Friday, June 29, 2007

Journalistic Integrity

This made me so happy.
Life imitates Network.

Hey, MSNBC, please give Ms. Brzezinski a raise!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Steampunk Vespa: Sneak Peek

Yes, yes, I know the posts have been few and far between recently. In the interest of placating my more rapid readers (and of course showing off, just a wee bit), I've decided to share a bit of what has been keeping tied to the air compressor, and away from the keyboard.

That's right folks, the Dragon is done playing with his wood!
Now the whole of the Steampunk Vespa, which I am affectionately dubbing "The Brazen Filly" at this point, is not yet complete... there are a few more details that need attending to before I unveil the whole thing. But the wood-graining is complete, and that was the most labor intensive part of the project. I'm feeling pretty confident, that she will be completed in time for AmeriVespa.

Now this sneak peek is just of the Filly's fairing. Painting the fairing is pretty much completed, and it has been hit with an initial clearcoat. I have to say I was really pleased by how the glossy clear really brought to life all the playing I did with transparent and iridescent layers. Of course this is an effect that doesn't really photograph well, especially without some nice studio lighting. But if you compare the two closeup photos below, you'll get some sense of it. When the whole scooter is complete I'll get some video of it, so you can see how the undertones shift with your perspective as you walk around it.

Being a Steampunk Scooter, sometimes fantastic elements were chosen over realism. Wood grain patterns were mostly taken from samples of cedar, which surround my workspace since it is constructed of a recycled barn. For me one of the great joys of realistic painting is getting a sense through this kind of study, of what makes wood look like wood, and not only replicating examples which are before your eyes, but also trying to apply the visual lessons of such study to drawing from the imagination. What you see on the fairing are experiments in imaginative wood, while representations of the wood around our house were used more on the cowls and topcase. (But those will have to wait until the scooter is finished for unveiling.)
For the finish/coloring I drew from several samples of vintage rosewood which Jes has around the house. So the wood is not totally realistic, but I think it works quite well for this project. I definitely enjoyed this process, and look forward to building a repetoire different types of wood. (Jes is already hinting that her Sprint might look good rendered in bird's eye maple.)
I've been working on this faux-wood finish for about two months, and for the last couple weeks putting in twelve hour days on it. At the end of each session, I'd tell Jes, "I think I just need one more day to finish, just one more layer." Heh, heh, heh...
But for my first attempt at DIY airbrush woodgraining, and as part of my first custom scooter paint job, I think it came out pretty good.

I meant to document this whole process, step-by-step, but as time went by, I just got so obsessed with finishing the dang-blasted thing, I quit taking pictures. Regardless, with the pictures below, and some explanation, you can be well on your way to airbrushing your own fake-wood.

The first step, which isn't pictured here was priming the surface. I cleaned it, lightly hand sanded with fine grain paper (400 I think). Then I primed it with brown Krylon Fusion paint, since the fairing is fiber glass. After curing, the primer was lightly sanded, and I used 1/16th inch painter's tape to delineate the panels.
As a starting point I used directions from Craig Fraser's Cheap Tricks and Special Effects for painting wood grain. He recommends beginning on a black surface, and starting the grain lines in white. He also is painting with urethanes, which I unfortunately don't have to facilities to use. So anyway, I started with Golden Artists Colors fluid Titanium Buff, thinned of course for running through the airbrush. I think my mixture at this point was like 5 parts Titan Buff to 1 part Airbrush Transparent Extender, 1 part Gac 200, and 3 parts Airbrush Medium.
I think I did like two passes with this off-white mixture, for even coverage, and it's important to remember that at this stage you are just establishing the foundations of your textures. Getting really fine lines are not as important as getting the flow of the grain.
The next layer as you can tell was yellow. (See all those hints and tricks learned in other media do apply, glaze from light to dark.) I don't remember the exact paint recipe for this layer, something along the lines of 1 part Titan buff, 2 parts Iridescent Gold Fine, and 2 parts Primary Yellow, thinned with 1 part Airbrush Transparent Extender, and 4 parts Airbrush medium. (All paints and mediums are from Golden Artist Colors, and all paints were from their Fluids line. If you really want to develop a relationship with your paint, I can't recommend Golden highly enough, the more you learn about paint chemistry, and weird world that is color theory versus color practice, the more you will appreciate Golden.)
Per Craig Fraser's directions, I pretty much covered up the white layer with the golden-yellow. This is not done by tracing over the white, so much as following the flow of the grain you have already established. Of course, like always in airbrushing, several light passes are superior to one heavy coat.
After the yellow-gold, came a golden orange coat, which consisted of Quincridone Gold mixed equally with the iridescent gold and these mixed equally with my ususal airbrush thinning mix. (Maybe there was some Titan Buff and Yellow Oxide in there, as well.)
Actually after this point my color mixtures became somewhat arcane, and convoluted. My palette consisted of Quin Gold, Burnt Sienna, Violet Oxide, and Quin. Burnt Orange mixed with varying degrees with Irid. Gold, Interference Oxide Red, Interference Oxide Green (YS), and Irid. Bronze (fine). I finished off with several transparent layers mixed from Jenkins Green, Quin Burnt Orange, Permanent Violet Dark, Pyrrole Orange, and Primary Yellow. These mixtures were deep reddish or purplish transparent browns. At full strength they are almost black.
Oh, and if you are going to try this, please wear a mask. Several of these pigments are particularly nasty when inhaled.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Blues on YouTube

