November 29, 2014

Harvest at Meadhouse.

Peppers by Meade

ADDED: Pre-harvest, the plants arrived in the doorway and were given a place inside:


"Need to work off some of those extra Thanksgiving calories? Look no further than..."

"... this Perfect Disco Workout featuring John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis."

From the comments: "This is what I imagine it would be like walking in on your parents having sex. Disturbing for all the wrong reasons."

So the lady getting on the plane with you seems to be carrying a duffel bag, "But it turns out it wasn't a duffel bag."

"We could smell it and it was a pig on a leash. She tethered it to the arm rest next to me and started to deal with her stuff, but the pig was walking back and forth. I was terrified, because I was thinking I'm gonna be on the plane with the pig."

Said the professor, who wasn't pleased that this lady sat down next to him.

This doesn't surprise me at all, because I've read "Pets Allowed/Why are so many animals now in places where they shouldn’t be?" It's got a whole section where the author — Patricia Marx — tested the phenomenon of emotional-support animals by taking a pig on a plane:
We settled into seats 16A and 16B...  Daphne arranged herself on my lap... [A] flight attendant passed Row 16. “Aren’t you adorable!” she said....

[On the return flight] A smiling agent, approaching us at the gate, said, “We heard a cute piggy went through security.” She added, “If you want to pre-board, the cabin crew would love it.”

At the entrance to the plane, we were greeted by three giddy flight attendants: “Oh, my God, don’t you just love her?” “I’m so jealous. I want one!”; “I hope you’re in my section”; “I’m coming back for pictures.”

As we exited at Newark, a member of the flight crew pinned pilot’s wings onto Daphne’s E.S.A. sweatshirt.
Why didn't the pig next to the professor get the same friendly treatment? It too was presented as an emotional-support animal. One difference is that Marx's pig was only 26 pounds, and the one next to the professor is said to have been 50 to 70 pounds. The latter pig was also described as smelly and "disruptive." I'll also guess that the lady sitting next to the professor was not as smooth a talker as Marx, who was creating material for what turned out to be a hilarious and disturbing New Yorker article.

The tightrope act on top of the head, the potted plant in the pelvis, the reclining body, and the possible chair.

Lesson 6 in the series "How to draw/paint like Paul Klee" — explained here — based on notes I took at an exhibition in London in 2002. What follows, next to each of the 4 bullet points, is text from one page of the book, followed by the image I'd meant to remember in the abstract and to apply, in the concrete reality of a drawing/painting that might resemble the original in some way or not at all.

• draw a tightrope & trapeze act up on top of a woman's head ("Tightrope Walker")

• Draw a vicious plant inside the tormented figure of a woman reaching up at a sprig of 3 cherries ("Pathos of Fertility") Plant is a potted plant — pot = pelvis

"[F]or a 'pro-life' argument to make sense it has to make sense..."

"...that it follows from a spiritual instinct, or from religious dogma, however deeply held, is not something that rational people have to pretend to respect. It is easy to cite the source of moral ideas in religious vision. Don’t you know that Dr. King was a Christian minister? Didn’t the ideas of the Abolitionists rise from the Northern churches? It’s perfectly true that many good and noble and necessary ideas have come from churches and chapels—as many others have come from temples, universities, Masonic lodges, and presumably one or two from a Satanic cult. But their relevance and plausibility have nothing at all to do with their source; they have to do with the moral and practical sense they make to those who don’t have any special respect for their origins. Dr. King was a Christian minister whose ideas about equality and social justice were crucially affected by his faith; those ideas were just as crucially affected by Gandhi and, for that matter, as J. Edgar Hoover would have pointed out, by the Communists in King’s entourage. His 'Dream' speech, though deeply rooted in his faith, appealed not to the authority of religion but to the common language, irresistible to all, or almost all, of justice and moral order and practical benefit. Lincoln may have entered politics with a passionate hatred of slavery, but once he was a politician his arguments were distilled from passion into reason and law, and sometimes even into legalism."

Writes Adam Gopnik — in  "Arguing Abortion" — explicating one of the
two major originalities" in Katha Pollit's book "Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights."

"The very idea of cooking up opinions in conclave begets suspicions," said President Thomas Jefferson, criticizing the Supreme Court.

Quoted in a New Yorker article (by Jill Lepore) about the theft of 1000+ pages of the Felix Frankfurter papers from the Library of Congress. Context:
The secrecy surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court derives from a policy set by the fourth Chief Justice, John Marshall, who wanted the Court to issue single, unanimous decisions and to conceal all evidence of disagreement. His critics considered this policy to be incompatible with a government accountable to the people. "The very idea of cooking up opinions in conclave begets suspicions," Thomas Jefferson complained. This criticism has never entirely quieted, but every time things get noisy the Court simply brazens it out. To historians and journalists who are keen to have the Court’s papers saved and unsealed, advocates of judicial secrecy insist that the ordinary claims of history and of public interest do not apply to the papers of U.S. Supreme Court Justices; the only claim on the Justices is justice itself.
Jefferson is suspicious of the very device that makes the Court look politically neutral and bound by the strictures of legal analysis.

By the way, I like Lepore's use of the verb "to brazen it out." "Brazen" means "Made of brass" — literally or figuratively — including "Hardened in effrontery; shameless." The OED has, among its quotes for the adjective "brazen," the Jonathan Swift poem "An Epistle to Mr. Gay" (1731)
I knew a brazen minister of state,
Who bore for twice ten years the public hate.
In every mouth the question most in vogue
Was, when will they turn out this odious rogue? 
The verb "to brazen out" means "to face impudently or as with a face of brass." We see this usage in John Arbuthnot's 1712 work: "Lewis Baboon turned honest, and John Bull politician. Being the fourth part of Law is a bottomless-pit":
"When I us'd to reprimand him for his Tricks, he would talk saucily, lye, and brazen it out, as if he had done nothing amiss. Will nothing cure thee of thy Pranks Nic. (quoth I?) I shall be forced, some time or another, to chastise thee... After I have beggar'd myself with his troublesome Law-Suit..."
This is a book about a lawsuit, presented as a metaphor for war. "Lewis Baboon" = the king of France, Louis Bourbon. John Bull = England:

Looks a little like Scalia, no?

November 28, 2014

"We motivated each other to not go to sleep, keep yelling, keep moving our bodies, trying to break out."

"Cause I knew if we would’ve fallen asleep…we probably wouldn’t have woke up because we would be so cold, frozen probably."

Said the 11-year-old boy who was buried for hours — along with his 9-year-old cousin — under 5 feet of snow dumped on them by a snow plow.

"I always tried to be as concise as possible, all to try and reach everyone..."

"... but especially the simple people, those who needed to be reached more than anyone else."

Said Chespirito (Little Shakespeare).

"The smell of opium is the least stupid smell in the world."

Something Picasso said to Jean Cocteau, according to Cocteau's "Opium: The Diary of an Addict."

Why did I find that?  I was looking for something else. I'd been saying that the "Only reason to analyze art is to figure out how to copy it," and that connected to a well-known saying: "Good artists copy; great artists steal." But who said that?
Steve Jobs? Pablo Picasso? T. S. Eliot? W. H. Davenport Adams? Lionel Trilling? Igor Stravinsky? William Faulkner? Apocryphal?
That made me remember something I'd read more than 30 years ago: Picasso was staring at a Cezanne painting, and someone asked him what he was doing and he said — I'm only paraphrasing — I'm looking for things to steal.

"A Hollywood actor sitting with a paper bag over his head who did nothing as he claims a woman 'raped' him has not been raped."

"People are actually defending Shia LaBeouf. The world's gone mad. He's invented a supposed 'rape' for cheap PR — utterly shameful."

