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December 26, 2006

'sleepwalkers' – by Doug Aitken

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The acclaimed multimedia artist, whose installations won top honors at the 48th Venice Biennale and have been shown at two Whitney Biennials, premiers his latest film on January 16, 2007 on eight exterior walls of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The project, filmed in New York, will be shown daily from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., through February 12, 2007.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: the movie stars Tilda Swinton, Donald Sutherland, Chan Marshall (Cat Power), Seu Jorge and Ryan Donowho.

And it's free.

In a story in the new (January, 2007) Wired magazine, Aitken, describing his film to Janelle Brown, said, "It's like chaos theory — finding order in this very kaleidoscopic new world we're living in, the quiet moments of harmony before things fall back into randomness."

You can watch the trailer here.

December 26, 2006 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Self-Powered Silent Shredder Scissors

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For those "black ops" where it's not convenient to haul a giant electric-powered shredder along.

From the website:

    Easy-Shred Scissors™ shred your documents!

    Why pay $100 for an electric shredder?

    Now it's easy to shred the entire document or just part of it — you're in control.

    Works great dicing credit cards and statements.

    16-1/2"L.

    Metal.

....................

$11.98 (credit cards and documents not included).

December 26, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

What do Mike Tirico and Rupert Murdoch have in common?

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A. Both wear glasses with Lindberg Air Titanium frames.

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December 26, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blast from the past: Coffee — and where not to place it on your car

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I touched on this issue in March of this year but Peter Carlson's December 14, 2006 Washington Post Style section front-page story resonated so strongly I had to bring it to your attention.

Long story short: When you arrive at your parked car carrying coffee — and/or anything else requiring placement somewhere other than in your hand while you open your car — put it down on the hood in front of the steering wheel.

Never — ever — on the car's roof.

There, that was easy.

The article, which became a done deal here once I read the subhead, follows.

    A Whole Latte Coffee Karma

    Good Joes Rush to the Rescue In a Little Test on a Grande Scale

    Kenny Fried is cruising down K Street in his black Camry while drivers honk their horns at him and pedestrians wave their arms frantically, yelling, "You got a coffee cup on your car!"

    Fried ignores them. He's more interested in the guy with the cigar in his mouth and the Bluetooth doodad in his ear, who's just staring blankly at him, saying nothing.

    "Look at that guy!" Fried says, amazed. "He totally ignored us!"

    His partner, Carter Bentzel, rolls down her window to talk to a lady who's pointing at the coffee cup that's stuck to the roof of the car with a magnet, saying, "You left your coffee on your roof!"

    "Actually, it's not real," Bentzel explains. "But thanks for being a good Samaritan."

    She hands the Samaritan a $5 coupon for coffee at Starbucks. And the Camry with the coffee cup stuck on top moves on to more excitement down the road.

    There are two ways to look at this whole wacky coffee-cup-on-the-car-roof thing. You could think of it simply as a clever promotion for Starbucks, the coffee company that seems bent on conquering the known world one street corner at a time. Or you could see it as a study of human nature, a test of whether the modern urban human will pause to help a stranger who left a coffee cup on his roof.

    In other words, it's an inquiry into the cosmic question: Is the coffee cup of human kindness half full or half empty?

    Bentzel, 35, a perky blond marketing manager for Starbucks, is a cup-half-full kind of gal. "It's so much fun to see people's responses," she says, "their concern for other people."

    Fried, 48, a balding local PR man working on the Starbucks account, is more of a cup-half-empty kind of guy. He's amazed at the people who don't respond. "This guy's definitely got the look," he says, watching a sour-faced man. "He's thinking, 'I just don't have the time.' "

    This coffee cup ruse is part of Starbucks's "surprise and delight" program, Bentzel says. It was first tried last year in New York, then it moved to Los Angeles and now it has arrived in Washington.

    Yesterday morning was a perfect time to study how Washingtonians would respond. It was rainy and nasty, and people trudged through the downtown streets huddling under umbrellas, heads down, shoulders hunched, looking miserable. How would they respond to a car with a coffee cup on the roof?

    "Your coffee's on the roof!" hollered Alan Lichter, a chiropractor.

