Human Flower Project
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Taipei’s Expo: Blooms for Gearheads
An international flower show opened this month in Taipei. Real flowers will come and go, but these mechanized blooms should (with spare parts) endure for the full five-month run.
“Burst,” a mechanical flower installation by You Wen-fu
on view at Taipei’s International Flora Expo
For members of the press, anyway, the big hit at Taipei’s International Flora Exhibition appears to be mechanized: artist You Wen-fu’s “Burst,” 3.5 tons of faux blossom. In this video, in hangs like a chandelier and then fluffs apart to a girlie-voiced soundtrack and description (?) over a loudspeaker. (We can’t tell if the flashing lights on ‘Burst’ come from cellphone cameras or a strobe, but this is NOT your garden variety anything.)
Other mechanized attractions of the five-month expo include “leaf shaped speakers” inside the Pavillion of Dreams, a setting which “transforms visitors into beetles.” That does sound like fun! We’ve always wanted a carapace of our very own.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Scruffy and Appetizing
Whose space is it anyway? A plant, animal, bird and spider lover co-exists with fascination through the seedy days of fall in Santa Maria, California.
California poppies in the author’s yard, spring
Photo: Caroline Joyes Woods
By Caroline Joyes Woods
In my mostly California native landscape, I have many plants that are beautiful…most of the time.
The other time, I regret, I can’t simply prune them down to small and homely. They remain proudly scruffy for the birds and bugs that feed on them or live in them. This is the problem with hosting little lives in the yard, and liking that they chose to come and stay. I have been bitten by a nasty, anonymous spider (long ago) and suffered with the bite and symptoms for at least six months, but would not spray my yard. Who was in whose space?
These days it is time to prune most of my spring blooming plants to insure stocky, strong growth and profuse bloom…but…the Western goldfinches love the salvia seed, and the California fuchsia (Zauschneria) seed as well. There might be a scragglier looking plant than a brown, dormant Cal. fuchsia with fuzzy seeds trying to escape the tiny pods, but other than roadside weeds, I haven’t found it! In summer, it has gorgeous vermillion trumpet-like blooms that attract hummingbirds. In fall/winter, it’s an eyesore that stays to feed my friends!
My pet kitties prefer my leaving the ragged browning buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) so they can safely guard the house while hidden from visitors and the sun. Does it get pruned? Yes, but always late. For the cats, or my procrastination? Who knows when you get right down to it?
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Daisy Girl Redux
A group supporting Obama’s arms treaty revives an attack ad from the Cold War era. Will it resonate?
“Five…seven…six…”: a new take on the old anti-nuke ad
Image: American Values Network, via New York Times
A group called American Values Network plans to run an updated version of the famous Cold War attack ad known as “Daisy Girl.” Lyndon Johnson’s presidential campaign aired it on TV only once, Sept. 7, 1964, but that was enough to implant the idea that a vote for Barry Goldwater meant the annihilation of little girls.
American Values Network produced the new ad in support of the new START arms treaty with Russia that the Obama administration hopes to ratify before the end of the year. According to the New York Times, Daisy Girl 2 will run in states where Senate votes “will be key to passage.” Does that mean in states whose Senators are still waffling?
The 2010 “Daisy Girl,” like her 1964 counterpart, is plucking flower petals before the echoey countdown and the mushroom cloud billows, reflected in her eye. A gerbera daisy supplants the old fashioned shasta daisy of the original, and today’s girl stands before the Washington Monument rather than in a field. Though much of the script is the same, the feel is completely different: the 1964 Daisy Girl, wind blowing through her hair, seems innocent, but Daisy Girl 2 is brusque, wooden, savvy. “Cut! Let’s have another flower and take it from the top….”
Will the new ad spark memories? We imagine that most of today’s cable TV viewers won’t catch the reference at all. Instead, they may reasonably think, “Huh? I thought we were getting along okay with Russia. And why can’t that kid count any better?”
Joseph Cirincione writes in Foreign Affairs that important as the New START treaty is, Obama could now take significant steps against the threat of nuclear weapons: disclose the number of nuclear bombs in the U.S. stockpile, dismantle excess bombs, cut the number of deployed strategic weapons, reduce the U.S. arsenal to 1000 weapons (which Cirincione says is “three times more than U.S. Air Force experts judge are necessary”), and remove the 200 nuclear bombs that remain in Europe.
These are measures the Obama administration can take now that, Crincione writes, “don’t depend on Russia or the Senate”—or a Daisy Girl.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
450 Green Years at Mikami Shrine
Our long-distance advisor in Yasu City, Japan, explains with a generous letter some of the mystery behind the town’s Zuiki Matsuri, a national treasure and an international wonder. Thank you, Jason!
Shrines made of taro stem are constructed each October in Yasu, Japan, a tradition at least 450 years old.
Photo: Human Flower Project
How are you? I am truly sorry it’s been so long since we’ve last spoken. I have been unavailable for a while.
Now that things have begun to settle down, I was able to do some research. It took a little while. Apparently not even very many Japanese people are knowledgeable at all in regards to this festival.
Anyway, here goes.
Glittering crests on the shrines are made with sesame seed
Photo: Bill Bishop
The name ずいき祭り(Zuiki Matsuri): Zuiki is taro or a type of rhubarb. Matsuri is festival. A variety of purple zuiki is eaten throughout Japan.
The parade that you observed is on the second Monday of October and is the peak of a 5-day long ritual held every year at 御上神社 Mikami Jinja (Shrine). This festival is held to give thanks for a bountiful harvest.
In many festivals a portable shrine is carried about, and in like fashion in this festival, there are shrines carried about, the difference being that in this festival the shrines are constructed every year from the fruits of the harvest. If you look closely, you can observe persimmons and chestnuts adorning the shrines. The crests on the roofs of the shrines are made of sesame seeds, etc.