Entries from December 2008 ↓
December 31st, 2008 — Design, Fashion
Need a hot look you definitely won’t see on anyone else at tonight’s New Year’s Eve party? Before she died in September, Japanese artist / filmmaker Nagi Noda left behind designs for these startling Hair Hats, which sculpt actual human locks into likenesses of majestic animals. For example, check out the walrus, above, or this proud Afghan Hound, right. Next time someone says you have poodle hair, thank them! And no animals were harmed in the making of these hats: Just your dignity.
[via Yanko Design]
December 31st, 2008 — Advertising, Photography, Pop Culture, Science-Fiction
Greg Pittelli, with his son, Anakin, sports a No. 77 Darth Vader football jersey (Star Wars was released in 1977) as he reveres the grave of his mentor. His snap is the third place entry in Chronicle Books’ Obsessed with Star Wars competition, promoting their recent eponymous book.
December 30th, 2008 — Biology, Gender, Health, Race
The functionally titled Tall Black Women blog posts pics and info about women of African descent who range between six feet and seven-and-a-half feet in height.
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December 30th, 2008 — Art, Technology
People in hip-hop say that the streets don’t lie, and that if you want to know what’s really going on, you’ve gotta take it to the streets. Well, if true, that should make data visualist Ben Fry rap’s go-to guy. As he announces on his web site, he’s created, above, a map of
all of the streets in the lower 48 United States: an image of 26 million individual road segments. No other features (such as outlines or geographic features) have been added to this image, however they emerge as roads avoid mountains, and sparse areas convey low population. This began as an example I created for a student in the fall of 2006, and I just recently got a chance to document it properly.
Alaska and Hawaii were initially left out for simplicity’s sake…. Unfortunately, the two states don’t “work” because there aren’t enough roads to outline their shape, so I left them out permanently.
You have to blow up a section to really get it, though. Take a look at this enlargement of the Great Lakes area, for example, or this one for San Francisco. See what I mean? Talk about keepin’ it real.
December 29th, 2008 — Photography, Science
The Boston Globe‘s web site features some of 2008′s best photos, like this one, taken by Reuters’ Carlos Gutierrez on May 2. In it, lightning bolts shatter the ejected dust above the erupting Chaiten volcano in southern Chile. To give you a sense of scale, the image was snapped from a relatively safe 19 miles north of the light show.
“Cases of electrical storms breaking out directly above erupting volcanoes are well documented, although scientists differ on what causes them.”
Gotta love those scientists: Walking into the haunted house while everybody else runs the hell in the opposite direction.
December 29th, 2008 — Hip-Hop, History, Pop Culture
I’m not a big rare record collector, as a) I’m not a d.j. or a producer, b) a lot of music is on CD or p2p networks, and c) I bought most of what I really love when it originally came out. (Well, O.K.: I didn’t purchase World’s Famous Supreme Team’s “Hey D.J.” 12″ (the track’s glorious video, here), a Jean-Michel Basquiat “test pressing sleeve” version of Rammellzee vs. K-Rob’s “Beat Bop,” or perfection itself—Endgames’ “Ecstasy” instrumental—but hey, I can’t be everywhere at once.)
However, I did once gleefully fork over significant cash to an unseen Brit for a beautifully preserved, 12″ copy of the Russell Brothers’ 1983 electro-funk masterpiece, “The Party Scene,” above. The reverb-laden, synth-spazzed track’s first minute-and-a-half have always sounded, to my ears, like something big, dangerous, and powerful being turned on, then warming up; like, say, the Large Hadron Collider if it was being run by Parliament-Funkadelic.
If you know what I mean, or loved this disc during your Back In the Days days, this chilly YouTube link will, paradoxically, warm your cockles. The rest of y’all, take your chances. Play loud, as always.
December 26th, 2008 — Film, Music, Obituary, Theater
Does everyone have a favorite Eartha Kitt moment or performance? One’s probably bound to, given that, when she died of colon cancer yesterday, in Connecticut, at the age of 81, she’d spent over 60 years in show business, making indelible, absolutely unique and unforgettable impressions.
Mine was a four-scene turn as cosmetics legend Lady Eloise, in director Reginald Hudlin’s 1992 movie, Boomerang, right, but especially the dinner sequence with advertising executive Marcus Graham, played by Eddie Murphy.
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December 26th, 2008 — Music, NONFICTION
Venus Verticordia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1864-68
As a composer and arranger of Christmas carols, London-born John Rutter, right works within what is arguably one of the most beloved, and oldest, forms of Western music, with a template laid down during the European Middle Ages.
It’s to his credit, then, that, whether re-interpreting long-cherished classics, or creating new ones, his works all shine with a lively and audacious sparkle. As sung by his much-beloved Cambridge Singers, favorites such as “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” or “Deck the Halls” unfold as though they were spirited, new, open-sea sailing anthems. Meanwhile, his own signature works are burnished with the passionate soulfulness of deeply reflected Christian faith and tradition.
I discovered Rutter’s portfolio when I came upon his own masterpiece, “What Sweeter Music,” wafting from a Volvo commercial, of all places. It is, without question, one of the most profoundly gorgeous pieces of hymnody I have ever heard.
John Rutter is the guest on the last edition, this year, of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, December 26, at 2 pm ET. This is a special Christmas edition of the broadcast that we’ve aired once a year for about six years now.
On this show, John will talk about, among other topics, his upbringing; on spirituality in music; why he started his own label, Collegium; and the reasons that writing a carol is harder than writing a symphony, all between selections from his 2002 release, The John Rutter Christmas Album.
You can hear this thoughtful artist’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.
December 25th, 2008 — Controversy, Politics
December 25th, 2008 — Humor, Photography
Thank me later.