Boing Boing 

Graham "IT Crowd" Linehan adapts The Ladykillers for stage in London


Ooh, this does look good: Graham "The IT Crowd" Linehan has done a stage adaptation of The Ladykillers, a classic Ealing comedy recently remade (with moderate success) for modern audiences. The original film is a great bit of gonzo humour, everything I love about Linehan's work:

The celebrated Ealing comedy– THE LADYKILLERS comes to life on stage this Autumn in a hilarious and thrilling new adaption by Graham Linehan (Father Ted) and directed by Sean Foley (The Play What I Wrote).

Featuring a stellar cast of some of the finest stage and screen comedy actors including BAFTA winner Peter Capaldi (The Thick of It) as Professor Marcus along with James Fleet (The Vicar of Dibley), Ben Miller (The Armstrong and Miller Show), Stephen Wight (Evening Standard Outstanding Newcomer) and Olivier Award winner Clive Rowe with Marcia Warren as the sweetly innocent Mrs Wilberforce.

THE LADYKILLERS is a classic black comedy; a sweet little old lady, alone in her house, is pitted against a gang of criminal misfits who will stop at nothing…

Posing as amateur musicians, Professor Marcus and his gang rent rooms in the lopsided house of sweet but strict Mrs Wilberforce. The villains plot to involve her unwittingly in Marcus’ brilliantly conceived heist job. The police are left stumped but Mrs Wilberforce becomes wise to their ruse and Marcus concludes that there is only one way to keep the old lady quiet. With only her parrot, General Gordon, to help her, Mrs W. is alone with five desperate men. But who will be forced to face the music?

(via Why That's Delightful!)

Being Elmo: documentary on Elmo's human

Being Elmo is a documentary on the live of Kevin Clash, who was raised on Sesame Street and dreamed of being a Muppeteer with Jim Henson. He went straight from high school to New York to throw himself at the Henson studios, came up with Elmo, and the character became his life. The film has received an incredibly positive reception on the festival circuit, and will be in wide release on Oct 21.

(via Kottke)

Fractal Menger sponge made from Post-Its


Nicholas Rougeux made this fabulous Menger sponge fractal out of mini Post-its, which he swears by for erecting fractals:

Each Post-It was torn into 16 equal squares, then folded into units and assembled into the sponge.

Post-its offer surprisingly structural durability and are easy to get in large quantities making them ideal for assembling structures like these.

(via Kottke)

Broken-hearted boat-builder seeks garage


A broken-hearted person in Heather's neighbourhood is building a boat. He wants your help, your garage, and your company.

Encoding text with GM bacteria


Science Now reports on a project from David Walt (Tufts) and George Whitesides (Harvard) to come up with a steganographic text-encoding scheme that uses bacteria to encode messages and selective antibiotics to reveal them. It was conceived of in response to a DARPA challenge to devise non-electrical text-encoding, but its applications include adding text-based information to GM crops that can be read in the field (or in the market) to determine what's being grown.

The new scheme replaces the fuse with seven colonies of Escherichia coli bacteria, each given a gene for a different fluorescent protein. When, and only when, these genes are turned on do the bacteria make these proteins and light up. The colors, including yellow, green, and red, vary based on which gene is expressed. All are clearly visibly different to the naked eye. With their colorful bacterial colonies in hand, the researchers then created a code using pairs of different colored bacteria. Having seven colors gave them 49 combinations, which they used to encode the 26 different letters and 23 alphanumeric symbols such as "@" and "$." They wrote a message by simply blotting pairs of colored bacteria in rows. To "print" the message, the researchers transferred the bacteria onto a plate containing agar, a bacterial growth medium, into which they pressed a sheet of nitrocellulose "paper" that immobilizes the bacteria.

At this point, the bacteria on the nitrocellulose paper remain invisible. But the message receiver can turn on the key genes and make the colors light up by pressing the nitrocellulose paper into an agar plate containing a chemical trigger that activates expression of the fluorescent proteins. (The proteins chosen to light up are ones the bacteria don't normally use, so unless the researchers activate them, they stay quiescent.) As long as the receiver knows which colors correspond to which characters, the message is revealed. But Walt and his colleagues added one more safeguard as well. Into some bacteria they inserted genes for resistance to particular antibiotics; the idea is that only the antibiotic-resistant bacteria are carrying the real message. If the message fell into the wrong hands, the receiver would see a mix of colors once the genes were activated and be unable to read it. But if the decoder added the right antibiotic, nonresistant bacteria and their colors die away, and the message becomes clear. The first example, reported in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reads "this is a bioencoded message from the walt lab @ tufts university 2010."