It's been said that God's favorite music is the blues.
I don't know exactly how this assessment of divine aesthetic bias was determined, but who am I to argue? (Especially since, I'm not sure exactly what I just said.)
But if it's true, then YouTube may just be the reason God had Al Gore discover the internet.

Here's Buddy Guy and Junior Wells playing at Montreux 1974

And here's Buddy Guy doing a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughn (with some backup support by Jimmy Vaughn)

The Chicago Blues Allstars from 1970 and the lineup is Walter Horton:Harp, Willie Dixon: Bass, Lafayette Leake:Piano, Lee Jackson: Guitar, Clifton James: Drums.

Muddy Waters & Sonny Boy Williamson II "Got my Mojo Working" and is that Willie Dixon I spot in the background?

Sonny Boy Williamson II "I'm a Lonely Man"

Booker White - Aberdeen Mississippi Blues

Son House performs Death Letter

And the shiniest gem I've found so far, Three Songs by Leadbelly filmed in 1945.

Also checkout The Blue Shoe Project's YouTube page:

Students Should Experience the Blues - The Blue Shoe Project was founded to keep the blues alive by exposing students to the few blues legends still alive and able to pass on their legacy in person by teaching students about the profound impact of the blues on our music history.

The Legends of the Blues and those influenced by it are aging or passing and with it their rich history and culture. These legendary figures made a profound impact on American Music and our society and students at all levels should know it, be proud of it and experience it. One of the ways we accomplish this objective is to bring Artists into the classroom for students to experience living history. Whether an industry legend, or a practicing Artist of the Blues, our Education Programs provide students a true appreciation for and a valuable understanding of the history, style, and impact of the Blues, even an opportunity to "play the Blues".

The Blue Shoe Project tailors the delivery of blues education to elementary through college students. Programs feature professional, and in some cases "legendary" musicians who are passionate about sharing their extraordinary talent and telling their inspiring stories to students of all ages.

Blues is America's Gift to the World - As a country, there is one thing we have undeniably given the world that no other culture can lay claim to, our music. Blues music. Travel outside the US and its Blues they idolize. From the UK to Japan, to South America, Blues above all is the music of all music.

That's your history lesson for the day, kiddies. Just remember, "Blues is the root, everything else is the fruit."

Thanks go out to BoingBoing for starting this link-fest.

Moped Hip-Hop

Here's a subculture mashup I would have never predicted, Hard Core Moped kids and Hip-Hop. Stupid me, 'cause these folks make it seem natural. It sure don't seem like they're faking the funk on bein' down with ped.

