Date Archives 2010

Space Suit of the Week

While visiting Kennedy Space Center I met astronaut Robert Springer. I knew I’d only have time to ask Astronaut Springer one question, so I asked him what surprised him the most the first time he put on a space suit. His answer? “How difficult it is to move.” Suit pressurization and suit mobility often complicate things for the other, but maintaining suit pressure is critical in the vacuum of space and being able to bend your fingers just makes it easier to manipulate tools during spacewalks (one astronaut commented that the limited mobility of pressurized gloves was like trying to perform brain surgery wearing oven mitts.)

The photos above are from tests involving suit mobility. The top picture shows the AX1-A suit in various positions; one of which is reaching for the stars.  The lower picture shows a test of a pressurized SPD-143 suit, suspended at an angle so the test subject can walk under gravity conditions similar to the moon’s. Suit engineers used these side-ways puppet experiments to improve the apollo space suit.


P.S. There was also a great article in the NYT ab0ut space suits. I feel like space suits are starting to pop up everywhere.

The City Reporter

The brainchild of Good Inc. founder Luis Mendo, The City Reporter features a selection of handcrafted guides for various cities. Thus far, Mendo has covered Tokyo, Paris, London, Westergas and Amsterdam, and the results have been captured in magazine articles, iPhone apps and posters. With the philosophy to “give a personal view on the cities and bring the best on them to those who want to get a deep feeling of the place”, Mendo’s guides are quirky, intimate and shed light on good places to eat, shop and stay, as well as handy tips. With their compact size and lovely illustrations, they sure beat your average travel guide.



As documentaries age, their meaning becomes more clear… or rather, their intentions do. Out of the convolution of facts and opinions that make up any documentary, facts tend to precipitate away from politically-motivated arguments or persuasions as time continues and the images burned into the film become blurrier. As I watch the above documentary about LSD, I keep distracting myself on a hunt for propaganda hiding behind what is presented as fact, and how these facts are expressed. But mostly I really enjoy the aesthetic and quality of a vintage documentary. The documentary is a bit lengthy, so don’t try to sneak it in at work, but it’s perfect for those of you still stuck in your rural hometowns, trying to fill your time with something other than sitting on the couch, eating leftovers and watching re-runs.



Of all the new releases and rental films that I watched this year the one that stood out the most was Joachim Trier’s Reprise (2006). It came highly recommended by a friend who has exceptional taste in all manner of things and, given my high expectations, could have easily been a disappointment. Fortunately, I was blown away. If I really enjoy a film by a particular director, I immediately attempt to consume their entire body of work; however, as Reprise is Trier’s debut feature I wasn’t able to seek out any other films. Rather, it gave me an excuse to watch Reprise again – an experience that confirmed the amazing vision of this Norwegian film.

I wanted to do a love scene that was complicated and was saying something about a relationship. Mostly in movies when people have sex it’s just a fulfilment of love and then they cut away, but I wanted to show a break down of a relationship in that bedroom, a really sad and complicated scene and with two inexperienced actors we worked a lot on that….I definitely want people to be allowed to feel different things, that’s a big thing for me, not to just go out and say well I felt that same kind of happiness or sadness that they felt from other movies. You almost wish when you make a film that people will have a contradictory emotional experience. I’m interested in the ambivalence that people will feel that AAH what a character did was right but was also wrong!
-Joachim Trier

It is not an easy task to succinctly encapsulate the genre and themes of Reprise. Following the successes, exploits and emotional disturbances of two young, aspiring writers (Anders Danielsen Lie and Espen Klouman-Høiner), the film explores identity, madness, love, desire, marginal subcultures and contemporary urban malaise. Trier placed Reprise in the coming-of-age genre and even went so far as to draw a link to American Pie (1999). Sequences of male bonding aside, Reprise lends to a far more subtle, intricate and challenging viewing experience that deals not only with sex, but also with larger issues of relationships.

Stylistically, the film displays a cinephilic appreciation of the French New Wave by appropriating the omniscient voice-over narrative style from François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (1962). Using narration as both a thematic and cinematic device beautifully threads together the film’s central concern of using writing to frame identity, as well as working to successfully guide the viewer through the story’s shifting temporalities and emotional states. Trier’s interest in constructing a state of ambivalence and uncertainty for the viewer is reflected in the subdued and drained chromatic scheme in which each colour never quite reaches its optimum vibrancy.

The male protagonists have been criticised for being sexist, immature and bourgeois; however, Reprise unashamedly captures the liminal and precarious period between youth and adulthood when chaos can be an overriding and persistent state of being. Conversely, there is something quite touching and fragile about the unfolding story, and that is ultimately what makes Reprise such a great film, as it locates moments of pause in its shambolic oscillations. Not quite finding a balance between disorder and delicacy, Reprise is an excellent example of considered symbiosis between textural and visual storytelling.


