Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Masters with Distinction

Hey, I graduate today! I'm trying to remind myself that it's actually a pretty big deal and I haven't had one of these since 2004. It's nice to be part of traditions-- both the 600 year old kind, and the more recent kind, created by my friends I've made since I moved here. It's a silly little thing, but I'm really excited to be wearing the same white dress shirt as three of my friends wore to their St Andrews graduations. And delighted to be sharing the day with my dad and so many of my Edinburgh & St Andrews friends. 

The older traditions sound, well a bit medieval to be honest. Hoods, kneeling, apparently being bopped on the shoulder with John Knox's pants (or something like that? Says Sophie? Ps- It's her birthday! Happy Birthday!) walking backwards, bowing....

Anyhow, apparently you can watch a live feed of the thing here-- most likely if you are related to me or just want to see me in a hood. (I don't get the squishy hat until next time.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Restoration Manor Mania

We've been dejectedly asking ourselves what to do on Sunday nights to fill the void left behind by Downton Abbey. This Sunday, we obviously tried tons of food, party games & winning pub quiz night. But I think I've found something that will coast us past the holidays. 

Basically, The Manor Reborn takes a group of enthusiastic experts to work with the National Trust to re-envision Elizabethan Avebury Hall into a publicly viewed space minus all those annoying ropes. All the interiors will be sturdy enough to withstand use. I like it. Because part of why I love manor houses in the first place is to envision that I live there. If you can't touch anything, it kind of kills the affect. 

That's why I also quite loved this show, Restoration Home, that aired earlier this year. Even after watching all 6 episodes of Restoration Home and the premiere of The Manor Reborn, where all the people said they'd never buy another listed property, it's still kind of a dream of mine to restore an old manor home somewhere... 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Super Stereotypical Thanksgiving Feast

This is what I did yesterday. And no one got sick! Not only that, but we even won pub trivia later that night when we went to the Wally Dug dressed as Pilgrims & Indians. Work. Today, I am recovering. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Postponed Thankful Posting

I know I post this every year. I just can't resist.
We postponed having our Thanksgiving for Brits until today. And while I agree with all the criticism of colonialism and certainly everything we ever did to Native American populations, there's a reason why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It's not just because I like feeling grateful (though I do). 

I suppose I like the idea (even if the reality of what happened in 1621 is not quite that ideal) that you can go out into the world, not knowing what you'll find, and trusting that the people you meet when you get there will look after you. I'm lucky enough that this has always been the case for my various pilgrimages. Be it Japan or Korea or New York or the UK, I've always felt taken care of in my quest to see the world. So thanks for that. 

And please send prayers that we won't have to resort to frozen pizzas. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Today Feels Like This - The Middle East - Blood

Today I am cooking. A lot. A full Thanksgiving meal, in fact, to be served on Sunday. For my real blood & adopted blood. And listening to the small, but lovely canon of the short-lived Australian band, The Middle East. I love all their songs, but I still love the much-hyped "Blood" the most. It sounds twinkly, which is how I feel when I get to make something nice for all the people I care about. 

Hope you're having a great Saturday with continued left-overs and loved-ones!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Links

Even though Black Friday isn't the shopping insanity here like it is in the States, let's just pretend we're going to do all of our Christmas Shopping now! Me & Pops are hitting the town and here's what we're  buying for you. 

- The badass bespoke gifts & luxury Christmas cards of Zaza Shelley. Love. 
- Pretty much everything from Old Town Context
- The special Christmas chocolate (and many more!) from the drool-worthy Coco on Broughton

Bonus Links:
- Real Estate daydreaming. What if I lived here
- Or worked here?
- Fun Lit website
- Katie Roiphe does it again. What David Foster Wallace's Lesson plans teach us about how to live. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hanging onto Autumn - Happy Thanksgiving

Maybe it's the onset of winter that has caused my life shake-up kind of frenzy. Or maybe it's the total lack of love I feel from a University I once cherished, but who now, has been the cause of my starvation for the last 26 days (What do I pay 12,200 pounds for again?) So maybe I'm just starving and not thinking rationally. But I've been in the kind of mood I get in when my friends say, "Uh oh, Ryann is about to move to another country." 

I don't know that I'm going to take it that far. But I'm feeling under-stimulated lately so that might be why I just applied to about 7 theatre jobs in London last night. I mean, I was awesome when I was slammed, right? I can do a phd long-distance from London and work full time and write musicals, right?

