Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Ben Folds and the Mystery of Merton, the Chatroulette Piano Guy

Today seems like a good day to spend time pondering some of life’s deeper mysteries.

Such as: Is the awesome Chatroulette Piano guy, who calls himself “Merton,” actually Ben Folds? Merton says no, but he said that on YouTube, which is different from saying so under oath.

And last Friday, Folds performed a Merton-style improv at a concert in Charlotte, N.C. At a minimum, the two guys have a very similar skill set.

Investigate for yourself. If a smattering of genial but R-rated cursing is a problem in your workplace, then you’ll want to watch at home or with the volume turned down:

UPDATE: YouTube removed the original “Merton” video on Monday due to “terms of use violation”. An edited version is back up. Figuring out why YouTube takes down videos is often an exercise in futility, but Mashable makes a reasonable guess here: It thinks YouTube received privacy complaints from some of the Chatrouletters. Which is preposterous, of course, since they’re willing participants in a video voyeur site — and so far I haven’t seen any changes on the Ben Folds clip. But whatever. I’ve asked YouTube for clarification.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus