Denver, October 2016

Liz presented at the AMWA conference, so I tagged along and cavorted at will. From the mental grab-bag:

  1. I stayed pretty much in the 16th Street mall area, since we didn’t have a car. That’s OK – plenty to walk to from there, though like most malls, chain stores dominate the landscape.
  2. We stayed at the downtown Sheraton, the largest hotel in Colorado, we were told. Also, kind of staid. Nothing special here.
  3. We ate all our evening meals in the Yard House, a sports bar attached to the Sheraton. Loud and expensive, it nonetheless served excellent food and we were never disappointed. (I favored the Cobb salad and chicken tortilla soup.) Liz also liked their sour beer. We never could figure out what the phrase “yard house” meant.
  4. Thank God for the Peet’s Coffee just off the lobby – a life-giving Americano started my busy days.
  5. I spent almost my entire travel budget just buying meals on this trip. I settled on two meals for the day, with the occasional protein bar as a pick me up, and that did me fine.
  6. The Tattered Cover Book Shop is housed in an old railway warehouse and is a marvelous place to browse. City Stacks is a cozier, brighter bookshop where I had a very good peppermint tea and browsed the art books.
  7. Denver struck Liz as heavily male: young men in groups of three and more, bushy beards, tattoos, ear gauges. Lots of young men. Joe told us that Denver is in a tech boom and can’t hire programmers fast enough; that also answered the question of how all these young people could afford to hang out in this expensive area. Joe also said that “LoDo” (Lower Downtown) has become so infested with packs of guys and bros that the area is now called “BroDo.”
  8. The History Colorado Center had the Awkward Family Photos show alongside its own photos of turn of the 20th century Denver and Colorado. Interesting to note the similarities, differences, and reactions between the two shows. I did laugh a lot at the Awkward Family Photos, but I’d love to have a book of the older photos and just stare at them for long periods of time.
  9. Always take free walking tours. The free downtown tour took two hours and showed me places, like Larimer Square and the Blue Bear, that I’d overlooked wandering on my own.
  10. I spent a few hours in the Denver Art Museum. With exhibits in two buildings spread among 11 floors, I couldn’t hope to see it all. And besides, after a couple hours, I’m museum’d out. I went to the Glory of Venice exhibit, wished for more of the poster art exhibit, looked at the English and American art collections, the Western and Native American collections, and called it a day. Good for the soul.
  11. I walked miles and miles every day, and came back 1.5 pounds lighter.
  12. Was it the altitude or the desert environment that aggravated my allergies? I thought I was coming down with another cold before I hit on the right allergy meds that let me sleep without dying of post-nasal drip strangulation. Also: water (and lots of it), chapstick, and sunscreen!
  13. We totally missed the bizarre murals that decorate the Denver Airport and apparently form an apocalyptic story. Search on “Denver Airport murals” and a door opens to a new room of the internet that you didn’t know was there.
  14. We had a wonderful dinner and evening catching up with our friends Heather and Joe, the highlight for me of the trip.

Google Me This: "The Lost Art of *"

I was cleaning out my Evernote inbox and saw two topics side by side: "The Lost Art of Memorizing Poetry" and the "The Lost Art of Illustrating Your Favorite Books." How many Lost Arts could there be? Are they really lost, were they superseded, or are they underground? Have the practitioners and teachers died out? Did that many people really practice it? And when we say "art" we really mean "skill," right? Or do we mean a craft that elevated both the user and the practice? There's a rather weary head-shake and heavy sigh of regret that seems to go with the phrase "lost art."

As always, when faced with an odd little eyeworm like that, I feed it into Google to see what other pages out there are using, re-using, and wearing out those specific words in that specific order. I tweaked this search a bit and decided dropping the quotation marks netted a few good articles I missed otherwise; I also removed lyrics from the search. Try it yourself.

What do we learn from this? I have no idea. I just find it interesting to see what others consider a necessary skill or behavior that no one in their self-identified peer group seems to find relevant anymore.

From the NC State Fair Food Labs

From a AAA.com GO magazine article on what to expect at this year's state fairs in the Carolinas:

North Carolina's lineup never fails with offerings like Fry Me to the Moon -- a deep-fried chocolate Moon Pie stuffed with Ho Hos, peanut butter cups, and Oreos, topped with cream cheese, chocolate syrup, and powdered sugar. Need more energy? Try the Bacon S'more -- a quarter-pound of maple-syrup grilled bacon on a stick dipped in chocolate, marshmallow fluff, and graham cracker crumbles...

The mind, the mouth, the gut flora tremble, as if on a knife's edge...

 

"Priory of Sion" in Portland OR

In Portland OR, I saw the following chalked on sidewalks in different parts of the city: PofS, with boot

 

PofS, slant

In one or two cases, there was more of a message but we were typically walking too fast (even on vacation, we hurry hurry hurry) for me to read it or take a picture.

