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December 19, 2004

Athena Tacha at Marsha Mateyka

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This American artist, best known for her public works and landscape architecture, recently retired from teaching.

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She's created a striking group of works for her new exhibition, "Shields and Universes: Sculptures and Drawings," at the Marsha Mateyka Gallery in Washington, D.C.

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Her outdoor works are powerful, assertive, large pieces, but the works she's made for this show are smaller and far more delicate.

The wall sculptures were created from accumulated organic materials - seashells, feathers, even cicada parts.

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"17 Year Shield" (at the very top of this post) consists of countless cicada exoskeletons massed into a round form more than 30 inches across.

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The show is up through next Thursday, December 23. (2012 R St. NW; 202-328-0088)

December 19, 2004 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shishi odoshi (deer scarer)

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Originally used in Japanese rice fields to scare off deer and small animals, the shishi odoshi (above) is now a common feature of Japanese gardens.

Water from a feeding spout flows into a hollow bamboo tube, which when filled tips forward and then drops back onto a sounding stone.

The resulting "clack" scares off the deer.

A brochure extolling the device comments:

    In the garden it gives a feeling of solitude as it breaks the silence.

    The clack of bamboo penetrates the garden and fades.

    We are reminded that time is moving on.

Today's New York Times "Modern Love" feature about the endless repeating cycle of a relationship breaking up, then regaining its traction only to crash and burn again, over and over, introduced the shishi odoshi as a metaphor.

I like it.

I might get one before the local deer return in force this spring to begin their foraging in my garden.

December 19, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Pizza Clock

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It's one minute past mozzarella when you've got this baby.

Now it's always pizza time.

Nicely done, a 12" wall clock that runs on a AA battery (not included).

$19.98 here.

Hey - you've gotten - and given, come on, you can admit it to me, remember: I'm your doctor - enough cheesy gifts to last ten lifetimes.

Why not do it for real for once?

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Comes in a real pizza box in case you wanted a little extra.

December 19, 2004 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Code Pink? 'Purple is the new red'

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So wrote Naomi Aoki in the Boston Globe about a kinder, gentler approach to telling students they made a mistake.

Teachers on both coasts are increasingly marking their students' mistakes in purple ink rather than red.

Sharon Carlson, a health teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton, Massachusetts was quoted by Aoki in her story as follows:

"If you see a whole paper of red, it looks pretty frightening."

Aside: I once had a teacher who'd say, as he handed a particularly error-filled paper back to a student, "Watch out you don't get blood all over your shirt - this paper is bleeding."

I loved it then, and I love it now.

I want my mistakes to hurt, so circle 'em in bold red ink, please.

Because that's how you improve.

You feel the pain of screwing up, and try to avoid it.

I wince when a bookofjoe reader points out an error, and in the next zeptosecond I kiss the screen, so delighted am I to have a reader who cares enough to mention it, and even more pleased am I to be able to instantly correct the error.

So bring it - PLEASE.

If I could have such corrections come into my computer in flashing red with a siren, that would be even better.

But maybe next year.

Or, as they say in the computer industry, "real soon now."

You could say my philosophy is the antipode of "shoot the messenger."

Here I fete the bringer of bad news.

But I digressed. Where was I? Oh, yeah, red ink.

Read the Globe story (linked above) and see what you think.

Then have a look at this one, from the November 26, 2004 Cedar Rapids [Iowa] Gazette.

The heartland doesn't appear to be falling for the trendy move to purple.

However, they do seem to have embraced green for corrections, after an Iowa Writing Project workshop study that found "green was a less intimidating color for marking student mistakes."

Sorry, but I still want mine bloody.

"That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet." (Romeo and Juliet, II,ii,1-2)

I agree with Shakespeare's sentiment, but mistakes are not sweet things by any stretch of the psyche.

December 19, 2004 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Flatmatic compact sunglasses and reading glasses

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From my Phuket, Thailand correspondent comes word of this superb line of eyewear.

All kinds of patented mechanisms aimed at achieving the twin goals of stability and flexibility.

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Their basic concepts encompass lightness, comfort and practicality.

