Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Morbid Anatomy


Morbid Anatomy: "Surveying the Interstices of Art and Medicine, Death and Culture."

A fantastic blog about the curious aesthetics and culture of the human body.

[Thanks to Jorden Haley!]

MTV on Steampunk vs. The User's Guide

MTV News on Steampunk

In typical MTV fashion, this makes my teeth itch, but I suppose it's a decent 30,000 ft. view from a pop culture perspective.

For a deeper understanding, see The User's Guide to Steampunk by Bruce Sterling. A few key points below:

This dress-up costume play and these subcultural frolics will amuse and content 90 percent of the people involved in steampunk.

However, you may possibly be one of those troublesome 10 percent guys, not just in the scene but creating a scene. Frankly, the heaviest guys in the steampunk scene are not really all that into "steam." Instead, they are into punk. Specifically, punk's do-it-yourself aspects and its determination to take the means of production away from big, mind-deadening companies who want to package and sell shrink-wrapped cultural product...

Steampunk's key lessons are not about the past. They are about the instability and obsolescence of our own times...

We are a technological society. When we trifle, in our sly, Gothic, grave-robbing fashion, with archaic and eclipsed technologies, we are secretly preparing ourselves for the death of our own tech. Steampunk is popular now because people are unconsciously realizing that the way that we live has already died. We are sleepwalking. We are ruled by rapacious, dogmatic, heavily-armed fossil-moguls who rob us and force us to live like corpses. Steampunk is a pretty way of coping with this truth.

The hero of the funeral is already dead. He has no idea what is happening. A funeral is theater for the living.

Steampunk is funereal theater. It's a pageant. A pageant selectively pumps some life into the parts of the past that can excite us, such as the dandified gear of aristocrats, peculiar brass gadgets, rather stilted personal relationships and elaborate and slightly kinky underwear. Pageants repress the aspects of the past that are dark, gloomy, ugly, foul, shameful and catastrophic. But when you raise the dead, they bring their baggage.

There's not a lot we can do about the past; but we should never despair of it, because, as Czeslaw Milosz wisely said, the past takes its meaning from whatever we do right now...

The past is a kind of future that has already happened.

[Thanks Toybreaker!]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cape Farewell

"Climate change is a reality. Caused by us all, it is a cultural, social and economic problem and must move beyond scientific debate. Cape Farewell is committed to the notion that artists can engage the public in this issue, through creative insight and vision. The Arctic is an extraordinary place to visit. It is a place in which to be inspired, a place which urges us to face up to what it is we stand to lose." 
David Buckland, 2007

Cape Farewell is a cultural response to this climate change. A group of 40 artists, scientists, and communicators are brought together on this expedition to Disko Bay, Greenland. Some of the artists include Jarvis Cocker, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Laurie Anderson and KT Tunstall, just to name a few.

The expedition runs from 25 September until 6 October 2008. The group is communicating via satellite in order to transmit images, text and video footage back to dry land. Follow this fantastic voyage by subscribing to the e-mail updates and podcast.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Modern Autumn Music

Nothing penetrates the crisp autumn air as sweetly as hot apple cider and distortion pedals. I've worn out many a Love & Rockets, Pixies and Jesus & Mary Chain cassette [not to mention a few speakers] just driving around on fall nights with the windows open. Below are a few contemporary bands that hold their own under the late September stars.

Ceremony - Clouds [2005]

Asobi Seksu - Goodbye [2007]

Pins and Needles - H-Bomb [live, 2006]

Skywave - Dream You're Alive [1999]

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thursday Night Videos: Let the Banks Suffocate in Their Excremet Edition

"Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne."
-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Wall Street has hardly been making champagne these past 28 years, unfortunately for all of us.

The financial crisis is urgent, as both Democratic and Republican politicians have said. But not at all in the way they mean. Taxpayers should not bail out the shortsighted banking system and the car manufacturers and every other industry which has taken advantage of the deregulations and mindset established by the Reagan era of greed and social, economic and moral irresponsibility. They knowingly made bad choices. Horrible choices for short term profits: extending credit to those they knew couldn't afford it, jacking credit card rates to 20%+, building massive old-tech, gas sucking trucks dolled-up with fake wood trim and chromed plastic and peddling them as "luxury SUVs" [the ultimate example of a "pig in lipstick",] etc. Fanny, Freddie, General Motors and the like knew exactly what they were doing. Are we going to bail out Exxon-Mobil next when all the oil dries up and they claim they had no idea it was coming?

Let them die. Let them drown in their own shit like yeast.

The banking system is little more than an elaborate game of fantasy football and Detroit seems incapable of responding to market demand. [Don't get me started about the fugly abortion which is the Chevrolet Volt - which apparently is not even really electric, but a standard hybrid... WTF? The concept car was GORGEOUS, but the the production model is just a crappy Prius knock-off - and the Prius is a bloody toad to drive as it is.]

