Welcome back to our twice-fortnightly rundown of some of the lesser-known things that've been happening in and around our world. Right now the weather around the office is half-decent and everyone’s officially calmed down about that whole dress thing, so this update is coming from a very positive place. The week’s highlights:
Genuine Ugandan action movies! Wakaliga is a small district in Kampala, Uganda. In that district lives a guy named Isaac Nabwana. Isaac Nabwana makes action movies — genuine Ugandan action movies, with martial arts, shoot-em-ups, drug gangs, commandos, and high-octane special effects put together on low-octane built-from-parts computers.
Nabwana’s films are, by all reports, a big smash around Kampala. We like them, too. For one thing, who doesn’t want to see an action flick Kampala style, with local jokes, local characters, local color? For another: you know that joy that comes from watching people make ambitious things with whatever tools they have around? All that glee, verve, and sheer creativity that comes out when someone makes a $20-million-style movie for just $200? Nabwana’s work is neck-deep in that stuff. Try watching the trailer for Who Killed Captain Alex — or the full film, now with English subtitles and a VJ — without marveling.
A few years back, some filmmakers ran a project to make a documentary about Nabwana’s work. Now his company, Ramon Film Productions, is reaching out to develop its studio, upgrade equipment, and maybe even let you do a death-scene cameo in Kampala’s next action blockbuster via phone footage.
Whoever's handling their email is a pretty chilling copywriter, too.
The future of breakfast: We need to talk to you about pancakes. A significant portion of the world appears to be flipping out over Pancakebot — the batter-based printer that can whip up a pancake in any form you like. (It’s so cool that we’re willing to bet you would not immediately use it for any of the juvenile things you think.) Between this and the Keyboard Waffle Iron, we’ve been thinking a lot about griddled breakfasts, which inevitably remind us of a novel by Donald Antrim entitled The Verificationist, in which a psychoanalyst drops into a lengthy and pretty amazing riff on both the appeal of the pancake (“a childish pleasure,” “eating as a form of infantile play,” an “escape from loneliness”) and their emotional dark side (“we crawl back to pancakes again and again”). Recommended. The book and the bot.
Anyway: between robo-printed pancakes and our old friend Bartendro, it kinda feels like we’re circling steadily in on Rosie-from-the-Jetsons territory. Some of us are considering doing our part to create a more swinging future by backing a project to develop zero-gravity cocktail glasses — because you can’t toast with an amoebic blob of liquid, and someone needs to figure out the fluid mechanics of this stuff.
Best “testimonial” quotes: Dear Mr. Lebon, in which an English retiree writes letters to pop stars about their lyrics, has a row of star comments that reads like a geek’s treasury of British pop: Billy Bragg! Roland from Tears for Fears! Inspiral Carpets! The singer from Republica! Plus Neil Hannon, Ian McNabb, Howard Jones, Vic Godard, members of the Undertones and Stiff Little Fingers, and more.
Drones should not be good at physical comedy: People love drones — personal-type drones, anyway — but they are certainly not perfect. Sometimes they run into stuff. Sometimes the stuff they run into is water. Solutions are coming: projects are hard at work on obstacle avoidance and being waterproof.
Friends: Eric Migicovsky from Pebble stopped by the office to chat about their newest smartwatch project, which we’re pretty sure will get funded. We got to put up this video of recent visitors Jesse Reed and Hamish Smyth, who found an old copy of the New York subway’s graphic design manual in a basement locker, republished it as a gorgeous hardcover, and dropped by to walk us through the printing process. Some office supplies I ordered showed up. Really solid week.
A source of internal dissent: Is the video for Style Otter Belts hilarious, terrifying, brilliant, offputting, or what?