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The First Rule of Fight Club …

Maybe the worst thing about my current line of work - consulting for startups - is that I don’t get to talk about anything I’m working on. Which isn’t really what I’m used to; after all, wearing my pundit/emcee hat, I get paid to talk about everything (the more, the better). Sadly, I have now entered the wonderful world of the Nondisclosure Agreement. But it’s all pretty cool, splashy stuff, I promise.

Meanwhile, after a year-long blogging break, I’m going to try to get back in the game with book and movie reviews, musings on politics and the media, and promos for all the stuff I’ve been working on that hasn’t launched yet, once it finally leaves the launching pad. 

Online Journalism Awards

The Online News Association (based at USC) has just announced finalists for the Online Journalism Awards, and CJR Daily is a finalist for online commentary for small sites. (The awards are for work published June 2005 through June 2006.) That’s in addition to the Webby nomination this year, and the honorable mention from the National Press Club last year. I couldn’t ask for a better parting gift!

Maya Masterpieces

I’ve been planning a trip to Mexico for a few months now, so I went up to the Met earlier this week to check out the “Treasures of Sacred Maya Kings” exhibit (on display through September 10). [Update: Took the tip. You can check out my small Flickr photoset for more.]

It’s an art-historical exhibition, focusing on depictions of Maya rulers, rather than larger-scale lintels and sculpture (which were the focus of another Mayan art http://www.thinker.org/legion/exhibitions/exhibition.asp?exhibitionkey=332">exhibit I saw in 2004). The show suffers from a couple of drawbacks: first, the hyperbolic title, which is technically accurate but creates expectations for the casual visitor that the exhibit doesn’t quite match; and second, the hoaky music echoing through the first few rooms of the exhibition space from an introductory video playing in a side gallery. But there are some great pieces on display.

One of the most masterful pieces is the first one the visitor sees: a stela featuring a Maya ruler dressed as the Principal Bird Deity. It’s carved in several levels of relief; the face of the ruler is recessed behind the mask.

There’s also eccentric flint (scroll down) carved in the shape of a lightning god, with shreds of the blue textile it was covered in still affixed; a hematite mirror, made of polished polygonal stones; a remarkable wooden figure (scroll down) from the Met’s permanent collection (probably the best example known of Mayan wooden sculpture, I’ve read); and a jade funerary mask. My favorite item, though, was a set of carved jade pieces from a burial that had been sprinkled with cinnabar, which colors the incised carvings an electric orange on the light-green jade. (You can browse the catalog from one of the earlier stops on the exhibit’s tour.)

And while you’re on the Upper East Side, stop by the Neue Gallery to check out their new Klimt painting (which also happens to be the most expensive painting ever sold). As Lauren notes, they also have a wonderful Austrian-style café on the ground floor, one of the better-kept secrets on the Upper East Side.

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