Brief Introduction to Genetics

The ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan has generated a lot of news (and debate) about nuclear energy. But how does Nuclear energy work? I went out hunting for video that explains nuclear energy, but all of the videos that I found had an obvious political slant either for or against nuclear energy. Not what I was looking for.

I did find an excellent video about genetics. The video, by David Murawsky, “explores the history of genetics & genomics [...] from Gregor Mendel, to concepts such as DNA and the genetic code.” It’s crazy how genetics influences our lives. Do you mix up left and right? Blame your genes*. When you grip your hands together, which thumb covers the other thumb? That preference is coded into your DNA. Crazy, right?

There’s a company, 23andMe that will unlock the mysteries of your genetic code for you. Send them some spit and some dollars and they can tell you about your risk for developing dozens of diseases or if you carry the recessive gene for particular conditions. They can even stir your spit in such a way that allows them to see your where your ancestors lived.

Alex

*My Biology professor told me this, but the article I linked is actually about asymmetrical organ development: our body not knowing left from right.

Alex Dent

March 24, 2011 / By

Somewhere

somewhere

The other night I happened to catch the ending of Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003) on television. Although I have watched this film many times, I still found the final moment between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson touching. The poignancy of their goodbye, which signals the possibility of unexpected connection, is likely to tug at the heart strings of even the most anti-Sofia Coppola filmgoer. I am sure that you are aware of the group of detractors that I am referring to: the people that claim that her films are boring, rely on hollow aesthetics over plot or character development and are exercises in self-indulgence. However, when Somewhere was released at the end of 2010, it seemed that even fans of Coppola’s style were echoing these sentiments. Unfortunately, Somewhere was a blink and you’ll miss it affair at cinemas in my area, so I was only recently able to come to my own conclusions.

I wanted the film to be really naturalistic and the whole thing to be really minimal, and see how simply we could tell this story visually to not be aware of the camera, so you felt like you’re really alone with this guy, to make it as intimate as possible…I mean, even for me, the beginning [making circles with the Ferrari] is uncomfortable to watch, because it’s like, “ok he’s going to do it one more time,” but it tells the audience: “you know, if it’s not for you, you can leave right now, or you’re going to have to get with the pacing of it.” It makes you have to shift, so you’re used to being stimulated, and shift into this more introspective mood.
-Sofia Coppola

To provide the sketchiest of outlines: Somewhere provides an insight into the empty existence of a film star (Stephen Dorff) and the manner in which his life is subtly transformed when his daughter (Elle Fanning) comes to stay with him indefinitely. He lives in the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, fills his time with meaningless sexual encounters and is characterised by rootlessness and ennui. The opening scene, which Coppola refers to in the above quote, serves as a visual metaphor for the entire film, which is replete with long takes that remain focused on mundane moments for achingly extended time periods. With this technique Coppola interpellates the interior life of Dorff’s character with the viewer’s experience in a conceptual move that attempts to cinematically convey his emotional state. But does it make for good viewing?

This question is, for me, the main one that arises from a viewing of Somewhere. In her previous films Coppola exhibits an uncanny knack for making the banal visually interesting. However, the overtly feminine aesthetics of The Virgin Suicides (1999), Lost in Translation and Marie Antoinette (2006) are notably missing here, because – lets be frank – the life of Dorff’s character is pretty ugly. You only have to watch the scene featuring the pole-dancing twins to be overwhelmed with a feeling of grotesque boredom and hopelessness. To her credit, Coppola offsets this tone with the sequences that frame the slowly blossoming relationship between Dorff and Fanning, but, in its devotion to naturalism, Somewhere can at times makes the viewer feel as though they are watching an unedited portion of reality television.

If anything, the main complaint that can be directed at this film is that the concept has overshadowed the execution. That being said, there are a handful of moments that make this film worth viewing (the underwater tea party scene, in particular, is delightful). Just don’t expect “classic” Coppola – the “somewhere” of this film is way beyond the scope of that terrain.

