Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Bucket lists, the Pope and peak experiences

 Brother Amartel wrote about the Vatican. When you approach from the streets of Rome this is what it looks like:

I took these pictures when I was over there in '98 or so. They then route you over to one side for crowd control purposes:

When you get inside this is what you see:

It's the prettiest church I ever visited. It's a beauty. Michaelangelo's work is all over the place (heck, he designed a lot of it, it stands to reason that his sculpture should be piled in there like cordwood).

As you wander towards the center you encounter Bernini's baldachin, the beautifully designed roofed structure made of bronze. Bernini needed some bronze to cast this thing and he asked the Pope where he might get some bronze and the Pope told him "Grab what you need off of some of these ol' Roman buildings - it's all good". So Bernini did just that - he melted down parts of ancient Roman buildings and built a brand new baldachin. It's good to be Pope. Bernini did a great job and those twisted columns, each close to 70 feet tall, are masterpieces of sculpture and bronze casting all by themselves. Throw in the roof and the rest of it and you have a baroque masterpiece.

Poor photograph of a column close up.

You can go up to the dome, designed by Mikey Angelo, of course, then walk up the crooked staircase between the inner dome that you can see from the floor and the outer dome, visible for miles around.  I always liked to imagine that Michaelangelo himself trod those very steps, but who knows, eh? Then you pop out of the cupola on the tippy top of the dome and this is the view:

The sculptures standing guard around the courtyard are all by Bernini, and the ones at the bottom of this photo are all probably 20 feet tall or more. Big ol' boys. I have made that climb twice and it gets real close to being a peak experience - seeing the Tiber, seeing Rome at your feet - not bad, not bad at all.

After visiting the gift shop on the roof, mailing the requisite postcard which will be postmarked "Vatican City" you then work your way back down to pavement level. Along the way you pass a niche that has this gentleman's portrait bust in it:

That is M. Buonarroti himself. He was a wee little bitty guy, maybe 5 feet tall, who weighed 100 pounds soaking wet, and apparently someone dropped a brick on the bridge of his nose at some point - as it was badly broken. That's the little dude who painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, carved David, built architectural masterpieces in Rome and Florence, painted paintings that are still mind-blowingly beautiful to this day, and was probably the most accomplished man of his age, which is saying something given that he used to hang out with Leonardo from Vinci. So it seems fitting that he was portrayed in the movie by Charlton Heston. They are like twins.

The Broken Scarlet Sky

 "So tell me about your friend."

"He lives a couple of slips down from me at the Bahia Mar Marina in Fort Lauderdale. He has a small motor boat stuffed with books. We have been friends since the sixties. He is like a big amiable bear. Hairy and clumsy and comical in some ways. But a good friend none the less. The smartest man I know. Well book smart."

"Not street smart?"

"No. Not in the least."

I sat back in my chair for a moment. McGee sat still in my client chair. Confident and still. He didn't feel the need to fill the conversational void. I think we know some of the same things. Susan would shake her head and be amused at what she would call macho posturing. Still it was true none the less.

"So you think he walked into something that he couldn't handle?"

"Without a doubt. Look Meyer was a smart guy. He had developed a couple of algorithms that could predict how stocks would behave. When to buy and when to sell. Something like that would be worth a lot of money."

"So he went to MIT to sell it?"

"No I don't think so. Who would have the money to buy it there? He either went there for the last piece of the puzzle from one of his fellow math geeks or to connect with one of those Silicon Valley types who had the dough to buy the algorithm and do the real work of putting it to practice. I think he wanted to sell it. Look we have a great life down in Florida. We are retired. Do a little fishing. A little partying. At least as much as we can these. Meyer is even older than I am. Somehow it didn't happen. Somebody else must have gotten involved. I need you to find out who."

I thought about that for a minute. I didn't know anybody who had any connection to MIT. Susan was wired into Harvard not MIT. But that wouldn't be a problem.

"I guess we have to talk to someone who knows something about MIT. Luckily enough I know somebody who has connections there."

"Who a professor?"

"No. A leg breaker."

