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.