Babbel’s deal on a lifetime of language training is back, just in time for your quarantine

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There are plenty of productive ways to spend time while stuck indoors. While it’s undoubtedly fun to binge all 15 seasons of Supernatural or sink days of playtime into an Overwatch campaign, learning something new is definitely a more meaningful and long-term beneficial use of  open hours.

And if you’re going to invest time in learning something new, you better make sure it sticks. More than half a million Apple App and Google Play users have given the Babbel Language Learning system a 4.6 out of 5-star rating for its innovative and impactful methods in helping students learn a new language. So you know it works.

Right now, they’re making their award-winning services available again at 60 percent off the regular lifetime subscription price, just $159.

With this deal, you can learn 14 of the world’s most popular languages at your own pace with Babbel, the top-grossing language learning app around the globe.

Developed by over 100 linguistic experts, Babbel even says they’ll help you start speaking confidently in your new language in only 30 days. Just choose the language you’d like to learn, and you’ll immediately get access to more than 8,500 hours of high-quality language education.

Before you get overwhelmed, all those hours are broken down into easily digestible 10- to 15-minute lessons, so you can also find time to fit them into your day naturally.

The focus of the Babbel method is building your basic conversational skills, working you through real-world scenarios on real-world subjects like your family, your business, ordering a meal, booking transportation and more. Read the rest

Fountains of Wayne co-founder, Adam Schlesinger, dead of COVID-19

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Rolling Stone is reporting that Adam Schlesinger, co-founder of Fountains of Wayne, and a prolific songwriter for film, television, and theater, has died of COVID-10. He was 52-years-old.

Schlesinger had one of the most unique and busiest careers in pop. With Fountains of Wayne — a group that blended power-pop delight with indie and alt-rock sensibilities — he released five albums between 1996 and 2011. During the same period, he released six albums with his other group, Ivy, all the while building a portfolio of TV and film music. His first hit came in 1996, but it was a song engineered to sound like it was actually from the Sixties: “That Thing You Do.” The track served as the sole hit for the Wonders, the fake band at the center of Tom Hanks’ film That Thing You Do!; in real life, the track charted well and earned Schlesinger an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song. Seven years later, Schlesinger and Fountains of Wayne would notch their own career-defining hit, “Stacy’s Mom.”

Read the rest here.

Written by Schlesinger:

It is staggering to try and comprehend how many of these obits we are going to be seeing in the coming weeks and months.

Image: CC 2.0 Read the rest

Another free book for kids- The EMU Club Adventures: Ghostly Thief of Time

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Last week, I made the first book in my EMU Club Adventures series, Alien Invasion in My Backyard, available for download for free. And today the second book, Ghostly Thief of Time, is also available for download. Free.

I hope these books can offer some respite, and fun and excitement, for families under the stressful conditions of quarantine. After all, they are about three bored kids who find an amazing adventure just by being exceptionally creative and curious.

Next week, check out my social media for a little project kids can do once they’ve finished the books.

Information on how to download both books is HERE.

Stuart Tennemeier, his best friend Brian Hrzincz, and his sister Violet want to start a mystery club like the ones they read about in books, but they have no idea how to even find a mystery in their suburban neighborhood. They settle on trying to solve a mundane mystery from their lives – what happened to the game controller they lost – and they find that when you look really, really closely at your world, you can find absolutely amazing things. And maybe even save the world.
The EMU Club Adventures series, for kids aged 7-11 (and adventurous, curious spirits of all ages), is by cartoonist Ruben Bolling, the author of the award-winning comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug.
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Why is everyone suddenly baking bread? I think I know

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When I started seeing all of the posts on social media (and here on Boing Boing) about “pandemic baking,” it made instant and perfect sense to me. But then, I started seeing people asking “why?” on Facebook and Twitter. My first thought was “this is clearly a question from non-bakers.” If you’ve baked bread with any regularity, I bet you know why.

The next thing I thought of was this piece I wrote for my 2014 book, Borg Like Me. In it, I talk about my time as a baker, living in a commune in my youth, and another apocalyptic event, a massive snow-in in 2010, that left me trapped alone in my house with dwindling food stocks.

