Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Big news for frogs!

New Zealand scientists have found a treatment for the fungal infection which has been wiping out populations of amphibians all over the world. Read all about it here on the BBC.

Grant Hanna

I'd never heard of this witty New Zealand surrealist painter before I stumbled upon his I Dream of Fish Too, at Ferner Galleries. Other favourites of mine include 4 Cows and a Sheep, 3 White Coats and an Un-ion, and Another Day Closer to Death.

I really like the way his landscapes are both so recognisable and so altered.

Sam Mahon

I didn't know Sam Mahon was a painter as well as a sculptor, but the Christchurch City Art Galley has this amazing example, and this too. I'm sure his upcoming show at CoCA's Mair Gallery will be well worth seeing.

And kudos to the City Gallery for putting their permanent collection online. It's a great resource, and it's part of what public galleries are for.

The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet within

The Ode Less Traveled: Unlocking the Poet within

I picked up this book partly because it was by the always-interesting Stephen Fry, but mostly because of its sublimely apposite title. Turns out Fry has a passion for writing formal poetry, and he thinks we should all give it a go; I haven't worked my way through the whole book yet (there are lots of funny exercises along the way), but he has convinced me that there might be something in it. It's a fascinating and addictive book for anyone interested in writing or better appreciating poetry.

Incidentally, Stephen Fry has a brilliant blog.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

My secret addiction

Astrona is full of awesome pictures of imaginary planets.

Peter Callesen

Peter Callesen works in the medium of cut paper. Many of my favourites are created from pieces of A4 paper, and have that deceptive simplicity that makes you think: "Man, I wish I'd thought of that!"

Some of his works are very much larger: see his floating castle, or his palace of dreams, or his boat made of ice; all have the whimsical, ephemeral quality of his papercuts.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Money isn't everything

"Money is to Everything, as an Aeroplane is to Australia. The aeroplane isn't Australia, but it remains the only practical way we know of reaching it."

-from Stephen Fry, The Stars' Tennis Balls.

Ponoko is go

After spending time in beta, Ponoko.com is open for business. It's a great concept: designers upload designs which are offered for sale; when a customer wants to buy an item, Ponoko cuts out the raw materials and sends them to the designer for assembly; the designer assembles the product and sends it to the customer. It's the kind of business that wouldn't work anywhere except the web.

What to eat

I really liked this Scientific American article on food: "basic dietary principles are not in dispute: eat less; move more; eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and avoid too much junk food.". The article goes on to examine some of the complex issues in diet research, and the reasons why food fads so often make the headlines.

The power of community

New Zealand has made world headlines for a Police initiative to allow the public to collaboratively draft a law. The BBC article is here.

Arranged marriage

What is it like marrying a stranger chosen for you by your friends...and a whole lot of strangers? Apparently not too bad!

Flight of the Conchords

"New Zealand's fourth-most-popular folk-parody duo"!

To anyone who wasn't watching the Flight of the Conchords on Prime at 10pm Monday, make sure you watch next week! It's the best thing on telly since The Office. You can read some background here on Stuff, on BBC Radio 2 here (some music clips at the bottom of the page), or BBC Four here. And if that's not enough there's always YouTube.

The Conchords remind me a little of The Front Lawn, and also of Chris Knox. Their songs have the surreal quality that seems to run through a lot of Kiwi humour.