• Competitive Sobriety Tests and Automotive Hot Wiring Classes Amongst Offerings at Machine Project's Benefit


    Echo Park's much loved Machine Project offers art, classes and civilized mayhem from Experimental Millinery and Bookbinding to Flame Effects (read: giant fireballs) and Sewing 101.


    Annually, a month's worth of epic programming is compressed into a single night's party.

    At this year's benefit, DMV: After Dark, you will experience such phenomena as: car horn fanfare; competitive sobriety tests; workshops on breaking into and hot-wiring cars, as well as how to escape from a locked trunk, heavy metal polka, surrealistic eye charts, "secret pancakes," and a human vending machine which dispenses delicious food prepared by Donna Coppola of Auntie Em's Kitchen fame.

    The situation will be helped along with a giant bonfire, s'mores and Machine Project beer.

    Machine Project Benefit, Los Angeles: Human Vending, Hot Wiring Cars, Competitive Sobriety Tests


  • The wacky show rods of Carl Casper
    TrioCarl Casper.jpg

    Left to right: Pinball Wizard, Beer Wagon and Peanut Machine Photo: Street Rodder

    While George Barris and Ed "Big Daddy" Roth are household names, the comparatively unknown Carl Casper is my favorite designer of outrageous custom hot rods of the 1960s and 1970s. Such incongruous hot rod themes as mail truck and barbershop were common, but I prefer the straightforward corner tavern, hot peanut and pinball sensibility of Carl Casper. These no-go showboats were decked out with chrome superchargers and fuel injection but never hit the pavement as they were rolled out of trailers to the pink shag fake fur of the hot rod show floor. Carl is still slogging it with an annual Louisville car show and, since he has never sold a car he built, there is still an opportunity to see these beasts in their natural environment under the florescent lights. Naturally, I like cars that go, but these candy flake monsters were the stuff of my dreams when I was kid; I bought all the model kits and dutifully assembled plastic chrome engines in a Testors glue fog.

    Popcorn Wagon, note the superfluous supercharger Photo: Street Rodder

    Street Rodder Magazine on the 1970's Show Rods
    Carl Casper on the interdoodles

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

  • Mister Jalopy hosting American Maker at Chicago MSI, Saturday September 20, 2008
    Andrew Alter's Pico-ITX Johnny 5

    From Chicago Museum of Science and Industry:

    American Maker is a raucous daylong festival of homemade innovations and inventions, organized and hosted by MAKE Magazine. Picture your grandpa's weekend workbench projects… if they had diodes, circuits, wheels and fire.

    Hacks, tweaks, mods and bends are part of the "maker" sensibility on display in the pages of MAKE. American Maker showcases this do-it-yourself mentality mixed with forward thinking, as grassroots innovators share their creations and spark ideas in others.

    Part of LabFest, the Science Chicago kickoff event, American Maker will culminate with a panel review of projects. The winning maker will receive a $500 prize and gets published in a future issue of MAKE.

    As a kid, my absolute favorite place in the world was the Stouffer's restaurant in Chicago – the mothership of the Corn Souffle, Turkey Tetrazini, Swedish Meatballs, Escalloped Apples, Creamed Chicken and Noodles Romanov. A close second was the Museum of Science and Industry with the submarine tour, coal mine elevator and ice cream sandwich vending machines.

    This Saturday, September 20th, I will be hosting the first ever American Maker event at the Chicago MSI. And, hold on to your penny purses, it will be free! Free admission to the museum, free admission to American Maker, free admission to LabFest – that is a better deal than a Stouffer's French Bread Pizza two-pack!

    What can you expect for your hard earned no dollars and no cents?

    Makers throughout the day will show their homebrew robots, human powered submarines, ingenuous gizmos, a DIY laser cutter, a Kraftwerk-inspired electroluminescent prototype dress and lots more of the extraordinary things people build when they are doing it for the joy of creating. We will get all the Makers up on stage to show off their creations, needle them with questions and, at the end of the day, we will name a the grand prize winner who will walk away with $500 and a feature in Make: Magazine!

    Come by and say hello! Did I mention the event is free?