From the YouTube description:

Video for "Throw a Kit" Performed by Hollywood Holt featuring Million Dollar Mano. The video was shot, directed, and edited by Thunder Horse (Taran Allen, Alex Gvojic).

via Bryce on Modern Vespa

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Punk Spaghetti Western

Y'all should know by now, that the Dragon loves three things almost as much as his sweetie: Punk Rock, Cowboys, and Italian aesthetics.

Well, this mashup of For a Few Dollars More and the Vandals' "Urban Struggle", doesn't feature any Vespas, but that's about the only way you could improve on it.

Heh, heh, heh... "I couldn't make it as a punker..." Indeed.

Sweet Recycled Messenger Bag

Orin over at Scootin Old Skool recently posted about these messenger bags from Alchemy Goods. I'm going to need a new bag soon, and these have just risen to the top of my list.

I could laundry list the bags' features, but, well heck, the folks at AG have already done it:

Wicked-durable strap made from two RECYCLED seatbelt straps sewn together
100% waterproof exterior constructed from RECYCLED inner tubes
Multiple internal pockets for books, packages and other items
Internal cell phone pocket sits inside the bag, so it’s easy to hear and totally accessible
T-strap stabilizes load while cycling
Zippered front pocket for wallet or MP3 player
High quality reflective tape for added safety
Internal key clip for bike lock keys or house keys
13 x 8 x 11 inches (and expandable)
Priced at $148

That price is about average for a quality messenger bag, and these look to probably be even more durable. One of the first things to go on cheaper bags I've had has been the waterproofing, which kind of flakes and chips away. I imagine a Timbuk 2 or Chrome bag's lining would last longer than that, but this puppy will be waterproof forevah. I'm intrigued.

Engine Animations

Thanks to TinkerGirl at Brass Goggles for the link to this great site which uses animated GIFs to illustrate the basic functioning of a variety of engine designs.

Scooterists and other bikers will of course want to view the two-stroke and four-stroke animations.

Steampunks will happy to know that there are ten different types of steam engines featured, as well as three varieties of Stirling engines.

Cool stuff, Maynard.

Bettie Page

Well, so far today I've posted dragon porn and potty-mouthed punks. Somewhere out there is a puritan I haven't ticked off yet. In an attempt to rectify that oversight, the Dragon presents this page outta his sketchbook, featuring the timeless beauty of Bettie Page.
I've been researching old nose-cone art and pin-ups, as I gear up to do more custom painting, because these two genres are so influential on Kustom Kulture. And that necessarily leads to Bettie, who has been rightly called "the queen of the pin-up."
What's the difference between art and pornography? In my mind, it's Bettie Page.
If recollection serves, the etymology of pornography is literally Greek for "pictures of prostitutes." Pornography implies exploitation, seediness, and a sense of shame which taints almost everything it touches. The creators, the vendors, and consumers. Sure this sense of dirtiness is culturally created, and to some extent is fading in our society. Now we have pro-porn feminists and Suicide Girls.
But there is still icky porn out there, and probably always will be, as long some folks insist on making other folks repress any sexual interest or urge... well somebody's gonna end up associating dirtiness with sexuality, and they are gonna need a little filthiness to get... um... properly stimulated.
Which is why the Dragon loves him some Bettie Page. In her photos she expresses a huge variety of erotic emotions, but never shame. She is playful, coy, mischevious, and empowered. You never feel that your gaze is exploiting her. Somehow, she always remains in charge of her body, and thus the image of her body.
And that, my friends, is truly hot.

Social Distortion Live in Germany 1997

Normally I loathe the ubiquitous surveys that pop up in MySpace Bulletins. But today a couple of friends were passing one around which was simply "5 albums that changed your life."
"Now here's a fun game," I thought.
My list (chronologically, by how I heard them) was:

Willie Nelson-- Redheaded Stranger
Social Distortion -- Mommy's Little Monster
Patti Smith-- Horses
Marvin Gaye-- What's Goin' On?
Mulehead-- Rocket Surgery
Doo Rag-- Doin' the Rag
Two Gallants-- The Throes
(Yes, I realize there are seven. I cheat at solitaire, too.)

