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January 13, 2007

How to Solve the Sudoku Cube

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Okay, two-and-a-half months is long enough.

Face it: you're never gonna do it on your own.

joehead Paul Wilkins has been patient for too long, already.

This morning he emailed a link to his website, "How to Solve the Sudoku Cube."

Me, it took me this long to learn to spell "Sudoku" without a Japanese-English dictionary; it's way, way above my brain pay grade — but not yours.

The thing that continues to mystify me is how come smart people like Paul, Angela Gunn, Daniel Rutter and their ilk continue to patronize my establishment considering the very sketchy credentials of its proprietor.

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But then, when I stop for a moment and consider the original meaning of patronize, it all becomes clear.

January 13, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Cameron Diaz for T-Mobile?

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A whole heckuva lot better than the now-defenestrated Catherine Zeta-Jones, that's for sure.

But I digress.

No, I don't believe that is Ms. Diaz in the ad above, which completely occupied page 5 of section one of yesterday's (January 12, 2007) New York Times — but it sure could be at first quick glance.

I do not think that the resemblance of the new T-Mobile "myFaves" poster girl to Hollywood's "It" girl is a fluke but, rather, an ingeniously clever attempt to capitalize — on the cheap — on the similarity in appearance between the two women.

Besides, everybody knows that if you want to see Ms. Diaz in a commercial, you'd best visit Japan.

January 13, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"Etroits sont les vaisseaux" ("Narrow are the vessels) — by Anselm Kiefer

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Above and below, Anselm Kiefer's 80-foot-long, 4-foot-high concrete, steel and lead sculpture, in situ on the front lawn of Andrew and Christine Hall's historic waterfront estate in Fairfield, Connecticut.

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Long story short: The Halls purchased the work in 2002 and installed it in August of 2003. Now the town is taking them to court to demand they apply for a certificate of appropriateness in order to have the work remain in place.

It's not pretty, when sensibilities run head-on into major money.

Alison Leigh Cowan wrote about the kerfuffle in a story that appeared in the January 6, 2007 New York Times; it follows.

    Grand-Scale Lawn Art Stirs a Debate in Connecticut

    Talk about making waves.

    Tempers are flaring in this town’s historic Southport district over a 40-ton, wavelike sculpture made of concrete, steel and lead that for the last few years has been resting just behind a row of shrubs on the front lawn of a waterfront estate.

    The town’s Historic District Commission insists that the 80-foot-long, 4-foot-high recumbent object meets the legal test for a structure and requires a certificate of appropriateness.

    But the owners of the sculpture, Andrew and Christine Hall, disagree, and both they, and their huge artwork by the internationally renowned artist Anselm Kiefer, have stood their ground.

    In 2005, a superior court judge in Stamford sided with the town but delayed enforcing the ruling so that it could be appealed. Now, the Connecticut Supreme Court has swooped in and indicated that it wants to hear the case next month — before the state’s appellate division had the chance to act.

    The artwork causing the stir is titled, “Etroits sont les vaisseaux,” or “Narrow are the vessels.” Hardly visible from the street, it is far less conspicuous than some of the other contemporary artworks scattered across the 3.5-acre Greek Revival homestead, built in the 1840s by Oliver H. Perry, a former speaker of Connecticut’s House of Representatives.

    One work, a blue-and-orange totemish kind of pole, sits on the front steps of the home in sharp contrast with the imposing all-white facade. Another work, painted to look like a Volkswagen Beetle, winks at visitors from the driveway. And a neon-lighted sculpture that the neighbors have taken to calling “The Neon Cafe” shines from inside the house on nights when the couple is home.

    The Halls declined through their lawyer at Robinson & Cole, Edward V. O’Hanlan, to comment. And while the local commission has not taken kindly to the 40-ton wave, neighbors interviewed this week generally supported the couple and chastised the town for wasting legal fees on something that they feel is no bother.

    “Of all the things in the world to complain about, art should not be one of them,” said Barbara Geddis, a local architect.

    Neighbors also said that had it not been for the legal challenge Mr. Hall, a veteran commodities trader and top executive at Phibro, which is part of Citigroup, would have sent the artwork to a museum and rotated another in its place.

    “We’re dealing with people who are not used to being told ‘no,’ ” said Richard Saxl, the town attorney.

    The fight has not yet become an all-out battle over the First Amendment, since deliberations have not dwelt on the artwork’s content or message so much as its size and manner of installation.

    If the Halls lose in State Supreme Court, they will have 30 days to remove the sculpture or apply for a certificate of appropriateness under the injunction signed by Judge Taggart D. Adams. If then denied a certificate, lawyers said, the Halls would be able to go back to court and argue that their constitutional right to express themselves is in peril.

    The Halls appeared last year in Art News’s summer compilation of the year’s 200 most aggressive buyers of art. They were also cited in a recent New Yorker magazine article after they bought an entire collection of contemporary German art — and tried to buy the 13th-century castle that housed it so they could continue to display them.

    As for the Fairfield issue, “It’s ridiculous,” said Harry Philbrick, director of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn. “Andy and Christine are very serious and first-rate collectors of contemporary art. I strongly believe they have every right to have that sculpture in their front garden.”

    Mr. Philbrick’s museum also sits in a historic district. But he received no interference from the town of Ridgefield when he displayed a much larger installation by Kiefer, a German-born artist living in France, which came in its own corrugated steel pavilion.

    The Halls, avid collectors of contemporary art, purchased the Oliver Perry home in 1991 for $3 million, and the Kiefer wave about four years ago through a company they control.

