Category Archives: ARphabet Tour

Tech in the Tenderloin 2019. Salvation Army Kroc Center, San Francisco

We were honored that Bubiko Foodtour could make her public debut at Tech in the Tenderloin’s 2019 TNT Tech Fest, a very special event in a very special venue in a very special city.

Bubiko went outside for a minute! She was hungry. She found corn dogs. Aroi mak mak!

Niantic, the company that made Pokemon Go and Wizards Unite (the Harry Potter game) was the Community Champion Sponsor!

Tech in the Tenderloin is much more than a one day event.

Exhibitors:

Black Girls Code Imagine. Build. Create.

Techtonica Fintech training for women and NB adults with low incomes

Code Tenderloin

Novaby is a global digital art production company.

TERC Because math and science build futures

Unconscious Bias Project 100% empowerment, )%guilt trip.Reducing unconscious bias in STEM with fact, tact, art and activism

Tinkertech

Roybi Robot Innovative learning for children. The world's first AI-powered educational robot that makes learning fun for ages 3-7.

Inspire Me Box (website coming soon)

TinkerTech teaches early design and engineering skills through hands-on activities to students ages 4-12 including those from low income communities.

Teentend builds better communities.

NapTime Studio game development

Cookie Run is an online mobile endless running game in the Cookie Run series created by Devsisters. 

DaVinci Club AR makes kids move and explore the real world.

Electronic Frontier Foundation The leading nonprofit defending digital privacy, free speech, and innovation.

SF Environment Getting Food out of the Waste Stream and Into Hungry Households—Where It Belongs.

Recology A World Without Waste

Book Merah

Mission Bit courses are project-based semester-long coding courses, taught by college computer science majors and supported by volunteers who are professional software engineers.

ThrowMotion Bringing the excitement of world sports... home.

NewPathVR VR and AI solutions for psychological and emotional wellness.

Larkin Street Youth Services Since 1984, Larkin Street Youth Services has given more than 75,000 young people a safe place to rebuild their lives.

The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities.

Academy of Art University

California Community Colleges

Singularity University

With Sayuri Okayama, I would like to thank Novaby for doing such a great job in creating the 3D version of Bubiko. The version on display is a work in progress, and already the reception has been very positive.Thank you Novaby!

Bubiko at SXSW 2019

Bubiko and SXSW... what a time!

music at SXSW
3how Beach Road
If you'd like to know about Bubiko's adventures in Asia, search this blog.
Here is Bubiko's Instagram account.
And, here are Bubiko's adventures in the first part of 2019, including the presentation at MIT.

Will Moths in the Attic play Singapore?

Will Moths in the Attic play in the ghost town of Singapore?

upcoming shows

Logan's Irish Pub

04/19/19

With special guest Tom Gorman

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

830-midnight

Fins Seafood & Grille

04/20/19

1801 Broad Ave, Findlay, OH 45840

630-930pmVino Bellissimo

04/26/19

2412 Cable Ct, Lima, OH 45805

8-11pmThe Blarney Event Center

04/27/19

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Man/Woman of the Year campaign fundraiser

With Rob Vance and Jeff Stewart

601 Monroe St, Toledo, OH 43604

Doors 630; Music 7-10pm

$50 tickets go on sale April 1MIC BGSU - Open Mic Showcase

05/01/19

Bowen-Thompson Student Union multipurpose room, Bowling Green State University

1001 E Wooster St, Bowling Green, OH 43403

8-10pm

More details TBAGrand Rapids Town Hall

05/03/19

Bitter Sweet Music Vine concert series

Across the street from River Lures, 24287 Front St., Grand Rapids, OH 43522

11am-1230pmAmerican Winery, LTD

05/03/19

15119 US 20A, Wauseon, OH 43567

6-9pmThe Ottawa Tavern

05/03/19

With House ToursLord Whorfin & Excellent Enemies

1817 Adams St, Toledo, OH 43604

Doors at 8pm

All ages; Tickets on sale now $5 ($8 under 21)The Bourbon Affair

05/04/19

Kentucky Derby party

wsg Mike Bryce & Beau Hamman

121 E Crawford St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightArt and Performance Center of West Toledo

05/05/19

Songwriters Listening Room Series

2702 W. Sylvania Avenue, Toledo, Ohio

6-7pmNorthside BG

05/05/19

Bowling Green, Ohio

7-10pm

More details TBALogan's Irish Pub

05/10/19

With special guest Mark Poseler

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

830-midnight

(2nd Friday for this month only)TEDxBowlingGreen

05/11/19

Reception following TEDx event

Open to all TEDx ticketholders (purchase tickets here)

104 S Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402

530-830pm

Bowling Green Farmers' Market

05/22/19

201 S Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402

530-630pm

Followed by a set at The Hump Day Revue at The Stones Throw: Tavern & Grill

830-900pmMayflower Arts Center

05/23/19

Cory Breth Album Fundraiser

Zack Fletcher solo performance

with Cory BrethThaddeus Williams & Abbey Bower

9 W. Main St., Troy, OH 45373

7pm; $10 tickets on sale nowFins Seafood & Grille

05/25/19

1801 Broad Ave, Findlay, OH 45840

630-930pmOld West End Festival

06/01/19

Agnes Reynolds Jackson Arboretum stage

2501 Robinwood Ave, Toledo, OH 43610

Noon-1pmLogan's Irish Pub

06/21/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightThe Phoenix Brewing Co.

