Only tangentially related to Stratolab, I just heard about a very interesting place in Brooklyn — LEMUR. They build musical robots and installations. I happened to meet one of the artists, Joshua Goldberg, and he is a fascinating guy. With a background in music, theater, computers and mechanics, his work looks very interesting.
Why are all comics about other people? Aren’t you the most interesting person around? Should you be a super hero instead of that Clark Kent dude? Here’s your chance. Starting January 4, our own Sebastian Mondrone will be coaching a new version of this course on creating cartoons using Comic Life and iMovie. For more information, see the course description.
Some of you may have heard of WNBC’s news segment “Wednesday’s Child”. Every week Janice Huff interviews a foster child who would like to be adopted. They find out some interest of the child such as sports, music, or…video games, and they arrange for him or her to get a lesson. It’s a wonderful program.
They found me somehow and asked if I could teach a young man named Mauricio a bit about video game programming, and then use my studio for the the interview. I was honored to help out and I had a really good time with Mauricio. He was quiet but very intelligent and picked up what I was showing him immediately. I wish him the best fortunes for his future. Truly a worthwhile cause and I was glad to help in a small way.
After many months of searching, we’ve finally found the perfect place for our studio, a.k.a. Stratolab Internation Headquarters. It’s on West 72nd Street on Manhattan’s Upper West Side where most of our clients are, near the express subway stop for the 1/2/3 trains and also the B/C trains. It’s next to ButterCup Bakery and just a block and a half from Central Park. We have a quiet area for working on computers or robots, and another comfortable area for discussing ideas and projects.
Some of my students have been using Comic Life to work on storytelling. I was inspired to use comics with my students by my friend Sebastian Mondrone who is an amazingly creative guy and a comic author himself. Comics are a great way to work on creative writing at a younger age because the visuals make it compelling, and you can tell a lot of story with just a bit of writing.
One thing that I’ve realized is that what I think is a good story is not necessarily what others think, and that it’s important to let students have the freedom to express their ideas despite my better judgement.
For more examples of Comic Life storytelling, check out Ido and Jordan’s page.
I went to my first meeting of dorkbot on Wednesday. Dorkbot has a great motto: “people doing strange things with electricity.” Who can resist the temptation of such an intriguing description? Dorkbot is a series of monthly meetings where a few people demonstrate their inventions and take questions. My favorite was Bret Doar demonstrating some rickety devices constructed from old bicycle wheels that produce erie space-age music/noise. Jon Lippincott’s algorithmically generated virtual solar system and David Kareve’s horrified robot art were also fascinating.
The best thing about the dorkbot meeting was the exhilaration of imagining what can be made out of garbage—old bicycle wheels, motors from broken printers and fax machines—if only you have time time and ingenuity to do it. I’d like to make a course for just this sort of creativity—robotic sculpture out of household junk. I wonder if people would be interested.
By popular request, we are adding one additional summer day-camp for Video Game Programming for Kids. This will be an advanced session for students who have already taken our at least one LRY course, or have some previous programming experience. The camp will be Monday-Friday, 9am-3pm, for one week. That’s 30 hours of heavy-duty game building fun. Contact us to register.
The Lab School‘s Parent’s Association is now hosting my Video Game Programming for Kids course after school. Apparently there was a lot of demand for the course — Ms. Cohen-Wolf said kids have been asking for something like this for years. We even bought three extra laptops so we could fit in all the students who wanted to take the course. Even so, there might be a few students we have to unfortunately turn down. I’m glad I could fill a need.
I have to say it’s been a pleasure working with capable and professional people at the Lab School and their Parent’s Association. When there is a problem, the Parent’s Association’s Ms. Cohen-Wolf (no relation) tackles it with vigor and solves it neatly and quickly. A genuine joy. I’ve also met Marilyn Costen, the parent coordinator at the Lab School and she is equally impressive with how she cares for student like they were her own.
Our new Interactive Fiction course developed with Books of Wonder in Manhattan is ready to go. Let’s start writing.
I am very excited to work with Books of Wonder to give a new course on creative writing. Starting this fall, I will be giving demonstrations and classes at Books of Wonder in Interactive Fiction. Their reading room is very comfortable, and the Cupcake Cafe is right there to feed brains hard at work creating masterpieces. Plus I just like the idea of giving courses in a book store. It’s a more pleasant place to learn than behind tiny metal desks.