In the 1940s, ‘adventure playgrounds’ became popular in the UK. Disappointed in minimal, 'asphalt square’ playgrounds, landscape architect Lady Marjory Allen wanted to design a space where kids could play without supervision, make their own structures, set fires, and face 'dangerous risks’ on their own to build confidence and courage. Source

“But It’s Not Historically Accurate!” - Diversity in Elsinore

by Katie Chironis 

Elsinore is an adventure game set in the world of Shakespeare’s Hamlet - which places it, historically, in 16th century Denmark. Since we began work on the project a year or so ago, I’ve shown the playtest build to family, friends, and strangers alike. After they’re done playing, intermingled with their feedback on gameplay, they often point to Ophelia and ask: Why is she black?

My answer is always the same: Why shouldn’t she be?

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Lemme tell you why this book is so awesome.

I mean, yes, there is a black bisexual hero. And a mad lesbian governess. And a half-Chinese genderqueer sky pirate. THERE IS ALSO A KRAKEN (which may or may not be queer). And an aethership. But the narrative is the real star of this show. Look at this blurb. Look at it.

A breathtaking tale of passion and adventure in the untamed skies!

Prosperity, 1863: a lawless skytown where varlets, chancers, and ne’er-do-wells risk everything to chase a fortune in the clouds, and where a Gaslight guttersnipe named Piccadilly is about to cheat the wrong man. This mistake will endanger his life … and his heart.

Thrill! As our hero battles dreadful kraken above Prosperity. Gasp! As the miracles of clockwork engineering allow a dead man to wreak his vengeance upon the living. Marvel! At the aerial escapades of the aethership, Shadowless.

Beware! The licentious and unchristian example set by the opium-addled navigatress, Miss Grey. Disapprove Strongly! Of the utter moral iniquity of the dastardly crime prince, Milord. Swoon! At the dashing skycaptain, Byron Kae. Swoon Again! At the tormented clergyman, Ruben Crowe.

This volume (available in print, and for the first time on mechanical book-reading devices) contains the complete original text of Piccadilly’s memoirs as first serialised in All the Year Round. Some passages may prove unsettling to unmarried gentlemen of a sensitive disposition.

Plus it’s only the first in a series! (Early next year there’ll be a whole collection of novelettes set in this world.) And it was written by the hilarious, brilliant, Lambda Literary Award nominated Alexis Hall (of Glitterland and Kate Kane: Paranormal Investigator fame)! And it’s on pre-sale for only $4.99 (or $13.59 if you prefer a paper copy with that gorgeous full jacket, or $16.79 if you want both)! Whaaaaaaat is not to love? :D


Daybreak in the Beury Building Penthouse, 2012.  The National Bank of North Philadelphia - now commonly referred to as the Beury Building - is a National Register of Historic Places-listed building that has been abandoned since the early 1980s.  Originally a lavish 11-story Art Deco bank tower, it was later converted for mixed-use, including a 3-story Penthouse on top, crowned by a pyramidal roof.  The now-14-story building is the largest in North Philly, and the only significant Art Deco building left in the entire city.  And yet, it has been left to rot for 30 years.  Pictured here is the top floor of the Penthouse during the Blue Hour, when the first strains of daylight were lazily reaching the sky.

Reaching the Penthouse is another matter, and anything but lazy - the stairs are almost completely gone, and only a set of dodgy wooden planks separates the climber from a painful (or deadly) fall of between 1-4 stories.  The building owners who commissioned me to photograph the tower for some “before renovation” photos advised me that I did not need to photograph this section as it was “inaccessible”.  Of course, I “accessed” it.  In the top image, a wide view of this floor, the glass of the windows long since broken out.  In the center image, an individual viewing window.  And in the bottom image, a detail of the view out the same window - whoever once lived here had a wonderful view of a once-affluent neighborhood, now dominated by liquor stores, pawn shops, and shady characters.  This view was worth the sketchy climb.

Print of top photograph available here.
Print of middle photograph available here.
Print of bottom photograph available here.

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historical ladynoir headcanons
  • Egypt is the first place Ladybug really becomes known, and is also the birthplace of Chat Noir and their first partnership. The Egyptians see the kwamis as gifts/messengers from the gods. Chat is why the Egyptians grow to worship cats and the dung beetle (who says Ladybug’s forms can’t change?) they remain lifelong friends but marry different people. Ladybug’s miracle stones are still earrings.
  • Greece is next, Ladybug is born in Athens and finds freedom in her persona that women weren’t allowed at the time. The people believe they’re gods shapeshifting into various forms. This time, her miracle stones are in a pendant around her neck.
  • The duo meets in Rome next as rival gladiators, however when an akuma attacks they’re forced to work together and earn their freedom from the emperor at the time. This is the first time Chat Noir falls for Ladybug, and they’re both boys
  • The next 600 years or so are spent in the Middle Ages. Warring countries like France and Britain, a bit of Germany (a lot of female Chat Noirs, mostly female Ladybugs too - possibly Joan of Arc as one of them??) - Tikki and Plagg tire of the bloodshed and head to Asia and Africa instead. 
  • The kwamis travel over to North America around the late 1400s and thus there are First Nations Ladybugs and Chat Noirs, who have an extreme attachment to their animal spirit.
  • Incan, Maya, Aztec ladybugs and chat noirs. Chat dies for their Ladybug each time
  • back over to France in time for the French Revolution, the first time a Ladybug falls for Chat. They don’t survive the revolution.
  • Victorian England, they fall for each other but arranged marriages (to their civilian selves) seemingly keep them apart until they put the pieces together. Chat Noir dies in childbirth and their child becomes the next Chat Noir
  • WWI and WW2 ladynoir, both male the first time, male and female in the next war, barely old enough to be considered not children
  • only one of them survives the Irish famine
  • Ladynoir freeing themselves from slavery and helping others do the same
  • heading back to America on the Titanic, neither of them survive
  • Tikki and Plagg have enough of America and go back to Europe
  • Poland first, and then work their way back to Egypt (die young) and then finally in France
  • Tikki sees Marinette for the first time when the girl is five years old and playing hopscotch, but stops, midgame, to avoid stepping on a ladybug, and knows she’s the one
  • Plagg sees Adrien three years later, the boy begging to his father to let him bring home a stray. He gets grounded for even suggesting it and the cat is given to a shelter, and Plagg knows he’s the one
  • and they promise that this time will be different

The famous Giant Gap run of the even more famous North Fork American Wild and Scenic River is one of the most challenging runs in Northern California. Cliffs tower 2,000 feet above clear green streams smashing a path through rapids choked with boulders. Heaps of mine tailings and an old cabin ruin border the course of this roller coaster ride through the historic Mother Lode.

Learn more about this BLM-managed river: http://on.doi.gov/IsIKiq

Photo: Bob Wick, BLM