Boing Boing 

(BBtv) Looking for the Perfect Bean: Kyle Glanville's World Coffee Tour, part 1 - Brazil.


Boing Boing tv's global coffee correspondent Kyle Glanville is looking for the perfect bean, and you're invited along for the ride. You may recall his earlier appearances on the show when the 2008 US World Barista Champion introduced us to coffee roasting and espresso brewing at Intelligentsia.

Today, we debut a series of episode featuring Kyle on a world coffee tour, and we join him as he visits plantations to learn about the growing, harvesting, and processing techniques of Intelligentsia suppliers around the globe.

In this first episode, Kyle visits the Fazenda Conquista plantation in Minas Gerais, Brazil where Ipanema Coffees grows, dries, and roasts their goods, with lots of weird agro-gadgets and machines you probably haven't seen before -- some low-tech, some high-tech, but all really cool to watch. This plantation is one of the largest in Brazil, with 12 million coffee plants spread out over about 25 square miles of varying terrain.

One of the most fun things about producing BBtv is working with people like Kyle, who share their expertise and life experiences with us in video through their own eyes. I learned so much watching this first installment with the BBtv team -- I especially loved the giant machines that look like AT-AT walkers, lumbering through the neatly trimmed rows of coffee plants. Also, for someone who drinks as much espresso as I do -- how did I never know that coffee beans are surrounded by an edible, sweet fruit, that when dried intact with the bean, make the flavor richer?

Oh, and you have to check out the aerial tour of the plantation, which you can do in Google Maps or Google Earth: Link to Fazenda Conquista / Ipanema Coffees .kmz.

Get ready for more of these java adventures with Kyle -- we're working on more, as he wanders the planet, looking for the perfect bean.

Previous BBtv episodes featuring Kyle Glanville's Coffee explorations:

* A Morning at Intelligentsia Coffee Part 2
* A Morning at Intelligentsia Part 1


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and daily podcast subscription instructions.



BBtv: Roots Reggae Legends Toots and the Maytals (music)


Today on Boing Boing tv: Toots and the Maytals are true reggae legends (more: Wikipedia, MySpace). Founder Toots Hibbert is credited with coining the word "reggae" in the band's 1968 single, "Do the Raggay." They've had more number one hit songs in Jamaica than any recording artist ever, and received a Grammy for Best Reggae Album of the Year in 2005.

He was a contemporary of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff, and was featured in Director-producer Perry Henzel's all-Jamaican-made 1973 movie classic The Harder They Come (Amazon link).

I joined BBtv's London-based music correspondent Russell Porter for a visit on the venerable Mister Toots' tour bus after an amazing set at Outside Lands, and we sat down with him for a conversation about the history of reggae, and what Toots thinks about contemporary hip-hop and dancehall -- and where his legacy leads. The generous vanity intro he did for BBtv is a thing of beauty, we can all die happy now.


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and daily podcast subscription instructions.


Sponsor Note: This episode, and other BBtv music features this month, are sponsored by the Crowdfire live music social media project. You can find images, video, and audio about the band featured in today's show at Crowdfire -- here's the search link for fan-uploads related to Toots and the Maytals.

Related Boing Boing tv episodes from Outside Lands:
* Broken Social Scene: interview and live performance (music)
* Galactic's "Modern New Orleans Funk" with Xeni and Russell (music)
* Interview with Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett (music)
* Andy Gould, rock band manager, dances on the labels' graves.
* Primus: Xeni interviews Les and Ler (music)
* Kaki King, guitar hero: performance, interview with Xeni (music)
* BB Gadgets' Joel at Outside Lands: Crowdfire deconstructed
* Carney at Outside Lands - a "Boing Boing tv Bus Session." (music)
* Steel Pulse founder David Hinds at Outside Lands (music)
* Boing Boing tv backstage at Outside Lands: (Xeni + Russell Porter)

(Special thanks to Wayneco for the magic bus, to Michael Cacia, and to Virgin America for air travel.)

BBtv: Robert Plant and Allison Krauss interview (music)


Hey, speaking of bluegrass... when Led Zeppelin founder Robert Plant teamed up with Nashville mama Allison Krauss, critics compared the musical collaboration to a hookup between King Kong and Bambi. But their album "Raising Sand," produced by T-Bone Burnett, earned the odd duo widespread raves. Boing Boing tv's London music correspondent Russell Porter caught up with Plant and Krauss backstage at the Mercury Prize, an annual award for the best album from the UK or Ireland.


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and daily podcast subscription instructions.


BBtv WORLD: Elephant-blogging in Benin with Xeni (Africa)


Today's Boing Boing tv is an installment of our ongoing BBtv WORLD series, in which we bring you first-person glimpses of life around the globe. Today: an ambient exploration of the creatures rustling around in a West African wildlife preserve at dawn.

I traveled to Benin not long ago, and I shot this video on a small handheld digital camcorder. This episode of our daily show is a little experiment in trying to convey what this place feels like, first-person, without too many words.


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and instructions on how to subscribe to the daily BBtv video podcast.


The Pendjari Biosphere lies in Benin's remote rural northwest, along the border of Burkina Faso. Despite poaching and environmental damage, it's still home to a diverse number of species -- elephants, lions, monkeys, cheetah, and around 300 species of birds. We traveled here during the dry season, when animal spotting is easiest. Here is what we saw at dawn (the time of day when critters all come out to the watering holes and rivers).

