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January 28, 2008

'When in doubt, make it big. If still in doubt, make it red.'


There you have it: design made easy.

Spare yourself the time and expense of a degree.

The pithy advice in the headline is from Michael Bierut's entertaining book, "Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design."

January 28, 2008 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

bookofjoe in Vanity Fair and the New York Times: Whassup wit dat?


I noticed this past weekend that I'd been mentioned last Friday (below)


in the Soft Serve News — "a news feed of light reading" — in "The Moment," "a daily [New York Times] blog that spans the T Magazine universe of fashion, design, food and travel."

Then a few minutes ago I saw where Andrew Hearst, editor of Vanity Fair's website (VF.com) earlier today had linked to me (top).

If this keeps up, who knows what might happen?

January 28, 2008 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Meet the new board member (same as the old bored member)


I read a few months back that NASDAQ is now encouraging people to apply for positions on the boards of its listed companies.

I had the crack research team look into this but they came up empty.

No matter, lack of information never hindered me before so why should it do so now?


I hereby apply for a position on the board of directors.

NASDAQ, NYSE, ASE, it doesn't matter where your company's listed.

Not listed?

No problema.

Who wouldn't want me sitting around their big conference table, passing notes and making funny faces?

I'm quite good at it.

Trust me....

January 28, 2008 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wheel of Fortune Watch


From websites:

Wheel of Fortune Watch

Features a spinning replica of the famous game wheel and special light effects!


18K gold-plated case, rich brown leather-lined strap and collectible tin.


Includes 25 game cards so you can test your word-solving skills.

Battery included along with a brand-new replacement battery.

Officially licensed — numbered Certificate of Authenticity.


Quartz accuracy.


January 28, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Inside the mind of Daniel Day-Lewis


Emily Parker's interview with the great actor, published in the January 23, 2008 Wall Street Journal, gave me greater insight into exactly what it is an actor does than anything I've ever read; the piece follows.

    Sojourner in Other Men's Souls

    Daniel Day-Lewis describes the process of becoming another person. "At some point, if I'm lucky, a life will begin to emerge, a sensation first and foremost," he says. "In other words, you might look at exactly the same objects but in a slightly different way."

    He adds: "The impression one might have, the subjective impression, is that a great distance has been traveled. Of course the truth, and the paradox, is that if you're not still working from the very center of yourself and your own experience, then really you're working from an empty vessel."

    The actor, who just received an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe award for his performance in "There Will Be Blood," is clearly well-versed in the art of transformation. The movie earned a total of eight Oscar nominations, including best motion picture. "There Will Be Blood" takes place in America at the turn of the last century, and Mr. Day-Lewis plays the greedy oil prospector Daniel Plainview, a misanthrope who seems willing to crush anyone who challenges his ambitions. In the film at least, Mr. Day-Lewis is so fully this man that when I first find myself alone with the actor in a large upstairs room at The Players club at Gramercy Park, I feel vaguely unsettled.

    But Mr. Day-Lewis, who on this icy winter day is wearing a patterned coat and a colorful scarf, is actually quite personable. The actor, born in London in 1957, now lives in a quiet town in Ireland with his wife and two sons. ("Locally everyone knows who I am and they're not bothered, they couldn't be less impressed," he tells me.) He has starred in many well-known films, including "Gangs of New York," "The Last of the Mohicans," "In the Name of the Father," and "My Left Foot" (for which he won an Academy Award), to name just a few, bringing his trademark intensity to each role. I mention that people seem to characterize him as a "serious" actor. "God help me, yes," he says.

    "Perhaps I'm particularly serious," he tells me, "because I'm not unaware of the potential absurdity of what I'm doing." He explains: "The work itself takes care of that part of one that might step aside and say: Is this a seemly thing to be doing, to be spending one's life dressing in other people's clothes?"

    Such thoughts could be paralyzing, Mr. Day-Lewis warns. But at the same time, he says, "there's the potential for a certain kind of nobility in the work. Because, after all, if you're not exploring human experience in one form or another, it seems that maybe there's something missing in one's life."

    Mr. Day-Lewis seems to choose his roles carefully, even waiting as long as five years between movies. "I can't honestly account for the very personal response that I have to one story and not another, a sense of an orbit, the orbit of a world that draws me as my own life recedes," he says. This time, Mr. Day-Lewis tells me that it was Paul Thomas Anderson, who directed and wrote the screenplay and received Oscar nominations for both, who attracted him to "There Will Be Blood." "I somehow felt that he'd worked very much in the same way that we do, that he'd allowed these lives to pass through him."

