Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

New York observations.

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

1. On my way to work every day I come out of a tunnel that goes from Grand Central Terminal to further up midtown. There is a fancy glass office building being built across the street from the exit and the windows have a neat white faded pattern that have a top and bottom. It’s subtle, but it’s noticeable. Which is why I’m wondering when the building owners are going to notice that one of the windows was installed upside down and how they plan to fix it.

2. Additionally on my walk to work: Has everyone seen Moana? There is a small blorp of asphalt that is mushed up the sidewalk for some reason or another and it always reminds me of the anthropomorphic wave in Moana.

3. Occasionally I take a cab to work if the weather is garbage or I’m carrying something heavy and last week it was sleeting so I cabbed it. No biggie. When I got into the cab the cab driver was on a conference chat with like three other people. Also not that unusual. What was unusual was the cabbie who, shortly after I got in, decided to hold a prayer meeting with the other people on the conference call and they all starting being infused with the Holy Spirit. I was not thrilled with that. I do not want a person who is control of a large metal vehicle that has me encased in it traipsing through city traffic shaking their head and speaking in tongues. That’s not what I look for in a driver. I tried to casually video some of it and I isolated the sound. I was holding the phone down by my side so the cabbie wouldn’t see so you may have to turn up your volume but trust me, it’s worth it.

speaking-in-tongues

(I knew it was Christian-based because at the end the cabbie said, “Mumblemumblemumble HOLEE SPEEREET mumblemumblemumble JEEZUS CHRYYYYST.” But for a while there I thought maybe they were going to conjure a djinn or something.)

4. I didn’t go and see the window displays this Christmas but I did walk past one window that made me quite happy. I think it was the giant H&M on Fifth Avenue. They had cool giant dandelions aaaaaaand a big ole hare made of yarn! I thought he was great.

I loved that the window designers went fully into textures and kept the color palette super-muted. There was a giant yarn fox and a giant yarn otter in the store but I’m a rabbit-lover to the core so the hare was all I needed. I vote that this be the window display for the rest of the year.

5. The Westminster Dog Show happened this week and I watched religiously and picked my favorites and none of them won, the usual. The thing that stood out this year was The Camera. Let me explain. Normally, the cameras are manned by humans and I never had a problem with that. This year The Powers That Be at Westminster decided that they didn’t want live bodies on the judging green, they wanted robot cameras. On the main area where cameras that looked like tank turrets merged with R2D2 and that was fine.

HOWEVER, during the Toy Group I noticed someone off to the side. I say someone because I could have sworn it was a person. Look in the upper right-hand corner of this screengrab.

Uhhhhhh, who the hell is that? I eventually figured out that it was a robot camera wrapped in purple cloth but I could have sworn it was a person. Tonight was the finals and they moved The Camera right into the main shot where I couldn’t stop staring at it.

Even worse The Camera followed the dog presenting so it appeared extra-sentient.

So while I was supposed to be saying things like, “I love that fluffy dog’s ears,” I was yelling things like, “Why is the freakin’ Grim Reaper helping the judge?!??”

I hope next year they leave the camera naked. I’d rather see the inner workings of Robot Cam and I would imagine everyone else would too instead of being reminded of their own inevitable demise during the Terrier Group.

Mantis mantis mantis. (Mantis.)

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Mantis! First, my work companion. My coworker Tongue is obsessed with plants. He has a gazillion plants in his home, and seeds, and things that look like they’re dead twigs but are not, all the plants. In order to prevent bugs from eating his beloved plants Tongue bought baby mantises (I like to pronounce that “manteeses” even though it’s wrong). He brought a few of the mantises in plastic containers to work where I proceeded to get no work done because I had to cuddle the sweet wee demon-bugs! So cute! So sway-y!

I love how he has a little hat on his head between his sweet little curly antennae. It reminded me of the Pharoah’s crown, the one that looks like a bowling pin nestled in a wonton soup spoon.

