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Daphne Oram: electronic music pioneer

 Guardian Music Gallery 2008 Aug 04 1 Do6-2266-1
Daphne Oram (1925-2003) was a pioneering electronic musician and sound engineer at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. She established a workshop to develop experimental techniques for composing radio soundtracks. Oram is best known for her invention of Oramics, a system of converting drawings on 35mm film into sound textures. You can hear samples of her her music here. As part of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's 50th anniversary, The Guardian recently profiled Oram and included a slide show of terrific vintage photographs. From The Guardian:
Oram was one of the first British composers to produce electronic sound, a pioneer of what became "musique concrete" – music made with sounds recorded on tape, the ancestor of today's electronic music. Her story makes for fascinating reading. She was born in 1925 when Britain was between two world wars. She was extremely bright, and studied music and electronics – unusual at the time not only because electronics was an exciting new industry, but also because it was a man's world.

She went on to join the BBC, and, while many of the corporation's male staff were away fighting in the second world war, she became a balancing engineer, mixing the sounds captured by microphones at classical music concerts. In those days, nearly all programmes went out live because recording was extremely cumbersome and expensive. Tape hadn't been invented, and cheap computers were half a century away.

Yet when tape did come along, in the early 1950s, Oram was quick to realise that it could be used not simply for recording existing sounds, but for composing a new kind of music. Not the music of instruments, notes and tunes, but the music of ordinary, everyday sound.
Daphne Oram profile, Daphne Oram slideshow (via Further: Strange Attractor and Beyond)

Vote Bear


Canadian illustrator Graham Roumieu, who has chronicled the life of Bigfoot, writes

If you were looking for a little something disgustingly cute to get you through disgusting political and economic times, well here you go. This was for last weekend's Globe and Mail.

May all your melt downs be ice cream related, -- Graham

Spicy chili kills amateur chef

Andrew Lee, 33, apparently died after making and eating an intensely spicy chili. Lee was apparently in good health and toxicologists are running tests to figure out exactly what killed him. From the Sydney Morning Herald:
The forklift driver from Edlington, West Yorkshire in England, made a tomato sauce with red chillies grown by his father, but after eating it suffered intense discomfort and itching.

Mr Lee went to bed and asked his girlfriend, Samantha Bailey, to scratch his back until he fell asleep.

When she woke in the morning he was dead, possibly after suffering a heart attack, The Guardian said.
Chef dies after eating 'super hot' chili

HOWTO Make a dollhouse out of a gourd

Now this is a handsome and useful redeployment of a gourd: a house for the little people!

I use inexpensive acrylic craft paint because it had great colors and covers very well. Also you can just squirt it right inside the gourd and spread it around.

Decorate your gourd with "curtains". I have used eyelet, fringe and pompoms for my curtains. All are cute. Hang with hot glue or other adhesive.

My rug is a felted sweater scrap, trimmed with scallop shears, and also glued in place. The fluffy rug helps mitigate the uneven floor of the gourd.

Gourd Dollhouse Tutorial (via Craft)

Lost in America as Metaphor for Mortgage Meltdown



Shawn Wolfe says:

This is what happens when an annoying asshole (Wall Street) loses everything in a casino (the stock market) and desperately begs the house (Congress) to "correct" their little mistake (massive bail out), and the house (Gary Marshall) ain't havin' it.

I think it is also instructive here that this scene takes place at 4am. Albert Brooks is in his bathrobe. His pants are basically down. The owner of the Desert Inn is granting him a sit-down and happens to be dressed in a suit and tie and oak desk.

"The Desert Inn has heart... The Desert Inn has heart... The Desert Inn has heart..."

"We're through talking."

Lego-like snap-together bedside lamp

Beingblease's powered aluminum bedside lamp lets kids (and others) customize their lighting with modular, snap-together pieces.

A modular magnetic lamp that is customized through the building of different coloured and shaped pieces. Bedside lamp is universally enjoyed by all ages, is forever changing, playful, and made to stand the test of time.
Bedside lamp

TED Prize for photojournalist James Nachtwey


Laura Galloway says:
The TED Prize, an initiative of the TED Conference granting recipients one world changing wish – is asking bloggers around the world to help in making photojournalist and 2007 Prize winner James Nachtwey's wish come true this Friday, October 3.

Nachtwey wished for help in breaking a news story in a way that demonstrates the power of news photography in the digital age. Nachtwey's work will be simultaneously revealed online, disseminated through numerous media channels, and projected on public buildings throughout the world. The TED Prize organizers have created a blogger page where bloggers can download a badge for their blogs in advance of Oct. 3, find event live event locations, or embed Nachtwey's wish video. On October 3, the site will redirect to reveal the story.

TED Prize for photojournalist James Nachtwey

Crab rides a jellyfish

Crabjellyyyyyy Here's a fun video of a crab hitching a ride on a jellyfish. (Thanks, Kirsten Anderson!)

