Alexander Calder's Legacy

Alexander Calder is one of those guys that people like to be able to talk about to impress their friends. Many of you probably know him but not his name, he's that guy that makes mobiles (well, practically invented them artistically). His work is in art museums all over the country (most predominately displayed at the Milwaukee museum of art). For those of you who haven't heard of him, I highly recommend checking him out. His propensity to develop these mobiles that seemed all too surreal to be real due to their odd balancing acts is what makes his work so fascinating. However, very few will ever be able to master both physical balance and aesthetic balance to the same degree as Mr. Calder and thus we are left only to admire his awesome work. Until now! Here comes a book about making mobiles, and not those dumb ones with pictures attached to them, but honest semi-artistic, fun mobiles. This book's got you covered from start to finish, no experience necessary. At 10$ and free shipping (with a 25$+ purchase from Amazon), this book is an inexpensive start to an extremely fun hobby.

View product details at Amazon.

Because Libertarians Recycling Internet Memes is Funny

So, a couple months ago Rick Santelli stands up and says something interesting, that we shouldn't have to pay for other people's stupid decisions over the last decade. Shockingly, such a statement makes a bunch of sense. The end result is these various tea parties through out the country either on April 15th (good old tax day) or July 4th at various cities across the nation. The whole point is to protest the absurd amounts of government spending being proposed and passed into legislation without debate or discussion and the amount of expansionary policy that's being inserted into this legislation under the guise of the "urgency" of the situation. It's a modern day taxation without representation, if you will. So now there's these zazzle products (zazzle.com's a great website for printing slogans or logos on all sorts of things for a reasonable price). My favorite of which is this bumper sticker that says "Don't Tax Me Bro!" Besides being a great play on don't tase me bro, this is one of those awesome examples of bad Libertarian/Conservative humor. And at 4$ plus a little bit of shipping, it's definitely worth it. If you're interested in the "grass roots" (I hate that term) movement, a link to Rick Santelli's website is posted below. I encourage you to at least check out it; uninformed dissent is worse than compliance.

View product details at PeacPac's Zazzle.

Get Involved in Rick Santelli's ReTea Party.


Put Some Om in Your Home

While I'm on the topic of home furnishings, I might as well continue. This time I'll highlight a pillow. I love accent pillows for their ability to transform furniture from one look to another instantaneously. Take a look at what Om Home (haha, great name) has to offer. Their Moroccan inspired design weave together a primary color that's contrasted beautifully with popping secondary colors. My favorite is the New Market Coral, mostly do to the primary color. However, the pillow also does the best job of balancing the contrast with colors that work well. A 95$ price tag makes this pillow more than un-buyable for all but the select few, but this post isn't actually meant to entice you into buy the pillow (although I doubt that it would even if it was supposed to). This post is really about two things. First, always always always have pillows, for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is they're comfortable. A wide range of pillows is necessary, because rooms can be seasonally adjusted in 3-5 minutes simply by swapping accent pillows. A normally dark black couch can be made vibrant with the simple addition of an accent pillow. Lastly, they provide a chance to show your creative buying ability or more importantly your keen sense of style. Most furniture doesn't have terribly much to it for the good reason that it needs to be versatile to people's desires; accent pillows allow you to add that zazz or minutia to the room that can really tie it together. Secondly, this pillow serves as a starting ground for a room, which is great. All too often people pick things based around large scale items they own or would like, such as a couch or some painted walls. While this works for the most part, except for those unable to decorate in the first place, it's more challenging and thus more rewarding to do it the other way around. Pick something small with loads of color and design your room based around that. Even if you can't decorate, you're almost bound for success.

View product details at OM Home.