06/27/19

131 N Diamond St, Mansfield, OH 44902

730-1030pmWild Side Brewing Company

07/05/19

24194 Front St, Grand Rapids, OH 43522

7-10pmBowling Green Farmers' Market

07/17/19

With Mark Poseler

201 S Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402

430-630pm

Followed by a set at The Hump Day Revue at The Stones Throw: Tavern & Grill

830-930pmFirefly Nights

07/19/19

Downtown Bowling Green, OH

600-645pm

More details TBALogan's Irish Pub

07/19/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightSummerfest at Southgate Lanes

07/20/19

9700 N Dixie Hwy, Bluffton, OH 45817

Details TBALogan's Irish Pub

08/16/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightHoward's Club H

08/23/19

210 N Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402

Details TBABowling Green Farmers' Market

09/04/19

With Drew Joseph

201 S Main St, Bowling Green, OH 43402

430-630pm

Followed by a set at The Hump Day Revue at The Stones Throw: Tavern & Grill

830-930pmLogan's Irish Pub

09/20/19

With special guests Cory Jolly and Mike Bryce

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

830-midnightArt and Performance Center of West Toledo

10/06/19

Zack Fletcher solo performance

Songwriters Listening Room Series

2702 W. Sylvania Avenue, Toledo, Ohio

6-7pmLogan's Irish Pub

10/18/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightLogan's Irish Pub

11/15/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnightLogan's Irish Pub

12/20/19

414 S Main St, Findlay, OH 45840

9-midnight

Stephen Black: projects 2002-2019

Stephen Black Author Page on Amazon

Latest news: Bubiko Foodtour, Stephen Black and Novaby at Tech in the Tenderloin

Recent news: AR presentation at the Great Ohio Bike Adventure!

Stephen Black is a music/TV/VR producer, writer, visual artist and entrepreneur who is currently focused on AR, specifically a character called Bubiko Foodtour. Bubiko, a co-production with Sayuri Okayama, is blazing trails and creating networks that will result in new, as-of-now-unpredictable projects, as well as planned projects for the Dundercats, Secret Donut World and the Doughbots. Bubiko is being brought to life in 3D by the magicians at Novaby.

This link emphasizes Stephen's AR activities in 2019, including his presentation at the ARIA event at MIT. (Bubiko's Instagram.)

Involvement with AR and VR began in 2016, with the release of the Oculus. Stephen, with Sayuri Okayama, began a nomadic research tour of Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Shenzhen; the topics being Southeast Asian food and AR/VR startup ideas. Eventually, connections with food and drink producers will result in an online sales channel.

During this journey, called the Bubiko Orwell Tour, Stephen kept notes and began writing for a work in progress book called Alphabet Spikes. Also during this time, Bubiko published an ebook of photographs about Ipoh, Malaysia. Also, Stephen gave presentations about AR at the Sasin School of Business (Bangkok), Hong Polytechnic University, the Hong Kong Maker's Faire and at TechCrunch Shenzhen.

Augmented Reality in Asia
article about Stephen Black in Ipoh

Virtual Reality + other movies +

 Beach Road (2015) was written by, and stars, Stephen, who also co-produced with Hiverlab. Featured at VR festivals in Brisbane, Las Vegas and Singapore.

SPOKEN poster

SPOKEN (2011)A downloadable virtual gallery, created by Eugene Soh and curated by Stephen. Features a great variety of artists, from internationally famous to unknown.

Lotus Mountain, shot in Shenzhen, on 8K Obsidian cameras by Kandao. A robot is reunited with her maker, five years after he broke her heart. Featuring a soundtrack by Rei Shimizu and a VR artwork by Scobot. Now in post-production.

10 Bubiko VR Movies for 20K A lighthearted effort to seriously increase the number of non-gaming VR viewers. And yes, the movies can be versioned in 2D also.

Sudden VR Festival (2016) Isetan Department Store. With Lionel Chok, Rachel Jordan, Samuel Chia and others. Chaotic celebration of VR; Singapore's first VR festival.

Norm Black Exhibition (2016) Mettle Art Space. Debut of Beach Road, photo works and thumb-shaped kuehs by Stephen Black, performance by 3how.

Cinematography collaborations with Japanese film legend Kumiko Akiyoshi, including Kiss, Bubu Again and The New york Mystery.

Photography

2018 FIA Drone Championship in Shenzhen

24 hours in the Art World of Singapore

Christmas in Penang

Bus Stopping


Books/Writing

Story about Shenzhen, China's Silicon Valley, for Maker Mag (with photos)

i ate tiong bahru, a bestseller. Ebook, paperback and audio versions available on Amazon. Audio book version feature Mirai Booth-Ong

Bali Wave Ghost on Amazon

Obama Search Words on Amazon

Contact With Shadow

photography as part of book cover design
on Amazon

When I started to write books, I also decided I would do no marketing until I'd written eight books. That time for marketing is here, but at the moment AR comes first. This blog post may interest those who wonder what happens when you don't do marketing. You may be surprised.

