What I learned this week, June 5, 2020

I have a new obsession – Marble Machine X

Somehow I stumbled upon this guy and his band – Wintergatan. Starting in 2014 he started building a hand cranked machine that could be programmed to play music by bouncing thousands of steel marbles (ball bearings, actually) off of a vibraphone and drum set. When he finished it – he realized it was too unreliable and delicate to move. His dream was to tour with the thing and perform all over the world in front of adoring crowds.  So, several years ago, he embarked on Marble Machine X – a project to build a better machine – one that used all modern technology (CMC routing, 3D printing, TIG welding, CAD drawings and such) and a team of engineers from all over the world to make an amazing, complex, beautiful, practical (more or less) music machine.

It’s all documented on Youtube:

He puts out a new video every Wednesday, and has for years.

He’s up to number 128

 

Here is a link to a playlist of all the episodes.

I started at the beginning and now I’m hooked. I don’t know how I missed learning about this the last few years – but now I can’t wait for it to be finished.

 


 

Intermediate Axis Theorem

OK, take a tennis racket. Put a little piece of tape on one face. Then hold it by the handle, tape up, and flip it in the air, doing a 360 rotation front to back, like you were flipping a pancake (maybe) and catch it again by the handle after one revolution. The piece of tape  will still be up, right?

Wrong….


 

3D Printed Curta Calculator

When I was in college a friend of mine had a precious possession – he had a Curta mechanical calculator. I was amazed. The Curta is an amazing, complex little machine that uses incredibly precise and complicated gears and stuff to do mathematical calculations. It was invented by Curt Herzstark who did a lot of the design work while a prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp. After the war he formed a company and manufactured a hundred thousand or so of the machines in two different designs. Up until the invention of the digital calculator it was considered the best portable calculating machine.

I was amazed at the one I saw in college and have always wanted one. Unfortunately, they sell for thousands of bucks when they come available (most still work today as well as they did when they were made up to sixty years ago).

The other day I came across this amazing video of Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame) receiving a modern, three-times scale, 3d Printed working Curta in the mail.

The best part (even better than the amazing machine itself) is the nerdy glee that Mr. Savage exhibits now that he has the precious item. I wish I could get that excited about something.

 


I know I’ve linked to this video before. Tough, I’m doing it again.

Morgan James sings Dream On

What really brought out the voice that I have, my soul voice and true voice, was really not getting any work and being very sad and being poor and having to sit with that. I think that’s where the blues comes from.

—-Morgan James

It has been a very busy, exhausting week – the worst of it is that I haven’t been able to write as much as I want. I did have a page of notes for stuff and I sat down to write some of it out and get something for here.

But the internet interrupted me. I was reminded that years ago I used to embed Youtube videos of Postmodern Jukebox into some of my blog entries. For a moment’s entertainment I started some playing and then, stumbled across this (watch and listen to it – you won’t be disappointed):

 

It only has seventeen million views – so I suppose there are a few folks that have never seen this.

My God! That woman has some pipes!

So now I’m a big Morgan James fan. To be honest, I have never been that big on Aerosmith (though I respect their classic work, of course)  – but her version…. man. Of course, Postmodern Jukebox does a great job of the arrangement (love the cello). A fantastic piece of art.

Some comments from Youtube:

“I can make music or I can be famous”-Morgan James

I heard Aerosmith made a cover of this

What a time we live in. This level of performance used to be available to kings and queens… not the paupers.

I like how she sings with her entire body uninhibited like a toddler.
Singing in traffic pushes cars forward.
That voice surpasses all shower doors and makes the water stick to the tiles in awe.

I can cook a steak with that fire she’s spitting

I need a smoke after this one.

I didn’t believe… no. Let me start again. I thought I knew, I was sure, I kind of built my life on the fact that nobody could do this better than Aerosmith. This was THE UNCOVERABLE SONG! – – – And now this….

A doctor needs to treat me for shock, and possibly a dislocated jaw.

Damn – the moment I saw those heels I knew shit was going down!

She could sing the phone book and it would be great.

Morgan James is one of those immensely talented and pretty singers who should be a major star. Instead we get the likes of Katy Perry. There’s no justice.

Now THIS is what is called TALENT! Why isn’t Morgan James a household name? We haven Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber and all the rest of them blocking the airwaves when we could be enjoying AMAZING voices like this?!? I am so glad I just happened along this video! A beautiful woman with a gorgeous voice to match! All the best, Morgan! You’ve earned your place in music history!

There are songs out there that are classics and I always say, “You can’t mess with a classic,” but her… she can do anything she wants.

 

There are a ton of her songs on Youtube (including a cover of the entire Beatles White Album) – it’s a glorious rabbit hole.

If you are already a fan of Morgan James I’m sorry for wasting your time with this – if you have never heard her (and the world has to fall into those two categories – fans and people that haven’t heard her)… well, you can thank me.