Book Club, Current Sensibility

December Obsessions: Clay Totems, Jonathan Strange and Seveneves

  1. Making clay totems:  Sylvia and I have whiled away some enjoyable hours recently making clay totem pole inspired sculptures.  We were drawn to them first as a fun way to create a vertical sculpture with cute animals.  Before this, I didn’t know much about the totem other than what I’ve gleaned from my years of watching Northern Exposure (sadly true).
    I started out with pieces of clay roughly the size and shape of a ping pong ball and formed them into cute animal heads. Sylvia’s is on the left and mine is on the right.  These are un-painted Air Dry Clay.

    Our second version of the totem was an attempt to replicate 5 things that were important to us and we ordered them in importance.   I got a little more adventuresome on this second totem and used a variety of shapes, but then had trouble fitting them together on the pole in an attractive way.  The next time I make one, I’m going to sketch it out first to understand how the pieces fit together – I’d like to be more creative in fitting the different shapes on top of one another.  We have not painted them yet and I’m a little nervous that I will screw up the color!

    I used a 1/4″ diameter wooden dowel rod to stack the clay on.  I had a terrible time crafting that airplane out of clay.  Drawing ability and sculpting ability evidently do not go hand in hand for this designer.  Sylvia replicated all of our pets – they look a little muppet-like to me.
  2. The interiors in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell from the BBC.  I read the book by Susanna Clarke when it first came out in 2004 and enjoyed it.  The mini-series (currently on Netflix) is entertaining, well-acted and the 19th Century English interiors could occupy me for hours.  I may have to do a special blog post devoted just to this set (see my Hannibal and Master of None posts for more like this).  The libraries and the wallpapers are gorgeous!
    One of the libraries in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell from the BBC (Screenshot from Episode 4: “All the Mirrors of the World” )

    Another view of the same library – check out that library ladder! (Screenshot from Episode 4: “All the Mirrors of the World)
  3. Books:
    I don’t read a lot of Science Fiction – if I’m going that route I’ll usually choose a fantasy book over a sci-fi.  Technical accounts about the future and “flying machines” are something I typically avoid.  Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is technical and there are “flying machines” but it’s also incredibly compelling storytelling.  The characters are memorable and generally likable, the descriptions of the events (What if our moon was destroyed?) are vivid and it’s a story that stayed with me after I had finished it.  Another potentially fun thing about this book: Ron Howard is currently developing this for film.  Books are almost always better than the movie, but at the very least it will get more people reading the book and it will give you and I something to complain about.

    Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

    “As it turned out, imagining the fate of seven billion people was far less emotionally affecting than imagining the fate of one.” ― Neal StephensonSeveneves


  4. Holiday Gift Guides: I don’t put out “gift guides” because I feel like my profession heavliy promotes buying already.  The last thing I need to be doing is putting out even more buying pressure during the holidays.  Hours spent shopping are kind of soulless – spend the hours focusing on your friends and family.  If you’re going to spend money, buy some concert tickets, play tickets, sports tickets, even plane tickets and have a fun memorable day or weekend.  Or, just spend some time with people that are important to you.   I know, the high horse that I’m on is probably annoying, but it’s not as annoying as the “dreamy gift guides” that are put out every year by retailers everywhere.  I’ll stop now and step down off the horse.

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