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kottke.org posts about David Friedman

Amateurs Reached America’s Highest Peak First. Nobody Believed Them.

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 28, 2023

In 1910, a group of inexperienced climbers claimed to have summited Denali, the highest peak in what is now the United States. Their story was greeted with skepticism.

So when I found out that the first people to reach the highest point in North America (Denali, the mountain formerly known as McKinley) were just a bunch of Average Joes with no climbing experience who went up on a bet, I was flabbergasted. How had I never heard this story? The more I looked into it, the more fantastic the story became. When these guys descended from the mountain, nobody believed they really even made it. And they wouldn’t be the first people to fraudulently claim to have reached the top, with no evidence to offer that they succeeded. This story has all the makings of a blockbuster action comedy. It’s almost unbelievable.

But later evidence suggests that they just might have made it to the top.

The Kidnappers Foil, the Most Remade Movie in History

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2023

For his second Iconic Sans video, David Friedman tells us about an itinerant filmmaker who travelled the country from the 30s to the 50s making the same movie over and over again with different casts of local children.

Why would somebody remake a movie hundreds of times? Was he obsessed? Mad? Director Melton Barker was a traveling filmmaker (historians call him an “itinerant filmmaker”) who went town to town from the 1930s to the 1970s convincing everyday folks to pay him to be in his movie “The Kidnappers Foil” over and over and over. He used the same script each time, with an all local cast. It’s a fascinating bit of Americana and cinema history.

You can learn more about The Kidnappers Foil at this site from The Texas Archive of the Moving Image, watch several full-length versions on the film on YouTube, or use the script to make your own version.

Why Is There an Empty Picture Frame in Joe Biden’s Oval Office?

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 15, 2023

For his new video series, David Friedman of Ironic Sans finds out the secret behind an unusual object that Joe Biden has placed in the Oval Office: an empty picture frame. The object turns out to be….well, I won’t spoil it, but a few other presidents have had this thing in their Oval Offices as well.

Joe Biden put an empty picture frame in the Oval Office and it’s got a lot of people asking questions. Has a photo been removed? Is something being censored and hidden from the public? I have the answer! And it takes us down a bit of a rabbit hole.

Friedman also uploaded a copy of the White House tour brochure for Biden’s White House.

Impeccable Digital Recreations of TV Game Show Sets

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2022

digital recreation of the set of Jeopardy!

digital recreation of the set of The Price Is Right

digital recreation of the set of Match Game

If you, like me, grew up semi-obsessively watching game shows from the 70s and 80s, you will get a big kick out of this. Photographer Steven Rosenow makes incredibly accurate digital renderings of the sets of old game shows like Jeopardy!, The Price Is Right, Wheel of Fortune, Match Game, and Family Feud, which he shares with a Facebook group called Eyes of a Generation. David Friedman shared some of these recreations in his newsletter. Here’s Rosenow’s notes on the Price Is Right set:

This was a fairly difficult set to model in 3D even though I had blueprints of the set to work with, as well as blueprints of CBS Studio 33… Assistance in this project was provided by the current owner of Door No. 2, who bought it from CBS when it was auctioned off.

I might have a new aspiration in life: to be “the current owner of Door No. 2”. (via waxy)

The Inventor of the Screw-In Coffin

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 03, 2022

patent drawings for a coffin that you can screw into the ground

In 2009, mechanical engineer Donald Scruggs received a patent for a hermetically sealed coffin that can be screwed into the ground. David Friedman made a short documentary about Scruggs and his screw-in coffin.

I was with some friends having a couple of drinks and one of them mentioned he had to go talk to some people about an automatic grave digger, which meant a huge amount of dirt removal. And I said, “Why don’t we just make a big large carrot shaped thing with threads around it and screw it into the ground?”

Scruggs says that burying someone in his coffin is “no more trouble than putting a fencepost in”.

Telephone Repairman Follows His Dream: Designing Women’s Shoes

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 04, 2015

Chris Donovan loved designing women’s shoes, so he quit his job as a telephone repairman and followed his fashion design dreams all the way to Florence. What a great video from AARP, filmed by David Friedman. You can see more of Donovan’s work on his Instagram account. (via @mathowie)

Inventing the Aerobie and AeroPress

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 25, 2015

One man invented both the Aerobie Flying Disc and the AeroPress coffee maker. In this short video documentary by David Friedman, inventor Alan Adler tells the story of how those products came to be.

I still remember the first time I threw an Aerobie. The week-long science camp 1 I attended in northern Wisconsin the summer after middle school had one, and I was astounded at how far it flew compared to a Frisbee. As Adler notes in the video, an Aerobie was once thrown 1333 feet (that’s over a quarter of a mile) and stayed aloft for 30 seconds. (No word on far an AeroPress can be thrown.)

  1. Let me just pre-empt you here: neeeeeeeeeeeerd!

The father of video games

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 07, 2013

Poignant video profile of Ralph Baer, the inventor of the Magnavox Odyssey, the first home console gaming system. He’s still inventing at age 90.

The first software patent

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 01, 2013

David Friedman profiles Martin Goetz, who received the very first software patent granted by the US Patent Office in 1968.

Goetz’s patent is here.

Inventor of the digital camera

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 13, 2011

As part of his inventor portrait series, David Friedman profiled Steven Sasson, inventor of the digital camera.