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January 16, 2012

"The Photograph" — Penelope Lively

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This is the first novel by the great British author I've had the good fortune to read, breathtaking in its lapidary construction, elegant plotting and language.

The story begins when Glyn, a widowed landscape historian poking through his files in search of references for a paper, inadvertently brings a landslide of papers and folders crashing down, among them a brown envelope with "DON'T OPEN—DESTROY" lightly penciled on it.

What would you do?

Glyn opened the envelope and found a photograph which, when he studied it carefully, proceeded to bring crashing down not only his life but also those of the five people in the picture and the photographer.

The story proceeds by moving from each one of the individuals in the photo (and the photographer) to the others in chapters focusing on how they came to part of that fateful photograph or, in Glyn's case, not there.

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Each chapter reveals more of the past, which turns out not to be what each person thought it was.

The story moves back and forth from the photograph to the present as the vortex centering on the photograph draws all the characters ever more deeply in.

I finished the book marveling at Lively's deconstruction of what seemed to be fixed history into another reality entirely, all dependent upon what information went into the creation of the story each person involved told themselves and, by extension, how the very same thing applies to each of us.

Faulkner was right: "The past isn't dead. It isn't even past."

Read the first nine pages of "The Photograph" and assorted other passages here.

More of the book here.

A wonderful novel, highly recommended.

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Brief transcript of an interview with Dame Lively, who'll be 79 on March 17, here.

Lively speaks on how the study and appreciation of history influences the writer of fiction in this 2008 video.

January 16, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Auto-On Illuminated Wall Clock

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From the website:

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Built-in light sensor comes on when it gets dark to let you tell the time no matter what the hour.

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Low-power LEDs illuminate both the minute and hour hands.

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Requires 4 AA batteries (not included).

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10"Ø x 1.5"D.

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White or Black rim: $19.95.

January 16, 2012 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Psycho" violinist Israel Baker is dead

"As concertmaster for the orchestra that recorded the soundtrack for the movie 'Psycho,' classical violinist Israel Baker helped create a piece of pop culture that is regarded as one of Hollywood’s most terrifying. He led the piercing attack of the violins that accompanies the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film's chilling shower scene."

So began Valerie J. Nelson's January 14, 2012 Washington Post obituary

More: "Mr. Baker 'was a renowned violinist and concertmaster in the Hollywood studio system' and was heard on dozens of movie scores, said Jon Burlingame, a film and music historian. He was also 'one of the great violinists of the 20th century,' Jim Svejda, an expert in classical music, said during a tribute on Los Angeles radio station KUSC-FM last week. The musician had 'one of the most brilliantly facile techniques of any violinist of his time,' Svejda said before playing a 'benchmark recording' from Igor Stravinsky’s 'L’Histoire du Soldat' ('The Soldier’s Tale'), conducted by the composer and featuring Mr. Baker."

Baker died December 25 at his home in Los Angeles after a stroke, his daughter Hilary said. He was 92.

"He was  'one of the most sought-after violinists in the country,' Keith Clark, then conductor of the Orange County Pacific Symphony, told the Los Angeles Times in 1981 when Mr. Baker was its concertmaster."

"Onstage, he was known for a studied nonchalance that belied his seriousness as a musician. During a cello solo in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, the violinist once leaned over to pianist Julien Musafia and shared stock market tips."

January 16, 2012 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Cardstick — "Turn your credit card into a mini ruler"

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Clever.

From the website:

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Functional like a ruler but spanning only 3 inches, these easy-to-apply waterproof vinyl stickers add functionality to your credit cards.

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Each sticker wraps around the front and back of a card and won't interfere with the magnetic strip.

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Also great on mobile devices like smartphones and digital cameras.

U.S. and metric units.

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Bonus not noted in the website copy: The yellow one will help you identify your card of choice when viewed edge-on.

Three for $3.99 (credit cards included). 

Wait a sec....

Hey — what's that music I'm hearing?

January 16, 2012 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The miniature worlds of Jacqueline Schmidt

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From the Wall Street Journal:

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"I've always liked creating miniature worlds," said Jacqueline Schmidt of her whimsical shadow boxes.

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For five years, the artist, designer and creative director of New York's kid-centric cafe Moomah has turned wooden armatures into fantastical microenvironments: a living room inhabited by giraffes, a lush English garden, an epoxy-and-resin waterfall with a mermaid mid-dive.

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Now Ms. Schmidt is creating her dioramas to order. Part art, part lighting (LEDs illuminate the interior), each box is filled with elements handcrafted by the designer (upholstered furnishings, delicate felt flowers), ready-made pieces and mementos provided by the client.

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The custom boxes range from 24 x 12 inches to 36 x 15 inches and start at $2,500.

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Apply within.

January 16, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Good Morning Towel 祝君早安!

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From the website:

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A towel printed with bright red wording "Good Morning" and Chinese wording with the same meaning.

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The "Good Morning Towel" originated in China, and was used by doctors, midwives, barbers, and hairdressers.

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They were boiled for sanitation, then dried in the sun.

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34 x 80cm (13.5" x 31.5").

Durable 100% cotton.

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Set of two: $10.

January 16, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Every operating pinball machine in San Francisco

Pinballmap

From SFist: "MissionMission came across this map created by San Francisco Pinball Flippers that shows practically every working pinball machines available in San Francisco. Whether it be at a bar, restaurant or club, this map will help you get ride of pesky quarters. Watering holes such as Bender's, Portal's Tavern, Pilsner Tavern, and Mauna Loa have machines just waiting for you to smack the tilt out of them in a beer-fueled rage. Do not disappoint them!"

"Check out the entire map at sfpinballflippers.com. And if you don't see your favorite pinball machine on the map, calm down. You can let them know via @sfpinball and they'll add it to the list. Rad!"

[via @erinbiba]

January 16, 2012 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Split Decision Pie Pan

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From websites:

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Why bake one when you can do two at the same time?

This ingenious pan includes includes two inserts for creating either a traditional full-size pie or two halves.

Lift & Serve feature enables easy removal of the finished pie(s) without wrecking the crusts.

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$14.99 (pie[s] not included].

[via Meagan Moore's Pinterest]

January 16, 2012 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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