Wednesday, 29 July 2009

make it dangerous

yes. yes. yes. if maurice sendak loves it, you know it's going to be astounding.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

last of the sky-gazers

there's some pretty amazing stuff going on up there in the big not-so-blue at the moment. (well, all the time, no doubt, but narcissistically, i am going to persist in my belief that i am at the centre of the universe until i actually make it out into space to have my delusions of my own grandeur blown to smithereens.)

an amateur astronomer recently alerted NASA to an imminent collision on Jupiter, following in the grand tradition of starry bedroom discoveries.

HRH might very well get her own space agency soon.

if you missed this week's total solar eclipse, you can watch it in all its freaky majesty here.

i'm hankering for this scale poster of the moon by blanka (it glows in the dark!).

and, thrillingly, i'm not too old too become an astronaut. actually, at the youthful age of 29, i'd be one of their youngest.

promise i'll land back on earth soon.

image above from kyoto/ reuters via the guardian

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

clare de lune

i'm sorry, i know i keep chirrupping about this whole LANDING ON THE MOON thing but there's so much incredible stuff out there about it right now that i feel as though it's happening now. i'm only just beginning to comprehend how staggering a feat it really was...typically late to the party.

i've only just begun to poke around the incredible site we choose the moon but while i'm chipping away at work i can't stop listening to the audio archive of the launch. hearing the astronauts updating houston about their altitude and progress, and hearing the hushed burn of the engines below the voices, makes it stunningly real.

also, google earth has released a new 'moon' area, including tours of the landing site narrated by the astronauts.

lunatics rejoice.

dumpster swimming is the new dumpster diving

one man's skip dumpster is another man's swimming pool. in brooklyn, there's a secret pool party going on, where the cool kids can splash about in a repurposed skip. it looks beautiful.

i love that, where we're used to seeing a rubbish bin, the organisers saw the opportunity to make some magic.

if you're lucky enough to be headed NYC-wards (you know who you are...), please charm your way in and report back.

full slideshow here, and muchos gracias to the boy wonder that is BADam for this treat.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

if you believe we put a man on the moon

forty years ago today, the apollo 11 launched, carrying the first people who would ever look back towards earth from the surface of the moon.

researching relative computer power for a work project today, i came across these astonishing facts:
- the computers that guided man across space and landed them safely on the moon were less powerful than a pocket calculator.
- the apollo guidance computer was "more basic than the electronics in modern toasters that have computer controlled stop/start/defrost buttons".
- the codefor the AGC program can be downloaded as a PDF file.

this explanation of how difficult it is to navigate back to earth, by astronaut david scott, really blew me away:

"If you have a basket ball and a baseball 14 feet apart, where the baseball represents the moon and the basketball represents the Earth, and you take a piece of paper sideways, the thinness of the paper would be the corridor you have to hit when you come back."

it's easy to forget how incredible a feat this was. i'm going to celebrate the landing itself by watching this and bowing towards that great bright orb:

ps: james may has the best job in the world. ever.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

30 before 30

it’s coming…and I want to be ready for it. I want to celebrate the last few months of my twenties, and relish this summer, these days, my friends, my lovely (and Sydney-bound) sister. i want to milk this.

So, here’s my list of 30 things to indulge in before I turn 30. (Some of them may be slightly familiar…)

1. Swim in the Hampstead Heath ponds.
2. Write every day for a month.
3. Host a tea party.
4. Finish reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit.
5. Take a self-portrait every day for a month.
6. Train for, and run, a half-marathon.
7. See the Wellcome Collection.
8. Purge my wardrobe.
9. Buy a saucily old-fashioned one-piece.
10. Bob about in the Strait of Gibraltar.
11. Watch the sun go down from a hammock.
12. Make chutney.
13. Photograph light drawings with sparklers.
14. Camp near the sea.
15. Eat razor clams in Whitstable.
16. Cook something involving samphire.
17. Celebrate something at Moro.
18. Stay up all night dancing with the best girls in the world.
19. Roll down a hill with Kate.
20. Memorise a Walt Whitman poem.
21. Plant flowers in my window boxes.
22. Sign up for an oral history course.
23. Get a British driving licence (finally).
24. Eat a really good knickerbocker glory.
25. Set off a firework.
26. Learn to identify three constellations.
27. Get my bike fixed.
28. Make the best ever lemon tart.
29. Make dioramas with Rach.
30. Decide what to actually do to celebrate my thirtieth.

wish me luck. also, if you have a secret stash of fireworks, would love to take me out for slap-up moroccan, or want to fill out the DVLA’s D1 form on my behalf, please speak up...

