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A secret closet in the Tribune Tower has one of my photos on display

A secret locked closet in the Tribune Tower has one of my photos hanging up inside! #bizarre

The Tribune Tower has many locked doors leading to secret closets. Walk down any hallway, and you are sure to encounter a locked door that leads to a mysterious place. One of these such doors is on the 14th floor of the Tribune Tower where I have worked for 15 years. While going home late Friday night, this door that I have NEVER seen open, was actually swung wide open. Why would this door be open?

Since the mystery door was open, I was curious what was inside. Lo and behold there is a sink with standing water, which I'm assuming is a janitor's sink. Hence, this closet is a janitor's closet. Around the corner in the closet is a large water valve.

A water main break in the Tribune Tower on Friday caused Building Services to shut off all the water during the day. The door to this mystery was open, so Building Services could have access to this valve.

But perhaps one of the greatest mysteries revealed was seeing one of my photos hanging up inside the closet. The tape holding the photo has yellowed, and the print itself is pretty wrinkled from water damage--most probably from the janitor's sink.

Michigan Avenue bridge and Tribune TowerHow does one of my photos get put on display in a Tribune Tower janitor's closet?

This image is about seven years old as I originally photographed is in 2008. Apparently at some point, I printed this image at work. Perhaps I was printing it for my 1400 gallery in my workspace. I must have recycled the printout.

Then someone noticed this print in the recycling and appreciated it so much, this person took it out of the recycle bin. Wanting to display this fine photography, this person hung it up in the janitor's closet. Every time the mop water is cleaned out, my image of the Tribune Tower hangs watching onward to the delight of the Tribune Tower cleaning crew.

At least that's how I imagine the reason for why one of my photos is hanging up inside this mystery closet.

0 archived comments | | Monday, April 20, 2015
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What is Renzo Piano saying?

Renzo Piano by Columbia GSAPP, on Flickr

What would celebrated architect Renzo Piano be saying in this photo? He clearly looks excited to be sharing something.

| | Tuesday, April 14, 2015
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What would you say about this cactus?

You're the dreadlock cactus

"You're the dreadlock cactus," says Jason DeVoll the photographer of this image, "I don't care about 'official names'"

I say, "It's alive!--oh wait, of course it's alive. It's a plant. ha. The sign looks so tiny next to this cactus monster. I'm surprised the cactus hasn't eating the sign yet."

What would you say about this cactus?

0 archived comments | | Monday, April 13, 2015
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The Puppet Bike gets wrapped by the Carina Nebula

The Puppet Bike gets wrapped by the Carina Nebula #starwraps

Just cutting up galaxiesParked and waiting was the infamous Puppet Bike. Strips of the Carina Nebula in my hand, I was looking for poles and other items to wrap the Nebula around. What great felicity to run into one of Chicago's most famous mobile works of street art.

Puppet bike parked by Michigan Ave BridgeThe Puppet Bike has given me great enjoyment on many occasions, but I never walked and touched it, for this is a beloved part of Chicago. The opportunity was to great to pass up as the bunny puppet performers inside the bike would surely love to go on an intergalactic ride. My Star Wraps are completely non-destructive, so I felt ok to give the Puppet Bike the star treatment.

The chrome handlebars were the obvious choice, but which wrap should I use? Each NASA image gets cut into eight slices, resulting in a variety of images to select from. Given the Puppet Bike's intense colors, a wrap with vivid crazy color would be very fitting. Having learned from yesterday's tree wrap, I positioned the wrapping so a hero star would be most prominent in the composition.

The Puppet Bike brings so much out of this world joy to people, I'm glad to have contributed just a little bit to the entertaining piece of street art.

0 archived comments | | Friday, April 10, 2015
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The day I wrapped a tree branch with the galaxy


Every artist has their go-to methods when creativity runs dry. Tools like sketchpads. Working in locations like coffee shops. For me one of my methods is to make artwork to place on the front of Tribune Tower.

