Movies in Bed: Ancient Aliens

Post by Josh Zinn.

In third grade I was assigned to peer-review a fellow classmate’s paper on horses—specifically, why she loved them and why she thought the rest of the world should care. Waxing poetically about their beautiful manes and graceful strides, she was also quite defensive about these animals’ intelligence and their ability to understand her youthful commands. Believing she had been unwisely influenced and deluded by stories like Black Beauty and The Black Stallion, I took it upon myself to snap her back to reality by defiantly scribbling on her paper, “Horses are dumb. So are you.”

Little did I know how very wrong I was…

Did you know horses are actually messengers of the gods? That their assistance to man was foretold in ancient texts buried beneath thousands of years of evolutionary progress? Or that horse whisperers have a direct equine connection with the stars? If you didn’t, well you obviously haven’t been watching the History Channel series Ancient Aliens, then!

Thanks to Ancient Aliens, we can all rest assured knowing man is not only NOT alone in the universe, but that his very destiny has been dictated by, well, ancient aliens that seeded our planet with life, technology, and Midwestern tourist attractions before disappearing into the cosmic ether. It may sound far fetched, sure, but every week experts with vague degrees and unkempt hair lay out the interstellar “facts” by excitedly waving their arms and making disparate connections that would make a Meyers-Brigg representative blush. Case in point: You may not question where the cosmically outrageous flavor combination of peanut butter and jelly originated, but someone out there with a lot of hairspray has and the answer is out of this world!

Perhaps more than anything, Ancient Aliens encourages its audience to keep an open mind about the world and to never underestimate the intelligence of the weird guy sitting next to you on the bus. Unlike yours truly, he might have known those “dumb” horses were, in fact, the guardians of this earthly realm and, accordingly, given my classmate a much better grade.

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Things We Like: Reclaimed Wood

Post by Kyle St. Romain.

I recently rediscovered my interest in furniture made with reclaimed wood. I always knew I liked it, but needed a reason to rekindle that flame. My reignited interest began when my girlfriend and I started looking for a piece of furniture for the bedroom. We needed something to keep the decorative bed pillows off the floor at night. Since we have a one-year-old Pembroke Corgi who sheds his weight in fur, every night is a challenge in trying to find space for the pillows to rest off the floor and free of dog hair. My nightstand is the usual suspect, which is fine, but it leaves little room for my phone, water, wallet, and eyeglasses. We also needed something to sit on to put our shoes on in the morning, so finding this piece of furniture quickly took top priority!

Reclaimed wood is the best of many worlds, all rolled up into a single piece of furniture. What I like about most about reclaimed furniture is its history and creative elements. Case in point is this bench I found that is made from old bowling alley floor. The bench pictured below was built by John Mihovetz, who is based out of Pomona, California, and it is definitely is one of the coolest pieces of reclaimed furniture I’ve come across yet. He has a shop on Etsy, as do many reclaimed craftsmen, where you can check out some other reclaimed works of art if you’re interested.

Besides coming with an interesting story and looking great, reclaimed furniture is often built to last. Its mere existence is already a testament to the wood having withstood the test of time, which is partly due to the fact that much of the wood used in reclaimed furniture is old growth. Old growth wood has tighter grain patterns, which apart from being strong is also quite beautiful. Also, many craftsmen use welded steel as the structural elements for their furniture, bolstering its longevity.

Furniture made from reclaimed wood is also environmentally friendly. Instead of chopping down new trees to make your new side table, the materials are salvaged from existing timber that may have otherwise been slated for the landfill. Some sellers label their reclaimed furniture as “upcycled,” and that term is often used to describe furniture made from everything other than wood.

Do you have any reclaimed furniture in your home, and if so, what’s the story behind it? Or have you seen any interesting reuses of old material? Share with us in the comments below.

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Bedtime Stories: If Your Kid Likes Trucks…

Post by Mark T. Locker.

As a librarian, is my solemn duty to supply and recommend books with little regard to my own personal feelings towards them. Although this is a safe space where I am free to discuss, or avoid, any books I so please, sometimes I feel a nagging obligation to bring up books that others may like, even if I hate them.

I for one do not care for trucks. Or backhoes, or steamrollers, cranes, diggers, or cement mixers. I am glad that my son, by and large, does not care for these things either. Nevertheless, we find ourselves reading the odd truck book from time to time and although they are very popular, we always walk away nonplussed. Anyway, here are two selections.

Good Night, Good Night, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.

