• Talon Stradley

S1E16 - Board Kids

Hello, and welcome to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Broadcast, monthly updates from the Newton’s Dark Room collective. This episode we see the start of yet another one of our creative endeavors and it starts where most things start: A classic children’s game. We’ll get to that in just a second, but first, I want to tell you about Calisland Cassettes.


Calisland Cassettes is our newest branch and it is a bonafide tape label. What’s a tape label? Well it’s kind of like a record label but for cassettes. We offer recording, packaging, and duplications to put you art to tape. Maybe you’re an indie band and want some cool march to sell at your show. Or maybe you’re an audio drama that wants to give a cassette master cut to patrons. Whatever your goals are, we can help you get there. For more information visit newtonsdarkroom.com/calisland or follow us on social media @CalislandTapes. That’s C-A-L, I-S-L-A-N-D. Calisland Cassettes, for all your cassette needs. Now, back to the broadcast.



The floor is lava is an innocent game played by board kids when they are stuck inside their house for whatever reason. And when I say board kids, I don’t mean bored as in they don’t know what do with their free time. I mean board as in boards of wood.


Don’t get me wrong, the game would eventually spread to bored human kids, but it actually got it’s start with young planks of wood. See, we humans die when we touch lava. That is a largely accepted scientific principle. Even though we die when we touch lava, we can actually get pretty close before it causes damage. I think that’s why The Floor is Lava resonates so well with us. It reminds us that we’re alive and durable. It’s a jovial game.


But not for board kids. For board kids, it is a game of literal survival. If they so much as get close to the lava or stay in one place too long, they will burst into flames. To the Board Kids, the Floor is Lava is so much more than a childhood game. It’s training, like when baby tigers sneak up on their mom to learn how to hunt.


You see Board Kids, as we’ve established, are made of wood and you may not know this, but some kinds of trees need fire to reproduce. When fire hits the pinecones, it actually opens them up allowing them to spread their seeds across the land. Every Board Kid has their roots in the flame. The same flame actually. The Board Kids were all born on Oak Island, a lush mass of land a hundred miles or so west of our home on Calisland. Oak Island has plenty of trees, sure, that’s why it got the name Oak Island, but it also has a volcano. And at the center of the volcano’s bubbling orange top of lava is another island, a floating rock somehow impervious to the heat. On this rock is a tree. A thick tree, an old tree. This tree is the grandparent of all the Board Kids and every year for thanksgiving, they return.


If they want to partake in the festivities and give their grandparent a hug, they have to hop across rocks floating on lava to get to the center of the volcano. The Floor is Lava is not just a game to them. It’s the key to their family.


Now, you may be wondering, why am I telling you all of this? Well, like I said, Calisland is about halfway between the mainland of California and the volcanic Oak Island. A lot of the Board Children make a pit stop at our humble abode when they make their thanksgiving trek.


And we love it! We always cook a big buffet style dinner, make a bonfire on the beach, sing, and have a grand ol’ time. It’s one of our favorite parts of the year! My personal favorite part is when we help the Board Kids practice with a game of the Floor is Lava. It’s great, we turn the whole island into a giant course! The ruins of the old suburban buildings are perfect for this, and we normally spend weeks before their arrival setting it all up. Sometimes we have a theme, like Space the Floor is Lava where we played at night and taped glow sticks everywhere. Sometimes we keep things traditional and let the atmosphere of the island speak for itself. This year we chose traditional. We like it because it gives us a chance to explore Calisland a bit and see it from a new perspective.


After setting up the course all week, it was finally time for the Board Kids to arrive. We stood by the beach with arms full of handmade necklaces, which were just seashells tied to some string. Sure enough, right on time, the Board Kids started washing up on the shore. Because they were planks of wood, they would just lie down on the ocean and let it carry them where they needed to go. We helped them up, draped a necklace around them, and watched as they waddled their way to the buffet. After most had arrive, the eating space was filled with chatter and reunions!