I think deep down, I always knew I'd want a faster-paced lifestyle back at some point. But I suppose I'd like to think the hope of balance is actually available to me in other places in a way that it simply wasn't in NYC. 

Who knows. I'm sure something interesting will happen. It always does. In the meantime, I'll be spending this Thanksgiving preparing for the Thanksgiving I'll be cooking (when my DAD! arrives) with 10 of my closest friendsfamily this Sunday. So far, St A still hasn't actually given me my loan money so that I can purchase the food, but whattheheck. I never died from starvation in NYC, so I don't plan to start now. 

I'm going to go clean, write (real writing & perhaps some more angry emails to the St Andrews proctor) and get the most out this last unseasonably warm Autumn weather. I'm hanging on to it. Just like this tree. 

photo by David Filipiak

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fall Foliage & My Favorite Flower Shop

One of the first places I saw & loved when I started hanging out in Edinburgh last year to visit my pals was Narcissus Flower Shop on Broughton. It was November, and they still had great sustainable & funky bouquets. Pretty much no matter what time of year, they have amazing, out of the ordinary blooms. (Personally, I'm a fan of the Dramatic & Fiery and the Wild, Scottish & Natural.) 

They remind me of Sunny's Florist on Second Ave in NYC (my all-time fave flower place when I lived in the East Village. Sunny is kind of a hero of mine. She quit her job as a paralegal to start her own flower shop 22 years ago.) 

Anyhow, I snapped these pics recently while I've had the excuse to be out in our unseasonably warm Autumn days helping my old pal Brian & his wife find a flat before they move here from the States in January. Brian was my co-Teacher's Pet Winner, GVHS Class of 2000. Any other senior superlatives wanna move to Edi? No matter what, if you're in the 'burgh, check out Narcissus. So pretty. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

San Francisco based designer, Tartanscot

Scot Meacham Wood, aka Tartanscot takes his inspiration from the best places: Scotland & NYC. I wonder about the extent of his actual contact with Scotland (occasionally, it seems more like a version of Scotland than the real thing) but nevertheless, on his blog, I caught pics of the Ardverikie gate house, Eilean Donan & the streets of Glasgow. 

So even though there's more gay men (oh, how I miss my gays) in tweed on the page than you can shake a stick at, there's also men on vespas help balance that (??) and I think he puts more of that balance into his actual rooms. 

Maybe he does get Scotland. Because, while I love light airy modern spaces as much as the next gal-- and lord knows, they're en vogue-- they just don't make much sense in Scotland. Maximalist works in Scotland. You need the warmth. Maybe I just have a thing for dark, rich wall colors. For creating a luxe look out of simple fabrics, like, say, wool. Well, so does Scot Meacham Wood

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Hair Ideas from Toast

What about this for a holiday party look? Iona and I analyzed it and decided it's actually easier than it looks. I pulled it from one of my usual sources of inspiration-- the Toast Catalogue. If you're new or don't remember my previous Toast Posts, they're like Anthro but for people who love solids instead of prints. 

Then I found this hair tutorial, and this reminder on how to do fishtail braids. So if you've been looking for the right holiday 'do, maybe this one will frost your cookies. Otherwise, have a spin around this year's holiday Toast offerings. (Personally, I'd like everything in their socks collection.) Or check out Toast Travels. It's dreamy. Here's a sample of current titles: Diary of a Cheesemaker, an Englishwoman in New York, In Defense of Darkness. Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Continuing Love of Obsolete Art - Wet Plates

God Bless Dan Carrillo, the Seattle-based photographer & printmaker responsible for this lovely resurgence in daguerrotypes and wet plate collodian method. It's old-fashioned, inconvenient and you work against the clock-- the photographer has no more than 10 minutes to complete the entire process from coating to developing before the plate dries. 

But in a world so centered on smaller, lighter, faster & more convenient, it's nice to see someone pulling the old methods back from the brink of extinction. Sure, they're romantic. They make me think of war-torn lovers. But they also seem to capture a reality that photos don't. The eyes give more away. There's something other-worldly about them, don't you think?

