Sunday, August 06, 2017

The Good News Book Club

7/2019 It All Comes Back To You - Beth Duke (Julie) DNR
6/2019 The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Bobby) DNR
4/2019 Darling Girl - Terry Watkins (Silke) ****
2/2019 Palace of Treason (Lisa) DNR
12/2018 Home Fires - Kamila Shamsie (Reza) ****
9/2018 A Man Called Ove (Cory) DNR
7/2018 The Perfect Horse (Julie) DNR
6/2018 Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Bobby) *****
5/2018 10% Happier by Dan Harris (Bob) DNR
3/2018 Being Mortal - Atul Gawande (Silke) *****
1/2018 It's All Relative - A. J. Jacobs (Lisa) DNR
12/2017 My Italian Bulldozer - Alexander McCall Smith (Marie) ***
11/2017 Refuge - Dina Nayeri (Reza) ****
9/2017 A Gentleman in Moscow - Amor Towles (Cory) ***
7/2017 Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan (Julie) DNR
6/2017 What Is The What - Dave Eggers (Bobby) ****
4/2017 I Hate To Leave This Beautiful Place by Howard Norman (Silke)
2/2017 News Of The World by Paulette Jiles (Lisa) DNR
1/17 The Sellout by Paul Beatty (Reza) *
11/16 The Nightengale by Kristin Hannah (Cory) DNR
9/16 Outline by Rachel Cusk (Julie) ***
8/16 The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith (Lisa) DNR
7/16 A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout and Sarah Corbett (Bobby) DNR
5/16 All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (Marie) DNR
3/16 Migratory Animals by Mary Helen Specht (Reza) ***
2/16 The Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal (Cory) ****
12/15 Big Little Lies by Liane Moriaty (Julie) ****
11/15 (Bobby)
9/15 One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis (Lisa) DNR
7/15 The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel and Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer (Julie) ****
6/15 The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins (Reza) ****
5/15 The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday (Cory)
2/15 Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Bobby)
12/14 The Constellation of Vital Phenomenon by Anthony Marra (Lisa) DNR
11/14 The Telling Room by Michael Paterniti (Bob) **
9/14 The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez (Marie)***
8/14 The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (Reza) ****
6/14 Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (Cory) ****
4/14 The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (Julie) DNR
3/14 Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead (Bobby) ****
2/14 Truth In Advertising by John Kenney (Lisa) ****
12/13 Signal and Noise by Nate Silver (Bob) ****
11/13 The Cuckoo's Calliing by J.K. Rowling (Marie) ***
9/13 The Unlikely Pilgramage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (Reza) ***
7/13 The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (Cory) DNR
6/13 Out of the Easy - Ruta Sepsys (Julie) DNR
4/13 The Dirty Life (Bobby) DNR
3/13 Wild - Cheryl Strayed (Lisa) DNR
1/13 Touching The Void - Joe Simpson (Bob) ***
11/12 American Dervish - Ayad Akhtar (Reza) ****
9/12 Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (Cory) DNR
7/12 A Drop of the Hard Stuff by Lawrence Block (Julie) ****
5/12 The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (Bobby) *****
4/12 Faithful Place by Tana French (Lisa) ****
2/12 The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Marten Troost (Bob) DNR
1/12 The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper (Marie) DNR
11/11 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Reza) DNR
9/11 The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman (Cory) ****
8/11 This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (Julie) ***
6/11 Three Junes by Julia Glass (Bobby) ****
5/11 Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote (Silke) DNR
4/11 Operation Mincemeat by Ben Macityre (Lisa) DNR
3/11 The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson (Bob) DNR
1/11 Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin (Julie)****
11/10 Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (Reza) ****
10/10 Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese (Cory) *****
7/10 Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Julie) DNR
5/10 The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Bobby) ****
4/10 Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (Silke) ****
1/10 The Billionaire's Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace (Bob) ***
12/09 Without a Map by Meredith Hall (Marie) ****
10/09 Breath by Tim Winton (Reza) ***
9/09 My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'Homme (Cory) ****
8/09 The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart by M. Glenn Taylor (Julie) DNR
6/09 Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris (Bobby) **
5/09 Lust for Life by Irving Stone (Lisa) **
4/09 Out Stealing Horses: A Novel by Per Petterson (Silke) *****
3/09 Born On A Blue Day by Daniel Tammet (Bob) DNR
1/09 Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen (Julie) ***
12/08 The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (Reza) ****
10/08 All New People by Anne Lamott (Cory) ***
9/08 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz (Julie) DNR
7/08 Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Lisa) ****
6/08 Mudbound by Hillary Jordan (Bobby) ****
5/08 Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich (Bob) *
4/08 The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner (Reza) **
2/08 The News from Paraguay: A Novel by Lily Tuck (Cory) *
1/08 The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (Marie) ***
12/07 Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (Julie) ****
11/07 A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (Bobby) *****
10/07 Honeymoon with My Brother: A Memoir by Franz Wisner (Lisa) ***
8/07 Heat by Bill Buford (Bob) ****
7/07 The Maytrees by Annie Dillard (Reza) *
6/07 Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future by Bill McKibben (Cory) **
5/07 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Bobby) ***
3/07 The Emperor's Children by Claire Messud (Julie) ****
2/07 Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell (Bob) ***
11/06 Digging to America by Anne Tyler (Reza) ****
10/06 My Life by Anton Chekhov (Cory) *
9/06 No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (Bobby) *****
7/06 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (Julie) *
6/06 Pearl: A Novel by Mary Gordon (Shay) *
4/06 Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis (Bob) ***
2/06 Prep: A Novel by Curtis Sittenfeld (Christine) **
1/06 The Known World by Edward P. Jones (Reza) *****
11/05 Saturday by Ian McEwan (Cory) *****
10/05 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (Bobby) **

Friday, January 30, 2009

Zeitgeist: Nassim Taleb's Tips for Living

I got this list from Andrew Taylor's Artful Manager blog. Tips for living by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (author of The Black Swan):
  • Skepticism is effortful and costly. It is better to be skeptical about matters of large consequences, and be imperfect, foolish and human in the small and the aesthetic.
  • Go to parties. You can't even start to know what you may find on the envelope of serendipity. If you suffer from agoraphobia, send colleagues.
  • It's not a good idea to take a forecast from someone wearing a tie. If possible, tease people who take themselves and their knowledge too seriously.
  • Wear your best for your execution and stand dignified. Your last recourse against randomness is how you act -- if you can't control outcomes, you can control the elegance of your behavior. You will always have the last word.
  • Don't disturb complicated systems that have been around for a very long time. We don't understand their logic. Don't pollute the planet. Leave it the way we found it, regardless of scientific 'evidence'.
  • Learn to fail with pride -- and do so fast and cleanly. Maximize trial and error -- by mastering the error part.
  • Avoid losers. If you hear someone use the words 'impossible', 'never', 'too difficult' too often, drop him or her from your social network. Never take 'no' for an answer (conversely, take most 'yeses' as 'most probably').
  • Don't read newspapers for the news (just for the gossip and, of course, profiles of authors). The best filter to know if the news matters is if you hear it in cafes, restaurants... or (again) parties.
  • Hard work will get you a professorship or a BMW. You need both work and luck for a Booker, a Nobel or a private jet.
  • Answer e-mails from junior people before more senior ones. Junior people have further to go and tend to remember who slighted them.