Punk Rock had been singing my hair as an early teen. But when I saw the classic underground film Another State of Mind in 1986, on late night cable, something inside of me really ignited. Suddenly being a weirdo was no longer something to hide, or to be ashamed of. All that adolescent confusion, frustration, pain, and rage became fuel for expression, instead of some soul crushing psychic shackle. And Mike Ness became my new hero.

So anyway, this survey made me reminisce about all this. And what's more do a little searching online, where I uncovered the above video of a Social D show from 1997. It's about 34 min. long, and 500 mb, so it may take a bit to load. If you sign up for a Veoh account, you can download it.

The video also has a good bit cussin'. So parents you been warned. Of course, if you shelter your kids that much, you probably have a lot more to fear from exposing them to good old fashioned music "from the days when Punk Rock was dangerous."

After all, how you gonna keep 'em down on the farm, when they got green hair?

edit: I removed the embedded video, as it was just taking too dang long to load, and slowing down the whole page. You can still view it here.

The Dragon on MySpace

In the interest of decreasing your confusion, increasing my own, nurturing my schizophrenia, and expanding my online empire, I have created a MySpace profile just for Honky-Tonk Dragon.

My personal profile has morphed into one of those "disgustingly cute couple profiles" (as one friend put it.) I'm going to be tailoring it more towards that in the future. I always felt a little weird adding bands and such as friends there... but I have no similar compunctions about that when comes to the legend-in-my-own-mind which is the Dragon.

So... if ya got a hankering, add the Dragon as a buddy. Be the first kid on your block to have a mythical redneck as an hombre!

Oh yeah, I'm going to posting art work under the Dragon's profile from now on, and there's already some up there. Most of it has been featured here before, but now it's all collected in one place. (Above is an image from an old comic project, of two dragons... um... ah... wrestling! Yeah, that's it, wrestling.)

And Now, the Vocal Stylings of William Shatner

File Under: So Bad it's Good.

Neatorama had a link to this fantasically aweful animated video to William Shatner's version of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Like a carwreck, you don't wanna watch, yet you can't peel your eyes away...

How about Bill covering Harry Chapin's "Taxi"?

And who else, but the original interstellar playboy, can tell us "How to Handle a Woman"?

The Shat, with a chorus line of stormtroopers seranade George Lucas.

Of course, Shatner is a classic. Here is a true classic, as he raps some Shakespeare from Julius Caesar.

Now, this one is actually pretty good. Shat, Joe Jackson, and Ben Folds cover Pulp's scathing indictment of boho slumming "Common People."

Last, and perhaps not least, what collection of Shatner's musical genius would be complete with a version of his interpretation of "Rocketman"?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Italy Attempting to get Rid of 2-Stroke Scoots

Gary Norris, of Dag Scoot, commented on a recent post about scooters as green transportation, regarding how un-enviromentally friendly vintage scoots are. And he's right. Old school two-strokes are pretty bad news in the emissions department.

Italy's realizing this too, and implementing some cash incentives to scooterists for trading in vintage Vespas for electric scoots or bicycles.

Italy's environment ministry, which has set aside £10 million for the project, will pay as much as £680 towards the cost of an electric scooter, or £170 towards a bicycle. Smaller incentives are on offer for the latest eco-friendly petrol scooters. Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, the environment minister, said: "We are doing our best to combat carbon emissions and the fine dust that these scooters create. This will all help us live better."

Reaction from hard-core Italian scooterists?

"Why would anyone want to scrap a classic Vespa for a discount on a bicycle?" said Gianni Massa, of the Vespa Club of Italy. "It would be an offence against humanity."

Silly though it sounds, this is a great dilemma for me. Vintage scoots are such an elegant transportation solution, except for that whole emissions thing. And an average Joe, with little mechanical skills or experience could do maintenance and repair on them. Modern four-stroke automatics? Not so much.

I got nothing against modern scoots, heck, I even think CVT is pretty freaking elegant as an engineering feat. But it is sad, that soon two-stroke manual scooters are gonna be like classic cars, only pulled out of the garage for sunday rides and shows.

Maybe this will prompt Piaggio to really make an electric Vespa a reality?

Show I wish I could see...

