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Monthly Archives: June 2007

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Something to Chew On

Time magazine illustrates what families around the world eat in an average week. Interesting in so many ways. Looks like the Mexican family loves its Coca Cola, and the German family has more alchohol than usual.

How to Make a Mosaic

Let’s talk about art. For the past several weeks I’ve been driven to try something new — transfer a digital image to a hangable piece of mosaic art. I’ve always been fascinated by this kind of stuff, with people using Legos and whatnot, but the process is proving more complicated than originally anticipated. I started with this simple cropped photo of a horse, then reduced it to 40×40 pixels and eight colors:


Eventually I’d like to render the horse in painted wood balls. Or maybe beads if the balls don’t work. This will require a large but still manageable amount of pieces — 1,600 to be exact. At that point what I needed most is a Photoshop plugin that tells you how many pixels of each color an image contains. Far as I know, such a thing doesn’t exist. I’ve also tried various online ASCII art doodads to translate the pixels to text, but those didn’t work out they way I wanted. Finally I ended up enlarging the image to 400×400 pixels (as seen above), overlaying a grid in Photoshop, then printing a screen grab of the gridded horsie (because Photoshop doesn’t allow grids to be printed; see, I told you it was complicated). The next step will be roughly calculating how much of each color I need, then actually doing it. Piece by piece, line by line. Exactly how is something I haven’t quite figured out yet. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I came across a few helpful links during my research. Adam Kempa’s archived weblog post on how he made an awesome bottle cap mosaic really inspired me, since the older Lego mosaic he refers to in the post was one of the original sparks for this project. The post contains many neat links to other mosaic projects. The article on making a Lego mosaic was also very helpful, although it references a piece of software made only for Windows users.

Clay Pigeons (And Other Critters)

Did anybody see the Americanized Creature Comforts on CBS? Did anything in that preceding sentence make sense? I’m a huge fan of the UK edition of this program, along with pretty much anything Nick Park/Aardman does, so personally this was a genuine treat. For those unfamiliar with C.C., they take the recordings of real people talking about a variety of subjects and animate them with funny looking animals mouthing the words. A lot of the reviews I’ve seen for this American version were surprisingly negative. I guess people looking for broad, slapsticky comedy and dumb one-liners are bound to be disappointed, but for the rest of us it’s a subtly funny comment on what makes us human. All that and poo-poo jokes, too.

Cheap Thrill: Joan Crawford on The Sixth Sense

Here at Chez Scrubbles we’ve been getting a few jollies from a new channel that popped up on our DirecTV lineup earlier this year — Chiller. Chiller broadcasts lots of heavily edited ’80s vintage fright flicks, but constant repeats of Friday the 13th: The Series, Tales from the Crypt and shows of that ilk form the bread and butter of its programming. My favorites are the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Night Gallery, a show that I haven’t seen in ages. I didn’t realize until now that the Night Gallery repeats also include the full run of The Sixth Sense, a short lived paranormal series hosted by blow-dried future talk show host Gary Collins.

Joan Crawford, 1972Which brings me to the episode we saw last night — Dear Joan: We’re Going to Scare You To Death. This one was originally broadcast on September 30, 1972 and wound up providing the final onscreen role for Joan Crawford. In it, she plays a lady who is haunted by images of her daughter’s drowning death. She gets lost and ends up stranded in a house run by Mansonesque hippies who want to use her as a guinea pig for a fatal psychic experiment! Poor Joan spends the whole time trying to escape her captors and having asthma attacks, tentatively breathing from an inhaler as if using a Binaca breath freshener (maybe she didn’t want to smear her lipstick or something). As if that weren’t enough, the whole thing has that migraine-inducing early ’70s look — lots of polyester ensembles, foo-foo furniture and grossly mismatched colors. Joan is a big hoot throughout, but actually she delivers a pretty good performance. There’s also the hilarious coda in which Miss Crawford, out of character, discusses with Gary Collins her own experience with psychic powers. I’m sure other Sixth Sense episodes don’t have the same impact, but what a doozy this one was. Watch out for it!

I’m Wishing

Reading through Eugene Robinson’s Washington Post editorial An Egghead for the Oval Office, I just kept nodding my head and saying “yes, yes” to myself. Is having a reasonably intelligent president too much to ask for? Unfortunately I’m not feeling Robinson’s optimism. Looking over our recent commanders-in-chief — Reagan, Clinton, even Bushes I and II — all have varying degrees of charisma and approachability, qualities that are far more important for average Joes and Janes than intelligence. (via TypeFiend)

Just Deserts

Rudy Adler sent along an email about the Border Film Project (which he helped orchestrate). From the website:

Border Film Project is a collaborative art project giving disposable cameras to two groups on different sides of the border: undocumented migrants crossing the desert into the United States, and American Minutemen trying to stop them. To date, we have received 73 cameras — 38 from migrants and 35 from Minutemen — with nearly 2,000 pictures in total. The pictures show the human face of immigration, and they challenge us to question our stereotypes and to see through new and personal lenses.

The resulting photos were collected in an art exhibit and book. No matter how you feel about the immigration debate, the similarities between the two groups’ output is striking. Despite often needing to be taught how to use a disposable camera, the migrants’ photos are suprisingly good. Miles better than the Minutemen’s, in fact.