Everyone Deserves a Place to Sit

So I spent a couple hours today looking for a place to sit. I surfed through the highs and lows of industrialized design. While it's easy to get to the point where 1500$ for a dining room chair seems cheap (hopefully the modern design bubble bursts soon in similar fashion to the housing bubble), there's slim pickings available for those of us who don't have drug rolls of money. This chair ranks in at just above affordable (159$ plus 15$ shipping surcharge, waived for orders of two or more), but still worth mentioning. West Elm offers a variety of home furnishings at relatively modest prices (in general furniture turns out to be expensive). This chair is so appealing to me because of its pseduo elementary school desk chair throwback. Besides that, everything's done to perfection; the curvature of the seat, the ovular shape of the back, the color and wood grain, it's all absolute perfection. It's also everything a chair should be. Forgot ornate; forget amenities. This no armed, no cushioned (although according to reviews, still quite comfortable) chair isn't fucking around, that's for sure. But who wants their chair fucking around anyway? I applaud West Elm for continuing their trend and lifting their reputation with this excellent piece of craftsmanship.

View product details at West Elm.


Cool T-Shirt?! Cool Band?!?! Charity?!?!?!

I've tried several times over the last, oh I don't know, maybe two and a half years to buy "creative" or "humorous" t-shirts at various points. I'm not talking about shirts like "I only drink on days that end in 'y'" or "I'm with stupid ->." I'm talking about your standard collegiate fair, Threadless, until that wasn't cool anymore, then designbyhumans, until I realized that I don't really wear the shirts much after I buy them. I am, however, a proponent of band shirts. I've purchased quite a few, most of which I don't wear because they've been inked by said band and I haven't figured out how to trap that ink in there quite like I hope I can. So, the point being, I'm now largely hesitant of buying T-shirts other than white ones or the obligatory layering kind. That was, of course, until I stumbled on these. The shirts are part of a little something called the yellow bird project. The process is simple.
Step 1: Project picks band.
Step 2: Band makes shirt.
Step 3: Band picks charity.
Step 4: Person buys sweet shirt.
Step 5: Project donates proceeds to charity.
The shirts aren't the cheapest (they'll run you 25$ large plus shipping), but you can rest your weary soul easily tonight knowing that in exchange for a particular shirt, you donated roughly 15$-20$ to a deserving charity. All in, there's about 20 shirts for sale currently. Each shirt's proceeds go to a different charity. So your choice is doubly difficult; you can pick the coolest shirt or you can pick the most deserving charity. The choice is yours! At any rate, my two favorite shirts (and coincidentally two of my favorite charities of those available) are from the New Pornographers and Bon Iver, on the right and left above, respectively. All shirts are American Apparel 50/50s, so guaranteed to fit nice and feel nice too. Keep track of the happenings at yellow bird project's website for new shirts as they are announced and be sure to hit up the free download of the Tallest Man on Earth's Field of Birds, a fantastic get.

View available products from yellowbirdproject.
Download free song from Tallest Man on Earth at bottom of page.


A Wordy Title From Some Wordy People

The Paris Review, if you don't know, is a quarter literary publication not from Paris. Every three months, this group of people pulls together one of the most historically influential literary publications. The Paris Review is so great, because it's nothing like a book. An amalgamation of short stories, poems, essays, occasional photos, and the always highly anticipated interview, this usually 100-150 page booklet serves as a who's who in modern literature. If you're looking to name check yourself some English then this is certainly the publication for you. This book coming in at 752 pages is surprisingly just a microcosm of the past fifty years or 200 publications. This overview of literature maintains the same format that readers of the Review have come to know and love. In the end, the book does a magnificent job of covering from Faulkner to Munro and everywhere in between, which brings me to the title. The book is formally called: The Paris Review Book of Heartbreak, Madness, Sex, Love, Betrayal, Outsiders, Intoxication, War, Whimsy, Horrors, God, Death, Dinner, Baseball, Travels, the Art of Writing, and Everything Else in the World Since 1953. As lengthy as the title is, it does a good job of embodying the variation one sees within even a single issue. You see, the Review never tried to cater to a particular crowd or harp on a particular manifesto. The goal of the Review was always to bring together what's new in literature; to condense it and repackage it. And if you've ever read an issue, you know what I'm saying when I say that all the heartfelt joys and sorrows of life seem to pop up in these stories. There isn't any of that Harry Potter shit here (sorry to you Potter-heads). These stories, these interviews, these poems, these essays, they all deal with the completely and utterly human and it's so blissfully spectacular. Two versions are available for purchase, hardcover from 18$ and softcover from from 11$. Prices include shipping.

