The Book of Weirdo – a history of the greatest magazine ever published

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Robert Crumb launched Weirdo magazine in 1981. I bought the first issue from the comic book store I worked at in Boulder, Colorado, and it blew my mind. It had comics by Crumb (many people, including me, think Crumb’s work in Weirdo is his best), a selection of incredible illustrations from the late Polish artist Stanislav Szukalski’s bizarre theory about human evolution (Netflix has a new documentary about Szukalski produced by Leonardo DiCaprio), comics by homeless Berkeley cartoonist Bruce Duncan, tracts from the Church of the SubGenius (Weirdo was the first place I came across the Church), and Foto Funnies (starring Crumb and amateur models recruited from UC Davis). I had never seen anything like Weirdo and I instantly fell in love with it, looking forward to every issue.

Here’s the intro, where Crumb describes Weirdo as, “another MAD imitation, another small-time commercial venture with high hopes, obviously doomed to failure.”

Weirdo was partly inspired by MAD, but it really took the look and feel from the short-lived Humbug magazine, launched in 1957 by MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman. (Crumb drew comics for Humbug and became Kurtzman’s friend). Like Humbug, Weirdo had a small circulation (never topping 10,000 copies per issue) even though both magazines were loaded with talent (Terry Gilliam, Wallace Wood, Jack Davis, Al Jaffee, and Will Elder worked for Humbug, and during its 28-issue run between 1981 and 1993 Weirdo ran comics by Peter Bagge, Charles Burns, Daniel Clowes, Kim Deitch, Julie Doucet, Debbie Drechsler, Dennis Eichhorn, Mary Fleener, Drew Friedman, Phoebe Gloeckner, Bill Griffith, Rory Hayes, Gilbert Hernandez, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, John Kricfalusi, Carol Lay, Joe Matt, Diane Noomin, Gary Panter, Harvey Pekar, Raymond Pettibon, Spain Rodriguez, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Dori Seda, Art Spiegelman, Carol Tyler, Robert Williams, S. Read the rest

The weird beauty of fungi: time-lapse videos

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National Geographic‘s Hostile Planet series focuses on the “world’s most extreme environments to reveal the animal kingdom’s most glorious stories of survival on this fast and continuously shifting planet.” This Boing Boing exclusive excerpts beautiful and creepy time-lapse videos of day-glo colored slimes and glistening tentacled mushrooms as they erupt, spread, and decay. The highlight of the video is the tragic fate of an ant that gets infected by a cordyceps fungus spore, which highjacks the ant’s nervous system, causing it to climb to the top of a stem, where it freezes in place. In a few days, a cordyceps mushroom bursts out of the ant’s head, and begins to produce spores that will eventually infect other ants.

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Trucks vs. Tree stumps

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It’s Monday again, and I am here to provide the content you crave.

WHO WILL WIN? Best of Trucks vs Stumps. Toughest Dodge, Ford, Chevy Trucks and more pulling out tree stumps. Cool and funny ways to remove tree stumps with trucks. Some win and some fail when trucks take on stumps.

If you’ve only got time for one, 0:55 is pretty good, but this one at 7:34 is best.

Previously:
Men arrested for stealing shed by trying to drag it down the road behind a truck
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German model brilliantly pranks lewd and sexist Instagram commenters

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German actress-model Palina Rojinski responded to the lewd and rude commenters on her Instagram by delivering a perfect prank. With help from German TV show Late Night Berlin, Rojinski turned the sexist creeps into the, er, butt of a joke. The image above that she posted brought out the usual male buffoonery but, as you can see below, all was not quite what it seemed.

View this post on Instagram

Danke Bernd, @damitdasklaas und @latenightberlin Wir hatten unseren Spaß! Ihr auch? Der ganze Prank #Busengate LINK IN BIO

A post shared by Palina Rojinski (@palinski) on Mar 26, 2019 at 12:06am PDT

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1981’s 1K Sinclair Chess vs a modern PC running StockFish

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How does the amazingly concise 1-kilobyte chess program that came with 1981’s Sinclair ZX81 fare against a modern PC armed with the powerful StockFish chess engine? Ha ha, it gets its ass kicked!

The game of chess is an ancient one, dating back to sometime around the 6th century. While the Sinclair ZX81 isn’t quite that old, it is now 37 years old. Standard ZX81 models came with only 1KB of RAM, but somehow David Horne managed to squeeze a playable chess game into that space. The question is, can 1K ZX81 chess compete with a more modern chess engine, in this computer vs computer chess game.

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A day working at Rustler Steak House (1977)

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“Back in 1976/77, I worked at the Rustler Steak House in Alameda, California,” writes Take2MarkTV. “One night, I took my Super 8 camera with me to document a typical shift.”

Growing up, my family preferred the local Ponderosa Steakhouse over Rustler, and even Bonanza and Sizzler for that matter. That said, I’m sure the employee experience was similar at all four establishments.

(r/ObscureMedia, thanks UPSO!)

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Redact, rework or sign PDFs effortlessly with this Mac app

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Believe it or not, PDF files have been the go-to format for contracts and forms of any type since 1993. And sure, they’re easily shareable – but that’s about it. When you need to edit or sign a document – and you will – that’s when frustration can set in. Luckily, there are workarounds, and PDF Expert for Mac is one of the best out there.

