


24 March 2009

Periodic Table of Awesomements

My mind has just been blown by the Periodic Table of Awesomements!

Click the table to enlarge. Link

From time travel, boobs, and penguins, to cobras, guitar solos, robots, and Christopher Walken, Dapperstache has made a valuable stab at quantifying and categorizing all the awesomes that exist.

Thanks to Miss Celania at Mental Floss, for her post on 8 Alternative Periodic Tables. They're all pretty cool, but unsurprisingly, the Periodic Table of Awesomements is by far the awesomest. And I know from awesome.


Ada Lovelace Day: Jane McGonigal

I signed up for Ada Lovelace Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the contributions of women in technology. Ada herself was the first programmer - she was writing code in the 1800's - well before the advent of computers. Huh? I know, she seems like quite the remarkable lady.

One of the legacies of this incredible achievement is a day dedicated to her (today), where bloggers (such as myself) write a post about a woman in technology they admire. My choice is Jane McGonigal, games designer.


And by game, I don't mean yahtzee - I mean immersive, alternate-reality style games. The kind that can fuck with your head and world, turn them upside down, and put them back together with some perspective. The kind that can harness a playful spirit to tackle global issues.

I must confess I don't know a whole lot about her, but I admire the way she can skirt through viral marketing memes (such as 'The Lost Ring a game created last year for McDonald's, that was a tie-in for the Olympics), to harness gaming to explore complex and pressing issues, such as a world post-oil (World Without Oil). This article at Salon has a pretty good explanation.

Some thoughts:

By applying problem and puzzle solving skills, and being fun and compelling, games can make onerous tasks pleasurable, and individuals on teams can put their energies towards a collective goal.

Some of these immmersive 'Alternate Reality Games' play with, and think about, reality in ways we're all entitled to, but rarely do.

McGonigal's paper 'This is not a game' is about immersive gaming, in which she "intend[s] to show that immersive gaming is actually one of the first applications poised to harness the increasingly widespread penetration and convergence of network technologies for collective social and poltical action." Go back and read that sentence again. Then think about it. Then do something about it.

I first heard her name from my friend Geordie, when we were working at summer camp and designing 'The Odyssey', an immersive alternate-reality questgame for campers. Participants went from being woken up terrified, to implementing collective problem solving, to feeling a collective and individual swell of pride and accomplishment from solving some fairly simple tasks in a very elaborate set-up. Geordie is still designing games and is heavily influenced by McGonigal. I'm looking forward to our next collaboration.

Committing myself to Ada Lovelace Day compelled me to do some research on Jane McGonigal. That's been a gift - the more I read, the more I like.

In a tangential, yet related development, yesterday I submitted a proposal to my HR department for a workshop in Advanced Rock-Paper-Scissors Strategy. Rock-Paper-Scissors is an incredible game once you start looking into it. I suggest you do, at the World RPS website.

Final note: I've really just scratched the surface on Jane and her work in blurring the lines of reality, game, fun, work, technology, collectivity, discovery, and adventure, but I encourage you to do some research yourself. And also to keep the gaming spirit alive, and ready for a call-to-action, I suggest practicing up a little gaming of your own - if you're at a loss may I suggest a little Rock Paper Scissors?

And last, but certainly not least, go to the Finding Ada website and check out some of the other posts on women in technology. See other posts in handy map form here.

UPDATE: Wonderland blog also did an Ada Lovelace Day post on Jane. Dancers: don't miss the link to the Top Secret Dance Off.

UPDATEUPDATE: Mental Floss drops a little more knowledge on Ada Lovelace and her day.


23 March 2009

Tweeting and twittering


You can chart my progress from sceptic towards regular twitterer from all the way back in April 2007. But while this may be a keen way for me to say, 'Hey I went through the process of naysayer to tweeter well before you,' it may not accurately explain to you what the fucking point is.

For that, I re-direct you to this excellent account of a woman named Hildy explaining Twitter to her 85 year old mother (known as Grandma Rose).

And then, we come full circle, from sceptic, to user of nascent technology, to appreciater of obscure web platform, to admirer of said cultural phenomenon, all the way back to laughing at the in-jokes made at its expense. Because we're part of it.

Let's not take ourselves too seriously now shall we?

Excuse, I must go update my twitter account to reflect the fact that I've made a new blogpost.


19 March 2009

Free Blogger Italy


Italy, not generally renowned for shrewd governance, is planning to really take their reputation for asinine and retrogressive political decisions to the next level.

To whit: There is a law before the Culture Committtee of the Lower House to force every blogger in Italy to register with the ROC "Registro degli Operatori di Comunicazione" (Register of Communications Operators). They will need to be licensed by the state.

