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  • TV’s cheerfully dark cult comedy: A review of ‘Review with Forrest MacNeil’
    01:12 pm


    Andrew Daly
    Review with Forrest MacNeil

    Yesterday I was speaking to a new Dangerous Minds contributor on the phone and trying to distill, boil down, encapsulate, etc, what I felt the mission of this blog was, and what “reviewing” meant in the days where someone can just press play and instantly see or hear what you are nattering on about in text and quickly form their own opinion. In the golden age of “rock” magazines like CREEM or Rolling Stone, the role of a music critic like, say, the great Lester Bangs, was to convince his readers to purchase some album or another with the power of his persuasive prose. Several decades later, YouTube, Vimeo and Soundcloud have lowered the barrier to cultural participation to merely clicking on something. You needn’t leave the couch to walk across the room let alone have to trek down to the local record store that no longer even exists. The thing you are curious about is right there in front of you. It’s already in your hands. A short burst of “enthusiastic” prose that basically indicates “This ___ is great, here’s why I think this is so wonderful, some background information on it and here’s why you should hit play” seems to be a winning recipe for a “review” on a blog in an age where all manner of cultural products are digitally pumped into your home like water or electricity.

    Which brings me to my own review of Review with Forrest MacNeil, one of the things that I am indeed most enthusiastic about here as this hot, hot summer winds down (along with Mr. Robot, the upcoming Dungen album and the new Slim Twig). Now in it the midst of its second season on Comedy Central, Review with Forrest MacNeil, is produced by and stars Andrew Daly. You’ve seen him in a number of things (notably Eastbound and Down, as Kenny Powers’ tweedy, button-downed romantic rival) but this is the first time he’s really had such a great venue for his talents. Review—an American restyling of a brilliant Australian series called Review with Myles Barlow—is one of the most consistently gut-bustingly hilarious shows on television. And it is dark, but it is cheerfully dark…

    The set up is simple enough to be telegraphed rapido in Review‘s opening credits where Forrest explains that he’s not like other reviewers who review books, movies or food, he reviews life itself: “Life, it’s literally all we have…. but is it any good?” He reviews “life experiences”—what it’s like to have frostbite, commit theft, be a drug addict, go into space, etc. His perky co-host A.J. Gibbs announces which experience Forrest is expected to try out for his audience’s vicarious thrills. She’ll read an email or open a video file sent in from a viewer who might request something like “What’s it like to eat fifteen stacks of pancakes?” which Forrest then goes out and dutifully does, offering on camera commentary as he vomits outside of the diner leaning against a parking meter. He can veto two review requests per season.

    And this is the beauty of Review‘s comic conceit: Forrest’s single-minded determination to maintain absolute fealty to the dumb rules of his TV show (which demand total commitment) even if if leads to carnage, death and destruction in his own life, and the life of his family and other innocent people he comes into contact with during production. Daly as Forrest is the single best clueless white guy character to come along since Fred Willard’s “Jerry Hubbard” on Fernwood 2Night, which is, of course, one of the nicest compliments I could ever possibly bestow upon the man. (Willard guests as Forrest’s father-in-law on Review.)

    Have I mentioned yet just how much I love this show? To be honest, I just found out about Review with Forrest MacNeil recently myself. Before season two started airing I read something about it that piqued my attention and so I downloaded the first episode, loved it and then powered through the remainder of the season in a matter of three days before starting the second season, which as I mentioned is already in the middle of airing. It the perfect show to binge-watch because you see the destruction of this fool’s life practically occurring in real time.

    Below, Forrest MacNeil reviews being a racist:

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    DEVO, Blondie, Talking Heads, Klaus Nomi on ‘20/20’ segment on New Wave, 1979
    09:45 am


    new wave

    At DM we often poke fun at impossibly stiff or clueless news reporting on the music of the past, but sometimes you run across a piece of news coverage that is much better than it has any right to be. In that category falls this detailed segment from ABC’s 20/20 on the rise of new wave music that aired in December 1979—impressively astute for a news segment on new music from one of the major TV networks. It was written by Thomas Hoving, whose primary competence lay in the world of high art, so he deserves extra credit for being able to assess new impulses in popular music in an intelligent way.