The situation is urgent. Instead of a $700 billion bail out for the people who screwed this all up in the first place [and that $25 billion loan for the auto industry we haven't heard much about,] how about we take that $950 billion and help pay off the debts of individual Americans, or give it to small businesses who've proven both fiscal and social responsibility? Give it to people with the intelligence and ethics to actually lead this country.

We need a force restart. We need to not patch a broken system, but to rethink everything.

Let the banks fail. Let industry fail. The honest, hard working people who gave their trust to these corporations should be the #1 priority of the government. Wipe clean personal debts first. Put a moratorium on all forms of credit. Let people live or die by the responsibility of their own decisions in a cash only world.

This of course means the end of the finance world as we know it. Good. It's all fantasy and speculation anyway. Let's have an economy based solely on real money. We've been talking about trickle-down economics since 1980. It has failed. I don't think Obama has the balls to go as far as I'm proposing [*nor should he be taking advice from a wacko like me,] but I do love this quote of his:
"Instead of prosperity tricking down, the pain has trickled up. We need to change direction. Now."

He gets it! Whether he can act on it or not has yet to be seen. We know the alternative. We've been living with it for too long.

With that, please enjoy some music.

Nine Inch Nails - Burn [1994, from the Natural Born Killers soundtrack]

Consolidated - America Number One [1990]

Pixies - Where is My Mind? [1988, from the Fight Club soundtrack, 1999]

[Everyone should re-read/re-watch Fight Club as the official manual for living.]

"Trust me. Everything's going to be fine."

The financial crisis can be solved for much less than $700 billion...

MAGPIE » WILLING DUPES: Douglas Rushkoff on the credit crisis - Arthur Magazine blogs for you...

MAGPIE » WILLING DUPES: Douglas Rushkoff on the credit crisis - Arthur Magazine blogs for you...

This is the article I read a few months back that explained the current situation for the sub prime mortgages. Lenders did a very similar thing with credit cards and mortgages. Basically, the entire credit system is collapsing due to very bad logic, greed and over speculation.

Somehow we are now expected to bail out these investors. I just don't think it's fair that we bail them out while still owing them for houses and credit cards. It's time for a debt moratorium on some level.

Wooster Collective: Laz Brings The Outsiders To New York - Opens This Friday Night

Wooster Collective: Laz Brings The Outsiders To New York - Opens This Friday Night

While we were in London and Paris earlier this Summer, it seemed that every artist we met was talking about, or preparing new work, for The Outsiders, Steve Lazarides' blockbuster group show which finally arrives here in New York this Friday night.

In a temporary space located at the corner of Houston and Bowery in Lower Manhattan (where the massive JR piece is located), the show brings together a wide range of such artists (some who have never shown in New York) including Vhils, Zevs, Antony Micallef, Jonathan Yeo, Ian Francis, JR, Conor Harrington, Faile, Blu, Mark Jenkins, Invader, David Choe, Miranda Donovan, Bast, Mode2, Todd James, Polly Morgan and Paul Insect."

Worth seeing if you are in NYC.

Subprime Primer

The Subprime Primer


[Thanks Andrew!]

Lawmakers’ Constituents Make Their Bailout Views Loud and Clear - NYTimes.com

Lawmakers’ Constituents Make Their Bailout Views Loud and Clear - NYTimes.com

This bailout is the final straw for our economy. If this happens we are really giving, not buying, but giving away 700 billion dollars one of the richest industry in American history, the banks. Can't we at least loan this money and charge interest? Doesn't the average American owe them around $8,500 in credit card debt? If we are each giving the same companies $2300, (on the low side of the calculation) can we get a credit for that?

Or how about a bailout for the American people.... One where we forgive credit card debt and allow the people of the country to start over? I mean as long as we are are talking ideas straight out of socialism and communism (state funded/owned markets), can't we get a basic perk?

I think that the Daily Show put it best when they said Bush was no longer trying to be the worst American president, but perhaps, the last.

Sign to stop the bail out here.

On a final note, where is this money coming from? Are we, the American people, going to borrow it at interest to turn around and give it to the banks for free? Isn't borrowing what we can't afford what got us into this mess? Or are they just going to print it? I mean what the hell is this mess?

Does anyone else here feel like we are being hijacked here? How does ultimately going further in debt help anyone around here? Is this the band aid for the Titanic's hull? Anytime Bush rushes something through this fast, you know something is very wrong.... 

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ryden for Obama

Mark Ryden - The Pumpkin President
Mark Ryden - The Pumpkin President [2008]

Mark Ryden and Merry Karnowsky are pleased to be offering a new limited edition lithographic poster in honor of the Art For Hope exhibition being held on Wednesday October 1, 2008 from 7 - 10 pm. Reservations will take place between September 23 - September 30, 2008, and are first come, first serve. There will only be 500 posters available.

