Thursday, November 25, 2010

Venetian, Las Vegas



A few photos of the The Venetian, a high-end hotel & casino in Las Vegas with an over-the-top Venetian theme (hence the name). Luxury hotels in Vegas often aren't themed, and theme hotels tend to be more mid-market than this. But in this case they had a big budget and turned everything up to 11 -- including, unfortunately, the fragrance in the casino's climate control. I started in on a major sneezing fit and we didn't stay inside for long. Oh well.

The construction cranes you'll see in a few of the photos are for the stalled St. Regis Residences project, which would have added an ultra-expensive condo tower to the Venetian-Palazzo complex. They didn't quite get it finished before the Vegas condo bubble imploded, and it's anyone's guess what will happen with it next, or when that might occur.

Meanwhile, the replica Rialto Bridge shown here is the scene of a pivotal zombie attack in Resident Evil: Extinction. Which is actually an enjoyable zombie flick, and not just because parts take place in post-apocalypse Las Vegas. The part with the zombie crows is pretty cool too. If you like that sort of thing, I mean, and I realize not everyone does.

Interlocking Forms



Our occasional tour of art on the Transit Mall continues with a visit to Interlocking Forms, yet another of the original 1977 crop of big arty doodads. I haven't run across a lot of info about it on the interwebs; Portland Public Art did a short post about it, back when they boxed it up for storage before MAX construction started. And there's not a lot of useful info about it there. There's a Yelp page titled "Interlocking Forms" that's actually about "The Quest" for the most part, and it's not a terribly useful or accurate page about either piece. And an Examiner story has a photo of it.

On that unscientific basis I'm going to conclude it doesn't inspire strong feelings either way in the local internet-using populace, and it's not particularly fashionable within the local contemporary art world. I wouldn't say I have very strong feelings about it either, although I'm kind of intrigued at how it manages to be both groovy (or some would say "dated") and austere at the same time. I do think it needs a better name, though, and I've taken to calling it "The Leg Bone's Connected to the Hip Bone". I have a theory -- well, more of an idle notion really -- that the more severe and intellectual an artwork is, the more it needs a jaunty or flippant name. Consider Mondriaan's "Broadway Boogie Woogie" for example.

I also searched for info on the sculptor, Don Wilson, with only a bit more success. It seems he either taught or teaches at Portland State University, and another piece of his (titled "Holon") sits at the south end of the South Park Blocks, on the PSU campus (the city's South Park Blocks Walking Tour mentions it briefly). It's a quarter century newer and much smaller, but the resemblance is pretty clear. At least once you know to look for it.

Another Portland Public Art post has a photo of Wilson sculpting something. Also ran across at least 3 city archives documents referring to other works of his; the full docs themselves (and the included photos) are unfortunately not online at this time.

The walking tour doc I linked to above mentions that Wilson was once an assistant to Frederic Littman, another local sculptor and creator of the Pioneer Woman on Council Crest, Farewell to Orpheus in the South Park Blocks, and other works. Other Littman students include Lee Kelly (Leland One, Kelly Fountain, Nash, etc.), and Manuel Izquierdo (The Dreamer). There isn't really a family resemblance between their works; it just goes to show how small and interconnected the Portland art world tends to be, basicaly an insular small town within the city, where everyone knows everyone else, gossip thrives, and you never want to burn your bridges if you can help it. Which is true of any skilled industry in just about any city, really. It's certainly true of software engineering in Portland, I can tell you that much from personal experience.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Saturday, November 06, 2010

november leaves

november leaves

Today's batch of autumn leaf photos comes to us from around the SW Lincoln, Chimney Fountain area, if I remember right. The lens for these was an old Vivitar-branded 28mm f/2.0 made by Kiron, which I'd completely forgotten I owned until I found it in a drawer the other day. These were taken with the lens wide open and close to minimum focus, mostly to see what the thing can do.

november leaves

I mean, I probably already have enough autumn leaf photos already, but I keep taking more for some reason, and I keep posting them here for some reason. So I like to think I'm doing so in the name of Serious Research, at least some of the time.

november leaves

Another reason for all the leaf photos is that so far this fall has been far less crappy than the previous one. I seem to recall that 2009 went directly from a mild summer straight into nine or ten months of winter storms. There was no possibility of photographing a turning leaf and a blue sky together last year. Not without a little help from Photoshop. And I do realize that, decent fall or not, we still have months of winter storms ahead of us even in the best case, and photos of wintry grimness get old even faster than fall foliage does. So I'm making the most of it while it's here.

november leaves

It may seem monotonous now, but in February we can all look back at these photos and marvel at how much color there used to be in the world, and sigh loudly, and take another sip of... whatever it is we're drinking at that point. Irish coffee is usually a safe bet at that time of year. Mmm... booze...

november leaves

november leaves

daybreak, hawthorne bridge

daybreak, hawthorne bridge

The main problem with sunrises is that you have to wake up early to catch them. If you go back over the nearly five (!) year history of this humble blog, the vast majority of sunrise photos I've posted have come from cold and clear (or at least only partly cloudy) days in midwinter, when the sunrise occurs latest. If you see sunrises any other time of the year, either I'm on vacation, or some idiot (other than myself) scheduled a meeting at 7 or 8am and I snapped a few quick shots while trudging resentfully to the office. Which is basically what happened this time. You're welcome.

daybreak, hawthorne bridge

You might have noticed that there haven't been a lot of posts lately that involved a quick pre-work expedition to some local bridge or city park or obscure statue or something. That was before the advent of 9am meetings. Which are an only slightly more civilized practice than 7 and 8am meetings. And then only because a.) we have a machine that brews up a semi-palatable quad espresso, and b.) the jug of aspirin on my desk is never empty.

I should point out that, for an engineer, complaining about meetings is not the same thing as complaining about work. Meetings don't count as Real Work, they're something that interrupts Real Work, and sometimes makes you go back and revisit the Real Work you did last week all because some PHB had a new whim.

daybreak, hawthorne bridge

So, in short, I do realize this humble blog's gotten a little monotonous of late, and I'm trying to figure out what I can do about that. It could be that I just need to take more vacations, and take more vacation photos when I do. And I can always post more kitten photos. That never seems to get old.