Peak Experience

Travel writers, "life coaches" and similar blowhards think we should be seeking out "peak experiences" and storing them on our mental hard drives, so that we can contemplate them at leisure and bore our friends with them. These tend to be things like climbing Machu Picchu, or watching the sunrise from a sweat lodge, or something. But for me, the things that persist on my hard drive are stupid stuff that struck my perpetual-adolescent sense of humor just right, and made me crack up. For example . . .

On the Fourth of July, 1976, some friends and I took the Metro down to the National Mall to see the Bicentennial fireworks. When we left to return home, we found the Metro station absolutely clogged with people. Predictable, but it hadn't occurred to us to plan for it. So there we were, tired, sweaty and really wanting to be home, on the lower level of the Metro Center station, surrounded by the unmoving crowd.

We needed to get to the upper level to catch a Red Line train. Power to the escalators had been shut off; the platform above, and the escalator, were jammed, and there was movement only when a train stopped above and hauled off a few carloads of people.

The heavy load on the escalator was causing its steps to move gradually downward, so that every half-minute or so the people on it had to take a step upward. That would make the steps sink a little faster, and so on. Eventually, the mass on the escalator were slowly and grimly marching in place, going nowhere, as if on a treadmill. It was like a vision of Hell, or a scene from a dystopian, futuristic 1920s silent movie. I was delighted. For the rest of the long trip home I had a big grin on my face.

It's not Machu Picchu, but I still smile whenever I think of it. And now and then bore my friends with it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Yet another tall tale

 In '84 I moved away from the Bay Area. Headed north to the Columbia river. Stopped by to see my coworker Johnny "Rotten" Mayer. It was an ironic nickname as he was a nice guy. But our boss was riffing on the popular music of the time. Johnny was one heck of an electrical engineer and he built a house out in the country, I mean way out there, at the foot of Mt. Adams in Washington state. 

He was able to source solar panels, batteries, an inverter and all the other associated fiddly bits to allow this house to be completely off the grid. It was quite an accomplishment in the early '80s. His wife hated it, and she eventually took the kids back to Portland where they owned another house, but that's a story for another day.

We stayed there for a couple of days, and one day I decided to ride my bike up Mt. Adams, because it was there.

I rode so far up the gravel road that eventually I encountered a cross country skier. I knew that was where I should turn around. That was a very steep ascent and once again, the descent was unbelievably rapid.

I thought I had some better pictures of the downhill, but I can't find them.

WKRLEM: Bikes and Tenderlions.

They go together. 

I just like to give my spin to it. So to speak.

WKRLEM: Wedding Song?

The older I get the less I know.

Stuffed.....and not in a good way!

 So I have to go to a wedding in two weeks. Lisa is going to officiate. She got a mail order degree so she can marry her Wiccan girlfriend and her atheist fiancee in their backyard. Actually it is a hand-fasting which is an ancient ceremony. Which is fine but there is really a fucked up component to it.

I have to wear a suit.

It's been about a year since I tried one on. I did yesterday. It wasn't good. 

You can wear shorts, flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt to a hand-fasting  I think I read about that in the Wiccan bible or something like that there.

The Broken Scarlet Sky

 I was sitting at my desk contemplating a blue berry scone when he walked into my office. He was around six feet tall but he looked like he had lost a few inches since his prime. He gave off the aura of an athlete in his twilight years as he limped up to my desk favoring one leg.

"You Spencer."

"That's what they tell me."

"Names Mcgee. I want to hire you."

"That's what I am here for so it seems you came to the right place. What do you need? Have a seat and let me know what this is all about."

Monday, September 28, 2020

Bikes & Lions

For all you bicycle fans out there. Apparently bikes and lions go together; I'm not sure why.

From a nice post on old bicycle advertising posters at the AbeBooks blog.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Led Zep WMTSG?

 I didn't much care for this song or this group back in the day but Rick Beato makes me appreciate just how good this song is, especially the drumming.

This goes out to CL, wherever he may be.

