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Puppets have been with us for a very long time. Amusing us, sometimes scaring us or making us mad–and by “us”, we mean people of just about any age in any country. Small figures made of simple materials become actors in a play. This is theatre the way we all like it. We laugh, we cry. Applause applause.
The above 200-year-old puppet troupe, supporting cast to the beloved character Guignol, is from Lyon, France, found here.
But happily, puppets are as much a part of the present as they are a reminder of the past. Today, right now, puppet making and puppet theatre are as widely appealing and inventive as ever.
This is one (of dozens) of small figures imagined and made by Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer for a show called The Surgeon and the Photographer. Each is made of cloth and paper cut out of magazines and books. Are they “puppets”? They are to us, and the room full of them was, by a long shot, the best thing we saw in an art gallery in 2015.
Above, Mr Farmer’s puppets on parade at the Barbicon in London in 2013. Happily, all these little people have been gathered in a book.
Whatever their actual age, puppets seem to belong to a time all their own. This lad, who is Italian and just waiting for the show to go on, is about 300 years ago.
This past August, many of the fine performances at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival featured puppets and puppetry of the highest and most hilarious order, the most absurd, unsettling, laugh-in-spite-of- yourself kind of stuff you’ll find in any theatre anywhere…
Like Bruce, a sponge puppet, with quite a story to tell. Created by Australian company The Last Great Hunt
And Foxy, one of the stars of Sing for your Life, a “Hideously hilarious taxidermy puppet cabaret”written by taxidermy performance artist (!) Charlie Tuesday Gates. Don’t look toooo close.
Puppet festivals thrive today in many cities–like Istanbul, below
Montreal Festival Casteliers Afternoon of a Foehn.
So we encourage you to get off your hands and head out to a puppet show near you or way over there in Istanbul. Near or far, the delight remains supreme. We love these little creatures, don’t we?
G. Farmer. Mlle Puppette. Enchantee. Merci.
Gotta thirst at the end of a day? Well, there is no shortage of colourful, solutions to be concocted–by you yourself or by a licensed professional (image from here). Cocktails are back. Lucky us.
The mixed drink for adults that goes beyond the quick and simple rye and ginger, rum and coke, scotch and water, tequila and tequila is very much in favour just now and shows no sign of retreating any time soon.
Funny how things come and go. Not so long ago, the thing to do was to keep everything simple, including your brain buzzing beverage of choice. Open the bottle, pour a healthy slug, add something a child might drink, and repeat as necessary–or just make a giant jugful.
But now, it’s all about multiple ingredients, hard to find, mixed in just the right proportion, requiring some care and skill, served in a special glass, beautiful to look at.
They say the cocktail craze started way back before we let television in the house. Almost a hundred years ago, people of means and money looking to fill the void between the afternoon nap and dinner decided the thing to do was to have friends over for drinks, real drinks, stiff drinks crafted with expertise made from hard-to-get components, just like their hats and furniture.
Great design above by Beverley Nichols found here.
Those who looked into it seriously say the cocktail hour was born sometime between 1917 and 1924, somewhere between London and America, moving inevitably from houses to bars, cafes, nightclubs, fund raisers…
The bunch above are slurping their cocktails during prohibition in America, meaning you needed a password to get in and you had to lie to your mom when you got home. From this article.
This crowd is on the town Berlin at a time when, it seems, nothing was prohibited (and just before just about everything was prohibited).
Wherever you are, the cocktail seems to be best consumed in the presence of someone you think is swell.
Or at least someone you used to think was swell. This is a fine photo by Irving Penn was taken in Lima and found at this eye-opening site.
Then again, some gals just like to put on their best cocktail hat and go it alone.
OK, so back to the here and the now. Below is the bar at the Brasserie NYC in the one and only Seagram’s building where, we can tell you, you will not go wrong in acquiring a satisfying cocktail, New York style: big, quick, yummy, and served by someone who won’t make you feel like you don’t deserve this.
If you find yourself near NYC or just thinking it, it would be a fine occasion to have a Manhattan cocktail.
Wherever you are, spare an hour late in a day to seek out seat at the bar somewhere in your town. Give the bartender a chance to try something new on you–or challenge him/her with something little known.
At the r of l, our official cocktail is the negroni.
Why? it tastes really good in any season and any time of day, it only has 3 ingredients, and it goes very well with any activity, whether you are being quiet and reflective (wondering where you put that note reminding you to do something) or hosting a gathering of 20 friends and neighbours in celebration of the fact that you have 20 friends and neighbours. (Image above, History, and more from Swide)
Find your cocktail, find your reason to sip it.
Clowns tell us a lot about ourselves and our lives. The best of them reveal some sadness or strangeness or both while doing their best to amuse us. The overall message is: you might as well laugh because, well, life isn’t always a piece of cake, sometimes it’s a pie in the face.
Clown figurines of tin or ceramic seem to carry an extra layer of sadness and oddness after a few years. Maybe there is a contradiction between what we see now and the smiles the little joker was meant to induce. Crawling clown toy, 1900, from here
But for all the contradictions, we can’t stop smiling at this little gang of kidders.
