Thursday, October 29, 2009

the dead are far too busy


The candles are lit, the copal incense is filling the air and the door stands open but there is one task remaining before the dead begin to arrive. Everyone knows that in life things change. Despite best efforts to maintain the status quo, people move. As one ages, one’s appearance changes too.

According to Enrique, from Ejutla, and Soledad, from Octlan, the dead are far too busy to keep up with all that is happening to to their living relatives and friends. “How can a dead one know to come to this house? If he goes to the place where he used to live, he’ll find strangers there. Will they treat him well? Like a relative? Perhaps not.” Others have suggested that the dead begin to lose their memories of life, and so, even if there are no changes, the dead may have trouble finding their way home for the celebration. The living recognize the dead need help.

Early in the morning of November 1, a child, ideally a young girl between the ages of seven and ten, takes a basket of marigold petals or veruche and begins to carefully scatter the petals in a narrow band. She will begin in front of the ofrenda and spread the petals to the door that connects the house to the street. The traditional families will extend this path or trail of flower petals all the way to the cemetery to ideally end at the foot of the grave or graves of the deceased who have been invited to the celebration.

This magic path now shows the way from the grave to the ofrenda and the family’s home. The assumption is that the dead can easily return to the last place they occupied on Earth, the place where they were buried. The grave acts as a homing beacon, attracting the dead to the right place. Once there, the soul follows the appropriate path to the home of his or her loved ones and he cannot get lost because of the path’s magic. I was told that the young girl who made the path is usually a relative of the deceased and that relationship between the living and the dead imparts magic to the path. It converts the thin trail of petals into a private road meant only for those dead who belonged to the living household.

From The Day of the Dead: when two worlds meet in Oaxaca by Shawn D. Haley, Curt Fukuda.

Photo: From The Skeleton at the Feast
by E. Carmichael and C. Sayer

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

today's post in which my illustrative hero, Chris Ware, single-handedly saves print media by creating remarkable cover art

Illus: New Yorker 2 Nov 2009 by Chris Ware via @scottknaster

Two lovely covers by Chris Ware are currently on the newsstands. I explained to mr. hoo that Granta's measly $17 price tag will easily be recouped years from now when I sell my pristine copy (except for the spine breaks at the Stu Dybek short story) on eBay for hundreds -- nay, thousands -- of dollars.

Or maybe I'll just read the rest and keep my copy close.

I had the chance to see Chris Ware and Lynda Barry on a panel at the Printers Row Book Fair this last summer. (Forgive me: it's the Lit Fest now. still feels unnatural.) Would have blogged about watching the two of them alive in their friendship and their love of what they do if I hadn't received some bad news just as the session wrapped up that took the wind out of my sails.

Suffice it to say: I'm convinced that each is doing the best kind of service to the world, setting their imaginations loose to bravely make stuff up that, on contact with paper, ink and air, transmogrifies into that lovely thing called art that catches in the soft spot between the ribs, and cracks the heart open like an oyster to the ache and wonder and pearly stuff of life.

Thanks, guys. You rock.

p.s. They're coming back -- you can catch Chris Ware and Lynda Barry at the Chicago Humanities Fest. (Matt Groening will be there too.)

Illus: Granta 108 Chicago by Chris Ware

Monday, October 26, 2009

the light right now

A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera.
Dorothea Lange

Sunday, October 25, 2009

a wild song without words

880 Lakeshore Drive

By day the skyscraper looms in the smoke and sun and has a soul.

Prairie and valley, streets of the city, pour people into it and they mingle among its twenty floors and are poured out again back to the streets, prairies and valleys.

It is the men and women, boys and girls so poured in and out all day that give the building a soul of dreams and thoughts and memories.

(Dumped in the sea or fixed in a desert, who would care for the building or speak its name or ask a policeman the way to it?)

Elevators slide on their cables and tubes catch letters and parcels and iron pipes carry gas and water in and sewage out.