Origami Crane on Tribune Tower ledge Vials containing interpretations of music

149 rocks from around the world are embedded on the exterior of Tribune Tower in Chicago. One of those rocks is a tiny ledge from the Royal Castle in Stockholm Sweden. Sitting on a busy tourist-filled sidewalk, this is perfect podium to hold tiny works of art for people to discover. I like to frequently place artwork here. This is one of my creativity buster go-tos.

Earlier this year I made a book of 100 million stars for my fiancée using a super high-res image from NASA of the Andromeda Galaxy. With that image still fresh in my mind, I thought to use it on my public Tribune Tower gallery.

Andromeda Galaxy 1.5 giga-pixel image

Originally I envisioned the paper hanging off the ledge like a tongue. But as I stood in front of the ledge with paper in hand, it was clear this strip of stars should be laid along the width of the ledge.

Andromeda Galaxy laying on the Tribune Tower

Honestly, the image wasn't THAT compelling. Sure, it's interesting seeing a random piece of paper with stars on it, but... uh, ok, what is really being said here? I guess it's cool how the texture of the stars mimics the texture of the sandstone. As many stars in the sky as there is sand on the beaches. But the paper just sits there. Limp. Not sure of itself.

I left walking away thinking that maybe these strips can be wrapped around the poles inside Chicago's CTA commuter trains. Or around fence poles. Against the foggy sky the Michigan Avenue trees were asking to have some art wrapped around their stark branches. A perfect place to wrap the Galaxy around!

Contact sheet of Star Wrap photos

With my bad back, I climbed a top the damp sidewalk planter containing the trees to install a starwrap print around an aesthetically pleasing branch. The backdrop is wonderful at his location with the limestone Michigan Avenue bridgetowers.

First starwrap

My first wrap wasn't so successful as it was a darker section of the Andromeda Galaxy. The foggy sky had a light exposure which made taking photos tricky. Thankfully I can cut about 8 strips from one 11 x 17 print. After doing some climbing around, I finally took this shot:

The Andromeda Galaxy wrapped around a tree branch

The placement of the star burst was completely unintentional when I was wrapping the branch. But the star totally stood out as I was photographing it, I decided to make it the hero of the photo. That star helps to identify the photo as being one of many stars.

It's amazing that something so massively huge like a galaxy would wrap something small like a single tree branch. The contrast of scales is wonder-spoking (yes, I made up that word). Plus, with the close-style of photography, the texture of the tree branch is captured. You get a true sense of what that branch feels like, and its size. The photo reveals the truth of the branch. Yet, it's wrapped by a galaxy--one with a texture all its own.

I'm excited to start wrapping more galaxies around other items in public. Perhaps the images I use can even feature different photos from NASA. Train pole wrapped by Orion Nubula. Fence pole wrapped by Pillars of Creation.

0 archived comments | | Thursday, April 09, 2015
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25 images that look like Jackson Pollock's Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist)

collage of all 25 images that look like Lavender Mist


Scull Chapel, Czermna, Poland / Kaplica Czaszek w Czermnej
Scull Chapel, Czermna, Poland / Kaplica Czaszek w Czermnej by PolandMFA, on Flickr

Untitled Forms / Dumbo Arts Center: Art Under the Bridge Festival 2009 / 20090926.10D.54894.P1.L1.C23 / SML
Untitled Forms / Dumbo Arts Center: Art Under the Bridge Festival 2009 / 20090926.10D.54894.P1.L1.C23 / SML by See-ming Lee 李思明 SML, on Flickr

Angel Christmas cookies
Angel Christmas cookies by bubolinkata, on Flickr

muslim graveyard
muslim graveyard by smokykater, on Flickr

Ice Storm
Ice Storm by andrewfhart, on Flickr

Day 37: Hay (02/06/14)
Day 37: Hay (02/06/14) by davidwells75, on Flickr

IMG_5543 by Irina Souiki, on Flickr

Yes,there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on. by Massis__, on Flickr

Angkor Wall carving
Angkor Wall carving by nydavid1234, on Flickr

Romeo & Juliet wall (Verona)
Romeo & Juliet wall (Verona) by Ghiozdan, on Flickr

mayan calendar
mayan calendar by TimeTurnerGirl, on Flickr

The Hobbit - An Unexpected Party by Nazgullow on DeviantArt

Gaudi Sagrada Familia by lookinglass on DeviantArt

Menzoberranzan by MikeSchley on DeviantArt

Ohmu by foxibiri on DeviantArt

Babel 08. UGV 01 by duster132 on DeviantArt

The Rockford Peaches. 1945. Library of Congress.

