Thursday, December 30, 2010

so you want to write a novel

oh dear. so painful. so true. (my favorite is the bit about her throat closing up and the gun...)


New York Blizzard time-lapse video

in case you didn't see this... it might make you feel like you were there

(If you were sorry, you don't need reminding)

I managed to totally miss the entire storm--just back from the UK (aka The Frozen North) where I was snowed in for over a week (handily along with lashings of the best Christmas cake ever made and strong cups of tea and friends and family)

but I've made it back OK through the chaos at JFK last night and the ginormous taxi lines via subway and bus

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

commuting to work

Actually, I think if it's OK I'm going to stick with the slippers and pajama commute, but here's what some people do to get to the office in the morning: (and don't even think about what happens if there's a storm...)
let the cartoon play at the start and wait... (and perhaps put on your safety belt or attach yourself to a solid object)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mako, the King James Bible 400th birthday, and the four holy gospels

my friend Mako has done something brave and unique and beautiful. he's illustrating the Bible with abstract art. the mystery of creation. a new illumined bible for the 21st century. 

there's a new modern art in town!

Mako's paintings move you profoundly. they are worship in paint.

opening tonight at the Dillon Gallery
555 W25th Street, NYC

More here.

His book, The Four Gospels Illumined Bible will be on sale in January.

Posted via email from jsb

Monday, December 6, 2010

stop the world

Instead of shooting a fast moving object, Taylor's high-speed video camera is the fast moving object (on a high speed train going around 125 mph), and it is filming the platform moving by. Fast motion in slow motion.

no plot, no action, totally mesemerizing.
via Glide project
via Graeme Taylor's blog: Straylight
filmed with a casio exilim fh20

He says: "In all my slow-motion work so far, I’ve used a static camera to capture a high-speed event. But, I wondered, what would happen if the camera was the fast-moving object? For instance, if you use a 210fps camera at 35mph, on playback at 30fps it’ll seem to the observer that they’re moving at walking pace- but everything observed will be operating at 1/7th speed."

ah yes. just as I suspected.

Friday, December 3, 2010

patty cake cats

a friend sent this to me and I'm sorry but it IS friday so silliness is in order

(wait. sorry. silliness is ALWAYS in order)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tree of Codes

Jonathan Safran Foer has a new book coming out called Tree of Codes and he made it by taking his favorite book, The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz and cutting out the words to create a completely new story. wow.

This is an image of the book.

He uses sculptural means to craft a story--and reminds us that books have bodies! This is one that I can't see working on a nook or a kindle or even an iPad.

Books with bodies!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Project Sunshine Visit

Earlier this month I was privileged to visit Cohen's Children's Medical Center on Long Island with Project Sunshine

Schwartz & Wade at Random House very generously donated the books so that we could give each child their own copy. (Thank you!)

The day started at Penn Station for me with a pigeon pooping on my head. So of course it was quite fitting that I should begin the reading with a manners book (the pigeon clearly had never read of it).

This is little 5 year-old Tayema and we are reading  HOW TO GET MARRIED BY ME THE BRIDE and BEING A PIG IS NICE. The hospital IT people also filmed the reading for their close circuit TV thing where children from their various beds could join in--probably about 50 of them--and it will also be put on their TV loop.

Oh dear. Poor children. All I can say is I'm glad I don't have to watch myself on endless loop--no doubt you are too. (It's not just me on the loop mercifully. They have other authors and entertainers on there too.) 

But seriously what a wonderful charity. 

Project Sunshine is a nonprofit organization that provides free educational, recreational, and social programs to children and families living with medical challenges. You can volunteer here and/or give here.


Posted via email from s@lly l-j

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

how to edit a magazine...

from The Atlantic's Twelve timeless rules for making a good publication... (in honor of their 153rd birthday) With technology, web, media revolutions all around us, some things don't change...

3. Don't over-edit.You will often estrange an author by too elaborate revision, and furthermore, take away from the magazine the variety of style that keeps it fresh

7. A sound editor never has a three-months' full supply in his cupboard. When you over-buy, you narrow your future choice...

11. Humor is precious and correspondingly hard to find. Most humor that reaches us is merely jocularity, and it is well to be jocular only when really funny.

Love number 3 (and if you are fortunate you have brilliant editors you trust who edit within an inch of the manuscript's life and make you look great as a result)

And number 7: true of writing... if you hoard your best material to use another time rather than at once, in this book, the one you're writing now, you end up with less. If you spend everything, use it all up, mysteriously the pantry fills up again...

