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September 17, 2007

Binder Clip Man — I must have stepped away from the TV during a Super Bowl commercial

How else to explain my shock, awe and delight when I saw careerbuilder.com's "Torture" commercial for the very first time during yesterday's NFL multi-game extravaganza?

Even M.O.S. (mit out sound) it was hilarious, and just as funny each time I saw it again, perhaps four times total.

My crack research team, apparently awakened by my guffaws, was put to work finding out more about this great commercial, which premiered on February 4, 2007 during the most recent Super Bowl.

September 17, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'Artists, Start Your Engines' — Smoke on the Seventh Avenue Armory Floor

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Long story short: Tonight marks the first-ever performance art piece created at Gotham's Seventh Regiment Armory (above).

Carol Vogel's front page story in today's New York Times Arts section reports on the epic event, in which 10 motorcyle stunt riders will simultaneously roar around the 55,000-square-foot drill hall for 7 minutes on 288 panels of painted plywood covering the drill hall floor as 500 invited guests — not you, sorry — including members of the Hells Angels watch from the bleachers above.

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If my crack research team remembers to follow up, I'll have the YouTube video for you sometime.

Real soon now.

But I digress.

Here's the Times article.

    After Test Runs, an Armory Is Ready to Declare, ‘Artists, Start Your Engines’

    As giant billows of smoke began filling the cavernous drill hall of the Seventh Regiment Armory one recent evening, there was no panic. Rather, there were shouts of exultation, along with what sounded like a chorus of foghorns.

    “Look, it’s going in the right direction,” said Doreen Remen, a founder of the Art Production Fund, a nonprofit organization that presents unusual public art projects. With her co-founder, Yvonne Force Villareal, and the artist Aaron Young she gazed upward with relief as the smoke began filtering out the open windows along the rafters.

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    Four smoke machines had been brought in to simulate the conditions that could develop as 10 motorcycles ride around the 55,000-square-foot drill hall simultaneously. For Thursday evening’s test run the belching, thunderous machines had some competition: Wink 1100, a professional stunt rider who performed the trick sequences in the 2003 movie “Biker Boyz.” Wearing Tom Ford sunglasses, baggy blue jeans and a red-and-blue sweatshirt, he was enveloped in his own haze of smoke as he spun the wheels of his Honda CBR 954 on a designated patch of painted plywood [second from last photo, below].

    It was the prelude to a turning point in the Seventh Regiment Armory’s 128-year history: the first performance art piece ever presented there, masterminded by Mr. Young. Tonight 10 motorcycle stunt riders wearing sunglasses will ride for seven minutes on 288 panels of painted plywood covering the drill hall floor as 500 invited guests, including members of Hells Angels, watch from the bleachers above.

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    With neon lights attached to the undersides of their bikes, the riders will follow synchronized movements choreographed by Mr. Young. The burnouts from their tires will yield colorful swirls, zigzags and snake patterns on the plywood panels, which have been coated in seven layers of fluorescent reds, pinks, oranges and yellows and then sealed with two coats of black acrylic.

    Titled “Greeting Card,” after a 1944 Jackson Pollock painting that has its own tangle of spirals, the work is described as both a performance piece and an action painting. When the riders have finished, they will have created a giant fluorescent multicolored floor piece that will remain on public view through Sunday. A film of the performance will be shown on a plasma screen in the hall.

    It is the first in a series of art exhibitions and performances planned for the building by a new nonprofit group, the Seventh Regiment Armory Conservancy, which in December took over management of the crenellated red-brick behemoth on Park Avenue between 66th and 67th Streets from New York State. The group still plans to hold the art and antiques fairs that have attracted throngs for decades, but Rebecca Robertson, the conservancy’s president and chief executive, suggested that the armory could become even more of a cultural destination.

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    “The armory is neither a white-box gallery nor a proscenium stage,” she said. “Here you make it up. Luckily this space allows work that can’t be seen anywhere else in the city.”

    For now, she said, the conservancy is in the research and development phase. Still, workers have been cleaning the neglected building, and air-conditioning has been installed in the drill hall for the first time, eliminating the need for the special trucks that once piped in cool air during art and antiques fairs. The $150,000 budget for “Greeting Card” is being covered by a group of sponsors that include Tom Ford, the fashion designer, and Sotheby’s.

    Mr. Young, 35, a conceptual artist and sculptor, first began talking with the Art Production Fund about the piece last December at the Art Basel Miami Beach fair. “We didn’t think we could do this in New York,” Ms. Villareal said. “It required a large space with the audience watching the performance from above.”

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    But as soon as she and Ms. Remen heard that the armory was seeking art projects, they met with Ms. Robertson. “Her reaction was, ‘Bring it on,’ ” Ms. Villareal said.

    Working at minimum wage, gallery assistants and students from Barnard and Columbia spent three days last week painting the panels. “It was like camp,” Ms. Remen said.

    Thursday evening’s smoke experiment was one of many trials and rehearsals. To ensure that the smoke from the motorcycles will not endanger the audience, the glass has been removed from the 28 windows high in the rafters of the drill hall. Still, guests are warned in small letters on the bottom of the performance invitation: “A ventilation system has been installed to reduce the smoke and exhaust. Earplugs will be provided for the noise. If you are sensitive to either, please request a protected viewing space.” In addition to a glassed-in room for warier viewers, the Art Production Fund will furnish the audience with face masks.

    Mr. Young said that given the challenges of the synchronization and the safety concerns, nothing had been left to chance. A month ago he did tests in an empty parking lot in the Bronx near Yankee Stadium.

    To inspire the riders involved in “Greeting Card,” he gave each a photocopy of the Pollock painting. “The spiral motion is the template,” he said. The 10 bikers — five stunt riders from Team G Unit along with five friends — will each have a designated 23- by 43-foot area on which to perform zigzags, power slides and circles. The neon lights on the bottom of each bike will allow the audience to follow the movements through the smoky haze. “I want it lit like a boxing rink, very hard-edged,” Mr. Young said.

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    “Hopefully this will appeal to people who know nothing about motorcycles or about art,” he said as he examined shreds of tire rubber embedded in some of the wood panels, a byproduct of Wink’s brief motorcycle whirl.

    Although Mr. Young does not ride himself, it is not his first artistic encounter with motorcycles. In 2000, as a student at the San Francisco Art Institute, he created a piece called “High Performance,” enlisting a group of cyclists he met at a local motorcycle bar called the Zeitgeist. “I got them drunk until they said yes,” he recalled. The riders performed burnouts in a studio that was once used by Diego Rivera. The result was a 3 1/2-minute video that was eventually acquired by the Museum of Modern Art.

    When it is time for the 288 panels to leave the armory, Mr. Young plans to select about 20 of them to sell through the Art Production Fund. He and the fund will split the proceeds. Before the panels are sold, he plans to seal each one with a coat of clear resin.

    “That way it will keep the hot melted rubber fixed,” he said. Even though the ride itself will last only seven minutes, he explained, the panels will be “archival.”

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Here's a link to a slideshow about the performance that accompanied the Times story.

September 17, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Toxic Waste Dump Map Mashup — Worth a look before you make your down payment

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From James Thornburg comes this nifty creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — our tax dollars at work.

He writes, "Wanna be really scared? You can search the EnviroMapper website by Zip Code and look up the polluters.... It helps you find the biggest polluting companies in your Zip Code based on hazardous waste, water dischargers, air emissions, etc."

Above, their map of my Zip Code (22091).

Who knew?

September 17, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Auto Bingo

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From the website:

    Auto Bingo

    Make the time fly even when you can't.

    Instead of numbers, these bingo cards feature typical roadside sights.

    To play, close sliding plastic windows over each picture (no markers needed).

    First player to fill a whole row wins.

    Cards are colorful cardboard.

    For children and adults.

    Set of 3.

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Wait a minute... what's that music I'm hearing?

$4.99.

September 17, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Microsoft Blue Monster Reserve Label White — If you don't work there you'll just have to dream about it

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That's because, according to Jason Korman, chief executive of South African winery Stormhoek, which created the wine, "We have no intention of selling the product outside Microsoft."

He was quoted thus in Stacy-Marie Ishmael's story in today's Financial Times; the piece follows.

    Microsoft drinks to the Blue Monster

    Tonight, a select group will gather in a bar in London's Soho to quaff a crisp, South African white wine bottled in their honour.

    The hand-picked guests toasting the new vintage are not, however, wine connoisseurs but techies. The gathering marks the launch of the Blue Monster Reserve label, created by winery Stormhoek for Microsoft and its employees.

    Own-label wine and personalised bottles have become increasingly popular in the corporate world, particularly among investment banks, as gifts to clients and offered to guests of corporate events. The companies hope the corporate vintages will add an air of class and sophistication to their image.

    But unlike customised wine bottles given by banks and law firms to clients, this label did not originate in Microsoft's corporate communications headquarters.

    Hugh MacLeod, a cartoonist, blogger and marketing strategist for Stormhoek, created the Blue Monster image after getting to know Microsoft employees.

    Mr MacLeod met these "Microsofties" through his day job. "We sponsored a series of 'geek dinners' for bloggers and techies in the US and the UK," he said. "I met a lot of people from Microsoft through these dinners, and they all said the same thing: we want to change the world."

    That notion of a kinder, gentler Microsoft is at odds with its cut-throat corporate image. Critics have accused the software giant of abusing its dominant position and stifling innovation in the industry. In 2003, the European Commission found Microsoft guilty of uncompetitive practices and levied a record €497m (£342m) fine. The result of an appeal against that ruling is due today.

    The cartoon of a sharp-toothed blue creature and its tagline, "Microsoft - change the world or go home", has now been adopted by some Microsoft employees and fans as a symbol of the company's innovation.

    "People see Microsoft as a big, bad corporate monster," Mr MacLeod said. "Yet all the Microsofties I've spoken to say they just want to make great products and do good works. It was obvious Microsoft had to get better at telling their story.

    "Wine is a social object, and so is the Blue Monster: they both inspire conversation," he said. "And we thought the cartoon would look really cool on a bottle."

    Steve Clayton, chief technology officer at one of Microsoft's UK affiliates, said Blue Monster reminded people that Microsoft "has a sense of fun and humour".

    Mr Clayton has been at the forefront of the Blue Monster movement: he uses the image on his business card and is the administrator of a "Friends of Blue Monster" Facebook group.

    "[Microsoft's HQ] has been very supportive of us using the Microsoft name alongside the Blue Monster image," Mr MacLeod said. It makes sense; they've been around for about 30 years and are trying to reinvent themselves to embrace a new generation."

    The bottles will be available only to Microsoft and affiliates. "We have no intention of selling the product outside Microsoft," said Jason Korman, Stormhoek's chief executive. "The wine only went live last week, and already we've had massive interest from different parts of the company."

    Mr Clayton admits the Blue Monster movement is independent of any influence from Microsoft: "[The cartoon] has encouraged a whole new series of conversations by people who are passionate about Microsoft, both internally and externally. Blue Monster is a community which has developed its own distinct identity."

    For Mr MacLeod, the Blue Monster represents a revolution of sorts. "We started an underground movement within Microsoft, and we knew one day the guys in suits would finally take notice. That moment has finally arrived."

    If so, it will be marked in true internet-era style: not with an act of anarchy but a clink of glasses.

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According to a post in MacLeod's blog, "The wine is not a commercially available product, just a wee 'social object' for geek dinners and people inside the Microsoft ecosystem. Microsoft's Steve Clayton and I are still working on the final details of how we're going to get the wine to people who want it, but for now, we're just limiting its availability to [1] people who belong to the "Friends of Blue Monster" Facebook group, and [2] geek dinners we're attending and/or sponsoring."

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What about Apple?

I'm thinking a nice Calvados....

September 17, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Ironing Shield

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From the website:

    Ironing Shield

    Mom taught us to iron through a towel to avoid shine on delicate fabrics.

    But that towel blocked the iron's steam.

    Here's a much better way: this heavy-duty mesh cloth passes all your iron's steam, yet still prevents fabric shine.

    And it's big (16" x 24"), hence fast and easy to use.

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Note: File also under "Helpful Hints from joeeze."

$3.49.

September 17, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2 players who should never sit side-by-side

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I received the photo above earlier this morning from markedwall, whose accompanying caption was, "Two football players who should have found a different seat."

Research reveals the photo is real and not a Photoshop special, what with the 2007 roster

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of the West Virginia University Mountaineers (#5 in the polls this morning) showing Johnny Dingle (#92) and Scooter Berry (#93) right there in the program.

Whoever assigns numbers at West Virginia — not to mention both players — must have a pretty good sense of humor.

[via nyike.com]

September 17, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Font Clock — by Sebastian Wrong

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From the website:

    Font Clock

    The Font Clock is a 21st century take on the British 24 hour clock design icon.

    Twelve different fonts are printed within the mechanism of the clock providing a random, mixed display of graphic language within a single time piece.

    L47.6cm x W56.6cm x D16.2cm.

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£810 ($1,625; €1,171).

September 17, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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