Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
The Old Grey Whistle Test was a BBC TV show featuring live music. It ran from 1971 through 1988 on BBC2, and many performances are now collected on YouTube -- I'll show you some favorites below. But what the heck does "Old Grey Whistle Test" mean? According to host Bob Harris, the name comes from:
... a 'tin pan alley' phrase from years ago. When they got the first pressing of a record they would play it to people they called the old greys [doormen in grey suits]. The ones they could remember and... READ ON
Beautiful and creepy: this video uses macro photography showing a spider's web, covered in droplets of dew. At least one of the spiders is a European Garden Spider (there are zillions of them in my yard).
If you're arachnophobic, don't watch. If you're a little skeezed out by spiders, actually DO watch, since it's mainly just empty webs, beautifully photographed. The spider shots are in the second half.
The Web from Bill Newsinger on Vimeo.
(Via... READ ON
Here's a catchy, simple song to brighten your Tuesday morning. Songwriter Jonathan Mann has ben doing a song-a-day project called Songatron for quite a while now; song #659 is called "What A Glorious Space To Dwell (Fun Facts Song)." He explains it like so:
I stumbled on to a really wonderful thread on Reddit.com about the most mind blowing facts people could think of. I collected a bunch of them and made this song!
Here's a sample of the song's lyrics:
"Hydrogen is a light, odorless gas,... READ ON
Last Friday, Sony announced the end of the Walkman Era -- a period that lasted more than three decades, defining the personal music listening experience for pretty much everyone in my generation (I was born a year before the Walkman was). Sony will no longer produce the portable cassette-based Walkman, though they are still selling the CD-based Discman and MiniDisc Walkman. The Walkman was first introduced on July 1, 1979. Every five years (until 1999), Sony introduced an "anniversary model" Walkman.... READ ON
Most of us (okay, virtually all of us) have tons of digital photos floating around -- many are on our computers, some are on photo-sharing sites, some might even be printed (imagine that) and hanging on a wall or pasted in a book. But what happens if your computer, or your photo-sharing service, goes away? What happens if you save the images on a proprietary format, then want to look at them in 40 years, but that format can no longer be read by computers of the time?
The answer is complex, and... READ ON
Musician Leslie Feist released the album The Reminder in 2007. I was recently reminded that it's still awesome, so tonight, here are live versions of all its songs, in album order. Enjoy!
1. So Sorry
Live in Quebec City. Some French banter and audience participation starts it off.
2. I Feel It All
With a backing band of five very quiet gentlemen. If you watch one video from this set, let it be this... READ ON
The song "Big Rock Candy Mountain" describes a hobo's paradise, featuring all the things a good hobo needs -- from lakes of whiskey to cigarette trees and lax law enforcement. I have compiled a list of the amenities available at the original Big Rock Candy Mountain below. Please contact our booking department for details regarding lodging; bindles are optional but strongly encouraged.
1. Crystal fountain
2. Land suitable for agriculture or recreation
3. Currency grows from bushes... READ ON
Tommy Wiseau is best known (okay, only known) for his awful movie The Room; if you haven't seen it, check out Ransom Riggs's post The Remarkable Success of the Worst Movie Ever. The Room is generally considered "so bad it's good" because Wiseau is such an awful writer, actor, and director. Well, now he's back -- with a twelve-minute horror spoof called The House That Drips Blood on Alex. Guess what the plot is?
The new movie features Wiseau as "Alex" and he directs the thing, except this time it was... READ ON
This is a hoot: Frames of Reference is a 1960 video produced by MIT's Physical Science Study Committee as "part of its course in physics." It's a half-hour video showing various demonstrations of physics, with a dry sense of humor. You can watch a streaming version below or download DVD quality versions from Archive.org.
From the Archive.org description of the film:
This PSSC film utilizes a fascinating set consisting of a rotating table and furniture occupying surprisingly unpredictable spots... READ ON
So let's say you're in Prague on the 600th anniversary of the construction of the Prague Astronomical Clock and you want to have a good time. What do you do? Make a fantastic video and project it onto the entire face of the clock tower, which is quite a feat given the dimensions of the tower. The video below shows what happened -- 10 minutes of animation on the tower, showing among other things: the construction of the tower, its inner gears, luminescent rain, various wars, and floaty astrological... READ ON