Wednesday, 14 May 2014

A Profane Abomination

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In July of 1977, Swiss artist H. R. Giger received an unexpected call from Dan O'Bannon, a Hollywood screenwriter who was very keen for Giger to help bring his latest screenplay, Alien, to life by way of some concept art. Days later, O'Bannon explained further in a letter that contained this list of things to be designed—a temple, the egg, the Facehugger, the Chestburster, and the "terrifically dangerous" Alien itself. As we now know, Giger took the commission on and became a vital member of the crew. Three years later, he and his team won an Academy Award for Best Achievement for Visual Effects for their incredible work.

(Source: Giger's Alien; Image: Giger at work, via.)

ALIEN

LIST OF ELEMENTS TO BE DESIGNED

EXTERIOR, ANCIENT TEMPLE.  Approximately 20 meters tall. Should suggest an ancient, primitive and cruel culture.

INTERIOR, TEMPLE.  This is where the Spore Pods are stored. This room is entered through a vertical tunnel in the roof (the normal entrance has long since collapsed). The Spore Pods can be seen ranked around the altar in the center of the room.

SPORE PODS.  These are leathery, egg-shaped objects about one meter tall, which contain the larva of the Alien. They have a small "lid" on top which can pop off when a victim approaches.

THE ALIEN, FIRST PHASE.  This is a small, possibly octopoidal creature which waits inside the Spore Pod for a victim to approach. When someone touches the Spore Pod, the lid flies off, and the small Alien (First Phase) leaps out and attaches itself to the face of the victim.

THE ALIEN, SECOND PHASE.  Once the Alien (First Phase) has attached itself to the face of a victim, it lays eggs in the victim's stomach, and the egg grows into the Alien (Second Phase). This is a small creature which bites its way out of the victim's body.

THE ALIEN, THIRD (MATURE) PHASE.  Having left its victim, the Alien promptly grows to man-size, whereupon it is terrifically dangerous. It is very mobile, strong, and capable of tearing a man to pieces. It feeds on human flesh. This creature should be a profane abomination. Our producers have suggested that something resembling an over-sized, deformed baby might be suffieciently loathsome. In any event, we wish you to feel free to create your own design.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

The Lists of Note Book

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Dear All,

With your help, Lists of Note is soon to become a book—something I've been itching to bring to life for almost as long as I can remember, and something I've been busy researching and writing for many months. Just as the Letters of Note book is filled with interesting letters, Lists of Note will boast a fascinating array of lists created by a wide selection of people, reproduced in facsimile where possible.

The book will be beautiful and crafted by Here Design, the same talented bunch who worked their magic on Letters of Note, and it will be another satisfyingly hefty object boasting the same dimensions as its predecessor. It will contain 125 lists written through the centuries, from as early as the 26th Century BC, to as recent as a few years ago. While many will be written by everyday folk, there will hopefully be lists written by such people as:
  1. Albert Einstein
  2. Gandhi
  3. Debbie Harry
  4. Marilyn Monroe
  5. Anne Frank
  6. Nick Cave
  7. Galileo
  8. Harry Houdini
  9. Susan Sontag 
  10. Isaac Newton
  11. Leonardo da Vinci
  12. Julia Child
  13. Thomas Edison
  14. Sid Vicious
  15. Martin Luther King
...to name but 15. There will be to-do lists of the good, the bad and the ugly; centuries-old shopping lists penned by history's greatest minds; lists of rules and advice for all manner of situations; lists of predictions, some accurate, others not so; an eye-opening list of slaves; charming lists of New Year's resolutions; unique dictionaries; lists of murder suspects, and much, much more. It will be a list-based feast and I cannot wait to see it made.

As with Letters of Note, the book will be crowdfunded with the help of Unbound, a group of people who are more passionate about books than I thought possible and without whom Letters of Note would not have materialised quite so well. Head on over to the Unbound website to learn more about the process, watch me attempting to sell the concept on camera (I'm so sorry), and hopefully pledge. There are different rewards available depending on the level at which you decide to pledge, from a signed copy of the limited special edition through to tickets to the launch party, lunch with me (again, I apologise in advance), and a deluxe slipcase edition of the book (the deluxe edition of Letters of Note was a sight to behold).

Should the project reach its funding target, this gorgeous book will be published and land on your doorstep at the end of 2014—that's this year—WITHOUT FAIL. Producing Letters of Note was a steep learning curve; we now have a solid team in place and are light years ahead of our old selves. I really hope you feel excited enough to give your support; without it, the poor book will remain, unpublished, in my head.

If you have any questions, please get in touch by email via shaun@lettersofnote.com or on Twitter.

Thank you!

Shaun

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

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On October 31st of 1960, in a letter to her editor at Alfred A. Knopf publishers, the great Julia Child included a list — seen below — of 28 title suggestions for her forthcoming debut cookbook. The last of her suggestions was eventually chosen.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published the next year, and went on to become one of the most influential cookbooks of all time.

(Source: Ian Pinnock; Image: Julia Child, via.)

La Bonne Cuisine Fran├žaise
In Love with French Cooking
The Love of French Cooking
Cooking for Love
The French Cooking Master
Cooking Mastery
Mastery of French Cooking (No "The")
The French Kitchen
Food from France
France's Food
The Noble Art of French Cooking
The Master French Cookbook
Great French Cooking
The Compulsive Cook
Cooking is my Hobby
The Hobby of French Cooking
French Cooking as a Hobby
School for French Cooks
School for French Cookery
A Course on French Cooking
The Passionate French Cook
French Cooking for Fun
French Cooking for Love
French Cooking for Everyone
Cook for Your Self a la Fran├žaise
Mastering the Art of French Cuisine/Cooking/Cookery

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

What I Won't and Will Miss

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The great Nora Ephron passed away on June 26th of 2012, aged 71, following a battle with leukemia that began in 2006. She had many strings to her bow, but most notably wrote the screenplays to some of the best loved films ever to grace the big screen, many of which she also directed and produced. She wrote the following lists — of things she won't and will miss — in 2010 and used them to close her book, I Remember Nothing.

(Source: I Remember Nothing: And Other Reflections; Image: Nora Ephron, via.)

What I Won't Miss

Dry skin
Bad dinners like the one we went to last night
E-mail
Technology in general
My closet
Washing my hair
Bras
Funerals
Illness everywhere
Polls that show that 32 percent of the American people believe in creationism
Polls
Fox TV
The collapse of the dollar
Bar mitzvahs
Mammograms
Dead flowers
The sound of the vacuum cleaner
Bills
E-mail. I know I already said it, but I want to emphasize it.
Small print
Panels on Women in Film
Taking off makeup every night

What I Will Miss

My kids
Nick
Spring
Fall
Waffles
The concept of waffles
Bacon
A walk in the park
The idea of a walk in the park
The park
Shakespeare in the Park
The bed
Reading in bed
Fireworks
Laughs
The view out the window
Twinkle lights
Butter
Dinner at home just the two of us
Dinner with friends
Dinner with friends in cities where none of us lives
Paris
Next year in Istanbul
Pride and Prejudice
The Christmas tree
Thanksgiving dinner
One for the table
The dogwood
Taking a bath
Coming over the bridge to Manhattan
Pie