Celebrating five years of Rusty’s Electric Dreams

It’s RED‘s 5th birthday. So, this is a long one, folks. 

— Rusty

Rusty's Electric Dreams, an inbox zine by Rusty Blazenhoff

An inbox zine for positive deviants and the people who love them
Issue #238 :: The “H5BD RED” Edition :: 10:09:2019


Five years ago this month, I was in the middle of a bonafide mid-life crisis. Leaving a high-profile blogging gig, 11 months prior, had triggered something in me that I needed to deal with, some trauma that had been festering in me from my early years. I had good days and bad days. On the bad ones, it was like being in a blizzard, unable to see the road ahead of me. On the good ones, the storm was clearing and I could begin to see what was next for me. 

Now, before I got paid to blog, I had tried many different careers. I waitressed as a young adult. When I moved to California, I sorted wool Afghani socks in a hot Berkeley warehouse. I later managed production of a popular, though old-fashioned, weekly paper. I then played art director for a local film magazine. As the print world started shifting to a more digital one, I shifted into marketing and communications for dot-com tech companies. When SJ was born in 2004, I decided that when it was time to re-enter the workforce, I would need to get out of the corporate tech world for my sanity. When she was ready for preschool, I started at a nonprofit thinking that it would be a kinder, gentler kind of job. It was and it wasn’t. Eventually I left there, got some training, and started over (again) by opening an estate sale business. 

It was going along, though the work was hard and the pay was low, when I was offered a blogging gig. Now, I had never blogged professionally before but soon learned I had the brain for it. All those years of going to flea markets and picking “treasure from the trash” were finally good for something besides losing money. Plus, in the early Internet days, we’re taking mid to late nineties, I had been “blogging,” it just wasn’t called that yet. Moving into pro blogging changed everything for me, and while it prompted that mid-life crisis, I have no regrets. 

As I tried to figure out what was next for me during my mid-life mishaps, I gave a hearty attempt at running my own daily blog. I soon realized I was limited by its format and pondered making the switch to a fun e-newsletter (though I did run both the blog and the zine simultaneously for a couple years). I didn’t have a name for it, but I knew I really wanted to start right away. So, I temporarily called this new entity:

I’m not kidding. “The Newsletter Thingamabob.” Yikes, right? Well, before long I had settled on the name “Rusty’s Electric Dreams” (RED for short!) as a tribute to my favorite eighties flick, Electric Dreams. I even cribbed stills from the movie to use on the electricdreaming.com site. (One early reader thought RED had something to do with Philip K. Dick and unsubbed in a tizzy after learning otherwise.)

In the beginning, I experimented a lot with what I coined an “inbox zine.” Those early issues look nothing like today’s. In early 2015, I got a shout-out from THE Pee-wee Herman on his blog and loads more like-minded readers joined the fray. At some point, I learned of the term “positive deviance” and realized that it helped me frame what I was doing here. I believe there’s a lot of hope in living a strange life.

It’s a labor of love and, in my own weird way, an act of community service. When I travel, I try to find a guest editor to take the helm in my absence. This is always fun for me, and them. (If this sounds like fun, inquire about getting on the sub list.)

A reader recently asked me if I make any money from publishing Electric Dreams. I don’t, not really. Ads don’t make sense for something this small, though I do have readers who send me a few bucks every month. There are costs to publish it, so thank you to those patrons!

RED does have its perks. For instance, you might remember in April when I posted that I was looking for work. Well, that caught the attention of Fairyland’s then-executive director who sent me a description for the marcom gig I now hold. Also, in a funny roundabout way, my sweetie found me through the zine. Plus, I’ve become a much better and faster writer. You wouldn’t believe how much I write in a week’s time, sometimes accurately! And, of course, there’s all of you. There are thousands of you now. I never check to see who exactly is reading because I don’t want to get off my game. But I’m so thankful for each and every one of you. Without you, what I’m doing doesn’t exist. Thank you, for real.

How do I keep this ship moving? Well, besides Children’s Fairyland, I have other clients that I help with social media (and all kinds of written communications), marketing, creative strategy, and product ideation. Plus, I blog over at Boing Boing which I love. I never meant to spend my days writing, but here I am. I also sell stuff. You may recall I recently offered tiny wigs for cats and jars of Fluff for sale, and last year I made and delivered Fluffernutter fudge. This year, I’ve spent a lot of my free time crafting items for the Mystery Merchine, my in-home vending machine. If you get an invitation to my house, bring at least six dollars in quarters so you can leave with a souvenir.

