tumblr sunday: see venus by elephant

tumblr_ndd2zwz7pv1s7wovzo1_500It’s my own interpretation, but I sincerely hope this pulp science fiction cover by the great Frank R. Paul was inspired by a story where tourists come to Venus and are carried on swamp and jungle tours  by a flotilla of trained elephants. Science fiction elephants for the win.

(image via tumblr,  by way of the blog of transparentoctopus, which is full of interesting things.)

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the temptation of the byzantine dog mosaic

I could resist the human figures, the stag, the camel, even the giraffe, but I snuck my phone out of my pocket to take two illicit photographs of the Byzantine mosaic with the little dog.

Can you blame me, really? He’s a rather wonderful little dog, and very inspirational.  (The plant forms are terrific too.)

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some words that start with the letter Q

I happened to be riding in the car with a friend of mine today, and he told his fellow passengers that at school this week their class had made a list of a hundred words that began with the letter T!  Looming over his weekend, however is the prospect of having to do the same next week with the letter Q– a rather more difficult task.

So here’s a little head start, with quote and quotation, quill and quilt, quaint, question, quart and quarter, with quirt, a small whip carried by cowboys, quotidian (concerned with the mundane and everyday), quorum (the number of organization members who must be present to vote on business) quarrel (either an argument or the bolt fired from a crossbow) and my favorite Q word, queue, meaning a line or a pigtail braid, and which is pronounced “Q”.

Then my husband came home from work and we gave the matter further thought while I cooked dinner, with quake and quaff and quack and quit.  How did I forget queen and quite, quiet and quality, quell and queer and queasy, quibble and quiver and quartz, quantity and quinine (the stuff that makes tonic water taste like tonic water, and also the medicine they give you for malaria)? And then there’s quick and quad and quadrangle and quarry and quadrant and quizzical and quip. And quail. And query and quandary.  And quiescent, which neither of us could quite remember how to spell, though I got it right the first time when I typed it.

If I’m counting right, there’s 45 or so pretty good English Q words to get you started. Good luck, little dudes.  My guess is you may have to cheat add some proper names like Quentin and Quetzalcoatl and Qumran, which is the name of the place where they found the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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best of the drawing of the day, week 129: giant space rat

Regular reader Wolfie and the amazing Masako were here at World Headquarters this morning on their way to Chicago to see the Magrittes.  (They took me along and we had a great time in spite of the crowded galleries.)  While he waited around for me to get everything sorted out so we could actually leave, Wolfie amused himself by looking through the current drawing of the day sketchbook, and he told me I should post this one.  So, by special request, here’s the drawing I call The Giant Space Rat.drawingoftheday-week129-giantspacerat This is another drawing that took its inspiration from a quick sketch of a character in a leaning pose.  When a character is leaning, that character needs to be leaning on something.  The large oval shape in the rough could have easily been a spirit rock, an architectural fragment, or the head of a statue of a forgotten god, but I scribbled in fur instead and made it an enormous animal with tiny eyes and antennae.  A smooth tail made it a rat, the antennae (of course) made it a space rat, and a giant space rat turns the figure into a spaceman character.

Except that the slender figure and the helmet came together to suggest not so much a space man but a space cadet, rather along the lines of a character in a Heinlein juvenile.  And as sometimes happens in a Heinlein juvenile, I think when that big disguising helmet comes off at least one of the other other characters is going to be surprised that the adventuresome fella who’s buddies with the giant space rat is actually a spunky gal!

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old school photography to blow. your. mind.

No, we’re not talking about film here.  No Instamatics or Polaroids,  not even a box Brownie.  No, we’re talking daguerreotypes, a marvelously complex system for making a photographic positive on a mirror polished metal plate.ff_daguerreotype3_f

The year is 1848.  The place is Cincinnati.  On September 24th, two guys named Charles Fontayne and William Porter took a truly epic daguerreotype panorama of the waterfront, using 8 plates. It’s the first photograph ever taken of a steamboat, the first photograph ever taken of a railway station, and the resolution is so precise that once it was digitized you could read the time on the clock on the clock tower, although the face is less than a millimeter across on the plate.  (It was 5 minutes to two.)

Read a great article about the Fontayne-Porter panorama and how it was digitized and restored, including an excellent description of the art of daguerreotype and digital images of all the plates, at WIRED magazine, here. I chose the image above because of the cool steamboats, but all of them are worth studying.   Highly recommended.


