Thursday, November 12, 2009

I am thankful for ...

... free printable Thanksgiving place cards!
Right now, Vale Design has free downloads of these adorable flat and place cards to make your Thanksgiving table both pretty and personal.

So cute, right?

I think this will be a great compliment to our family tradition of passing around a jar of kernels of corn and taking one out as we explain each thing we are thankful for.

Do you have any Thanksgiving family traditions?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Photographic Animal Kingdom Amazingness

This morning, I am totally wowed by this extraordinary photographer, Nick Brandt, and his fine art images of wildlife in East Africa.
Is it love or loathing?
Look at those incredible and tattered ears.
These giraffes are battling, but to me this photo is pure romance.

Brandt published a book of his work a few years ago called On This Earth: Photographs from East Africa .

He also put out a brand new book just last month called A Shadow Falls. I think it would make a fantastic Christmas gift for the animal lover, photographer, or traveler in your life.

Aren't the earth and all of its creatures so amazing? Almost as impressive as God's handiwork is the talent of a photographer daring enough to capture it up close and personal.

Check out this excerpt from Brandt's bio:
Few photographers have ever considered the photography of wild animals, as distinctly opposed to the genre of Wildlife Photography, as an art form. The emphasis has generally been on capturing the drama of wild animals IN ACTION, on capturing that dramatic single moment, as opposed to simply animals in the state of being.

I’ve always thought this something of a wasted opportunity. The wild animals of Africa lend themselves to photographs that extend aesthetically beyond the norm of 35mm-color telephoto wildlife photography. And so it is, that in my own way, I would like to yank the subject matter of wildlife into the arena of fine art photography. To take photographs that transcend what has been a largely documentative genre.

Aside from using certain impractical photographic techniques, there’s one thing I do whilst shooting that I believe makes a big difference :
I get extremely close to these very wild animals, often within a few feet of them. I don’t use telephoto lenses. This is because I want to see as much of the sky and landscape as possible--to see the animals within the context of their environment. That way, the photos become as much about the atmosphere of the place as the animals. And being that close to the animals, I get a real sense of intimate connection to them, to the specific animal in front of me. Sometimes a deliberate feeling that they’re almost presenting themselves for a studio portrait.

Why the animals of Africa in particular? And more particularly still, East Africa?
There is perhaps something more profoundly iconic, mythical, mythological even, about the animals of East Africa, as opposed to say, the Arctic or South America. There is also something deeply, emotionally stirring and affecting about the plains of Africa – the vast green rolling plains punctuated by the graphically perfect acacia trees.

My images are unashamedly idyllic and romantic, a kind of enchanted Africa.

I couldn't agree more.

All photos via.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How you say in English ...

Do you remember that episode of The Office where Michael goes on a business trip to Canada? While talking to Concierge Marie, (played by an actor I saw at Groundlings a couple of years ago) he prefaces his questions with: "How you say in English?"

It was pure genius.


Well, according to this list of the 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English , I may need to be asking myself that very same question. While some of the mispronunciations are downright silly (although we've all heard them before -- aks, probly, bidness), a few caught me off guard.
For instance, I never knew that when I said "chomp," what I really meant to say all along was "champ," of course.

I wonder what those pernickety Sargento people would make of this one. More importantly, where and when did we pick up that extra S?

Here's one you may not say aloud too often, but at least now you can pronounce it correctly in your head when reading.

My friend Stephanie from Aisle with Style made a convert out of me concerning the pronunciation of this word for the yummy summer treat.

Sneaked is one of those past participles that just doesn't sound quite right, but it is. My guess is that the sound of stuck has well, stuck with most people.

While the majority probably doesn't worry too much about their pronunciation on a day-to-day basis, it really does influence the evolution of our language and it can impact others' perceptions of your intelligence.

Hop over to the list to see if there are any that you find surprising.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mr. Picassohead is the new Mr. Potatohead

Growing up, I adored Mr. Potatohead (and his wife, Mrs. Potatohead, of course). I didn't understand the kids who placed the lips in an eye hole or his nose where the mouth belongs. I always put the pieces in the right places. And yes, I even colored inside the lines (thank you, social norms). It is probably no surprise that Picasso is not my favorite artist — I'm more of a bread-and-butter impressionist lover — but after playing around with this web site a bit, I can see why he enjoyed it so much.

What do you think? I think her name should be Mrs. Duvall.