Thursday, December 31, 2009

plastiki expedition update

Happy New Years Eve, everyone!

The Plastiki is setting sail soon! Remember me posting about this back in June? The Plastiki is a 60-foot catamaran made out of 12,500 plastic bottles and recycled waste products, that is setting sail from San Francisco, California and traveling 10,000 nautical miles to Sydney, Australia.

In line at the grocery store last weekend, I spotted the Dec 2009 issue of Outside magazine , featuring a picture and article on David de Rothschild, head of Adventure Ecology - and the mastermind behind the Plastiki - which kicked a reminder into me to post an update on this impending adventure.

Here's a little model of the boat. It was built in a warehouse on Pier 31 in San Francisco, CA. The crew consists of a handful of people, who will be sharing some tight quarters over the next three months, while they set a course through places of environmental concern. This mission is quite an undertaking; not only is de Rothschild and crew attempting to "galvanize change" by making more of us aware of the damaging effects waste has on our environment, but their journey may be quite arduous, as the catamaran is essentially an experimental boat. Can you imagine: Sailing along in the big bad blue for a little over three months, in a boat that could potentially encounter some serious problems? The crew isn't going to be able to take many personal items with them, they'll be bunking in small beds in shifts, and they'll be eating dehydrated food and hanging out with each other in a close proximity for a quarter of a year!

This got me thinking - you've got to be a person really passionate and serious about creating change to attempt a feat such as this. How many of us would be able to give up the majority of our daily comforts and sail in an experimental boat to state a cause - waste - which if humankind listens and sets new rules, will eventually do us all some good? I'm guessing not many.... Not to mention, you've got to really like the people you're traveling with, considering you're stuck with them on a 60-foot boat. What essentials would you bring with you if you could only take a couple of things on a journey like this? I would pack sunscreen and lip balm, no doubt. I wonder what the crew will bring?

Here's just a section of the thousands of water bottles used, which are filled with a special reinforcement, and placed inside the pontoons. I read that the design was inspired by the pomegranate fruit. Design inspired by nature was a big factor in building the Plastiki.

Visit the website, to follow the crew's adventure. I'll also be posting updates occasionally...

Bon voyage and best of luck, Plastiki!

(pictures borrowed from The Plastiki Expedition page on Facebook).

Friday, December 25, 2009

happy holidays

Happy, Happy Holidays!
Merry Christmas ~

Spread the cheer, smile and have fun!

(Art by Junzo Terada.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

my crystal ball

What a year it's been. What a decade! At times it felt like it went by painfully, bitterly slow, but really, geez, it went by fast! didn't it? Whoosh! In a few days it'll be the year 2010. 2010, people! Remember the film Back to the Future Part II , with Michael J. Fox? That film took place in 2015! There were hover boards, robot dog-walking leashes, dehydrated food and wall screens.... We're not so far off from that technology, I mean, we already have Skype, which I have yet to try and use, among other things...

So instead of looking backwards at the first decade of the 21st century, and bringing up all of the chaos and some truly horrible events that took place, let's focus on how we can make the world better and humankind happier going forward. Shhh, just close your eyes and try. Self-fulfilling prophecy, right?

Here's what I'd like to see over the next 10 years (no matter how implausible and in no particular order):

1) Hover boards. Yes, I am obsessed with hover boards! And they would not only be for skateboard-like devices, but for cars, too. Which would help end our dependency on oil and gas. I just finished reading Scott Westerfeld's Uglies trilogy, and three cheers for hover boards!
2) Space-age clothing. Sleek new designs made out of recycled, eco-friendly fabrics in metallics and other cool prints and colors, that help keep a body warm in cold weather, and cool in hot weather. Wouldn't it be nice to stay warm in 0 degree F temps? You know what I'm talking about, Chicago!
3) Organic everything! NO more food grown with pesticides and other nasty things. If we all only knew the crap that we put into our bodies which can cause cancer and other diseases, perhaps everyone would wake up and stop!?
4) On that note, end the inhumane treatment of animals. I'm not a vegetarian, but I probably should be. Perhaps everyone should start consuming less meat over the course of the next 10 years?
5) Litter-free, clean world. People who throw their trash on the ground like it's a trash can (many incidents I 've witnessed on the NYC Subway, people, you know who you are!), stop already! Let's become more cognizant of this, come on, it's fun.
6) Space travel! Fly me to the moon...totally!
7) Free health care for everyone. (if we take #'s 3, 4, 8 and 9 seriously, society's overall health would improve).
8) Decreased work week and fair pay for everyone. Why are most of us killing ourselves with 50 or 60-hour workweeks? And most likely for something we don't even like to do?! If humankind were happier and well-rested, I am convinced that the world would be a more harmonious place.
9) Respect the elderly. Here's where we should go back in time to the days when people respected their elders. Let's not be scared of the elderly. Yes, getting old is no fun as my Grandma Betty used to say- so why not at least try and enjoy aging and accept wrinkles! Older generations can teach us a thing or two, we can learn from our past. And this coincides with the need for stronger family units. If we had stronger support systems for each other life wouldn't be so hard or so lonely. Everyone could use a hand, am I right?
10) And finally, No more crime. No more war. Ever. Why do we kill our own kind? This I will never understand and deeply saddens me.

