Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pebbles The Cat Enjoys The Snow

Pebbles the Cat has enjoyed all of the freaky snow we've had this winter.

It's easy to understand why: Pebbles is a Maine Coon, which means she's from Maine, where it snows all the time. She has a tremendous amount of hair to keep her warm, which, in Oklahoma, is typically useless (because it's so hot here). This winter, though, her furritude has served her well.

Interesting fact: Maine Coon cats are created when a racoon mates with a kitty cat.

(not really, but people used to believe that story.)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Carlos Páez Vilaró

I love this man's work. Painting, sculpture, ceramics, architecture, music -- he's dabbled in everything.

Casa Pueblo, in his home country of Uraguay. Vilaró wanted to create a sculpture one could live in, so he created this lovely, organic home studio. It's now a tourist attraction and hotel. I hope to visit someday.

So simple, but so observant...

A radiant, South American sun.

This recent series really grabbed me. I love the bold, black outlines. I love the bright yellow areas sitting next to the muted, almost autumnal color fields... I love the subtle stenciled numbers and letters that tie the pieces together.

Still a very handsome and vital man well into his late 80s.

Heavy Rotation: "Save This Town" by Blue Foundation

Sometimes you stumble upon a song that grabs you the first time you hear it. "Save This Town," by Danish group Blue Foundation, grabbed me last week and hasn't let go since. I think I've probably listened to this song over 100 times by now (obsessive much?) and I'm still not tired of it.

I love the languid groove, the slow, carnal hip crunch, and the general lazy Sunday afternoon feeling of the song. The chorus is a catchy hook, and I love the horns and Hammond organ flourishes. It's a great tune.

The video is pretty good, if a bit heavy-handed. The young graffiti guys represent the pure creativity that resides in us all. They decide to express themselves by spraying up a city wall into an intricate work of art, only to have it painted over by "society."

Thankfully, our free-spirited heroine rides by on her bike and magically restores the graffiti mural to its former glory. While I'm not a huge fan of graffiti art, I really like the message.

And I love the song.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

America, 1860

When you think the gulf between left and right is insurmountable...

When you think, "How could this country be any more divided?"

Just remember:

Before Abraham Lincoln even took the oath of office in 1861, seven (!) U.S. states seceded from the Union.

That's right, seven Southern states, led by South Carolina (naturally) decided that the prospect of a Lincoln Presidency was so abhorrent that they didn't even give him a chance to govern. They opted out.

What was Lincoln's offense?

Well, he had the audacity to suggest that future U.S. states should be free states, not slave states. This did not sit well in the Deep South.

Lincoln took the oath of office, and the South decided to fire the first shots at Fort Sumter, leading to a senseless, bloody war no one wanted, but one which Southern apologists continue to reframe as a war about "state's rights," not slavery.


Delete slavery from the equation, and there is no Civil War. If you don't believe me, read this speech by the Vice President of the Confederate States of America (and a tiny, weak man, barely five feet tall), Alexander Stephens:

"Cornerstone Speech," Savannah, GA, March 21, 1861.

If you don't have time to read the entire speech, here's a summarizing sentence:

"...the negro is not equal to the white man; ...slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."

Alexander Stephens, VP of the CSA. Too small for a properly-tailored suit, Stephens deplored the inferior status of "the Negro."

Are we then to be surprised when a white politician from South Carolina shouts "You lie!" during a State of the Union address delivered by the first Black President of the United States?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tebow Tackles a Tough Issue

Fundamentalist poster boy Tim Tebow kept things light in his controversial Super Bowl commercial by playfully knocking the crap out of his Mom. Hilarious!

Not surprising from a guy working to erase a woman's right to reproductive freedom.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Why We Love Steve Jobs

Because of His Restraint:
"From computers to smartphones, Apple products are known for being stylish, powerful and pleasing to use. They are edited products that cut through complexity, by consciously leaving things out — not cramming every feature that came into an engineer’s head, an affliction known as “featuritis” that burdens so many technology products."

Because of His Aesthetic:

"In his Palo Alto home years ago, he said that he preferred uncluttered, spare interiors and then explained the elegant craftsmanship of the simple wooden chairs in his living room, made by George Nakashima, the 20th-century furniture designer and father of the American craft movement."

Because of His Taste:
"Great products, according to Mr. Jobs, are triumphs of “taste.” And taste, he explains, is a byproduct of study, observation and being steeped in the culture of the past and present, of “trying to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then bring those things into what you are doing.”"

Because of His Expectations:
"In choosing key members of his team, he looks for the multiplier factor of excellence. Truly outstanding designers, engineers and managers, he says, are not just 10 percent, 20 percent or 30 percent better than merely very good ones, but 10 times better."

From "Steve Jobs and the Economics of Elistism," Steve Lohr, The New York Times, January 29, 2010.

(Note about this post's title: by "We," I don't mean "me." This is Steve Lohr's love letter to Jobs, not mine. But it does shed some light on the synergy between tastemakers, technologists, and scribes.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Confidence or Arrogance?

For Roger Federer, it's a bit of both. Here are some quotes from his post-Championship press conference, 2010 Australian Open:

• I always knew I had something special.
• I think this has been one of my finest performances, you know, in a long time, or maybe forever.
• You know, I’ve dominated hard court and grass for a long time.
• It’s just not an easy thing to do, Grand Slams, and I proved it again tonight.
• I’m professional the way I’m supposed to be.
• [On his opponent, Andy Murray] You wish, you know, only the best for him.

Usually, comments like those suggest some sort of overcompensation. But in Federer's case, I think he really does indeed inhabit some strange world of unshakable confidence and high self-approval. Which is why it can be hard to relate to him.