Tuesday, February 26, 2008

when window dressing is taken too literally

random Tuesday bits o' interest

And you wonder why there are so few female film directors....

Sheer brilliance, via We Make Money Not Art:

The Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005 prohibits anyone staging spontaneous protests within a 1km radius of Westminster's Houses of Parliament. However, Tony Mullin found a loophole in the law. You can carry placards around those no-protest zones as long as they do not carry any slogan.

On the 20th of June 2007 the students led a group of volunteers on a walk through the exclusion zone carrying blank green placards. Using Green screen technology, he has been exploring how to invite others to add the 'political content' during broadcasting. Basically, the idea is to create a service enabling protesters to use the footage of people carrying the blank placards around the House of Parliaments and add their message onto it afterwards. The video could then be distributed on you tube and other media.

Bear this in mind, next time you're watching CNN:

(also via We Make Money Not Art)

Science and interpretive dance, together at last! (Dance Your PhD competition, Vienna)

Electronic tattoo display runs on blood

The Independent - The world's rubbish dump: a garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan Ever get the sense that no matter what we can do, it'll never be enough?

Ooh, pretty!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

that is not the Toronto way

Katie Beaton strikes again

The above is dedicated to everybody I have ever known from the Toronto area, including my cousins, fellow filmmakers, the original kids in "Degrassi Junior High," and actors I adore. In fact, I can't think of a Canadian actor I don't like; even Jim Carrey blew me away in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." If you can name at least one Canadian actor who's fabulously vile, do let me know.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

so I'm a pretentious anachronism

Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location (NYT)

Did I miss the memo on semicolons? As in, nobody uses them anymore besides me and a properly educated guy who works for NY Transit? To quote the article, "the semicolon has been largely jettisoned as a pretentious anachronism." PRETENTIOUS ANACHRONISM, Astrid bellows in outrage? Or just good grammar? Jesus H. Also, I can't believe that people are making a big deal about this, and now I'm contributing to the big deal by making a big deal out of the big deal. Sigh.

On a mostly unrelated note, I discovered that if you double click any word on the NY Times website, you get a pop up box with the dictionary definition of that word. It's kind of handy, actually.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

spring cleaning, wherein I sweep out the cobwebs of my soul

Howdydoo, fair readers. Since my last entry:

I was in San Francisco, and now I'm not. Saw the parents, triumphed over a snarky maitre'd, found a terrific book of poems anthologized by Garrison Keillor, ate ridiculously good food, observed splendid views and what-have-you.

Went to the SOC awards last night and had a blast. Met Michael Keaton there, which didn't go exactly as planned.

I've ignored some people, obsessed about others, collected business cards, learned disturbing things about medieval peasants, lost my Union Jack go-go dress, found my Union Jack go-go dress, learned that cold water is better than warm water for underwater photography, wore a shiny red cheongsam when all others wore black (at the SOC awards, not a funeral), cheered for the Giants in a rowdy bar, and learned that not everyone finds lobotomies as funny as I do.

I have decided:

I am exhausted from expending energy by caring about people who are too self-absorbed to give a crap about me right back.

I will no longer reply to e-mails unless they ask me a question, or require me to say "Thank you" or "You're welcome."

I will no longer maintain people as friends unless they ask me how I'm doing and then actually pay attention to my answer, subsequently indicating curiosity about me at regular intervals throughout the conversation/email exchange. Flattery, and/or being devilishly cute, are no longer enough for me to keep folks in my life.


I will make a concerted effort to follow up with people more regularly.

I will get in touch with more people from my past, even my nemeses. I had an archnemesis for several years until fairly recently, which I don't think he ever even suspected, and I've since made my peace with him. I don't think he suspects that, either. He's mostly harmless, as it turns out. Which is a shame -- he made for a very glamorous archnemesis, actually.

* * *

I just read over everything above, and it sounds like I must have had an epiphany recently; the interesting thing is, nothing cataclysmic has happened. Here's the best way I can put it: the seeds of all these thoughts, which I've planted in my brain over the past few years, all decided to quietly bloom this week, mostly thanks to Jessica Sitomer, who wears turquoise with panache, verbalizes everything I've been dully sensing about myself for years, and would make an excellent cult leader. Thanks to her, I now have a field of brilliantly-colored thoughts, which look suspiciously like poppies, all waving in a gentle breeze across endless rolling hills, with clear blue skies as far as the eye can see. It all looks like an ad for allergy medication, which I've decided is not an entirely bad thing.

My biggest task, for the rest of my life, is to do my damndest to maintain this clarity and put it to good use.

* * *

Okay, time for fun! Below are all the groovy items I've been collecting on the interwebs for the past few weeks. Pace yourself, and don't feel bad if it takes you a week or so to make your way through all of the things below. I'll wait.

In no particular order:

Little Things That Jiggle

Ooh, I always loves me some hep science -- this funky science mash-up goes about a minute too long, but it's still a rollicking good time.

I'd never realized before just how widely applicable some simple army camo can be. Just fabulous, and always suitable for eluding Grandma.