Poaching is still a big problem in this area, and organized trophy hunting for foreign tourists is still legal and in demand here (mostly visitors from France; Benin is a former French colony and French is the official language). Lion hunts are a lucrative trade in this extremely poor region, where most people are subsistence farmers.

But eco-tourism and less-invasive safari experiences are becoming more important to the local economy here, and offer a more sustainable future.

Note: don't miss the epic baboon ball-grab at 0:35, and the mama elephant ripping tree branches off and getting ready to kill us around 1:50. We were too close to her kids, and we were having a hard time leaving quickly. Do not taunt happy-fun elephant.

Related BBtv WORLD episode:
BBtv World: Green tech and internet at the Songhai Center in Benin (Africa)

John Hodgman in BBtv's SPAMasterpiece Theater.


BBtv is launching a series of episodes featuring author, PC, and minor television personality John Hodgman, as the world waits breathlessly for the launch of his new book, MORE INFORMATION THAN YOU REQUIRE . We have read it, dear viewer, and it is splendid.

Today, the debut installment of Boing Boing tv's SPAMASTERPIECE THEATER, which Hodgman himself describes as the dramatization of "true tale[s] of romance, adventure, infamy, and low-cost prescription drugs, all culled from the reams of actual, unsolicited emails, received here by us and people like you -- what we call SPAM."

We'll be releasing more of these in the coming weeks. Each one is composed exclusively of actual, unadulterated, unsolicited email. Like virtual raw foodists, we would not think of cooking perfect fruit that falls so gracefully from the internet's tree of life.

We hope you enjoy. { fade to black, fade in Hodgman in the library chair, surrounded by spam ephemera }


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and instructions on how to subscribe to our daily video podcast, which you really ought to do.


A note from our musical director: The adaptation of Jean-Joseph Mouret's "Rondeau: Fanfare" (1735) which opens today's episode was remixed in flagrante 8-bit by Hamhocks Buttermilk Johnson.

BBtv: Galactic's "Modern New Orleans Funk" with Xeni and Russell (music)


New Orleans is a lot of things to a lot of people, but to the guys in the band Galactic, it's the motherland of funk. In today's Boing Boing tv episode, Xeni and Russell catch Galactic's Crescent City Soul Crewe live at the Outside Lands festival, and speak to them about the band's homage to this birthplace of jazz and its ancestral influence on many other forms of modern music. The band's newest release, From the Corner to the Block, is potent stuff, and pulling in rave reviews all over.

( Sponsor note: Crowdfire is sponsoring this series of music features on BBtv, and you can find crowdsourced snapshots, audio, and video about this band at crowdfire.net. )


Link to BBtv blog post with downloadable video and instructions on how to subscribe to the daily BBtv video podcast.


BBtv: Russell Porter with "folk-n-roll" band Rachel Unthank & The Winterset (music)


We're kicking off the week at Boing Boing tv with a visit from our London-based music correspondent Russell Porter, who sits down with Rachel Unthank & The Winterset, a experimental folk-roots ensemble from Northumberland, UK.

Rachel and Becky Unthank are sisters, and Russell caught up with them at this year's Nationwide Mercury Prize, where they are up for high honors.

In his "best albums of 2007" review, Paul Morley of Observer Music Magazine described the band's work as "tough as it is gentle, as ancient as it is modern, and as coldly desolate as it is achingly intimate. They might not end up being the best-selling British all-girl group of all time, but they're well on their way to being the most charismatic and imaginative."


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and instructions on subscribing to the BBtv daily video podcast.


The girls are currently on tour throughout the United States and Europe. Their 2007 album The Bairns is lovely, and you can pick it up at Amazon, iTunes, and elsewhere around the web.

Boing Boing tv: Floating in Zero Gravity is Fun, Earthlings!


In today's episode of Boing Boing tv, we float around in zero gravity. With me on this Zero-G weightless flight are Intel Chairman Craig Barrett; my friend Sean Bonner from metblogs; and a bunch of science teachers from grade schools and high schools throughout the United States who were on board to conduct microgravity experiments for the kids back home. As you watch, keep an eye out for the floating lego robot, a flying pig, and the barfing guy who is totally barfing for reals -- the rest of us did not, btw, I don't get sick in space.

What you see in this episode is what it feels like, guys, and it feels awesome.


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable version of this video, and instructions on how to subscribe to the daily BBtv video podcast.


(Special thanks to Peter Diamandis, and George and Loretta Whitesides)

Interview with Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett (music)


Boing Boing tv's UK-based music correspondent Russell Porter catches up with Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett for a brief chat about the band's new record, Loyalty to Loyalty, just as Willett and the band finish a set at San Francisco's Outside Lands fest.


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and instructions on how to subscribe to our daily video podcast.


