Thursday, July 04, 2013

Asher's Summer List 2013

1. Go see the Aqua Sox play
2. Go see the Rainiers
3. Go see the Mariners
4. Go fishing and camping
5. Go to Los Angeles and see the Angels and Dodgers play
6. Bake an apple pie
7. Have a sleepover
8. Go to Cama Beach
9. Play family baseball

Monday, December 27, 2010

Best Films of 2010

I wasn't ecstatic about any films this year (of course I saw only a handful of films). The neurotic, affluent, white urban worlds of The Kids Are All Right, Please Give and Greenberg were among my favorites. Winter's Bone and I Am Love, both of which I liked at the time, faded into the background, the emotional resonance didn't last.

I"m looking forward to seeing Black Swan, Carlos, Another Year, Blue Valentine and Tiny Furniture.

Roger Ebert's Best of Films of 2010
The Social Network
The King's Speech
Black Swan
I Am Love
Winter's Bone
The Secret in Their Eyes
The American
The Kids Are All Right
The Ghost Writer

Stephen Holden's List
4. CARLOS Olivier Assayas’s 5 ½-hour docudrama about the life and times of the notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal is a study of swaggering, lethal narcissism with an imposing lead performance by the Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramírez. Its great set piece reconstructs the kidnapping of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna in December 1975.
5. ANOTHER YEAR The English filmmaker Mike Leigh is a contemporary, cinematic offshoot of Charles Dickens. His newest group study portrait of humble working-class lives is one of his best movies and features indelible performances by Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville and Ruth Sheen.
6. VINCERE Marco Bellocchio’s portrait of Ida Dalser (Giovanna Mezzogiorno), Mussolini’s mistress who claimed to be his first wife and was imprisoned in a mental hospital, is a tragicomic little opera of a movie that savagely mocks the vainglorious Italian dictator.
7. WHITE MATERIAL In this Claire Denis film, Isabelle Huppert gives a typically crackling performance as the white French co-owner of a coffee plantation in an unidentified African country, who refuses to leave when civil strife erupts.
8. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT What does it say about our changing times that Ms. Cholodenko’s portrait of a nontraditional clan headed by a lesbian couple is the most believable and heartfelt film about an American family of the last several years?
9. TRUE GRIT Not a remake of the John Wayne classic, the Coen brothers’ adaptation of the Charles Portis novel leaches out most of the boisterous humor to treat the story as a stately black comedy with breathtaking cinematography by Roger Deakins.
10. MY DOG TULIP Narrated by Christopher Plummer, the exquisite hand-drawn screen adaptation of J. R. Ackerley’s 1956 memoir chronicles his late-life 15-year relationship with a beloved dog, devoting much attention to her bathroom and mating habits.
RUNNERS-UP (in no order): “The Ghost Writer,” “Fish Tank,” “A Prophet,” “Mid-August Lunch,” “Greenberg,” “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” “The Secret in Their Eyes,” “I Am Love,” “Toy Story 3,” “Winter’s Bone,” “Lebanon,” “Animal Kingdom,” “The Tillman Story,” “Boxing Gym” and “Blue Valentine.”

AO Scott's Best Films of 2010

1. INSIDE JOB (Charles Ferguson) The crisis of finance capitalism as a great crime story.
2. TOY STORY 3 (Lee Unkrich) The triumph of consumer capitalism as an epic love story.
3. CARLOS (Olivier Assayas) The failure of global revolution as farce, melodrama, erotic thriller and music video.
4. SOMEWHERE (Sofia Coppola) An eccentric, perfect poem about fame, loneliness and cross-generational need.
5. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (Lisa Cholodenko) An eccentric, perfect comedy about love, betrayal and cross-generational confusion.
6. GREENBERG (Noah Baumbach) A deliberately imperfect comedy about an eccentric fleeing from love, running from betrayal and wallowing in cross-generational confusion.
7. 127 HOURS (Danny Boyle) It’s all fun until someone loses an arm. And then, strangely enough, it’s even more fun.
8. LAST TRAIN HOME (Lixin Fan) The future of global capitalism, in China and elsewhere: a family tragedy in the form of a documentary, as full of anger, dignity and pathos as a play by Arthur Miller.
9. SECRET SUNSHINE (Lee Chang-dong) A family tragedy from South Korea, in the form of a melodramatic crime story. As dense and gripping as a great novel.
10. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (Banksy) All of the above. None of the above. Everything and nothing. An elaborate art-world stunt in the form of a documentary. Or vice versa.