All proceeds from the Poster will go to the Barack Obama Presidential Campaign.

Poster Description: The Pumpkin President
The poster is printed on heavy weight paper, signed and numbered, and is embossed with the Porterhouse seal in the lower right hand corner. This poster comes with a certificate of authenticity.

Ryden - Pumpkin President certificate

I'm not quite sure what to make of the symbolism or how it relates to the campaign... but I like it!

This is my dream house...

Archinect : Features : ShowCase: Dupli.Casa by J. MAYER H.

I own the Panton chairs featured... Now I just need the house to go with them...

China building electromagnetic relativity drive

From WIRED: Chinese Say They're Building 'Impossible' Space Drive

Chinese researchers claim they've confirmed the theory behind an "impossible" space drive, and are proceeding to build a demonstration version. If they're right, this might transform the economics of satellites, open up new possibilities for space exploration – and give the Chinese a decisive military advantage in space.

To say that the "Emdrive" (short for "electromagnetic drive") concept is controversial would be an understatement. According to Roger Shawyer, the British scientist who developed the concept, the drive converts electrical energy into thrust via microwaves, without violating any laws of physics. Many other researchers believe otherwise. An article about the Emdrive in New Scientist magazine drew a massive volley of criticism. Scientists not only argued that Shawyer's work was blatantly impossible, and and that his reasoning was flawed. They also said the article should never have been published...

Shawyer stands by his theoretical work. His company, Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd. (SPR), has constructed demonstration engines which he says produce thrust, using a tapering resonant cavity filled with microwaves. He is adamant that this is not a perpetual motion machine, and does not violate the law of conservation of momentum because different reference frames apply to the drive and the waves within it. Shawyer's big challenge, he says, has been getting people who will actually look into his claims rather than simply dismissing them.

The possibilities are phenomenal: Instead of going out of service when they run out of fuel, satellites will have greatly extended endurance and will be able to move around at will. (We won’t have to shoot them down because of the risk from toxic fuel either.) Deep space probes will be able to go further, faster – and stop when they arrive. Shawyer calculates that a solar-powered Emdrive could take a manned mission to Mars in 41 days. Provided it works, of course.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

LA recap

Ms. Toybreaker and I are back from LA. We didn't have time to see half the people we wanted to, but we did have a great time hanging out with dear old friends and meeting new ones.

Saturday we met up with Nadya and Mildred of Coilhouse at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to see Ridley Scott's Alien - projected on the side of a mosoleum in surround sound. Fantastic! [By the way, Coilhouse Magazine should be in Borders and Barnes & Noble next week. Issue #1 is killer.]

After some sake at the Coilhouse penthouse, we sort of crashed the birthday party of one of my all time design heroes [thanks to Bill Morrison and Nix,] Steven R Gilmore. It was honestly sort of a religious experience at first going Steven's house, but the party was really modest and comfortable. The entire extended Skinny Puppy family is just awesome. SRG himself reminds me so much of Brian Kritzman it's freaky. They're like doppelgangers in almost every way. [I was actually very intimidated the first time I met Brian Kritzman, but now we're best friends.]

My fiance and my new friend Bill didn't burn down Steven's garage breathing fire over the tiki torches on the back patio. This is good.

Sunday morning we spent a lot of time and money we didn't have to spare at Fred Segal and at A+R [both of whom cary Cyberoptix neck ties.] Well worth it though. I wish we had stores that cool in Detroit. Hell, New York wishes it had stores that cool.

Sunday night was Josh Glazer and Doris Payers' wedding - possibly the coolest I've been to. Bethany and I will be stealing an idea or two for our own next year.

After the wedding, Jon O, Mark and Carissa were kind enough to open their swank beach house to everyone for an after-party, which devolved into shenanigans on Venice Beach at o-dark late hour.

Bethany and I stayed at the Custom Hotel, which we can not recommend enough. It's half the price of The Standard, and just as cool - possibly cooler due to its lack of pretense and proximity to Culver City and Santa Monica. Deal of the century at $90 a night. Similar vibe, but better than The Hudson in New York.

Like the jackass I am, I didn't bring my camera, but we're sure incriminating photos will emerge on Flickr.

Here's a photo by Petey of most of the gang in the ocean around 4AM Monday morning:

[Atomly is actually that big.]

LA gas signs

This feels right for today as oil prices made their largest jump in history.

Embedded Video

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Brilliant Noise

Our sun as you've never seen [or heard] it before: Brilliant Noise by Semiconductor Films.

