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100th Post: High Times

In this 100th blog post, I’m pleased to find a timely reference to my own past. Acrobatics runs in my family and I did gymnastics as a child, though never quite like the above. The New York Times marks the passing of the last World War I veteran, a 110-year-old woman who served on the […]


Quotable: Meryl Streep

Streep delivered this thoughtful, moving commencement address at Barnard in 2010, and she spoke with Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross this week. Here’s an excerpt from Monday’s interview in which Streep discusses her experience filming The Iron Lady and the need for minimal yet transformative makeup: It’s not about the audience. It’s all about fooling the […]


Friday Fun: Trailer Talk

There’s no enticement quite like an artfully made movie trailer, and it doesn’t spoil the fun to get a better idea of how the pieces come together – and increasingly fly apart. Film Historian Wheeler Winston Dixon helps NPR’s Monkey See put some of the classiest recent trailers in context: “The shots are shorter and […]

Strawberry Hill

Origins: Serendipity

From More Intelligent Life, the origins of the word ‘serendipity’: The word that best describes this subtle blend of chance and agency is “serendipity”. It was coined by Horace Walpole, man of letters and aristocratic dilettante. Writing to a friend in 1754, Walpole explained an unexpected discovery he had just made by reference to a […]


Wikipedia Blackout

I’ve opted to blog today, but I support Wikipedia’s black out. Read up on what it’s all about at The Washington Post. I often link to Wikipedia here on the blog, not because it’s perfect, nothing is, but because: (1) it’s free and widely accessible; (2) it’s easy on the eyes and intuitive to navigate; […]


Smile, Sweetheart

Another delightfully eccentric podcast from Radio Lab recounts how an unexpectedly appealing 19th century death mask became a wildly popular artists’ collectible and then, in 1958, the face of the contemporary CPR dummy: This is a story about a woman. (Good.) You’ve probably seen her. (Really?) You’ve seen her face. You may have even- (Dated […]

Paper tree

Tree Paper Scissors

This exquisite paper ‘poetree’ appeared in March as an anonymous gift to the Scottish Poetry Library, followed in June by a gramophone and coffin carved from the pages of an Ian Rankin novel. More statues followed, including this gloves of bee’s fur, cap of wren’s wing and a Tyrannosaurus Rex emerging from the pages of […]

Top Goon

So Little Time, So Many Links

First up, the revolution will be televised: Click on the image above (or here for the Arabic) to see a trailer of Top Goon, puppet political satire from Syria. The Guardian dubs 2011 the year of the translator and The National considers the “steep upwards trend” in Arabic literature in translation. If you ever wondered […]