Three Great Things Happened

1. Mediander with me

Over two years ago, I was sworn to secrecy as I started writing for a crazysexycool new website, the likes of which the world had never seen.

This month, it finally launched, and the world got to fall in love with…

MEDIANDER DOT COM (com, com, com…)

I’ve linked you to the place where most of my “Culture Maps” live––nine and counting. What makes Mediander different is that the research connects disparate topics:  Charlie Chaplin to The Atomic Cafe to books by dictators, Nabokov to synesthesia and lepidopterology, and much! Much! More!

Got off to a good start when researchers at the International Space Station liked my map on the Space Race:

ISS tweet

2. That Smithsonian magazine

A childhood dream came true this month when I had an article published in Smithsonian. The piece allowed me to explore science+art at its best, in the form of Guillermo Bert’s 2D-coded traditional indigenous tapestries––one of the coolest artistic concepts I’ve seen in a long time.

Read it here! 

3. WRITE FIGHT

The night before my birthday, I sat down at an old, malfunctioning Olivetti typewriter, on the train tracks.

write fight! typewriters alone

The purpose? To battle it out in Revolver magazine‘s WRITE FIGHT, a single-elimination showdown with some of my favorite writers in town. It was both humbling and harrowing.

write fight over shoulder

Competitors got the first line of the story, ten minutes to think for the first two rounds, no time to think for the last round, AND there were insane, orchestrated distractions at every turn. First round, I wrote as audience members came up and whispered suggestions in my ear. Second round, I had to put the typewriter on the lap of a stranger, who smack-talked me all the while.

write fight round 2 whole shebang

Third round, at the center of a dancing mob, I wrote the story behind what improvisors would call the cruelest possible set-up:

“Even as it happened, I realized this was the most hilarious death ever.”

write fight final round

See what happened in the last three paragraphs of this article! [Spoiler alert, I won.] It was one of the most difficult feats of art I’ve ever undertaken, and my comrades in arms are my heroes more than ever. The… End…?

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A Bunch of Stuff I Neglected to Mention…

It’s been awhile. Here’s a the haps:


Ed Zed O––Whaaa…?

Just got called on as Writer/Producer for a cutting-edge new interactive documentary, paid for by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It’s called Ed Zed Omega.

But what is Ed Zed Omega…?

Let’s find out together, August 15, 2012.


So Long & Thanks for All the Fish

New commentary on All Things Considered,

this week, discussing dolphins in captivity.


Flossin’

It’s been a while since I’ve written for mental_floss magazine, but now we’re reunited, and feels so good.

11 Insane Features of the Normal Human Anatomy 

6 Extremely Rare National Animals

12 Violinists Known for Something Else

Three from the future*:

11 Notes on Alfred W. Lawson, Founder of the Weirdest University Ever

Thomas Edison’s Eccentric Job Interview Questions — A Cheat Sheet 

12 Underappreciated (But Equally Precious) Bodily Fluids

And one from the vault:

When Propaganda Backfires (reprinted on neatorama)

Look for my commissioned piece on the Berenstain Bears in next month’s paper issue. And more blogs like these *EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.


Published in Two Languages

As of May, 2011, yours truly has been published in a real, hold-in-your-hands, paper-and-binding book, which has been translated into ONE language other than English. Guess which one. Italian. You nailed it.

The book in question is titled A While Back: Sarà stato il succo di carota (It Was the Carrot Juice), and was authored primarily by one Mr. Clark Sandford, who, in addition to being an engaging storyteller, talented actor, skilled carpenter, and former fisherman/longshoreman/ferry boater/chiropterist, is also an awesome dad. I should know.

The book contains 20 chapters of real* stories from Mr. Sandford’s colorful 50+ years on Earth, and due to his colloquial, perhaps “cowboy-esque” style of storytelling, English professor Jodi Sandford of the University of Perugia thought that the collection would be a perfect tool with which to teach Italian students American English the way Americans speak it. And A While Back was born.

My participation in the project began over 27 years ago when I was born, and, as such, became a character in Mr. Sandford’s repertoire of tall tales. Some time later, after he started writing his stories down, he would often email them to me for my opinion. On a few occasions, I wrote back more than he had bargained for: a disagreement with his recollection of events, an additional remembrance, a verbose, daughterly opinion. Several of my participatory replies are included in the collection as well, and that, my pretties, is the deal with this book. It’s now in its sixth printing, by Morlacchi Editions.

*Mr. Sandford explains, of each piece, “This story is presented as neither fact nor truth. It’s just the way I remember it.”


Why Dolphins Are Badass: A Semi-Academic Talk

Give & Take is a community experiment that breaks down barriers among disciplines, people, and ignorance vs. knowledge. …The perfect platform for a scientifically minded humorist (or comically minded scientist) to talk about their super-weird niche expertise.

My topic of choice: The Noble Dolphin. More specifically:  Why the dolphin deserves better than the corny, new age symbol of playful peacenickery it has come to represent, and is actually a complex, highly intelligent, and utterly badass beast.

The presentation was a success, and reinvigorated my belief that people both love learning about dolphins (as well as other big-brained mammals and cetaceans) and know relatively little about them. Look out, World. You’re about to learn way more about dolphin behavior than you even though you knew you wanted to but DID.

In a “Badass Dolphin” headdress, I explain the latest theories in dolphin evolution.

I explain “cetaceans,” just as Herman Melville did, before me.

The audience of “cetaceans” uses color-coordinated note cards to indicate how many of them are “dolphin species.”

I quiz the audience on their knowledge of dolphin behavior, aided by “Blue Dolphin,” ninja warrior/top scholar.