On the Atlantic Ocean

I miss you blogosphere...


Not for Kids

The Guggenheim and Fallingwater in LEGO. Press Release and Product Page (it's such a tease!).


More Avedon

I've hardly met an Avedon image I didn't like. Here's another... and one I've never seen before!

This sultry portrait of Lauren Hutton (1968) is part of a retrospective of the photographer's fashion work at the International Center of Photography in New York (from May 15 to Sept. 6). Cathy Horyn reviews the exhibit for the New York Times.

This blog is the most popular site among beautiful and intelligent people

The Wall Street Journal reports that "Most Popular" lists affect audiences' perceptions regardless of their accuracy.
A ...recent study demonstrates that popularity in the music world, even unearned, breeds more popularity. Researchers enlisted more than 12,000 volunteers to rate and download songs from among 48 chosen for their relative obscurity. Some of these volunteers were lied to: At a certain stage in the experiment, popularity rankings for this group were reversed, so the least-downloaded songs were made to appear most-downloaded.

Suddenly, everything changed. The prior No. 1 began making a comeback on the new top dog, but the former No. 47 maintained its comfortable lead on the old No. 2, buoyed by its apparent popularity. Overall, the study showed that popularity is both unstable and malleable.

...Other recent studies have quantified the popularity of popularity in other settings. Signs telling guests at a hotel in the Phoenix area that towel reuse was the No. 1 choice among their peers increased the rate of this practice by 34%, compared with other signs with messages stressing the impact on the environment. Arizona State University psychology Prof. Robert Cialdini and colleagues found that rates went even higher when the signs specified that most prior guests in the same room reused towels
Considering the power of these lists, more and more websites are including "most emailed/blogged/viewed" lists on their sites, effectively making Kate Gosselin one of readers' favourite topics and burying all their other news... about, y'know, civil war in Sri Lanka and stuff like that.

Full disclosure: guilty as charged!


I love when Mario Testino pairs up with Cameron Diaz.
Below: Vogue, June 2009, Bottom left: Vanity Fair, January 2003, Bottom right: Vanity Fair, January 2000

Also see: Testino's beautiful, sexy, vibrant work for VF over the years here

Hilarious Graphics, Pointless Story

[click photo to read]

Reading List

Things are moving on nicely on my summer reading list. I am happy to announce that books arrived from Chapters today, which I ordered less than a week ago! Yay, big box!

Titles that I'm currently reading include:

* Whatever It Takes (Paul Tough)...Read more about this amazing story here
* Couples (John Updike)
* Service Included (Phoebe Damrosch)... the closest thing I'll get to a trashy beach read.
* Maps and Legends (Michael Chabon)... stunning hardcover for only $6.99. It's a A STEAL written by one of my favourite authors.
* Annie Leibovitz at Work...written for photographers. Leibovitz writes about technique and style.
* The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Muriel Barbery)... thank you again, Michelle!

I discovered some of these while visiting two of North America's best book stores: Powell's (Portland) and Nicholas Hoare (Toronto). I have a nasty habit of going into finely curated and merchandised independent bookstores, getting ideas and buying the books online at deeply discounted prices. From a publisher's point of view, I'm the enemy.

Not Winning Any Fans

When Allure asked Jessica Biel if her "good looks" have hindered her ability, she responded, "It really is a problem," and then joined the ranks of actresses such as Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Alba, who will continue to use the unexplained line of logic that Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman are equally talented but less beautiful and therefore able to charm directors into getting the roles that they want.

via HuffPo

Things are just not getting easier for them

First, obese people were being blamed for global warming. Now, the Washington Post is claiming they are the most likely candidates for catching (and therefore, spreading) and dying from swine flu.


Keats at Cannes

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.

Excerpts from Jane Campion's Cannes entry Bright Star

8 1/2 becomes Nine




Short Reviews on Stuff in my Life Lately Employing Overused Adjectives

Read at your own discretion:

God is not Great
: Christopher Hitchen's badly-argued but sometimes captivating diatribe against all religions. Worth reading.

Cat Cookies from Trader Joes: Overly sweet, cinnamon-flavoured graham crackers. Low in calories and fat. Cheap.

30 Rock Season Two
: Tina Fey reminds me of my best friend. Sherri Shepard rocks my world. Tracy Morgan was skinnier. Highlights include: Greenzo and Werewolf Bar Mitzvah.

Air Canada in-flight service: vastly improved but still lacking food.

Winnipeg International Airport: Thoroughly depressing.

Art Gallery of Ontario's redesign by Frank Gehry
: Gehry's love song to the neighbourhood he grew up in. Uses Douglas Fir and Blue titanium. Impressive, modern, sleek, impractical and faultily engineered.

McDonald's ice cream (new formula): Now only in vanilla. Markedly heavier and tastes even more unnatural. Taste it for yourself.

JCVD: Looked funny and worthwhile but I fell asleep.

RiP: A Remix Manifesto: Brett Gaylor's NFB documentary argues for more sharing and less Lars Ulrich. Sometimes tedious but informative and inspiring.