This book has been the talk of all the picture book and children’s book magazines and sites. Basically night has come and all the trucks, diggers, mixers are…going to…bed. Each animal is wished good night. That’s about it. If you or your child enjoys reading about all the different construction vehicles, this is a great choice for bedtime.

Truckery Rhymes by Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by David Shannon.

This book is sillier and funnier than the construction site book. Jon Scieszka has taken many popular nursery rhymes and rewritten them to be about characters from his popular Trucktown series. “Pop Goes the Weasel” is rewritten as “Pop Blows the Diesel” and “Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater” is now “Peter Peter Payload Eater”. Again, if you like trucks, this will definitely be fun to read. If not, it will become quickly tiresome. But hey, it’s not for me! It’s for the children!

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Movies in Bed: Charlotte’s Web

Post by Josh Zinn.

Recently, whilst trolling through the myriad cable channels available to me, I happened upon one of the hallmark films of my childhood, the 1973 animated version of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. While I am apt, in my adult life, to quote from this film more times than I usually care to admit (“It says CRUNCHY”) it had been some time since I had actually WATCHED the gentle little saga of a frightened pig named Wilbur and Charlotte, the spider whose life becomes dedicated to preserving the safety of her friend.

Anticipating clichéd retro delight in being able to relive memories of the gluttonous rat, Templeton, as well as rousing karaoke renditions of “Zuckerman’s Famous Pig,” I was caught unaware in my realization as to how much Charlotte’s Web had informed my childhood self about the then very-adult ideas of kindness, loss, and mortality. Granted, there’s plenty of sweet-natured humor and a healthy smattering of vocabulary words (“radiant,” “humble,” and “Smorgasbord” were all knowingly dropped into many of my youthful conversations), but beneath the film’s pork-pink exterior beats the heart of something far greater. More than merely a cartoon, Wilbur’s tale presents parents and children with an opportunity to understand and discuss the machinations of their world and the importance of staying true to themselves in spite of oppositions they may face. It’s heady stuff, no doubt, but crafted in such a way that the film never talks down to kids, but rather, with care and respect.

While it may be true that, as a child, I was as equally enamored with Scooby Doo meeting Sonny and Cher (what a great episode! Zoinks!) as I was with Charlotte’s Web, the impact Wilbur’s story had upon my life far exceeds that explosive alignment of the stars. Sure, the beat may go on, but in the end, there’s no denying that is some pig.

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Bedroom Design: A “Bright” Father’s Day

Post by Laura Cheng.

For the father who has one too many ties, here are some “bright” ideas to replace the stereotypical gift this year. Swap out the outdated lamp sitting on his nightstand with these cool, novel lamps. These gifts are technologically advance, but unlike the iPad or Kindle, no setup is required. That means he might actually put it to use sooner than later. And he won’t be calling you in the middle of a client meeting asking you how to sync his data.

As a neat freak, this light made me do a double take. Get a towel, quick! Someone spilled my drink! This Pouring Light lamp is designed by Yeongwoo Kim. The cup serves as a lampshade while tea is suspended in time, defying gravity. You can’t see it in the picture, but there is a tea bag hanging from the handle that operates as the on/off switch. The lamp uses LED lights that are situated in the bucket, and with the help of phosphorescence in the “water”, it lights up in an interesting way.


Source: http://www.yankodesign.com/2010/09/21/pour-me-some-light/

Now, for my next trick, I, Houdini, present you with the Silhouette floating lamp. “The Silhouette design is based on the iconic table lamp. It contrasts ultramodern technology with an almost antique appearance”. Designed by Angela Jansen, a classic, handcrafted lamp is brought into a realm of magic and mystery. The high gloss black finish adds charm and shine. The lamp is supported on a wooden base and illuminated using LEDs. It is able to float using electromagnetic components in a sophisticated control system. The intensity of the light is dimmable with the touch of a finger. So if dad doesn’t want it, it would be perfect in a nursery. Brookstone and Spencer Gifts have nothing on these lamps.


Source: http://www.gizmag.com/silhouette-floating-lamp/20360/picture/146368/

Or let’s go back a few centuries, and just stick with timeless light bulbs. They never go out of style. As much as I enjoy the latest gadgets, I always end up back to classic pieces like these. Just as Thomas Edison had envisioned, this decorative vintage factory bulb sits on a 3.5” walnut base. It’s easy on the eye, and offers no illusions or games. The lucidity of the bulb openly conveys the mechanics of how electricity works.


Happy Father’s Day!

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