What’s next? I’m glad you asked! I’ve been toying with writing a book for several years now. I’m just now narrowing down the ideas. Don’t hold your breath though, I’ll get to it when I get to it.

What about that mid-life crisis? It’s in the past, thank goodness. After several different kinds, and years, of intensive therapy and loads of soul searching, I feel more ready to take on the world than ever. RED itself has proven to be its own form of therapy, a much-needed constant during my turbulent forties.

So, that’s the short version of how RED came to be five years ago this month. Thank you all so much for reading. I know many of you have been here since the very beginning and I appreciate your support! If you just subscribed and this is your first issue, uh don’t run, this isn’t normally how it goes. 🙂

Rusty Blazenhoff
P.S. If you want to sponsor my efforts, I certainly won’t stop you. And, if you already sponsor me (again, thank you!), send along your snail mail address. I have a little something for you.

As seen on the Internets

Halloween arrived at the Alameda Point Antiques Faire

Adorable paper trick-or-treat bags, plastic kiddie costumes, blow molds, a super-fantastic handmade E.T. costume  — the dealers at the Alameda Point Antiques Faire really brought out their best vintage Halloween goodies this month. The air was thick with nostalgia!
:: Positive Deviant: NPR interviewed David Byrne on his new “Reasons to be Cheerful”
:: https://www.npr.org/2019/09/30/765814092/reasons-to-be-cheerful-a-conversation-with-david-byrne

:: Yes, RockySly Stallone unknowingly played a part in getting Tim Burton to direct “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure”
:: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/07/paul-reubens-on-how-sly-stallo.html

:: She’s my fav: A new Pippi Longstocking movie is in the works!
:: https://variety.com/2019/film/news/paddington-pippi-longstocking-movie-studiocanal-david-heyman-1203355732

:: It’s dutch: A pre-Pantone guide to colors from 1692!
:: http://www.openculture.com/2019/10/a-900-page-pre-pantone-guide-to-color-from-1692-a-complete-digital-scan.html

:: Yasss: It’s a-ok to cosplay like a Disneyland trash can in the park
:: https://boingboing.net/2019/10/06/til-disneyland-will-permit-adu.html

:: Nestle’s still evil tho: KitKats in Japan now have paper packaging so you can make origami with it
:: https://mymodernmet.com/kitkat-origami-packaging-nestle-japan

Real art that actually exists: yay!

Welcome, foolish mortals: It ain’t easy being Etch A Sketch artist Kevin E. Davis. For one, he can only draw during his lunch hour because he has a family and a life outside of work. Plus, you know, drawing on an Etch A Sketch is really difficult! Despite those odds, what he does create on these familiar drawing toys is nothing short of fantastic. I’m particularly charmed by his impressive Haunted Mansion Stretching Room portraits which are part of his ongoing Disneyland Project.

Fun fact: The ride’s Tightrope Walker (above) has a name, it’s Sarah “Sally” Slater.

Featured Events

[Portland, OR :: May 16 and 17] The creators of the popular Exploding Kittens card game series are hosting Burning Cat, a new two-day game convention that ends in the burning of a giant effigy. Huh… that last part seems oddly familiar!  Tickets are $80 for a two-day pass, or $45 for a daily one. 


Alameda, CA
[10/13] Neon Walking Tour of Alameda, 5:30 to 7 PM, $25

[10/19] Studio 23’s annual Blacklight Art Show is looking for vendors and artists.

[11/3] Alameda Point Antiques Faire, a flea market like no other

Berkeley, CA
[10/23] Half-Assed Arts is like a “Show and Tell” for artists. If you have a piece you’re working on (or completed), bring it to show off and get feedback. Or just watch. It takes place at Workstation, 2247 6th Street from 7 PM to 9 PM. $5-$10 suggested donation.

