Sunday, August 14, 2022

"The Shop Around The Corner"

If you like "You've Got Mail," you should see the original movie it was based on, "The Shop Around The Corner." Made by Ernst Lubitsch in 1940, that film stars James Stewart, Margaret Sullavan and Frank Morgan (who had just played the Wizard in "The Wizard of Oz").

A decade later (1949) MGM re-made this movie as a musical with Judy Garland ("In The Good Old Summertime"). A decade after that (1963) a new musical adaptation of the story opened on Broadway and was a success. That show was re-staged in 1993 ("She Loves Me") and again won over audiences.

Finally in 1999 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan starred in "You've Got Mail," updating it with e-mail instead of letters. As a tribute to its source, Meg Ryan's store in the movie was called The Shop Around The Corner.

I find "The Shop..." to be even better than "You've Got Mail." It's smart, witty and emotional. It's writer/director, Ernst Lubitsch, was one of our greatest film artists and he considered this comedy to be his best work. Go check it out!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

"Scenes From A Marriage"

Some art, made before we were old enough to appreciate it, deserves being experienced now.

I can't believe how good "Scenes From A Marriage" is. Made in 1973 by Ingmar Bergman, this six-episode Swedish TV series earned raves from everyone including Roger Ebert ("best of the year") and The New York Times. It was later transformed into a shorter movie but see the TV show for full impact. Libraries have it on DVD.

The ostensible subject is marriage but, more than that, it explores intimacy in relationships. Emotional, sexual and practical. Despite being made with almost no money the show entrances you by its deep writing and skillful acting (e.g., Liv Ullmann). It'll make you laugh and cry at the absurdity of human relations.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Solar-Powered Cars

If you visit an antique car museum you'll be surprised by some unexpected facts. A century ago there were hundreds of inventors, working at small companies, exploring diverse approaches to transportation. As we sought to replace horse-drawn carriages various possibilities were tried. Nobody knew what would catch on in the future so all ideas were considered.

Many of the new cars were powered by electricity. Their energy was cleaner than gas-powered internal combustion engines (ICE). Only sleazy political dealings gave the petroleum industry and ICEs commercial advantages that allowed it to dominate the automotive industry for the next hundred years.

As we now return to electric vehicles (EV) to combat climate change we're starting to see new car companies and designs emerge. The creativity of a century ago is emerging again in developing alternatives to carbon-spewing ICEs.

I'm sure you know about EVs but have you heard about solar-powered cars? Really! They're in final stages of development and one company will produce cars later this year (Aptera). Two other companies will open soon in Europe (Lightyear 0 and Sono Motors Sion). These vehicles charge their engines by solar panels and can also accept power from other sources. They pollute less than EVs and will become an interesting alternative. I plan to be the first kid on my block to get one!

Saturday, August 6, 2022


Hard as it is to believe, today is exactly 25 years since I first got on a motorcycle. Naturally this causes some reflection.

I ride motorcycles because I like to ride motorcycles. They offer real, intrinsic pleasures. Like the joy of dancing with nature's forces, getting thrills from fierce acceleration, and savoring the excitement of leaning deeply into curves. In short, motorcycles are fun.

I never cared or worried about their social status. I don't cosplay as a tattooed biker or resemble a teenage squid. I'm simply a guy who enjoys riding.

In the 1950s and '60s, motorcycles became cool. They acquired social cachet from Hollywood movies and national magazines that glamorized them as the pinnacle of social deviance. They were seen as forbidden toys for dangerous bad boys. That image caused many young people to try riding. 

The symbolism dwindled, however, and later disappeared. Today you might see a motorcycle in a brief cameo during an action-movie but they aren't the stars anymore; films aren't centered around motorcycles the way they used to be. This change diminished the interest of some young people in riding -- which is sad, because speeding through space on two wheels has real-world appeal.

As the motorcycling community gets older and smaller, I refuse to abandon an activity that makes me happy. I didn't get into motorcycles because of "society" (which is just other people's views); I won't get out of it for the same reason. As long as I can continue to swing my leg over a piece of hot metal, I'll do so.

"When the path reveals itself, follow it." 

(C. Strayed, "Brave Enough," p. 79)

"Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba." 

(H. Thompson, "Kingdom of Fear," p. 173)

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Value of Money

If you keep your eyes open you'll see odd sights.

I was walking from my motorcycle to the Starbucks in Syosset. Something in the parking lot caught my eye. I mean literally *IN* the parking lot. 

A coin! An actual U.S. nickel. Judging from its half-encased position the coin got embedded there when the asphalt pavement was laid down; it'd be impossible to slip in after the pavement hardened.

An oddity as strange as this deserves comment. Perhaps a metaphor, perhaps humor. Any ideas?

I'm quoting Yogi Berra who said "A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore" -- and adding this nickel ain't worth anything anymore!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

More Art

Art is subjective. A good way to explore it is by jumping into the pool, looking at a large collection and seeing what resonates with you personally. You're often surprised to like both a contemporary photograph and a 400-year old painting. You do you.

Here's art that spoke to me at the CMA on Sunday.

John Singer Sargent, "Carmella Bertagna" (1880)

Frank Stella, "La vecchia dell'orto" (1986)

Lucas Foglia, "Amanda After A Birthday Party, Jackson, Wyoming" (2010)

Richard Anuszkiewicz, "Dual Red" (1979)

Alison Saar, "Nocturne Navigator" (1998)

Erika Stone, "Lower Eastside Facade" (1947)

Monday, July 25, 2022

Columbus Museum of Art

While in Ohio I accompanied my good friend Emma to the Columbus Museum of Art. As we entered the museum I was delightfully surprised -- the first thing we saw was a large work of glass art by none-other-than Lino Tagliapietra, the world-famous Maestro whose work I collect. In fact, I had dinner with Lino and his wife two months ago.

I learned Lino made the large piece ("Endeavor") specifically for this location in 2003. It fills the space with bright colors and dynamic energy. 

The CMA accurately reflects Columbus and possesses terrific art. I'll post more pictures soon.