(special thanks to Virgin America for air travel, and to Wayneco for the magic bus)

Related Boing Boing tv episodes from Outside Lands:
* Andy Gould, rock band manager, dances on the labels' graves.
* Primus: Xeni interviews Les and Ler (music)
* Kaki King, guitar hero: performance, interview with Xeni (music)
* BB Gadgets' Joel at Outside Lands: Crowdfire deconstructed
* Carney at Outside Lands - a "Boing Boing tv Bus Session." (music)
* Steel Pulse founder David Hinds at Outside Lands (music)
* Boing Boing tv backstage at Outside Lands: (Xeni + Russell Porter)

BBtv World: Green tech and internet at the Songhai Center in Benin (Africa)


In this installment of Boing Boing tv's ongoing BBtv WORLD series, I travel to the West African nation of Benin to visit the Songhaï Center, a green tech project designed to develop a new generation of "agricultural entrepreneurs," and foster economic sustainability.

Benin is nestled between Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria along the continent's midwest coast -- this shore was historically known as the "Slave Coast," and Benin was a major center in export of slave labor to the Americas. Today, Benin's people are struggling with a cultural shift from a traditional, mostly agrarian society, to a more urban, industrialized economy -- and the largely impoverished country depends on foreign aid.

The Songhaï Center was founded in the mid-'80s by Father Godfrey Nzamujo, a Dominican priest and Nigerian native, on a few acres of swampland granted by Benin's former president. What began as an experiment in small-scale sustainable development to fight poverty has since become a popular institution, and a symbol of Africa's potential for self-determination and prosperity.


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video and instructions on how to subscribe to our daily video podcast.



Aid creates dependence, but small businesses foster independence, the group's logic goes -- and unlike other anti-poverty projects, this one exports more than it imports: specialty food and beverage products produced here (cashew butter, cookies, fruit beverages) are sold and shipped to France and elsewhere around the world.

In this episode, we walk through the main Songhaï Center in Porto Novo, a coastal town near the Nigerian border, and we witness a variety of projects in action -- "integrated farming, biomass gasification, microenterprise and IT for rural communities." Here, agricultural and technical pursuits merge in uniquely African ways.

We see women hulling cashew nuts; mango soda whooshing into bottles in a soda bottling factory; barnyard critters (including the furry and tasty bush critters known as "sugar cane rats"); people sifting maize flour and baking fresh bread for sale; workers harvesting manioc, papayas, and giant mushrooms; and buzzing activity in the adjacent internet "telecentre."

Each of those parts interlock to form a massive, carefully-engineered, green tech puzzle: scrap metal is welded into parts that would cost too much to buy from overseas. Insects grown on scraps from the restaurant feed fish cultivated in the aquaculture area; water hyacinths at the edge of those pools help filter "black water" in the sewage system; solar panels power the internet cafe; coconut husks discarded in food production serve as a base on which to cultivate giant mushrooms. One area's waste becomes another component's fuel input, and the resulting products cost less than they would through contemporary, Western means.

There are 6 Songhaï Centers throughout Benin, and plans for opening more tech/agriculture hubs in Nigeria, Gabon, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. They offer voice over internet and wifi at current sites in Benin, and plan to expand into rural telephone and ISP services, as the project grows.

-- Xeni Jardin


(Xeni shot the video footage, and the stills in this blog post; special thanks to Leonce Sessou, the center's head of technology.)

BBtv: Andy Gould, rock band manager, dances on the labels' graves.


Today on Boing Boing tv, our UK-based music correspondent Russell Porter sits down with legendary rock band manager Andy Gould for a chat about crazy, historic rocknroll hijinks he's witnessed in his decades in the biz. We caught up with Gould at the Outside Lands Music and Arts festival, near the Crowdfire tent.

Gould is presently the manager for Primus, Morrissey, and other acts; present and past clients include Linkin Park, Lionel Ritchie, Rob Zombie, Pantera, Kool and the Gang, Damien Marley. Together with Irving Azoff, he manages Guns and Roses. He explains that he was there during the early days of "fur coat and cricket bat," band managers, tough guys who "walked around with suitcases full of hundreds of thousands of dollars when the band walked offstage."

"What's really really great now is that the record companies have gone out of business," he says -- why would a music manager be dancing on the labels' graves? And how is a pilfered pre-release MP3 like a box of Chicken McNuggets? Watch and learn, grasshoppers.


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with discussion and downloadable video, and instructions on how to subscribe to the BBtv daily video podcast.


If you dig this, check out our previous BBtv episodes from Outside Lands. And there's tons of fan-made footage and photos of Primus on Crowdfire.net (they're a BBtv sponsor).

(special thanks to Jason McHugh; to Virgin America for air travel, and to Wayneco for the magic bus)

Related Boing Boing tv episodes from Outside Lands:
* Primus: Xeni interviews Les and Ler (music)
* Kaki King, guitar hero: performance, interview with Xeni (music)
* BB Gadgets' Joel at Outside Lands: Crowdfire deconstructed
* Carney at Outside Lands - a "Boing Boing tv Bus Session." (music)
* Steel Pulse founder David Hinds at Outside Lands (music)
* Boing Boing tv backstage at Outside Lands: (Xeni + Russell Porter)

BBtv: Russell Porter with post-jazz band Portico Quartet (music)


BBtv's UK music correspondent Russell Porter interviews British modern "post-jazz" group Portico Quartet about the eclectic influences behind their sound -- and how it felt to be nominated for this year's Mercury Prize. Here are previous BBtv episodes with music features from Russell. Listen to Portico Quartet at Last.fm, and you can pick up their new album Knee Deep in the North Sea (just released a few weeks ago!) on iTunes or Amazon.

Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video.