Tweets from Piers Morgan about LaBeouf's "#IAMSORRY" performance. I don't quite have the patience to read this condensed 2-week interview in Dazed and Confused, but I think it has something to do with his ripping off of a genuine artist, Daniel Clowes.

It's been 80 years since you could look at the Capitol Christmas tree from 80 feet up in the dome.

There's a new plexiglassed-in place what is called the "trumpeter’s ring" 6 floors up in the Wisconsin Capitol. 

The new viewing station has been open since June. When the Christmas tree goes up on Monday, you'll be able to view its top at eye level.

At the Klee-and-Me Café...

... where were you in 2002?

(Images explained here. With more at "Only reason to analyze art is to figure out how to copy it.")

ADDED: I'm fascinated by what I missed/changed in trying to memorialize a drawing I wanted to be able to use. I put the top left eye outside of the line of the face and missed the way the right eye's edge extends just a tad over the line of the face and obviously didn't want to bother with that business hanging down from it. I lost the scrunched-uppedness of the nose and mouth on the lower face, and — as I see it now — have ended up with a caricature of my own mother. Meanwhile, Klee's face looks a bit like Roger Ebert.

"I am the kind of person who would not be in the least surprised if, in the very middle of my Presidency, I were to be summoned and led off to stand trial before some shadowy tribunal..."

"... or taken straight to a quarry... Nor would I be surprised if I were to suddenly hear the reveille and wake up in my prison cell, and then, with great bemusement, proceed to tell my fellow prisoners everything that had happened to me in the past six months... The lower I am, the more proper my place seems; and the higher I am, the stronger my suspicion that there has been some mistake."

Czech President Václav Havel said in 1990.

Only reason to analyze art is to figure out how to copy it.

That's my insight — probably intended as a bit of a joke and not a 100% truth — written in a notebook in 2002 as I studied the exhibition "Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation" at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Notes on Paul Klee

You can see the "→ Only reason to analyze art is to figure out how to copy it" appears after a quote from Paul Klee, which I transcribed from the gallery wall into the notebook: "Visual art never begins w/ a poetic mood or idea but with building one or several figures, w/ harmonizing a few colors & tones, or w/ calculating spatial relationships." I found this old NYT review of the exhibition, and it contains the next sentence after that: "Whether an idea then joins in is completely irrelevant; it may do, it doesn't have to.''

At the top of that notebook page is what — in this series of blog posts on the notebook — should be called Lesson 5 of How to draw/paint like Paul Klee.
• leave white blank small hole in gray washed rectangle. Add subsequent gray wash to build a pattern of black & gray squares surrounding. ("Study in Chiaroscuro.")
How delightful to read those old instructions and be able to find the artwork in question. An amazing amount of artistic crapola comes up if you do a Google image search on that title. But I restricted it with the artist's name, and found — after eliminating this — the painting that it must have been:

This success makes me want to go back to the 2 works analyzed in yesterday's post, the ones where I'd failed to record the title:
• Make a city based on placement of vertical lines on a field of unevenly spaced horizontal lines. Erase some of the horiz. lines to make "buildings," make lines in the sky closer together & lines in the foreground farther apart. add some deep doorways & steeples

• Start center bottom & build a structure of whimsical heads & bodies balanced one atop the other. At the top a head w/2 unequal eyes & a tear-like "fishing line" hanging from the bigger eye. Give whole structure a sense of weighted balance.
Ah! Success! The first one is almost surely "Picture of a City (Red-Green Accents)":

The second one is undoubtedly "An Equilibrium Caprice":

"Then He rolled his big sleeves up/And a brand-new world began..."

ADDED: In the comments JSD said:
I only remember him because a musician friend of mine pointed him out on the street one day. He was very emphatic about his legendary stature. I still have the Les McCann Eddie Harris “Swiss Movement” record. “Compared to What” was a pretty incendiary song in the 70’s. The Roberta Flack “Feel Like Makin Love” was good too. Not many black people in Maine, so I thought it was unusual but cool.
Here's Eugene McDaniels, acknowledging that he's a "hermit" in Maine and reminiscing about "Compared to What":

Here are Les McCann and Eddie Harris doing "Compared To What":

McDaniels died in 2011. From the obituary:
His hits of the early 1960s... cast him as a suave performer of upbeat pop songs aimed at white teenagers; in his last years he would occasionally take the stage to deliver standards with all the graceful inventiveness of the great jazz singer he might have been.

In between came the event that changed his life, when his protest song Compared to What became an unexpected hit after being released on an album recorded at the 1969 Montreux jazz festival by his first employer, the pianist Les McCann, and the saxophonist Eddie Harris. The song went on to be covered more than 270 times by other artists, including Ray Charles, Della Reese and John Legend. Its success enabled McDaniels to stop performing in night-clubs, an environment he detested because of the lack of respect he felt was shown towards the music by their audiences....

His later years were spent by the ocean in Kittery Point, Maine. In 2010, he performed an acoustic version of A Hundred Pounds of Clay to a group of teenage girls attending an arts outreach programme....
Here are the lyrics to "Compared to What." Excerpt:
Slaughterhouse is killin' hogs
Twisted children killin' frogs
Poor dumb rednecks rollin' logs
Tired old lady kissin' dogs
I hate the human, love that stinking mutt (I can't use it!)
Try to make it real — compared to what? C'mon baby now!
AND: The same commenter, JSD, had wondered "why this is being posted today." Perhaps he thought it might have some connection to the racial discord in the news lately, but that's not why. As I answered in the comments, it came up in the context of a conversation with Meade that I wasn't able to reconstruct for the post. I remember where I was standing and where Meade was sitting when I brought up the old song.

Meade was analogizing something to the wedging of clay (and activity he's done much of in times past), and he seemed to remember that we were discussing the phrase "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." That makes me think it was part of our discussion of this BBC article about Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who was subjected to a staged fake execution, and years later said: "I cannot recall when I was ever as happy as on that day." And that might have come up in connection with the subject of the U-shaped — smile-shaped — curve of happiness, which depicts the puzzling/understandable phenomenon of happiness increasing at the end of life.

So maybe there was something about the closeness to death, something about endings and new beginnings, perhaps, as one returns to earth and becomes subject to wedging into clay.

"Frozen" Elsa ousts Barbie as role-model toy for little girls.

I don't know enough about the movie to know what this might mean for the new generation. "Frozen" sounds like an antidote to hotness, but presumably the girls who are embracing the ice queen archetype have seen the movie, and I've got to assume that the story has an narrative arc that ends in warmth.

From the linked article, a bit of a plot summary:
Without going into too many spoilers, let’s just say that Frozen's climax does not involve a man coming to the rescue of a starry-eyed princess. The princesses at the center of this story—sisters Elsa and Anna—are defined by their unique upbringing and estranged relationship to one another, not by the men in their lives. They are fully fleshed out characters with a wide spectrum of human qualities including love, fear, loneliness, anger, frustration, bravery, and vulnerability. What drives the film is Anna’s longing to connect with her sister and Elsa’s struggle to protect Anna by keeping her distance. The stakes couldn’t be higher for them. Romantic love is an aside, a subplot; the men are supporting players in this love story between two sisters. I have no problem with them being role models for my daughters.
Meanwhile, in the background, there's the original Hans Christian Andersen story "The Snow Queen," which I haven't read in a long time. Its ending is distinctly religious:
... Kay and Gerda...  both had forgotten the cold empty splendor of the Snow Queen, as though it had been a dream. The grandmother sat in the bright sunshine, and read aloud from the Bible: "Unless ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven."

And Kay and Gerda looked in each other's eyes, and all at once they understood the old hymn:
"The rose in the valley is blooming so sweet,
And angels descend there the children to greet."
There sat the two grown-up persons; grown-up, and yet children; children at least in heart; and it was summer-time; summer, glorious summer!
Unless ye become as little children, ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. Here's my idea for a novel I won't write: A dumb but saintly American adult encounters that challenging advice — which is a weird combination of charming and dire — and dedicates himself to following it, using the anachronistic example of modern American children.