    The couple had initially sought a certificate of appropriateness but withdrew the application after consulting a lawyer and went ahead and installed the wave in August 2003. They needed five flat-bed trucks to transport it and a crane to reassemble it, at a cost exceeding $33,000. They also paid for the shrubs that shield the sculpture from the street.

    “It’s inoffensive,” Mr. Hall said in a deposition.

    Nonetheless, the town’s historic district sued in October 2003, and Judge Adams visited the property in mid-2005 to inspect the artwork personally.

    In siding with the town, Judge Adams said state statute defined a structure as “any combination of materials, other than a building, which is affixed to the land and shall include, but not be limited to, signs, fences and walls.”

    While the Halls argued that the sculpture was not attached to the ground and no more subject to the commission’s jurisdiction than a jungle gym, the judge said it was “most similar in nature and form to the stone walls created by generations of farmers in New England,” which rest on the ground through their own weight and are subject to commission rule.

    Don Kukuc, a Southport native who was sitting in his car near the Halls’ estate on Thursday, reminisced about a simpler time — long before multimillionaires arrived in Connecticut — when the area was covered with onion fields and was famous for producing a variety known as the Southport globe.

    “To each his own,” Mr. Kukuc said of the various artworks on the Halls’ lawn. “If you own the property, you should be able to do what you want within reason.”

    Then, after climbing out of his car to take a closer look at the Kiefer, he later amended his comments. “I am the first to agree that art is in the eyes of its creator and the viewer,” he wrote an e-mail message, “but honestly, that thing looks like a bad chunk of Interstate 95.”

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Killer last line, what?

I would estimate the Halls paid in the neighborhood of $2 million for the sculpture.

January 13, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

StoveTop FireStop — from WilliamsPyro

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Already we have a nominee for best company name of the year.

WilliamsPyro — be still my heart.

I learned of the company's existence through the good graces of Robin Williams (a member of the founding family, perhaps? If we're fortunate this, and much else, will become known... but I digress), who took the time to email me yesterday after seeing Thursday's (January 11, 2007) post featuring the PyroBlanket.

The email follows.

    Joe,

    For cook top fires you should try the StoveTop FireStop. This product works automatically, most cook top fires start because they are unattended. The product costs about $50.00 and has a five year shelf life. See www.stovetopfirestop.com, it will tell you all about this nifty product.

There's even a movie to show how not to burn down your house.

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Memo to Robin: Put your Pyro movie up on YouTube and you'll sell a zillion StoveTop FireStops in a New York (or Fort Worth) minute.

January 13, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Pepsi Can — Circa 2015

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I don't know why I was amused to read in Betsy McKay's article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that Pepsi, in an effort to freshen its brand image, is "abandoning the old look of its Pepsi cans for a new look [above] that changes every three to four weeks."

I guess it might be because the Pepsi can of 2015 (it's doable now but prohibitively expensive) will change every three to four seconds — if not continuously — from the moment it detects a human gaze.

The can you see will not be the one your kid, sitting in his shopping cart (some things will never change) sees: the changing images and messages will be tailored to each of however many viewers are looking at the can.

And yes — they'll all run concurrently.

January 13, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shower Curtain Hook Hole Repair Disks

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Hey, let's spend a little more time in the shower space this morning before we move on.

Now that you've solved the splash problem, you can focus on the smaller stuff.

From the website:

    Shower Curtain Saver

    Add years of life to curtains and liners — just apply a clear Curtain Saver over each hole.

    Don't throw out your favorite shower curtain because of a torn hook hole.

    Strong plastic reinforcements can be applied in seconds and last years.

    For best results, apply one saver on each side of the curtain hole.

    Pack of 12 peel-off laundry-safe savers.

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12 for $7.95.

N.B.: If you plan to do as the website advises and put one of these on each side of each hole of a standard shower curtain, you'll need 2 x 12 = 24 curtain saver disks (two sets) to cover all the holes.

Then you'll know how many holes it takes not to fill the Albert Hall but, rather, exist in a standard shower curtain.

Even I can do that math — as long as I have a calculator.

But maybe you don't have a calculator and maybe you don't have any interest in ordering these things.

I can see how you'd feel that way.

"Solve the problem with what's in the room," was one of Edwin H. Land's favorite sayings.

I've always found it a source of inspiration and inventiveness, at least in my neck of the woods.

One day, many years ago, I noticed a tear between one of the holes in my shower curtain and the top edge.

I shrugged.

I mean, you have 11 others to take up the slack, right?

But as time went on and I'd occasionally glance at the rent and think about it, I wondered if there was a way to repair it with what was in the room.

At the time I lived in a studio apartment in LA so it really was "in the room."

I espied a roll of strapping tape, that really strong stuff you hurt yourself trying to tear before you give up and go get a knife or scissors.

Then I remembered I had a paper punch, the kind you use to punch holes in plain paper so you can put it in a three-ring binder.

I cut off a piece of strapping tape about two inches long and folded it over the top of the shower curtain and over both sides of the torn hole.

Then I used the paper punch to make a new hole.

Done.

And Nextel hadn't even been invented yet.

January 13, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

St. Valentine's Day 2007 — The Stamp

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This year's Valentine's Day stamp appears above.

Available today at post offices everywhere.

Or order them here.

Sweet.

January 13, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Shower Splash Controller

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Nicely done.

From the website:

    Shower Splash Control

    Keeps Water In The Shower

    The shower splash control wraps your shower liner within the shower so water stays where it belongs.

    Made of Lexan®, a tough, break-resistant plastic.

    Prevent leaks and spills with this clever device.

    Installs out of sight — no tools needed.

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Includes one right and one left unit.

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$9.95.

January 13, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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