    The film — based on Upton Sinclair's 1927 novel, "Oil!" — could also be viewed as a sharp critique of American capitalism, or as a portrait of the larger struggle between religion and the pursuit of wealth. (Daniel Plainview's nemesis is a preacher.) But Mr. Day-Lewis seems loath to see "There Will Be Blood" in this light.

    "People already have made certain connections and invited us to think about it almost as if it's a parable, a cautionary tale, a story that somehow has a clear reflection in our contemporary world," he says. "But our work is a much narrower field of focus. And it's vital for us that we, that in telling our story, we do it only with the intention of trying to imagine that world, to create that very particular world, that very particular society within that world."

    Some of Mr. Day-Lewis's other films have had more obvious political overtones. "In the Name of the Father" showcases the shocking injustice dealt to "the Guildford Four," who were wrongly convicted of, and imprisoned for, an IRA bombing in England. "The Boxer" also touches on the IRA.

    "As an Englishman with Irish origins, as someone that has straddled those two worlds and has tried to understand as far as it is possible to do so that system, struggle, conflict in the North, of course I had thought about that a great deal," Mr. Day-Lewis says. "But again, perhaps for that reason itself it was important then to refocus on the very particular story each time. It wasn't because I felt the need to make a statement of intent, or a statement of personal commitment to one thing or another. But I did believe very strongly in the importance of telling that story about the Guildford Four, and probably my raising, my education, my cultural background led me to that place. But I choose not to dwell upon that when I'm working."

    Mr. Day-Lewis studied acting at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. He was trained in the Stanislavsky technique and is well-known for his exploration of "method acting" -- which includes recalling one's own real-life emotions to identify with a character. I ask Mr. Day-Lewis if he thinks his acting style is atypical in today's movie world. "I'm led to believe it is by people who comment on it — it seems perfectly normal to me!" he says, laughing.

    One might more easily imagine a "serious" actor like Mr. Day-Lewis on the stage, rather than on the screen. But he says that while he loved working in small studio theaters, performing in big theaters was a problem. "There was a tension always between the inner truth that you are trying to discover and communicate, and the necessity to fill this great space with something that could never actually be perceived by the people that were more than four or five rows back. So I felt that most of the work was somehow getting lost. And the effort necessary to fill that place was denying me the private experience that I needed to make it work," he explains.

    Mr. Day-Lewis's last stage performance ended badly: He reportedly walked out of a 1989 London production of "Hamlet" before the end of the run. "Unfortunately the last piece of work that I did, which was 'Hamlet,' I think I could have done something in a studio theater with that play. I think I was ready to, and I think I might have been able to do something worthwhile. But as it was, I did it in the Olivier Theater at the National, which some people say Laurence Olivier designed to crucify every generation of actors that came after him because he and only he knew how to work that space. But I've seen other remarkable performances in it. It can work for some people."

    This may in part explain what draws Mr. Day-Lewis to the cinema, as opposed to the stage of a large theater. "As a member of the audience I don't like it that I can't see what's going on in the eyes and in the face and in the most subtle responses of a performer when I'm more than a few rows back. I find it very frustrating," he says. "I love to see work on a screen. I like it that the camera is so penetrating. As much as it is unmerciful, I like that about it. In the theater you might be tempted to represent, rather than to be. And that goes against really everything that I felt I was trying to do, and everything that my training was based on."

    Mr. Day-Lewis's movie-star status could make for a difficult return to stage acting. He says he would be interested in working on a smaller stage, "if I could do it without it becoming a circus."

    Mr. Day-Lewis is clearly a harsh judge of his own work. He expresses regret over his performance as Tomas in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," in which he claims to have felt out of his depth. "There was more that I would have wished to know, more that I would have wished to have understood, intrinsically, not objectively, but intrinsically about that world, that time, those people."

    To find relief from the vast uncertainties of acting, Mr. Day-Lewis seeks refuge in a more material art: furniture making. He tells me that he has always enjoyed making things. "It's a perfect antidote to the other work that I do, which is intangible. To have anything that's fully finished, and even if it's imperfect, you can see what it is, it is that thing," he says with enthusiasm. "You live in a world within which you could be crushed by all the unknown elements, and of course with a piece of furniture it is absolutely what it is."

    Mr. Day-Lewis says he was saved from himself when, after announcing he was going to take up an apprenticeship, he was told by his cabinet-making teacher that he didn't have the temperament for the craft. It was probably for the best. "If you have a certain wildness of spirit," he says with a hint of amusement, "a cabinet maker's workshop is not the place to express it."

    Mr. Day-Lewis's great skill allows him to see the world through another man's eyes, to experience another man's life. He seems to take pleasure in the journey, even during "There Will Be Blood," in which the soul he is borrowing is a deeply troubled one.