    The piece links the new wave impulse with the recent stirrings of punk while also making sure to find precursors in figures of the past such as Buddy Holly. (DEVO’s cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is, naturally, enlisted to make plain these appropriations of the past.) The segment features live footage of Blondie, the Clash, and Talking Heads—it takes an effort of will to remember how weird David Byrne, here singing “Psycho Killer,” must have seemed to a mainstream audience in 1979. The reporting emphasizes the simple chord structures, youthful exuberance, and a stance of general skepticism as integral to the movement, such as it is.

    Joe Strummer is shown in an unflattering clip, while Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison idiotically compares the fresh air of new wave music to Beethoven. Remarkably, the piece ends with a look at Klaus Nomi, before Hugh Downs avuncularly cites the 1958 Danny & the Juniors hit “Rock and Roll is Here to Stay.”

    The report, after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Man sheds tears of joy, finding song after decades of searching that reminded him of his mother
    09:37 am


    name that tune

    Here’s a lovely video of man overwhelmed with joy when he finally gets the name of a song he’s been humming to people for over 20 years asking their help to identify it. His reaction is priceless.

    The backstory to this video is heartwarming. Redditor Hotspur000 sums it up nicely:

    This man is from Congo. One day he and his mother went to a Chinese grocer there and heard a song playing over the PA system. The mother liked it so much she asked the owner about it and the owner gave her the tape. The mother would listen to the song a lot and the man came to associate it with her (but of course, since it was all in Chinese they didn’t know what it was called, who sang it, or anything about it). Later, the mother and the man emigrated to South Africa, and somewhere in the process, the tape was lost. Soon after, the mother died. The man was heartbroken that he had lost the song which always reminded him of his mother.

    For 20 years he has worked as cab driver, and every time he got an Asian person in his cab, he would hum the song to see if the person could tell him what it was, but no one ever knew. Finally, one day, he had his first ever Taiwanese passengers; it turns out the song was Taiwanese, and they knew it immediately. What you see in the video is him reacting after hearing the song again after 20 years.

    I had a friend who had an earworm of song that no one knew. He would hum it to everyone he met in hopes someone could “name that tune.” It became almost like an obsession for him to identify the name of this musical motif, a mystery that he just had to solve! It went on for years. Was it Beethoven? An obscure Wagner passage? Stravinsky? Phillip Glass?

    One day he hummed the song to a mutual friend and the friend knew what it was immediately! He said, “Dude, that’s the demo song for the Casio keyboard. You mean to tell me you’ve had THAT song stuck in your head all these years?” 

    via reddit

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    Seminal art-punks X__X cover Albert Ayler’s ‘Ghosts’: A DM premiere
    08:31 am


    Albert Ayler

    X__X is pronounced “Ex Blank Ex,” and their 1979 debut release—a 7” with an A side titled “A” and a B side called “You’re Full of Shit”—was already posthumous. The group existed for all of six months in the fertile late ‘70s Cleveland ur-punk scene; the electric eels’ singer/antagonist John D Morton knew he’d be moving to New York, and decided before his move to form an intentionally short-duration band. To that end, he recruited guitarist Andrew Klimeyk, bassist/future ‘zine publisher Jim Ellis, and drummer/future Golden Palomino Anton Fier. The only evidence of their existence lived in the form of two 7"s, the aforementioned, and 1980’s “No Nonsense / Approaching The Minimal With Spray Guns.” Those singles are unruly and just plain unholy blasts of spiky, disordered, nihilistic art-punk—had this band been birthed in New York, they could have been No Wave icons. X__X did make that move, but petered out without attracting much notice.



