This week in Thinking Cap we're checking out the Boston Typewriter Orchestra in action, a new podcast on remix culture and the best scenes from Planet Earth to celebrate it's 10th anniversary.
Welcome to Lifehacker's Thinking Cap, a series where we round up interesting, informative and thought-provoking podcasts, interviews, articles and other media that will teach you something new, inspire you and hopefully cap off your week nicely.
The Boston Typewriter Orchestra
Typewriters aren't just for people looking for a more "authentic" writing experience — in this case, it's perfect for making a little music. The Boston Typewriter Orchestra, performing at a meeting of the SPJ in the video above, is known for jamming out upbeat, pulse-pounding songs, as well as a few vocal classics here or there, using their typewriters for emphasis. This Mental Floss article describes how the group got started:
Founded in late 2004, the origins of the BTO began in a diner. An artist named Tim Devin was drinking and was also in possession of a portable typewriter, which he began pecking at. When a waitress asked what he was doing, and possibly asking him to stop doing it, Devin replied that she shouldn't worry: He was the conductor of the Boston Typewriter Orchestra.
Along with some friends, Devin took the joke and began to take it vaguely seriously, rehearsing with old manual typewriters and getting a feel for their musical abilities at private functions before officially debuting at the Art Beat festival in Boston in 2006.
"We played a little theatre but wound up filling it up so it was standing room only," Quigley says. From there, a rotating cast has performed between four and seven shows annually in and around New England, typically breaking up their sets with an irreverent "office" setting that both mocks and sympathizes with corporate culture.
Of course, the full piece goes into more detail, including the risk of damage when they wail on those typewriters the way you can see in the video above and, of course, which typewriters they prefer and how they pick them. There's also another video of a performance that you should really check out. [via Mental Floss]
The Best Scenes from Planet Earth
When you ask a group of YouTubers — people who make and edit video for a living — to pick the most glorious and interesting scenes from Planet Earth, you get a very interesting cross-section of the whole incredible documentary. The BBC did just that to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the groundbreaking documentary series, and the sequel, Planet Earth II, which debuted this year. In the interim, hit play on the video above and reflect on some of the most amazing moments, then go grab that Blu-ray we all know you have and watch it from beginning to end. [via BBC Earth (YouTube), thanks Kottke!]
Copy This, a New Podcast from Kirby Ferguson
Kirby Ferguson, the creator of the iconic series Everything Is A Remix, has started a new podcast, called Copy This, where he discusses creativity, artists, copyright and media, law, sharing and culture. On his inaugural episode, he welcomes special guest (and friend of Lifehacker) Cory Doctorow, and you can listen in the Soundcloud embed above.
As you might predict, Ferguson uses Star Wars to teach us about copyright — a lesson he's well used to teaching — and about inspiration, sharing, licensing and remix culture. The show will air monthly. [via Re:Create, thanks Boing Boing!]
Bartenders Explain Why You Should Stop Worrying If Your Drink Is 'Manly' or 'Girly'
Indulgence, a YouTube channel by Playboy, has a whole series of videos where they talk to bartenders about their experiences at the bar, the things they have seen and, of course, give you some inside tips on how to be a better bar patron and get the drinks you so crave when you walk up to one.
That said, this one was particularly interesting to me, because prior to watching it I had no idea some people's masculinity was so fragile they had a hard time drinking out of a coupe glass (a glass I freaking love when I get one — there's something about that '20s-era, pre-prohibition goodness that I think is amazing and all too rare), or that people felt their sexuality could somehow be challenged based on the drink they ordered — or worse, how a cocktail looked. I get the movie-inspired "big dudes don't drink pink, frilly drinks, they pound straight whiskey in dirty glasses" Wild West machismo, but... I honestly thought it was just machismo. Hit play for the full breakdown — and some very good advice. [via Indulgence (YouTube)]
The Carol of the Bells Performed with Basketballs
Christmas was only a few days ago, so let's close out the week with the Carol of the Bells... performed by five NBA basketball players. Sadly, I don't know enough about the sport to identify the gents in it (so someone clue me in in the comments, if you'd be so kind!) and the piece is certainly an ad to get you to buy the Christmas-themed jerseys they're wearing, I also thought it was a little welcome cheer. Have a great weekend, everyone. [via NBA (YouTube), thanks Boing Boing!]
That's all for this week. If you have thought-provoking stories, interesting podcasts or eye-opening videos, share them in the comments below!
Title illustration by Nick Criscuolo.