Pandemic hoarding sim: Manic Toilet Paper Shopping Simulator

Too soon? By way of Donald Bell's Maker Update comes this game where you send a shopping cart into a market in search of TP.

The simulation was designed by Jelle Vermandere. You can either play the game in a browser or Jelle shows you how he used an Arduino Uno and motion sensing to create a shopping cart handle controller for that true invisible zombie apocalypse adrenaline rush.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Shut in sounds: Crowded House perform "Don't Dream It's Over" from isolation

Well, this was inevitable.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

More fun Trump-era parodies with "Ghost Donald in the Sky" and bonus tracks

In a fitting follow-up to Carla's post of "The Liar Tweets Tonight," I bring you the spooky parodic vision of "Ghost Donald in the Sky." The track is part of the Parody Project and was written and performed by Freedom Toast. The vocalist is an old and dear friend of mine, the immensely-talented jazz composer and multi-instrumentalist, Rick Harris.

Bonus Tracks:

Laurie Fox sent me this link to her friend Tom O'Connor's "Talkin' Trump Blues." The song was recorded live at the Tuba Czar show with Mark Beltzan on tuba and a surprise guest, Laurence Juber, on guitar (he of Wings and the Paul McCartney Band).

And, last but not least, is a pretty spot-on Nitzer Ebb parody.

Stay Inside Your Home (Nitzer Ebb parody) by Not-So Ebb

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Virtual library tourism: visit 7 of the world's most beautiful libraries

Atlas Obscura has rounded-up seven different libraries that offer online virtual tours. Read the rest

Rodney Orpheus' pandemic oasis, Desert Island Nerds

My friend Rodney Orpheus (he of the legendary darkwave electronica band, The Cassandra Complex) has been doing a terrific weekly streaming show, called Desert Island Nerds. The premise is that we're all on our own little desert islands in isolation now, so we might as well play the Desert Island game.

Each week, Rodney has on a "nerd hero" and asks them random questions from a list of 20 (chosen, natch, by rolling a d20). Questions are the typical (what album would you take to a desert island? what book? movie?), but also unusual things like companion animal? luxury item? Outfit?

The show, done from Rodney's own little nerd island in the UK, is surprisingly well-produced and great fun to watch. He's done three episodes so far and each one has been tasty nerd candy. The first episode was with Brian Freisinger, visual FX guy who worked on The Matrix Reloaded, Constantine, and Serenity, Antony Johnston, the man behind the video game Dead Space and writer of the movie Atomic Blonde, and Christina Z, the most successful female comic book writer of all time, creator of Witchblade and Tigra and writer for the Powerpuff Girls comic. The Desert Island conceit is really just an excuse for two uber nerds to enthusiastically yammer on about the novels, comic books, RPGs, video games, music, movies, etc. that they adore.

Next week, Rodney's guest is [reads cue card] Holy shit... ME! We'll be talking about some of my desert island picks and some of the high weirdness and nerd-worthy things I've gotten myself up to over the decades, including writing for this Directory of Wonderful Things. Read the rest

Kermit the Frog sings "Rainbow Connection" from quarantine

This is just too adorable for words. Kermit T. Frog, self-isolating in the swamp, sings his big hit, "The Rainbow Connection," while accompanying himself on banjo. Complete with him turning the camera on and off, a few sketchy chord and vocals moments. In other words: Star quarantine perfection.

As one commenter put it: "Kermit isn't the hero we deserve, but he's the hero we need." Read the rest

Shut in sounds: Donald Fagen's "New Frontier"

Soon after the sheltering-in-place orders started being issued, this wonderful song (and video) from Donald Fagen's 1982 Grammy-nominated solo album Nightfly began popping into my head. All these weeks later, it hasn't left.

"We've got provisions and lots of beer The key word is survival on the new frontier"

Indeed, except we don't have lots of beer and we're having a hard time laying in the provisions. Where's the 50s fallout shelter when we need it?

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Avant-garde drummer Art Tripp talks about working with Zappa, Beefheart, John Cage, and others

I love the video interviews of composer and music educator, Samuel Andreyev. He shares an obsession with Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica and he has so far conducted one-to-two-hour interviews with Magic Band members John French (Drumbo), Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo), and Mark Boston (Rockette Morton), all specifically on the making of Trout Mask. He's also done a brilliant half-hour analysis of the Trout track, Frownland.

In this installment of the Beef series, he talks with Zappa and Beefheart drummer, Art Tripp, about working with the crazed Captain, Frank, John Cage, and other avant-garde composers.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

California city turns 74 miles of streets car-free to allow residents more space to social distance

My friend Matt Dibble works for Voice of America and put together this little report about some streets in Oakland neighborhoods being designated as "soft streets." Through-traffic is not allowed and resident drivers using are warned that their neighbors may be out playing in the streets.

I suspect we will see many more creative solutions like this as we move into the next phase of living with COVID-19 and figuring ways to be out of the house while maintaining social distance.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Land and sea creatures at Texas State Aquarium keep each other entertained

As the line goes "you don't know what you've got til it's gone." The land and sea critters at the Texas State Aquarium were wondering where all of the loud and annoying 2-leggeds went. Figuring they might be missing the limelight, the staff decided to let the sea animals meet some of the land animals.

The dolphins seemed to find Chico the sloth particularly amusing. Something tells me Chico may not have been super-excited to meet the inhabitants of the shark tank.

Read more and see a video of Chico touring the aquarium on Bored Panda.

The also let puppies from a local humane society have a day at the aquarium.

Image: Screengrab Read the rest

Roger Dean designs and paints the new Yes album cover live on Facebook

Celebrated artist, Roger Dean, known for his iconic album cover art for Yes, Uriah Heep, and Asia (but mostly Yes), has been Facebook streaming the development and rendering of the cover for Yes' forthcoming record.