After all the food was gone, it was time to begin the game. We explained the rules, just so everyone was on the same page about expectations: No one was allowed in the compound house, you could not stay in one place for more than 5 seconds, and if you touch the ground, which we defined as the sand, ashes, or any concrete that was meant to be stepped on, ithen you were out.


Everyone agreed, eager to start. We spread them out across the island, helped them onto their starting platforms, then hurried back to our own. This was The Floor is Lava after all, it’s quite fun and we definitely wanted to play. The Calisland Caretakers were the judges and the Roombas were honorary junior judges, although they were really just excited to have so many people here. With everyone in their positions, AI 4-82 rang the big bell attached to the back of it’s shed and the game begun.


The Floor is Lava is an interesting game because it isn’t exactly competitive. The goal is for everyone to hug their ancestor tree. Despite this, we see a lot of petty competitiveness when they practice. We try to nip this in the bud. We spend some of our time teaching balancing techniques, strategic planning, and the like, but we also teach them how to work together. I was standing over by the ruins on Calisland when I noticed someone exhibiting poor sportsman behavior.


There was three board kids grid locked on a couple of concrete pylons. They couldn’t stay in one place too long and they were yelling, all frustrated at each other. That’s when I saw one of the Board Kids shove another player off the Pylon and into the rubble of the ruin. I rushed over.


“Hey, you can’t do that! You need to work together!”


The Board Kid looked at me, toothpick hanging from between his teeth and said “yeah, well I don’t give a darn toot about teamwork.”


He stuck out his tongue at me but that took his focus from his balancing. He slipped off the concrete pylon and landed next to the other board kid. He let out a sharp yelp.


I rushed over to check if he was ok.


He was moaning in pain when I picked him up. I noticed that he was splintering on his backside. He must have smacked against something in the rubble. Something I’ve never noticed before out here. It was some kind of hard metal corner. I brushed away the dust and it revealed more. A lot more. I called out to the Caretakers and asked them to bring over a couple of shovels.


We roped off the ruins while we excavated, there was still plenty of island left for the Board Kids to practice on. We kept on digging until we revealed a large metal sign. The neon tubes were cracked and long dead, but they spelled out words. Calisland Cassettes.


This wasn’t just the ruins of one of the suburban homes, this was something different. We kept digging. We unearthed shelves and shelves of cassettes, old tape decks. racks, and all kinds of tape treasures. We brought them all back to the commune and laid them out in the workshop.


We had uncovered an entire cassette production studio, right here in our humble Calisland.


After The Floor is Lava concluded and the Board Kids began the rest of their floating trek, we gathered the collective in the room. What were we going to do with all this new equipment?


Julia Sawbone suggested we open up a museum. Sophia Rivera wanted to sell it to repair some of the window frames in the house. S. Owen Sow wanted to gut out all the electronics and turn the things into affordable housing for New Artesia. While I am all in favor of affordable housing, this seemed like a waste of precious resources, especially considering the city of New Artesia was built on rotten food.


In the end, it was Sumpra Pepnia who made the winning suggestion: We would start a tape label.


Yes, of course. A tape label! We could help bolster our local music scene by offering an affordable and personalized way of putting out their music on a physical medium! It was perfect!


The collective nodded in agreement, excited by the possibilities. We all helped to erect the old Calisland Cassettes sign on the ruins where we found it. I don’t think we had much of a choice when naming this tape label. We called it Calisland Cassettes and we are going to use it to promote local music to the best of our abilities.


-


You just listened to Newton’s Dark Room Presents: Broadcast. Todays episode was written, produced, and narrated by myself, Talon Stradley, with additional help from Sumpra and Augie Pepnia. Remember to go follow @CalislandTapes on instagram and twitter to get updates on some new musical releases we’ve got coming up. Thank you for listening and we’ll see you next month with the final Broadcast episode of the year.

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