So, two questions leapt to mind.

What the hell is the Priory of Sion?

The Priory of Sion is a well-known secret-society hoax, according to Wikipedia, itself a secret society in some ways, but never mind that now. The world has Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code to thank for promoting the Priory of Sion to a higher profile. Google will lead you to many other sites.

Why is Priory of Sion appearing all over the streets of Portland?

That other conspiratorial place, Reddit, had a few threads, like this one, on the phenomenon. One of the posters sees this as the work of one person who has a history of posting messages all over town, and others responded saying they’d seen different guys chalking the sign on the sidewalk.

What does a society have to do to stay secret??

Non Finito | The Smart Set

The Metropolitan Museum Breuer on 75th Street and Madison Avenue (the former site of the Whitney Museum now relocated to hip new quarters downtown) currently features an exhibition that seems perfect

Source: Non Finito | The Smart Set

Paula Marantz Cohen:

I found I often liked the unfinished works on display better than the finished ones that I knew by these artists. Finish has obvious value from the point of view of resale and comprehensibility, but is it as esthetically pleasing or evocative? One could argue that a finished work is often over-finished, and that knowing when to stop is rarer than generally thought.

I also like the invitation of the unfinished work for me to fill it in myself. I also, truth be told, love seeing the scaffolding and architecture, seeing how the rabbit is loaded into the hat.

This may be why I love artist's sketchbooks so much, more so sometimes. I own sketchbooks by Chris Ware, Art Spiegelman, Bill Griffith, Gary Panter, and others; their sketches have an energy, looseness, and immediacy that keeps me turning those pages long after their finished stories remain on my shelf. Also, they don't worry about making them pretty, which makes me feel OK about my own slapdash sketching (though Ware's dashed-off sketches look better and more like finished art than anything I could create in a million billion years).

I remember the comics artist Neal Adams reproducing from his sketchbook examples of his original pencil roughs and then the final product. He remarked in at least two cases that he preferred the roughs to the finished art. I could see his point. Inking the pencils somehow pinned those drawings to the page so heavily that movement and life had been drained. In the roughs, he was working out the problem and the scene looked alive. That mental and physical activity was almost absent in the published panel.

This may be why I adore reading journals, diaries, and letters more than any other genre; verbal sketches, perhaps, quickly done (most of them) and capturing life as it's happening on-the-fly. I feel as if I'm living the life with the person who's writing it down, fast as they can.

 

Jon Benjamin Tries Jazz

Best known as the lead voice on Bob's Burgers and Archer, Benjamin has no expertise in jazz music. "It's a real insult to people who try," he says of Well, I Should Have ... Learned How To Play Piano.

Source: Jon Benjamin Tries Jazz

We've loved hearing Benjamin's voice for years on Dr. Katz and Bob's Burgers, and the excerpts from the album are a hoot. I loved hearing the other musicians yell to him near the end, "You can do better!"

It is not as sublimely funny as Jonathan and Darlene Edwards' classic records -- such as their classic "Stayin' Alive" or "Who" -- but worthy of sitting next to it in the box at the back of the closet.

A Facelift for Shakespeare

A new translation effort aims to make all of Shakespeare’s plays comprehensible to today’s audiences

Source: A Facelift for Shakespeare


I once interviewed an actor playing Hamlet who preferred using Shakespeare's language in a production where the rest of the cast played a revised text. He felt the text was perfectly understandable if it was capably played, and that removing Shakespeare's language constrained him from fully inhabiting the character.

I sympathize with McWhorter's points insofar as reading the plays; but if I'm watching a performance, then I think the music of the words, and the actors' skill (movement, intonation, characterization) will convey the meaning.

But the question remains: who would fardels bear??

 

 

Goodbyes: Irish and Serbian

This is something I used to do more in my 20s but never knew there was a name for: the "Irish goodbye," said of someone who leaves a party without saying their farewells to the host, the other guests, etc. Also referred to, says the Slate article, as "ghosting." A young woman in our office, who married a Serbian gent and visits the country regularly, contrasts this with what she calls the "Serbian goodbye." In this instance, you have to say goodbye to everyone at the party before you can leave. She says it can take an hour and half to leave a party.

Generic Corporate Promo Video

Everything You Hate About Advertising in One Fake Video That's Almost Too Real | Adweek. Satire could be defined as "that which seeks to improve." Or, as Dick Cavett reported George S. Kaufman saying, "Satire is what closes on Saturday night." In the case of this video and, particularly, the McSweeney's piece by Kendra Eash that inspired it, satire now seems to be simply pointing out what we're already doing. Maybe we're past all hope of improvement.

(via Daring Fireball)