Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Light Pollution

Ron Mueck

Ron Mueck

Winesburg, Ohio

When a picture he had painted was under discussion, he wanted to burst out with something like this: "You don't get the point," he wanted to explain: "the picture you see doesn't consist of the things you see and say words about. Thre is something else, something you don't see at all, something you aren't intended to see. Look at this one over here, by the door here, where the light from the window falls on it. The dark spot by the road that you might not notice at all is, you see, the beginning of everything. There is a clump of elders there such as used to grow beside the road before our house back in Winesburg, Ohio, and in among the elders there is something hidden."

Sherwood Anderson, "Loneliness"

Read all of Winesburg, Ohio. for free on Google! It is a beautiful collection of interconnected short stories that doesn't get nearly as much attention as it deserves. It's one of my all time favorites, and definitely a classic!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Kafka Cooks Dinner

"I have faith that she will come, though along with my faith is the same fear that always accompanies my faith, the fear that has been inherent in all faith, anyway, since the beginning of time."

Lydia Davis

Toni Morrison endorses Obama

"In addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it.

"Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace - that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom," Morrison wrote.

Monday morning gift to coffee drinkers

There really isn't much that makes me happier than a latte. Except maybe a 1/5 of the price home-made latte on par with (or better than) one I'd get at a coffee place. If you've got a coffeemaker and a pot, all you need is espresso, milk, and sugar. You can buy ground espresso for about the same price as any higher-quality-than-Folgers regular coffee, in about all the same places. This is how I do it:

- Brew the espresso the same way you'd brew normal coffee, a generous spoonful for each cup of water. Four cups of espresso makes about 2-3 nicely sized servings.
- I usually wait until the coffee is done brewing to prepare the milk, that way the espresso gets a few minutes to set and get all nice and roasty tasting.
- Get your mug of choice, and fill it about a touch more than halfway with milk - I use vanilla soymilk because it's nice and smooth and mellow tasting, and regular milk makes me want to gag a little bit.
- Pour the milk into a pot and put it on the stove. Don't let it boil. I let mine cook about as long as it takes for me to go to the cabinet, take out the sugar, measure a small spoonful into the bottom of my mug, and put the sugar back. The milk is good to go if you take it off the burner and it steams a little bit.
- Pour some espresso into your mug, a little less than halfway. Stir to dissolve the sugar, if you used some. Now add the milk. And enjoy the incomparable deliciousness.

What a long explanation for such a simple process. This is another added benefit of excessive espresso consumption - vim and vigor at 9:30 in the morning. It's like a magic tonic.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Buried in sand

Kolmanskop, a ghost town buried in sand.

[via fogonazos)

My Favorite Things

The Top 50 Dystopian Movies of All Time

La Moustache

Seriously, what a good movie. It reminded me of my favorite Twilight Zone episode.

Hong Hao

He is cataloguing everything he owns.

(Via dear ada.)

Chris Jordan

Intolerable Beauty: Portraits of American Mass Consumption

(via What I Learned Today, though I've seen this before and can't remember where or when...)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Convertible mittens/gloves

Allison went to Barcelona and brought me back convertible gloves/mittens. They aren't the exact ones pictured (they're better looking), but these seemed close enough. I love them! They're lined with Thinsulate, which is this really warm material, and I would recommend buying a pair.

Dancing, driving

"My butt and the beat had connected in a way that portended great things in my future."

"There should be an option on the car for driving in place, like treading water... Sometimes I would make left turns all the way around the block, and when I returned to the original intersection, I would feel disappointed to find all the drivers were new. It wasn't like a square dance, where you miraculously end up with your original partner, laughing and feeling giddily relieved to find him after dancing with everyone else in the world. Instead, they swung around and kept on going, some people were at work by now, or halfway to the airport. In fact, driving might be the thing most opposite of dancing. I wondered if I would spend the rest of my life inventing complicated ways to depress myself."

Miranda July

Friday, January 25, 2008

Interpretation is a funny thing

This is George W. Bush's favorite painting. Harper's explains more in depth, but it boils down to this.

Bush describes it as a:
"beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves."

In his upcoming book The Bush Tragedy, Jacob Weisberg explains:
"The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled “The Slipper Tongue,” published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: “Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.”

Thursday, January 24, 2008

George Orwell

Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Here it is in modern English:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

This is a parody, but not a very gross one.

"Politics and The English Language," 1946

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

oh my god

This is real. Thank you internet.