I also love how the mantis had a neck that he can turn. And the swaying was great. And occasionally he would flick out his praying arms. As I said, not much work was accomplished during his tenure. Eventually Tongue took the mantises home which made me forlorn but was probably for the best. Sigh.

More mantis! A friend of a friend recommended me for some design work. A woman named Yoda was starting her own production company called Pink Orchid International and asked me for a logo. She said she was not opposed to anything related to pink or orchid. I got to make a variety of interpretations and you bet your sweet patoot I did an orchid mantis version, yes I did.

Yeah. Not surprisingly, Yoda did not use my super-amazing mantis logos. She chose the one in the upper left because she is professional and I want to incorporate insects and skulls and rainbows into everything I do. But I was appreciative of the opportunity. Maybe someday I will get the chance to make bug-related business identities. Who knows what the future holds (insect-logo-wise).

Nick Cave again.

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

I’ve spoken about the artist Nick Cave numerous times (here, a little bit here and a little bit here). I’m big fan of his sound suits so when I heard that he had a full-room exhibition in MassMoca I knew I had to go. I’ve spent a goodly portion of my time avoiding MassMoca because it has modern art and modern art makes me hella-cranky. I don’t want to rehash my feelings on this but the tl;dr version is if it ain’t Jesus, ugly inbred royalty, a pudgy naked broad, a landscape or a still-life, I ain’t lookin’ at it. That excludes 98% of modern art ergo I don’t go to MassMoca. But for Nick Cave one can make exceptions and I was not disappointed.

The exhibition was called “Until.” The description from the MassMoca site:

For Cave’s MASS MoCA installation, Until — a play on the phrase “innocent until proven guilty,” or in this case “guilty until proven innocent” — he addresses issues of gun violence, gun control policy, race relations, and gender politics in America today. … The aim of this is pointed, questioning us to spark discussion about important issues in a space that is at once dazzling, provocative, and — ultimately — optimistic. Cave believes in humanity, celebrating possibility while also creating a forum for critical discussion that eventually provokes the question, “Is there racism in heaven?”

There are three sections. You walk into a big empty space, like a high school gymnasium, and you are greeted with tons of those metal garden spinners that twirl in the wind. Some of them are stationary but some have disco ball rotators at the top so they twirl very slowly. It gives the look of being a forest. A forest of metal spinnies, some of which are sweet and ethereal and some of which are silhouettes of guns.

After that is a floating island hanging from the ceiling surrounded by three sets of stairs. The bottom of the island is completely covered in plastic crystals hanging like icicles as well as real crystal chandeliers. I found a bunch of pictures that other people took that are far better than mine.

When you climbed the yellow stairs you could see what was on the top of the island. It was a collection of American bric-a-brac covering every inch of space. Some of it was harmless – a garden gnome, some cheesy beaded Christmas ornaments – but then there were black lawn jockeys (eesh) and some Aunt Jemima items (oof) and other racist items. It was tough to look at. Merkin history is not terribly pretty.

And finally there’s this massive webbing covering the far wall made with tons of plastic pony beads. I don’t know what that represented exactly but it looked very cool.

The best part: people could bring their dogs in to appreciate the art as well. Because art is for everyone.

No sleep for you.

Friday, January 12th, 2018

You know when you go to bed at night and you’re tired and and you think, “Ahhh, I will fall asleep immediately, better get my passport ready for the Land of Nod,” but your brain decides this is the ideal time to throw random nuggets of information at you that you feel compelled to ponder? And this prevents you from going to sleep? And you end up hating your own brain? I know other people experience this, I’ve seen the memes on Buzzfeed:

 

(Colitas are mentioned in the song Hotel California. “On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air.” It’s supposed to mean “little buds” as in marijuana.)

