Author Archives: Nathalie Mariano
Iron Man 3 is out right now, and Man of Steel and the Wolverine later this year. Sequels to Thor and Captain America are coming up, too — and I’m looking forward to see them all. I am far from being a die-hard comic book fan, but I do love those superhero movies!
My very first superhero crush was Superman. That a man could be so strong amazed me. He could lift huge and heavy objects with ease. And bullets? Not a problem. And best of all, he could fly! Christopher Reeve, to my little girl self, was the perfect male specimen. He was ridiculously handsome and charming, muscular too, but not in that scary, bulky, I-spend-too-much-time-in-the-gym way. And I totally fell for that bumbling shy guy Clark Kent alter-ego. All in all, he was dreamy.
Later on, there was a whole slew of superhero movies to feast on, starting with Michael Keaton as Batman, Tobey Maguire as Spiderman, and (swoon!) Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, and the list goes on. M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable remains one of my favorite films of all time, which gave incredible insights into superhero and villain archetypes and their psyches.
Superheroes are larger-than-life characters that embody the best (and in certain moments, the worst) of very human qualities. They serve as some sort or role models for us normal mortals. Some of them, like the X-men mutants, invite us to discover and embrace our uniqueness. Others, like Spiderman, inspire us to move our focus beyond ourselves and use our gifts for the good of others. And still some, like Batman, give us hope that we can survive our traumas and tragedies, and be all the stronger for them. We see our dilemmas in theirs, and our journeys in their stories.
So, although I don’t think I’ll be collecting any action figures, or buying any life-size models, I get how profoundly some people identify themselves with a particular hero or other, and how much they want these characters represented in their homes. If it comes to that, there are ways that it could actually work, as these images show.
I think one insight into making it work is to resist the urge to cram the superheroes into every single nook and cranny. Restraint is the word. Confining the characters to murals, for example, is a wonderful way to bring in the the big guys and gals and still have a lot of decorating leeway for the rest of the room. Appropriating the color palette of the mural helps pull in the rest of the room so everything is a cohesive whole.
Hanging some comic book art or wall decals works too. I especially like the simplified graphics in this bedroom below.
But if you must go all out, then go for it. But keep the actual logos and figures to a minimum, and go for atmospheric elements that enhance the theme — play with textures and other elements that are related to the hero’s universe. Check out that awesome chest in the image above.
The Batcave above will be a wonderful hideout for wannabe Bruce Waynes out there. And the brick walls below are just the kind that Peter Parkers would love to climb.
I think within every artist are two desires that smolder alongside their fiery passion to create — mastery and immortality.
First, they want to be good at what they do, whether it be painting, writing, or playing the cello. They generally aspire to achieve an optimum level of expertise. This means mastering their skills, and conquering, mastering, controlling their medium, making pigments, words, or sounds obey and do their bidding. Even in spontaneity and exuberance, in improvisation and working on the fly, all such actions always tend toward taming the paint or marble, coaxing it into submission.
And then what artist doesn’t want to live on through their works? Even though they do tend to be their own worst critics, and want to banish from existence all works that are considered sub-par, the creations that survive this merciless judgment –these they want to live on — at least past their lifetimes, if not forever. These masterpieces are wrought from their minds and souls, brought forth from their depths not without difficulty, usually with much anguish. It is but natural instinct to want to preserve the perfection of their works and protect them from destruction.
For all these reasons I feel great admiration for the artists behind the installations featured in today’s post. They are hugely ambitious in scope and scale of their works, but they relinquish control of what their art will ultimately become. They give up any hope for their works’ longevity in engaging in a kind of partnership with a very unpredictable, temperamental and ever-shifting collaborator — Mother Nature. They do their part, and allow their partner the freedom to finish it, and to eventually take it apart and ingest it. It seems awfully counter-intuitive, to surrender the products of their efforts to the elements, but there’s something achingly beautiful and infinitely joyful and transcendent about the letting go, the embracing of the unknown, the acceptance that everything is fleeting and transitory.
There’s so much playful exuberance in this work of “yarn bombing”. I can imagine the joy that it brings to all who see it.
The logs turned giant color pencils, bring a touch of rustic whimsy to the landscape.
More woodsy cuteness!
Found this really funny and quite brilliant. Who says art has to be all serious?
These last couple of pieces deserve special mention. They started out as sculptures made of cement created by Jason de Caires. What they eventually became are coral reefs and homes for various species of marine life. De Caires has placed many of his works in the ocean, making a vast underwater sculpture garden, which Nature has indeed put its own spin on, adding color and texture to the sculptor’s various figures.
It’s Foodie Tuesday!
Mochi, that quintessential Japanese treat has found its way to the palates and hearts of the people of the world This sticky rice cake/ball makes for an eating experience that one just wants to go back to again and again. It has a soft and smooth mouth feel, with an oh, so delightful sticky, chewy, resistance. And it usually comes filled with interesting fillings, from the classic sweet red bean paste, to the decadent raspberry white chocolate.
As if it were not already wonderful to begin with, mochi has in recent years gotten wayyyy cooler — literally. I just want to sing the praises of Frances Hashimoto who first thought of filling mochi balls with ice cream. Genius! And in places where temperatures are getting up to a steamy 34° Centigrade, these frosty confections are a welcome relief from the overheated air.
