This week’s issue of Five Cool Things comes to you from an undisclosed location in the great metropolis of Seattle, my old hometown. Language and human nature could fill a book, but for now here’s an animated video. Have you ever wondered where Woody Allen sits down to write? Imagine all the fun you could have cooking up wacky alternative titles for Malcom Gladwell. A fine, Seattle based artist turns out to be an old colleague. A young photographer, a big talent, a not so happy ending. “Every part of all this soil is sacred to my people. Every hillside, every valley, every plain and grove has been hollowed by some sad or happy event in days long vanished. The very dust you now stand on responds more willingly to their footsteps than to yours, because it is rich with the blood of our ancestors and our bare feet are conscious of the sympathetic touch.” Chief Seattle


1. Man and Language | A Window into Human Nature

Language and Human Culture (click image)

This video animation is essential if you are fascinated by and love language. Here are a few snippets: “Language is a window into social relations.” “This is what we would call an indirect speech act.” “We veil our intentions in innuendo, hoping for our listener to read between the lines to infer our real intent.”  “There are only three major relationship types across the world’s cultures: Dominance, Commonality, Reciprocity.”

From the RSA website: “For over 250 years the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) has been a cradle of enlightenment thinking and a force for social progress.  Our approach is multidisciplinary, politically independent and combines cutting edge research and policy development with practical action.” Watch those multidisciplinary, cutting edge cliches.


2. The Woodman at Work | Woody Allen’s Desk

This is the Desk Where Woody Writes

“You know what my philosophy of life is? That it’s important to have some laughs, but you gotta suffer a little too, because otherwise you miss the whole point to life.” – “My hand to God, she’s gonna be at Carnegie Hall. But you – I’ll let you have her now at the old price, OK? Which is, which is anything you wanna give me. Anything at all.” Danny Rose

3. Bestseller Hijinks | Malcom Gladwell Headline Generator

Fake Malcom Gladwell Bestsellers

How many bestsellers has Malcom crafted? Many! Have more fun at Malcom Gladwell’s expense, here:


4. Larry Calkins | Art at the Gail Gibson Gallery in Seattle

Larry Calkins, laughing matter, 2010 ink on folded paper, 30 x 22 inches

Larry Calkins, lovely nancy, 2010 cloth, wax, paper, metal and ashes, 50 x 19 inches

The biggest surprise of this weekend in Seattle, was not discovering the work of Larry Calkins. It was discovering that I actually know Larry Calkins – from a long ago job in Seattle. I was, and am, floored by the work. Larry, hardly knew ye. From Larry’s website:

Sculptures – are usually made of metal and cloth. Larry creates his signature dresses out of cotton fabric and then treats the sewn shapes with any pigment available and/or suitable, from dirt to clay to ashes. The shapes are coated with beeswax and the surface is then worked until a satisfactory result is achieved, both in color and texture: a look and feel of aged leather.

The surface may or may not be the base for additional clues: crude metal buttons sewn on, or photographs; sometimes transfer prints of drawings, or maybe woodcut prints directly onto the surface.

Stands are made of rusted metal, welded together, each one unique and adding character to the appearance of the sculpture. Some of the dress sculptures are free standing, others are made to hang on metal hangers on the wall.


5. Photographer Jessica Woodman | The Woodmans

photo by francesca woodman

The parents are full time artists with big ambitions. Their daughter grows up, has a big talent as a photographer, makes a splash, can’t seem to get past the initial splash to move into a longer term fulfilling career, and during a period of despair, kills herself. She becomes famous in absentia, eclipsing the notoriety of her parents, one of whom is not terribly happy that the daughter has taken the spotlight. This is a touching, heartbreaking, affecting film directed with a deft touch by C. Scott Willis. The costs of making art, the challenges of parenthood, the price of big ambitions. The score is beautiful and was written by the Pulitzer Prize winning composer, David Lang. Watch the trailer.

Comments are closed.