Number 11: I think I like but it's giving me a little bit of a math headache because on the other hand I kind of don't know what it means

Posted via email from s@lly l-j

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Random Act of Culture in Macy's

The day before halloween, mingling in plain clothes amongst the crowds in Macy's, more than 650 singers from the Opera Company of Philadelphia burst into song... 

can you watch this without your spirit soaring?

makes you want to shout, Hallelujah!

Posted via email from s@lly l-j

Monday, November 15, 2010

latest extinct thing... deep thinking sacred space down time

How do we slow down and get uninterrupted deep thinking space back?

The Sabbath Manifesto suggest 10 principles to slowing down lives.

Number one? (Of course) Avoid technology.

And their most brilliant idea of all? For our cell phones to have sleeping bags. 

Although, I rarely use mine. It's always asleep. I forget to wake it up. So mine doesn't need a sleeping bag it needs a cup of coffee. (Well, it's over 10 years old and so it needs a lot more than just coffee...) 

To my surprise, I've avoided the iPhone--only because it's so beautiful. (So beautiful that I'd always be on it and missing things out there, etc.) So I keep my old phone that doesn't tempt me. (The draw back: no one can reach me and yesterday I almost missed a fabulous brunch with friends because of it... so any day now I may find myself with an iPhone. But if I do, I promise I'm getting a sleeping bag with it.)

Anyway, maybe on your Christmas list--a sleeping bag for your phone?

And then here's this great article too:

Interruption-free space is sacred. Yet, in the digital era we live in, we are losing hold of the few sacred spaces that remain untouched by email, the internet, people, and other forms of distraction. Our cars now have mobile phone integration and a thousand satellite radio stations. When walking from one place to another, we have our devices streaming data from dozens of sources. Even at our bedside, we now have our iPads with heaps of digital apps and the world's information at our fingertips.

more here

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Benefits of Tea

William Gladstone (former PM of Great Britain, 3 times between 1868 and 1894) said: 

'If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited it will calm you.' 


He had no comment on coffee.


Isn't it time to put the kettle on?


(This picture of course is not Gladstone but someone else who is far too perky for his own good)

Posted via email from s@lly l-j

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Traveler Alert: NO SNOW GLOBES ALLOWED through security

not a joke. saw this at LaGuardia last week on my way to Atlanta.

found out that snow globes are not allowed at any airport security checkpoints on account of them having "an undetermined amount of liquid" in them.

Posted via email from s@lly l-j

Friday, November 5, 2010

MASLOW'S hierarchy of hats

LOVE this.
BTW: which hat are you in today? Me? probably a hair net... but any minute now I'm in purple pointy velvety one. definitely.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

how to be disfunctional (by Sol Herzig)

Along similar lines to the MISERY tips, here's The 7 Secrets of Dysfunctional Families by Sol Herzig, PhD.

Happily, practicing these seven principles will transform your perfectly functioning family into a completely dysfunctional one.

It's no secret that the number of happy families is at an all time low. Most communities scarcely boast a handful, and the trend is accelerating. In fact, social scientists predict that by the year 2018 only 411 reasonably happy families will be left in the entire United States! The good news is, no longer must you watch this sweeping revolution from the sidelines.By studying and applying the seven principles below, your family too can come out of the shadows and proudly join the dysfunctional majority.

In the normal course of events, problems are not supposed to happen. If they do, someone must be blamed. Fortunately, there's no shortage of inept, spiteful, deranged suspects to choose from. If someone neglects to tighten the pickle jar lid, they must be hunted down and interrogated. Not enough hot water left for your shower? It's a sure sign of treachery that you ignore at your peril. Is a child underachieving in school? Somewhere in the picture there's an arrogant, incompetent teacher in bad need of a tongue lashing. Your roof starting to leak? It's that swindler of a contractor you hired twenty eight years ago. You get the idea. Sensitize those around you to the fact that your slightest irritation is their worst nightmare. Expect perfection from everyone but yourself, and don't settle for anything less. Everything in life has to be earned, but most especially unconditional love. Make sure your family members work their tails off for it. Sensitize those around you to the fact that your slightest irritation is their worst nightmare.

Encouraging family members to gratify your every whim is a responsibility you need to take seriously. The best way to ensure this is through the liberal use of guilt and shame. Thankfully, there are many ways to go about this. For instance, magnifying flaws, drawing comparisons, , unearthing past mistakes, casting glances of utter disdain, wailing "you're killing me", are to mention but a few. An oft overlooked, yet surprisingly effective, method is the judicious assignment of pet names. In a society where a stable sense of identity is elusive for so many, pet names can play a very constructive role. Examples of identity-building names include "Selfish Brat", "Space Cadet", "Prima Donna", "Kvetch", "Clueless", "Klutzhead", and so on. "Shmendrik", so popular only a generation ago, is simply too imprecise and therefore not recommended.

