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How to buy the best possible audio system (for the least amount of money)
02.26.2015
04:07 pm

Topics:
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:
audio


 
Buying audio equipment is an addiction for some people (99.99999999999% of these “people” being male people, of course). Although it is perhaps a more respectable addiction than either drugs or alcohol, and less expensive than gambling, it is, at its root, still an illness. For once you begin climbing on the ladder of high fidelity audio… they’ve got their hooks in you. You’re never satisfied, because there’s always something better. Buy that better amp and it’ll just expose the weakness of your speakers. The solution? Better speakers! But those new speakers don’t really blend well with your subwoofer, do they, which now sounds kinda flabby, doesn’t it? Finally you simply can’t take it anymore and replace your sub with a better one… Repeat this process several times per decade, if not annually. The story ends with the death of the audioholic or else said audioholic’s better half putting her foot down on his headphones while he’s wearing them.

That said, high fidelity audio equipment, like HDTV sets, is getting waaaaay cheaper while quality and performance is going up, up, up. A $10,000 stereo system purchased in the late 1990s is nowhere near as good as what you can buy for a fraction of that today. Over the years, I’ve owned gear from Marantz, Pioneer’s Elite line, Sony’s ES series, Carver, Klipsch, Hafler, Rotel, Harmon-Kardon, Boston Acoustics, Polk Audio, Yamaha, Philips, Panasonic and others. I am by no means an “expert” but I do research this stuff obsessively and keep up with what actual experts have to say. And I look a lot at the Amazon rankings and reviews because the group mind is seldom wrong in consumer reviews (and where do you go to demo and hear this kind of equipment in action anymore? Depending on where you live, it might take a leap of faith).
 

 
Recently a friend of mine asked my advice on building his sound system and this is the gist of what I told him…

First off, you’ll note that I’m keeping turntables out of the equation entirely. I disagree with the likes of Neil Young and others, who feel that vinyl is superior to digital. It’s not. No audio engineer thinks that. Young told a reporter at the CES show that “[vinyl is] the only place people can go where they can really hear.” Bullshit. It’s where you can really hear pops, clicks and dusty grooves. These things can be tested and measured, of course, it’s not a subjective judgment call. A pressed platter made of a petroleum product with a needle running across it isn’t going to sound as good as a CD, SACD, Blu-ray “Pure Audio” disc or a download from HDTracks.com. A record will not—will never—have that kind of sonic range.
 

 
If you are someone who “feels” vinyl sounds better than a CD, that’s fine by me, but let’s not pretend that the technology is superior. After all, it’s Neil Young himself who is hawking the “high definition audio” 192kHz/24-bit downloads for his PONO device. His was the first major artist Blu-ray box set, too, so his message seems muddled at best. Nevertheless, Young should applauded for at least trying to educate the public about better sound quality. He’s done more than any of the major labels ever have, that’s for certain.

So how best to work with the newfangled audiophile formats like Blu-ray audio and HDTracks digital downloads kept on an external disc drive? There’s really only one obvious solution, if you ask me, and that is an OPPO universal Blu-ray player. The top of the line OPPO players are packed full of super high quality features and components like the SABRE32 Reference ES9018, the world’s best performing 32-bit audio DAC for high-end consumer and professional studio equipment, 4K video upscaling and a proper headphone amp. In a word, they are magnificent.
 

 
My first bit of advice: Make an OPPO player the centerpiece of ANY home theater AV system. More than a mere universal disc player, it’s a full featured, powerful digital media nerve center/switcher that can even take the place of a high quality pre-amp—there’s simply no longer a need for one—and handle just about any kind of format you can throw at it. This Amazon review gave me a hard on. Read it now and then come on back, I’ll wait.

We all know Apple fanboys, well I’m an OPPO fanboy. Listening to music is one of the greatest pleasures in life and my life noticeably changed for the better the day that my OPPO BDP-105D was delivered. Unboxing it was a lot like getting a new Mac, come to think of it, and the OPPO player’s solid, obviously high quality build is impressive indeed, just like getting your hands on a new Apple product for the first time. (It’s also VERY heavy. When the Fedex guy handed it to me, I wasn’t prepared for this and nearly toppled over.)