    As seems inevitable these days, X__X’s music has been exhumed recently, by the Full Contact imprint of the Finnish label Ektro, who last year released the compilation X Sticky Fingers X, which included both of the singles and a slew of live recordings and rehearsal tapes. Finally reaping some overdue accolades, Klimek and Morton put together a version of the band to tour, with Rocket From the Tombs bassist Craig Bell and drummer Matthew Albert Harris, a band that opted to continue making new music as X__X. In a phone conversation, Klimeyk discussed the band’s initial dissolution, and its decision to move forward on reuniting.

    When the archival album was becoming a reality, we started putting feelers out to everyone. We thought a reunion would be good to promote the release, and just an interesting thing to do. I was hoping to do it with as close to the recorded lineup as possible, but it was something I was interested in doing anyway. When we moved to New York there was a plan to keep the band going, and that didn’t happen. John moved up first, then Anton, then me, but Anton got involved with the Feelies and Lounge Lizards so his plate was full. John and I did get together a little, but it fizzled out.

    We want to keep going with it, definitely, I wouldn’t pursue this if we were only going to play old songs and do gigs just based on them, I would get bored with that. We’re already looking ahead to different things.

    The band’s first proper album, 37 years after forming as a temporary why-the-fuck-not, will be released by the Smog Veil label in November. Named Albert Ayler’s Ghosts live at the Yellow Ghetto, the title is no bullshit—the band actually covers “Ghosts” by Albert Ayler. It’s a fit move, as Ayler was a fellow CLEperson, and his divisive, skronking sax style which privileged timbre over pitch made him something of a No Wave forefather. He was definitely a hero to John D Morton, who talked to DM about that inspiration.

    I was 14 when I got the the ESP Sampler for 99¢. I knew the Fugs, I knew Sun Ra a little, and I knew William Burroughs. The sampler had just a little clip of every song, and one of them was from Albert Ayler’s “Ghosts,” and I’d never heard anything like it. I mean I was 14, just getting out of the Beatles and looking for more interesting things. “Ghosts?” I was totally flummoxed by it, but I smiled when I heard it. And I went on to discover more about music, and I actually bought an Ayler album. I didn’t even know he was from Cleveland, then I found that out, and eventually I realized that when I play, the way I think about music, that little clip of Ayler was always in my mind’s background, especially in my thoughts about anti-music. There are a lot of similarities, when you think about it, between free jazz and punk. They’re both angry, or at least I think so, they can both be funny, and they’re both like “fuck you, I don’t care if you like it or not.”

    So while we were on tour, Craig said that we’d become a “real band,” and on the way back from Detroit, Andrew told us he made arrangements for us to record. So knowing we were going to stay together and record, I thought about “Ghosts,” and I tried to work it out to see if I could do it. I don’t know the scales on purpose, and sax has different scales anyway, but I was able to learn it. And I knew that doing it was audacious, and it had to be really good if we did it, otherwise it would be laughable, embarrassing. It had to be right. Some songs are great, but some bands shouldn’t do ‘em. I got through the first three melody parts that make up the piece and got to the free jazz part, and 20 seconds in to that, I knew I could do it. Teaching the guys to play it, they were looking at me kind of askance, like “we’re REALLY going to do this?” and Craig said “oh, this could kill us.” But part of the basis of Smog Veil’s interest in releasing the album was the cover of “Ghosts,” so it had to be there. We met up in Cleveland like five days before the recording to practice, we hadn’t been together since the tour. We got through “Ghosts” and I said “we got it, we can do it,” and they all looked at me like “I don’t know if we played it right.” I said “You can’t play it wrong.” But after we recorded it, we all agreed it was the right thing to do. The fact that Ayler’s from Cleveland, I feel a debt and affinity there. I’d heard free jazz by Coleman, and others, but Ayler was the ghost that spoke into my ear.

    After the jump, hear X__X’s dizzying and jagged take on Ayler, plus an in-studio take of “Ghosts”...

    Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
    ‘Crumb’: Watch the brilliant, notorious and disturbing Robert Crumb documentary
    08:16 am


    R. Crumb
    Terry Zwigoff

    Note the presentation by David Lynch. Lynch actually had nothing whatsoever to do with the film, but allowed his name to be used for promotion.

