Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Madness 12/22/06 : Skullcrusher Mountain

Last weekend I went to see Jonathan Coulton at the Milkboy café in Ardmore, PA.

Jonathan Coulton quit his job as a software engineer a little over a year ago in order to make music. When he didn't get a record contract right away, he started his "Thing a Week" project, where he came out with a new song every week for a year and podcast it for free under the Creative Commons license. Jen from A Thousand Times No interviewed him before the concert. You can listen to it here.

I watched some of his concert footage on YouTube, and in one show he said that he knew he was in the right place when a group held up their stuffed monkeys (a recurent theme in many of his songs). Right away I thought about how I could top that. Since I'm a fan of fractals, I decided to do something for his song Mandelbrot Set.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I generated a Mandelbrot Set image on my computer and had it printed poster size. I actually took a couple of pictures of Jonathan holding the poster I made, but alas, my P.O.S. camera screwed up and blurred the pictures by leaving the shutter open too long. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to wait until the next time he's in town. He did aknowledge me when he played Mandelbrot Set. He said "That gentleman holding the Mandelbrot Set poster has been following me around for a while. It's starting to get creepy!" He may have thought that he was just making a joke, but little does he know about my devious plan. It starts with stalking a singer/songwright, and finishes with world domination. BWA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!

Speaking of which--What does a Mad Scientist give his girlfriend for Christmas? The answer is: probably not what she wants. According to a new study, couples tend to give each other the wrong gift.

· Almost half of all lovers are worse at predicting their partner's heart's desire than a stranger who simply uses average gender-specific preferences.

· In addition, the more you know about your inamorata, the worse your success rate is likely to get.

These cheerful holiday tidings are brought to you by "Why It Is So Hard to Predict Our Partner's Product Preferences: The Effect of Target Familiarity on Prediction Accuracy," in the December issue of the scholarly Journal of Consumer Research, published by the University of Chicago Press

And there's more to it than the cliché of getting your partner the gift that YOU want. (although that's a big part of it) In the article they talked about one guy who got is partner a bathroom scale as a gift. I imagine that his thought process must have been something like "Well she's always talking about her weight. I bet she'd really like a fancy new scale.

But what does any of this have to do with mad scientists or Jonathan Coulton, you ask? It's the JoCo song Skullcrusher Mountain. The song is about an evil-genius/super-villian who falls in love with the girl he's holding captive. My kind of guy! In the song, the protaganist is surprised when his beloved doesn't like the gift he got her.

I made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you
But I get the feeling that you don’t like it
What’s with all the screaming?
You like monkeys, you like ponies
Maybe you don’t like monsters so much
Maybe I used too many monkeys
Isn’t it enough to know that I ruined a pony making a gift for you?

You might think that he's crazy for thinking that she would like such a monstrous gift. But the truth is that he was acting no diferently than any "sane" person would. It's just that for him, a grotesque chimera is the ideal for a gift. Perhaps that makes him a tad crazy--just a tad.

With that I leave you with (from Xalen)


Jen said...

BTW, the live show audio came out great -- if you're subscribing to the InTheNo podcast, it should appear in the show's feed sometime next week.

The Science Pundit said...


thesciencepundit AT yahoo DOT com

Thanks a lot,
I really loved that interview,