28 June 2012

I'm Hyperventilatin'!

So, seriously, am I the only person in American totally shocked that the healthcare law has been upheld? I haven't been this happy since the court overturned Lawrence v. Texas in 2003! Wow!

26 June 2012

Helping Animals

This is a cute video for a great cause: helping shelter animals get adopted into loving families. Our cat, Eero (pictured) came from the Arizona Humane Society -- to which we donate money each year.

Please watch this video and tell your friends. :-)

21 June 2012

For the Love of Matte

Being the huge fan that I am of "old school" special effects (i.e. non-computer), I was really thrilled to see the excellent blog posting showing 50 of the greatest all-time matte paintings.

Matte paintings were used prior to computers to create a larger area of a shot than existed in real life.  For example, if you wanted to show a man walking on Mars, you could either build an entire section of the planet and film it, or you could build a small section, film that, and later add in a painting that would show the rest of the planet. Matte paintings were used to make castles bigger, new towns look older (by masking out modern things like TV antennae), to show people on space ships, and many more examples -- often prosaic and mundane, but important to the telling of the story.

Some of the paintings featured in the blog are amazing -- for example, the 1959 "Ben Hur" or the 1981 "Raiders of the Lost Ark" final scene (in that vast warehouse), or the ballroom in the 1938 "Sixty Glorious Years" (shown). [Hint: everything above the people is a painting.  Can you tell?]

Take a look for yourself. You can see the list here.  Make sure you "click to enlarge" on the paintings so you can see just how great they really are.

(A shout out to my spouse Matt for the heads up on this article.)

19 June 2012

The Marshall Field & Company Idea

Sometime around 1894, Harry Selfridge, then an executive at Marshall Field in Chicago, wrote and published for employees something called The Marshall Field & Company Idea. It put into writing how management expected their employees to conduct themselves in relation to their customers.

I would encourage every one of you who is a manager or supervisor of any kind of establishment anywhere in the world to print this and post it prominently on your door or cubicle, and to email it to every single person who works with you:

The idea is "To do the right thing, at the right time, in the right way; to do some things better than they were ever done before; to eliminate errors; to know both sides of the question; to be courteous; to be an example; to work for love of the work; to anticipate requirements; to develop resources; to recognize no impediments; to master circumstances; to act from reason rather than rule; to be satisfied with nothing short of perfection."

You can download an image of this quote here.

18 June 2012

Tour the House of the Future

I don't think I ever actually visited the "House of the Future" in Disneyland when it was there from 1957 to 1967.  The first time I went to the theme park was probably in 1967, but I was too young to remember that trip at all; so if we toured the house (if, indeed it was still open) I have no recollection of it.

I have been interested in mid-century plastics for many years probably because of the wealth of intriguing possibilities they represented when they were introduced in the 1940s and 1950s. The "House of the Future" seemed to represent a convergence of thought in plastics design as it existed then, and the hopes of so many for the future of plastics design.

Of course, it was torn down sometime in 1967 and has been sorely missed ever since.

For many years I have collected everything I could find about this once-great house that (all these years later) still represents so much hope for the future of design.

Recently, in honor of the house's 55th anniversary (12 June), I assembled a little video using the actual attraction narration. I have combined as many color photographs as I could find (the existing films of the house are all in black and white) along with original design sketches, images from brochures, magazines of the time and a few images that just plain people took of the house. It provides a little background on the house and shows the various rooms as you would have seen them in the tour.


16 June 2012

Matt LeBlanc, Anyone?

Last night we started watching Episodes: The First Season. Is it just me, or is this one of the funniest shows on television right now -- I mean, aside from "Two Broke Girls." It is smart as a whip, witty beyond words and so subtle as to make it impossible to look away for fear of missing some wry visual joke. I love this show.

03 June 2012

Happy Birthday, Dragnet!

Dragnet, the quintessential detective show, began its radio / television / movie life on radio on this date in 1949.