I’d like to share my night-time thoughts that cause me to be an unproductive bag of parts the next day. Here we go:

  • I heard somewhere that Usain Bolt has never run a full mile in his life. He only does short sprints. That seems crazy to me. I’ve run/walked/huffed The Mile several times in middle school and high school. If I’ve done it Usain should have done it. Do the schools where Usain grew up not require them? And if so, why did I not move to that place? I really hated The Mile.
  • I watched a video of a snail laying eggs.*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BK2GRY8Y6U

    How do the eggs make their way down the body? Is is like peristaltic motion, where the muscles move in a sequence? Is the snail positioned downhill and I can’t tell from the camera angle? Why don’t the eggs take the shortest path possible and ploop off the side of the midsection instead of making their way to the tail? Also, there’s that snail that that doesn’t have a vagina, the acting male (they’re hermaphrodites) just stabs it and throws the sperm in the stabbing hole. How does that work? How does he know he’s not pumping his seed into her liver or kidney? Is her whole body a holding tank for eggs? What the hell is going on in there?
  • What ever happened to that lower-case “f” letter without the line across it that was the “s” sound? Does everyone know what I’m talking about? Here, an example:

    I read somewhere it has something to do with a “hard s” (which is the Z sound) and a “soft s” (which is the typical S sound, like a hiss). I’m wondering if we can bring it back. And what made the Germans get rid of the stacked double S?

    Did the Germans take a vote? Like, okay, this letter ain’t cuttin’ it no more, bring in your keyboards and a pair of pliers, we’re going to pull that key off never to be pressed again. Who is on the committee? Are there lobbyists, sliding money under the table to keep certain letters off the chopping block? I bet the pound sign people were sweating bullets until hashtags became a thing. The early 2000s were a scary time for the pound sign folks.

*If you want to have a profoundly trippy experience, watch this video with the sound on. And tell me, why that snail is laying eggs out of the side of its head? Because that doesn’t seem right AT ALL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qGnbLeuysU

Why graphic design is so, so very important.

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

I was watching the Rose Bowl the other day (not because I wanted to but because my employee is from Georgia and I was trying to be supportive) and I noticed something interesting. Did anyone look at the playoff semifinal logo? Anyone?

Because to me it looked like something else, something commonly expressed using parentheses in that way.

The best part is in researching “parentheses vaginas” I found this link. I am not alone in this thinking.

http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/college-football-playoff-logo-chosen

Please, if you’re designing an important logo or chart or website or presentation of any kind, I beg of you, consult your nearest designer to avoid catastrophes like this:

The bounty of the Internet is endless.

Monday, December 25th, 2017

1. There’s a guy named Keaton Patti who loves Photoshop. He fixes screengrabs from the PBS program Antiques Roadshow and makes them truthful and real and I certainly appreciate all his hard work.
3c4 ab32932567261eb8e690714db50e19a5 f14 tumblr_oknk8lYN4E1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_ol873tKE4I1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olh7ncfxJq1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olhvvrn1Su1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olizq1lPar1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_oluiz1q6H01sug43ho1_500 tumblr_olzr4o2Wwd1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_omsdegEWRv1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on0oqq1XBE1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on2pf8i2Cj1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on4enhVnCC1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on6b8q7Tsf1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_on14qrkqEg1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onc02xCNQ81sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onjbp6pUpe1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onjfjjieqZ1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onnew05MqG1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onnsveoViq1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onsn2e0FaU1sug43ho1_500 tumblr_onusrfOL3C1sug43ho1_500

He has more of this and other stuff on his Tumblr.

 

2. Have you heard “Sweet Dreams” played on a collected of floppy disk readers? No? Well, I can fix that. (Thanks for introducing this to me, B.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGfkPCZYfFw

 

3. This is self-explanatory and I start ugly-laughing every time I read it.

17630058_1358297977549653_2443569579794525705_n Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 12.12.52 PM

 

4. I could watch this video all day.

http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2017/04/blooming-kinetic-sculptures-built-with-wire-by-casey-curran/

 

5. There’s a page on Reddit called Ambien thoughts. People go there after taking the popular sleeping pill and write down their thoughts. I find it HIGH-larious (see what I did there?). Some of the comments are fine and normal:

And then there’s all the rest of them. Hoo boy. Don’t do drugs, kids.

