Five Cool Things 10.16.2011

Let there be coffee.

Wee bit of a ‘traveling’ and ‘place’ theme in this issue; traveling through time, films and places. The New Yorker DVD of the Week comes up with The Devil is a Woman. Looking for a metaphor that is apt for the moment? How about American Inferno? John Jantsch has an industrial strength business idea that is well worth your time. The man who made the film Helvetica, has released Urbanization. And last, the burial place of the man whose travels changed the world forever, Christopher Columbus. And how can you not love this, from literary traveler Samuel Beckett: “To be together again, after so long, who love the sunny wind, the windy sun, in the sun, in the wind, that is perhaps something, perhaps something.” 

1. Calling Paul Murphy | DVD of the Week at the New Yorker

Serendipity, how do we love thee! The New Yorker’s Richard Brody has a cool weekly feature, the DVD of the Week. This week’s selection is “a 1935 romp through the erotic tangles of turn-of-the-century Spain.” Titled, The Devil is a Woman. The filmmaker is Josef von Sternberg and the story concerns a Republican activist who, facing arrest, returns home on a clandestine trip from Paris and meets a woman (Marlene Dietrich) who tempts him to compromise his mission.
Other DVD recommendations; The House of Mirth by British director Terence Davies, Husbands and Wives, by Woody Allen, and The Long, Long Trailer by Vincent Minnelli, which depicts, if you can believe it, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez pulling a trailer around America to madcap and disastrous results. Pop over for a look see>>

~ photos by linda massey & richard pelletier ~


2. Take me to your metaphor | American Inferno 

American Inferno, burning in our imagination

In this gorgeous piece at the Paris Review, writer Margaret Eby takes us along on a journey to a place, to a metaphor, to a source of literary inspiration. Her piece, American Inferno is a beautiful read. Listen;

“The conflagration probably began in a stripping pit next to the cemetery, creeping along the deposits of fuel, burning up to three hundred feet underground. The town grew so warm that some residents no longer needed to turn on their basement hot-water heaters. Toxic plumes erupted, tree roots turned to ash, vegetables roasted on their stalks. The earth became unstable, and yawning holes opened into underground pits without warning: in 1981, twelve-year-old Todd Domboski fell into a sulfurous 150-foot-deep maw that appeared suddenly in his grandmother’s backyard, narrowly escaping incineration by grabbing onto a tree root. Efforts to stop the flames—clay seals to cut off oxygen, slurry pumped into the honeycombed caverns—proved useless. In the eighties, the federal government began relocating the town’s remaining population, razing their homes and shutting down a segment of the highway that had erupted. The fire may burn for another 250 years, encompassing 3,700 acres, before it runs out of fuel.”

Writers Dean Koontz, David Wellington, Joyce Carol Oates and Bill Bryson have all, in some form or other, used Centralia in their work. I love this sentence from the same piece;

“You could come here and never realize the chaos beneath your feet.” Have at it here>>


3. Cool Business Ideas | Commitment Factory

John Jantsch ~ big ideas for small business

Your passion and commitment are essential, but it’s your ability to build passion and commitment for that vision in others that is going to be the key to growth. – John Jantsch

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing, continues to generate great ideas, big and small, for small business. Now comes an idea for a new model for business; a commitment factory. I’m not loving the use of the word factory here, but I’ll let John speak for himself.

A commitment factory, however, is my idea for the new model of business. A business that manufactures ideas, brilliance, passion and commitment in a community that chooses to join what might be more apply described as a cause. Generating commitment is the new currency of American business and the most important task of a leader of a business defined in this manner is to guide passion and purpose in a way that encourages staff and customers alike to find, nurture and grow commitment around the things big and small that make a business something worth joining.

Here are the six floors of the factory;

1. Get the right people.
2. Tell the story over and over.
3. Protect the standards.
4. Make meetings about action.
5. Teach and share the metrics.
6. Invest in the best tools.

Do read the whole thing>>


4. From the director of Helvetica | Urbanization

“Urban design is the language of the city.”

From the Urbanized website: “Who is allowed to shape our cities, and how do they do it? Unlike many other fields of design, cities aren’t created by any one specialist or expert. There are many contributors to urban change, including ordinary citizens who can have a great impact improving the cities in which they live.” Travel over to the Urbanized website>>


5. Here lies Christopher Columbus | Cathedral of Seville 

Cathedral of Seville ~ iPhone photo by rp

More by accident than intent, I found myself on a bit of a Christopher Columbus tour while in Spain recently. You really can’t visit the city of Seville without visiting the Cathedral of Seville, (ca. 1403) which, it turns out, is the burial place of Christopher Columbus. Very close by is the truly fascinating Archivo de Indias — an historical archive holding 80 million pages of documents including first person accounts from the Conquistadors. This is the place where the Spanish government keeps all the original documents related to Spanish exploration in the New World including Columbus’ plundering explorations under lock and key and temperature control. I was also in Cadiz, in southern Spain, from which port Columbus set sail for the New World. (Thanks to Mr. John S. for that tidbit.) Aside from being reminded of my appalling historical and geographical ignorance, I was reminded of the power of place. I can tell you when you walk around the Cathedral of Seville and you have in mind that Columbus is buried within, you can feel the pull of time, of place, of stories. It’s palpable; the place issues a distinct hold on you. And it’s because of the power of stories; the ones we tell about ourselves about our history, the ones we’ve been told. I was reminded too, of how Church and State seem to be back in each other’s arms again. A very big story in itself.


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