Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Blackout Poetry of Austin Kleon

^ "Same Swords", by Austin Kleon

I love graphic design, but when I need inspiration, sometimes it is best taken from elsewhere. As you saw, my last post featured plants and gardening. And this one, blackout poetry from Austin, Texas.

What is blackout poetry, you ask? It is a type of poetry based on found words and subtraction. This particular artist, Austin Kleon, takes a marker to a page of the New York Times and blacks out all except for a few words. The words come to make sense as phrases, some incredibly deep and some not so much, but still interesting. And thus: blackout poetry.

I stumbled across this phenomena via Texas Monthly (the creative directors of which I was lucky enough to meet this past week - very inspiring). Just before SXSW, their website featured a review of his new book, "Newspaper Blackout", and I fell in love immediately.

Though these have a rather unorthodox layout, your eye is slowly led around the page in a way that ends up making sense, witnessing something that you never would have found on your own. I have a hard time putting into words what I love about his thoughts: they are comfortable yet unnerving, vintage and country, often with great wit and a sense of playfulness. Sometimes, in the beginning of reading one, I will underestimate it, and at the end he hits with something brilliant. The book review on Texas Monthly sums the work up perfectly: "hidden bits of Zen lite that occasionally bump up against brilliance."

^ "The Co-Founder of the Artist"

^ "The Parent Unhappy"

^ "Texas is Actually Real"

^ "What Happens to the Married" (posted on his three-year anniversary)

^ "Overheard on the Titanic"

I've only posted a few here, a nibble of food for thought. For more newspaper blackout poems by Austin Kleon, visit his website.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Planting + Alternative Health Benefits

^ ranunculus

I have to say, one of the quickest ways to make a new apartment feel like home is to add plants. The first thing I did when I moved into my little back house was to buy a few seeds and plant them. There's nothing more rewarding than watching the little sprouts pop up. AND many plants have a lot of benefits that you might not expect. Take what's growing at my place:

Dandelion - These things are growing rampant in my backyard. You can call them weeds all you want, I say let them thrive! This plant is entirely edible - flower, root, and leaves - and with honey, makes a delicious tea. Dandelion is said to aid in weight loss, detoxification, digestion, cholesterol reduction, health maintenance for people with Type-1 & Type-2 diabetes, and makes an excellent face wash. It also transfers magnificent amounts of minerals and vitamins: A, C, D, E, & B complex, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, zinc, etc. when infused in hot water. Need I say more?

Ranunculus (shown top) - To be honest, as beautiful as these babies are, they're poisonous. Should you decide to go all "Goodbye Earl" on your no-good cheating husband, they might come in handy. Otherwise, do not consume or handle excessively.

Parsley - Parsley contains more vitamin C than any other culinary vegetable, and is also rich in Vitamin A, iron, potassium, magnesium, and potassium. It is said to cleanse the blood, benefit vision, treat deafness and ear infections, facilitate removal of kidney and gallstones, and benefit the sexual system. You can chew parsley to prevent bad breath, rub it on a bruise, or even make a juice of it.

Basil - Like parsley, basil is rich in magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium. It can help with nausea or motion-sickness, arthritis, influenza, bronchitis, and nose and throat infections. Basil works as a natural anti-inflammatory, much like aspirin or ibuprofen, and also has antibacterial and antioxidant qualities, providing a nice boost to the immune system.

Oregano - Oregano has a lot of similar health benefits as basil - it has strong anti-bacterial properties and it's a powerful source of antioxidant vitamins. One tablespoon of oregano = the antioxidants found in one medium-sized apple! It can help fight colds, influenza, mild fevers, indigestion, stomach upsets, blood cholesterol, and painful menstruation. It is also said to help prevent cancer and slow aging, and is considered to be an aphrodisiac.

Tomato - Though tomatoes were initially considered toxic, and not consumed in the U.S. until the early 1800s, they have proven to be one of the most beneficial vegetables available. The tomato is another powerful antioxidant. It contains a compound called Lycopene which helps your body fight against the formation of cancerous cells in the lungs, prostate, breast, and colon/stomach. Tomatoes also contain large amounts of vitamin C and potassium, protect against heart disease and high cholesterol, and taste great to boot.

Lavender - Lavender was the first herb whose benefits I started researching, and it has become an obsession of mine. Lavender is great for the skin, and can be used topically to help heal acne or eczema, soothe and heal insect bites, and prevent infection and blisters in severe sunburns. Its powerful scent has a very calming effect, and has been know to help ease stress, headaches, insomnia, and depression. It is also helpful in warding off insects and scorpions, and makes an excellent bath.

^ lavender (yes, it's there - look closely)

^ tomatoes, parsley, basil, oregano

** Though these herbs are all highly beneficial, they could have adverse side effects with medications or other herbs. I would suggest further research before the extensive use of an herb for medicinal purposes. I should also mention that I don't condone the use of poison.