Brilliant Noise takes us into the data vaults of solar astronomy. After sifting through hundreds of thousands of computer files, made accessible via open access archives, Semiconductor have brought together some of the sun's finest unseen moments. These images have been kept in their most raw form, revealing the energetic particles and solar wind as a rain of white noise. This grainy black and white quality is routinely cleaned up by NASA, hiding the processes and mechanics in action behind the capturing procedure. Most of the imagery has been collected as single snapshots containing additional information, by satellites orbiting the Earth. They are then reorganised into their spectral groups to create time-lapse sequences. The soundtrack highlights the hidden forces at play upon the solar surface, by directly translating areas of intensity within the image brightness into layers of audio manipulation and radio frequencies.

[via Uncertain Times]

You Just Can’t Kill It

NY Times on Goth

New York Times on Goth, it's history, endurance and place in high fashion - as seen in a new exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Perhaps one teenager too many lay awake after midnight, unable to get Edward Gorey’s disturbing Black Doll image out of his head. Maybe a girl with 14 piercings in each ear sang Siouxsie and the Banshees’s “Cities in Dust” to her cat enough times to warp the entire light spectrum.

But there was a distinct point in San Francisco, in the late 1980s, when all the postpunk wardrobes of my extended tribe — a lower Haight-Ashbury aggregate of motorcyclists, college dropouts, would-be artists and nightclub workers — turned as abruptly and completely black as if a wall of ink had crept up from the Pacific and saturated everything, save for occasional outcroppings of little silver skulls.

[Same in every other city in the country...]
“ ‘Gothic’ is an epithet with a strange history, evoking images of death, destruction, and decay,” the fashion historian Valerie Steele writes in “Gothic: Dark Glamour” (Yale University Press), a new coffee-table book, written with Jennifer Park. An exhibition of the same name, curated by Ms. Steele at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, unpacks the evolution of goth in fashion from its early beginnings in Victorian mourning to its most current expressions.

...goth fashion is not just for maladjusted latchkey kids. A recent proliferation of Haute Goth on the runways of designers like Alexander McQueen, Rick Owens, Gareth Pugh and the spidery crochet webs of Rodarte (not to mention various darkly inclined Belgian designers) suggests, once again, that black still is, and probably always will be the new black.

The origins of contemporary goth style are found in the Victorian cult of mourning.

“Victorians had a joke when women got into fashionable mourning dress — they called it ‘the trap rebaited.’ ” Ms. Steele said, showing me one of the highlights of the F.I.T. exhibition: a 1905 Victorian cult-of-mourning gown by Desbuisson & Hudelist that was off-the-shoulder, had a plunging neckline and was covered with matte-black sequins.

[I quite like this next one...]
The show also makes a healthy foray into what Ms. Steele calls the “diabolism, dandyism and decadence” of Dracula. “Just as the devil is the prince of darkness, the dandy is the black prince of elegance,” she explained. “And the paradigm of the gothic man is a dandy vampire aristocrat.”

The vampire introduces the idea of the “erotic macabre” into gothic fashion. There are stunning examples in the show of vampiric sex appeal — e.g., a voluminous blood-red gown by John Galliano for Dior, printed with a Marquis de Sade quotation: “Is it not by murder that France is free today?”

CoutureLab The Dark Side of Glamour
National Post Dark glamour: Why does goth fashion never die?
FIT current exhibitions

This Weekend in Noise

Seems like a very busy weekend in Baltimore.

The annual noise/experimental/improv High Zero Festival turns 10.
Here is an excerpt from their site:

What is High Zero?

High Zero is the premier festival of Improvised, Experimental music on the East Coast, being fully devoted to new collaborations between the most inspired improvisors from around the world.

Lasting two weeks in total, the festival brings together 28 core musicians each year, but also involves a much larger subculture of musicians in Baltimore and on the East Coast. Unlike many related festivals, High Zero is not narrow in terms of sensibility or subculture, but rather widely inclusive of all the different types of experimental music-making in the moment. The fact that half of the festival's core participants are from Baltimore speaks to the depth of Baltimore's experimental music subculture, which in recent years has grown to be one of the richest cities in the country for experimental art.

Here is a short rundown of people playing this year's festival:

10th Anniversary Artists:
Olga Adorno (Nice, France): spontaneous performance
Tony Conrad (Buffalo, NY): violins
Dan Conrad (Baltimore): inventions, voice, light
Peter Rose (Philadelphia): film
Jenny Graf Sheppard (Baltimore): inventions, ideas

From Baltimore:
Susan Alcorn: pedal steel guitar
John Berndt: electronics, reeds, inventions
M.C. Schmidt: electronics

High Zero runs until the 21st.

Speaking of anniversaries or birthdays (I prefer birthdays personally. You didn't marry the event you gave birth to it.)

MORE OR LESS is turning 1!

