Seen and Heard: Contradictions, Miniatures and Pranks

Contradictory vs. Contrary

The other day I was surfing the internet and I tripped upon this charming little poem which I much enjoyed. I thought you might like it too and then, once I had put it into this post, I was also reminded of the video from Monty Python which I have placed further below. They seem to go hand in hand.

I Often Contradict Myself

I often contradict myself. 
Oh no, I never do.

I argue with me day and night.
That simply isnt true.

Oh yes it is. Oh no it's not.
I do this all day long.

Oh no I don't. Oh yes I do.

That's right. No way! It's wrong.

I'm really quite agreeable.
I argue night and day.

I love to be around myself.
I wish I'd go away.

So if you see me arguing,
it's certain that you won't.
I like to contradict myself.
I promise you I don't.

--Kenn Nesbitt

"A Model of Biblical Proportions"

I think we all have them at one time or another of our lives. Episodes of deep fascination with something. I was 14 years of age for example when a knitting craze overtook over Panama City. Like everyone else taking lessons, I also learned to wield needles and yarn in mesmerizingly intricate and loopy patterns that laboriously produced sweater after heavy woolen sweater. They were great but totally unsuitable to my tropical weather. Eventually I gave arctic sweater knitting up.

Then there was the time when I was obsessed with mosaics. Covering erstwhile clean surfaces in glass sorta took over my life. Ever heard of "I never met a tesserae I didn't like?" well that was me. I went mosaic nuts. Eventually an intervention was staged by family members who were much freaked out by the overpowering Byzantine aspect of our sorroundings. Apparently, I had gotten to a point where I went one glass bit too far. So like the sweater craze, the mosaic frenzy too, passed.

I could go on and on with all the projects that have engaged my time to the detriment of all else throughout the years but, even If I were to chronologically weld them together, I could never outdo the single-minded and magnificent obsession of Alec Garrard's Temple of Herod. At 78 years of age, he has spent these last 30 years, dedicated 33,000 work hours, sculpted more than 4,000 tiny human figures, and baked thousands of Lilliput-sized, individually crafted clay bricks, columns and tiles in an effort to recreate a biblical temple that was destroyed by the Romans more than 2,000 years ago. And he has done it on a 1:100 model scale. Pretty magnificent. Take a look.

"I have an interest in buildings and religion so I thought maybe I could combine the two and I came up with the idea of doing the temple."

My wife Kathleen thinks I'm mad...

"She wishes she'd married a normal person..."

"4,000 tiny human figures populate the courtyards."

"Everything is made by hand. I cut plywood frames for the walls and buildings and all the clay bricks and tiles were baked in the oven then stuck together."

"Mr. Garrard who started the epic project in his 40s, says that his masterpiece will not be finished in his lifetime."

Story via the UK Telegraph

Singling out the ordinary with a whimsical hoax

Who doesn't like whimsy and fun? Duo artists Eva and Franco Mattes (aka 0100101110101101.ORG) certainly do. The placed a sign on an ordinary building, simulating those that would be put up by the City Council. The sign is a fake and a piece of art. It reads:

This building was designed by an unknown architect in an irrelevant epoch and never belonged to an important person. The complex does not show any original architectural solutions nor does it conserve any important works of art within. No memory is kept of any significant historical events occurring on this site. No know personality was born, lived or died here, nor is any excellent artist or sublime poet still working here.

Hundreds of unaware passersby have been staring at the sign: "It's brilliant!" comments an elderly woman "But I have no idea how to interpret it". While an outraged citizen living nearby comments "This is just unacceptable, look around, there are buildings much worse than this one, especially in the suburbs."

Via Urban Prankster


An Arcimboldo for landscapes

I have to admit that it took a moment to realize that these painstakingly constructed tableaux were made using fruits, vegetables and other edibles. Check out the pasta wagon, Italian parsley branches, basil bushes, bean (stone) hedges and mushroom wheels in the image below.

