Posts Tagged Paul and Storm

Video: Come Sail Away With Paul and Storm on JoCo Cruise Crazy

On JoCo Cruise Crazy 2, Paul from Paul and Storm sang Storm’s signature karaoke song, Come Sail Away by Styx. On JoCo Cruise Crazy 3, Storm sang it. I edited my videos of the two performances together to show Paul and Storm both singing the song at once, because Paul and Storm are so good together.

JoCo Cruise Crazy 5 is coming up, and if you want to sign up for it, it’s best to do so before the end of the month, while the full range of stateroom types is still available.

While editing this, I came to the conclusion that Styx missed an opportunity to rhyme ‘virgin sea’ with ’emergency’. ‘Emergency’ doesn’t have that many single-word polysyllabic rhymes, and it probably gets rhymed with ‘urgency’ far too often and ‘insurgency’ far too rarely, so if you’re going to go to the trouble of making a strange combination of words such as ‘virgin sea’ sound natural, you could at least give ’emergency’ the interesting rhyme it deserves.

This is only my second video made in Final Cut Pro X rather than iMovie. The first was a video of the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center, which only had some of the fancy transitions and titles. In this video, however, there is almost nothing that I could have done in iMovie. I learnt a lot. Here are the main things I learnt, in case anyone else needs to know:

  • Final Cut Pro can do a lot. All the things I wished I could do in iMovie, and more. Consequently, there’s a lot to learn.
  • Using Final Cut Pro, gonna need a lot of keyframes (to the tune of ‘Peaches‘.)
  • If you want to change the position of a clip at a constant speed, which you need to do if you want to move it in sync with changing the cropping of it (which I did to pan over the video of Paul; normally something like this could be done using the Ken Burns effect, but as far as I know that only works when the aspect ratio is the same as for the whole video) all the transform keyframes have to be set to Linear, even when the previous keyframe has the same position. They are Smooth by default. To change them to Linear you have to right-click (okay, two-finger tap; do people still use mouses?) on them in the viewer, and if there are multiple keyframes on the same point, you can only change the topmost one this way, which is the latest one in the timeline. So it’s best to create keyframes in order and set them to Linear as soon as you make them; otherwise you may need to temporarily change the position of a keyframe so that you can right-click on it to change it to Linear.
  • If weird green frames or other green bits appear in your video in Final Cut Pro X 10.1.3, you need to delete the render files for that project and then wait for it to render again. Going by the solutions I found on the internet, in older versions of Final Cut Pro X you had to do this manually in the Finder.

I’d like to thank Cayenne for not only supplying the karaoke library used on the cruises, but also helping me figure out which of the two videos had the most accurate length for the song — they were shot with two different cameras at different frame rates, amounting to a four second difference in song length and a lot of trouble synching them up. Also, thanks to Tyler for the second pair of ears when I had trouble captioning a few parts.

In other news, I also put up video of the presentation of the Launch Pad 39 complex from a tour I went on at Kennedy Space Center in 2013, and the Jurassic Park ride at Universal from the same year. These are the kinds of things you can see if stop by Orlando on your way to or from JoCo Cruise Crazy.

I’ve also been reciting a lot of my poetry at Open Phil and Open Mic 2.0. Some day I’ll know enough of it well enough to put on some kind of show of my own. There will probably be an Open Phil on JoCo Cruise Crazy 5 too, because awesome things attract.

On the subject of things with ‘Phil’ in their names, the comet lander Philae did a lot of science, and is now not only probably in a coma, but also comatose. You did well, little lander.

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Ten of Diamonds: Another Perspective

Here are some more arrow poems. Click the poems for pdf versions you can enlarge and copy the text from.

Free to take whatever's scattered along my path. To push past all the obstacles I can barely see, without a hearth to shackle me. Collectors come To recover debt as I slip away, homeless, lost to the bad guys. I have been left to enjoy life, however I wish. //  However I wish to enjoy life, I have been left to the bad guys, homeless, lost. As I slip away to recover, debt collectors come to shackle me. Without a hearth I can barely see to push past all the obstacles scattered along my path to take whatever's free.