    The famous myth about the 1994 documentary Crumb is that director Terry Zwigoff only got Robert Crumb to agree to make it because Zwigoff threatened to kill himself if Crumb didn’t participate. This was a legendary miscommunication that stemmed from a comment made by Zwigoff describing the intense nine years of production. During that time, Zwigoff was living off of “about $200 a month and living with back pain so intense that I spent three years with a loaded gun on the pillow next to my bed, trying to get up the nerve to kill myself.” It’s from this statement that Roger Ebert clarified the film may have saved Zwigoff’s life, meaning that his obsession with completing the film might’ve tempered his suicidal impulses.

    Although Zwigoff and Crumb actually were very good friends at the time the film as made (they still are and once even played in a 1920s-style string band together), it is true that Crumb was hesitant to make the film, and it’s easy to see why. While Crumb has always portrayed himself as a sort of deviant/pervert/degenerate, he is most definitely the most normal one in his family. The Crumb boys grew up with a pill-addicted mother and a violent alcoholic father. Crumb also features Robert Crumb’s brothers, Maxon and Charles and both come off like victims of parental-inflicted PTSD.

    Charles—a brilliant artist in his own right and R. Crumb’s childhood artistic collaborator—identified as a pedophile, and though he never acted on his urges, he refused to leave his mother’s house. He committed suicide by overdose in 1993. Maxon Crumb is more functional, and a talented painter (as per the family genre, he portrays incredibly disturbing sexual subjects like incest and abuse). Despite his own sexual obsessions, Maxon remains celibate, as he believes sex causes him seizures, although he admits to molesting women and girls. 

    In spite of all this, it’s an incredibly moving portrait of an artist—and there is grateful sense of relief at the film’s end, when R. Crumb and his family leave behind Maxon, Charles and their mother for France.

    Via Network Awesome

    Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
    Morton Downey, Jr. saves African lives, sings ‘Kumbaya’ in his terrible 1970s nightclub act
    06:36 am


    Morton Downey Jr.

    Before he took on the TV persona of Mort the Mouth, Morton Downey, Jr. was a singer like his father, the “Irish Nightingale.” Believe it or not, Stax released Junior’s debut album I Believe America in 1974, an example of the bold A&R work that led the soul label into bankruptcy in 1975.

    Around the time his series was cancelled in ‘89, Downey tried to restart his singing career with a new album and an appearance at Trump Castle in Atlantic City, where he was joined by “a singing midget named Michael Anderson.” (Could this be the Michael Anderson who played Twin Peaks’ Little Man from Another Place?) The New York Daily News was not kind:

    The Mouth That Roared, and recently roared itself right off television, looked horrible. Wearing pounds of ghastly tan makeup, he most closely resembled a corpse.

    During some songs, his voice would quiver. During others it would be raspy, and during others it would fade away. The song selections were disjointed, with the music of the Shirelles getting mixed up with the music of Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Bette Midler.

    He has no stage presence - although, on the positive side, at least he doesn’t try to dance. Near the end of the 45-minute act he was visibly out of breath - which was all right, because by that time Anderson sounded as good as the headliner.


    A lifelong Angeleno, I only feel truly at home when I am wallowing chest-deep in the muck of showbiz’s most miserable toilets, so I was delighted to stumble upon this footage of Downey doing his act in Phoenix, Arizona sometime in the ‘70s. Imagine how my joy was multiplied when Downey, introducing “Kumbaya,” started talking about preparing to face a firing squad during the first year of the Biafran War. His crime? Helping a Catholic priest smuggle ten Biafrans to safety in the backseat of a Peugeot.

    I was extremely skeptical when I first heard this story—remember that time Mort claimed he was stomped by skinheads in the airport bathroom?—but Downey’s New York Times obituary says that he did indeed travel to Nigeria after the Biafran War to aid its victims, and the priest Downey mentions appears to have done actual missionary work in Nigeria, so I have downgraded my response to very, very skeptical. As New York Magazine observed in its 1988 profile of the talk show host, “He is prone to make large claims about his past, then alter or even deny them.” But who knows: maybe this was the one time Downey told the unvarnished truth, with this improbable, self-aggrandizing tale about God’s inscrutable justice.

