An amazing graphic

A conference that I attended used this graphic as its primary image on slides and name tags and such. As interesting as the speakers were, my attention kept returning to the huge center slide with this picture on it.



I love this image. It is so perfect for its purpose.

The first thing I noticed about it was the hint of something wonderful just around that bend, like the trail to a really awesome themepark ride. Then I saw that the “pattern” on the walls was 0s and 1s…data, lots of data, infinite amounts of data. (The conference was on Big Data.) The slope and curl gives the feeling of all this data flowing like a river. The source of the light is hidden, but the light is ethereal and promises a really amazing destination.

The way the image is structured, it feels physical, as if I could step onto that pathway and follow its course around the bend. Just me and the data, travelling fluidly through the aether.

This is a great graphic.

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Halloween: a caretaker for my graveyard, inspired by Disney

I did it! He isn’t the greatest handmade figure, but I think he’s pretty darn good for a first try. I was inspired by the caretaker in Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Take a look at my guy:

Graveyard caretaker full view

Graveyard caretaker full view

The head is polymer clay, and the body is a mish-mash of PVC pipe and expandable foam.

Graveyard caretaker close-up

Graveyard caretaker close-up

Next up: a bloodhound to go with him. For that project, I’m going to use the methods in Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay.

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Steve Perry and Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne is the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles, a science fiction/fantasy series. A book review somewhere convinced me to try one despite the subject matter (druids? vampires? werewolves?) and I’m so glad that I did — they’re wonderful, truly.

But my favorite piece of Hearne’s deliciously humorous writing isn’t about any of those subjects. It’s from one of the books (“Tricked“, book 4 in the series) and really has nothing to do with the story, it’s simply an off-the-wall segue into the characters stopping at a fast food place. His paean to Steve Perry just delights me though, so I want to share it.

“There was a span of years in the 1980s during which I marveled at the almost supernatural powers of Steve Perry. While he sang for Journey, he made people believe in themselves, weep over long distance relationships, and inquire at transit stations about midnight trains. Together with his bandmates, he fully explored the hidden depths and nuances of the word whoa — teasing out shades of meaning and connotations that I would have been hard pressed to discover, even with two thousand years of attention to the problem — and I’m willing to be that the pathos with which he imbued the syllable na shall never be equalled in the history of the human race.”

Awesome, isn’t it?

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“HAIR”: Seattle review

The touring tribe of Hair had their first show in Seattle today, a 1 p.m. matinee at the Paramount Theatre. (I heard that the cast also appeared during halftime at the 1 p.m. Seahawks game, and I’m still wondering how they worked that out! Seahawks lost, btw.)

Tip: if you’re going to see Hair at the Paramount, get a seat on the main floor on an aisle, so you can enjoy the cast members up close.

Overall: the show was awesome. Act I was particularly engaging, and the audience loved it. I’ll get to Act II later. First, some observations about the cast members.

I have to mention Berger first, because it’s such a key role. Steel Burkhardt was wonderfully outrageous and rudely charming, he really kicked the whole thing off with a powerful start. We thought he was as good as Cheyenne Jackson, who played Berger in the 2002 regional staging of Hair at Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre, which means he was damned good.

Next, we have Sheila. I have never really cared for any of the Sheilas before, but Caren Lyn Tackett (no webpage) absolutely charmed me! Wonderful voice and acting, she made the character so likable.

Matt DeAngelis was endearing and entertaining as Woof.

Phyre Hawkins was outstanding as Dionne.

Kaitlin Kiyan was the best Crissy I’ve ever seen.

If you’re a fan of Hair, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned Claude. I really love Hair and I really wanted to love every moment of the show today. But I just couldn’t fall in love with Paris Remillard’s Claude. His voice was wonderful, it wasn’t that — I can’t even point to what it was, other than that the energy just seemed sort of misplaced. Part of the problem, I’m sure, is that I can’t help but compare him to my last Claude, Louis Hobson (5th Avenue Theatre production of Hair, 2002 and 2003), who gave a heartwrenching performance. So let’s just say it was my fault that I couldn’t like today’s Claude.

