Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Luna Light

Taiwanese company Acorn Studio makes The Luna Light, a lovely replica of the full moon made from fiberglass and non-toxic latex that lights up dark corners or can act as a soothing night light.

The light is available in seven different sizes. Pop over to the website for more information

If you'd like to buy one, visit the Indigogo page to get in on the first run in March of 2016.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Orange, Mostly

Another meditation on a color (previously red and blue).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

LGBT History Month 2015

October is LGBT History Month. The website is observing the month by featuring the contributions and achievements of thirty one important gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered figures. Each day in October, a new LGBT figure will be featured with a video, bio, resources, and downloads.

Below is the list of the 2015 icons who will be featured. To the people who say "Well, I don't care if (insert famous LGBT person's name here) is/was gay. It's none of my business who (famous LGBT person) sleeps/slept with," I say that it is important to know in order to combat the still-persistent belief present in many quarters of the country that gay men or lesbians or bisexual or transgendered individuals are sick, useless, incapable of success, and have nothing to do with society or culture at large.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Still Know

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”
--Agatha Christie

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

BEAUTY: Interior--Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent

The most recent issue of Architectural Digest shows us inside the home of interior design duo Nate Berkus and his husband Jeremiah Brent and their newborn daughter Poppy. Both men are accomplished interior designers as evidenced by the wonderfully curated environment they created which is all about material (welcome back, brass!) and texture and form. The subtlety of the apartment blossoms upon closer inspection. Take a look at each detail, the shape and combination of the furnishings, the engaging yet restrained collection of objects...but the thing that makes me swoon is the shoe closet. I would LOVE to have that as I have, ahem, nearly as many shoes.

Their daughter Poppy is a lucky little girl--look at this sweet room they assembled for her...I love the neutral malachite wallcovering, the chrome changing table, the little tee-pee, and the menagerie of stuffed animals.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Happy Cherokee New Year 2015!

Happy Cherokee New Year!

The Cherokee people ended their year and started the new year in autumn. It’s interesting—and makes sense—that they chose the harvest to mark the end of the year. The earth had gone through a cycle: the food had grown from spring, through summer, and then was harvested in the fall. The cycle was finished; time to start anew. The New Year was celebrated with a festival that featured purifications, dancing, prayers and offerings, and food such as corn, beans, squash, and meat.

Since the Cherokee calendar was and still is extremely tied to the phases of the moon, the timing of the New Year observation is somewhat up for debate. Some sources say that it was observed on the first full moon after the start of autumn, which is today, September 28th, 2015. Other sources report that the New Year was observed ten days after the first full moon, the ten days probably being a period of fasting and preparation for the festival. Still other sources cite the first full moon in the Cherokee month of Nvdadequa or Nvwatitequa—which happens during our month of November—as the true Cherokee New Year.

Whenever it was celebrated, it was surely around this time... when the earth turns, the days grow shorter, the nights grow longer, and the weather turns cold. We prepare for the introspection that comes with winter, when the ground sleeps under the snow. That is the beginning of the year, the beginning of time: from darkness and cold springs life, new growth.

I wish you all "alihelisdi itse udetiyvsadisvi" or Happy New Year!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Keyboard For Breakfast

The Cafe Int. at the Nexon Computer Museum in South Korea serves a very clever breakfast: a waffle made in the shape of a keyboard and little brioche in the shape of the accompanying mouse! Sides are syrup, fruit, sorbets and a little "pâtisserie."

Thursday, September 24, 2015

"Giudecca" by Ghost Culture

Here is the bubbly, off-kilter, haunting "Giudecca" by Ghost Culture (James Greenwood). It seems like a pop song, buuuuuut...
It's like when something familiar to us is made from an unexpected material. It is the thing we know but shifted slightly to the side.

"I'm laughing at everything
Let it go, leave it be--"

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

"Let It Carry You" by José González

Oh my, how I love the music of José González (previously here, here, and here). This track, "Let It Carry You" is from his most recent release "Vestiges & Claws." And it is profound and joyous...profoundly joyous? Joyously profound? Yes...let it carry you.

Happy Autumnal Equinox 2015

Today is the official start of autumn, when our planet begins to tilt the other direction, tipping the northern hemisphere away from the sun. The days grow shorter, nights grow longer, as we move indoors and into ourselves for hibernation and introspection. Autumn is a time of harvest as the earth moves into hibernation as well. It is a beautiful time, a spiritual transition, a doorway between summer and winter.