Welcome, said the old man : will you come with us. 1910. Library of Congress.

Troops of the 20th Armored Division and units of the 9th Army whoop it up between raindrops

Apollo 11 Bootprint. 1969. NASA.

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity looked down at the soil on the western rim of Endeavour crater to capture this raw image from its panoramic camera during the rover's 2,686th Martian day, or sol, of work on Mars (Aug. 14, 2011). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell/ASU

Young Stars at Home in Ancient Cluster, NGC 675. ESA/Hubble & NASA

0 archived comments | | Wednesday, April 08, 2015
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A meaningful use of QR codes

An impressive show was put on by this year's batch of BFA students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The expansive seventh floor of the Louis Sullivan Building on the State Street housed more than 300 artists' work by students completing undergraduate degrees this spring.

Seven QR codes, "R.I.P. Victims of Cyberbulling" by Josi Yingjiao Pei

One artist's work in particular stood out. A series of seven QR codes printed on white paper hung on a black wall. Doesn't sound too exciting at first. Since I have a curious obsession with QR codes, this particular work actually drew me in. Scanning the first code, it translated to, "no one likes you"

QR code translation: no one likes you

When we encounter QR codes, normally you get some promo website. This simple, hurtful message was startling.

Scanning another code, it brought up, "you have pretty eyes but your fat"

These insults were shocking given the simple presentation on the wall. What is the artist intending here? That the viewer's feelings are hurt? That sort of feeling is exactly the point. The artist Josi Yingjiao Pei created this series to highlight the destruction that cyberbulling causes.

These seven QR codes were actual online messages sent to teens who eventually committed suicide. Pei's artist statement:
Josi Yingjiao Pei
The Invisible Scar; 2015
The Invisible Scar is a study that examines the manifestations of cyberbullying and teen depression. Cyberbullying happens when people use electronic technology to harass, threaten or embarrass each other. It is even worse than the traditional schoolyard bullying since it can occur seven days a week at any hour. By using search engines, I found many teens that committed suicide due to endless bullying messages they received via emails and social networking sites. Each QR code corresponds to one single victim, and the texts behind the QR codes are actual messages and comments I found on line that relate to the death of the teens. The installation is a memorial to seven of these young victims. By interacting with The Invisible Scar, the viewer turns into an experimenter, observing and feeling the actual impact that cyberbullying has on individuals.
The seven teens listed are:
J.L., aged 16
J.U., aged 15
R.S., aged 12
E.G., aged 13
M.M., aged 13
D.P., aged 17
H.S., aged 14

I encourage people online to scan all QR codes. The messages are very somber, and truly hit the emotions of how awful cyberbullying is. The words are so devastating, I don't want to repeat them on my this blog post. You truly need to experience scanning in the codes and seeing the results.

"The Invisible Scar" by Josi Yingjiao Pei

Doing this act of scanning in the codes with your phone connects the viewer with impact that these messages are digital. Phrases that are tossed around on social media sites that destroy people's lives.

This is one of the best uses of QR codes I have ever seen. The medium works so incredibly with the message. Josi Yingjiao Pei's website, josipei.com shows a few of her other works that carry her themes of memory, loss and displacement (Pei uses those three words to describe her work). From photographs of landslides in the Donghekou Village of China to melting glaciers in Alaska projected onto a human body, Pei's body of work is already looking very mature for an undergrad student. I can't wait to see what future works she will be creating.

0 archived comments | | Saturday, March 14, 2015
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The 11 napkins in the Art Institute of Chicago's collection

The eleven napkins of the Art Institute of Chicago

The fine art of napkins. Art that you can wipe your mouth with. The Art Institute currently has 11 napkins in their permanent collection. The height of the napkin collecting craze occured from 1983 to 1996. Nine of the eleven napkins were folded into the Art Institute collection during this 13-year span. (the other two napkins coming in at 1947 and 1972).