Giant Madagascar palm flowers itself to death

Experts at Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London, say the plant grows to dizzying heights before the stem tip bursts into branches of hundreds of tiny flowers.

"Each flower is capable of being pollinated and developing into fruit and soon drips with nectar and is surrounded by swarming insects and birds," British journal publisher Blackwell Publishing Ltd said in a press release.

"The nutrient reserves of the palm become completely depleted as soon as it fruits and the entire tree collapses in a macabre demise."

It added: "The plant is so massive, it can even be seen on Google Earth."

Central Park

Painting by Mark Innerst, commissioned by Jumeirah Essex House

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Remember Choose Your Own Adventure?

One book, Inside UFO 54-40, revolved around the search for a paradise that no one can actively reach; one of the pages in the book describes the player finding the paradise and living happily ever after, although none of the choices in the book led to that page. The ending could only be found by disregarding the rules and going through the book at random. Upon finding the ending, the reader is congratulated for realizing how to find paradise.

- Wikipedia (so it must be true!!)

Good Moleman to you

Easily my favorite Simpsons character.

Hope is the only horse young people have in the race.

Dave Eggers' NY Times Op-Ed about Barack, Hillary, and hope.

Words, pictures

"We present a visualization of all the nouns in the English language arranged by semantic meaning. Each of the tiles in the mosaic is an arithmetic average of images relating to one of 53,463 nouns. The images for each word were obtained using Google's Image Search and other engines. A total of 7,527,697 images were used, each tile being the average of 140 images... By clicking on top of the map, you will see the word corresponding to that location, the average image and the first 16 images returned by the image search online tools."

(Again, via Presurfer)

Life and death

"New Lucky Restaurant in Ahmadabad, India is famous for its milk tea, its buttery rolls, and the traves between the tables... The graves are painted green, stand about shin high, and every day the manager decorates each of them with a single dried flower."

The restaurant is literally built in a graveyard. Some patrons think the graves are good luck. (Via Presurfer, via Arbroath)

Let the people try

In one story, the shamans become aggressive in their thinking and insult the sun and moon, which then disappear, so everybody is in the dark.

The shamans say, oh, they can get the sun back, and they swallow trees and bring the trees out through their bellies, and they bury themselves in the ground with only their eyes sticking out, and do all these great shamanic magic tricks. But the tricks don't work. The sun doesn't come back.

Then the priest say, well now, let the people try. And the people consist of all the animals. These animal people stand in a circle, and they dance and they dance, and it is the dance of the people that brings forth the hill that grows then into a mountain and becomes the elevated center of the world, out of which all the human people come.

- The Power of Myth

Big Head

A reveller dressed as a "Cabezudo" (Big head) takes part in the traditional feast of Beneidas of Sant Antoni, patron saint of animals, in Palma de Mallorca January 17, 2008.
REUTERS/Dani Cardona (SPAIN)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Bunch of Creepy Octopi

Italo Calvino, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler

"There are days when everything I see seems to me charged with meaning: messages it would be difficult for me to communicate to others, define, translate into words, but which for this very reason appear to me decisive. They are announcements or presages that concern me and the world at once: for my part, not only the external events of my existence but also what happens inside, in the depths of me; and for the world, not some particular event but the general way of being of all things. You will understand therefore my difficulty in speaking about it, except by allusion."

Friday, January 18, 2008

On acceptance

"I enjoy the breeze I'm given and the soul I was given to enjoy it with, and I no longer inquire or seek."

Fernando Pessoa

On saying yes

"I will participate in the game. It is a wonderful, wonderful opera - except that it hurts."

Joseph Campbell

On life

"A charming, sad, and touching feeling for a life which is both good and bad, but extraordinarily interesting."

Isaac Babel

On this world

"Soft snow weaves its weft behind the large windows. Nearby, on the Nevsky, there is teeming life. Far away, in the Carpathians, blood is flowing. C'est la vie."

Isaac Babel

Buster Keaton

I don't have any interesting facts to accompany this. I just love it.

I almost didn't post this because it is too sad

This robot/doll Yumel was manufactured by a Japanese company and sold as a "healing partner" for elderly people. The phrases in its vocabulary include:

I love you!
Won't you sleep with me? Promise!
I want to have a secret that's just between us two.
Someday I want to go over the rainbow.
Washing clothes is hard, isn't it?
Is going out shopping hard?
It feels good when you sing in a loud voice.
It's strange that sometimes you cry when you are laughing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tierney Gearon

Tierney Gearon's series The Mother Project is a compilation of photographs of her mother, who suffers from manic depression and schizophrenia. Gearon's earlier work revolved around her family as well, but caused controversy because some photos depicted her young children nude.