View hardcover details at Amazon.

View softcover details at Amazon.


Romantic Comedies Aren't Just for Women

Continuing in the vein of movie reviews, here's a fantastic romantic comedy. With Aaron Eckhart at the helm of this split screen adventure through a previous romance reignited, this film fails to disappoint. Aaron Eckhart and Helena Bonham Carter play two long since separated lovebirds who meet again at a wedding. Aaron Eckhart is back in his usual role as the charming humanly male. While Helena Bonham Carter plays that woman who recognizes her faults but can't quite get over them, especially when it comes to being wooed by her previous lover. The tale unwinds as Mr. Eckhart and Mrs. Carter slowly leave the scene of the wedding to the more secluded location of Mrs. Carter's room. The magic of the movie is that the plot is obviously linear and you know what's going to happen perhaps even before the movie actually starts, but the script provides enough metaphysical twists and laughs that the movie is over before you notice that its started. Both Eckhart and Carter lend their fantastic abilities to make this film more human than those super sappy romances. The movie is so engulfing because of its realism. It's gritty and filled with emotion, it's not just happiness and it's not just sorrow and there's no ironic or twisted ending; It's everything you expect it to be, but mixed up in a bag of emotions that no one, neither the characters nor the viewer, is quite able to untangle before the credits start to role. The split screens throughout the film highlight the two separate views the man and woman have about their past and their present, which occasionally share a commonality, but more frequently are completely different. In the end, Aaron Eckhart sums the movie with a closing minute one-liner, "It's good to be happy, but so fucking hard, you know?" Currently available on Netflix (as a view instant none-the-less) and from Amazon starting at 6.5$ including shipping.

View product details at Amazon.

A Visual Masterpiece

The Five Obstructions takes Lars von Trier, film making genius #1, and pits him against his mentor Jorgen Leth, film making genius #2. Jorgen wrote and directed an extremely influential 13 minute documentary in 1967 titled "The Perfect Human," which opened the floodgates to experimental documentarians. The Perfect Human was everything a short film should be: compact, funny, thoughtful, precisely executed, beautiful. In a way, The Perfect Human was the perfect film. So the most crushing blow was dealt when Lars von Trier challenges Jorgen Leth to remake his masterpiece five times with five different sets of obstructions. You see, neither Jorgen nor Lars thought that Jorgen would be able to recreate the faultlessness of the first film. He was certainly bound to fail in his quest for repeated perfection. That's why to the viewer's astonishment, as the film progresses, each remake turns out exactly as fantastic as the original. While I don't want to give away the ending to anyone who will see it (or possibly even buy it!), the film eventually turns to introspection as Lars reveals his true intentions. He wanted to see if Jorgen could remake his short film, yes, but he also wanted to examine Jorgen through the lens of his original film. The Perfect Human didn't seek answer, it sought contemplation, and in that regard it begged many questions. Who is the perfect human? What does the perfect human do? How does the perfect human move? To name a few. The culminating point of the movie is when Lars's intentions are revealed and the movie suddenly becomes vaguely allegorical. Overall this movie is a compilation of perhaps the greatest cinematography I've ever seen. The beauty of this film moves past plot and motif to speak to anyone interested in film as an aesthetic art form for communication of ideas. This film is available from Netflix and probably some torrent sites or dtella, whereby it is absolutely imperative that you see it at least once. Past that, it is a highly recommended purchase. Available for 22$ from Amazon with free super saver shipping.

View product details at Amazon.