For more about Daniel Carrillo, check out his blog
via Honestly... WTF & Miss Moss.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Problem of Miracles - The Grave of David Hume

Edinburgh's been a bit bleak lately, so it was a pleasant surprise to be awakened early yesterday morning with a phone call from Sophie. Surprise visitors are the best and we spent the afternoon catching up and tooling around Edinburgh's museums, speaker stores, and since it's so bleak (duh) cemeteries. I've always had a bit of a thing for old cemeteries, and you can't do much better than the old Calton Hill Cemetery. I mean, David Hume is there. Fave philosopher. 'Nuff said. Also it was gorgeous. Check out that fading sun behind (yes!) good old Abe Lincoln. 

Finally, I literally can't stop listening to this song. I love that one of the comments when I went to post this is as follows: "I'm so drunk I randomly typed Gotye on youtube and came to this song and it's completely changed my life." Happy Saturday. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Restless Friday Links

Well, the good news is, my dad gets here a week from today! The bad new is, man I am restless. It's common theme of my life. And not even the endless information on the internet is enough to keep my wanderlust at bay. But I try anyhow. 

- A Disco Downton photoshoot (as always, I apologize for linking you to the Daily Mail.)
Ryan Gosling pancake. For obvious reasons.
- The world's most expensive photo
- Speaking of photos, and exotic places, check THIS OUT!

- I think the person who wrote this about NAMT & my friend Joe's show has NO idea how long it actually takes, how many productions it actually takes to get a show anywhere. I enjoyed my friend Jennifer's rebuttal.
- Speaking of theatre, this is pretty obvious, but nice to see it in print.

- But we brought up theatre, which makes me think of my career. And then I get restless and start shopping for apartments. In Los Angeles. Or Austin. (career?)
- Or I'll start thinking about moving to Portland. Why am I so suggestible?? (I blame McC.)
- Or back to New York.
- Speaking of NYC real estate, J. Crew Creative Director Jenna Lyons' Brooklyn townhouse- aka the world's most perfect house of all time (save for that ugly wrong shade of yellow couch) is on the market for only 3.75 million dollars? Messy divorce? Well, Curb might have said it best, but personally, I think it's really sad that not even a piece of real estate this beautiful (and the most amazing Olatz bedding!!) can hold together a marriage. 

- Margaret Gillespie Pierce, are you out there? Mugs! Do you remember this? Oh man, I loved me some Delia's catalogue. Though, looking back, I have to agree those shoes were hideous. But I used to just covet that stuff. Turns out, it was all very cheaply made and kind of lost its allure once the Delia's store went into the Galleria, am I right??

- As much as I'm dreaming of other places & other times, St Andrews sure does know how to get people laughing. You might have seen this floating around the internet. My friend Jorge was the first one to post the pic, and soon people in the states had gotten ahold of it, etc etc. It was a joke, ya'll. Pretty good, huh?

Photos by Karen Knorr

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bonnie & Clyde on Broadway and the cover of Time Out

2011 has been a good year for quite a few of my friends in the entertainment industry. But I don't think anyone I know is having a better year than Jeremy. Let's see. He racked up the lead role in critically acclaimed cult-classic-turned-stage-show Newsies, got engaged, starred in this little flick with Dolly Parton & Queen Latifah (man, I love a good movie musical!), and now he's starring as bad-boy icon Clyde Barrow, originating his first role on Broadway in Bonnie & Clyde

Don't forget about that little cover of  Time Out New York, ether. And a big old photo spread and interview on the inside. Check it out. And! as of Tuesday, it's confirmed that Newsies will be hitting Broadway for a limited run. I bet my pal Jeremy is wishing he could clone himself right about now. 

All this comes as no surprise to me because Jeremy is a rare talent... and something even more rare on Broadway: a believable badass. Yeah sure, he's got kind of a baby face. But he makes that tommy gun in his hand look good. Something about him is convincing as a magnetic man from the wrong side of the tracks in a way most of the dudes who end up on Broadway simply aren't. 

And I feel confident enough to admit that there is a a riff section he did when we were recording "In Your Name" from Nicholas & Alexandra that I will just listen to on a loop. It's just heaven. Listen here

Congrats to you, Mr. Jeremy Jordan. I suppose we don't need to go into business with our genius contact lens idea now. Instead, I'll just rush to see him at the Schoenfeld next time I'm in NYC. 

photos from Time Out New York, Dale May
Also this. This is hilarious. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

She Says She Likes to Write - Autumn Story - Firekites

So... this song and video are a couple of years old, but I couldn't resist posting today. This is basically exactly how I feel right now: daydream-drunk and melancholy; inching along, but in swooping circles to fool myself; making pretty things but little progress and ending up where I started...all Autumn long. Daydream-drunk & melancholy, you say? (Or as McC would say, Everything We Stand For!...haha.)

