July 13, 2020

"The Old Guard" starring the great Charlize Theron

It premiered last Friday, July 10.

For my money, the only better actress in the world — one who can carry any film, no matter how bad, across the finish line — is Kristen Stewart.

What an excellent movie, whose premise came as a wonderful surprise to me only because I'd never heard of the comic series it's based on nor read the reviews beforehand.

Pay close attention around thirteen minutes in, when something happens that shifts everything into a different and absorbing new frame of reference.

Matthias Schoenaerts is compelling as always: along with Jason Statham or Idris Elba, he'd be much better as James Bond than pouting Daniel Craig.

Technical note: one more reason why watching movies at home trumps going a movie theater is volume control.

At a theater you're at the mercy of deafening music and special effects and sometime unintelligible dialogue.

In your comfy spot at home, you can instantly lower the volume as needed and raise it when you're having trouble hearing what someone said.

If that doesn't work, rewind and listen again.

And if that doesn't do the trick, you can go into Settings and

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Now where's my popcorn?

July 13, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Why the pandemic may result in better relationships

With a mask on it's hard to tell the beautiful people from the rest of us.

All the better for the rest of us, who now have a far better playing field in terms of first impressions: it's not just looks anymore, but the eyes and what's behind them.

Wait and see if somebody doesn't write about this in an essay in the New York Times' Modern Love feature.

Hey, joe, why don't you do it?

Nah, too lazy.

Take the idea and prosper.

Wait a sec — what's that music I'm hearing?

Why, it leads this post.

July 13, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"In LIght" — Julianna Barwick

Back story here.

July 13, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

What happened to the cat videos?

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Constant readers will have noted that last week the daily 12:01 pm/2:01 pm Grey Cat video stopped appearing.

You may ask yourself, why is that?

How did I get here?

And then you realize that this is not your beautiful wife.

But I digress.

Long story short: it became clear that my stated goal of 1,000 YouTube subscribers — unlocking mobile livestreaming — was getting further away every day.

My all-time high of 644, reached around the middle of June, stopped increasing but instead started losing a subscriber every couple days down to where I'm currently at (top).

My spidey blogger sense told me those peeps going out through the in door were doing so because they were tired of my kitty.

So she's on hiatus, in turnaround for now.

Hey, wait a sec — what's that music I'm hearing?

July 13, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Backpack Chainsaw

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Leatherface, call your office.

From Core77:

Wielding a chainsaw can be tiring.

Getting tired leads to accidents, so I call it quits as soon as I start to feel fatigued.

That's a luxury I can afford because I'm harvesting firewood on a relaxed schedule, not performing silviculture for a living.

I admire the professional arborist who can wield a chainsaw all day long.

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For the arborist involved in thinning operations, Husqvarna has invented a special chainsaw to make things easier.

By breaking the tool up into its constituent components, the 535FBx "Backpack Chainsaw" distributes the machine's weight in an intelligent way while increasing reach and reducing operator fatigue.

Once the fuel tank is empty, the operator needs to remove the harness to add more.

Apply within.

Still not convinced?


the video.

July 13, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 12, 2020

Sunday night at the movies: "His Girl Friday" (1940) starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell

A classic comedy directed by Howard Hawks.

[via Open Culture]

July 12, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Change Artist Johnny Swing


I first featured him in boj in 2005.

You could look it up.

Now he's big, so much so that the New York Times is featuring his work.

From the recent article:

Johnny Swing makes furniture from coins with each design requiring thousands of nickels, quarters, half-dollars or dollar coins

Mr. Swing, 59, works a short drive down the mountain from his home in a 5,500-square-foot studio he designed himself, with high ceilings, soaring windows, and dedicated spaces for carving, modeling, and welding.

A small team assists him in creating his sculptures of twisted steel cable and repurposed metal objects, his architectonic lighting fixtures, and — the thing everyone knows Johnny Swing for — his sofas, chairs, and benches made from shimmering coins.

Typically, he makes only a handful of coin pieces a year, as each design requires thousands of nickels, quarters, half-dollars, or dollar coins, all meticulously joined with upward of 60,000 welds, depending on the size of the piece and the coin used.

The metalworking alone can stretch to 300 hours or more, sometimes spread out over months.

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Lately, Mr. Swing has been focused on his most challenging body of coin furniture yet.

Planned as the centerpiece of his debut solo show with the Tribeca design gallery R & Company —his first in New York City in eight years — the new designs are being produced in two versions, one made with nickels and one with dollar coins. (Because of the coronavirus outbreak, the show was moved from May tentatively to the fall.)

The works will be sold as complete sets and separately, with individual pieces starting around $20,000.

Mr. Swing's choice of coins as a medium invites a variety of interpretations.

Is the work a wry critique of capitalism?

A wink at the investment value of art and luxury furnishings?

A commentary on our obsession with money?