It's Black Friday...

... and I can't believe you'd go out shopping. Or would you? I do my shopping on line, in the intervals between blogging, all that hardworking blogging I do for you, dear readers, you, who can so easily show appreciation — without spending any extra money — by entering your shopping experience via The Althouse Amazon Portal.

The problem with the Ferguson grand jury process...

... from the point of view of Nancy Grace.

What I read between the lines is that she's frustrated that what could have been handled as a public trial, to be dissected, witness by witness, on high-rated commercial television, happened in secret, with the evidence dumped all at once and with the outcome already known.

Now, just because media commentators have an obvious and strong interest in fomenting suspicion and outrage does not mean that the evidence should not be analyzed and questioned. But even as they are suspicious of the various witnesses, I am suspicious of them. They do not want peace, love, and harmony. That's no kind of show. 

5 friends, hiking in New Jersey, followed by a bear. 4 get away, and the bear kills one. Why is that one killed?

This question will cause many people to think of the old joke with the punchline "I don't need to run faster than the bear: I only need to run faster than you." That is, you might think that the young man who got killed by the bear was simply the slowest in the group.

But the young man's cell phone was found in the woods, and it contained photographs of the bear moving toward him.

November 27, 2014

Wisconsin beats Georgetown at basketball...

... and celebrates amusingly recklessly.

At the Wipe-Your-Mouth Café...


... I hope you've had enough.

(Photo by Meade, from The Puparazzo.)

Sasha and Malia are bored...

... with Obama's turkey-pardoning jokes.

"Two men indicted last week on federal weapons charges allegedly had plans to bomb the Gateway Arch..."

"... and to kill St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch and Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson — the Post-Dispatch has learned."

In that light, consider the new New Yorker cover:

"Tilda Swinton: The Surreal World."

Photographs by Tim Walker.

"I'm taking it back to the 80s... Actually, it's just more comfortable."

I approve!

I'm delighted when I have an existing tag for something very specific that comes up in a new post.

In the case of that last post, it was: worms.

I have 31 posts with the tag "worms." Isn't that wonderful — the wonderful world of blog worms? For example, back in July 2013, I was (for some reason) interested in the question whether the word "hello" appears in the Bible, and I found:
Job 17:14 Then I could greet the grave as my father and say to the worms, “Hello, mother and sisters!”
There was the line from the "Ode to Joy": "even to the worm ecstasy is given."

And "Paragordius obamai — a parasitic worm" (named to honor Obama).

And the Jack Handey deep thought: "The other day I got out my can opener and was opening a can of worms when I thought, 'What am I doing?!'"

There was my favorite page from my old "Amsterdam Notebooks," page 21, with a worm in the apple:

Amsterdam Notebook

There was that time back in 2005 when I was blogging and: "As I write this, the little kid across the street is screaming: 'A worm! A worm! A worm! Oh! Ah! A worm! A worm! A worm! Oh! Ah!'"

And that's me now, when something so specifically taggable comes up:  A worm! A worm! A worm! Oh! Ah! A worm! A worm! A worm! Oh! Ah! 

Or... there are so many exquisite little tags... I'm always exclaiming...  

Nostrils/nipples/nuance/nuns/neckties! Nostrils/nipples/nuance/nuns/neckties! Oh! Ah! Nothing/nostrils/nipples/nuance/nuns/neckties! Nostrils/nipples/nuance/nunsneckties! Nostrils/nipples/nuance/nuns/neckties! Oh! Ah!

Drudge's Thanksgiving theme: bowed heads.

I love the variety here. In the center column, Harry Reid has a seeming halo above him, and one frame down is the halo of streetlight over the snow in Ferguson. In the left column, the 2-headed Schumer looks devilish, and below him, Putin bows his head down and lifts up his champagne glass. Putin senses victory, while over in the right column, RG3 bows in the defeat of having "Played last game."

At the top of the page is a pumpjack, photographed to look like a hellish robot...

... and the headlines at the top of the columns reinforce a dread of encroaching robots: "Flying robots to start serving in restaurants by end of '15...," and "Scientists on brink of creating artificial life.../Digitize brain of WORM and place inside ROBOT!"

How to draw/paint like Paul Klee — Lessons 3 and 4.

As explained here, I rediscovered my 2002 notebook that extracts simple rules from individual works of art by Paul Klee. I've found images of the works where I can, and these appear above the relevant transcription from the notebook. At the bottom are the scans from my notebooks. The idea is to enhance perception of the original, but also to give anyone a way to get going into a drawing/painting that would have value on its own.

Oil transfer method on watercolor ground — "The Great Emperor Rides to War." Bands of horizontal lines — less straight — one band is the lines of his smile lips — Architectural & symbolic shapes built into the figure. One central man.

• Horizontal pen lines. Dots, circles or crescents on the lines. Then vertically connect the shapes — okay to angle & curve on the vertical way down. "Drawing Knotted in the Manner of a Net" (Musical notation)

"Will you please come to my house? Let’s play together. I think you are pretty like a horse or a ladybug."

"I’m not sure which. You should come to my house and eat cheeses with me. I love you and I lost a tooth last night. I think I would like to do a magic trick for you and then let you watch me battle robots."

Shopping tip.

If you must shop, please consider using the Althouse Amazon portal, which lets you make a contribution to this blog without paying anything extra for whatever you happen to decide to spend your good money on. Thanks!

"I thought if I held on to that bird, the rest would follow. But over time..."

"... I could see the strain on everyone. Older parents with new partners means that not all parties are thrilled to be spending Thanksgiving in the company of that person’s family rather than their own.... And even if everyone is willing to look past broken relationships and accept the emerging new ones across all generations, it doesn’t mean that this unity of purpose — a meal together at Thanksgiving — is necessarily a good thing. There are, for one thing, too many people now. Too many families. Because if my girls want to include mom and dad and their partners, what of the families of their husbands?... This year, I understand that my kids are bearing the burden of a family holiday together. They’re trying too hard to be with everyone in some fashion over a period of very few days allotted to that purpose. It seems to me that the kindest parents are the ones who stay to the side and let the ball fall away from their court sometimes. Maybe even oftentimes. And so this year, I tossed the bird out the window, so to speak..."

Writes Nina Camic (my colleague) in the NYT.

ADDED: I love when doing nothing — especially when it avoids a lot of effort — amounts to the higher path. Virtue in not acting. That applies to a lot more than Thanksgiving. As for Thanksgiving, I always appreciated it when my sons' father wanted them over. Thanksgiving is the last weekend of the semester, and there follows a lovely, long winter break. Thanksgiving is precisely the weekend when I am not looking for more of a workload. So I was glad to step back and let the ex-husband have the boys over. If I got extra points — kindness credit — for letting go, that was nice, but I was always openly grateful for the relief. I was glad to do nothing. It's Thanksgiving, and as they say — and I truly mean it: Thanks for nothing!

"Too much makeup... led to millionaire’s restraining order."

I read this entire article trying to understand a headline I misread. Somehow the word I didn't see — which belongs at the ellipsis — is "sex." The topic of too much makeup interests me, so I see those 3 words together, and they make a set.

Maybe others look at that headline — "Too much makeup sex led to millionaire’s restraining order" — and go right to the word "sex," then group it with "makeup," and immediately realize the makeup is not mascara and lipstick and so forth but the relationship stage, and perhaps the subject of "makeup sex" seems compelling. To me, it's one of those old Seinfeld memes.
Jerry: Well, at least you probably had some, uh, pretty good make-up sex afterwards.

George: I didn't have any sex.

