Thursday, August 13, 2020


I have been watching a show on how to take better pictures. The instructor is a professional photographer and the gear he carries around costs more than I paid for my house. I use my cell phone. But at least I now know what some of the adjustments on the control screen on the phone mean. 

In the past I have used a Kodak 616 bellows camera, I liked that one, a Pentax K1000 SLR, that served me well for many years, a couple of early digital cameras, they were pretty much disappointments, so for now, the camera in my phone is the sum total of my camera gear. I am cheap so that is unlikely to change.

In addition to the settings on digital SLRs, dude also teaches about composition, lighting, the rule of thirds, framing and a lot of other important stuff. I kind of knew a bit of it, but he really makes you stop and look at, and moreover, critique your own pictures. 

I will post a few that I have taken in my house - all of them are bad, some are terrible, a couple are slightly less bad. I am using my pets for subjects and they hate having their pictures taken (or made, to use the local vernacular).

I took this picture this morning - the assignment was to use ambient light then add artificial light. You can see the difference in color and how the shadows are filled differently. Ignore the cat, she wants to bite your face off.

Next up, same cat, in natural overcast light, shot from a low angle. Cluttered background, bad composition, but nice soft light.

My twenty year old cat - better composition, the line in the upholstery leads to his face and eyes, but the picture is out of focus so there you go.

Same cat, ready for his wall-eyed closeup. Not a sharp picture, but I like the subject.

Here is a more traditional, for me, picture. I was walking out to the shop and saw a rainbow in what appeared to be a clear sky:

I thought that was interesting.

I have a ton of other pictures, but I will leave you with this one, tonight's sunset:

One more note - I am anti-mask. If everyone in a place is wearing a face diaper then why should I? That's a rhetorical question, but today I was in a place that required that I wear a mask. I hung it over one ear. No, no sir, you must put it on your face. I applied it like a chin strap. Try and make me wear one and it will end badly. Woman saw what she was up against and left the room. I placed the mask on the desk and proceeded to complete my transaction. After six months of a two week lockdown I am over it.


We see where the Demos are contemplating relegating Chlamydia to the basement also. I can't blame them. Yesterday, in her first big speech, she described the riots as a moral reckoning with racism and historic injustice that has brought a new coalition of conscience to the streets of our country demanding change.

Coalition of conscience? Now you know why.

They can't win.

Word has also come down Ubersturmbannfuhrer Gretchen of MI was Gropin' Joe's real choice, but the Demos are just as desperate now as he was 5 months ago. Understandable why he'd like her. She's his kind of girl.

Great rack, nice curves, good built, probably the best the Demos have to offer. Add to that she's a person of pallor, a good Kraut, has that Because I'm The Mommy, THAT'S Why dominatrix vibe (wonder where she keeps the whip), and probably grew up in a house with restrictive covenants on it.

Ah, well, if Gropin' Joe doesn't make it to Labor Day, they'll need someone to take Chlamydia's place so we can have that historic all womyn ticket.

Codex and Scroll

"A few other trends actually seem to be moving backward in the new millennium. For instance, audiobooks are a return to the oral tradition, and podcasts—talks, interviews, radio series—dispense with the written record completely. The codex—the book with turnable pages sewn between covers—was a great improvement over the scroll, but now, with publication online, we are back to scrolling again, which makes it hard to refer back to things."
--Mary Norris, Greek to Me (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2019)
via Laudator Temporis Acti
The above is excerpted from this article, which is excerpted from this book. The article is fun and worth a read, if you're interested in language.

One of my pet grumps is links that look like they might be interesting, but go to podcasts or talking-head videos (which I ignore). Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams used to have a blog I enjoyed; now it's no longer a blog, just links to podcasts. There are plenty of reasons why I prefer text, whether on scroll, codex or monitor, to audio files.
  • Most important, I can read much faster than I can listen to someone talk.
  • I can skim over or skip material that I'm not interested in, or that I already know.
  • I can easily re-read something, or check it against something elsewhere in the piece.
  • I can easily reference footnotes, maps, indices etc.
But, you say, what about the personal intangibles -- emotion, expression, tone of voice, nuance? Well, you've got a point. But I don't think it outweighs all the disadvantages.