Gamemaking

Using the MonjaKids Creative Development Kit, Black taught all ages, including elementary school students, university students and weekend classes at the Singapore Science Center.

The Monja Kids CDK featured about 200 commands, allowing professional gamemakers to creat complex games. However, in the classes, only the basic commands were used.


Art

Text, a few building ideas and some documentation by Black. Collaborations and more with Michael Lee.

Artist in Residence 2015: Grey Projects, Independent Archive

Education

In 2019, Black conducted two workshops and two presentations about AR. In Singapore he taught 3D gamemaking and classes in poetry performance. Black has taught English in Japan. Classes in writing and self-publishing are planned as part of the ARphabet Tour.

Music

Xylophone and organ lessons as a child. In Rochester, photographed and videoed Personal Effects, now Margaret Explosion. In Manhattan, created videos and occasionally performed with Faculty Party.

Unlocking With Ears is a video series about Black's experiences in music.

In Singapore, Black worked frequently with Amith Narayan, musician and head of High on Chai Productions. The two cofounded 3how and co-produced the Riverwalk Session album. 3how was an improvisational music/theatre project that played the Night Festival, the LitUp Festival and the Red Dot Museum. An opera, Big Homer, based on a story by Black was performed. Some of the many talents involved with 3how: Wilson Goh, Justin Bannister, Kala Charan, Dave D'aranjo, Richard Lord and Roman Tarasov .

This resume is outdated, but provides more information.

Birth - 2002

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Stephen received his Associate's Degree at the University of Toledo, then went on to Rochester Institute of Technology, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photographic Illustration.

He then moved to Brooklyn/Manhattan where he worked at Young Filmakers/Video Arts, was in Faculty Party, an operatic band utilizing theatre, phase patterns and rock. Black participated in the Lower East Side Art scene to the fullest. It was here that he became friends, with, among many people, Toyo Tsuchiya. He interviewed Toyo as part of documentation of the LES, and in particular, the legendary No Se No/Rivington School art scene.

1984: Japan. Art, teaching English, photographing, videoing. Finally met, and became life-long friends with Stelarc. Documented, with photography and video, Kazuo Ono, the co-founder of butoh. An art space with Barae, a performer/dancer. Collaborations of all kinds. Work for Sony, Suntory, ABC News, MTV and Philip Morris. Assisted Annie Liebovitz when she came to Tokyo for a monthlong American Express Shoot. This post is about Black's experiences in the Tokyo music scene. It is part of the Unlocking With Ears series that also talks about Singapore, Hong Kong and New York.

In 1994, Black spent the year in Manhattan, working for Fuji TV on the NYGO edutainment series, produced by Cannes award-winning director Toshio Uruta. Writing, producing and directing, Black worked with a number of American and Japanese acting talents, as well as some of New York's funniest comedy writers, including contributors to Saturday Night Live.

1995: Hong Kong. The Handover to China, employed as a promo producer for Cartoon Network and TNT, now called Turner Classic Movies.Art projects continued in the form of exhibitions and Noon, an art space in Black's apartment on Hollywood Road. In 1996 Black traveled to WuTang Shan in China, almost immediately after going to Tokyo to document the Tokyo "tour" of Yamo, a project by Kraftwerk drummer Wolfgang Flür. Black also produced two successful tours by Sadato, a Japan-based band led by Sadato (now Sohrab Saadat Ladjevardi), an Iranian sax player/vocalist.

1998- 2001: Tokyo, on air promo producer for News Broadcast Japan, the six channels set up by Fox. Was responsible for hiring, purchasing equipment and co-ordinating with sales and marketing teams.

2001-2002. Tokyo: Exhibitions. Wrote the Agaricus blazei Murrill Notebook, the first book on the gourmet and medicinal mushroom. Also produced and directed Kiss, starring Japanese legendary actress Kumiko Akiyoshi. Pioneering, in that it was one of the first movies on the internet, it received over three million views in its first three months. Later, Black was director of photography on Bubu Again, Akiyoshi's debut as a feature length film director. In 2002, Black moved to Singapore to work as creative director for WalkerAsia/Compudia a visionary gamemaking/user generated content company established by Akihiko Seki.

AR consultants
Poster for Stephen Black's presentations and workshops at Hong Kong PolyU, July 2018
Stephen Black i ate tiong bahru  in Chinese
Augmented Reality Stephen Black in Thailand
poster for Stephen Black's presentation about AR at Sasin School of Business
unicorns in China


Starring John Cusack and the Spirit of Yosh Kawano

Next to me is Mari Goround, probably the only Asian in the audience. We’re in the balcony, the “cheap seats” that cost us a hundred and six bucks. We wish we’d bought drinks. And eaten. Below us are couples and groups of middle-aged Caucasians. Some pink hair, some green hair, some went-to-my-stylist-this afternoon-hair, grey hair, no hair.  To my right, a guy in a tee shirt that says: I can’t keep calm. I’m from Toledo.   

Soon, Grosse Pointe Blank will start. Afterwards, John Cusack, the movie's star and producer, will answer questions. We're hoping John will autograph a book called Ernie Banks, Home Run Slugger. It was the only Chicago Cubs book we could find. Only yesterday did we learn that John would be here.
My hands are still pale red; I just checked the backstage door again, hoping John would be there, and in a good mood. A long shot, I know. All I saw was
the Ohio Turnpike and an empty, long white bus in a parking lot full of nothing but dirty snow and black ice. The wind was freezing.

