Pooh before Disney


Hard to imagine now, but there was a guileless Bear of little Brain but quite a lot of Charm, before the folks at Disney got a hold of him. Indeed, he was a poet of some skill, conscious of the precariousness of the poetic endeavour:

Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is to go where they can find you.

Thanks to the British publisher Egmont for putting out some faithful copies of the first Pooh books A. A. Milne put out in the 1920’s.

When an (unofficial) Trailer Bests a Film

Jurgen Versteeg’s alternate trailer for the film “Into The Wild” succeeds in ways that the film itself does not. Adapted from John Krakauer’s book of the same name, this is the story of Chris McCandless, a young man who journeyed relentlessly, until he died from exposure in Alaska. The book reads like a mystery, as Krakauer uncovers McCandless’ journeys and ponders his motivations. The movie, directed by Sean Penn, is ernest but loses much of the book’s mystery, as we see McCandless’ wanderings directly rather than through Krakauer’s speculations.

This alternate trailer keeps the mystery, as we follow a solitary figure as he meanders through 2D renderings that play as a series of paintings, all set to Eddie Vedder’s great “Hard Sun.” Lovely work.

Props to Thomas Keller for “ad hoc at home”


With the possible exception of its physical size, Thomas Keller’s ad hoc at home cookbook is uniformly great, and surprisingly accessible for cooks of all levels of experience. Keller’s signature restaurant, French Laundry, is known for its pricey prix fixe menu and impossible-to-get reservations. So the last thing I expected when cracking open this weighty tome was an accessible manner and clear explanations. Keller is clearly a culinary perfectionist of the first order, but he does realize that 99.99% of the home cooking in the world is done by folks with middling to fair skills in the kitchen and less-than-fully-stocked pantries. It is for those cooks that he wrote this book (thanks Thomas!). My only knock: the hardback is rather large for the average kitchen, and might feel more at home in the reference section of the Library of Congress. Perhaps the paperback version will be more counter-friendly

Orville Wright Did Not Have a Pilot’s License


So declares Gordon MacKenzie; the title of this post is the entirety of Chapter 19 in his short, illustrated, and wonderful book, Orbiting the Giant Hairball. The titular “Hairball” is the modern corporation, with “Orbiting” being his suggested technique for surviving employment by one. His advice, gained from three decades at Hallmark? Keep a measured distance from the bureaucratic tangle that defines most companies, and do so by taking some risks and striving for originality. Hence his citing of the unlicensed Mr. Wright.

Thanks to Bob Sutton for turning me on to this great book, worthy of buying for the illustrations alone.

Trade is to culture as sex is to biology


Matt Ridley has a fascinating piece in the Wall Street Journal about humanity’s secret weapon against the rest of the apes: collective intelligence, born from its willingness to trade and communicate outside the tribe. The exchange of goods and ideas between groups in close proximity led to an acceleration of cultural and technological innovation which has echoes to this day.