Van Dyke Parks singles project

201201201654 Van Dyke Parks has a new singles project! Michael Leddy (who wrote the "imaginary liner notes" for the first four singles) says Parks is "putting out six 45s with cover art by E Ruscha, Art Spiegelman, Charles Ray, Frank Holmes (who did the SMiLE cover), Klaus Voorman, Billy Edd Wheeler, and Sally Parks (VDP's wife).

Buy Money is King / Wall Street on iTunes

Students for Sensible Drug Policy question presidential candidates


[Video Link] Irina Alexander, Chair of SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy) Board of Directors says:

Two weeks ago, SSDP members took over New Hampshire before the primary, confronting presidential candidates about the drug war left and right! Within the span of a few days, we were able to capture videos of Gingrich, Romney, Santorum, and Paul answering (or hilariously dodging) our questions.

Here are just a few clips for your enjoyment:

Newt Gingrich tells me he would not have me arrested for using marijuana.

Mitt Romney freaks out when asked about arresting medical marijuana patients.

Rick Santorum forgets that the federal government imprisons drug offenders

Ron Paul sides with sensible drug policy

Also, read the Washington Post's coverage of SSDP's work in New Hampshire.

With our persistence, we brought the conversation of drug policy reform to the national level. If we weren't there asking these questions, most candidates would not have said a word about the issue.

SSDP has a lot of good videos on its YouTube page

FLORA, Adafruit's new wearable electronics development platform


Our friends at Adafruit Industries just announced FLORA, a new wearable electronics development platform.

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For the last few years Ladyada has been thinking about everything she wanted in a wearable electronics platform for Adafruit’s community of makers, hackers, crafters, artists, designers and engineers. After months of planning, designing and working with partners around the world for the best materials and accessories, we can share what we’re up to. The hardware is now in the hands of our staff and testers!

Announcing the FLORA, Adafruit’s wearable electronics platform and accessories

How To: Mark your tools for easy identification

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Steve Hoefer (a fantastic maker who I interviewed on the Make: Talk podcast earlier this week) has come up with a great way to clearly mark his tools so they don't get lost when he brings them to a hackerspace.

I also work at community workshops quite a bit, and while they often have a lot of tools around I sometimes like to bring my own. (Especially drill bits which seem to always be dull and in exactly the wrong size.) It’s best if my tools don’t mix with theirs.

And finally, tools add up to be a pretty bing investment, they sometimes like to get themselves stolen. It’s good to mark them in a way that might prevent that or aid in their recovery if they are. So, some identifying marks are in order. There are really two different things going on here, immediate identification, to separate your tools from others, and post-theft ID, to identify the tools as your own.

Steve Hoefer shows how to mark your tools for easy identification

Ice Cube <3 The Eames

Ice Cube shares his appreciation for Charles and Ray Eames. "Ice Cube Celebrates The Eames" (via Gabe Adiv's Pinterest)

Mondo Media NewsHit: Rock the Caucuses


[Video Link] This reminds me of the SubGenius photo manipulations I enjoyed on alt.slack.

SOPA is dead

Mashable: "Lamar Smith, the chief sponsor of SOPA, said on Friday that he is pulling the bill 'until there is wider agreement on a solution.' ... and ... “'In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday’s vote on the PROTECT IP Act,' said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in a statement Friday morning."

Yipee! We will be ready for them when they return.

Skeptical take on the Green Revolution

CBC's long-form/big think radio program Ideas recently featured a lecture called "Feeding Ten Billion" from Raj Patel, an Africa development scholar formerly with the World Bank, and author of The Value of Nothing. Patel's perspective on global agriculture and social justice is incisive and contrarian. I've never heard anyone talk about the demerits of the "Green Revolution" in agriculture like this, and it was an eye-opener. A perfect hour-long listen for the weekend's chores. MP3 link

Etta James and Johnny Otis, RIP

The world lost two musical greats this week. Etta James died today at age 73. Johnny Otis passed away on Tuesday. He was 90.

Conjoined II art show in Santa Monica

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Artist Chet Zar curated Conjoined II, a mind-bending group show that opens tomorrow night at Santa Monica's CoproGallery. Featured artists include Charles Krafft, Ron English, Jason Hite, and many others. Above is the absolutely stunning La Petite Mort, by Christopher Conte.

Chet Zar’s : Conjoined 2 in 3D / Copro Gallery / Jan 21 –Feb 11 (Ransom Notes)

You can see most of the art at the CoproNason site here.

Shit Baristas Say

Zachary Carlsen and Jordan Michelman of the excellent Sprudge.com coffee news site took the "Shit Girls Say" meme into my favorite San Francisco cafe, Four Barrel Coffee. Hilarity ensues. "There's no 'X' in espresso." Shit Baristas Say (Thanks, Matthew Williams!)