I've always been a fan of stop motion, but I think the vid from Aussie band, Firekites (off their debut album, The Bowery, [sigh. I miss The Bowery.]) might always be my favorite. (Perhaps it's the chalkboards. If you've ever seen my Pinterest boards, you know I have a bordering on pathological obsession with chalkboards as functional decor.) 

Anyhow. Check out more of Firekites & their cool label Spunk (same label as Bonnie Prince Billy, my old faves The Faint, She & Him, etc etc etc), here

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Old Technology, New Tricks

One might say I'm a bit of an anomaly when it comes to eras. I'm nostalgia-filled and old school on a whole lot of topics, but you'd have to pry my iphone out of my cold, dead hand. I love the feel of typewriter keys, but I get anxiety attacks just thinking about trying to compose a lengthy document without backspace, cut, copy or paste. Nevertheless, a serious part of me could seriously see myself (at least upstairs) on Downton Abbey. Luckily, I know I'm not alone in this contradictory attitude about old and new.

Here's part two of my Anthro Catalogue shopping: iphone/ipad victrolas and USB rigged typewriters connected to your ipad or computer monitor. It's simultaneously so faux and so genius I am filled with both extreme consumeristic guilt and tech nerd/writer geek glee. Just glee. Now, if only I had a spare 2000 pounds sterling (According to the UK catalogue) or dollars for both.

Okay, but my guilt is tempered by a couple of cool things. 1. You could probably do them yourself. At least, the USB  typewriter. In fact, there are even some tutorials online. 2. I think it's pretty nifty (and green!) that the iVictrolas are acoustic and don't require any electricity at all. They just make the crappy little speakers on your iphone work. They're also one of a kind and no two are the same. That's craftsmanship, my friends! I suppose I'm a sucker for a good repurposing.

For other spots about the iVictrola, you can check out here. Or read thisthis. Props to you, Matthew Richmond. San Fran really does have a high concentration of cool people. 
For USB typewriters, check out this & this. The amazing Royal is already sold out at Anthro in the US, but Philadephia designer, Jack Zylkin is the man who runs this site so it's no dead end. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tucked Away Castles

Prestonpans has a bit of a split personality. As you exit the motorway and head through town, you first encounter faux-American housing developments, but right after that, bam!, historic Prestonpans with towers, 16th and 17th century castle strongholds and wonderful wonderful Northfield House: home to our  friends and our young charges for the day, Jamie & Alice.

Iona and I both agree that babysitting is better with two people: you don't have to do baby talk ALL day, and when one is having a meltdown & needs a nap, the other can tend to the sane child. Basically keeping the one to one small human to large human ratio = good. 

We had a blast running around the garden, jumping on the trampoline, watching Alice's plushy cheeks and big toothless grin and exploring on a sunny Autumn day. 

And since I was lucky enough to most frequently be in charge of the more low-maintenance kiddo (it alternated) I also got to check out some of the amazing art at Northfield House and architecture on our walks-- including Hamilton House, Preston Tower (also once home to the Hamilton Family) and Preston Cross. Preston derives from Priest Town and has been home to monks, salt mills and the site of 1745 Jacobite victory at the Battle of Prestonpans. It's only 8 miles outside of Edinburgh-- take a spin past it!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My God You Tempt My Anxious Mind - Milo Greene 1957

Milo Greene's "1957" might just be my idea of chord heaven. This little rambler is a perfect Sunday Playlist tune and a combo of most everything I like in a song. So why can't I buy Milo Greene on itunes? I bet you they have some rad humanitarian reason. Or maybe, like this article suggests, they're from LA and they're just super laid back. Haven't gotten around to it yet. Much less, making a whole album. Oh well. Instead, I'll just have to buy the vinyl with digital download attached.