(And for my friends Down Under, Happy Spring!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Happy Birthday "Oh, By The Way!" 2015

Congratulations "Oh, By The Way," you are six years old today!

Six years ago, I had a dream in which I started a blog called “Oh, By The Way.” When I woke up that morning, I went to the computer and promptly started a blog called “Oh, By The Way.” Seriously--it was the first thing I did that morning, and yes, I often act out in waking life things I have dreamt.

"Oh, By The Way" is my digital scrap book of things I like, things I would share with a close friend and say: “Oh, by the way, do you know of this artist/ clothing or interior designer/ model/ singer/ actor/ gorgeous man… or, have you seen this video/ photo/ film... or heard (or do you remember) this song/ band... or, read this book/ poem/ inspiring quote... or, visited this place/ restaurant/ famous building... or, have you heard of this amazing new scientific discovery?”

Followers and regular readers: thank you so much! I hope you find this blog fascinating, beautiful, interesting, moving, inspiring, informative, and uplifting. Welcome to the birthday party. Instead of cake this year, we are having donuts! Grab a virtual glazed treat and a glass of milk and enjoy...

The Last Day of Summer

Today is the last day of summer 2015...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Just finished reading...

...the powerful All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr which won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

A good friend and I have started our own two-person book club since we have challenging schedules and busy lives--two of us seems more manageable than a whole gaggle. We read, we email our thoughts as we progress through the book, and then we meet for a lunch (or several!) to discuss. For our current book, she suggested Doerr's novel All The Light We Cannot See. I had not heard anything about the subject of the book, so I dove in.

Ostensibly, we follow two separate plot lines: 1) a young blind girl, Marie-Laure and her father who are forced to flee Paris when the Nazis come, and 2) Werner, a young German orphan whose only love is science and who, for that very reason, gets snapped up by the Nazi party to work on radios. I must say that when I started the book, I was a tiny bit reticent since this is very familiar territory. There have been so many books, films, and plays about WWII that it almost seems--and I do not mean this disrespectfully to those and their descendants who were destroyed or touched by the war--that there is a little bit of a saturation point on the subject. This has nothing to do with the subject of the war itself but the way it is appropriated and packaged for sale by industries, especially Hollywood. But it only took a few chapters to see that this story may take place during WWII but is actually about so much more. It is effective, especially with a war that is still fairly recent and that still gets a lot of cultural coverage, to tell it from a smaller point of view, from the perspective of two children. It's always more effective to tell grand stories from smaller points of view: HISTORY when told as such is HISTORY, but when it is an individual, it is of course easier to identify with, to see the impact on actual lives. But if our protagonists are kids, as they are here, it is all the more effective since war is generally, on a psychic level, incomprehensible--and it is certainly incomprehensible to children. And the sad part is that we watch them come to comprehend what it all is, as the daily details of war tighten into them, making notches, taking from them their childhood.

Through the many years of WWII, our children, for various reasons, end up in the French coastal town of Saint Malo for the cataclysmic siege the city suffered in August and September of 1944 at the hands of American bombs and British gunfire. Some critics have suggested that it is obvious that these two will eventually meet and that the device is predictable, even hackneyed. But I did not see it that way and to those critics I say you are not looking at it the right way--you are hobbled by a linear point of view. The story itself is told not in chronological order. We hop back and forth between their childhood, the start of the war, the siege, the middle of the war, back and forth, circling the events through time. I felt that it was more about following the thread backward--the two meet, yes, but what are the incredible, improbable, heartbreaking, and sometimes joyous paths that lead to such a meeting? I often contemplate this idea in my own life by looking at a meeting with someone or a particular event and tracing it back. I'm sure we've all done this in our imaginations: if I hadn't gone to _____ or known _____ then I would never have gotten here, now. Our lives are a connected chain of such what ifs. So for me, it was not so much that it was "inevitable" that they meet but that, at a certain point in the time stream, they did meet. Now, let's examine how and why that happened. All time is simultaneous. When you stand outside of it, you can observe from any angle, and such an approach is cosmically thrilling.