    American Maker schedule
    Labfest at Chicago MSI, same day, same no cost

  • Deciphering the myriad of claims on a carton of eggs
    Photo: Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

    Invariably, I pick up an expensive carton of brown eggs, look inside, poke the eggs to make sure they are loose and unbroken and then set them back down. This continues through 3 cartons of eggs until I finally find a dozen that has copy writing successful enough to convince me that origin of the eggs was an idyllic pasture tended by compassionate farmers. In other words, I have been in desperate need of a guide to separate fact from fiction.

    From the New York Times:

    Some claims on egg cartons are regulated by the federal government, some by the states and some not at all. Some affect consumers' health, some touch upon ethics and some are meaningless.

    All purport to describe how the hens were raised, or what they were fed, or what extra benefits their eggs might provide.

    So, what do these terms mean?

    Based on the article, I made a cheat sheet for my wallet.

    Grade refers to firmness, AA best.
    Emblems: National Organic Program, U.S.D.A., Animal Family Farmers (independents, less than 500 chickens), Humane Farm Animal Care, American Humane Society
    Organic: needs National Organic Program emblem
    Chickens are naturally omnivores, but non-vegetarian feed can contain all manner of terrible things
    Pasture raised, which means non-vegetarian
    DHA Omega-3
    Pasteurized, good for recipes with raw eggs
    Antibiotics claim requires USDA or National Organic Program certification

    Less than ideal, but better than meaningless:

    Grade refers to firmness, A good.
    Emblems: United Egg Producers Certified
    Cage free almost meaningless, free range is a little better
    ALA Omega-3

    Meaningless or bad:
    Grade refers to firmness, B bad.
    Terms natural, naturally raised, hormones are meaningless

    Perhaps somebody will craft an attractively designed egg-shaped card suitable for lamination but, until that occurs, I will be relying on the above cheater.

    New York Times on egg carton labeling

  • From NYT: Good at approximation? Maybe you are the next math superstar!

    Interesting article in the NYT science section on the power of approximation and how those folks who are the best at ball park guessing, may have a natural ability for advanced mathematics.

    "When mathematicians and physicists are left alone in a room, one of the games they'll play is called a Fermi problem, in which they try to figure out the approximate answer to an arbitrary problem," said Rebecca Saxe, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is married to a physicist. "They'll ask, how many piano tuners are there in Chicago, or what contribution to the ocean's temperature do fish make, and they'll try to come up with a plausible answer."

    "What this suggests to me," she added, "is that the people whom we think of as being the most involved in the symbolic part of math intuitively know that they have to practice those other, nonsymbolic, approximating skills."

    So, I had an expensive lunch today. $10, plus $2 worth of iced tea and a $3 tip. But! Two kebabs, a pile of rice, a Greek salad and two lamb chops! It was late, I completed a big and miserable project and wanted to treat myself. Besides, who has lamb chops for lunch?! Anyway, back to the approximating. My lunch was about $15. AIG's bail-out loan from the Fed is estimated at $85 billion. So, that is about 5.6 billion kebab, lamb chop, Greek salad, rice and iced tea lunches.

    My beloved San Fernando Valley has about 1.8 million people and, if it was a city, it would be the 6th most populous in the nation. If I got an $85 billion dollar loan from the federal government, I could buy about 3000 lunches for every person in the San Fernando Valley. From the equine estates of Chatsworth to the Tarzana chicken coop of Mark Frauenfelder, from the handmade carnitas of Carrillo's in San Fernando to the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, I could buy 3000 lunches per resident. Let's face it, with two kebabs and two lamb chops, that is a dinner. So, an extremely hearty lunch, a sturdy dinner and I will add two egg McMuffins for breakfast so, let's see, that would raise the per day cost per resident to about $33. Perhaps that won't get you far in Londo but, in Los Angeles, that is an ample per diem!

    At $33 per day, I could buy every resident in the Valley breakfast, lunch and dinner for, hmm, about 3 years? Or I could just buy everybody a new $50,000 Mercedes!

