GirlHacker's Random Log

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Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

‘Tis the Season


After a two month break we need to catch up on a few traditional topics, one of which is the usual over-the-top offerings in this year’s Neiman Marcus Christmas book. Their 50th His & Hers gift is a Luxury Houseboat (sorry, you have to share it, you don’t get one each) tricked out with a high-end media center, luxury kitchen appliances, and a washer/dryer all for $250,000. For $15,000 you can buy your kids a gingerbread house, life-sized made out of 381 pounds of gingerbread and 517 pounds of icing. If you’ve got $1,500,000 and a boring swimming pool, Dale Chihuly will come over to fix it up with an art installation. It’d be cheaper to buy the houseboat to float in it.

Posted in culture

A Giraffe with Keys


Tanja Maduzia’s mother sent her to an auction to bid on sconces for their antique store. Tanja returned, $15,000 later, with an unusual piano and no sconces.  The piano, a “giraffe” model from 1865, was built in Kentucky and has the upright curved lines of a wide harp. The Maduzias spent $10,ooo to restore it over the years and now, with the store closing and Tanja needing to pay off emergency room bills, it will go on sale for about $30,000.  Appraisal value is $50,000.

Posted in craft,culture

Mean Pinball


Everything was going wonderfully at the Retro Arcade Museum in Beacon, New York.  Tourists came to see the vintage pinball machines and classic arcade games. Locals booked private parties to relive the old days in front of Atari’s Pong and Breakout. Then the local city council took notice and shut the place down, citing an ordinance that bans arcades. Owner Fred Bobrow has decided to liquidate the place instead of waiting to be licensed under a new law that allows arcades under certain circumstances.

Birds of America


There are only 119 known copies of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” and one of them is coming up for auction (Sotheby’s PDF brochure). You have until December to pull together the estimated $6.2-$9.2 million to get a chance at owning this significant volume which contains hand-colored, life sized illustrations of about 500 birds. A copy auctioned in 2000 still holds the record for highest price paid for a book at $8,802,500. The University of Pittsburgh has digitized their copy  and placed it online with a handy search feature.  Audubon worked with engraver Robert Havell, Jr to create the illustrations; Wikipedia states that he engraved all but the first 10 plates.

Seattle Cinerama Upgrades


3-D capability, new digital projection, and a new sound system are in the works for Seattle Cinerama as it closes for a two month renovation.  New carpet, paint, and signage will greet theater-goers at a November grand-reopening.  Traditionalists fear not, the 70mm and 3-panel Cinerama formats will remain.  Owner Vulcan Inc (translation: Paul Allen) is also taking the Cinerama independent as the theater will no longer be part of the AMC chain.

Posted in culture

It’s Still Heavy


Vogue’s September 2010 issue weighs in at 532 ad pages, a 24%  increase, 726 pages total. Halle Berry is on the cover.  Glamour, another Condé Nast property, had a remarkable 57% ad page gain and they’re calling it their “biggest issue in 20 years.”  There will still be contenders in the inevitable move of magazine pages (I’m not talking about websites here) over to fully digital media, and they won’t have to worry about whether big totes are in style to contain their September issues.

Posted in culture,money

Know Your Lawn Ornaments, Parts 1 & 2


The garden gnome
is a humble little being
Originally made of terra cotta
in the 19th century.

He spread across all of Europe
for lucky ornamentation
then conquered the United States
via clever public relations.

He deliberately ignores
any plastic flamingo associations
despite their both surviving
a pop culture initiation.

But out on the sunny lawn
When we’re all indoors
The two icons commiserate
About who has faded more.

Posted in culture

“20 Minutes into the Future”


“Max Headroom” the 1987-1988 TV series is being released on DVD and The New York Times takes the opportunity to review it from the perspective of 2010, including a pithy quote from William Gibson.  Movie theaters were a thing of the past in the Headroom future and television was the ruling media, with no World Wide Web in sight.  The 1987 Times review of the first episode seems rather jaded, perhaps tired already of the commercialization of television that the episode itself blatantly skewers with the 3 second “blipverts” that have the unfortunate side effect of killing some people. There’s no mention of cyberpunk or references to “Bladerunner” back then. An earlier 1985 review of the Cinemax series where Max Headroom served as host of an interview show takes note of the video effects but not much else. A 1986 review mentions “Bladerunner” because Rutger Hauer is a guest, but, again, the only innovation mention is that of the Max effects. New Coke anyone?

Posted in culture,nostalgia

MFA Framer


Officially, Andrew Haines is Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts‘ associate conservator, furniture and frame conservation. He’s the house framer. Before a painting goes on display, Haines will decide if the frame needs repair or replacement. A frame may be swapped from a similar sized painting in the museum’s collection or purchased from a frame dealer. In some cases Haines will make the frame himself.  He has catalogued 4,300 of the 6,000 frames in the museum so far. He’s an artist himself, painting landscapes of houses and buildings.

Posted in craft,culture

Holding Down the Past


Seasoned New Yorkers may overlook the uniqueness of the objects holding down the top papers at newstands, but for Harley Spiller those paperweights are a family affair. His parents operated the Mortimer Spiller Company in Buffalo, manufacturers of cast-iron paperweights.  And he wrote his MA thesis, all 25,000 words of it, on these functional objects.  The New York Times published a slide show of a few of the many paperweights Spiller’s father collected over the years. Like many mundane, everyday items, they are an overlooked chronicle of cultural change and industrial design. Harley Spiller is a collector himself of many things. I mentioned his Chinese restaurant menu collection here back in 2005 and I’m sure he’ll show up here again one day.

Written by ltao

August 9th, 2010 at 1:58 am

Posted in culture,nostalgia