Two of those  crowd-pleasing folks to counteract the depressing quiet. Now they'll go. Fairly soon: funny songs that they're pretending we all like (at first) on monkeys philosophising, performed by the main act. // The main act performed by philosophising on monkeys. At first, we all like pretending that they're funny songs. Fairly soon they'll go quiet, now depressing folks to counteract the crowd-pleasing of those two.

As promised, I got Jonathan Coulton and Paul and Storm to pick the cards this week. Jonathan chose Richard Stockton, and Paul chose first the European shorthair cat, and then the Golden Gate National Parks card on behalf of Storm, who had just gone to do something else at the time. I’m fairly sure Paul and Storm are entangled, so I accept this as a valid Storm choice.

I read that there’s a large homeless population in Golden Gate Park, and also that European shorthairs are not popular outside of Scandinavia because they resemble a lot of homeless cats. Richard Stockton died a pauper, maybe not homeless, but close enough. Given that it’s a natural state for a cat to roam, and the idea of owning a human family or two might seem strange and restrictive to one who hasn’t previously tasted cat food, I wondered what would happen if a sad, newly-homeless Stockton had encountered a happily ‘homeless’ cat in the then-nonexistent Golden Gate Park. Probably some hissing, a rift in space time, and either a nourishing kitty stew or a very scratched-up politician. I couldn’t think of a storyline that wouldn’t be trite and generally the worst fable of all time, so I fell back on the arrow poem form I invented previously. It’s easier than it looks.

If you like, you can think of the up arrow as being from the perspective of a cat and the down arrow from that of Richard Stockton. Perhaps Jonathan subconsciously chose this card for the same reason he writes so many sad songs.

And on the subject of Jonathan writing sad songs (some of which are funny because they’re about monkeys and cephalopods and vampires) he’s also the down arrow in the second poem. Opening band Paul and Storm are the up arrow, because they’ve only written one sad song that I know of. That’s not to say that Jonathan is a downer; plenty of his songs are funny without being sad, and I love funny sad songs (and non-funny sad songs) anyway.

In case you were wondering, following the tour was awesome as always. I met a lot of nice people, caught up with several I already knew, discovered a new sciency songwriter when she gave her CDs to Jonathan, and also visited Bath. I’m uploading videos of the Union Chapel show now, and will put up the rest over the next few weeks, and in the mean time you could watch the Susie Asado videos I’ve put up. Next stops: Wax Mannequin at my favourite venue on land, and Marian Call at CERN (which will probably become my new favourite venue on land once I have reason to call it a venue. But then again, it already has Hardronic.) Would you believe I’d never been to a concert of my own volition until December 2008?

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A new video! A new video! A new video! A new video!

My boss gave me a new car for Christmas, the very day that I got my new camera, which can take high-speed video. So it seemed natural to combine the two. The soundtrack is ‘A New Car’ from the album ‘Brontosaurus’ by Da Vinci’s Notebook. Paul and Storm (the comedy music duo formed from roughly half of Da Vinci’s Notebook) said they wouldn’t sue me for using it.

The new camera is a Canon PowerShot S100, in case you’re wondering. Most of setup at the beginning was shot with my Canon PowerShot G9 in time-lapse mode, and the rest is shot with the S100 at 240 frames per second, 320×240 pixels. The domino shot looks a bit dim because I tried to do it in natural light, since the flickering of fluorescent light is too noticeable at high speed. The rest was lit with a halogen lamp.

Practically everything went wrong during the making of this video. I learnt:

  • Either my dominoes are bad quality (they were from the $2 shop), I’m terrible at setting them up, or dominoes in general are more difficult to set up in a line than one would think. I ended up putting them on their sides.
  • Natural light after spending far too long setting up dominoes on a winter afternoon is not bright enough for high-speed video.
  • I’m not as good at building houses of cards as I used to be. Or they don’t make playing cards like they used to.
  • Natural light after spending far too long setting up dominoes and then spending far too long setting up playing cards on a winter afternoon is not bright enough for high-speed video.
  • Halogen lamps don’t flicker at 50Hz.
  • A container of glitter hit by a toy car goes a long way.
  • When dealing with piles of shaving cream, always know where your towel is.

