Monday, March 31, 2008


A finished detail of my current painting project.

More later...

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Free Ad for Kate

One of my favorite Kate Bush songs (caveat, there aren't many not favorite Kate songs, ed.)

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Royal Academy of Arts

Thanks to this post at Mapping the Marvellous I found an article on C.R. Cockerell, R.A. Of course, his rendering of church domes and spires attracted me, as I expect anyone who knows my work would have seen coming...

The article on Cockerell was the May "Artist of the Day" on the website of the Royal Academy. I am no where near finished exploring the site. It is expansive and wonderful, with alphabetized links to the artists represented in the Academy's collection, lectures to which you can listen, and an HTML version of their quarterly magazine which you can literally leaf through on line, stopping and exploring the articles you want, in a layout that looks to be just like the real thing.

This is going to be a great resource. I'll be spending a lot of time there in the near future.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Keep the Christ in Christmas...
...but take Him out of Easter

Apparently the story of Easter is too brutal to teach in Sunday School.

Gems of Art,  St Michael Trampling on Satan

Well, for those of you who actually want to believe in something,

Happy Easter

And may you have the time to quietly contemplate the true meaning of sacrifice.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Free Advertisement for Kate

of course, on Good Friday, the question of swapping places with God has an entirely different meaning...

( "Free Advertisement (of the day for a musical artist)" is originally the idea of these galloots and as a concept has been completely ripped off by me... but hey, I'm not show-casing Bob, they already do a great job of that!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Conversation With a Poor Unprepared Freshman

I got a call this evening from Northeastern University, my old Alma Mater.

This is somewhat paraphrased, as I'm not a steno...

N.U.(Brian) "Hi, my name is Brian, I'm from Northeastern University. We wanted to call and make sure our information is up to date and find out what alumni have been doing. Are you still at (... my address ...)?"

Me "Yep, haven't moved yet, but we're trying."

Brian "I see you studied Theatre, are you still working in that field."

Me "Actually, I'm a fine artist now."

Brian "Cool. Well, I'm glad that's working for you. Now, part of what I'm doing is trying to raise money for Northeastern. Gifting has always been a big part of what keeps the University going..."

Me (trying to interrupt in a polite way) " ... uh, Brian, that's 'Artist', as in 'Starving Artist'."

Brian (pause) "Oh, well, anything at all would help, even twenty dollars..."

Me "Sorry man, but we're strapped, thanks for calling though, and good luck tonight!"

Brian "Well,... thaannnks.... Good night."

Well, I did get a degree in the Arts and Humanities from the place, what did they expect?

At least I don't have a day-job where I have to ask, "Would you like fries with that?"

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Finally Took the Plunge

On Saturday, we hit the Apple Store, and picked up a family pack of Leopard, otherwise known as OS 10.5.

Spent Monday afternoon and evening backing up everything I could think of on my iBook G4, and on Tuesday installed the upgrade (I had been running 10.4.2). I figured that my laptop could be the 'sacrificial lamb', as it is the one that has had the most abuse, and I have the old eMac G4 as a fallback, where as my wife only has her iBook.

Things actually went very smoothly. I lost my wallpaper (bummer, it was a customized version of a Michael Whelan illustration that's no longer available on the net... thankfully I have the original version somewhere, so I'll have to play with it in Photoshop) and my printer drivers, which were easy to get back once I figured out what to do. Considering that I am the polar opposite of a techno-geek, this was pretty simple. To give you an idea, I still have yet to figure out how to get one of my outbound email accounts to work, after four years I still can only receive mail through that one account. So that fact that this worked so well, with so little problems is a neat thing to say about Apple and the new OS.

Now to upgrade my wife's laptop. Cross you fingers....

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

While I alert the authorities, be distracted by the Funkadelic Goblet of Flameyness!

The books are great. The movies, mostly good... but there are parts worth making fun of....

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

"... Do not therefore grudge me this little earth that covers my body"*

In the big-media news, what attention given to the government of Iran focuses on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's posturing or on concerns of war. Much of the news seems colored by the media's distaste for our current President.

Many of the really news-worthy things happening inside Iran are barely acknowledged, if not completely ignored. There is the popular hatred of the Modesty Police (or the fact at all, that women are treated this way in Iran... ed.), or the student uprising against an Ahmadinejad appointed chancellor at Shiraz University.

Though I have heard of the following from a neighbor, who moved to the US from Iran many years ago (and is a naturalized citizen), how much have you heard in the news about the Mullah's war on non-muslim Iranian history?.

The Iranian government has tried to bulldoze Persepolis, a World Heritage Site. They were stopped only because brave Iranian citizens stopped the equipment by literally standing in the way. The proposed Sivand Dam would flood 130 known archaeological sites, and could flood both Persepolis and Pasargadae, an ancient capital of the Persian Empire, and site of the tomb of Cyrus the Great. The destruction of the tomb of a great historic figure would not bother the Iranian government in the least. In Kashan, the tomb of Firuzan (Abu-lolo) has been destroyed. Abu-lolo lived in the 7th century. The original date of the tomb is not known, but it is known that it was restored in the 14th century.

The Medo-Persian empires are arguably as important to Western Civilization as the Greeks. Without the Edict of Restoration by Cyrus, there would have been no return of the Hebrews to Jerusalem to build the Second Temple. Cyrus was one of the first rulers to create and enforce policies of religious tolerance. The survival of Jewish culture into Roman times assured the survival of the Mosaic Code, which is one of the cornerstones of the ideals Western law and justice.

Iranian scholars have filed complaints in the International Criminal Court charging the Iranian government with "crimes against humanity" for its treatment of these World Heritage Sites.