Star Simpson, one year after Boston airport terror-scare: unedited BBtv interview transcript


September 21, 2008 marks exactly one year since the day on which 19-year-old MIT engineering student Star Simpson walked into Boston's Logan International Airport wearing a home-made light-up sweatshirt, and asked an airport worker for information about a friend's arriving flight.

Boston is the city from which two terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks departed in 2001. They boarded planes at Logan and flew them into the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York, destroying the buildings and killing nearly 3,000 people.

In January 2007, a false terrorism scare happened in Boston when a guerrilla marketing team working to promote Cartoon Network's Aqua Teen Hunger Force show placed LED signs around the city. Authorities mistook the colorfully lit boards for bombs.

Just eight months later, in a persisting environment of anxiety over terrorism, a Boston Logan Airport worker mistook Star Simpson's LED-adorned wearable tech garment for a suicide bomb. That airport worker phoned Boston police. A small misunderstanding over a hoodie quickly became a surreal debacle during which police said they came close to killing Ms. Simpson.

Last Friday, we aired an interview with Star Simpson -- her first public comments on the incident since that day -- in a ten-minute video feature on Boing Boing tv (here's the direct MP4 link).

Some viewers asked if we could publish a transcript of our entire 45-minute Skype video chat, and here it is. One year, countless court dates, and much media uproar later, Star's wry advice to other would-be wearable electronics makers? "Hide the batteries." Snip from the transcript:

XENI JARDIN: So what exactly happened? What was the moment that changed from you going to pick up your friend with this shirt and another device which you'll show us in a moment... when did everything switch.

STAR SIMPSON: The woman who made the call surprised me. I was asking an information woman for, 'has the flight come in, can you tell me which baggage claim to be at...' and she looked at my jacket and glazed over completely in fear. And I was very surprised by that, I didn't know what to say. That was how everything started. I tried my best to explain everything to her, and I turned the lights off the jacket. Nothing calmed her down. No words could convey anything calming to her. I thought maybe I could at least get out of her sphere of terror, whatever was causing her such anxiety, by maybe going somewhere else and trying to find my friend on my own. Then, I didn't expect that things would go so badly from there. After that I was trying to leave the airport, I was catching the shuttle bus to go home because I realized that I'd missed my friend and the next best thing I could to was find a phone. I was waiting on the traffic island for the next shuttle bus to get on the subway when all of a sudden my hands were grabbed from behind me.

XENI: Who was grabbing your hands?

STAR: It turned out to be the state police. They have this magic trick where 40 of them can appear all at once out of nowhere. I didn't see them coming ever. Just, all of a sudden my hands were wrenched up over my head and my stuff was thrown on the ground, and they're everywhere, and some of them were holding really big devices that I realized were machine guns, later. I was -- I couldn't identify them at the time, I thought maybe they were camera tripods. I had no idea what was going on.


Full text of the interview follows after the jump.

Read the rest

BBtv: Star Simpson's first interview on the Boston airport LED sweatshirt scare.


Update: Complete and unedited transcript of our interview here.

In today's episode of Boing Boing tv: One year ago, a 19-year-old MIT engineering student named Star Simpson got dressed to go pick up a friend at Boston's Logan airport. She pulled a hoodie out of her closet, a wearable tech design she'd made with a light-up LED-circuit on the chest. In her hand was a small pink rose she'd crafted from hardened clay, a gift for her friend.

A few hours later at the airport, after an airport employee mistook her sweatshirt for a bomb and the rose for an explosive implement, Star found herself surrounded by 40 armed police who believed she was a suicide bomber. She was arrested for "possessing a hoax device," and an unprecedented media frenzy ensued. Here was the Boing Boing post from that day.

A year later, after a long series of court dates, a Boston judge ruled that Star must perform community service and make a public apology. Star says she intended no harm. She believes the authorities were unfairly harsh with her long after it was obvious she posed no threat, and that legal proceedings were unduly influenced by a prevailing atmosphere of anxiety over terrorism (this just months after a similar case in Boston).

She has since dropped out of MIT, and says the school's reaction felt like "being disowned." She has moved out of Boston in part because of recurring threats and attacks from strangers.

Star has finally come forward to tell her side of the story publicly, and she does so on Boing Boing tv today.


Link to Boing Boing tv episode with downloadable video, discussion, and video podcast subscription instructions.


If you'd like to make your very own LED breadboard hoodie, the folks at Instructables have just published Star's plans here. They're too graceful to say this, but I will: do not wear this to airports. Make a Breadboard Sweatshirt (Instant Wearable Electronics!)

MAKE will soon be publishing a related article.

Previous Boing Boing tv episodes :
* Star Simpson's fuzzy logic, MacGyver, MIT lasers, and trippy glasses: Maker Faire with Phil Torrone

Related Boing Boing blog posts:
* MIT student arrested for entering Boston airport with "fake bomb"
* Improvising electronic devices is not a crime
* OK Go's LED Jackets
* ATHF LEDs all over Boston today


BBtv - Primus: Xeni interviews Les and Ler (music)

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Boing Boing tv caught up with Les Claypool and Larry "Ler" Lalonde of Primus at Outside Lands for a hyperdelic, transdimensional conversation about inflatables, Maker Faire, South Park, weird home-made electronic instruments, and more.