If you are in NYC this weekend, here's a show you don't wanna miss...
Stacy Mackey is opening for the Big Cats friday night, a show I'd give anything to see. But, alas I'm stuck here using esoteric airbrushing hoodoo to alchemically transform steel into wood.

Stacy provides this data:

come check out this show friday
me, the big cats, and more. June 15 - Brooklyn, NY @ Visions 11 91 S. 6th, Williamsburg.

i'll be there at 6pm. come early to hear me; my set is 7 to 7:30.

you'll find the bar under the williamsburg bridge, sort-a almost literally,... you know where bedford, broadway, and south 6th meet in a 'Y', a coupl'a storefronts down towards the east river, you'll see a spray painted 'V's 11' by a chrome and glass door. don't think there's a cover, but bring $ for classy drinks and merch, dude.

much love,

stacy mackey

Yup, that's right, I'm still on an Arky music kick... but don't let that fool ya. These folks are awesome, and deserve some jaded hipster attention. Give a pre-show listen.

Stacy's hauntingly beautiful stuff can be found here, I recommend giving "Bowery" or "8th Ave" a listen. Like an acoustic scapel that cuts open your heart to let some poetry in... and that's an aesthetic procedure which'll improve just about anyone's quality of life.

The Big Cats have a couple songs in the Towncraft movie, but you can here some tracks via Myspace as well... The Dragon particulary recommends "Man of Leisure," which is like the other side of the coin to "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down." Since we don't have a functional stereo in any of our vehicles, "Man of Leisure" is the song I sing to myself while driving lately.

Oh and if you make it out, tell 'em the Dragon sent ya...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Going Green with a Red Scooter

Here's a great story from Connecticut (gotta represent for my sweetie, yo) about a new Vespa owner.
What could have been the ubiquitous high-gas-prices-boost-scooter-sales news story was actually spun with a little more thought. There is even a section on some non-scooter related things one can do to green up their lifestyle. My favorite:

Plant more gardens and less lawn. The fertilizers used to make lawns "perfectly" green can seep into the groundwater. By planting multiple natural gardens in your yard, you'll get peace of mind and lots of beauty all around.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pimp My Scoota: New Products

I've been meaning to link to Pimp My Scoota for some time. Well, they've got a few new decals, so I guess now's a good a time as any.

What's Pimp My Scoota? Well they make vinyl decals for P-series scoots (probably work with clones as well) that will give you that custom look for a fraction of the price of a custom paint job (and a fraction of the hassel of a DIY custom paint job... Let me tell ya!) This set of flames runs $59, and they have some legshield stripes that are only $29. Make your stock P stand out for a lot less than an aftermarket pipe.

If you really wanna get nuts, they have larger graphic kits consisting of decals for both cowls and both sides of the legshield for $119 featuring artwork by a plethora of hip young artists.

If my poor reptilian soul wasn't so possessed with artistic pretensions, I'd be all over these!
Oh, well. I guess it's time to crank up the air-compressor. I gotta finish this paint job in time for AmeriVespa.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Scootercast and AmeriVespa

I've had a crazy coupla weeks, which caused me to get a little behind on listening to the Scootercast podcast. If you've found yourself in a similar situation, or just hadn't listened to Scootercast, now is a great time to check it out.
I've linked to the show before the most recent, because the most recent has the second part of Dave's interview with Orin of Scootin Old Skool, and the first part of the interview has some cool info on the upcoming AmeriVespa rally.
This interview got me up off my scaly tail (metaphorically speaking of course, I remained in my desk chair) and placing my reservation for AmeriVespa. The last time I'd checked, the site wasn't accepting reservations. It is now, though, and now is the time to get dibbs on your slot, if you haven't already. Kymco is sponsoring a cocktail cruise thursday night, and it sounds like there is limited space, so reserving now guarantees your slot. Plus the price of reservations goes up if you procrastinate too long.
Right now, reservations are $50 for Vespa Club of America members. (It's worth your while to become a member, and you can do it when you make reservation.)
Hopefully, the Dragon will see you there.

Friday, June 08, 2007

best of craigslist : FROM YOUR Bartender

best of craigslist : FROM YOUR Bartender

The Dragon is posting this for three reasons:
1) It's funny.
2) It's funny 'cause it's true.
3) Just doing what I can to make my sweetie's life easier.

Be "The Microbrew Aficionado"
Usually a pseudo-hippy who can't tip a quarter but can't bring himself to drink "schwag," and who has to sample some new berry-wheat-harvest-ale that he heard about at Burning Man. "Do you have the new Vernal-Equinox Special Welcome-Fest?" "Does Anyone?" Here's your Newcastle. Go.

I thought this one was particularly funny (and true.) Living in Olympia, we have our fair share of microbrew lovers, hippies, and pseudo-hippies. (Probably MORE than our fair share of the pseudos, but that's another rant.)
I remember Jes complaining one night when she got home from work about a bunch of "21 and a day" trust-a-farians who kept asking for organic, vegan alcohol. First beer, then anything that might be organic and vegan. They also asked repeatedly for vegan honey.
Don't get me wrong, I like organic goods. I drink organic ales on occasion. But I don't expect them to be on tap, if a bar has them... well that's bonus, dude. If that's all you will allow in your body, then maybe you should call ahead to find a bar that has it. (Hint: In Olympia, Fishtale has a very nice Organic Ale.)

All that being said, vegan booze? Vegan honey?!?
Are you just trying to impress that cute dready girl? Did you fully read the vegan contract before you signed?
Although, I have to hand to these kids, they have actually overloaded the snarky circuits of my brain. Humans... Makes me glad I'm a dragon. Redesign

Scooterlounge, the home of Den of the Vespa and Den of the Lambretta, is undergoing a major redesign (as well as the two daughter sites).

These sites have been around forever... I'm not sure of the exact dates, but I'm pretty sure they were there when I first started surfing for scooters back in 1996.

The past couple years they have been looking a little forgotten and neglected, and I quit checking them. That being said, I'm really excited that the sites are getting a little lovin'. Definitely worth keeping an eye on.

via the Scooterbbs

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Vespa Transformers?

This seems like a strange movie tie-in to me. I guess there is a "cameo" of a Vespa in the new Transformers movie, and Piaggio is giving away not only free tickets to the movie with a test ride, but also a Vespa... though I could find which model.

I really don't get the Vespa to Transformers connection, unless there is a Vespa Transformer, which would be freakin' sweet! I'm not gonna get my hopes up though.

Still, kinda interesting...

Test drive a Vespa at a participating dealer during the Vespa National Open House June 14-24 and walk out with a free movie ticket to see this summer's highly anticipated film Transformers featuring a cameo by Vespa! Simply sign-up for Vespa updates online, print the confirmation email and coupon, then go to a participating dealer during the open house dates to test drive a Vespa and receive your Transformers movie ticket.* It's that easy!

Chinese Scooter Owner's Club

Illnoise over at 2Stroke Buzz has alertered us wayward scooterists in N. America to the existence of the Chinese Scooter Owner's Club. He says:

“Well, somebody had to do it!” is the perfect motto for the Chinese Scooter Owners Club. We’re glad someone did, the archive of Chinese manuals and tech tips is a welcome addition to the web. We’ll all be begging these guys for advice sooner or later.

Probably true...

I've been tooling around on the site some, and it does look like a great resource. A word of advice though, if you are going to register, click the link for the forum and register there. Trying to register from the main page just gave me Mysql errors.

I've been mostly just lurking on forums lately, and don't have my Chinese scoot any more, so it'll probably be awhile til ya see me there... but I imagine I'll be on eventually.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

United States v. George W. Bush

I don't do this often, but here's a little public service announcement for the boys over at the bookstore:

Last Word Books will be hosting Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor and author of the book United States v. George W. Bush (Seven Stories Press), on Tuesday June 26th. De la Vega will be discussing her book, as well as a number of other issues with implications of serious illegality on the part of the Bush Administration, including the firing of federal prosecutors, admitted violations of the FISA Act, and and and...the list of iniquities only grows.

If you're in Olympia you should check this out.

