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Sep 19, 2016

You Should Make a Throwback "Frankenstein" Lightswitch for Your Home

As a kid, I shared a bunk bed with my younger brother and every night we'd argue about who had to turn off the light and make the frightful journey through the dark to the safety of his own covers. Eventually our parents bought us The Clapper which was swiftly taken away from us due to the racket we made every night for fun...   

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Jun 29, 2015

How "Back to the Future II" Got 2015 Surprisingly Right

created at: 06/29/2015

Around here, it started in January. All of sudden, several repertory  and arthouse theaters had Back to Future II on their marquees. This kind of stuff is normal in the summer, when it's super hot and folks are seeking a little respite in the AC, or the "Movies in the _____" take over parks and swimming pools and gardens. But Back to Future II  popping up all over on Martin Luther King Day weekend?    

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Jan 20, 2015

Taking Tree Forts to a New Level

Blue Forest The majority of the injuries I sustained as a boy (and they were many) came from jumping (or falling) out of trees and poorly-constructed tree forts. If you were ever a tree fort lover, this post is for you.   

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Sep 19, 2014

Army Men Doing Yoga

created at: 09/19/2014

Yoga fan [and, ahem, ManMade reader] Dan Abramson created Yoga Joes, a re-imagining of iconic little green army men who've traded their battle poses for yoga positions. You know, like "Drop and give me 20 dogs. Downward-facing dogs."   

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Jul 15, 2014

A Complete History of the Super Soaker

"Wetter is better." Never has a marketing campaign worked so well on yours truly. The original Super Soaker 50 was the true great gift lust (well, that and a by-then unpurchaseable Fireball Island game) my version of Ralphie's Red Ryder. And nothing was sweeter than that moment on my [9th? 10th?] mid-June birthday...which is a pretty great time to get a giant pressurized neon water gun.    

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Jun 30, 2014

How to: Make a Skateboard Swing

Skateboard decks are designed to support one's bodyweight yet be flexible to absorb changes. Meaning, they're kinda ideal for making other stuff to play on...like this swing project. 

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Mar 25, 2014

DIY Idea: Make a LEGO Utensil Organizer

created at: 03/25/2014

There's nothing new to say about LEGO: they're awesome, they're fun, and they're surprisingly strong...as long as you don't ask them to bear much weight. 

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Dec 06, 2013

How to: An Easy Way to Find Waldo (Almost) Every Time

created at: 12/06/2013

For many years, it was no longer about finding Waldo, but about turning the pages and pointing out where I knew he was, and trying to make it to the end of the book as fast as possible. Cause - between the ages of eight and ten - I had those suckers memorized.

But, that was decades ago, and my visual cues are all gone.

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Nov 21, 2013

A Rare Interview with "Calvin and Hobbes" Creator Bill Watterson

created at: 11/21/2013I know the first thing that blew my mind, creatively. I mean, I remember especially liking the "Under the Sea" part of The Little Mermaid when I saw it in the theater, and realizing that I could tell the difference between early moptop Beatles singles and the more experimental stuff that came later, but I distinctly remember the first time I was like, "Man, this is real craftsmanship"... or whatever word made since to me at age seven or eight. 

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Jan 25, 2013

Celebrating 100 Years of the Erector Set

Many of my earliest creative memories are sitting on that awful burnt orange rug in our basement floor, listening to LPs on my brown plastic Fisher Price record player, and putting together [seemingly] elaborate edifices with construction toys. Honestly, though the specifics have been slightly updated, it's basically how I spent last evening - in the basement, listening to music, and putting stuff together.

See, both my parents were science teachers, and I always had many more engineering-style toys than action figures, and while many kids love their LEGOs, I was always into the (sadly discontinued) Construx and Ramagons, and that kinetic masterpiece, the Erector set.  

