Leonard Nimoy is gone, but Spock lives on. There’s a lot to say about Mr. Spock and his place on the list of oddly immortal characters to come out of the “good junk” range of low-to-middlebrow genre media. Most of the outpouring of feeling on the death of his creator has its source in the great love so many of us have for Spock, who was and is pretty much the patron saint of geeks, the protector of everyone who grew up feeling they couldn’t be entirely human in exactly the same way as everyone else. Spock managed to live and love in spite of all that, and we could figure it out too. I’ve known Spock longer than I’ve known most of the people in my life, and even though I feel the character is currently well served by the magnificent Zachary Quinto, there will never be a substitute for the original version. (I think I may miss the hard won wisdom of Nimoy’s Elder Spock of the current reboot series most of all.)
But Spock belongs to the wider culture now, so let’s take a minute to celebrate Leonard Nimoy himself: television character actor and voice artist, photographer, writer and general philosopher. He had presence and brains and a sense of humor, and his face was always worth looking at. Above, Nimoy rocking a cigarette holder while guest starring in The Man from U.N.C.L.E in 1964. Below, Nimoy in old age, demonstrating true mastery of one of the great expressions of all time.
and around the world, kids are thanking Leonard Nimoy for the gift of Mr. Spock. Grownups too.
Ah, what could be sweeter than the relationship between a boy and his … yard long giant psychic snake/cat/dragon thing? Psychic isn’t the right word, but felinoids (otherwise known as catsnakes and longcats) are definitely the most common members of the “psychic pet” class of fantasy/science fiction characters found in Knotted Rope stories. Most longcats are fluffy, stripey beasts, resembling an intelligent and rather snarky cross between a Cheshire Cat and an anaconda, but in cold climates they sometimes take on lynxlike qualities for maximum efficiency in snow. A longcat may prefer not to dirty its paws with the inconvenient (and bloody) details of outdoor survival, but it is perfectly capable of dealing with them when necessary.
Search the blog for “felinoid” to find more pictures of longcats. They prowl through the sketchbooks fairly frequently.
The Japanese scarf (more properly, the furoshiki) went to the Auto Show this year. It had numerous adventures you will see later, but the high point of its visit was being photographed elegantly posed with a 1951 Alfetta in the Alfa Romeo booth. Grazie to the the corporate representative who did the draping. What, you don’t think they’re going to let me near their gorgeous vintage Alfas, do you? It took several attempts to get the logo on the video screen behind the car into the shot– the image kept changing.
(For photo geeks: Sigma 30mm f/1.4 Art on Pentax K5iis, 1/6o, f/4.5, ISO 250. Lots of light at the Auto Show.)
That’s a title with a double meaning, in case you were wondering: I went to a pro wrestling exhibition and took photographs with a portrait lens, and while I was there I wrestled epically with that lens. (No light. There is no light in that place. And I learned a lot about how not to handle its absence.) But the shoot was an awful lot of fun, mostly because the wrestlers and the fans are all such great subjects. This is Ox Baker Junior, who has clearly never met a camera he does not like. And the camera likes him right back. At least mine does. The first is a full frame, right out of the camera, the second is a crop from an exposure I liked better, with a composition I did not. This unique facial expression, I understand, is one that belonged to the original Ox Baker. More wrestling photos to come, including some action, but, like the carpenter’s hammer that makes everything look like a nail, a portrait lens makes a photographer see portraits everywhere. Even in ridiculously low light.
(This is probably going to be a very photographic week here on the blog, but how often do you get an auto show and a wrestling extravaganza in one weekend?)
Among the cars I was most interested in seeing at this year’s Auto Show are this pair of twins: the Fiat 500 X and the Jeep Renegade. These are definitely fraternal twins: they share a substantial family legacy in the form of a Fiat platform, but they look quite different and have distinct personal styles and roles in life. In fact, you may even see them as we do many pairs of fraternal twins, as brother and sister. A lot of writers have been exploring this metaphor, interpreting the Fiat as the girl and the Jeep as the boy, but after seeing them in person, I think it may be the other way around.
Maybe the Fiat is the sleek city boy with a chic Italian wardrobe (nothing is more fashionable this season than matte surfaces) and the Jeep is the sun bleached outdoor girl, a contemporary tomboy who dresses in bright colors and climbs rocks just as well as the macho men.