Why would the Art Institute catch the napkin fever during the 1980s and early 1990s? Perhaps the Art Institute has actually only dipped their toes into the napkin world. 7,858 textiles are in the Art Institute's collection. Just one-tenth of a percent of their textiles are napkins. Out of every 700 pieces of textile art in their collection, there is one napkin. One.

Given the rarity of napkins in the Art Institute's collection, let's take a look at each one. Along with each napkin is my commentary on its significance in the lore of napkin history.

Napkin Commemorating the Marriage of Louis XIV

Table Napkin Commemorating the Marriage of Louis XIV (1638–1715) and Marie-Therese (1638–1683) in 1660, c. 1660

You'd have to think that someone stole this napkin while at the Louis XIV's wedding. Do you think it was customary in the 1600s to take the wedding napkins home with you?

Napkin from the Linnelinjen (Linen Line),

Napkin from the Linnelinjen (Linen Line), 1955
Designed by Astrid Sampe (Swedish, 1909–2002)
Sweden, Dalsjöfors

The four bars signify the four course meal served with this napkin. For every course, you wipe your mouth on one of the bars. This particular napkin has been laundered, thus, you cannot see what was served at this particular meal. A shame, really.

Napkin, c. 1800

Napkin, c. 1800
Produced by David Dewar Son & Sons
Scotland, Dunfermline

I'd like to have the napkin professor from the school of napkinology explain the signficance of the the pattern of this napkin

Napkin Depicting The Five Senses, 1891

Napkin Depicting The Five Senses, 1891
Designed by Walter Crane
England, London

A napkin for the five senses. We often think of napkins being for taste. But what if we had a napkin for hearing? After going to a loud rock concert (or in this case, in the 1800s a raucous classical concert) you would wipe your ears from the intensity.

Napkin, c. 1904

Napkin, c. 1904
Designed by Joseph Maria Olbrich (German, 1867–1908)
Germany, Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt

I have a feeling that Joseph Maria Olbrich knew about the Transformers before we did.

Napkin, c. 1900

Napkin, c. 1900
Designed by Walter Crane
English, 1845–1915

Can we get out the blacklight? I feel like there is a hidden image in here.

Napkin, c. 1600

Napkin, c. 1600
Flanders or Netherlands

This comes from the time when napkins were made from xeroxed blueprints.

Napkin, c. 1665

Napkin, c. 1665
Northern Netherlands, Castle Nienoor (Provenance of Groningen) near Midwolde where they were buried near the church

This napkin was used for children as it gave them a maze to figure their way through.

Napkin, 1699

Napkin, 1699
Possibly Netherlands

The precursor to folding paper towels.

Napkin, 18th century

Napkin, 18th century

This section of Germany was known for their burly industrial workers. They were such big eaters that cloth napkins were not sufficient for their verocious appetites. Instead, they turned to using carpeting to brush the food from their face.

Napkin, 1901/50
Italy, probably Venice or Burano

The invisible napkin. No photo available.

If you enjoyed this blog post, please retweet. Thank you.

0 archived comments | | Monday, March 02, 2015
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Get inside the artwork at the Art Institute of Chicago #GetInsideTheArtInstituteofChicago

Ever want to get inside the artwork at an art museum? Now you can! Several people on Instagram and Flickr have demonstrate how they interact with artworks in museums. These seven methods are collected under the hashtag, #GetInsideTheArtInstituteofChicago. A clever pun that says both "Get inside the artwork" and "Get inside the Museum" as it demonstrates both how to interact with the artwork, and encourages people to get inside the museum.

Re-envision what an art museum can be and do with these seven methods of #GetInsideTheArtInstituteofChicago (and The Art Instititue, you're welcome. This should be your next social media campaign).

1. Pose behind a sculpture

Charles Ray's "Hinoki" is a great sculpture to get into. Instagram user Wendyyalas snapped this photo of jonbuda standing at the end of the sculpture peeking inside. It would be fun to see a similar trick done with other sculptures at the Art Institute. Stand behind the sculpture and peek your head over the top, giving the illusion that your head is part of the sculpture.
(Hinoki in Modern Wing, Gallery 292B)

2. Grab a reflection in glass

Reflective glass is always a great way to get inside artwork. As Wendyyalas's photo shows, Larry Bell's "Untitled (Terminal Series)" gives the illusion that you are actually inside the box.
(found in Modern Wing, Gallery 293B)

3. Stand in front of the painting as though the painting will do something to you

Instagram user oriviaa stands in front of Philip Guston's "Red Box". Bonus points for having a cute title: "Getting hammered"
(Red Box in Gallery 295B)

4. Match something exactly in the painting

Grab your membership ID card and and take a photo of your card in front of Monet's Stacks of Hay like how Instagram user djessyparischicago did. Not a member? Grab one of the programs and do the same thing.
(Stacks of Wheat (End of Summer) found in Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture, Gallery 243)

5. Become a silhouette

The Art Institute's large windows in the Modern Wing makes both sculptures and people into silhouettes. Make photos that ask, "Which is the sculpture, which is the viewer?" Candi Jackman photographed a student in her daughter's second grade class along with the Picasso mockette.
(Picasso's "Maquette for Richard J. Daley Center Sculpture" can be found in Gallery 143)

6. Bring cardboard cut-outs of friends and hold them up in front of paintings
Modernist artworks make great backdrops for matching people. Instagram user austinisaac brought a photo of a friend and photographed it in front of an Ellsworth Kelly painting.
("Train Landscape" by Ellsworth Kelly, found in Modern Wing, Gallery 296B)

7. Stand in the middle of the artwork

What better way to get inside an artwork, than to literally get inside the artwork? Jesús Rafael Soto's sculpture of hanging plastic cords invites users to walk inside.
("Pénétrable de Chicago" found in Modern Wing, Gallery 292A

0 archived comments | | Sunday, March 01, 2015
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Should you bring a baseball bat to the voting booth?

I almost brought my bat with me to vote

Every year my company, Tribune Media Services, used to have award ceremonies. One of the awards was Rookie of the Year with the trophy/plaque thing being an actual Louisville Slugger baseball bat customized with the recipient's name and his/her first year at the company.

I won the award in 2000. Today I was going to bring my Rookie of the Year bat into work. But then I realized I was going to my polling place to vote. I thought it would be strange to bring a baseball bat into the voting booth.

But my all-American friend Jed pointed out, "it seems appropriate. Baseball and voting are two of the most American things." Good point! And I could have driven a pickup truck to the polling place too--instead of walking over. Pickup trucks are so much more American than walking. ;-)

The year I won the baseball bat, the awards were at Harry Caray's. The walls in this restaurant are covered in baseball memorabilia. Upong leaving with a baseball bat in my hands, it felt like I was stealing something off the wall. However, the ride home on the subway felt very safe. Actually, not really, because carrying a baseball bat on the subway makes you feel like an instigator.

My cousin Peter Kreten points out, "If I saw someone walking down the street with a bat, I would get nervous." Especially when the person with the bat has a ski mask and scarf on--as I did today.

Now I wish I brought the baseball bat with me to the polling place. Just for the experience.

0 archived comments | | Tuesday, February 24, 2015
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How to say "honeymoon" in 65 languages

Honeymoon is such an interesting word. The Japanese have a fun way of translating the word (as covered on my wedding blog). The French literally translates it as "moon of honey," as seen on Etymonline.com:
1540s, hony moone, but probably much older, "indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newly wed couple," from honey (n.) in reference to the new marriage's sweetness, and moon (n.) in reference to how long it would probably last, or from the changing aspect of the moon: no sooner full than it begins to wane.

French has cognate lune de miel, but German version is flitterwochen (plural), from flitter "tinsel" + wochen "week." In figurative use from 1570s.