Danica

Danica van de Velde

March 24, 2011 / By

Irina Werning’s Study of Chini, A Chinese Crested

Irina Wernig Chini Project

Irina Wernig Chini Project

Irina Wernig Chini Project

Irina Wernig Chini Project

In keeping with today’s theme of tiny things and my week’s theme of dogs, I am posting about a type of dog that is particularly small and unattractive, yet adorable: the Chinese Crested. But, this isn’t just any Chinese Crested. This is Chini, a Chinese Crested that is the muse for hot, new photographer of the moment, Irina Werning.

You may or may not remember, but Werning was actually featured a month or so ago for her Back To The Future project. While doing some research this week, I stumbled upon two projects she has been working on with Chini, who is a friend her’s dog that she has been captivated by. One project is a silly, funny costume based photo project and the other is a look into the life of her muse in London. Both are absolutely amazing.

The Chini Project is the costumed based project where Werning would build tiny sets and costume pieces for the dog and then photograph it. This anthropomorphizing of Chini is more than just “cutesy,” though. Like Back To The Future, there is more at work in her process: she harps on every detail of creation, functioning as a costume designer, set designer, art director, and director of these mini-movies which she captures as a photo. The workmanship is remarkable, not to mention the amount of humor injected into every scenario. To blow these off as flippant character photos would be a shame: how many takes did it take her to get that tailor or queen’s guard photo? Probably not just one. More like hundreds. And, if you take a look at the rest of the photos, you’ll see more of the same and wonder, “Man. How long did it take for her to craft these??”

The second, more contemplative project is A Day In The Life Of My Muse, where Werning plays documentarian to her little dog subject. These photos take us to art museums, gay pride festivities, walks, bus rides, and even into the arms of strangers. The gaze here is a lot more complex, peering into a dog’s life of privilege and pampering. The photos she took remind me a lot of the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Bret Easton Ellis: two artists obsessed with a generation lost. Yeah, yeah: I know Chini is a dog and that Werning is a photographer, but her photos capture this lackadaisical, entitled, opulent energy that Fitzgerald and Ellis have set their lives after. Here, a dog symbolizes just that. And, specifically, the Chinese Crested as a prized toy breed hit that note even harder.

Irina Werning’s work with Chini is, like all of her work is proving to be, detailed and incredibly fun. I’m anxious to see what else she has up her sleeve, as she is now two for two in my book. Granted, this go around, she had a dog in her corner to give her an extra boost.

Happy National Puppy Day!

KYLE

KYLE FITZPATRICK

March 23, 2011 / By

The Nooka Zub Zen-V

The Nooka Zub Zen-V

The Nooka Zub Zen-V

The Nooka Zub Zen-V

The Nooka Zub Zen-V

Click images to enlarge

For a long time now I’ve loved Nooka watches and their contemporary, futuristic styling. I’m guessing it’s been about 3 years or so now, but since then I’ve had the chance to get to know the founder and chief designer of Nooka, Matthew Waldman. Lucky for me, he’s a super rad guy and sent me the watch I’ve been lusting over for so long now, the Zub Zen-V in all black.

I’m totally a minimalist when it comes to watches, less is definitely better. My normal watch is an all-white Casio with a metal band that I got from Steven Alan. It’s pretty cheap and super durable and is pretty timeless looking. I’d been on the lookout for a black watch as an alternative and this, I’d say, is a perfect counterpoint. What’s so interesting about Nooka watches is that they tell time in very non-traditional ways. The one I have has two vertical columns with six boxes in each one, twelve total, one for every hour. Next to that is the minutes in tiny slices and then AM/PM, the alarm, the seconds and the day of the week. That may seem confusing, and it’s a bit of a learning curve at first, but after a week of wearing I totally got used to this new way of telling time. I’m also a big fan of the subtle design elements like the pattern on the inside of the watch and the adjustable clasp, which makes the watch a one size fits all. Overall I’m really happy with it. It is a bit larger than my other watch, but that would really be my only gripe.