    You know, 1967, my wife Joannie and I took a cruise in the Caribbean. And in that ship, they had a discotheque lounge, so we went downstairs to the discotheque lounge. And there was one person dancing: a little ruddy-faced, white-haired, balding Irishman. And Joan said, “Ah, there’s only one drunk down here.” And I said, “No,” I said, “he doesn’t look drunk.” But we got to meet that little ruddy-faced Irishman, and his name was Tom Rooney. The thing is is that Tom was a priest, a missionary from Nigeria. Of course, the Biafran War was on in Nigeria, and he had been dismissed from the country. And in passing, I said to Tom, I said, “Well, you know, if you’re ever in Washington, come on over and visit me.”

    How many of you folks have ever invited a priest casually to come over and visit you? Two days later, Tom was in the living room, and sleeping on the couch. Well, Father Rooney, about two weeks later, had convinced me that something that was very important to him was to save the people who were dying in Biafra, because these were his children, these were the people that he had baptized, that he had lived with for fourteen years. So he asked me if I’d go on an adventure with him back to Nigeria with a Red Cross plane that would take us from a small island off the coast back into the interior, into an area called Makurdi, and there we would pick up some Nigerian starving immigrants and fly them out to the small island.

    The first night we were there—incidentally, how many of you folks know what a Peugeot 404 is? [Counts hands] One, two, three… okay, a Peugeot 404 comfortably seats four, and if the buns are small, it’ll seat five. The backseat of that 404, under a tarpaulin, Father Tom Rooney had hidden ten Nigerians, ten Biafrans. So we went from checkpoint through checkpoint, and each one of them stopping and saying, “Oh, Fadda, what you have in backseat?” and Fadda saying, “It’s alright,” he says, “in the backseat I’ve got myself ten Biafrans stuffed under the tarpaulin.” And they’d smile, and they’d laugh, and they’d say “You go ahead, Fadda!”

    We came to one checkpoint where they didn’t enjoy an Irish sense of humor. And they checked. The Biafrans were let off into one area, Father Rooney and I to another, to a small little grass hut, where the sergeant of the guard informed us that we would be shot at dawn. Well, Father Rooney, still trying to be jovial, asked me if I had any final words for my last confession. [Chuckles] I asked him if wanting to kill a priest was a sin. Well, at four o’clock that morning, we were taken out of the grass hut, but not to be shot. Because seventeen years earlier, Tom Rooney had baptized the colonel of the regiment who was in charge of the firing squad. His name, Joseph Aturkba (?). We were set free that night, and so were the Biafrans, as a gesture from a man who had been brought to God by Father Tom Rooney.

    From Nigeria, I brought back this song, which is the people’s song of Nigeria. From the bush country, “Kumbaya.”

    The story begins at 8:48, and Mort tears up “Kumbaya” at 12:30. Sure, you’ve heard it before, but have you heard it sung by Morton Downey, Jr., with Vegas key changes?

    Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
    ‘I pity the fool who messes with my Boy, George’—An unlikely A-Team cameo
    05:38 am


    Boy George
    Culture Club
    The A-Team

    When I was a kid I liked The A-Team and I liked Culture Club, yet somehow I never knew about Boy George’s inexplicable guest-star gig on the NBC program. I’ll chalk this up to a combination of not expecting these two worlds to collide and the fact that by the fourth season, The A-Team had already “jumped the shark” and was moved to the Friday at 8:00 pm slot up against Webster. Webster was hot shit.

    Face (Dirk Benedict) has a scheme to make big money as a club promoter managing a “Cowboy George” concert at a local redneck bar. The ol’ bait-and-switch brings Boy George to play the contractually-obligated gig, not at the promised “Arizona Forum,” but at the “Floor ‘Em.”