There is a marvelous juxtaposition between the literary and the cinematic in Doerr's writing. His style is certainly literary--but in a powerfully simple, straightforward way. It is not florid writing. Author JR Moehringer says, "Anthony Doerr sees the world as a scientist, but feels it as a poet." And this is true. While stunningly poetical (often breathtakingly so), it is completely direct and this helps the swift pacing. The entire novel is composed of short chapters that act as quick cuts in a film which is unexpected by ultimately pleasing. It brings a compelling rhythm to the story. If it were a film, such little bursts of story, flitting back and forth, would bring a lot of very effective tension. And it is the same in the book, back and forth, back and forth, not only with time as I have mentioned, but with location and character. We are sort of breathlessly putting together the puzzle of this story. His directness also plays up the completely heartbreaking aspects of everything happening to and around these kids. I confess that, as a writer, I might have been tempted to find adjectives that would describe heartbreak and misery and fear, to try to describe all of that and GIVE it to the reader...but that would have been the wrong approach. It is enough to see these children in this situation. The rest happens in our hearts.

There is some lovely poetry in the title too: "the light we cannot see" being Marie's blindness and by implication, how she maneuvers in her world of darkness (there are some gorgeous passages from her point of view, encountering natural elements) but also how Werner learned about the invisible world around him. He loved that the air is filled with wavelengths, infrared light, ultraviolet light, and especially invisible radio waves, all this static that is in the air every second. And then there is all the lightness we can't see while things are so dark and horrible...where is the lightness of the world when such a war rages? Where is joy when people can be so deliberately cruel and monstrous, when Germans wanted so to punish, to destroy, so full of anger at the entire world. It reminds me of certain quarters of this country today where people are SO angry and want to lash out to hurt and destroy...all the leftovers from the Tea Party and evangelicals with their twisted, aimless fury, lips curled in a snarl and veins bulging in their necks. The target of such rage does not matter. There is also the abstract idea of the light we cannot see being those invisible paths and threads that lead us forward, to a meeting with a special person, to a place that becomes a part of us.

And finally, I will say that I love how science is presented, as something real, important, powerful...more powerful than politics or petty hatred. It can be used by anyone and everyone, it does not play favorites or take sides. Science exists above and beyond--or rather the objects of science, the radio waves, wavelengths, electricity, magnetism. These things exist whether there are Nazis or not, whether evangelicals deny them or not. There is a purity to it. I like that Werner strives for that, and his allegiance is to a truth that is actual and exists no matter what, no matter if it is believed in or not. And Marie-Laure loves the natural world, the scientific aspect of zoology and marine life and shells and phytology and botany. The way that both of these kids look up to this system of recognizing and understanding the world around them is beautiful and frankly refreshing, and this leads me to reflect on our current time, here and now (shouldn't good art do that? make one think about one's own life and time?). I lament the anti-science movement in this country, the anti-vaxxers, the evangelicals who think that the world is only 4,000 years old and that fossils are decoys planted by Satan to detract from "God's word." Thankfully we have people like Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson who are champions of the sciences, but come on, we should not have to have someone to "champion" science. It should--and IS--self evident. But only if one is not blinded by religious superstition. So, it's lovely to see science portrayed as something NOT up for debate, something that is granted, something that is a given...

Recommend? YES. It is a beautiful, fulfilling achievement of literature, but also philosophy and spirituality. There are a few passages toward the end that deal with the enormity of life and this reality in a concise but jaw-dropping way. It didn't win a Pulitzer for nothing...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

BEAUTY: Painting--Frank Mesaric

The arresting work of Frank Mesaric features empty, realistic settings charged with meaning under a ghostly superimposition of a black and white version of a famous Baroque painting. The pairings seem to be loosely linked in a kind of stream-of-consciousness way. The Beheading of Halofernes by Caravaggio floats over a leather sofa. A maritime rescue vessel puts out a fire while Georges De La Tour's Magdalene with the Smoking Flame sits nearby. Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson hovers ominously over a stripped hospital bed in an empty corridor. And finally, and most chillingly, Supper at Emmaus appears next to an F-117 fighter among what must be the burning Kuwaiti oil fields from the Gulf War.

Top to bottom: Couch and The Beheading of Halofernes; Deep Water and St. Mary Magdelene with the Smoking Flame; Entry Door and The Inspiration of Saint Matthew; F-117 Night Hawk and Supper at Emmaus; Fulham Railway Crossing and Dead Christ; Hospital Bed and The Anatomy Lesson; Passage Window and Christ Embracing Saint Bernard; Bridge at Tarraville and The Virgin Mourning Christ