1. Project Detours

    Canine Chronicles — by Winnie Au

    Last fall, my sisters and I ran a Kickstarter project for a book called Canine Chronicles. We were looking to create something we could all collaborate on, and a book project featuring my younger sister Winnie’s photography seemed like the best idea. We set up a project and promised to have a book ready to print by Spring 2011. 

    That deadline has now come and gone, and we’ve had to push our release date back to Fall 2011. So far, our backers have been wondrously patient with us as we go through this process with them. This is due in no small part to Winnie, who has been putting together these great “here’s where we are now” progress reports and updating our backers every few weeks. Her latest is a video which takes you behind the scenes on one of our photo shoots.

    As many of you who’ve worked on projects already know, the path to completion is never exactly how you planned it would be. When we brainstormed our book idea, we just thought it would be fun to dress dogs up as historical figures. What we didn’t think about at the time was that because some of these famous people are still living, we would need to do a lot of research about fair use, copyright, trademark, and the legal definitions of satire and parody.

    Then there were the photo shoots themselves. Casting all of the dogs, finding the right costumes and props, coordinating and finishing the shoots ended up taking much more time than we’d first anticipated. Shirts we ordered on the internet that looked perfectly dog-sized showed up in the mail and ended up being very much not dog-sized. Our Charlie Chaplin pug looked great on camera but was too tiny to wear the bowler hat we’d bought for him (it covered his whole head!). The flight jacket we ordered for the yellow lab playing Amelia Earhart wouldn’t fit over his legs. Our Lucille ball dog looked mid-sized in the images her owners sent, but ended up being much smaller in real life. So we improvised. 

    Now, the photo shoots are done and it’s up to me to write the stories that will take these ten images of dogs in costume and turn them into a coherent fictional history. It’s fun and daunting and stressful all at the same time. My older sister is waiting on me to finish the stories so she can begin the process of laying out and designing the final book. My mom calls me every weekend to ask how the stories are coming along. I want to do justice to the images my sister worked so hard on, and I want our backers to feel like they made the right decision in choosing to support our project. No pressure, right?

    While many Kickstarter projects finish everything right on time, delays in the timeline are a reality of the creative process. It’s why project updates and maintaining open lines of communication — both during and after the project — are so important. Kickstarter backers are amazing people, genuinely interested in helping you reach the finish line. When you share with them your creative process, you also communicate that you’re aware that they’re there, and that without them, there is no project. 

    And for those of you wondering, I’ll be finished writing all the stories by the end of this month. 

  2. Time spent crying over Time With Leonard.

    Time With Leonard — by Walter Kevin Eubank

    Time With Leonard is a Kickstarter project to fund a book of the same name, about Leonard Knight and the legendary Salvation Mountain. If you haven’t heard of it, or seen mind-blowing photos of it in luckier friends’ Flickr account like I have, Salvation Mountain is some crazy cement mountain in the middle of the desert in Niland, California. This precious old man is 80 years old and has been camping out here for 30 years, painting and re-painting colorful messages of faith and love with what he estimates to be about 100,000 gallons of paint (all donated by the mountain’s visitors).

    Despite being an unbeliever who has never made it out to Salvation Mountain, this video had me crying at my computer monitor, wanting to hug everyone (although Project Videos That Make Me Cry could probably be a weekly feature).

    Leonard greets hundreds of people a day and tours them around the mountain and its gift shop — where he’s been living the past 18 of 30 years — and I imagine sharing the same message he talks about in his video, with a tone of conviction and this perfect old man squint:

    "God loves everybody in the whole world. Period. That’s everybody. That’s all people, everywhere, period. Love can get so big that in can cover everybody in the whole world, if you’ll let it."

    For much of the 90’s, Leonard was embattled with local supervisors over alleged toxicity levels in the surrounding area (lead paint), but the issue was resolved and in 2002, Salvation Mountain was entered into the Congressional Record of the United States, proclaiming it a national treasure. 

    "Somebody told me on the internet there’s over 100 different countries now that know about the mountain here in Niland. So it’s slowly getting it out there."

    It’s clear that this is his life’s work. To sit in the desert painting, greeting tourists and pilgrims alike, sharing his message with a contagious joy.

    "It’s a easy message,” Leonard says in the video, “— to love somebody is the most easy thing in the world to do,” the way he says easy breaks my heart for some reason, maybe because it always feels so much less that that. “Just love somebody,” he says, “Be nice to ‘em. And all of a sudden that guy’s gonna be nice back to you, and nice gets bigger — oooh— and it’s gonna spread the whole world. Love is gonna do it.”

  3. Guitar Heroes: Saving the Acoustic Guitar

    The Musicwood Documentary — by Helpman Productions

    In 2008, filmmakers Maxine Trump and Josh Granger stumbled across a slightly unusual story: the over-logging of a forest in Alaska, specifically a rare 250 year-old Sitka Spruce, was endangering the future of the acoustic guitar. Coming to the instruments defense were the world’s top guitar-makers (Martin, Taylor, Gibson, Fender), who had banded together to try and convince an industrial logging company to adopt sustainable practices.