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Music

Chemical Chords by Stereolab

Radio Retaliation by Thievery Corporation

Art: Austin Kleon - Newspaper Blackout Poems

Austin Kleon was included in the presentation of one of the architects (Page Sutherland Page) for the Austin Public Library Project. The presentation said: "In the end, what we need to do is to make a kind of poetry out of the latent potential of the project and site." What Austin Kleon does is reveal the "latent poetry tucked away in the body text of headline news."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On the Road in India: Niraj Seth's WSJ blog

A great travel blog by WSJ journalist Niraj Seth about his travel through the south of India in an auto-rickshaw - On the Road in India
Excerpt about using a horn while driving :-)
"The horn is your friend. Use it often, use it well. Unlike in the US, where a honk usually signals an imminent emergency (or unpardonable rudeness) honking is a way of life in India. Anything can cross your path at any time — people walking down the middle of the highway in the dark, motorcycles traveling the wrong way, a tire rolling across a street — so it’s wise to keep one hand on or near the horn. Drivers here blow the horn when they’re passing pedestrians, presumably to alert them to an approaching vehicle. They honk to rouse the cars placidly drifting into the oncoming lane. Sometimes they even honk on completely empty streets — out of habit, perhaps."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Zeitgeist: Why Experience Matters (David Brooks)

An insightful column by David Brooks: Why Experience Matters
"What is prudence? It is the ability to grasp the unique pattern of a specific situation. It is the ability to absorb the vast flow of information and still discern the essential current of events — the things that go together and the things that will never go together. It is the ability to engage in complex deliberations and feel which arguments have the most weight.
How is prudence acquired? Through experience. The prudent leader possesses a repertoire of events, through personal involvement or the study of history, and can apply those models to current circumstances to judge what is important and what is not, who can be persuaded and who can’t, what has worked and what hasn’t.
Experienced leaders can certainly blunder if their minds have rigidified (see: Rumsfeld, Donald), but the records of leaders without long experience and prudence is not good. As George Will pointed out, the founders used the word “experience” 91 times in the Federalist Papers. Democracy is not average people selecting average leaders. It is average people with the wisdom to select the best prepared. "

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zeitgeist: Mental discipline

This op-ed column by David Brooks about Tiger Woods' mental discipline has stuck in my mind after reading it a week ago.
The Frozen Gaze
"In a period that has brought us instant messaging, multitasking, wireless distractions and attention deficit disorder, Woods has become the exemplar of mental discipline. After watching Woods walk stone-faced through a roaring crowd, the science writer Steven Johnson, in a typical comment, wrote: “I have never in my life seen a wider chasm between the look in someone’s eye and the surrounding environment."
The ancients were familiar with physical courage and the priests with moral courage, but in this over-communicated age when mortals feel perpetually addled, Woods is the symbol of mental willpower. He is, in addition, competitive, ruthless, unsatisfied by success and honest about his own failings. (Twice, he risked his career to retool his swing"

Zeitgeist: Fuel efficiency m.p.g. vs. gallons/100 miles


"...the researchers say, the relationship between consumption and m.p.g. is curvilinear, and there is a greater savings at lower m.p.g.’s. Over 10,000 miles, the 28 m.p.g. car uses 198 fewer gallons than the 18 m.p.g., more than double the savings of the 50 m.p.g. car compared with the 34 m.p.g. one.
With this new measure, the researchers suggest, consumers would more easily see the value of swapping an inefficient car for one that is even just modestly more efficient."

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Zeitgeist: New Habits

Can You Become a Creature of New Habits?
"Rather than dismissing ourselves as unchangeable creatures of habit, we can instead direct our own change by consciously developing new habits. In fact, the more new things we try — the more we step outside our comfort zone — the more inherently creative we become, both in the workplace and in our personal lives."

"Ms. Ryan and Ms. Markova have found what they call three zones of existence: comfort, stretch and stress. Comfort is the realm of existing habit. Stress occurs when a challenge is so far beyond current experience as to be overwhelming. It’s that stretch zone in the middle — activities that feel a bit awkward and unfamiliar — where true change occurs.
She recommends practicing a Japanese technique called kaizen, which calls for tiny, continuous improvements.
“Whenever we initiate change, even a positive one, we activate fear in our emotional brain,” Ms. Ryan notes in her book. “If the fear is big enough, the fight-or-flight response will go off and we’ll run from what we’re trying to do. The small steps in kaizen don’t set off fight or flight, but rather keep us in the thinking brain, where we have access to our creativity and playfulness.”

Friday, May 02, 2008

Art: SVT's new leadership - announcement

SVT has hired a new Executive Director and appointed an Interim Artistic Director to replace our founder Jason Neulander when he leaves at the end of this month.
Read about it in the Statesman

Books: Books to revitalize a neighborhood

With Books as a Catalyst, Minneapolis Neighborhood Revives
"Along Washington Avenue, between the University of Minnesota and downtown Minneapolis, there were acres of parking lots, a large warehouse-style liquor store and a smattering of commercial spaces that had once served the thriving flour mill district along the Mississippi River, but later became seedy bars and flophouses.
The city tried to rebrand the area as a technology corridor, but not a single dot-com materialized. Instead, three nonprofit organizations formed a partnership in 1999, bought three adjacent warehouses and renovated them into Open Book, which says it is the largest — if not the only — literary and book arts center in the United States.
It is not uncommon for the arts to revitalize a neighborhood, but it is certainly unusual for old-fashioned literature and books to lead the way.
Since Open Book made its debut in May 2000, however, a steady flow of arts organizations have followed, including the Guthrie Theater, designed by Jean Nouvel, who recently won the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Then there is the Mill City Museum, the MacPhail Center for Music, Minneapolis Central Library and a few smaller theaters and art galleries."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Zeitgeist: Daniel Gilbert on happiness

After having read a book on happiness (The Geography of Bliss) recently for book club, it was interesting to read this interview in the NY Times: The Smiling Professor.

Excerpt of three questions from the interview:
A. I’m not Dr. Phil.
We know that the best predictor of human happiness is human relationships and the amount of time that people spend with family and friends.
We know that it’s significantly more important than money and somewhat more important than health. That’s what the data shows. The interesting thing is that people will sacrifice social relationships to get other things that won’t make them as happy — money. That’s what I mean when I say people should do “wise shopping” for happiness.
Another thing we know from studies is that people tend to take more pleasure in experiences than in things. So if you have “x” amount of dollars to spend on a vacation or a good meal or movies, it will get you more happiness than a durable good or an object. One reason for this is that experiences tend to be shared with other people and objects usually aren’t.
A. Oh, you can spend lots of money on experiences. People think a car will last and that’s why it will bring you happiness. But it doesn’t. It gets old and decays. But experiences don’t. You’ll “always have Paris” — and that’s exactly what Bogart meant when he said it to Ingrid Bergman. But will you always have a washing machine? No.
Today, I’m going to Dallas to meet my wife and I’m flying first class, which is ridiculously expensive. But the experience will be far more delightful than a new suit. Another way I follow what I’ve learned from data is that I don’t chase dollars now that I have enough of them, because I know that it will take a very large amount of money to increase my happiness by a small amount.
You couldn’t pay me $100,000 to miss a play date with my granddaughters.
And that’s not because I’m rich. That’s because I know that a hundred grand won’t make me as happy as nurturing my relationship with my granddaughters will.
A. I wouldn’t say that. The data says that with the poor, a little money can buy a lot of happiness. If you’re rich, a lot of money can buy you a little more happiness. But in both cases, money does it."