Les also made his film directing debut this year with Electric Apricot, a faux-cumentary feature about a fictional jam band in search of the ultimate music festival.


Link to Boing Boing tv post with downloadable video, and video podcast subscription instructions. If you dig this, check out our previous BBtv episodes from Outside Lands. And there's tons of fan-made footage and photos of Primus on Crowdfire.net (they're a BBtv sponsor).


(special thanks to Jason McHugh; to Virgin America for air travel, and to Wayneco for the magic bus)

Related Boing Boing tv episodes:

* Kaki King, guitar hero: performance, interview with Xeni (music)
* BB Gadgets' Joel at Outside Lands: Crowdfire deconstructed
* Carney at Outside Lands - a "Boing Boing tv Bus Session." (music)
* Steel Pulse founder David Hinds at Outside Lands (music)
* Boing Boing tv backstage at Outside Lands: (Xeni + Russell Porter)

BBtv: "Animals," animated music video for Minilogue by Kristofer Ström


Today is animation day on Boing Boing tv, and we're super proud to present a new work from one of our favorite young animator/directors -- Kristofer Ström of Ljudbilden & Piloten, based in Sweden.

Here's their blog, and this has to be the most lovely Facebook graffitti ever.

This short work is a music video he created for the Swedish electronica band Minilogue. The track is "Animals," and the video features colorful critter-blobs wreaking hyperfun havoc all over an urban real-life-scape.

We asked Kristofer to tell us a little about how this came together, and he explains:

In late 2007 we (me and the band Minilogue) started talking about making a followup to the very popular "hitchhiker's choice" video. At the same time I was doing some VJ-ing for them and found that those little animations i made for that could be characters in their next video. So I started producing a lot of loops of creatures. I hooked up with bart yates, nicholas wakeham and erik buchholtz, and our first thought was to put them all in an animated world... but i didn't really feel it. Then Erik showed me a test of my characters motion-tracked onto some footage -- and there it was. So he went out shooting some spots, rough cuts without the creatures, then we added those little fellas in the footage. Voilá! A longer version will be found on the minilogue DVD, coming this fall, finally! The longer version of "hitchhiker's choice" will be on there too. Some other stuff can be found on our temporary web site: http://varelsen.com.


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with discussion, downloadable video, and instructions on how to subscribe to the daily Boing Boing tv video podcast.


Link to Minilogue's YouTube features. (Special thanks to Claire Jones, and to Cocoon.)

(BBtv) BB Gadgets' Joel at Outside Lands: Crowdfire deconstructed

Boing Boing Gadgets editor Joel Johnson checks out Crowdfire, a sort of real-life social media experiment at the Outside Lands Music fest. The experiment allows concertgoers to upload, share, remix, and "favorite" photos, audio and video they shot themselves... during the event. Some of that media was projected on the stage while bands played, and all of it was made available online.

Crowdfire (with Windows) is Boing Boing tv's sponsor this month, and the project was the brainchild of BB partner and FM founder/CEO John Battelle and Rick Farman, the festival developer who created Outside Lands.

Crowdfire is sort of like an event-centric Flickr or videosharing site, but on a very large scale -- some 60K+ people attended the concert each day, and as Battelle said, probably 59,000 of them were carrying cameraphones.


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post with downloadable video, discussion, and BBtv video podcast subscription instructions.

Related Boing Boing tv episodes:

* Primus: Xeni interviews Les and Ler (music)
* Kaki King, guitar hero: performance, interview with Xeni (music)
* Carney at Outside Lands - a "Boing Boing tv Bus Session." (music)
* Steel Pulse founder David Hinds at Outside Lands (music)
* Boing Boing tv backstage at Outside Lands: (Xeni + Russell Porter)

(Special thanks to Bre and Wayne for the bus; to Virgin America for generously providing air transportation)

"To My Surprise" music video by Syd Garon + crew (feat. Slipknot members)


Today's dose of Boing Boing tv is an experimental rock animation oddity featuring one of our favorite directors, Syd Garon. It's a music video for To My Surprise, a band led by The Clown (Shawn Crahan) from nu-metal heavyweights Slipknot.

The video was directed and animated by Syd Garon and Eric Henry with illustrations by Doug Cunningham (of Morning Breath), Lee Ballard, Cristie Henry and The Clown's daughter, who was 6 years old at the time.

Part of what makes this so interesting to us is the crazy backstory. Syd explains:

The record was produced by Rick Rubin and had some pretty good Beatles-inspired tunes on it if memory serves.

The Clown had a bizarre list of things -- completely unrelated to our treatment -- which we were required to have in the video. The items were so strange we decided not to even try to fight it. That is why the final video has a pilgrim and a turkey, a rubber dog head, and a rat eating a taco among other oddities.

In addition to "the list" we had to incorporate a bunch of black and white drawings made by his 6 year old daughter. Oh yeah, the drawings had to be playing dodgeball.

We actually had a conversation with an assistant at the record label and spoke the words, "yes there is a rat eating a taco in the video".

One of the band members refused to have his cartoon likeness anything other than completely realistic. That is why a goddamn imaginary band has a robot with bunny ears, a three eyed Rastafarian and one totally fucking normal guy.

In retrospect, having one normal guy makes the band even stranger in a way I never would have thought of. So, hats off to you, normal guy.

