Monthly Archives: April 2011

Plastic Planet

plasticplanet_flat4 stars
Actors: Werner Boote, John Taylor, Peter Lieberzeit
Director: Werner Boote
Studio: First Run Features
DVD release: 12 April 2011
Runtime: 95 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
DVD Features: Outtakes; DVD-ROM press kit

At the rate we’re going, we’re all going to need to isolate ourselves from the toxins we’ve dumped into our environment by diving into HazMat bubble suits. We’ll have to invent filters that keep the nano-sized particles of cancer-dealing crap out but, hey, we’ve got the technology for that… and plastics.

On second thought, no: plastics are one of the biggest sources of toxins. Bisphenol A, for instance, is a plasticizer that makes plastic, well, plasticy, and has been a known estrogenic since the 1930s. Estrogenics are those wonderful chemicals that are the secret culprits behind the bitching and moaning of the Iron John crew. Chief among them, Robert Bly has long complained that men have become too feminized, and clearly plastics are to blame, not doting mothers. I mean, look at the amphibians: scientists have been observing them changing sex, from male to female, mid-stream for years, so why not humans, too? Continue reading

Making Faces: Metal Type in the 21st Century

Featuring: Jim Rimmer
Director: Richard Kegler 
Studio: P22 Type Foundry
DVD release: 15 April 2011 
Runtime: 90 min. (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Audio tracks (English), Subtitles (English), 
bonus features on making metal type and the tools needed to make 
metal type, "The Creation of a Printing Type from the 
Design to the Print" by Frederic W. Goudy (silent film from the 1930s), 
A metal "k" from the Stern typeface, Rimmer Type Foundry 
catalog of digital faces
Reviewed by Brian Charles Clark, and rated 4.5/5 stars

making-faces

Jim Rimmer was a British Columbian printer and type designer who cast metal type using the now nearly lost pantographic technique. If that’s all Greek to you (or, if you’re a graphic designer, maybe it’s all greeking to you, too), you need to watch this film by book artist and P22 founder Richard Kegler. Continue reading

Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape – book review

Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape
Tom Wessels
Countryman Press; paperback; 160 pages
September 2010
4 stars

book cover - Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested LandscapeWhat snapped that tree? Everybody is asking this and similar questions, obsessed, as we are as a culture, with forensic investigation. What is weevils gnawing from within? Was it wind or snow load that toppled it? Or did it die for some other reason and thus snap due to lack of internal structural integrity?

Read Tom Wessels wonderful little book and learn. Better, pop it in your backpack and learn as you hike. Although written for forests of the northeastern part of the U.S., the principles involved are pretty much the same in all forest. (The particulars surely do vary by bioregion, though.)

With dozens of color photos and clear, concise writing, it’s hard to go wrong with this book if you’re interested in forested landscapes. For instance, Wessels’ chapter on how to tell if a forest has overgrown an agricultural field is full of cool details that are widely applicable. Part of this has to do with the fact that, at least in North America, farmers have cleared and abandoned fields in pretty much the same way for hundreds of years.

Read the signs like a real detective and appreciate your forest walks even more with this handy guide from ecologist and environmental biologist Wessels.