Tuesday, December 30, 2008

And A Happy New Year

Vacuum-packed whole suckling pig, anyone?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Károly Escher (1890-1966)

The Bank Director at the Baths (1938). An unhelpful potted biography is here, and there is a better selection of links and photos here, here, and here.

In fact, I would recommend this site in its entirety.

Blowing My Own Trumpet; or, Trumping My Own Blewit

This book will be published in September. You might like it.

Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)

These are the names of the eight movements of the Quatuor pour la fin du temps (1941):
1. Liturgie de cristal
2. Vocalise, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps
3. Abîme des oiseaux
4. Intermède
5. Louange à l'Éternité de Jésus
6. Danse de la fureur, pour les sept trompettes
7. Fouillis d'arcs-en-ciel, pour l'Ange qui annonce la fin du Temps
8. Louange à l'Immortalité de Jésus

Nikolai Valuyev

a.k.a. "The Beast From the East"

Festive Carnage


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Season's Greetings

It was Christmas Day in the harem,
The eunuchs were standing round,
With dozens of naked women
All scattered on the ground;
When in came the mighty Sultan
To gaze at his marble halls.
He said: "What do you want for Christmas, lads?"
And the eunuchs shouted:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Current Favourite Title

René Leibowitz, Sibelius, le plus mauvais compositeur du monde (1955)

Friday, December 19, 2008


All, or most of, what you could want or need to know about the humble whelk here. And if you scroll down on this site, then you can see some more stereo radiograph images of whelk-shells.

Over on his blog my brother mentioned, obliquely, the idiom 'not fit to run a whelk stall', which led me down this pleasing sorbeoconchic detour.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Venus Anadyomene

I was reading, in the course of my researches, some Victorian pornography. At one point, the mighty Walter pauses in the middle of his exertions and says of his circumstances that 'it was a picture worthy of any Apelles.' The above is the only picture I can find which has anything to do with the painter Apelles, and it is only a presumed copy, from Pompeii, of one of his pictures. Lemprière has the following:

'Apelles, a celebrated painter of Cos, or, as others say, of Ephesus or Colophon, son of Pithius. He lived in the age of Alexander the Great, who honoured him so much that he forbade any man but Apelles to draw his picture. He was so attentive to his profession that he never spent a day without employing his pencil, whence the proverb of Nulla dies sin lineâ. His most perfect picture was Venus Anadyomene, which was not totally finished when the painter died. He made a painting of Alexander holding thunder in his hand, so much like life that Pliny, who saw it, says that the hand of the king with the thunder seemed to come out of the picture. This picture was placed in Diana's temple at Ephesus. He made another of Alexander, but the king expressed not much satisfaction at the sight of it: and at that moment a horse, passing by, neighed at the horse which was represented in the piece, supposing it to be alive: upon which the painter said, "One would imagine that the horse is a better judge of painting than your Majesty." When Alexander ordered him to draw the picture of Campaspe, one of his mistresses, Apelles became enamoured of her, and the king permitted him to marry her. He wrote three volumes upon painting, which were still extant in the age of Pliny. It is said that he was accused in Egypt of conspiring against the life of Ptolemy, and that he would have been put to death had not the real conspirator discovered himself, and saved the painter. Apelles never put his name to any pictures but three: a sleeping Venus, Venus Anadyomene, and an Alexander. The proverb of Ne sutor ultra crepidam is attributed to him by some.'

So the question is: how does a painter, none of whose works survive, and copies of whose extant work don't make him seem particularly filthy, become a byword for pornochromism? The fact that he never spent a day without employing his pencil is probably (har-har) a dead end.


Another way to waste my time.

Barack Hussein Obama II (1961- )

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ana María Matute (1925- )

Baby Hippopotamus

The Guardian has more photos of this sweet animal here. I particularly like the extra links you can click on for more photos: "Related: Knut the polar bear". They're not really related, are they? Or is genetics more complex than I thought?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

But it does move!

I mentioned the Antikythera Mechanism earlier. Now, an update, with cogs and everything.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Vitaly Komar (1943- ) and Alexander Melamid (1945- )

'A wry demonstration of the universality of basic visual tastes came from a 1993 stunt by two artists, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid, who used marketing research polls to assess Americans' taste in art. They asked respondents about their preferences in color, subject matter, composition and style, and found considerable uniformity. People said they liked realistic, smoothly painted landscapes in green and blue containing animals, women, children and heroic figures. To satisfy this consumer demand, Komar and Melamid painted a composite of the responses: a lakeside landscape in a nineteenth-century realist style featuring children, deer, and George Washingon.' Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate (2002)

They carried out research for other countries as well: the rest of the paintings are here, although the definition isn't great. More about their other projects here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Russian Desman, or Выхухоль

More here. The Wikipedia article doesn't contain the most interesting fact about the desman, which can be found in a variety of Russian-language sites across the net.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kurt Weill (1900-1950)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A little space


Next year in Tübingen!


More info here, but the main point to remember is that if the waiter looks at you skeptically when you order something in a restaurant, you have to think if you are really man enough to deal with what's on offer.

Pilar Vera (19..- )

Julius von Freytag-Loringhoven (1981- )

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven (1874-1927)

Portrait of Marcel Duchamp (c.1927)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tonkin Snub-Nosed Monkeys

They are almost extinct, but a small colony of them survives here.

Maitena Burundarena (1962- )

More here and here.

Eric Kennington (1888-1960)

This is an untypical drawing. More usual ones are here and here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Samuel Gareginyan (1961- )

More here.

Current Favourite Sentences

'Worms! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!'
Night blindly fell, and Smith's Speedibus
piddled across Germany generally towards Leicester
through waves of light. 'You say that Voooarrmsssss';
she was strapped to the wall again and again
by bands of sodium brightness that beat under one blind.
'You've got as much grace as a cod, Douglas.
I love Romantic Germany.'

José Celestino Bruno Mutis y Bosio (1732-1808)

More here and here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

John Singleton Copley (1738-1815)

Watson and the Shark (1778). More here.

Ferdinand Keller (1842-1922)

More here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Malcolm de Chazal (1902-1981)

There's a bit more here and here, including a few aphorisms from Sens-Plastique. But you get this one for free: 'The butterfly swims with its legs and tail, tries to crawl with its body, and beats its wings - the threefold progress of fish, reptile, and bird all in one. Tripartite kingdom. An isoceles triangle of animal.'

W.H. Auden thought that de Chazal was 'the only really interesting French writer to emerge since the war. A bit dotty, but fascinating.' Which, in regard the dottiness, seems fair enough.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Elder Edda

I'm so tired of reading and rereading and rerereading this book that I've decided to start judging it by its cover instead.