I've really been enjoying watching all of the YouTubers' Secret Santa videos. In this one, a favorite YouTube maker of mine, This Old Tony, creates a gorgeous folding knife for Xlya Foxlin. This is the first knife he's ever attempted. As is always the case with a This Old Tony video, there is LOL humor and plenty of useful shop tips.
On this Christmas eve, here is the late Greg Lake (King Crimson, ELP) and Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull) performing Lake's worthy contribution to the holiday canon, "I Believe in Father Christmas," at St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London, in 2011.
I wish you a hopeful Christmas I wish you a brave new year All anguish, pain and sadness Leave your heart and let your road be clear
For the past few years, Stephen Colbert has partnered with Tim Luecke to create an animated short for The Late Show. The two were also responsible for the animated satire series on Showtime, Our Cartoon President.
This year's Late Show animated short features real-life cartoon villains Marjorie Taylor Green and Ted Cruz as they and a Stop the Sleigh mob from ScroogAnon try and disrupt the Claus' annual certification of the Naughty or Nice list.
It's Secret Santa project time on YouTube. Each year, a dozen or so Tubers draw the names of other video creators and create a cool project for them. This year, Estefannie drew Allen Pan.
Allen calls Estefannie a lot to have her read his tarot cards, so for her Secret Santa present to him, she decided to build him a tarot-reading robot. The results are amazing. I love the retro pixel art she created for the cards and the fact that she personalized each card's meaning for Allen.
You can see other YouTube Secret Santa projects here.
I just came across this sweet, dreamy, and melancholic Sharon Van Etten cover of Nick Lowe's classic, "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" The video and track, from last year, features Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) and video of Sharon and Josh's kids. Also, look for a brief appearance from Nick Lowe himself.
In this episode of Dungeon Craft, Professor DungeonMaster makes the argument that the most valuable book you need to read (or re-read) to be a better DM is Aristotle's Poetics. Through it, he argues, you will gain a much deeper appreciation of mimesis, catharsis, character, plot, and spectacle, all necessary elements in all forms of great storytelling, including roleplaying games.
The content aggregator, Pocket, has resurfaced an interesting 2017 LitHub piece about a bizarre letter that William Burroughs wrote to Truman Capote in 1970.
In the below letter, Burroughs engages in a sort of bizarre role-play, claiming (it seems) to speak for a department responsible for the cosmic fate of writers. He tells Capote that he has been following him closely, reading his works, his reviews, and his actions, even interviewing his characters, and that he has decided to withdraw the talent given to him by the department and curse him to never write anything good again—as if he were a minor god of creative action, or king of the muses. Robinson points out that Burroughs actually believed in curses at this time, and maybe he was right, because his damning words came true—he never wrote anything good again.
You have placed your services at the disposal of interests who are turning America into a police state by the simple device of deliberately fostering the conditions that give rise to criminality and then demanding increased police powers and the retention of capital punishment to deal with the situation they have created. You have betrayed and sold out the talent that was granted you by this department. That talent is now officially withdrawn. Enjoy your dirty money. You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished. Over and out. Are you tracking me? Know who I am? You know me, Truman. You have known me for a long time. This is my last visit.
You can't go a December without seeing someone posting (see below) the infamous David Bowie and Bing Crosby duo performance of "Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth" on Crosby's 1977 holiday special, Merrie Olde Christmas. Rarer is this second performance from that show, Bowie performing "Heroes" to a backing track. It is allegedly the first live performance of the vocals. Above is a revised edit of the video.
In the past year, Stephen Colbert decided he no longer wanted to utter the barbarous name of our former president. After using asterisks like a swear word, he decided to crowdsource euphemisms with the hashtag HeWhoShallBeNamed. Here are the best of these, chosen by The Late Show staff.
Before Mark Proksch's Collin Robinson character started boring people to death as the energy vampire on What We Do in the Shadows, he assumed the role of Kenny "K-Strass" Strasser, an award-winning yo-yo expert and green activist. In the role of Strasser, Proksch booked himself onto morning shows in the mid-west.
Watching the above videos, you'll see that Kenny and Collin Robinson have a lot in common, as Kenny goes off on long, painfully-personal tangents as his panicked hosts try and get the segments back on track.
