Saturday, October 24, 2015

The New Shingled House

The New Shingled House: Ike Kligerman Barkley on Amazon

the new shingled house book coverArchitects John Ike, Thomas A. Kligerman, and Joel Barkley have been partners for twenty-five years.

I'm a graphic designer with an interest in houses, a theologian with a passion for their homemaking implications, so I ordered The New Shingled House―thanks, Amazon Vine! I've long majorly been about The City and Cities, too, and this book enhances my collection of quality printed urban books and city literature. However, the fourteen dwelling places in The New Shingled House are all around everywhere across the vast expanse of the continental USA, and not exclusively in cities. To cite the book description, "the shingled house can suggest the beach, the countryside, the mountains, and even the city."

The 10.3" x 12.3" format, (physically very) heavyweight book is packed full of full-color, mostly full page photographs of interiors and exteriors. It also provides descriptions, commentary, and floor plans. The grand scale of these places impresses me, but possibly part of that impression comes from the perspective of the photographer's camera? The often subtle, usually understated natural colors, materials and textures in every design and production detail of these houses is my idea of elegance! These are models I'd love to draw on and change around to the needs of my own environment.

From any viewpoint, what a wonderfully inspiring resource for designing your own rooms, offices, studios, or almost any work place or living space. Summing up this book and the houses in the book? Fabulous, simply fabulous!

my amazon review: stunning, opulent, brilliant

Monday, September 07, 2015

Hello Koreatown!

hello k-townSix full days here already! Over the past couple months I've gradually done essentials like changes of address for DMV, post office, other accounts. I joined the local American Guild of Organists (AGO) chapter so I could get on their substitute/ supply keyboard list, and received friendly welcomes from the placement guy and the chapter dean. Prior to leaving Previous City I designated the LA chapter when I paid my biennial AIGA dues. Check out the kaleidoscope of social and professional activities in my near future!

K-Town is a few miles along the Wilshire corridor from my former neighborhood of Westwood, past Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive, past LACMA—which soon will be an easily enjoyable visit, moving up toward Hollywood: this is "mid-Wilshire" in Central LA. I lot of us live in this place! I won't publicize how many, and besides, the number is fluid, in flux, changes almost every day. Rent here is much less than the Westwood apartment and the building is about the same antiquity. With lower housing costs, excellent housemates, more welcoming professional organizations, my assumption Current City would be better all-around is coming true.

Korean ConsulI miss traffic buzz drifting up to the second floor from the Westwood streets, but I hope the energy and excitement in this neighborhood will make up some. Countless hole in the wall clothing, cosmetic, and miscellaneous mini- and micro-restaurants line both sides of 3rd street—a genuine surprise for this second decade of this twenty-first century! I'll need a recommendation before venturing into any of the eateries, but when I talked to the food truck lady (the previous day it was a guy) parked along 3rd Avenue, I asked about the prices I couldn't find anywhere, and discovered tacos start at only $1, so I'll be trying them soon.

hello k-town

People sell fruits and veggies (I don't like the words produce or redux or pesky or several others, but I love artisanal) on the sidewalks outside the two major chain supermarkets. Both markets have the same general up to date design ambiance as others in this city and in Previous City, but with added pocket of poverty, ethnic area, lower-income reminders such as thick Plexiglas windows at the send money overseas windows. Another sidewalk vendor or two or maybe that's three or four or more offers jewelry and purses. Several others hawk specialty ethnic cuisine. This is Koreatown, but with the population more than half latino/latina a lot of the food is south of the international border and not any kind of Asian at all.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

last call, last mall

last call to do your shopping at the last mall

cottonwood mall, Holladay Utah arsenal mall, watertown, massachusetts square one mall, saugus, massachusetts

The third pic is Square One Saugus Mall by John Phelan, who says we can edit if we give him credit.

1. Cottonwood Mall in the SLC suburb of Holladay died. Cottonwood Mall is dead, deceased, kicked the bucket, bought the farm. One of the real last malls. When I was on staff at Sizable Suburban Church, I loved to take the short drive over to the clean, bright, enticing mall at lunch time for a little shopping and a little lunch—such sensory appeal because I'd just hailed into town from the inner city? Not sure. It's unlikely I'd every know for sure.

