Browsing articles in "My Thoughts On…"
May 14, 2012

How a Bicycle is Made (1945)

Obviously not a “true” documentary about how bikes are made, the British Council still presents an interesting advertorial film on the process of making bikes in 1945. While more modern bicycles use standardized parts manufactured in factories all around the world, in 1945 this British factory made all their parts in-house – except for maybe a few of the parts, including the tires and the saddle (which appears to be from Brooks).

Some interesting points to note on this bicycle’s design: a separate rear stay (modern bikes have an integrated rear stay), the crank uses a cotter pin, and fenders and tool bags are included (unlike modern bikes which apparently are never ridden in the rain). Also interesting: seeing some of the design drawings including one for a delivery bike with a large box in the front and reinforced frame (i.e., extra top tube). And all too briefly, we see some beautiful road bikes. Too bad they didn’t take a moment to show us some close ups of the other styles they mention. I need my fix of bike porn.

In the factory, look for the hand dipping in enamel – and I do mean hand! It seems strange they wouldn’t wear gloves to dip the bikes in paint. I suppose those factory workers would have one permanently stained hand! In general, most people weren’t wearing any sort of glove for any stage of the process, except for the obvious: parts put in the furnaces! The men and women of the factory must have had thick, leathery-skinned hands. I wonder if the footage is pre-war or staged for film during the war. Makes sense that there are women in the factories but with so many young men working, it’s hard to believe this is 1945… and that they’re building steel bikes! I’d love to have a bit of context for this film.

I also wish a modern government agency would come out and say what this film says at the end (aside from “…British bicycles, second to none!”): There are bicycles for all purposes, they’re comfortable and cheap, a great boon to man, ideal for shopping, easy to park, handy for work, a faithful friend ever ready to take tired workers back home, and after work bring relaxation, health and happiness. Indeed.

video via Kottke


Oct 30, 2011

Drink Recipe: Make your own Irish Cream


  • 2 cups Rye whiskey (or other whiskey)
  • 2 scoops dark hot chocolate (e.g.: Cocoa Camino powder mixed with warm water to form paste)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 250 ml (1 cup) whipping cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Put it all in a blender and mix. Store in the refrigerator. Lasts about 2 months (if you don’t drink it all right away!). You could also blend with ice for a slushy drink for summer time enjoyment.

Apr 20, 2011

Create More, Then Edit

I’ve read it in all kinds of books about creativity, design, art and even business: be prolific. In other words, make a lot of stuff (however you define “stuff”). It’s really the best way to make sure your skills improve, your project is seen, your business takes off, you make a living… you know what I mean. But there’s another side to the “prolific” coin: editing. If you’re not producing much then you better hope it’s all great; if you make a lot of stuff, you’ll have choice. If you’re producing tons of work, maybe most of it’s good (but probably not), but not all of it’s great. It’s the great work that takes you to the next level. Art galleries don’t show everything, they edit and select what’s best and what’s suited to a specific show. It’s called curation. Present only the greatest stuff to the world so they don’t have to sift through the crap you’re also creating.

In my experience, hosting art events with open art calls really proves this point. In the first year of Hot One Inch Action we asked for “one submission per artist” and that worked for the most part. A few people submitted more than one piece and we accepted them and made the choice for them. As the shows progressed, we realized that the same people were submitting more than one piece or asking which we like best. At the same time, we were receiving art from 100+ people (for only 50 spots) so we knew it wasn’t sustainable to first select a piece for one person and then choose for the show. We became more strict with our “one per artist” rule and routinely respond with “pick one and let us know what your submission is.” For some, it’s a difficult task. But it’s a valuable lesson: if you’re unsure about your own stuff, why should I care?

But curation is not just about great work, it’s also about what’s suited to the format of the show. “Why wasn’t my art chosen?” Well, it’s good but it just doesn’t suit a 1″ button, or isn’t dynamic enough for the trading card, or just doesn’t fit in with the rest of the show. “It’s not you, it’s me.” The rejection isn’t what the sensitive artist wants to hear but it’s a reality. “No” hurts. I know, you want to play too. There’s a great article about rejection from The Cheaper Show on The Practical Art World. Sometimes it’s just not right for the show. Present what’s best for the situation and it betters your chance. It’s like tailoring your cover letter and CV for a specific job. We don’t want everything, we want the best candidate.

Don’t worry about the “no.” If you’re producing tons of stuff, editing it and putting your best out there, stuff you love, eventually someone will notice.

Apr 6, 2011

BENTZEN at Pecha Kucha Vancouver (Volume 6)

In 2009, I spoke at Volume 6 of Pecha Kucha Night in Vancouver. It was an interesting experience being in front of the sold out audience at the Park Theatre. I don’t really remember much after the first laugh but from what I hear, it went well. Looks like the video is no longer online.