 

6. I love calligraphy. I love bugs and fruit and plants. Ergo, this is magnificent. I mean, those cherries. <3 <3 <3

http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-model-book-of-calligraphy-1561-1596/

 

7. And finally people, who apparently never freakin’ learn, made a poll so The Public could name seven new planets. The Public responded accordingly.

Additional item that reinforces my point that you should never let The Internet name anything ever:

 

I have made a mistake.

Monday, December 4th, 2017

“Gosh, the news is chockful of depressing politics. Let’s look at non-political news, that’s gotta be better, right?”

 

 

A note: This wasn’t photoshopped. Those were precisely the links on the side of a news page I went to. Unedited. What a magical time to be alive.

Italian-American wedding. I was not ready.

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

I feel like, having lived in the diverse tri-state area for the all of my life so far, I have been exposed to many different cultures and their customs. I had not, however, been to an upscale Italian-American wedding. It was… intense. I’ve been to upscale Jewish weddings and I thought they were lavish but I was WRONG and INCORRECT. Let me give you some backstory: the couple is from Staten Island (Italian-American Mecca #1) and New Jersey (Italian-American Mecca #2). I’m surprised when they walk around, this music doesn’t automatically play in the background and the smell of fresh pizza wafts through the air.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UMbXxkWqPw

For the rest of this story I will give the bride and groom the pseudonyms JJ and Esteban to protect their identity. I went to the ceremony which was fine, standard Catholic ceremony, very sweet, the bride looked beautiful, parking in Hoboken was difficult, nothing out of the ordinary.

After that we drove into the wilds of New Jersey to the reception. Okay. I used to mock Esteban that his family made this commercial (pertinent part about halfway through with Scarlett Johannson):

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/marble-columns/n12141?snl=1

So imagine my unbridled glee with we pulled up to The One And Only Westmount Country Club (that’s its name).

Here’s a better picture I found on the internet.

Guys. If I had to sum up this place with one specific description, it would be “rainbow-cycling LED uplights.” It was on the outside of the building. It was in the trees. It was in the entry hall. It was in the floors of the reception area and in the chandeliers.

After walking under this glorious castle-like overhang I was greeted with glossy veined marble stairs with uplighting between every stair and fifty small chandeliers that changed color (you can see some of them in the back part of the picture). My friend Børkke had to pull me aside and remind me to behave myself because OMG.

There were attendants passing out drinks and hors d’oeuvres, all dressed in long, t-shirt material evening gowns and elbow-length black gloves. There was a stack of champagne glasses with small amounts of colored flavored syrup and the attendant would pour champagne into them.

There were plenty of snacks in the hallway – an assorted meat cart, an assorted cheese cart, a big plate of fruits, little snakkies, ladies bringing festive drinks around – so I thought that was a light cocktail hour. It was not. It was TRASH. We were eating TRASH from a DUMPSTER compared to the cocktail hour. Eventually they opened the door into the cocktail hour and it was pure gluttony. It was so fancy and excessive I kept waiting for French revolutionaries to storm the building and execute us all via guillotine. There were, I kid you not, maybe fifteen stations. I’ll try to remember all of them. There was veal scaloppini, risotto, chicken tetrazinni, arancini, kale and white beans, prime rib, thick-cut bacon and a full suckling pig wearing a chef’s hat. Those were the hot station with servers. Then there was the seafood area, complete with a two-foot tall ice sculpture of a fish, and that had oysters and crab claws and jumbo shrimp. There were about twenty different salads and a huge pile of pickled vegetables, antipasto-style. There was a person with a fancy shiny silver slicing machine and he would cut you molecule-thin strips of prosciutto. There was cheese. There was a fruit platter the size of a baby stroller. And, I might add, that’s only the parts of the room that I saw. There was a whole lot of remaining room I did not explore. There was more. It was insane. I was not well-behaved. Esteban came over to say hi and thank us for coming to the wedding. Did I say, “You looked nice?” Did I say, “It was a beautiful ceremony?” No. What I greeted him with was, “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME IT WAS LIKE THIS?? I WOULD HAVE BROUGHT TUPPERWARE!!” Favorite picture of the night: someone offered to take a picture of our group of friends and said we should put down our plates and smile. I flat-out refused. Nothing interrupts Shrimp Time.