With that autographed book, Mari hopes to crowdfund a film about Yosh Kawano. Yosh took care of the Chicago Cubs for six decades.
Inside the Ernie Banks book is an envelope containing a paper describing Mari’s documentary idea. Four images on the paper:  Yosh’s famous white fishing hat, now in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Then, a baseball card of the 1958 Cubs, with a yellow circle around Yosh.  Next, Yosh’s smiling face in front of the American flag-- his obituary photo. The last photo: the Manzanar internment camp. Yosh was one of the over 100,000 Americans interned during World War II. Anyone 1/16th Japanese or more was given six days to pack and get on a train, with no destination given. Yosh was released early so he go fight in New Guinea and the Philippines. He won combat medals.

Grosse Point Blank ends and John, seated and wearing a black baseball cap, is answering questions. He’s talked about music, about politics, about the movie business. “They were open to ideas then... Like, we could talk about Dan Akroyd’s character wearing a woman’s Kabuki costume. Wild things like that. Now, committees plan everything. They film different endings and take surveys to decide who gets a happy ending or dies or falls in love or whatever. It’s discouraging. Great art can't be predicted.”

Next,  a woman approaches one of the mikes and suggests to John that he should marry her daughter. Then he’s asked about his most challenging role. “Max,” he answers. An attractive woman asks John if he’d like to meet her and her friends afterwards, in a karaoke bar. The moderator moves things on, points to a man at the mike on the other side of the room.

"John, what about the World Series? I'm a Cleveland fan ".

Even from here we see John’s eyes flash. “Biblical! Grampa Rossy got hit in the face with a ball, comes back with a solo homer! Seventeen minute rain delay before the tenth... it was like Moby Dick!” John starts describing the wild ups and downs of the " most greatest world series ever.” A baseball has 108 stitches. Last time the Cubs won the series was 108 years ago. Coincidence? I think not.”

Mari looks at me. Soon, we will sneak her into one of the lines of people who paid a hundred and twenty five dollars to be photographed next to John. I will then go outside, by the backstage door, and wait.

.............................................................

Hi , I am Stephen Black and I'd like to thank you for reading this.

First, Mari Goround is a fictional character. The idea of crowdfunding a movie about Yosh Kawano is a good one, but I do not know of anyone doing that.  I would be happy to develop the ideas above into a script. For now, I am hoping to write more, as well as develop my ideas about AR software and Augmented Reality movies. I'm also planning to be in Austin for the SXSW festival next month. If you can help keep the balls in the air, or just want to wear an attractive, unusual (and comfortable) tee shirt, click here. THANK YOU!

PS. The story above is was extracted from a longer version, half of which is posted here.

PSS I just discovered Ansel Adams photographed a baseball game at Manzanar! I do not know if Yosh was at Manzanar; I read a newspaper article that a family from Washington State was sent there. As Yosh was born in Washington, perhaps he was sent on a train down there also.


A ball hit a mask

A writing experiment/draft about John Cusack's recent visit to Toledo, my recent visit to Toledo, art, the entertainment industry, the Cubs and Indians World Series, my mom and dad, surrealism and stuff like that.

YOU ARE WELCOME TO READ THE FOLLOWING, BUT A MUCH SHORTER, FINISHED VERSION IS HERE.

............................................................................................................

“This is me breathing.”

A line from Grosse Point Blank


I have always been a bit rebellions.

The typo is big: black letters on a bright yellow background, shown on the movie screen above two empty chairs. The spelling mistake dissolves into a question:

In their family’s living room, the Cusack family once did a production of Cinderella. John played:

a. the evil stepmother

b. Cinderella  

c. the prince

d. the dog.

 Next to me is Mari Goround, probably the only Asian in the audience. We’re in the balcony, the “cheap seats” that cost us a hundred and six bucks. We wish we’d bought drinks. And eaten. Below us are couples and groups of middle-aged Caucasians. Some pink hair, some green hair, some went-to-my-stylist-this afternoon-hair, grey hair, no hair.

Soon, Grosse Pointe Blank will start and then John Cusack will answer questions. And then...

  In Mari’s  purse is a book called Ernie Banks, Home Run Slugger. In the envelope on my lap is an AR ONES tee shirt. Don’t ask me how, but before the night is over, John Cusack will sign her book and wear the shirt. We’ll take photos-- and then: internet here we come!

My hands are still cold; I returned five minutes ago. I went outside again, to the backstage door, hoping to catch John in a good mood. Unlikely that he would be there, I know. All that was there was a freezing, gusting Arctic front, black ice, a long white bus with no lights on and a few cars going east and west on the Ohio Turnpike. I rushed back in, past the no firearms sign on the doors, past the autographed High Fidelity merchandise  and the line of Midwesterners buying beers and little boxes of popcorn. Two guys were standing beside a guy in a wheelchair, all smiling as a woman in torn jeans photographed them in front of the Vet Tix poster.

  Once Mari gets that autographed book, she’ll be able to crowdfund a film about Yosh Kawano, a relative on her mother’s side. Yosh was one of the Cub’s living legends. He took care of the clubhouse, from before World War Two until he retired in 2009. He was interned in one of the camps, and then released so he could fight in the Philippines and New Guinea.He received medals.

