Date Archives November 2012

Unfit Father – Son Bonding – A Film Review of ‘Klown’

Klown film poster

We can thank Larry David and the writers of Curb Your Enthusiasm for setting the faux pas slash awkward moment bar so high it is near impossible to have a socially unacceptable incident these days without referring back to an episode in the series. Coming dangerously close to replicating Larry David’s comedic genius are two Danish comedians Frank Hvam and Caspar Christensen, who, with director Mikkel Nørgaard, create an atmosphere of awkwardom in Klown, the most successful Danish film of 2010.

Frank (Frank Hvam) discovers that his girlfriend Mia (Mia Lyhne) has a secret. Mia is pregnant, and although all of their friends already know, Mia has failed to share this important information with her partner for one sole reason. She is unsure if Frank is fit for fatherhood. Frank, of course disagrees, and upon hearing the wise words of encouragement from a taxi driver, Frank sets out to prove to Mia that he has some serious paternal skills and that he is selfless enough to care for a child. His case for defense is met with mild consideration as Frank blunders his way through an embarrassing (sexual) mistake with Mia’s mother, and his failure to protect Mia’s pre-teen nephew from night burglars. Frank’s logical solution to quell Mia’s uncertainty is to up ‘the paternal’ ante.

Most people under the duress of a potential break-up (because they are thought to be selfish and immature) might become more cautious in their decision making if it meant saving the relationship. Not Frank, however, who follows through with his bright idea to kidnap Mia’s nephew so that she can show her how caring he is. Frank’s hope for a wholesome ‘father-son’ bonding experience where he can test his Daddy-ness is dashed by previous plans for an adult’s only canoe trip with his buddy Caspar (Caspar Christensen). Caspar has the opposite expectation for their boy’s only trip.

What ensues is a hilarious set of confrontations from illicit under-age sexual rendez-vouz to a visit to a private gentlemen’s club, a very uncomfortable threesome, and drug related debaucheries that end with some serious confusion. The comedic graces of Hvam and Christensen are matched by the layer upon layer of bad luck they seem to attract to their already crumbling situation.

Most surprising about Klown is its connection to infamous Danish director Lars von Trier, a name not usually associated with comedy. Klown was produced by Zentropa, the production company founded by Von Trier in 1992 with the Dogme 95 movement in mind. Lars von Trier also wrote episode 6 in season 2 of Klovn, the original TV Series that Klown the movie is based on.

Klown is available to download through Drafthouse Films. It is also available on iTunes and Netflix.

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation Charles Jencks

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation Charles Jencks

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation Charles Jencks

Not all architecture is above ground. Architecture can happen under the dirt and pavement, or even throughout its pliable surface. This week, we’re looking at recent work by architects who manipulate the ground to achieve different effects. Monday, we saw Dutch bunkers sinking in verdant quicksand and Tuesday we looked at a Danish quilt in Nørrebro. Wednesday, we headed to Germany to see a museum extension tucked under a lawn. Today, we’re looking at what could be the most simple manipulation of the ground, gardening. But because the garden is designed by architectural theorist Charles Jencks, the resulting garden is not so simple. It’s the Garden of Cosmic Speculation.

The Garden of Cosmic Speculation Charles Jencks

The garden is quite large, covering some thirty acres outside Jencks’ home near the border of Scotland and England. The video above is about 20 minutes, has some pretty amazing title graphics (and background music) but for the most part is Charles talking about how his designs for the garden reflect his understanding of science and the cosmos. He discusses how the garden started as a swimming pond and the significance of various features in the garden. Some things surprised me. Did everyone know that Charles’ late wife Maggie is the Maggie’s Centre Maggie? He also talks about spaghettification and DNA mutations; at one point he even says that “the universe may be a black hole.” Saddest of all, the garden is only open to the public for five hours each year.

Photographer Nicholas Haggard hangs out with Victoria Bergsman for Creatures of Comfort

Telling you that this is a video of Swedish singer Victoria Bergsman (aka Taken by Trees) hanging out in a beautiful wooden house should really be enough to encourage you to check it out, but in case you need to know a little more about it, I’ll do my best!

It was filmed by Nicholas Haggard as a promo for Creatures of Comfort’s Spring/Summer collection for 2013, and Haggard really does a fantastic job of creating the look of a lifestyle you’d just love to have. The track in the video is from Taken by Trees’ new album and it’s called Only You. Beautiful stuff!

Visiting Portland

Portland, Oregon

Photo by Gaby Contreras

Sunday morning Kyle and I will be flying up to Portland for a few days to hang out, so we’re looking for some fun things to do. Have a cool work space we should visit? Know the best place to grab beers? We’d love to hear from you. It’s been a couple years since I was last in Portland so I’m sure that there must be some new things to see. Our window of time is currently Sunday morning to Tuesday night, so please keep that in mind.

You can reach me on Twitter at @thefoxisblack or on Facebook.

Re-Covered Books: ‘The Hobbit’ by J. R. R. Tolkien

Re-Covered Books: 'The Hobbit' by J. R. R. Tolkien

'The Hobbit' by J. R. R. Tolkien

I remember clearly the first time I read The Hobbit. I was on a snowy vacation with my best friend and his family somewhere around Lake Tahoe. In between bouts of snow fights and epic hours spent building amazing snow forts I would dive nose deep into a world of fantasy. I read the book within a week, it’s pages filling my mind with craggily old dwarves, creepy spider battles, and a massive dragon with a nearly imperceptible weakness.