Everything I had sounded better on it. I am currently still in the process of rediscovering my entire music collection through fresh ears, and hearing nuances I have never heard before in familiar songs. That’s really a gift, isn’t it? In the event of a fire, after my pets were safe, my OPPO BDP-105D and the drive with my music on it are the very first things I’d grab.
 

 
Now the OPPO BDP-105D player is their most expensive model ($1299), a hot-rodded version, if you will, of their OPPO BD 103, with the addition of aforementioned DACS, headphone amp and something called Darbee Visual Presence Technology, which is essentially a subtle drop shadow/luminance value effect that brings out insane levels of extra fine details of an 1080 line video signal (something users of HD projectors will REALLY notice, especially with wide shots) and even improves upon standard definition video sources. (Here’s a video that explains how Darbee works.)

Bear in mind that a good outboard DAC can cost $1000 and a decent headphones amp about the same or more. If you’re on the more demanding team of audiophiles, you’ll have to have the BDP-105D—it’s drool-worthy—but the rest of the OPPO line are pretty damned amazing, too and are priced starting at around $499 for the OPPO BDP-103 (a decent VHS player cost $600 in the mid-1980s for some perspective) and $599 for the OPPO BDP-103D with Darbee Visual Presence (a stand-alone Darblet costs $200).
 

 
As I was saying at the start, acquiring a better component—and let’s face it, the OPPO BDP-105D player is the ultimate better component—can expose the weaknesses of your system. The OPPO line features 4K video upscaling so you’re going to want a receiver that can handle 4K too and that would mean something introduced to the AV market in the past year or so. If I was going to buy a new, mid-priced receiver right now, I might go with something like the Onkyo TX-NR636 which has really nice specs, sounds great, handles Dolby Atmos multidimensional sound and is 4K video ready. If you are buying a new receiver today, you’d want something that won’t become obsolete too quickly and the Onkyo TX-NR636 is a popular model that’s a great value (it lists for $600 but Amazon sells it for around $430) and about as “future proof” as you are going to find today considering that 4K sets are about to become the next new thing in home entertainment. It’s even got a phono stage if you want to hook up a turntable.

(Some of you reading this might get sniffy at the idea of a mid-priced receiver, but do keep in mind that much of the circuitry present in receivers costing from $300 to $3000 is EXACTLY THE SAME STUFF.)

Which brings me to some utterly amazing—and as these things go, dirt cheap—speakers. A few years ago, Pioneer put out a line of low cost speakers designed by their chief speaker engineer Andrew Jones, a man known for making reference speakers that sell for $70k and now even audiophiles who can afford speakers that are that expensive find themselves preferring his cheap ones. Jones set himself the challenge to make the best possible speaker for the lowest possible price utilizing Pioneer’s vast resources, bulk purchasing power and production chain. The result is that the various models in the line of Andrew Jones Designed speakers have absolutely mind-blowing sound for a fraction of what it normally costs to buy sound gear that is this crazy good. A pair of Jones’ bookshelf speakers—perhaps the best smaller speakers I have ever heard—cost just $127. Two of the towers will set you back around $260, the subwoofer around $156 and the center channel speaker $97, but the sound is pretty priceless if you ask me. Amazon also sells the entire Andrew Jones 5.1 home theater speaker package for $549.
 

 
So if you add all of that up, for a totally kickass 5.1 home theater surround system, 4K video ready to boot, it would be around $1500 for a system utilizing the OPPO BDP-103 and $2100 for one built around the OPPO BDP-105D. I think the modded audiophile add-ons of the BDP-105 are well worth it for getting the most out of the newer digital audiophile formats, and the Darbee processing highly desirable for use with HD projectors, but with any OPPO model, you really can’t go wrong.

In conclusion, some of you reading this will think “He’s right, that’s not a bad little system for the money” and others will probably totally disagree with me, although I suspect near universal agreement on the merits of the OPPO BDP-105D, because it’s just that amazing of a device and is, if you ask me, not only a total game-changer in the AV marketplace, but something that should be incorporated into ANY attempt to put together a high quality home theater system. (They rated the hell out of an OPPO BDP-105D on Audioholics, tests which showed levels of distortion almost too low to measure. It’s so close to perfection already that it would almost be impossible to improve on its specs… well, for years to come.)