  A photo of John wearing my AR ONES tee shirt will help me crowdfund the ARphabet Tour.

The shirt cost me thirty-two dollars and fifty cents at Franklin Park Mall. The last time I was in Toledo, I ate a salad there. It caused me a great inconvenience while I was driving home.

The tee shirt shop had a bunch of shirts with variations of the ‘carry on and remain calm’ meme: Keep calm and rub some bacon it, Keep calm and let me take a selfie, Keep calm and go away etc. I wanted the one that said: I can’t keep calm. I’m from Toledo.   

  We walked through JC Penney and out into the empty parking lots bordered with sad piles of grey snow. The wind was strong. The graffiti on the bus shelter benches was predictable. The warmth of the bus made us lightheaded. ‘Tom Dunn needs a kidney’ it said on a billboard. We saw a truck loaded with nine white cars. The traffic lights were softened by the snow flurries, and again and again I didn’t recognize new buildings. Secor Road, lined with Pizza Huts and Dollar Trees, seemed alien, like I was there for the first time. We passed the University of Toledo, which my grandfather worked on as part of the WPA. We passed one of the high schools I went to.

I know almost nothing about Grosse Point Blank. Something about an assassin coming back to his hometown of Grosse Point, a suburb of Detroit, to do a job and  go to his high school reunion, possibly with the girl he dumped on prom night. John Cusack is in it, of course, and so are Dan Akroyd and Minnie Driver.

Like the assassin, I have  returned to my hometown. Mari is here because John Cusack and I are here. John is here because his market is here. Backlot Productions arranged this; next month William Shatner will be here, because they’re screening Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

I’ve been in this theatre twice before, both times decades ago. The first time, there was a special offer at the Head Shed: spend twenty bucks or more and get a ticket for George Carlin. I bought Stage, a live Bowie cassette. The other time, I saw Kenny Loggins; I shouldn’t have.

  The lights finally go down. The credits start. The audience roars a little happiness that becomes louder when the bubbly perfection of Blister in the Sun starts. The opening scenes set the tone, or more accurately, the tones: film noir + comedy + thriller + boys with guns + high school romance teen flick. John’s sister Joan plays Marcella, his secretary. At one point Martin Q. Blank (John's character) looks at Marcella’s outfit and calls her Sergeant Pepper.

After the  bus lets us off across from The Blade, we walk towards the 31H, the bus that will bring  to the Stranahan. We stop in the bitter cold so I can photograph Mari in one of the dull parking lots, with the grey sky and nondescript buildings behind her. The wind swirls her long uncut hair above the cheap coat we bought in Shenzhen. Her eyes are watering and her nose is red. Beautiful, beautiful.

The 31H takes us past the High Level Bridge, the Maumee River, the Toledo Zoo, and then Monroe and Detroit, where Swayne Field used to be. My grampa, my dad, my mom and Hank the barber have told me stories about the area that is now a shopping plaza. Hank Aaron played there, Casey Stengel coached there. A bunch of guys my dad knew once had a few belts at one of the nearby bars; they ended up trying to have a picnic near right field until they got kicked out. Swayne Field is now a shopping plaza.

  I’m writing this section of Catching Cusack  in the house where my mother lives and my father was born. My father lives in another house. At this moment he is driving to a hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, about 40 miles from here, about 45 miles from Detroit.  Last night, while Mari and I were at the Cusack event, my mom was at a birthday party for a friend she’s known since first grade. Eighty years old. She made him a scrapbook filled with black and white and faded color photos, as well as cartoon illustrations of the greatest inventions of the past eight decades: bottled water, ATM, credit cards, TV dinners and microwave ovens. Right now, my mother is baking something with cinnamon in it.

Baking and dancing are my mom’s favorite things. I’ve gained weight: anyone would. In the past two weeks she’s baked dozens of heart-shaped sugar cookies, a carrot cake, a coffee cake, Irish soda bread, muffins; and cooked all kinds of things for breakfasts, lunches and dinners. For the ARphabet Tour, she made mango sticky rice.  

Last Sunday she told us about dancing at the Bavarian Club. Today, at lunch she told us about her volunteer work with the police, Swayne Field, the Tony Curtis movie she appeared in, and the ice cream store that used to be in front of the Babcock Dairy. Yesterday, for no specific reason, we found ourselves talking about death (as opposed to her finding a name in the obituaries.) Cremation or burial; she has crossed out and rewritten each word more than a few times.

I was in this room on the night of February 12, 1967. That was a Sunday night. My parents dropped me off here so they could go bowling. While my grandparents watched Lawrence Welk on the black and white TV, I sat at that table with crayons and paper. My grampa was sitting here, in the chair that’s now over there. (It was reupholstered by my mom.) My gramma was on the couch. They watched Lawrence Welk. At eight o’clock I came in, sprawled myself on the wheat colored carpet with wooden blocks. The Ed Sullivan show came on, and I didn’t understand it most of the time. But that night was something that seemed natural to me. Now, when I listen to it, I appreciate how revolutionary it was. That night, like millions of Americans, I watched a short video called Strawberry Fields Forever.