Specific sense of "post-wedding holiday" attested from c.1800; as a verb in this sense from 1821.
Given German's interesting translation of the word, how do other languages translate honeymoon? Here are 65 translations of the word honeymoon:

Infographic listing 65 translations of “honeymoon”

In text:
* Afrikaans: honeymoon
* Albanian: muaj mjalti
* Azerbaijani: bal ayı
* Basque: eztei
* Belarusian: мядовы месяц
* Bosnian: medeni mjesec
* Bulgarian: меден месец
* Catalan: lluna de mel
* Cebuano: honeymoon
* Chichewa: kokasangalala
* Croatian: medeni mjesec
* Czech: líbánky
* Danish: bryllupsrejse
* Dutch: huwelijksreis
* English: honeymoon
* Esperanto: mielmonato
* Estonian: mesinädalad
* Filipino: pulutgata
* Finnish: häämatka
* French: lune de miel
* Galician: lúa de mel
* German: Flitterwochen
* Greek: μήνας του μέλιτος
* Haitian Creole: myèl
* Hausa: gudun amarci
* Hmong: honeymoon
* Hungarian: mézeshetek
* Icelandic: Brúðkaupsferð
* Igbo: honiimuunu
* Indonesian: bulan madu
* Irish: mhí na meala
* Italian: luna di miele
* Javanese: bulan madu
* Kazakh: бал айы
* Lao: honeymoon
* Latin: honeymoon
* Latvian: medus mēnesis
* Lithuanian: medaus mėnuo
* Macedonian: меден месец
* Malagasy: honeymoon
* Malay: bulan madu
* Maltese: honeymoon
* Maori: taime
* Mongolian: бал сар
* Norwegian: bryllupsreise
* Polish: miesiąc miodowy
* Portuguese: lua de mel
* Romanian: lună de miere
* Russian: медовый месяц
* Serbian: медени месец
* Slovak: medové týždne
* Slovenian: medenih tednih
* Somali: toddobobax
* Spanish: luna de miel
* Sundanese: peuting mimiti
* Swahili: honeymoon
* Swedish: smekmånad
* Tajik: баланкиной
* Turkish: balayı
* Ukrainian: медовий місяць
* Uzbek: asal oyi
* Vietnamese: tun trăng mt
* Welsh: mis mêl
* Yoruba: ijfaaji tktaya ni ibr igbeyawo
* Zulu: kukankosikazi

My favorite translations have to be: Chichewa's kokasangalala, which means "to enjoy" and Haitian Creole's myèl, means "bee." Toddobobax in Somali just sounds fun to say.

Do you have a favorite translation of the word honeymoon?

0 archived comments | | Monday, February 02, 2015
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Croquet taught me the lyrics to MC Hammer's U Can't Touch This

Twitter account of @HammerTimeCroqu

The croquet twitter account @HammerTimeCroqu started following me today on Twitter. That is, they are following my croquet-dedicated Twitter account, @mightymauler.

The Twitter account for the Croquet Superhero

Yes, I have a Twitter account dedicated to croquet. Not just croquet, but my superhero alter-ego persona on the croquet courts, the Mighty Mauler. My Twitter account bio calls me "the croquet superhero®." This croquet superhero checks out @HammerTimeCroqu and also follow their Facebook page.

Hammertime Croquet's Facebook page

Now what do you write on the Facebook page for Hammer Time Croquet? Why lyrics from MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" of course. A Google search for "Hammertime lyrics" results in the AZ Lyrics website with the lyrics for "U Can't Touch This.

The lyrics "Break it down! Stop, Hammer time! It's "Hammer, go Hammer, MC Hammer, yo Hammer" And the rest can go and play" get copied and pasted onto the HammerTime Facebook Page.

Break it down, Hammer

Amused by my 90s flashback, I decide to listen to U Can't Touch This on Spotify. Since the lyrics are up in my browser, I sing along.

Part of the lyrics absolutely mystified me. I've probably heard "U Can't Touch This" a thousand times. I always thought he was saying, "Faster than a white boy take to learn" but it's actually "pass them a wipe or tape to learn"

What the freak is a "wipe"? Also, doesn't it make more sense for it to say "faster than a white boy take to learn?" Seriously, I've been singing those lyrics since 1990.