Well, there ya go. What I'm saying is not original, I know, and like I said, it's not all plausible, but why can't it be? Humans have proven that we have big imaginations and we have taken some of our seemingly impossible ideas to unimaginable places. So what are some of your ideas?

Let's all push ourselves to be better. Let's take the 2010's to a new and happier place!

Happy holidays everyone and cheers to a peaceful New Year!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

real-life carolers

Last night I heard singing coming from down the street. Joyous, loud singing. I opened my door to see what was going on, and lo and behold there were carolers sitting on hay in the back of an old pick-up truck, singing! I've never seen real-life carolers before. (I don't think I've ever said lo and behold, either....but there ya' go).City people don't do my knowledge. Actually, I thought only people in movies did that? But I was wrong! Here, in this little wine town where I currently reside, people weave in and out of the streets singing Christmas songs, spreading the cheer....and I like it! I wish I'd had a camera, because I know my old city friends' eyes would be as big as mine last night. Maybe they'll come by again later this week....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

laugh and be merry

English Poet Laureate John Masefield (b. June 1, 1878 - May 12, 1967)

Here is a nice poem that made me think of this holiday season, from one of my great-grandfather's old books called Poems of To-Day: An Anthology (London: Published for the English Association by Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., 1917):

Laugh And Be Merry

Laugh and be merry, remember, better the world with a song.
Better the world with a blow in the teeth of a wrong.
Laugh, for the time is brief, a thread the length of a span.
Laugh, and be proud to belong to the old proud pageant of man.

Laugh and be merry : remember, in olden time,
God made Heaven and Earth for joy He took in a rhyme,
Made them, and filled them full with the strong red wine of His mirth,
The splendid joy of the stars : the joy of the earth.

So we must laugh and drink from the deep blue cup of the sky,
Join the jubilant song of the great stars sweeping by,
Laugh, and battle, and work, and drink of the wine outpoured
In the dear green earth, the sign of the joy of the Lord.

Laugh and be merry together, like brothers akin,
Guesting awhile in the rooms of a beautiful inn,
Glad till the dancing stops, and the lilt of the music ends.
Laugh till the game is played : and be you merry, my friends.

John Masefield

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

rainy day art tour

On a rainy day, sometimes there's nothing I'd rather do than stroll through a museum or an art gallery. I like going by myself, or with a friend who loves art as much as me, and I like picking out my favorite piece - the one I'd like to own, or the one which inspires me the most - and afterwards discuss it over a warm drink.

I do so dearly miss some of my old art haunts in New York City, so if I were there today, here's what I'd go see:

Untitled (Picasso Woman) 1980-1990

Tim Burton at NY MoMA, will be up through April 26, 2010. More than 500 of Burton's photographs, paintings, doodles, storyboards, sculptures, stories, and sketches have been collected and displayed for an "out-of-body experience."

The Green Man (1996-1998)

Many of the works on display have nothing to do with Burton's films and some aren't even done on canvas, but rather, on notebook paper or cocktail napkins. His films are also being shown at the exhibit.

Since I missed the show this summer in San Francisco at SFMOMA, the next stop on my rainy day art tour would take me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see Robert Frank's The Americans. Frank traveled around America for two years starting in 1955, and shot 28,000 pictures of which 83 were chosen for his book, The Americans, first published in 1958. Frank met writer Jack Kerouac at a party, where he agreed to contribute to the introduction of the second edition of the book, published in 1959. Frank was also a lifelong friend of poet Allen Ginsberg and documented the beat subculture through his lens. The exhibit at the Met celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the book, and is up through January 3, 2010.

Sounds like a good day, right? Now take a load off and have a warm drink.

Friday, December 11, 2009

todd oldham: enabler of arts and crafts

It took me a second to recognize designer, artist, author Todd Oldham (above), with this long beard, but that's him all right in the November 30th issue of New York Magazine. Remember Oldham from MTV's House of Style, which he co-hosed with model Cindy Crawford? I loved that show! Or maybe you've seen him more recently in Bravo's Top Design, where he was a mentor to designers. I remember falling in love with his fun, colorful designs back in the 1990's, and I'm happy to see that he's incorporated his artistic, crafty talents into books. "Books have always been a great passion of mine since I was very little," he says, in the NY Magazine article. "They kind of ruled my life. And now it's my favorite thing that I do."

Kid Made Modern (Ammo Books, 2009), is Oldham's newest book for kids who are interested in art and creating art. There are 52 simple-to-make, inexpensive craft projects, and a list of design-icons including Alexander Calder, Alvin Lustig and Alexander Girard, among others, which he's pulled inspiration from. If you have a kid or know one who is into art, this would be the perfect holiday gift.

And, the other book I was happy to see is Oldham's "love letter" to artist/illustrator Charley Harper, who I've posted about before. Oldham remembered Harper's illustrations from textbooks he'd read as a kid, but didn't know who the illustrator was until he was an adult and came across Harper's work while shopping in a thrift store. He contacted Harper, and from 2002 to 2007 Oldham worked on restoring and archiving Harper's works. Harper died just days after Oldham presented the complete monograph to him. Ammo Books published Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life in October 2009 for $49.95. This is a book definitely on my wish-list!