Friday, April 18, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Books: Richard Price and the art of dialogue

Review from New Yorker on Richard Price's Lush Life. Excerpts:

"Actual speech tends to be dribblingly repetitive, and relatively nonfigurative, nonpictorial. Price, by contrast, awards his characters great figurative powers, endows them with an ability to take everyone’s clichés and customize them into something gleaming and fresh. His new novel, “Lush Life” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $26), which is filled with page after page of vital speech, shows him inventing a life for dialogue rather than just taking it from life; and this spoken magic is often indistinguishable from Price’s apparently more formal, descriptive prose."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Art: Regine Basha's comments on the Austin Art scene

In a recent interview with ...might be good, Regine Basha relates the strenghts and weaknesses of the Austin art scene. She is spot on:
"I think one of Austin’s strengths is that there can be different style of cultural production here. It can be very open—an artist like Luke Savisky for example can work like a renaissance person. Luke has managed to carve out a niche for himself in a way I’ve never seen before. As a film artist, he collaborates with everyone from the Kronos Quartet to the Alamo Drafthouse—with a wide range of participants and venues from the avant-garde to the commercial. Here, projects like the recent Cult of Color : Call to Color that Arthouse is now doing with Trent Doyle Hancock and Ballet Austin can happen in a meaningful way. Unlike New York where rigid boundaries and mini-feifdoms still exist between disciplines, I think Austin—and the wide array of resources available here—make it possible for artists to work across disciplines in innovative ways.
I think one potential weakness is that the Austin art scene can very easily get caught up in its own ‘hip’ factor or its own self-congratulatory complacency. This tends to form a little bubble where your only references about art are in town or Texas-wide at best. It also focuses the discussions a lot on local gossip. To really be involved in the art—either as an artist, curator, or collector—you have to constantly inform yourself about what’s going on in the rest of the field, do the research, and find your place in it. I’m sure the local tech industry does this—the art scene should do the same. "

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Zeitgeist: Tighten Your Belt, Strengthen Your Mind

A good article from yesterday's NY Times: Tighten Your Belt, Strengthen Your Mind
"Focusing on success is important because willpower can grow in the long term. Like a muscle, willpower seems to become stronger with use."
"Whatever the explanation, consistently doing any activity that requires self-control seems to increase willpower — and the ability to resist impulses and delay gratification is highly associated with success in life."

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Technology: A conversation with Peter Drucker

A Conversation With Peter Drucker
In 1997, author and professor Tom Davenport spoke with management icon Peter F. Drucker about the state of reengineering, information management, the psychology of managers and the role of technology in business.
"Drucker: The time has come for us to shift from the "T" in IT to the "I." It's time to learn the balance if there's to be information focus. Don't get me wrong. I'm interested in the technology. I consider myself knowledgeable about it, but compared to my 16-year-old grandson, I am a moron. You know, his generation is very different from the CEOs you have now because they didn't grow up with making the machinery work."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Zeitgeist: Kids and Playing

Two good stories from NPR about kids and playing:
Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills
"Researchers say imaginative play allows children to make their own rules and practice self-control. "
Creative Play Makes For Kids In Control
"Organizing play for kids has never seemed like more work. But researchers Adele Diamond and Deborah Leong have good news: The best kind of play costs nothing and really only has one main requirement — imagination. "

Zeitgeist: Why Office Design Matters

I came across this article on Artful Manager: Why Office Design Matters
"You want to concentrate and collaborate, but how can you get the best of both worlds in your current office set-up? An excerpt from Thinking for a Living: How to Get Better Performance and Results from Knowledge Workers."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Zeitgeist: Right Brain File

This blog is my "right-brain file" (From the Creative Lawyer blog)

Zeitgeist: A Zagat-Style Approach to Your Career

A good post from the Shifting Careers column/blog in the NY Times.
"When it comes to career and life change, thinking is overrated. What you need is a way to get beyond your own subjectivity, without simply adopting another person’s subjectivity. One method is to create a right-brain file. Another is to interview five to 10 people who know you in a structured way.
To set up the interviews, create a short questionnaire (six to eight questions) with questions like:
* What are three things I do really well?
* What are three things I don’t do so well?
* Based on what you know about me, what job or experience have I liked the best in the past?
* Based on what you know about me, what job or experience have I liked the least?
* What are three things you can imagine me doing?
* What’s something you can’t really imagine me doing?
* How do I get in my own way?
Pick a variety of people who know different facets of you. You can ask friends, family members, colleagues, and people whose views you respect but whom you rarely speak to. Ask open-ended questions that encourage people to expound; avoid questions that can be answered yes or no."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Zeitgeist: In the Statesman Out & About blog

I was in the paper today - a photo with Lee Thompson and another Leadership Austin grad - at Lee's retirement party.

Books: The Advantage of Closing a Few Doors

A good article from the NY Times by John Tierney. Will put this book on my list of books to read.
"Dan Ariely’s new book, “Predictably Irrational,” an entertaining look at human foibles like the penchant for keeping too many options open."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Design: Pecha Kucha

Fight Death by Powerpoint with Pecha Kucha. I found out about this on an Artful Manager blog post. Also found a good site - Garr Reynolds - with tips for doing effective presentations.

What Is Pecha Kucha Night?
Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each - giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Zeitgeist: Personal MBA

I came across Personal MBA on an Artful Manager blog post.
"Business schools don’t have a monopoly on worldly wisdom. If you're serious about learning advanced business principles, the Personal MBA can help. The Personal MBA recommended reading list is the tangible result of hundreds of hours of reading and research, and features only the very best books the business press has to offer. So skip the fancy diploma and $150,000 loan - you can get a world-class business education simply by reading these books."

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Books: An Iranian in India, Encouraging Dialogue

An article in the NY Times An Iranian in India, Encouraging Dialogue about Ramin Jehanbegloo's book: India Revisited: Conversations on Contemporary India, "a collection of 27 interviews with 27 remarkable Indians that the Indian arm of Oxford University Press has just published. The book is ostensibly about Indian subjects — dance, caste, Parsis, democracy — but it inexorably engages many of the issues that vex Mr. Jahanbegloo’s homeland, including tradition, pluralism, the West and freedom."