My lyrics:
You talking about a hammer, you talking about a show
that's hot and tight,
something something. Faster than a white boy take
to learn
something something something to burn
The charts. Legit.
If you work hard or you might as well quit.
MC Hammer's lyrics:
You talking about the Hammer you talking about a show
That's hype, and tight
Singers are sweating so pass them a wipe or a tape,
to learn
What's it gonna take in the 90's to burn
The charts? Legit
Either work hard or you might as well quit.
It took the Australian "Hammer Time" Facebook page for me to finally learn the true lyrics with MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" -- 25 years later. Truly this white boy needs to learn.

0 archived comments | | Tuesday, January 20, 2015
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How to find a resident of the planet Mercury

I am looking for a resident that lives on the planet Mercury. How do I search for this?

Do I do a search on Twitter for "Mercury alien"? or perhaps "Mercury resident"? However on Twitter, you cannot search the location field on a person's bio. Facebook didn't give me the results for anyone living on Mercury at all. I really need to find a resident that lives on the planet Mercury. I have some questions about living on this planet.

This question is posted on Facebook, Yahoo Answers, ask.com, Google Plus, and Twitter.

I was curious if the people of Mercury use a different number base than us. We have the base-10, I wonder what they use. What got me thinking about this is that I'm considered 145 Mercury years old, even though I am 45 Earth years. Certainly the older Mercury age is due to the planet spinning around the sun faster, but we are assuming the people of Mercury use a base-10 system for their numbers. We can't assume that until I get a chance to ask resident of Mercury.

Where can I find a Mercurian? Some funny responses thus far:

* Sorry mate, all communications are down while Mercury is in retrograde. (from Nicola Smith of Google Plus)
* No one lives on Mercury. It is a barren, airless, lifeless ball of iron and rock. There aren't even any robots on it, like there are on Mars and Venus (or the remains thereof, anyway, in the case of Venus). (from Logan R. Kearsley of Quora)

0 archived comments | | Monday, January 12, 2015
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How to photograph a window drawing on the bus or train

Snowman drawn on CTA train door

Time is short. People are watching you. Will you have the guts to draw something fun on a foggy window on the bus or train? These questions faced me this morning as with below zero degree temperatures in Chicago.

Commuters pack the train on their first day back to work after the Christmas holiday. All bundled up, I hobble over to the door where the window is completely fogged over. Even though my stop is coming up next in a matter of seconds, I draw out a fun snowman on the door. The train must had been going slow, because I was even able to take about ten photos of the snow man. My favorite photo of the ten is shown above.

Here are seven tips for drawing cartoons on the window on a bus or train.

The woman in this photo liked my Frankenstein so she started drawing her own, but then she killed it, so I put a mummy on her graveyard.

1) Just do it

People might be afraid to draw on a foggy window in public for the fear of what people will think. But you know what? Either people won't care. Or they might even say something nice. Only one time did I have a bus driver yell at me. Other than that, everyone loves to see a drawing on a bus window. In fact one time when I drew a Frankenstein on the window, this nice older woman drew a mummy!

Drawing on windows: Dog waving with two paws

2) Have something stock in mind

You can go freestyle on the window, that's completely cool. I prefer to have some stock characters that I know how to draw. I've got a dog, bird, and snowman.

The CTA bus window was foggy, so I drew a blackhawks logo on it

3) Look up something to draw on your phone

If there's a particular holiday coming up, do a Google image search on your phone to bring up some fun ideas. I've done that with a Frankenstein for Halloween. The Blackhawks logo during the NHL playoffs.

Variations of "Snowman on Window"

4) Take lots of photos

Just one photo won't yield a great image on a bus or train. The background behind your image is constantly changing. Often times the background may obscure your work of art. Jam on the shutter button on your camera/phone and pick out the best pic later. The middle one in the collage above is the one I ended up using, because I rather like how the woman's face in the ad is right over the snowman's shoulder.

Christmas trees drawn on window

5) Nighttime photography

If the night is hanging out during your artwork creation, then try to get some lights in the background. Break lights on a car can make Christmas trees glow red. Bright lights can give a shimmering glow to Count Dracula's buckteeth.

