Thursday, March 31, 2011

Win Win

Mike Flaherty's life teeters on the edge of failure; his law practice is suffering, bills aren't getting paid, the wrestling team he coaches is on a losing streak, and his furnace is about to blow. His marriage seems solid enough, but when he persuades a judge to allow him to act as guardian to his elderly client, Leo, any domestic calm is upended.

Flaherty has good intentions. He can use the monthly payment for the guardianship to support his family, and place Leo in a nursing home that sees to his needs--where's the problem? That would be the unexpected arrival of Leo's teenage grandson, running away from an unhappy and troubled life in Ohio.

There is much to like in writer/director Tom McCarthy's film that features Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan and newcomer Alex Shaffer. Whether it is McCarthy's measured direction, or the strength of the actors interpretation of his sharp screenplay, what I liked most was the shorthand dialogue that reflects so realistically how people communicate, whether they know each other very well, or not at all.

With any relationship there is a visible dynamic; the interaction seen and heard. However, the subtlety of what isn't said, those gestures that nearly take place, are sometimes more revealing. There's a jazz expression that is similar: it's the notes you don't play. When Paul and his wife ask the teenager typical questions, he answers with polite brevity. We can sense their frustration, and also sympathize with the newcomer. It may not seem like much, but I find that dance especially compelling.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Small Things

In 1954, designer extraordinaire Bruno Munari presented a collection of ordinary products he felt had outstanding design. The first Golden Compass Award (Il Compasso D'Oro) was decreed to those 'anonymous designers' that year, a prize the ADI (Association of Industrial Design) continues to bestow annually. Among the humble items on the list; a folding chair, a music stand and a Japanese saw.

In their new book, Usefulness in Small Things, Sam Hecht and Kim Colin share the same appreciation for everyday, mass produced objects designed for utility.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sonia Delaunay

Sonia in her Paris studio, circa 1926

Colored Rhythm, 1946

Swimsuits, 1928

Sonia Delaunay was instrumental in bringing abstraction and cubism into the applied arts. Until June 5th, an exhibition of her work with its deliriously joyful colors can be seen at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Peace of mind

The excellent HBO drama In Treatment features Gabriel Byrne as psychotherapist Dr. Paul Weston, following his weekly sessions with his patients as well as his meetings with his own therapist. In the 1950's, EC Comics published Psychoanalysis, focusing on three patients and their visits with a Freudian psychiatrist. Whether it was an absurd format, or too much too soon, the series lasted for only four issues. The comics were reprinted by Gemstone in 1999.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


You would have to kill me and prop me up in the seat of my car
with a smile printed on my face to get me to go near Hollywood.

--Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick was skeptical that his stories could be adapted for film. However, after seeing the special effects employed in Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner (based on his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), he enthusiastically supported the project. Dick died several months before the film was released, at the young age of 53. As of 2011, ten of his stories have made their way to the big screen, some better than others, but none as fantastically lush as Blade Runner.

Free will and the questionable nature of reality are recurring themes. Also, a deep-seated distrust of large and powerful corporations.

Love is those that control fate

Can one willfully change their future?

How reliable is memory?

What makes a human, human?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wardrobe test

James Dean, Giant 1955

Elizabeth Taylor, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1957

Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire 1950

Audrey Hepburn, Sabrina 1953

Elvis Presley, Flaming Star 1960

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bare walls

I love to see how art is displayed in homes, that is unless the space itself is dazzling without. Steve Burns (the former host of Blue's Clues) hired Mesh Architectures to design his smashing pad, replete with light, space and a private courtyard.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Leo Tolstoy wrote his 'rules for life' when he was 18 years old.

1. Get up early (five o’clock)

2. Go to bed early (nine to ten o’clock)

3. Eat little and avoid sweets

4. Try to do everything by yourself

5. Have a goal for your whole life, a goal for one section of your life, a goal for a shorter period and a goal for the year; a goal for every month, a goal for every week, a goal for every day, a goal for every hour and for every minute, and sacrifice the lesser goal to the greater

6. Keep away from women

7. Kill desire by work

8. Be good, but try to let no one know it

9. Always live less expensively than you might

10. Change nothing in your style of living even if you become ten times richer

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I want one too, but no prints are available due to copyright law.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Big John

Johnny Weissmuller (1904-1984)

Swimming Olympian, husband in 5 marriages,
and the best Tarzan the world has ever seen.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beautiful creature

You fellows can’t tell what a stupendously beautiful creature I have found. By Jove! She’s like a queen, magnificently tall, with a lovely figure, a stately neck, and a face of the most delicate and finished modelling: the flow of surface from the temples over the cheek is exactly like the carving of a Phidean goddess…I got my mother to persuade the miraculous creature to sit for me for my Viola in ‘Twelfth Night‘, and to-day I have been trying to paint her; but I have made a mess of my beginning.

--Artist William Holman Hunt describes Elizabeth Siddal

Ophelia (1872), John Everett Millais
Siddal portrays the doomed maiden of Hamlet

Beata - Beatrix, (1872) Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Siddal as Dante's beloved Beatrice. The painting was completed after
Siddal's premature death.

Twelfth Night (1850), Walter Howell Deverell
Siddal (on the left) as cross-dressing Viola

Elizabeth Siddal was just 20 years old and working as an assistant to a milliner when she was first approached by artist Walter Deverell to pose for a painting. Deverell was a student of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who along with John Everett Millais and William Holden Hunt had formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, painting scenes from Shakespeare, the Bible and romantic poetry.

In the decade that followed, she was a model, muse, poet and artist. A tempestuous relationship with Rossetti culminated in their brief marriage. Siddal overdosed on the opiate laudanum at the age of 32.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) conveys the lovely poetry of rain.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Portrait de Mme***

Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend.

--John Singer Sargent

In the summer of 1883, John Singer Sargent painted a portrait of Madame Pierre Gautreau, the beautiful Parisian socialite and American expatriate. His studies reveal his penchant for her profile, and depict one strap of her dress loosely off-shoulder. The portrait was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1884, and almost immediately caused an uproar. French society was offended by the painting's overt sexual suggestiveness; the revealing gown, the confident stance, the lazy strap that implied wanton freedom. Sargent defended his artwork, but took his canvas back to his studio and altered the strap. The original version is preserved in a photograph taken at the Paris Salon. Madame X (as she is known), resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Sargent considered the painting to be his finest work.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Screen test

Marlon Brando demonstrates how the camera loves him.
He is 23 years old.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Machu Picchu

I've never seen nature so absolutely terrifying.

--Georgia O'Keeffe, recalling her trip to Peru and the Inca fortress, Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Morning Light

Peruvian Landscape

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


From National Geographic: Scientists and engineers conclude
the Disney/Pixar Up! balloon house is possible. Wow.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Publicity still

Lucille Ball in 1945. Before she was a redhead or a TV magnate.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pink stone

Petra, Jordan. I want to walk through that corridor.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dash of red

Accentuate the negative. Negative space, that is. Minimalist ads by René Grau.

Friday, March 11, 2011


The Amanita Muscaria (Fliegenpilz in German) is among the most toxic species of mushrooms.
Still, the red capped fungi are considered a good luck symbol in Europe, and often seen in cloth patterns, toys and ornaments .

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Vibrant album cover art by Jim Flora.