According to Tracey’s Toys:
“The Rolly Dollys first appeared in 1902 and were produced through the 1920s in over 70 different styles. Some were based on advertising or cartoon characters like Buster Brown and Foxy Grandpa, while others represented children, clowns, police officers, and more.”
Is this him?
All in all, the clown whether he is a comic actor, a circus performer, a tin toy, or cookie jar (above) has a long history and a continuing important function in human society. Is there sadness underneath it all? Is there misery and madness?
Well…maybe. But we all have a choice to see the soda spray bottle half empty or half full. Is the whoopee cushion a cry for help? Or just a perennial boyish prank. We come down on the side of mirth. Release the clowns!!!
Play on fellas. Do you know “My Funny Valentine?”
Everyone should live alone–at least for a while, we think. It teaches you how to take care of yourself and your cave. It will make you a better roommate when the time comes. If you make the choice–or it is made for you–to live on your own, you mostly have to make do with a place designed for two or three or seven. Unless you get lucky.
A few designers have, luckily, turned their heads to solo living. Above dwelling (“close to transportation”), is in Tokyo (of course) and is a solo abode designed for a 60-year-old woman above a tobacconist shop. Architects : Hideshi Abe / Avehideshi Architect and Associates. Photos by Hiroki Kawata. Viewed at dezeen here
The cost of land being what it is, the building has a small foot and lots of stairs to climb–beautiful stairs in this case, so take your time.
This drawing shows where the living quarters (or eighths) are, but how the solo householder has arranged it all is her secret.
Nor is this little lady telling us how she arranges her life and her bonnets inside this tiny red place. Chances are it’s either neat as a pin or a spectacular mess.
If you want some space around your home alone, here’s a nice little cube among the trees and rocks to call your own.
This is a tiny onesy tucked right into the woodsy countryside for the winter. Fits right in (“Maybe I should have the Birches over for hot chocolate”). Seen here.
Back to the future, this prototype for one is designed to supply food, energy, heat and oxygen to its occupant. Its maker calls it Oogst 1 Solo. Sadly for us, no mention of it providing wine and potato chips. Seen at polychroniadis on tumbler.
This is Piiri house, mostly wood, just for one, good for thinking about where you are and where you aren’t.
And if you aren’t yet sure where you want to live, consider the mobile option. This one in Lego colours folds up into a trailer and folds out into different rooms. More here
Mmmm. Designed for one, maybe but surely occasional sleepovers are allowed. APH80 tiny home designed by the Spanish design team at Abaton,
Once you start looking, it turns out there are more people than we thought, professional designers and just plain soloists, who have considered the uni-dwelling:
Blob VB3, Designed by Belgian architectural firm, dmvA above.
A bit of a cliffhanger, by Front Architect
These little fellas help us get our act together all day, until we undo them in the dark. While we dream, they wait, wide eyed, for the start of a new day. For most of us, it’s a kind of unacknowledged mutual dependence, like those birds that live on the backs of rhinos. We know they’re there, but we act as if we don’t.
Of course, some people are different, and some of those people are not at all indifferent to their buttons.
These are the pint sized offspring of London’s Pearly Kings and Queens, who gussy up their plain clothes with as many pearl buttons as they can. The results are fabulous, fun, and a little tragic, like much of life for those on the lower rungs of London living. More recent pics in this article.
Truth be known, while we often admire displays of a great big bunch of stuff, we are generally more partial to those who celebrate the individual unique thing, be it a bungalow, a backless dress, or a button.
Aaaww, look at that, cute as what it is.
And this one, well now we are way beyond cute into the country of art and design. This has an idea, and this was executed with skill and craft. It’s from the collection of the National Button Society! Along with more, below:
This black glass button is as stormy as a Canadian winter sky or a late-night argument that just won’t end.
The above nifty trio, each a fine bright thing, live in the Pennsylvania House Museum, which is not in Pennsylvania, apparently.
But buttons aren’t just a North American pleasure. Look at the above fistful from Birmingham, the one in England.
These gems up there, from here, tell us that button making and button wearing was once something special. Today, we think we are the most interesting people who ever walked the face of the earth, but how many of us pay any attention to our buttons? Maybe that will change. There is lots of encouragement…
This great little book is a catalogue for an exhibition/celebration of buttons in Paris at the Mona Bismark gallery Many were from the collection of Loic Allio, who has his own book (hard to find and pricey). First seen here.
Some have been woven from cloth, many more punched from mother of pearl shell
A few made it to the vest of the little emperor himself and left their mark.
Coco Chanel knew her buttons and put her mark right there, out front, in classic fashion below seen here
Of course, it’s really a question of style and personal taste, whether you go plain above or bravura below.
The thing is you have a choice, it’s up to you. Don’t leave it to chance.
This is one of the oldest buttons ever found. Simple, yes, but made with care, not like any other. See its story here.
If you want a bit more history to go with the eye candy, Slate has this. And if you want to shake up your daily life just a little, go to your closet and check your buttons. Are they YOU? Well, you can change that.