February 20, 2009

lloyds-clockWhile messing around and killing time on Flickr today, I came across this set of pictures of London architecture. I’m a sucker for anything involving geometrical forms and architecture. These are the perfect fix for afternoon boredom.


Bicultural Confusion.

February 4, 2009

French 60’s pop is notorious for appropriating and translating popular chart-topping American songs. Years of listening to oldies radio stations in both countries have procured me many instances of delight and befuddlement as I recognized melodies sung in different languages, never knowing which was the original. I always wondered, for example, which came first, the yellow polka dot bikini or Dalida’s bikini rouge et jaune a petits pois. This was the pre-wikipedia age mind you, so such questions could happily be left unanswered from one summer to the next. Tangentially, I continue to be amused by the Dutch one hit wonder David Alexander Winter, who sang with an American accent and made little French hearts swoon with his bold, brassy swagger a la Tom Jones. I digress.

Here is a song by eurovision SLC pop idol France Gall I adore at the moment. I found the clip tonight while playing musical mind association games beginning with Josephine Baker’s “J’ai Deux Amours, Mon Pays et Paris” (in honor of my impending citizenship interview and chronic nostalgia).


I leave you to compare with the April March version showcased in Quentin Tarantino’s untoppably cool grindhouse B-movie/ almost chick flick, Death Proof:


February 3, 2009

02ECHASEA.JPGThey’re remaking Bonnie and Clyde. Hilary Duff is starring.

The horror.

Mainly, though, I just wanted an excuse to put up this picture. Have a pair of film outlaws ever looked cooler? I love you, Faye Dunaway.

Things I like today

December 3, 2008

Joel Sternfeld‘s photography:


Joel Sternfeld. Exhausted Renegade Elephant, Woodland, Washington, June 1979

(from American Prospects)

I was experiencing a major dose of nostalgia, for lack of a better word, for small-town America. Jeff Sternfeld’s photos come the closest to conveying the unusual beauty that expat American children mythologise to such a great extent. More on this some other time.

Sophie Blackall‘s illustration:


I desperately need to score an invitation to this tea party. Not sure if this is a very dangerous situation in the making, or if peace of some sort is to be had, but the combination of dubious snail and bizarro blue creature in checked pants and bowler hat is my kind of event. Maybe he’s menacingly sprinkling salt in his direction. The possibilities….

(The rest of her illustrations rock as well. This one just particularly struck me.)

Interesting bookcases:

Bookcase stairs = COVET.

(View is from the top of the stairs down. Click on the link for other angles.)


The fact that they function as the “secret staircase” to a loft in a Victorian apartment in London? Explosion of want-lust. You can see more pictures if you click on the link.

V-Shaped bookcase [via Gizmodo]:


Really cool concept, though the worrywart in me sees a little too much possibility for things crashing down in all directions, with books flying everywhere. Probably not meant for someone as clumsy as me. Sigh.

Clever Design:

Alphabet Buttons:


These make the craft/typography geek in me so so so very happy. A perfect marriage!

Energy Savings:


I was looking for a piggy bank of some sort, and found this. Love visual puns!

And finally, a wonderful poster:


I am obsessed with the cuteness of this poster to the point of having spent the afternoon daydreaming about the kitchen I would have to have to be able to put this in it. Yes. I am going to move apartments just so that I can put up a poster in the kitchen. But… it’s a poster about tea! Tea has wonderful, godly properties! What’s not to like?

Ok, that’s it for the day. Must actually accomplish something.

Atlas of True Names

December 2, 2008

There is always something impossibly romantic about place names. I love thinking of the evolution of a place, from its existence as a mere geographical feature into something fathomed, something known and possessed, bearing a name and a mythology of its very own. I love imagining how these place names came about. The city I grew up in grew from obscure Paleolithic origins into the Roman “Augusta Taurinorum”, until finally settling on Torino, translated literally as “Little Bull”. The bull prances all over the city in symbol, but the mystery remains as to how this place could be so strongly associated with the animal as to be named after it. Same thing with New York, the city in which I currently reside. New Amsterdam might have been a fitting title– Amsterdam was, after all, a world capital at the time the village was named. Comparing York to modern-day New York is a jarring experience, as one never really stops to think of the connection that exists between the cities. Better to switch place names with New London.

This is all a typically long-winded introduction to this article in the Spiegel about the Atlas of True Names, or rather an etymological atlas of the world. A team of cartographers traced the etymological roots of various place names and compiled the result in something that looks like perfectly normal maps, until you get close enough to read the place names. The end product is like a map out of Tolkien, or of some other imagined world, replete with stories that have been hidden for so long because of linguistic laziness. Do yourselves a favour and click on the slide-show.

Hide and Seek

December 2, 2008

Victoria Beckham, object of one of my more intense girlcrushes, has proven herself to be amazing in her very own peculiar batshit-crazy way yet again. Lend an eye to the video that she’s made for her new dress collection.

Alas, I am not able to embed it, but the link ought to take you to the grand, surreal world of her artistic vision. A few notes:

-Firstly, I adore all the dresses. I’m rather scared to think what they might look like on one who is on the more traditionally curvy side (ie. not possessed of boy-hips, and having natural breasts instead of alien-looking silicone balloons), but if properly executed, they could possibly be pretty universally flattering. Of course, they’ll invariably only go up to a size 6. And cost hundreds of pounds. Sigh.

-Secondly, I found it hard to concentrate on the dresses because I was so charmed by the setting! I want to move in there right now. Nothing better than a big old house, complete with glorious jewel-toned wall colours. Subtract a couple of paintings from the walls and I’d be ready to move right in.

-Most of all, though, how much fun must it have been to shoot this video? Playful surrealist hide and seek in gorgeous clothes in a beautiful setting. Bliss!


Unrelated: language lesson of the day: Proper use of the word “comprise”.

Three things…

May 7, 2008

R. is doing a project for his Brazilian cinema class where he’s going to film people saying three things about themselves. It’s based off a scene in a film they watched, A Hora da Estrela, wherein the heroine describes herself saying “I’m a typist, I’m a virgin and I like to drink Coca-Cola.”

I’ve been thinking about how to respond to this (which might defeat the purpose) and have come up with some variations:

– “I’m a TCK, I’m biracial, and I’m a student.” (Judge a book by its cover edition)

-“I’m a knitter, I’m a doodler, and I like old books.” (Introvert version)

-“I’m a reader, I’m a cook, I’m a mass of old scars.” (slightly creepy version)

-“I’m a sister, I’m a daughter, I’m a woman.” (Grrrrl power version. And interesting to note that sister feels most natural first here. Not sistA, though. Sister. My two brothers are some of the most precious things to happen to me. )

-“I’m tough, I’m curious, I’m delicate.” (contradictory version– but at least I’ve figured out what adjectives to use to describe myself should the need every arise)

-“I study people. I’m an artist. I like to eat noodles.”

And so on.

R. is still stuck on thinking about his. He has the obvious ones (“I’m Serbian. I’m an engineer.”) but the perfect third one is eluding him. I think what attracts him so much to this movie is how it depicts the heroine’s struggles with maintaining the things that make her herself in the face of moving to a new environment. The list she makes are apparently some of the things that separate her from those around her. Being foreign here, I think he really identifies with this sense of separation from his surroundings and so on.

Anyway, I could go on writing about this for a while, as well as psychoanalysing my boyfriend, but as it is 2 am, I really feel I ought to go work on my paper some more and then to bed. I am a procrastinator, I am in my pyjamas, and I am sleepy.

What would yours be?

I spend the day devoting a lot of thought to samizdat. In a nutshell, samizdat is the word used to describe the grassroots publication process that occurred during Soviet times. The term itself literally means “self-published”. People would pass around manuscripts that did not conform to Soviet standards of writing (such as The Master and Margarita… gee.) As far as I know, printing presses were far and between, and these operations were highly illegal, so these manuscripts were all basically a few copied typed out on typewriters, or mimeographed, or even handwritten. People receiving these were asked to make more copies and continue the distribution.

This subject came to mind during my Central European Lit class today, where it was explained that the book we were reading (The Questionnaire, by Jiri Grusa– a really fabulous Czech book) had initially been published entirely as samizdat. While the term was being explained to the members of the class who do not study matters Slavic, I started thinking about the changes this must have made to the way the recipients of these manuscripts viewed books as physical objects. As far as I can gather, in the most extreme form, these would be printed on extremely flimsy paper, bound with a paperclip or in some other haphazard way. You would get the book for a couple of days and then have to pass it on to your buddy Ivan or Andrei… all keeping this very much on the down-low, of course. If you could make extra copies, that would be great, but vast risks would also be incurred.

It’s interesting to think, coming from an utterly different perspective, how this would have affected your relationship with the book itself. We’re so used to thinking of writing either in terms of bound books, which are solid and dependable, or in terms of things you find on the Internet, which aren’t nearly as tangible, but still instantly accessible. Here, the object itself is so ephemeral, but also it seems that being so rare, and having this whiff of danger about it, these manuscripts would have had a much higher symbolic meaning to the people who managed to get their hands on copies. There’s no real way to replicate this to the fullest today– what with the lack of living under a totalitarian regime, and all that, but I’d love to see an art project designed along these lines, just to see how people would interact with works printed on something this fleeting.


(The title is a famous quote from Master and Margarita. I found it circumstantially fitting.)