But what I personally like best about Todd Oldham, besides his artistic ability and love of books, is that he is reportedly not an art snob. You know how much I dislike rude people, and unfortunately the art world can sometimes be full of them, so it's nice to hear that Oldham is working to make art accessible for all, without pretentiousness.

(Read more about Todd Oldham in New York Magazine, Nov. 30, 2009 issue. The Pied Piper of Craft: Todd Oldham is Creating Art Nerds, One Kid at a Time, by Amy Larocca).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

animals, gotta love em'!

My sister says that I may die alone for posting these, but I don't care, these photos are fun and too cute not to share!

Over Thanksgiving, my friend's baby's socks were just sitting there all alone on the couch, so I thought it would be funny to see if they fit Sadie. Yep, they sure did, almost too well... it's not my fault if they go missing one day.

Sadie and her cousin, Happy, with the white face, just hanging out.

And introducing, Mols Netter. Mols Netter lives in Chicago and likes to stare at people when they sleep. She also likes to sit on top of suitcases and swipe at certain people's feet when they're dangling off the side of a bed. I know this because I visited her in Chicago once. Oh, and she also likes to sit in the shower - without the water running, of course.

Monday, December 7, 2009

is your story worth telling?

That was one of the questions posed at this weekend's SCBWI workshop taught by children's book writer Deborah Davis, author of Not Like You (Clarion, 2007) . It was also a question that really made me think, and to answer it, yes, I think my magical-realism book, Trevelyn's Shimmer, is worth telling, and here's why:

Ever since I was a kid, I've disliked coming up against mean, nasty people - who doesn't, right? But I mean, I really, really don't like it, and I don't see why some people feel it necessary to be purposefully rude - I hate that. So that is the feeling I've loaned to the protagonist in my book, Marie, to tell. She dislikes when people fight and she wants the world to be a better place and the people living in it to be happy. But she's not finding happiness in her fifth-grade class or with any of the kids in her small town, especially Landon, a boy for whom she has mixed feelings. So when she finds a large balloon attached to a swing, locked away in her garage, Marie suddenly dreams of a world where everybody is always happy and smiling - a world which she knows she can find with the help of the balloon.

After I scribbled down my thoughts from above in class on Saturday, Mrs. Davis posed another question: maybe what your character originally thought she wanted turns out to be something else?

This, of course, made me think some more, and I realized that she was right. Marie's initial intentions are to find a better world with kinder people where she can live, but really what she wants is to just fit in - something that can be extremely difficult when you're 11-years-old and trying to figure out who you are.

The workshop was filled with other helpful tips as well, like how to overcome writer's fatigue and angst. I especially liked her name for that nagging voice in your head which tries to convince you that you're no good - the "itty bitty shitty committee." Writer or not, everybody has that voice, and her advice was to bargain with it. Ask it what you need to do to make it stop, but listen to it as well because it is a part of you and has its own wisdom to give, no matter how annoying.

And finally, this statement struck a chord: "Ideas are always ready to come as long as you're willing to write them down." I think this rings true for all aspects of life, whether you're trying to start your own business, looking for a new job, or searching for a plot to a new novel, write your thoughts down - you never know when something might become useful!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

my dad the photographer

It's been awhile since I posted some of my father's photographs. And seeing as Father Winter is finally on his way, here are some photos to say a fond farewell to autumn, my most favorite season:

Of this group, I like this photo the best. The dark, eerie trees put me in the mood to read a Gothic novel - Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Bronte is my favorite. My dad gave me my great-grandfather's copy of this book, it is the second edition. I think my great-grandfather was friends with a famous writer, who's name I can't remember, I'll have to get back to you on that (UPDATE below). I read my great-grandfather's copy once but the binding is too weak to do that again. I love the old-fashioned canvas book covers from the 19th Century. It seems weird now that there once was a time when book covers didn't have fancy, color illustrations. Makes me wonder what will happen if/when paper books don't exist one day - when everything has turned electronic...?

My dad took this one in New York State. This is the Ausable River on a beautiful autumn day.

This is a view of Spud Mountain in Colorado.

Moon rising in Colorado.

An old mine in Colorado. Look at the bands of colors on the trees.

Under a group of trees in Colorado.

Thanks again to my dad, Rick Hagar, for sharing more of his beautiful photos. I hope the cold weather that's on its way brings pictures of snow!
12-16-09 UPDATE: Robert Frost was the author/poet my great-grandfather was friends with. He lived in Middlebury, Vermont for some time - where Frost was teaching - and while there he made friends with the writer. My grandfather (his son), known endearingly as Grumpy, wrote stories about his life before he passed away, and in one of them he recalled visiting Robert Frost's house as a child and playing with the poet's dogs, which my grandfather would ride like ponies because they were so big. Oh, if only I'd been alive then....

(All photos property of Richard Hagar. Any unauthorized use is prohibited and illegal).