Thursday, September 28, 2006
We're happy to present Boing Boing Digital Emporium's first batch of DRM-free music. Spike Priggen is offering three songs from his latest album, There's No Sound In Flutes! (with album art by Peter Bagge).
Citing as influences the '80s New York/London punk and new wave scenes, as well as the power pop of Cheap Trick and Big Star, Spike (Michael) Priggen makes a wide variety of pop music, which ranges from subtle chamber pop to loud, bombastic garage rock to forays into psychedelia. There's No Sound In Flutes! is his 3rd solo LP.
From the jangly romanticism of "I Know Everything," to the scathing wit of "Everyone Loves Me But You," (30-second MP3 sample) to the heart-on-sleeve sentiment of "Little Star," (30-second MP3 sample) to the elegant, evocative twang of "The Only Girl (in the World)," the self-penned, self-produced There's No Sound In Flutes (on the artist's own Volare Label) maintains the same bountiful levels of craft, energy and heart that distinguished Priggen's prior solo releases, the all-original The Very Thing That You Treasure and the quirky covers collection Stars After Stars After Stars.
30-second samples: Everyone Loves Me But You, Little Star, Till It All Falls Apart
Buy Everyone Loves Me But You ($1), Buy Little Star ($1), Buy Till It All Falls Apart ($1)
Friday, September 22, 2006
My friend Kevin Kelly, a co-founding editor of Wired and author of several excellent books, including Out of Control and Asia Grace, is a documentary movie junkie. True Films, his 56-page PDF book, reviews 100 of his favorite documentaries.
"True Films" contains the best 100 documentaries I've reviewed on True Films as of December, 2004. I winnowed some from the larger list, and came up with an alphabetical collection of 100 documentaries I feel are worth your time. Most people will enjoy the majority included. There's been one private film club launched around this list.
What you get for your $3: a downloadable PDF file of a color version of the book (which was printed in B&W).
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
A few years ago I wrote "The Cult of Capsaicin," an article about the subculture of people who are hooked on incredibly hot peppers. The article never ran in the magazine I wrote it for, but I've shared it with a few friends, and they enjoyed reading about these chileheads who get hooked on the endorphins the body releases to suppress the pain caused by eating hot pepper.
Here's an excerpt:
Here's an excerpt:
Try this: put a couple of drops of Tabasco Sauce on your tongue. Hot, right? Tabasco Sauce rates between 2,500 and 5,000 on the Scoville scale, the standard measurement system for chile pepper heat. Now try a drop of Mad Dog Inferno, a ridiculously hot sauce that clocks in at 90,000 Scoville units. As I chewed ice cubes and blinked away tears after touching a miniscule droplet of Mad Dog Inferno to my tongue from the tip of a toothpick, I knew I’d never make it as a chilehead.
That’s because I’m not a nontaster, explains Dave DeWitt, author of 30 books about chile peppers and spicy foods, including The Whole Chile Pepper Book and The Hot Sauce Bible. DeWitt is referring to a Yale surgeon’s study in the 1970s that identified three types of people: nontasters, medium tasters, and supertasters. Nontasters are born with as few as 11 taste buds per square centimeter of tongue, while supertasters can have as many as 1,100 taste buds crammed into the same area. Capsaicin has no taste, but taste buds not only sense flavor, they also transmit pain and temperature signals to the brain. That’s why nontasters can tolerate high doses of spice, says DeWitt, who considers chileheads to be on the far right side of the pepper bell curve. “In any movement you have your fringe element,” he says.
For a chilehead, 90,000 Scovilles is pabulum. Andy Barnhart, a recently retired chief scientist for a telecommunications company in Maryland, likes to dump habanero powder (400,000 Scovilles) on his ice cream “until it turns almost black.” But even that doesn’t turn Barnhart’s crank like it used to. “I’ve now gotten into Pure Cap; that is really hot stuff,” says Barnhart, 61. “I blend it with a little alcohol to preserve it and I put it in a bottle with an eyedropper and I carry it around with me.” (Pure Cap, a 570,000 Scoville unit extract, isn’t the same as pure capsaicin, which, at 16 million Scovilles, is as hot as it gets.) If Barnhart comes across a bowl of soup or a drink that doesn’t provide a sufficient jolt, he pulls out the eyedropper and gives it a squirt.
