This is my favorite place in the world.
Or will be, until this Tuesday, when legislation goes into gear in Virginia that means that I can’t smoke inside of Diner 29.
I’m sorry. I like to have my smoke and my coffee after a long trek into Fairfax County.
Seriously, though. With Big Tobacco VA out of the picture, where can I smoke cigarettes?
What? That leaves us happy smokers only twelve states to happily smoke in. This is filthy communism!
Apparently others feel the same way:
Back off my happiness, US of A!
(Props to Daniel K for research and photos)
Knots play an important part in all of our lives, whether we think about them or not. What keeps your shoes on? Most likely a knot. What keeps your kite in the sky? Why, the rope knotted to it, of course! However, there is one knot that stands out above the rest. The most special knot of all – the Square Knot.
Also called the “reef knot,” the square knot is a reliable and secure tie. Most popular with sailors, the square knot is also helpful for tying bandages. It is often used to tie up bundles, and the square knot plays an irreplaceable role in the world of macrame.
The ancient greeks called this knot the “Hercules Knot” – or, in Greek, Herakleotikon hamma. Magical.
In addition to these myriad uses, the Square Knot is the international symbol for Scouting. The Boy Scouts of America require that each boy knows how to tie a square knot in order to join the program.
But beware. The International Guild of Knot Tyers warns that “the [square] knot should never be used as a bend to join two ropes that will be under load.” Instead, a “proper bend knot” – such as a sheet bend or double fisherman’s knot – should be used. If the knot is used incorrectly, injuries – or death – can occur. Furthermore, the square knot is often confused with the Granny Knot – “a very poor knot.” So be careful.
About a year ago, a friend recommended Jenny Lewis’ Acid Tongue to me. The album was released in September 2008 and I bought it in October. It took me a year to get around to listening to it, for a number of reasons. First, my CD drive broke in November. I finally got an external drive in August 2009. Second, I started feeling the pressure build up – after all, I’d had this album in my dresser for months. It was waiting to be listened to, eagerly. My good friend Joel had recommended it to me, so I felt that I had to hear it. And I like Jenny Lewis’ work with the Watson twins. So Acid Tongue had a lot to live up to.
It did, in every possible way.
This album makes me wish I had gone and gotten that external drive in November. It makes me wish that I hadn’t been so intimidated by the aesthetically pleasing packaging and the indie legacy of Lewis. Because I would’ve been listening to Acid Tongue on a loop every day – like I’ve been doing this week.
There are 11 tracks on this album, ordered beautifully and with care. It’s clear, when listening, that Lewis treats her album as a cohesive art form – each song flows into the next and complements those around it. My personal favorites are Lewis’ softer songs – particularly Black Sand, Acid Tongue and Godspeed – but the more upbeat pieces are also enjoyable, and offer a welcome respite from the sweetness of the songs surrounding them. See Fernando is a fabulous, more upbeat song that I like a lot.
Lewis’ voice is clear and pure, although she can add a throatier growl into her music if she needs to. The music is simple, yet well-arranged. And I can’t turn it off.
A reader (who would like to remain anonymous) recently sent me these four blackout poems (in the style of Austin Kleon). The poems follow the artist’s statement, below.
The two in which the original text is longer are from a book written by a conservative republican in the 90s (that I had to read for class) about the moral degradation of society as evidenced prominently by homosexuality and abortion. As you can see, I’ve flipped the message, perverting the intended meaning– turning his own words against him, if you will.
Fascinating. Check the poemies. Then send in your own!
Nicely done, anonymous friend. I’m glad you’ve taken something from this particular Rectangular World.
Oh, those crazy Japanese. They just love things that aren’t the way they should be – either too small, or too big, or the wrong shape – just like these square watermelons. That’s right. These babies have become a huge phenomenon in the Land of the Rising Sun, selling for over $100.
Why? Good question. Apparently, the good ol’ American watermelon isn’t good enough for the Japanese. It’s shaped “awkwardly” and takes up too much room in a fridge. So those ever-so-clever Japanese farmers came up with a stratefy to train watermelons into the more useful and convenient square shape. They “insert the melons into square, tempered glass cases while the fruit is still growing on the vine.” (credit)
For some reason, the site seems to be pushing the purchase of this book….but I’m sure it’s still very helpful.
There’s even Rect-o-Melon art!
My, oh my. So much excitement.
I gotta say, when it comes to rectangular ‘mellies, it seems a lot easier to me to just eat some
Watermelon Jolly Ranchers.