Wires climb with secrets, carry light and carry words, and tell terrors and profits and loves--curses of men grappling plans of business and questions of women in plots of love.

Hour by hour the caissons reach down to the rock of the earth and hold the building to a turning planet.

Hour by hour the girders play as ribs and reach out and hold together the stone walls and floors.

Hour by hour the hand of the mason and the stuff of the mortar clinch the pieces and parts to the shape an architect voted.

Hour by hour the sun and the rain, the air and the rust, and the press of time running into centuries, play on the building inside and out and use it.

Men who sunk the pilings and mixed the mortar are laid in graves where the wind whistles a wild song without words.

And so are men who strung the wires and fixed the pipes and tubes and those who saw it rise floor by floor.

Souls of them all are here, even the hod carrier begging at back doors hundreds of miles away and the brick-layer who went to state's prison for shooting another man while drunk.

(One man fell from a girder and broke his neck at the end of a straight plunge--he is here--his soul has gone into the stones of the building.)

On the office doors from tier to tier--hundreds of names and each name standing for a face written across with a dead child, a passionate lover, a driving ambition for a million dollar business or a lobster's ease of life.

Behind the signs on the doors they work and the walls tell nothing from room to room.

Ten-dollar-a-week stenographers take letters from corporation officers, lawyers, efficiency engineers, and tons of letters go bundled from the building to all ends of the earth.

Smiles and tears of each office girl go into the soul of the building just the same as the master-men who rule the building.

Hands of clocks turn to noon hours and each floor empties its men and women who go away and eat and come back to work.

Toward the end of the afternoon all work slackens and all jobs go slower as the people feel day closing on them.

One by one the floors are emptied. . . The uniformed elevator men are gone. Pails clang. . . Scrubbers work, talking in foreign tongues. Broom and water and mop clean from the floors human dust and spit, and machine grime of the day.

Spelled in electric fire on the roof are words telling miles of houses and people where to buy a thing for money. The sign speaks till midnight.

Darkness on the hallways. Voices echo. Silence holds. . . Watchmen walk slow from floor to floor and try the doors. Revolvers bulge from their hip pockets. . . Steel safes stand in corners. Money is stacked in them.

A young watchman leans at a window and sees the lights of barges butting their way across a harbor, nets of red and white lanterns in a railroad yard, and a span of glooms splashed with lines of white and blurs of crosses and clusters over the sleeping city.

By night the skyscraper looms in the smoke and the stars and has a soul.

Skyscraper by Carl Sandburg

I heard this piece last night, along with thirty-some others, in a "wordshop" of bread and salt at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. It was the inaugural performance of a new series of works in progress that will be staged at the Pritzker Pavilion during our cold months, behind the windowed curtain shut against the night, looking out from under Gehry's curling steel across the broad lawn.

It was an astonishing setting, and the words of Carl Sandburg, heard against the night skyline of Michigan Avenue to the right and the dark distance of Lake Michigan to the left, had a rich resonant power.

Unfortunately, that power was exploited by the pointing (too much) and the literal gestures (too many) that accompanied the poetry. The city was all around us -- it wasn't necessary to point it out like a teacher at a lectern, and this convention managed to shatter credibility when the actor looked toward Green Bay while conjuring boats returning from Saugatuck.

The playwright, Charles Gerace, who has done us the great service of showcasing Sandburg's works and was also a player on the stage, has perhaps intervened too aggressively in this early stage of development, cutting and pasting Sandburg's works into a pastiche. Resonant sounds and syllables seemed dislocated from their mother stanzas and orphaned by the lost proximity. Repetitious phrases were transformed into dull bores by the distance, as if they had entered the conversation too late. Lost was the resounding drum-like town crier quality the phrases convey when left intact and integral in the original pieces. To be fair this is a work in progress, and we can hope that with time it will progress into a piece that does better service to the strength and the power of Sandburg's words and insights.

