Miscellaneous 12.18

Dear friends,

One year draws to an end. Another crests the horizon. December is a deep breath between the chapters of life, bearing its own distinct suite of sensations: the crackle of fireplaces, the glow of shop windows, the scent of those rows of christmas trees which line sidewalks in search of a warm home, bidding our attention with a sweet pine scent. It’s a season to embrace these sensory delights, to vacate from worldly affairs to the fullest extent possible.

In this, the December 2018 edition of Miscellaneous—Athletics’ no-frills round-up of the cultural items that inspire us each month—we’ve prepared a set of cultural treasures designed to accompany you on the journey to a new year. From Tom Volf’s documentary celebrating the quintessential opera diva, Maria by Callas, to the meandering postmodern mindscapes of Christina Hesselholdt’s book Companions, here are a few things to sink into in the precious free moments this season affords us.

Stay tuned for more editions of Miscellaneous in the coming months.
Interested in contributing? Send us an email!

See
Frankenstein at 200 @ The Morgan Library
William Kentridge’s The Head & The Load @ Park Ave Armory
The Prisoner @ Theatre for a New Audience

Watch
An Autumn Afternoon dir. Yasujirō Ozu (1962)
The Civil War dir. Ken Burns (1990)
Maria by Callas dir. Tom Volf (2018)

Read
Frankenstein — Mary Shelley (1818)
If This Is a Man — Primo Levi (1947)
Companions — Christina Hesselholdt (2017)

Hear
Stone Down Blues — Guitar Slim Green (1970)
Una Mattina — Ludovico Einaudi (2004)
Ghost Forests — Meg Baird & Mary Lattimore (2018)

Questionnaire
Simon Blanckensee, Designer at Athletics, loves his Olympus XA 35MM Camera

Why he loves it
Ever since a camping trip on which a friend brought a stack of disposable cameras for us to pocket and shoot with, I had been searching for a convenient but slightly less disposable shooting experience. As luck would have it my grandfather (Opa) had a rarely-used XA sitting in his cupboard.

I love this camera for its rugged exterior, its ability to fit in any pocket, and its neat clam-shell design—indecipherable to the uninitiated, and for its original owner.

How it works
It’s simple. Once the film is loaded and ASA set, the only tough bit is finding the focus. It’s a rangefinder, so there’s no auto-focus, which means I’m usually reduced to flipping between infinite and 2.8 repeatedly until I detect the slight ghosting that indicates a lack of focus. At least my fingers get a workout.

What it can teach us
It’s not a super forgiving camera and I’m still a total beginner, so it’s certainly teaching me patience. Currently I’m hitting on a good image roughly once every 72 exposures. It feels like a testament to products becoming easier to use over the years. I wonder if it’s that steep learning curve that led this camera to gather dust for so long.

Addendum
If anyone has a spare A11 flash unit lying around give me a bell on (917) 669-3721. All reasonable offers considered.

Poetic Fragment
“This seablue fir that rode the mountain storm
Is swaddled here in splints of tin to die.
Sofas around in chubby velvet swarm;
Onlooking cabinets glitter with flat eye;
Here lacquer in the branches runs like rain
And resin of treasure starts from every vein.”

— From “Christmas Tree” by John Frederick Nims (1982)

Wishing you a happy holidays,

Athletics

Header image: “Along the River, Winter” by John Henry Twachtman (1889)