    What Maxine and Josh want to know, and what they hope to shed some light on with their documentary Musicwood, is simple — “Could you imagine the world without the acoustic guitar?” To answer the question, they’ve employed a slew of notable, famously finger-pickin’ musicians, whose performances they’ve been sharing with us in a number of recent project updates. My favorite thus far easily belongs to notoriously independent, college-radio-rock-band-of-dreams, Yo La Tengo (where would legendary free-form radio station WFMU be without them). Their hushed performance inside the empty, light adorned hall of New Jersey venue Maxwell’s is a little awe-inspiring.

    The acoustic guitar will not be the most devastating loss our planet experiences while under the thumb of industrial logging practices, but it is certainly one whose emotional resonance will far outweigh its modest stature. It’s hard for me to imagine heartbreak without Neil Young, you know? And, Dad, I either love you or hate you for that. Haven’t decided yet. You can watch the extended trailer for Musicwood, and support the project, here. Check out the clip featuring Yo La Tengo below.

  4. New Projects Are Outlaws Our favorite new projects this week are all, in one way or another, about epic fantasy. We have your token Game of Thrones reference (yes, we know you have all been watching), your Youtube music star turned real-life pop phenomenon (if that’s not an epic fantasy fully realized, than what is?!), and, even, a play with a wildly ambitious political agenda that could be a fantasy-come-true for a few brave, outspoken social activists/playwrights. Check ‘em out!

    The Bus: Off Broadway and Westboro Baptist Church — by Jim Lantz

    As playwright James Lantz and his silent wingman Dostie announce, Berlington Vemont’s The Bus is making its Off-Broadway debut at 59E59 Theaters this fall. Then they’re headed to Off-Off-Off-Off-Broadway, i.e. as close as they can physically get to the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. Following the forbidden love of two teen boys who meet secretly in a parked church bus late at night, The Bus explores and explodes the intersection of “a family, a small town, and a very very big church.” Jim Lantz will stage his play as close as possible to the infamous church that has picketed military funerals and schools nationwide, for as Lantz sees it, “if Westboro Baptist Church can come to our town, we can go to theirs.” What happens when creative vision, self-identity, small town tension, and national rights collide, Lantz and The Bus are fearless proof that art doesn’t just imitate life. Sometimes art needs to intimidate, too. — Elisabeth H.

    Julia Nunes would be nothing without me — by Julia Nunes

    When I logged in this morning there was a brand new face on our Discover page. A pretty lady named Julia Nunes apparently launched a project over the weekend, shot way past her goal in 24 hours, and now, almost two days in, has raised almost double her goal of $15,000. She’s raised $28k at the time of writing. So who is this girl I’ve never heard of besides someone who is clearly comfortable in front of her Photobooth app? She is indeed that most fascinating (to me) brand of internet success story: the charming, young, ukelele Y Youtube phenomenon. And phenomenon, I believe, is the most appropriate word here. Her voice is lovely, her energy is such that I forgot to have coffee this morning and I still feel okay, and her straight hustle has landed her opening gigs for the likes of Bens Folds and Kweller. This is the kind of thing that makes me excited about the internet, and excited for Julia Nunes, who would be nothing without you. — Meaghan O.

    Outlaws of Ravenhurst: A Concept Album of Epic Pop — by Outlaws of Ravenhurst

    Like all good LOTR fans, you probably re-watch the trilogy every six months or so, reliving the epic journey to Mordor, marveling at how silky Legolas’ hair looks, and thinking how cool it is that Boromir is the same as Ned Stark in A Game of Thrones. In other words, epic fantasy is never that far off your radar, which is why you should click play above and delve into the indie-metal brutality of the Outlaws of Ravenhurst. Transported into the 21st century by an evil wizard, these young knights are on a mission to bring chivalry to the masses, armed only with axes, heroism, and wit. I’m usually the first to be skeptical when a band claims they’ve traveled through time to revive the ancient art of chivalry, but I listened to their tracks on bandcamp and it sounds legit. — Cindy A.

    Be a Part of “Mason Jar Music Presents” — by Mason Jar Music

    “Mason Jar Music Presents” is a video concert series that pairs talented musicians with original orchestral arrangements to make pretty, pretty music that looks really, really good. It is a sensory overload of amazingness. Plus, the two guys who are making this happen provide us an original ditty at the end. See it, love it, back it. That’s all I gotta say. — Cassie M.