Much grist for the news-mills was made over the looting at the National Museum of Iraq, which, though very tragic, was greatly exaggerated by the press (one wonders if this was because it made the military and the Bush Administration look bad, ed.). Authorities, including the FBI, are still investigating, and those responsible will be held to account. It is believed that roughly a third of the objects (around 5000) taken from the Museum have been recovered.

The loss of 15,000 cultural objects (and subsequent return of 5000) is a matter of great importance to the civilized world. How much more so the systematic destruction of history on a scale that amounts to Cultural Genocide?

* the title is a translation of part of the epitaph of Cyrus the Great, as recorded by Plutarch and Strabo

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Saddam Supported At Least Two Al-Qaeda Groups: Pentagon Report

When the mainstream media reported earlier that "Report Shows No Link Between Saddam and Al Qaeda" were they reading the same Pentagon report as everyone else?

How can you tell when a Network News reporter is lying? Their lips are moving.

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Apparently Watermelons are a vegetable.

... and onions seem to be pretty popular.

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Happy π Day

3/14 is π (Pi) Day

OK, it's not really a video, but Kate's song is great!

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Another of the Infinite Number of Reasons Why We Home-School

Student Suspended For Buying Skittles In School

Lets think about this... we'll ruin the school record of a kid, who looks to be pretty bright (honor student, class vice president), negatively impact his chances of getting into top colleges (maybe even impact his chances of getting scholarships), thus potentially lessening his potential career options and/or earning potential...

...all for a bag of skittles.

You know, I don't like Tort lawyers, they're pretty much all vultures and ambulance chasers in my book. But if somebody puts together a class action suit against all these draconian, zero-tolerance, all-kids-must-be-punished bureaucrats, I will stand up and cheer!

"If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons." - Winston Churchill

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Internet as One Vast Cabinet of Wonders


I had a very privileged childhood. By that, I don’t mean that my parents were affluent, had influence or power, or were in any social sense important. On the other hand, I had an undoubtedly rich time growing up. My parents insulated me from a lot of the news and confusion of the ‘60s. (Unlike others my age that I have known, I have no idea where I was when JFK, or even RFK were shot, but I can remember Studebakers as new cars.)

The real richness was my parents’ love of all things printed and bound.

The old farmhouse that I grew up in was filled with books. These increased in number every year, covering history, biography, the classics, fiction, art, myth, and literature (as well as some of the more obscure areas of spiritualism, my Mom’s contribution). My kids now get to read from the “First Book” series that I had as a kid, which are copyrighted in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. As a kid, I got to read stuff that had been written and printed in the middle of the 19th Century. With the collections of different stuff, the craft projects, tools, and other fascinating sundries, the house I grew up in was something of a wall to wall Cabinet of Curiosities.

Now my wife and I share the same bibliophilic passions as my parents. We have been given (or given stewardship over) a good number of the 6000 plus books that were in the farmhouse. I had been accumulating art books and magazines for some time before our marriage, and my wife has been doing her level best to catch up. We have well over 1200 books easy to hand, and at least 1500 more in storage.

And now there’s that Internet thingie. I love books, there are usually three or four going at the same time. There are a few art and history books that get taken out and referred to at least once a month. But when I need info, especially visual info, where better to go than to the web, the greatest Wunderkammer of all time. You can search for images in overwhelming numbers. Are you doing research on Chartres Cathedral? A simple Google image search finds 41,000 images. Search under just the one word, “cathedral” and Google comes back with approximately 5,600,000 images!

Or, if like me, you like to collect things from the natural world, a search for “Coyote Skull” brings back about 91,300 images. Searching for a skull to put into your very own cabinet of curiosity? Searching “Coyote Skull Retail” brings back over 66,000 sites, but you may want to further qualify your search terms. As of my typing this, there are nearly twenty different human x-ray images for sale on eBay (over a dozen of them in eBay Stores). In fact, on eBay, you can find things like crocodile teeth, meteorites, or the disarticulated skeleton of various small mammals. Building your own Wunderkammer is just a PayPal account away....

Then there are the photo sharing sites. My two favorite are Pbase and Flickr. You can search for something and get caught up forever chasing link after link, as one photographer or artist may have another fascinating person making a comment, or as part of the first one’s contact list. I’ve already blogged about Len Cowgill. There is another artist who deals with assemblage (amongst other things), GODLOVESDEATH. Then there are people like Steffe in Sweden, who photo-documented an old Oxel tree in a field at Välsta for a year and he still periodically posts new photos of this lonely hardwood. And speaking of finding everything on the web, I found a former professor of mine on Flickr, with whom I had lost touch for over twenty years, Karen Marlene Larson, with her absolutely gorgeous photos, interesting essays, and all her faithful commenters.

Marionette by Karen Marlene Larsen

Searching amongst the public Flickr photo pools for “Cabinet of Curiosities” yields five different groups (actually, the search pulls up eight, but the last three really aren’t on topic… ed.) with up to 7000 images between them (depending on how many images are in more than one of the groups.) My favorite by far is Wunderkammer, which I am a part of.

Extinct Birds

Curiosity Cabinet- Handmade Specimens is also amazing, especially the artifice and imagination involved.

There are also many pools for images from museums around the world, two of which are At the museum and The Global Museum with tens of thousands of images between them.

Sexual Dimorphism in Insects

In fact, even The Library of Congress and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston have a presence on Flickr, though the latter’s photostream is rather thin. A list of museum photo groups on Flickr (probably not exhaustive) can be found here.

Flickr is just one small part of the internet. I haven’t even had a chance to touch upon the many talented people who aggregate the unusual, the beautiful and the rare, like David Thompson’s Ephemera posts, Bioephemera, Shorpy Vintage Photos, BibliOdessey, Lines and Colors, or the Art Renewal Center.

So, go and play inside the largest Wunderkammer ever!

…Not that I have to tell you.

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