Video Sundays: Slow TV

In the 1990s I had a job at a tiny low-power TV station operated by the University of California, San Diego. To fill the hours between our sparse programming, a fellow employee named Steve would play one of two things: a recording of bird sounds or, if the space shuttle was up, NASA’s feed. The funny thing about the NASA feed was that it was mostly a static shot of a bunch of engineers at Houston Mission Control staring at their computers.

Guess what? People loved the bird sounds and NASA feed way more than the boring lectures that were our main programming. The producers at Norway’s national television station discovered this same phenomena a few years ago with a surprise “Slow TV” hit that consists of over seven hours of footage shot from the cab of a train going from Bergen to Oslo. They followed up this show with an eighteen hours of salmon fishing, real time knitting, a fire and a five day ferry voyage. You can see producer Thomas Hellum discussing these shows in a Ted Talk.

Should you want something more pastoral, allow me to suggest three hours of bison grazing. It’s surprisingly relaxing:

And a winter train journey:

Hopefully this slow TV thing will replace the violent junk and reality shows that otherwise dominate our mediasphere.

You can find many of the Norwegian Slow TV experiments in both Netflix and on Youtube.

If you want a little more narrative with your Slow TV I suggest Andrea Tarkovsky’s movies which you can access for free.

Picture Sundays: Best Van Art Ever


This beautiful couple enjoys the eternal comforts of poetry and philosophy, along with an occasional fruit basket. There are what I think are golden psychic waves traveling between their heads, and the waves have small words floating among them. They are: soul, creativity, poetry, ideas, psyche, inspiration,  express, concept, love, mind

Photographed on Griffith Park Blvd. in Los Angeles.


Spam Poetry Sunday


In lieu of our usual picture Sunday, we offer instead a beautiful word picture from our friends the spammers. Our software blocks thousands of these every day, but some get through and we have to hand prune our comment sections:

We wish to thannk you yett agai ffor the gorgeous ideas you offered Janet
when preparing her own post-graduate research and, most importantly, pertaining to providing masny of the ideas in a blog post.
If we had been aware off your web site a year ago, we would
have been kept from the nonessential measures we wer selecting.
Thank you very much.

What mystifies us is the ultimate purpose of these spam comments. This one was placed on our announcement for our upcoming coffee roasting class (not a popular or highly linked post), and linked to a page for a restaurant which is obviously just a place holder, in that it has no content or history or graphic design. And who the heck is Janet?

Video Sundays: Design Line Phones

Am I the only person who has a problem with post WWII consumer objects? When it comes to phones I think they should be black, all the same and weigh 10 pounds. I think the cringe-worthy phones in this film from the fascinating AT&T history channel, prove my point. Some background:

For much of the company’s history, AT&T rented phones to users. But in the 1970s, the company tried a novelty line of phones that customers could actually buy, in stores. For these “Design Line” phones, the users were essentially buying just the housing — the working guts of the phones were still under the Bell System maintenance and ownership contracts.

These phones were not cheap — prices in 1976 for these phones ranged from $39.95 for the basic Exeter to a whopping $109.95 for the rococo Antique Gold model. That’s about $150 to over $400 today. Not that much more than a smartphone, but, of course, no touchscreen. No ringtones.

My mini-rant on the tyranny of choice aside, that “Telstar” model is pretty cool. Add a cat, a swiveling modernist chair and you’re a James Bond villain.