Also, I took a picture Saturday of this year's crop of new, grown from seed leopard lilies - they have set seed in their first year of existence. I like that:

Saturday, September 26, 2020

On to the next mountain

 Let us review, when last seen I was climbing Mt. Hamilton, the tallest mountain in the Diablo range, and as near as I can tell, a mountain created by geologic uplift. Now we move on to Mt. Diablo, an extinct (I hope!) volcano a bit further north. Okay, that's not the whole story, but for purposes of my bike rides it will suffice.

The climb is much steeper than Mt. Hamilton, and mercifully shorter. There is one brief flat stretch about halfway up, but don't let that fool you -  the mountain is an unrelieved climb the rest of the way and the final quarter mile of the road is an 18% grade. Ouch! After 10 miles or so of climbing you reach a steep pitch at the end that saps your physical and mental strength. That can take a toll on the unsuspecting.

View from the top:

In the olden times there was an organized ride that I took part in a couple of times. There was a mass start, the organizers used a starter pistol to send the Lycra-clad hoards racing up the hill, all the while emphasizing "This is not a race". Yet the riders who ascended the mountain the fastest were awarded prizes and trophies and so on. But it's not a race, mind you. Well alrighty then. My prize was making it to the top without falling over. 

What a motley crew, am I right? That was probably '83 or so.

Another view from the top - looking south and east over Contra Costa county:

I liked climbing that mountain, and as was the case with Hamilton, the descent was stupendously fast - Hamilton might take me two hours to climb and 15 minutes to descend, but Diablo was like a rocket sled - you were blasted off that mountain and you ran the risk of overheating your brakes and wheel rims if you clamped down on the brake levers too much. This was in the days before disc brakes for bicycles, and get off my lawn you whippersnappers!

And for the record, nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

Many mountains to climb...

We are sitting now, but not for long.

Sometimes you can skip the long, boring set-up

. . . and go straight to the punchline.

          "Pardon me, Roy -- is that the cat that chewed your new shoes?"

          "I come to seize your berry, not to praise it."

          "The squaw on the hippopotamus is equal to the sum of the squaws on the
           other two hides."

Friday, September 25, 2020

Where was I?

 Oh yeah, I was riding up Mt. Hamilton. I managed to locate and scan a few pictures from those days.

As I rode up the mountain back in the early 1980s I pulled off to the side and took a picture of a random passing cyclist. On some of the big rides there would be hundreds of riders participating - it's the Bay Area, after all, there are millions of people within a short ride. As you can tell in this picture the grade on this side of the mountain is quite shallow - probably no more than 3% on average - it had to be an easy grade for the animals to pull the wagons laden with the parts for Lick Observatory up to the peak. 

That is one of the domes on top, and you can see the helmet on my dome, but the picture was double exposed so I cropped it. I always took time to go inside and tour the facility - they had some great pictures there, my favorite of which was the picture they took of Yosemite valley - they turned the 24" lens east, leveled it out and the picture was right up the valley. Very cool. 

I found this picture online - that is Half Dome in the center of the picture and the caption claims that the distance from the top of Mt. Hamilton to Half Dome is over 100 miles. That's a long lens, just sayin'.

This is a picture I took on another ride:

This is what the road up the hill looks like from above. Lots of switchbacks. 

I always enjoyed riding my bike up that mountain. Once, in the late '90s I was out in the Valley on business and I rented a bike specifically to ride up Hamilton. That was a great ride - just me and a rental bike and square miles of beautiful California landscapes. Good times...

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Woman Tazed and Arrested at Middle School Football Game For Not Wearing a Mask

This is what it has come down to. The rest of the sheeple just sit there and let this woman who is with her kids get groped, abused, tazed and illegally arrested for not wearing a mask. Someone who they know. As she said someone they got to PTA meetings with every week. Someone that they go with to their kids games.

What is her name? Kitty Genovese?

Dick loves Pat and Pat loves Dick


"Say Donald do you know my friend John Bolton? He is a bright young fella who is interested in Foreign Policy. He might be helpful if you are really going to run. What to you think about our endless wars?"

"Menza menza Mr President. I am not a big fan of getting our kids killed unless we get something out of it like a lot of oil or maybe a casino. Anyway nice to meet you."

"Ok Bolton get lost. I told you to grow a mustache."

"I don't think you have tiny hands Donald. Dick's hands are a lot smaller."

"Shut up Pat."

WKRLEM: Life on Venus? Who gives a shit? I want to know if there is life on Gor!

Specifically if there are Slave Girls?

WKRLEM-TV: Serpentine Shel!

Remember Serpentine! Wadda guy!

More Bathroom Books

This is from a gallery of bathroom bookshelves at the decoist website. It makes me want to yell, "Get those damn books away from all that steam and humidity!"

In the same gallery is this hidden secret-door bathroom in a library:

This one annoys me for a different reason: the "library" is fake. It's just a random collection of trash books. Two old encyclopedias, a calculus textbook, a lot of book-club fiction and biography (at least a couple of volumes shelved upside-down), and a whole shelf of Reader's Digest Condensed Books. Nice wallpaper in the bathroom, though.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

A bike trip down memory lane

A recent comment by Amartel got me interested in digging through my old pictures. I now have a big pile of old photos which I can start scanning in my spare time. Yeah, don't hold your breath.

But while we are waiting, here is a picture I took today - these are patches that one would get for participating in organized rides back in the day. 

I will see if I can locate pictures from some of those rides. Mt. Hamilton is a mountain I climbed many times including one ride where we went up and over the top, down through San Antonio Junction, then on to Livermore, where, while waiting for a ride to carry us back to the valley we encountered a four foot long rattle snake. We decided to move and allow the snake to have all the shade of that eucalyptus tree to himself.

Life on Venus?

Maybe. Not giant lizard-fish, but possibly, conceivably, microbes way up in the atmosphere. Here is a good look at the story.

It won't be easy to confirm the existence of those microbes, but if it can be done, it will have large implications for SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. If I know that you own a television, that tells me almost nothing about your neighborhood. But if I know that both you and your next-door neighbor have one, it's a good bet most of the other houses do as well. Finding that life arose on Venus as well as Earth will strongly suggest that life on rocky planets is common.

Which has implications for this:

That's Drake's Equation, which will be 60 years old next year. It's a way to estimate how many technological species are in our galaxy. Each of the seven variables is the answer to a question. We're working toward solid answers to the first three; for the others, we just have no idea. Finding life on Venus would move one of them -- fl, "on what fraction of suitable planets does life appear?" -- from "wild-ass guess" toward "solid answer" and push the equation's result in the "sentient life may be common" direction.

Which in turn would bring up Enrico Fermi's famous question, asked in 1950: Where are they?

Monday, September 21, 2020

Autumn is here...

 It is getting very cool overnight. I have had to break out blankets and other winter gear. I prefer summer. 

Sunrise this morning:

I have been keeping records of my running and I went back and checked - it turns out I started running last September 22nd, which means that I have now run 366 days in a row without missing one. Over the course of the year there were two days when I felt poorly and only managed to make it one lap. But I got out and dragged myself around and there you have it. What has this year of slow jogging actually done for (or to) me? I have no idea. I had several specific health reasons I took up jogging and those seem to have been lessened by dint of my ongoing exercise regimen, so I will take that as a plus. Sometimes I have thought that after reaching my one year anniversary perhaps I will take some time off. Had a good run this evening, so I will defer my vacation until another day. But I set a goal and achieved it, so that is a good thing.

Seasons change, things change, times change and we change along with them. Fifteen years ago I helped found a market in a nearby town, and for fifteen years I was an advocate for that market and the most active seller there. Based on what that market and town became this year I won't be going back. Time to move on. I read up on another market closer to where I live, checked their hours of operation and when I read that they are pet friendly I loaded my dog in my car and drove over Saturday morning.

When we got there she looked around as if to say "Pappy, where the hell is everybody?" That was my question, too. Since we were out we went for a walk, and when I got home I checked the market's website again - what do you know - they are closed until further notice due to the Wuhan lung AIDS. Hmm, maybe that's yet another market I can avoid.

