Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Someone must have said
that a girl stops playing with dolls when she
becomes her own doll.
When she starts dressing and posing herself.
When she acts out scenes.
And when she rises up out of herself
to look back down, to watch
lovers and others, too, play with her
like when she would
lend her favorite doll to her very best friend.
A girl painter once said
that to paint a self-portrait you must,
“...Get rid of the surplus,
the hatred and the excessive love.”
A friend of that painter once wrote
that when the model became
a painter she had risen
on the social scale. When we put
dolls aside and become dolls
we negotiate an ascent
that’s equally dubious.
But that doesn’t matter at all.
All that does matter is the play time.
Play time illuminates
the surplus. The excessive love and hate.
A person playing—
like a painter—can see some
of the real lines, the proportions,
the dynamism of discrete shapes
the colors in light and dark,
the embrace of figure and ground.
I knew a woman
who once shop-lifted a bagel. Later
she painted it rather than eat it.
Bagel became model.
The night the woman told me
about all this she used a doll
to act out the shop-lifting episode.
Later that same night
when I was moving
her arms and legs, she said, “Hey, you’re moving
me like I moved Barbie!
What scene are you trying to act out?”
I work with words. I was quick.
I immediately said that
her theft and exploitation
of the bagel really was just
an artistic sublimation
of her masculinity
and I was just doing directly
what she had to play at.
She punched me then, real damn hard,
but she laughed, too. We kept playing.
Playing is enlightening.
People playing—like a painter—
create portraits. A girl painter
once said that to reach the soul
you must, “...Possess the courage
to look the model in the face.”
Dolls and bagels and lovers.
Painters and real people. Models.
It’s just play. But the courage to look
is real. So is the soul.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The day I take my life away
I won’t lock it in a jar
With spider eggs and a lizard’s leg
And a hand-turned copper bar.
Make no mistake on that morning
When everything’s gone from my head
The sun will still rise in the courtyard
The sparrows still sing to be fed.
They’ll sing for food on the concrete
Same as the morning before
But their song will echo my name
When my shadow appears at the door.
Then shading the rising sun
The sparrows will come in a crowd
And lift my soul like a silver shroud
To drape across a cloud.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The phrase The American Eccentric
Empirical Tradition comes from here:
The Weird Fact And The Big Romance
Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Now that’s a guitar with a lot of switches and knobs.
Last month I wrote about how I like electric guitars that keep things simple. [Knobs] Today’s post is about the guy that got the whole knobs-on-guitars thing started.
There’s a new documentary out on DVD about Les Paul and it’s very good. It’s called, “Les Paul: Chasing Sound!” There aren’t as many extended performances as I would have included, but it’s great seeing Les Paul play. Even now, as an old guy, he still can play rings around almost everyone.
The documentary was created using a lot of Apple technology. There’s an interesting ‘making of’ at the Apple web site: “Les Paul: Invented Here”
Les Paul was a country music guitar guy who became a jazz guitar guy who became a pop music guitar guy who ended up becoming an all-around legendary guitar guy. Along the way he pioneered the very concept of the electric guitar, sound-on-sound recording and multi-track recording. And any number of other amazing things.
But for Les Paul the music always came first. Technology was always just a tool to create and capture the sounds.
Along with his wife, singer Mary Ford, Les Paul created some of the most beautiful guitar/vocal recordings in the history of pop music. They are still unique, still beautiful today.
I like an electric guitar with no switches and one knob. But I’m a fumble-fingered, tin-eared strummer who plays a guitar as if it’s a stretched-out autoharp.
Les Paul is the real deal—a musician so comfortable with the sounds and the technology that all the switches and knobs disappear behind his right arm and never get jiggy with his thinking.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I was still in what I call a fragmentary stage. I had a series of fragments. That’s not a good state to be in because you feel fragmented inside you. These are very emotional experiences. When you’re in that state you worry about whether you are going to be able to put the things together. So I began to make drawings and ideas for it. Then, I would find that they weren’t working and then I’d feel unhappiness about it. This took quite a few months. I sketched and drew and composed and nothing was coming of it. Finally, certain ideas began to clarify themselves for me.
Even though the modern world is more awash in images than at any other time in history, in today’s world does any social context exist where single images that take months to produce are “consumed” by the public-at-large?
I don’t think so.