To our surprise the video didn't totally work. The kids drawings were actually awesome and if I had a time machine I might go back and try making a video just around them instead combining our ideas with The Clowns.

We made this video with the mighty Doug Cunningham at Morning Breath and it was fun to get the Wave Twisters crew back together again.

Link to Boing Boing tv blog post, with downloadable video and instructions on how to subscribe to the BBtv daily video podcast.

Also see: Previous BBtv episodes featuring the work of Syd Garon.

Russell Porter with Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip: interview + music video

BBtv presents a performance and interview with Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, purveyors of cut-up street talk and fine electro-glitch-funk. Their new album, Angles, was just released in the United States, and our UK music correspondent Russell Porter digs in. The duo consists of Dan Stephens and David Meads, both of whom are natives of Stanford-le-Hope in Essex, England. Their band's name -- "Scroobius Pip" -- is an intentional botch of the Edward Lear poem, The Scroobious Pip.

The second half of today's episode (at about 7:00 in, after the midroll ad, and the stuff about Pip's lip tat) is the music video for Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip's "A Letter from God to Man," directed by Steve Glashier of NTSH. The song is constructed around a short, sweet Radiohead sample (Planet Telex) from the 1995 album, The Bends. The still you see in the flash embed above is from this music video.


Link to Boing Boing tv blog post, with discussion and video podcast subscribe instructions.


Here are previous editions of Russell's interviews with up-and-coming indie artists for Boing Boing tv.

Their 2007 song "Thou Shalt Always Kill" was featured in this previous Boing Boing tv episode, embedded below.

BBtv World: Ancient hermit monk caves of Drak Yerpa (Tibet)

Today's edition of Boing Boing tv is a new installment of our ongoing "BBtv WORLD" series, in which we bring you first-person glimpses of life, culture, and human expression from around the planet.

Today, I visit the honeycombed, limestone caves at Drak Yerpa, an ancient religious and historic site near Lhasa, Tibet.

Tibetan Buddhists consider Drak Yerpa (pronounced sort of like “tra-YER-ba”) with its more than eighty meditation caves and temples, to be the “life tree” of Lhasa. In 1959, the Chinese military demolished most of the temples here. Signs of that destruction are etched into walls pockmarked with bullet holes. The few artifacts that saved from that destruction have been hidden for half a century, only recently reemerging for worshippers.

Songsten Gampo, the founder of the Tibetan empire, is believed to have meditated in the very cave we’re walking through in this footage -- way back in the 7th century. A hundred years later, the dark assassin-monk Lhalungpa Pelgi Dorje hid here after killing Tibet’s non-Buddhist king with a bow and arrow (he shot the guy in the eye, then he sped off on a horse covered in black soot). The assassin's black hat was enshrined in a cave here until 1959, when the communist army came in to ransack the site. And Padmasambhava, the holy figure considered “the second Buddha” meditated and practiced tantric yoga with his yogini consort here. She is Yeshe Tsogyal, and devotees refer to her as "the bliss queen."

The pilgrims who walk praying through these ruins are ethnic Tibetans: citydwellers, tribal nomads, traditional monks and nuns. They come to worship at shrines of historical figures and deities, and they pay homage with donations that help cover upkeep of the shrines and to feed the monks who tend to them.

Traditional religious practice is evident here, but ethnic Tibetans and human rights advocates argue that true religious freedom does not exist in Tibet. Displaying a picture of the Dalai Lama, for instance, is a crime that brings harsh penalties. Tibetans who revere him as a spiritual leader don't hear news of him on state-run media, unless it's portraying him as a sort of terrorist.

When we went to these shrines at Drak Yerpa and others throughout Tibet, we were clearly foreigners, and had just come from the part of India where the Dalai Lama lives in exile. Monks would often pull us aside into quieter corners and ask in hushed voice, "Dalai Lama, have you seen him?," motioning to their eyes, asking for word. -- XJ


Link to BBtv episode with downloadable video, and podcast subscription instructions.


Related episodes of Boing Boing tv:
* BBtv WORLD (Tibet): Inside Lhasa
* Vlog (Xeni): Tibet report - monks forced to participate in staged videos.
* Vlog (Xeni): Tibet's uprising and the internet
* Beijing: interview with pro-Tibet videobloggers in hiding, in China.

BBtv: Russell Porter interviews The Rumble Strips (music)


BBtv's London-based music correspondent Russell Porter brings us a performance and interview from the Rumble Strips (website | MySpace | Wikipedia). They're currently on tour throughout the USA, and they're named after a UK-English term for the "small, continuous lines of bumps along the edge of a road." Their music is described as " Soul / Regional Mexican / Powerpop;" a fine, rockin' way to close out a short Labor Day work week. Previous BBtv music features with Russell Porter are here.

Carney at Outside Lands - a "Boing Boing tv Bus Session."


When the BBtv team and I were covering the Outside Lands festival in San Francisco, a lot of interesting stuff happened. Case in point -- today's episode, in which members of the "rock / blues / French pop" band Carney (MySpace / band website) wander into our giant blogstar tour bus (generously loaned by Wayneco). They perform an amazing acoustic set, after zany hijinks.

Those hijinks include phoning the "president of show business" on a dishwashing hose, and an unintelligible deconstruction of jazz music with our UK-based music correspondent Russell Porter. The live set aboard the bus begins around 4:40, and it was electrifying in person when it (most unexpectedly) happened.