Quibble with the details in the comments, please do, but I think I gave my pal some damn good advice. Although the price is certainly right, this is no mere “entry level” audio system that I suggested—with all of his money Tom Cruise can’t buy a better universal media player than an OPPO BDP-105D and neither can you.

*Fun fact, our own Marc Campbell’s video rental store in Taos, NM was the first authorized OPPO retailer. These days Marc’s the proprietor of The Sound Gallery in Austin, TX, probably the world’s largest retail selection of vintage audio gear.

Below, a reviewer from AudioHead on the OPPO BD 105.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Smackdown: World leaders brawl


Turkish parliament, fighting over a security bill.
 
One of the fun parts about living in a (sort of) democracy is transparency (at least, ostensibly). Governments like to make overtures to the people, meaning there is the promise that you may witness legitimate battles of power between politicians and representatives. In America, this means a lot of sniping, bitching, disingenuous rhetoric and sometimes maybe a little yelling. In other countries, this can mean actual fighting.

Below is a series of shots from recent Skirmishes between lawmakers from various countries. I’m not going to say it’s a better way to do politics—Ukraine apparently does this a lot, and they don’t really seem to have their shit together—but there’s something refreshing about this kind of legitimate passion. Part of me suspects that this doesn’t happen in America because most politics are actually done behind closed doors, between politicians and private interests.

Then again, you’ve got Rob Ford who just blindly stampeded a woman to go after hecklers. Ignoble of course, but more interesting than C-SPAN!
 

Ukrainian parliament, brawling over a presidential decree to activate reserve troops.
 

South African lawmakers who accused the president of corruption were removed by police
 

Someone threw a chair at a Nepali Constituent Assembly meeting.
 

A Jordanian member of Parliament fired a Kalashnikov (though not towards anyone) outside of parliamentary chambers.
 

Rob Ford goes after hecklers, knocking over a colleague in the process.
 

A brawl erupts Taiwan’s legislature in July 2010.

Below, Venezuela MPs in punch-up over disputed election

 
Via Mother Jones

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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The Playboy Club Bunny Manual of 1968
02.26.2015
09:57 am

Topics:
Pop Culture
Sex

Tags:
Playboy


 
These delightful scans of the Playboy Club Bunny Manual of 1968 come from “Bunny Regina,” who worked at the Detroit Playboy Club from July 1968 (if her inscription is any indication) to sometime in 1969. Maybe Debbie Harry can dig hers out as well? After all, she was a Bunny at New York City’s Playboy Club from 1968 to 1973. (If you’d like more information about that weird institution of the Playboy Club that was so culturally iconic in the 1960s and 1970s, check out The Bunny Years: The Inside Story of the Playboy Clubs and the Women Who Worked as Bunnies by Kathryn Leigh Scott.)

“The Bunny has become what the Ziegfeld girl was to another generation,” burbles the introduction with evident pride. Here are some of the rules and so forth Bunnies had to master:

No fraternization, either with “other employees of the Club” or with “Keyholders.” ... “She is also not permitted to give her last name, home address or phone number.” No chewing gum or eating while on duty, no alcohol consumption while “in the Club.” No drinking of “soft drinks, lemonade or even water” while one is “in view of keyholders and guests.” (Backstage is OK.) Bunnies get one free meal per day worked.

There’s a whole merit/demerit system that smacks a lot of the military, or at least a military school. You earn merits by working on your day off when the club needs a replacement, working a private party, or transferring to another club when management needs it. (These merits do turn into hard cash, by the way.) There are lots of actions that bring one demerits, including tardiness, failure to attend a “Bunny Meeting,” poor service, untidy lockers, and so forth. The most eye-popping reason for a demerit is “repeated costume offenses,” which include improper positioning of bunny ears (yes, this is totally in there) and “unkept tail,” which while suggestive in that spelling almost certainly was supposed to say “unkempt.”

Then there’s smoking. The rule about smoking is so important that it is set in ALLCAPS: “IN ALL CASES WHEN A BUNNY IS SMOKING WHILE ON DUTY, SHE IS TO ‘TAKE A PUFF’ AND SET THE CIGARETTE IN AN ASHTRAY. BUNNIES ARE NOT TO STAND OR SIT HOLDING A CIGARETTE.”

