Thursday, June 26, 2008

Eureka! I've Found It!

For years, I've remembered a gentle guitar melody from a short film that used to air on Sesame Street. The film was about a sunflower in Manhattan, and the melody was so tender and lovely that I've never forgotten it. Until now, I had no idea who wrote the music, so I wasn't sure I'd ever hear it again, and that made me sad.

But thanks to Google, I've found it. It seems I wasn't the only little kid that was moved by this piece:

On 17 August 2006 (06:19 PM), San said:
I don't know the episode
But it was like 25 yrs or more ago
The scene was a sunflower on a flower pot
sitting on the ledge of a balcony
just after the rain.
There is a solo nylon/classical guitar playing on the background

Does anybody know the title of the song played?
Any in fo is appreciated pls post the answer.

Someone wrote back and answered, "It's Vivaldi’s Concerto for lute, 2 violins and continuo in D Major, II - Largo."

I found the clip on YouTube and had a bit of a cry.

The film is still beautiful to me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sarkozky's Near Miss

“This was in no way an assassination attempt,” said Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman. “A border policeman ... committed suicide during the farewell ceremony.”

This story is just too strange be to believed. Why would an Israeli border police just 100 meters away from French President Nicolas Sarkozy commit suicide? Shouldn't we be hearing more details about this incident by now? Instead, the story is being swept under the rug.

Possible motive? Well, on Monday, Sarkozy told the Israeli parliament that there could be no Mideast peace unless Israel halted its West Bank settlement construction and divided Jerusalem.

Until more info unfolds, here's my guess: Israeli security saw the guard brandishing his weapon and popped him before a devastating international tragedy could occur.

By the way, though Carla Bruni sings about danger and excitement, she sure didn't waste anytime hustling herself onto the plane!

Conspiracy theorists, get busy!

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin

Despite a long history of heart trouble, it was still a surprise to hear of the death of comedian George Carlin. He performed as recently as last weekend, and still seemed sharp in television appearances.

Carlin was an intensely cerebral comic who used his old radio deejay skills to dissect the English language and American social institutions. His classic "Baseball vs. Football" routine is a prime example. Enjoy!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Creepy Beautiful

Graphic artist Charley Harper has been getting a lot of buzz lately on account of a huge, expensive career retrospective by Todd Oldham.

Harper specialized in serigraph nature studies.

His print above, of a cow getting eaten by piranha, is a great example of his flat, graphic style.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dear Old School Days

For some reason, I decided to visit the site of my old high school, Eastern Tech.

My high school was a magnet school. Students had to apply for admission, and were expected to abide by a dress code and fairly strict behavior and performance standards. The school was full of kids like me, white, lower-middle class, from blue-collar families. Very few of our parents had gone to college. But we knew the world was changing, and we couldn't expect to work in the mills like our dads. While most of us weren't about to set the world on fire, we were serious about our future, and interested in the world around us.

We each declared "primes," a major area of study. Some were technical, others were blue-collar. My prime was computer programming. I figured everyone was going to be using computers in the future. We learned COBOL, Fortran, RPG. I taught myself to program in BASIC. We learned to use punched data cards on ancient mainframes donated by the Social Security Administration. I loved it, but I hated it. It was too dry, to technical for me. I had to study accounting and calculus.

Eventually, I decided to pursue art and design. I thought I'd cut and paste and draw and glue things with my hands. For a short time, I did, but those days are over. Professional graphic design is unthinkable without computers. And I understand them quite well. Thanks, Eastern Tech.

I found an interesting tidbit on their site, indicative of the spirit of Eastern Tech, and good for all Americans to consider:


If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village with precisely 100 people, with all the existing human nations remaining the same, it would look like this:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere (north and south)
8 Africans
52 females
48 males

70 would be non-white
30 white

70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian

59% of the world’s wealth would be in the hands of only 6 people and all 6 would be citizens of the US
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
1 would be near death
1 would be near birth

Only 1 would have a college education and only 1 would have a computer. When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for both acceptance and understanding becomes glaringly apparent.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Music Review: "Accelerate," R.E.M.

Frankly, R.E.M. has bored me silly since 1988's "Green." To me, they became maudlin ("Everybody Hurts" and "Man on the Moon," for instance) and self-important, meandering, and without focus.

So when the early buzz for "Accelerate" hinted at a return to sharp rock tunes, I was intrigued. After a week of near constant play in my car, I'm convinced: they still got it. In spades!

The opener, "Living Well Is the Best Revenge," starts with a compact Merle Travis-style guitar lick and adds a great Michael Stipe poetry slam vocal. There's absolutely no melody, but that's OK: the song is relentless and explosive, and it holds up after lots of plays. It's amazing to hear how much R.E.M. can do with so little.

I also love "Man-Sized Wreath," "Supernatural Superserious," "Horse to Water," and "Mr. Richards." The latter reminds me of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, a deliberate, shoe-gazing groove with exquisite, subtle harmonies. It's been stuck in my head for days.

"Accelerate" sounds crafted and confident, with a certain "we can still rock" defiance. The songs know where they're going, and with the exception of "Houston," don't meander. The simple songs belie a surprising depth that bubbles to the surface after repeated listens. Quite a few moments of this release are magnificent.

It's no coincidence the band chose a simple, xerox style graphic for their album cover. These millionaires are revisting their old club days in Athens, no?

It's useless to compare "Accelerate" to old R.E.M. — Reagan is dead, Stipe is bald, and gas is $4.00 a gallon.

My grade? A solid B+ for effort.

Old guys rock!

Design Competition: Big Box Store

My latest design competition: redesign the exterior of Wal-Mart, the blandest of bland big box stores.

My idea is to construct the facade using the empty shipping containers. You know what these are -- they're the big, colorful metal crates left behind each time Wal-Mart receives another boatload of merchandise from China, our communist trading partner in the Far East.

The "SuperContainerCenter," as I'm tentatively calling it, achieves several objectives:

• It reappropriates unusable materials (the shipping crates)
• The steel exterior easily withstands the hurricanes and tornadoes of the Deep South
• It provides a cheekily ironic reminder of where all of our manufacturing jobs have gone

To all the haters out there: if you say my redesign is "ugly," think about this: the construction savings alone will allow Wal-Mart to shave at least nine cents off the price of an economy-sized bottle of Head and Shoulders shampoo. Now that's something all Americans can rally around!

Viva la redesign!

Brilliant Graphic Design

Pac-Man and Blinky sit down for a candlelit dinner together in this wonderfully creative graphic design from Olly Moss.

It's a great example of that famous "how to be creative" quote: make the familiar strange, and the strange familiar.

I wish I had thought of this!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Fearless Leader of Canada

It's Prime Minister Stephen Harper, holding a cuddly kitten named "Cheddar."