Jerry: You didn't have make-up sex? How could you not have make-up sex? That's the best feature of the heavy relationship.

George: I missed out on the make-up sex.

Jerry: In your situation the only sex you're going to have better than make-up sex is if you're sent to prison and you have a conjugal visit.

By the way, I love the title of that YouTube: "Sexo de reconciliacion."

I'm still interested in the fantastic scenario in which a woman's wearing too much makeup led to a millionaire — a man, one presumes — getting a restraining order. What exactly would have had to happen? But it didn't happen, so it's absurd to... make up that story.

Thanksgiving, pre-dawn.


... time, once again, to fire up the old blog.


November 26, 2014

"Close friends of Darren Wilson have called for the star witness in the Michael Brown shooting to be charged for lying about what he saw."

"They say that [Dorian Johnson] made up the claim that Brown had his hands up which kickstarted the ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ protest movement."
In his TV interviews Johnson said that Wilson shot Brown in the back at which point he turned round with his hands up saying: ‘I don’t have a gun, stop shooting!’...
If Johnson lied, he did horrible damage. What is the (nonpatronizing) argument for not holding him accountable?

"Speaking as a person who went and got a degree in creative writing for some fool reason..."

"... I always get squicked out hearing about MFA programs and writer's colonies. Like, I dunno. How can you make Real Art when you're enjoying a free vacation and a kindly old man is leaving treat baskets outside of your door. You should be writing in your underwear in a filthy apartment with roaches crawling up your walls and nothing to eat but cigarettes and bottom-shelf whiskey. Bah, I'm romanticizing."

(A commenter on a Metafilter post.)

"The genre of Obama race speeches has always been bounded by the job he was hired to do."

Says Ta-Nehisi Coates in "Barack Obama, Ferguson, and the Evidence of Things Unsaid":
Specifically, Barack Obama is the president of the United States of America. More specifically, Barack Obama is the president of a congenitally racist country, erected upon the plunder of life, liberty, labor, and land. This plunder has not been exclusive to black people. But black people, the community to which both Michael Brown and Barack Obama belong, have the distinct fortune of having survived in significant numbers. For a creedal country like America, this poses a problem—in nearly every major American city one can find a population of people whose very existence, whose very history, whose very traditions, are an assault upon this country's nationalist instincts. Black people are the chastener of their own country. Their experience says to America, "You wear the mask."...
Creedal... chastener... yeeesh....

I expect to read the genre of reading the genre of Obama race speeches for the rest of my life. I only wish my friend Barack Obama could go meta and talk about the talking about what he has to say about race. If only — if only! — Obama — when he's out of office — would bust loose and tell us everything he really thinks, transcend this sententiousness, and tell us the truth... as it looks to him.

I retreat, white-ladylike, into the OED and look up "creedal." "Of, relating to, or characterized by a creed." I bounce straight to the relevant Obama speech:
It was a creed written into the founding documents that declared the destiny of a nation: Yes, we can. It was whispered by slaves and abolitionists as they blazed a trail towards freedom through the darkest of nights: Yes, we can....
Remember how beautiful that once was?

"Do you think you’re taking a big risk by making this show without knowing for sure..."

"... whether Adnan Syed, the man convicted of killing his former high-school girlfriend in 1999, is guilty?"

"I’m not being fake-naïve or something, but I really don’t — the end was never the thing of it for me. It does not keep me up at night."

Sarah Koenig takes questions about her ultra-popular podcast "Serial" (which I've started listening to).

AND: Rereading the question, I assume it's no risk at all but that the energy comes from actually not knowing. This is hours and hours of peeling the layers away. Why expect us to watch you peel if we know where you are going?

At the Snowbound Café...


... if you can't dig out, dig in.

"I regularly see cases that feel just as important to me as any case I see in the news."

"I work on a lot of felony cases; many are murder cases.... They feel anything but routine."
They contain so much vivid detail and emotion and meaning, that it can be jarring to stop and think that this was an everyday occurrence. Only a few people paid any attention to it, and everyone else went about their business. I don't understand why the 1-in-a-million case becomes a cause célèbre, when other cases of horrible crimes don't. The fact that the alleged perpetrator was white and the alleged victim was black in the cases we care about, and there was a different racial configuration in most of the cases we don't care about, would seem to be a very poor criterion. It's certainly not a reason to reach a national consensus that a man is guilty before we've afforded him due process.

How to draw and paint like Paul Klee.

As I said the other day, I found the notebook I wrote as I studied an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Paul Klee. (It was "Paul Klee: The Nature of Creation" at the Hayward Gallery in March 2002, intelligently reviewed here in The Guardian.)

Here's the first page of notes — Lessons 1 and 2 — extracting how-to instructions from a painting and a drawing:

How to paint like Paul Klee, Lesson 1

Text, with links to the artworks from which I extracted the instructions:
• draw ink lines almost with a straight edge horizontally all over bristol board. Vertically: some straight lines perpendicular & some angled. Not evenly spaced. Indications of steepled buildings & a few skeletal trees. Oil paint w/o blue. Some zebra columns. Landscape With Yellow Steeple

• draw a funny man in the center of the page in ink, then draw horizontal straight but not evenly spaced lines all across bending at the contours of the man — Rider Unhorsed & Bewitched
From the above-linked Guardian article:
In his last years Klee was afflicted by scleroderma, a horrifying disease that slowly mummifies its victims. All his lithe mobility impeded, he relied more and more on pure abstraction to articulate his visions. The brush becomes broader, the colours more dazzling. The language is liberated into a grand and commanding song. 
Scleroderma is the disease that killed my maternal grandmother.

ADDED: I've given you the links to the images I used to make my instructions, but the point of the instructions is to give you an idea of something to do to produce your own artwork, which isn't supposed to copy the original. Check out the original, but then forget the original and just follow the instructions. I chose to write the instructions in this very concrete and mechanical way so you — so I — could make a completely different artwork. And I consider the instructions themselves to be an independent artwork.

A 26-year sentence for a TV show with a song and dance about the wedding of Muhammad's daughter.

The sentence of Mir Shakeel-ur-Rehman, owner of Geo News, the largest media group in Pakistan, will be appealed.

From the end of the linked article:
Pakistan's blasphemy law allows anyone to file a complaint alleging their religious feelings have been hurt for any reason. The punishment for blasphemy is death. Rights groups say the law is increasingly being used to settle personal scores. This year has seen a record number of blasphemy cases and increasing violence against the accused.

When you're tired of all that political fakery...


... dogs are reliably spontaneous and ingenuous. Photographed by Meade at The Puparazzo, the cure for your political malaise.

"Though I understand why you might have yelled at me a month ago... it doesn't make much sense to yell at me now..."

Says Obama, appeasing a heckling crowd that was supposed to be good scenery for his immigration action.

Or was the heckling from the left a planned part of the show? Were these people meant to be scenery or were they meant to step up into bit parts?

I don't know anymore. Anything political might be theater — scripted drama — even the heckling from the right, in places like The Weekly Standard, which features that clip for the line "I just took an action to change the law" and pedantically informs us of the supposed rigidity of the separation of powers: "The United States Constitution says the legislative power is held by Congress, not by the president."

I'm just going to guess that President Obama decided to triangulate on immigration, and he anticipated and sought this drama from the left and the right as he strutted back and forth a few times on the political stage.

"Building a jail is building hate."

Closeup from a photograph of the Ferguson-related demonstration that took place in Madison, Wisconsin yesterday. See the whole photograph here, at the Wisconsin State Journal. The caption says that speakers at the demonstration talked not only about Ferguson but also about a proposed new jail here. From the article:
“It’s about Mike Brown, but it’s also about, more broadly, state violence against black communities,” said M Adams, a member of the Young Gifted and Black Coalition. “As a city with a progressive characteristic, it is often easy for us to look to other places and say, ‘Ferguson is terrible’ ... and ignore the ways in which we act out state violence here in our own communities,” Adams said.