All of this happened because a BBtv team member taped the letters "Boing Boing tv" in blue gaffer tape to the side of our ginormous motorcoach, which was parked just behind the festival's main stage. The Carney dudes were wandering around in the dust around 2am looking for their drummer's lost jacket (more on that later), spotted the bus, and because they're fans of the blog, they peeked in to say hello. We're sure glad they did.


You can check out more of Carney and the many other acts that performed at Outside Lands at the CROWDFIRE website, where folks who went to the fest uploaded photos and video they shot themselves.... during the event. It's a really cool project. We contributed a bunch of clips and stills there.

Related Boing Boing tv episodes:

* Primus: Xeni interviews Les and Ler (music)
* Kaki King, guitar hero: performance, interview with Xeni (music)
* BB Gadgets' Joel at Outside Lands: Crowdfire deconstructed
* Steel Pulse founder David Hinds at Outside Lands (music)
* Boing Boing tv backstage at Outside Lands: (Xeni + Russell Porter)

(Special thanks to Bre and Wayne for the bus; to Virgin America for generously providing air transportation; to BBtv field producer Jason McHugh; to BBtv production assistant Ilana Shulman, and to Windows and Crowdfire, for sponsoring our Outside Lands coverage.)


Best of BBtv - David Byrne "Playing the Building."


Our retrospective of favorite Boing Boing tv editions concludes today in a visit with music legend David Byrne, at the launch of his musical installation Playing the Building. This episode was a blast for cast and crew alike, and we're revisiting it today to remind you that Byrne is about to start a Fall US tour to support his recently-released collaboration with Brian Eno, Everything that Happens will Happen Today. Snip from that project's website:

Byrne and Eno began their artistic relationship in the late seventies with 3 Talking Heads albums, followed by their groundbreaking album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.
The album is their first together in 30 years, and is available in deliciously DRM-free digital download. It's beautiful.

Photos from the BBtv "Playing the Building" shoot, below -- and in the episode -- by Clayton Cubitt. (Special thanks to Danielle Spencer, and Jason Wishnow).

Previously on Boing Boing: David Byrne and Brian Eno's kick ass new album in a million downloadable and physical formats


Best of Boing Boing tv: we love monochrom.


Boing Boing tv's "best of" retrospective continues, with a look back at some of the episodes we dig most. One of the things that makes me (and the whole BBtv team) happiest about our daily video project is the opportunity to collaborate in new ways with creative, fun, insane friends of the blog -- like Johnannes G. and the monochrom crew in Vienna. Their wonderful video contributions have become part of the fabric of our show, and no "favorites" review would be complete without their madcap art-tech-philosophy hijinks.

Above, this one's probably the all-time fave of the BBtv staff and crew -- Campfire at Will.

Below, runner-up: the Soviet Underzegenergjakdfjgndorf terrorist training video, shot at *actual* nuclear history sites in the American Southwest, with help from BB pal Sean Bonner.

Monochrom is: Johannes Grenzfurthner, Evelyn Fürlinger, Harald List, Anika Kronberger, Franz Ablinger, Frank Apunkt Schneider, Daniel Fabry, Günther Friesinger, Roland Gratzer, and international ambassador Jacob Appelbaum.

More monochrom archives on Boing Boing tv:
* Bye Bye
* Monochrom: Economic Recession Wisdom from Sock Puppets.
* Monochrom's "Kiki, Bubu, and the Self"
* Nazi Petting Zoo
* Fisch Interview
* Orwell's 1984 deconstructed by puppets
* Monochrom's Marxist sock puppets
* Monochrom: MyFaceSpace, the musical
* Monochrom: Falco Stairs
* Monochrom: Bar code artist Scott Blake / Falco stencil memorial
* Human USB Hack / Very Simple Motor
* Mark's Curie Engine / Monochrom's love song for Lessig
* Google and China's "Great Firewall": Fun with BLF and monochrom
* Terrorist training video from Soviet Unterzögersdorf
* Nikita Chrusov of Soviet Unterzoegersdorf crashes Disney party at ETech
* Dead media and living light


Best of BBtv: Hot 8 Brass Band of New Orleans (music)


Our retrospective of favorite Boing Boing tv episodes continues. I'd actually planned to post something else today, but this is what feels appropriate, while our friends in Louisiana -- and expats from there -- cope with Hurricane Gustav. So above and below, an encore presentation of BBtv's two-part feature on the Hot 8 Brass Band of New Orleans, with our UK-based music correspondent Russell Porter.

A little background on the band:

The members of the Hot 8 were all born and raised in New Orleans; many of them began playing together in high school. In 1995 they came together and began playing traditional New Orleans brass band music professionally.

Founded by Bennie Pete, Jerome Jones, and Harry Cook in 1995, the band has played in traditional Second Line parades hosted each Sunday by a Social Aid and Pleasure Club ever since. The Hot 8 are famous for playing all day in the sun, then hopping to a club gig and playing through the night. But even more than their boundless energy, what makes the Hot 8 special are the sounds they coax from their well-loved, well-worn horns.

(...) Following Hurricane Katrina and the devastation wrought upon New Orleans, The Hot 8 became the featured band in the SAVE OUR BRASS! relief project, which brought music to evacuee shelters, temporary trailer parks, and communities that have reached out to New Orleanians.