I love me some boy/girl, multi-member bands. Makes me think of Fleetwood Mac.
Hope you're having a great Sunday! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Today Feels Like This - Somebody That I Used to Know

People have really been bringing the good music recommendations lately. The heir-apparent to Sting, Gotye comes courtesy of my dear brother from another mother, Taylor. And I haven't been able to get his pseudo-duet with (the also very cool Kiwi) Kimbra out of my head since. 

Just wait until the chorus. It's soooo Sting. And turns out, Gotye grew up, a young Belgian boy in Australia, listening to the Police non-stop. It shows. In the nicest way possible.  

I love everything about this video.Well, almost everything. I wish that shot of his ugly foot didn't start the video. Ugly feet. Ew. But! I love that Ba Ba Blacksheep xylophone solo. I love the colors. I love that Gotye's real first name is Wouter, but that he goes by Wally. I love when he and Kimbra come in together at the end. That is just everything I want from a song right there. (Steven! You are a master of that kind of jam.) Le sigh. Saturday sounds like this. I'm off to babysit some youngsters at a "castle" surrounded by track housing (ah, Scotland's era mash-ups) in Prestonpans.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shopping My Favorite Catalogues... & other links

Ooh, the Anthro & (I still sort of hate) BHLDN offerings are doing me right this holiday season. "Right" in that hypothetical sense where I hypothetically buy these overpriced (but wonderful!) things with my hypothetical money.

Here's me dreaming my way into the next tax bracket & a couple of bonus links for fun. (Notice I said tax bracket. Because in the event of my fame & fortune, I will happily pay my higher taxes.) (Also. This is a two-parter. I've got some more extensive things to say on the categories of cool technologies & real estate for you next week.) 

- Hunt & Gather Collar, $380.00, Dry Clean (Duh.)
- Woodland Sun ring, $970 (hey! handmade in the UK)
- Twinkle Lights Pencil Skirt, £168 (approximately $300,000 with current exchange rate)
- Bertram Chair, £998.00. (Ugh, but I can picture it in my hypothetical house...)

- Speaking of said house, I could *almost live here.* I could if I had a flatmate. Any takers?
- Even with flatmate, this is out of reach. Let's just stare, shall we? Ooh, Peffermill House.
- Ya know what? Screw it-- Blair Castle is for sale. Let's just go all out. It's hypothetical afterall. 

- If I were richer, I'd be a wine connoisseur I think. Instead, I'll just read this blog. We can all enjoy some wine, even if we're not rich.

Bonus Link:
- American Beauty & the Hollywood of 1999. Ah, the good old days (Brandon!)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spike Jonze - To Die By Your Side (at Shakespeare & Co)

As per usual, I get most of my cool quirky art recs from the dear Corinne. She posted this even before I could see it on Nowness. (Side note - I have Nowness envy. I wish I could be Nowness. Do you know it? Check it out for sure.)

Jonze teamed up with designer Olympia Le-Tan for this "tragicomic stop-motion" romp through Paris's amazing Shakespeare & Company. It's definitely one of my favorite settings. Recently, I've been writing a party thrown by Sylvia Beach at her store. It starts as a joyous fete the kind notorious for Paris in the 20s.  But it melts down into something very very scary. And even though the current incarnation of the bookstore/commune at 37 rue de la Buchere is more the invention of George Whitman than Sylvia Beach's rue de l'Odeon literary epicenter of the 20s, it's still a nice launching pad to imagine that world with Beach presiding over her court.  

She was pretty sparky. The store on rue de l'Odeon closed in 1940 during Nazi occupation of France. Rumor has it the store was shut down during  because she denied a German officer the last copy of Finnegan's Wake. (The fictitious version of which plays a huge part in my novel.) Even though Ernest Hemingway personally "liberated" the place, the store never reopened. Well, until George Whitman came along in the 1950s. Which is its own separate, wacky-awesome story

If you're a book nerd, you're sure to love this cheeky frolic across book covers and into their pages. I know I did!

Spike Jonze: Mourir Aupr├Ęs de Toi on

For more interviews with creator Olympia Le-Tan, check out Nowness's fb page.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Searching for Leaving Lismore kilts. The Colonel Jock MacDonald Memorial was awesome this year. There were so many talented kids. I sort of wanted to steal some of them. It was cool to recognize so many of them from last year and see how they've grown as performers. A lot of them were (to use an old speech & debate term) double entered in more than one event. I got to see a lot more piping this year. Adorbs. Sadly, the piper we thought should have won did not. However! There was this girl piper (who we missed seeing-- she must have been amazing) who swept most of the categories. Girl power. 

