Arcade Fire Frontman’s Grandfather Helped Invent the Electric Guitar

What’s the diminutive of ‘mind-blowing’?  How does one indicate a spot on the continuum of emotions between ‘oh, that’s interesting’ and ‘holy sweet goddamn!’? Among my many areas of interest is that of instrument inventors.  I dabble myself, mostly in making electrical contacts that warp the frequency of a triggered sample, but still, there’s an aspirational admiration for those who have pushed through with their tinkering and made a mode of music that became a standard, that provided the very vocal cord of a whole means of expression.  And of that pantheon, there’s a special place for the tweakers of that universal weapon of the Western music canon, the electric guitar.  Credit due to Les Paul, with his electric log, and credit to George Beauchamp, for guiding this innovation.  Credit to the swamp-pop stylings of Willie Joe Duncan and his unitar. So I found it notable to discover that the […]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Rip Off the Skateboarders From Hell

Dangerous Minds tipped me off to this particular piece of cinema history. (Oh, NSFW, by the way… there’s like, four nipples shown).  The trailer for Skateboarders from Hell is one piece of 1980’s Loose Shoes, a movie composed of genre spoofs filmed as trailers for nonexistent movies.  Kind of like a whole movie made out of the intermission of Grindhouse. What really grabbed me, though, was the motorized skateboarders these feral thrashers use to reach the podunk town they terrorize.  They give a quick closeup at about 0:19 in the video above.  They appear to be the lovechild of a weedwacker engine and a skateboard, complete with a handheld throttle and some kind of brake. Besides wracking my brains for a plan to make one, what struck me was the similarities to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle’s ride of choice: The Cheapskate.  (Image from Amazon) While the toy sports some […]

Opium for the Masses: DIY Dope for the Whole Foods Crowd?

“Yeah… I used to homebrew but then I got into moonshining.  But that’s such a scene and y’know, everyone’s doing it.  Now I raise organic poppies and make my own heroin suppositories.” Just wanted to jump on this before three dudes in Brooklyn do it and it all ends up in the New York Times Styles section.  Via Dose Nation and EarthRites I heard of a gentleman by the name of Jim Hogshire who wrote the book on making ones own opiates from the completely legal, wild-growing, Opium Poppy.  This book would be Opium For the Masses: Opium for the Masses was such a national phenomenon when first released in the early ‘90s that Michael Pollan wrote a cover story for Harper’s magazine about the book, in which he he expressed his amazement that a common plant, P. somniferum, or the opium poppy, grows wild in most states, and could […]

Coke Subs and Chris Elliot

(Rest of the episode here and here.) Any, any, ANY excuse at all to post an episode of Get a Life, the how-the-hell-did-he-get-a-show Chris Elliot sitcom fondly remembered by grown up awkward youth and ex-convicts alike.  (Check the comments on that clip: “Dude I saw this while I was in jail like 20 years ago. Thanks for posting it. It is one of my favourite episodes of any show.”) And that excuse would be… On Friday, the police in Ecuador, acting on intelligence gathered by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, raided a secret jungle shipyard near the country’s border with Colombia and discovered what American officials called “a fully operational submarine built for the primary purpose of transporting multiton quantities of cocaine.” … According to the D.E.A., the fiberglass submarine, about 100 feet long and 9 feet high, was the first of its kind to be seized and was […]

People in Paper Houses Shouldn’t Throw Molotovs

Those gentle souls at Atlas Obscura reminded me about this here paper house that Elis F. Stenman built back in the 1920s.  Yes, paper.  Specifically, newspapers. The Rockport Paper House’s walls, doors, and furniture are made of varnished newspapers—roughly 100,000 of them. 215 layers of paper were stuck together with a homemade glue of flour, water, and apple peels to make 1-inch-thick panels for the walls. Apple peels?  Well, while I couldn’t find a glue recipe (not even among wheatpasters, the most opinionated of DIY glue makers) it makes a bit of sense, as that peels would have some amount of pectin in them, a fiber, gelling agent and occasional adhesive used to seal cigars. While the idea of paper as a building material is not uncommon–see China and Japan–this all-recycled newspaper approach is definitely inspiring to a materials scavenger like myself.  I’m reminded of the newspaper wood by designer […]

My Reignited Theremin Obsession

Game Reviews – E3 2010 – It’s #&*%ing Science! Just had my theremin lust reignited by this 3 minute history/build video from G4’s Attack of the Show, via Create Digital Music.  Oh man.  I’ve been planning to build one of these since a random reference on the Slanky-L* to a theremin sample sent me off in search of just what this weird musical instrument could do. Turns out the history is just as fascinating as the ghost sound machine’s electronic guts.  Here’s an excerpt from the first interview with the Theremin’s inventor, Leon Theremin, after he first emerged from the U.S.S.R. after 51 years of state arrest: Mattis: When did you first conceive of your instrument? Theremin: The idea first came to me right after our Revolution, at the beginning of the Bolshevik state. I wanted to invent some kind of an instrument that would not operate mechanically, as does […]

Crass: There is no Authority But Yourself

Found this via Dangerous Minds. I have little to add beyond advising you to clear out an hour to watch this Dutch documentary about the collection of people, practices and ideals that came together to form the punk band Crass.  With a militantly anarchist outlook and a very DIY devotion to living what they screamed, Crass was one of the very few in art who lived their ideals 100%.  A great hit of inspiration if you’re feeling like you’ve got no option but the treadmill you’re on.

Wintergreen Teaches You How to Make Meth

Listen dicks, the new crack is making fake drugs to promote your band. I know it, you know it, these guys have managed a force multiplier on their fairly middle of the road alt. rock by hitting on a concept we all wish we’d thought of before: a how-to video for making drugs from easily obtainable ingredients.  Drugs that don’t really exist, that is. Yeah, hate to be captain bring-down here, Beavis McTweakerson but Egyptian meth and Hillbilly Quaaludes only exist in the realm of fiction.  Still, how genius is it to piggyback on the how-to format, mixing up your band’s image with an engaging supermarket to kitchen alchemist walkthrough? The way they dump the vinegar gives me a little flashback to the soap making montage in Fight Club.  Which is never a bad thing. Yeah, I know, shoulda saved this for Saturday Morning Movie Club but this is too […]

Matt_Kish

Interview with Matt Kish, Whale Artist

A month or so ago, we gave you the heads up on Matt Kish, the artist behind One Drawing for Every Page of Moby Dick.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about how he came to this project and what goes through his head when he’s doing what he does. – – – What do you think of when you think of whales? It’s funny, I think this might be at odds with what most people think of. Even some of the people that have visited my site and looked at the art. I think a lot of people, when asked about whales, imagine this Greenpeace-y kind of gentle giant. A steward of the seas. Some vast, serene, gently floating creature singing songs in the azure deeps. For me, when I think of whales, I think of them as gigantic and incredibly cool monsters. I […]

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 […]