    TEEN WITCH: underground magazine — by Zain Curtis

    In the age of broken links and photoshopped everything, TEEN WITCH magazine exists to put the warped digital realm that tends to exist solely on social networks, comment sections, message boards, Twitter, etc, into a twisted, psychedelic physical publication ripe for kids who categorize their style as “gucci goth.” Inspired by the wormhole of sub-culturess the internet provides a home to, TEEN WITCH aims to give a place for trans youth teens to shine. I been following the RATCATCHER, TEEN WITCH tumblr identities for a while, so it’s amazing to see them take the warped zones of their digital lives and put them into the physical world. — Mike M.
  5. 155 Freeman Street

    155 Freeman: Triple Canopy, Light Industry, Public School — by Triple Canopy

    This September, three New York-based nonprofits — Triple Canopy, an online magazine, Light Industry, a cinema, and The Public School New York, an open-source classroom with no curriculum — will launch a new arts-and-culture center at 155 Freeman Street, in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn.

    So all of this sounds nice, right? Culture! Arts! Usually free! All in one place and conveniently located just a few blocks from my apartment! (just me?)

    But who are these people and just what to they do?

    Light Industry is a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn, New York. Every week they have an event organized with a different artist, critic, or curator. Every week! The idea is to bring together the worlds of contemporary art, experimental cinema, new media, documentary film, and academics to do cool stuff. Or “foster a dialogue.” You know, the usual.

    Public School is “a school with no curriculum.” They have classes about everything from infographics to sewing circles to (your favorite and mine) Walter Benjamin. The way it works is like this:

    First, classes are proposed by the public (“I want to learn this” or “I want to teach this”); then, people have the opportunity to sign up for the classes (“I also want to learn that”); finally, when enough people have expressed interest, the school finds a teacher and offers the class to those who signed up.


    So they’ll be host all their classes on Freeman St. The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction, indeed!

    Triple Canopy is a place where people come together over a shared love of sticking their head through overhead projectors.

    Not really!

    Triple Canopy is a beautiful online publication with a really fun domain name, and also a workspace and general hub for all kinds of curatorial and editorial activities dedicated to “slowing down the internet.”

    They’ll have all kinds of readings, performances, screenings, and panels (who doesn’t love a panel?) here at Freeman St. Ellie Ga may even show up to stick her head through a projector again.

    A collaboration like this lends itself to some pretty amazing Kickstarter awards, with music, writing, and original art from the likes of Rivka Galchen (<3u) to Cory Arcangel to Paul Chan. Check it out — and I’ll see you at Freeman St. in the fall!

  6. Poetry In Motion

    Poems on the big screen? Motionpoems. — by Motionpoems

    Angella Kassube and Jeff Saunders are a pair of poetry lovers who share a passion for animation. Their collaborative project, Motionpoems, marries the two by transforming the work of poets into interpretative, highly creative animated shorts. Their work has catapulted them into text books and film festivals worldwide, and this year they’ve been invited to create 15 animations to accompany the annual Best American Poetry anthology.

    As the scope of traditional publishing is transformed by the unique challenges and opportunities presented by digital media, Motionpoems seek to straddle the divide, creating a place where audiences can experience both the classical feeling (poetry) and the distinctly modern (experimental animation). It’s a project with a simple, albeit ambitious, mission: to broaden the audience for poetry by expanding it’s appeal to our (eek) admittedly attention-deficit contemporary culture. Judging by the amount of time I’ve spent on their Vimeo channel over the last few weeks, I would consider them a success.

    You can peruse a selection of my favorites below (don’t miss “RENDER RENDER”), and support the project here.

  7. Guest Post: Scott Bateman On Faking It

    "So, How Did All The Damn Scientists Die?" — by Scott Bateman

    Scott Bateman is a cartoonist, animator, and writer based in New York City. Between you, me, and the internet, we hear he likes to fake it. Make stuff up. Tell total lies! And we love it. His hilarious, frankly fictional/historical mini-comics have us in stitches, and are probably making our high school teachers hate us. C’est la vie! For this weeks guest post, he tells us a little bit about himself and the inspiration behind his erroneous epigrams. Make sure to check it out — just don’t believe anything he says!

    Most people know me as an animator. In 2005-6, I did the Bateman365 project, where I made an animated film every day for a year. This led to a briefly-lived show on PlumTV, “Scott Bateman Presents Scott Bateman Presents,” which included voice work from Kristen Schaal, Jenny Slate, Reggie Watts and more. PlumTV only airs in places where rich people live, like Martha’s Vineyard and Aspen, so I’ve never seen my own show (though I’d like to think Puffy has seen it at his place in the Hamptons). Then I made an animated feature film, Atom Age Vampire, which played at some film festivals. There were some music videos in there as well, for Thao, Low, Clinic and a few more.

    But, eventually, I got really burned out on producing animation. So in 2010, not sure what to do next, I brewed up a 24-page minicomic, Let’s Learn About The Damn Presidents Already, Geez. LLATDPAG features fake facts about all 44 presidents (“John Adams was not only a Founding Father, but also a Founding Uncle, a Founding Brother and a Founding Great Aunt. It was complicated.”). It was fun to combine my artwork with fake facts (which I’m still writing daily on Twitter), and the minicomic sold out wherever I sold it.