Strasser had solicited the stations stating that he represented Zim-Zam Yo-Yo, was runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 1995, was grand champion at the Pensacola Regional, and was nominated for the Walt Greenberg Award in 2000, which got him booked. When he appeared, however, he repeatedly interrupted the interview with his own personal problems. Additionally, something always happened to his yo-yos
I am just a 35-year-old kid at heart, you know. Twice divorced. I have no kids. I don't have a girlfriend. Don't want one. My parents live in Denver. They just got divorced. I have a brother who I don't get along with well because of his wife.
While these newscasters took "Strasser" seriously, it was all a prank. After making a number of appearances on various news shows, the narrative fell apart thanks to WSAW employee Mikel Lauber who fact-checked Strasser's credentials and found that there was no Zim-Zam Yo-Yo, No Pensacola Regional, and no Walt Greenberg Award.
In a recent interview with The Witcher's Henry Cavill on The Graham Norton Show, Norton asked the actor about his love for Warhammer 40,000 and playfully teased him for painting little toy soldiers and playing the game.
As you might imagine, this playful mocking (which all of us miniature gamers know all too well) was not well received in the Nerdiverse. The best of all responses came from WWE's Shayna Baszler (aka Queen of Spades) who issued a WrestleMania-worthy challenge to Norton.
On last night's The Late Show, Stephen Colbert celebrated the upcoming (Dec 19) 20th anniversary of the release of Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring with a Lonely Island-like rap video professing the the film and its two follow-ups constitute the #1 movie trilogy of all time.
Besides his musical director, Jon Batiste, the video features many stars from the film (Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Hugo Weaving, Andy Serkis, Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen) along with Method Man, Killer Mike, and Anna Kendrick.
I do a weekly tips newsletter for DIYers of all kinds. For the third year on Boing Boing, here is my year-end round up of my favorite newsletter entries. If you want to see more of this sort of content, please subscribe. It's free. Here are my tips round-ups for 2019 and 2020 (part 1, part 2).
Stop Motion Animation Tricks
In this Edu Puertas video, he shows eight simple and effective stop motion animation tips and effects tricks. The light effects tips were the big eye openers for me.
Anyone who's done any scale or game modeling, dungeon crafting, or other plastic modeling is no doubt familiar with sprues, those ubiquitous frames that hold plastic model parts and are part of the injection molding process. In this four-part video, game modeler Jon of Miniature Hobbyist, shows close to 40 different things you can make from this plastic waste material, from doors, walls, and cobblestone streets to piles of treasure, tents, barricades, cages, and even tools for your workbench, such as painting sticks and paint-pot holders. In part 4, he shows how you can turn sprue material, broken down in acetone, into a goopy plastic material (that he's dubbed "Ooey Gooey Spruey") for casting, gap-filling, turning into pipes and thick cables, miniature bases, and more. Fascinating stuff.
Delivering a Liquid to a Set Spot
On Jimmy DiResta'sInstagram stories, he shared this tip (taken from Derek Forestier). If you need to deliver a spray liquid to a set spot (and avoid a lot of overspray), use a wooden skewer or similar. Spray the liquid onto the stick and let it drip down to the desired location.
In Praise of Single-Use Super Glue
Confession time. I've had the worst luck with CA glue bottles. I've wasted so many expensive 1-2 ounce bottles of Bob Smith Industries and similar "professional glues." The long, tapered nozzles get clogged no matter what I do and I spend way too much time trying not to stab myself as I jam needles and other pointy bits into them to get glue to flow. Half the time, I end up just taking the nozzle off and applying the glue with a toothpick. My glue life has improved a lot since I started using tiny single-use tubes of Super Glue. You can get a dozen 2-gram tubes for under $7 on Amazon.