That blog is then subject to the regulations on the responsibilities connected to crimes via the printed word. If unregistered that blogger can be denounced for the crime of “clandestine publishing”: two years in prison and financial sanctions. Beppe Grillo explains more on his (as-yet unregistered) blog.

Grillo, a respected comedian, actor, and activist is spearheading a campaign called Free Blogger, which I support wholeheartedly, as a blogger, and former resident of Italy/Italophile.

You as a person, likely care about freedom of information, and are not particularly in favor of applying antiquated and restricted legal measures to a 21st Century digital medium. You then also care about this. For more outrage-inducing info read this post on Boing Boing.


Help the Italian bloggers! Let them see that we all want to remain free bloggers.

Send in your photos with the words: "FREE BLOGGER"

Send an email to freeblogger@beppegrillo.it with:
- subject: your name
- text: the address of your blog
- attached: a photo of you with a sign saying "FREE BLOGGER"

Get on it!

Free Blogger


18 March 2009

Antwerp Diamond Heist: The Movie

Unfuckingbelievably, the gang penetrated 10 levels of the highest security and made off with an estimated 100m worth of loot, which was never recovered. Link

Wired has a story on the February 2003 diamond heist in Antwerp, perpetrated by some slick Italians. Real-life Oceans 11 type stuff. Read it: it's fascinating.

I read the piece a few days ago and thought: this would make an awesome movie. Then I thought: I should write a movie about it. Then I made a little note in my little black book.

Of course, just days later I learn that Paramount has already optioned the Wired story, and JJ Abrams (Alias, Lost...) will be producing.

Man. As if I needed to be reminded, again, of my complete lack of Hollywood clout. Despite the fact that I wrote the idea down in my black book, when those lawyers, movers, shakers, and power players got together around the table, I wasn't even invited. Not even to the part afterwards where they went to have expensive cocktails, cocaine, and high-5s to celebrate the successful closure of the deal.

I really would've liked to be there, at that meeting in that L.A. skyscraper where all this went down, if just to remind them that I wrote, and produced, and starred in a little short film called 'Flunky'.

Their ears would perk up, and they would stop trying to talk over me.

"Flunky? You say?" The no-nonsense studio head with a Midas touch would muse, looking inquisitively into my stunningly handsome and deeply pentetrating emerald green eyes.

"Yeah, why haven't I seen that yet?" Wonders the high-powered, high-profile, Jewish agent aloud.

To which I would reply, while pushing my leather chair back from the glass conference table and folding my hands behind my head, "Well, it's still in post-production."

Needless to say, I think this delightful little tidbit would fucking floor them and stop them dead in their tracks. Then, I would be wined and fine dined around the City of Angeles, before finally consenting to put my movie writing skills - honed on such high-profile projects as 'Flunky' and the two page treatment I wrote as part of the application to Roehampton University's Creative and Professional Writing Programme - to work crafting 'The Untitled Antwerp Diamond Heist Project'.

JJ Abrams could still produce though, that's cool.


16 March 2009

Second City in BXL

I'm going to see Second City's Touring Co at the European School this week. There is no doubt - it's going to be awesome!!

My pal Rachel Miller, formerly of Boom! Chicago, currently of Second City, isn't part of the tour, but has put me in touch with those folks. I'm hoping to meet up for drinks with them, and show them the splendor of the city. Mennekin Pis - don't fail me now.

One thing is for sure though - if you live in Brussels, you shouldn't miss this show. Unless you're anti-comedy.


13 March 2009


Great! Thanks alot internet! Just what I need: a time-wasting video about yet another awesome way I can waste my time.

Seriously though, fingerball is rad. Click through for the video.

See more at CollegeHumor.

Via Unique Daily. That hot tune? Amongst the Madness, from Nextmen!

If you're not done with bitchin finger stunts, set to bitchin music...

May I suggest: The video for "You," from Atmosphere.



12 March 2009

Internet vs TV


The internet comes on computers, which are similar to televisions in many ways, only they are often smaller than your average television. Also, they usually come with a 'keyboard' and a 'mouse' rather than a 'remote control'. By manipulating these instruments you can go to any 'website' you choose.

Websites are like TV channels. Except they are more static, and cluttered. With more text, many different images, advertisments, and 'links'. These 'links' are like a 'Choose your own Adventure' story, as each link will take you to a different area of a website, or even a different website entirely!!

With very low costs for production of these websites, the internet is an extremely democratic way for information to flow. In many ways the internet is considered an improvement on television.

Except in one area: streaming f*cking live sp*rts.