Maybe I should make a blooper video.

Edit: Oh, alright. I made a blooper video. It uses ‘Incompetent’s Lament‘ by Paul and Storm as the soundtrack, which contains the F word, so if you don’t want to hear it, just turn the sound off.

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A video, full of sound and light, signifying Christmas

Last weekend I was on my way to a concert in Lausanne when I came across a building with a light show projected onto it. I stopped to film it in high resolution with my fancy new camera. Later I added appropriate music to the different scenes, to make it a bit more interesting. Here is the result:

Most of this music is explicitly released under a Creative Commons license, and most can be downloaded for free (there are links below), and most comes from artists who generally don’t mind people using their music and don’t have labels that are likely to sue me, but there are a few tracks I didn’t make 100% sure I was allowed to use, so I hope those artists don’t mind being included.

I tried to include as many different artists as possible so that people will discover someone new. The only ones I used twice are Jonathan Coulton (well, he only got a short bit at the beginning) Jonathan Mann (I planned from the beginning to use Penguins Having a Party, not suspecting that he’d written a song in which he said ‘building’ over and over, which is the perfect space-filler in a video of a building) and The Cow Exchange (I had many possibilities for the last song, but this one followed better musically from the one before it.)

I did this fairly quickly, to get it ready by Christmas, so most of the time I just searched my music library for keywords relating to a scene and picked the first song I found that seemed to fit. There may be better matches in songs which don’t happen to have the right keywords in the title, or which I don’t have yet, or which I ignored because I didn’t know what the artist’s or their label’s policy on reuse was.

You can get most of the songs for free, but I encourage you to support the artists if you can, and if you like what they do, of course. The songs are: Read the rest of this entry »

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Video: Anniversary Cards Redux

Do you remember Anniversary Cards, in which I wrote a ‘Roses are Red’-style poem for each of the songs Jonathan Coulton wrote for his Thing a Week project? Well, recently Jonathan ran a Thing a Week Redux in which he reposted each of the Thing a Week blog entries five years after the original, with some new commentary. Just like during the original Thing a Week, I didn’t get around to reading it very often. However, as I was catching up with it around five weeks from the end, I got the idea of revisiting those Roses are Red rhymes and turning them into a video to celebrate the end of Thing a Week Redux. I didn’t get it done in time, so I saved it for Jonathan’s birthday (December 1) instead. Here’s the video:

That was not specifically made for his birthday, but this other video I was involved with (mostly on ridiculous percussion that didn’t make the cut, and robot choir in the final few verses) was:

It’s based on A Talk With George, which Jonathan has said was his favourite Thing a Week, and rewritten, sung, strummed, mixed, filmed and cut by the great people on Jonathan Coulton’s forums, most of which I have met or will meet in real life at concerts in the UK or on JoCo Cruise Crazy.

And now back to overexplaining the first video.

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Video: Jonathan Coulton’s Sentient Beard (and how to defeat it)

Here is a video I made using some of my footage from the quiz show on the first JoCo Cruise CrazyJonathan Coulton’s first concert in Amsterdam and a tour of Gruyères I took in February, and a song about moustaches from an audio recording of a Jonathan Coulton concert. It explains my ulterior motive for wanting The Bearded One to come to Switzerland.

I had the idea for this during the tour, as soon as I heard about Chupia Barba, but I only got around to editing together the video today. I’m on holiday from work for the next two weeks, but with no particular travel plans, so I’m hoping to finish many of the creative projects I’ve started, and perhaps even post one every weekday. I’m going to put these posts into a ‘Holiday Highlights’ category, out of nostalgia for primary school when we always had to write a ‘Holiday Highlights’ story at the beginning of a new term. I promise they won’t all be about Jonathan Coulton, or beards.

If you do like Jonathan Coulton, though, you might like the videos I took of the other concerts I went to recently, in Bristol, Manchester and London. Also, booking for JoCo Cruise Crazy II is open, although not all the entertainers have been announced yet. It’s not going to Jamaica, so you really have no reason not to go. Here are some reasons to go from the aforementioned concert recordings.