The Tally: Six Guides To Proper Drink Making

Making a solid drink is something that every self-respecting adult should know how to do and these six handy books are a great way to get your drink making skills up to snuff. Here in Los Angeles my favorite place to get drinks is Seven Grand which serves the best ol’ timey cocktails that I’ve ever had, you can’t go wrong with their Mint Julep. These books embody the same idea, that a simple drink can be timeless and easy to make.

Drinks by Jacques Straub
The sheer number of recipes herein makes this the first recorded example of what Robert Hess calls the “wad o’ drinks” book: the quick reference collection of drink recipes and nothing but drink recipes. … Drinks was intended as a pocket reference for bartenders and was kept in print by the Hotel Monthly Press even as Prohibition rendered its 700 formulae legally obsolete.

Cocktails: How to Mix Them by Robert Vermeire
Cocktails: How to Mix Them was first published in 1922, appearing at almost the same time as Harry McElhone’s Harry’s ABC of Cocktails. These volumes printed the first known recipes for the Sidecar, which Vermeire notes was “introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bartender of Buck’s Club.”

Old Man Drinks by Robert Schnakenberg
Forget boring mojitos, put down that tired cosmopolitan, and stop sipping that ridiculous appletini! It’s time to embrace Old Man Drinks the cocktails your grandfather would remember from his nights on the town, way back during the Eisenhower administration. Here you’ll find histories and recipes for Old-Fashioneds, Sidecars, Clover Clubs, Rusty Nails, Hot Toddys, Monte Carlos, and more than 60 other vintage cocktails. Accompanying the text are evocative black-and-white photographs of real old men enjoying their beverages of choice and dispensing such timeless words of wisdom as “I’m gonna die some day, so I may as well drink” and “I’ve taken an involuntary vow of celibacy.”

Barflies and Cocktails by Harry McElhone
It seems to me that for a volume of drink recipes to achieve whatever portion of true greatness a work of its kind may aspire to, it has to serve in some way as the annals of a community… By that standard, Barflies and Cocktails is one of the greatest of its kind.

Modern American Drinks by George J. Kappeler
What made George J. Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks so very valuable (then and now) are the many newly-published recipes, all with the same care lavished upon them as the old standards, but for drinks the public had never seen before. … If anything I am erring on the conservative side when I count these seventy-five new drinks—in an era when a bar book wasn’t plagiarism if it contained two or three.

Bartenders’ Manual by Harry Johnson
You hold in your hands an important piece of the puzzle, perhaps as important as the Rosetta stone which helped crack the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Harry Johnson’s Bartenders’ Manual presents not just the recipes in use by the bartenders of the late 1800s, but it provides a glimpse into the mindset, the business, and, more importantly, the pride in craftsmanship that was important for bartenders to focus on as they performed their craft.


‘Revolving Doors’ by Gorillaz

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I’ve really been enjoying the new Gorillaz album, The Fall, something that Philip posted about on Monday, so I thought I’d share a track that I’ve been enjoying. This song is called Revolving Doors and it’s the second track off the album. It reminds me more of Blur than Gorillaz but it’s a beautiful song nonetheless. The rest of the album doesn’t sound much like this but I still thought it was worth sharing.

If you like to listen to the rest of the album click here.


Hernan Marin

There is, unfortunately, very little online information available concerning Colombian artist and illustrator Hernan Marin. In fact, Marin has left behind practically no biographical details or personal traces to speak of,  but I think this is actually in keeping with the atmosphere of his work. There is a tenuous and delicate mood to the subjects of his illustrations, who sometimes appear as quiet apparitions. Indeed, Marin would seem to be an observer of intangible moments of the “in between”, as he captures intimate gestures in painstakingly realistic detail. And it is the technical finesse of Marin’s imagery that is so evocative, whereby his illustrations display elements of realism that have been mediated through an unreal and almost vaporous filter. Much like his personal biography, Marin’s works are elusive and mysterious in the best possible way.


Tellus Nursery by Tham & Videgård

Above you can see the entry to the Tellus Nursery School by Tham and Videgård, and how the entry is squeezed into the mass of the building in a kind of programmatic phagocytosis. It is a lovely entrance for a children’s nursery– the building makes an urban-scaled gesture to embrace young Swedes as they come or go. The Nursery also features seemingly random, punched out windows that aren’t necessarily new (in fact, they’re quite trendy) but these windows at varying heights make perfect sense in a nursery. I also really enjoy the effect of some of the windows being partially screened behind wooden slats. While the project description (whick appears toward the end here) talks about screening the sun, this move also keeps kids from climbing out of operable windows while looking fantastic.