Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
In 1979, Philip Glass composed some music for Sesame Street; the music was used to back geometric animations showing how a simple circle could be subdivided and repeated to make more complex shapes and patterns (in much the same way that Glass's music uses patterns, repetition, and subtle alteration to create melody and complexity). It's hard to find the resulting work (entitled "Geometry of Circles") that was shown on Sesame Street three decades ago, though it has been re-aired a few times over the years... READ ON
Here's a treat -- in 1980, Prime Computer (aka PR1ME Computer if you were totally awesome) hired actors Tom Baker and Lalla Ward (then playing Dr. Who and Romana on the BBC's Dr. Who series) to promote Prime Computers in TV ads. Below is a video compiling all the ads. Dr. Who was a particularly apt early-80's computer salesman, given the series' kitchsy mix of high- and low-tech.
Note the tagline: "Step Into the 80's!"
(Via... READ ON
So yesterday I posted The Late Movies: Rock On, Wesley Willis, featuring some of Wesley Willis's bizarre-but-awesome music. But the real treat comes today, when you can watch an entire documentary about Wesley Willis online -- this week only. (Later, you'll have to buy the DVD.) The new documentary is called Wesley Willis's Joy Rides, and I think you should watch it.
Surprise: Wesley Willis was a skilled visual artist. His drawings, featured in this film, have a powerful architectural style,... READ ON
"I make music, I sing my ass off." With these words, Wesley Willis opens a short documentary shown below. Willis was a bizarre musician -- a chronic schizophrenic, his music was crude and thus considered "punk," but in a way no one had heard before. Willis's songs generally consisted of spoken-word poetry over a keyboard's built-in "demo" track, with (generally off-key) choruses sung every now and then.
Because Willis was mentally ill, it was hard to be sure how to take him or his music -- was it... READ ON
Remember Pee-Wee Herman's 1988 Christmas Special? It featured an insanely long list of guest-stars, including: Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Grace Jones, k.d. lang, Dinah Shore, Little Richard, Cher, Magic Johnson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, the Del Rubio Triplets, Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey, Joan Rivers, and Charo. It was a hell of a production, and as far as Christmas specials go, it's a classic.
In the special, Pee-Wee makes an absurdly long list of presents he wants from Santa (using his Conky 2000... READ ON
So my friend T'chaka was visiting his sister and his four-year-old niece, Aurora, last December. Aurora began a stream-of-consciousness rant about the need for more peace in the world. Well, rant is maybe too strong a word -- it's more a complex set of observations about world history, politics, peace, money, and bedtime, as seen by a four-year-old. T'chaka captured Aurora's message on his phone, turning it into a song by singing along and playing improvised guitar. In the year since, T'chaka created... READ ON
In this two-minute video, National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen relates the story of a giant leopard seal who tried to teach him (Nicklen) how to hunt for penguins. While Nicklen was in Antarctica photographing the seal, she (the seal) kept bringing him penguins as food offerings, thinking that Nicklen was an incompetent predator who couldn't find food for himself. Watch this short science video and be amazed.
(Via Boing Boing and our own Morning Cup of... READ ON
Here's a little Friday silliness for you. Jonathan Coulton sings "Skullcrusher Mountain," a love song sung from the perspective of an evil genius to his muse/obsessive crush. Representative lyrics:
I made this half-pony/half-monkey monster to please you
But I get the feeling that you don't like it
What's with all the screaming?
You like monkeys, you like ponies...
Maybe you don't like monsters so much.
Maybe I used too many monkeys?
Isn't it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift... READ ON
Remember LPs? Well, I sure do -- over the past week I've been working on digitizing some LPs that haven't been (and perhaps never will be) released on CD. Below are two videos showing how records are made -- first, the laquer Master Disc, then the vinyl copies you and I buy at the store. I believe these videos are from the Canadian documentary series How It's Made (the other items from the same episode included "bagels" and "chains") shown on the Discovery Channel in most markets.
The Laquer Master... READ ON
Sarah Haskins shows ridiculous portrayals of women in TV advertising in her "Target Women" web series for Current TV. It's full of jokes. You should watch it. It's not annoying or preachy. That is all.
You Are Never Safe (Broadview Security)
Not even when you're at home in broad daylight, playing soccer with your kids. "You may call these 'commercials,' but I like to call them 'rape fables.' You can buy an alarm system for only $99.99, or you, and your young, innocent daughter can be assaulted... READ ON
There really was a Dr. Scholl. Podiatrist William Mathias Scholl was born in Indiana.