Because each of these are extraordinary, and worth lingering in.

All that is required is for the playwright to meddle less and let the work remain intact to "reach down to the rock of the earth". Sandburg's poetry is all steel girder and tender compassion, and it can be trusted to hold.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

view from the pritzker pavilion stage

Theater Lab workshop of bread & salt: Selected
Chicago Poems of Carl Sandburg.

They've pulled the glass curtain closed and we're
sitting right on Gehry's Pavilion stage looking out
on the lawn, under his arched lighted struts and
Michigan Avenue.

Super cool.

Posting by cameraphone.

chicago gothic

chicago gothic
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
University of Chicago around dusk today.
Posting by cameraphone.

meresamum in situ

MRI of the mummy Meresamun, a temple singer
in ancient Egypt some 3,000 years ago.

Posting by cameraphone from the Oriental
Institute, University of Chicago.

free ride for the mind

free ride for the mind
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Settling in for one of the best free rides
in the city of Chicago: The University of
Chicago's Humanities Day.

Posting by cameraphone from Hyde Park

a diversity of species

The U.S. government must begin by diversifying the country's digital infrastructure; in the virtual world, just as in a natural habitat, a diversity of species offers the best chance for an ecosystem's survival in the event of an outside invasion.

In the early years of the Internet, practically all institutions mandated an electronically monocultural forest of computers, storage devices, and networks in order to keep maintenance costs down. The resulting predominance of two or three operating systems and just a few basic hardware architectures has left the United States' electronic infrastructure vulnerable. As a result, simple viruses injected into the network with specific targets -- such as an apparently normal and well-trusted Web site that has actually been infiltrated -- have caused billions of dollars in lost productivity and economic activity.

Recently, national intelligence authorities mandated a reduction in the number of government Internet access points in order to better control and monitor them. This sounds attractive in principle. The problem, of course, is that bundling the channels in order to better inspect them limits the range of possible responses to future crises and therefore increases the likelihood of a catastrophic breakdown.

Such "stiff" systems are not resilient because they are not diverse. By contrast, the core design principle of any multifaceted system is that diversity fortifies defenses. By imposing homogeneity onto the United States' computing infrastructure, generations of public- and private-sector systems operators have -- in an attempt to keep costs down and increase control -- exposed the country to a potential catastrophe. Rethinking Washington's approach to cybersecurity will require rebalancing fixed systems with dynamic, responsive infrastructure.

Wesley Clark and Peter Levin argue that a diverse IT infrastructure is a more secure IT infrastructure in Securing the Information Highway: How to Enhance the United States' Electronic Defenses in the November/December 2009 issue of Foreign Affairs.

Friday, October 23, 2009

some like it hot

He was more dangerous. He did things to Minnie that were not nice. I think what happened was that he became so popular – this is my own theory – they gave his cruelty and his toughness to Donald Duck. And they made Mickey a fat nothing. He's too important for products. They want him to be placid and nice and adorable. He turned into a schmaltzer. I despised him after a point.

Where the Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak commenting on the changes that came to Mickey Mouse over time in Tuesday's Guardian.

In the article, when he's not telling "parents worried by Wild Things to 'go to hell'", he's recounting how the monsters in his classic children's book were based on relatives who came to his house when he was a child. Immigrants who spoke little English:

They grabbed you and twisted your face, and they thought that was an affectionate thing to do. And I knew that my mother's cooking was pretty terrible, and it also took forever, and there was every possibility that they would eat me, or my sister or my brother. We really had a wicked fantasy that they were capable of that. We couldn't taste any worse than what she was preparing. So that's who the Wild Things are. They're foreigners, lost in America, without a language. And children who are petrified of them, and don't understand that these gestures, these twistings of flesh, are meant to be affectionate.

