Still not back on the Friday schedule; I may decide to leave these for Sunday, since I will be teaching on Fridays in the fall as well. But in any case, here are this week’s recommendations.
Video: Tool: “Lateralus” Guitar Percussion Cover by Sam Westphalen
Now, I know Tool is not everybody’s thing. I know that the mention of this band may evoke, for some, images of 19-year-old dudes in faded black shirts and doc martins with creatively shaved heads who take themselves way too seriously. But this isn’t really about Tool— beyond the fact that Tool songs tend to have complex percussion, which makes them an ideal example for this kind of thing. Really, this is just a display of instrumental virtuosity. I have been playing the guitar for, actually, most of my life now (if we take “most of” to indicate a simple majority), and this guy is dong like three things simultaneously any of which, alone, would be beyond me. It doesn’t matter if you want to hear this particular song; just watch him do this.
Song: “Painful Like” by Austra
Austra’s last album was one of my favorites of 2011. The band’s new one is out on June 18, and this is a song from that album. It’s really the singer’s voice that makes this band; almost no matter what else is going on in the song, once the vocals start I am in.
Video: Amazing Resonance Experiment by burssup
Based on experiments by Ernst Chladni, who demonstrated that different pitches cause vibrations that will cause a rigid surface to vibrate in a way that leaves some areas still, this video shows those patterns of vibration by placing sand on a metal plate and recording the changes in the patterns the sand forms as the frequency of the vibration is shifted. It’s amazing to watch; the symmetry of the forms does not seem natural, but obviously it is.
Article: Mansudae Art Studio, North Korea’s Colossal Monument Factory by Caroline Winter
North Korea has a massive state-owned (of course) art studio/factory which produces all of the propaganda art (statues and paintings of Kim Il Sung and his descendent rulers) , which in itself seems like plenty to do. But they have also been contracted to produce statues and monuments, typically on a massive scale, for other governments, especially in Africa, where rulers’ egos often outstrip their budgets.
These maps use variations in color to show the prevalence of particular dialect variations in American English. You can see at a glance, for instance, where people say “soda” and where they say “pop,” or how people differ in their pronunciation of the word “lawyer.” It’s really interesting and it’s good information design, though there is some loss of detail; for instance, in the part of Arizona where I grew up, people say “pop,” though the rest of the state says “soda,” and around Chicago people say “expressway,” not “highway” or “freeway.” But still, fun to look through.