    NYT: Gut Instinct's Surprising Role in Math (Registration required)
    Also, from NYT, fun little game to check your mathematic gut instinct

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

  • Speed Racer Service Stations in Japan

    Mach GoGoGo is no mere gas station, as it seems that you can purchase a used car from Trixie and have your bumper resprayed by ChimChim as you enjoy lunch in the cafe. I hope Pops is on the griddle! Having no brand loyalty to any gas station, I must admit, I would be willing to pay an extra nickel a gallon to have a Speed Racer fill-up.


    Mach 5 marketing is nothing new in Japan, as it seems Japanese consumers have been wooed by Speed Racer for some time, although Maruzen Oil's commercial seems to be inspired by, if not sanctioned by, Speed Racer.

    Mach GoGoGo Service Stations (via Japanese Nostalgic Car blog)
    Mach 5 Race Team

  • Is All Known Metal Bands a work of plagiarism?

    Cosmo Lee of Invisible Oranges thinks so:

    On one hand, this would surely make great coffee table reading. On the other hand, it is just as surely a copy-and-paste job from metal-archives.com. Essentially, the book is a print version of that website as of sometime last year. The fact that this book has an "author" (a Dan Nelson) is somewhat ludicrous. Does metal-archives.com have a potential intellectual property claim against Nelson/McSweeney's for theft of its idea, process, and/or content? Regarding the latter, probably not; metal-archives.com doesn't own the names of the bands it lists. However, it arguably owns the method of organization of these names, even if it's simply alphabetical. No other site has as complete a list of metal bands, and something feels wrong about a major commercial entity profiting off the backs of an all-volunteer community. In any case, metal-archives.com most certainly lacks the resources to pursue any action against McSweeney's.

    Was the community maintained Encyclopaedia Metallum copy and pasted into an exquisite William Morris-inspired McSweeney's book? I dunno. Of course, the metal archives has standards of accuracy to uphold and there is no way that they could have seen this coming, but perhaps they should plant a fictitious entry in the metal archives to thwart would-be plagiarists.

    Sounds easy enough but with 19 bands named Armageddon, what would sound plausible but not already taken? Misspellings? Nope, there is a band named Armagedom, another called Armaggedon and a total of 6 bands named Armagedon! Finding a unique metal band may be more difficult than finding a decent domain name!

    I suggest Mountweazel!

    All Known Metal Bands
    Encyclopaedia Metallum

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

  • Martin K. Tytell, Typewriter Wizard, Dies at 94

    Beyond an average repairman, Tytell was an artisan of the typewriter. He built a hieroglyphics typewriter for a curator, musical note machines for musicians and recreated Alger Hiss' typewriter, flaws and all, thus killing the legal argument that each machine had a unique fingerprint.

    From the New York Times:

    When he retired in 2000, Mr. Tytell had practiced his recently vanishing craft for 70 years. For most of that time, he rented, repaired, rebuilt, reconfigured and restored typewriters in a second-floor shop at 116 Fulton Street in Lower Manhattan, where a sign advertised "Psychoanalysis for Your Typewriter."

    There, at the Tytell Typewriter Company, he often worked seven days a week wearing a white lab coat and a bow tie, catering to customers like the writers Dorothy Parker and Richard Condon, the newsmen David Brinkley and Harrison Salisbury, and the political opponents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai E. Stevenson. Letters addressed only to "Mr. Typewriter, New York" arrived there, too.

    From a 1997 Atlantic Monthly article by Ian Frazier:

    At about that time he added a new service to his business — converting American-made typewriters to foreign alphabets for the stationery department at Macy's department store. He did these jobs on short notice and fast. Macy's would tell a customer that they could provide a typewriter in the customer's language before he left town; then Martin would remove the type from an American typewriter, solder on new type for the alphabet desired, and put new lettering on the keyboard. Usually he converted to Spanish or French, not difficult jobs, but he did Russian, Greek, and German, too. He found that by adding an idle gear he bought for forty-five cents on Canal Street, he could make a typewriter go from right to left. That enabled him to do Arabic and other right-left languages such as Hebrew and Farsi.

    I hope the Smithsonian is calling the Tytell family right now.

    New York Times Obit – Martin K. Tytell (Thanks, Ron!)