This all-in-one piece of software hacks through all the stubborn aspects of any PDF, allowing you to edit any text, images or links in the document – and that’s just for starters. It also allows you to easily fill out forms, redact sensitive pieces of info or annotate portions of a file. You can even merge multiple pages into a single file, then password-protect them or share them remotely across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. If you get even a couple of documents per year, it can save a ton of headaches.

Lifetime access to PDF Expert for Mac is available now for $54.99, more than 30% off the list price. Read the rest

Celebrate 4/20 in style with deals on these smoking accessories

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It’s 4/20! Smoke ’em if you got ’em – and if you haven’t got ’em, check out this roundup of deep discounts on pipes and other accessories. They’re all on sale, but you can take an extra discount off the final price courtesy of the Boing Boing store by using the online code 420SAVE.

Freeze Pipe

There’s nothing like a nice, strong pull on your favorite pipe – until you get the inevitable throat burn. The Freeze Pipe alleviates that with a freezable glycerin coil that cools the smoke on the way in, delivering a smoothness comparable to much bigger water bongs. Originally priced at $120, the Freeze Pipe is now half off at $59.95.

Twisty Glass Blunt

Legions of smokers swear by the Twisty Glass, thanks to the smooth pull of its spiral design and easy setup. Just pack in your tobacco, twist the screw and light up. No rolling, no carb, no fuss. When you’re finished, twist it back out again for easy cleanup. You can pick up the Twisty Glass Blunt now for $34.99 – 30% off the MSRP.

The Weed Deck

Think you know your herb? If there were a test for Cannabis 101, this casino-quality deck would be your flashcards. Each one contains trivia and history on everybody’s favorite plant, with helpful illustrations throughout. You can get the Weed Deck for $13.50, a 15% discount.

Geeky Grinders

Prepare your favorite herbs with a touch of nerd flair with these miniature grinders, each one inspired by a different geek talisman. Read the rest

This smart sonic toothbrush packs 40,000 strokes per minute

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Ever wonder if you’re cleaning your teeth well enough? If your last dentist visit has you getting a little more thorough about oral care, it might be time to save yourself some guesswork. A lot of electric toothbrushes promise deep cleaning, but there’s a Platinum Sonic Toothbrush that has power plus the simple but effective innovation of a timer to make sure you’re brushing for the right amount of time, every time.

And that’s the least of the bells and whistles. It charges by USB, which makes it perfect for travel. Plus, the case has a UV sanitizer which kills up to 99% of bacteria on the brush head while it’s charging. Turn the power on, and the Platinum Sonic vibrates at 40,000 brush strokes per minute, which not only loosens fine particles from the teeth but is great for the gums. And best of all, there’s an Auto Timer that makes sure you’re brushing for the ADA-recommended two minutes. It’s like having a dentist on the room with you, minus the guilt.

The Platinum Sonic Toothbrush & USB Sanitizing Case are currently $49.99, a full 80% off the MSRP. Read the rest

Make and share your own GameBoy adventures without learning to code

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GB Studio is a “free and easy to use retro adventure game creator for your favourite handheld video game system.” Use a modern visual scripting interface to create Zelda-style 2D role-playing games that run on the Nintendo Game Boy or standalone on the web.

· Visual game builder with no programming knowledge required.
· Design your graphics in any editor that can output PNG files e.g. Photoshop, Tiled, Aseprite.
· Example project included to get started right away.
· Make top down 2D JRPG style adventure games.
· Build real GB Rom files which can be played in an emulator or on device using USB Carts.
· Build a HTML5 playable game that also works on mobile and can deployed to any webserver or uploaded to Itch.io.
· Built for macOS, Windows and Linux.
· Supports both macOS light and dark mode.
· Includes the full tools that were used to build Untitled GB Game, free to play on Itch.io.

It’s by Chris Maltby (on Itch, Twitter) and downloads are available for MacOS, Linux and Windows. [h/t Agies] Read the rest

Halifax! I’m speaking at Atlseccon on April 24 (then Toronto, Ottawa, Berlin and Houston!)

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I’m coming to Halifax to give the closing keynote on day one of Atlseccon on April 24th: it’s only my second-ever visit to the city and the first time I’ve given a talk there, so I really hope you can make it!

From there, I’m headed to Toronto, where I’m giving a keynote called The Internet Isn’t What We Fight FOR, It’s What We Fight WITH on April 29th at the FITC Technology and Creativity Conference.

Then I’m appearing at the Ottawa Writers Festival on May 4, presenting my newest book, Radicalized.

After that, it’s a quick trip to Berlin, where I’m the keynote speaker at this year’s Re:publica conference, presenting a talk called It’s monopolies, not surveillance on May 7th.

Then I’m headed back to the USA for a weekend’s worth of events at Houston’s Comicpalooza, May 10-12.

Hope to see you!

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Review units of Samsung’s $2000 folding phone are failing after hours of use

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Samsung’s folding phone, which will ding buyers about two grand after tax, is already in deep trouble: the review units sent to journalists are dying after hours of use.

