Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Soup and Salad: Bloomsday, Books o' Millions, War for Art's Sake, Computerized Typewriters

On today's menu:

1.   Another year, another Bloomsday, another nagging reminder that I haven't read Ulysses.  I suspect a good percentage of all the bloomin' revelers today haven't, either.  But do I get props for reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and The Dead?

2.  There are any number of websites which will "suggest" books for you to read (Goodreads, LibraryThing, and Shelfari among them), but the new one launched by The Millions can be particularly addictive.  Click on a book cover and it will not only give you information about the book, but also links to Millions articles referencing the title.  Keep refreshing the main page and new book covers will pop up.

3.  A photo exhibition in San Francisco shows how art and war can merge in interesting ways.  "In Country: Soldiers' Stories From Iraq and Afghanistan" by Jennifer Karady depicts veterans of those conflicts restaging memorable (i.e. traumatic) moments from their deployments.  The New York Times article notes:
The portraits are striking.  In one of the large-format color prints, which measure four feet square, a soldier ascends a dark flight of stairs, armed with nothing more than a pair of textbooks held like a rifle.  In another, a smiling ranger sits on the edge of a placid lake, camping, as two buddies — each wearing googly-eyed glasses and bloody fatigues — smile back.  In a third, a sergeant sits bolt upright in a burned-out house with no other company other than a giant pink bunny.  Adding to the photos’ emotional impact for the subjects is the fact that many of the models used to create the images — a little boy holding a gun, a young woman holding an IV, a mother holding a bouquet of lilies — are their friends or family members.
While some of the photos are eerie and unsettling, I can appreciate how the photographer is trying to view the unthinkable horrors of war through (literally) a different lens.  Sometimes distortion and exaggeration are the only ways we can make sense of things like traumatic amputation of limbs and Death by Shrapnel.

4.  And finally, everything old can be made new again--or at least yanked into this century.  A company has designed a gizmo that will turn your "old-fashioned" manual typewriter into a keyboard for a computer.  You can buy a USB typewriter, order a kit to do your own, or send in your old Royal, Olivetti or Underwood and have them customize it for you.

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