Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Obituary Picture of Robin Williams

Alfredo guesses it is a picture of Robin Williams… 
Grigor: How can you tell? I reduced it as much as I could.

Alfredo: The eyes, the mouth, the nose, they remain. A uniquely Robin combination. You got those. And the dark shadows behind are suggestive.

Grigor: I thought even when he closed his mouth, he was still speaking.

Alfredo: He still does. 80 movies. What's your favorite?

Grigor: Good Will Hunting. He played the therapist, Sean McGuire. Even though he was counseling Will Hunting, he might have been counseling his real-life self.

There have been many obituaries of Robin Williams. Almost all celebrating his talent, generosity and a hint at the obstacles he had to overcome.

Obituaries are a written statement celebrating someone’s life, character and achievements. Sometimes a picture can hint at much of that so Grigor elects to paint an obituary.

With all due respect to artists, the written obituaries can further flesh out the nuances of a life. The personal memories and public stories, the trials and the achievements, the career and the legacy. Robin Williams, a meteor blazing through movies, stage performances and voice-overs. “Five lifetimes in one, said Carrie Fisher.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Refloating a Boat

Anchorage Aftermath
A Post Man encounters an Ancient Mariner
PM: It sank?

AM: Too right it did.

PM: At sea in a tyrannous and strong storm? Spinning round and round then going down like lead?

AM: Just while at its moorings. No ice, no waves, no wind, no albatross. Merely a slow seepage of water gurgling in under its planks.

PM: A rather untheatrical ending. The planks look warped, will you refit and refloat her?

AM: This naked hull and rotting deck is a challenge. But I will make her sail again. Come by next week, and you’ll see us put to sea.


Would that we could speak as Coleridge wrote, our stories might be as bright as the silver sun on the silver sea and our conversations might lilt like a lyrical ballad. But we wonder whether even a minor unmourned hulk like this, will ever sail again and that it might become an albatross around the mariner’s neck.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Harry Beck, Map Man of the London Tube

Map A: Geographic
Map B: Connective
The design of the London Tube map is brilliant in its simplicity. It does not show the stations’ geographic relations above ground but rather their connective relations below ground. The approaches to map design could be characterized as spaghetti (Map A) vs loosely gridded (Map B).

Back Story
Eduardo: Harry Beck, who designed the original London Tube map was called Map Man in a BBC2 documentary.

Max: He is credited as its chief architect?

Eduardo: He wasn’t an architect, he worked as a draftsman for London Transport and suggested the original schematic diagram in 1931.

Max: And the public loved it.

Eduardo: They did but the publicity office at London Transport never actually commissioned Beck’s map and only accepted it as his voluntary experiment.

Max: Another uncredited originator?

Eduardo: By all accounts he only received five or ten pounds but they eventually did put his name on it. And there are plaques at Finchley Central Station and outside the house he lived in commemorating  him.

Max: So he eventually felt vindicated?

Eduardo: He defended the aesthetics of his vision. The verticals, the diagonals, the even distances between stations. And he didn’t take kindly to modifications to the design.

Max: Some designers can be protective and proprietorial about their visions.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Collaborative Narrative: Yavari Ship Story

Yavari on Lake Titicaca
Two travelers discuss ships…

Graham: Just as travelers have stories, ships have even bigger stories.

Somerset: Titanic was a huge story. Grandeur. Romance. Adventure. Irony. Tragedy. And all the passengers had their own stories.

Graham: Even smaller ships have their own stories. When I was traveling with my aunt last year, I sailed on a short voyage on quiet waters.

Somerset: No drama there. Or was it that you were traveling with your aunt?

Graham: It was on Lake Titicaca. No storms, no. No shipwreck, no. My aunt was not in the least bit outrageous.  The story lay in how the ship, the Yavari, a hundred-foot lake ship, got to Titicaca.

Somerset: Wasn’t that the one that was carried up the Andes on a mule?

Graham:  Simply put, yes. Built in 1862, in London, then disassembled into 2,766 pieces. Shipped to Peru, then mules carried the ship pieces 220 miles up the Andes to Puno on Titicaca. Reassembled there by riveting the bits together.

Somerset: Riveting account! A hundred-foot boat built of a kit of parts.

Graham: And get this for a bit more local adaptation. The ship's steam engine burned dried llama dung.

Storytelling construct: Somerset knows something about the Yavari but Graham knows more. A collaborative narrative.

The Yavari has been restored and is now docked at Puno Bay.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Reduction in Jazz and Painting

Picasso: Three Musicians
A jazz elder and an art critic compare blue notes…

Jazz Elder: Jazz is about simplifying. Play a bunch of notes, take out the ones you don’t need. Just leave the pretty ones. That’s what Miles said.

Art Critic: Like an artist simplifies all the clutter in a scene to its essentials, a few lines, a few colors. That’s what Pablo said.

Jazz Elder: And twelve basic notes can generate an infinite number of sounds.

Art Critic: A few lines can suggest an infinite number of shapes and three primary colors can generate millions of shades.

A parallel conversation. Both saying the same thing. Quoting their gurus. Reaching the same conclusion. Manifestum est reductionem.

Friday, August 1, 2014

New York White Rabbit

UP in the Air,
THROUGH the Air…
Where in the world is WHITE RABBIT?
Peut-être… ON Air, in Ha-Ha-Harlem.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Kindle X-ray Visual Concordancer

Visual Concordancer
Recent Kindle Convert: X-ray. You got this function on your Kindle?

Earlier Kindler Enthusiast: What’s it do?

Recent Kindle Convert: It’s a reference tool. It lists common characters in a book, or locations, or themes, or ideas.

Earlier Kindler Enthusiast: Not on mine.

Recent Kindle Convert: I’ll show you. The book I’m reading at the moment is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adachie. It’s about Nigerians living between the U.S. and Nigeria. The names are beautiful but not so easy. X-ray can show how often the characters appear which suggests their importance to the narrative. See? By page and chapter and book.

Earlier Kindler Enthusiast: Nice tool.

Recent Kindle Convert: Simple, visual, effective.

X-ray works as a concordancer.