It's a brief crotchety frightfully endearing piece -- especially the part about how he and his editor battled over whether or not to say that Max's dinner was "still hot" -- as opposed to "warm" -- and less likely to burn a little boy. He won the battle by conveying: "how dopey 'warm' sounded. Unemotional. Undramatic. Everything about that book is 'hot'."

Mr. Sendak, I adore you.



made animate

Photo: Terry Border

The young Joyce was a frequenter of the Dublin Hermetic Society and was intrigued by the notion that things could be endowed with consciousness. You didn't have to be a Theosophist to sense such potentials; writers and artists had similar intuitions.

The painter Cézanne, for example, said that the apples he painted were 'filled with thought'. Other modernist artists were moved by the sight of inanimate objects that had suffered rejection. 'This morning I visited the place where the street cleaners dump the rubbish,' Van Gogh reported. 'My God, it was beautiful.'

From Ulysses and Us by Declan Kiberd, a new release and remarkably good read that is my first step in finally tackling Joyce's Ulysses.

Apparently I'm not alone in giving up early in. According to Kiberd: "Ernest Hemingway worshipped Joyce as the leader of intellectual Paris in the 1920s, yet his copy of Ulysses lies in the John F. Kennedy library with all but the early and final pages uncut."

Those final pages would be the dirty bits.

I mention it now because Terry Border's Bent Objects: The Secret Life of Everyday Things has also just been released to the wild, and his mimetic objects (which you may know from his blog) animate the thoughts that most of us are guilty of -- that these things that populate our lives may well have a life of their own.

Crazy thoughts, maybe, or simply absurd -- and absurdity, we now know, is good for the brain.

So there's the hook: Just like the great Modernists, Bent Objects is good for the brain. Your brain. And whichever brain you may choose to grace with a copy this holiday season.

Plus, it's a whole lot of fun.

<end>Bald pimping from a Bent Object's fan.</end>

apparition with an appetite »
he revealed himself to me in the cheese »
outlook not good »

Thursday, October 22, 2009

speaking of eats

Sakurako Kitsa makes captivating bento (and documents them on Flickr) »

BTW: have you ever tried to follow the Japanese provision of eating five colors for every meal? Been trying. It's hard.

street value

How much is a speech by Barack Obama worth? Five billion, apparently.
The final meeting of Group of 8 leaders [in July] in L’Aquila, Italy, started with $15 billion already on the table. Then President Obama gave a speech evoking the Kenyan village where his father herded goats as a child. In countless villages like it, millions of people face hunger daily, Mr. Obama said, and after he finished speaking, the pledges jumped by $5 billion, according to several officials present.

In Experts Worry as Population and Hunger Grow in this morning's New York Times.

The meeting in question concerned hunger, which is now part of the daily existence of 1.02 billion people worldwide.

Neil MacFarquhar goes on to write that "those pledges remain murky" and quotes a "financial official involved in the talks who was not authorized to speak publicly" who expresses the realities behind those good intentions:

The good news is that the political class considers this important and wants to do something about it. But nobody has 20 billion and spare change in their sock drawer.

Related (and a little more upbeat): California’s Food Banks Go Locavore »

oh! and if you want to feed someone without leaving your laptop, try Free Rice is Nice »

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Chief Almir Surui
Originally uploaded by Earthworm
Right now, under current development models, a standing forest is always worth less than its extractable parts.

Forests are very important for the welfare of the indigenous people and for the world. We want to show concretely, practically that you can have quality of life and economic development, with an intact forest.

Chief Almir of the Surui tribe of the Amazon, through an interpreter, commenting in the San Francisco Gate about an initiative under way to digitally document their cultural connection to the rainforest in which they live, and in documenting it, preserve it.

The tribe is "using tools like Google Earth, Google Maps, Blogger and YouTube. [Google Earth is] in the process of providing mobile phones with Google's Android operating system that include new software to automatically tag photographs with locational information and upload to Google Earth."