Kapila Vatsyayan, a cultural historian, offers an elegantly simple explanation of India’s survival. “India has so far demonstrated the capacity to hold together two lifelines, one an original, primal, or indigenous, almost immutable line, and the other of ‘change,’” she tells Mr. Jahanbegloo. “No single unit or dimension is totally ‘insular’ or ‘static.’”
Mr. Jahanbegloo finds this an especially trenchant lesson for Middle Eastern countries, which he says have not been able to accommodate a dialogue of cultures. Instead, he says, they have suffered either a modernization from above, as in the case of Iran under the Shah, or a virulent assertion of fundamentalism from below, as with the Taliban of Afghanistan.
“Iranians, like Arabs, have not been able to digest modernity because they did not find a way to create a permanent dialogue between the two concepts,” he said. “It’s either created authoritarian modernity or authoritarian traditionalism.”
Mr. Jahanbegloo credits Indian thinkers for their “soft reading of modernity, not a violent reaction to it.” Missing from his glowing appraisal is sufficient explanation for the violence that persists in Indian life, whether in the guise of Maoist insurgents or Hindu radicals or home-grown Islamist terrorist groups.
“This is what I think is so important to people of the Middle East, particularly Turks, Iranians and Arabs,” he said. “They want to keep their own identity. They want to be proud of their past. But it’s very important to open up to other cultures. Democracy is a result of this. Democracy is a government of dialogue.”

Friday, December 14, 2007

Harry Ransom Center, UT. Austin, TX.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Art: Transition for SVT

Jason Neulander, Artistic Director of Salvage Vanguard Theater, is leaving. Here is the announcement in the Statesman.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Art: Dashboard

A great example of an operational dashboard from the Indianapolis Museum of Art (from the Artful Manager)

Art: Lessons from the Lincoln Center

Some good advice from the Lincoln Center President - Ronald Levy - in and interview with Kai Rysdall on Markeplace. (From Artful Manager)
" of the things we've learned is that social discourse is enormously important to the enjoyment of the performing arts. And, what it will do is provide an opportunity for those who are coming to performances to come early, to leave late, to linger, to actually talk about the work they're about to see or the work that they've just seen. And, it will also allow artists to do the same."

"It's an extraordinary amount of fun to find the intersection between the interests and background of a donor, and the needs of the institution. If you find that intersection, that's the sweet spot. And my personal attitude is that we are really doing the prospective donor an enormous favor by asking for support. Because their gift will provide a meaning and a consequence in their lives that will otherwise not exist. "

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Design: Austin artisans collective

"The Architectural Artisans Collaborative is an organization of professional, highly skilled artisans, architects, and artists dedicated to the renaissance of architectural craft in buildings constructed in Austin and central Texas."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Zeitgeist: Catalog Choice

Want to reduce the number of catalogs you get in the mail? Head on over to Catalog Choice.
"Catalog Choice is a free service that allows you to decide what gets in your mailbox. Use it to reduce your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Technology: How participatory is the web, really?

From the Artful Manager blog:

"How participatory is the web, really? And how true is the assumption that web technologies create a world of content-creators rather than a world of content-watchers.
According to Forrester's research, a full 52 percent of on-line consumers are ''inactives,'' engaging in none of the identified social networking activities. Some 33 percent prefer to watch, read, or listen, without contributing to content. While those higher up the ''participation ladder'' are more active collectors of content, critics or commenters, or creators of their own pages, blogs or videos."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Music: New CDs

Okay, time to catch up on all the new CDs I have purchased over the last couple months:

-LCD Soundsystem: Sound of Silver - a strong album from dancepunk pioneers
-Ojos de Brujo: Techari - contemporarized flamenco
-The Twilight Sad: Fourteen Autumns Fifteen Winters - dense melodic anthems in a thick Scottish brogue
-The Field: From Here We Go Sublime - solid four-on-the-floor house beats with subtle washes of melody
-Deerhunter: Flourescent Grey - great indie band with shoegazer influences

Friday, May 04, 2007

Zeitgeist: Scale for Non-profits

From a post on the Artful Manager Blog about scale and non-profits.
"With all the obstacles preventing precise measurements of effectiveness and program quality in the nonprofit sector, it is very easy to use size as a proxy for impact and to embrace the idea that programs serving large numbers of people are contributing more to public welfare than those targeting smaller populations. In this sense, scale is much easier to measure than effectiveness and it represents an appealing way to change the conversation.
But the danger of such a move lies, of course, in the fact that scale is not a particularly good proxy for effectiveness and that many large programs do not deserve the support they receive, while many smaller programs deserve greater acclaim. Scale is not the problem in the nonprofit sector, nor is it the answer."

An article linked from this post: How Nonprofits Get Really Big
"Further, the way funding flows to organizations this large is neither completely random nor illogical. On the contrary, we identified three important practices common among nonprofits that succeeded in building large-scale funding models: (1) They developed funding in one concentrated source rather than across diverse sources; (2) they found a funding source that was a natural match to their mission and beneficiaries; and (3) they built a professional organization and structure around this funding model."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Theater: Calling all patrons

A good article from the LA Times about the drama Pulitzer going to Rabbit Hole instead of to one of the three other plays nominated.
Our playwrights get lonely on the cutting edge: "Rabbit Hole" is a fine Pulitzer choice, but up-and-coming, daring writers need support.
"THAT'S where you come in. Every society gets the theater it deserves. We don't need a lecture about the extent of our consumerist depravity. But even the most unrepentant shoppers among us (no peeking at my credit card bills, please) have to grapple with the reality that art isn't something we greedily purchase, like a pair of Prada shoes. Rather it's an experience we collectively enter to learn more about those parts of ourselves and each other that aren't receiving sufficient contemplation elsewhere.
As a professional theatergoer who was once an avid amateur theatergoer, I don't typically have a cranky reaction to plays that stumble if there's a sense that the writer is honestly grappling with something. I must have seen scads of mediocre plays at Circle Repertory Company in New York in the 1980s, but my memory of that Greenwich Village theater group has a golden glow. New plays mattered there — to the playwrights, directors, actors and most especially the audience. What the culturally hungry are after isn't perfection but truth. Few novelists can match Proust, but that doesn't stop me from reading Mary Gaitskill. Nor do I skip Richard Greenberg or Craig Lucas because they're several notches below Chekhov.
What does, however, make me slightly — OK, acutely — dyspeptic is when I feel as though I'm being sold a bill of goods that the producer knows is shoddy but thinks won't cause waves or will please because of the TV personality in the cast or no one cares much one way or the other. Nothing is more enraging than a time waster — especially at big theater prices."