    So, How Did All The Damn Scientists Die? is another fake fact minicomic, but it’s also an homage to Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies. Like Gashlycrumb, it explains how several people died, in verse — 22 famous scientists, from Archimedes to Stephen Hawking (not actually dead yet, I know) are featured. Sadly, none of them die of ennui.

    Gorey’s always been an inspiration — his line work is amazing. But really, it’s that darkly comic sensibility that I’m drawn to. I’m happy with how the mini has turned out, and I can’t wait for people to see it.

    The 22 scientists chosen for the book are among the most famous scientists in history, from ancient Greece to the present. I had to leave a few notables out. And really, Tycho Brahe’s epic death deserves its own book.

    Some of the deaths have something to do with what the scientists are most known for—for instance, “Heisenberg’s fate is uncertain.” But many of the deaths are just plain silly — I needed a rhyme for “uncertain,” so the next entry is, “Feynman pissed off Richard Burton.” One should really not use this book to study for the SAT.

    And really, the idea of making up deaths for all the famous scientists comes out of my Disalmanac project on Twitter, which involves making up crap about historical events and people. Why settle for the same old, boring facts when you can make up your own?

  8. New Projects Are Live Action! Our favorite new projects this week seem to share a common thread. They’re all about creative people pushing themselves to the limits (of dignity, of sanity, of physical endurance) in the spirit of their art — whether their art be sci-fi fandom, demolition, or doodling. Check ‘em out below, then push your own limits by discovering new projects all your own.

    Live Action Skyrim Trailer — by Blake Armstrong

    If the date 11/11/11 means anything to you, then it’s likely you’re already of fan of the Elder Scrolls Series. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, feel free to let your eyes glaze over until you reach the next blurb). When Bethesda released the official game trailer for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim a few months back, fans of the series were teased with images of a great Nord warrior battling a giant dragon atop a snow-covered mountain. With the sonorous Elder Scrolls theme piping in the background, the trailer was all sorts of epic, which made the November release date all the more unbearable. What’s a fan to do in the meantime? Make a live-action version of the trailer, obviously. That’s exactly what Blake Armstrong is doing, and from the looks of it, he’ll do it right:

    From the original trailer:

    Blake’s DIY Dragon-born armor:

    Pretty awesome! — Cindy A.

    Molly Crabapple’s Week in Hell — by Molly Crabapple

    What better way to celebrate your 28th birthday than to lock yourself in a tiny room for five days on a mission to make nothing but art? Just ask artist, designer, Dr. Sketchy’s founder (and three time successful project creator, hellllooooo) Molly Crabapple, who plans to be doing exactly that, while documenting the entire thing for her backers via live stream. Although I haven’t quite decided yet whether I should feel worry or wonderment at Molly’s commitment to unpacking the creative process, what I do know is that I am really, really curious to see what happens. Her work, which I’ve found consistently incredible under what I assume to be “normal circumstances,” can only get crazier, zanier, and better from here. Color me seriously impressed. — Cassie M.

    Derby Kings — by Valerie Bischoff

    I always figured Demolition Derby’s were just a piece of fictional Americana I was never going to experience. Then, I moved to Wyoming when I was 22 and found out first class that the derby was not just a wonky event for crazed mechanics, but a true way of life. Valerie Bischoff found out the same thing when she visited a few derby’s in California and Nevada. What followed next was a documentary on the sub-culture. Yet, Bischoff felt there was more to tell about the reckless, no pun intended, life of demolition derby dudes. And so, she decided to make a feature film on the topic, which will contain amazing one liners like, “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight. Remember that. Always bring a gun to a gun fight.” — Mike M.

    Prepared Televisions for Voice — by Galen Richmond

    Galen Richmond’s work lives at the border between art and performance — he crafts pop songs from videogames, rewires Casio keyboards, and now makes haunting, audioreactive television installations. That is, later this month he’s bringing a bunch of teevees to the Bent Festival in New York, which is a festival for people like him — “circuit benders, audio experimenters, synth builders, and DIY electronics enthusiasts.” For “Prepared Televisions for Voice,” Galen will link fifteen TVs together that create a visual display that will react to the sound in the room. The result is a sort of Brave Little Toaster meets Frankenstein, with your TV talking back to you, just the way you feared it might. For sixty bucks you can even get one of these things for your very own. I imagine it would really take dinner parties to the next level. — Meaghan O.