    Typewriter Man from The Atlantic Monthly

    Photo Credit: Patrick Burns/The New York Times

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

  • HOWTO: Take jaw-dropping photos with a mid-grade digital camera and worklights

    Photo: Ray Dobbins (click for big)

    The Velosniper points us to the amazing bicycle photography of Ray Dobbins. Using consumer cameras, Ray gets tremendous results in his modest garage photography studio. Ray's process has been perfected with considerable trial and error, but surprisingly little money. With a $30 tripod, $35 halogen Sears work lights and a $55 roll of seamless, Ray has proven that I can no longer blame my camera for my poor quality photos.

    From Ray Dobbins:

    I started with a very cheap 3.2 megapixel digital camera, the Olympus Camedia D-395. About four months ago I moved up to a better camera, the 4.0 megapixel Kodak EasyShare DX7440. It has a better lens, more features and higher optical zoom, which really helps with the close-ups. However, all things being equal, the difference in the quality output between the two cameras is not significant. One of my best looking albums, the Colnago Oval CX, was taken with the Olympus. The big difference is in the features. So don't think that you need an expensive camera – even my new one only cost around $300.00.

    Take a look at the Colnago Oval CX gallery, consider your own photographs and then come to the grips with the fact that he took those photographs with a generations-old digital camera that routinely sells on eBay for under $40! Ouch! We suck! Ray rules!


    Photo: Ray Dobbins (click for big)

    Ray Dobbins Photo Set-up (via Velosniper)

  • A brief appreciation of the work of Jean-Baptiste Mondino

    Les Rita Mitsouko "C'est Comme Ça" from The No Comprendo

    Although Jean-Baptiste Mondino has directed music videos for huge artists like Madonna, Bjork and Chris Isaak, my favorite video of all time is for the relatively unknown Les Rita Mitsouko. Mondino was helped considerably by the frantic sexy robotics of Catherine Ringer, the windmill gyrations of guitarist Fred Chichin and, the sure crowd pleaser, chimpanzee antics. It is a brave director who steps in the room with those three.

    Produced by Tony Visconti, the entire album is fantastic and I still listen to it regularly. Sadly, Fred Chichin passed away last November.

    Slightly NSFW – Mirwais "Naive Song" from Production

    Nearly twenty years after Les Rita Mitsouko, Mondino choreographed the removal of Mirwais' cabaret makeup to the infectious beats of French electronica. Admittedly, I really love trashy French house music and this is a particularly fine example.

    French Advertisement for Spontex Sponges

    French Advertisement for Kodak

    Neither unknown nor underappreciated, Mondino's place in fashion, photography and directing is rock solid. Before the days of YouTube, I would pay attention if I heard of a Jean-Baptiste project, but how the hell would I ever be able to see French commercials?

    Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" from Building the Perfect Beast

    It would be wrong to leave the reader with the impression that Mondino's talents are restricted to frenetic overloads. The Henley "Boys of Summer" video swept the MTV Music Video Awards and is a beautifully shot, wonderfully restrained, example of the best of the 1980s.


    In addition to Mondino's considerable directing talents, he is also a tremendous photographer who continues to amaze.

    Mondino's Page
    Jean-Baptiste Mondino at wikipedia
    Comprehensive music videography at mvdbase.com

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

  • DVS wins TransWorld SKATEboarding's Skate & Create video contest
    Skate and Create.png

    From DVS:

    Back in April, TransWorld SKATEboarding held its first annual Skate & Create contest. In a nutshell, the contest consists of four teams of four pros, one am, a photographer, a videographer, and an art director. Each team is locked in a warehouse for nine days with a smorgasbord of ramps, rails, banks, and boxes. The team that can come up with the most creative set concept, skate obstacles, photography, skateboarding, and video wins.

    All teams involved produced amazing videos and brilliant photos, but after the judging was said and done it was DVS that emerged as the winner.

    Even your granny is going to want to start building a half-pipe in the living room after she sees this. As kids, we were constantly building crude skateboard ramps and BMX tracks that were even worse. The winning DVS video captures not just the kinetic freak out fun of skateboarding, but also the joy of building.