So, I decided to share this story here. TL;DR: Bake some bread. It’s hands-on, can be grounding, therapeutic, and fresh-baked bread is one of life’s great simple pleasures (for those of us who partake).

Bread of the Snowpocalypse

I’ve always been attracted to the ancient roots, the homely honesty, of bread. When I first moved to Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, VA as a teenager, I lived in a satellite group, called Tupelo. The first Tupelo dwelling was in an old ramshackled farm house that adjoined the main Twin Oaks property. For the farmhouse, we purchased a gorgeous antique cast iron wood-burning stove that I’d lobbied obnoxiously hard for us to get. I really wanted it to be our sole stove, but less ridiculous heads prevailed (I was 17 and full of hippie revolution fervor). Read the rest

Get this 9-course training bundle on music production, Abletion, Logic Pro X, and more for just $50

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If you’ve ever had any musical aspirations — or even if your talent extends no further than turning on the radio — you’ve probably dreamed the “impossible” dream. You dream that maybe you could record some of your songs at home, post them online, build an armada of fan support, attract major label attention and ultimately become a global music powerhouse all in one fell swoop.

Look, it’s an unlikely dream, but it isn’t impossible. That’s the career arc that now 17-year-old Billie Eilish just rode to pop megastardom last year. And what program did she (and her brother-slash-producer Finneas O’Connell) use to capture and edit Billie’s now chart-topping tracks? Logic Pro X.

The Mac-based app is just one of the programs that has taken music production from opulent, expensive studios right to anyone’s bedroom. And since you’ve got a bit more home time on your hands recently, The 2020 Music Production with Ableton Live 10 and Logic Pro X Bundle can be just the ticket to the big time you’re looking for.

These nine courses are a 56-hour master class in breaking into the music industry, including everything from songwriting and producing to recording to back-end production and distribution that can compete with the big boys of the recording game.

The training centers on how to use Logic Pro X or its equally lauded competitor Ableton Live 10 to do all the digital sequencing, recording and editing needed to produce your tracks. This training doesn’t come with the software, but it’ll show you how to use it to create all the auditory scope and wonder you experience from today’s top artists. Read the rest

Voice of SpongeBob asked to improvise voices of 5 new characters

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It’s always great to see a master craftsperson at work. From Vanity Fair: “Watch as Tom Kenny seamlessly improvises the voices to 5 random cartoon characters that he has never seen before. Using his skills from decades as the voice of SpongeBob, The Ice King (Adventure Time), The Mayor (Powerpuff Girls), Heffer (Rocko’s Modern Life) and many others, Tom is able to create amazing characters in the blink of an eye.”

Image: YouTube

[via Dooby Brain] Read the rest

“I Wanna Wash My Hands” and “Don’t Come Together” by The Bits

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Who is the best Hungarian Beatles tribute band? This is a question musicologists have argued about for years, but more than a few agree that The Bits are worthy contendors for the title. Above, a pandemic inspired “I Wanna Wash My Hands.” Below, a social distanced version of “Come Together,” retitled “Don’t Come Together.”

Image: YouTube Read the rest

There was a prototype toy line for the X-rated epic film disaster Caligula (1979)

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In 1979, Penthouse founder Bob Guccione produced a big budget feature film about the Roman emperor Caligula starring Maclolm McDowell, Teresa Ann Savoy, Helen Mirren, Peter O’Toole, and John Gielgud. Scripted by Gore Vidal and filled with graphic sex and violence, it was a critical and box office disaster but has garnered cult acclaim over the years. (Original trailer below.) Now, archivist Thomas Negovan and Shadow of the Vampire director E. Elias Merhig have located all of the original footage and are recutting the film into a 40th anniversary edition titled Caligula MMXX. Over the course of their research, they found this bizarre TV commercial produced for a line of Caligula action figures that, of course, never made it into production. Negovan tells Dangerous Minds:

A company named Cinco Toys pitched Guccione, who never met a deal he didn’t like, on them getting a license to do a line of action figures. Star Wars action figures were making millions and apparently they pitched him pretty hard for this. Caligula‘s budget was twice that of Star Wars. They made a handful of prototypes for action figures. They even went so far as to make a spec TV commercial to woo Guccione to let them do this, which is extra insane. They made it like he (Guccione) would be (star) in the commercial himself and had someone do a VO as if they were Bob. And there it was on the shelf with the various drafts of the script. There was a 3/4” tape and a VHS of the same commercial with Cinco labels.