If you’re a Bunny, all sorts of things are tax-deductible, so keep your receipts! Legitimate tax deductions include “bunny hose,” wigs, cuff links, and cosmetics.

You can get these images in a slightly larger format at the Ex Playboy Bunnies Website.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Li’l Lager: Baby bottles that look like beer bottles
02.26.2015
09:29 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
beer
baby bottles


 
You’re probably not going to get a Parent of the Year award for this one, but fuck it, it’s funny. Introducing the Li’l Lager Baby Bottle that looks like your tiny tyke is hip to homebrew.

Li’l Lager holds 10 fluid ounces and is easily disassembled for cleaning.

Available for pre-order from Fred & Friends for $12 + shipping.

As others have suggested, there needs to be a 40oz version of this bottle. Homie baby don’t play.


 
Via Geekologie

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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‘Gang War’: Incredible 1982 rock opera is finally being released and we have a preview + interview
02.26.2015
09:21 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Frederick Michael St. Jude
rock opera

Frederick Michael St. Jude
 
In 1977, a small label out of Ft. Lauderdale, Soul Deep Records, released the debut LP by one Frederick Michael St. Jude. Here Am I was conceived as a commercial album, and though it didn’t make the Billboard charts, as was hoped, it did eventually earn a cult following thanks to St. Jude’s unique take on pop music. His distinctive vocal quiver, reminiscent of Bowie, Ferry, and Jobriath, sits atop a varied set of catchy tunes. Some songs are bleak and futuristic, others show a country influence, while a couple of tracks conjure up the drama found in musical theater.
 
Here Am I
 
Not long after Here Am I was released, St. Jude visited the office of his label, only to discover Soul Deep had closed its doors and the owners were nowhere to be found. Luckily, St. Jude was able to salvage the Here Am I master tapes, as well as those for his in-progress second album, from the company’s dumpster. Inspired by the circumstances, he set aside the songs he had written for the Here Am I follow-up, and went about composing material for a bold new project, a dystopian rock opera about gangs. Though an album’s worth of material was recorded and an abbreviated version was released on a 1982 EP as Gang War – A Rock Opera, the remainder of the recordings were shelved. Subsequently, St. Jude began pursuing other endeavors, such as magazine publishing and acting, including multiple appearances on an now iconic ‘80s TV show.
 
Gang War ad, 1982
Advertisement for the EP
 
In 2013, the Chicago-based record label Drag City re-issued Here Am I,  and they’re about to unleash Gang War, which means Frederick Michael St. Jude’s rock opera will finally be released in its entirety.
 
Gang War
Cover art by Frederick Michael St. Jude

After the introductory, opening theme sets the stage, it quickly becomes apparent that Gang War isn’t exactly about gangs, but is a metaphor for the personal and professional struggles of life. St. Jude incorporated an interesting amalgamation of styles for the album, as the songs bring to mind glam rock titans, Bowie and Bolan; the softer side of Led Zeppelin; the futuristic, dystopian imagery of Gary Numan; and anthemic arena rock by the likes of Styx, Queen, and REO Speedwagon. It’s funky, punky, and rocks with a fist in the air. It’s quite a record.

Here’s our interview with Mr. St. Jude, which was conducted via email.:

What was your creative vision for Gang War?:

Frederick Michael St. Jude: With me, it all begins with strumming chords on the guitar, to be truthful. I had just changed the strings on my Giannini twelve-string and began the initial “break-in”...giving them a stretch, when the series of chords I was playing just sort of clicked. I was overwhelmed with a melody line and the lyrics just came crashing in. We are talking about the main theme song now [“Gang War Theme”]. By the time I was finished, I sat there, stunned. I had been writing songs for years and most came pretty effortlessly, but this…this amazed me. It didn’t take a thud to me head to realize I was onto something important. Especially once I realized it was more than just a song. It was more of a prophecy. From that point on, I was in high gear and the songs just came ripping in. The year was 1982 when this miracle all took place. I say miracle because I am still stunned at how all of it fell into place. I don’t know if Gang War is my “swan song”...I am still writing and recording with my co-producer, Norman Titcomb via computer, but it will certainly do until that “swan song” (if any or another) gets here.