2. My last divinity school semester I enjoyed both the older Watertown Mall and the newer Arsenal Mall near my Watertown residence. I haven't been there since, but websites show both still live and kicking.

3. From Boston's historic North End I'd sometimes drive over the Mystic River Bridge, realname "Tobin Bridge." Despite being a toll road, the two-mile span high above the river was fun and the most convenient passage to the north shore. Wikipedia says since 21 July 2014, the bridge has been taking only electronic tolls. If I didn't have a lot of time or had the inclination, I'd take a quick trip to New England Shopping Center, the old name of Square One Mall; if time was no objects (as if that ever would be the case), I'd take the longer trek up the coast to Northshore Mall in Peabody.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

blue bowl blog

Rachael Ray Cucina Dinnerware Stoneware Cereal Bowl, 5-1/2-Inch, Agave Blue

blue bowlsI am really Really REALLY enjoying my single solitary bowl, and would enjoy creating a bowl set for myself with two each of the Agave Blue amazon vine sent, Almond Cream, and Cranberry Red. At 5.5 inches in diameter they're a tiny bit smaller and a little more compact that the quite similar gray-blue Scandinavian-tinged Ikea Dinera 6-inch bowls I've been using, and because of its slightly concave rim, the shape hugs the contents a little more than the Ikea bowl does. But the Ikea bowls that also come in creamy "beige" cost only $10 for a 4-pack and last time I looked, Amazon charges $5.99 plus shipping for only one of these bowls! Rachael Ray is the cool type of celebrity I actual enjoy and can relate to, but no one could be famously renowned enough for products with their name to be worth more than twice as much as other similar ones. Besides, almost $60 is too high a price for a basic 16-piece set of regular dinnerware with no serving pieces, though comparing it to Montgomery Ward's $90 for the same set does make the price appear tame. Next door neighbor where I used to live mentioned she'd discovered finer, more expensive tableware "sort of bounces" (rather than breaking) when you drop it, but there's definitely a distance limit to that truth. And despite their high $$$ amount, these dishes still aren't in the category of bounce rather than break.

The blue especially is a lovely, countrified, slightly retro hue; design configuration also carries a touch of country, a hint of yesteryear. In addition to the aforementioned blue, cream, and red, these Cucina (Italian for "kitchen") Stoneware pieces come in Mushroom Brown and Pumpkin Orange. My bowl arrived well-packed with double boxes and plain brown paper encasing the bowl itself.

So far I've enjoyed a full bowl of cold cereal with berries, brown sugar, and milk, and also a lunch salad. This size would be good for cream soup, but maybe smaller than ideal for the correct sized portion of non-cream soup or stew. Perfect for an ice cream sundae with fat blackberries, hot fudge, juicy peaches, or yummy butterscotch. How about strawberry shortcake? In the complete place settings, I don't much care for the mug/cup design, and I'm neutral on the plates, but these bowls are groovy.

my amazon review: groovy but priced too high

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Princess and the Pony

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton on Amazon

princes and the pony cover princess and the pony back

Soft sweaters, not sharp swords, shields, and spears. Let's help create a less scary world, so please, make love, not war! "Cute Overload" is radical understatement to describe this kids' book by Kate Beaton. As a theologian I tend to interpret almost everything through the lenses of scripture and theology, but a friend, parent, or teacher wouldn't need to have a seriously philosophical or theological worldview to read The Princess and the Pony with the kids in their care and point out how softness, gentleness, love, and cozy sweaters lead to better outcomes than the panoply of battles and wars. Even little kids often wear too much emotional protection and armor, but maybe they can learn to risk more openness so adults just may follow. I believe sweaters are great gifts, since they add necessary warmth and coziness, and they even provide a little more to hug. Of course, you also can read and enjoy this book as a simple story with fabulous illustrations.