So it goes. This morning I heard her barking and went to see what had gotten her attention - what do you know - the neighbor's chickens had escaped and were walking around in my front yard. "Let me at 'em Pappy, let me at 'em!" Not today, girl, not today...

Since I have no week-to-week pressure to produce new items I started working on a wood carving the other day. It's coming along nicely, I have been digging all my old wood carving tools out of deep storage - fifteen years of bowl turning kind of put the pursuit of sculpture on the back burner. Way back...

I also dragged out a big ol' mess of folk art books and in one of them I read a bit about yet another folk art book entitled "Beyond Necessity, Art in the Folk Tradition" by Kenneth Ames, so I bought that one and started reading it. This book is a real eye-opener. I wish I had read it years ago. Very impressive work that deals with fairly basic questions that should have occurred to me back in the 1970s when I first got interested in this field - questions such as "what is art", "who are the folk", you know the important stuff.

I am only half way through it, but it mentions a number of books I have read (and in some cases, reread) over the years, including "The Handmade Object and its Maker" by Michael Owen Jones. I first read that in the mid-70s and it made a big impression on me. I read it again maybe 20 years later and I started to question a number of things about it. I bought it a few years ago, read it again, then did some research on it. Turns out the author based the whole book on a lie. As with William Manchester, once you breach the reader's trust it cannot be regained - in Manchester's case it was about his service in the Marines, with Jones his lie was about the chairmaker who is the focus of the book. In the end you feel cheated whereas a truthful telling of the story would have been way more satisfactory.

Anyway, that's where I am as we head into fall. Keeping busy, still reading, still learning, and by golly, feelin', well you know...

Feeling all right.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Ultimate Bathroom Book

I found this oddity while sightseeing in Andrew Rickard's old blog. It's a fold-out wooden portable toilet stool disguised as a large (18.5 x 13 x 3 inches), nicely bound book. I've seen books hollowed out to conceal valuables or flasks of liquor, but nothing like this.

The blog post suggests the user might have put a chamber pot underneath it, but I suspect it was strictly for travel. Travelling by carriage looks pleasant and civilized in a Jane Austen movie, but I guess in an emergency you had to tell the driver to stop, and scurry behind the nearest tree or hedgerow; it would be good to have something sturdy and elevated to sit on.

It was sold by a Paris auction house in 2012. Following back the links, I see it was expected to go for 200 to 400 Euros, but actually went for 2,000.

The fake book's title is Voyage aux Pays-Bas, "A Journey to the Netherlands." Is there a sly joke there, referring to the "nether regions?"

Saturday, September 19, 2020


With the death of RBG, we'll have a shot at the first Conservative Supreme court since Franklin Roosevelt. That's 80 years, kids. A long time. Maybe time enough to strike down Roe, Lawrence, and a lot of other Lefty impositions on the American character.

Ginsburg, in some ways, was one of the worst of the Lefties, justifying her opinions on European law and tradition when the court is supposed to be checking on Constitutionality. That's how bad it had gotten. I remember being on a cruise a few years ago and heard some Masshole bragging, "Baaston is probably the most European city in America".

That's the Lefty rap these days. We must be more like those "advanced" nations in the British Commonwealth and the EU.

My forebears didn't come here, braving high seas, backbreaking labor, indentured servitude, the Six Nations of the Iroquois, the British Army (twice), starvation, discrimination, the Confederate Army, the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, the California Gold Fields, and assorted sneers from the WASPs to be Euros.

That said, she was one tough bird.

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Culture's Always Greener

. . . on the other side of the Pond.

Back in the 80s I took a two-week vacation in England -- your stereotype American Anglophile tourist on a pilgrimage. In London, I stayed at a cheapo hotel in Bayswater: shoebox rooms, communal bathroom on each floor, TV lounge off the entrance. Walking in the neighborhood one night, I saw a neon sign that just cracked me up. It read:

"Texas Lone Star West Saloon & Wine Bar"

It was the "& Wine Bar" that made it perfect.