Without being aware of it, we are constantly teaching our children as they observe our behavior. This provides unique opportunities for imparting wisdom. Fortunate is the child who chances upon his parent, newspaper in hand, sprawled out on the sofa wolfing down jellybeans. Is there a more powerful way of demonstrating that multi-tasking doesn't have to be hard or boring? Or better yet, picture your child coming home from school and trying to engage you in conversation. By keeping your eyes glued to the computer screen, you are teaching the importance of maintaining focus under all circumstances. Repeated glances at your wristwatch will convey the critical importance of time. The vital role sleep plays in our lives can be demonstrated by several random, colossal yawns. All this teaching in just one brief encounter! Parental disagreements, as well, make for great learning experiences. For example, long periods of icy silence clearly illustrate that communication isn't just about words. Similarly, by shouting epithets at each other such as "You're a tightwad just like your father" or "Quit yapping at me like your mother", the beauty of generational continuity can be underscored. You get the picture. Being observed by our children is a great responsibility, but also a wonderful opportunity.

Everyone knows that communication is indispensable to family functioning. The key element in communication is simply being heard. Nothing ensures this better than screaming at the top of your lungs. Speaking in a normal tone not only guarantees that you won't be taken seriously, but also runs the very real risk of your being drowned out by the washing machine. Of course, there are many variations of screaming. Most effective is turning your face beet red, while protruding the veins in your neck to just beyond your shirt collar. Finally, there is no bolder exclamation point to an extended scream than hurtling the object nearest to you against the wall. If it shatters into many little pieces, you can rest assured that you've done everything humanly possible to get your point across. How better to prepare children for life's uncertainty than by subjecting them to it from their earliest years.

Ralph Waldo Emerson famously observed "Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds". Setting aside that no one has yet uncovered what a "hobgoblin" is, the message is clear: Broadmindedness requires inconsistency. Yet the advantages of inconsistency extend much farther. How better to prepare children for life's uncertainty than by subjecting them to it from their earliest years. Say your daughter fails to finish her soup. One day, you can choose to ignore it. The next, you pour it over her head. If your son keeps popping out of bed, one night you tuck him back in with a story, the next, it's " thirty knuckle push-ups mister, and I mean now". The important thing is to always keep them guessing. This will take effort on your part, but it will be rewarded by the look of utter confusion on your children's faces.

Boundaries are for countries, not families. Can you imagine anything more sterile and stifling than a family committed to personal space, privacy, and parental authority? Where are the caring, sharing, and togetherness we all cherish? Think instead of the relaxed informality that would pervade your home if everyone was on a first name basis and shared equal authority. True, it would take a while getting accustomed to your children calling you Phil and setting your bedtime, but once you got rid of your authoritarian mindset, you'd actually find it both endearing and liberating . Parents embracing enmeshment do not have to look far for confidants and friends. They are continually surprised and pleased by the helpful insights and support their children provide for their marital and financial problems. Eradicate boundaries and you'll very soon be putting the "fun" back into dysfunctional, where it belongs!

Married children yearn for your active involvement in their lives, but are often too shy to even hint at it. A wise parent will not make them beg, but will take on the role as a given. This takes considerable commitment on your part, but your children will be forever grateful. Nothing your married children do is so unimportant that it won't benefit from your input. For example, though she will deny it under oath, your daughter- in -law actually craves your constant feedback about her housecleaning, child rearing, and dieting. Your son-in-law, likewise, laps up your jibes about his mechanical ineptitude, career choice, and receding hairline. It is important, of course, that only constructive criticism be offered. Thankfully, this can easily be assessed by simply noticing if you feel better after dispensing it.

A final note: Achieving family dysfunction takes time, so don't get discouraged. After all, Rome wasn't sacked in a day! Joining a support group can greatly accelerate the process. At the very first impulse to pamper your spouse or praise your child, you grab the phone and speed dial your sponsor. He'll be glad to talk you through it, and in no time at all you'll be back to your new nasty self.

Posted via email from s@lly l-j

Monday, November 1, 2010

paintings inspired by trees and books

This artist's series of paintings--inspired by whenever she reads a book that mentions a tree. She calls it colorizing memories...

"Here, from my bookshelf," she writes, "are passages from some of my favorite Canadian authors on their leafy heritage."