A sea of chocolate, tree branches made of fresh dill, rye bread and potato rocks, a little green bean canoe and brown sugar sand.

Broccoli and cauliflower boulders, carrot stalactites, portobello mushroom and lobster tail rock formations... the one below is my favorite.

Do not miss the colored bell pepper awnings, pasta crates, dried thyme ivy and the Parmesan cheese walls. The more you look, the more you discover.

There are more ingeniously put together images by this same artist (unknown) at this web page.

A teacup shows its spots

Of course you know about the Leopard. But these lovely china cups won't bite you. Here's how it works: Etched into the cup's interior are patterns not readily visible to the eye, with the passage of time, the colored liquids you pour in (coffee or tea) stain the pattern out of hiding. How neat is that? I want them.

A bit pricey at £35 per cup but maybe you'll decide that you can't live without them.

via teafinelybrewed website

Oracular they were not

I love reading quotes like this. With the virtue of hindsight they are snortingly funny.

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." --Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." --The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?" --Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." --Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" --David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." --A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

Want to read some more? Go here.

Andrew Bird

Who is Andrew Bird you ask? Until last week, I'd never heard of him either and I now I don't know how I lived without his music. I tend to be so unfaithful with regards to how quickly I jump from one musical love to another but this guy, well this guy makes me swoon and I'm keeping him. I've always thought the best kind of music is the one that makes you stop whatever you are doing and just listen. Andrew Bird does that to me. Even my musically hard to please kid begs me to play him. What more endorsement could one possibly want...

From Wikipedia: "Andrew Bird (born July 11, 1973) is an American musician, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He was born in Chicago[1] and currently splits his time between Chicago and a farm near the town of Elizabeth in northwest Illinois. His musical proficiency includes competency in the violin, whistling, guitar, mandolin, and glockenspiel."

P.S. There's another song of his on my musical sidebar (to the right).

How long did it take to get to you?

E-mail is nearly instantaneous but sending a note the postal way often feels unbearably slow. Ever wonder how slow? All you have to do is time it with the Stopper Postcard.

You sit down to write your grandma the postcard you promised...

Grandmother sits patiently in Israel waiting, waiting, waiting...

et voilà! it only took like forever.

via dag-designlab website

Finally, a short note to let you guys know that next I'll be writing from DC. We'll be going to celebrate the Persian New Year (big deal in Persian Culture) and though I'm not relishing giving up my high 70's Houston weather, I can't wait to see my extended family in Washington and tell you all about Nowrūz.

Until next I write may you all find yourselves well,



A Musical Interlude

I'm absolutely in love with their sound and it has been a while since I've smiled so much or been transported into that place where only good music can take you. If you haven't heard the Kings of Convenience before, then how convenient for you that I'm hellbent on introducing them to you. These songs all come from their album Riot on an Empty Street.

The hushed harmonies and steel strings of the first Kings of Convenience album earned Norway natives Erlend Oye and Eirik Glambek Boe a reputation as a sort of Scandinavian Simon & Garfunkel for the 21st century. They uphold that rap on "homesick," the subtle exquisite track that opens this second album. Yet the pair's artistic palette broadens as it unfolds. Piano and strings play a prominent role on the snappy pop tune "Misread" and the jaunting "Sorry or Please," while the intricately interwoven gutar lines and purring cello of "Cayman Islands" sound straight out of Nick Drake. Best of all is "I'd Rather Dance with You," a light-footed pop gem sung by Oye. Also of note: The Canadian vocalist Feist, a sometime member of Broken Social Scene, adds dreamy backing vocals to "Know-How" and "the Build-Up." From i-tunes Review.

I'd Rather Dance With You


Cayman Islands

My favorite of these three is Know-How. Tell me if you liked one best.