Studies that have shown that simply touching currency can elevate people’s emotional states, and a Swing sofa or chair invites sitters to immerse themselves in cold, hard — though surprisingly comfortable — cash.


But Swing is no ideologue.

He views coins as an intriguingly malleable, multivalent material and as "beautiful little sculptures in their own right."

Having always repurposed found and castoff materials, he likes that coins possess past lives, trading hands countless times and traveling unknowable distances.

Mr. Swing started designing coin furniture shortly before leaving New York for Vermont.

His first piece, crafted with pennies, was based on Harry Bertoia’s iconic Diamond chair.

"I liked the fact that pennies were discarded — no one even bent down to pick them up anymore," he said. "And I felt like I was borrowing, the same way rap musicians take some old funk or jazz line."

But it was not until Mr. Swing began developing his own forms several years later that the coin furniture started to find an audience.

Early designs included the Nickel couch (top), featuring a gently rounded back that curves into an elegantly bulbous armrest on one end, and the barrel-back Half Dollar chair, whose gracefully spreading sides give the piece its other name, the Butterfly chair (below).


Over the years, the pieces expanded in scale, culminating in the 11-foot-long Murmuration, an asymmetrical curl of nickels with a low seat at one end and a flat circular bench at the other.

It looks a bit like a wide-handled soup spoon with a playfully twisted bowl.

To create his free-form shapes, Mr. Swing starts by carving blocks of Styrofoam with a sanding disk.

He coats the forms in fiberglass and epoxy resin, giving them a smooth, hard surface.

At that point, "I sit in the work a lot and if I don't like the way something feels, I go back in and just cut that whole section out and redo it," he said.

The final pieces are used to make concrete molds that the coins are pressed into as they are welded together.

As someone once remarked, "Quantity has its own quality."

July 12, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Elevator Doors at Amazon Japan


Brad Stone's 2013 biography of Jeff Bezos is superb.

FunFact: when I emailed him (jeff@amazon.com) some years ago, though I didn't hear back from him directly I did in fact get a very nice reply from a woman who appears to have spoken with him about my email and passed on his comments.

I like being one degree of separation away from this unique, über-inventive man.

July 12, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Bolts whose heads change color when tightened properly

I love this.

From Core77:

I love torque wrenches, because they let me ensure that dangerous parts like lawnmower blades are properly tightened.

But what if you didn't need the torque wrench (which are pretty damned pricey) at all?

A company called Stress Indicators Inc. has invented SmartBolts, which feature a red dot in the head when loose. Once the bolt is tightened to the proper torque, it turns black.

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The technology is a boon to maintenance folks, manufacturers, and heavy equipment operators, as they can tell, at a glance, whether a bolt is starting to work loose.

"The constant movement of the welding robot was causing the bolts to lose tension," writes an anonymous heavy equipment manufacturer, in a testimonial on the SmartBolts website. "So we decided to retrofit our robots with SmartBolts; now the maintenance technician can look over during welding and visually check that the bolts are secure. This has had a positive impact on improving our overall safety and manufacturing efficiency."

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"We initially had some concern about using these more expensive bolts," writes Yajie Wang, and Advanced Process Engineer at Cooper Standard Automotive, "but after several tests and trials showing their value in added safety, as well as less downtime and visual inspections — it was an easy decision to replace all our mold clamping bolts with SmartBolts. And the appreciation our operators have expressed is priceless!"

As for how it works, the company (unsurprisingly) explains it in broad strokes only.


Apply within.

July 12, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nankei Banko Yaki Crackle Tea Cup

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From the website:

This versatile vessel adds joy to the simple act of drinking.

It sports a unique "crackle" finish that is expertly applied to the surface by a difference in contraction between the base material and the glaze.

As you use it, pigments will continue to be deposited in the grooves making it more beautiful with age.

Made in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, Japan by Nankei Seizoen, a small Banko Yaki producer that has been operating since 1913.

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About Banko Yaki

Based in the Mie Prefecture, the art of Banko Yaki is a traditional ceramic technique that is entrenched within Japanese culture.

Dating back to the 18th century, Banko Yaki ceramics offer unique heat resistance and a beautiful but practical composition in muted, earthy colors. 

These pieces continue to honor an ancient art in a modern world by reshaping the past to fit the needs of the future.

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Features and Details:

• MaterialStoneware

• Dimensions: 2.99"W x 2.95"H

• Volume: 8.11 fl oz (240ml)

• Care: Because the glaze contains cracks, please treat with extra care. Use neutral detergent for cleaning and avoid abrasive sponges. Thoroughly rinse, drain, and dry between uses.

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July 12, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

July 11, 2020

13 Most Beautiful: Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests

Above, the trailer for the DVD featuring 13 of Warhol's silent film portraits selected from over 300, each made with a stationary 16-millimeter camera.