However you interpret them artistically, these are very important cars for Fiat-Chrysler. The Jeep especially is expected to sell very, very well and indeed it probably has to. Not only is it the long, awaited modern entry-level “real Jeep” in the US (and almost automatically a prominent player in the red-hot “mini ute” class of small highboy wagons), but this is the car that will represent the nameplate in the worldwide market, where “Jeep” is a very trendy label. And I think that it’s going to work out well for them. The powers that be wouldn’t let me sit in any of them, but based strictly on looks, size and features, Renegade is going to be a blazing popular success. It’s just as cute as all get out.
a dinosaur. Or the pictures from the Auto Show (although they are out of the camera and there are some good ones). Or the pictures from yesterday’s photo trip to Wrestling at the Moose Lodge (still in the cameras). Or a great idea for a blog post. But mostly, we do not have a dinosaur.
Image of a snakepit operator, Highway 66, Sayre, Oklahoma. Photograph by Steve Fitch, 1973. (via the Smithsonian Art Gallery)
It was a close call; we had to wait until the last possible day, but yes, we made it to the Chicago Auto Show this year. You’ll have to wait a bit to see a few selections from the more than 400 photographs I took (mostly because you’ll want to me to select from the good ones– trust me). But the notebook doesn’t have to be downloaded or sorted. First, from the Overheard file:
- Man, to another man: “Phil, you’re a great brother.”
- Woman usher at the foot of escalator, to her counterpart at the foot of the other escalator: “Where’s Marsha?” Reply: “She’s gone home. And she’s not coming back.” Got the impression Marsha was pretty fed up. Marsha has left the building. She is outta here.
- Car salesman to potential car buyer: “Nobody believes a car salesman, but I really love this car.” I believe you, buddy. I believe you’d really love to sell it.
All the colors of the Moon: There are finally a few signs that the great Conservative Color Boycott of the last few years may be easing. More about this later, but there were more interesting colors on the floor this year than in any year since before the Great Recession. And fun, or at least interesting, color names seem to be returning, even when the colors are still stuck in the highly conservative patterns of the bad years. Honda’s premium line, Acura, offers a wide range of delightful colors, including:
- Graphite Luster: metallic grey
- Gilded Pewter: champagne gold
- Forged Silver: light silver metallic
- Silver Moon: another shade of light silver metallic
- Lunar Silver: slightly darker silver metallic
OK. I will agree that that the Moon is sort of two toned. In fact, if you wanted to make a two toned silver car and give the color pattern a Moon name that would be pretty cool. But short of that, do you really need three different shades of silver, two of which are named after the Moon? At the very least, throw a silver blue in there. Or a silver green. Name them after some different moons, perhaps the moons of other planets.
In certain places in the Knotted Rope Universe, the word “saint” is used to describe a motley collection of half-forgotten godlings, nature spirits, historical figures, cultural heroes, legends, and, well, saints who are revered, worshiped or admired in variety of more or less organized ways. This carries over into the sketchbook world as well, where masks and statues and other works of art appear frequently in the drawings, objects that look like they may be part of the culture of the saints.
This is the case, here, where this odd little figure seems to be leaning on a saintly “pillar statue”. Statues of this kind are carved out of standing stones with little regard for the niceties of the art of sculpture; they are as much symbol as statue. Sometimes it seems that they might be carved by later peoples onto (or out of) standing stones raised by earlier inhabitants for very different (though ultimately unknown) purposes.
This crossover raises a question that I think about a lot sometimes: is the sketchbook world part of the official Knotted Rope?
Deep, bitter cold didn’t keep your intrepid reviewers from heading over to the Cinemax this afternoon for the first movie day of the year. (Movie days are going to be fewer this year due to scheduling issues, but still, February. Yikes.) We had been wanting to see Kingsman: The Secret Service since last summer, when we began to be bombarded by incredibly stylish trailers for what seemed to be a post modern spy school story combining humor, violent action and someone who looked like Colin Firth impersonating 60s/70’s Michael Caine.
Yes, this is a stylish flick and there was a spy school in it, and some humor (including one spectacularly hysterical joke about Elgar, of all things) and lots and lots and lots of extremely violent action, and many Michael Caine impressions by a variety of actors, including Colin Firth. And also Michael Caine. Read more under the cut, because I am going to spoil things a bit. Continue reading