    "It's a joyful thing," Mr. Day-Lewis declares. "It's very hard to explain that, even to myself. It's a paradox. Given the chance to enter into areas of one's soul, of one's experience, that can be extremely unsettling; nonetheless, there's great joy in the exploration of that. For me, at any rate. We do it with impunity. We're not held to account for it. It's a game; it always remains a game."

January 28, 2008 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Drinking Glasses


I so want these.

"Make people laugh while drinking your beverage! This straw sits as glasses on your face and when you sip, the liquid swirls around your eyes!"


Seeing as they already laugh while I'm drinking my beverage, I can't see how this would alter my life significantly — but that's not the point, is it?


Inquire within.

If I didn't know better I'd swear that's Bill Gates at age twelve.

January 28, 2008 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Death by Botox


Last Wednesday, January 23, 2008, Public Citizen petitioned the FDA to add a "Black Box" warning — its strongest — to Botox and Myobloc.

The request was supported by extensive documentation, including the graphic up top; excerpts follow.

    Petition to the FDA requesting regulatory action concerning the possible spread of botulinum toxin (Botox, Myobloc) from the site of injection to other parts of the body

    This letter would alert physicians to serious problems, including hospitalizations and deaths, resulting from the spread of the toxin from the site of injection to other parts of the body.

    The European Union (EU) has posted a series of warnings concerning botulinum toxin on its web site, the latest in March 2007, alerting physicians in its 27 member states about the need to monitor for signs of botulinum toxin adverse events. The U.K. and Germany amplified the EU warning with “Dear Doctor Letters,” but no similar official warnings have been forthcoming from the FDA.

    The spread of toxin has been implicated in serious adverse events including muscle weakness, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), and aspiration pneumonia, the latter sometimes resulting in death. Public Citizen has done its own analysis of the FDA Adverse Event database (AERS) for Botox and Myobloc (excluding foreign reports) and found 180 adverse event cases submitted by drug manufacturers relating to these conditions, including 16 deaths. Four of these deaths occurred in children less than 18 years of age.

    Description, indications, and mechanism of action

    Botulinum toxins are proteins produced by a bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. Botulinum toxin acts by blocking the transmission of nerve impulses to muscles, causing those muscles to relax and resulting in a loss of muscle control. In the case of food poisoning from botulinum toxin, in which the toxin spreads widely around the body, early symptoms include dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, slurred speech, drooping eyelids, and muscle weakness. Subsequent paralysis of respiratory muscles can lead to death.

    In the case of injected therapeutic or cosmetic use of botulinum toxin, if the product spreads from the injection site to another area of the body, this loss of muscle control can be similarly harmful. For example, when muscle control to the esophagus is lost, one loses the ability to control swallowing; food and drink can then accidentally reflux and be aspirated into the respiratory tract and lungs, causing a serious complication, aspiration pneumonia, and occasionally lead to death.

    Botox has one approved cosmetic use (Myobloc has none) and that is for temporary improvement of glabellar lines (wrinkles between the eyebrows). Most cosmetic use of botulinum toxin is unapproved by the FDA and is therefore considered off-label.

    Chronology of European cautions

    March 2005: Of 552 total reported adverse event cases, 165 (30%) were serious and 66 (12% of the total) were serious cases with possible systemic effects, i.e., the toxin had moved from the injection site to other areas of the body producing dry mouth, dysphagia, and/or blurred vision.

    November 2005: Of the cumulative 693 total adverse event cases, there were 17 deaths with 6 (35%) of these due to aspiration pneumonia.

    Public Citizen analysis of adverse events

    We found 658 cases of adverse events..., of which 180 (27%) were associated with aspiration, dysphagia, or pneumonia. Of these 180, 106 had an indication listed: 18 cosmetic only and 87 non-cosmetic only. Eighty-seven of the cases... were hospitalized and 16 died (including 4 children less than 18 years of age).

    It should be noted that these data come from voluntary reports submitted to the FDA which have been estimated to represent approximately 10% of the actual occurrences.


I find it surprising that, apart from five sentences in the January 25, 2008 Washington Post and four in the Wall Street Journal about this development, nothing more has appeared in the news about it.

January 28, 2008 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Valentine Toilet Paper


Wearing your heart on your sleeve is one thing but jeez, this might be taking it a bit too far....

From the website:

    Valentine Heart Toilet Paper

    How do you woo?

    Show your love in every way possible, including this thoughtful present that says it all.

    High-quality toilet paper was printed in Germany and has just-right tufting for maximum comfort.

    200-sheet roll.


January 28, 2008 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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