    Paper craft warrior mouse! Pre-cut and mailed to you — by Tyler Tinsey

    Was anybody else really obsessed with the Redwall series as a child? That delightfully British, totally charming series of books by Brian Jacques wherein Victorian-style dramas, wars, feasts, and loves were played out by a cast of animal characters? Yes? Well, then this project is for you. Toy designer Tyler Tinsley has created his cut-out, DIY assembly, paper mice as ” an homage to the great genre of rodentia youth literature.” His mouse-sized project offers a paper mouse kit for just five bucks! And if the project is a success, he promises to expand into other genres of rodent, like Samurai and Roman. Don’t miss out! — Cassie M.
  9. Sometimes, Kickstarter Projects Don’t Make It

    There’s no one reason why a project fails, but usually it has to do with rewards that are too pricey, a funding goal that’s a bit out of reach, bad timing, or myriad other things in life that can get in the way of success (I had finals! I had a baby! My cat got sick! Portal 2 came out!). That’s just kind of how life is. 

    Last week, I interviewed the creators behind a failed Kickstarter project called graFighters. Their story was an interesting one, largely because they’re likely one of the most successful failed projects we’ve seen. After falling about $17k short of their $20k goal, they went on to raise $200k from a private investor who found them on Kickstarter. This is about as close to a Cinderella story as it gets in the world of game development. A few media outlets picked up their story, and the focus shifted to the fact that it’s not just individuals like you and me who are looking for interesting projects on Kickstarter. It’s also serious investors and companies looking for the next big hit.

    But let’s backtrack a little here. The graFighters story struck me as especially interesting because it was ultimately a story about failure, and what you can gain from failing. While there a lot of amazing successes on Kickstarter, there are also projects that seem to do almost everything right, but still aren’t able to pick up the momentum they need to make it.

    Take, for example, these two projects:

    Scroll Ninja by Rei Kagetsuki

    The Hyrtl Simulacrum by Jeanne Kelly

    Both had cool ideas, personal pitch videos, and nice rewards. I’d check in on their projects every couple of days, hoping they’d get that big burst of funding that happens when enough people have passed your project around, fallen in love with your concept, and realized they’d be fools not to pledge.

    But it never happened.

    And yet, not reaching their goal on Kickstarter didn’t mean the end of the road. As Jeanne said in a note to her backers:

    "I want to say thank you again to all of you that pledged your support. Knowing that so many people appreciate the work makes it easy to carry on with this project. I’ll continue to adapt and refine the piece in the hope to see it brought to fruition."

    It’s something we see all the time — project creators who are absolutely committed to their work, and undaunted by the specter of failure. In fact, failure becomes as integral to their projects as success.

    Putting yourself out there on Kickstarter can be both exciting and terrifying. Nearly everyone who works at Kickstarter has done a project, myself included. As someone who is more than a bit terrified of coming out from behind her computer screen, making a video and promoting the project was a giant uphill battle. Anxiety sets in and you find yourself thinking “What if nobody likes this?” or “What if I work really hard but still don’t make it?” The funny thing is, even the most confident, outgoing project creators I’ve talked to are plagued by these same anxieties. You walk into this knowing that failure is always a possibility. 

    If I had it my way, every good project would reach its goal and be wildly successful. But that’s not always the case, and that’s okay. For the graFighters team, Jeanne, Rei and many others who’ve failed before them, Kickstarter became a place to meet people who sincerely believe in your work and want you to succeed. Your everyday backers may not be able to cough up $200k or $20k, but they can tell you that you’re on the right track and remind you that in a world where it often seems impossible to get noticed, they noticed you.

  10. Tangrams, App-ified!

    Puzzling Tangrams For All Ages — by Andrew Hunt

    Everything about this delightful little project rubs me the right way. First off, if you didn’t play Tangrams as a kiddo, you missed out. Making animals out of wood shapes definitely ranks high on the list of elegant, frill-free ways to exercise your mind, but we all know it’s impossible to keep anyone’s attention for too long these days without a carcinogenic wireless gadget close at hand. Time to appify this mind game!

    Andrew Hunt’s on it. A graphic designer and software developer by trade, he’s bringing this classic to an app store near you (phew!). What makes this project totally brilliant, though, is that he’s also offering handmade wood sets, too. For just $15, you can have a polar-opposite, totally tangible version of the classic game. You can also theoretically play Tangrams all day long every day from any location from now until the end of apps (or wood, whichever comes first).

  11. New Projects are Mobile It’s sum-sum-summertime! While we’re wipin’ the sweat from our brows, kicking back with an ice-cold glass of lemonade, and turning the fans on high, we’re deeper than ever in recently launched projects. And this week’s are a real doozy: mobile pools (just what we need, amirite?), fanatic cults, hybrid animals, a documentary on the rise and fall of popular music store Tower Records, and more. Get into it.

