September 30, 2008

Pigskin Pool Pride

The title is a nod to the Commish, as I know she is a fan of alliteration -- I have to stay on her good side this week while I enjoy


Yeah, baby! Amy in Ohio is bawling her eyes out right about now, but there can be only one winner and this week it is ME! I would like to acknowledge the support of Mama Ginger Tree who so kindly said that if it couldn't be her -- and it almost was as those experts of hers made some mean picks -- she would live to see another day if it were me. (I takes my inspiration where I finds it!) I'd also like to congratulate the other 10-3 players for the week; it was fun to have it go right down to the wire and not be settled until the final play.

You're all welcome to come back and visit the badge this week, since it could be yours next week...or it might not! I'm hopeful that I've found my groove on picks, so I'll be doing my damnedest to give you a run for your money.

September 28, 2008

In Which I Get My Behind Back in Gear

There are still so many more rooms and pictures yet to go, so I'd best get on with it.

The next room of the Chihuly exhibit contained only one piece. Simple, right? Yeah, not so much. It was so big and so dramatically lit that it was hard to get a good picture of the whole thing. But the glass was a fantastic shade of purple so I loved it and ended up spending more time just looking at it than taking pictures.


The concept is, as you can see, fairly simple and reflective of nature while not being an actual representation of nature. Reed-like tubes of glass are placed in a base of "fallen" birch logs.

For some reason, even though I never changed any settings on my camera, certain of the shots made the reeds appear in different shades. Not accurate, but still pretty! For some other perspectives that keep one color throughout, see the official pictures of the piece here. But, really, who wants to be that dull and predictable, right?

Over the years, Chihuly and his team have done Reeds, sometimes also called Spears, in different colors, some of which can be seen here. Most of them are displayed out in nature, and I especially like this one. The simultaneous strength and fragility of the glass is amazing.

I want to dedicate this section of the exhibit pictures to my friend, Anymommy, a.k.a. Stacey. To me, she and her family are the Reeds. The reeds themselves are her children; gorgeous, colorful, unique and rising from a strong base. The birch tree base is Stacey; steady, bountiful, supportive and beautiful in her own right, but even more beautiful together.

September 26, 2008

Batting .500 - Looking to Improve

Ahh, nothing like a mixed sports metaphor to start things off right. Last week I ended up even on my picks, and the win went to Amy In Ohio. But she's getting a little cocky. So it's my mission to take her down at least one peg.

Any bloggers who want to participate are welcome, so if you're interested, please go visit the Commissioner's site and add your picks, as posted on your site, to the Mr. Linky thingamabob and pick yourself up a badge.

Here are my picks for this weekend's action, slightly more clearly delineated this week, since last week's didn't show up as much as I would have liked. (And, yeah, it's done in pink. You got a problem with that?)

Atlanta @ Carolina
Cleveland @ Cincinnati
Houston @ Jacksonville
Denver @ Kansas City
San Francisco @ New Orleans
Arizona @ NY Jets
Green Bay @ Tampa Bay
Minnesota @ Tennessee
San Diego @ Oakland
Buffalo @ St. Louis
Washington @ Dallas
Philadelphia @ Chicago

Monday Night Football
Baltimore @ Pittsburgh
Combined final score: 39

This is going to be a fairly busy weekend, so it will probably be Sunday before I can pick back up with the photo tour. There has been so much going on in the news late this week that I just haven't been able to concentrate enough on posting them yet. Even I can't believe that I'm actually this caught up in the news and the election this time around, but it's just too compelling to ignore.

September 21, 2008

In Which I See Spots Before My Eyes

Now that the Sunday games have begun, it's time to resume the tour of the Chihuly exhibition. Again, many thanks to all of you who have been coming by to view it and the encouraging comments -- it means a lot to me.

When I left off, I was through the Tabac Baskets exhibit and the battery in my big camera had died. Once I averted a panic attack by fishing out my little camera, it was on to a series that is among Chihuly's most recognized and is a favorite of mine.

Macchia Forest

means "spotted" in Italian -- in case you haven't noticed, a huge part of his work is influenced by Italian glass mastery, and he gives a big nod to that tradition in many of his series -- and this close-up shows why it earned that moniker.

"Macchias represent Chihuly’s boldest combinations of color. He chooses one intense solid color for the interior and another for the exterior. The lip of the Macchia is a contrasting color. In between the layers of color, a layer of white glass forms “clouds.” This layer of white glass keeps the interior and exterior colors separated. While it is still hot, the Macchia is rolled in bits of colored glass called frits or jimmies. These tiny pieces melt into the outer layers of glass and form bright speckles or spots. Chihuly has more than 300 colors in his hot shop. Macchias provide a way to use them all in infinite variations."1

I vividly remember watching a TV show featuring Chihuly and his team studio approach to glassmaking, and they were making Macchia pieces. The way they swung the rod back and forth with enormous globs of glass on them, to get the wavy-edged effect, had me spellbound and I was hooked.