The Trials of Ted Haggard: Approachable HBO documentary by Nancy Pelosi's daughter, Alexandra. Pelosi follows former American evangelical preacher, founder and former pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Scarred and shamed by scandal, Haggard and his exiled family try to rebuild their life in Arizona. You actually start to feel for Haggard, which is terrifying in itself.

The Reader (the airplane version): Didn't get to see what Oprah was talking about when she praised Kate Winslet's boobs. Said Winfrey to Winslet: “I love the fact that you have real breasts, ’cause in all the breast scenes, your breasts do what real breasts do.” Generally disappointed but it was alright. Dismal overall. Old-lady makeup on Winslet is unbecoming and unconvincing.

The Month of May: Good so far.

Give a Kidney

A mind-blowing clip for last night's episode of 30 Rock.

Here, Jack tries to find a kidney for his newfound father, Milton Green (Alan Alda). Watch it now! It will disappear very, very quickly.


Quimby The Mouse from This American Life

A clip from This American Life's movie/live show: A dark, disturbing, and cheeky cartoon by Chris Ware.


On Baby Names

In 2005, Freakonomics authors Dubner and Levitt offered their theories on how parents name their kids:
Once a name catches on among high-income, highly educated parents, it starts working its way down the socioeconomic ladder. Amber, Heather, and Stephanie started out as high-end names. For every high-end baby given those names, however, another five lower-income girls received those names within 10 years.
Today, Wired offers another collection of theories for "Why Your Baby’s Name Will Sound Like Everyone Else’s":
Now that everyone relentlessly Googles baby names, parents have no excuse if they saddle their kids with the most popular names. But Wattenberg says they still want names that sound popular, so they end up choosing endless variations on phonetic schemes that happen to be popular: Ava, Emma, Ella, Bella.

Love books and music?

Classic records lost in time and format, remerged as Pelican books by Littlepixel™.

The Moment My Life Changed Forever

You can now bring WiFi with you everywhere (and share it)! This is a revelation to me since I have just spent five days holding my iPod touch in the air around Toronto, searching for any wireless signal I can get, like a real idiot.

About MiFi at the NYTimes

I Learned Something Today

From The Awl:

Grey Poupon is owned and manufactured by Kraft Foods. It is the processed cheese of mustards. It is the fucking Velveeta of faux-French products. Can we all shut the fuck up?


In Transit

I just came across this blog post which perfectly summarizes everything I love about Martha Stewart.
" I have put my finger on why Martha Stewart is so appealing a personality: She is 100% transparent. For example, she has mentioned in passing on each of the two shows immediately following the show on which Mario Batali appeared that Mario's new thing is a "broken [i.e., not completely emulsified] vinaigrette." Now, you know that the idea of a vinaigrette that is not completely emulsified just kills her. The fact that she cannot stop talking about it and probably does so simply because she can (it's her own damn show, after all) is what makes her so awesome. Also, I love how she just talks over any comments from her guests that don't fit into her plan for the progression of the segment. For example, if banter from, say, Ludacris gets in the way of completing a craft project on air, she just ignores the banter as if she didn't hear it."
From The Imaginary Jenny


Book club

Are you a gigantic fan of Jonathan Franzen? If so, please contact me asap.

Kid tells mom he doesn't believe in God; mom goes with the ultimate threat. (Plus, keyboard cat.)

Last week, the New York Times reported:
Polls show that the ranks of atheists are growing. The American Religious Identification Survey, a major study released last month, found that those who claimed “no religion” were the only demographic group that grew in all 50 states in the last 18 years.

Nationally, the “nones” in the population nearly doubled, to 15 percent in 2008 from 8 percent in 1990. In South Carolina, they more than tripled, to 10 percent from 3 percent. Not all the “nones” are necessarily committed atheists or agnostics, but they make up a pool of potential supporters.
But it's still true that you can be completely alienated from some American communities if you don't believe in God. Just witness this moment below (NSFW). It's both hilarious and totally frightening.

via BuzzFeed

NB: Currently reading: "God is not Great"
Up next: "The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster"

Happy Monday


young love

thanks, Veronica

Is she smarter than a fourth grader?

Condi got grilled by a D.C. fourth grader about waterboarding. Actually, he didn't press and observed the request to not use the word "torture." Wussy.

(kidding!) Read all about it here
This looks so bad but I'm going to watch it anyways

Cheat Codes for Life

Courtesy of Wired.

Tips on how to order at In-And-Out, how to put in 1/2 star ratings on iTunes, how to leave voicemail on a certain someone's phone without letting their phone ring... and more!

away in eden

Hello, I've returned!
I've just spent a few days in Oregon state, taking in the hipster/hippie/literary-nerd vibe of Portland. See this happy little hotel we stayed in?

And here is Team V2B facing that endless coastline.

Since returning, I've been exercising my green thumb. Today, I found a little present a squirrel left us - an acorn! In the picture of it just below, there are some rosemary and chives behind it, which I had for lunch.

I've also planted (from top to bottom) cilantro, (chives and rosemary again), strawberries, sage, and Japanese eggplant (not pictured).

If anyone knows the gardening equivalent to "The Joy of Cooking," please share!

I'll be hitting the books and the interweb again soon, so hopefully I'll find some more good stuff to share with all of you. A bientot.