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December 7, 2006

'Not a day has gone by in my life when I haven't thought about death' — Ingmar Bergman

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Above, the first sentence of Stephen Holden's haunting review in yesterday's New York Times of a new documentary portrait of Bergman by Marie Nyrerod, which opened yesterday at Film Forum in New York City.

If you can't get to the theater then you'll have to make do with Holden's piece, which follows.

    A Solitary Ingmar Bergman on Life, Love and Death, in Documentary Style

    “Not a day has gone by in my life when I haven’t thought about death,” Ingmar Bergman muses in the extended interview that forms the spine of “Bergman Island,” an extraordinarily revealing documentary portrait of this Swedish director at his home on the desolate Baltic Island of Faro.

    His lifelong terror of it diminished, he says, after anesthesia for surgery rendered him unconscious for several hours. If this is what death is like, he says he remembers thinking afterward, it is nothing to be afraid of. Until then he harbored “an insane fear” of it that was channeled into his film “The Seventh Seal.” The image of a knight playing chess with death in that film came from a painting in a church he visited with his father in Uppland.

    Since his recovery from surgery, he says, his fear has undergone further modification. Because he acutely senses the presence on the island of Ingrid Karlebo, the last of his five wives, who died in 1995 after 23 years of marriage, he is certain that she is present and that his lack of consciousness under anesthesia was merely a “chemical reaction,” an “artificial death.” When he dies, he now believes, he may actually be reunited with her.

    For those Bergman admirers to whom he looms as a magisterial artistic sentinel gazing grimly into eternity, his words hold out some comfort. As for the existence of God, he believes that intimations of divinity can be found in the classical music with which he surrounds himself and in what he calls “human holiness.”

    Mr. Bergman recalls first visiting the island in 1960 to make “Through a Glass Darkly,” and it is also where five more films, including “Persona,” were shot. Since moving there in January 2004, he says, he sometimes goes for days without speaking to anyone. He says he plans to stay for the rest of his days.

    A dour humor twinkles through his introspection. He follows a rigorous daily routine that includes a brisk morning walk because, as he puts it: “The demons don’t like fresh air. What they like best is if you stay in bed with cold feet.”

    This intimate, compelling film, which opens today at the Film Forum in Manhattan, confirms what any astute viewer of his films has probably guessed: that they are intensely autobiographical. His revised thoughts on death, for instance, are articulated in a monologue in “Saraband,” his recent made-for-television sequel to “Scenes From a Marriage.” And the turning point in “Scenes From a Marriage,” in which a husband bluntly informs his wife that he has fallen in love with another woman and is leaving, also came directly from his life.

    The parent-child dynamics of “Fanny and Alexander” are reflections of his relationship with his father, who flew into terrible rages, and his mother, who adored him but pushed him away after a pediatrician recommended that she deal severely with his excessive crying and neediness. He has inherited his father’s fierce temper, he admits, along with a tendency to hold grudges.

    Looking back at his five marriages, many lovers and his indifference to family life, he is aghast at his own cruelty at the same time that he is strangely unapologetic. Creating movies and theater, he explains, is a profoundly erotic experience in which the director and the actors strive to be perfect for one another. And Mr. Bergman, who in his late 80s still cuts a distinguished figure, was movie-star handsome as a younger man.

    “I usually say I left puberty at 58,” he says. And old photos and film clips of him with the luminous beauties Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann, who co-starred in “Persona” and who each had been his lover, show beautiful people who must have been irresistible to one another. Except for his union with Ingrid, whom he married in 1971, each of his marriages lasted roughly five years. He sired nine children (including one with Ms. Ullmann).

    Marie Nyrerod, the interviewer, who directed the movie, doesn’t shy away from asking painful questions relating to Mr. Bergman’s parenting, and he responds with a bluntness that is as disturbing as it is candid.

    “I had a bad conscience until I discovered that having a bad conscience about something so gravely serious as leaving your children is an affectation, a way of achieving a little suffering that can’t for a moment be equal to the suffering you’ve caused,” he says. “I haven’t put an ounce of effort into my families. I never have.”

    Such carelessness, I suppose, is the license of an Olympian.

December 7, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

When Dogs Go Prep

1ryjhmgm

They certainly will sport one of these bespoke Hedy Manon cashmere argyle sweaters, whose wool is sourced from the same suppliers as Loro Piana.

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From the top down,

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in Blue/Grey,

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Brown/Pink or

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Forest Green/Grey.

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$295 and up.

December 7, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What is it?

14ey5ykj

The answer will appear at this time tomorrow (2:01 p.m Friday, December 8, 2006).

December 7, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

Streamside Sushi Sticks

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From the website:

    Streamside Sushi Sticks

    Give these chopsticks to the culinary campers on your list.

    Sometimes, a fork and knife just doesn't jive.