Motherfuckingsonofacocksuckingassfaceshiteaterballdickpussyshitgodfuckdammit, that was excruciating last night.

I tried to watch the Champions League match between AS Roma and Arsenal last night on a 'computer', and between the nerve-wracking, edge-of-my-seat action onscreen, and the tendency for that action to freeze up or disappear entirely, well, I had a hard time keeping my shit together. Television: you win. Internet, you lose, and deservedly so. Those wonderful giallorossi also lost, despite playing with immense heart.

Although I watched great stretches of the game uninterrupted, I missed great chunks, including most of the supplementary time. however, I was lucky enough to watch the penalty shoot-out, which saw a heroic, Herculean effort go unrewarded. One save for the good guys, followed by an atrocious flub from Mirko Vucinic, our leading scorer, and then even-stevens, as every shot found the back of the net... until Max Tonetto, our 7th shooter, mis-hit over the bar. Game over.

Regardless, it was an amazing game. After the extensive injuries before and during the game, the lads never said die. At least two players (Totti and Pizarro) shouldn't have been playing at all, let alone for the entire 120 minutes. Juan, our Brazilian defender, needed to be subbed out after an injury in the fourth minute, only he stayed on to score the goal, and then got subbed off.

Their play exceeded their stores of talent. This was because they came with heart and fierce determination. It was an inspiring and inspired performance. Here's the BBCs rundown.

Here's Chris's from The Offside's eloquent reflections on the match.

And that says it all. Perhaps the one advantage the internet provided me was that if I were to watch on television, I would've been at the pub, and I would've been tearfully drunk at the end, ready to fight or hug anyone who stood near me. As it was, I had a camomile tea and went to bed.



10 March 2009

Chiara on Zooborns!

My wife doesn't totally get the interneting I do - all my blogging and a-twittering and other assorted junk. However, she got a window into the thrill of active interneting when she (and I) submitted a hot-tip on a newborn gibbon to her favorite website zooborns. She is now a published tipster. Check out her shout out!! She has vowed to make submitting to zooborn her new hobby. I don't doubt it will be.


Love sweet love - all over your wall


What the world needs now is love. Colourful, uncomissioned and HUGE, all over a wall of, in this case, Berlin. Brilliant work, Kollektivet Livet. Via Wooster.


06 March 2009

Treating a headache

If you have a headache, and it's so bad you have a stitches and bandages and look like this:

Then it is important that you have the love a good (and patient) woman. She will see you through the pain and discomfort.

And it certainly also helps if you have friends who will bring you the finest sugary treats known to humankind. Prepared by the one and only Fabrice Collignon.

Bless you Jacques and Dorion, for knowing the best pill for a splitting headache is sometimes a macaroon.


02 March 2009

Who is John Driver?


The knock on the door seems a little too hard, as if bruising to the knuckles. The door opens and 'internal candidate' John Driver strides into the interview room. He is smartly dressed and smiling broadly, reeking of composure and expensive aftershave. He flashes eye contact and handshakes at the panel, then takes a seat.

The panel, for their part, do their utmost to make the candidate feel at ease. It's what they've been practicing all morning. Offering water, introductions, and active listening. They further establish rapport through conversational questioning such as 'how was your journey this morning?'.

Almost immediately, the gears shift, and the competency based interview begins. Using the models learned through a mornings training, the panel attempt to gather evidence of competencies displayed on the job. They scribble fiercely, trying to make notes and eye contact at the same time. Driver smiles and talks his way around the broad questions, but rewards direct ones with direct evidence-based answers.

Last week I was absent from my usual office drone world. I was, for a time, a paid actor. Working in what is variously known as 'industrial theatre', 'applied theatre', 'corporate work', or 'role-playing'. It was fun, and I would definitely do it again. I was John Driver. I was pretty good too. Take note, companies who hire actors for this sort of work.

The paycheque and the free lunch were obvious perks, but absorbing the skills we were teaching, and having the opportunity to stretch my acting chops in a slightly sideways direction were also definite boni. And, perhaps most importantly, all of my colleagues - trainers, and actors, were delightful people.

According to one actor, who works regularly in London in this field, 80% of 'paid acting work' is of this type. So giving up dreams of starring in a Broadway musical or a soap commercial doesn't mean one can't make a living as an actor. In fact it's much more common to gig as a patient for interning doctors, doing safety shows for gas companies, or in this case, role play for civil servants.

John Driver is brash. He can be overwhelming to his juniors, and sarcastic in meetings. He is driven. He is loquacious. He is a character I have made my own. One rung at a time, I move my way up.