    One Year of Participation in Religious Cults — by John Rico

    John Rico grew up a religious fanatic in Iowa, graduated college an athiest, went to war and found himself praying to a God he didn’t think he believed in, then ended up going to find God in every place of worship he could think of, in vain. At a certain part his spiritual journey morphed into an artistic one, becoming more detached, more analytical, and more engrossed with the mechanics of indoctrination. This video is lo-fi, strung together, long, and GRIPPING. I grew up a tongues-speaking, hands-raising Catholic in the Bible belt myself, and am … no longer that, so I was rapt. But exploring how someone can believe so fervently then not, or not believe and then suddenly be convinced, in so many different ways all over the world, in the craziest of ways — this coping with death, and life is fundamentally human and fascinating, whether or not you’ve seen your best friend pass out from the holy spirit on a summer retreat. — Meaghan O.

    The Mobile Pool Party — by Dean & Darren

    According to this bro-friend duo, the Mobile Pool Party brings together crazy bicycle hackery, blistery hot Brooklyn afternoons, and watery fun. Woo! Dean and Darren have done some weird things with bikes before, and now that the thermometer’s flirting with 90 °F, their bike-towed pool fits nicely into our list of whacky summer public art things-to-do. For $5 you’ll get the scoop on where this roaming pool touches down, and for $26 you can help pull it. Paying to do hard labor never sounded so good! — Daniella J.

    All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records — by Colin Hanks

    The cynic in means says, “leave it to Hollywood royalty to lament the bygone days of a billion-dollar music corporation,” but Colin Hanks is just so darn earnest, All Things Must Pass has an incredible story to tell, and even I am nostalgic for the algebra classes best spent tearing through Tower. Hanks makes his directorial debut with this feature documentary about Russ Solomon, the Tower Theater drugstore janitor who went from selling 5-cent discarded record singles in his father’s pharmacy to pioneering a global brand. After 46 years in the business, Tower Records filed for bankruptcy in 2004 and finally closed all doors in 2006. True, “sunrise doesn’t last all morning,” but sunsets give way to new dawns, and Tower’s demise is a fascinating paradigm of the death and rebirth of what we mean when we say Music Industry. With sweet rewards like limited edition vinyl and tickets to the film’s premiere (at The Tower theater of course!), Hanks’ project should not require a pledge from dear old dad. — Elisabeth H.

    Cabbit Y. Tutelary: A Short Film by Soogie — by Gerg Sugano

    Gerg Sugano, aka “Soogie,” has been asked by the distinguished Cabbit Y. Tutelary to make a documentary about his life. What exactly makes Mr. Tutelary worthy of documentation? Firstly, Cabbit is a remarkably well-dressed anthropomorphic chimera, quite possibly descended from the union of a cat and a rabbit. One would have to look under his hat to be absolutely sure. Secondly, Cabbit’s world has been beautifully illustrated and animated by Soogie using only a digital camera and a whole lot of Sharpies. I am fairly certain that Sharpie-art has have never looked this good, and that Soogie’s fingers and hands are likely covered in a layer of Sharpie-soot. What? — Cindy A.

    Abuela y Los Dead Mexicans: A Comic — by Dave Ortega

    Small, simple, personal, historical. These are all the ways I could describe Dave Ortega’s mini-comic about his grandmother and her place in the Mexican Revolution. The project is a way for Dave to honor her memory — to “fit her story in with ‘official history’” — and I like the idea of taking narrative ownership of history via comic. I’m also into Dave’s enjoyably weird, splotchy, gothic-tinged work (very Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark). — Cassie M.

    The Funklet — by Jack Stratton

    I’ve never felt compelled to chart the stone-cold rhythms of the Clyde Stubblefield, but, boy am I glad Jack Stratton was inspired enough to dissect Stubblefield’s classic funk drum breaks, along with other classic breaks, and translate them into visual graphs showing just how these funk masters crafted their funkiest breaks. Be sure to peep the video to see Stratton creating beats some his visualized rhythms. Funk yeah! — Mike M.
  12. New Projects Are Rolling Dice

    Goooooood afternoon Kickstarter-ites. It’s 59 degrees and cloudy here in New York City and the air’s nice and crisp with the smell of rain-to-be. How about you? Our office is busy but abnormally quiet, and we’re hoping to keep it that way, so may this week’s project roundup be as peaceful and pleasant an ease into the workweek for you as it is for us.

    Dice Age - the new era of dice — by Tristan V Convert

    With all the fuss this past weekend over that-which-shall-not-be-mentioned, it was nice to wake up alive and find a new dice game had launched. If the best part of games for you is rolling your D20, Dice Age is pretty much all dice, all the time. Featuring 23 custom-designed die, some in shapes as wild as a rocket ship or a barrel, creator Tristan Convert is reinventing dice for a post-apocalyptic age. Gameplay is simple but fun, with rules sitting at a crossroads between Uno and Magic: The Gathering. But like the best games, Dice Age is designed to inspire you to make up your own rules. To sweeten the deal, Convert’s named one of his reward tiers “ONE SET TO RULE THEM ALL.” Who can argue with that? — Cindy A.