(via /.)

(Image: Manuel A. Palacios/Tufts University)

Red Shirt insignia depicts the fate of all redshirts


Love this Ian Leino Red Shirt t-shirt design, whose Star Trek insignia bears a frank and unmistakable icon depicting the fate of all redshirts in the landing party.

(via Making Light)

Comics Code Seal now under authority of Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Here's a (wonderful) turn-up for the books. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (a stellar organization) has assumed the trademark for the Comics Code Seal, once a symbol of self-censorship in the comics industry. The Comics Authority, which ran the censorship regime, folded up last year. CBLDF will be using the seal on merchandise it sells to fund its free speech work:

The Comics Code Seal comes to the CBLDF during Banned Books Week, a national celebration of the freedom to read, and just a few months following a decision in the U.S. Supreme Court where Justice Scalia cited CBLDF’s brief addressing the comics industry’s history of government scrutiny and the subsequent self-regulation the Comics Code represented. Dr. Amy Nyberg, author of Seal of Approval: The History of Comics Code has prepared a short history of the Comics Code Seal and the era of censorship it represents exclusively for CBLDF that is available now in the Resources section of cbldf.org.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, “As we reflect upon the challenges facing intellectual freedom during Banned Books Week, the Comics Code Seal is a reminder that it’s possible for an entire creative field to have those rights curtailed because of government, public, and market pressures. Fortunately, today comics are no longer constrained as they were in the days of the Code, but that’s not something we can take for granted. Banned Books Week reminds us that challenges to free speech still occur, and we must always be vigilant in fighting them.”

The CBLDF will take over licensing of products bearing the Comics Code Seal, including t-shirts, providing a modest source of income for the organization’s First Amendment legal work. Graphitti Designs is currently offering t-shirts with the Code Seal to benefit CBLDF.

(via Copyfight)

HOWTO be desaturated

From BrodyQat, whose infamous desaturated Santa outfit made her the toast of the Internet, advice on how to make yourself a monochrome costume:

You have to think in shades of gray, not black & white. And all your grays need to complement each other, which is freaking HARD. There’s blue-grays, red-grays, etc. Find neutral ones, use mainly those and accent with black & white. (Wearing all black & white is not the same as looking desaturated).

Once you’ve matched all your grays for your outfit, you then need to match a skin-tone gray body paint. By ‘skin tone’ I mean it looks like your particular shade of skin tone, but gray. I recommend only Kryolan brand aquacolor body paint, they have lots of shades and coverage is amazing. Match colors in person if you’re lucky enough to have a vendor near you. I wouldn’t chance it looking at shades online, honestly.

Line your eyes top and bottom with dark gray eyeliner BEFORE you paint your face & exposed skinparts. Then shade back in your eyebrows so you don’t look like Amanda Palmer before she breaks out the eyebrow Sharpie.

(via Super Punch)

(Image: Ben Zero)

Ice-cube molds shaped like penguins and polar bears standing on ice-bergs


I love these "polar ice" molds from the Japanese site Monos; they resemble penguins and polar bears perched on icebergs, and are balanced so they stay upright in your drink.

(via Super Punch)

HOWTO make irising papercraft glasses

If there's one thing I love, it's irising mechanisms. And if there's another thing I love, it's thick-framed glasses. That's two things I love, and as you've probably guessed, there's someone who's combined 'em. Instructables user art.makes will show you how to brew up a pair of these beauties in seven moderately complex steps.

(via Make)

Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour: exploring magic's roots in China, India and Egypt

We just watched Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour, their 2003 documentary on traditional magic in China, India and Egypt, and really enjoyed it. Penn and Teller resolve to track down performers who are still doing the street magic that inspired western magicians in years gone by -- the Indian Rope Trick, the Egyptian Gali Gali men with their cups and balls, and Chinese classics like the mask trick and the glass bowls trick.