Innovation often comes from looking at things differently, heading down roads less traveled. Or re-traveling old roads to notice what you and others might have have missed. I call this the Rodney Brooks Research Heuristic. In his book Flesh and Machines, maverick scientist Brooks reveals how he came upon many of his radical ideas regarding robots and artificial intelligence. He would figure out what was so obvious to other researchers that it wasn't even on their radar any longer, and he'd put it on his. Essentially, Brooks would look at how everyone else was tackling a given problem and what assumptions were so implicit to them that these assumptions had been backgrounded and were no longer being questioned. He would question them. As an example: In designing the Roomba, everyone was stuck on the idea that it had to have a vacuum in it (it was, after all, a robot vacuum!). Vacuum was a backgrounded assumption. Brooks realized that a robotic broom was far easier, cheaper, and quieter.
Saving the Best for Last
On KamuiCosplay, Svetlana shows off the amazing "Demonic Brigitte" outfit she spent a year and a half working on. In the video, she shares a great tip: When doing a long and complicated project, don't be tempted to build the part that you're most excited about first. Save it for the end. That way, it'll power you through the less exciting parts. In her case, she was most excited about making the shield, so she saved that for last.
The C-Thru Triangle
This video from Adam Savage tweaked my nostalgia circuits. Like him, I started my adult worklife as a graphic designer and some of the first tools I fell in love with where the rulers, triangles, mechanical pencils, and pens of that trade. Here, he celebrates a favorite of mine, too, the C-Thru brand (Westcott) gridded triangle. The grid on this thing is perfect for alignment and it has a metal edge so your razor knife doesn't cut into the plastic. I think I still have mine around here somewhere.
Paint-On Copper Plating?
In a follow-up to her recent video where she electroplated the gas tank of her motorcycle with copper, Laura Kampf decided to try a much easier platting method of simply painting on a copperplate solution. She saw a video demonstrating the technique and wanted to try it out herself. It appears to work. As she points out, this could lend itself to all sorts of applications.
Using Aluminum Foil as Faux Chrome
Most scale modelers and game crafters, when adding chrome accents to their models, use special products like Bare Metal Foil. This stuff is ridiculously expensive ($14 for a single 6″ x 12″ sheet!). In this video on Custom Scale Models, Brandon shows how you can get the same, some argue even better, results using the cheapest aluminum foil you can find and some white glue. You can get super thin (which is good) rolls at the dollar store.
Using 3D Printing Infill as a Design Feature
I absolute love this idea of using infill structures in 3D printing as an artistic design. (Infill is the patterned support structure used inside of objects to provide strength while cutting down on printing time, weight, and filament). Joe of Makes'n'Breaks decided to foreground the usually hidden patterns of infill in a series of coasters combining the 3D printed infill structures in a wooden frame. The results are beautiful.
Recreating Adam Savage's Loc-Line Lighting
I have written several times here (and in Make:, Adafruit, and HackSpace magazine) about my love for Adam Savage's LocLine LED light panel bench lights. One of these on my painting bench has been a game-changer. One of my readers in the UK, Mark Hewitt, created a tutorial on the process of building one of these and has links to all of parts on Amazon for UK makers. Thanks, Mark!
Work, Work, Work, Put-Away, Put-Away, Put-Away
In this video, Adam Savage talks about the anchor points of a shop (the machines and workstations that the rest of the shop orbits around), the fact that you can never have enough casters on shop components (and on-hand), and other useful tidbits. For me, the pearl here is how he keeps his shop cleaned and organized as he works. As he puts it: "work, work, work, put-away, put-away, put-away." By taking periodic breaks and cleaning as you go, you don't end up with an insurmountable mess when you're done. I've never done this, but I plan to start. Adam also talked in one of his previous organization videos about "giving a gift to your future self" by doing a thorough cleaning and organizing at the end of a project so that future you is ready to roll when starting the next project. Wise words.
Retrobrighting (or Retrobriting) is a process for whitening/lightening old plastic computer cases and other consumer electronics enclosures that have dimmed with age. The formula is usually hydrogen peroxide mixed with some OxiClean and then left under UV light (aka the sun) for several hours (8 is often recommended for electronics enclosures). On the VintageChucks website, they applied the same technique on the sidewalls of a pair of old Chucks, mixing salon-grade hydrogen peroxide cream with OxiClean and leaving the sneaks in the sun for three hours. The results speak for themselves.