Mark Jenkins: homeless polar bears art prank

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A Washington DC train station was shut down for a couple hours recently as a bomb squad investigated this "hobo polo bear" standing near a trash can. Turns out, the stuffed animal was part of a collaboration between Greenpeace and prankster artist Mark Jenkins. From an email Mark sent me:
 3241 2881288478 039Ec129Be O We made a series of human-like homeless polar bears and installed them around DC to get people to think about the issue (of melting arctic ice) with more empathy. it seemed people liked them a lot and took pictures of their kids in front of them, etc. but most were removed pretty quickly by the authorities. the last image is one that was met with ill-fate after being deemed a "suspicious package." so the whole thing ended up have a touch of irony to it when compared to the actual situation.
"'Hobo polar bear causes panic in US'" (National Nine News) Greenpeace project page (greenpeace.org), Mark Jenkins project page (xmarkjenkinsx.com)

Previously on BB:
Mark Jenkins: Fake 'living statue' prank
Mark Jenkins: cafeteria pranks
Mark Jenkins: Traffic-Go-Round
Mark Jenkins: Meter Pops
Mark Jenkins casts a human head in packing tape
Mark Jenkins: Tape Babies
Mark Jenkins: Fake People

Apartments Designed to Challenge Residents

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Pink Tentacle has photos and a video of the "Reversible Destiny Lofts" in Japan, designed to physically and mentally challenge people in order to keep them healthy.

To NY-based architect-poets and “reversible destiny” philosophers Arakawa & Gins, comfort deserves only a limited role in the home. In their vision, a home that keeps its inhabitants young and healthy should provide perpetual challenges. A tentative relationship with your environment, they argue, is key to “reversing the downhill course of human life.”

Designed to stimulate the senses and force inhabitants to use balance, physical strength and imagination, the lofts feature uneven floors, oddly positioned power switches and outlets, walls and surfaces painted a dizzying array of colors, a tiny exit to the balcony, a transparent shower room, irregularly shaped curtainless windows, and more.

For rent: Reversible Destiny Lofts (w/ video)

Computer-Generated Sarah Palin Interview

Here's a program that'll generate realistic Palin-style answers for different questions.
Q: What is your foreign policy experience?

I think if you ask that question until somebody answers for me what is it exactly that the people of America are not fully satisfied with all the answers. It's going to be considered also. But again, it's got to put government and it's about putting government back on the verbiage that Senator McCain chose to use them. So we have opportunities for good in the war. You can't blink. You have to be allowed in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be provided the hope that all Americans have, instilled in us, because we're a democratic, we are today with so much collapse on Wall Street, affecting Main Street.

Interview Sarah Palin

(Via Panopticist)

George Hart's Sculptural Barn Raising

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George Hart has a photos of the construction of a "sculptural barn raising" for his Comet! artwork at Albion College on Saturday September 13, 2008.

George Hart's Sculptural Barn Raising

Mister Jalopy Scores a Stingray Bike at a Garage Sale, and Comes to an Interesting Realization

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What Mister Jalopy learned when he found a Stingray bike at a garage sale after looking for one for 20 years:

For all the years of garage saling, I have always wanted, but never found, a Schwinn Stingray. Previously, I have encountered only three. One was being wheeled away from a sale as I approached, another was a pile of parts that a fella was carrying to his car in a laundry basket and the third was a sand blasted frame which I purchased. So, this week, I found the assortment of parts shown in the top photograph. This is not a treasured Stingray rescued from the rafters of grandma's house, but rather a stalled project that somebody had put together over a couple evenings of drunken Ebaying.

Recently, I have figured out that we are in an odd secondary era for this stuff. During the 1970's and 1980s, garage sales were probably lousy with Schwinn Stingrays, but, those virgin bicycles have long been sold, garage saled, garbage dumped or reclaimed by the original owner. Now, when we find novelty bowling statuary, Apple IIs or strike front matchbooks, they are being sold by somebody that paid through the nose on eBay only to get tired of it for the second time.

Garage Sale Report - September 29, 2008

Last Supper Menu revealed: mmm, delicious eels.


New research on Da Vinci's Last Supper suggests that the meal being consumed in this painting was not bread or lamb, as previously believed. "Instead, [John Varriano] writes in a new article in Gastronomica that the 1997 cleaning and restoration of the fresco revealed plates of grilled eel garnished with orange slices." Yeah, if someone fed me that, it'd be my last supper, too. {rimshot} I'll be here all week! Try the eels. Article: The Last Supper Menu: Revealed! (The Food Section / Josh Friedland)

Daphne Guinness Sets Supermodels Ablaze


Above: Thumbnails from a fashion shoot featuring beer heiress (beirhess?) Daphne Guinness in the current issue of Vogue Italia. The spread, titled "The Honourable Daphne Guinness," was shot by Stephen Klein. IMAGES: Part one, Part two. I like the one where she sets the chick on fire. And the other one with the stormtrooper-alien-dudes with crystal laser guns. Here's an interview where she discusses the Surrealist origins of her "weird obsession with armour." (thanks Susannah Breslin!)