Days later, somewhere in Southwest England (I don't remember which town), I spotted an ancient-looking stone church with a sway-backed slate roof. I later found out it was built in the 14th century. It looked sort of like the Old Post Office in Tintagel:

but smaller and plainer. I crossed the street and walked up to it, ready to breathe in the misty Olde-Englysshe-ness. There was a flyer tacked to the door, a notice for an upcoming Square Dance, illustrated with a drawing of a cowgirl wearing fringed buckskin and holding two six-shooters.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

We are having us a hurricane

Pennsylvania deutscher

I have been revisiting my interest in American folk art. I was reading a book and it mentioned the work of Wilhelm Schimmel. I always liked his eagles. Back in the 1970s I carved a knock-off and was thinking that perhaps I could use some of the white pine I have on hand to carve a larger version. I knew he was an alcoholic hell raiser, but then I found this: the author called him a bummer! I like that usage.

Last time I was in the big city I took this picture of a Schimmel eagle at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Lousy photo, but impressive eagle.

This is the small one I carved this one when I was a mere child:

Perhaps it is time for me to revisit that form and make another, larger one.

This is what I have been making:

In honor of today's hurricane here are some Sally songs:

Wicked Wilson Pickett


Little Richard

JJ and EC

I searched for "Sally" songs and this showed up - it's more of a self portrait.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Seeing Mad Magazine mentioned in a recent comment, I was inspired to post a tribute to the great Don Martin's greatest work. National Gorilla Suit Day is recognized world-wide as a masterpiece of Absurdism. In 1963 it was awarded the Prix Fixe at the yearly Biennale Absurdiste in Cantes.

WKRLEM: You know how I found out?

I heard it had been too long since we last heard from Tom.

Stupid Moose and Squirrel will die!

Bullwinkle J Moose was always astounded that he was such a sex symbol. He was a big old homo and he really came off as a slightly more butch Charles Nelson Reilly but the girls loved him. He would get thousands of love letters every week from young girls who loved him because he was so sensitive. Just like Jim Nabors and Tony Randall. He had to beat them off with a stick.

Bullwinkle used this crazy notoriety to transition from TV to the movies. He left his partner Rocky behind. One of the few behinds that he had access to that he ever left by the way. He started making movies. Going on Johnny Carson and joking around while chewing gum and acting all sexy. He make a couple of CB radio movies that were popular at the time with a washed up Jackie Gleason called Smokey and the Moose. He even did a few romantic comedies where he pretended that Jill Clayburgh was sexy. Still his cowing achievement was when he posed nude in the centerfold of Play-Moose magazine.

It was all downhill from there.

(Jay Ward and Alex Anderson, Rocky and Bullwinkle, E True Hollywood Story)

Greedy, barbarous and cruel.....

President Trump had a big circus of a peace treaty signing today. A bunch of camel jockeys made peace with the hebes and they will trade and travel and do all kinds of great things. It is part of the continuing effort to stitch together an alliance against the mullahs of Iran as the Sunni's work to stave off an Iranian hegemony. I guess it is a good thing. But I don't know if it makes a big difference.

Because you see as Faisal said the Arabs are a silly people. Greedy, barbarous and cruel. They will continue to fight like crabs in a bucket until the end of time. We need to divorce ourselves from the Middle East. We don't need their oil anymore. We don't need any of them anymore. Lets just sell them bombs and guns and let them kill each other. The Jews can handle them. We need to give them a free hand to do what they want and keep our boys home. Take them home from Iraq and Afghanistan. No more endless wars.

I hope the God Emperor keeps his word. I think he will. That is why it is vital that he wins again.

Never forget?

I didn't post a 911 remembrance this year. I was out at a small ceremony and didn't want to do it when I came home. I know a lot of people say "Never forget." But I think most of America has forgotten.

