Paint By Number Culture

Walking in any shop by the magazine aisle now feels like a Philip K Dick novel. I see magazines featuring people with mentions of going-ons in their life: a new baby, an argument with a spouse, a disruption of lifestyle. While these events are important to the person experiencing them, they matter little to a stranger. All these people on the magazines are strangers– I have no idea who they are, what they do and why I should care. Sometimes I feel as if I have slipped into an alternate universe where things are a bit different, such as Dewey defeated Truman or Buddy Holly is alive. I feel like a character in a Philip K Dick novel wondering how I ended up here and if I’ll need a canister of Ubik. I wonder who these people are and why they are famous or important. No one– even adoring fans– […]

Sean Hannity Owes the Troops $2 Million+

Mr. Richard Metzger over at Dangerous Minds chimed in yesterday with a reminder that there’s in excess of $2 million waiting for U.S. troops and their families.  The catch?  It’s money pledged to charity if Sean Hannity makes good on his promise to be waterboarded for charity. So what’s the hold up, Sean?  It’s not like you’d be the first journalist to be waterboarded under controlled circumstances.  It’s not like once it’s over it’ll happen another 182 times. Rhetorical question, of course.  Sean Hannity can dismiss the U.S.’s use of torture and make false macho claims because no one who listens to Sean Hannity actually expects him to go through with it.  People already listen to Sean Hannity despite the fact that he appears to be a marshmallow with a hairpiece and rabies.  Once you’re willing to get your news from a cartoon character, it’s not like you’re expecting a […]

One Drawing for Every Page of Moby Dick

Matt Kish is redecorating the interior of the Melville classic Moby Dick. In August of 2009, I was really restless. I remembered seeing a book where the artist Zak Smith had made one illustration for every page of Thomas Pynchon’s novel Gravity’s Rainbow. I was really blown away by how amazing his art was, and by the whole idea in general, so a while later I decided to try the same thing myself. Only instead of Gravity’s Rainbow I decided to work on my favorite novel, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Before this, most of the art I made had been excessively detailed, really overwrought, and incredibly time consuming to complete. I got really sick of working like that. I wanted something different, so I decided that for the Moby-Dick project I would do one piece a day, every day, until I was done. And I have a full time job too. […]

MK1 MIDI Controller at ITP NIME 2009

MK 1 MIDI Guitar at ITP NIME 2009 from Aaron Cael on Vimeo. Headed out to the NIME (New Interfaces for Musical Expression) show this past Tuesday to do a little fitful start of the actual journalism thing. Shot a lot of blurry video so there’s more to come. Above’s a little number that got mentioned on the Make blog this week: the MK 1 MIDI controller. Ain’t that sweet looking? The blurb on the show flyer sez: The MK 1 is a programmable MIDI controller in a familiar form factor. Comprised of 32 LED pushbuttons and six touch-sensitive copper plates, the MK 1 allows the user to control music synthesizers by means other than a traditional keyboard. Finally an upgrade to enable the keytar player to actually get laid after the show. Excellent. We need those guys breeding. More on this later as I slice things up and ask […]

The Write Channel

Giant leaf fell on a boy. Mayor ate too much and got sick. Kid bites dog. Grammar gets mangled. The Write Channel chronicled the not-so-gonzo journalism career of insect reporter R.B. Bug, spitting out the facts on a 70s local newscast under the watchful eye of editor/anchor Red Green.  No, not that Red Green. R.B. covered surreal events around town in a basic, straight-laced manner, suitable for illiterates and the E.S.L. classroom.  That’d be where I encountered this fine bit of educational programming.  Though I was already sawing my way through Isaac Asimov, in 4th grade they sat our narrow asses down in rows to watch our weekly installment of a stop-motion bug talking with all the speed and juicy detail of a Midwesterner with a concussion. (Yeah I went there, Minneapolis.) Still, credit is due for the end bit (the ominously named The Club) that goads viewers to fiction, […]