    "Oh, my God, you left your coffee on your car!" Anne McCormick yelled, running toward the Camry, waving.

    Veronica Pecnik paused on her way to a job interview and tried to rescue the cup from the roof while the Camry was stopped at a light.

    They all got Starbucks coupons. So did a bicycle messenger who zoomed through a red light to inform Bentzel about the cup. And the driver of a Filene's Basement truck, who climbed out of the cab to get his coupon. And Pam Artiss, a stay-at-home mom from Landover, who had a simple explanation for why she stopped to help: "My husband does this kind of thing all the time."

    Of course, not everybody was a good Samaritan. Some people just stared silently and went on their way.

    "Look at the look on this guy!" says Fried. "He's thinking, 'Should I say something'?"

    By now, Fried had circled downtown Washington a half-dozen times. He'd passed the Starbucks at 15th and K, and the Starbucks at 16th and K, and the Starbucks at 19th and K, and the Starbucks at 15th and I, and the Starbucks at 18 and I, and the Starbucks at 17th and L, and the Starbucks at... Hmmmm, at this point, a question pops to mind: Could it be true? Is Starbucks really trying to take over the world?

    "No," says Bentzel, "we are are not trying to take over the world. I promise you that."

    Oops! Looks like we buried the scoop:

    "We are not trying to take over the world," a Starbucks spokeswoman said yesterday, as she drove around the nation's capital with a fake coffee cup stuck on the roof of the car.

December 26, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: When love isn't forever — the removable tattoo

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No, not the ones kids get that wash off with water but the real deal — ink, needles, pain and expense.

The secret is in a new form of tattoo ink, encapsulated in tiny beads made of polymethylmethacrylate, a synthetic material commonly used in surgical glue for artificial joint replacements.

Martin Schmieg, CEO of Freedom-2 LLC, the creator of the new ink, told Shari Roan, in a story that appeared last week in the Los Angeles Times, "Our inks look and feel and give a result equal to the current tattoos."

He would say that, though, wouldn't he?

A few Funfacts:

• Almost 25% of U.S. adults have at least one tattoo

• 17% of people with tattoos are considering removal

• Removal can require over 12 laser treatments and cost over $5,000 — not covered by insurance

Here's the article.

    Ta-ta, tattoo!

    You once adored Janie, but Laura is your honey now. That dragon circling your arm wowed your college buddies, but the executives in the office aren't nearly as impressed.

    Just as the number of Americans sporting tattoos has soared in the past decade, so has membership in another group: people who want their bodywork removed. Only then do they come to know the truth — that laser tattoo removal is painful, expensive and may not do the job completely.

    Soon there may be a solution to tattoo regret — removable tattoo ink. A company founded by doctors says it will begin selling such ink early next year. The ink is applied just as with any tattoo, and will remain in place as long as desired. But if the owner later decides that the artwork has to go, it can be removed fully and safely with a single laser treatment.

    The founders of the company making the removable ink, New York-based Freedom-2 LLC, say their goal is to help those who have come to regret permanently decorating their bodies. But backers say the technology will not only simplify tattoo removal, it will create an expanded market for body art — since consumers can be now assured that the tattoo will come off easily and without exorbitant cost.

    "I think it will open a floodgate for people who want tattoos," says Dr. Bruce Saal, a Los Gatos, Calif., dermatologist who specializes in laser tattoo removal and has invested in the company. "People will say, 'I want to do something a little wild. Now that I know it's not a lifelong commitment, I'll do it.' "

    But others wonder if tattoo artists and their customers will spurn the new ink if it doesn't meet their artistic needs.

    Almost one-quarter of U.S. adults have at least one tattoo, according to a study of 500 Americans published September in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Of those, 17 percent were considering removal, the survey found.

    Many doctors who perform laser tattoo removal, however, say that as many as half of all people with tattoos eventually want them off.

    "A very high majority of people would desire to have them removed if there was a simple and easy way," said Saal, a member of Freedom-2's scientific advisory board.