They naturally come as rectangles. You can get, like, 100 for $1.25. And they’re probably made in Japan anyway!
(props to Drew for the tip off)
Did you know that goats have rectangular pupils? Check it:
I always try to respek the recommendations of my friends, especially when it comes to rectangular affairs. Sometimes they’re really lame. But sometimes my brilliant buds come up with great ideas. This one I owe to Ms. Jenny Akchin, who pointed me here to explore the rectangular-goat-pupil-theory. And – check it! It’s true.
Turns out there is a reason, of course. Wikipedia taught me that goats have adapted rectangular pupils to increase their peripheral depth perception. Whatever that means…
But guess what? Other animals have rectangleyes too! Apparently “cattle, deer, most horses and many sheep” all share this special phenom.
Well, Jesus H. Christ. Rectangles never cease to amaze, huh?
If only I had realized this when I had my own special experience with the goat world. Once my friend Daniel and I went to a “living history plantation” (seriously) and there was a petting zoo, consisting of two goats. One of them ate my necklace.
I guess I was too distracted to check out his eyes.
I’ve recently been alerted to a fascinating new Rectangular Experience.
In New York, on the Upper East Side (on First between 74th and 75th), lives a restaurant intimately connected to our cause:
As my literate readers can see, Rectangles purports to offer “Authentic Yemenite Israeli Cuisine and Bar.” I wonder what an authentic Yemenite Israeli Bar looks like.
It is also officially Kosher. In fact, its Certificate of Kashrut is even available on the website, just in case people were skeptical.
None of the food looks particularly rectangular, unfortunately. There’s a lot of mushy stuff, like hummus, and round stuff, like falafel. However, the interior decor adheres strongly to rectangular principles and values. Unfortunately, you’ll have to visit the website to see pictures, since they’re only available to download as thumbnails.
But here’s the facade to enjoy – also highly rectangular.
I still haven’t figured out why this restaurant is actually called Rectangles, but I’m overjoyed to hear that we’re getting some respek from the food-related community.
On a somewhat sidenote – Rectangles Restaurant advertises itself as Yemenite-Israeli. In fact, Yemenite Jews have a really distinct and interesting culture, pretty distinct from Judaism as we generally see it. For the most part, they have migrated from Yemen into Israel. They are the only modern Jewish community who reads the Torah in both Hebrew and Aramaic, an ancient tradition that is rarely recognized today. Children (as in, those who have not been Bar Mitzvahed) are also often involved in services. Really interesting.
(props to Marcus for the rectangular tip)
Yeah, seriously. Enjoy.
Here is a poem I wrote to help my foot get better:
Yesterday I hurt my foot coaching high school wrestling. Our team’s 215-pounder fell on me, and I fell on my foot. I was on crutches for two days – right now I can limp, so I got rid of the crutches ASAP.
However, my friend, who requested to be called Guancous Armore, kindly made me a card, highlighting the rectangular up-sides of my affliction:
Thanks, man. I appreciate it.
Austin Kleon describes himself as “a writer who draws.”
He says, additionally, “I’m a visual thinker who is obsessed with the art of communicating with pictures and words, together. I love to write about the subject and teach it. I draw cartoons and take visual notes at live events in my sketchbook…My day job is designing websites.”
My favorite thing that he does is called the “Newspaper Blackout Poem.” The description that Kleon offers is simply
NEWSPAPER + MARKER = POETRY.
In the eloquent words of NPR’s Morning Edition:
“A poet in Texas is blacking out words in order to write. Instead of starting with a blank page, Austin Kleon grabs the New York Times and a permanent marker and eliminates the words he doesn’t need.”
I’m not a huge fan of his poetry. I don’t think it’s particularly enlightening or beautiful or expositional. But I do think that the idea is really, really cool and original, and I think that a lot of value lies in that originality alone. The concept of “visual thinking” is one that I’ve always been intrigued by (that’s why I’m an art history major), and one that I think is too often ignored or overlooked. Kleon addresses it in a pretty unique way.
Here’s how he starts:
I also like how this medium is (seems?) extremely accessible. Anyone can grab the paper and a marker and start creating – and I like the encouragement toward art that this suggests. Art doesn’t have to be limited to the Greats. Anyone can do it. And with public school programs being cut and more and more people struggling to get jobs, art is an important getaway.
Okay. Here are some cool examples of Kleon’s work.
The Best Education
How It Works
Crime Scene Tape
This next one reminds me of the super super cliche Joyce Kilmer poem:
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Trees Are Gestures
And finally, to sum everything up: