News, buzz and cultural chatter that caught our eye recently…

Pop music is like junk food. Its popularity banks on familiarity. The reason many new songs become instant hits is because they sound much like other hits by using the same very limited number of notes and musical phrases. And it’s getting worse. In 2012 researchers found that the difference between one melody and another is consistently diminishing. Enter the Millennial Whoop, a term (credited to musician and product manager Patrick Metzger) that describes that swoop from the fifth note of a scale to the third and back again. And once you hear it, you’ll never be able to un-hear it.   Check out this delightful  and interesting short video explanation of the Millennial Whoop: (via


“WARMEST REGARDS, GENE WILDER.” Ransom Center theater curator Eric Colleary is eagle-eyed when it comes to mining charming and timely materials in the vast University of Texas archive and posting it to his Twitter feed. When the news that actor Gene Wilder had died emerged earlier this week, Colleary quickly found a letter in the archive that Wilder had written to New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow in the 1970s. In it, Wilder declines Gussow’s request for an interview during a brief visit the actor would be making to New York.   Writes Colleary: “Wilder claimed to be arriving by coffin, that he’d already be dead, and only barely had time to meet his daughter and have his hair done before being shipped off to Forest Lawn in Los Angeles. Wilder promised to let Gussow know next time he’d be available. And now, having actually passed, the world is far less witty.”

Ransom Center collection.


Speaking of millennials… Now that Netflix recently started streaming Bob Ross’ “The Joy of Painting,” the PBS series from the ’80s is poised to be a newly ironic hit with the hipsters. The 30-minute instructional show ran from 1983 to 1994, racking more than 400 episodes. In his melodious voice, Ross taught millions of wanna-be artists how to paint “happy clouds” and “happy trees” using their “almighty brushes.”  His famous credo: “There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.” Of course in its day “The Joy of Painting” had plenty of contemporaneous fans who watched in irony as Ross, sporting his trademark ‘fro, illuminated the secrets behind creating what can only be described as sofa art.  And that hair?  Turns out, it was a perm after all. (via

Bob Ross filmed more than 400 episodes of ‘The Joy of Painting’ for PBS. Bob Ross, Inc.


I love quixotic utopian architecture. So I let out a little “squee” when I came across “ReActor” a rotating experimental house designed and built by artists Alex Schweder and Ward Shelley. The long and narrow, minimalist, glass-walled structure rotates a complete 360 degrees atop a 15-foot concrete column. And it tilts as the occupants putter around from tiny space to tiny space. For five days earlier this summer, the architect-artist duo lived in the rotating house while it was part of an exhibit in upstate New York.  Watch it perform!

[vimeo 179330993 w=640 h=360]>ReActor: a new work of performance architecture by alex schweder + ward shelley from”>designboom; on”>Vimeo;.