On a related note, the Dragon would like to wish Last Word Books a happy Fifth Anniversary.
So, you guys getting paid yet?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Trip to Portland

My friends Mage and Gretchen recently had a shindig in Portland to celebrate five years of togetherness. Above is Mage preparing to lay waste to P-town.

After Portland, a night was spent in Oly, hanging out with friends who couldn't make the journey South. Here's Kegan enjoying a smoke outside the bookstore.

This photo was taken in way too low light, and digitally enhanced to be all arty and stuff.
I really like it.
Here we have Gretchen and Klintron about to engage in strange mind-bending experiments in the name of Art. The installation they are sitting down to is in the Portland Art Center where our friend and fellow Evergreen alum, Kelly Rauer is Director of Programs.
You rock, Kelly!
And last, but certainly not least, Mark Graves REALLY likes horseshoes!

Some Poppies

I've been doing a lot of art and photography lately. Trying to catch up with the stuff I've been wanting to post here. To start ... poppies.

No special reason for the poppies. I was watching our burn pile the other day, and nearby was this patch of California Poppies that were nicely catching the sun ... so I took some photos.

Portrait of Vic

Thought I'd share some results of my art-therapy.

A Real Steampunk Computer

Now this is just lovely!
A Flickr page of shots from a visit to the Computer History Museum features this census machine used for the 1890 U.S. census. Steampunk tinkerers, start your dremels!

From the Flickr page:

Herman Hollerith conceived of this machine when traveling on a train with a friend. He noticed that the conductor punched his ticket differently from his friend's, even though they were going to the same place. Hollerith asked the conductor why, and the conductor responded that the spaces on the ticket corresponded to hair color, eye color, height, and other characteristics of the passenger, so that people could not pass on their tickets. Hollerith thought the same thing would work for counting the census.

It turns out Mr. Hollerith was something of a character, I daresay, somewhat of a steampunk himself. Some folks refer to him as the forgotten father of information processing. He certainly has a claim to the title. (I'm including this picture because... Well, just look at that magnificient mustache!) Wikipedia has this to say about Herman Hollerith :

Herman Hollerith developed a mechanism for reading the presence or absence of holes in the cards using spring-mounted needles that passed through the holes to make electrical connections to trigger a counter to record one more of each value. The key idea (due to Billings), however, was that all personal data could be coded numerically. Hollerith saw that if the numbers could then be punched in specified columns on the cards, the cards could be sorted mechanically, and therefore the appropriate columns totaled. ....
He built machines under contract for the US Census Bureau, which used them to tabulate the 1890 census in 2.5 years. The 1880 census had taken seven years. He started his own business in 1896 when he founded the Tabulating Machine Company. Most of the major census bureaus around the world leased his equipment and purchased his cards, as did major insurance companies. To make his system work he invented the first automatic card-feed mechanism, the first Key punch (i.e. a punch that was operated from a keyboard) allowing a skilled operator to punch 200–300 cards per hour and a tabulator. The 1890 Tabulator was hardwired to operate only on 1890 Census cards. A wiring panel in his 1906 Type I Tabulator allowing it to do different jobs without having to be rebuilt (the first step towards programming).These inventions were the foundation of the modern information processing industry. ...
In 1911, his firm merged with two others to form the Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR). Under the presidency of Thomas J. Watson, it was renamed IBM in 1924.

That's right kiddies, IBM, which says this about Hollerith:

Can a mining engineer who got poor grades in bookeeping find success in the data procesing industry? Herman Hollerith did--he invented the industry. ...

He liked good cigars, fine wine, Guernsey cows, and money. And he ended up with a lot of each.
He disliked property taxes, and hard-driving salesmen.
He despised spelling. Enough to jump out a grade-school window to escape it. With that, he also jumped out of the New York City school system. A private tutor, though, helped him learn enough to permit his entrance into Columbia College when he was just sixteen.
He graduated three years later as a mining engineer, with low marks only in bookkeeping and machines. He ignored this setback and went on to invent the first punched card electrical tabulating machines

Seems to me some interesting steampunk fiction could be inspired by imagining Hollerith and Tesla chatting over cigars in a drawing room...