Hey, wait a minute: those are my goal and concepts.

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They stole them.

Imitation the sincerest form blah blah blah. So I digressed - shoot me.

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Go visit someplace interesting online.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, this eyeware company.

Nannini's the name, founded in 1954 and based in Modena, Italy.

Their glasses pack flat into an elegant clear and silver plastic case 10-15 millimeters thick (depending on the style) that protects them even in a jeans pocket.

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The sunglasses - well, you could spend a pleasant hour exploring the myriad styles.

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The reading glasses comes with clear lenses in various diopters and a rainbow of frame colors.

Best of all from my perspective, they've created a promotional credit card-sized pair of reading glasses, with a place for a logo up top.

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Hmmm...

Might be just the thing for joeheads who're especially nice....

I'm gonna look into this.

[via AW]

December 19, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

'The Long Goodbye'

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How is it possible that until this week I had never read a single book by Raymond Chandler?

It's just as well, because now I'm better able to appreciate the elegant, casually languorous style he flashes throughout this superb novel.

It's the perfect bedtime book: calming, absorbing, and beautifully written, with an occasional laugh out loud aside that seems to come out of nowhere.

What a masterful writer.

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From the book:

    There was a girl beside him. Her hair was a lovely shade of dark red and she had a distant smile on her lips and over her shoulders she had a blue mink that almost made the Rolls-Royce look like just another automobile. It didn't quite. Nothing can.

    The girl gave him a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of his back. It didn't bother him enough to give him the shakes.

    "Alcohol is like love," he said. "The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl's clothes off."

    If Terry Lennox had killed his wife, that was fine. There was no need to try him and bring out all the unpleasant details. If he hadn't killed her, that was fine too. A dead man is the best fall guy in the world. He never talks back.

    I drove back to Hollywood feeling like a short length of chewed string. It was too early to eat, and too hot. I turned on the fan in my office. It didn't make the air any cooler, just a little more lively. Outside on the boulevard the traffic brawled endlessly. Inside my head thoughts stuck together like flies on flypaper.

    On the window sill a bee with tattered wings was crawling along the woodwork, buzzing in a tired remote sort of way, as if she knew it wasn't any use, she was finished, she had flown too many missions and would never get back to the hive again.

    I knew it was going to be one of those crazy days. Everyone has them. Days when nobody rolls in but the loose wheels, the dingoes who park their brains with their gum, the squirrels who can't find their nuts, the mechanics who always have a gear wheel left over.

December 19, 2004 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

National Geographic Home Collection

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The National Geographic Store's always been a great place to buy a map or a globe, either in person at the shop at the headquarters (1145 17th St. NW, Washington, D.C.) or online.

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Now both the store and the virtual shop have expanded into home furnishings.

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I just spent a while exploring the website: there's some very nice stuff, at reasonable prices.

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Have a look for yourself.

December 19, 2004 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Agnes Martin is dead

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She died last Thursday at 92 in Taos, New Mexico.

Martin (above, in 1991 at the age of 79), was a solitary, retiring artist who lived alone her entire adult life.

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In 1967, just when her New York career was taking off, she abruptly left the city, wandered the country for months in a pickup and camper, and stopped making art for seven years.

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She finally settled in New Mexico, where she built an adobe house with her own hands on a remote mesa where in winter she was snowed in for weeks at a time.

She also wrote: her collected epigrams and lectures were collected into a 1992 book entitled "Writings."

I just ordered it.

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She wanted no memorial service or eulogies.

She left no survivors.

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Some of her thoughts:

    When I think of art, I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye, it is in the mind.

    One thing I like about Zen: it doesn't believe in achievement. I don't think the way to succeed is by doing something aggressive. Aggression is weak-minded.

    The value of art is in the observer. When you find out what you like, you're really finding out about yourself. Beethoven's music is joyous. If you like his music, you know that you like to be joyful. People who look at my painting say that it makes them happy, like the feeling when you wake up in the morning. And happiness is the goal, isn't it?

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Here's her obituary from yesterday's Washington Post, and Friday's from the New York Times.

December 19, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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