Recently, numbered

30. Slow down your frames per second
December 8, 2010, 9:36 am
Filed under: Dance, Everyday, Film

This slow motion video by Straylight makes me wish I could feel time this slow. (At his site, he also links to all kinds of experiments in freezing/futzing with time. For example, Improv Everywhere’s flash mob froze 207 people in the middle of Grand Central.)

Upon reading more about the logistics of his film experiments, I now see what makes it so fascinating to watch. He’s creating the effect based on a still human subject (or mostly still) with a moving camera in slower playback mode. Filming from the train, he’s captured nearly still bodies with a 210fps camera while trekking at a train speed of 35mph, then playing back at 30fps.  (He’s on an express train passing a local stop, thus MOSTLY catching people in stillness while they wait, but there is some human movement, which is not as lovely to watch as the still body.)

What if you could experience life like this???  It would mean slowing your time perception experience by 1/7 while the world had frozen up for a moment.  Trippy.

29. In Event of Moon Disaster
December 2, 2010, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Everyday

Been catching up on the Letters of Note feed. They posted this memo from Nixon’s speech writer William Safire from July 18, 1969.  A beautiful relic. In it, there is a proposed statement should Aldrin and Armstrong’s moon mission fail.  Question: How many “should they fail” speeches are out there in the ocean of archives, all drippy with pathos?

But back to hypothetical moon disaster statement…

What’s especially creepy to me is the fact that Nixon’s statement would have aired immediately upon knowing the mission had gone awry (yet, of course, after “would-be widows” had been called).  His use of future tense = a real chilly kinda haunting.  So the astronauts would have still been out there in space, awaiting imminent death, while Nixon would have announced to the world that yes, our heroes were about to die.  I’m imagining these men floating in the ether, their brain activity low but the hearts and guts still churning, thanks to the support of the big fluffy white space suit.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  We’re in the future.  That never happened!  “One giant leap for mankind…” happened. But you have to wonder at the sincerity of Safire’s words (diplomatic as they are) formed in the theater of his head in the year 1969.  Side note: How about all those sincere fears and diary-like freak outs in the embassy cables brought to us by WikiLeaks this week?

But back to theater inside Safire’s head…

It’s best assuaged if you read Armstrong’s letter to the 1969 EMU (extravehicular mobility) crew, written in 1994, on the 25th anniversary of the moon landing. He pretty much thanks th crew for making a really awesome spacesuit that is 11 layers thick — a suit he calls “tough, reliable and almost cuddly.”

28. Wings Exhibit
November 30, 2010, 2:07 am
Filed under: Everyday, Marketing

So the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show installed a street exhibit of wings worn in their previous shows.  If you’re on Broadway between Prince and Houston, you can’t miss them.  Magical.  I want one.


27. Tea room & the research lab
November 25, 2010, 4:26 am
Filed under: Everyday, Food

Spent the day with Virginia.  First, this tea room on the upper east side, where we shared the “Mad Hatter” – 3 scones, 2 pots of tea (jasmine and chocolate chai), 2 sandwiches (cucumber and ham-gruyere) AND chocolate mousse with chocolate chip cookies. Ridiculous. [pause] RiDICulous.

Then, I visited her lab, where – and I quote Virginia – “it’s all about the colors.” She does not lie.  Her lab IS your mental picture of a lab. Pretty pretty colors in beakers, tubes, clear hoses.  And then there’s the organizational boxes and trays and shelves housing various science-y gadgets, all of which have Virginia’s name affixed to them.  Stealers, you can’t have Virginia’s things.

Then there’s the color coding of very specific protein expressions from many single cells mapped out on Virginia’s computer.  This map is made possible by the very large flow cytometer, which shoots a laser beam through single cells to capture an image of those tiny proteins.  All in a day’s work for Virginia. Fascinating and amazing for me.

A blurry Virginia with flow cytometer. As you can see, there are instructions on how to run it. As simple as that. Hmm.