"In order of appearance: Paul America, Edie Sedgwick, Richard Rheem, Ingrid Superstar, Lou Reed, Jane Holzer, Billy Name, Mary Woronov, Freddy Herko, Ann Buchanan, Susan Bottomly, Nico, Dennis Hopper. The music is an excerpt from the song 'Knives from Bavaria (Spoonful of Fun)' by Dean & Britta."

More on the subject here.

July 11, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Experts' Expert: What the pros use to clean windows


Debra Johnson, training manager for the national housecleaning service Merry Maids, told Bob Tedeschi, writing in the New York Times, that her employees often use coffee filters to wash windows.

"You'll go through a lot of them, but they do a great job," she said. "Newspaper leaves ink on your hands; paper towels shed lint on windows."

I've used paper towels (Bounty) + Windex since forever but maybe next time I'll give coffee filters a try.

But wait, there's more:

From swissmiss: "I had no idea but apparently coffee filters are ideal for cleaning screens/televisions. They'll catch the dust and cut static on the screen, all without leaving behind any fibers like paper towels would."


[via Apartment Therapy]

July 11, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Whisky Flavor Map


From Big Think:

This map is a handy guide to Scottish single malt whiskies, plotted on a grid with two sets of variables:

• Horizontally, from light (left) to rich (right)

• Vertically, from delicate (bottom) to smoky (top)

These are the main taste variables in the vast and bewildering universe of uisge beatha.

In Scotland alone, over 133 distilleries produce over 2,000 brands of whisky.

Many of those are blended; aficionados will prefer the single malt whiskies, i.e. whiskies produced by one single distillery, using only one type of malted grain, and aged in oak casks for at least three years.

Even in the strictly defined and regulated category of Scottish single malt whiskies, there are still over 800 varieties, of which only a few are represented here.

Whisky expert Dave Broom developed the aforementioned grid, also known as the Whisky Flavor Map.

The map allows samplers of single-malt whiskeys to explore taste relations between them, and discover new ones to their liking.

The horizontal axis differentiates lighter from richer flavours.

According to Broom, the Glenkinchie 12 (years old), on the lighter end of the spectrum, "had light floral grassy notes."

Clynelish 14, was "more textured, silkier, waxy, and unctuous," so halfway between the Glenkinchie and the Singleton of Dufftown 12, with its "nutty, almondly, dried-fruit flavors."

The position on the vertical axis is determined by the whisky's degree of "peatiness."

Peat can be used to heat the pot stills in which the damp malt is dried, during which time the smoke gets into the barley — more time, more smoke, more smokiness.

A Laphroaig 10, anyone?

If less or no peat is used for the fire, the taste will be delicate rather than smoky, as with a Scapa 14.

[via Michael Castelein and Malts.com]

July 11, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Manila Folder Boeing 777

Created by Luca Iaconi Stewart, who wrote:

This is a 1:60 scale model of an Air India Boeing 777-300ER, made entirely from manila folders.

This project traces its beginnings to an architecture class in high school where we learned to use manila file folders to roughly model our building ideas.

The more I worked with paper, the more I fell in love with its versatility.

At some point, I got the idea to make a model of an airplane as a way of challenging myself with an unconventional shape.

Though the project began on a much smaller and simpler scale in mid-2008, it has since evolved through multiple revisions to become a highly detailed, true-to-life representation of a Boeing 777.

I originally drew my plans by hand, but my desire to increase the accuracy and amount of detail led me to start using Adobe Illustrator to design and print increasingly intricate parts directly onto the folder.

My tools of choice (below)


include an Xacto knife, a cutting mat, straight edges, squares, and a toothpick for the precise application of glue.

July 11, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sega Astro City Mini

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From the Verge:

We may soon be reaching Peak Mini Retro Console.

After the excellent Genesis/Mega Drive Mini and the baffling Game Gear Micro, Sega has unveiled an even more improbable product: the Astro City Mini.

For those unfamiliar with the original Astro City, it wasn't a platform per se but a specific sit-down arcade cabinet that operators could buy and install one of a huge variety of game boards inside.

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Sega developed a whole range of "City" cabinets, with 1993's Astro City proving to be by far the most ubiquitous and iconic.

They're still a very common sight in Japanese arcades.

As such, the Astro City Mini comes preloaded with a bunch of Sega arcade games.

There'll be 36 in total, and here are the confirmed titles so far, via Game Watch:

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The Astro City Mini looks like a shrunken-down arcade cabinet, similar to the Neo Geo Mini.

Unlike that system, though, Sega says that the stick uses proper microswitches, so it should be a lot more satisfying to use.

There's an HDMI-out on the back as well as two USB-A ports, a Micro USB port, and a headphone jack.

Unfortunately, there's no word on whether it'll have a built-in battery.


The Astro City Mini is set for a release in Japan around the end of the year, and it'll cost 12,800 yen (about $120.)

July 11, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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