I think this is a fundamental difference between our culture and everything that has come before us in the hundreds of years of Western civilization.
Movies certainly take months or even years to produce. But the actual images we see are the result of cinematographers bargaining with directors or producers to get as many minutes as possible to set up a shot.
The most skilled artists today work in advertising but even the most expensive ad image is produced under time pressures similar to the movie business.
Computer games are created by teams of programmers, designers and artists, but like the film and ad industries, these people work under production schedules where they must create hundreds of images per month.
Comic book artists get paid by the page. If they let an image ‘work itself out’ for months then they do not get paid for months.
In fact, the only way a person can learn of and see images that artists labor over for months is by regularly reading an obscure magazine like “Art In America” and keeping track of what obscure gallery is showing which obscure artist’s work and then traveling to New York (usually) to view the creations.
As if fast food wasn’t bad enough, as if fast food wasn’t killing enough people foolish enough to eat it, we live in a global society where the only art available to the public-at-large is fast art.
And I suspect fast art is doing more damage to our minds and souls than fast food is doing to our bodies.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Will Barnet, ‘Soft Boiled Eggs,’ 1946, Oil on canvas
The idea was to experience physical aspects of forms behind a table, under a table, on the side of a table, and then feeling all these forms in relationship to a background. I had no clue at that moment as to just how I would handle it or how I would relate it. I was still in what I call a fragmentary stage. I had a series of fragments. That’s not a good state to be in because you feel fragmented inside you. These are very emotional experiences. When you’re in that state you worry about whether you are going to be able to put the things together. So I began to make drawings and ideas for it. Then, I would find that they weren’t working and then I’d feel unhappiness about it. This took quite a few months. [Emphasis mine. I’ll revisit this comment tomorrow.] I sketched and drew and composed and nothing was coming of it. Finally, certain ideas began to clarify themselves for me. ... I had a lot of trouble with the woman because she always remained too far behind the table. And the boy that was underneath the table always remained by himself, isolated. I had physical sensations that weren’t being brought together on the canvas. My problem was, in the final analysis, how to get the mother and the child that was underneath the table together. I began to pull the space or perspective of the woman sitting behind the table forward towards the front of the table. Her body was beginning to move from behind to almost the front leg of the table. By bringing her body forward, I related her to the little boy underneath the table and I associated one of his hands so that he touched her on one of the slippers she was wearing. In that way, I had taken two forms and united them into one. Yet they covered a great deal of space. ... As soon as I felt this kind of sensation of relationship, I became more excited about the picture. ... I felt if I had gotten this far I could get further. I was having a lot of trouble because it was supposed to be a birthday party and there was supposed to be a big cake on the table. But the cake didn’t fit on the table. I was very unhappy about that. So then, I put the painting away for a few weeks and tried to figure out what to do. Then, I came, early one morning, for breakfast. My wife had put a lot of soft-boiled eggs on the table, sort of arbitrarily. When I saw those eggs, I said to myself, “My God, that’s the solution!” Because the eggs would not interfere with the horizontal movement of the table, they would become part of that whole plane. Then, the picture began to resolve itself. I still had the young child celebrating the birthday cake. He was celebrating soft-boiled eggs or celebrating anything. It was no longer illustrative. Then the painting became a painting and the story wasn’t as important as the painting.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Last week Zürich, Switzerland, hosted a medium-sized women’s tennis tournament, the Zürich Open. The number one player in the world, Justin Henin, was there. Former number one Serena Williams was there. My favorite tennis player, Elena Dementieva, was there, fresh from beating Serena Williams the previous week in the final of the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.
In the very first round at the Zürich Open, however, odd events upstaged the tennis.
Serena Williams played Swiss veteran Patty Schnyder and Schnyder pulled out the upset victory. But it wasn’t what fans call a ‘clean’ victory—Schnyder won the first set 6-3 and then went up a break 3-0 in the second set and Williams quit.
In tennis jargon when a player stops play with an injury or other issue he or she is said to have ‘retired’ from the match.
Serena Williams retired with an adductor strain. That’s sports jargon for a sore leg. (More colorful sports jargon calls it a ‘groin pull.’)
I thought, well, it’s a great victory for the old Swiss player, but it’s too bad Williams didn’t stick it out for three more games to give her opponent a regular win. But the year-end championships are coming up and it’s always possible Williams didn’t want to risk a serious injury.