[11/9] David Sedaris is coming to Zellerbach Hall and you should go because he’s hilarious, 8 PM, Tickets

[Until 1/5/2020] “Strange features diverse works from BAMPFA’s collection that invoke strangeness and resonate with the spirit of Surrealism”
[11/26] Exquisite Corpse Workshop at BAMPFA, 1 PM

Boston, MA
[10/19] There’s gonna be a Lost Horizon Night Market in the Bay State! Email the organizers if you want to make your own truck. Thanks, Mark!

Houston, TX
[10/29] Super Happy Fun Land (indie venue) is putting on a big Cardboard Art Parade, 7 PM to 10 PM

New York City

See what RED pal Oriana Leckert has picked as the must-go-to events in the Big Apple!

[5/2 to 11/1/2020] Yayoi Kusama will exhibit a â€śmultisensory presentation” at the New York Botanical Garden in the new year!

Oakland, CA
[10/12-2/16] The Smithsonian’s No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man exhibit is coming to Oakland Museum of California. Volunteer opportunities are available.

[10/17-10/19] Autumn Lights Festival is a beautiful, multi-night event at Lake Merritt Gardens 

[10/19-11/10] Nemo Gould solo show: Retro-Speculative (“deep dive into the remnants of the machine age”) at 494 9th Street, Opening night 10/19 from 6 PM to 9 PM. Plus, check out his four Threadless designs.

[11/8] No Spectators opening party at the Oakland Museum, 5 PM to 10 PM
NEW: Full listings of all the exhibit’s events here.

[11/2] Big Garage Sale of antiques, collectibles, fine art, fine junk, bad art, bad junk, industrial art supplies, nautical, naughty, and more at 5th Avenue Marina (artist occupied), 10 AM until done

[11/9] Artist Talk: The Art of Burning Man, a panel with Karen Cusolito, Christopher Schardt, and Crimson Rose at The Crucible, 7 PM to 9 PM, $20 general admission

Portland, OR
[Until 10/30] Portland’s “Duchess of Felt” LeBrie Rich has a new show called Sugar Spin at COLAB Architecture + Urban Design. It features 15 of her new (needle-felted and stitched) candy package sculptures (the Whitman’s Sampler looks good enough to eat!). 

San Francisco, CA
[Through 10/26] Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse Live! (a Beetlejuice-inspired performance) at EXIT Stage Left, Tickets

[10/12 and 10/13] The Moon, an art party with a moon theme at Raining Chainsaws warehouse (789 Egbert Avenue, Floor 2),  8 to 11:59 PM both nights, Tickets are free but bring cash money for tips and donations (suggested $10-$25)

[10/13] City Lights in conjunction with Litquake present: Tales of the San Francisco Cacophony Society with John Law and friends, celebrating the release of the revised edition of this counter culture classic, 5 to 6:30 p.m. at City Lights

[10/19] RED reader/event producer, Kai Wada Roath, is hosting the Sorceress Sabbath Witchcraft Film Festival at Balboa Theatre. This is an all-day event, starting at 10 AM. Day passes are $25. I’ve just learned that it’s part of the Modern Witches Confluence which happens all weekend long.

[10/23] A Gorey Halloween – The Edwardian Ball 20th Anniversary Begins at The Chapel, 8 PM

[Until 10/31] Christian Cagigal’s legendary San Francisco Ghost Hunt is back. I went on this walking tour last year and learned all kinds of weird and spooky San Francisco history. Do recommend!

[12/31] We knew it was coming but no one could really be prepared for Beach Blanket Babylon closing. New Year’s Eve is the last night you’ll be able to see this San Francisco institution, the world’s longest running musical revue. 

Washington, D.C.
[10/28-10/31] NPR is hosting Tiny Desk Fest at their D.C. headquarters. It’s four different Tiny Desk concerts… and the artists are a surprise! $50

Various U.S. cities, and sometimes Canada
Atlas Obscura has an ongoing calendar of unique experiences.

[various dates] Immersive listings

Check out this calendar of design events from around the world.

Know about a cool, quirky, and/or indie event? Email me and I’ll share it with the class!


Rusty’s Electric Dreams is a (mostly) weekly inbox zine by Rusty Blazenhoff for positive deviants and the people who love them.

Described as, “One of the most inspiring, weird and off-kilter collections of curated kitschy ephemera for the big-brained.” People like it.

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Publisher and Editor-in-Chief: Rusty Blazenhoff

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