Rare 78's Heaven Part 1: Black Mirror Music

I first heard this heart-stopping song from 1919 by Greek singer Marika Papagika on Ian Nagoski's Black Mirror: Reflections in Global Music (a compilation released on the Dust-to-Digital label a few years ago). I have since tried to track down everything else the woman ever sang. Thankfully, Ian is already on the trail for us all, and will be releasing a new compilation of her music on his Canary Records label, an imprint of Portland Oregon's phenomenal Mississippi Records. You'll be able to get it here sometime in May.

Here are a few more tastes from Black Mirror, courtesy of Ian:

Nam Nhi-Tu, by M. Nguyen Van Minh-Con (Vietnam)

Aayega Aanewaala, by Lata Mangeshkar (India)

Tjimploengan, by Nji R. Hadji Djoeaehn (Sunda-Java)

Listen to more outstanding recordings on his new blog and on-line radio show, fonotopia.

New Massive Attack videos for "Heligoland" film project

Above, a video for the Massive Attack track "Splitting the Atom," directed by Edouard Salier. This was one of several new videos screened at the FLUX event in LA last night, for Massive Attack's recently-released fifth album Heligoland. Dazed and Confused has more videos and more on the making of, including work directed by Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin. Each of the videos form part of a film project for Heligoland.

massth.jpgThe band commissioned seven low-budget videos - most of which are still in the making - by both established names and those with little experience of directing. "We are always keen not to be in the videos, and not to compromise the idea by having to make an appearance," says Del Naja. "But on the whole it has been a case of carte blanche with the directors, to the extent where we said: 'We will give you the stems of the tracks and you can use whichever components you want, loop some parts, take the vocals out...' We have always been totally unprecious."
Not all of the videos are work-safe. Directed by Toby Dye, the video for "Paradise Circus" is here on the band's blog, and contains explicit content.

(via FLUX, thanks, Syd Garon!)

Video of Japanese vinyl toy factory



And I always thought those designer vinyl toys were made by legions of retired Ultramen proudly operating the nanoassemblers in a slick, efficient, clean room facility. Max Toys' Mark Nagata visits a Kaiju vinyl factory in Tokyo (Thanks, COOP!)

Ghost Stories: London stage show scared the hell out of me

Last night, a gang of us went to see Andy Nyman's Ghost Stories, a horror stage-show on at the Hammersmith Lyric theatre in London. I know Andy through his work as a writer/director for Derren Brown's excellent shows, and the times I've met him, he's struck me as a sweet, laid-back guy, so even though I'd heard Ghost Stories was properly scary, I went in feeling pretty easy about the evening.

That lasted until about the third second of the show. I don't want to give away any spoilers by telling you too much about the plot, but I can tell you this: Andy plays a parapsychologist giving a lecture to an audience about the absurdity of believing in ghost stories. His character is also sweet, though not very laid back, and the stories he recounts are, in fact, scary as fuck. Especially when combined with the most menacing sound-design I've ever had vibrate through my colon, and some extremely clever staging, and really excellent acting from the small cast.

There were about eight of us last night -- including a couple of magicians, some game designers, and various kind of media creators -- and every one of us came out of there visibly shaken. When we got home, my wife made me get out of bed to make sure the doors were all locked (and I turned on the lights before I did).

The show runs until April 17, and there's even a midnight show on Friday. I don't get out very often -- the exigencies of having a toddler at home -- and every time I do, I ask myself whether this is going to be worth the expense in babysitters and missed sleep (the kid gets up at 5AM every day). This one was absolutely worth it.

Ghost Stories

EFF panel: Architecture is policy

One of the Electronic Frontier Foundation's founding principles was Mitch Kapor's aphorism, "Architecture is politics." The design of systems determines the kinds of politics that can take place in them, and designing a system is itself a political act. As part of EFF's ongoing 20th anniversary celebrations, it held a panel called "Architecture is policy" at Carnegie-Mellon, featuring Ed Felten, Dave Farber, Lorrie Cranor, John Buckman, and Cindy Cohn -- all heavy hitters in their own right, and dynamite together. This is one of the more thoughtful and thought-provoking hours you could spend today.