Drawing on windows: cat waving

6) Context

Getting close to your drawing, so only your drawing shows is fine. But also consider taking a photo of the entire environment. You are on a bus! Make sure people see that in your photo. Get some of the window frame. Or perhaps some of the people on the bus. You can make your cat drawing wave to people nearby.

instagram drawingonwindow

7) Post your photo online

Not only is it great for people to see your creation in public, it's really rad for more people to see your work online. If you post to flickr, submit your photo to the "Drawings on Windows group. Or if posting to Instagram, use the #drawingonwindow hashtag.

Have some fun and draw on a foggy window! I look forward to seeing your photos!

0 archived comments | | Monday, January 05, 2015
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My favorite albums of 2014

A great reason to use the free service last.fm is that it tracks your music listening habits across many platforms like Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes. With this database of records the site then gives you insightful analysis to your listening habings. For instance, you can sort your music by most-played in the past 12 months.

Using, this data from last.fm, here's a look at the top albums I discovered (or re-discovered) in 2014. They include a range of genres: Mashup, 90s, pop dance, hip-hop jazz, rap, techno soundtrack, Muppets, German pop, and British hip-hop. I'm actually quite surprised by this range, because these ten albums are strictly ordered by how often I listened to them in 2014. I didn't specifically pick them to give a diverse range of music types, it just so happened to fall that way.

1. Bruneaux – Pure Magic
A mashup album tops my 2014 new albums. With 115 plays in 2014 it demolishes the 67 plays from the second place album. Although "Pure Magic" was released January 9, 2012 I didn't discover it until November 2013.

It's an obscure album, according to last.fm, this album has been listened to by only 1,003 people.

Although technically, this is not my most listened-to album of 2014. There are four other albums that had more listens than "Pure Magic.":
* Torpeedoh – Party People
* E-603 – Torn Up
* Daft Punk – Tron: Legacy
* Torpeedoh – Buckwild
But I had been listening to those albums already before 2014. This is a 2014 new album list, so "Pure Magic" gets the top album for 2014.

Favorite track of "Pure Magic": Get It Right

2. INXS – Welcome To Wherever You Are
Technically I listened to this INXS album when it was released in 1992. But since 2007, this album sat dormant on my playlists--until this year when my cousin Peter Kreten asked about my most influential college albums. This being one of them on that list (I have yet to post that influential college album list).

Favorite track: Not enough time

3. Havana Brown – When the Lights Go Out
Honestly, I didn't even know what this album is when it appeared on my top five list. I had to look it up. Early in 2014, the track "Big Banana" made it onto my "2014 discovered" playlist, helping this album get more plays throughout 2014. The snappy song with goofy lyrics made for a fun 2014. There's a couple other fun pop dance songs on this album, like "We run the night" and "You'll be mine."

Favorite track: Big Banana

4. Us3 – The Third Way (Hand On The Torch Vol II)
Loved this album in college, with the hit single "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)." Twenty years later, Us3 releases the second volume of "Hand on the Torch." A nice review on Exclaim.ca.

Favorite track: I want one of those

5. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Code Red
Another college album, while I would exclude it from my 2014 list, because I regularly listen to "Boom! Shake the Room," there is a song on this album that I discovered in 2014, "I wanna rock." This track is great, because it has that original Fresh Prince vibe when he played in the clubs.

Favorite track: I wanna rock

6. Joseph Trapanese – TRON: Uprising
The Tron Legacy soundtrack is one of my top albums of all time. This particular "Uprising" album is for the follow-up animated series, which is also one of my top five favorite animated series of all time.

Favorite track: Lightbike battle (Really any of them are good, so I picked the first one)

7. Christina Grimmie – Must Be Love
A single-track album makes it onto my list, because I really like this song. She does have an 11-track album from 2013, but it does not include this song.

Favorite track: Must be love

8. The Muppets – The Muppet Show: Music, Mayhem & More!
Does not need any explanation.

Favorite track: Muppet Show Theme

9. Lena – Stardust
German pop artist, Lena.

Favorite track: Bliss Bliss

10. Rizzle Kicks – Roaring 20s
British hip-hop.

Favorite track: Skip to the good bit

This blog post is inspired by my cousin Peter's 2014 top ten album list. What is your favorite album of 2014? Please let us know in the comments on this (or Peter's) blog post.

0 archived comments | | Tuesday, December 30, 2014
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