Art Appreciation

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This analysis of the cover image Time Magazine used to name Trump their “Person of the Year” is fascinating, especially for someone like me, who’s not terribly visual.

I firmly believe that studying the way other art forms affect us improves my writing, although I’d be hard-pressed to explain why or how. (See also Every Frame a Painting and many other video essays on cinema.) This is one of the great benefits of the modern information age.

Randomness for 8/12

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1) Now that the Olympics are airing, it’s fun to look at some of the demands the IOC makes on countries bidding to host the games.

2) The best way to perform a “USB drop” hack. Technical, but interesting.

3) Saturday Evening Post covers from the DC Universe.

4) Brainstorming is a terrible way to create new ideas.

5) I don’t normally care about this sort of thing, but this mashup trailer combining The Dark Knight with Scott Pilgrim vs The World is a Batman movie I’d like to see. Video.

6) Gamer problems then and now.

7) The “Glarofon” is not a Pokemon; it’s a percussion instrument made from hand-blown glass tubes.

Randomness for 7/24

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1) The late great Jim Henson gives a puppeteering masterclass. Video.

2) Inside Portland’s Mystery Hole. #NotPorn

3) Exploding glass filmedin 343,000 fps slo-mo. Toward the end, this gets to be like the drug effects in DREDD.

4) A split screen comparing Los Angeles of the 1940’s with Los Angeles now. Video.

5) What type of low-budget films break out?

6) LA earthquake creates a seiche, a (potentially destructive) wave frequency that amplifies waves and ripples. Video.

7) Police 3D print a murder victim’s finger to unlock his phone.

Randomness for 7/10

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1) ‘You are a coward’: Hate and misperceptions about substance abuse are broader than I thought

2) Gorgeous cars of the art deco era.

3) This pedal-powered roller coaster gets a massive NOPE.

4) Terrible manager stories.

5) How God Created Animals. <-- Funny 6) Investigative reporter goes undercover in N Korea to find out the truth about life there, writes book, sees book listed as a “memoir” because the reporter is a woman.

7) If you thought the movie WARCRAFT tanked, you missed the part where it changed the way blockbuster movies are made.

Randomness for 4/28

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1) An OKCupid profile for “A Normal Human.” #lol

2) New data supports Jane Jacobs’s ideas of what makes a city great.

3) Comedian reads fake book covers on subway, records reactions. Very funny, although the covers look fakey.

4) The Brilliant Career of John Cazale. If you’re only going to appear in five movies…

5) Toyota’s wooden concept car, as family heirloom.

6) Fun drawings of monsters added to photos of real world scenes.

7) 13 Short Guides That Will Make You a Color Expert.

Randomness for 2/20

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1) The Author Who Cyberstalked Me.

2) “Trust me. I’m an engineer.” Video.

3) You have already missed your chance to enter the first beauty contest judged by robots.

4) A small 2009 car demolishes a 1959 Chevy. Oh, what 50 years of safety regulation can do!

5) Surprising applications of the Magnus Effect. Video. This is cool.

6) Highway font Clearview being ditched in favor of older Highway Gothic.

7) Welcome to the future: Hackers hijack CA hospital computers and demand $3.6 million ransom to release them.

A Giftmas Suggestion (Not Book Related)

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You know how jazz of 50+ years ago was vibrant, complex, commercial art? You know how modern jazz is a kind of high art designed to please knowledgeable aficionados but not the average listener?

While I was on vacation in Lisbon, I found out about an album called Once Upon a Time in Portugal, which is just now available on iTunes.

What it is: complex, vibrant, accessible music aimed at a general audience and played by really great musicians. Basically, it’s excellent commercial art.

Play the previews, for real. For me, I think this music perfectly suits a certain mood. Check it out.

Randomness for 7/24

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1. The Hot Tub Hammock.

2) If The Moon Were Only One Pixel: a tediously accurate scale model of the solar system.

3) Some kitchen gadgets are all about the NOPE.

4) Like selfies? Like toast? Now you can get your own selfie toast.

5) Keyboard shortcuts for novelists.

6) Sure, whites are privileged, but not me personally!

7) The Artisinal Landlord Price Hike Sale.

Randomness for 7/13

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1) Why do people go bald? Video

2) A conversation between graffiti artists and removers.

3) Fearless girl rips out own tooth with a slingbow. ::faints::

4) The names of ten fireworks effects.

5) Assigned to write an essay about a “leader” a group of teens decide to stand out from the pack and contact gangster Whitey Bulger in prison. He wrote back.

6) Ten Paintings of Guy Fieri as a Renaissance Baby.

7) The Detective As Speech. “An early letter I received after publishing my first book, Indemnity Only, came from a woman who wanted to know why V. I. Warshawski was allowed to “talk back” to men without being punished. The writer wasn’t seeking help in learning to talk back herself; she was criticizing V. I. for behaving in a way that was neither right nor natural.” h/t James Nicoll

Twelve years from hobbyist to pro

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Want to check out an excellent post for people who a) like cool artwork and b) want to be a professional in a creative field? Well, here you go:

How I Became an Artist: The 12 year journey of my art thus far.

Takeaway: At the start, he wasn’t much better than me. Maybe a little better. At the end, he’s creating art so cool that it’s downright spooky.

But there’s no mention of the word talent–except once, in quote marks. All he talks about is hard work, and education. When he was starting out, he found a useful community for mutual support and critique. As he continued, he took classes, worked on techniques to improve the places he felt weak, continued to strengthen his strong points, and he practiced like whoa.

It’s a reflection of the growth mindset discussed in (among many others) this Atlantic article: Don’t Call Kids Smart. The way to find success is to force yourself to grow and improve, and to expect it to take a long time and a lot of work.

This is important. Too many people would look at the art at the bottom of that page, think how talented! and assume his ability to create that artwork comes from some spooky inborn trait. It doesn’t. It’s just hard work and self-education.

This is something I’m trying to impart to my son. It doesn’t have to be art; it can be anything. You suck at things when you start out, and you get better over time. With extra effort, you get really good. That’ what it takes.