Making a Table Stable
You know the drill. You're at a restaurant or bar and the table wobbles, so you or your server shoves a matchbook or napkin under a leg. Wrong! As this video explains, it's not the table legs that are likely different lengths, it's likely the floor that is uneven. To stabilize, simply turn the table a quarter turn to find more level ground. Coincidentally, right after seeing this video, my fiance Angela and I were at an outdoor restaurant with a wobbly table. Our server came up, twisted the table a few inches. Problem solved.
Edge Gluing Tip
North of the Border is a YouTube channel where crafter Adam makes really clever book nooks (little dioramas that go on bookshelves). During this Mines of Moria infinity mirror episode, he shares a great tip. When gluing two pieces of material together (especially something you want to keep clean and glue-free, like mirror glass), don't apply the glue all the way to where the two pieces will join or smear the glue down along edge (as it will accumulate as you go). Apply a thin bead of glue along the edge and then smear it out and over the over the edge. This way, when you join the two pieces, there will be no glue squeeze-out along the seam of the join. (See the video if this to too confusing).
Recently, my wife and I visited her bother and sister-in-law in western Maryland. They do a lot of camping and they keep a journal of their travels. At the end of every trip, they include a "lessons learned" section to remind them of things they can do to improve their next trip. On the way home, Angela and I did a "lessons learned:" ALWAYS carry bottled water in the car, don't forget the pain relief cream, and keep an insulated cooling bag in the car.
Doodling on a Theme
In a recent video, Bill Mullaney of the YouTube channel, Bill Making Stuff, offered up some useful advice on what he does when he wants to spark and sustain his creativity. In talking about the joys of keeping a sketchbook, he offers a fun drawing exercise. He creates a grid across two pages and starts anywhere on that grid by doodling a creature or object (he likes drawing robots). After doodling the first robot, he picks some aspect of it that he particularly likes and carries that over to the next square. Drawing the second bot, he carries a favorite part of that into a third square, and so on, until the entire grid is full. Wonderful idea. Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder does similar doodling on a theme.
Ten 3DP Tips from a Seasoned Maker
On Alexandre Chappel YouTube channel, he offers up ten top 3D printing tips. His advice includes:* Upgrade to a .06mm nozzle. * Increase perimeter (wall thickness) over infill to improve part strength and reduce print time.* Don't get distracted by all the fancy filaments out there – most everything you print can be done with PLA.* Use glue stick for better bed adhesion.* If you have a large or complicated part, print out a small section of it to test fit and function before committing to a full print.* You don't have to 3DP everything. Create hybrid objects with 3D parts and conventional hardware (bolts, screws, threaded rods) – saves time and adds strength.* When designing parts, avoid support structures as much as possible.See more details and the rest of his list here. [H/t Kevin Kelly]
Who doesn't love a little public guerilla art? In Dallas, a statue of a woman with a cephalopod head showed up bolted in place in Pioneer Park.
It's the second of these bizarre statues to pop up in the city. The first, which claimed Dallas' founding father was part cephalopod, appeared in 2019. The statue was placed on the same concrete slab that once sat beneath the 65-foot-tall Confederate War Memorial that the city removed from the park in June 2020. A plaque, which accompanied the new statue, claimed that it was the work of an anonymous Dallas artist named Solomon, and a donation to the City of Dallas by the late local oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens.
In this Dave Picciuto video, he runs through ten simple woodworking projects that you can make in a day or two so you still have time to give them as gifts this holiday season. The gifts include pencil holders (and your own handmade pencils, if you're really feeling ambitious), tissue boxes, cutting boards, and wine bottle and glasses holder.
Was 2021 the kookiest year ever in space? With leaky toilets, ships exploding on the pad, rockets falling from the sky, and Captain Kirk taking a ride up the gravity well, Gizmodo says yes.
With space stations performing impromptu backflips, rockets careening out of control, billionaires going into space like they just don't care, and space junk threatening to cause disaster nearly every week, 2021 will go down as one of the more memorable years in space.
The chaos kinda makes sense. Rocket launches are getting cheaper by the minute, which is creating unprecedented opportunities for us to do increasingly weird and reckless things in space. 2021 was likely the tip of the iceberg in terms of what we can expect later this decade. With that said, here's our review of the weirdest year in space—at least so far.