Each segment is very self-contained, and full of the brash Penn humor and Harpo Marx Teller mischief that they're known for. There's a bit of general history and cultural overview in each nation, but the emphasis is always on magic and its odd history in each nation -- Mao's purge of street magicians, the hieroglyphs that (may) depict an ancient cup-and-balls routine, the colonial soldier who faked evidence of the Indian rope trick.

But where the video shines is in the intimate views of the lives of the magicians and their families in the countries that P&T visit -- a village filled with traditional magicians in China, a slum known for magicians in Calcutta, the descendant of Luxor Gali-Gali, an Egyptian magician who played the Ed Sullivan show and attained fame in Vegas.

The documentary left me with a sense of the overall oddity of devoting your life to magic, and the strange ways that magicians all over the world, and all through time, are bound together by this craft of trickery and illusion. Teller has a moment where he addresses the camera at some length on the nature of the linking rings and the cultural differences in the way that it's transformed that is one of the most interesting bits of video I've ever seen.

Oh, and the Crosby and Hope-style title animation and themesong are a hoot.

VLC coming to Android

The open Android ecosystem keeps on getting more interesting. Austen Dicken, a key developer on the CyanogenMod project, is making great strides in porting VLC Player, the best, most versatile media player in the universe, to run on Android handsets and tablets.

Muppeteers sing Henson's favorite songs at his memorial service

In this sweet, melancholy, raucous video, several of Jim Henson's Muppeteers perform Henson's favorite songs at his 1990 memorial service.

(Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Glitch: free-to-play, whimsical, delightful MMO from Flickr co-founder

Glitch, the whimsical free-to-play MMO game from Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield, is now open to the public. Glitch's developer team includes Katamari Damacy creator creator Keita Takahashi, and is as filled with delicious awesomeness as you could possibly hope for. They're overwhelmed with signups, so it might be a few hours before you're confirmed, but they're taking new players and putting them in a queue.

Glitch is a web-based massively-multiplayer game which takes place inside the minds of eleven peculiarly imaginative Giants. You choose how to grow and shape the world: building and developing, learning new skills, collaborating or competing with everyone else in one enormous, ever-changing, persistent world.

What's different?

For starters, it's all one big world. Which means everyone is playing the same game and anyone's actions have the ability to affect every other player in the game. It also involves very little war, moats, spaceships, wizards, mafiosos, or people with implausibly large muscles. Also: we have egg plants. Egg plants make it very different.

What does it look like?

We comb the internet every single day looking for fresh and original visual styles. The look varies as you travel around the world, from psychedelia to surrealism, Japanese cutesie to hypersaturated pixel art, classic cartoon to contemporary mixed media. We love awesome illustration and animation and part of our mission is to find the best of the best and bring it to a wider audience.

(via Waxy)

(Disclosure: my wife is an uncompensated advisor to the company that makes Glitch)

Math haircut


Nick Sayers is flying his math flag with this geometrically precise haircut where "the acute angles meet in groups of five, six, or seven, depending on the curvature. In the flatter areas, they meet in groups of six, like equilateral triangles, and in the areas of strong positive curvature they meet in groups of five, but in the negatively curved saddle at the back of the neck, there is a group of seven."

To make your own, Nick suggests you use a rhombic paper template starting at the crown, work outwards, and make aesthetic decisions about the 5-, 6-, or 7-way joints depending on local curvature. This instance of the design was cut by Hannah Barker after a test version a couple of months earlier by Summer Makepeace.

Gypsophilia's "Constellation" -- decadent old-time jazz with a klezmer touch from Halifax, Nova Scotia

Back in 2009, I reviewed "Sa-ba-da-OW!", a wonderful, eclectic album from Gypsophilia, an indie band out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. I've just finished a day's listening to their new album, "Constellation," which is out today, and it's every bit as good as the last one. This is still recognizably Gypsophilia, still eclectic, slightly angular, high-energy jazz with bits of klezmer and stuff thrown in, but Constellation is more put-together and polished. But not too polished! It still makes me want to get out of my seat and dance around the room (especially the opening track, "Zachary's Czardas," which seems to channel Stéphane Grappelli's jazz fiddle and the piano stylings of Daffy Duck in full swing).

The album is available as name your price, DRM-free MP3s, a CD, or a vinyl LP.