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Oct 31, 2012

Our Favorite Pumpkin of the Year: The TMNT Krang-O-Lantern

I haven't carved a pumpkin in years. I didn't really like doing it as a kid, and I especially don't like doing it now. Will I clean a sugar pumpkin out and cook with it? Absolutely. But a decorative job? For some reason...not for me.

created at: 10/31/2012

Which is why I'm especially appreciative when some inspired home squash

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Oct 11, 2012

The 50 Best Films of the '90s

created at: 10/11/2012The A.V. Club, the media and pop culture branch of The Onion, has assembled a master list of the fifty best films from the 1990s.

Of the selections, I've seen (suprisingly, to me) thirty-nine, mostly as

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Sep 27, 2012

Did Blowing Into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help?

created at: 09/27/2012

Whether by urban legend or repeatable data, anyone that grew up with a Nintendo Entertainment System was aware of the, "when the game won't load, you show blow into the catridge, and even the system," particularly on pesky games like the metallic cased "The Legend of Zelda." I'm even willing to bet that that characteristic soundbite of forced air rushing around a 4x1" plastic hollow would be instantly recognized by anyone born from 1975-90.

But...did it actually work?  

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Jun 28, 2012

Fun Fact of the Day: Mister Rogers' Mom Knitted All of His Cardigans

created at: 06/28/2012

As if the guy couldn't be more endearing, here's something to warm your crafty heart: Mister Rogers' famed cardigans, which he pulled out of the closet to start each episode, were all knitted by hand...by his mom.  

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Jun 01, 2012

The Bottle of Wits: "The Princess Bride" Wine Packaging Design

There's nothing like one of your favorite things from childhood (The Princess Bride) joining hands with something you love as an adult (great design) for the purpose of something you like plenty (wine) at something you strive to support (independent movie theaters).

Enter The Bottle of Wits, which is each of those beloved things, and probably more.  

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May 22, 2012

New Collection of Star Wars Cufflinks

I maintain that all men should have at least one dress shirt with link cuffs, single for the minimalists and French for the snazzier. I also maintain that on said dress shirt you should wear cufflinks beyond simple metal or glass buttons, something with a sense of humor. Like, perhaps, this brand new line featuring all things Star Wars.    

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May 14, 2012

How to: Make an 8-Bit Pop-Up Greeting Card

created at: 05/14/2012

In this era of ever-increasing electronic communication, paper mail and greetings have become ever more important and meaningful, when done well. Especially, if it's a custom card you made yourself.  

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May 09, 2012

How Much Money You Need To Realistically Recreate The Scrooge McDuck ‘Gold Coin Swim’

created at: 05/09/2012

When I was a kid, I loved nearly everything about Ducktales - the myth and culture-based plotlines, that guy that could count everything really fast then turn into a robot, to the oh-so-evil and impossibly named Flintheart Glomgold. But, even as a five-year-old, I was a skeptic about the famous Moneybin. I even remember asking my dad how it was possible to land on a giant pile of coins and sinking in, instead of just going splat on the surface. I even got out a jar of pennies and jammed them with my fist to see if I could break through.

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Apr 06, 2012

How to: Make Healthy DIY Fruit Roll-Ups

created at: 04/06/2012

Do you remember when you were a kid, and your friend's houses always seemed to have snacks that your parents never bought? For me, it was Capri Sun, frozen pizza, and Fruit Roll-Ups. I mean, yeah, I guess I appreciate my parents watching out for our health growing up, but boy, what I wouldn't have given for just one of those sweet, spiraly chewies after a day playing in the sun. Especially those ones that had the tongue tattoos! Oh man, remember?

In my late twenties, I still have a soft spot for those indulgences, and I've been known to sneak a box of Bagel Bites into the grocery cart. And my favorite thing to eat while on a road trip? Fruit leather, which is basically the grown-up version of a Fruit Roll-Up.

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Mar 06, 2012

Touch-Sensitive DIY Mario Block Lamp Kit

created at: 03/05/2012

I came across this touch sensitive Super Mario Brothers question mark block lamp on Etsy the other day and was really excited because...well, I'm a geek who grew up in the 80s. I mean, how cool is it that you can "punch" that infamous 8-bit block hanging from the ceiling and it lights up?

But when got me even more excited was when I learned that Bryan Duxbury, the creator of the lamp, also sells

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