The ice cream idea is novel, and yet its versatility opens itself up for even more creativity. And once that initial cool innovator got the ball rolling, others took it places, with different delectable spins on what is becoming a global favorite.
Add Oreos and milk to the mix, and you have a kind of east-meets-west comfort food.
It gets even cooler with this mint and chocolate variant.
It doesn’t even have to stick to ice cream. This one’s made with frozen yogurt, and some even use gelato (thus resulting in the term mochilato).
And on the off-chance that you’d like to attempt to make your own variant of mochi ice cream, here are some basic instructions from Japanese Ice Cream blog.
This week I came across this in my Facebook feed: Stop the glorification of busy. I don’t know where or who it came from — it’s one of those things that have spread virally. But the post that I saw came with a link to this NY Times column by Tim Kreider on the perils of perpetual busyness and the human person’s need for idle time. It resonated so much with me. I admittedly am naturally inclined toward indolence, and I don’t like it when I get too busy to do the things I like to do — like indulge in my hobbies, spend time with people I love, and especially, stare into space and do absolutely nothing. And a statement from the article put so succinctly why these do-nothing periods ought to be prized and protected:
“The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration…”
Idle time provides the necessary incubation period for random nebulous thoughts and experiences to fly around freely and ultimately come together in those breakthrough “Eureka!” moments that spur inventions, discoveries, and other movements that change the world. Kreider further wrote that ironically, we need idle time to get things done.
This week happens to be one for “idle” time — as in time of prayer and no work. It’s Passover week in Judaism, and in many Christian cultures, it’s Holy Week. Here in the Philippines, Holy Thursday and Good Friday are non-working holidays, and most commercial and leisure establishments are closed, and all other activity in the city seems rather muted. Well this could be because a lot of folks have fled to the beaches for the long weekend. But for many others, it’s time for spending time with family, doing visita iglesia, and/or retreating into reflection and prayer.
Midori posted some ideas some time ago on Carving Out Quiet Space, and it’s a great read. For today’s post I thought I’d share with you some more inspiration for your own quiet nook in which to spend your quiet time.
An enclosed space would be ideal, if only to minimize the outside world intruding into your sanctum. The image above is of the interior of the beautiful Tree of Life Chapel in Portugal. While it may not be practical or feasible to construct an entirely new building, the warm, welcoming wood and the graphic lines may be something that you want to apply to your room.
But you don’t need to occupy an entire room, a corner will do, as in this space which only includes a chair, a side table, and a few visual pieces.
It doesn’t even have to be a corner! This window sill does beautifully.
All that silence and nothingness can seem intimidating for the perennially busy. An element that facilitates some sort of activity that goes hand-in-hand with the introspection could be just the thing.
This here is a “prayer tree” which you can look at or stick with prayers and names of family members you want to pray for. Click on the image for more ideas like it.
Gardens make awesome prayer spaces. Nothing recharges and gets you in touch with your life than life itself springing forth from the earth.
Here’s a novel idea, at least for me — labyrinths. These are not meant to confuse or make one lost, but rather serve as paths for quiet walks. These walks are said to quiet the mind, restore balance and relieve stress. They can be indoors or outdoors, and as big or as small as space allows.
So here’s to some quiet alone time! May the concerns of work and chores not encroach on yours!
As somebody who hails from a place where it’s hot and humid for most of the time, I am quite fascinated by where the seasons are so radically distinct, and felt in the most in-your-face way. I don’t experience the bite of winter nor the accompanying longing for spring, nor the giddy high when this longing is finally fulfilled.
I find it intriguing how a lot of the customs that are practiced even in my corner of the world revolve around celebrating spring, the season of fertility and rebirth. For instance, a lot of weddings happen this time of year, and I’ve only recently realized how appropriate it is! Weddings are traditionally a prelude to child-bearing, and what better season to procreate than when the earth is sprouting seeds, shoots, and flowers?
So for today’s post, we’ll celebrate spring by celebrating fertility symbols!
Woman of Willendorf
She used to be called Venus of Willendorf (modern-day Aggsbach, Austria) and she’s estimated to be 20,000 years old. That’s a lot of zeroes, which means she’s way older than the Venus of Roman mythology, which is probably why the name didn’t stick. She has no feet, and she can’t stand on her own. Her face is covered by horizontal bands which many figure to be plaited hair. Archaeologists have unearthed many other figurines that look very much like her. Scholars think that her disproportionately large breasts and belly, and very detailed nether parts, point to her having been used as a fertility symbol in ancient times.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Eggs & Bunnies
These are nowadays are used as Easter symbols, but they are so because they represent fertility. Eggs are themselves evidence of fertility, and bunnies, well, they are known to reproduce really quickly and easily.
These are female fertility charms that are used in indigenous cultures in the Philippines and in certain parts of Southeast Asia. Its key characteristic is in its shape — rounded with a slit in the bottom. The negative space in the middle is said to resemble an embryo with an umbilical cord attached. The shape too makes it easy to be worn as ear ornaments, but they can also be used as pendants.
It’s strange, I know. But it just so happens that the Chinese term for chopsticks, zhu, also also translates as “many sons”, and because of this chopstick sets when given as wedding gifts are said to bring luck.