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Arts: I'm sick to death of meddling philistines

An opinionated article in the London Times by Sir John Tusa, the managing director of the Barbican Centre: I’m sick to death of meddling philistines: Government arts policy is forged by ignorant bureaucrats and posturing barbarians, writes the furious Barbican chief
I’m sick to death, too, with justifying the arts as if there was something specially problematical about doing so, as if funding the arts is irrational or even unnatural. Thinking about the arts, judging their value, explaining particular trends in the arts — this is an essential part of a human activity that takes itself seriously. What is a waste of time is being required to justify the arts as if millennia of arts activity required justifying anew, as if a failure to justify them could — or should — lead to the end of the activity altogether.
Arts policymakers judge the education and outreach programme of a major arts institution not by whether it is of high quality and raises the creative awareness of the children it is aimed at, but only whether it is directed at socially targeted groups such as refugees or the socially marginalised.
Valuable as such activity may be, it is far from clear why an education programme dedicated to developing creative understanding in the broadest sense should be limited and defined in this way. Such may well be the priorities of social welfare departments. Why are they the priorities of arts policy-makers? The only possible answer can be that the arts policymakers themselves do not believe in the value of excellence of the arts as such and on their own.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Useful Travel Sites

A good article from the NY Times about travel webistes: If It Is Good, Is It Too Good To Be True? The four websites mentioned:

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Art: The (Art) World According to Edward Goldman

Edward Goldman has a radio show in LA about Art. We need an Edward Goldman in Austin.
NY Times article: The (Art) World According to Edward Goldman

"For nearly 20 years, he has been dispensing his art criticism in five-minute weekly segments called ''Art Talk'' on the public radio station KCRW in Santa Monica. That soapbox, expanded through podcasts and the Web, has helped make him a voice of authority in his adopted city.
It also makes him a Pied Piper of art, attracting participants to his classes, which he has taught four times before, and wrangling clients to his art consultancy, which includes individual and corporate collectors. Mr. Goldman doesn't just love art. He loves to talk about it. He punctuates his talks with the wisdom his participants came to hear."

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Art: Let Museums Leave Room for the Troublemakers

A very good essay by Holland Cotter in the NY Times criticizing the state of museums and the art market in the US: Let Museums Leave Room for the Troublemakers

"A similar trick of illusion surrounds the vaunted populism of museums. Every American city, to be a proper city, now needs to have its own jewel-box art museum. Any existing museum anywhere needs to be expanded expensively. Thanks to all this stretching, art and its institutions have, we are told, grown increasingly democratic, more accessible to all.
In fact, the more successful a museum grows, the more elitist it tends to become. Social distinctions based on money and patronage can assume the intricate gradings of court protocol. At street level, admission prices climb, reinforcing existing socioeconomic barriers. Programming grows more cautious. If you're laying out $20, you want to see ''the best'' art, which often means art that adheres to conventional versions of beauty, authority, ''genius'' (white and male) set in a reassuringly familiar context.
Give the art world a break. It can't help being a miniature version of the culture that made it. What can it do about that?
One thing it can do -- that museums can do -- is clear an alternative space in that culture, a zone of moral inquiry, intellectual contrariness, crazy beauty. In this space, artists can simultaneously hold a magnifying glass up to something called ''America'' and also train a telescope on it: probe its innards and view it from afar, see it as others see it. From these perspectives, they might come up with models of a cosmopolitan, leveled-out society for a country in solidarity with the world, in contrast to the provincial, hierarchical, self-isolating one that exists today."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Art: Bread & Roses

An article from the Guardian - How we can connect head and heart by Helena Kennedy, chair Arts & Business in the U.K. Excerpt:
"In an essay in 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes spoke of his hopes for a future of wealth creation where he predicted that "those people who can keep alive and cultivate the art of life and do not sell themselves for the means of life will be able to enjoy the abundance when it comes." Keynes recognised the importance of work life balance ahead of his time. Pulling the two sources of our national wellbeing together, the science of economics and the arts of life - bread and roses - is the real challenge of the age. It is vital that we widen art's embrace."

Technology: Top website redesign priorities

A good article from Jakob Neilsen on improving website usability for ROI. I like the focus on basic improvements like better writing and better product photos. I am tired of sites that are poorly done. Excerpt:
"Interface design is about making money for the company. Execution and workmanship are what you need, not fashion and advanced features. Do the basics, and do them well."

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Books: Interview with Dana Gioia

Naghmeh and I went to hear Dana Gioia speak at the HRC (one of the premier literary archives in the US). It was enjoyable and inspiring.
Here are some excerpts from a Statesman interview. He talked about some of these topics in his lecture.

On poetry:
"Poetry is a way of speaking, but it's also a way of listening — and it comes from the same rootstalk as music and song and theater. It's the kind of listening we don't do every day. You might ask, "Well, why do we need to do that?" And I'd say because it's important to have your humanity awakened, and enhanced, and developed, and refined. The trouble and toil we go through in everyday life tends to make us much more withdrawn into our psyches."

On arts and society
"A third trend is that a lot of our institutions — especially academic ones — have lost their ability to reach and speak to society. We have these tremendous subcultures in the arts, but almost no public figures emerging from them, the way Leonard Bernstein or Robert Frost once became part of the public conversation with the United States. Both brought ideas into society, but both brought people to the arts. We're not creating an audience commensurate with our institutions, not affecting society in a way commensurate with the talent that exists in the art world. The arts suffer. The society suffers. And I think youth suffers most because they don't have the power of the arts to fully realize their human potential."

On reading:
"Every group of Americans reads less, and less well than they did 20 years ago. That has terrible personal, social, cultural and civic consequences. Since people read less, they read less well. And since they read less well, they do less well in their academic study, which means they do less well in the job market. . . Reading awakens something to people's humanity. I worry that we're going into an America that's increasingly fragmented, isolated, commercialized, inert. "

On art and emotion:
"Art, especially literature, is one of the ways that cultures have traditionally recognized that you train emotions — you read plays and poems and novels. They allow you to rehearse powerful emotions and see their various consequences. So I think when you take those things out, when you replace novels and theater with video games, you're trading an emotional complexity for a simple adrenaline rush."

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Design: Readymechs

Readymechs look like so much fun! Thanks to Andrew Taylor's Artful Manager blog post for this discovery.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Design: Book cover blog

I love well designed book covers. Here is a book cover blog. Coolio!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Books: The debate about poetry

A good post on the Poetry Foundation website: What to do about Poetry that is a response to a New Yorker article: The Moneyed Muse - What can $200 million do for poetry?
The debate between popularity and elitism continues.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Art: Ancient art as politcal advertising

A great art review of "Glass, Gilding and Grand Design: Art of Sasanian Iran" at the Asia Society by Holland Cotter of the NY Times. Excerpt:
"So, in cosmic terms, which are always basically earthly terms with spin, these images of domination through combat are political art, or more precisely, political advertising. What is the difference, after all, between a carved relief of an ancient king-of-king’s victory in a hunt and a press photograph of a modern leader declaring victory in a war?
Aesthetics is one difference, a big one. Most of the objects in the show — organized by Françoise Demange, chief curator of Asian antiquities at the Louvre, with Prudence O. Harper, curator emerita of ancient Near Eastern art at the Met, and Michael Chagnon, a curatorial consultant — are superbly beautiful in formal terms, beautiful enough to smooth over the reality that control through violence is a primary theme.
When we see comparable violence played out on television news, we are appalled; some people have ethical qualms about its omnipresence, in fictional form, in films. But in high art, we tend to put our scruples on hold and give it a pass, because of beauty, or rarity, or distance in time, or because we don’t know what we’re seeing, or because we just don’t want to acknowledge what is really there.
A large part of art’s allure is its ambiguity; you can take it as you wish, make of it what you will. This exhibition, with its luminous cruelties, is a reminder of that. But the ancient Sasanians were surely clear about what they were seeing in their imperial art. And in some sense the viewers who understand art as political advertising most directly today are iconoclasts, the suppressors and destroyers of art. They may be the only people for whom art actually does speak for itself, but for whom beauty truly is not enough.
So by all means see the rare and fabulous work at Asia Society, for the intense pleasure it gives and for the windows its opens onto history, present and past. But also see it for the hard questions it poses about the profoundly uninnocent nature of art — in particular imperial art, wherever it comes from — and the moral responsibility we should ask of it."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Books: Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra

A good review of Sacred Games by Vikram Chandra from the New Yorker - Bombay Noir by Pankaj Mishra. Excerpt:
"Playing the endless games of the Cold War, the characters of John le Carré’s novels didn’t think much differently, but Chandra is after something bigger. He has spoken in interviews of the possibility of taking the novel beyond the modern Western conceptions that have defined it, such as of the bourgeois individual who seeks self-knowledge and strives to establish his moral worth before his peers in a historically circumscribed society. Chandra believes that many Indians, pulled between tradition and modernity in a chaotically populous and poor country, have a less psychologically inhibited sense of self and a mythic, rather than a historical, sense of their place in the world.
The philosophical ambition of “Sacred Games” owes much to Bollywood films. To Chandra, these seem to capture the flexible nature of non-bourgeois self-perceptions, moving as they do from documentary naturalism to an epic mode of storytelling without getting bogged down in psychological realism. Dropping his characters into the tumult of recent national history, he occasionally seems to adopt a more conventional mode of novel-writing about India. But his stance, unlike Salman Rushdie’s or Rohinton Mistry’s, is of a calm Homeric objectivity, as he tries to realize afresh what seems, after many long novels from the subcontinent, a particularly Indian ambition to retool the novel as an epic form."

Friday, February 09, 2007

Quote: What lies within

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us - Emerson

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Art: Jasper Johns

Slate has a great series of slide show art reviews. I like being able to see the art along with the words about it. Great use of technology to illuminate art.

This one on Jasper Johns is excellent: Targeting Jasper Johns: Is the artist overrated?

"The small drawings he did of targets are a revelation; no larger than 6 inches square, they are lively, intense, and full of mystery. Unlike the primary colors of the painted targets, the drawings are monochrome: gray, green, white. They look like mandalas, or rubbings of Cambodian temple fragments. The target is almost invisible, pulsing in and out of focus as one looks at, or into, the image. There's a Zen feel to it, as though you yourself are dissolving into the target. "The hits on the target are only the outward proof and confirmation of your purposelessness at its highest, of your egolessness, your self-abandonment," the master tells his pupil in Eugen Herrigel's Zen in the Art of Archery. Close your eyes. See the target. The target is within you."

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Monday, February 05, 2007

Art: Martin Ramirez - outsider

A good article from the New Yorker - Mystery Train: Martin Ramirez, outsider by Peter Schjedahl. An excerpt:
"Ramírez’s art is less rich in formal invention than Wölfli’s and in poetic resonance than Darger’s, but it is more stylistically resolved and emotionally concentrated. He has in common with them an extravagant giftedness. All would have been stars in any art school, had they attended one. That they eluded contact with institutions of fine art owes something to personal disarray and something to chance, in a ratio impossible to gauge. It’s a small thing, which makes them hard cases, exceptions proving the existence of a rule—that art, to be recognized as such, requires grounding in both individual biography and common culture. What can we do with and about the rush of pleasure and enchantment that the unlicensed genius of a Ramírez affords? I recommend taking it as a lesson in the limits of how we know what we think we know. Unable to regard such work as part of art’s history, we may still have it be part of our own."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Quote: The unfamiliar

There is wisdom in turning as often as possible from the familiar to the unfamiliar: it keeps the mind nimble, it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor. -George Santayana, philosopher (1863-1952)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Zeitgeist: Smartest .orgs online

Good things to learn from these 59 .org sites.
"These charities were chosen for their excellence in online storytelling and collaboration with their donors."

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, November 20, 2006

Quote: Warmth

Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax. -Arthur Schopenhauer, philosopher (1788-1860)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Communications school, UT. Austin, TX.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Art: The Art of Pricing Great Art

A good Economix column from the NY Times by David Leonhardt: The Art of Pricing Great Art.
For the last five years, though, a man named David W. Galenson, an art lover, modest collector and tenured professor of economics at the University of Chicago, has been trying to change this. He has developed something approaching a unified theory of art, which hasn’t won him many fans in the art world but does a surprisingly good job of explaining the relative value of the world’s great paintings.
So he began collecting data on the sale price of works by Warhol, Jackson Pollock and other American artists, and he discovered a pattern. Most of them produced their most valuable work either very early in their career, like Warhol, or very late, like Pollock. When he expanded his research to European painters, he found the same pattern.
Not only that, but the two groups tended to approach art, and to talk about it, in strikingly different ways. The young geniuses, like Gauguin, Picasso and Van Gogh, were conceptual innovators whose paintings broke sharply from previous work. They typically had a precise goal in mind when they started a piece and didn’t need long to finish it. “Above all, don’t sweat over a painting,” Gauguin once told a friend. “A great sentiment can be rendered immediately.”
The late bloomers, on the other hand, arrived at their innovations gradually, through trial and error, making their major contributions late in life. They painted the same subject again and again, experimenting on the canvas, often reluctant to say that a painting was finished. Consider that Cézanne, who did his most valuable and celebrated work in his 60s, signed few of his paintings.
Mr. Galenson has extended the theory to novelists, poets and beyond, arguing that most creative people fall on one end or the other of the spectrum, and he has earned a fair bit of attention. Malcolm Gladwell, in a speech at Columbia University, described “Old Masters and Young Geniuses,” which Mr. Galenson published this year, as “a really wonderful book.” Wired magazine recently profiled him under the headline, “What Kind of Genius Are You?”

Monday, November 13, 2006

Quote: Libraries and bicycles

Hear hear!
"My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library." -Peter Golkin, museum spokesman (1966- )

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Music: Live - The Rapture

The Rapture @ Emo's: the best show I have seen this year. Not a single person was standing still. WOW!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Art: Artwork as one possible solution

An excerpt from an interview of Gabriel Perez-Barriero by Luis Camnitzer:
"The reason I invited you [Luis Camnitzer to the 6th Mercosur Biennial] was that I’ve been following your ideas in art education and was drawn to your belief that art is education and education is art. I also like how you have challenged the idea that education consists of the transmission of data from “specialist” to “novice” and how you have developed a series of activities that takes the artist’s intention and sees the artwork as just one possible solution to a particular problem, but that the problem is larger than the work and requires or demands a continuous thought process on the part of the viewer."

