Saturday, March 31, 2012

Art of design

I love the pure simplicity in the designs of Enzo Mari.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Beautiful losers

Powerful performances with nuance and depth transcend the easy-target antagonist. The audience warms and then sympathizes as we notice a glimmer of humor or tenderness— often we learn how means corrupt ends. The following received the Oscar for their great work as failed outcasts, perhaps the greatest performances of their careers.

Victor Mclaglen, The Informer (1935)
Gypo Nolan; self-serving brute who rats on his friend

Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend (1945)
Don Birnam; abusive, lying, thieving alcoholic

Vivien Leigh, A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Blanche Dubois; delusional, devious, promiscuous neurotic

Jack Nicholson, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Randle McMurphy; shiftless, criminal agitator

Charlize Theron, Monster (2003)
Aileen Wuornos; hostile low-rent prostitute and serial killer

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lift off

Norman Bel Geddes designs. Ready to explore space.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Build, build, build

Wilder with script (in the background his six Oscars are visible)

Under his direction, fourteen actors received an Oscar for their performances in both comedies and drama. Still, Billy Wilder considered himself a writer first. Following are ten of his screenwriting tips, from the 1999 book Conversations with Wilder by Cameron Crowe.

The audience is fickle.

Grab ‘em by the throat and never let ‘em go.

Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.

Know where you’re going.

The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points,
the better you are as a writer.

If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is
in the first act.

A tip from Ernst Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two.
They’ll love you forever.

In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees.
Add to what they are seeing.

The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.

The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event,
and then—that's it. Don't hang around.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Looking good

Steve McQueen was the first male to appear on the cover of Harper's Bazaar (February, 1965).
A great face amped to the nth degree thanks to the dynamic duo: photographer Richard Avedon and art director Ruth Ansel.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It helps

1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.

2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.

3. Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn't exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.

4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn't belong there.

5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.

6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.

John Steinbeck offers six writing tips during The Paris Review interview, 1975

"If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story."

—John Steinbeck, after receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature, 1963

Saturday, March 24, 2012

You mean the world

Another restored version of Abel Gance's 1927 film Napoleon will be shown at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival March 24th, 25th, 31st and April 1st (at the Oakland Paramount Theatre) with music provided by 48 members of the Oakland East Bay Symphony. I saw the epic film with Carmine Coppola conducting a 60 member orchestra at the Chicago Theater;  for a mere $20 I received one of the most spectacular movie experiences ever.  One scene in particular stays with me; in it Napoleon spins an enormous globe, in which we see the image of his beloved Josephine superimposed. He leans in to kiss her, and is asked, "Are you kissing Paris?" 

We, the audience can see the objects of his desire; the world and Josephine.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Don't worry

An excerpt from a father's letter to his 11-year old daughter at camp.  Specifically, F. Scott Fitzgerald to Francis Scott "Scottie" Fitzgerald:

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

Don't worry about popular opinion
Don't worry about dolls
Don't worry about the past
Don't worry about the future
Don't worry about growing up
Don't worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don't worry about triumph
Don't worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don't worry about mosquitoes
Don't worry about flies
Don't worry about insects in general
Don't worry about parents
Don't worry about boys
Don't worry about disappointments
Don't worry about pleasures
Don't worry about satisfactions

Thursday, March 22, 2012

One tree

Painter Stephen Taylor spent three years painting one magnificent tree he happened upon while walking in Essex, England. Princeton Architectural Press has published a book of his work.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Horizontal band

During his three year stint as Head of Design for Penguin Books (1946-1949), Jan Tschichold created the template for all Penguin Books, with designated positions for the logo, author's name and book title. His stark design was a radical approach, with a streamlined, modern appeal. Over time, even after the inclusion of cover illustration, the strong grid asserts itself as pure Penguin.

Are you a purist for the Penguin typography only covers? Well, I can't deny my love for Quentin Blake's drawings.

Monday, March 19, 2012


The elephant's a gentleman, the battery-mule's a mule;

—Rudyard Kipling, Oonts

The Elephant Nature Park is an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center located near Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Volunteers can work one, two or four weeks.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


I've been collecting educational charts for nearly ten years. This is the finest I've seen; circa 1937, Chart of Evolution from Norway, illustrated by Borgny Bay. It measures roughly 4' high, x 6' wide (116cm x 175cm).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A bit mangy

Greeting cards by David Shrigley; pointedly without point.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Pure light

Gorgeous organic forms and delightful names grace the new lighting catalogue of Lightyears.





Thursday, March 15, 2012


My lucky niece left for Japan today.  For two years during my childhood, I lived in a small town in Hokkaido, in an apartment located above a general store. I've been back to Japan several times since, but not to the rural areas.  For its crisp appearance and its nod to my Japanese roots, I love my 'Ichi' clock (designed by Tibor Kalman).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Art space

More homes should look like museums.  One version of my dream home looks like the Roku Museum by Hiroshi Nakamura; light, space, and those individual book!

Not just a job

"If you hire people just because they can do a job, they'll work
for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you
believe, they'll work for you with blood, sweat and tears."

— Simon Sinek

Monday, March 12, 2012

State of Illinois (table!)

Etsy continues to grow, and searching the site can be daunting these days. But if you were looking for say, a nifty coffee table, you might pull up this one. Who knew Illinois (my home state) could be so user-friendly? You can pick your own state, as these tables are made-to-order.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Outside the cube

Jean Metzinger (1883-1956) is known for his contribution to cubism in both theory and art. Still, his representational paintings are dreamy.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Faraway eyes

Osa Johnson (1894-1953) married her husband Martin while she was still a teenager. They left their Kansas home for the South Sea islands, North Borneo, East Malaysia and Africa, filming a record of their journeys exploring wildlife, meeting tribesmen and gathering valuable geographic information. In the field, Martin was the principal photographer, while Osa was guard, hunter and pilot.