And anyway, good writing can supply some of that tone and nuance, he said with a winning smile.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

archy on Shakespeare

Archy was a cockroach and poet who lived in a newspaper office in the 1910s and 1920s, and came out at night to use columnist Don Marquis' typewriter. Because he typed by jumping onto the keys, he couldn't use capital letters. (ee cummings did not have that excuse.)

Archy's friend Pete the Parrot had lived at the Mermaid Tavern in a previous life, and knew Shakespeare and his crowd. Here is Archy quoting Pete quoting Shakespeare:

. . . any mutt can write
plays for this london public
says bill if he puts enough
murder in them what they want
is kings talking like kings
never had sense enough to talk
and stabbings and stranglings
and fat men making love
and clowns basting each
other with clubs and cheap puns
and off color allusions to all
the smut of the day oh i know
what the low brows want
and i give it to them

And here's Archy's take:

catches the crowd
and i
are often
low browed 
the fish wife
and the laugh
of the horse
and i
are frequently

The poems excerpted above can both be read here.

The archy & mehitabel books have seldom been out of print since the first was published in 1927. They can be found, new and used, hardback and paperback, at all the usual places.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Rick Beato

 I have been watching a lot of Rick Beato videos on YouTube. Were I to say that he has forgotten more about music than I ever learned then that would be doing him a great injustice. He has forgotten more this week than I ever learned. If you watch enough of his videos you might hear him describe how he learned what he knows.

How Rick got into the biz.

This is what he says about Bach.

How to practice - and what he has to say about modes and scales and arpeggios.

In any case, he has a lot of videos, he has tons of good stories, he has been around the music business for a very long time and while his style might be a bit off-putting, if you watch him enough you will see that he has the chops and the knowledge to back up his opinions. 

This is a great analysis of Rocket Man. Very cool story, too.

At this point I would usually paste a lot of Rocket Man videos by all and sundry, but I have done that. But if you watch Rick's explanation of the chord structure, the solo versions of the various musicians - amazing. I wish I had learned that stuff back about a million years ago, it's that good.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Henri Le Sidaner

Maison Blanche, Gerberoy

I had never even heard of Henri Le Sidaner until a couple of days ago, when I peeked in at Andrew Rickard's Charon's Barque and saw some pictures from a book his Obolus Press had just published -- a translation of Le Sidaner's biography, with illustrations. I checked around elsewhere and found I really like his work.

Le Sidaner's dates are 1862-1939. He called himself an "Intimist." His paintings look pretty Impressionist-y to me, with maybe a dash of Pointillism. Well, as the saying goes, I don't know much about art, but I know what I like. Unlike the guy in the Thurber cartoon:

Le Sidaner must have done pretty well for himself -- he had some really nice gardens. They're still maintained and open to the public.

Easter in August

 I was talking to some friends today and we got on the subject of St. Basil's in Red Square:

That is some stunning architecture right there, I don't care who you are. 

That got me to thinking about the dearly departed ricpic and his intense dislike of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov and his (N R-K's that is) Russian Easter overture.

There are a lot of versions of this tune on YouTube, but I like the artwork on this one.

That's it - I just needed a break from the heat and thunderstorms - don't get me wrong, I really like summer, but I like spring, too.

In keeping with the August theme, here is today's dog, in honor of the dog days of summer. Yay summer.

One thing about thunderstorms, sometimes they do produce awesome sunsets:

Saturday, August 8, 2020

So Chlamydia got all the bad plastic surgery for nothing?

Interesting stuff coming out as we head down the home stretch.

Gun sales to women and blacks have shot through the roof. In Minnesnowta, they've doubled over last year.

As the Eminent Mr Surber notes, Trump lost MN by half the number of votes as there were gun purchase this years. Would you believe 40% of new gun owners are women?

Even the WSJ has noticed, so this is a big deal.

And it's why the God Emperor of the Cherry Blossom Throne made a point of accusing Shotgun Joe of being against guns.

Especially since, when seconds count, the cops are just minutes away.

If they're coming at all, of course.