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save the phone doodles!

We’ve discussed before the long and honorable history of the phone doodle, that marvelous school of art practiced by practically everyone in the days when there was always a pad of paper (or a conveniently placed painted wall) near the phone where you could write down all those important messages.  Yes, young people, there used to be a time when people didn’t have their own phones in their pockets at all times, and they had to used shared phones!  One phone in the house for everyone in the family!  One phone in the hall for a whole bunch of people in a dorm!  A payphone on a street corner or in a drugstore or in a hotel lobby for anyone to use!  You really had to write things down.

So this morning, when I had to take an important phone call and take some serious notes about some serious business, I found myself doodling a  phone doodle for the first time in a long time.  Save the phone doodles!  They’re getting to be an endangered species.phonedoodlecorgi2This one’s a corgi!  The paper is the inside back page of the drawing of the day sketchbook, the pen is some kind of really sharp, slippery gel pen that I found in the Coffee Cup of Doom and Art Supplies.

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you save big money, big, big money …

Almost all Americans who live in the part of that big, big country we call the Midwest can complete that sentence with the phrase “when you shop Menards”.  Menards, for those living elsewhere, is a regional big box store. 90% of its inventory is a wide range of stuff for doing things around the house: cleaning products, tools, light fixtures, plumbing, appliances, paint, lumber, doors and windows, garden supplies, etc. etc. and 10% is … other stuff: clothes, a huge selection of candy and weird snacks, fireworks, hunting gear: basically an assortment of things Menards thinks the customers who come in for the do it yourself goods might also like to buy.  I have no idea if the following items are in the first category or the second.

The animals are also available individually at lower price points, except the camel, which is apparently a luxury item.

Note that while all the other characters are in good supply this early in the season, there is only one cow left.  Buy now to avoid disappointment.

Here’s the finished version with the entire cast– and the price list.  Note that the Baby Jesus is not listed here, since he is included in the three piece basic set.  So what are all those $18.99 Baby Jesuses for?  Is Menards stocking vitally needed Nativity scene replacement parts? (Also, although it isn’t specified on his sign, Baby Jesus is Illuminated too.)

(Yes, it’s easy to amuse yourself at Menards while your spouse is looking at boards.  No disrespect to anyone’s religion is intended.)

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tumblr sunday: magritte in photographs

More Magritte photographs– not photos of his work, but photographs of the man himself, all connected with his famous painting “Attempting the Impossible”.  (See previous post.)

There is a famous photograph of Magritte posed in front of an early version of that picture.magritte-attemptingtheimpossible-photo-1  Today, as I was doing some research on this photograph, I was surprised to learn that another version of this image was originally published in the Belgian surrealist journal Varietes– alongside a similar portrait of another of my favorite artists, Giorgio de Chirico.magritte and de chirco magazine ArtNews (in a very interesting article) speculates that the two artists’ portraits were taken by the same anonymous magazine staffer.  I wonder if the same photographer took the first as well.

The last image in today’s post is probably not the work of a professional– it looks like a friends-and-family-snapshot.  But it is definitely a reference to “Attempting the Impossible”. magritte-amour-photo1 That’s Magritte and his wife Georgette in the roles of artist and model.  Georgette’s swimsuit and haircut are both super cute, and dig Rene’s fancy slippers.

(I just added these to my collection of black and white portraits of famous artists over at the Coelacanth Gallery.)

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magritte: the mystery of the ordinary

Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary 1926-1938  Art Institute of Chicago

This post about an Art with a big A exhibit is moderately long, and it also contains some very mild, art museum-style nudity, so I am putting it behind a cut. The photographs above of the banner and poster are my own, but since photography wasn’t permitted in the exhibition galleries, the post itself is illustrated with images from WikiArt. (Luckily, no museum has ever successfully kept me from taking notes.) Continue reading

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today in my mailbox

IMG_20141003_203607These are the twilight years of two great American cultural institutions: the daily “snail mail” home delivery and the print magazine.  Fortunately for those of us who grew up with, and are very fond of, both of them, the desperation pricing of the latter, determined to build circulation to keep their advertisers buying , results in mailbox contents like today’s here at world headquarters from the former. Those are the latest issues of all the car mags in one delivery.  It’s good we bought the big mailbox when we replaced the old one in last year’s renovations.

I’ve got what feels like the beginnings of a nasty cold, and if it gets worse I’ll at least have the luxury of plenty to read while I cough in front of the TV.

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