It's been one year since our first since our first party under the MOL moniker was held.
We plan on staying around for awhile and have even been getting some good press! (even one of my posters from March one a Best of Baltimore award, I liked the Tom Cruise Scientology poster much better though and it can still be spotted because I used a shit ton of wall paper paste)

w/ Ben Parris | foundsound | Baltimore

Ben Parris lives in Baltimore, Maryland USA and makes music for Foundsound records. He believes that in his past life he hunted smurfs in the forests of Arcadia, but he can’t be certain. Since 2000, Parris has performed across North America and limited parts of Europe, quite often gaining a notorious reputation for his so-called “unstoppable party antics”.

In so doing, he has established himself as a key enthusiast and purveyor of experimental electronic dance music, both through his skilled performances as a DJ and as chief curator and director of the once.twice:festival, an annual Baltimore event that has showcased techno luminaries such as Akufen, Smith-n-Hack, Kit Clayton, Matthew Dear, Crackhaus, Someone Else, and Dimbiman, among many others…

After the 2004 festival, Parris decided to focus on his own production and DJ career, temporarily relocating to an isolated locale in the mountains of western North Carolina, working by day on a trout farm and by night honing his production abilities. The result was his first EP for Foundsound records, “Double Wimpfighter”, released with great success in October 2005 and featuring a remix by Magda (m_nus).

He continues to work on new material for Foundsound as well as the up-and-coming label Esperanza records, based in Madrid, Spain. His DJ sets include the use of Serato scratch technology, allowing Parris to take advantage of his close connection to many producers across the globe by featuring unreleased material and personalized re-edits during his performance.

DJ Kel | Balto/Philly

Borne out of the depths of suburban Philadelphia, now living in Baltimore, DJ Kel brings a skillful blend from multiple years and flavors of electronic music. His tastes for house, techno, ambient and IDM have been helped by years of on-air and back-office work in free-format radio. First DJ'ing in 1998, Kel made his debut on WPRB (Princeton Univ.) in 1999. Throughout his five years of college, Kel programmed over 300 shows on WKDU (Drexel Univ.) while accepting offers to spin in Philly's various clubs, bars, diners, lounges, warehouses, garages, living rooms, bedrooms, billiard rooms and cloakrooms. In the past few years, Kel's repertoire has grown to include ambient music from the 70's to the present day.

After a handful of guest sets on the long-running "Star's End" ambient radio program on WXPN, Kel programmed and mixed an entire five-hour show in August 2007. Nowadays one can expect to hear trippy and dubby ambient interludes laced in his sets, along with deep house, IDM, and jackin' techno, making a thoughtful mix of records selected with an ear for richness and melody.
Affiliations: The Nod, Star's End, and Bmore-Electro
(tag-team set with Ilya)

Located at the Hexagon
1825 N. Charles
Baltimore, MD 21201


No Age, BYO, $5

So yeah, it goes past 2AM (big deal in baltimore where bars kick you out at 1:45 and the afterhours scene is shit, IMO, I mean if you like dudes slangin pills all night by the bathroom and love hard house and progressive then I guess it's not too bad.) Did I mention there is a taco bar? Tacos, byob, $5, and lots of techno and house music til the wee hours. What else do you need?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Something Spooked the Horses

[This one is for Christopher Bissonnette]

Zoviet France - Something Spooked the Horses [live]

WIRED goes inside GM's wind tunnel


Inside GM's Massive Wind Tunnel

The heart of the beast is a 4,500-horsepower, variable-speed, DC electric motor that turns a six-blade fan at up to 270 rpm.

The fan has six blades, each weighing one ton. They're 12 feet tall and made of laminated Sitka spruce, which was selected for its high strength-to-weight ratio. With the motor spinning at maximum velocity, the tip speed of the blades is 415 mph.


I actually had the opportunity to wander through this tunnel during an open houes at the Eero Saarinen designed General Motors Technical Center when I was ten years old or so. It seems just as impressive now as it did then.

The Onion doing what The Onion does best

Obama Deletes Another Unread MoveOn.org E-Mail

CHICAGO—After receiving yet another unwanted e-mail from liberal political action group MoveOn.org Monday, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama deleted the message from his inbox without even glancing at its contents.

"Ugh, not these people again," Obama was overheard to say as he placed the unread e-mail into the Gmail folder marked "Trash."

"I know this election is important and everything," Obama added. "But these people seriously need to relax."

Although he acknowledged that it takes little time and effort to discard the unwanted messages, the senator said that MoveOn has nonetheless become a nuisance. In recent weeks, he has begun automatically deleting any e-mail in which he sees the name "Barack Obama" in the subject line, which has only created further problems.

"Shortly after the DNC, I accidentally erased a personal message from my grandmother congratulating me on my nomination," Obama said. "Way to go, MoveOn.org."

According to Obama, however, the most annoying aspect of the MoveOn e-mails is the "self-righteous manner" in which the political advocacy group's mostly white employees have appropriated his campaign message and used it as their own.

"It's irritating that these people think they're doing everybody this great service just by clicking 'send' a million times," Obama said. "I'm trying to make the world a better place, but with all the time I've been spending deleting e-mails, it's going to take me forever."