The coalition, which organized Tuesday’s protest, opposes the construction of a new jail, saying money for that project should instead be spent on programs in black communities. After the march, protesters packed a meeting of the Dane County Public Protection and Judiciary Committee to discuss the proposal.

The coalition has also called for the release of people incarcerated for what members call “crimes of poverty”....
This message — incarceration as racial oppression — has been cultivated by some who are dedicated to issues of racial justice. Those who are reacting to Ferguson by engaging in criminal violence are stepping on that message.

"All you’ve got is a girl with high cheekbones."

Said Joni Mitchell, scoffing at the idea of a biopic about her with the impersonation done by Taylor Swift.  Joni doesn't like the story of her life as a material either:  "It’s just a lot of gossip, you don’t have the great scenes. There’s a lot of nonsense about me in books, assumptions, assumptions, assum­p­tions."

So, do it like "The Rose." Make it a fictional character and use the best of the nonsense and assumptions and punch it up even more. Taylor with her cheekbones will provide some allusion to Joni for those who care.

Personally, I loathe all these musical biopics. They should have stopped at "Coal Miner's Daughter" (1980), as far as I'm concerned. But actors seem to get extra credit for impersonating someone recognizable, especially where they do the singing themselves. But movies aren't made for people like me, who rarely if ever go to the movies.

"In some ways, Hagel was the President’s Republican doppelgänger: skeptical of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan..."

"... eager to bring home U.S. troops, and reluctant to get the United States embroiled militarily elsewhere in the Middle East," writes John Cassidy in The New Yorker.
If the primary goal was to complete Obama’s agenda of disengaging from Iraq and Afghanistan, then having Hagel at the Pentagon seemed to make sense. In the past year or so, though, the policy of disengagement has been superseded.... There is no suggestion that Hagel opposed either of these policy changes. Indeed, he was one of the first senior U.S. officials to warn that ISIS represented a serious danger to American interests, which was said to have irked Obama’s aides at the time...

... President Obama appears to have decided that, with the U.S. stepping up its military involvement in various parts of the world, he needed a more hands-on, and on-message, figure at the Pentagon. That’s understandable. But so is the widespread skepticism about the official version of Hagel’s departure, including Republicans’ eagerness to make hay of it. “Secretary Hagel did not believe that the foreign policy is working or is going to work,” Republican congressman Peter King, of New York, told CNN.

That statement reeks of overstatement, which is typical of King. But it underscores that Obama, having just enjoyed his best few weeks as President in a long time, has just refocussed attention on an area, foreign policy, where his enemies sense vulnerability.
"His enemies"? That confused me. I'm pretty sure what Cassidy means by "his enemies" is Republicans. But he was just talking about ISIS, an actual military enemy. That shift in focus was abrupt and telling, especially following the acknowledgment that Hagel had been useful because he was a Republican.

By the way, the picture at the link is just perfect.

November 25, 2014

"In our song, the stereotype image of a serious political leader has been changed into someone who can connect with ordinary people."

"This will make people have an emotional connection to the couple."

Soon, you too will be singing "Uncle Xi [Chinese President Xi Jinping] loves Mother Peng [his wife, Peng Liyuan]":

Meade just said: "It also reminds me a lot of Bruce Springsteen. All that growling, grunting singing." That insight makes it 5 times as funny to me.

Late afternoon.


Lake Mendota.

"Academics who don’t retire are greedy, selfish, and bad for students."

Writes a professor who retired at 66 after accepting a bonus to retire early. Wasn't that greedy and selfish? Seems to me her argument would be stronger if she retired simply because she reached what used to be called "retirement age."

"I felt like a five-year-old holding onto Hulk Hogan."

"Hulk Hogan, that’s just how big he felt and how small I felt just from grasping his arm.”

"The Constitution is not a math problem, but..."

The beginning of a NYT article by Adam Liptak titled "In Same-Sex Marriage Calculation, Justices May See Golden Ratio."

From the Wikipedia article "Golden ratio":
In mathematics, two quantities are in the golden ratio if their ratio is the same as the ratio of their sum to the larger of the two quantities.

Do the math!

Bob Dylan plays a concert for just one man.

"The incredible concert was part of an ongoing Swedish film series Experiment Ensam (Experiment Alone), where people experience things completely alone that are usually reserved for large crowds."
[41-year-old Bob Dylan superfan Fredrik Wikingsson said that on the day of the show] "I was a fucking wreck... Part of me was thinking, 'Maybe this won't happen and it'll be for the best. I don't want to impose on Mr. Dylan. I don't want him to stand there and be grouchy, just hating it.'"...

"I thought the first row might freak him out... I was like a guy picking the next-to-most expensive bottle of wine in a restaurant, which is a very Swedish thing to do. I figured the second row would be ideal. Malcolm Gladwell would probably have all sorts of theories about this."...

At the end of "It's Too Late (She's Gone)" Dylan performed a harmonica solo. "I always detest people that automatically holler and applaud every time he breaks out the harmonica," says Wikingsson. "But I found myself almost weeping when he played the solo. He could have just ended the song without the solo, he wanted it to be great."

Why was I born?

Make 2 lists of 5 reasons why you were born, based on real-world facts about why events occurred that leading to your conception. No metaphysical speculation about God's plan or some needed function you are destined to serve. Just things that happened in the days, years, or moments before you happened.

List 1 should be terrible things that you would only feel bad about were it not for the brutal truth that without them you would not be here to experience the value of their nonoccurrence. Then amuse yourself with List 2 — nice things, things you can independently feel good about, quite aside from the fortuity that they led to you.

I'm working on my list and thought you might find it engaging to join me.

One month until Christmas.

In case you might be thinking of buying anything at Amazon and you are simultaneously looking for a way to show appreciation for this blog, please consider entering Amazon through the Althouse portal, the link for which is always in the banner at the top of this blog.

Riot control in Madison, Wisconsin.

"After the pushing and shoving that marred the 2014 celebration with Paul Bunyan's Axe, Badgers coach Gary Andersen outlines policies that will be put in place Saturday for the celebration that will occur after the losing team leaves the field."

"Only Revolution Can Bring Peace!" "From Ayotzinapa to Ferguson/Down With Capitalist [something]," "No Justice in the Capitalist Courts!"

I need to do a separate post about "From Plains to Both Coasts, Fury Boils Over," that NYT article about what happened in Ferguson after the announcement that there will be no charges filed against the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown.

The other post is about the NYT's artful phrasing of descriptions of protest violence — the delicacy with which it handles racial matters in what is a touching/absurd muddling of factual accuracy and displays of empathy toward black people.

But this post is about the white people — not the media white people who choose this distanced delicacy, but the white people who participated in protests. There's only one, I think, in the text of the article:
A middle-aged white woman wove through the crowd, yelling, “We need to shut this down across America!” and handing out fliers.

The woman, Jessie Davis, was a supporter of the Revolutionary Communist Party and came here from Chicago.
And the slide show ends with a shot of protesters "disrupting traffic" in New York City. This crowd is overwhelmingly white (to appropriate a phrase famously applied to tea party crowds). I cropped out a section of the lower left so you could look at the signs:

"Only Revolution Can Bring Peace!" "From Ayotzinapa to Ferguson/Down With Capitalist [Police Terror]," "No Justice in the Capitalist Courts!/Internationalist Group."

I don't know what to say about that, so I'll just quote something I read in The Daily Beast, last August: "Communist agitators stirring up a civil rights protest sounds like a bad ‘60s flashback, but that’s just what happened last week in Ferguson, Missouri."

Soon came the careful phrases and the submergence of human agency in the NYT article about what Fury did last night.