    "So, How Did All The Damn Scientists Die?" — by Scott Bateman

    Scott Bateman’s 24-page minicomic is an homage to the late, great, and wonderfully macabre cartoonist Edward Gorey. I went all out on a homemade Gashlycrumb Tinies costume a couple Halloweens back and pretty much nobody got it and/or cared; needless to say, Mr. Bateman (a.k.a. @Disalmanac), those $5 I just pledged are not only for one copy of a comic featuring such illustrated deaths as “Da Vinci choked on a goose,” but also for making me feel a little less alone in this great big world of ours. Pretty sure that’s what good comics are for anyhow. — Elisabeth H.

    Speculator/Boy Friend Tour-Vehicle Dreamz — by Boy Friend

    Blasted by the retro-tastic graphics recalling Summer Blockbusters of yore, the Speculator/Boy Friend summer tour is guaranteed to be as enjoyable as (if not more so than) the time you spent outside suburban multiplexes waiting for the next sold-out screening of Armageddon, or Independence Day, or Con Air … basically, any Jerry Bruckheimer movie. Luckily, the Los Angeles- and Austin-based warped pop luminaries are joining up to bring their own action extravaganza throughout the good ol’ USofA, and in turn, helping kids across the country curtail their summer blues. Right on. — Mike M.

    Mibsters - A Marble Documentary — by Justin A Nixon

    "Mibsters" is the street term (backyard term?) for marble shooters, so this film is about a group of kids who are obsessively readying themselves for the big tournament. Yes, please! I love any documentary about children almost inappropriately focused on a hobby that may or may not have anything to do with "life" or "the world." Think Spellbound. The first line of the preview is either the director or Dad™ or both, his head half in the frame almost looking photoshopped, asking, ”So what did your kids do today?” He says they probably played xbox or wii. Which would be a fair bet except I do not have any children, sir. My kids are doing nothing. He talks about this great opportunity kids have, and frankly I am dying to know what that opportunity entails. Are we talking scholarship money here? (Does Wii have a scholarship fund? I’m asking for my future children.) Or are these kids participating in a milk-money betting pool type of situation? I remember playing POGS as a kid — probably at the same oversized-T-shirt, freckled age as these kids. There wasn’t real opportunity so much as the opportunity to CRY when some jerk stole your best slammer during recess. Anyway, can’t wait to see this. — Meaghan O.

    The Pitch: The Game of Graphic Design — by Fatimah Kabba

    Anyone who says “left brain” and “right brain” in the same sentence is my friend. Also, any board game that comes to life sparked by an argument about the depth and value of graphic design has to be pretty sweet. Fatimah, a design student at the School of Visual Arts, butted heads with her advertising friend about design’s visceral versus substantive qualities, and the battle of the brains became her thesis project: this game! — Daniella J.

  13. Take Me To Church: Woodshed Collective’s The Tenant

    The Tenant — by Woodshed Collective

    Kickstarter has quickly become home to some kick-ass theater. From a 24-hour Godot Cycle to a Shakespearian adaptation of Terminator 2, innovative creators are changing the face of TheatRE as we know it. While X Files: The Musical and The Star Wars Musical Documentary suggest sci-fi songstry is trending pretty hard, there’s also the overwhelming sense that in 2k11, total immersion is where it’s at. Baltimore recently enjoyed The Rooms Play, and come summer, New Yorkers will experience The Tenant, Woodshed Collective's thrilling and haunting adaptation of Roland Topor's book (and Roman Polanski's eponymous film). From their description:

    When Monsieur Trelkovsky rents a room recently vacated by a woman who fell from her window, he soon finds his world changing in bizarre ways. Haunted by images of the previous tenant’s apparent suicide and terrorized by his new neighbors, Trelkovsky begins a slow decent into paranoia and delirium.

    The Tenant will be performed inside a 19th century church on 86th St. and Amsterdam Ave. in Manhattan, with 51 separate spaces transformed into a 1970s Parisian apartment building. Having converted a 106 ft. long ship into The Confidence Man, and McCarren Park Pool into the Hamlet-ian haven Twelve Ophelias, this up-and-coming playwright collective is well-versed in total theater and has received rave reviews for its efforts. For The Tenant, the collaborative will collaborate with Tony Award-winning composer Duncan Sheik (Spring Awakening), who will provide show’s score. The Tenant will be free and open to the public, so Woodshed is seeking funds to cover installation and performance costs. I will surely be there—with church bells on.

    The Tenant project ends Monday, May 30th. Click here to support it, or if you’re in NYC, attend their Kickstarter party tomorrow, May 19th! See below or Click here for details.

  14. New Projects Are Following Us What can I say that hasn’t been said before? Honestly, I’d rather put as little distance as possible between the title of this post and the collection of awesome, recently launched projects below. Get into it already!