Two filmmakers made a documentary also titled The Mother Project. The film follows Gearon as she photographs her mother and her children while Tierney herself is pregnant, and it chronicles the effect her mother's struggle with mental illness has on their relationship.

"All these photos are portraits of myself." Tierney Gearon

The seer's story

"Anyone writing a creative work knows that you open, you yield yourself, and the book talks to you and builds itself. To a certain extent, you become a carrier of something... Since inspiration comes from the unconscious, and since the unconscious minds of the people of any single small society have much in common, what the shaman or seer brings forth is something that is waiting to be brought forth in everyone.

"So when one hears the seer's story, one responds, 'Aha! This is my story. This is something that I had always wanted to say but wasn't able to say.'"

Joseph Campbell


I've been meaning to post about Olafur Eliasson's Reversed Waterfall, and then I read about how he's going to bring a waterfall to the East River this summer AND Reversed Waterfall is going to be exhibited at PS1! He's probably best known for The Weather Project.

Life, death, timeless space, patterns, stories, collective memory

I read about this exhibit a few years ago but somehow missed it while it was up. It stuck with me though. At a flea market, Bruno Rosier found a series of photographs of a man in front of famous tourist locations. Rosier recreated every aspect of the photos, except he substituted himself in the anonymous man's place.

New York Magazine said it better than I can: "Look, Rosier seems to be saying, He was here, I was here. And you, too, have been here before."

The glory of the universe

Scientists from the American Astronomical Society attended their annual meeting and agreed that the universe is bizarre and violent. "This is the glory of the universe," said the association's president. "What is odd and what is normal is changing." (Harper's)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Speaking of unending storms...

Roy Sullivan was a park ranger who got struck by lightning seven times. He ended up carrying a bucket of water with him all the time, to put out the flames. He knew when he was about to be struck because he could smell the sulfur. One time his left shoe fell off. Another time a low cloud seemed to follow him, and he tried to escape it but eventually got struck.

Being struck by lightning, he said, was like "being cooked inside your skin." An article from the late 80's described how "whenever he was caught in a storm while driving his truck, he would pull over and lie down on the front seat, shivering until the threat passed."

After surviving all of those lightning strikes, he committed suicide at the age of 71 because of a broken heart.

Part Two

David Lynch doesn't fuck around.

Get real

I don't feel as strongly about this as David Lynch does, but still.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ebay art

This website collects strange photos that were actually used in Ebay auctions. I'm too lazy to crop the picture. Just click on it, and you'll see. Or don't. Did I mention I'm feeling lazy today?

The Madison

In reading the notes from the Criterion Collection of Band of Outsiders, I learned that Raymond Roussel envisioned art in the 20th century as "the marriage of the beautiful and the trivial."

Venezuela's Everlasting Storm

A cloud-to-cloud lightning that forms a voltage arc more than five kilometre high during 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours a night, and as many as 280 times an hour. The storm is also known as the Maracaibo Beacon as light has been used for navigation by ships for ages.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mr. Christmas

This guy celebrates Christmas every day. He's done this for 14 years. He eats mince pies, roasts a turkey, wears a special hat and a tinsel scarf, opens presents, and listens to the Queen's speech.

I wish that he wasn't such a ham. It would be such a better story if he didn't seek out attention. I am going to ignore who he actually is and think of him differently in my mind.

I will not get over the arcade fire

Arcade Fire Take-Away Show

Stephanie showed me this a while ago. If you don't love them after watching this, especially the totally brilliant page-ripping thing in the elevator, we might not ever be able to be friends.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Boss

I was in a bad mood today, but then Allison sent me this and it cheered me up. If you must, jump to 2:40 for Clarence or 3:42 for Bruce at his finest.

Something Gruesome to Start Your Day

Man cuts off, microwaves his own hand

HAYDEN, Idaho - A man who believed he bore the "mark of the beast" used a circular saw to cut off one hand, then he cooked it in the microwave and called 911, authorities said.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Completely Underappreciated

Saltines are the modest am/fm alarm clock radios of the cracker world. Put down your iPhones and appreciate the simple things.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

He really deserves a whole blog about him, not just a post

"With optimism, you look upon the sunny side of things. People say, 'Studs, you're an optimist.' I never said I was an optimist. I have hope because what's the alternative to hope? Despair? If you have despair, you might as well put your head in the oven." Studs Terkel

Optimist Clubs

All this talk about hope made me think of Alyse Emdur's photographs of Optimist Clubs. I don't really know about these clubs, whether they're good or bad. But I think I want to be in an optimist club.

