Archive for the art Category

Solitude & Participation, the muses of creativity

Posted in art, film, literature, music, news, philosophy, pop culture, religion, science, tech, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on January 2, 2011 by Trip Jennings

This is a good refresher on creativity and how to stoke it. I found myself agreeing that the seemingly contradictory combo of solitude and participation are key to stirring up creativity. I do the participation thing. Reporting. Interacting online. Reading books, magazines, newspapers, blogs. The challenge in my world is finding time for solitude. Thanks to Kelly Brewer for posting it on Facebook.

Amplify’d from

Creativity is a nebulous, murky topic that fascinates me endlessly — how does it work? What habits to creative people do that makes them so successful at creativity?

I’ve reflected on my own creative habits, but decided I’d look at the habits that others consider important to their creativity. I picked a handful of creatives, almost at random — there are so many that picking the best would be impossible, so I just picked some that I admire, who came to mind when I thought of the word “creative”.

This was going to be a list of their creative habits … but in reviewing their lists, and my own habits, I found one that stood out. And it stands out if you review the habits and quotes from great creative people in history.



Janelle Monae: an impressive talent

Posted in art, music, pop culture, Uncategorized on December 28, 2010 by Trip Jennings

O.K., I don’t usually do the music critic thing. But Janelle Monae, an artist I’d never heard of from Atlanta, blew me away this week. Her 2010 release, ArchAndroid, is pretty ambitious. Monae mixes styles, layers sounds upon sounds and alternately croons and screams, rock style, to keep a listener guessing as how to rightly categorize her. On one song she’s doing the 80s dance thing. On the next she’s all into psychedelic rock. On still another she’s doing an imitation of the Fleet Foxes. There’s even a science fiction/cinema angle sorta involved. Fritz Lang’s classic movie Metropolis inspired ArchAndroid. Like an NPR reviewer wrote, she’s part musical genius, part mad scientist. Here are a few of her songs: COLD WAR 57821 ALIVE MUSHROOMS AND ROSES WONDALAND

R.I.P. Captain Beefheart

Posted in art, music, pop culture, Uncategorized with tags , on December 19, 2010 by Trip Jennings

RIP Donald Glen Vliet (Captain Beefheart). I know I’m a day late, but better later than never, right?! The dude charted his own course. He made some nifty music. Thanks to Jen Grover for posting this video. Enjoy.

Student protests open window into broader discussion

Posted in art, literature, music, news, philosophy, pop culture, religion, science, tech with tags , , on December 12, 2010 by Trip Jennings

I’ve not paid close attention to the recent protests in Britain beyond reading the headlines and marveling at the shocked faces of Prince Charles and Camilla as angry students attacked their car last week. But a couple of blog posts I read today, admittedly old posts, opened a window into the situation, at least for me. It’s a small window, from a distinct angle. Historical allusions to May 1968, of course, are on display, as is the contention that students are putting to use what they are learning in class. I’m always suspicious of such grand comparisons and pronouncements that students are making the move from theory to praxis. But I found the posts worth reading, not only for the on-the-ground observations but for suggesting ways to think about the protests. this one:

UPDATE: The first URL doesn’t lead you to the essay I read, so I’m posting the address again.


A New Mexico sunset

Posted in art on September 21, 2010 by Trip Jennings

The orange glow to the west was hard to miss, even for a tapped-out slacker like me. I’d spent a languorous afternoon — 3 1/2 hours to be exact — loitering around a local community center. Actually, it wasn’t loitering. I had donned the mantle of dutiful dad Monday afternoon, taking off a few hours from work to ensure my son’s spot on his school’s sixth-grade youth basketball team.

I wasn’t alone. Dozens of other equally dedicated parents had showed up too, the same goal sketched on their determined faces. Not the greatest way to spend an afternoon I’ll admit, but it was much better than many other scenarios I can dream up.

This scrum of young to middle-aged parents idled away the afternoon, most of them seated in those collapsible chairs you see at weekend suburban soccer games. There we sat plying one another with tales of our children’s lives: how they liked this year’s crop of teachers; what subject engaged them the most; how fast they were growing up; were they noticing the opposite sex yet? Thankfully no was the answer in most cases.

But by the time the local parks and rec department opened the doors, I was past ready to depart the premises, no matter how engaging my fellow conversationalists had been. (Truth be known they were very engaging. We talked about everything from state politics to where to find good Korean food in Albuquerque.) I handed over the necessary forms and payment in the form of a check, and bolted, ready to grab a quick dinner and then head home.

I stopped by a local Mexican restaurant, where I wolfed down a big, fat beef burrito and a shredded-beef taco doused in red chile. It was about 6:45 when I hopped back into the car, happily fed and slightly drowsy for the drive home. About three miles into the otherwise uneventful drive I noticed an orange glow out of the corner of my left eye. The late-afternoon incandescence only grew more brilliant as the miles rolled on my odometer, creeping steadily from the horizon to spread across a quarter of the sky. It was one of those magnificent New Mexico sunsets you hear about, but don’t see all that often. I hastily took some photos of the sunset to share on Facebook, and with relatives across the country.

I got back home, and took one more photo because I couldn’t help myself.

Then I sat down to write a small narrative to accompany the pictures for this blog. It was then that I began thinking back on the afternoon and how I had spent it: I had sat in the company of other parents who, like me, were proud of their children and who didn’t mind sacrificing an afternoon to give their kids a small opportunity. I also thought about how I had not spent the afternoon: not staring at a computer screen; or talking with public officials about the state budget; or hearing the latest political gossip.

It had been a good day.

Three small indie films, America and feeling alive

Posted in art, film, music, news, pop culture on August 23, 2010 by Trip Jennings

If you’re like me you don’t darken the doors of a cineplex much these days, choosing to watch the latest movies via DVD player or digital streaming.  Also like me you might prefer films that are, in the words of marketing experts, more niche than mainstream. Translation: films that consider 100,000 viewings a considerable feat.

It is to those films — or at least a few examples — that I turn today.

Let me start out by saying this post is not so much about my refined tastes as a lover of film as much about a few movies I want to recommend. Because I want as many people to watch these films as possible I feel I need to come clean about about my film preferences. They are commodious, ranking me somewhere between an everyman and an art-house aficionado. Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Bergman’s The Seventh Seal are two of my all-time favorites.  I also love Real Genius, not exactly Val Kilmer’s finest work. So while I am a cineaste — yes I JUST used that word — I’m all about movies of varying types of artistic quality, insight and technical prowess. In other words, give me Iron Man, Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead over artistic jewels that try too hard. Give me Dodgeball, Zoolander and The Anchorman — hell, CaddyshackBack to School or The Hangover— over The Last Emperor or Howard’s End. (O.K., yes, I loved City of God and In the Bedroom, and I’m still a bit embittered 15 years after the fact that Forrest Gump beat out Pulp Fiction for the Best Picture Oscar. But I’ve watched The Bourne Ultimatum like 20 times and still secretly love it when Jason Bourne jumps through that window from the roof of a nearby building.)

Point is, I am not a film snob.

So when I say you need to watch the movies I’m about to recommend it’s not coming from some esoteric appreciation for style or technical creativity. It’s about the storytelling, and how these stories made me feel, which is sad, quiet but also strangely wiser and connected to the world around me. In other words, alive. Continue reading