"Soon came the smoke bombs, the random sounds of bullets, the chaos that was almost as predictable as the verdict everyone expected." Thus appeared the absence of human agency in a sentence in a NYT article headlined: "From Plains to Both Coasts, Fury Boils Over" (NYT).

Fury — as if disembodied from any person — did what fury does. Smoke bombs, random sounds, and chaos came. On their own? Did no person engage in the throwing of bombs?  Bullet sounds were around, randomly, not connected to human fingers pulling triggers, and even the guns were not mentioned. Chaos simply arrived. How could it not? It was predictable.

Predictable, not even predicted. Had there been prognosticators, they would have predicted the chaos, because it was predictable. But what was even more predictable was "the verdict everyone expected." Ah, finally! The sentence gets around to human beings: everyone.

Everyone expected? Well, then what was all that suspense-provoking blabber from talking heads on CNN as we waited for the press conference? Were they just lying to keep us from switching back to "Monday Night Football"?

But the NYT tells us that everyone expected the grand jury to decide there should be no prosecution of... oh, what was the police officer's name? I search the text. Late appears the name of the police officer, Darren Wilson. The name of the human being facing criminal prosecution and entitled to due process is tucked discreetly into the 16th paragraph of this New York Times article about the boiling of fury and the random noise-making of bullets.

There are a few other names amid the inanimate forces of chaos and random bullets before we encounter the name of the man everyone predicted would not be prosecuted. Here's Brien Redmon — in paragraph 2 — who "stood in the cold watching a burning police car and sporadic looting." He's the first human being we see acting. His action was watching. And — because it was predictable and because chaos had arrived — a police car burned, as if by spontaneous combustion, and looting occurred, as if merchandise might on its own pick up and walk out of the shops.

"The situation seemed to worsen as the night wore on, with fires and looting mostly limited to certain areas, but seemingly on the edge of spinning out of control."

It would be indelicate to mention any human beings committing crimes. Just call it "The situation." Does a situation have a mind with any ability to decide whether or not to act, or does it "spin" — on its own — right up to some metaphorical "edge" beyond which lies that place called "out of control"?

"But in Ferguson, the destruction that erupted in fits and starts after the announcement was part of a scene of seething anger, frustration and grief that ebbed and flowed all day before the announcement and after it."

Destruction erupted. You see my point. Anger seethed. I'm scrolling far into the article. Finally, we encounter human agency. It's a description of people outside the place where the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney, Robert P. McCulloch, is making his statement. The crowd is listening by radio:
During Mr. McCulloch’s announcement, Mr. Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, and stepfather, Louis Head, stepped up onto a platform where protest leaders were standing.

“Defend himself from what!” Ms. McSpadden yelled, when Mr. McCulloch spoke of Officer Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Mr. Brown, defending himself. [ADDED: Note the misplacement of "defending himself."]

She bowed her head and tears started streaming down her cheeks.

“Everybody wants me to be calm,” she said, her eyes covered with sunglasses. “You know what them bullets did to my son!” “They still don’t care!” she yelled. “They never going to care!” Ms. McSpadden then sank her head into her husband’s chest and bounced as she wept vigorously.

Mr. Head then turned and began to yell.

“Burn this down!” he repeatedly shouted, inserting an expletive. [ADDED: Other news reports say the repeated phrase was "Burn this bitch down!"]

The crowd then began to roar. Some rushed toward the fence near where the police were lined up. Representatives for the family helped them down off the platform and ushered them away, through the crowd. Officers in riot helmets and shields came out. Soon came the smoke bombs, the random sounds of bullets, the chaos that was almost as predictable as the verdict everyone expected.

Photographed strangely early in the morning.

Snow, from window

Another morning for hours of pre-dawn writing from a remote outpost in the north.

November 24, 2014

It's over! My long obsessive relationship...

... with SiteMeter.

It was with SiteMeter that I experienced the soaring highs of blog traffic. The first million. The first 2 million. The spikes! It was the way traffic looked on the web. It was the way I knew what the score was.

But then, a couple weeks ago, it stopped recording new traffic. My emails went unanswered. My effort to cancel premium service got no response. And now it seems that they aren't charging my card anymore. When I blogged about my troubles on November 13th, rhhardin said:
I don't like [SiteMeter] because it slows the page loading. You can see what the page is hanging on, and often it's sitemeter.
Well, I've removed the code now, and if loading picks up, that's great. Quite aside from that, my obsession with traffic checking — a 10-year mania — is gone. Yes, there are Google Stats and Google Analytics, but it doesn't have that emblematic look, the way traffic looks on the web. It's just not the same. I'm on my own now, blogging without checking traffic.

Have you noticed I've changed?!

The slow roll-out of the Ferguson grand jury decision.

There must be some expert opinion about the best way to control the public response. Earlier today, we heard that the decision would come later today, and only now are we hearing the precise time, which is awfully late, 8 Central Time.

I presume there is no indictment, because, otherwise, why drag it out like this?

UPDATE: No charges will be filed.

"Chuck Todd's out there... saying 'Obama nourishes me.' What are you doing? Breast-feeding?"

"What in the world, Obama nourishes him?  Yes, F. Chuck Todd says Obama nourishes him.  Whatever this relationship is, it's deeper than ideological."

Said Rush Limbaugh today, predicting that the media will work to build Obama's legacy: "It's gonna be fabricated, made up, and the media is going to do everything they can to write it, defend it, protect it, and prolong it.  If that means destroying the next Republican president, they'll do it without batting an eye... Even if it's a new Democrat president, even if the new president's a Democrat and tries to unravel some of Obama, I guarantee you, the loyalty here is to Obama, not so much the Democrat Party, although that loyalty is indisputable as well."

"And so at UVA, where social status is paramount, outing oneself as a rape victim can be a form of social suicide."

"'I don't know many people who are engrossed in the party scene and have spoken out about their sexual assaults,' says third-year student Sara Surface. After all, no one climbs the social ladder only to cast themselves back down.... Frats are often the sole option for an underage drinker looking to party, since bars are off-limits, sororities are dry and first-year students don't get many invites to apartment soirees. Instead, the kids crowd the walkways of the big, anonymous frat houses, vying for entry. 'Hot girls who are drunk always get in – it's a good idea to act drunker than you really are,' says third-year Alexandria Pinkleton, expertly clad in the UVA-after-dark uniform of a midriff-baring sleeveless top and shorts. 'Also? You have to seem very innocent and vulnerable. That's why they love first-year girls.'"

From the Rolling Stone article "A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA," via the NYT article "Rocked by Rape Report, University of Virginia to Hold Special Meeting," which says:
The Rolling Stone article detailed what appeared to be the preplanned gang rape of a student in 2012 in an upstairs room of Phi Kappa Psi house, followed by a botched response by the administration. And it alleged that rape has long been an ugly undercurrent of the social system at the university, treated as an unfortunate byproduct of the school’s party culture, whose eradication was less important than maintaining the university’s well-burnished image.

"Sen. Paul Releases Declaration of War Against Islamic State."

Press release, received by email this morning:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Rand Paul today released a draft Declaration of War resolution against Islamic State (also known as ISIS) that he intends on introducing when Congress comes back into session in December.

As the New York Times reported today, Sen. Paul plans to introduce a resolution to declare war against the Islamic State, terminate the authority under the 2002 Iraq AUMF, and set a date for expiration of the 2001 Afghanistan AUMF.
“When Congress comes back into session in December, I will introduce a resolution to declare war against ISIS. I believe the President must come to Congress to begin a war and that Congress has a duty to act. Right now, this war is illegal until Congress acts pursuant to the Constitution and authorizes it,“ Sen. Paul said.

"Like a swimmer diving into the pool at the start of a backstroke race, the 5-foot-11 receiver threw his body back toward the ball, stretched out his right arm as if it were made of Play-Doh..."

