Monday, February 18

Shotgun Singer

Kris Delmhorst is my favorite local musician by a long shot.  I first met her in 1999 when I was a waiter at Bella Luna restaurant and she would play a weekly gig in the corner alcove.  I still remember moving the table and chairs out of the way and her playing songs from her first album - a cassette tape, if you can believe it.  It was the best demo tape I'd ever heard and I've been a major fan ever since.  She's a poet par excellence.  Her long awaited new album, Shotgun Singer, is about to drop.  And it's gonna be nice.  Ania, Elizabeth, Amanda, Andy and I went to her last boston show on valentines day, which was f@*#ing great.  Here's a clip of her from that show opening with a cover of Tina Turner's What's Love Got To Do With It (definitely wade through the first minute of crappy sound and visual, it gets better):

This next song is called Blue Adeline, from the new album (I was better with the handycam at this point.)


If you haven't seen it yet, the film adaptation of the Persepolis Graphic novels (by Marjane Satrapi) is excellent - Amanda and I really loved it. It's a memoir of Satrapi's life in pre and post-revolutionary Iran and her families experiences under the Shah and Ayatollah. Remember, it's not to be taken literally as the only interpretation of 20th century Iran and the '79 revolution, but it is certainly valuable as one woman's story. Though it is a great victory for the world when a Muslim woman makes a film that is so well received in the west, it is nonetheless an example of the new orientalist narrative, where 'westernized easterners' replace western explorers as the conveyers of all things exotic and intriguing. This is particularly evident in her portrayal of religious Iranians in the film - they are generally shown as barbaric, vulgar and violent. But generally, her treatment of history and politics is nuanced and explores many sides of each issue.

Now, in local news...

 In case you haven't had the opportunity to see this, here is a 'wood catalogue' that sits in the basement of our building.

It was made by Ralph F. Perry out of wood from our trees, and serves as a research tool for those interested in identifying wood based on its grain and color. It's really a thing of beauty. Here's his picture.

Bruce and Wes have been insulating the windows in our storage space for the last few weeks. It looks pretty great:

And Jen (multitalented as she is) wrote a great article on Mojito Cupcakes for her website Finders Eaters, which you should check out.

Here are some trash finds for the week:

Someone tried (unsuccessfully) to set up a tent on state lab slope

Someone tried (apparently successfully) to avoid giving life to their progeny

And I found some children's toys and dolls. Here's a character from Pixar's Flushed Away. I found it on the side of the road, still in the package...

and here's what was inside

I also found Tigger in the trash.

Tigger, you rock. Lastly, some natural and beautiful things. The birds use trash to make their nests:

Leaves frozen under the ice

And buds starting to appear on the trees

"No matter how cold the winter, spring always comes."
- Sandman

Button Pusher

Sometimes I invent things at work. I do this either

1. to make my job easier
2. to make something work better
3. because it's fun or funny

Trashsled 2000 is one such invention. And soon I will post photos of the dog-bag holder I designed and had a welder build last week. For now, I'd like to show you something I like to call...

Button Pusher (Version 1.1)

(It's the metal bolt hanging off the crosswalk button panel)

Here's how it works: you take the pokey thing (a stove bolt, tipped with duct tape and attached with wire) and stick it in the crosswalk button hole to press the button. I and many others found that the button was impossible to press with gloves on, forcing you to take your gloves off and touch cold metal in freezing weather. Button pusher (Version 1.1) fixes this problem.

A closer look

Several people have reported that they enjoy Button Pusher v 1.1 and find it straightforward and easy to use, which makes me happy. I have worried, on occasion, that someone will think it's a bomb and call the police - but fortunately Button Pusher has not run into Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, or Guantanamo Bay yet.

I may be able to fix that particular bug in version 1.2.

Guantanamo Bay

I've been experimenting with some new music production software lately, a program called Reason. I use my Powerbook G4 laptop computer, some hardware I got on Craigslist (an 8 channel audio interface, a 49 key midi keyboard, a microphone and my guitar), Reason and a few other programs to make beats. So far I haven't managed to record a whole song yet, but here is my first loop.

And this is the voicemail that Hanon left me after I sent it to him.

Blackwell Hole

Welcome to the second installment of found photographs from the sleeping hole we found in the Blackwell hills.

(Click here for the first post which tells the whole story, and thanks again to Dan Fokine for lending them to me.)

They appear to chronicle the life of the man who lived in the hole last year. I think this might be him, lying in bed.

This gorgeous portrait is part figure, part abstraction

A family Photo

Another one of our friend

Abstract couple

Boy in a doorway

Mother and child