Seen and Heard: Things my kid would love

Food Art

So there is this woman who lives in Paris (where else?). Her name is Julie Rothhahn and she's a culinary designer. Now there is a profession I'd like in on but I'm sure that I lack the imagination to look at food the way Ms. Rothhahn does. Her stuff is meant to be eaten sure, but it is also to be played with, delight in and be amused by. In Julie's hands at least, that is how edible things shape up. Look below and tell me it ain't so. I can see you perking up already.

These little stackable cookies are called Cartes à Manger.

and these beauties are jellied fruits. They're so pretty, I'm sure that all I'd do is just stare. She calles them Neo Fruit.

The dip is the limit with these fruit and vegetable chips. Love 'em. And I'm sure my kid would too!

Pudding so Zen

I nearly went into a trance when I saw these. Use them for jello, mousses, ice cream or puddings the site says. I'm sure I will. Not that my kitchen has any more space for yet more molds but who can resist a jiggly Buddha?

You can get Il Buddino for yourself here.

Crayon Pointillism

When I first saw Christian Faur's art, it struck me as very Chuck Close in nature. You have to give a minute for your eyes to adjust and figure out what you are looking at. Isn't it great? They're made of crayons. Well who would have thunk? The problem with hanging his work on the walls will be in keeping people from pulling the crayons out. I know I'd want to.

"For this body of work I have assembled more than one hundred thousand hand cast crayons of varying colors and shades to produce a body of work that, to the best of my knowledge, is unlike anything done before in art. These individual “pixels” of wax are precisely stacked into specific locations inside of wooden frames to produce a new art form that uniquely balances the qualities of both photography and sculpture. Further, I have developed a mapping system that translates the English alphabet into twenty six discrete colors and I use these crayon “fonts” to add words and language to each of the pieces in the show."

Where the sidewalk ends, 2008

Blue Boy, 2008

"The product is a series of photorealistic landscapes and figurative images that are formed at the surface of the thousands of tightly packed crayon tips. The imagery that makes up this new body tends to focus on isolated elements represented as children, barns, water towers, etc. within determinate landscapes, which are intended to reference the individual crayon whose solitary existence, like that of the individual element, is rendered obsolete in the amalgamate. The direct representation of language in each piece further imbues the works with meaning and brings an aspect of color into each composition reminiscent of DNA coding. The alphabetic key at the lower left of each panel allows the viewer to interpret the individual words written throughout the various panels."

The Dance I + detail, 2006

The Hours + detail, 2006

True Color Series Girl 1 (detail2), 2008

He ain't no baby bear

Ok, I'll admit this might scare some little ones. But not my bloodthirsty kid. Provided he manages not to trip in it, I can see him jumping out of corners in our house dressed in this very realistic sleeping bag. All I can say is I'm glad I'm not a camping kind of gal. I would not in a million years wish to encounter "the bear" while out in the wild.

Are you sure you want one? Then you'll have to wait until designer Eiko Ishizawa starts to produce them.

Via Swiss Miss

Dodge 'em

According to the website, it is supposed to "improve your aim, channel your frustration, and help heal your traumatized inner child." Well... sometimes I could use the help in the inner child department. You'll have to decide if you do too.

the desktop dodgeball game

Remember that schoolyard staple Dodge Ball, where one kid had the ball
and everybody else had to "dodge?" Yes memories like that really remind
Fred of why he hated recess. Well our Dodge 'Em is a kinder, gentler
version...and this time you've got the ball! Line up the target kids on
a flat surface - desk, table, or floor - and see how many you can topple
with each throw. We guarantee that this item will improve your aim, channel
your frustration, and help heal your traumatized inner child. Dodge 'Em
is a set of 8 screenprinted hardwood blocks measuring around 3" x .5"
and a lightweight spongeball to knock 'em over with. Like all things FRED,
this item is packaged in a beautiful pinted clear box with frosted highlights.

Design: Liz Goulet Dubois

Think you can't live without them now? If so, then you'd better mosey on over to World Wide Fred.