Lego Personality Retardation Disorder Redux

Listen, I thought I’d exposed the emergence and threat of Lego Personality Retardation Disorder in my post from February. Sadly, however, it appears that my warnings have not been heeded and the madness continues to spread.

Via World Architecture News:

Travellers passing through London’s famed St Pancras Station will alight to a festive treat this season as the concourse is transformed with the appearance of an immense Lego® Christmas tree. Constructed over a period of two months from 600,000 miniature bricks the jolly addition stretches 38ft into the air and is decorated with more than 1,000 Lego® baubles.

So sad. To think of the countless hours of work over that two-month construction period that could have been applied to more important matters.

Heck, in this case, just think of how this “Christmas Tree” will be completely lacking any pine or fir smell whatsoever!

Blasphemy, I say!

Tweet of the Day: @JohnFugelsang

basement-tapesBob Dylan‘s 1966 retreat to Woodstock, New York, after his meteoric rise to superstardom, has grown into a story of mythic proportions for a good reason. Dylan, like Icarus, had flown too close to the sun and suffered for it. His hubris led him to take a confrontational approach with his fans and the media who didn’t understand how he could abandon folk music for Rock & Roll, and by the end of his famous “going electric” tour he was utterly spent by all the attention he’d attracted.

However, unlike Icarus, who fell to his death, Dylan only fell off his motorcycle, after which he set about reinventing himself…again.

If I could travel back in time and crash any scene I wanted to crash, I’d hang out with Bob Dylan in Woodstock during his 19-month semi-seclusion there.

While the rest of the Rock & Roll world was busy exploring the limits of psychedelic pop music (which I also love) — The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour, The Rolling Stones: Flowers, The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced? and Axis: Bold as Love, The Doors: The Doors and >Strange Days, Cream: Disraeli Gears, Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow, The Velvet Underground and Nico: The Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd: Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, The Grateful Dead: Grateful Dead, and so, so much more — Dylan and his neighbors, The Band, immersed themselves in American roots music, writing and making low-fi recordings of over 100 songs in the basement of The Band’s house.

Writer Mike Marqusee, in his book Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the Sixties describes this period like this:

“At the very moment when avant-gardism was sweeping through new cultural corridors, Dylan decided to dismount. The dandified, aggressively modern surface was replaced by a self-consciously unassuming and traditional garb. The giddiness embodied, celebrated, dissected in the songs of the mid-sixties had left him exhausted. He sought safety in a retreat to the countryside that was also a retreat in time, or more precisely, a search for timelessness.”

So what does all this have to do with a Twitter tweet by John Fugelsang?

Well, there is definitely something healing about the countryside, and though The Beatles withstood the heat of the sun longer than both Icarus and Bob Dylan, by 1968 The Beatles were imploding and George Harrison accepted an invitation from Bob to visit him in Woodstock.

It took me that many words, 398 actually, to describe everything that I see in this photo that Fugelsang tweeted yesterday.!/JohnFugelsang/status/141667287508856832

Eyecatchers: Do Ho Suh

Thanks to my friend Paul Brower, who works at the Western Gallery at WWU, for alerting me to a super cool art installation coming soon to campus, by South Korean-born artist Do Ho Suh (Photo courtesy of The Stranger):

At first glance, it’s impossible to understand exactly what’s going on in this piece. Sure, it looks amazing, like a tornado made entirely of candy, but thanks to another photo posted at The Stranger, it’s clear that there’s much more to the piece, titled Cause & Effect, than that:

Wow. That’s a lot of little orange men! Let’s see what the artist intends it all to mean (via WWU Office of Communications):

“’Cause & Effect’ evokes a vicious tornado. This vast ceiling installation is a composition of densely hung strands that anchor thousands of figures clad in colors resembling a Doppler reading stacked atop one another,” said Do Ho Suh, adding that the artwork is a “physical realization of existence, suggesting strength in the presence of numerous individuals. The work is an attempt to decipher the boundaries between a single identity and a larger group, and how the two conditions coexist.”

The artwork at Western metaphorically places the individual within an intricate web of destiny and fate. “It comes from a belief that every individual is spawned from the lives he/she may have lived previously. The vertical context of the figures becomes a collection of past influences, and again, begins to define the inherent powers and energies that characterize an individual,” he said.

It strikes me that no photos can really duplicate the experience of actually viewing Cause & Effect on site, so I’m really looking forward to spending time with it when it arrives.

Tweet of the Day: @timepictures

Very beautiful and moving:!/timepictures/status/141243832745476096

Monday Zoetrope Menagerie

So, last week I heard a wonderful interview with Francis Ford Coppola, recorded at the Toronto International Film Festival, and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re a film nut like me.

Coppola is personable and eloquent, a real master talking about his career and his craft. His anecdotes from the filming of Apocolypse Now alone are worth the listen, but his take on money and the film industry, and his sage advice to questions from the audience of young filmmakers are also full of insight and sensitivity.