Space Invaders playing cards

Art Lebedev's Space Invaders cards use different arcade game sprites to denote the suits, and have a great, heavily aliased 8-bit design for the card-backs. (via Oh Gizmo)

Virtual monkeys recreate Shakespeare

Jesse Anderson set out to recreate every single work of Shakespeare at the same time by means of virtual monkeys that are simulated on Amazon's cloud computing platform. One million virtual monkeys create virtual text around the clock, and if any of that text matches any of Shakespeare, it is saved to the repository.

On September 23d, the monkeys recreated A Lover's Complaint.

For this project, I used Hadoop, Amazon EC2, and Ubuntu Linux. Since I don’t have real monkeys, I have to create fake Amazonian Map Monkeys. The Map Monkeys create random data in ASCII between a and z. It uses Sean Luke’s Mersenne Twister to make sure I have fast, random, well behaved monkeys. Once the monkey’s output is mapped, it is passed to the reducer which runs the characters through a Bloom Field membership test. If the monkey output passes the membership test, the Shakespearean works are checked using a string comparison. If that passes, a genius monkey has written 9 characters of Shakespeare. The source material is all of Shakespeare’s works as taken from Project Gutenberg.

(via /.)

Lego greenhouse uses bricks as growing medium


Sebastian Bergne's Lego greenhouse isn't merely an enormous structure made from transparent legos*, it's also a functional greenhouse that apparently uses legos as a growing medium.

LEGO commissioned the award-winning designer, Sebastian Bergne, to create a public installation using the iconic bricks, as part of the London Design Festival 2011. Entitled the “LEGO Greenhouse”, this large-scale installation will be on display in the North Piazza, Covent Garden, a world-renowned cultural district, from 15th to 25th September 2011...

In daylight, the structure looks very much like an ordinary suburban greenhouse dropped into a new environment. Yet at night, it assumes another character entirely. It is transformed into a magical box, glowing and lit it seems, by the life of the plants it contains.

(via Cribcandy)

*ObPedantTroll: legos legos legos legos ahahahahahaha!

Rubber bookshelves

Luke Hart created these rubber bookshelves for The Sculpture House. They have the delightful impracticality of all the everyday objects crafted from rubber that appear in old Warner Brothers cartoons, and the bright red coloring is an especially nice touch.

(via Bookshelf)

TOSAmend: turn all online "I Agree" buttons into negotiations

Kevin Owocki's TOSAmend is a provocative browser applet that allows you amend the (up-to-now) non-negotiable terms of service you had to "agree" to in order to access many services online. The applet causes your new terms of service to be submitted along with your "I agree" click, so that the provider can agree, disagree, or modify your terms and send them back, preserving the ages-old tradition of negotiation.

Here it falls to me to remind you of ReasonableAgreement.org, where you can get the text of my ReasonableAgreement:

READ CAREFULLY. By reading this, you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies ("BOGUS AGREEMENTS") that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.

on stickers and t-shirts, sold at cost (I don't get anything from this, apart from a warm glow).

TOSAmend: The easy way to modify web service Terms of Service agreements (via /.)

Skeletal whole-hand bracelet

Delfina Delettrez, a designer in Rome, made this beautiful, polished skeletal bracelet (though I couldn't locate it at her site, which autoplays music) (be warned).

Delfina Delettrez

Hulking computing engines of Toronto's yesteryear


Blogto's Derek Flack went spelunking in the Toronto Archives for photos of old computers in situ, from the days when installing a monsterscale computing engine was cause for bringing in the photographer for a bit of posterity. I remember my dad taking me to some computer rooms in this era, though his facial hair was far more glorious than this gentleman's.
As I've mentioned before, one of the best parts of digging around the Toronto Archives is the stuff you find that you were never looking for. I'd guess that at least a third of the ideas I've had for historical posts about the city have come via some serendipitous discovery or another. Today's installment is certainly fits this bill.

When I was putting together a post about what banks used to look like in Toronto, I happened to stumble upon some spectacular, Kubrick-esque shots of an unidentified computer room that got me wondering if there were any more like them in the City's digitized collection. As it turns out, there are — though not as many as I'd like.

Vintage computers and technology in Toronto (via Super Punch)

The MIT Chorallaries perform "The Engineers' Drinking Song"

Possibly NSFW in parts. Thanks, Jon Hiller!