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This 3D animation shows you what’s inside Seattle’s famous Space Needle

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Ever wonder how the Space Needle’s rotating glass floor works? CGI animator extraordinaire Jared Owen gives us an inside look at Seattle’s most iconic structure.

The Space Needle is located in Seattle Washington. It was built in 1962 just in time for the World’s Fair. The top looks like a Flying Saucer and is meant to inspire people to look towards the future. The Space Needle is icon to Seattle just as Eiffel Tower is to Paris, France. Around the Space Needle there plenty to see and do as well. The bottom of the building has a large spiral ramp that tourists get to climb on their way towards the elevators. The top of tower has the observation level with an outdoor deck, a service level, and The Loupe which features a revolving glass floor. The center of the tower has supports for the 3 elevators and the stairs which are mostly used for emergencies. The Skyline level is for private events at the Space Needle.

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This animated short about a horse is adorable, existential, and relatable

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This is exactly how I’ve felt while cooped in my house these last few weeks and yes I mean “exactly.”

The 2-minute film was created by AJ Jeffries, a 3D illustrator and animator based in Norwich in the UK. The only description or explanation given for it is this: “A horse struggles to exist.” That feels like it’s vague or underselling, after watching this mesmerizing cartoon several times over, I think it’s actually perfect.

Horse [AJ Jeffries / Vimeo] Read the rest

Every movie, starring Godzilla

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Sean Kaen, @oddnmacabre on Twitter, posed the challenge ‘let’s make some Godzilla movies!” and the results are unusually amusing due to the one rule: replace 1 word in any movie title with “Godzilla”.

Heather offers “Extremely Loud And Incredibly Godzilla.”

I know I’ll never get to watch “Remains of the Godzilla”, but there’ll always be the whale on Florence beach. And then I can found the Dead Godzillas Society. Read the rest

Watch Sir Patrick Stewart read a Shakespeare sonnet every day

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A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Mar 31, 2020 at 1:06pm PDT

“Having spent so much of my life with Shakespeare’s world, passions and ideas in my head and in my mouth, he feels like a friend—someone who just went out of the room to get another bottle of wine,” Patrick Stewart once said.

On Instagram, he’s now delivering a daily fix of the Bard. See them all at @sirpatstew on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

It has led me to undertake what follows. When I was a child in the 1940s, my mother would cut up slices of fruit for me (there wasn’t much) and as she put it in front of me she would say: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” How about, “A sonnet a day keeps the doctor away”? So…here we go: Sonnet 1.

A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Mar 22, 2020 at 4:28pm PDT

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A post shared by Patrick Stewart (@sirpatstew) on Mar 28, 2020 at 12:35pm PDT

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Microsoft Excel is still the lifeblood of data analysis and this training bundle breaks it all down

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If you’re charting the fortunes of a business, one glance at the right columns can instantly detail that company’s health. If you want to see their current roster of customers, a spreadsheet can bring those clients into sharp focus.

Make no mistake — the world of business is still dominated by the all-powerful spreadsheet. It’s still a defining business tool, one users can get to know inside and out with training like The 2020 Ultimate Microsoft Excel Certification Training Bundle.

The package collecting 10 courses jammed full with more than 40 hours of training unlocks everything a new Microsoft Excel user needs to start exploring, managing and analyzing data in this business industry staple.

First, a trio of courses guide first-timers through three levels of Excel knowledge, starting with basic terms and ideas before moving to templates, databases, and ranges, then the most advanced Excel tools like macros and creating your own Excel operations with VBA programming.