    The rednecks at the Floor ‘em aren’t the biggest Boy George fans in the world, indicating that they “don’t want no English glitter prince.” Boy George is likewise not excited about playing the roadhouse which he describes as “a certified toilet.”

    B.A. (Mr. T) shows up and is star-struck by Boy George, whom he is a huge fan of.

    Believe it or not, things get really convoluted from there. Boy George has to entertain the roughneck good ol’ boy crowd at the Floor ‘Em while the A-Team guys investigate the shady dealings of the club owners. Of course Culture Club inexplicably wins over the rowdy roadhouse crowd.  While Culture Club plays, the A-Team foils a bank robbery in typical A-Team style with lots of bullets and explosions but with no actual people being shot or blown up. When the A-Team gets falsely imprisoned for the robbery they foiled, it’s up to Murdock (Dwight Schultz) and Boy George to bust them out and catch the bad guys. All’s well that ends well with an encore Culture Club performance at the Floor ‘Em with a rousing performance of “Karma Chameleon.”

    This episode has made such illustrious lists as “The 25 worst cameos in TV history” and “Most embarrassing TV moments.”

    Here’s an abbreviated and condensed version of the bizarre episode:


    Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
    The psychedelic hairscapes of Cathy Ward
    02:21 pm


    Nick Abrahams
    Cathy Ward

    This is a guest post by artist/director Nick Abrahams.

    Los Angeles gets the pleasure of being the first city in America to stage a solo show by the London-based artist Cathy Ward. Her forthcoming exhibition at the Good Luck Gallery is opening on September 5th, with the artist talking about her work at the gallery on September 6th.

    Cathy Ward is something of an alternative British institution, having exhibited in many medias and forms over the years with everything from large scale sculptures and installations, to tapisteries and work made from corn dollies. But the work she is best known for are the dark psychic landscapes, reminiscent of woven hair, which are both immediately familiar and unlike anything else you will have ever seen. With a technique she has been honing for seventeen years, she scrapes intricate patterns into a layer of ink to reveal fine lines of the white clay that lie underneath, these scratch works suggest many things… cosmic struggles, full of pulsations and explosions…  the dark matter or the ‘dust’ of Philip Pullman’s novels… swirling waterways or weirs, made up of feminine eddies or sprays of water… but most of all they resemble plaited and flowing swathes of hair….  ‘I can’t plan them, I can’t replicate them either,’ Ward says.

    Albina Incubii Albion

    Hair of the recently deceased was carefully bound and arranged in Victorian hair works, an art form and custom which gradually fell out of fashion. These memento mori often took the form of a piece of jewellery (such as a locket), but sometimes in fabulously complicated and contorted “hair wreaths.” The hair that flows through these memorials also flows through the works of the Brothers Grimm, with Rapunzel’s climbable tresses, and later continued to flow through the counterculture of the 60s as a signifier of a rejection of cultural norms, whether by long-haired bikers or drug-addled hippies.

    Lost Commune

    The pulsating lines of Wards works have something of the drawings of Hans Bellmer about them, suggesting female curves and crevices, with the female body as a site of erotic mystery and power.

    Cathy Ward

    At a retrospective of the works of outsider artist Madge Gill in London, Ward was a natural choice for the position as artist in residence, with both artists driven to obsessive drawing styles, Gill with repetitive depiction of angels or ‘spirit guides’ , and Ward with her incredibly detailed abstractions reminiscent of woven hair, both describing very active ‘inner landscapes’ of womens minds, and there is a feeling that the act of line making may, for both women, act as a form of spell casting or be a sacred act.

    There is a musicality to the waves in Ward’s work, and she has found a natural connections with certain musicians, such as Sunn O))) who used a triptych of her works on their Monoliths and Dimensions sleeve, and Stephen O’Malley of the band later providing a soundtrack for Ward’s animated work “Sonafeld.”