Dean did the first session on Wednesday and the second today. Unfortunately, his feed has had bad audio and buffering issues, making it challenging to watch. Let's hope some of that can get sorted out by the next one.

See future sessions on his Facebook page.

Image: Screengrab Read the rest

Dolly Parton was actually a producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Wait... what? First Lucille Ball and Star Trek and now this?

Dolly Parton secretly produced Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the unexpected crossover of cultural icons has left fans reeling.

While Parton was not herself credited as a producer on the long-running fantasy series, a company she co-created and owned was responsible for it coming to television.

Sandollar Entertainment, which is listed on the end credits of every episode of the show, was created by Parton and her friend and former business partner Sandy Gallin in 1986. It produced a number of films, including Father of the Bride (1991) and Fly Away Home (1996), as well as several Parton projects – most recently her Netflix anthology series Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings.

Though it sounds like she had no direct involvement in the show, it's still kind of a cool association.

Read the rest here. Read the rest

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young & Tom Jones on the Tom Jones TV show in 1969

I think my feelings about this somewhat unlikely pairing of Tom Jones and Crosby, Still, Nash & Young can best be expressed by some of the comments on YouTube:

"When I was a kid, I thought Tom Jones was the height of uncool. Looking back, it was clearly the other way round."

"This is gonna be the LAMEST thing ever...10 seconds later...OMG...This is freakin' AWESOME!!!"

[H/t Michael Colombo]

Image: YouTube Read the rest

A day in NY in the early 1980s through the eyes of musicians, artists, activists, filmmakers, and more

I recently bumped into this piece in The New York Times Style Magazine from a few years ago which chronicles a day in the life of New York City in the early 80s through the memories of dozens of well-known NY artists (of all stripes), gallerists, club owners, and activists.

Kim Gordon, musician

When I first moved to the city, there was a garbage strike. I was hustling. I had a horrible graveyard shift at a coffee shop, one of the only places to eat in Chelsea, open 24 hours — super crickets, deserted. I worked part-time for gallerist Annina Nosei. She and Larry Gagosian had this space, it was a condo loft in a building on West Broadway. [By 1 a.m.] I’d be somewhere like [the TriBeCa No Wave club] Tier 3, seeing [the electronic Berlin band] Malaria!, and then walking over to Dave’s Luncheonette. A lot of the alternative spaces — Franklin Furnace, A-Space — had music, too. Hearing hip-hop on the street, minimalist new music, free jazz — it all added to this fabric that was a landscape.

I was kind of tomboyish, but also pretty poor. I had glasses, so I put these flip-up sunglass visors on them. But I didn’t feel super cool or anything. The people who were chic, the downtowners, pretty much just wore black — that could instantly give you a look. Our first goal [as Sonic Youth] was getting a gig at CBGB. Then it was getting a good time slot at CBGB, so you weren’t on last and weren’t on first. Read the rest

Revisiting Make:'s weekly Math Monday column

As the editor-in-chief of the Make: website, I got to help develop column ideas and work with some amazing contributors. One of these was the brilliant George Hart (father of Vi Hart) from the Museum of Mathematics. After George left the museum, Glen Whitney took over the column. They both did an amazing job at demonstrating mathematical concepts in the most entertaining ways, using everyday objects and maker-made creations. You can see all of the installments of the series here.

Here is the briefest of samplings. The column ran (on and off) for eight years.

Math Monday, September 26, 2011

A mathematical haircut makes an unambiguous statement to the world that you love math. Here, Nick Sayers is sporting a rhombic coiffure with interesting geometric properties.

The obtuse angles of each rhombus meet in groups of three, but 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. Read the rest

The tiny worlds of "micro-mechanician" Bill Robertson

As a miniature modeler and painter, I am obsessed with any type of tiny world-building: model train boards, dioramas, dollhouses, and the like. So, naturally, I adore the work of "micro-mechanician" Bill Robertson.

You can learn more about Bill and his amazing work in this piece on the TED Ideas blog and in his TED talk.

When you look at a miniature, you can see so much more,” he says. “You can see the whole thing with one eye. When you look at a little desk in your hand, it’s all right there in front of your eyes. There’s a fascination with seeing it all at once.

To give you a sense of the extremes to which Robertson goes, consider his reproduction of a microscope that had been made for King Louis XV. Robertson’s version consists of 125 infinitesimally small parts of metal, wood and glass. To match the microscope’s bronze shade, he melted Canadian gold coins and applied the metal to the frame. The original’s barrel was wrapped in shagreen, or sharkskin, and Robertson knew that he needed baby-shark skin for it to be more to scale, so the nodules and grain would be the correct size. He found the sharkskin at a shop outside Paris that had been serving cabinet makers for five generations. In the original text about the microscope, the builder said to polish the metal with the tooth of a wolf; Robertson got creative and used a puppy tooth instead.

Oh, and this microscope is fully functional, something that is very important to Robertson.

Read the rest

Marianne Faithfull survives COVID-19 hospitalization, returns home

After 22 days of being hospitalized with symptoms of COVID-19, and developing pneumonia, singer and counter-cultural icon, Marianne Faithfull, has been released from the hospital. Her official Facebook page writes:

We are really happy to say that Marianne has been discharged from hospital today, 22 days after being admitted suffering from the symptoms of Covid-19. She will continue to recuperate in London. Marianne thanks you all for your kind messages of concern which have meant a great deal through what is a such a difficult time for so many. She is also very grateful to all the NHS staff who cared for her at the hospital and, without doubt, saved her life.

In celebration, enjoy this tribute song that Marianne wrote upon the passing of her lifelong friend, Anita Richards (Keith's ex).

"Forever loving you," Marianne.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

More posts