Meanwhile, another three courses dig into some of Excel’s most valuable functions, including productivity tools like keyboard shortcuts and data validation; data visualizations to create data-driven maps, templates, forms and other dynamic visuals; and pivot tables for grouping and displaying your data in every conceivable way.

Additional training covers powerful data modeling and business tools like Power Query and Data Analysis Expressions, how to use formulas and functions at all levels, and advanced tips for handling critical data processes like password protection and tracking changes.

From Excel newbies to hardcore veterans, there are tips and strategies here to help users of any level extract even more meaning from all their Excel explorations. Read the rest

Samuel L Jackson reads “Stay the F at home”

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You know what you’re gonna get and the master delivers. The recital begins at 6:08.

While Jimmy is in quarantine, he checks in with the great Samuel L. Jackson at his home. Sam talks about canceling his trip to Italy with Magic Johnson, Jimmy wanting to be a part of their annual vacation, watching “Tiger King” with his daughter, the go-to meal he likes to cook himself.

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Car crash footage with one of the vehicles digitally removed

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This is a compilation of security- and dash-cam footage of auto accidents with one of the vehicles digitally removed, thereby becoming “invisible”. It is remarkably creepy and unsettling, like one of those science fiction blockbusters that starts with an ingenious and terrifying disaster/invasion/escape scene but then becomes normal and boring for the rest of the movie. Read the rest

Using colored paper, help a neighbor with “Isolation Communication”

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Nova Scotia resident Glynis Mullen shared a simple, but brilliant, way that we can all employ to look out for our neighbors in real life, “Our neighbour is older and lives alone so I gave her three colour pieces of paper for her window which face our kitchen window. Green is for I’m OK, yellow (is) for need(ing) help with an errand, and red for emergency. I call it isolation communication.”

Surrey Now-Leader:

She and her neighbour often communicate through her kitchen window and said the tri-colour paper system is a “really good visual comfort that everything is okay. When it’s yellow, I know I should call and we can arrange something.”

screengrab via Glynis Mullen/Facebook Read the rest

Take a virtual visit to Napa – with very real sips of wine

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For wine lovers around the world, it’s all about discovery. Once they get a taste for the grape, oenophiles are rarely satisfied with even the most carefully curated, go-to vintages. There’s always a hunt for the next great pairing, the thrill of uncorking a bold new Tempranillo or sublime Moscato.

That feeling is a jones that winemakers in general – and wine clubs in particular – are happy to feed. But while online wine-of-the-month clubs have made discovering new wines a lot easier, many feel there’s been something lost in terms of the personal touch; that sense of place and adventure that began many wine lovers’ journey in the first place.

Enter Wine Access, a growing portal to the wine world that offers not just convenience but a more curated approach. At a time when a trip to Napa is out of the question, and wineries sit closed for the foreseeable future, why not bring the experience to your home?

The online wine shop is based in the heart of downtown Napa, and even within that insular wine hub, the founders have some deep connections. (Their Head of Wine, Vanessa Conlin, came to the job after heading up sales and marketing for several high-profile estates including Arietta Wines.) Wine Access leverages those connections to get their members access to some rare and award-winning picks like Estate Argyros’ Assyrtiko Santorini, a Grecian white that elevates any shellfish meal to a life-changing experience.

But Wine Access doesn’t randomly push these wines onto its subscribers, however, well-selected they may be. Read the rest

Cory Doctorow reads the author’s note from his third Little Brother book, Attack Surface

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From Cory’s awesome Pluralistic website, a post about the latest episode of his podcast, in which he reads the author’s note from Attack Surface, his third Little Brother book.

My latest podcast is a reading of the author’s note from “Attack Surface” — the third Little Brother book, which comes out on Oct 12.

I recorded this for the audiobook edition of Attack Suface, which I’ve been recording all last week with Amber Benson and the Cassandra de Cuir from Skyboat Media.

If you like what you hear, please consider pre-ordering the book — it’s a scary time to have a book in the production pipeline!

Here’s the MP3:

And here’s the podcast feed:

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