"... and caught the pass with three of his gloved fingers as he crash-landed in the short corner of the end zone. [Odell Beckham Jr.'s] left hand never touched the ball as the receiver pulled it in and pressed it against his stomach. The moment the official raised his arms in touchdown form, millions of witnesses in TV rooms everywhere turned to family and friends and said exactly what Victor Cruz tweeted: 'That's the best catch I've ever seen.'"

Video at that link. For efforts to capture it in a still, look here. The stills are pretty, but you can't really understand the effect without the video.

"I’m not worried about being the Cosby chair... It’s not a worry to me."

"It’s a difficult time for him. But it ain’t the end of the world. If Hillary can run for president — she went through all that rigmarole. People forget easily."

Said Aku Kadogo, the Spelman College Cosby Endowed Professor in the Arts, quoted in the long, fascinating WaPo article "Bill Cosby’s legacy, recast: Accusers speak in detail about sexual-assault allegations."

Here's Aku Kadogo's page at the Spelman College, replete with a picture of her with Cosby.

Why did Obama get rid of Chuck Hagel?

From the NYT report of the resignation of the Secretary of Defense:
[Senior administration] officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration....

He raised the ire of the White House in August... directly contradicting the president, who months before had likened the Sunni militant group to a junior varsity basketball squad. Mr. Hagel, facing reporters in his now-familiar role next to General Dempsey, called the Islamic State an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.”
A top comment at the NYT: "This is just another example of silencing your critics. Chuck Hagel called 'em as he saw 'em."

"Top 10 4th Wall Breaks in Film."

I dug that up in the process of writing that last post, where I was going to go on about whether the performance artist — sitting in her "homey setup with a lamp, an ottoman, a tasteful rug, and an end table decorated with a pot of bright orange flowers" — had a don't-break-the-4th-wall conception of her performance art. 

From the Wikipedia article "Fourth Wall":
The idea of the fourth wall was made explicit by philosopher and critic Denis Diderot and spread in 19th-century theatre with the advent of theatrical realism, which extended the idea of an imaginary boundary between any fictional work and its audience.
That article contains what might be the most ludicrous in-need-of-editing sentence in all of Wikipedia:
One play that uses the fourth wall extensively is The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), which uses it for comedic effect.[citation needed]
ADDED: Why I'd never caved and created the tag "performance art" until now, I don't know, but going back and adding it retrospectively was hard. Check it out. I've got 45 posts with the tag now.

The novelist is so special.

"For all of November, Gabriela Denise Frank is writing a novel while sitting on a couch in a living room carved out of the third floor of the Central Library downtown in an installation titled 'A Novel Performance.'"
Boxed in by a set of stanchions, Frank sits on a couch, typing on a laptop and occasionally referring to the sheaf of papers spread all around her. Above her head is a large screen displaying everything she types into her document. Aside from that one outward-facing element, it’s a homey setup with a lamp, an ottoman, a tasteful rug, and an end table decorated with a pot of bright orange flowers. Despite the large white headphones she’s wearing—parts of the novel have been written to Yo Yo Ma tracks—library patrons want to intrude, to ask her what the hell she’s doing there. One woman looked at the setup and asked Frank, outright, "why are you so special?"....

Frank says the [National Novel Writing Month] process “feels very brutalist to me.” She describes the experience in a monotone, “Sentence. Sentence. Sentence. You write for three hours. You go to bed. You get up. You go to work. You come here and write for three hours. You can’t stop.”...

Writing in public is making her a different writer, too. Frank was writing “a romantic scene,” as people were standing at the stanchions, reading the draft as it appeared right over her head. She says “if I was at home, I’d be writing all kinds of stuff, but I had to edit.” At home, she went back into the draft and added sexier language, but as she was writing it under observation, “I couldn’t use that language in front of strange people.”
Strange people... and special people... What would you write if strangers were looking over your shoulder continually? I'd be tempted to start saying things about them, describing them, attributing rude thoughts to them, seeing how long it took them to notice, writing about how long it's taking them to notice, purporting to know their thoughts at the point when they notice, getting them to laugh. The people "want to intrude," we are told. Don't resist! Make it a 2-way process.

I took a week off from watching the Sunday talk shows.

Did I miss anything? I record 4 Sunday morning talk shows, and I usually get around to watching at least 3 of them —  perhaps while eating lunch. I jot down key words to search for when the transcript comes out, and I blog a few things. But yesterday, I had a mental block. I couldn't bring myself to drag even one of those things up out of the DVR.

Maybe the truth is I actually loathe these shows, and I'm only watching to find what I loathe most because encountering something loathed leads to blogging, which I love. But there's always something bloggable. I don't need this ritual ordeal of slogging through those shows. The blog rolls on, with or without the damned shows.

But maybe it was something about this week. Did I anticipate particular stories that I didn't want to have to hear about? Cosby? Obama's executive order? Analyzing a Ferguson riot before it happens? Israel and Iran?

Trying to analyze my own resistance, I remember something I saw in the comments yesterday. The Godfather wrote:
Ann, for the first time since I've been reading your blog, you have posted absolutely nothing today in which I have any interest.

I do not say this as a criticism, but rather as praise. It's remarkable that in five or more years every day you have posted something of interest to ME, with my own peculiar tastes. Tonight, I'll rest.
You may remember that the subheading to this blog was (for a long time): "Politics and the aversion to politics, law and law school, high and low culture, and the way things look from Madison, Wisconsin." If you search this blog for "the aversion to politics," you'll find a lot of posts, including: "Political blogging with an aversion to politics: my little corner of the blogosphere."
I'm always getting back to my old attraction to aversion. 

"Marion Barry was many things to many people — joa hero, a scoundrel, a deeply flawed but ultimately admirable man, a tragic figure who snorted and screwed away his great potential."

"But for me, as a news- and politics-obsessed kid growing up in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s, Barry was first and foremost the greatest show on earth. So, while Barry’s death at the age of 78 is occasioning any number of tributes, condemnations, and assessments of the four-term mayor, I’d prefer to remember him as I originally encountered him: a spectacle."

"Anybody think this sort of shit would pass muster in a school system in which students and parents chose which schools to attend?"

"And while we're at it, anyone think we'd still be wasting as much time and  resources on phys ed if the education of children (rather than catering to the needs of existing teachers and other interests) was the primary goal of K-12 schooling?"

"I almost feel sorry for the people in that black-and-white 1951 video who needed to sit through all that..."

"... instead of being able to live in the present, when you can go through a bunch of different versions on your computer and choose to listen to your favorite one."

"Of course people are eating Thanksgiving at Cracker Barrel!"

"Why wouldn't they? Why wouldn't everyone?"

"The tens of thousands of people who both read my columns and listened to my radio shows through two decades in the media know this has been a carefully orchestrated attack..."

"... to remove a conservative Republican from a major leadership role in State government. The deliberate character assassination and the politics of personal destruction have totally distorted my views and record."

Said Lee Hansen, who'd said a lot, in print and on the radio over the past 2 decades. You can see "the tip of the iceberg" here.

November 23, 2014

"Right now, in a place you've never visited, a person you'll never know is dying."

"If he's dying in a particularly devastating way — and, more importantly, if he is leaving behind shareable content — it is possible that millions of strangers will mourn his or her death tomorrow. Why?... Grief porn is... voyeuristic, addictive, and compulsively attractive. It grabs at a desire to indulge when indulgence is otherwise unavailable. It promises a brief, satisfying release. And, like regular pornography, the internet has transformed it. Freed from the already relaxed constraints of tabloid journalism, grief porn is no longer obligated to fake newsworthiness or importance...."