Read more and hear a song from ‘Gang War’ after the jump

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Discussion
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‘There’s no medicine for regret’: Incredibly misogynist venereal disease posters from WWII
02.26.2015
08:39 am

Topics:
Advertising
Art
Sex

Tags:
propaganda
war
venereal disease


 
Oh, 1940s anti-VD posters, the only place where a girl’s cooch might be worse than Hitler!

During World War II, propaganda was deployed to spark the purchase of war bonds, to get you to STFU, and to spur the collection of scrap metal. Naturally, the sex lives of “our boys” weren’t exempt from such crusades. The U.S. government enlisted the help of artists, designers, and advertising professionals to create what amounts to the first mass campaign about sex; in so doing they created these eye-popping and surprisingly frank posters.

A researcher named Ryan Mungia has published an excellent collection of VD posters entitled Protect Yourself. Mungia came across the posters entirely by accident while researching a book on wartime Hawaii:
 

My objective was to find photographs, but I came across this file folder peeking out of an open cabinet that said “VD Posters” on it. Inside, I found a stash of 35mm slides of these posters, most of which ended up in the book. I guess you could say the subject chose me, since I didn’t set out to make a book on venereal disease, but became interested in the topic because of the graphic nature of the posters.

 
The images come from the National Archives and the National Library of Medicine. As Mungia points out, the images evoke memories of other beloved graphics: “The designs were really reminiscent of film noir or B-movie posters from the ’40s, those pulpy-style poster designs, and they also reminded me of the Works Progress Administration artwork, which I love.” Mungia also believes that the posters were misogynistic: “Women are often portrayed in a negative light,” being associated with Hitler or Hirohito in one attention-getting poster.

Those slogans…. “Worst of the Three,” “A Bag of Trouble” ... methinks they protest too much!
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Satisfaction’ shootout: DEVO VS the Residents VS the Rolling Stones (spoiler: the Stones don’t win)
02.26.2015
07:19 am

Topics:
History
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
DEVO
Rollings Stones
Residents


 
The news release heralding Superior Viaduct’s reissue of the Residents’ deeply messed-up “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” b/w “Loser = Weed” single contains a quotation that rang oddly familiar to me:

The Residents’ 1976 version of The Stones’ Satisfaction is nearly everything the better known version by Devo from a year later is not: Loose, belligerant, violent, truly fucked up. A real stick in the eye of everything conventionally tasteful in 1976 America. Delightfully painful to listen to thanks to Philip “Snakefinger” Lithman’s completely unhinged lead guitar and mystery Resident member’s menacing vocal, this is a timeless piece of yellow plastic.

That blurb is from Brad Laner, a member of not one but two of my favorite bands and a former Dangerous Minds contributor, and in fact, it was a DM post about five years ago—a post I happen to agree with. The Residents’ “Satisfaction” IS pretty admirably unhinged, genuinely frightening, and a righteous fuck-you to a rock canon classic that, in some circles, remains beyond sacrosanct. Contemporary with their second album, the unfuckwithable Third Reich ‘n’ Roll, which, like the single, is an unsparing deconstruction of classic radio hits, many of which were still fairly new songs at the time. “Satisfaction” isn’t on the album—the Rolling Stones are represented there by a half-reverent, half-funereal take on “Sympathy for the Devil” in the album’s coda. While it did appear on the 1988 CD reissue as an extra, along with “Loser=Weed” and a couple of Beatles travesties, the wax itself is a rare collectible, fetching in the neighborhood of $35. Superior Viaduct’s colored vinyl repress, at $9, still feels a tad spendy for a 7”, but that’s way more manageable than procuring an original. It can also be had as part of a five-record bundle with reissues by Flipper, X, the Dils and the Germs, at $40 for the whole set. (I totally want the Flipper one, too, but that’s another post.)
 

