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Monthly Archives: September 2007

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Collage Course

Artist Brian Dettmer carves into old books, creating wild and complex three dimensional sculptures around the illustrations (via Design Observer). These are gorgeous, although the bottom two closely resemble some of the termite-ridden stuff we’ve fished out of our garage.

Ernö Rubik’s Breakfast Nook

Dining Room ‘68

I kind of like this multicolored floor — real kicky! And you can’t go wrong with Eero Saarinen furnishings. This is actually one of the more subtle interiors from the Your Swingin’ Pad set, assembled by flickr user Miss Retro Modern (via Eye of the Goof).

Book Review: Taking Things Seriously

Taking Things Seriously coverBack when I worked at the local newspaper, one of the things I confiscated for myself was this ancient metal Swingline stapler which appeared to date from the Kennedy/Johnson era. Streamlined in design, heavy as a rock, painted Industrial Tan and covered in years of grime and scotch tape detritus, the stapler was so out of its element in that modernized office that I just had to adopt it as my own. I proudly kept it on my desk — and when I subsequently had to leave that job it got smuggled home, where it still sits on my desk. Though I rarely have the need for a stapler (much less an ungainly brick like the Swingline), I like to have it around to imagine the chain smoking, rumpled Broderick Crawford type who undoubtedly owned the hell out of it when it was new.

The stapler is a prime example of how we tend to bestow meaning and history onto the most banal and seemingly worthless of objects. With Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance, Joshua Glenn and Carol Hayes took the idea one step further by asking several semi-known folks (mostly fringe writers and artists) about their favorite objects. The stories they collected are as diverse as the objects themselves: a bath towel, an antique wooden horse, a pine cone, a glass jar, a light bulb, worn plastic toys and mummified food. Although some of the contributors’ stories have a purely nostalgic bent, many of the people chose items that they associate with deeper things like the power of social ties or the utter randomness of life. Some of the stories are funny, others are unexpectedly touching. Admittedly it’s a strange idea to build a book around, but ultimately the project is beautifully executed in boxy paperback form. This would make a good gift for everyone’s favorite oddball.

Taking Things Seriously is available now from Princeton Architectural Press. Buy at Amazon here.

Taking Things Seriously spread

Revisiting Twice Upon a Time

Twice Upon A TimeLooks like our pal Ward Jenkins has done it again with a lengthy examination on the forgotten 1983 animated feature Twice Upon a Time in which he interviews animation expert and Twice superfan Taylor Jenssen. Like Ward, I first came across this movie long ago on VHS after reading something about it somewhere (Premiere magazine perhaps?). I also remember being impressed by the film’s uniquely animated paper cutout visuals, but the fact that I don’t recall one iota of the storyline or characters probably explains why it’s never ingrained itself in the hearts of animation fans. The film played like a cross between a slicker version of Terry Gilliam’s Monty Python segments and an overly arty children’s book come to life. In other words, dazzling to look at but a bit vacant. Despite its shortcomings, I wish that Warner Bros. could give Twice a new life on DVD — but after reading Jenssen’s interview I’m not holding my breath. Maybe, in a better world, it could be loaned out to Criterion for a beautifully produced DVD with commentaries and deleted scenes? Just having a little “pie in the sky” moment there.

Now I want Ward to do a post on The Mouse and His Child, another semi-forgotten animated effort from my past. Check it out on YouTube.

Me Japanese Toy I Love You

The preview for Japanese videogame Beautiful Katamari (coming to the Xbox and Wii) is so bizarre that I had to watch it three times in a row. Far as I can tell, the game has something to do with rolling a giant ball onto various objects — but I’m too distracted by the Japanese child narrator and the trippy visuals to notice or care.

Peel Me a Grape

Another weird thing: every time I hear the name “General Petraeus” on the news it reminds me of Rome, the TV series.