    ‘The Order’ is a new set of works which make specific reference to Ward’s early tuition under the Sisters of Mercy in Ashford—not the Goth band, but one of the schools run by notoriously strict nuns whose ghostly outlines people Ward’s new pictures.  Ward says that the nuns all had their hair cut close to their skulls: “As a child I was shocked, appalled, fascinated that nuns sacrificed their hair in this way. Hair in the 1960s was a symbol of liberation and this livery was being wilfully, symbolically removed.”

    The Order

    These works often inhabit ornate frames sourced from flea markets and junk shops, giving them the feel of found objects, rediscovered antiquities from another time and place.

    These works form part of the world of Cathy Ward’s artistic vision. Her many projects in collaboration with her husband Eric Wright can be followed here’, while more information about her solo works can be found here.

    This is a guest post by artist/director Nick Abrahams.

    Below, Ward’s “Sonafeld” with Stephen O’Malley soundtrack:

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    The indiscreet art of ass puppetry
    01:04 pm



    The title of this video doesn’t give the slightest inkling of what the viewer is in store for—and it’s also fairly hilarious. The title is: “This girl is going places. Not college, but places.”

    The video is a collection of perhaps 20 Vine-ish gags involving a face made when a pair of googly eyes are placed on a woman’s body ... south of the border. The soundtrack includes the Star-Spangled Banner, Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love,” Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” and Tom Jones’ “What’s New, Pussycat?” 

    A pair of googly eyes and suddenly you’re the Señor Wences of ass puppetry…

    If anyone in your workplace would object to even mildly risqué material, you’d be completely crazy to play this there. You have been warned!

    via Death and Taxes

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    White Noise Boutique to sell ‘artisanal white noise’

    Residing at the precise point where conceptual art meets commerce meets mathematics meets cyptography meets transcendental meditation meets, shall we say, hipster excess is the White Noise Boutique, a pop-up shop that will exist in the city of Brighton in the United Kingdom from September 9 to 18 of this year. The only products the White Noise Boutique will sell are custom-made LPs and digital files containing unique white noise, a term that encompasses both a washed-out static-y sounding audio tone as well as a cryptographically pleasing set of random data. The quest for “truly” random numbers, useful for encoding data, is a daunting task with a multitude of high-end applications, which are described here.

    Used properly, white noise can be soothing to listen to, especially for hyperactive minds, so white noise is frequently used to help people get to sleep, to meditate, or to concentrate on urgent work. You can listen to Wikipedia’s 20-second sample of white noise generated by Jorge Stolfi. To my knowledge this project has nothing to do with the excellent 1985 novel by Don DeLillo.

    Once you create a batch of white noise at the White Noise Boutique, you can spend £1 for a digital file and £4 to receive an LP with the white noise on it (if you go that route, you will receive a digital file as well). One pound is roughly $1.50 these days, so the LP will run you about $6.

    The White Noise Boutique’s descriptions of their process and options make it all but impossible to resist making hipster jokes about “hand-crafted bologna” and the like. Indeed, it honestly does seem parodic much of the time. What follows are the captions for a series of slides that you can see on the video embedded below, which capture that elusive, slightly vacant and solicitous tone that tells you you might be in hipster territory. Remember, they could have mimicked The Matrix or Mr. Robot, but instead they aped the patterns of people who use the word “artisanal” a lot.

    We craft unique white noise to your exact specifications.

    Select a random-number generator to create your noise.
    Some generators allow for a starting value, called a “seed.”
    For extra security, we can apply additional randomness through a process called “salting.”
    We apply a battery of statistical tests to ensure your white noise is as random as possible.
    Once generated, we hand-cut your white noise to a unique vinyl record or direct to digital download.
    Finally, if specified we upload a digital version of your white noise for download.


    The explanation on the website is full of verbiage like “Type 1390-B tube-powered noise generator” and “a Faraday cage for generating your noise to avoid electro-magnetic radiation.” Can’t you just imagine that conversation at your local latte purveyor in which the one dude sneers at the other dude because HIS randomly generated white noise did not use a Faraday cage?

    The funny thing is, as the proud owner of a record collection purchased entirely in the last 2 years, I ........ kinda want one.

    via Death and Taxes

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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