The Hobbit film will soon be upon us as well, so I felt the timing was right to build off of that momentum and get another Re-Covered Books contest going. I think for this contest, with such a unique book, that the goal will be to create something that is handmade. Or at least seems handmade. Nothing too modern but nothing too old and stodgy. This should be about craft, about creating a cover that feels well loved. A cover for a book who’s tale is timeless. Failure to adhere to these general guidelines means you probably won’t win, got it?


• Save your images as JPGs at 800px wide, 72 DPI, RGB mode – this is super important! There are no height restrictions (within reason). Feel free to play with the dimensions and have fun with what you make. Submitting a front and back cover will certainly help your chances, but is not required. You can enter up to 5 times.

• Label your files “Firstname-Lastname-Hobbit.jpg”

• Send all entries to with the subject “Re-Covered Books: The Hobbit“. Cut and paste what I wrote there, it’s super easy and it helps me keep track of your entry.

• All entries are due Saturday, December 15, 2012 by Midnight PST.

If there are any other questions feel free to leave them in the comments. I look forward to seeing what you come up with and be sure to tell your friends/classmates/pets to participate as well. Good luck and have fun!

Ed Ruscha, Woody, and the World’s Hottest Pepper

Despite Ed Ruscha being one of my favourite American artists from the Pop art movement he’s someone who I don’t know all that much about. That is until now. Filmmaker Lance Acord has recently created a short film called ‘Ed Ruscha, Woody, and the World’s Hottest Pepper’ and it gives a beautiful insight into Rushcha and his work. It’s a really nicely put together short and Rushcha comes across as being warm, charming and a generally all-around excellent guy. I particularly like how describes himself as being a ‘linguistic kleptomaniac’ and it’s great to hear him talk about his influences – particularly his feelings about the desert and the city.

The film was created as part of the second annual Art+Film Gala at LACMA which paid tribute to both Ruscha and Stanley Kubrick. The aim of the event is to raise funds to support LACMA’s initiative to make film more central to the museum’s curatorial programming, while also funding LACMA’s broader mission. Last year’s Gala included a great portrait of John Baldessari which I posted about earlier in the year and it’s also well worth checking out. I would love to see more films like these please!

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Will Bryant

Will Bryant wallpaper - iPhone, iPad, Desktop

Will Bryant

Last week we featured a really rad wallpaper from Will Bryant that showcased a collection of medals for winners and losers. Funny enough Will also sent me even more wallpapers, saying that I could use them if I wanted to. Well I thought this one, simply titled Practice Kindness, would be great to have on the site.

I love the colors, the way the text interacts with the background texture, and the messages is spot on. I always feel like people who are kind, who really give a damn about other people, end up doing best in life. That’s what I feel this wallpaper is about, and Will has done a beautiful job of illustrating this mantra. A big thanks to Will for two awesome wallpapers!

An Underground Extension to the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt in Berlin

Huber Staudt Architekten Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt Berlin

Huber Staudt Architekten Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt Berlin

Huber Staudt Architekten Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt Berlin

Not all architecture is above ground. Architecture can happen under the dirt and pavement, or even throughout its pliable surface. This week, we’re looking at recent work by architects who manipulate the ground to achieve different effects. Monday, we saw Dutch bunkers sinking in verdant quicksand and yesterday we looked at a Danish quilt in Nørrebro. Both of these earlier project treated the ground as a monolithic solid, but today we’re heading to German to see museum extension that exploits the ground as a thin green skin.

That thin, grassy skin stretches over a new extension to the observatory of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) in Berlin. Designed by Huber Staudt Architekten, the extension peels up the lawn and inserts modern, day-lit spaces next to the staunch and neoclassical observatory that happens to be the oldest physics laboratory building in the world.  The new addition houses an MRI facility, and connects to the basement of the observatory. The architect’s strategy to peel and bury allows the addition to keep a low profile from some angles, preserving views of it’s historic and recently restored neighbor. But from other angles the addition is more visible and lets in light from floor to ceiling windows.

Tesla Model S is Motor Trend’s Car of the Year 2013

Tesla Model S is Motor Trend's Car of the Year 2013

Roughly a month ago I wrote a piece about the Tesla Model S and how amazing it was. Turns out I wasn’t alone in thinking that way as Motor Trend has named the Tesla Model S their car of the year for 2013.

Wait. No mention of the astonishing inflection point the Model S represents — that this is the first COTY winner in the 64-year history of the award not powered by an internal combustion engine? Sure, the Tesla’s electric powertrain delivers the driving characteristics and packaging solutions that make the Model S stand out against many of its internal combustion engine peers. But it’s only a part of the story. At its core, the Tesla Model S is simply a damned good car you happen to plug in to refuel.

What makes me happy is that clearly progress is winning. We’re talking about a $50k electric vehicle made by a company which is essentially a start-up in the auto industry outdoing all of the old dinosaurs. It’s exactly what the aut industry needs, a swift kick in the nuts. How the old dinosaurs deal with this sort of information is what will decide if they sink or swim. Hopefully the auto industry isn’t so archaic that it can’t learn to make some smart choices. Here’s to cars that make sense in our modern world!

‘Eclipse/Blue’, A New Track by Nosaj Thing Featuring Kazu Makino from Blonde Redhead

'Eclipse/Blue', A New Track by Nosaj Thing Featuring Kazu Makino from Blonde Redhead

Through some random explorations on Rdio I fell back in love with the work of Los Angeles based producer Nosaj Thing. He dabbles mostly in electronic and hip hop music, creating amazing layers of sound that push the idea of what music can be. His newest track is called Eclipse/Blue and features some beautifully haunting vocals from Kazu Makino, lead singer of Blonde Redhead. Together they make an amazing pair, and this track is incredible. It makes me think that Kazu needs to ditch the twins from BR and start an electronic band with Nosaj!