The best "how not to handle a baby" instruction card. Ever.

Battle at the Bus Stop (Violent Acres)
Outrageously poetic story about childhood bullying and miscommunication. I actually have half a mind to recreate this story as a graphic novel; er, graphic short story?

High School Girl meat products?
Japanese misogyny hits a new low. Worst part: you just KNOW this stuff'll sell like hotcakes. Hotcakes for lady-hatin' cannibals, is what I'm thinking....

Dresses! Made of balloons! I was about to say I can now die a happy woman, until something suddenly occurred to me: how would you sit down without ruining your outfit and making a ruckus? Back to the ol' drawing board, I guess.

I love the contrast of the muddy skin with the pristine purple silk. The visual rhythm of their bodies with the flow of the fabric = sublime.

Michael Nesmith is undoubtedly a genius
Watch all four clips ("Time travel smells like broccoli"), laugh yourself silly, purchase this DVD, inflict it upon all your friends and family, and be happy. That's an order.

an ode to the font Archer, by I Love Typography

ILT puts this better than I do, but Archer is a truly terrific font. What really catches my breath with its beauty, though, is this picture using the font -- I love, love, LOVE astronomy illustrations created anytime before 1970, or even astronomy illustrations which simply look like they're pre-1970. This is a bit of a fetish on my part, and I implore you to use this knowledge for good rather than evil.

Chewing Gum Art
-- folk art at its tastiest. What I want to know is, where's the giant stick of gum, comprising actual sticks of gum? Infinite regression is always awesome.

Deceptively simple. Love it.

And now for your moment of "Aw...."

Fun with Google Maps -- great idea, and nicely disturbing.

Gender-neutral Ronald McDonald? MY EYES. DEAR GOD MY EYES. WON'T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN? O, those zany Japanese.

PlaceboKatz, Understanding art for geeks
-- wish I'd thought of this. Oodles of fun.

From Damn Interesting >> The Unburdened Mind:
Some psychologists go so far as to label the psychopath “a different kind of human” altogether. Psychopathy has an environmental component like nearly all aspects of personal psychology, but its source is rooted firmly in biology. This has caused some researchers to suspect that the condition isn’t a “disorder” at all, but an adaptive trait. In a civilization made up primarily of law-abiding citizenry, the theory goes, an evolutionary niche opens up for a minority who would exploit the trusting masses.

Very intriguing essay overall, two thumbs up from me.

The Nonist: Gaikotsu's Postcards

I'd never heard of Gaikotsu before reading this -- such an inventive artist.

The Nonist: The Secret History of the Revolving Door

The revolving door was created out of revenge? Nice.

The Sneeze: Breakfast Sausage
Terrific commentary on how practically all cereal icons are male. What's up with that, anyway? Weirdness.

Interesting idea.
There's even a Facebook group, in case you're interested.

Best monowheel I've seen thus far.

I love this bench. So simple, yet so brilliant. The DP in me is going "W00T!" right now.

Hark! A Vagrant: Rocky Mountain High
These gals really know how to take a road trip -- this is a truly terrific journal entry. Also: anybody who uses phrases like "Tundra is where it is at" needs to be my new best friend.

From Sesame Street -- brings back all sorts of fond memories.

Guy Skis Down Tube Escalator -- pretty much says it all. DO NOT TRY THIS YOURSELF. Thank you.

Easily the sexiest photo I've seen in a while. Cute boy? Check. Excellent lipstick application? Check. Books, and/or writing? Check. Incongruous electric meter placement? Check. Insouciant attitude? Check. I swear, the pulchritude oozing off this picture practically knocks me off my chair.

Neatorama: If regular pies just aren't challenging enough...."
Oh my. Icosahedrons are great, and when they're made out of pecan pie...I seem to be getting the vapors. Excuse me while I go lie down for a bit.

Outrageous IKEA ads! Far more fun than I was expecting.

And finally:

Carousel music, just because.

Friday, February 1, 2008

my father was a Ten Pound Pom

The £10 Ticket to Another Life

Back in the day, and by "the day" I mean "anytime between the end of WWII and the 1970s," hundreds of thousands of Britons were offered a terrific deal: for only £10, you could send your entire family (yourself included) to Australia, where you could build a new life from scratch, poverty be damned. This was great for people who would've been limited to a lower-middle-class existence otherwise, and thanks to this grand social experiment (limited to white folks, sadly), my dad was able to spend his Christmases surfing; attend medical school for free; marry a hot, brainy chick from Cleveland (hi, Mom!); and become a doctor/professor of medicine/chief of residency/chief of research/etc. with a funky accent.

Because of £10, my dad is now a president and CEO of a successful, ethical, and avant garde biotech corporation, plus he's a wicked rad photographer. Go, Dad! I'm so proud of him; and I'm so cheered by my family's pluck that they could move halfway across the planet for a dream, back when it was still an arduous journey which took weeks, and required living in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nothing but sand, mines, and sheep.