    DVS mini-site for their Skate & Create winning entry (via Design is Kinky)
    Other entries at TransWorld SKATEboarding

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

  • "What your global neighbors are buying" – Superb interactive graph at NY Times

    From New York Times:

    How people spend their discretionary income – the cash that goes to clothing, electronics, recreation, household goods, alcohol – depends a lot on where they live. People in Greece spend almost 13 times more money on clothing as they do on electronics. People living in Japan spend more on recreation than they do on clothing, electronics and household goods combined. Americans spend a lot of money on everything.

    NY TImes Infographic.png

    What Your Neighbors Are Buying interactive graphic at NYTimes.com

  • Agro-veillance: Using satelites and drones for precision crop maintenence
    Agricultural Tree Grading Maps Photo: satimagingcorp.com

    The landscape architecture blog Pruned has a fascinating overview of using unmanned drones and satellites to produce maps which reveal terrific amounts of data for analyzing the relative health of crops. Being able to detect the relative difference in biomass in an orchard would allow the high-tech farmer to pinpoint water, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides to only the trees that need them, rather than flooding and dusting the entire orchard.

    Once you are able to determine the relative health of each tree in the orchard, it is a natural leap to imagine a grid of capillary tubing delivering the precise amounts of nutrients and water required to maintain each tree at peak production. What about pesticides? Well, just use a little larger tube and shoot a stream of ladybugs at the affected tree!

    Pruned on Agro-veillance

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

  • Ortofon 2M turntable cartridge looks great – in a Bondi Blue sorta way

    I am not sure if we should blame the original iMac or gummy bears for the ubiquitous transparent jewel tone plastic that permeates industrial design. If you want to be unique, I would suggest opaque. The plastic color for the Ortofon 2M cartridge is a question of cost, not personal palette, as the street price of the ruby red cartridge is a mere $99, while the black is a heart-stopping $669.

    Ortofon 2M Cartridges

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

  • Sweathog Living: The domestic chaos of diminished expectations

    The mysterious Brazo Fuerte has been invited into the home of the Rich Roat family and appears to be puzzled by Rich's laissez-faire estate management. While the fence sways under the pressure of a rotting tree and invasive weeds choke out the native flora, Rich chooses such pressing tasks as wrangling empty Illy coffee cans, toolbox re-organization, and re-branding the weed trimmer with a novelty label that makes sense to only to those of us with a interest in hemispherical combustion chamber technology. Ambitious, if misdirected, it seems Rich is willing to tackle any project as long as it does not actually contribute to the maintenance of his estate.

    Sweathog Living

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

  • Ridgid SeeSnake Micro Inspection Camera
    Thumbnail image for SS Micro Beauty Photo_R2_3C.jpg

    Generally, micro inspection cameras are frightfully expensive professional instruments for dedicated industrial applications with commensurately high professional fees attached. When I stumbled across the $182 Ridgid SeeSnake, I became so excited that I felt a wave of static electricity across my scalp and was momentarily light-headed before I regained my composure long enough to click Add to Shopping Cart.

    Besides being able to see in hidden locations, there are hook and magnet wand attachments to grab objects discovered in these previously uncharted territories. Clearly, this is not a professional grade tool and is not a direct replacement for versions costing thousands of dollars. However, with the 3-foot wand it is more than adequate for looking in your own ears. Ladies and gentlemen, let's face facts, that alone is worth $182 and any ancillary purpose is gravy.

    Rigid SeeSnake Micro Inspection Camera

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

  • Leviton gives the gift of extra outlets – a third at every wallplate


    Sweet Queen Victoria! Why didn't somebody think of this before?! Was there some engineering issue that had to be overcome to allow such an elegant, ingenious and obvious design? Did this require new materials that were destined for space? Did the secret lie in a spy's briefcase lost since the end of the Cold War? I would certainly be a proud Leviton engineer if I had sketched this on my cocktail napkin!

    Leviton AC320-W Triplex Receptacle (via Materialicious)

    (Mister Jalopy is a guest blogger!)

    UPDATE: Did you know Rob already discussed the tri-outlet wonder on BB Gadgets? Why wouldn't he? It rules!