RUNNERS-UP “And Everything Is Going Fine,” “Another Year,” “Black Swan,” “Boxing Gym,” “The Father of My Children,” “The Fighter,” “A Film Unfinished,” “Fish Tank,” “Four Lions,” “The Ghost Writer,” “Howl,” “I Am Love,” “Let Me In,” “Please Give,” “Solitary Man,” “Tangled,” “Tiny Furniture,” “Vincere,; “White Material,” “Winter’s Bone.” 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Learning to Love You More - for Kids

Launched in 2002, the Learning to Love You More project is both a web site archive (it's no longer actively archiving) and series of non-web presentations comprised of work made by the general public in response to 70 assignments given by artists Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher. In 2005, I saw the LLYM show at Bumbershoot and was impressed by these ordinary yet odd, sincere, lovely and goofy responses. Completely inspiring, raw and full of humanity. I did a few of the assignments after seeing the show (take a flash photo under your bed), but lost steam soon after (my results felt shallow and lackluster). I came across the site again recently and thought these assignments would be excellent summer projects for the kids. 

Here are 10 assignments I'm asking the kids to try:

Assignment #1 Make a neighborhood field recording.
Go from door to door and ask at least four neighbors to sing a song or play one on an instrument. Record their song. Also take a photograph of each neighbor, sitting or standing in their home or yard, with their instrument, if they played one. Give each piece an audio caption: "Sam Looly, my neighbor to the right." You can add information that you think is pertinent, but never forget that you are a professional and do not steal the show with your own antics. Your job is to catalogue the songs of your neighbors.

Assignment #2
Photograph a scar and write about it
Photograph a scar on your body or on someone else's body. Make it a close-up shot so that it shows just the scar. Include a story about how the scar happened.

Assignment #3
Take a picture of the sun
Take a picture of the sun. Just a picture of the sun, nothing extra or fancy. Please make sure the sun is visible in the photo, we won't accept reflections of the sun or photos where the sun is not visible. Please be careful not to look directly at the sun through your camera's viewfinder; looking directly at the sun could damage your eyes. If you need to, just point the camera towards the sun and shoot the photo.

Assignment #4
Make a video of someone dancing
Make a video of someone dancing to DJ Brokenwindow's Don't Dream It's Over dance mix. We asked DJ Brokenwindow to make a dance mix of "Don't Dream It's Over" (by Crowded House.) 

Assignment #5
Act out someone else's argument
Choose an argument and act it out with a friend or relative. Memorize your lines and make it as real as possible. When you are ready, videotape the argument. This can be done with the camera on a tripod, or with a third person shooting. It should be shot as simply as possible. Make sure the voices of both people can be heard clearly. Do not shoot any titles or credits, only the argument itself

Assignment #6
Take a picture of your parents kissing
Take a picture of your parents kissing (or at least hugging). Do not send us an older picture of your parents, we are looking for a new picture taken specifically for this assignment.

Assignment #7
Describe your ideal government
Describe in a paragraph or two how your ideal government would function.

Assignment #8
Give advice to yourself in the past
Sure everything turned out ok, but maybe you should have quit that job five years earlier, maybe you should have had children when you were 27, maybe you should have flossed, maybe you should have gone to the alternative high school, or not said that thing to your best friend. Tell yourself what to do in clear, specific language. Do not write an essay, make it in list form.

Assignment #9
Make a protest sign and protest
Make a protest sign and publicly protest something that you deeply and sincerely feel needs to be changed. It could be the mistreatment of chickens at KFC or the lack of rights for children in our society. You can protest alone, with a group that you assemble or with a pre-existing protest group.