A huge thanks to Matthew for sending me this beauty and stay tuned, Nooka watches will be back on the site soon and you (or many of you) might have a chance to win one for yourself/selves.

Bobby

Bobby Solomon

March 23, 2011 / By

Little Lifts

Little Elevators

Little Elevators

There’s something obviously cute about tiny things: tiny milk cartons with tiny arms and legs, tiny sculptures of buildings, and I’d like to add tiny elevators into the mix. These little lifts may not be as precious by comparison, but they definitely are small enough to lift your spirits.  Installed in the Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin in Paris, these sculptures were created by artist Maurizio Cattelan. It’s hard to situate the work of Maurizio: he’s as evasive as he is talented; but there is an excellent video about his work, including an ambush interview. (Fair warning, site possible NSFW, as there was non-erotic nudity on the site’s sidebar when I visited.) It turns out that the line between jokes and art can be diminutive, but the price of such artworks is not.

Alex

Alex Dent

March 23, 2011 / By

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Lisa Congdon’s ‘A Collection A Day’ (Part 3)

Lisa Congdon

To View Lisa’s two other wallpapers click here and here.

I’m so excited for today’s wallpaper, it’s been in the works for a couple months now and I’m so excited to finally be able to release them. I’ve been a fan of Lisa Congdon and her blog A Collection A Day for quite a while now, and now she has a book celebrating her collections which comes out today. So lucky for us she’s given us some of her amazing collections to use as desktop wallpapers, pretty great, huh?

So you’ve got three different wallpapers to choose from to adorn your desktop, iPhone or iPad. I went through and picked my favorites, and then she went through and narrowed those down to what you see above: Tags, Fives and Rocks. I thought this was a nicely diverse collection of objects, both graphic and natural, colorful and calming. A huge thanks to Lisa for hooking us up with such great images.

To purchase a copy of A Collection A Day click here.

Bobby

Bobby Solomon

March 23, 2011 / By

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Lisa Congdon’s ‘A Collection A Day’ (Part 2)

Lisa Congdon

To View Lisa’s two other wallpapers click here and here.

I’m so excited for today’s wallpaper, it’s been in the works for a couple months now and I’m so excited to finally be able to release them. I’ve been a fan of Lisa Congdon and her blog A Collection A Day for quite a while now, and now she has a book celebrating her collections which comes out today. So lucky for us she’s given us some of her amazing collections to use as desktop wallpapers, pretty great, huh?

So you’ve got three different wallpapers to choose from to adorn your desktop, iPhone or iPad. I went through and picked my favorites, and then she went through and narrowed those down to what you see above: Tags, Fives and Rocks. I thought this was a nicely diverse collection of objects, both graphic and natural, colorful and calming. A huge thanks to Lisa for hooking us up with such great images.

To purchase a copy of A Collection A Day click here.

Bobby

Bobby Solomon

March 23, 2011 / By

The Desktop Wallpaper Project featuring Lisa Congdon’s ‘A Collection A Day’ (Part 1)

Lisa Congdon

To View Lisa’s two other wallpapers click here and here.

I’m so excited for today’s wallpaper, it’s been in the works for a couple months now and I’m so excited to finally be able to release them. I’ve been a fan of Lisa Congdon and her blog A Collection A Day for quite a while now, and now she has a book celebrating her collections which comes out today. So lucky for us she’s given us some of her amazing collections to use as desktop wallpapers, pretty great, huh?

So you’ve got three different wallpapers to choose from to adorn your desktop, iPhone or iPad. I went through and picked my favorites, and then she went through and narrowed those down to what you see above: Tags, Fives and Rocks. I thought this was a nicely diverse collection of objects, both graphic and natural, colorful and calming. A huge thanks to Lisa for hooking us up with such great images.

To purchase a copy of A Collection A Day click here.

Bobby

Bobby Solomon

March 23, 2011 / By

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