Part one of the interview and live musical performance above, part two below. -- XJ

Best of BBtv - Bill Barminski (animation and short films)


The Boing Boing tv crew continues their hard-earned snooze in the sands of a swingers' resort on the south shore of Mars today, but we're revisiting the best of the show while we slack off in outer space. (Robot! Bring me another red Rover martini.)

Today, we feature the work of animator, filmmaker, and music video director Bill Barminski, a longtime Boing Boing fave.

Above, "Drive in," a soothing ambient work I like to watch before bedtime.

Another beloved Barminksi joint is below, S.E.X.Y. R.O.B.O.T.: Pinker Tones music video by Walter Robot.

Here's a link to all of the BBtv episodes which have featured Barminski's work.

My favorite appears in the second half of this BBtv episode: the "Fuji Apple" animated short from Barminski's production team Walter Robot, with music by Boards of Canada (song: Roygbiv, from "Music has the Right to Children.") I could just watch that over and over again, and I often do.

Best of BBtv: Leslie Hall is gem-tastic


Boing Boing tv is taking a week off for organic yak-yogurt wrestling on a private Himalayan island; we leave you to enjoy some of our crew's favorite past episodes in the meantime.

"Gem sweater diva" and midwestern maven Leslie Hall has appeared twice on our show. The video featured above is a tour diary she recorded just for us. If you like that, check out our backstage visit with her during a stop in San Francisco, below. "With these shoulder pads, I have the strength to destroy villages, homes and crops."

Original BBtv posts:
* Leslie Hall: Dear Diary
* Leslie Hall: ceWEBrity, gem sweater diva, jammer of jams.

Best of BBtv - Omega Recoil: Electricity as Art


The Boing Boing tv crew is taking this end-of-summer week off from production, so we're revisiting some of our favorite episodes from the last couple of months -- fun stuff you may have missed.

Today: John Behrens and "Omega Recoil" build giant Tesla Coils. Their work explores how electronic fields can be excited in the environment, and their creations become the centerpieces of interactive public art performances.

Some of the tinkerers and performers in this SF Bay Area-based collective were previously associated with Dr. Megavolt, an electrical art project which...

[featured] a person in a metal mesh suit interacting with artificially generated lighting. The Doctor sets objects on fire with electricity originating from large Tesla coils, spars with the electric arcs and exhorts the audience to worship the elemental force of electricity.

Best of BBtv: Cooking Young Bamboo Shoots with Joi Ito (score by Ryuichi Sakamoto)


The Boing Boing tv crew is taking this end-of-summer week off from production, so we're revisiting some of our favorite episodes from the last couple of months -- fun stuff you may have missed. Today, one of my personal all-time favorites: takenoko (竹の子), young bamboo shoots, with Joi Ito and original music by Ryuichi Sakamoto. -- XJ

You may know Joi as a serial entrepreneur, a twittering globetrotter VC, a World of Warcraft junkie, or the CEO of Creative Commons, but he has a more traditional side, too.

In this video, Ito welcomes us into his back yard in Japan, where he and his partner Mizuka teach us how to hunt for and prepare this traditional seasonal delicacy from a lush bamboo forest.

The episode is accompanied by an original score composed by Grammy, Academy Award, and Golden Globe-winning composer, Ryuichi Sakamoto. The legendary electronic music pioneer is also an outspoken environmental advocate. His recent reforestation initiative, “More Trees,” supports the planting of trees around the world to help offset carbon emissions. To-date, 2 billion trees have been planted mostly through work with country governments including Turkey, Ethiopia and Mexico. Link to English-language PDF with more info on the project.

Sakamoto co-founded the seminal synthpop trio Yellow Magic Orchestra, and has scored or contributed to movie soundtracks including The Last Emperor, Merry Christmas Mister Lawrence, Babel, and the work of director Pedro Almodóvar. Boing Boing tv thanks him for generously contributing this beautiful, evocative score.

After the jump -- Joi Ito's family recipe for yummy takenoko just like mom used to make. Special thanks to the Ito family for sharing their traditions with us.

Here's Joi's blog post about his background with Ryuichi, and here's Joi's post from today about how this video came together.

Read the rest

BBtv: Steel Pulse founder David Hinds at Outside Lands (music)


Team Boing Boing tv was live and in effect all weekend long at the first Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate park. The event was a blast, and we interviewed many amazing artists here. BBtv's UK-based music correspondent Russell Porter hopped across the pond to join us for hijinks and great music, the first of which is this conversation with David Hinds, the frontman of legendary roots reggae band STEEL PULSE.


Link to Boing Boing tv episode with discussion, downloadable video, and instructions on how to subscribe to the BBtv video podcast.
(special thanks to Wayne and Bre for use of their magic bus; air travel generously provided by Virgin America.)

Related Boing Boing tv episodes:

* Primus: Xeni interviews Les and Ler (music)
* Kaki King, guitar hero: performance, interview with Xeni (music)
* BB Gadgets' Joel at Outside Lands: Crowdfire deconstructed
* Carney at Outside Lands - a "Boing Boing tv Bus Session." (music)
* Boing Boing tv backstage at Outside Lands: (Xeni + Russell Porter)