HOWTO typeset Call of Cthulhu spells to make them look like the scrawlings of a gibbering madman


Gnat sez, "The only thing cuter than this Game Master asking TeX gurus for help making his RPG notes 'look like they were scrawled by a gibbering madman, unhinged by the horrors he has witnessed' is the serious responses, with examples of output. He even got an answer saying how to typeset an Elder Sign! Truly, there is nothing more awesome than typesetting geeks helping gaming geeks."

I want to type up some spells from the RPG Call of Cthulhu and give them to my players. I could just type them up in Word or LaTeX, but that seems too....neat. I'd like to make these things look like they were scrawled by a gibbering madman, unhinged by the horrors he has witnessed. Bonus points if you can add any traces of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

Less poetically: Typefaces to make it look scrawled or handwritten, preferably with a quill or calligraphy pen. Ways to make the word spacing less regular (Abuse microtype in some way?) and ways to put in drop caps are the kind of things I'm looking for.

Bonus points if you can tell me how to typeset an elder sign.

How do I make my document look like it was written by an Cthulhu worshipping madman? (Thanks, Gnat!)

Report from the Orchid Olympics

 Images Orchid-Olympics-Paphiopedilum-Spicerianum-24 JG Bryce took these incredible photographs at the 20th World Orchid Conference, aka "The Orchid Olympics" that took place in Singapore last November. Bryce's photos illustrate a feature at Smithsonian about the competition. From Smithsonian:

Orchidddddd Members of a South African orchid society, disappointed that international trade regulations had denied them permission to bring real animal parts or live birds, huffily constructed a jungle display with fake leopards, rhino horns and elephant tusks.

Justin Tkatchenko, from the Orchid Society of Papua New Guinea, was adding finishing touches to a display that included gigantic carved masks and a bird made of orchids. “We are aiming to be the best in the world. This will be the most photographed display in the whole show,” he said.

Orchids may be the most diverse flower family in the world, with more than 25,000 species. (Their only competition comes from daisies.) The orchid family maintains such diversity in the wild in part because individual orchid species summon only specific pollinators; the flowers thus avoid mingling their genes with those of other nearby orchids that are visited by their own pollinators. But most of the 50,000 orchids from 5,000 varieties on display at the conference do not occur in the wild; they are hybrids, created by people who have cross-fertilized orchid species, often from far-flung lands.

"The Orchid Olympics" (Smithsonian)

More about Bryce's approach to the assignment in "Objects of Desire" (Smithosnian)

Playboy's "The Smoking Jacket" talks to Chester Brown

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Playboy's website The Smoking Jacket interviewed cartoonist Chester Brown about his autobiographical novel, The Playboy. Jessica Campbell of Drawn & Quarterly (publisher of The Playboy) says, "OK, am I the only one who didn't know that Hugh Hefner wrote to Chester after the publication of The Playboy to express concern about his guilt? This interview is full of little gems like that! Love it."

TSJ: The Playboy was published in 1992, and it’s an autobiographical comic about your teenage experiences with Playboy magazine—buying it, hiding it, whacking off to it, burying it, burning it… When did you first see a Playboy mag? And how do you go from being embarrassed to buy the publication to writing a book about it?

CHESTER BROWN: I’m sure I would have seen it on the stands and would have been curious, you know, when I was a kid. I remember in elementary school we were putting on a play—we were supposed to be pretending to be adults—and one of the kids had a Playboy. I guess he had gotten it from his father, to pretend like he was an older fellow reading a Playboy. And I remember sneaking a look at the centerfold. But it wasn’t until several years later that I actually got up the nerve to go out and buy my own.

TSJ: Did you ever get any feedback from the people at Playboy about your comic?

CB: After we released The Playboy I got a letter with Playboy [header] on it and it turned it out to be from Hugh Hefner. He wrote me a very nice letter about how much he enjoyed the book but that he was kind of concerned about all the guilt and suffering I had gone through as a teenager, buying the magazine, and how this had kind of surprised him because he had thought the sexual revolution in the 60s had changed things and that teenage boys buying Playboy in the 70s wouldn’t be feeling guilt about it anymore.

TSJ Talks to Author/Illustrator Chester Brown

Make money fast with the sensational new T.V. Bank

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(Insert quarter into your computer to enlarge the image above. If not thrilled and delighted beyond words, your quarter will be returned.)

After the MPAA orders its minions in the Justice Dept. to shut down Boing Boing, I will continue to earn a living with the sensational new Television Bank. (Via The Big Blog of Kids' Comics, thanks Ruben!)