We have or will be at a wedding every weekend this month. Next on the agenda is Mr. Josh Glazer and the soon to be Mrs. Doris Glazer. Not only are we extremely happy for Josh and Doris [yay!] we're very happy to be visiting LA on a not strictly work related trip. Ms. Toybreaker and I arrive in the city of angels Saturday afternoon and depart Monday afternoon. Aside from the wedding on Sunday of course, and meeting up with our friends at Coilhouse Saturday, we're pretty open and would love to see all of our much neglected LA friends. [Attn: Chad Clark, Dave Lentz, Paul Petrunia, etc... you know how to reach me!]

Since most of our activities revolve around the Culver City/West Side region, we'll be trying out the Custom Hotel. Tablet Hotels says it's quite good, and absurdly inexpensive. Who are we to argue? [Expect a review.]


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Steampunks for Obama and more...

Seems like there are new buttons every day, and [like most things] the weirder they get, the better they get.

Rob Walker beat us to the trigger on this one:

This is pretty awesome too:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kentucky Bourbon

Firstly, a huge congrats to Mr. Rob and Mrs. Stephanie Theakston!


While we were in Kentucky this weekend for the wedding, we made a pilgrimage to the Woodford Reserve Distillery - home of the finest small batch bourbon in the country. [I'd say "arguably the finest," but I have yet to taste an argument to the contrary.]



It is the oldest operating distillery in Kentucky, nestled among thoroughbred horse farms in the rolling hills of Bluegrass country. The process now used to create all straight bourbon was developed in the limestone buildings at this site by Scottish physician and chemist Dr. James C. Crow in the 1820s, when it was known as the Oscar Pepper Distillery.


For more, here's an interesting interview with Woodford's Master Distiller Chris Morris.

Friday, September 12, 2008

That book banning thing

There's no need to criticize Sarah Palin. Her own record does all the work on it's own...

The below is quoted directly from Fox News, of all places:

The McCain campaign is defending Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s much-criticized questions to her hometown librarian about book banning, saying the query was only hypothetical.

Shortly after taking office in 1996 as mayor of Wasilla, a city of about 7,000 people, Palin asked the city’s head librarian about banning books. Later, the librarian was notified by Palin that she was being fired, although Palin backed off under pressure.

Palin’s alleged attempt at book-banning has been a matter of intense interest since Republican presidential nominee John McCain named her as his running mate last month.

Taylor Griffin, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, said Thursday that Palin asked the head librarian, Mary Ellen Emmons, on three occasions how she would react to attempts at banning books. He said the questions, in the fall of 1996, were hypothetical and entirely appropriate. He said a patron had asked the library to remove a title the year before and the mayor wanted to understand how such disputes were handled.

Records on the city’s Web site, however, do not show any books were challenged in Wasilla in the 10 years before Palin took office.

Palin notified Emmons she would be fired in January 1997 because the mayor didn’t feel she had the librarian’s “full support.” Emmons was reinstated the next day after public outcry, according to newspaper reports at the time.

Still, one longtime library staffer recalls that the run-in made everyone fear for their jobs.

“Mayor Palin gave us some terrible moments and some rather gut-wrenching moments, particularly when Mary Ellen said she was going to have to leave,” said Cathy Petrie, who managed the children’s collection at the time.

Recent outrage has been fueled by Wasilla housewife Anne Kilkenny, whose 2,400-word critique of Palin’s legacy as mayor is widely posted on the Internet. Kilkenny described Palin’s actions as “out-and-out censorship.”

But the McCain campaign, in a statement, said the charge “is categorically false … Governor Sarah Palin has never asked anyone to ban a book, period.”

Emmons, a former Alaska Library Association president who now goes by Mary Ellen Baker, did not return calls seeking comment.

According to the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper, Emmons did not mince words when Palin asked her “how I would deal with her saying a book can’t be in the library” on Oct. 28, 1996, in a week when the mayor had asked department heads for letters of resignation.

“She asked me if I would object to censorship, and I replied ‘Yup’,” Emmons told a reporter. “And I told her it would not be just me. This was a constitutional question, and the American Civil Liberties Union would get involved, too.”

The Rev. Howard Bess, a liberal Christian preacher in the nearby town of Palmer, said the church Palin and her family attended until 2002, the Wasilla Assembly of God, was pushing to remove his book from local bookstores.

Emmons told him that year that several copies of “Pastor I Am Gay” had disappeared from the library shelves, Bess said.

“Sarah brought pressure on the library about things she didn’t like,” Bess said. “To believe that my book was not targeted in this is a joke.”

Other locals said the dust-up had been blown out of proportion.

“That was many years ago and Sarah never had any intention to ban books,” said David Chappel, who served as Palin’s deputy mayor for three years. “There were some vocal people in the minority, and it looks like they’re still out there.”