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Art: LCRA Mural

This mural is at the Mansfield Dam. It was done (in the 50s?) by Art Anderson - an engineer at LCRA.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Music: New CD - The Longcut

The Longcut EP - Brit band, driving rhythm section like a galloping horse, piercing guitars and vocals, stretched out songs.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Deep Eddy Pool. Austin, TX. 2004

Friday, October 13, 2006

Technology: Participation inequality on the web

From Jakob Nielsen's latest AlertBox newsletter: Participation Inequality: Encouraging More Users to Contribute

"In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Art: A Turner Prize juror's experience

An insightful article about the world of contemporary art - How I Suffered For Art's Sake - about Lynn Barber's experience as a Turner Prize juror. She is a journalist for The Gaurdian.
"I hate to say it, but my year as a Turner juror has seriously dampened, though I hope not extinguished, my enthusiasm for contemporary art. There is so much bad work around, so much that is derivative, half-baked or banal, you can't believe that galleries would show it. I think what happened is that the huge success of the YBAs in the Nineties has created a peculiar post-boom glut whereby there are now more galleries looking for young artists than worthwhile artists to fill them."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quote: Art is experience

"Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced."Leo Tolstoy

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Quote: Kindness and wisdom

Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom. -Theodore Rubin, psychiatrist and writer (1923- )

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Art: Can art change the world?

A very good article by Jerry Saltz in the Village Voice- The Whole Ball of Wax: Can Art Change the World? A Holistic Theory
An excerpt:
"In concert with other things, however, art can change the world incrementally and by osmosis. This is because art is part of a universal force. It has no less purpose or meaning than science, religion, philosophy, politics, or any other discipline, and is as much a form of intelligence or knowing as a first kiss, a last goodbye, or an algebraic equation. Art is an energy source that helps make change possible; it sees things in clusters and constellations rather than rigid systems.
Art is a bridge to a new vision and the vision itself, a medium or matrix through which one sees the world, and that grants that pleasure is an important form of knowledge. Art is not optional; it is necessary. It is part of the whole ball of wax."

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Art: Anna Schuleit - two steps of courage and three of doubt

Anna Schuleit was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant.
An excerpt from her website about how she finds art projects:
"How does the idea of a project present itself to you?...
By running imaginary tests. Canceling out yesterday's colors. Engaging in doubts as if they were your primary reason for being there. Taking two steps of wavering courage forward, and three of certain doubt back. Somewhere inbetween the piece begins to take shape."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Art: Is the museum a place for contemporary art?

A good article from the Boston Globe - The Art of the New.
The paradox of a contemporary museum becomes most overt when an institution that deals in established status enters a realm where doubt is both inevitable and essential. It isn't clear that the museum is the best place for new objects to be tested. With so much invested-financially, culturally, and even politically-in these institutions, their tendency is to cover up the vital uncertainty of the moment (everything from the quality of the work to its meaning and eventual role in history) with a wealth of supporting material.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Music: New CD - The Rapture and Junior Boys

Junior Boys: So This is Goodbye - Synth-pop, subdued, melodic, rich
The Rapture: Pieces of the People We Love - Dance-y, jittery, infectious

Monday, September 11, 2006

Art: Exit Art (9/11)

How best to commemorate 9/11. I seem to have it on my mind a lot this year.
I read about the Exit Art exhibit from the Library of Congress on this Artful Manager post. To quote:
"...the Exit Art collection, which asked for creative responses to the attacks, confined to 8-1/2 x 11 pieces of paper. They received over 2400 from all over the world.
Art is clearly not a frill. It is a force."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Art: Engage Islamic art on its own terms

A good article form The Gaurdian: It's time to engage with Islamic art on its own terms - not as a bridge between east and west.
To quote:
When you hear the words "Islamic culture" these days, you are less and less likely to think of a carpet. But a carpet forms the centrepiece of the Victoria and Albert museum's new Jameel gallery, displayed in a glass case, but laid out on the floor, as a carpet should be. To preserve its colours, it is kept for 20 minutes out of every half hour in gloom. On the half hour and the hour exactly, the lights click on. Whatever they have been looking at, visitors turn, astonished, as if the gates to a beautiful garden have been thrown open. Even the guards come forward for another look. The subtlety and complexity of the pattern, the depth and richness of the colours, and the gigantic scale of the invention almost defy description. Ten minutes pass, and the lights click off; all around there are audible sighs of satisfaction and pleasure.
At present, our interest in Islamic culture, if it exists at all, seems to be limited to these two things: a museum culture and a culture of dissidence. Our attention is like a light shining in that general direction for 10 minutes every now and again, before plunging back into darkness. If we want to promote exchange and a proper respect, we ought to start taking an interest in living Islamic cultures. And in the first instance, that will probably mean not relating everything, from glassware to carpets, back to the actions of a few suicide bombers.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Music: New tunes - J Dilla

J Dilla - The Shining
Got about half the album from iTunes. Amazing samples and beats.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Shop in Kalangute market, Goa. December 2005

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Quote: Problems and humor

I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it. -Frank A. Clark, writer (1911- )

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Quote: Morality and theology

Whenever morality is based on theology, whenever right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established. -Ludwig Feuerbach, philosopher (1804-1872)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Books: Verisimilitude and veracity

Two excerpts from an article on Arts Journal by Jack Miles - The Da Vinci Coda: Retrospective Reflections on a Pop Culture Phenomenon

A related phenomenon, I would suggest, is the blurring in public discourse of verisimilitude and veracity. Comedian Stephen Colbert’s truthiness, a coinage intended to mock presidential rhetoric, was recently declared “The Word of the Year” by an association of semanticists. But truthiness is a fair synonym for verisimilitude, the “truthlikeness” that novelists have long cultivated in realistic fiction. What strikes me is how large an American political constituency seems fully prepared to accept presidential verisimilitude as a fair substitute for presidential veracity. This willingness to accept plausible official fiction where verified fact would once have been required seems to me to be of a piece with the widespread inclination, in the case of The Da Vinci Code, to read undisguised but only barely plausible historical fiction as settled fact. The same gullibility seems to operate in both cases.
Obviously, The Da Vinci Code is not literally about any of that. But the dream history at its center, the history that has attracted all the attention, is a story of how “we” once had something pretty wonderful and “they” took it away from us. In fact, we never had it, and they never took it; but at a time when real peril is mounting and when the line between history and fiction is progressively disappearing, the myth of a past suppression may easily enough made to stand in for the dream of a future restoration. That dream—whether encoded by accident or by design—may be the secret ingredient that has turned this ingenious novel into so gigantic a cultural phenomenon.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Art: Attention is vitality

A quote by Susan Sontag from an article about her in last Friday's NY Times by Holland Cotter - On Sontag: Essayist as Metaphor and Muse
“Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration’s shove or society’s kiss on your forehead. Pay attention. It’s all about paying attention. Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.”