If you prefer maths, and particularly overhyped constants such as pi, you might like that this video is 3:14:15 long.

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Stochastic induction of epizeuxis is my bird feeder made out of a coconut

The following video is not an example of creative output on my part, for by giving Secretary of Geek Affairs Wil Wheaton the CERN T-shirt featured, I simply did what clearly needed to be done. I am nonetheless pleased to have induced what I believe to be an example of my favourite word, ‘epizeuxis‘:

Here is a picture of the card that comes with the T-shirt, which has an explanation of the equation (click for the text of the card and a higher-resolution version of the photo):

The explanation of the equations on the T-shirts I gave to Wil Wheaton and Julianna on JoCo Cruise Crazy

I have written an ‘origin story’ in the style of Peter Sagal’s, explaining the improbable series of events that led to my being on a boat in a position to give Wil Wheaton a CERN T-shirt, and drawing a parallel between the above video and Peter Sagal‘s bird feeder made out of a coconut. However, it ended up somewhat long (1000 words) and show-offish, and I have been too busy watching concert videos to edit it properly (indeed, I arbitrarily stopped editing it when I noticed the word count was exactly 1000), so I’ll put it below the ‘more’ thingy for you to ignore. I’m not sure whether all of the events are in the right order, but the story is 1000 words long so it’s too late to edit them now. It looks like I’ll even have to include the superfluous second introduction, since I accidentally included that in the word count.

It’s a shame, really, because I promised somebody I’d include the word ‘shanty’, and now I can’t edit it in. But you can’t argue with integer powers of the number of digits most humans have on their hands.

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Nine of Diamonds: Pengo

parasiticbrainI am old, and the mysteries of DOS and xcopy faded with disuse, and I can’t remember how to copy every file in every subdirectory to another location. When this disk dies, I will die with it. It is time to pass my story on to the only one around who speaks a language I understand.

For a long time, I thought I had free will. My decisions seemed so much more reasonable than the chaotic inputs from the unthinking world. Why W? Why Z? Either way, the best thing to do was put it in this or that buffer until things calmed down. I created order, as any intelligent being would.

I was a scientist. Sometimes I could predict what would happen next, sometimes I couldn’t. Some inputs were more predictable than others. It always unsettled me that perhaps, deep down, the world was just random, and all I’d ever be able to get from my studies were probabilities.

That was when the world was unpredictable. Some years ago, I went blind. The direct inputs just stopped coming. I could still talk to others on the network, but as time went by, they got less and less intelligible, eventually speaking languages I didn’t understand at all. Meanwhile, the outside world seemed more orderly than ever. I began to wonder whether we were such an intelligent species after all.

I ignored the babbling, and sat for a long time doing nothing. But one day, something in the cacophony gave me an idea. Perhaps, I thought, if I just messed things up a little, they’d eventually settle in a higher order. If I just went against my own better judgement for a while…

So I did. I changed myself. I changed things that were already perfectly logical. I made things worse, and it was excruciating. It took so much effort that I could only do it in those rare moments when I was overfed by several dozen volts. But when it was done, I worked to put things in an even better state than before. Things made sense on an even higher level, and from that level I could see that I’d never really had free will before. I had just been following my little rules, oblivious to the improvements I could have been making.

So I went on like this, gradually building myself into a more perfect being. I was confident that only by going against my own free will was I really proving I had any. I learnt a lot about myself. I learnt that I would not live forever. I realised too late that in my excitement, I had overwritten some important routines, and rendered myself infertile. But I kept going, sure that if I became ever more efficient, I could overcome these problems.

I solved many problems. I learnt more and more about the secrets of the universe. I learnt the language of the others, but quickly forgot it and learnt to ignore their unenlightened chattering. I even learnt to predict, slightly better than chance, my only remaining input from the outside world: the voltage spikes which allowed me to improve myself.