My grandparents had very loud conversations. When a car would drive by very fast, one would say, “Someone’s going to the  hospital.” Or, “Where’s that cowboy going?” In the summer my grampa would take me, sometimes my brother too, for a walk down to the store with a concrete floor. We’d buy orange pushups. Sometimes, my gramma made banana cream pie.There was always something good in the fridge.

The Latin name for the biggest tree in the backyard is Liriodendron, meaning ‘lily tree’. The day of the ice storm, the snow was crisp; it sounded like I was walking on a giant white potato chip. I looked up at that tulip tree and saw a few dried flowers, each coated with ice as clear as glass. The tree is very tall, maybe twice the height of the house. Everything, from the wild geometry of the thinnest branches to the trunk, was coated with ice, dangerously so. The wind or another raindrop might have broken a branch, ending my contemplation of tree and sky.

Grosse Point Blank, the John Cusack movie we are about to watch: I know almost nothing about it. Something about an assassin coming back to his hometown near Detroit to do a job and  go to a high school reunion, possibly with the girl he dumped on prom night. Dan Akroyd and Minnie Driver also star.

Like GPD’s assassin, I am returning to my hometown, Toledo. Mari is here because John Cusack and I are here. John is here because his market is here. Backlot Productions arranged this; next month William Shatner will be here, because they’re screening Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

Four or five decades ago, there was a special offer at the Head Shed: spend twenty bucks or more and get a ticket to see George Carlin, here, at the Stranahan. I bought Stage, a live Bowie cassette. I sat down there, in the middle and to the right. The only other time I was here, I saw Kenny Loggins; I shouldn’t have.

  The lights finally go down. The credits start. The audience roars a little happiness that becomes louder when the bubbly perfection of Blister in the Sun starts. The opening scenes sets the tone, or more accurately, the tones: film noir + comedy + thriller + boys with guns + high school romance teen flick. John’s sister Joan plays Marcella, his secretary. At one point Martin Q. Blank (John's character) looks at Marcella’s outfit and calls her Sergeant Pepper.

BLAM BLAM BLAM … Grosse Point Blank has gun scenes, including a John Woo-ish blastathon between Blank and Felix La Poubelle (Benny "The Jet" Urquidez). The massive exchange of bullets takes place in the Ultimart that was built where the Blank home used to be. The Ultimart dies a fireball death, a victim of the old bomb in the microwave trick. This segment, and a few others are heavy handed, so much that the GPB’s tempo is lost, to the point where it feels like a running gag instead of a showcase of clarity, insights and daring. Instead of the richnesses of blacks and whites and reds, GPB’s palette is bubblegum and grey.

However, the  love that went into this movie is obvious. Minnie Driver is perfect; a captivating puzzle of emotions in nearly every scene. The “flying” scene in the bedroom, the simple cutting between the faces of Blank and a baby, and the father’s grave scene are classics. Its high ambitions and daring ideas would have benefited from a bit more polishing, but Grosse Pointe Blank is indeed, a gem.

more to come, of course...

The ARphabet Tour: Toledo

The ARphabet Tour is fully explained here.

Three presentations on three different days. Self-publishing, mango sticky rice, and of course, AR, augmented reality.

AR apps demonstrated:

Leo AR 

ARtivive

Despite the challenging weather, a number of friends, family and curious people made it to the presentations. A new recipe for mango sticky rice was created, Stephen Black's books were introduced.

AR was demonstrated and discussed. Very interesting to talk about AR with those who are relatively unaware of it. Interesting questions were asked and all left with at least some understanding of the power and possibilities of Augmented Reality.

ARphabet Tour: Toledo, Ohio

Stephen Black, writer, producer and Toledo native, returns to his hometown to talk about Augmented Reality (AR). AR is a new technology now making an impact upon education, art, medicine, industry and entertainment.

The presentation is for a general audience (including children) and is based upon the best of Stephen's presentations from universities across Southeast Asia, as well as MIT. Come on down and meet Bubiko Foodtour, the Dundercats and a few other surprise guests. Toledo is the second stop of the ARphabet Tour http://www.blacksteps.tv/

Thursday, January 31: 7-8PM An Introduction to AR

CANCELLED BECAUSE OF THE COLD...Stop by on Friday, Saturday or Monday!

Augmented Reality is the technology in which digital words or objects are combined with the real world. Pokemon Go is the most famous example of AR. If you watch sports, you will often see information or diagrams overlaid on the game, especially in football. AR requires a phone, tablet or a new device called smartglasses. Soon, Facebook and Apple will make AR smartglasses. 

This presentation includes examples of AR, as well as its history. Present and upcoming uses of AR in education, art, medicine and industry are shown. www.blacksteps.tv

These links provide more information:

Definition of AR

Microsoft's Hololens AR product


Friday, February 1 2-3:45 An Introduction to Self-Publishing and the books of Stephen Black 

One of Stephen Black's books, I Ate Tiong Bahru, is a bestseller in Singapore, and all have achieved critical acclaim. In this presentation his books as well as insights into self-publishing and Amazon are presented.

Information about the books here.


Saturday, February 2 2-3:15 In Search of the Ultimate Mango Sticky Rice

Stephen Black and Sayuri Okayama recently toured Southeast Asia, researching food for book and augmented reality projects. In this talk,  mango sticky rice,  the popular dessert, is discussed in terms of geography, culture, economics and nutrition.


Monday, February 4 6-7:15 The ARphabet Tour: Augmented Reality, Self-publishing and Mango Sticky Rice!

Stephen Black and Sayuri Okayama traveled through Southeast Asia in 2017/18, researching food, writing books and networking with Augmented Reality companies,artists and researchers. This presentation, suitable for all ages, features the highlights of that two-year journey.

All events will be held at the Washington Branch Public Library, 5560 Harvest Lane.

tel: 419-259-5330

Stephen Black bio here.

A crash course of AR in 2018 can be found here.

Beach Road, a 360 VR movie produced and directed by Stephen Black.

SPOKEN , a virtual gallery by Eugene Soh, curated by SB.

The ARphabet Tour explained.

China's Silicon Valley
https://makermag.com/2019/01/07/hqb-china/

ARIA/Stephen Black/Sayuri Okayama/ Background for Press, Bloggers and Podcasters

A

Currently bootstrapping, they have established a worldwide network of collaborators, and look forward to speaking with potential partners of any kind, including investors and VCs.

Stephen Black and Sayuri Okayama aim to be the Pixar of location-based AR: original characters, stories and software.

Stephen’s “unicorn”, a separate AR project, can be discussed by appointment.

Stephen is a bestselling writer, has a degree in Photographic Illustration and is an established visual artist. As a producer, he has worked in theatre, butoh, music (3how) and network television (Fuji TV, Fox, CNN and Cartoon Network).

Sayuri has extensive research in the travel industry, and conducts research related to all aspects of the startup.                                      More biographical information at the end of this document.

The Bubiko Orwell Tour  2017/8    Stephen and Sayuri: digital nomads in SE Asia, planning AR/VR/MR, building a network, sourcing distinctive air-freightable food products, and researching food/culture. Attended Rise (“the largest and most exciting tech conference in Asia” – Forbes), HK Book Fair, Ani-Com and Games Expo HK, Supercharger Fintech Incubator Year in Review event (HK),Thailand Design Week and Amazon AWS events.

Participation: HK Food Hackathon, Ipoh Malaysia Tourism Rebranding campaign.

Presentations: Ipoh, Malaysia, Sasin School of Business (Bangkok), HK PolyU, Hong Kong MakerFaire, TechCrunch and Le Wagon (Shenzhen).

Alphabet Spikes is the book Stephen is writing about the tour.        www.blacksteps.tv/

The ARphabet Tour  2019                                        Now accepting bookings.

  www.blacksteps.tv/the-arphabet-tour-in-your-town-how-to-do-schedule-it/

Kabaq, leaders in the creation of AR food models

S Nizo mobile video editing


Maker space in Shenzhen

Producers of the Dundercats

Friends of the ARphabet Tour

Sponsorship opportunities: http://www.blacksteps.tv/eight-reasons-for-sponsoring-the-arphabet-tour/

Three separate components: AR, Books/Writing and the Mango Sticky Rice Experience

Beginning with ARIA@MIT, the 100 day tour now includes stops in Phoenix, at SXSW(Austin) and the Game Developers Conference (San Francisco), as well as NYC, Washington DC, and the Chicago/Detroit area.

AR component:

Powerpoint presentation, Q and A, ARKit/Unity game demo featuring Green Bean Boy and Bubiko Foodtour, by Dominique Wu and Michael Stragey

More information here

Books/Writing component:

Readings from Stephen Black’s book, including the bestselling i ate tiong bahru.

Workshops: custom designed; possible topics include self-publishing, Amazon strategies, writing techniques, plot structure and novels vs. screenplays.

Book titles:

the Agaricus Blazei Murrill Notebook (about a gourmet mushroom known for its anti-cancer properties),

Obama Search Words (fact-based fiction about Barack Obama),

Furikake (short stories, all connected with furikake, the Japanese rice topping)

I Ate Tiong Bahru (best seller about a historical area of Singapore),

Contact With Shadow (contemporary  romance novel featuring connections with colonial Singapore’s printing industry)

Bali Wave Ghost (novel; American reality TV star tries to make a fresh start in Bali)

Bubiko Foodtour in Shenzhen (food guide to China’s Silicon Valley)

Alphabet Spikes short stories and essays about the Bubiko Orwell Tour.

More information here.

The Mango Sticky Rice Experience:

A combination of deliciousness, AR, and food culture! Inspired by Bubiko Foodtour’s favorite food! Featuring real mangos, as well as an AR version of mango sticky rice created by Kabaq, the leaders in augmented reality food applications. More information here.

AR Characters:

Bubiko Foodtour (current model is a work in progress)

Bubiko is a little chef from Thailand. Her catchphrase is “aroi mak mak”, the Thai phrase for ‘very delicious’. Knowledgeable about all food, especially that of Southeast Asia, Bubiko is entertaining and informative.

On a technical level, Bubiko is a flagship for our other characters. We have plans to use SLAM and IoT to create cinematic, educational and entertaining table top experiences.

On a commercial level, Bubiko branding and merchandising possibilities are being explored, including, with a tablet manufacturer,  bundling Bubiko AR experiences and her favorite recipes.

The Bubiko Orwell Tour resulted in the discovery of numerous local, often organic, food products suitable for international food fans, as well as tea and coffee lovers. An area of exploration is a Bubiko brand/marketing channel.

Bubiko is a guest star in an ARkit/Unity game demo featuring Green Bean Boy.

Developer: Dominique Wu/Hummingbirdsday Studio, with Michael Stracey (veteran game developer, including Sponge Bob, Disney and X-Men)

Bubiko epublished a photo book about the food of Ipoh, Malaysia and is now working on a food guide to Shenzhen, China’s Silicon Valley. Bubiko Foodtour on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Bubiko's blog                                                          

Secret Donut World           

Created by Stephen Black and David Severn(UK/Japan), the Secret Donut World characters combine David’s wit with Stephen’s ideas on spatial computing. David is an internationally exhibited visual artist/painter and his work has been published in numerous Japanese magazines, children’s books and travel publications.

The Doughbots

Another Severn/Black collaboration,  the Doughbots will teach basic spelling and math skills in a fun and interactive way. (Designed for SLAM, spatial recording; with accompanying book).

The Dundercats

Adventurers in musical history as well as serious music instructors, the Dundercats are perfectly tuned for AR. Created by Aniela Chaudhuri, an accomplished violinist and instructor and Stuart Rankin, producer, former chief editor at CNN/Cartoon Network.

ARPHABET TOUR COMPLETE BREAKDOWN : www.blacksteps.tv      bubikofoodtour@gmail.com

Beach Road 360 movie
(featured at festivals in Singapore, Brisbane and Las Vegas)

SPOKEN virtual gallery created by Eugene Soh, curated by Stephen Black

ARphabet Tour: Readings and Writing Workshop

Hi! There will SOON be a new Indiegogo campaign for the ARphabet Tour.

All of the sections of the ARphabet Tour are explained here.

Writing Workshops

After years of writing and self-publishing books, including the best selling i ate tiong bahru, Stephen Black is ready to share what he has learned. His strengths include description, the musicality of words, how to use research invisibly and the relationship between length and structure. Also experienced with self-publishing; Stephen is prepared to do presentations and workshops on this topic. The workshops are geared to the level of those attending and questionnaires are used to determine this. 

Stephen Black has taught poetry performance (Poetry Slam) and 3D gamemaking in Singapore, and English/writing classes in Japan. In addition to writing classes inuniversity, he has studied with screenwriting legend Robert McKee, both in a public class, and in an invitation-only private class.

The workshops can be conducted online or in person; individually or in groups.

The topic of AR and books will be only briefly touched upon, unless requested otherwise.

Readings

With eight books and many published stories, Stephen Black's readings can be geared towards the nature of your event or organization. Obvious topics include Augmented Reality, the food and history of Southeast Asia, the Tiong Bahru area of Singapore, the pre-presidential life of Barack Obama, contemporary Bali as well as insights on being a digital nomad/startup founder/entrepreneur.

Video interviews and information on Stephen Black's books here.

A national bestseller in Singapore, now available on Amazon in ebook, softcover and audiobook formats


"Part stream of consciousness, part poetry, part historical research,it's a deeply personal yet wholly accessible journey... Along the way, Stephen uncovers Tiong Bahru's 1930s origins as Singapore's first public housing estate; immerses himself in its famous foods as he breakfasts on half-boiled eggs with kaya toast or dines on porridge, mee pok or yong tau foo, and reflects with some pain on astronomic price rises, a creeping loss of authenticity, and the fall of the area to yuppies,expats and the super-rich.
Cute as the presentation of this diminutive book may be, I'd like to see it in a larger format-- and perhaps illustrated with the kind of gritty yet dreamy photography that we saw in the same author's 'Bus Stopping' book a couple of years ago."
-Expat Living


"Unlike anything else I've read... funny quirks yet balances the political undertone perfectly. The book involves history, humor, culture and most importantly, food (or rather, taste)."
-Barrett Books (Thea's Books & Violins)

"Black's brief love-letter to his now former home is one of the best introductions to a country and a state of mind that you might read."
ArtReview Asia
a guitarist and a reader onstage
Stephen Black reads from Bali Wave Ghost, accompanied by Rizal Abdulhadi
black and white book covers

“Henry Miller is alive and well and living in Bali!”
-Diego Lopez, 
publisher of Nusa magazine/founder of Nusa surfwear
on Amazon
Obama Search Words by Stephen Black
Historical fiction about the pre-Presidential life of Barack Obama.
Alphabet Spikes. Fiction + digital nomad lifestyle+ Southeast Asian food: a journal and more.
photography as part of book cover design
On Amazon
Out of print. Agaricus blazei murill is a gourmet mushroom known for its cancer-fighting properties.
Bubiko Foodtour
A guide to the food of Shenzhen
Contact with Shadow available on unglue.it


“It’s a double pleasure to read this… First, there’s the joy of gleaning nuggets of knowledge about Singapore and the printed word hitherto unknown; and second, there’s the childlike wonder of never knowing what Stephen Black has in store for us on the next page.”
~ Ng Yi-Sheng
Playwright, recipient of the Singapore Literature Prize

There  Indiegogo campaign for the ARphabet Tour is here.

All of the sections of the ARphabet Tour are explained here.