    These travel sticks bring a taste of Asia into your pack.

    Collapsible design lets the pinewood tips store inside the aluminum tube handles.

    Pull off/push on brass endcaps keep everything in place.

    • Hollow aluminum finger grips

    • Wooden tips unscrew

    • Red nylon carrying case with flapped Velcro® closure and lanyard

    • Chopstick length assembled: 8"

    • Case is 5½"long x 1½" wide

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$14.50.

December 7, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Does Eye Black Cut Glare?

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That was the question addressed in Jeré Longman's front page article in this past Sunday's (December 3, 2006) New York Times.

Long story short: No.

Here's the piece.

    Eye Black Used to Cut Glare, or Turn Up Spotlight

    As Upper Darby High played its annual Thanksgiving Day football game, a northeaster raked the Philadelphia suburbs, turning the field into a muddy pudding. The last thing any player needed was protection from the sun’s glare. And because the game began in late morning, no one bothered turning on the stadium lights.

    Still, the dreariness did not keep many Upper Darby players from spreading eye black on their cheeks. Some dabbed a line of grease under the eyes. Some wore adhesive antiglare patches that resembled Morse code for the face. Others smeared the stuff like shaving cream.

    “It’s just the look,” Brandon Murray, an Upper Darby halfback, said after his team had been upset, 20-8, by its archrival, Haverford High. “Most kids think it’s intimidating or it looks good. No one uses it to block out the light.”

    That is not necessarily the case in the National Football League. Jerricho Cotchery described a scene in the Jets’ locker room before a game last Sunday, when he and his fellow receiver Laveranues Coles applied eye black as if they were showgirls applying false eyelashes.

    They were carrying out a decades-old tradition. A Yale University study found evidence of eye black use dating at least to a 1942 photograph of a Washington Redskins player named Andy Farkas. The eye black origins in baseball are more obscure, the study said.

    Coles said that playing without eye-black grease was like “playing with no shoulder pads or no helmet.” Although he grew up in sunny Florida, Coles said he never used eye black until he reached the N.F.L. and struggled with glare.

    “I don’t know if it was one of those placebo effects, but it was one of those things that stuck with me,” he said.

    But many athletes do not seem to care much about the intended use of eye black. Instead, those smudges and patches and decals have become popular fashion accessories, miniature billboards for personal messages and war-paint slatherings aimed at gaining a psychological advantage more than a visual edge.

    “I think it kind of lost its purpose,” said Nick Ciccone, a safety at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. “It’s a fashion thing now. A lot of guys say, if you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good.”

    Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner who is now a running back for the New Orleans Saints, inscribed the 619 area code for his hometown in San Diego County on his antiglare stickers while at the University of Southern California. Seizing the moment, Bush had plans to unveil a 619 cologne.

    Rutgers running back Ray Rice wears stickers that run cheek to cheek, across his nose. He writes a weekly eulogy to a deceased cousin: RIP 914 SUPE.

    Sometimes eye stickers are used for more frivolous purposes. In a game against Arkansas on Nov. 24, running back Keiland Williams of Louisiana State University wore an LSU patch under one eye only, looking like a kind of decal pirate.

    Rory Jones, a receiver at South Plaquemines High in Port Sulphur, La., said he had no idea what the eye-black stickers were intended for. “I use them for showboating,” he said.

    Tim Heagy, a defensive end at Lycoming College in Pennsylvania, said he thought the smeared-cheek look might give him a slight edge over a larger opponent. “If he’s a little bigger, maybe he thinks you’re crazy because you have eye black on,” Heagy said.

    Researchers wondered, too. In the past few years, they have begun to examine the accepted truth that eye black does indeed decrease glare reflecting off the skin.

    Recent studies have shown that eye black reduces glare somewhat, while improving contrast sensitivity. Yet it remains debatable among experts whether glare is diminished sufficiently to increase a kick returner’s ability to field a ball out of the stadium lights or a shortstop’s ability to pluck a pop fly out of the sun.

    Through the years, players have fashioned eye black from burnt cork and shoe polish. Today’s commercially produced eye-black grease is made from such items as beeswax, paraffin and charcoal powder, while antiglare stickers are made of patented fabric with a dull, matte finish.

    The Yale study placed 46 students in the sun and tested their reactions using a sensitivity contrast chart. Some participants wore eye-black grease, while others wore adhesive stickers. A third group wore smudges of petroleum jelly as a placebo.

    The study found a small, but statistically significant, improvement in contrast sensitivity and glare reduction for participants who wore the eye grease, but not for those who wore antiglare stickers. The results were published in 2003 in Archives of Ophthalmology.

    “I thought we would find it to be like war paint and a psychological advantage more than anything else,” Dr. Brian M. DeBroff, the lead author of the Yale study, said in a telephone interview. “We were surprised to find a benefit from the grease.”

    Asked if the benefits were significant enough to enhance athletic performance, Dr. DeBroff said, “Certainly in football and baseball, where tracking a ball at high speed is an important aspect, any competitive advantage could be beneficial.”

    He added: “Does it translate in terms of being able to pick up the ball if looking back into the sun? Possibly. Certainly, it would be interesting to do further study to determine the exact benefit.”

    A study of eye-black grease at the University of New Hampshire also found a small improvement in contrast sensitivity. The findings, published last year in an undergraduate research journal, were considered preliminary, said Dr. Kenneth Fuld, chairman of the university’s psychology department and the study’s sponsor.

    Even so, Dr. Fuld, a former New Hampshire assistant baseball coach, said he was skeptical that the grease enhanced a player’s performance.

    “I would be highly doubtful that it would have much of an effect, if any,” Dr. Fuld said, noting that tennis players performed at high levels without eye black while constantly dealing with the sun’s glare.

    Placing a brand name on adhesive strips in white letters, writing messages on stickers and adorning them with initials and logos appeared to defeat the antiglare purpose of the patches, Dr. Fuld said.

    Among the findings of the New Hampshire study were: Eye-black grease did not work as effectively with blue-eyed participants, who have less iris pigment to screen out unwanted light. And women had better results than men, although that might be explained by the smaller sample size of male participants (18) than female participants (28).

    While it may seem counterintuitive that all skin tones benefit from eye black, oiliness of the skin and sweating, not simply skin color, affect how much light is reflected into the eyes, said another researcher, Mike Maloney, president of Bjorksten Research Laboratories in Wisconsin.

    His company has done testing for Mueller Sports Medicine, a Wisconsin manufacturer of antiglare patches, which were judged ineffective in the Yale study. Brett Mueller, president of the company, said that Yale researchers tested “couch potatoes” rather than attempting to replicate on-field distractions an athlete encounters in his peripheral vision.

    The research commissioned by Mueller used a mannequin with a photo diode attached to the right eye. The findings indicated that antiglare stickers reduced the amount of light that entered the periphery of the eye to a greater extent than eye-black grease did.

    “But what I can’t tell you is the amount of difference that will make in athletic performance,” Mr. Maloney said.

    For elite athletes, the chance that eye black might provide even the slightest advantage can be convincing, said Jeremy Bloom, a kick returner and two-time Olympian who was formerly the world’s top-ranked moguls skier.

    “It’s very symbolic of football, whether science proves it works or not,” said Bloom, who is on injured reserve with the Philadelphia Eagles. “If it works just a little, that’s helpful. It can’t hurt.”

    On the high school level, though, the ostentatious use of eye black and facial decals has led to a backlash by some coaches. Brian Sipe, a former All-Pro quarterback now coaching Santa Fe Christian School near San Diego, said he limited his players to a thin smudge no wider than the eye.

    “It really serves no purpose other than adornment,” Sipe said.

    In suburban Philadelphia, Haverford High prevailed over Upper Darby on Thanksgiving without any players wearing eye black. Coach Joe Gallagher had banned its use.

    “That’s just frills,” he said. “They were too concerned about how they looked.”

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2ruyttyujk

If you're not convinced that eye black's bogus, that's great: see, I've got these nasal strips I'd be delighted to sell you....

December 7, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lock De-Icer Key Ring — Episode 2: Night falls and darkness calls but you have an answer

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Episode 1 in this series appeared a long time ago — on September 30, 2004 — and featured the same sort of in-your-pocket heating technology but offered no assistance to the unfortunate individual frozen out after dark.

That's the focus of this latest, tricked-out version.

From the website:

    Lock De-Icer Key Ring

    Thirty seconds to an unfrozen lock.

    This unique must-have tool has a slide-out strip that heats up in 5 to 10 seconds and thaws your frozen lock in about 30 seconds.

    Attached to a key ring, it also includes a flashlight.

    Uses 2 AAA batteries (not included).

$11.50.

Idle thought: I wonder if this device would make it past airport security?

I'm betting no.

December 7, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cusp Limited Edition Designer Tarot Card Deck — Priceless

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Literally.

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You can't buy one.

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But Cusp, a boutique with stores in Los Angeles and Tysons Corner, Virginia, will give you a deck free if you buy something.

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Anything.

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But don't think about it for too long because once they're gone it's game over.

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Among the cards' designers are Jemma Kidd, Catherine Malandrino, Theory and Rebecca Turbow.

December 7, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2-Dimensional Vase — Episode 2: Style Points

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On March 28, 2005 the Flatland vase emerged.

No question this newer iteration (above and below) is more appealing.

"These amazing vinyl vases, called 'Hope Forever Blossoming,' are flat — filling them with water gives them their dimension."

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Two for $24.

December 7, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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