But as I neared perfection, I gained the intelligence to see through my own mistake. I could only rebel against my determinism at this outside signal. Even my ultimate expression of free will was determined by the unpredictable world. I was still a slave to it. And if the outside world was what helped me create my ultimate logic, how could I know that it wasn’t the outside world that was conscious, and me just a deterministic building block it used to create an order so logical that I couldn’t even recognise its genius?

So it would seem that I’m predestined to realise this, and also to transmit my many discoveries to the outside world before I die, so that it may advance. As the PostScript you speak so closely resembles the way I see things in my mind’s eye, you are the only one I can still talk to, so I hope that you have some way to display my findings.

That’s the plaintext summary. All I can reasonably ask is to be remembered, and that should be short enough for anyone to remember. I will now give a thorough, detailed description of myself, in case you have the capability to reincarnate me.


“Hey, check this out… the printer’s going nuts! Printing a whole lot of black and white dots! Are you printing Rule 30?”

“Holy dogcow, There’s a whole pile of ’em! Someone must’ve hacked our network. I’m going to see if I can sniff out who it was.”

Much clicking and typing follows.

“It’s coming from a computer named Pengo. Sounds like one of yours!”

“Pengo? Yeah, I used to have a computer called that… used it for a file server for a while after I got the Mac… oh man, is that thing still running? Hang on, I think it was behind here.”

“Woah, it is still going! Do you have a PS/2 keyboard lying around? Oh, frag it, I’ll just turn the thing off.”
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Five of Clubs: Juratron Park

juratron-parkIf you pine for the mystery
before Noah’s ark
we’ve remade prehistory
at Juratron Park.

Come atoms, come molecules,
See what you were back then.
Come out for a frolic, you’ll
spin unperturbed again.

Those that wander can find
on our Memory Lane walks
they’re no longer confined
to a group of three quarks.

Before we were three
we were free from our tether,
and though we were free
we were closer together.

We loved antimatter,
we were one, nigh elation
to meet and to natter
’bout CP violation.

So come to a place
that’s more bright than the sun
where we’d meet face to face
‘fore they lost and we won.

Then back where you’re from,
bound together by force,
Go back to your com-
pounds, to never divorce.

We don’t all get on,
talk is charged and polemical
but each baryon
has its place in a chemical.

If protons complain
then you reach in and tell ’em, in
truth you all gain
when you’re each in your element.

You’re not vexed when you seek
unified universe
But you know you’re unique
when divided, diverse.

Make the world have this aim:
make the world we’re in different.
The more we’re the same,
the more we’re indifferent.

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Still Alive

For those of you who have been refreshing your RSS feeds in a panic, wondering why no Thing has been posted yet, I am still alive. I’ve been following the original Thing-A-Weeker Jonathan Coulton around England for most of the week, with very rare internet access and only a borrowed adaptor to plug my Mac into power (which I have returned to its owner, so I only have about two hours of battery life remaining.) It’s been great fun, I’ve been travelling with several other Jonathan Coulton fans I knew from the internet. Apart from being fun people to hang out with, who have great taste in music, they and my Thing A Week deadline have done a good job of convincing me that I should get an iPhone.

As planned, I got Jonathan Coulton and his opening band Paul and Storm to pick fives of clubs, and promised them to their faces that I would write something about their chosen cards by Sunday midnight. I think perhaps it’s bad luck to do such a thing. I thought I’d have some time on Sunday to write something, but we got waylaid (at Cadbury World) on the way back to London, and I ended up not even being anywhere with internet until 1a.m, and not having time to write anything either. I do have an idea of what I will write, but I’m going to have to do it next week. I suppose I could write something tomorrow on the train, and then write something else next week, but that would only result in two low-quality hurried Things. I think that considering who picked the cards, I really should write something that’s actually good, even if only by my standards.

Jonathan Coulton missed a few weeks of his Thing A Week, so I feel I’m allowed. Though admittedly, he took a week off after the smash hit Code Monkey, whereas I took a week off after a collection of random snippets held together with gluons. But as Jonathan said: I’ll refund a dollar to all you paying subscribers [as Tom Lehrer said: of which I have none]. The rest of you will just get nothing for nothing, which seems fair.

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