From the monthly archives:

December 2008

Heard, On High

December 25, 2008

in Music,Video

For those of you who celebrate Christmas:



December 23, 2008

in Food,Image

Insect Sushi

Insect Sushi

See more photos of Shoichi Uchiyama’s recipes…


From “Note on the Lessons of Antipoetry” by Nicanor Parra:

7. Read in good faith if you want to partake, and don’t ever find your satisfaction in the author’s name.

8. Ask your questions openly and listen without argument to the poets’ words; don’t be impatient with the pronouncements of the elders — they don’t make them by accident.

The full poem is available in the original Spanish and English on Google Books.


The NY Times reviews a retrospective of Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings, and includes a slideshow of some of them.

No rush: they will be on display at Mass MoCA for the next twenty-five years.



December 14, 2008

in History,Storytelling,Words

Quick: what comes to mind when you hear the words Kyoto or Tokyo?

Probably not “Capital Region” or “Eastern Capital”. These are great examples of how designations that sound mundane and administrative in their original language can be given exotic or mythic status over time.

On the other hand, you probably wouldn’t guess that a name you may have read or spoken hundreds of times like Great Britain comes from the Greek for “tattooed” and the Celtic for “colourful, speckled” — there must be a story behind that one.

The new Atlas of True Names explores the origins of place names around the world. The Strange Maps blog provides more background on the project.


De Natura Rerum (1973)
by Andrei Codrescu

I sell myths not poems. With each poem goes a little myth. This myth is not in the poem. It’s in my mind. And when the editors of magazines ask me for poems I make them pay for my work by passing along these little myths which I make up. These myths appear at the end of the magazine under the heading ABOUT CONTRIBUTORS or above my poem in italics. Very soon there are as many myths are there are poems and ultimately this is good because each poem does, this way, bring another poet into the world. With this secret method of defying birth controls I populate the world with poets.

I’ve quoted the entire work here, which may be a stretch of fair use.  But really, how could I take scissors to a piece like this? As a mea culpa, let me point you directly to the page where you can buy Mr. Codrescu’s books and encourage you to support his work.


Seth Godin:

The huge opportunity for book publishers is to get unstuck. You’re not in the printing business. The life and death of trees is not your concern. You’re in the business of leveraging the big ideas authors have. There are a hundred ways to do that, yet book publishers obsess about just one or two of them. Here’s the news flash: that’s not what authors care about. Authors don’t care about units sold. They care about ideas spread. If you can help them do that, we’re delighted to share our profits with you. But one (broken) sales channel–bookstores–and one broken model (guaranteed sale of slow-to-market books) is not the way to get there. If you free yourself up enough to throw that out, you’ll figure out dozens of ways to leverage and spread and profit from ideas worth spreading.


Sixty Years On

December 10, 2008

in History,Music

Afropop Worldwide devoted their entire show this week to the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Host Georges Collinet intermixed songs and interviews with his reading of articles from the Declaration.

The word commemoration, while appropriate, sounds so funereal. Can we imagine a day when we could, without hesitation, use the word celebration instead?


Larry Lessig at TED, on John Philip Sousa’s fear that recording devices would cause us to stop using our vocal chords, the new meaning of literacy, and the revival of read-write culture:


How far can you go if you decide not to drive or ride in any motorized vehicles, or speak for 17 years?

John Francis explains:


In his lecture “What makes a building unique?” (TED Video), Moshe Safdie describes his 1976 design for the Children’s Memorial Museum at the Yad Veshem Holocaust Museum.

Instead of displaying artifacts, Safdie chose to use a cave, filled with reflections from a single candle extending to infinity:

Children's Memorial at Yad Veshem

Reflected candle inside the cave

(Photo by: marstheinfomage)

More images available on Flickr:


YouTube Symphony Orchestra

December 3, 2008

in Sound,Video

Don’t worry: symphonies haven’t started selling naming rights to corporate sponsors…yet.

YouTube is seeking audition videos for a new orchestral project:

1. Prepare – Select your instrument to access the sheet music and rehearse with the conductor
2. Submit – Upload your performances and submit them to join the YouTube Symphony Orchestra
3. Entries – Browse videos to get ideas and check out the competition

The musicians selected will be brought to Carnegie Hall next April to perform a new commission by Tan Dun.

In this interview, Tan Dun explains his desire to bring street sounds and the symphony orchestra together:

There’s also a set of twenty four videos in which musicians from the London Symphony Orchestra (one of the participants in the project) offer master classes on the new piece.


BBC news has a narrated slideshow of Eamonn McCabe’s series of photographs of writers’ rooms.

(Click the ‘Show captions’ link below the slideshow to see the names of the writers — though it’s kind of fun to guess.)