Friday, 10 July 2009

time wastes too fast

i know i've mentioned maira kalman before, but i can't help doing it again - she just keeps telling my favourite kind of stories.

this one
is an inquisitive look at the complicated, curious, talented thomas jefferson - "scientist, philosopher, statesman, architect, musician, naturalist, zoologist, botanist, farmer, bibliophile, inventor, wine connoisseur, mathematician and and..."

Thursday, 9 July 2009

word of the day: orrery

or·re·ry, n
a mechanical model of the solar system that shows the orbits of the planets around the sun at the correct relative velocities.

wow. and these lucky doers actually OWN the one above.

(photo at top by donricardopezzano via flickr)

this just in from the great blue yonder

national geographic reports the likely discovery of a new kind of cloud - a roiling, rolling, tidal-looking thing called undulatus asperatus - or, affectionately, the 'jacques cousteau cloud' by cloud expert gavin pretor-pinney.

Asperatus clouds may spur the first new classification in the World Meteorological Organization's International Cloud Atlas since the 1950s, Gavin Pretor-Pinney said.

(there's an International Cloud Atlas? i need this!)

if you're a cloudlover after my own heart, check out his talk at the marvellous 'do lectures':

there's also a handbook, and a society if you're that way inclined.

if that tickles your fancy, swing by gavin pretor-pinney's other love - his magazine, The Idler. it's a beautiful thing.

go love yourself some clouds.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

love is coming to us all

i think i've found my favourite (caveat: for now) crosby, stills and nash song. it's the perfect combination of all the power wielded by the mighty band of brothers: it's unashamedly catchy but then weird and intricate beneath the immediate earworm potential. it's poppy enough for them to smuggle in a brief moment of psychedelic freak-out in the middle, too, which momentarily disorients before sending you spinning back into the chorus:

Carry on
Love is coming
Love is coming to us all

Where are you going now my love?
Where will you be tomorrow?
Will you bring me happiness?
Will you bring me sorrow?
Oh, the questions of a thousand dreams
What you do and what you see
Lover can you talk to me?

two weeks ago, i got to stand in a field with rapturous hippies and old men listening to these three play as one again. my dad texted me midway through to say that he was watching too, on television. they've still got the power to turn a mess of separate individuals into a unified loveworn and lovelorn collective.

they've still got the power.

album version here.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

a lot of things in life feel hard it's a relief to find soft alcoves - which is exactly what sarah applebaum creates.

wild explosions of colour arcing across a white space...

...and inviting little places built for curling up in.

it's like holi festival inside a gallery inhabited by a knitter ecstatically losing her mind. or something.

tea? i've got the kettle on; i was hoping you'd come knocking.

ps: sanky, the gorillas are especially for you...

Thursday, 2 July 2009

the lost tribes of new york city

oral history, lo-fi animation and endearing telephone boxes - how could i not love this?

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

make your own language

feeling stuck for words post-glastonbury mayhem (more on THAT later), so i'm instead wondering - if i made my own language, what would my vocabulary consist of? to begin with, there would be symbols for places where people sit and talk, important trees, places to swim, a symbol for dreaming and one for singing, men and women and children and babies, and a clutch of symbols to show the intricate connections between the cast in this great play...for starters.

i've realised that the artists i love most are the artists who spoke in their own secret tongues - alexander calder, joan miro, cy twombly.

today i've been re-immersing myself in alexander calder's sculptures, like some airborne metal ballet.

they - and the man himself - seem to radiate an intense generosity of spirit that seems as though it would make each day a new prayer.

more and more these days i want to work with my hands, to MAKE.

and here, just because, two together: calder, and dolores, pilar and joan miro.

all images courtesy of the calder foundation.