Assignment #10
Take a family portrait of two families
Go to a park, beach or other public place and locate two separate families who are having a picnic or barbeque. Ask the two families to join together so that you can take a group picture of them. Try to find two families who don't know each other and who look different from each other.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mary Cassatt

under the horse chestnut tree. the coiffure. mother's kiss. the bath.... under the horse chestnut tree is so stunning, it always sucks me in to the scene.

In April 1890, an exhibition of Japanese woodcuts at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris inspired Mary Cassatt to begin experimenting with different print techniques. Using aquatint, drypoint, etching, and hand-coloring, Cassatt attempted to capture the flat planes and simple lines of Japanese woodcuts. After painstakingly overseeing the execution of each print, Cassatt exhibited the resulting series of ten at the Durand Ruel Gallery in Paris the next year. Together, the prints combine the spare beauty of Japanese woodcut designs with innovative color patterns and finely tuned drawing. 'The Bath' was Cassatt's first effort in the series, and the only one, according to her, in which she truly tried to imitate Japanese design. She produced seventeen different states for 'The Bath', more than for any other print in the series.

Selda Bagcan - Turkish Singer

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Make an Ocean Diorama

Love this idea from Martha Stewart:

Conceiving a diorama is an adventure in scale and spatial relationships. Choose a container, then put yourself in the shoes of one of its future inhabitants.

Tools and Materials
  • Sardine tin (well washed and dried)
  • Cardboard
  • Nautical map
  • Blue paper
  • Shells
  • Twigs
  • Toy Birds
  • Cutout images (from sardine label)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Fish cutout
  • Card stock
  • Sand
  • Rope

Ocean Diorama How-To

  1. For background, trace bottom of well-washed sardine tin onto cardboard and a nautical map, and cut out; glue map onto cardboard, then glue inside tin.
  2. Cut waves from blue paper, making tabs on bottom and sides for attaching to can; glue in place. Glue on shells, twigs, toy birds, and cutout images photocopied from sardine label, and cheesecloth for a net.
  3. To make free-floating fish, glue fish cut out to one end of card stock strip folded at each end; glue other end to background.
  4. Brush glue on floor of diorama; sprinkle with sand. To hang diorama, tape rope to back.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Unpaved Gravel Courtyards

I'd love to take on a backyard landscaping project this summer. My vision is to remove everything but the plantings lining the perimeter and install a flat, unpaved, crushed rock and sand courtyard. Think Parisian parks and French country courtyard cafes. No weeds. Low maintenance. Environmentally sound. Fill the edges with color and potted plants, plus colorful seating perhaps?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Asher's Summer Ideas

  1. Feed some ducks
  2. Finish the skeleton puzzle and the glow in the dark stegasaurus puzzle
  3. Make a strawberry bush
  4. I want to eat a smore and go camping and listen to this american life
  5. We need to buy a tent and some sticks
  6. Pick some raspberries from our raspberry bush
  7. Plant an apple tree, instead of buying apples we could pick an apple from our tree
  8. Take a boat ride at greenlake where we get off is right near peets because I was hoping you wanted a coffee
  9. Eat some doughnuts and crackers and lime popsicles

Maira Kalman: Illuminations

I'm hoping that our August vacation to Los Angeles will coincide with the Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) exhibition at the Skirball. In her TED talk she said she was a dreamy child who was ignored by her parents which was really the best thing in the world for her development.

"How much truth do we tell? What story are we actually telling? How do we know when we're our real selves? How do we know if the sentences coming out of our mouths are real stories or real sentences or fake sentences that we think we ought to be saying?"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ten Reasons Not to Buy Factory-Farmed

I could say that I've been a conscientious vegetarian for 25 years, but really, I've eaten at least two dozen fish during that time and I've bought many leather products too (leather shoes, couch, chair etc.). What I have done is not eat red meat or poultry during the last 25 years (bacon hasn't tempted me one bit). However, I haven't thought deeply enough about why I'm vegetarian and what choices I can make that will be more in line with my values.