Eventually cocktail hour ended (why??? why did it have to end???) and in order to inform us that the proper reception was going to begin an otherwordly thing occurred. A bored, visibly pregnant attendant wearing the t-shirt evening gown and the elbow-length black gloves walked around the room like a spectre strumming a small set of chimes which sounded like when they have a flashback on a TV show. I feel like that’s what happens when you pass away in your sleep: a dead-eyed pregnant woman enters your dream slowly walking around in a stretchy black dress and fancy gloves making woobly-woobly sounds from a tiny percussive instrument. That’s your cue to get coins to pay Charon so he can ferry you across the river Styx. As soon as this apparition departed the lights dimmed and a curtain rose up to reveal the reception hall. At that moment I gave up all pretense of being a calm collected human being and started cheering and clapping. I was the only one. Everyone else was whelmed. I was flipping out. There were flowers everywhere and silver chafing dishes on the table and an 11-person band and swirly lights bouncing off of the giant chandeliers. I ended up taking a ton of pictures because the lights kept changing color and I couldn’t decide which color palette I liked best. After much culling of jpgs I’ve decided on this one.

The two bars in the back of the room looked like giant chrome spaceships. And there was a woman live-painting the party off to the side of the dance floor.

My only major complaints are, when announced, the couple did not rise up out of the floor and during the first dance there was no smoke machine workin’ overtime to create faux-mist. Way to drop the ball, Esteban. Other than that it was lovely. There was drinking and dancing and dinner, all of which was fine.

And then I saw the fire.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man wheel what appeared to be a crucible filled with liquid metal into the middle of the dance floor. I blame Game of Thrones for this, but does everyone who watches the show remember in Season One when Khal Drogo gives Jerkface McBlondDragon a “crown” by pouring molten gold over his head? Great scene. Here’s a link. You can start it about halfway through.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Akl6OK2HUNA

So when this made an appearance I was like, “Oh no, someone did the family wrong and as a gesture of goodwill they’re going to kill that person in the middle of the dance floor! This wedding is amazing! And horrifying! I am awash in emotions!” Turns out it was an enormous baked Alaska and it signified the beginning of the dessert train. Following the baked Alaska was the wedding cake (which was small and tasteful and did not have white doves or a naked lady pop out, so meh), then there was a guy on a bicycle pushing a full gelato stand (holy crap), but the piece de resistance in my opinion was the giant shiny brass chocolate fountain that had milk chocolate on one side and white chocolate on the other and they cascaded down and around each other in twinkling gravy boats into a huge punch bowl with a partition in the middle so the two chocolates didn’t mix. After that came the full espresso / cappuccino cart but who cares because did you see the chocolate fountain? I now know how the wayward Israelites felt in front of the golden calf. I was obsessed with the chocolate fountain.

https://youtu.be/5gVs3iA-Ef4

And then there was more dancing and more frolicking and then it was over and we took some flower arrangements and went home. If you get invited to any event, a circumcision, a tax-filing conference, anything, at the Westmount Country Club, I highly recommend you go. Here’s a promotional video that has the chime ladies. And additional footage of the flaming dessert.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gMUnVMRuzo

Guatemala, Part 6.

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

Lake Atitlan. Get ready.

But first, Antigua’s main plaza! That I forgot to add to the Antigua posts earlier! I love how there’s old ruins and new ruins and everything all sort of mooshed together.

And I only made it to the main cathedral at night so all my pictures are blurry, but here’s the best of the bunch. A beautiful building, beautifully lit.

Okay, Lake Atitlan. We stayed at a hotel with THE MOST AMAZING GARDENS EVER. The owner started them several decades before and lovingly caressed and cuddled them and now they’re mind-blowing.

You would think I had never seen a plant before in my life the way I reacted to this garden. Right outside our room there were some screamy parrots that came out of their enclosure during the day to sit in the vines and shriek violently at the guests. One was a scarlet macaw. He was extra-screamy.