Video: EFF Panel on "Architecture Is Policy"

The Incredible Animation of Frédéric Back

With each frame hand-drawn in pencil and smudged into the next, Oscar-winning animator Frédéric Back tells the story of Elzéard Bouffier, a lone shepherd in the Alps near Provence who boldly decides to single-handedly reforest the desolate valley where he lives, one acorn at a time. Not only is the story defiantly romantic, I'm in love with the way Back's patient devotion to each drawing mimics the methodical tree-planting of his main character. Along with being unabashedly earnest and quietly inspiring, it's some of the most stunning and startlingly original animation that I've seen.

I really recommend watching all three parts in one sitting, and especially recommend finding or buying a proper copy of it so you can see it in higher definition, because the detail and motion of it is unreal.

The Man Who Planted Trees is based on the short story by Jean Giono. Christopher Plummer narrates, (Phillippe Noiret does the honors in the original French version).

Anti-immigrant xenophobe attacks leftwing female mimes wielding "hateful whistles" and balloons

Roy Beck is director of the immigration restrictionist group, NumbersUSA. He joined thousands of protestors in Washington DC gathering to support comprehensive immigration reform, and gave commentary on the event as it happened via a live video stream on his organization's website. But as seen in the video above, the anti-immigration activist got into an altercation with a group of left-wing female mimes, whom he claims threatened him and his bodyguards with "constant efforts at crushing physical intimidation" instigated by "blowing hateful whistles" and waving balloons.

There are two sides to every wacky story. Let's hear from the mimes. Lena Graber is one of three you see in the video who later pressed charges against Beck's bodyguard. She told the blog Wonk Room:

mimeth.jpgThey were pretty aggressive and they would sort of elbow us out of the way and say "Don't touch me" as they were doing so. One of the bodyguards had white makeup all over his elbow and he was all upset that the mimes had gotten makeup on him...but our makeup was on our faces and I wasn't face-bunting anyone so I felt like that was more incriminating evidence than anything else.

We each started with about 15 balloons that were on ribbons and the taller bodyguard had a pocket knife and he would grab the balloons and pop them with the knife. And at one point when I still had a lot of balloons they were tied around my upper arm...and I felt this yank on my arm where they were tied around. And I turned and he was pulling on all of the ribbons...so that was the only time I talked, I said "OW, that hurts. That's attached to my arm, stop that." And he didn't stop and so I screamed as loud as I could.

Anti-Immigrant Leader's Bodyguard Arrested For Allegedly Assaulting Mimes At Immigration Rally / YouTube: Amnesty March Highlights [Wonkroom via Chris Baker]

And then, Joe Biden said ...

Joe Biden thinks health care reform is a big fucking deal. (See video above. In related news, Joe Biden continues to come in a close second behind the Apostle Peter as my personal Patron Saint of ADHD.) If you read the papers of record, however, you will see him quoted as saying "...", "[expletive]" or "profane term". Sadly, "fracking" does not yet seem to be AP style.

Personally, I like NPR's Ian Chillag's take ...

"This is a big lovemaking deal, Mr.President."

Taste testing the world's hottest pepper

The bhut jalokia, or ghost chili, has a Scoville heat measurement of 1 million units—compare to jalapenos, which top out around 8000 units. Prior to 2003, it was just a myth, lacking even photographic evidence. Now, it's in the Guinness Book and will soon be the key ingredient in tear-gas hand grenades used by the Indian military. Apparently, it also has an appealing citrus flavor, followed by a horrible burning sensation.

For a quick look at what jolokia hath wrought, fast forward to about six minutes into this video. There's much less running about screaming than I would have guessed, but the man ends up looking very physically ill—pale, sweaty and generally like he just came down with a bad case of flu.

Pictured in thumbnail: A far braver human than I will ever be, courtesy Flickr user wstryder, via CC