The Residents, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction)”
 

 
Of course, DEVO’s version of the song is the one that most aggressively vies with the Rolling Stones’ original for definitive status, and how could it not? Obviously, the original is indisputably classic in every sense of the word, and after five decades, it’s still one of the most widely covered ‘60s songs this side of “Stepping Stone.” But who can really believe that song from Mick Jagger? By the song’s mid-1965 single release, he was already a gazillionaire rockstar heartthrob who probably had illegitimate children in all 48 contiguous US states, so did anyone seriously believe there was anything unsatisfying about that man’s life? For all its musical timelessness—good LORD, that riff!—the Stones’ version edges out Britney Spears’ cover for plausibility (neither singer was particularly “on a losing streak” at the time their version was released), but that’s about it. None of that does all that much to dull its effectiveness as an anthem, but I buy a song about sexual frustration and contempt for commercialism much more readily in the anxiety-ridden version by the brainy midwestern dorks in DEVO. Unlike the Residents, DEVO aren’t shooting for a takedown or a deconstruction; their version feels more like a successful effort to finally put the song in a proper context. Alan Myers’ freakishly asymmetric drum beat and Gerald Casale’s rubber-band bass line are every bit as capable of inducing existential dread in a socially insecure geek as Keith Richards’ ingenious three-note intro riff is of inducing “fuck yeahs” in a classicist, and doesn’t that speak more closely to the intent of the lyrics—not a single word of which DEVO changed?

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Did the Beatles’ inventor promise to build them a flying saucer?
02.26.2015
06:57 am

Topics:
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:
The Beatles
Magic Alex


Magic Alex and John Lennon, 1968
 
If you’ve ever read a biography of the Beatles, you’ve probably come across the name of Alexis Mardas, or “Magic Alex,” as John Lennon called him. Mardas worked in electronics—Bob Spitz’s Beatles biography claims Alex was working as a TV repairman when he met the band—and the Beatles put him in charge of Apple Electronics, a company that was to have marketed Mardas’ inventions.

According to the books, Magic Alex was full of gear and fab ideas for the lads from Liverpool. Here’s one Ringo remembers: “He had this one idea that we all should have our heads drilled. It’s called trepanning. Magic Alex said that if we had it done our inner third eye would be able to see, and we’d get cosmic instantly.” My buddy Joel looked it up on wikiHow, and I am undergoing the procedure as I type this.
 

John Lennon and Donovan at Magic Alex’s wedding
 
When the New York Times called Mardas a “charlatan” in 2008, he sued the paper and issued a nine-page statement in which he attempted to set the record straight about his activities at Apple Electronics, his alleged role in the Beatles’ break with Maharishi, and the goodness of his name in general. (“As a result of these connections,” Mardas writes of his subsequent work manufacturing electronics, body armor and armored cars for governments around the world, “I developed personal friendships with the kings of Greece, Jordan, Spain, Morocco, and with the President of Egypt and the Prime Minister of Canada.”)

The whole statement is entertaining, but point fourteen is a special treat. In that section, to address “various allegations made by certain persons as to alleged promises by me to invent certain fantastical products,” Mardas enumerates every crazy gadget he is supposed to have pitched to the Fabs. I haven’t been able to read this list through once without laughing out loud. Can you?

I have never promised nor discussed, let alone try to invent any of the following:

14.1   an X-ray camera which could see through walls;

14.2   a force field which would surround a building with coloured air so that no one could see in.

14.3   a force field of compressed air which could stop anyone driving into one’s car;

14.4   a house which could hover in the air suspended on an invisible beam;

14.5   wall paper which could plug into a stereo system and operate as a “loudspeaker”;

14.6   an artificial sun which was intended to hover over Baker Street and light up the sky during the gala opening of the Beatles clothes shop, the “Apple Boutique” on 4th December 1967.

14.7   Magic paint which would make objects it was painted on invisible;

14.8   Electrical paint which could be plugged into a wall and would light up the room;

14.9   A flying saucer made from the V12 engines from George Harrison’s Ferrari and John Lennon’s Rolls Royce or

14.10   A force field around Ringo Starr’s drums that would isolate the drum sounds from the rest of the microphones in the studio. In this connection, I once had a discussion with John Lennon about this topic. I said that it was possible, theoretically, to create an ultrasonic barrier generated by ultrasonic transfusers. This would prevent sound travelling over a certain field. I never suggested that I would make such a barrier.