More here.

via Leanne Shapton (from her book "The Native Trees of Canada")

via NYT

Friday, October 29, 2010


Here's a comedian I completely adore and a clip of her in one of my all time most favorites...

I want more please

Posted via email from s@lly l-j

Thursday, October 28, 2010

How JSB is being used by one church

The whole church is studying the JSB this year... all the generations

parents, young couples, even 80-year old grand parents are reading it and studying it!


Posted via email from jsb

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

beauteous chicken

Jago's iPad Chicken

(I asked if I could have it with noodles and hot sauce on the side...)

no seriously
I think he's really a cockerel not a chicken

but whoever he is 
he is glorious 
and I love him

via Jago

Posted via email from s@lly l-j

Monday, October 18, 2010

how to be miserable

(A friend sent me this 6 simple strategies for achieving MISERY and I couldn't resist)

The sobering fact is that serenity and joy are natural states for us all. Fear not. Practiced regularly, these strategies vastly improve our odds of attaining despair. by Sol Herzig, Ph.D.
Many people innocently believe that all they have to do is sit back, coast through life, and misery will come to them. Nothing could be further from the truth! The sobering fact is that serenity and joy are natural states for us all. Just observe a child at play, yourself on a favorite vacation, or anyone absorbed in creative activity. As our minds clear of clutter and negative thinking, a profound sense of peace and contentment often emerges. Does this mean there's no hope? Absolutely not! The strategies outlined below, practiced regularly, vastly improve our odds of achieving misery.
You are perfectly entitled to feelings of entitlement. It is your birthright to expect unfailing attention, loyalty, respect, and subservience from others. Contemplate the inherent, self-evident unfairness of anyone having something you want. Strive to see compromise, accommodation, patience, and responsibility, as somehow relevant only to "the other guy." In general, be aware that life owes you and that you were put on this planet to collect.
Malicious intent is always present if you just look carefully enough. This is particularly true regarding family members. Suppose your spouse overlooks one of your preferences. Seize the opportunity to view this as conclusive proof that you don't really matter to them and probably never have. If your children dawdle at bedtime, see them as viciously spiteful and yourself as a sorry excuse for a parent. It's really very simple. Ignore nothing, and always assume evil intent. Remember, if you don't take things personally no one will do it for you.
There is really very little sense in having problems if you don't focus on them. It's crucial therefore to keep careful track of all your problems and constantly review them. Nurture the attitude that you can't really move on to anything unless everything is resolved first. Remember also that there is no solution without a problem, if you look closely enough. Always resist the temptation to ponder where problems go when you don't think about them.
Too often people cheat themselves out of misery by maintaining perspective. This is both needless as well as extremely counter productive. Why would anyone ever want to think of themselves as "just human" when "fatally flawed" and "irredeemably warped" are available? Similarly, when recalling past mistakes, why stop at instructive regret when paralyzing guilt is within reach? Sure it requires a bit of effort, but the payoff can be enormous. Just imagine the benefits of eventually believing that your negative thinking actually reflects reality.
It is critical to remember that really terrible things can occur at any moment. Let's start with the body. Begin by paying close attention to changes in bodily sensation, no matter how trivial. Next, let your imagination run wild. Anything involving flesh-eating bacteria or intestinal parasites will usually do the trick. People sometimes protest that their bodies feel perfectly fine. Not to worry! Think "Silent Killers." Feeling perfectly fine places you squarely at risk for these. Of course, there is no reason to stop at personal health issues. The range of potential catastrophe is vast. For example, there are suitcase bombs, encroaching asteroids, global recession, pandemics, killer bees, and so on. Simply use your imagination to craft a realistic sense of impending doom. Savor the pride you'll feel on your death bed knowing that nothing ever caught you by surprise.
Gratitude is to misery what Kryptonite is to Superman. All the hard work you've invested in misery will go down the drain if you start fiddling around with gratitude. A zero tolerance policy is very much in order. This is very challenging, however, as life runs rampant with opportunities for gratefulness. Begin, therefore, by thoroughly discounting all the good in your life as a "given." Next, focus your mind on the many ways in which life continues to disappoint you. At an advanced level, you can even learn to see the bad in the good. For instance, should you get a big raise you could immediately focus on the tax implications. Eliminate gratitude from your life and misery will be right around the corner.
A final word. The beauty of misery is that the more you share it with others, the more you wind up having. So share generously. After all, misery loves company.

Monday, October 11, 2010

picture books in the NYT

Have you read this article in the NYT last week? 

