Across a nearly frozen tundra of Southie parking lots lies a new museum

We checked out the freshly-opened ICA museum the other night. The building is gorgeous, the views of the waterfront from inside are really something, and the Wolfgang Puck-branded café served up extremely tasty (if a bit pricey) sandwiches. But yes, we did go for the art.

I enjoyed the Super Vision exhibit. Pieces that stood out on a first walk through:

  • The famous Harold Edgerton photograph of the bullet shooting through the apple, clearly a “hey, that’s famous” effect
  • The stainless-steel-yet-looks-inflated Rabbit by (of course) Jeff Koons was amusing mostly because I remember having the plastic version, complete with razor-sharp edges, around as a toy when I was a kid
  • Anish Kapoor’s Turning the World Inside Out (think smaller version of “the bean” in Chicago, with the addition of a fascinatingly eerie navel)
  • Jeff Wall’s giant photograph taken in a Vancouver park seems like a normal image, yet it isn’t because it is illuminated and outsized
  • James Turrell’s odd and absorbing trick of light installation

The four finalists for the Foster prize were also worth seeing. I liked the two smoke and soot paintings by Sheila Gallagher and the polar backdrops of Jane Marsching’s photo collages best.

I intend to go back (often) as we decided to become members. Too bad the Silver Lie doesn’t directly connected with the Blue line, that would make it even more convenient.

Cramming too much crap into PowerPoint isn’t handholding, it’s assault

Last week at work, I was asked for my opinion about a deck-in-progress for a meeting. My coworker was pretty sure she knew what my answer was going to be — it is generally a variation on the theme of delete that. My hatred of PowerPoint is well-known: I think it is where ideas go to be tortured.

But say you’ve got a presentation to do… how do you not be evil? Keep these four things in mind, and nobody gets hurt:

PowerPoint doesn’t have feet, so no deck is ever going to stand on its own

Reading the Cliffs Notes is not just as good as reading the book. If you just get the deck, and not the speaker or the recorded audio or video, you don’t get it all. Pretending otherwise is inefficient and frustrating for everyone involved. Slides are part of a presentation, not the whole thing. Get over it.

Nobody likes a fork in the eye

Ask yourself, would I look at this image if it weren’t in my presentation? If the answer is no, then take it out, because we don’t want to see it either. You do not need an oafish cartoon to “liven up” your slide. If you are using a starburst shape and you are not using BAM! POW! in the way the old Batman show did, just stop it. If you think your slide is boring without these cheesy gimmicks, redo it or delete it. If you think it is the fastest or most entertaining way of delivering your message, great! The good stuff is the only stuff that should be on your slide.

Your age should be your smallest font size

Don’t you wince when you see a slab of text on your screen? If folks in the back of the room can’t read it, it’s too small. If you have more than two complete sentences on one slide, you’ve probably written too much. If you have that much to say, tell me the story, don’t bullet point it and me to death. (If you are wondering how you can fit more than a handful of words on a screen if you are over fifty — you probably can’t, and you probably shouldn’t. You’ve got the experience, so share your wisdom and your vision, not your need for bifocals.)

Ideas matter, decks don’t

Say no to fighting with company-wide templates (especially for internal presentations. We all know where we work, ok?) and other foolishness concerning the way things are supposed to get done. Instead, start off with a pen, paper, and your ideas. Outline what you want to say: think of the key points you need people to grasp, and ask yourself what the story you want to tell really is. Then think of the best way to relay that information. Can PowerPoint help you carry your message, or is that just the expectation? What would happen if, before your next big meeting when you were asked for the deck, you said “there is no deck”? Your ideas deserve better than the rote use of slideware.

IF YOU WANT MORE here are a few classics on the wrongs of PowerPoint:

Sometimes you need to wander off the path to find your way

I monitor feeds to detect patterns, see how conversations are evolving, and discover sparks worth further investigation. One signal I’m picking out of the noisy web lately seems different somehow. Here’s what I’m hearing:

These links have been hanging out in my text editor for a few days, because I keep thinking this post will be difficult, messy, or just plain confusing to write. I’m not sure where I’m going with this one. There’s something in this I need to pay attention to, I realize that. Look, it’s another FGO!

Lost is too strong a word for what I’ve been feeling, it’s more like puzzled, with a side order of general anxiety. Yes, I’d like fries with that instead.

Twelve favorites on the twelfth

It’s that time again — I post my annual schizophrenic eclectic list of the media bits I enjoyed most in the last year.

Same ground rules apply for this, my fifth list: things have to be new-to-me in the last year, they have to be things you can still access (I don’t want to compile a list of “you missed this and it was the best experience of the year*” type stuff), and blogs and websites are out (because I write about the web and other blogs all the time). In no particular order, my favorites this year were:

Utata It may look like I’m breaking my “no websites” rule, but I’m not. I’m saying Utata — the flickr-based photography community — has, as a whole, produced some of the media bits I’ve loved the most this year, because it is a way to see fantastic photography. The group photo stream is full of powerful and wonderful images, and the projects always inspire.

The Long Run and The Last Dancer by Daniel Keys Moran. The more I think about it, the more baffled I am that practically no one seems to know who this guy is. He’s written some of the best science fiction I’ve ever read.

Fire and Ice by Michael Adams. When I blogged my review, I recommended it because Adams provided more in-depth and objective consideration of American (and Canadian) values than either Fox News or the New York Times can muster. Yes, I still want to move to Canada. Have I mentioned I score ten points higher than needed on the skilled worker self-assessment tool, and that is without extra points for having a job offer? I’m not in a hurry, I’m just saying…

X-Men: The Last Stand I have a soft spot for the X-Men. Mutants are complicated super heroes because, well, they really aren’t super heroes — they just have supernatural-seeming powers. The final flick in the trilogy was dark, with a relatively high bodycount, and I’m twisted enough to enjoy that. Yes, I watched all the way through the credits for the surprise at the very end, and I loved it.

Battlestar Galactica, seasons 1 & 2. Thanks to Netflix, I watched both seasons (and the miniseries, which counted as the beginning of season 1, I think). Lifeboat ethics and political intrigue in space, people! Kickass chicks and messy, flawed characters! There is so much to love… I won’t go on an on about it, I’ll just tell you to read this guy evangelizing the show.

Most of the Angels & Airwaves album We Don’t Need to Whisper. I say most of because, honestly, I never listen to an entire album of anything anymore. I will admit to playing “It Hurts” too many times. Ditto for “The Adventure” and “A Little’s Enough” and “Distraction” and it is becoming clear I have no shame so I’ll stop now.

Most the songs from Andy Bell’s Electric Blue. Yes, it is poppy and disco-like. The cicada vocal mix of “Crazy” is six minutes and twenty seconds of thumping goodness. I will not apologize.

Metropolis I’m on the verge of cheating with this one, because I saw it at the Barbican, with the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg playing the original score. I believe the movie is available on DVD, so I’ve decided it counts. Science fiction from 1927, it will blow you away.

My favorite photos on flickr. Almost everything in this set was something I saw for the first time in the last year — they are the images that make me feel something, that I want to keep looking at. Sometimes I just play them as a slideshow when I’m having a bad day, or need some inspiration.

51 Birch Street is a fascinating family documentary. How much to do you know — or want to know — about your parents, really?

For the completists or the curious, bits from the past: 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2002

*But if I did, theTakao Tanabe exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery would be on the list, because I loved it. I could feel something in my chest open up when I stood in front of Crossing the Straight.