Video Link

Book-shaped travelling libraries


Joplin, MO librarian April Roy, bookseller Pete Cowdin and members of the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild are building 22 mobile libraries -- book-shaped travelling bookcases that can be brought to poor, tornado-struck schools in the area. They're working with donated labor and cash donations for materials.
Roy and book store owner Pete Cowdin hit upon a “modest” proposal to bring new books to young readers in Joplin — individual 50-book “libraries” for a number of needy classrooms.

No question about the need. A tornado in May wiped out 54 percent of the school district’s square footage. Irving Elementary, home to 280 students, was destroyed. Emerson Elementary, an older building with 230 students, wasn’t demolished but also wasn’t practical to repair.

Volunteers write the first chapter for Joplin books (via Bookshelf)

(Image: JILL TOYOSHIBA/Kansas City Star)

Soldering gun made from modded Han Solo blaster: the Han Solderer


Milwaukee's Craig Smith presents his Han Solderer, a high-powered soldering gun made from a collectible Han Solo blaster he treasured as a lad. The gag is funnier if you pronounce it "sol-der" (UK) not "soh-der" (US), but woah, that's a nice piece of Happy Mutant-ware.
About 1983, when I was fifteen, I dropped my dad’s red Bakelite soldering gun and broke the casing. Of course he was upset, so I did my best to “fix it.” So I took my original Star Wars Han Solo pistol and gutted it to hold the soldering gun components. I even ran the lightbulb up into the scope on top. The button on the handle worked well for the trigger switch. Ten years later, when the old house was sold, the gun wound up in my belongings. To this day, when an underpowered iron just won’t do, I pull out the “Han Solderer” and get the job done. Half of me likes the mod, the other half is ill over the fact that I gutted my vintage Star Wars toy. What’s done is done.

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good soldering gun at your side, kid.”

Introducing: The Hans Solderer (via IZ Reloaded)

Found object assemblage bird-houses


GadgetSponge features some wonderful birdhouses made from found objects and turned into aviary sculptures.

Bird Houses (Thanks, Brian!)

Glass and steel eyeball-spiders


Etsy seller hand-forges these steel spiders and makes the eyeballs they support, and describes both with a lot of verve:
I hand hammer glowing hot steel on an antique anvil and make glass eyeballs that are attached after everything cools down. This is a sturdy piece of art that looks like it walked out of a computer animation. The bends and proportions in the legs are based on research I did into the kinematics of spiders, computer animation of spiders, and lots of arachnid photos.

I hand make these one of a kind items in my shop. The glass is annealed in a digital kiln for maximum toughness. The metal work is finished with a traditional blacksmith mix of linseed oil and beeswax. These take a good sized box and are somewhat heavy so shipping is a bit steep, but I typically ship priority mail within 24 hours.

Eyeball Spider no 1 hand forged spider with glass by hotworks (Thanks, James B!)

Brass-effect 3D printed steampunk D6s


Etsy seller MechanicalOddities 3D prints these D6s with gears instead of pips, then finishes them by hand with brass-effect paint.

Dice - 3D printed, Steampunk Style, Bronze Finish (Thanks, Alice)

Pixelated clothing designs: when reality has a render-glitch

Alba Prat's clothing designs are made to look pixelated, as though they've emerged from a video-game. I love how subtle the effect is -- not the chunky, 8-bit fashion we've seen before, but rather, a series of hints at some digital origin, as though caught from an angle that the game-engine doesn't know how to render properly. Jonas Lindstroem's mystery-shrouded photography really brings the collection to life.
Yatzer discovered an exceptional two-piece collection by a fashion design student from the Berlin University of Arts; Alba Prat. Despite the fact that the particular work was limited in terms of quantity, one could see the potential of this particular designer. Her work involved two designs made in laser-cut, neoprene fabric, following clean lines and creating 3-D-like, cubic effects. The small collection took the name ''The Synthetic Oceans''. Today, Alba makes her much-expected step forward. She presents us with a larger collection of garments made for women, always stamped with her signature elements. Describing it in a few words, the collection features clean lines, sole colours and optical effects. Yet this time the collection takes the name ''Digitalized''.

The Digitalized Collection constitutes Alba Prat’s fashion design studies final year project. According to the designer, the inspiration for her work was the 1982 film Tron, largely apparent in her futuristic design techniques.

The Digitalized Collection of Alba Prat (via JWZ)

(Image: downsized crop of photo by Jonas Lindstroem)