My favorite event though I think will always be the clarsach. The celtic harp is so gorgeous it makes my heart hurt. Last year, I recorded the clarsach final on my phone and I listen to it all the time. Sadly, I recorded it on a program that wouldn't let me email it off my phone, so I can't really show you. And I've been looking for what tune it was ever since. No one could tell me. Turns out, it's because the girl had done a really amazing, elaborated arrangement of this song, "Leaving Lismore." I finally figured it out while looking for some good clarsach to share with you. So here is a slightly simpler version of what might be my favorite Gaelic song: 

And... a Bonus Video...
PS- if you really wanna be freaked out, click here

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Mumuration is a Collection of Starlings

Here's the deal. There are all these things about the world and about nature that no one ever tells you living in a big city. You just have to get out into the world to see them. 

My friend Sophie posted this video over the weekend and I watched it while we were on Skye. Wow. This was on the River Shannon in Ireland. More from Sophie Windsor Clive & Liberty Smith at Islands & Rivers

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

Monday, November 7, 2011

So Fresh & So Clean - Quiraing Hike

A hike in the Quiraing is amazing no matter how many times you go, no matter the conditions. Iona says she particularly loves the excursion when the weather is bad. And because the light is always different, the trip does always feel new. Or maybe it's because the Quiraing is actually still moving. It really is a different place. And it's easy to say Wow in every direction. And you pretty much can't take a bad photo. I heart Skye. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In the beginning, there were answers- Idlewild, Scottish Fiction

Today is brought to you by the drive between the Isle of Skye & Edinburgh-- with some of the most stunning views known to man. The colors! It's a palette deserving of some great music. So how about Edinburgh mainstay, Idlewild. I've never been so obsessed with a band's song titles: Readers & Writers, American English, Younger than America, Quiet Crown

Today is brought to you by "Scottish Fiction," -- something I'm writing, something I'm living, something I'm listening to. And so I share with you. 

For more, check out their website here. And this fun deal on the Beeb. They call them the fag-end of Britpop. In a nice way....Ha!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Weekend Mellow Music- James Vincent McMorrow

By the time you read this, I'll be listening to blaring bagpipes. But the mood of Skye is much more mellow. So I leave you this fine November Saturday with some Irish goodness from Dubliner, James Vincent McMorrow

I love his originals. I've been extremely productive all week long alternating between his Early in the Morning and the new Flo album, Ceremonials. Basically, I'm into the whole album. Especially bonus track, "Red Dust". If you missed it, also check out his song "We Don't Eat" in the beautiful One Year in NYC video

But he also does covers and you know how I love those covers. "If I had a boat" is still not a cover, but he's got some Adele! (Below.) He even does a cover of my most misheard lyric throughout childhood, Steve Winwood's "Bake Me a Pie of Love"...I mean, "Higher Love."

Happy Saturday! Enjoy!

Click here for a mini concert courtesy of NPR. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Self-Centered but genrerous: Friday Links

Peace out, suckers! I'm going to Skye. I say that with love. This post's title is courtesy of The Rumpus. It's one of their taglines. I just think it's funny. And sort of true about most bloggy/internetty type stuff. But yep, it's that time of year again: The Colonel Jock Macdonald Annual Gaelic music competition! Dozens of adorable Hebridean children singing a capella, pint-sized pipers, and clarsach strummers. It's also my one-year friendship-o-versary with Iona. So we're road-tripping it  for some bonfires at Dunvegan Castle, hikes and musical merriment. 

Here's what else happened this week:
Write Like a Mothafucka
I'm adding this to my Christmas List (both to give & to receive. Rock.) Designed by Walter Green

Little Riot
This is one badass Edinburgh-based design firm with cra-cray cool ideas. Long distance couple pillows? Storymaker, Storyteller?!? I can seriously support their name also.

Artists, Institutions, & the Decline of Public Discourse.
Read this! 

Outfit to Room: Off-Duty Rocker Edition
Dude, Ann Sage & The City Sage rock my world. She is always on point. I want to be her friend. You know I love a personification of a room kind of stuff. (And vice versa!) I blame Domino Mag (R.I.P). I think so does Anne. Plus, I love that beardy pic of Paul McCartney. 