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fruit seller, B. Desai Road, Bombay. December 2005

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Quote: Talent

Talent is nothing but a prolonged period of attention and a shortened period of mental assimilation. - Konstantin Stanislavsky

Friday, August 18, 2006

Books: So you want to be a writer

A good excerpt from an Atlantic article: So You Want to be a Writer

Galbraith's first suggestion was to resist the fantasy that good writing can only be accomplished during moments of inspiration:
All writers know that on some golden mornings they are touched by the wand—are on intimate terms with poetry and cosmic truth. I have experienced those moments myself. Their lesson is simple: It's a total illusion. And the danger in the illusion is that you will wait for those moments. Such is the horror of having to face the typewriter that you will spend all your time waiting. I am persuaded that most writers, like most shoemakers, are about as good one day as the next (a point which Trollope made), hangovers apart. The difference is the result of euphoria, alcohol, or imagination. The meaning is that one had better go to his or her typewriter every morning and stay there regardless of the seeming result. It will be much the same.
He also emphasized the importance of revision. "Anyone who is not certifiably a Milton," he wrote, "had better assume that the first draft is a very primitive thing. The reason is simple: writing is difficult work."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Art: Vigilance, self-awareness, self-criticism

A good article from the NY Times by Holland Cotter about a summer group show in Chelsea: At a Group Show in Chelsea, the Art Is Sharp but the Categories Blurry
Ms. Backstrom’s contribution to this show is political in a very different way. Rather than address specific in-the-news issues, it poses skeptical questions about the very concept of group behavior, whether in the macrocosmic form of wars, politics movements and global markets, of which the art industry is one; or in the microcosmic form of artists’ communities, collaboratives and collectives, like those included in the show.
No group, she suggests, is beyond making a compromise. And Mr. Heitzler is clearly aware that his show keeps one foot in the commercial world at the same time that it is trying to feel out firm ground in an alternative sphere. The necessary ingredients are vigilance, self-awareness, self-criticism — resistance to the passivity that holds the present art world in its grip. Mr. Heitzler brings this message home to Chelsea. May it continue to be brought home in a hundred ways this fall.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Design: User experience publisher

A new publisher of books on user experience: Rosenfeld Media
"Founded in late 2005, Rosenfeld Media is a publishing house dedicated to developing short, practical, and useful books on user experience design. Our books will explain the design and research methods that web professionals need to make informed design decisions."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Colaba Market, Bombay. July 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

Music: New tunes - Kanye

Downloaded a bunch of Kanye West songs from iTunes. I love the soul/r&b samples - addictively sweet. I played Through the Wire constantly over the weekend.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Art (Theater): American Fiesta

I saw Steven Tomlinson's monologue American Fiesta twice last summer - I loved it. He is reprising it this summer for a two week run and the Statesman has an article about it. I like the fact that they included an image of his notebook - so you can see his work process.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Art: Making art is tyrannical

A good article by Roberta Smith from last week's NY Times about art museums in Basel - In Basel, Contemporary Art Enjoys a Bounty of Friends

"...the very drive to make art is at heart tyrannical; it wills into existence something that no one else can imagine or imagine needing. We are often blessed by these impositions, and equally blessed by the people who figure out how best to conserve and display them."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Quote: Kind vs. True

Today I bent the truth to be kind, and I have no regret, for I am far surer of what is kind than I am of what is true. -Robert Brault, software developer, writer (1938- )

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Art (Theater): Intergalactic Nemesis website!

The new Intergalactic Nemesis website is up. WOW! Blog entries by Molly, Tim and Jean Pierre. And a weekly comic. I love it! All this is leading up to a New York Broadway opening this spring (we are keeping our fingers crossed).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Music: New CD - DJ Cheb i Sabbah

DJ Cheb i Sabbah - La Kahena
Great North African/Middle Eastern music with electronic beats and super vocalists.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Colaba Causeway, Bombay. December 2005

Friday, June 23, 2006

Music: New CD - The Radio Dept.

The Radio Dept. - Pet Grief
Swedish band. Great synth-pop.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Music: New CD - Peloton

Peloton - EP
One of the staff at Waterloo had this on the back wall with a recommendation. What a neat find. Shoegazey indie pop.

Design: Healthier by design

A good slide show article from Slate - Healthier by design: A new charitable trust asks whether good architecture can help cancer patients.
Excerpt from the last slide:
"One lesson of Maggie's Centres is that architectural talent is too precious to be confined to cultural monuments and—in Lord Rogers' case—high-end office buildings. It's nice that art museums and corporations have great architecture, but it would be nicer—and much more valuable for most of us—if hospitals had it, too."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Books / Technology: Books seep out of their bindings and weave themselves together

An excerpt from - Scan this book - from the NY Times Sunday magazine:

Search engines are transforming our culture because they harness the power of relationships, which is all links really are. There are about 100 billion Web pages, and each page holds, on average, 10 links. That's a trillion electrified connections coursing through the Web. This tangle of relationships is precisely what gives the Web its immense force. The static world of book knowledge is about to be transformed by the same elevation of relationships, as each page in a book discovers other pages and other books. Once text is digital, books seep out of their bindings and weave themselves together. The collective intelligence of a library allows us to see things we can't see in a single, isolated book.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Kala Ghoda, Bombay. December 2005

Friday, June 09, 2006

Art: Theory is neat. Art is not.

A good excerpt from an artnet article - Learning on the Job - by Jerry Saltz. Found the link on the MAN ArtJournal blog.
To me, theory and positions are important, but they often lead to dogmatic thinking, obscure writing and rigid taste. Knowing where you're coming from means knowing what you like before you like it and hating what you hate before you hate it. This takes all the life out of art. Theory is about understanding. Art is about experience. Theory is neat. Art is not. My only position is to let the reader in on my feelings; try to write in straightforward, jargon-free language; not oversimplify or dumb down my responses; aim to have an idea, a judgment or a description in every sentence; not take too much for granted; explain how artists might be original or derivative and how they use techniques and materials; observe whether they're developing or standing still; provide context; and make judgments that hopefully amount to something more than just my opinion. To do this requires more than a position or a theory. It requires something else. This something else is what art, and criticism, are all about.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Art / Design: Choreography in public spaces

A great article from last Sunday's NY Times - At the New JetBlue Terminal, Passengers May Pirouette to Gate 3 - that was linked on a new blog I found - The Artful Manager.
"The two men thought a lot about which public spaces in New York were well "choreographed" — that is, which shaped people's movement successfully — and which were not.
Mr. Rockwell had been pondering the general subject for decades. Even while a student at Syracuse University, he would stand on the roof of the architecture building and study the patterns carved in the snow by a sort of unspoken group will, patterns he would later connect to those described by the urbanist William H. Whyte in his classic studies of public space. What caused them? It wasn't just expedience, because the paths were often curved, where a straight line would be more direct. People moved as they did, Whyte believed, at least in part because they sought out pleasing experiences; they voted with their feet.
If Whyte was right, then why are so many public spaces so deeply unpleasurable — and sometimes almost dangerous — to move through? How could the exquisite choreography of Grand Central Terminal, with its powerful beams of natural light making what Mr. Rockwell called a "gateway inviting people into the city," coexist with the claustrophobic purgatory of Penn Station? (Penn Station seems to sneer and say, "Get lost!") How could the Grand Foyer at Radio City have the same function as the bewildering entry to the Marquis Theater on Broadway, which is cruel enough to suggest that the place was named for the Marquis de Sade?"