Barnhart’s 38-year-old son, Douglas, shares his father’s taste (or lack of taste buds) for hot stuff. The burly barbeque grill salesman has been known to polish off eight “Biker Billy” jalapeños (an extra large, extra hot variety) in thirty seconds. Peppers are a part of Barnhart’s daily routine. “I’m definitely addicted,” he says. “I get a little grouchy if I don’t have anything hot. I can’t explain it other than that. I just become unsettled. If I don’t have hot peppers around, I start looking for the next best thing, and that’s black pepper. But you can’t get enough heat off black pepper.”
Monday, September 18, 2006
My friend Mister Jalopy of Hooptyrides knows a great deal about older cars, and he knows how to explain the way they work to people like me, who consider the stuff that goes on under a car's hood to be scary and utterly mysterious.
Mister Jalopy has condensed a lifetime of experience working with used cars into a single page PDF document called Mister Jalopy's Pocket Guide to Life & Death with Modest Automobiles. It's truly the best thing I've ever read about cars, and if you are considering buying a used car, then the $1 you'll pay for this downloadable document will pay for itself a thousand-fold. Even if you aren't interested in buying a car, you will undoubtedly enjoy reading this super-dense document, loaded with hard-won wisdom.
Here are just a few of the testimonials that happy readers have sent in:
I just wanted to let you know this was the best $1 I've ever spent.
Even though I swore off project cars 2 years ago reading this has me
teetering on the edge of the wagon. Your words evoke memories of
sights, sounds and smells that are only found under the hood.
Having been a fan of modest automobiles all of my driving life,
and having laid my dirty little mitts on no less than 30 various and sundry
questionable vehicles over the last 15 years, I bought your guide for the
fun of it. A lot of good stuff in there that every old car beginner should
know, and valuable lessons that even "old timers" need driven home. It's
not worth saving the very low cost of a portable tool kit to end up in the
middle of a freeway merge lane trying to repair a bad vacuum leak with no
tools. Ask me how I know.
-- David Culberson
Thank you for Mister Jalopy's Guide to Life and Death with Modest
Automobiles. My payment will move you one step closer to buying your own hippo
In exchange, your advice will be tucked away in all of my modest automobiles
as an operating manual. It will help keep that paragon of luxuty, my 1966
Cadillac, on the road and cheerful.
-- Keith of keith.miata.net
Friday, September 15, 2006
Here's a PDF scan of the second issue of bOING bOING, published sixteen years ago, in January, 1990.
This issue includes an article about the over-domestication of Americans by Antero Alli, cartoons by Dennis Worden, Ace Backwords, Rudy Rucker, and me, a review of Dan Clowe's Eightball #1 and #2, articles about brain machines (which I am embarrassed about), a review of Rudy Rucker's artifical life software, CA LAB, a great essay on Ribofunk by Paul Di Filippo, and a biography of the US government's own LSD evangelist, Al "Cappy" Hubbard.
This is a scan of the entire first issue of bOING bOING, the print zine that preceded Boing Boing, the blog. I think most BB readers don't know that we started as a zine. Our first issue was printed in 1989, and only 100 copies were made. Now, 16 years later, I doubt more than 10 copies remain on the face of the Earth.
This 36-page issue has an interview with my hero, Robert Anton Wilson, an article about the wonders of public-key crytography, a piece about lucid dreaming, an interview with the 1988 Libertarian candidate for the US Senate, reviews of zines, comics, books, and software, and lots of comics by me and my friends. The writing is clunky and the design is even more clunky, but I think it resonates nicely with the Boing Boing of 2005.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
A while ago one of my writer friends sent me a 40-page-long account of his cross-country driving trip to Florida to take a job. His tale enthralled me. He had to drive through a nasty hurricane to get there, which was interesting, but that's not the best part of the story. The best part is his observations and interactions with interesting characters along the way.
I asked him if he'd like to try selling it on Boing Boing as an ebook, and he agreed. So he made a nice PDF file that includes the story and a couple of color photos. For personal reasons, he wishes to remain anonymous. About all I can say about him is that he has written many fiction and non fiction books and magazine articles.
As an experiment, we are selling the ebook for $1.50. The title is A Transcontinental Odyssey to the Dysfunctional Appendage of North America: Cowboy Gasoline in the Eye of the Storm.