From "This Kid Just Died [VIDEO]: Grief Porn Enters the Facebook Era." Via Metafilter, where somebody said: "Even having read the article, I can't imagine how someone would see 'A Father Sings To His Dying Newborn Son After His Wife Dies Following Childbirth' and think 'I wanna click that!'"

Obama will walk your dog.

Even if you don't have a dog.

He will walk your metaphorical dog. He'll do whatever it is you need done.

"I told John Boehner, you know, I'll wash your car. I'll walk your dog, whatever you need to do."

Feel free to make that the first line of a comic monologue, Obama's Offer.

Mondrian kept an artificial flower, painted white, in his studio to express the feeling of "the lack of a woman in his daily life."

According to the card stuck to the wall in a London museum next to a 1926 photograph by André Kertész, which you can see here. The white paint — we were told by some curator — was "to banish entirely any recollection of the green he found so intolerable."

I copied those words down in my notebook in 2002 — the last time I was in London — along with a sort of diagram of the composition of the photograph:

Drawing from a photo of Mondrian's studio

That scan comes from a notebook I found, a notebook that — back in 2013 — I had talked about losing:
I have a notebook of drawings/writings done at a big Paul Klee show, done in London in about 2003, just before starting this blog. I'd like to copy the pages and blog it. I was analyzing/riffing on the... ideas that he used.

Wonder where I put that.
Back then, betamax3000 had said: "NOW you are teasing me. I want that post." Okay, I will get around to that. I have 9 pages of notes, which, if I remember correctly from 12 years ago, were intended to be the code-broken instructions for how to draw/paint like Paul Klee. But for now, you'll have to consider the womanlessness of Piet Mondrian.

Expressed by Yves Saint Laurent:

Not happy about the banal wisdom of Pinterest.

"Here you go, Internet: more examples of Bad Advice I Read on Pinterest — from the questionable to the facepalm-worthy."

Many more at the link. I chose those 2 because they worked on me... in spite of my defenses!

"The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant."

From the Wikipedia article "Bathos."

"In her 1970 book The Female Eunuch, Germaine Greer dreamt of creating a communal collective of well-heeled young mothers..."

"... at a farmhouse in Italy 'where our children would be born. Their fathers and other people would also visit as often as they could... The house and garden would be worked by a local family...'. Charming. In an issue of Shrew magazine in 1973, a contributor asked 'Are Fathers Really Necessary?' and concluded 'they are more trouble than they are worth and likely to abuse children sexually.' That sort of contempt towards men and marginalisation of fathers rings down the decades of the last half century and it finds non-stop expression and repetition everywhere you look in our mainstream culture – from children’s stories and TV soap operas to mass market advertising, newspaper columns, Woman’s Hour and the rest."

From a UK Telegraph article headed "Is Gillian Wearing's family sculpture offensive to fathers?/A sculpture depicting a 'real Birmingham family' has caused controversy due to its absence of men. Why are fathers increasingly marginalised in mainstream culture, asks Neil Lyndon." I ran across that searching for the Germaine Greer quote about female artists that's paraphrased in an article blogged in the previous post.

Why interpret a sculpture of 2 women (one pregnant) with 2 children as an expression of hostility toward fathers? The sculpture only seems to say this, too, is a family. It promotes inclusion of gay people, not the exclusion of men. To see an exclusion-of-men message is, ironically, similar to an argument I have heard from gay-rights proponents: The pervasive images of heterosexual couples in our culture send a message of marginalization toward gay people, telling them that they are less-than-ideal or outsiders.

"What struck me about the Georgia O'Keeffe sale was not the high price paid for the work."

"Nor was it the discrepancy between what the market will pay for art made by men and what it will pay for art made by women... Is it ingrained sexism, or, as Germaine Greer told me in her opinion, historically work by female artists has generally not been as good as that produced by their male counterparts? No, what caught my eye was the institution selling the painting, which was The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Doesn't that strike you as odd? A museum selling an artwork by the artist it was founded to represent? I can't imagine it happening in this country.... The Americans take a more strategic approach when it comes to buying and selling work in and out of institutional collections. They generally have a policy of 'trading up,' whereby lesser works are sold to raise the necessary money to buy better examples from an artist's oeuvre."

Writes BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz, opining on the sale of a painting of "the simple white blossom of a weed" for $44.4 million, which is the most ever paid at auction for the work of a female artist. So... presumably, this painting — would it kill you to give the title?* — is a lesser O'Keeffe. Actually, Gompertz assumes otherwise — it's "considered to be of the highest quality" — as he questions the sale by the O'Keeffe Museum.

But one could reason the other way: The Museum's off-loading of the weed pic is evidence of its opinion that it is not her best work. Or perhaps: It's like other paintings in the collection — a closeup of a flower — and not the one they like best. I see 9 other flower pics at that link that could easily be considered superior to the painting the BBC assumed was "of the highest quality" but couldn't bring itself to name. It's "Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1," by the way.

Jimson weed — AKA Devil's snare, datura, hell's bells, devil’s trumpet, devil’s weed, tolguacha, Jamestown weed, stinkweed, locoweed, pricklyburr, and devil’s cucumber — is "a powerful hallucinogen and delirian... used spiritually for the intense visions it produces... fatally toxic in only slightly higher amounts than the medicinal dosage." That's some kind of metaphor for Georgia O'Keeffe. Take the right dose.

Now, let's get back to Germaine Greer. I love how Gompertz got out the opinion that female artists have just not been that good by slapping the name Germaine Greer on it. Women are so useful when it comes to insulting women. I didn't say it. Germaine said it.

* ADDED: The 7th paragraph of the article does — at least now — have the title of the painting. That's after referring to it as 1. "Georgia O'Keeffe painting," 3. "the simple white blossom of a weed,"  3. "A floral painting," and 4. "O'Keeffe's work." The separate section by Gompertz does not use the title of the painting.

Author asks the Green Bay Packers to stop selling his book on Vince Lombardi... because it has a foreword written by Bill Cosby.

"A quick reply came from Gabrielle Dow, the team's vice president of marketing and fan engagement. The books were pulled, she said."
"In this ever increasing environment of awareness in which the National Football League is taking a strenuous stance against domestic abuse and sexual assault, removal of the book in all forms would be an appropriate course of action, in my opinion," [Royce] Boyles wrote.
This might seem like a bold and selfless move by the author, censoring his own book, but the book, "Lombardi's Left Side," had co-authors — former players Herb Adderley and Dave Robinson — and Royce didn't ask them if they wanted the book withdrawn.
"I know their names are on the jacket, too, but so is mine," he told me. "I don't think you take a vote on integrity. If integrity is for sale at $26.95 a copy, I don't want to know about it."
The foreword was "written" by recording what Cosby said off the top of his head immediately upon being asked over the phone if he'd write a foreword: "Cosby said, 'Just turn on your tape recorder.'" Cosby had been childhood friends with Herb Adderley:
The rambling foreword talks about their days in school and athletics. 
Which is probably why Cosby agreed to do it. He had ready material.
He doesn't get around to Vince Lombardi until the very end.
So maybe Adderley should have been consulted. Royce has other books about Lombardi, by the way. 
"I can write another book," Boyles said. "But when they drop the lid on my coffin, I just hope that maybe somebody would say, 'He had a sliver of integrity anyway.'"
Here's the cover, note the size of the names on that list of authors:

Herb Adderley — who's in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame — is 75 years old and played from 1961 to 1972.

ADDED: You can read the whole foreword by clicking on "Look Inside" at the Amazon page for the book. The book is about Adderley and Robinson. That's why it's called "Lombardi's Left Side." Adderley was the left cornerback, and Robinson was the left linebacker. I'm reading a little of the book, right after the foreword: "Two great black men shut down the left side of the football field and opened up the right side of our minds." That strongly suggests that Boyles is the sole author.