Chief Almir has a $100,000 bounty on his head, and 11 chiefs of neighboring tribes have been shot and killed during the last decade by, it is believed, loggers and miners who would much rather have easy access to the "extractable parts" of the rainforest in which he lives.

The power of this project, fueled through a partnership with Google Earth Outreach, is how technology has given the Surui people the opportunity to tell their story through a medium that is indigenous and accessible to the western world.

It catapults their story -- which from a distance seems quaint and of another era -- into this time; into our time; and anchors it squarely in a true and actual place that we can see, that we can find, that we can now more clearly imagine as real.

Through Google Earth we witness the devastation that they are suffering on the ground. Through Google Earth we hear their stories, we learn what matters to them, we make contact.

To my mind this mode of storytelling makes the need for compassion and assistance immediate and pressing.

It is all the more remarkable because it subverts our traditional colonial methods in which the white man visits indigenous tribes and acts as translator of their stories.

In this case, the people tell their own stories to an audience who can hear and understand.

There is no more powerful act than that: a simple story, well told, and received by hearing ears.

Inside me I realized the need to use internet technology as a tool to make my people's situation known.

-- Chief Almir

Monday, October 19, 2009

baguette etiquette

1. On entering, greet the salesperson with 'Bonjour, madame,' or 'Bonjour, monsieur,' and make eye contact.

2. Pay with coins -- or small-denomination notes -- unless you're spending 20 euros or more.


13. Close out your visit with 'Merci, au revoir. Bonne journée!'

From 13 Tips for Visiting a Parisian Boulangerie (so complicated) in the Premiere issue of Afar Magazine, a U.S. publication, which (reasonably) assumes that Americans must be coached in the proper etiquette of saying hello and goodbye when entering a shop.

Additional tips: don't dither over the bread (#8) and #5, if you're eating alone ask for a demi-baguette (porker).

Apologies for the lack of link: the folks at Afar haven't gotten around to posting their publication online yet.

Related: kappa maki »

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Autumn leaves, Morton Arboretum
Lisle, IL

Shot with expired Polaroid film
Holga, Polaroid back

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
Posting by cameraphone from
the Morton Arboretum

Lisle, IL

speaking of small trades

waiting for the shop to open

What this does is accentuate the trend towards best sellers dominating the market. You have a choke point where millions of writers are trying to reach millions of readers, but if it all has to go through a narrow funnel where there are only four or five buyers deciding what’s going to get published, the business is in trouble.

William Petrocelli, an owner of Book Passage, an independent company that has stores in San Francisco and suburban Corte Madera, California, commenting in the New York Times on the price wars that emerged yesterday between Amazon and Walmart on upcoming releases.

good for the brain (try a bag)

Photographed by Vogue Fashion Photographer Irving Penn (who passed away earlier this month) in Paris, London and New York from 1950 to 1951, Small Trades is Penn's "most extensive body of work" which he revisited and reprinted over the decades. According to the LA Times Penn switched from gelatin silver prints in the 1950s to platinum printing in the 1960s:

In silver prints, light-sensitive particles are suspended in emulsion that sits on the paper's surface. In platinum prints, light-sensitive emulsion is absorbed into the paper's weave.

The former are darker, more brittle, emphasizing silhouettes. They underscore the pictorial image.

The latter are richer, more subtle and luxurious. Platinum prints stress the physical art object.

His subjects are tradesmen and women. A coal man, a chamois man, firemen, charwomen, a sculptor's model, a Rockette, a seamstress, a commis (Parisian busboy), ballroom dancing instructors, a milkman, a road sweeper, a chestnut seller.

Shot against an old theatre curtain, chiefly in natural light, in full majestic dignity.

Irving Penn: Small Trades
9 September 2009 - 10 January 2010
at the Getty Center in LA

See the New York Times feature on the exhibit »

Friday, October 16, 2009

where I am not.

Long story. But this weekend's New York trip that was to have salved the wounds of the canceled London trip has been canceled due to illness.