This is a photo of my father in law pulling a hose in Brownsville in 1971. The conditions we had in 1971 are back today. The Black Liberation army had shot down Officers Piagentini and Jones in their patrol car in an assassination as just happened in LA. The mutts applauded and celebrated then too. The black neighborhoods were in flames and the firemen had to go put out fires when they threw cinder blocks down on them from the roof. My father in law would tell stories about those days. About how he had to stop probies from rushing in to save people because they would set fires, then make holes in the flow and cover them with a sheet so the firefighter would fall and break a leg by falling down a floor. He had a ton of stories about how the animals acted back in those days. Those days are back with a vengeance.

Two kids on a high school football team carried flags honoring the thin blue line and the thin red line on to the field where everyone else had Black Lives Matters flags. They were suspended and thrown off the team. It only lasted a day because of the outcry but that is where the schools head is at. You can honor criminals who die of a drug overdose in police custody by looting a CVS and setting fire to a church but if you honor the fire department you get thrown off the team.

They tried to cancel the reading of the names but a private group funded it and got it done. That is what it is going to come down to if anyone is going to remember. The memory is fading. In time it will be like the dead of World War One. Something in a history book. A white mans history book if they even let us have that anymore.

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

This stuff is gittin' stupid


I really need to get to a barber, just sayin'. 

That's not really me, that is a picture taken by the Laguna Beach photographer William Mortensen. I have seen his work before but on Antiques Roadshow today a woman brought in a Mortensen photograph to have it appraised. The AR guy said that Mortensen was disliked by Ansel Adams so I figured - hey, if that's the case he must be worth learning about him. I kind of like his work - he was out there. 

Anyway, I am still working on assemblages, here is one I built in my backyard:

Also, that's not true, either - that's a picture of a stage set over in Holland or some ferrin place. I just like the looks of it. The windmill is a nice touch.

I worked on a red oak dog today:

Now I am contemplating building a larger piece to hold this and some other dogs that I have made, plus I have an idea for another cat cutout, so in addition to growing my hair I am also keeping busy.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Even Newer Natural History

Helianthus ferreus

A splendid example of the American Toolflower (Helianthus ferreus). The Toolflower requires a temperate climate, plenty of sun and iron-rich soil. It is often found in abandoned farmlands and gardens. The Toolflower is highly susceptible to fungal infections such as Stem Rust, Black Rust, and, in fact, pretty much any kind of rust.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Rest in peace, Toots


Finally, A Cool Spaceship

What We Were Promised

What We Got

SpaceX Starship

The SpaceX Starship may begin orbital flights as early as next year.
Fins, wings, and stainless freaking steel. Thank you, Mr. Musk.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

WKRLEM: Do you know what time it is?

I was thinking. The 1980's were 40 years ago. The music that I put on Alexa when I am washing my balls is the oldies to the current snot nosed little fucks that dominate the culture these days.

I mean it was like my Uncle V telling me about Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa in the the 1980's.

Fuck. Where did the time go?

Whose that girl?

Whose that girl who is one of eduther's favorite actresses. A star at the beginning of the last century she was married to another big star of the early years of movie history. She was a mentor to many including people like John Ford and John Wayne and starred in many a memorable film.

Plus she is sublime in a martini.

Whose that girl!

Out Kick the Coverage has the goods....Interest in Sports is in the toilet.

Have you guys ever read Out Kick the Coverage? It's a sport site that has a pretty good handle on what is going on with sports these days. He also has interesting political posts. I check in every couple of days to see what is going on as I don't really follow sports anymore. He has a post that is really interesting.

A poll has been generated by Gallup that shows that the audience view of sports has dropped 30% this year. All across the board. But precipitously by conservative middle aged white men. You know. The bedrock of sports fans. The guys that get the cable packages and the season tickets and the beers and the cars that they advertise. Now I don't put my faith in polls but this corresponds to the sense I get from people I know. As has been said it takes two months to start a habit and two week to break it. I think a lot of America has gotten out of the habit of watching sports during the pandemic. Many people have fallen out of the habit of following teams and found a lot of ways to spend their time and money rather than worship at the alter of overpaid steroid assholes. The Anti-Americanism and the woke political correctness they are downing us in has been the final nail in the coffin.