Eating Animals is such a persuasive book about the choice not to buy / eat animal products because of Safran Foer's personal ethical evolution as well as the way he frames the issue around factory farming as a destructive environmental force. Of course big agriculture is destructive too. If you have the resources, the best solution is to abandon grocery stores for farmer's markets or ethical local sources of produce. If you must eat meat, eggs or dairy, carefully consider the source.
Here are 10 reasons not to buy factory-farmed meat, poultry, or fish. The quotations are from Eating Animals:
Factory farms
1. Use antibiotics to raise sick genetic mutants in crowded, filthy conditions
In the typical cage for egg-laying hens, each bird has 67 square inches of [floor] space [or less than ¾ the size of a sheet of typing paper]. Nearly all cage-free birds have approximately the same amount of space. (p 79)
2. Send animals to slaughterhouses where cruelty and even sadism are routine
Animals are bled, skinned, and dismembered while conscious. It happens all the time, and the industry and the government know it. Several plants cited for bleeding or skinning or dismembering live animals have defended their actions as common in the industry and asked, perhaps rightly, why they were being singled out. (p 230)
3. Produce highly infected animals
Scientific studies and government records suggest that virtually all (upwards of 95 percent of) chickens become infected with E. coli (an indicator of fecal contamination) and between 39 and 75 percent of chickens in retail stores are still infected. Around 8 percent of birds become infected with salmonella…. Seventy to 90 percent are infected with another potentially deadly pathogen, campylobacter. Chlorine baths are commonly used to remove slime, odor, and bacteria. (p 131)
4. Contribute to the creation and spread of new viruses (think influenza)
Breeding genetically uniform and sickness-prone birds in the overcrowded, stressful, feces-infested, and artificially lit conditions of factory farms promotes the growth and mutation of pathogens. The “cost of increased efficiency,” the report [by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, which brought together industry experts and experts from the WHO, OIE, and USDA] concludes, is increased global risk for diseases. (p 142)
5. Contribute to antibiotic resistance (think MRSA)
In the United States, about 3 million pounds of antibiotics are given to humans each year, but a whopping 17.8 million pounds are fed to livestock—at least that is what the industry claims. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has shown that the industry underreported its antibiotic use by at least 40 percent…. Study after study has shown that antimicrobial resistance follows quickly on the heels of the introduction of new drugs on factory farms.  (p 140)
6. Destroy species
For every ten tuna, sharks, and other large predatory fish that were in our oceans fifty to a hundred years ago, only one is left. (p 33)
[Shrimp] trawlers sweep up fish, sharks, rays, crabs, squid, scallops—typically about a hundred different fish and other species. Virtually all die…. The average trawling operation throws 80 to 90 percent of the sea animals it captures as bycatch overboard. (p 191)
7. Pollute
Farmed animals in the United States produce 130 times as much waste as the human population—roughly 87,000 pounds of shit per second. The polluting strength of this shit is 160 times greater than raw municipal sewage. And yet there is almost no waste-treatment infrastructure for farmed animals. 174
Conservative estimates by the EPA indicate that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement has already polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in twenty-two states. (p 179)
8. Contribute to climate change
According to the UN, the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, around 40 percent more than the entire transport sector—cars, trucks, planes, trains, and ships—combined. (p 58)
9. Violate the human rights of their employees
[Undocumented immigrants] are often preferred, but poor recent immigrants who do not speak English are also desirable employees. By the standards of the international human rights community, the typical working conditions in America’s slaughterhouses constitute human rights violations. (p 131-32)
10. Change or ignore regulations in order to make more money
High-speed machines commonly rip open intestines, releasing feces into the birds’ body cavities. Once upon a time, USDA inspectors had to condemn any bird with such fecal contamination. But about thirty years ago, the poultry industry convinced the USDA to reclassify feces so that it could continue to use these automatic eviscerators. Once a dangerous contaminant, feces are now classified as a “cosmetic blemish.” As a result inspectors condemn half the number of birds. (p 134)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Toxic Sunscreen Ingredients

  • Para amino benzoic acid...
  • Octyl salicyclate...
  • Avobenzone...
  • Oxybenzone...
  • Cinoxate...
  • Padimate O...
  • Dioxybenzone...
  • Phenylbenzimidazole...
  • Homosalate...
  • Sulisobenzone...
  • Menthyl anthranilate...
  • Trolamine salicyclate...
  • Octocrylene...