Act II in Hair is challenging for the audience, because Act I is such a rambunctious party. The second half of Act II takes us all to a much darker place. The big challenge is the ending – being what it is, how do you acknowledge Claude’s senseless death without crashing the audience into utter depression? I’ve seen it done powerfully, in ways that make the final “Let the Sun Shine In” a dirge, a plea, and a hope. There needs to be that touch of hope to redeem the story.


This staging of Hair didn’t manage to accomplish that delicate balance at the end. The cast leaves the theater, the faint sounds of the final verse of the song fading, and we are left there looking at Claude’s dead body laying on the stage. Silence. That’s it: the end. The confused applause begins.

I acknowledge the power in that choice, but seriously…WTF? You’ve just spent two plus hours taking us on a roller-coaster ride and at the last minute, you just drop us over the edge?

Then the cast reenters doing a reprisal of “Hair”, dancing and smiling and inviting the crowd on stage as if they hadn’t just kicked us in the gut. All I can say is, there are better ways of staging the final scene.  

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“The Defenders” pilot show

I just watched the pilot of The Defenders, starring Jim Belushi. Although it’s the same title, I don’t think it’s a remake of the 1961 series The Defenders. The new attorneys aren’t father/son, and I didn’t get the impression from the pilot that the new series intends to focus on exploring important legal complexities.

The pilot was enjoyable. I can’t not love Jim Belushi and he’s great in this character. What surprised me about the episode was that I found myself holding my breath as the bailiff read the verdict. Somehow the show subtly sucked me in and made me care what the jury decided.

The point the show made about the charges was interesting. Presented with charges of murder in the first degree, murder in the second, and voluntary manslaughter, the jury asked the judge if there was a possible fourth charge that would encompass doing something wrong unintentionally. Belushi manipulated the judge into refusing to offer that fourth charge. Belushi’s thinking was that the jury asked for the fourth charge because they didn’t feel they could convict on any of the three offered. By preventing the fourth charge as an option, he was gambling that they would refuse to convict — but the risk was that they might instead settle for convicting on one of the three available charges. I really felt like it could go either way at the end.

I’ll admit I was completely shocked at the end. Frank Sinatra Jr. sounded great, but I never would have recognized him!

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Greatest flaw in “Wheel of Time” series

I do enjoy Jordan’s WoT series (saga, epic…). Granted, there are valid criticisms of the books, and as much as I love the story, even I can find aspects of the books that irritate me. But starting in the very first book and continuing throughout the rest is a flaw that jerks me out of suspension of disbelief each time I encounter it:

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills.

People would not say that. Say it yourself, aloud. Has there ever been a more awkward construction of sounds? It’s difficult to say, almost as bad as a tongue-twister. People would not say that over and over and over as a common saying. They would morph it into friendlier constructions:

The Wheel weaves…

Everyone knows what you mean, no need to tack on the rest. Or:

The Wheel weaves as it wills.

Avoids the horrid conjunction of “Wheel wills”. And I’m sure there are other variations that might occur, but the original would not be repeated throughout society and over the years as constructed. People would just not say that.

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A tale of two prostitutes

“The Daily Dish” is doing some “About My Job” posts. This post prints emails from two prostitutes.

The first offers contrast: “Most people would be surprised to find out the 49 year old former housewife who raised 2 great kids to adulthood and has several college degrees, weighing in at 300 lbs, and living in the nice suburban home with the dog and the pool etc. is a prostitute.” The second concludes with a mystery: “Whether this job is good for me is another question. I used to think it wouldn’t have any effect. But I think I was naive about that…”

I wanted to hear more of the second story. Obviously the first has a story to tell, but it didn’t hook me. The second, though, with the allusion to optimistic expectations confounded by reality — I was intrigued.

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