Yes, we can!

Two cable news networks wouldn't project Hillary's win until after Obama's concession speech. Kinda awesome.

Still a winner in our book

Not to worry. He's still going to be elected our president in 10 months.

Murakami understands

"What do you mean, 'playing really creatively'? Can you give me a concrete example?"

"Hmm, let's see... You send the music deep enough into your heart so that it makes your body undergo a kind of physical shift, and simultaneously the listener's body also undergoes the same kind of physical shift. It's giving birth to that kind of shared state. Probably."

Crazies always do it for God

Suspect says God made him kill, cook his girlfriend

So this is not the usual thing, but hey, horrendous crime is a guilty pleasure of mine.

Speaking of Light...

On Jan 8, 2008 3:20 PM, Meghan Ritchie wrote:
trying to understand politics is like... well, no metaphors work becaues they just end up being confusing. like untangling a necklace thats been sitting in a pile of other necklaces for a year, with a blindfold on. blindfold on you, not the necklace.

On 1/8/08, stephanie palumbo wrote:
i like the untangling a necklace metaphor. what if there was also a blindfold on the necklace? and you were in the dark. and there was a light in the room, but a blindfold was on it.

On Jan 8, 2008 3:25 PM, Meghan Ritchie wrote:
and also what if you were blind? and the lightbulb was broken, and you had a new one, but you couldn't reach the light fixture to change it? and then you found a ladder, but it had blindfolds stretched across the rungs so you couldn't step on it because you would slip in the blindfolds? ok.

On 1/8/08, stephanie palumbo wrote:
and then you finally did put the lightbulb in, even though you fell three times and you regained your sight on one of the falls but then lost it on the next one, and you flicked on the switch, which you had to find by groping in the dark, but then the electricity bill hadnt been paid so the lights were turned off anyway.

the best part would be is if it was during the day so there was sunlight streaming in the window the whole time but you didnt know because youre blind.

Lights - Thanks, Yahoo

Spasskaya tower of the Kremlin is seen through illumination lamps at the Red Square.

Floating paper lanterns fill the sky over the Andaman Sea in remembrance of the Indian Ocean tsunami victims in Khao Lak, in Thailand's Phang Nga province, nearly 110 km north of the resort island of Phuket, December 26, 2007.

A woman lights candles up the stairway at the court house in New Westminster, British Columbia following the verdict of guilty for accused serial killer Robert Pickton December 9, 2007. The jury deliberated for 10 days following a year-long trial.

TS Eliot

"Why, for all of us, out of all we have heard, seen, felt, in a lifetime, do certain images recur, charged with emotion, rather than others? The song of one bird, the leap of one fish, at a particular place and time, the scent of one flower, an old woman on a German mountain path, six ruffians seen through an open window playing cards at night at a small French railway junction, where there was a water-mill: such memories may have symbolic value, but of what we cannot tell, for they come to represent the depths of feeling into which we cannot peer."

From The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Little Fable

"Alas," said the mouse, "the whole world is growing smaller every day. At the beginning it was so big that I was afraid, I kept running and running, and I was glad when I saw walls far away to the right and left, but these long walls have narrowed so quickly that I am in the last chamber already, and there in the corner stands the trap that I must run into."

"You only need to change your direction," said the cat, and ate it up.

Franz Kafka

Dali's Biblia Sacra series and illustrations for the Divine Comedy

The last one feels very much like Munch to me. It was hard to choose which ones to post. They're all incredible.

Twilight Turtle

I have one and I really love it.

On Kafka

"The horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle." David Foster Wallace

That's nice

Meghan's Lenin post made me think of three things:

1. Ozymandias, which I posted in the comments on her entry

2. Anselm Kiefer's Occupations series:

3. Junior Soprano between 3:01 - 3:17 in this clip:

I could argue with myself on all three of these points, though.

Michael Sowa

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Friday, January 4, 2008

There is a Pole of Inaccessibility?

Scientists trekking across a little visited part of Antarctica have discovered a bizarre relic of the Soviet Union is dominating the South Pole of Inaccessibility.

In the middle of no-where – literally the point on Antarctica furthest from the sea – an imposing bust of revolutionary Bolshevik Vladimir Lenin peers out onto the polar emptiness.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

It feels like Christmas!!!!

And people don't want to see it.

I know it's a little late to be talking about The Sopranos, but I didn't have a blog when the show ended. So I'm gonna go ahead and post this anyway. Here's what David Chase had to say in December's GQ about the last episode:

"The theme of that episode was “Made in America.” I used that title not only because Tony’s a made guy, and all these guys are made guys, but also because it was about the extreme amount of comfort Americans have, especially people with money. And specifically, it was about the war in Iraq — it was made in America, and as you saw in the show, Tony and Carmela just didn’t want their son to go, and they could afford to see that their son didn’t go. Like some of our leaders.

"I felt, and I continue to feel, that our country is in a tremendous crisis right now, and people are focused on onion rings, and as it turns out, they’re focused on onion rings as they appear in the end of The Sopranos. Not to get too didactic about it, but it was really sort of about how we are going about our amply fed, luxury-car life here, and the world is going to hell and we’re under tremendous threat. And people don’t want to see it."

I could listen to Thom Yorke laugh all day

Via ProductShop

This makes me feel something I can't explain

Barney and the Choir

Don Knotts' favorite episode of The Andy Griffith Show was described as this:

"Barney and the Choir," where no one can stop him from singing.

Second Wind Dreams

This organization is incredible. They fulfill seniors dreams, particularly people with little family, money, or support. You can volunteer to help fulfill a dream. The picture above is a couple on their dream date. My favorite dream belongs to a man from Jasper, Alabama. He dreams of visiting a puzzle factory.

Philippe Petit

He walked across the Twin Towers in 1974. It was illegal. He planned it for a very long time. He placed a cable in between the buildings and walked out in the middle of them.

According to a police officer, when Petit saw the rescue team, "he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire." Later on, Petit explained, "When I see three oranges, I juggle; when I see two towers, I walk."

It was all there waiting for him

It was absurd, but underlying his experience of the world, at some deep precambrian stratum, was the expectation that someday--but when?--he would return to the earliest chapters of his life. It was all there--somewhere--waiting for him. He would return to the scenes of his childhood, to the breakfast table of the apartment off the Graben, to the oriental splendor of the locker room at the Militarund Civilschwimmschule; not as a tourist to their ruins, but in fact; not by means of some enchantment, but simply as a matter of course. This conviction was not something rational or even seriously believed, but somehow it was there, like some early, fundamental error in his understanding of geography--that, for instance, Quebec lay to the west of Ontario--which to no amount of subsequent correction of experience could ever fully erase. He realized now that this kind of hopeless but ineradicable conviction lay at the heart of his inability to let go...

Michael Chabon, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay


I rarely get to shop there, but their food is delicious. Like this chocolate babka.

Strike beards

Letterman looks distinguished, like he's a scientist who plays guitar in his free time. Conan's beard looks pretty cool too.

Movies I saw in 2007 that I would not recommend

Sweeney Todd

Movies I saw in 2007 that I would recommend

Knocked Up
Rescue Dawn
I'm Not There
Eastern Promises
Darjeeling Limited
There Will Be Blood
No Country for Old Men
The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

If you only read one post on this blog, please make it this one

Take, for example, the story of Tonio, in Thomas Mann's Tonio Kroger. Tonio's father was a substantial businessman, a major citizen in his hometown. Little Tonio, however, had an artistic temperament, so he moved to Munich and joined a group of literary people who felt themselves above the mere money earners and family men.

So here is Tonio between two poles: his father, who was a good father, responsible and all of that, but who never did the thing he wanted to in all his life - and, on the other hand, the one who leaves his hometown and becomes a critic of that kind of life. But Tonio found that he really loved these hometown people. And altohugh he thought himself a little superior in an intellectual way to them and could describe them with cutting words, his heart was nevertheless with them.

But when he left to live with the bohemians, he found that they were so disdainful of life that he couldn't stay with them, either. So he left them, and wrote a letter back to someone in the group, saying, "I admire those cold, proud beings who adventure upon the paths of great and daemonic beauty and despise 'mankind'; but I do not envy them. For if anything is capable of making a poet of a literary man, it is my hometown love of the human, the living and ordinary. All warmth derives from this love, all kindness and humor."

Joseph Campbell

Meghan Ritchie appreciation post

I am grateful for our friendship. In this picture, I am looking toward our future as friends, and I am smiling.