    Most conventional tattoos can be removed, but even a simple, small, one-color tattoo can require several laser treatments at a cost of around $1,000. Removals of large, multicolored tattoos can require more than a dozen laser treatments and cost $5,000 or more. And no, laser tattoo removal is not covered by medical insurance.

    Multiple treatments are needed to avoid skin damage from the laser. During conventional tattoo removal, brief pulses of energy are aimed at the tattoo, heating skin cells and breaking up the ink particles. Then the body's natural ability to remove foreign particles clears away the ink fragments. The top layer of skin, however, often bleeds slightly and forms scabs. Because of the inflammation produced by the laser, only a small area of skin can be treated at one time.

    Freedom-2's ink is removable because it is encapsulated in tiny beads made of polymethylmethacrylate, a synthetic material commonly used in surgical glue and artificial joints. The fact that the ink is encased in the tiny spheres doesn't affect the application of the tattoo or its appearance, says Martin Schmieg, chief executive of Freedom-2.

    "Our inks look and feel and give a result equal to the current tattoos," he says.

    Because of the way the beads are constructed, they fall apart when laser energy is applied, Schmieg said. Unpublished tests on humans and animals show that only one laser treatment is typically needed to fully remove a Freedom-2 tattoo and that most Q-switched lasers that doctors use for tattoo removal can be used for the job. A one-time laser treatment should cost less than $1,000, Schmieg predicts.

    The new ink will be slightly more expensive than conventional ink but will likely add only about $50 to the cost of most tattoos, Schmieg says, because most of the cost related to tattooing is for the artist's time and talent.

    The company will sell only black ink initially but will eventually add other colors. It is also developing a "time-limited tattoo," which will consist of ink in biodegradable polymer beads that dissolve and fade over time.

    But tattoo artists may prove lukewarm to the idea of removable artwork. According to Dr. Stuart H. Kaplan, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, Calif., who does laser tattoo removal and isn't associated with Freedom-2, tattoo artists are picky about the colors of their inks.

    Tattoo artists are also unlikely to be swayed by the convenient removal factor because as a rule, they don't think about tattoo removal, says Sailor Bill Johnson, executive director of the Alliance of Professional Tattooists.

    "That's not our concern," he says. "If someone comes into my tattoo studio and says, 'I may want to remove it later,' we'd just try to talk them out of getting one."

    Johnson says part of the experience of tattooing is the commitment. When someone has "Sophia Forever" inked on his bicep, the sentiment is that Sophia is permanent, just like the tattoo. "You make that decision in your life that you are going to put this artwork on your body. It's a statement that you don't worry about what other people think of you."

    Johnson says he won't use the removeable ink. "To me, it's a negative to the profession."

    But Chris Winn, a San Diego tattoo artist, says he was instantly intrigued when he heard about the ink at a tattoo convention.

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    "I think it will be interesting to see the different ways this can bring in clients," he said. "I think it will bring in a group of people who love tattoos but are afraid to get them."

December 26, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World's first road-ready hydrogen fuel cell-powered motorcycle

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From British-based Intelligent Energy, it's called the ENV, for Emissions Neutral Vehicle.

Highlights:

• Silent

• Street legal

• Emissions consist of pure water

• Single gear — no clutching or shifting

• Super-light — 176 lbs. (including removable fuel cell), about half the weight of a typical bike this size

Lowlights:

• Silent

• 50 mph top speed

Production and retail sale are scheduled to begin in late 2007.

December 26, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stellar Axis — by Lita Albuquerque

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Above, the sculptor installing her work at McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

The piece consists of 99 blue fiberglass spheres, each mirroring the location of a star on December 22, the day of the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

[via Peter Edelin's "Arts, Briefly" feature in the New York Times]

December 26, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Motorized Ice Cream Cone

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Say what?

From the website:

    Motorized Ice Cream Cone

    Motorized cone does the work while you have all the fun — rotates automatically as you lick!

    Sturdy plastic cone lets you enjoy leisurely licking without drips or leaks.

    Assorted colors; we'll choose for you.

    Uses 2 AA batteries (not included).

    5"H x 1-3/4" Diam.

....................

$11.99 (Ice cream included. Not. Just checking to see if you were still awake).

December 26, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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