CNBC’s Todd Haselton writes that it was “a tantalizing glimpse of the future — before it broke.”

During my second day of testing, the screen began flickering and would turn off and on at a rapid pace. It became completely unusable and at times wouldn’t turn on at all.

Samsung had said not to remove a thin layer that sits on top of the screen. Other reviewers accidentally removed this layer and ran into similar issues that I saw. But I never removed the protective film or used the device outside any way a normal user might.

The Verge titled its video review “after the break” and awarded it the not-so coveted “Yikes” rating.

Whatever happened, it certainly wasn’t because I have treated this phone badly. I’ve done normal phone stuff, like opening and closing the hinge and putting it in my pocket. We did stick a tiny piece of molding clay on the back of the phone yesterday to prop it up for a video shoot, which is something we do in every phone video shoot. So perhaps a tiny piece of that snuck into a gap on the back of the hinge and then around or through its cogs until it lodged in between the screen and the hinge. It’d be sort of like Charlie Chaplin getting caught in the gears in Modern Times.

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Herbie Hancock’s killer original music for the Fat Albert TV special (1969)

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In 1969, Herbie Hancock found the funk for a collection of music he composed for “Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert,” a TV special that eventually led to the long-running cartoon “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids.” Hancock collected those tracks on Fat Albert Rotunda, the band leader’s first LP after bailing on the Blue Note label. It’s a deeply soulful affair that presaged Hancock’s 1973 jazz-funk classic Head Hunters. Now, Fat Albert Rotunda is readily available again as a high-quality vinyl reissue from my friends at the Antarctica Starts Here label. Dig it.

Herbie Hancock – Fat Albert Rotunda LP (Antarctica Starts Here/Superior Viaduct)

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Read the source code for every classic Infocom text-adventure game!

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Jason Scott has made the source available for every one of Infocom’s classic and genre-defining text adventure games (previously) for the Apple ][+ and its successors, posting it to Github under the historicalsource account.

The code is written in Zork Implementation Language, a Lisp-like programming language that you can learn with this manual.

The source seems to have been posted under the general rubric of archival preservation, which is an activity that can fall under copyright’s fair use doctrine. If Activision — owner of the rights to Infocom titles — decides to push the matter, we might end up with a fascinating and precedent-setting court battle.

Included in the collection are all the Zork games, as well as the notorious and brilliant Douglas Adams game “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” and partial sources for its unreleased sequel “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” and the complete sources for an unreleased adaptation of “The Abyss,” James Cameron’s 1989 movie.

Dive in and you’ll find that things are very different now than they were then. At the time Infocom was active, personal computers did not have a widely shared architecture, so the path ZIL’s architects took was to allow game creators to write instructions for a virtual machine called the Z-machine, which was then brought to the various platforms of the day. There are interpreters available today for Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android, among other platforms.

The interactive fiction community is still quite lively, and people are still making games using ZIL and the Z-machine today.

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MandalaGaba, a drawing board for creating recursive, symmetrical, tessellating art

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MandalaGaba is a drawing board that specializes in mandalas and other artistic mathematical magic. Click and drag and watch what happens! You can save and share your work; the creators have a blog and an instagram featuring quality examples.

After radial symmetry (mandalas) and tessellations, I just finished implementing recursive drawing. Do tweak the buttons & sliders, seeing their effect on a pen stroke is the best way to understand what they do. I hope this is fun.

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“Why I Take All My First Dates to Olive Garden”

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At Bon Appetit, Kristen Arnett wrote a very funny appreciation of Olive Garden as the perfect place for her to take first dates. From Bon Appetit:

The right kind of woman for me is someone who won’t give me a hard time about the things I like. The kind of woman who will let me pocket all the leftover breadsticks and doesn’t care if we only discuss our favorite sexual positions and what kind of appetizers look best off the limited-time-only menu. We’re at Olive Garden because it’s kitschy and cute. Nothing that happens needs to be a serious thing. It’s no big deal…

Two people eating means you get three sticks total. I like to think Olive Garden did that on purpose, so that you’re forced to break bread with your date. You must share with each other, touch hands. It’s all very romantic, if romance is deciding who gets to take the bigger share of the carbs.

Why I Take All My First Dates to Olive Garden
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Super Mario Bros. released for C64

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A pixel-perfect implementation of Super Mario Bros. is now available for the Commodore 64, a good three decades after that computer’s (and the Nintendo Entertainment System’s) heydey.

This is a Commodore 64 port of the 1985 game SUPER MARIO BROS. for the Famicom and Nintendo Entertainment System. It contains the original version that was released in Japan and United States, as well as the European version. It also detects and supports a handful of turbo functionalities, and has 2 SID support.

Home computers of the era typically saw sub-par conversions of console hits, even when there was no real technical reason. Below, see Super Mario Bros. as originally released on 8-bit computer platforms; quite a disaster.

The Great Giana Sisters was a more accurate unofficial port that, for obvious reasons, displeased Nintendo and led to “pressure” that saw it withdrawn from sale (though it did not, per gamer legend, file a lawsuit). It ultimately became a franchise in its own right.

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