26. Why Italian Wedding Soup is good.
November 22, 2010, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Food

I have this thing for Italian Wedding Soup.  Something about putting hearty greens into a meat-happy soup. (Also, side note – I am now going through a root vegetable adoration phase, having recently discovered the joy of oil-slathered veggies blasted with extreme temperature. Yum.)

Anyhoo, back to the meat and the soup.  I saw a nice recipe on Everybody Likes Sandwiches.  It was the fennel/cayenne spice combo in the meatballs and the Parmesanrinds in the broth that got my attention.  Result: fabulous!

Here’s ELS’s soup:

Here’s mine (a bit blurry, but ya know – iphone + crappy kitchen light):

25. Super Mamika
November 19, 2010, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Media

Photo by Sacha Goldberger

After hearing that his grandma was depressed, photographer Sacha Goldberger asked if he could help.  So he asked if she’d like to don a cape and helmet and do a superhero photo shoot.  Hell. Yes. And supreme she is.

More amazing photos at My Modern Met and at this MySpace page (with more than just the superhero photos) he created for grandma Frederika, otherwise known as Super Mamika.

24. On the Wasserstein Prize kerfuffle
November 17, 2010, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Theater

It was invigorating to read last week’s fantastic write-ups and responses to the panel declining to award a Wasserstein Prize to a promising young female playwright this year.  (Even more invigorating to hear that the responses worked to great effect – they’re taking back the declination and will indeed offer an award.)

How could the prize decision-makers fail to truly recognize what kind of message that sends out?  That’s the REALLY important part. The message. I’m sure decisions are wrapped up in the details – the process of “grading” criteria, etc. And yet, when do you make the decision to re-evaluate how you evaluate at an individual’s artistic work?

I’m sure it’s complicated. After all, monetizing subjective art is tough business. (Nearly impossible.) In her NPR blog post, Callie Kimball makes such a beautiful argument about a different kind of judging criteria.  Why not fill out the full picture of the artist?  From where does she come, what ELSE does she do (’cause we’re all working out here in the world), how did she get where she is, where does she plan to go next? Being recognized with a cash prize for all of that is saying: we see you, we want you to succeed, your work is worth it. We love this art thing.

Why would you tell ANY hard-working community otherwise? You know those 19 nominees weren’t brought to the table without some chops. And if you refuse to give out the prize, you’re simply saying to the nominees – sorry, your merit is suspect, when we all know, deep down, that is simply not true.  Bottom line – no matter the complicated panel review details – declining to give a prize is disingenuous; it’s unsportsman-like conduct. We are – judges, spectators, artists – a team in this, aren’t we?

All said and done, I’m so happy this discomforting story turned, that the responses made a difference, and a playwright will soon be getting her due.

23. Time Piece
November 16, 2010, 6:28 pm
Filed under: Film

I remember a particular sadness on the day Jim Henson died.  And yet. Makes me happy to watch his short pieces from the experimental-y days. Oh, groovy circle art and elephants painted pink!

22. Long delay, but here’s something from Kahneman.
April 25, 2010, 2:46 pm
Filed under: Everyday, Media

I’m horribly late with this post, but long delays can be nice.   I’ve been thinking about something I read a while back on Jim Emerson’s blog: ” the perspective of experience – moment by moment – has nothing to do with the perspective of memory, which tends to re-shape the entire experience according to how it ended.”  Psychologist Daniel Kahneman gave this great talk at TED,  “The riddle of experience vs. memory,” with odd-yet-appropriate examples like colonoscopies and vacations.

21. Grist for the mill. A Tree.
October 27, 2009, 1:13 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Alright, so this is inspiring.  A man makes a video — a music video.  And that video gives you a glimpse into how he makes music by tuning and playing a tree!

What interests me, in particular, is his behind the scenes approach to his own sound-making.  In doing something youtube style, he’s created a different kind of art object.  It’s directly linked with his audience.  A veil lifter. And it gives you this feeling of possibility out of seeming impossibility.  You make mental connections that you might not otherwise make.  (ie – a bow plays  on violin strings.  i know this to be true.  But  a bow on a tree trunk. what? really?) I just really like that little story concept.  It goes a long way.

Now, how can I steal from Mr. Stocco?