Friday  February 23, 2007

Evolution of an LED Clock

"Numbers" is a disjointed, strung-together LED desk clock designed by Jonas Damon. It's gotten a lot of attention lately (we picked it for our best-of-the-year list last year):


It evolved from another LED clock, called simply "LED," that Damon had designed for the British design company Habitat a few years earlier:


The idea behind "LED" was to reduce a digital clock to its essence—just red LED numbers and casing—and to express the beauty of the parts rather than try to hide them. That's why Damon lets you see all the screws, wires, and electronics inside the casing.

You can't buy "LED" in the States (Habitat products are only available in Europe), though a knockoff recently became available here. Damon first came across it in the Conran Shop and, despite the fact that it was a copy, he bought one for his New York apartment. ("I'd always wanted one," he says.)

The piracy, to my surprise, doesn't seem to bother him that much. "It may not be the officially sanctioned version," he says. "But they're both made in factories; they might as well be the same clock."

One detail of the knockoff does peeve him, though. In his original design, the transformer was housed in the clock's plastic case (you can see it to the left of the numbers in the photo above). The knockoff (below) moves it to a wall wart—one of those big hulking plugs. "That's why there's this dumb empty space and the numbers are off center for no reason," says Damon. "It's a stupid translation."


"Numbers," the newer clock, draws on the same vocabulary as the first—they share the same material (plastic) and the same underlying technology (LED)—but it arrives in a very different place. While "LED" is transparent—you can understand what it's made of and what makes it tick—"Numbers" is unapologetically opaque. "The cubes could be made of anything—painted metal, Japanese lacquer—you can't tell. There's a light that glows through them, but you don't see the components," says Damon. "There's something powerful about it when you don't know what's going on inside. It has a mystery which makes it more intriguing as an object."

And while "Numbers" may look modern, it gets there by way of the '70s, when electronics were more chunky, less slick. "We were deliberate in not making it feel iPod-y." The goal all along, he says, was "medium-tech."

There's a new version of "Numbers" coming out this summer, and it's an explicit blend of the first two.


And to keep things interesting, Damon's newest clock, which he debuted a few weeks ago, takes things in a completely different direction: analog.


Thursday  February 22, 2007

Ichiro and A-Rod


Yesterday at the Mariners' spring-training facility in Arizona Ichiro, who is in the last year of his contract, described how pissed off he is about the team's atrocious performance over the past three years.  That he was dressed in a ski cap and a pink t-shirt in no way diminished the force of his remarks, in which he declared that he's prepared to leave the Mariners to pursue a championship ring, if necessary.

Meanwhile, in Florida, Alex Rodriguez made some interesting comments about his relationship with Derek Jeter--who's essentially become a latter-day DiMaggio, an unsettling amalgam of grace and pettiness--and addressed reporters' questions about the so-called "out clause" in his contract, which allows him to terminate his contract unilaterally after this season, three years early, to explore his value on the free market.

The two men are distinctly different: physically (A-Rod has a perfect baseball body; Ichiro looks nothing like an athlete), statistically (A-Rod hits for power and average and racks up lots of strikeouts and walks; Ichiro hits singles and rarely strikes out or walks), and personally (A-Rod engages with the media; Ichiro distances himself)--but they're both first-ballot Hall of Famers who don't seem to be well situated.  Ichiro plays for a team whose front office may be the worst in baseball, and A-Rod in a town that doesn't--despite his winning an MVP (his second) and accomplishing three of the best five seasons by a Yankee third baseman, ever--properly appreciate him. It's not difficult to imagine them switching places in 2008.

Wednesday  February 14, 2007

Canard a la Papelbon

In matters culinary I of course defer to the estimable Alan Richman, but this is as much a sports as a food story.  From yesterday's Boston Globe, an interview with Red Sox pitcher Jonathan Papelbon:

Papelbon regaled reporters with tales of duck hunting last month with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning in Manning's hometown of Drew, Miss.... "What I do," Papelbon said, "[is] marinate [the duck] in Coke and Italian dressing, right. What the Coke does, the carbonation takes out all the game flavor. So you marinate it in Coke and Italian dressing in a Ziploc bag. Then what you do, you slice up a breast, quarter it in fours, and then you wrap those four little nuggets in bacon, jalapeno, and sour cream, so you wrap it all in a piece of bacon, throw it on a grill. It's amazing."

That recipe is so irredeemably, so unapologetically, so elaborately redneck that it verges on genius.  It's almost Wylie Dufresne territory.

Friday  February 09, 2007

The Next Jordan(s)


A recent article in USA Today discusses Michael Jordan's sons Jeffrey (above left) and Marcus, both of whom play high-school basketball for Loyola Academy in Chicago.  Jeffrey is a senior "combo guard" (meaning he plays both point and shooting guard) who's being recruited by a bunch of regional schools. 

What Might Have Been

Monday  February 05, 2007

What Might Have Been

Colts 29, Bears 17