Jim Rettig, who heads the American Library Association based in Richmond, Virginia, suggested that lingering quarrel raises issues that are still relevant as librarians prepare to celebrate Banned Books Week later this month.

“Librarians are very committed to the principles of the First Amendment of the Constitution and that means we don’t allow one individual or a group of people to dictate what people can or cannot read,” he said. “Most librarians if they got that sort of a question would be curious as to what the intent of the questioner was.”

Interesting response from the McCain camp: 'the query was only hypothetical.' But why raise such a question - three times, and then fire the person who didn't provide the desired response? It's like your boss asking, "How would I go about sleeping with your wife?" on three different occasions, and then firing you. Surely unrelated and purely hypothetical!

Even if the whole book banning thing wasn't, you know, frighteningly unconstitutional... the way Palin dealt with this situation is a concise indicator of her character. The more we learn about Sarah Palin, the more we see someone who will bully, manipulate, and destroy everyone in her path without conscience to get what she wants. The Ugly American is being redefined right now. Cheney has to be giddy, if not a little scared himself. At least Cheney has never cloaked his motivations under the supposed moral superiority of the church.

The Charlie Gibson Interview

Sarah Palin gave her first interview since being selected as the Republican VP candidate last night on ABC. Gibson's questions were refreshingly concise. Palin's responses speak for themselves.

A couple items Palin should have maybe brushed up on before the interview:

Russia "unprovoked" by Georgia in South Ossetia... [Really?? Well, I guess no more provoked than the US was by Iraq rolling into Kuwait in 1990, or NATO was provoked to defend Kosovar Albanians from genocide.]

Bush Doctrine... "in what respect, Charlie?" [Oh, just that little document which outlines all foreign policy and national security policies for the current administration. The governor might want to read it. It's on the White House website.]

Odd Pairing

Kanye West - Good Morning [2008]

Adding to Murakami's interesting list of match-ups is his animation for Kanye West's recent track, "Good Morning".

Thursday, September 11, 2008


This is so creepy and wonderful at the same time...

staring at cats by Steve Bishop
Steve Bishop - Staring at Cat Staring at Cat Staring [2007]

From the mind of sculptor Steve Bishop, via Core77.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Propaganda - P-Machinery [1985]

No black holes, but a pocket-sized sun

black hole

An international team of scientists fired up the Large Hadron Collider this morning. Alas, no black holes were created by the largest machine on the planet. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little disappointed. What an amazing thing to see - every bit of matter and light near earth being sucked in on itself. What if it went on for days or weeks! It would make for great television, aside from the fact that all the broadcast waves would be sucked in as well. Every generation secretly wishes to experience the Armageddon. [Or maybe that's just Catholics...] Not some stupid, avoidable Armageddon like war or climate change, but some really dramatic, weird apocalypse from right out of left field. Something theatrical! That's Armageddon I can believe in.

Since we're not all being crushed into an infinitely tiny mathematical point somewhere below the Swiss Alps, we have decades of awesome discoveries about the mechanics of the universe to look forward to. That's pretty neat too.


The beauty pictured here is neither a super-mega-atom-obliteration-machine or a bad flashback about surly mechanical snakes. It is a heliotron magnetic field containment device built in Japan to test plasma fusion confinement.

The Large Helical Device (大型ヘリカル装置, Ōgata Herikaru Sōchi) is a fusion research device in Toki, Gifu, Japan and is the largest superconducting stellarator in the world and employs a heliotron magnetic field originally developed in Japan. The objective of the project is to conduct fusion plasma confinement research in a steady-state in order to elucidate possible solutions to physics and engineering problems in helical plasma reactors. The LHD uses neutral beam injection, ion cyclotron radio frequency (ICRF), and electron cyclotron resonance heating (ECRH) to heat the plasma, much like conventional tokamaks.

Check out this animated shot inside the reactor.

Puppy '86

We've been terribly Skinny Puppy deficient here of late.
Please allow us to correct that with some old clips I recently came across.

Skinny Puppy - Assimilate [live, 1986]

Skinny Puppy - The Choke [live, 1986]

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Todd Diamond on Oil

Meet your new financial advisor:


[via Mr. Ellis]

Blogger Playlists

Here's what a couple of our favorite bloggers are listening to:
Rob Walker @ 8tracks
Warren Ellis @ Blip.fm

Greater Than One

Our friends at Robotsound reflect on electronic music innovators Greater Than One.

Founded in 1985 by Michael Wells and Lee Newman after meeting at the Royal College of Art in London, Greater Than One started out as experimental artists, putting on multi-media art installations while dabbling in mutated cut-ups of found sounds and samples layered into Dadaist, soundtrack-like collages. Towards the end of the 80s the duo moved on into Industrial Dance before evolving into Techno and Gabber innovators in the early 90s. Operating as sonic terrorists, the duo released a slew of records under the names Tricky Disco [and a half dozen more...]

