Bird’s Eye: A very mixed bag: a 93 year old superhero grandmother becomes a media sensation, a strange Guardian chart lets you estimate your chances of going in any particular way (more accurately if you live in the UK, but still fascinating). LifeHacker praises my favourite film of 2012, a gentle portrait of an obsessive 85 year old sushi chef, while a chilling series of paintings by William Utermohlen chronicle his descent into Alzheimer’s.
* Mamika the Superhero Grandma TwistedSifter
To raise his ninety-three-year-old grandmother’s spirits, French photographer Sacha Goldberger engaged her as his creative collaborator, model, and muse. Countless costumes, geriatric gaffes, unbelievable stunts, and hilarious photo shoots later, Mamika has become an international media sensation. She even has 1,300 friends on Facebook!
Published earlier this year, Mamika: My Mighty Little Grandmother captures the feisty heroine in a range of amusing scenarios, all accompanied by her droll observations about life and living, making this book a treasure trove of witty, sardonic wisdom for readers of all ages.
* What do people die of? The Guardian
How do we die? Are you more likely to get knocked down by a car, bitten by a dog or fall down the stairs? Find out with the latest mortality statistics. Mortality rates and data for every cause of death in 2011 visualized
* Lessons We Can Learn from Jiro Ono LifeHacker
I have been re-watching the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi for the past couple of months. I’ve seen it at least 10 times, probably more, while writing drafts for this article. I’ve watched it alone, with my wife, with friends, and I don’t tire of it; I’ve recommended it to everyone I know, and now I’m wholeheartedly recommending it to you. I have watched this film in fascination, trying to extract lessons from this master. What have I learned from him? And what questions do these lessons open up for me?
This little gem of a documentary by David Gelb takes a look at the work and life of Jiro Ono, a Michelin three-star sushi chef who, at 85 years of age, continues to work on his craft every day at his tiny restaurant in a Tokyo office building basement opposite a subway station entrance. His colleagues, his country, and at least one very knowledgeable food writer recognize him as perhaps the greatest sushi chef alive.
* William Utermohlen Self Portraits
The late self-portraits of William Utermohlen, chronicling his descent into Alzheimer’s disease, have been widely exhibited in the United States and Europe. We bring together on this web site early and late works to illustrate the continuity, as well as the rupture brought about by dementia in William Utermohlen’s art.
…Patricia Utermohlen recollects the beginning of this final artistic period in her husband’s life: “William was not happy in the mezzanine studio, so it was decided he should move to a studio outside the house in the east end of London. We were soon aware that something serious was happening. He got lost traveling to the studio and began to miss appointments.” Blue Skies was painted in the new studio; it was to be his last large work.
“It is empty by comparison with the other pictures, and painted in a much more urgent manner … Obviously it is a self- portrait. He sits alone at his painting table, no evidence of paints and brushes. The colour composition of the whole picture is simple, just a burnt sienna yellow and deep ultramarine blue, the only break is a little white and the happy light yellow table top that reminds us of his hopeful pictures. The figure is dominated by the empty space, one hand grasps the cup, and the other hangs on to the table for reassurance, whilst above him is the skylight. Although the shape is reminiscent of the other studio shape in Snow, his one leads to nowhere, just to a terrifying lonely emptiness.”
According to Dr Polini in order to continue functioning, the artist must be able to capture this catastrophic moment. He must depict the unspeakable – a certain knowledge of his own end. Rarely has a painting spoken so clearly of the ending of psychic life and the desperate effort to continue to exist by continuing to depict the world.