Haiku Wednesday. On Saturday. Before Easter.

Mangled joy of Spring:
The Texas Chainsaw Bunny
[Go now! Run, kid, run!]

 

A Pink Floyd rabbit…
if The Wall had a bunny.
So terrifying.

 

Before he finds that
baby’s head’s not chocolate-filled…
this photo was snapped.

 

Black Easter deadlights
hypnotize one and frighten
the other white meat.

 

The look of evil
filled like a Cadbury egg
its albino eyes.

 


Son, have a nice slice
of cake filled with children’s flesh,
it goes down like silk.

 

 

Hints of Autumn

Autumn in my favorite. The weather has just started to hint at the end of summer and beginning of autumn, so I am swooning. I love everything about fall and wish it would last…this is my official welcoming:
Three Pieces on the Smoke of Autumn
by Carl Sandburg
SMOKE of autumn is on it all.
The streamers loosen and travel.
The red west is
stopped with a gray haze.
They fill the ash trees, they wrap the oaks,
They make a long-tailed rider
In the pocket of the first, the
earliest evening star.. . .
Three muskrats swim west on the Desplaines River.
There is a sheet of red ember glow on the river; it is dusk; and
the muskrats one by one go on patrol routes west.
Around each slippery padding rat, a fan of ripples;
in the silence of dusk a faint wash of ripples,
the padding of the rats going west, in a dark and shivering river gold.

(A newspaper in my pocket says the Germans pierce the Italian line;
I have letters from poets and sculptors in Greenwich Village; I have letters
from an ambulance man in France and an I. W. W. man in Vladivostok.)

I lean on an ash and watch the lights fall,
the red ember glow, and three muskrats
swim west in a fan of ripples on a sheet of river gold.. . .
Better the blue silence and the gray west,
The autumn mist on the river,
And not any hate
and not any love,
And not anything at all of the keen and the deep:
Only the peace of a dog head on a barn floor,
And the new corn shoveled in bushels
And the pumpkins brought from the corn rows,
Umber lights of the dark,
Umber lanterns of the loam dark.

Here a dog head dreams.
Not any hate, not any love.
Not anything but dreams.
Brother of dusk and umber.

…..

Haiku Wednesday: Dream Parlors

You southern charmer!
Like Sooki’s home from TrueBlood.
Multi-textured warmth.

My medieval lust
flares hot at this chamber’s sight;
a fortress-sized “want”.

……

I dream of woodwork:
of ornate oak filigree…
and Persian rug fields.

A room with a Clue.
I’d study you all day long,
Nirvana of tomes.

Frosted angel cake –
the Marie Antoinette room;
Privilege in White.

Tell me a story,
of longing and dark fated
Great Expectations.

A Piece of Wedding Cake Chandelier

I have obsessive tendencies over objects of grandeur. I think I was born in the wrong era. You’ve met my clawfoot tub fetish. Now meet my wedding cake chandelier fetish. I actually do know where my love of this object stems from (through careful self-analysis). My parents’ home has a wedding cake chandelier hanging in the stairway. I never really noticed it when I was a child until the day when my mom took down the crystals to clean them. Once they were cleaned and put back up the chandelier absolutely glistened like a jewel. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. It was beautiful and cast off prismatic rainbow colors on the walls. I fell in love with its charm and have yet to get one of my own. This post serves only to refuel my obsession, I suppose. They have imprinted on them the memories of holding court above glamorous parties in mansions, the New Year’s Eve clinkings of bourgeoise champagne glasses. They are witnesses to torrid love affairs on Persian rugs below, and of course they hold the whispered secrets of countless chambermaids and butlers. Sigh.

Oh, to have a piece of wedding cake chandelier.

Silver Plate Over Brass Chandelier – This is a beautiful crystaline dream. No wonder most of the ones I’m finding are sold out. They are like diamond rings for your ceiling.

 

Bronze Wedding Cake Chandelier – I am a big fan of Art Deco and I think this one would look good in a church.

 

Small Wedding Cake Chandelier  – This is a beautiful little number (again, sold out?!) and it reminds me of a crown. I love the length of the crystals.

Glass Bubble Project Chandelier – According to this site, this gorgeous piece of eye candy hangs in a private residence. It should be hanging in mine. Right over my clawfoot tub. Hubba hubba.

More resources:

Crystal Wedding Cake Chandelier

Carl Slone Antique Lighting

What You Don’t Know About My Kitchen Could Hurt You

When theoretical design concepts and practicality collide, it can be ugly. Our kitchen is a fine example of this. We bought our Chicago loft two years ago and the lady who lived here before was apparently into “novelty”…and pain. The cabinet pulls in our kitchen are knives, forks, and spoons and which one of our friends refers to as “knifey, forkey, and spoony”. Kitschy AND dangerous, they are hard metal and sharper than they appear. When you go to grab something you can expect anything from a light poking to an all-out stabbing. Every time my husband goes into the kitchen his pockets get caught on the sideways fork that is ironically the silverwear drawer.

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So why don’t we replace them you ask? We are saving up for a major upscale kitchen remodel and these ridiculous pieces of ornamental death, along with the felt stickers of palm trees that are randomly placed on the cabinets (God, yes, I know) – are reminders for us to strive for our redesign goal daily. It is an abomination to my sense of taste but it will make the day the tear-down comes all the more sweeter. I am enduring these pulls (in a first-world problem sense). And if you recall that scene in the movie Office Space where they destroyed that printer/copier in the field – that will be what I do to these stupid tablewear pulls.