With pictures of the pony in a bunch of different sweater patterns and designs, the end papers are the cutest, too! The Princess and the Pony is a total winner!

my amazon review: softness, not sharpness

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

daily greens: recipe book review

On Amazon, Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse: Jump Start Your Health, Reset Your Energy, and Look and Feel Better than Ever! by Shauna Martin, with foreword by Mayim Hoya Bialik.

daily greens coverI'm delighted I decided to read the book description and a couple of reviews before deciding this book wasn't for me, which almost happened because of the "Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse" title. I've heard of various fasts and cleansings, but never undertaken either, but then when I realized author Shauna Martin included recipes for smoothies, salads, and a few other dishes, I figured Daily Greens would be useful and helpful in any case. I especially appreciate the first part of the book where Shauna (whose diet is completely plant-based) explains some of the rationale behind cleansings and fasts. Interesting stuff, as are her lively descriptions of various mostly green super-foods such as the currently super-popular kale, the eternally green fave spinach, (not really green) ginger root, watercress, dandelion greens, cilantro, etc. This is about wisely eating seasonally, which means expending fewer $$$ while enjoying better tasting, more local, frequently organic, healthier fruits and veggies. All the recipes are simple, which adds to the book's appeal and utility. There also are several categorized shopping lists and an index.

daily green back coverA lot of the full-color photography, the text, and page design conveys a verdant, green, growing, and alive sensibility! Besides greens of differing hues and intensities in the layout and design, some of the backgrounds are a lovely, appealing cantaloupe color. Gorgeous full-page photos, lovely smaller pics, too. As a graphic artist-designer and as a reader, I appreciate the open layout of the pages with lots of literal "white space" so it's not cluttered like a pennysaver ad. I also like that the hardbound book stays open on its own. However, as interesting and almost essential as the descriptions and commentary are, given that recipes are the main thing, why not format ingredients and how-to instructions in a larger font that's easy for anyone to read? Even the introductory text to each recipe is in larger type than the recipes themselves!

Despite those reservations, I'm happy to own a copy of Daily Greens, with so many literally good enough to eat photographs, and especially knowing the recipes and ideas will entice me to shop and try some of Shauna Martin's smoothies and other creations.

My Amazon review:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

complete children's cookbook

Complete Children's Cookbook by DK on Amazon
sunflower loaves

tomato soup

mint chocolate pots

four ways with kebabs

Complete Kids' Cookbook coverYou know there's no such thing as a Complete Cookbook – or a complete any kind of book – yet in 304 pages, this attractive, hefty hardbound book provides over 150 not difficult, easy to follow (for almost any age from about third grade on up) recipes for standard North American favourite dishes in nine categories. Happily, this Complete Children's Cookbook from DK, a Penguin / Random House imprint, includes some vegetarian options. Every single photograph is in vivid full-colour; for the most part, you get a full page photograph of the dish on one side of the page, smaller pics with detailed preparation, cooking, and serving instructions on the opposite page. This cooking book also is fabulous for time- and imagination-challenged grownups who keep hearing or telling themselves, "make something tasty! quick!" You can discover and create something tasty quickly that's not obscure, exotic, pretentious, or requiring impossible to find ingredients. Too bad the gorgeous pics aren't edible!

Following the steps to fix each dish is easy, though I wish they'd formatted details of the numbered procedure or "method" in larger type for younger kids or for oldsters looking over the shoulders of youngsters to help them. As a graphic designer I love Love LOVE the page layout and book design, but I'd very much like easier to read page numbers. I truly get how fun it is to enclose pagination within a fun design, but please either make it larger, or leave the typeface the same basic size but leave it plain and clearly readable. Human (and food, too, I assume) models are from Capel Manor College in Enfield, Middlesex, UK.

my amazon review: beautiful and practical

Monday, March 30, 2015

Coal Wars: Richard Martin

By Richard Martin, Coal Wars: The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet

coal wars coverWith a journalist's passion for accuracy, a lover's ardor for the earth, Richard Martin has written a book I needed to read. My late grandfather was a Pennsylvania coal miner, and despite my own currents being worlds removed from that one, I try to stay current on the industry. From page 7: "This is not a book of policy ... nor a polemic on the evils of coal. It's a narrative of the front lines. Crafted as a series of journeys..." The author then explains war metaphors typically are overstatements and "detract from the horrors of real war," but clearly he considers the global situation regarding coal an exception, and a horror unto itself. The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet also acknowledges coal has fueled countless true global advances over the centuries.

Wars are about empire, land, violence, lots of losers, immeasurable loss that often can't be reclaimed, and sometimes even a distinctive true winner. We've been hearing a lot about environmental stewardship and about climate change. Coal reserves are not sustainable at the current level of extraction, and this fragile planet will not survive the death-dealing excesses of Big Coal and Big Consumption.

First section, "The Death Spiral" provides an overview of the Tennessee Valley Authority's history, along with information about the rise and decline of coal-driven industry, culture, and lifestyle in the Appalachian states of Kentucky and West Virginia. Part II, "The Surge" portrays mining's success in the western states of Wyoming and Colorado. Absolutely everyone knows about the lack of environmental controls that have led to inordinate levels of toxic pollution in China—Part III, "The Great Migration" tells fascinating stories about some of the industrial players and their human reps, about a few of the "regular people" who've literally donated their lives to big coal in China. Vignettes about Ohio and an epilogue about the Ruhr comprise the final "Dinosaurs" portion of Coal Wars. Not surprisingly, Peabody Energy pervades the pages of Coal Wars, but I felt I had to mention it.

Amazon Vine sent me an unfinished Advance Reader's Edition. Richard Martin paints many pictures with his words, though I don't know if the final edition will include charts, drawings, sketches, and photographs that with the surge of online resources probably are not very necessary these days, but my copy does include helpful endnotes, and apparently the final edition will have an index.

my amazon review: for the life of planet earth

Sunday, February 22, 2015

prodigal father wayward son: review

prodigal father, wayward son cover Because I remembered noticing and loving the title of Sam Keen's "To A Dancing God" in a church library somewhere, and from the brief description of these conversations between father and son, I had to read Prodigal Father/Wayward Son: A Roadmap to Reconciliation. John Bradshaw observed, "This universal and archetypal [conflict] is the inheritance of us all." We've all got parent stuff, there are countless unknown to us events and factors in their histories; just as no one instinctively knows how to make a marriage or any other relationship work out well, no one truly knows how to parent, even if they already have several kids.

I've watched public television only very sporadically, doubtless missing out on a lot of cool exciting stuff, so I wasn't really familiar with Sam Keen. So surprised to discover he'd been a professor at The Louisville Seminary! How telling his description of the seminary professors way back then all dressed up in suits and ties (with nowhere to go), so incredibly business-financial sector establishment in style, yet called to articulate and convey the radically counter-cultural subversive gospel.

Another reviewer described this father/son – parent/offspring conversation as timeless, and that it is. Both guys are intelligent, educated, excellent writers, and had reached the point they wanted to live reconciled and reconnected to each other, but even if someone's credentials aren't as strong as theirs, Sam's and Gifford's experience models "what might be possible" between any family members at almost any stage, and between friends who might have become estranged (though "estranged" isn't quite the accurate word to describe Father and Son Keen's situation). Look through the panoramas of your own relationships, and like the Keens, you well may note how small, fleeting events or incidents have assumed gigantically symbolic proportions in your overview of your lives together and apart from each other.

Even if you don't buy the book, please watch the video on Gifford's amazon page. Prodigal Father, Wayward Son is a keeper for my bookshelves, and probably a loaner, too.

my amazon review: a keeper and a loaner

Sunday, February 15, 2015

twice in a lifetime

Twice In a Lifetime by Marta Perry on Amazon.

twice in a lifetime cover Twice in a Lifetime weaves together history, inspiration, love, mystery, southern family, possibilities...

I picked up Twice in a Lifetime because of the wonderful painting on the cover, and then noticed its setting in South Carolina and in a beach community. I knew I'd enjoy the scenery even if the story didn't move me, but as it turned out, I loved the characters and their individual stories. There's the beachfront house on one of Charleston's barrier islands, Georgia Lee's employment in Atlanta, Georgia, a tenderly close grandmother and granddaughter, and my own imaginings life in the American South still is quieter and simpler than elsewhere. The characters attend church and participate in vacation bible school, but Twice in a Lifetime isn't majorly in-your-face religious; it's simply simple Christianity as an integral part of daily life. The romance that easily happened between Georgia Lee and single dad Matt (who without a doubt was far from the on-the-take northern lawyer family and reader both imagined him to be at first glance) had just enough suspense to be intriguing. Marta Perry's prose is clean and well-edited; although this is first in a series about the Bodine family, I'm happy to consider it a standalone narrative, as I'm not sure I want to be disappointed if the Bodine family future doesn't turn out as I'd like it to. In short? The degree of southernness totally was to my liking, and Twice in a Lifetime definitely merits a future re-reading.

my amazon review: southern, likable, and re-readable