One of our secret passions is connectors — not just connectors of ideas – but connectors of physical things as well: materials you can build with. We can’t wait to try out Stick-lets, flexible, stretchy silicone connectors made in a variety of configuerations. (They’re meant for kids, but when did that ever stop us?) You use them to connect sticks and wood or metal dowels to build structures. They got us thinking about the indoor pop-up guest room we’ve been imagining for years. We’d get a bunch of 1-inch dowels and go to town.
We are amazed at how often we return to The Phantom Tollbooth, Nort0n Juster’s classic kid’s book that is celebrating 50 years of stunning popularity. It’s the story of Milo, a bored ten-year-old who comes home to find a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. In his rarely-used kid’s-size car, he embarks on a surprising journey through a mysterious landscape, beyond Expectations through Mountains of Ignorance, The Forest of Sight, Illusions, Reality and Dictionopolis to the Sea of Knowledge. Rich with strange, true wisdom, it’s way more than a kid’s book. Our ancient copy is dappled with post-its marking many bits of brilliance that curiously resonates with ‘the improvised life’, like this from the gateman of Dictionopolis addressing Milo as he tries to enter the city: read more…
We found this image at The Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things. The commentary said it all:
….they are not merely ignoring the art on the walls, but literally looking beyond those walls….This is intense, curious looking… The square grid-like vent seems congruous with the canvasses of the modern art gallery, and the children are inspired to look beyond the surface of lines and shapes. They might be unknowingly challenging expected behaviors within the museum, but the little girls are also undertaking the exact type of close scrutiny and imaginative looking that curators and artists dream the art gallery might inspire.
We should all ‘see’ like that…
And it begs the question: What is REALLY interesting?
Related posts: ‘the world sends us garbage, we send back music.’
creative process: doing this-or-that ‘in your head’
patti smith’s lesson in improvising, via sam shephard
‘beautiful oops’ lesson for all of us: mistakes are OK
A few weeks ago, after Susan Dworski mentioned that she carved stamps out of erasers, we started thinking about all the things you could do with home-made stamps. Why not stamp a pattern on sheets or rolls of paper to make your own fab holiday wrapping paper? (It’s easy, you just get yourself some Staedtler Mars Erasers and start carving, with whatever tools you have…dip in paint and stamp away — check out our how-to here).
(Video link here.) Susan Dworski alerted us to this stunning video, in an email with the subject line: “ah, the improvisational human spirit”. It’s about a remarkable orchestra from a remote village in Paraguay — a slum built on landfill — where its young musicians play with instruments made from foraged trash. The village’s inhabitants eke out a living by culling saleable items and materials in the huge dump. When a half-destroyed violin was found, Nicolas Gomez had the idea to rehabilitate it using found materials; the improvisation of other instruments followed.
It is astonishing to hear the wondrous first strains of Bach’s Suite No.1 in G major Prélude played on a cello improvised out of “an oil can, wood that was thrown away in the garbage…its pegs made out of an old tool used to tenderize beef and to make gnocchi…”
…And to hear how these kids lives have been changed by music: “When I listen to the sound of a violin, I feel butterflies in my stomach.” Says Music Director Favio Chavez, “The world sends us garbage. We send back music.” read more…
For the past couple of days, we’ve been getting calls from friends asking for recommendations for the Thanksgiving meal: the best way to cook the turkey, what side dishes, what to drink. So for all our readers who may still be at odds with what they are going to make tomorrow, here’s our round-up of favorite Thanksgiving recipes (which, taken together, make a perfect menu). And since we view recipes as rough formulas and idea generators, we encourage your to take them in whatever direction you want. read more…
(Video link here.) This video about the private little games people (especially kids) play in their heads reminded me of one I’ve been playing for years.
I am the parent of a child with severe disabilities, a job that calls for near constant improvisation. I asked parents of children with disabilities — some that I knew and most that I don’t know! — what they might have told themselves on the day their child was diagnosed and to write that down on a poster and pose with it for a photo. They sent me their photos, and we put them together in what, I think is an example of an improvised life –
It blew us away: big honest words for an incredibly difficult thing. Aquino’s parents’ messages apply to the many rough diagnoses and challenges that invariably strike us all, while providing insight into the valiant lives that people
live improvise daily. Witness this series of posters: read more…
We LOVE Sofia Rower’s half a mustache!!!
We want one! It makes us wonder why we never see men sporting half a mustache…what a surprise that would be.
(Sofia was in Peru this summer with 100 clowns from all over the world. They were painting murals in poor villages and working/transforming the vibe in clinics. GO Sofia!)
The other day walking in a nearby park early one morning, we came upon a line of swings – big kid’s swings – in a playground. So we thought ‘Why not?‘ and did what we hadn’t done in many many years: swung HIGH looking at up at trees and sky.
Related posts: xhousegifts to buy or d-i-y
repurposed swing set = hanging garden
indoor swings (+ hammocks + daybeds) for kids and grown-ups
’1000 awesome things’
awesome building blocks for kids + grownups (to d-i-y?)
Having no hidden rooms in our apartments, we have written a number of posts mulling ways to make an “instant”, impermanent guest room in our space. They are usually along the lines of something a kid would make, since secretly, we love the feeling of forts, teepees, treehouses. We are always on the lookout for materials with which we might quickly rig such a private space in our big open room, to enclose a guest bed, be a meditation room, a hideout.
So we were smitten when we read about Fort Magic, a kit full of PVC pipes and connecters and clips with which you can make Tinkertoy-like structures to attach sheets or fabrics. Designed for kids but it see,s perfectly suits our adult fantasies. read more…
In Harlem, the response to NYC’s recent heatwave has been highly improvisational; rigged umbrellas are everywhere, lashed to fence posts, tree trunks and baby carriages. Hats of all kinds have been configured, lots of chairs arranged under trees. We saw some folks who set up a giant open air cabana on the street so they could sit in its shade on lawn chairs. But best of all is the mom and pop who dragged an inflatable pool onto their upper Fifth Avenue sidewalk, and filled it with a hose to let their two young sons frolic and cool off.
What are your ways to beat-the-heat?
Related posts: google street view as time machine + aide memoire
san francisco graffiti turns the sidewalk into a fish pond
lol street sign “like this…post’
reader’s improv: street tennis
reg e. cathey’s goodbye love song to manna hatta and its improvisational spirit