And there was one tree on the far edge of the property with the most interesting pattern in its bark. I felt like I was in a werewolf movie.

And here are the closeups I took of specific plants. Fun tidbit: while taking some of these photos, The Moomins had to protect me from getting attacked by an ornery goose that lives near a small koi pond on the property. I guess I got too close to the goose’s woman and he was disgruntled. It was worth almost dying at the hand (wing?) of waterfowl because these plants were something else, I tell ya.

We went out on a tour of the lake itself. I did not know that Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince, crash-landed in Guatemala and saw the mountain there that inspired him to write the “draw me a sheep” portion of the book. Specifically the elephant in the snake that is mistaken for a hat. <—- That sentence sounds like I had a stroke but if you’ve read the book it makes sense I promise.

Here’s an article about Saint-Exupéry and Guatemala.

https://globalvoices.org/2008/07/11/guatemala-was-antigua-the-inspiration-for-the-little-prince/

There was also a napping volcano. Shhhhh, Volcano, everything is fine. No make ‘splosions.

Aaaaaaaand that’s pretty much the highlights from my trip. However, one of the other people on the trip, Boris (who had THE BEST Russian accent in the world) had a far superior camera and took some unbelievable pictures of birds and other beasties. He was kind enough to share them with me, and now I will share them with you.

Guatemala, Post 5.

Friday, November 17th, 2017

More Antigua! But first, other things.

We drove past a funeral. It was quite sad. A police officer had been killed. I love how the whole neighborhood showed up and was walking with the family to show support. There was also a band playing mournful walking music and I think we as a nation need to get on that.

I saw a fountain and I liked how they planted flowers birds-of-paradise flowers the fountain. Plus there was a pigeon and I am on Team Pigeon 4 Lyfe. Extremely pro-pigeon. Not ashamed of it.

Okay, so Antigua. The buildings are very short and the roads are extremely wide because if an earthquake destroys a building and it pitches forward it doesn’t knock down the building on the opposite side.

There is a former nunnery in Antigua, Convent of las Capuchinas. It cost a lot of money to become a nun and that, combined with the constant battery of earthquakes, caused the nunnery to be shut down.

The grout that holds those brick walls together was a mixture of sand, gravel and egg whites. The city apparently ran out of eggs during the construction of this building.

The wine cellar for holy ceremonial wines was build like a doughnut with a big column in the middle which is how it survived all the earthquakes. It has great acoustics so the nuns used to go down there and sing and maybe sample the wines.

And there are gardens which are beautiful. It’s not too hard to have a gorgeous garden in Antigua, I saw many of them.

As we walked along the street during the sunset on the last night we found a rooftop bar in an old mansion-type home. The fancy older buildings reminded me of Spain. They tended to have huge scary exterior walls:

And gorgeous compound-like interiors with gardens. This was no exception.

When we went up to the roof you could really appreciate how the city is nestled in between the mountains.

• | • | • | INTERMISSION | • | • | •

Dia de los Muertos-type dolls! Same store as the decorated antlered skulls. I showed restraint and did not buy them.

• | • | • | INTERMISSION OVER | • | • | •

That’s all my photos on Antigua. I only have four photos for the town of Panajachel, a town on the edge of Lake Atitlan (more about Lake Atitlan in a bit) so let’s go through those.

CHARCH! In Panajachel we visited the church. I liked the architectural style

The inside of the church looked like and upside-down boat.

And there was a nice carved monster holding up the display board in the back.

Here was the biggest surprise for me in Panajachel. Stay with me here: There is a semi-famous artist from Vienna Austria named Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928 – 2000). His artwork is extremely distinctive. It’s difficult to mistake it for someone else’s work. Here are some examples.

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see a rather large mural featuring some of Hundertwasser’s work in this small village in Guatemala.

Whattup, Hundy? How you doin’?

Okay, coming up next: Lake Atitlan. Get ready for the most insane plants you have ever seen.