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True Beautiful Thing

Happy Easter y'all. Though we're practicing physical distancing, we are closer together today, thanks to an online recording collaboration that brought this song I wrote with Walt Wilkins to life. Hear the song at and below-

Thanks and peace to Tina Wilkins, Corby Craig Schaub, Bill Small, Bart deWin, Ray Rodriguez, Ron Flynt, Jimmy Davis and Walt for many, true beautiful things.

Here's Walt's description of the collaboration:

2 years ago, after a day at Jumping Dog studio recording with Tip Jar - Bill Small, Ray Rodriguez, Ron Flynt & Bart & I tracked a song I had just written with the great Owen Temple. Jimmy Davis added a killer guitar track a day or so later. There it sat until last week, when we began finishing it in a socially responsible/physically distant way, as Bart sent in a track from his home in The Netherlands, Corby added guitar from his home in Liberty Hill, Bill sent in harmony from Wimberley, and Tina sang in the studio. It was fun, and here it is. I'll have it up here for a few days, and it will be available for download on May 1.

Thanks and peace to Tina Wilkins, Corby Craig Schaub, Bill Small, Bart deWin, Ray Rodriguez, Ron Flynt, Jimmy Davis and Walt for many, true beautiful things.

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Band of Heathens New Video for “Trouble Came Early”

I love this new video the Band of Heathens did for a song that Gordy and I wrote together called “Trouble Came Early.” Recorded at several live performances, it shows off the band’s blistering version of this song that was released on their new album (details below).

Thanks to Rolling Stone for the coverage of the song:

If Austin rockers the Band of Heathens are any indication, rock & roll is alive and well. On “Trouble Came Early” (off the band’s most recent LP Duende), vocalist Gordy Quist channels Shake Your Money Maker-era Chris Robinson, with a Black Crowes-worthy arrangement to boot. Big vocal harmonies and honky-tonk piano recall early Rolling Stones, while a couple of capable, greasy slide-guitar solos at the song’s bridge and outro should fans who miss the Duane era of the Allmans sit up straight.

Trouble Came Early

Recorded by The Band of Heathens – Duende (2017)
Music and Lyrics by Owen Temple and Gordy Quist


The only speakeasy in a hard neighborhood
She said “hanging round there, I know you’re up to no good”
Singles and doubles, seven years aged
It’s a rich man’s playground, a working man’s cage
So what’s so wrong it’s just one or two
It’s been a long day and I’m coming back home to you
Trouble came early, trouble stayed late
Trouble came early, trouble stayed late

I gotta good hearted woman, but she’s ready to split
Yeah she says that she loves me but she’s tired of my shit
Well I try so hard just to slow down
But it’s too little too late, she’s through waiting around
I came home right on cue, she was packing my bags
I’ve had nothing left to lose
Trouble came early, trouble stayed late
Trouble came early, trouble stayed late

Well I woke up faded in a hammerhead spin
I can’t remember, did I fall, did I sin
Some call it justice, other’s blackmail
But it’s the hair of the dog that keeps chasing his tail
The Cost so high to live so low
I lost it all and all I really know
Trouble came early, trouble stayed late
Trouble came early, trouble stayed late
Trouble came early, trouble stayed late
Trouble came early, trouble stayed late


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Updated Greatest Films of All Time for 2017

A new edition of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die was published in October 2017, and that means a batch of new movies have been added to the “Greatest Films of All Time” movie recommendation app.

In the 7th edition of the ‘1001 Movies’ series, 22 movies released in 2015 and 2016 were added to the list in the book. (So they don’t have to change the title of the book to 1023 Movies You Must See Before You Die, 22 movies were also taken out of the book. However, for our purposes, once they’ve been recommended in any edition of the ‘1001 Movies’ series, the films stay in “Greatest Films of All Time” app forever…).

The new films added are:

  • The Look of Silence
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • The Revenant
  • Son of Saul
  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Big Short
  • Spotlight
  • Tangerine
  • Straight Outta Compton
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Victoria
  • La La Land
  • Moonlight
  • Manchester by the Sea
  • Jackie
  • Toni Erdmann
  • Under the Shadow
  • 13th
  • I, Daniel Blake
  • Arrival
  • Hell or High Water
  • Jungle Book

The app below has been updated, so these films appear in recommendations. As usual, the more “greatest films” lists the movie appears on, the higher its “List of Lists Score.”

So a film that appears on all 6 of the greatest films lists –> has a List of Lists Score of 6 –> and therefore must be one of the best of the best movies of all time.

A film that appears on 1 greatest films list –> has a List of Lists Score of 1 –> and therefore should still be a pretty safe bet.


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Words of Persuasion – The Text Predictors of Persuasive TED Talks

What makes for a persuasive presentation? How can you speak to persuade? To create, I webscraped every TED Talk, analyzed words in the transcripts & user’s ratings, and found that the most persuasive speakers used MORE negative emotion words and LESS ‘I, me, my’ words.

So the next time you’re trying to convince, try calling attention to the negative emotions (‘sadness, frustration, anger’) the problem causes and to the ways ‘we,’ ‘us,’ or ‘you’ — not ‘I’ can solve them. At, you can also paste in the text of your own speech to see if it’s likely to be persuasive or not… is the result of a natural language processing project to reveal linguistic and psychological features that predict a persuasive TED Talk. I webscraped 2600+ TED Talk transcript and it’s metadata through 2017 and then used decision trees, random forest regressors, and linear regression to find key predictors of persuasive ratings by viewers.

I found that the change in negative and positive emotion words across the talk and the speaker’s use of key social pronouns like “I” and “we” made a big impact on persuasive ratings.

My analyses resulted in important categories of words that make up a “linguistic signature” of persuasion and a classifier that you can use to predict the persuasiveness of your own text.

For professionals who need to communicate and influence others – is a data product that uses natural language processing techniques and statistical modeling to provide insights on how to speak to persuade.

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What’s your favorite Austin restaurant? (What was it’s last health inspection score)

Last night, the organizers of a meetup at issued a challenge: in 1 hour, pull together 1 visualization that tells a story from an open dataset. Our team created an interactive dashboard to explore 3 years of good and bad restaurant health inspection scores in Austin.

Search by restaurant name, choose your zip code area to see scores in your area, and see the trend in scores over time in the dashboard below. Click on a specific restaurant to see the scores over time.

I enjoyed working with Keisuke Irie, Scott Kurland, Andrew Riddle, and Vinay Bhat on this, talking good food spots and data-

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The greatest films of all time- a list compiled from multiple sources

This web app and open dataset I made for movie fans compiles several ‘greatest films’ lists to find the greatest of the great, and the analysis reveals seven films to be the best of the best.

Here's a Movie Recommender visualization and interface for the data hosted on Tableau Public:

The Problem

There’s nothing worse than sitting through a bad movie.

(OK, there are many things that are worse, but it’s still a bummer.)

So I always check reviews, recommendations, and ratings before committing to a film. If it doesn’t pass a certain threshold on a few of my trusted sources, I don’t watch it.

I want to be generally familiar with the history of film, and I want to see the movies that many other informed folks agree are worth seeing. I’m a sucker for a good story.

Some films influenced the culture in big ways and changed the art of filmmaking. I’d like to see as many of those movies as I can.

The Solution

To provide myself with a reliable movies ideas, I have been collecting lists of “The Greatest Films of All Time.” I have lists created by film critics, film industry leaders, and screenwriters, and I decided to put them all together in one giant spreadsheet. The complete dataset I compiled is posted here as a CSV.

I will be using it to navigate movie choices, and since there are 1,212 titles on the master list, it’s gonna to be a multi-year journey. The source lists are “greatest films” publications from the American Film Institute, the Writer’s Guild of America, The Sight & Sound Top 50, The Guardian, and 1001 Movies to See Before You Die.

I will be moving through the master list watching the films that many film experts, critics, and screenwriters agree are the best movies ever made.

What Movies Are On All ‘Greatest Films’ Lists?

Using Python in a Jupyter Notebook, I imported the csv as as a pandas dataframe and performed a basic query to find which movies appear on every list.

There are 7 films that appear on every list and they are: Citizen Kane, The Searchers, Some Like It Hot, Psycho, The Godfather: Part I, The Godfather: Part II, and Apocalypse Now.

The 7 films that appeared on every list

I’ve seen all those films, so I used another query to find which movies appear on 6 of the 7 lists. (I dropped the Sight & Sound Top 50 list.)

The movies on 6 out of 7 lists were: Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, Double Indemnity, North by Northwest, The Apartment, Dr. Strangelove, The Graduate, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Wild Bunch, Chinatown, Annie Hall, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Goodfellas, and Pulp Fiction.

North by Northwest (1959) directed by Alfred Hitchcock

I’m going to start this hero’s journey through cinema history with North by Northwest. It’s the oldest movie that I haven’t seen yet that appears on 6 out of 7 of the greatest films of all time lists.

What sources do you use for picking the next movie you see? Rotten Tomatoes Percent Fresh score, IMDB star rating, or a list you keep around? How many of the top 7 have you seen?

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Comedy Central Presents – Complete Episode List with IMDB Ratings

If you are serious about laughing, here’s a dataset for you and a visualization (below and here) you can use to explore it.

Good stand-up comedy looks easy, but it is a structured, precise, and subtle form of communication, a tightrope walk in front of a live audience, that is always a millisecond or a mumble away from failure.

To see masters and up-and-comers at work in front of a great audience is a privilege, and that makes the Comedy Central Presents series a treasure trove of great performances by the best and brightest in stand-up comedy.

Comedy happens on the edges, and there are various genres within stand-up comedy that you might or might not dig. If your tastes align with the users of, you might want to use their ratings to help you dive in to this series.

The dataset has IMDB id, IMDB episode info URL, and URL to view the episodes on Amazon Instant Video.


Which performers had the highest rated appearances?

  • Stephen Lynch, Mitch Hedberg, Pablo Francisco, Brian Regan, and Gabriel Iglesias had the top 5 best ratings

Highest Rated Performances

Which performers had the most number of performances?

  • Lewis Black appeared on the program 3 times, and 21 other comedians appeared 2 times on the series

Rating of Multiple Appearances

What season had highest ratings on IMDB?

  • Seasons 3, 5, and 1 were the best rated at 7.41, 7.40, and 7.29 respectively 

Best Season

What performances are most reviewed on IMDB? 

  • Performances by Mitch Hedberg, Dane Cook, and Pablo Francisco got more than 400 reviews to date

Performers with Highest Number of Reviews

Were there differences in the linguistic content of the various performances?

  •  I am collecting subtitles for each performance in preparation for this analysis
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Always Becoming – Acoustic Demo

Walt Wilkins and I sat down and wrote a song together on Tuesday, and here’s an acoustic demo of “Always Becoming”



Always becoming
Rolling and running
You’re to and from-ing and round back again
Grinding and grooving
Everything’s moving
Always becoming not just what we’ve been

Just at the threshold
With the thinnest of toeholds
Mining for fool’s gold, shining for you
Rocking and reeling
Just barely dealing
Still always becoming something brand new

Hearts eyes and wings
Saturn’s blue rings
On our tree of life
Eternally guessing
No-ing and yessing
Always becoming the edge of a knife

Good times and bad times
Ringing like wind chimes
Singing the stories we tell late at night
Slow stubborn learning
While the campfire is burning
Always becoming part of the light

Hearts eyes and wings
Were gradual things
Saturn’s rings were just passing through
Eternally guessing
Knowing and yessing
Always becoming – all you can do

Always becoming
Rolling and running
You’re to and from-ing and round back again
Grinding and grooving
Everything’s moving
Always becoming not just what we’ve been

(c) 2017 Music & Lyrics by Walt Wilkins and Owen Temple

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Made in the Shade

I’m what you might call a shade aficianado. Now that temperatures are rising in Texas and summer is approaching, I am practicing my skill at selecting good shade spots every day.

(Rule of thumb: You can tell someone is insane, if they are sitting or standing in the direct sun.)

I have played some shady venues in my day. Some very shady, mainly because they were indoors. The outdoor venues are less shady, naturally.

Here’s a song I wrote with Jamie Lin Wilson and Jason Eady. Jamie sang this with me at a shady recording studio.

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It’s All Connected

The ToK System as described by Henriques (2003).

It’s all connected isn’t it? It’s not just six degrees of separation from any actor to Kevin Bacon, it’s a low number of degrees of separation between anything and anything else in the world.

Start with any observation or fact and you can get to any other observation or fact through nodes and trees and branches and leaves.

Above and below are some cool visualizations related to some fascinating explanations of interconnectedness.

Looking at these images will probably make you feel more connected to your fellow human (animals and plants too) than looking at your iPhone. (Unless you are looking at these images on your iPhone.)


The Tree of Life as described by


If you want more than pictures, the full text and rationale behind these images are at The Tree of Knowledge System, The Tree of Life, and The Computer Tree.

In the weeks and months ahead, more geeky explorations of science, art, and culture will happen on this site.

Until then, stay in touch. But then, you can’t help but be, right?

An Updated Computer Tree (to 1970) from the endpapers of the Computer Yearbook for 1969 (Computer yearbook and directory Detroit [Mich.]: International Electronics Information Services, 1969–1971)