So stick a fork in me, I’m done.

The Art Of Clawed Feet

I have a thing for clawfooted furniture. It is oddly escapist for me. It is in my remodeling plans, but I lust over the idea of having a clawfoot tub — a single slipper bisque beauty for my bathroom that I can sink myself into with a good book. Like the one pictured here:

I am lucky enough to own a unique piece of furniture-art that my talented woodworking dad made for me in 1995. A year before I graduated high school. He made it out of exotic woods and the top is a laminate set in Purpleheart wood. The seat is an old refinished piano seat and he carved for it clawed feet, whose toenails he painted to match the Purpleheart. This is where I sit and do all of my drawings. I love this desk and it has plenty of room for all of my tools – and I have many different tools and multiple light sources.

FUNNY STORY: Several months ago my niece was over for a visit. Her 2 year-old daughter, Sylvia, was with her. Sylvia was very curious and this was the first time she was able to totter around and explore our loft. She walked into the studio room where the desk was and then turned around and came out in a panic. She saw the clawed feet and thought the desk was a creature or monster and she was scared of it. I still laugh about that.

The other clawed foot craft that my dad and husband recently made is a wooden wine holder. I sketched out what I wanted and they brought it to life, using old hardware and some metal clawed feet. 

There is something cool and creepy in anthropomorphic furniture, but it is a constant reminder to keep a vivid imagination. The Victorian era is best known for the “claws”…an irony in that cordial politeness and status quo were also embodied in this staunchly role-driven era.

Perhaps where there was repressed expression, the creaturelike details were a manifestation of feelings that couldn’t be verbally stated.

My Dryer is a “Hottie”

We got a new washer and dryer set recently.  The curves and sleek cherry red paint job and chrome detailing remind me of a classic car.  Instead of “start” buttons, both units have large “play” and “pause” buttons that light up when pushed. They look like remediations of later generations of portable CD players. And, for example, when the dryer is done, it alerts you with a gentle ring-tone sound. Amazing AND pleasant. Not like the full volume “BEEEP!” my old dryer used to scream out giving me a heart attack if I was standing next to it. I never thought I’d be so excited about such items of domesticity…but the design of them has me excited. That is brilliant on many levels.

And now, I geek out about why this is cool:

What is new about new media comes from the particular ways in which they refashion older media and the ways in which older media refashion themselves to answer the challenges of new media. New digital media oscillate between immediacy and hypermediacy, between transparency and opacity. This oscillation is the key to understanding how a medium refashions its predecessors and other contemporary media.

Donald Norman wrote a book called The Design of Everyday Things and makes the following points.

Designing with the user in mind has historically been a problem with telephones and their designs, as pointed out by the author (and to which I concur!). He notes the many different problems that can be experienced with a phone system for example, poor instructions, too many command functions, arbitrary letters (‘R’) on the phone, etc. The author notes that lack of visibility and a poor conceptual model create these phone problems, which in turn can create the “telephone chase” (of which I am also familiar with). Another problem is that any feature not associated with negativity, regardless of it creating a positive function, will likely be left alone by the designers, creating arbitrary and useless functions that don’t evolve out of the design.
 
Another aspect of design discussed is AFFORDANCES, or, “what the object is for” (perceived and actual properties of the item) which is embedded in the psychology of materials. When affordances are taken advantage of, the user knows what to do just by looking at it: no pictures, label or instruction is required. When simple things need pictures, labels or instructions, the design has failed.
 
FEEDBACK is also an important aspect of successful design: sending back to the user information about what action has actually been done. i.e. When a button on the phone is pushed, one can hear a beep as a cause of their action of pushing it. “When an action has no apparent result, you may conclude that the action was ineffective. So you repeat it.” (This reminds me of the “click” sound of the clunky buttons on a cassette player walkman.)
 
Norman reminds us of the CONCEPTUAL MODEL, the mental simulation of a device’s operation. Other clues come from visible structures of items – in particular from AFFORDANCE, CONSTRAINTS, and MAPPINGS. Visible relationships help determine a discernable relationship between the actions and the end result as given in the example of the pair of scissors.
 
The author points out that fundamental principles of design for people 1) provide a good conceptual model and 2) make things visible. He uses the car as a good example of design because of visibility and placement of objects in a car (natural mappings). MAPPING, being the term for the relationship between two things. Some natural mappings are cultural or biological as in the rising level meaning a greater amount <and a diminishing level meaning less >.
 
MENTAL MODELS, the models people have of themselves, others, the environment and the things they interact with. The mental model of a device is formed by interpreting its perceived actions and its visible structure. The example of the refrigerator temperature control instructions design failure is given.  The visible part of the device is what the author calls the SYSTEM IMAGE. When the system image is incoherent or inappropriate such as in the refrigerator example, usability problems occur.  VCR programmability in the 1980s seemed to reflect this same problem.
 
An example of good design given is the 3 1/2 inch floppy diskette and the felt-tipped pen: subtle design cues on both that are functional, visible and aesthetically unobtrusive. I would also volunteer a door key (or skeleton key, for that matter) being of good design.
 
Design failures, even though the idea may be good (like voice commands on a camera), cannot take hold if they go through three redesigns after being released to the public. The general concensus is that the idea will fail. The author notes that it takes 5 or 6 tries to get an idea right within production.
 
The paradox of technology is that technology is intended to make life easier and that the development of technology typically goes through a U curve of complexity: starting high, dropping to a low, comfortable level then climbing again.

 

And in the end all I can say is “how cool is this?”