Spent Saturday with Miles at Oakland’s Fairyland, a 1950s outdoor park where children’s literature is “brought to life” through fiberglass and concrete exhibits, animals, and talking story books. Sounds wonderful – and it is – but the place is also 55 years old. While it’s been relatively well maintained, many of the exhibits are falling apart at the seams, and the talking books are barely audible, scratchy old inventions.
It’s not as if no one looks after the place – there are signs of renovation all over. But it’s not particularly well-funded, and there are a lot of custom-made moving parts to keep track of and a whole lot of concrete to keep painted. Through the cruftiness, a warm magic shines, and kids don’t notice the disrepair like grownups do. My experience there is always something like one half nostalgia, one half campy bliss, one half sadness to see a fading glory struggling to keep on a good face. But we always have a good time.
Have been itching to give SoundSlides a go – the fastest path to a Flash-based slideshow with synchronized audio I’ve seen. An amazing tool (even more amazing if you’ve struggled to build similar output in Flash before). Just used music for the backing here, so didn’t have reason to try the synchronization features, and didn’t do any image captioning, but the elegance of the tool is impressive.