If you love picture books, you'll find it pretty hard to take--not much in there I agreed with.

How sad that it becomes all about graduating and grades and teaching you something--instead of recognizing the incredible power of a story in and of itself-- however it is told, with illustrations or not. 

A story can do so much more than just teach you. 

It can transform you.

If you think picture books are important, then feel free respond to the article in the NYT site here.


Posted via email from s@lly l-j

Friday, October 1, 2010

latest: where did you put your faith?

I'm a guest blogger today at Jason Boyett's cool O Me Of Little Faith blog on
O Me of Little Faith

Posted via email from jsb

bookish coffee sideways: v cool design

designed by Anurag Nema

D'Espresso, 317 Madison Avenue (42nd Street)

Nema turns a normal room sideways. Glazed tiles printed with images of books created the illusion of bookshelves tilted sideways, running along the ceiling, down the rear wall and onto the floor.

very cool

via NYT

Posted via email from s@lly l-j

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

portraits, photos + something to do with death

Truman Capote 1947, by Cartier-Bresson

"As time passes by and you look at portraits, the people come back to you like a silent echo. A photograph is a vestige of a face, a face in transit. Photography has something to do with death. It's a trace." Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

must be why old photos can make you feel sad.

at least they do me.

Monday, September 27, 2010

new blog up: on writing--first you must lose yourself

"I'm not responsible for my photographs. Photography is not documentary, but intuition, a poetic experience. It's drowning yourself, dissolving yourself and then sniff, sniff, sniff--being sensitive to coincidence. You can't go looking for it; you can't want it or you won't get it. First you must lose your self. Then it happens." Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)
I think it's the same thing with writing--you as the writer are no more responsible for your stories than Cartier-Bresson was for his photographs.

The story tells you how it wants to be told. And it's cleverer than you are.

You're like the servant of the story. Your job is to be available and to listen. Do what you're told. And then get out of the way. "First you must lose yourself."

Being available means showing up, being "one of the people on whom nothing is lost" (Henry James).
Listening means not shoe-horning things that into the story just because you love how they sound (those "Darlings" G K Chesteron tells us to "murder").

If you're asking, "Am I a good writer?" you've got in the way of the story. It's not about you, remember. It's about the story.

The only question you need to be asking is: "Am I telling a good story?"

And then get out of the way and let the story through--whatever it is and in whatever way it wants to be told.

Friday, September 24, 2010

new blog up: How To Draw

Apparently there is an ultimate test of drawing. And the often told story is this: (in the cool Opinionator blog today: "The Frisbee of Art" by James McMullan, illustrator of I STINK the wonderful children's book about garbage trucks)

When Pope Boniface (I love his name. did he make it up?). Hopefully he was handsome or it might have been quite hard to go round with that name--imagine it would be like being called Mrs Gorgeous and then going right ahead being plug-ugly. But I suppose, if he wasn't good looking, he could always have changed his name and been Pope Ugliface.

Anyway. Stop it. Back to the story. So when this stunning Pope Boniface VII was looking for a new artist to work on the frescoes in St Peter's Basilica, James McMullan continues:

"He sent a courtier out into the country to interview artists and collect samples of their work that he could judge. The courtier approached the painter Giotto and asked for a drawing to demonstrate his skill. Instead of a study of angels and saints, which the courtier expected, Giotto took a brush loaded with red paint and drew a perfect circle. The courtier was furious, thinking he had been made a fool of; nonetheless, he took the drawing back to Boniface. The Pope understood the significance of the red circle, and Giotto got the job."

However, James McMullan argues it's not the circle so much as the ellipse that is the true test.
(Warning: if you read his blog all the way through you will start to see ellipses everywhere and might not be able to get out the door. If you don't mind that, read more here)

must go and sharpen my pencils now I just saw two ellipses on my toe

Friday, September 10, 2010

new blog up: photography & writing--simplify, simplify, simplify

"Reality offers us such a wealth that we must cut some of it out on the spot, simplify. The question is, do we always cut out what we should? ... We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole." Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004)

Same with writing. If you don't make the cuts, if you don't revise, the whole suffers. If you keep everything, you end up with nothing. 

You have to "murder your darlings" (G K Chesterton). Invariably, those passages where you are thrilled with the language, and yourself, are the ones an editor will want to axe. (How do they know??) They seem to leap off the page at them. Perhaps it's that you got in the way and stopped serving the story and started showing off?

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary that the necessary make speak" Hans Hoffman

Have this on my desk to remind me. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

Posted via email from s@lly l-j

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