Michael Wilson writes as Lucia Joyce
Thanks to Iona who overheard this 2009 BBC poetry slam on Radio 4 last weekend! Northern Irish poet Michael Wilson (who's apparently bisexual, bipolar and we should buy his books) presented a poem written from the perspective of possibly schizophrenic muse (and heroine of my novel!) Lucia Joyce. It's only up online for a bit, so check. it. out. It starts at 14:55. Who wants to help me track it down in print??

Let's get the weekend started!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Balloons of Bhutan: Jonathan Harris does it again

Ever since the first time I ever heard about Jonathan Harris, via his We Feel Fine project while I was working one of the worst jobs of my life, I have been a massive fan of his work. Of the ideas in his work. The boundaries he pushed. The questions he raised. 

One of his newest projects is the Balloons of Bhutan project. I have to say, I think it's stunning. I just can't think of anyone pairing moving ideas with moving imagery the way Jonathan Harris is doing. Obviously, they practice a different sort of Buddhism in Bhutan than the Japanese form of Buddhism I grew up practicing. But I've got to hand it to a country so intrigued by happiness and what it's made out of. On the Balloons of Bhutan website intro, Jonathan says "instead of 'Gross National Product,' Bhutan uses 'Gross National Happiness' to measure its socio-economic prosperity." 

I'll let Jonathan explain the bridge between the anthropology part and the art part in his own words from the website:

Given the seriousness with which this topic is treated, I thought it would be fun to do something a little bit silly, so in late 2007, I traveled to Bhutan and spent two weeks handing out balloons.I asked people five questions pertaining to happiness: what makes them happy, what is their happiest memory, what is their favorite joke, what is their level of happiness between 1 and 10, and, if they could make one wish, what would it be. Based on each person's stated level of happiness, I inflated that number of balloons, so very happy people would be given 10 balloons and very sad people would be given only one (but hey, it's still a balloon). Then I wrote each person's wish onto a balloon of their favorite color. I repeated this process for 117 different people, from all different ages and backgrounds.On the final night, all 117 wish balloons were re-inflated and strung up at Dochula, a sacred mountain pass at 10,000 feet, leaving them to bob up and down in the wind, mingling with thousands of strands of prayer flags.Here's the finished story — enjoy!

He's gotten some flack lately in various articles about another project of his-- which I'm preparing a longer post about as we speak-- but I wanted to let you float away on this lovely thing and hope it carries you into Friday and a great weekend. 

All photos from the Balloons of Bhutan project website. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

So Sweet I got a toothache: baby dancing goat

At the risk of this being the absolute dorkiest thing I've ever posted, can I just say, this baby dancing pygmy goat is so cute I can't stand it. I'm going to give myself a pass because I live in Scotland and nature and animals and things are part of the deal. Clearly I've been susceptible to the charms of whimsical farm animals lately. The video of this little guy (named Quaver) and the subsequent dubstep remix is my midweek pick me up. Can I have one for Christmas, please? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dreamy NYC

Have you seen this cool video by Irish filmmaker Andrew Clancy, A Year in New York? I came across it via a friend yesterday while I was posting pictures of my rural weekend. I got lost in all of NYC's urban splendor until suddenly I had a realization that made me very sad. That the "year in New York" this video captured was a whole year when I wasn't there. 

It's sort of silly and emo to go there, especially since I have been so happy this past year. But I think I'll always wish to be in at least two places at once-- and one of them will always be NYC. I just don't like facing the reality of opportunity costs. 

But this video even managed to inspire a sense of love of that train lumbering sideways and then sloping downwards from Queens into Manhattan. It was fun to romanticize it as more of an old Coney Island roller coaster, rather than the infuriating thing that made me late every morning. In general, I loved how much attention Queens got in this vid. (Though, side note, my favorite thing about the new Battery's Down video, "You Must Be Joking" is when VRay sings, "Pretending to love Astoria." On point, Jake.)

Anyhow, check out Andrew's vid featuring "We Don't Eat" from Dubliner James Vincent McMorrow. More on him later, but if you like Bon Iver or Sufjan Stevens, you'll be barking up the right tree. Texans, do not be alarmed. His "If I had a Boat," is not a cover. But I do recommend listening to it.  And checking out some of the rest of Clancy's vids as well. His Irish Voices project is pretty cool. 

Why Stop Now?

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