    Jonathan Denmark’s Indie-Hop Album: All Things End — by Jonathan Denmark

    For $40, Jonathan Denmark will pick you up at any hour from any location in Los Angeles and drive you home while rocking out to the latest songs he’s working on. For $45, he’ll show up at your work with flowers and a mylar balloon. For $80, he’ll follow you for up to 4 hours, either dressed in all black, explaining to everyone you encounter that he is your shadow, or as a CIA agent whispering into his sleeve. The list of reward dares continues, and each one comes with a copy of the new album that got him into this mess in the first place. — Daniella J.

    Ugh God + Fat History Month Will Make It to California! — by Curt Howard

    Ugh God and Fat History Month, a self-described “gaggle of developmentally challenged migratory birds,” are traveling from PA to CA to play their musics. They made me laugh. From deep inside the belly. Repeatedly. Then they dropped a dirty white sheet and melted my face. I could draft an overwritten list of reasons why the video’s first 25 seconds alone wooed me. Or you could just click. Explaining comedy is for nerds, and I get the sense no one really reads anymore anyway. — Elisabeth H.

    The Ends: A Photographic Book of Breakup Short Stories — by Caitlin Cronenberg

    Love sucks. — Cassie M.

    "The Following Piece" — by Kevin Gallagher

    In 1969 the artist Vito Acconci documented a famous (-ly creepy) performance called the “Following Piece,” wherein every day for a month he followed a different stranger around the streets of New York, until they went somewhere he couldn’t follow them to (say, their apartment). They didn’t know he was following them, and I wonder if they ever found out. Perhaps that is what is so compelling about it — the interplay of subject and object, the strange dominance involved in this lack of consent or even knowing, and that this could be possible for any of us, if only in a place like New York. Fifty some-odd years later, Kevin Gallagher, likewise fascinated, is turning the tables back on Acconci. He’s hiring a private eye to track down Acconci and follow him around all day, documenting the process for everyone to see. Let’s just hope Acconci doesn’t have a Google alert. — Meaghan O.

    The Black Garden: A New Photography Project — by Jason Eskenazi

    Jason Eskenazi is already pretty well known for taking amazing photographs, but I was still captivated by the story that unfolds in his pitch video: “As a kid I couldn’t travel. Planes, trains, automobiles — and anything that went in circles — were a nightmare for me.” It’s instantly clear that this is the story of a country, but also a story of self, a reflection on the ways in which our collective and personal histories are inextricably intertwined. Jason’s pictures are worth the proverbial thousand words, undoubtedly, but it’s still nice to get a handful of his own, private thoughts on them. — Cassie M.

    Antarctica: Music From the Ice — by Cheryl Leonard

    The other day I was looking for “sounds of the Arctic” on YouTube and stumbled upon a video of a scientist discovering the sound of the Earth’s rotation. This led me on a quest to hear other Earthly tones — the sound of Arctic ice melting, icebergs moving, Arctic winds. Knee deep in sounds of a frozen world felt a bit off during the height of Spring, but it was remarkable to be transported to a location through sound. This morning I woke up and found “Antarctica: Music from the Ice,” a project Cheryl Leonard has been working on for some time in Antarctica. She’s recorded a host of amazing media, like this short piece, and is now ready to present her work at the Antarctica Music Festival, which I only wish I could attend this summer. Instead, I’ll be happy to sit on my computer and languish in the subtle tones she’s collected. — Mike M.

    Kris and Scott’s Scott and Kris Show — by Vantage Point Productions

    Dear fans of Penny Arcade, laughter, friendship, and magic(shops) — you’re about to get the comedy show you always wanted. What the heck is the show about? Doesn’t matter. It’s about cameras following Penny Arcade:TV vets Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub, and learning powerful lessons about Scott and Kris. Watch their pitch video as they take you through a hilarious journey of self-discovery and competitive sadness, all while plumbing the depths of their friendship and making sure you’ll be choking on your coffee with laughter. It’s a bit like those SNL digital shorts when they’re good, and instead of Lorne Michaels as puppet master, you’ve got Robert Khoo. In closing: Just watch the video. You don’t need to know anything about Penny Arcade or laughter or friendship to enjoy this. — Cindy A.
  15. Second Times the Charm: Pervertigo, Round Two

    Pervertigo vs. Kickstarter (Round 2) — by Flash Bulb Pictures

    Down, but not yet out. That’s where indie filmmakers Flash Bulb Pictures stood after their first Kickstarter project, to fund the feature-length dark comedy Pervertigo, failed to reach its funding goal. But rather than accept defeat, writer/director Jaron Henrie-McCrea (and his mohawk) are back for a very literal round two. As demonstrated by their new project video, they’re ready to get off the ropes and back in the ring; to go toe-to-toe, pound-for-pound; to strengthen the ol’ glass jaw; to … okay, I’ll stop.

    Really, we just appreciate a good, self-aware parody as much as the next guy, and Flash Bulb’s gritty, witty comparison of a Kickstarter project to a boxing match had us in stitches. Check it out.