That's two in three weeks.

I'm beginning to have serious doubts about whether the Yucatan, home of both the Mayan site of Dzibanché and raging outbreaks of the swine flu virus, is really in the cards for Christmas.

Maybe this just isn't my season to travel.

Any hoo: Vintage TWA travel poster courtesy of Grain Edit, via Aesthetic Interlude.


Looks like a Paul Klee to me -- but it's actually doxorubin in methanol and dimethylbenzenesulfonic acid magnified 80x as shot in polarized light by Lars BechNaarden of the Netherlands.

Cited by Wired Magazine in 35 Years of the World’s Best Microscope Photography, via boing boing and @timoreilly.

Paul Klee, Red Balloon via artsmarttalk

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

acquiring china

acquiring china

Mr. Hoo is a patient man, and not one for clutter. It took a while for the question to arise because it took a while for the cupboards to brim over with the fine bone china stuff.

It took awhile but eventually, last night, he did ask: What is all this?

I don’t know, I told him, but I think it has something to do with Grama.

I’ve been acquiring china. Twice now I’ve been married and not once did I register for the things girls register for. My china has long been a mashup of expedient pieces acquired as needed, and gifts received.

Chief among the gifts are pieces from the Noritake Angela pattern that my grandmother used when we were young. She sent it my way in the ‘90s when she acquired a complete replacement set from my aunt of something altogether different, hand me down china lush with English botanicals.

The Noritake Angela pattern is not lush.

It is simple and serene. It is to the point and appropriate for the purpose.

It is detergent proof.

Grama passed along to me a tall stack of dinner and salad plates, and an assortment of fine china tea cups. Delicate all, and most have not survived. The remnants that did were chipped and sometimes scuffed from many cuts into many steaks with the lovely scrimshaw knives that my grandparents acquired in Alaska.

Since her death I’ve been trawling eBay and acquiring pieces of the discontinued pattern. The salad plates were long gone, shattered in random incidents. They have been replaced and multiplied. As have the tiny bread and butter plates; delicate all, not bone china but bone china like, rimmed with a fine pursed lip like the English teacups I picked up in Vancouver.

I’ve opted for two pieces that I never saw in my grandmother’s collection: a platter and a serving bowl, because their scale was just right (diminutive, of another era) and the lines were simple, pure, as they should be. I’ve opted out of others -- the tidbit tray with the ornate silver handle protruding from the center, the bulbous covered casseroule dish -- because the aesthetics were untrue to what I recall of the spare mid-century modern lines that limned my grandparents’ home. That outlined my one true home.

This last weekend I chased down some saucers to give three tiny china cups a foundation to stand on, and determined that really as long as I was piecing these I should pick up three more china cups and six saucers total to add to the four complete that I already --- oh dear. Soon I can serve coffee to ten.

It is unlikely I will ever serve coffee to ten, and will instead have to explain to Mr. Hoo why the cupboard is full of sweet tiny teacups, empty boned vessels, that conjure to my grieving eye the morning steam and mist of coffee brewing in my Grama’s kitchen.


Monday, October 12, 2009

watch me

Video: Black Dynamite Trailer

He's making the world a decent place -- to DIE.

From the Black Dynamite movie trailer, which will be in theaters this Friday.

This is either going to be really good -- or super bad.

According to Michael Jai White, the actor and filmmaker who plays Black Dynamite, the character for a "Ninja-slaying, lady-melting, blaxploitation-style hero" came to him while listening to James Brown's Super Bad on repeat.

The New York Times notes that "a boom mike makes a cameo early on," and the movie "features a climactic kung-fu showdown at the White House between Black Dynamite and Richard Nixon."

proceed & be bold

Illus: Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.

I learned of the letterpress work of Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. in the tired hours of the late afternoon yesterday, as the result of a random conversation with @lzinger at the grocery store about how rutabagas are a little like turnips and a little sweet potatoes. And how they are not. By the end we were talking about Twitter, which is how the acquaintance led to this.

Come to find out she made a movie about the man, whose kinetic letterforms absorbed the better part of my evening.

Proceed. Be bold.

Update: Proceed and Be Bold will screen at the San Francisco Documentary Film Festival on October 24th & 26th »

Saturday, October 10, 2009

making tracks

Shot this a little while back in Elmhurst but opted not to
post it. Out of room on my mobile so I need to offload it
somewhere -- let's see it it's worth keeping.

Shot with my Sidekick.

lovin' spoonful

The robin in Mary Poppins's London is an American robin.

Better still – and striking an early blow for gay rights – the two red-breasted robins shown building a nest together are both male.

From The 20 worst science and technology errors in films: A far-from-definitive list of the 20 most annoying science and technology errors in films, from slow-moving lasers to extraterrestrials who use Windows Vista in this morning's Telegraph.

Friday, October 09, 2009

being ware, part 2.

Video: Chris Ware on making stuff

p.s. Being Ware, part 1 »

very ape

On November 24th Christie's of London will auction the 22-inch armature used in the 1933 film 'King Kong' to allow the animated ape to scale the Empire State Building in the final scenes, according to the Associated Press.

"Christie's said it hopes to get up to 150,000 pounds (about $240,000) from the figure's sale."

Video: King Kong 1933

premature acclamation

I want to thank you for all the generous advance coverage you've given me in anticipation of a successful career. When I actually do something, we'll let you know.

Barack Obama, Junior Senator from Illinois, addressing the Press at the Gridiron Club's Annual Dinner on March 11th.

I originally blogged this snippet on 19 March 2006, which also marked my official coming out as an Obama fangirl.

I pulled it out and shook it off this morning in response to the announcement that Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Come on, kids. Give the guy a chance to get something done first.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

speaking of Rashomon

The Danger of a Single Story.
Chimamanda Adichie speaks at TED.

mash it up

I don’t want to be premature here, but I’d say tentatively that this does appear to be the greatest thing of all time.

Devin Coldewey of CrunchGear, cited in the Telegraph, commenting on PhotoSketch, developed by students in China, which uses a stick figure drawing to search available online imagery and mash appropriate shots together into a photo montage.

Unfortunately the rush of interest appears to have brought the PhotoSketch site down.

So you're just gonna have to wait for it.

PhotoSketch: Internet Image Montage from tao chen on Vimeo.

gathering tones in illuminant mode

Illus: David Hockney

I've always wanted to be able to paint the dawn. After all, what clearer, more luminous light are we ever afforded? Especially here where the light comes rising over the sea, just the opposite of my old California haunts.

But in the old days one never could, because, of course, ordinarily it would be too dark to see the paints; or else, if you turned on a light so as to be able to see them, you'd lose the subtle gathering tones of the coming sun. But with an iPhone, I don't even have to get out of bed, I just reach for the device, turn it on, start mixing and matching the colors, laying in the evolving scene.

The artist David Hockney explaining to Lawrence Weschler why, in part, he's taken to creating works on his iPhone using the Brushes application, in David Hockney's iPhone Passion in the 22 October issue of the New York Review of Books.

Hockney chiefly uses his thumbs to sketch his iPhone works because "the thing is, if you are using your pointer or other fingers, you actually have to be working from your elbow. Only the thumb has the opposable joint which allows you to move over the screen with maximum speed and agility, and the screen is exactly the right size, you can easily reach every corner with your thumb."

The New York Review of Books has posted a slideshow of Hockney's iPhone sketches »

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

roiling boil

The most important program on your computer is your web browser.

Narration from What is a browser? created by Jason Toff, an Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google.

Toff's statement, which he makes twice in his one minute video, caught me off guard, in a frog in a boiling pot of water kind of way. Maybe I've been working on websites too long, but I still think of my trade as marginal. (When I first started telling folks I developed web sites I often heard: "what's a web site?")

So getting online is now the most important thing we do with our computers?

I guess it is.

I also think Toff is doing a valuable service with his what is a browser primer -- seeing how it wasn't too long ago that went down and folks called Microsoft tech support to tell them "the Internet is broken".

Monday, October 05, 2009

what remains

grand daddy cedar

This is the image that remains with me after watching Kurosawa’s Rashômon (yeah for only the first time -- I'm catching up on my greats): A woodsman walking alone through the forest, the camera moving fluidly, magically, through the treetops at a distance, and everywhere the strength of the soaring cedar.

We learn later, watching the DVD special bits, that the dolly is rooted on a rail on the ground and so it must be that we’re looking down and long across a slope, but that reasoning comes later. Just now there is pure magic in how the camera glides through the trees, and I’m reminded of the airy distance that breathed between the oaks of the savanna at dusk, when walking I heard the sonorous hoot of an owl just a little bit distant, stopped and held still to see (after a beat, then three) the giant bird break his bluff and wing his massive bulk through the trees.

It’s all around us in this masterpiece of a movie, the cedar. The manic thief knows his one calm moment as he naps in the lap of one fragrant giant, warmed by the sun, the celluloid nearly redolent with the perfume of its baking wood. He peers skyward under the influence of the breeze and captures a glimpse of the woman he will blame for his motives (whom he blames, pardon me, for his woody) and she too is stalwart and cedar like. Miyagawa’s masterful camera pans her heel to head just as he panned the stewards of the forest, from burl to overstory.

The cedars will be witness to the crimes the camera spares us -- the assault on the wife; the murder (the suicide?) of the husband. This none-of-us-knowing is what, of course, provides Rashomon with its potency as each player unwinds the narrative of the grove’s events in his or her own telling in which he or she is (as it always is) the hero of the story.

What remains with me are the trees.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

a plurality of facemasks

A garment device convertible to one or more facemasks wherein the garment device has a plurality of detachable cup sections. Each of the cup sections has a filter device, an inner portion positionable adjacent to the inner area of the user’s chest, and an outer portion positionable adjacent to the outer area of the user’s chest. The garment device has at least one securing device detachably coupling the inner portions of the cup sections to one another, and the garment device has at least one other securing device attached to the outer portion of at least one of the cut sections. This other securing device is operable to: (a) detachably couple the outer portions of the cup regions to one another; and (b) for each one of the cup sections, attach the outer portion of said cup region to the inner portion of said cup region after said cup region is detached from the other cup region, thereby converting the garment device to a plurality of facemasks.

Abstract for Patent Number 7255627, aka Garment device convertible to one or more facemasks, by Elena N. Bodnar.

Bodnar's invention for a brassiere that converts into a plurality of facemasks is worth mentioning because 1) on account of it, she was awarded an Ig Noble Prize on 1 October and 2) this may well be the only opportunity any of us will ever have to see the esteemed Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, and two of his Nobel peers, wearing what appear to be C-cups in a very public way.

Photo: Ig Noble Winner Elena N. Bodnar with Nobel Laureates (from left to right) Wolfgang Ketterle, Orhan Pamuk and Paul Krugman

Friday, October 02, 2009

perfect home sick movie.

(Yeah, so, I'm a little behind on my movie watching. This couldn't have come at a better time. Thanks, sis, for the disc.)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

lost weekend

seattle sky triptych II (flight path)

My little brother used to do this: get so worked up about an approaching holiday that when Christmas or Easter or some other goodness hit he would awake in an explosion of vomit.


I've been spared the effluence, but when the fever that sneaked in on Tuesday rocketed skyward on Wednesday it became more than clear that the bag I packed optimistically the night before for London wasn't going to board that evening flight to Heathrow, and neither was I.

So no London for me. At least not until the Spring.

See you then, Friends.

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