Here are a couple blasts from the past:

Greater Than One - I Don't Need God [1989, Wax Trax!]

Tricky Disco - Tricky Disco [1990, Warp]

Doug Coombe's Television

Detroit photojournalist Doug Coombe posted some great experimental shots of media darlings Palin and Kilpatrick today.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Richie Hawtin: “All music is version 1.0”

Interesting article at Beatportal about Rich's vision for the future of how music is distributed and consumed.

“Every track these days should be considered a work in progress... Everything is version 1.0, and anybody should be allowed to take your ideas and add their own ideas to it. We need to be more open about music, ideas and ownership. Artists and labels should still be able to make money from their music when it gets sampled, but there should be a way of tracking how far down your samples go... We should be able to scan a track and say 50% of this is original, 20% is from this record, and 30% is from this record."

This sure sounds like a digital media SPIME to me. Here's where it gets most real and intriguing:
“We’re thinking about opening the Minus catalogue up to the public so that anyone who buys a release can have more creative options to manipulate and transform it.”

Mr. Hawtin is not one to make off-the-cuff comments and he's well known for pushing the envelope of technology and user interface when it comes to DJing. Take the above comments as a not so subtle hint as to what's to come...

Of course remix culture is as old as most of us, and artists such as Arnaud Rebotini and Trent Reznor have been providing isolated Logic/GarageBand tracks for fans to remix at their will for a couple of years now, and BMG of Ectomorph has been DJing with isolated digital loops for bloody ever. But no label has ever opened up its entire catalog to the public in such a way. Certainly not every music consumer wants or would even know what to do with this option, but it's very interesting to think about how different music consumerism would be if it were the standard.

Beatport already rapes us for $2.50+ per song, and a lot of us [myself included] happily pay because we can't legally find what we're looking for anywhere else. [With very few exceptions, I insist on paying for music for reasons that have been exhusted here.] I would think a whole lot of people would pay $1 for one killer synth or drum loop. In that sense, not only is it an interesting take on music distribution, but a solid business model.

A Spider Descends on Liverpool

How awesome is this?

photos by the-northshore

La Princess is the latest steampunky spectacle from the geniuses at La Machine and Artichoke - who created the Telectroscope earlier this year and produced The Sultan's Elephant with Royal de Luxe in 2006.

Something unforgettable is happening in Liverpool as a highlight of the city’s European Capital of Culture celebrations. Vast in scale and spectacular in execution, this breathtaking new commission from La Machine will spin a tale so magical that an entire city will fall under its spell. Just as The Sultan’s Elephant stopped London in its tracks in 2006, so this three-day adventure will unfold against the landmarks of a great city, stopping the traffic and captivating everyone who sees it. Prepare to be amazed by a show that will make you believe in the impossible.

...and the story unfolds.
Yesterday commuters arrived at Lime Street to find a gigantic mechanical spider clinging to a derelict building next to the station. A group of French specialist researchers announced that they had been observing the creature, apparently made of steel and wood and a thousand times the size of anything in nature, for weeks. It appears to be female, around 13m tall, and has been dubbed ‘La Princesse’ by the team. The scientists believe the creature may be about to hibernate, and are attempting to prevent it falling into an inert state, as they are concerned at the potentially catastrophic results of the spider laying up to 1000 eggs. Scientists have therefore removed the spider from the building and taken it to a research base established at the ACC, at Albert Dock in Liverpool. On Friday 5th September it is expected that they will attempt to wake it, under controlled conditions, at 11:30am. Watch this space as the story continues…

Francis Bacon: Box of tricks

Francis Bacon in his studio
Francis Bacon in his studio

There's a wonderful story in The Guardian today about the artist's studio, recreated in a Dublin gallery after his death in 1992.

Barbara Dawson, director of the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, remembers very clearly the day in 1997 when she climbed the steep stairs and entered Francis Bacon's studio at 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington. It had been left the way it was when he died, on April 28 1992, and it was a chaos of slashed canvases, paint-splashed walls, cloths, brushes, champagne boxes, a large mirror. She stood and stared for a long time, in a kind of incredulity, "and actually it became quite beautiful." She began to see "paths cut through it," and details. "The last unfinished painting was on the easel when I went in there, and on the floor underneath the easel was a short article on George Michael, from Wham, about how he liked to be photographed from one side. It was like looking into somebody's mind."

Bacon interviewed in his studio from a 1985 episode of The South Bank Show

A major retrospective at the Tate Britain - Bacon's third there and first posthumous - opens on the 11th of this month.

Real McCain of Genius

I promise, no more. Just. This. One. It made me smile.

Palin vs. Palin

Apparently the humor here was lost in Wasilla:

Monty Python - Every Sperm Is Sacred