I wish I'd had a wide-angle lens (oh, and, you know, a "live" big camera) to get this kind of picture of the room, because it's the only way you get the forest sense of it. I was forced to focus mainly on individual pieces, except for this one.

1 In looking up information to be sure that I'm not talking out of my ass in these posts (the devil is in the details, folks), I found a great resource from The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, where they have Fireworks of Glass, the largest permanent Chihuly sculpture of blown glass. I see a trip to Indy in my future.

Next up: Reeds.

September 17, 2008

Taking a Break from Pictures to Kick a Little Ass

So, it's official, my mommy bloggers have lost their ever-lovin' minds. Some of them think they have mad football-picking skillz and that they have a chance against me! Please.

The lovely and wonderful Amy in Ohio and Instamom got inspired and concocted the BFL, our own Blogger Football League. Look! I'm an official member. (After this week, this badge will be moved over to the right, and you can come back and see my MVP Player of the Week award!)


We may have gotten a late start on the season, but what we lack in timeliness we more than make up for in trash talk and enthusiasm. Sundays may never be the same.

Here are my picks, clearly delineated by bold and italics. Let's show them how it's done, shall we?

Arizona @ Washington

Carolina @ Minnesota

Houston @ Tennessee

Miami @ New England

Oakland @ Buffalo

Cincinnati @ NY Giants

Kansas City @ Atlanta

Tampa Bay @ Chicago

St. Louis @ Seattle

Detroit @ San Francisco

New Orleans @ Denver

Pittsburgh @ Philadelphia

Cleveland @ Baltimore

Jacksonville @ Indianapolis

Dallas @ Green Bay

NY Jets @ San Diego
Combined Final Score: 48

If you have a blog and you want in on some of the action, go visit the Commish and her henchman lovely assistant quickly to check out the competition and get everything you need. But be warned, these women are vicious. I've seen them drop a deer at 50 feet with a soiled diaper.

In Which I Become a Basket Case

Thank you all so much for your kind comments. It has been great getting your feedback and I love having you along on my tour. And we're walking, we're walking...

Tabac Baskets

Following the color splash that was the Persians room, I turned the corner not knowing what to expect next. Beige was not it. I'm not a big fan of shades of brown and beige, so initially I was a little let down until I read the text on the wall and understood where these were coming from, aesthetically speaking.

These are all inspired by the shape of Native American baskets stacked upon each other for storage, and the way they naturally slump and find a different, but distinguishable, form in that state. There are the very neutral shades of the materials used to make the real baskets, especially as they fade and mellow with age, but on each one is the hint of artistic patterns, in abstract ways, that make the baskets special.

These were displayed in a large room with just four elements: the glass pieces; a huge, wooden 700-year-old table cut in one piece from a single tree; authentic native baskets; and a wall full of Pendleton blankets from Chihuly's personal collection. A good view of the entire room can be seen here.

We came into the room and had to go left or right past the enormous table. To the right were the blankets, to the left were the baskets (both kinds) and the explanatory text; I went left and made my way down, swiveling around and whacking people with my purse as I tried to take it all in while taking pictures.

There were just so many of them, and they each had something to recommend them, that it was hard to not take pictures of every single one. So I tried to focus on the ones that had the most interesting light. It was weird though; it was like there was light everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

This next one blew me away when I took the camera away from my face to see the seconds-long preview. There is no light within the vessel and, to the eye, it doesn't glow like that. I kept looking at it to see how it did that but I still have no idea.

I got to the end of the table and started to make the turn back to the blankets...and that's when my camera battery died. I knew there were still a lot of rooms to go and so much more glass to see, with an unknown amount of battery power on my little camera, so the blankets had to be sacrificed. I couldn't have done any better than this, though, so I feel okay with that call.

September 16, 2008

In Which I Let the Pictures Speak for Themselves

Next up, as promised, is the Persians room. These babies are huge, gravity-defying, awe-inspiring and all sorts of other hyphen-worthy adjectives. The only way I can think of to help you see how big they really are is to point you here to look at the first photo, with people in it for comparison.

David Bourbon - the Persian installations are flamboyant corsages, "commanding attention for both the sheer gorgeousness of their undulating forms and for the spectacular manner in which they spill into the room, [their] ornate edges all but alive with potential movement."

Butterflies aren't particularly Persian, but these make me think of butterflies, for their color, their deceptive fragility and the ribbons of color. Next time, the color palette changes quite a lot and we visit another culture altogether.

September 15, 2008

In Which I Admit that I'm a Color Whore

Thanks to all of you who commented on the first set of photos. As was pointed out, you really do need to see these first-hand to get the full effect, mostly because of their scope. But if I can offer a taste that makes you hungry for more in person, I've done my job. Let's move on to the next room, shall we?

This is the room where I had the most trouble getting good shots. I just couldn't hold still long enough to avoid blur on the Ikebana pieces in such low light. I'm going to look into the monopod that was mentioned, because that would have been ideal!

