Archive for May, 2014

h1

Marlon Blackwell + PotD

May 29, 2014

I saw a lecture by Marlon Blackwell last night. Funnily, given my penchant for forgetting names, it wasn’t until I saw them strung together tonight that a number of projects that I had seen and remembered were connected to a single individual, and his body of work became apparent to me. And it is a good body of work. As he spoke, I discovered he has a way of working and an approach to architecture that speaks to me and that I think is a good place to stand for architects in general. The theme of the lecture series this year is “Origins”, and he used the opportunity not only to tell about his background, but moreso about the experiences therein that he brings to inform his architecture. He also wove the tales of origins for each of his projects, showing their often daunting or bizarre starting points and how they weaved those originating points, experiences, and intentions to form the architecture. Perhaps one of the most striking thing about the majority of the projects were their modesty, especially in budget. It was about the experience of the space, the sharpness of the details (without blowing the bank), the willingness to get the hands dirty and invent and reinvent and be resourceful and clever, keeping the gaze focussed on the end desires. And he knew it was a practice. He’d not arrived anywhere, it was always a journey.

Perhaps most famous, and what I knew him for, is a church he did in Springdale, Arkansas, staring with a 3-door garage cum welding shed as the base structure for a congregation with barely a budget to spend. The result is a splendid little affair, with good spatial qualities, great light, a clever floor plan, and even a dome, of sorts, fashioned from an old satellite dish at the cost of two cases of beer.

It was a great talk, and I’m going to leave you with this huge Paraphrase of the Day, distilling a number of his thoughts into one unified whole:

“At any size, at any place, at any program, architecture can happen. Architecture is taking the ordinary and raising the experience to the extraordinary. It happens in the intersection of the grand to the mundane. There is no budget threshold before architecture can happen, that’s not what limits you or your architecture. There’s no client threshold before architecture can happen, that’s not what limits you or your architecture. There is no threshold period before architecture can happen: create architecture no matter what and where. Start from the origins and you work forward from there. It is not style; style is the result of a thesis, theory, work, generation, it is not the starting point. Be inventive. Be approachable. Be like Velcro, and let things stick. There is no place for or not a place for architecture. Architecture can and does arise everywhere. Be not bogged down. Use your language, but be not bogged down. Let the moments happen.“

h1

D&D: Old Evil and Next

May 28, 2014

Fanfare please! D&D fifth edition has an official release date, with books and plans and announcements aplenty. I’ve not been chomping at the bit all that much for a new edition, though I did check out the playtest documents as they came out, and been keeping a bit of an eye on it. Yet… when I read the announcement and all the product layouts on enworld, I got unexpected chills of excitement. I’ve played (A)D&D since grade 10, cutting my teeth on first edition before adopting each new edition in turn, having loads of fun with each. That the brand continues is just great news.  I’m sure I’ll grab a good look at this new edition as well.

I never understood the recent hatred that gamers generated and the splintering of the hobby – I never saw anything to cause a ruckus, especially the hyperbole and the ad hominem attacks that followed. I’m very much in the mindset of Bill Cavalier here. Especially given what external scorn we have faced, as the BBC recently profiled. I remember those days well, having been told by a few people that I was involved in demonic activities, tempting fate with the supernatural, or just plain off my rocker. (Not to mention a social pariah, labelled weirdo, lame, weak, and other things).

That we’ve come to a point where D&D is almost, dare I say, chic, is amazing. Big fantasy movies and the rise of computer games and the MMORPG have refined people’s views, not to mention the current fascination with zombies. It’s a brave new world out there. Let’s see what the granddaddy can do. Here’s to the fifth edition cruising into this space and introducing more and more to the joys of tabletop RPGing.

h1

Knowlton signs off

May 26, 2014

Just heard today that Knowlton Nash passed away this weekend. It’s one of those moments where you hear of someone you never really knew, and you hadn’t thought about in years, but somehow hearing of their passing kinda hits you more than you might expect. I don’t remember when I started watching the news, but for many years this was the start of the evening ten o’clock hour. The insistent music notes, the date, the stories, and then… “with Knowlton Nash,” the anchor with the perfect name for a show called The National.

Nash formed my vision of what a news anchor ought to be, more than just because he was the first I watched. He made the news personal and human, bringing the sense that it was part of your world, without “story-fying” it. It’s a fine line to walk, and amazing thing to do. No hyperbole, no false drama, no shock, no editorial, and no aggrandizement of himself. Personable, easy tones, yet not detached.

But everything I needed to know about Knowlton I got one Saturday evening, watching the weekend edition of The National. The show was over, he had just signed off with his trademark “goodnight”. The lights turned down in the studio, the camera panned back, the music swelled up, he began arranging his papers… and you could see that he was mouthing along to the music, right there in the studio, a smile on his face. As the final notes came up, he put the cap on his pen, and with a flourish and a triumph, he smacked the cap into place right on the final note.

He loved his job. Delivering the news to the viewers was the most important thing to him and is what brought him vitality.  Report on, Mr Nash, into the night.

h1

New butt!

May 25, 2014

I rediscovered my butt today! Er… what I mean is that while practicing Tai Chi this morning, I discovered a way of engaging a different set of muscles and ligaments in my butt, near the base of the spine, that I’d not engaged in quite that way before. I haven’t tested it yet, but as I was playing with it while doing the form I felt more centred and balance, like it was evening something out. So, cool. Another potential insight!

Who knew I had so much to discover still about my butt?

h1

Home

May 11, 2014

This is an amazing, astounding, inspiring, real-time, live, right now, direct, video of our home from the International Space Station orbiting our home right now, at 418ish Km above the surface, in HD.

Click the link here:  http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/HDEV/

Awe inspiring, humbling, and perspective-giving.  A chance to live that which all our space-farers have lived, the enthrallment of gazing back on our home.

I caught the feed just as the ISS was passing the terminator into night;  the view was from the rear-facing camera.  To watch the darkness on the globe gradually slide up to engulf the whole of our heavenly orb… to see the sun begin to set behind our home, leaving just the thin line of our atmosphere, the barest of crescents, hovering like a streak between the blackness of above and below, a blue slash across the dark canvass… the slash changing colour with the hues of the sun, becoming now redder… as the slash slowly retreats, from right to left… growing slimmer and slimmer… until it is gone… and all is the eternal void.  Still.

I continued to watch the screen for several minutes, peering into the dark, moved and elated by what I just saw.

Our Home.

On this mother’s day, let us not forget our greatest grandmother, that of mother nature, guardian and creator, of home.