Steampunk scribes, start your mechanized-quills!

via Neatorama

Scary Solstice

Speaking of Datamancer... I was just scrolling through some old MySpace bulletins, and I found this gem, Carol of the Old Ones, a Cthulhu Solstice song, lovingly illustrated with some great creepy paintings.

Yummy, yummy, eldritch viral video! Ya know ya like it!

Key 64 :: Datamancer Interview

The online metaphysics zine formerly known as Key 23 has reincarnated as Key 64.
Most of what they cover is outside of the happy little niches I try to stick to here at the Dragon, but they have a short interview with steampunk master craftsman Datamancer that is worth checking out.

You’ve turned out some amazing work on the spur of the moment in like, one night. Yet, I remember when we were working on “Programming From the Ground Up”, something simple and bland like a cover design had you agonizing for days. When you finally settled on the design, it was almost like an act of surrender. It reminded me a lot of some of Crowley’s commonly stated complaints about writing books, where he would get so frustrated he’d just include a segment he hated, almost to spite the reader and the book. Do you find it harder to work on “normal” design projects? Are they a “necessary evil” for the up-and-coming designer or should people just focus on their work?
Well personally, I work from the heart. If I’m not personally motivated by a project or don’t believe in it, I have to drag myself through it like a crippled mule through the snow to a slaughterhouse. But….as miserable as it is, I think every designer should serve some time in the business world. It gives you a broader understanding of your audience and helps to refine your work ethic. I think it also taught me how to dull the edge of my own perfectionism. In the work-for-hire world, there is such a thing as “good enough”. That was tough to get past at first, and yes, it felt like an act of surrender.

There is also some mention of Datamancer's new steampunk laptop (seen above), which is worth drooling over, when you get a chance.
Honky-Tonk Hombre, Klintron also has a short piece in the new issue about the "secret" history of Key 23/64.

Thanks for the tip, Klint!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Mondo Scooterama - The Movie

From the film's website:

Status: Post Production
Synopsis: The once dominant scooter gang the Demons launch a fiendish plan to rebuild their declining membership. When the member of a rival scooter club falls for the girlfriend of the Demons leader, he finds himself ensnared in their plan. With the help of his friends he's rescued, and the Demons' plan is foiled.
The dozens of Vespa and Lambretta scooters lend a mod twist to a contemporary update of the great biker movies of the 1960's. Mondo Scooterama is a fast paced action adventure with an original music sound track, live band performances, go-go dancers, womens wrestling, and lots and lots of scooters.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tuli Kupferberg of the Fugs

I'm not even sure how I found Dave Lucas's blog. I'm certainly not quite sure what to make of it.
But then I found his post on Tuli Kupferberg. Complete with links to YouTube vids of Tuli reading poems.

I am an Artist for Arts Sake

From Dave Lucas's blog:

It was raining. I was at the computer. Hopped on YouTube. Wondered what would happen if I typed in "Tuli Kupferberg." I wasn't ready for this! Counterculture Shock! If you happen to be under 30, 40, 50, 60, you might want to watch The Fugs videos first so you'll be a little more tuned in to what's happening. Well into his 80's, Tuli hosts a weekly TV show on NYC cable.

I'm gonna be honest here, and say I really didn't know much about the Fugs. I knew they existed, and were often, along with the MC5, the Stooges, and the Velvets, considered godfathers of Punk. Oh... and somewhere I once saw a clip of Steppenwolf on the Ed Sullivan show, where Ed asks the band who their influences are, one of the guys replies "the Fugs," and Ed says back to him, "the Bugs?"... this goes on for sometime, as Ed seems unable to utter a name so close to another four-letter word starting with "F".

heh, heh, heh...

Anyway, check these 1968 clips from Swedish TV on the Fugs:
Part 1, and Part 2

Check out Dave Lucas's Blog while your at it... I bet you will find some groovy stuff you didn't know enough about, as well.

Oh and Tuli, don't sweat it, I leave my personality at home all the time, too.

Weta Raygun Infomercial

Fantastic commercial for Weta Workshop's steampunk rayguns.

I really need one of these... Evenings with my Venusian Princess are too frequently overrun with fetid swamp creatures.

Thank you, Warren Ellis!