During the interview, I was reminded that Coppola named the film production company he founded 1969 Zoetrope Studios.

And in an amazing coincidence, a few days later, via Colossal, I came across several videos of zoetrope animations that knocked my socks off. The painstaking time it takes to conceive, construct and film these just blows my mind.

First up, given my oft-expressed love of bicycles, it’s no wonder that this caught my attention:

Second, even though I never thought I’d have to eat again, after the extensive holiday feasting this past weekend, my appetite switch was toggled back to the “On” position as I watched this:

And finally, it was back to bicycles, perhaps a sign from the universe that I need to do some extensive pedaling soon to work off the Thanksgiving calorie load:


As a writer who strives to develop and maintain a unique voice, I have to admit that coming up with a Thanksgiving Day blog entry, when so many thousands of bloggers will post something on the topic over the next few days, presents its challenges.

Mainly, I don’t want to appear cynical by not including a photo of a turkey or listing all the things I am thankful for, because the truth is that I love Thanksgiving! From the break from work, the traditional foods and family gatherings, to the pause we take to express our gratitude, I feel deeply nourished by the holiday in this time of darkening days and approaching winter.

And yet, it seems to me that the deeper, more profound potential of Thanksgiving can so easily be lost if all we do is give thanks for our good fortune without an accompanying humble awareness of just how many people are less fortunate, often significantly, desperately, violently, tragically less fortunate, than we are.

I know. Those are often difficult things to contemplate, and we want to enjoy ourselves on Thanksgiving, and here I am a big, fat, wet blanket. Right?

But it’s not cynicism or nihilism. Not really. I want everyone to enjoy the holiday as much as I desire to.

No, what I’m suggesting is actually rather simple. All I suggest is that we hold those less fortunate than us in our hearts as we enjoy our friends and family, our feast, our cozy homes, that we wish the same for them, and that we try as hard as we can to keep the idea alive that all living beings deserve a day off and a feast and a roof over their heads.

Happy Thanksgiving…to all!

Tweet of the Day: #thanksgiving

Just.Do.It. LOL!!/TheAtlantic/status/139409129981755392

Celebrating Eco-Progress: Hilton

It’s been a while since my last installment of Celebrating Eco-Progress — my series of posts dedicated to appreciating companies for adopting or expanding sustainable practices — because I’ve been too pissed off at big business and the 1% to pat them on the back for anything.

However, I still stand by my assertion that providing positive feedback to companies when they do something good is an effective way of encouraging them to do more and more good things.

So, today I applaud Hilton Hotels for a new partnership they’ve struck with Good360.


Hilton Worldwide has found another way to give its surplus and gently used items a second life. The hotel chain is the latest firm to partner with Good360, a nonprofit that channels product donations from companies to charities.

Non-perishable goods likely to come from Hilton properties could range from furniture, bedding and appliances to office equipment, a corporate spokeswoman said yesterday.

Some hotels in the chain are already working with Good360, she said. The corporate partnership provides a formal avenue for others to participate and find a home for usable items that would be discarded when a property replaces its furnishings, redecorates or upgrades equipment.

Very cool! It’s one thing for an organization like Good360 to exist, but companies like Hilton have to make the commitment to work with them.

And just in case you think that Good360 is some small time organization…

Other firms that work with Good360 include The Home Depot, HP, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Williams-Sonoma, Disney and H&M. Good360, originally founded as Gifts-in-Kind in 1983, has distributed more than $7 billion worth of donated products to charities and schools over the past 28 years, according to Kara Kozimor, spokeswoman for the nonprofit.

Meanwhile, less, um, palpable, but just as praiseworthy:

Earlier this month, Hilton announced that it is working with the Global Soap Project to recycle used soap from hotels. The bars of hand and bath soap are collected and reprocessed into new ones for use in crisis areas, such as refugee camps. Hilton also is investing $1.3 million to expand the nonprofit’s soap processing operation.

Keep up the good work, Hilton!

On Police Brutality, Free Speech, and…roosters.

November 18, 2011: Police attack peaceful protesters with pepper sray at University of California – Davis.

November 21, 2011: Bellingham City Council approves an ordinance meant to address the problem of noisy roosters in residential neighborhoods, promising, according to a Bellingham Herald headline: New Bellingham rooster noise law will be gently enforced.

Related or not?

If roosters could speak English, would they say they’re pleased that they won’t be pepper sprayed for practicing their right to free speech?

Better yet, will they feel justice was carried out if, when they do crow and annoy their human neighbors, their owners, who have forced them to live in a dense urban setting rather than the spacious farm they prefer, are fined $100?

Tweet of the Day: @TheOnion

Hilarious and spot on! Must listen!!/TheOnion/status/138629003291533312

While wincing intermittently at the sound of his bullet collection exploding…