Certainly Better Than Those Morewood Domes

As all those who live in Morewood know, we are relegated to the default lighting of our rooms, one desk lamp per person and that obnoxious globe in the middle of ceiling. Lighting is practical for the most part, it certainly shouldn't be impractical. However, the style lighting can inherit is largely ignored. Although style comes at a price, sometimes. Anybody who tells you otherwise is just lying. The approximately 75$ (52£ set price) price tag of these lamps puts them a cut above the rest, which as we all know, the ends justify the means. The ends being that these lights are fun and a great way to provide sensible lighting after hours. I'm a firm believer in the importance of natural sunlight especially in a home. However, as the winter draws nearer, the days begin to shorten. When it gets dark at 16:00, it's hard to live without extensive in door lighting arrangements. Usually people's houses are filled with those stereotypical frustum shades on some length of metal rod with some sort of a base. This works alright, but it's DULL. Hannah Nunn provides us with ample opportunity to do something often forgotten by the Potterybarn and Crate&Barrel shoppers abound, to center design around lighting. Instead of having a light be functional and jamming it next to a chair so you can read or in the dark corner to make it brighter, why not make it the center piece of a coffee table, sofa table, book case or hell, any other flat surface in your home. The ambient glow and sleek perforated shapes of these table lamps (some style available in sconce or pendant forms too) make them a must have for anybody with a modernized home. More patterns, including a large selection of botanical inspired designs, available from Hannah Nunn's website.

View product details at Hannah Nunn's website.

An Updated Classic Keeping Its Cool

The Ray-Ban Wayfarer is a classic. Its reputation has been building ever since the likes of Warhol, Hepburn, JFK, Dylan, and Lennon (to drop only the biggest names) plastered them all over their face. After a lengthy break in production in the 90's caused by dwindling demand, the frames made a massive comeback in the earliest years of the millennium. Now it's damn near impossible to go somewhere ripe with college students and sun where two or three or most of those present haven't adorned this vestige over their eyes. They're so popular that if you don't feel like springing for the brand name, there's still a multitude of options in the 20$ and under category. Many a wearer opts for the all black frames a la Tom Cruise and his underwear. For the classier individual, tortoise frames can be purchased. However, past that, then this whole ordeal really starts to get interesting. Until finally you stumble on these; the God send of Ray Ban new Wayfarer 2140's (if you're a male): blue rims and cream arms. It couldn't make more sense. You put one color on the front so everyone sees it when they're looking at you, then you slap the other one down the side to add a-whole-nother layer to these rims when viewed from the side. Despite the massive popularity of the Wayfarer, you literally HAVE to buy this pair from England. I'd like to see this two tone trend continue forward with new color combinations, because if everyone's going to be wearing the same sunglasses all the time, at least have them be fun and fresh. These glasses SCREAM summer, cool days spent in the sun out on the grass. And for the ladies, there's purple and red two tones. Otherwise you'll have to stick to your choice of solid colors or tortoise. The price is variable, anywhere from 100$ to 180$ depending on the vendor and lens type (The link below is 122$ for the blue/cream pair with free shipping).

View product details from UnitedShades.com.


A Coffee Table's Sweetest Dream

To have a coffee table is something I desire, deeply. That may sound absurd to some, but there's something wholesome about a coffee table. A coffee table is always in the middle of a gathering place; it provides a culmination point for the style of the room; it's large enough to warrant some simple but well arranged decorum; lastly, but not leastly, it's the perfect place for an over-sized book. The problem is that the most books people put on their coffee tables aren't all that interesting, and that's the sad part. So steps in Exactitudes. For those of you (admittedly myself included, although not likely many others) who've been searching for that perfect book to complete your shelf or adorn your coffee table, this is it. Exactitutdes finds humor in the striking similarities that strangers share despite our usually immense efforts to set ourselves apart. Each page contains 15 images of people sharing some general characteristics and demonstrating only minute variation. The book serves to be genuinely funny while still providing some above average portraits of everyday nameless citizens. At 52$ (but FREE shipping!) it proves to be an investment worth making. For those still sticking to their budgets, below is a link to view the collection of images for free (Click on them to enlarge).

View the relatively complete anthology of Exactitudes online for free.

View product details from Amazon.