~ Archive for Reviews ~

Les Cartes Postales


I paid a farewell visit to the MFA today to see if the their Japanese woodblock collection was on display.  Alas, the woodblocks were put away, but they had a special exhibit on Japanese Postcards (Leonard Lauder, aka Mr. Estee Lauder, donated 20,000 cards to the museum).  When I first walked into the gallery, I was a bit upset because the cards near the door were rather nationalistic and from the WWII era (I couldn’t enjoy what was essentially Japanese propoganda during a very cruel war).  Some of the earlier works, however, captured my eye, and made up for the missed woodblock prints.  One of my favorites was a card by Takehisa Yumeji, Umbrellas Viewed from Above

Eliasson Follow-up


When I returned from London, I raved about the Weather Project at the Tate Modern.  The museum’s officials wanted to extend the exhibit, but it’s shutting down today.   In an article that discusses the work, Eliasson remarks, “The time after a show is just as interesting to me…because then it becomes an object of memory, and its meanings change.”

It’s funny how the Weather Project occupies a space in my memory alongside the large Japanese ceramic bowls (particularly one called Sunburst) at the Smithsonian when I was 16.  That was the summer when I encountered Monet’s Water Lilies, among the throngs at the Chicago Institute of Art, yet the bowls at the Freer/Sackler in DC etched their way into my mind with their beauty.  The Weather Project took this one step further just because it was completely enveloping.  Ah, memory.

May I swipe your ID please?


Until my Communications law prof brought it up today, I never gave much thought to those devices that bouncers use to “verify” if your ID is real.  When they swipe your ID or license through one of those handheld machines, you have no idea what information  they are collecting.  Since I think that I am past the age where I need to get into the cool club, I think that I am going to ask, “What’s your privacy policy?” the next time someone wants to swipe my card.  Also, there’s a California statute that places limits on what can be collected by the ID readers.


Another one of my pet peeves is when stores ask for your phone number or zip code when you make an in store purchase.  The salesperson always asks in a such a way where she implies that she needs the info, yet, the phrasing allows the company to say that you gave up the information consensually.  They subtly ask, “Oh, and can I get your phone number?” without letting on to why they want the info: (1) to sell data about different area or zip codes; and (2) to track your purchasing.  I always decline to give this info, yet people give up this info all of the time without getting anything in return (at least with supermarket club cards, you get some sort of discount for surrendering your privacy).


On a unrelated note, I can’t believe that it’s snowing (6-10 inches forecasted) here, yet it’s gorgeous at home.  Damn you Boston!!!  No wonder the Red Sox are cursed.

There’s a difference between refusing a C-section and an abortion


Here’s the news story: Utah woman charged with murder because she refused a C-section, and later delivered a pair of twins, one alive, one stillborn.  The murder charge stems from the fact her doctors advised her that if she didn’t undergo the procedure, there was a good chance that both twins would not survive.

Does this scare anyone else that the pro-life movement is so determined to “preserve life” that their analogizing refusing a Caesarean, an invasive procedure where a woman’s belly is cut open, to the affirmative act of having an abortion? (Please note, that I consider myself pro-life, but I have always been disturbed by “vigilante,” fundamentalist pro-lifers.) (After typing and submitting the previous sentence, I had to shudder…it feels so weird announcing that conservative stance.)

Have you talked about talking about the weather today?


Upon entering the Tate Modern last Wednesday, I had one of the most dazzling museum encounters ever, an installation by Olafur Eliasson called The Weather Project.  I walked down the sloped floor of the high ceilinged (about 5 stories) Turbine Hall.  I was surrounded by a light articifial mist that lent a dreamlike effect, and the hall was lit only by a large half disk that was reflected by the mirrored panels on the ceiling.  As I approached the disk, I felt that I was witnessing a nuclear explosion, or a sunset (because of the fog, it felt more like dusk) on another planet.  It was a little eerie to see groups of spectators, lying on the floor to see their figures in the ceiling.  It reminded slightly of people lying on the ground as a result of effects of some sort of nuclear or chemical attack. Also, walking towards the sun made me think a little of people who have near-death experiences, because I could not help but be drawn towards the light.

I encourage you to check out the link above to Eliasson’s work.

London Calling


I’m headed off to London in about 15 minutes, and I’m leaving my computer behind, so I expect activity here to be slow over the next week.


Happiness is about what you do, not what you buy?


Toasty already pointed out to me that this article is a bit fluffy, but I think it puts forth a thought-provoking question.  If the goal of consumption is happiness and satisfaction, the study described in the article supports the idea that experiences, rather than objects provide richer rewards.  Active consumption, such as going to a concert, taking a trip, etc, provides fuller rewards than the passive act of buying that new Prada bag, because in the end, the bag ends up being an expensive purse, whereas, you can revisit the vacation or concert in your mind, and revise it with sentimentalism.

I found this article by way of Phil Greenspun.

Can this be Baghdad by the Bay?


Here’s a link to one of the most awe-inspiring photos of San Francisco that I’ve come across.  The photographer also has a gallery devoted to this week’s wedding celebrations at SF’s City Hall.

Proust Questionnaire


As some of you know, I am a magazine junkie, but I’m a little weird about what magazines I’ll publicly acknowledge reading.  Though, for the purpose of this post, I must admit that I sometimes pick up a copy of Vanity Fair, which is essentially the National Enquirer in nice wrapping.

But on to my main point, VF forces celebrities to answer a modified version of the Proust Questionnaire.  I’m very curious about your answers to the Proust Questionnaire, so if you’re procrastinating, and you  feel like obliging me, email me with your responses. (Warning some of you will get spammed with the questionnaire in a day or so.)

  • Your most marked characteristic?
  • The quality you most like in a man?
  • The quality you most like in a woman?
  • What do you most value in your friends?
  • What is your principle defect?
  • What is your favorite occupation?
  • What is your dream of happiness?
  • What to your mind would be the greatest of misfortunes?
  • What would you like to be? 
  • In what country would you like to live?
  • What is your favorite color?
  • What is your favorite flower?
  • What is your favorite bird?
  • Who are your favorite prose writers?
  • Who are your favoite poets?
  • Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
  • Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
  • Who are your favorite composers?
  • Who are your favorite painters?
  • Who are your heroes in real life?
  • Who are your favorite heroines of history?
  • What are your favorite names?
  • What is it you most dislike?
  • What historical figures do you most despise?
  • What event in military history do you most admire?
  • What reform do you most admire?
  • What natural gift would you most like to possess?
  • How would you like to die?
  • What is your present state of mind?
  • To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
  • What is your motto?

V-day + One


Here’s my Valentine to you all.  It’s a day late, but I spent most of yesterday travelling in a shiny blue Acura coupe travelling between L.A. and S.F.  It should be noted that I had almost no leg room because I sat behind a 6’5″ giant.


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