The Peanut Butter Solution: Childhood's Real Bad Dream

Here’s the plot: A young boy goes to a burned down mansion and meets the ghosts of the homeless squatters that died in the fire. As a result he acquires “the Fright” and all of his hair falls out. The ghosts visit him in a dream and give him a recipe involving peanut butter to restore his hair. Overnight he gets a full head of hair, and his buddy feels inspired to put it on his balls. Their hair grows really long and they get suspended for distracting others from their head and ball hair. Then see the main kid’s hair so long he can barely move (fortunately they did not show his buddy) and he passes out. Somehow by screaming at his hair it stops growing. Problem solved– but no. A pissed off art teacher who hates kids and imagination (naturally two things an art teacher should hate) kidnaps […]

Wonderworks Presents: Konrad

Spacey Earth mother type receives someone else’s mail.  Surprisingly, mail is not a half kilo of uncut yayo but a barrel containing a dessicated lab-grown boy and a packet of nutrient gel.  Mom’s bad with instructions, the Factory gets steamed that this mistaken delivery is quirking out their prized specimen, Ned Beatty is somehow involved.  Hilarity ensues. This would be another bit of children’s programming most commonly remembered through the haze of a fever dream, the sort of thing that was always playing on PBS at 2 PM on the day you stayed home sick from school.  It bears the Wonderworks stamp, placing it in the company of other book to TV adaptations as the original Chronicles of Narnia and the Hoboken Chicken Emergency.  I’m pretty sure this is the first movie I ever snobbishly asserted was better as a book than as a movie.  Still, where else are you […]

Winter of the Witch

Was anyone else subjected to this 16mm reel of insanity? My elementary school was a frequent abuser of the mass control tactic of dropping all the kids in a room with a janitor or reading aide and putting on a movie while the teachers had a meeting or snuck out to the bar or whatever.  If it was a school-wide thing, they’d drop us all in the cafeteria and put on Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory or Beethoven’s 2nd, reasoning that there were lessons to be learned from watching creepy Machiavellian Gene Wilder kill off annoying children or just gazing deeply into Charles Grodin’s baseball mitt-like face.  This sort of impromptu movie day was also a pretty solid signal that a teacher had died and they were figuring out how to spring the news on us. Beethoven says “Say it with Puppies!” At any rate, the above masterwork, Winter […]

Tomes & Talisman: A Library WTF Venture

Produced by Mississippi ETV in 1986, Tomes & Talisman presented library and research concepts with a scifi drama. Ms. Bookhart, a librarian from the world of 2123 compiles with her compatriots a library of all human knowledge– which incidentally is in book form and about the size of an average high school library. Humans were forced off Earth by a race called “The Wipers” who have drunken frat boy at a Midwestern tailgating party level technology: as in yell and throw things. So naturally faced up against the hooligans humans have to evacuate. Bookhart’s library is missing one book, so she sets out in the bookmobile hours before the last evacuation to find it. Bookhart then meets a deus ex machina generic cloaked spirt guy with magic powers who puts her to sleep for 100 years called “The Universal Being.” Oh, then there are these Nordic Anglo Saxon looking aliens […]

Only NanoBot STDs Can Save the Whales!

Whale penises are big these days.  (Pun!) Perhaps the greatest metric of humankind’s power is that not only have we trashed fat tracts of the 30% of the Earth that we run around on but we’ve somehow managed to screw up the 70% we can’t even live in.  Yes friend, the ocean’s got problems.  Human impact has crashed populations of sea life, leaving us in a situation where once common fish on the menu may be extinct within our lifetimes.  Meanwhile, sushi is more popular than ever, especially among the well-informed and well-meaning types most likely to cry while watching The Cove. While river dolphins are undeniably fucked, ocean dolphins are plentiful enough to use as jet ski ramps, if that’s your cup of tea, without danger of wiping them out.  The most compelling reason not to eat dolphin is that they are a high-end predator and thus accumulate dangerous […]