Just what is an ultrasonic transfuser, anyway? For fun, here’s point fifteen from Mardas’ statement:

15. Further, I deny any suggestion that I promised the Beatles in the presence of Liliane Lijn that I could levitate them using “electro magnetism” and also make them “disappear”. For a start, I never met this lady in the presence of any of the Beatles and the suggestion that I could “levitate” anyone is obviously absurd.

When Mardas refers to “certain persons” making these allegations, the Beatles themselves must be included among them. Some of these claims come from Paul, George and Ringo’s own mouths in the Beatles Anthology book. Paul: “He thought of using wallpaper which would act as loudspeakers.” Ringo: “Magic Alex invented electrical paint. You paint your living room, plug it in, and the walls light up!” George: “I was going to give him the V12 engine out of my Ferrari Berlinetta and John was going to give him his, and Alex reckoned that with those two engines he could make a flying saucer.” Faced with Mardas’ strenuous denials, one wonders where the Beatles got all these ideas, and why they attributed them to him.

In the outtake from Magical Mystery Tour below, a person who appears to be Magic Alex allegedly sings “Walls of Jericho.”
 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Discussion
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Squeal like a pig!: The world champion pig squealer is a really STRANGE dude

00piggynono.jpg
 
France: a nation that has given the world such eminent artists, writers, scientists and philosophers as Henri Matisse, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Françoise Sagan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Coco Chanel, Marcel Duchamp, Isabelle Adjani, Luc Besson, Juliette Binoche and Edith Piaf, now brings us Noël “Nono” Jamet, the six times world champion pig squealer.

If ever there is a remake of Deliverance, then 48-year-old truck driver Nono would be the perfect choice for the Ned Beatty role…as he can certainly squeal like a pig.
 
0011piggy123.jpg
 
Nono takes his porcine impressions very seriously—dressing up in a pink outfit, with piggy ears and snout—and who knows maybe he even gives himself a wee splash of eau du bacon?

This year, when Nono entered the Agricultural Fair (Salon de l’Agriculture) at the Porte de Versailles in Paris,  he won the pig squealing cup with his incredible performance of the life of a piggy—from birth and breastfeeding to death. This performance is something that has to be seen to be believed, and I’m sure you will be as impressed by Nono’s amazing talent as much as the judges.

And if you can’t get enough of Nono’s delightful squeals and grunts—he can be hired to share his gift of joy as an entertainer at birthday parties. Look at the video, who’d let this guy near kids?
 

 
Via the Local.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Banksy tours Gaza: creates dark, thought-provoking stencil series and video
02.26.2015
06:05 am

Topics:
Activism
Art

Tags:
Banksy
Gaza

Banksy Kitten in Gaza
 
Banksy’s back, and this time he’s traveled to Gaza to get the world’s attention. Never one to shy from controversy, the artist’s website was recently updated to show 4 new pieces that he spray-painted in bomb-ruined Gaza, along with a tourism-style video purportedly shot by the man himself. The 2-minute short, aimed at making a big statement about the grim situation there, is mockingly titled Make this the year YOU discover a new destination.

Here’s a look at the new stenciled art with descriptions, if given:

Banksy in Gaza
 
This one is called “Bomb Damage” and appears to be inspired by Rodin’s famous bronze sculpture, “The Thinker.”

Banksy in Gaza
 
Banksy in Gaza
 

Gaza is often described as ‘the world’s largest open air prison’ because no-one is allowed to enter or leave. But that seems a bit unfair to prisons - they don’t have their electricity and drinking water cut off randomly almost every day.

Banksy Kitten in Gaza
 
Banksy Kitten in Gaza
 

A local man came up and said ‘Please - what does this mean?’ I explained I wanted to highlight the destruction in Gaza by posting photos on my website – but on the internet people only look at pictures of kittens.

Banksy If we wash our hands
 

If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless we side with the powerful—we don’t remain neutral.

To give you a feel for it, here’s a couple stills from Make this the year YOU discover a new destination:

The locals like it so much
 
Because they're not allowed to
 
You can watch the video in its entirety here:

 
via Juxtapoz

Posted by Rusty Blazenhoff | Discussion
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