Venetians + Ikebana

This is the only Ikebana picture I took that didn't blur.

It's not from a color palette I particularly like, but it's very evocative of nature (it has a mushroom-like feel to me) and appropriate for the style.

It got easier after that, once I moved on to the Venetians.

The colors! The detail! The cherubim! I was in love. One part of the text on the wall really summed it up:
The Venetians are defined by a baroque aesthetic of exuberance - even excess - that is deeply rooted in the Venetian tradition. This is especially true of the colors, which owe as much to the extraordinary color combination in the Renaissance paintings of Titian, Veronese, and other Venetian masters as they do to the glass produced in the factories of Murano. Chihuly's expressionist use of form and color for their own sake, so foreign to American sensibilities, is one of the liberating characteristics of the Venetians.
Yeah, I'm a color whore (Did you know there's a Flickr group just for people like me?), so these were right up my alley. I should point out that if you click on any of these photos, you can see them larger. I scaled these so they're not huge, which I neglected to do yesterday.

Tomorrow we move on to the Persians, which are truly spectacular.

September 14, 2008

In Which I Learn a Lesson I Should Have Already Known

Yesterday I was thrilled to go see the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. I've been a Chihuly fan for years and years, but I've never had an opportunity to see a full installation, apart from the display at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. While the Bellagio installation is great, and has given him so much exposure and name recognition, I can only wander around looking up for so long before I start to feel like an idiot and get dizzy.

I've been looking forward to it ever since I learned the exhibit was coming, but I wanted to wait until I had some experience using my new camera and found a good time to go. Time flies, as it always does, and since the exhibit ends this month, I knew I'd better get my behind in gear.

Taking the pictures was more of a challenge than I expected, for two reasons: 1. The size and scope of the pieces; and 2. The pieces are set mostly in dark or even black environments, and you can't use a flash. Ideally, I should have brought a tripod but it was way too crowded on a weekend to make that feasible. One more odd thing was how the light sometimes reacted with the glass in unexpected ways, so what I saw and what the camera saw was at times different.

Once I realized that I just wasn't going to be able to get the pictures I really would have liked, I tried to focus on some unique angles and capturing colors and certain elements. I also had to remember to stop and enjoy the art and not just take pictures. But I did take a lot of many that, even without using the flash, the battery in my camera died after only four rooms (out of eleven) in the exhibit! Therein lies the lesson: MAKE SURE YOUR BATTERY IS FULLY CHARGED BEFORE GOING ON A PICTURE-TAKING ADVENTURE. Duh, right? At this point I might have thrown myself to the ground and pitched a fit worthy of a two-year-old if I hadn't made a last-minute decision to throw my little camera in my purse. Day saved!

There are far too many pictures to include even a decent sampling in one post (and that's just the non-blurry ones!), so I'll put up some of my favorites from each room over a series of posts, in the order they were displayed in the exhibit.

Glass Forest #3

If you're at all intrigued by any of the photos, I suggest clicking on the first link up there and looking at the professional photos of the exhibit to get a better sense of the size and layout of them.

September 08, 2008

Food Network Haiku

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives

Fan of all things pork
Guy Fieri cruises on
It might be true love.

September 02, 2008

Does Anybody Do It Better?

So, of course, when I finally come across something I feel like talking about, it's on a night when my hand is bugging me and I really should just get off the computer and give it a rest. But then, I have a finely honed sense of poor timing, so why should it be any different for this?

Let's see if I can just write this quickly and without obsessing about perfection, m'kay?

On the drive home from work, I heard a "new" song on the radio, Free Fallin' as done by John Mayer. You may recognize the title as a song by Tom Petty. I enjoyed the Mayer rendition, even though I'm a Tom Petty fan, and it brought to mind a ongoing and eternal debate between me and a friend: Is the original always better?

He says yes, I say no, and I'd like to get your opinion. The Mayer song isn't one I would necessarily use as an example of better than the original, but I also don't think it's not worthy simply because it's a remake. It's interesting on its own merits because we hear the lyrics in a way other than how our minds are, more or less, "trained" to hear them after years of radio play.

There are some songs that are remakes that I like better than the originals, such as Van Halen's version of the Kinks' song, You Really Got Me, Sting's version of Jimi Hendrix's Little Wing, and the Fleetwood Mac song Black Magic Woman as done by Santana, to name a few. I think Mad World by Tears for Fears, as recorded by Gary Jules for the movie Donnie Darko is the best example, since even Roland Orzabal said that it showed him how the song should be played, and Tears For Fears changed their performance of it when they reunited not long ago.

Don't get me wrong, there are a ton of really, really crappy remakes, and we could spend about a week listing all the ones that we hate -- I'm not saying that all of them are better, not even most of them, just that SOME of them are actually better than the original.

Are there any remakes that you like better than the original? Make your case in the comments.