I will never watch another football, basketball or heartbreakingly baseball ever again. Many people feel the same way. Sports is in denial. They believe the BLM hype and have killed the Golden Goose.

One of the worst side effects is that it kills so many of my continuing series on the blog.

Photo courtesy of ND Spinelli.

RIP Emma Peel

Only one other woman ever filled out a cat suit better.

You were a pip.

“Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.” ― John Wayne

I want to address Ed's epic post in segments because there is so much to talk about.

"There's something bigger than us."

There is a lot of truth in this. Most Westerns have the underlying theme of bigger issues under the surface of the story they are telling. Westerns started of course in novels and dime novels that were popular before the advent of movies and television. In these novels the story is often set against the backdrop of bigger issues that transcend the plot.

I trace the Western from the Leatherstocking Tales of James Fenimore Cooper. Hawkeye is the genesis of the heroic yet stoic frontiersman who was the precursor of the cowboy. The seminal novel "Last of the Mohicans" is the most famous but I prefer "The Pioneers" which was in fact the most popular of his novels during his lifetime. Natty Bumppo is the stoic hero who is the prototype of the cowboy played by people like the Duke, Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood.

Movies that illustrate the thought that there are bigger issues include "Fort Apache" "The Magnificent Seven"
"High Noon" "Last of the Mohicans" "They Died With Their Boots On" and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."

Here is the Duke addressing it directly.

My continuing art education

What are you going to do, eh? Here I am, in month seven, still locked down in solitary with cats, a dog, plenty of silly television shows, running around in circles in my back yard, but I have to say, as solitary goes, this is not all that bad.

This week my ongoing edumacation began with "Rococo Before Bedtime" which, as the title implies, tells the story of rococo art. It is a series of stories, or "films" as the narrator Waldemar Januszczak (I think I spelled that correctly - four consonants in a row - hoowee!) calls the episodes, that tell the story of rococo art which covered most of the 18th century. While I am more of a Shaker kind of guy, I have to admire the amount of work that goes into covering every square inch of an interior of a with over-the-top decoration. 

There are a series of churches in Germany that were destinations for pilgrims doing pilgrimages. One notable such church is the Basilica of the Vierzehnheiligen, once again, I hope I spelled that right - I am not real good with German compound words. In my opinion it is worth watching this show just to see the interior of this and the other featured churches. The buildings are amazing. Also, the viersehn helpers were there to help people dealing with plague. What goes around comes around, I suppose.

The story of rococo is fascinating and I learned a lot about that movement, and quite a bit about Goya, but that's a subject that Troop has already covered. 

For now I will eschew Goya foods.

Up next from Waldemar was a series of films about Impressionism. For all of his Eurospeak (if you took a drink everytime Waldo said "posh" you would be drunk in no time) and his obvious history of being a subject rather than a citizen, I will say this for the boy - he knows art history. He covers the dense history of impressionism from its humble beginnings to the point were we are today, which is - it won. Take a look around any time you are in a public setting - the art on the walls will be cheap knockoff low rent impressionism. It's everywhere while art of the Academy is gone from the public view.

I like what he had to say about Van Gogh and Seurat, in particular, and he also told some great stories about Monet, Manet and the rest of the gang, and throughout all of the episodes I was impressed with the depth of his knowledge. He presented two Seurat paintings in a way that had never occurred to me and he told a convincing story.

Waldemar imagines that the bather in the lower right is calling across the river to the people on the island:

I like that juxtaposition and I also like Seurat's dogs. 

But bringing this back around to the personal, as we were viewing the Grand Jatte painting back in '62 my father said to me regarding Seurat, in his best Foghorn Leghorn voice "That poor sumbitch went crazy from paintin' all those damned dots." Turns out we don't really know what killed Georges, perhaps it was diphtheria, and if that was the case, that's terrible. That is an awful way to die. I am glad we have DPT vaccine these days, just sayin'.

To summarize, I highly recommend the two series by Waldemar "I'd like to buy a vowel" very much. He is annoying, walks funny, talks funny, but if you hang in there, you will learn a thing or two.