Truth in advertising. I've tried to lay off the Flu Manchu stuff and politics so as not to be repetitive .I'd do a few more show biz posts (I know Troop is better; I also know I kind of blew the one on Olivia, chalk it up to the learning curve) when something interesting comes along. Like did you hear Ghislaine tried to recruit Paris Hilton? Talk about Entertainment Tonight.

PS Is this new editor as slow for everybody else as me ? Trying to link anything is ridiculous.
No offense to anybody.

Friday, August 7, 2020

On Thinking Out Loud and Monkeying with the Switches

This, published seven years ago, in Painting Your Way Out of a Corner, the Art of Getting Unstuck, by Barbara Berry, spoke to me today:

"One of the techniques I use to guide students through a block is to ask them to name two or three things they could easily add to the picture.  A lot of times they will nod their heads as they think of ideas but don’t tell me what they are. 

It isn’t that I have to know everything; rather, the possibilities need to be said aloud.  Keeping the thoughts inside the head does not engage the imagining brain in the same way as when we put the words out there.  

I believe this is like turning a paint blob into a definite image.  As long as the stroke remains nebulous, there is only so much we can interact with it. Once we make it into something, we can have a reaction to it and then go deeper.  So it is with ideas--once we say our ideas out loud, they have substance.  The words themselves become bridges to the next thought and the one after that.  

Just as important, once we say something out loud, it can’t be taken back.  That may be why my invitations to play what-if games are often met with resistance.  I think it stems from shyness or fear that what’s said off the cuff could be a mistake or sound foolish, bad, ugly,mean--any number of unwanted possibilities.  

My take on this is that we expend a lot of energy in the everyday trying to say the right thing, on being politic and trying to please and take care of others.  There needs to be a safe space to lift the filter and let the imagination go, even if the results aren’t out of Miss Manner’s playbook. 

The truth is, letting yourself spout whatever comes to mind is just playful and funny, not usually taboo.  There might be more we can do with an image and we can spark those ideas by asking certain questions, such as:
What could it be holding?
What could be standing behind it?
If it had a hole in the top of its head, what could we see inside, coming out, or going in?

I want students to just let their minds go with as little monitoring as possible.  The answers don’t have to make sense, and it also doesn’t matter whether they are simple or extreme.  As words first spill out, they may feel too prescribed or forced, but then something else may emerge.  Suddenly an idea you hadn’t any clue existed pops up, and it has energy or it’s very funny or you feel excited about it.
And that’s the thing you paint. 
This takes practice.  Just as there is training involved for the eye to see images in a blob, brainstorming possible ideas out loud takes discipline as well."

Premature Schadenfreude

There's been a lot of chuckling on the right side of the blogosphere since Governor Cuomo begged wealthy New Yorkers to come back to the city, and bring their tax money with them. "Ha! After a few months of lower taxes, no crime, and friendly neighbors, they'll never come back. Blue New York will die on the vine."

That won't happen. The day after the Pandemic is officially over and the lockdowns are ended -- November 4 if the Dems win the election, later if they don't -- the one-percenters will come flocking back. Yes, it's true: there's nothing an investment banker or an ad agency exec can do from his Manhattan office that he can't do from an office in Rensselaer, Indiana. But that's been true for a couple of decades now.

The thing is, they will want to be around people who know how important they are. Yes, they'd be noticed in Rensselaer: "Sure, that's the rich couple that bought the old Ledeen place and fixed it up; isn't it nice they're sponsoring the Food Drive?" But they wouldn't be as important as the football coach or the minister.

Human Nature for the win, once again.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

WKRLEM: Looking for some Tush


Oy and Aloha!

I was told there wold be no Dylan

I can't understand

She let go of my hand
An' left me here facing the wall
I'd sure like to know
Why she did go
But I can't get close to her at all
Though we kissed through the wild blazing nighttime
She said she would never forget
But now mornin's clear
It's like ain't here
She acts like we never have met.

It's all new to me
Like some mystery
It could even be like a myth
But it's hard to think on
That she's the same one
That last night I was with
From darkness, dreams're deserted
Am I still dreamin' yet ?
I wish she'd unlock
Her voice once and talk
'Stead of acting like we never have met.