Tag Archives: art


I asked another tourist to take this picture for me at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History when we visited D.C. earlier this fall. The Human Origins wing has truly beautiful sculptures of early hominims, including this one of a homo heidelbergensis posed on the floor, so that you can be photographed with him. That right there, simple as it is, is fantastic science theater.

Happy Thanksgiving. Be grateful to your ancestors.

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Milo’s World

You all really deserve a well-Photoshopped version of this. But I only had PowerPoint available at the time, so this is kind of crude. Still, I couldn’t resist sharing it, even if it’s a rough draft:

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Fascinating art

Here’s a brilliant idea brilliantly executed: photographer Irina Werning’s “Back to the Future” project, in which she re-photographs people in the poses, place, and clothing they were wearing in a photo from childhood or youth:

Go look, and tell me which ones you liked best. I’ll say what my favorites were in the comments section. I loved the one above because of how perfectly the boy presaged the man; if you knew facial musculature well, you could look at that young face and predict exactly where the lines would come in 20 years. Others are shocking by how much the subject has changed. I’d be very curious to hear what these pictures evoked for you. Thoughts of your childhood self, what has remained, what has faded.

(I know I found this link originally on another blog, but I can’t recall where, so hat tip to someone, somewhere.)

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Clotheslines: Another look

Since we apparently have a number of clothesline fans on the blog, I thought I’d share one of my favorite pieces of art with you all. It’s called “Fruit Bats,” by Lin Onus, an aboriginal Australian artist, and it riffs on the laundry hoists that are ubiquitous throughout Australia. This bit is a detail — check out the whole piece and its critical description.


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Etsy, schmetsy!

Many of you are probably familiar with Etsy, the online crafts store — “Your place to buy and sell all things handmade,” which brings individual craftspeople and customers together. So, after the High Holidays, and inspired by a friend’s mention that she had bought a beautiful wedding headdress from Etsy, I thought Etsy might just be the place to pick up one of those pretty beaded-mesh yarmulkes that one of my readers had mentioned last year. So I bop on over to the site, go to the “Religious” category, choose “Jewish” — and what should I find but this:


The Antler Menorah.

Described by its creator, JewishCowboy, as “A real unique artwork, made to be handed down for generations to come. Made by hand, guided by faith.” He goes on to add, helpfully, “If you have questions, please ask.”

I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

His other offerings tend toward the wall-plaque variety, including this gem:


I’m not so sure barbed wire is the ideal medium for Judaica, given, you know, history.

(Yes, I have submitted these to Regretsy, the online equivalent of The Museum of Bad Art. But I had to share it with you first, because you, like the Antler Menorah, are very very special to me. And also real unique.)

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… and in conclusion

And here is the conclusion of Miss Conduct’s Mind over Manners. I hope I haven’t spoiled the twist at the end for you.


The conclusion covers a lot of material, but the heart of it is summed up in this blog post from almost exactly a year ago. The post was prompted by this question from a reader:

Is etiquette relevant? It seems whether one is boarding the T or working in business that our society has devolved to a “me first,” “I’ve got mine,” pushing and shoving match. Yes, I know etiquette is alive and well at the Four Seasons and among the Brahmin, but it seems a bit of civilization that we lost in our efforts to make everything common.

Go read the post to see my response–or better yet, buy the book.

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The money shot

And, this is the money chapter as put through Wordle. This is the chapter that got me on “The Today Show,” so it will always have a special place in my heart. And my press kit.


Here is an excerpt from the money chapter that was published in the Globe Sunday magazine.

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The next generation

Kids are resilient, and parents are people. Those are the two fundamental premises of the “Mother, May I? Children” chapter of Miss Conduct’s Mind over Manners. I’ve heard from a number of moms that they liked this chapter a lot, which really pleases me. On all the other topics–food, money, religion, relationships, health, pets–I’ve got some personal skin in the game. This was the one chapter for which that isn’t the case. So thank you, all you parents and readers, for schooling me!


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Tha luuuurve chapter

Here’s “She Said, He Said: Sex & Relationships” chapter from my book, Wordle’d into art. Note the semi-prominent “Coolfriend” (above “Women”) and “Mensch” (between “People” and “Men”). Mr. Mensch, you see, used the best asking-out line ever on Ms. Coolfriend. You’ll have to read the book to find out what it was, and why exactly it is so good.


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The health & disability chapter

You can change the fonts and colors in Wordle to make your word clouds look all sorts of different ways. I liked this because it looks like writing on a cast! Appropriate for a chapter about the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.


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And guess which chapter this one is …


The food chapter? You guessed right, you clever person!

Here’s the opening of that chapter:

“Food is the first thing, morals follow on.”*
— Bertolt Brecht, The Threepenny Opera

In Brecht’s world of thieves, whores, and orphans, morality may have been a luxury only to be considered on a full belly, but moral questions in twenty-first-century America start well before you get to the table. Chicken or tofu? Grass-fed or corn-fed? Kosher or trayf? Imported organic or pesticide-sprayed local? And is “free-range” just another word for nothing left to lose?

*Another popular translation from the original German, “First you must feed us, then we’ll all behave,” strongly suggests that the translator never hosted a children’s birthday party.

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The religion chapter

Via Wordle …


It’s about religion. And people. Christmas kind of comes up a lot.

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The pets chapter

… and here’s the pets chapter of MCMoM, as put through Wordle:


It’s about people and dogs.

(Note to cat-, bird-, fish-, and other-non-canine-pet-lovers: I’m not prejudiced against your pets, but it’s dogs that create the need for etiquette guidance. As I explain in the book, “as the most social of pets, [dogs] are the ones that most often bring their owners into contact with people. Strangers aren’t likely to pet your Jack Dempsey fighting fish without permission, and if a ferret sticks its nose in your crotch you are probably in a Farrelly Brothers movie, which puts you well beyond the reach of etiquette advice. So while the recommendations for handling pets apply to all animals—and, as you’ll see, much more occasionally other enthusiasms—I’ll let the family dog drag us around the block of pet psychology and etiquette.”)

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My intro as art

Here’s a fun thing: I dumped the introductory chapter of my book into Wordle. Wordle … um, it’s kind of hard to explain what it does, so I’ll use the site’s own words:

Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes.

Yeah, that. Anyway, here’s the intro to MCMoM:
It’s a book about people.

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