Later in the first round, Elena Dementieva played Italian veteran Francesca Schiavone. They split the first two sets and when Schiavone went up 4-2 in the deciding set, Dementieva quit.
Elena Dementieva retired with an adductor strain also. (Williams hurt her right leg, Dementieva hurt her left leg.) And Dementieva wouldn’t be appearing in the year-end championships so she couldn’t really say she was being extra careful.
I thought, just damn.
Throughout most of my tennis watching—and tennis playing—life, retirements generally have been rare. In most tournaments it didn’t happen at all. If it happened once, it was the kind of thing sports commentators talked about. But last year in the final of the Australian Open, Justin Henin played Amelie Mauresmo and when Mauresmo won the first set and went up 2-0 in the second set, Henin quit. The final. Of a grand slam tournament. Henin took a lot of heat from commentators and writers and fans for not gutting-out the match and giving her opponent a ‘real’ victory. But other players seem to have taken the tactic and not the heat to heart. Since then there have been more and more retirements.
But two retirements in the first round from major players was still strange.
And it got stranger.
In the third round, Francesca Schiavone squared off against the number two player in the world, Svetlana Kuznetsova. Schiavone took the first set 6-3 and with the second set tied at 3-3, Kuznetsova quit.
Kuznetsova retired with a sore shoulder. Kuznetsova also is qualified for the year-end championships, so she had the ‘extra careful’ excuse available to her.
I thought, what the hell, is anyone in this tournament going to finish a match?
Later in the third round, French-Russian beauty Tatiana Golovin played France’s Marion Bartoli and Bartoli didn’t even let one set get past her. On serve at 4-5 in the oppening set, Bartoli quit.
Bartoli retired with a sore knee.
I thought, at this rate there won’t be anybody left to play in the final!
From then on, however, things went reasonably smoothly and the final pitted Golovin against Henin and Henin won in straight sets.
But four retirements was something new to me.
What’s happening to women’s tennis? Players are just walking away from matches!
When the tournament was over, I checked out the complete draw sheet. There were thirty-one matches total. Four ended in retirements. (That’s about 13%.) In hindsight it doesn’t really sound all that bad. Four out of thirty-one. But I don’t remember such a thing ever happening before.
I recently looked back at the head-to-head matches of some great players from the past. Steffi Graf played Monica Seles 15 times. And those women fought hard. Those two never had a match against each other end in a retirement. Chris Evert played Martina Navratilova 80 times! Maybe the best sports rivalry ever. They had two matches that never started because one or the other was injured, but of their 80 matches against one another not one that started ended in a retirement.
Jimmy Conners used to say you’d have to take him off the court on a stretcher. Heck, Boris Becker once broke a bone and was carried off the court on a stretcher.
In women’s tennis now players just quit when they get an ache or pain.
Strange goings on.
Monday, October 22, 2007
“Look, I’m afraid I’m a little jaded in the romance department. The only thing I know about relationships is that someone usually winds up getting hurt. I don’t think it’s about trust. It’s like the German poet Rilke said. A person isn’t who they were during the last conversation you had with them. They’re who they’ve been throughout your whole relationship.”
Friday, October 19, 2007
I hope the paranoid nuts are correct
believing in a government project
in progress at Montauk that can bend space.
If it is real there always is a chance
somebody there will somehow cross two wires
and short-out their magic machine just so
to cause a time-and-space vortex just west
that would suck the Cold Spring Harbor hell-hole
into a whirlpool of nothingness like
the Philadelphia experiment.
I would enjoy living in a future
where Cold Spring Harbor were a fantasy
believed in only by paranoid nuts
but I’m afraid I’ll live in a future
where Cold Spring Harbor is the heart and soul
of a chic novus ordo seclorum.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Animating speech can be one of the most difficult tasks in animation; the process of matching the mouth-movements of your animation to the phonemes of your audio track is most commonly known as lip-synching. For a quick fix, it's no problem to just animate the mouth opening and closing, and it's a simple shortcut, especially when animating for the web. But if you want to add actual expression and realistic mouth-movements, it helps to study how the shape of the mouth changes with each sound. There are dozens upon dozens of variations, but my sketches are renderings from the basic ten shapes of the Preston Blair phoneme series. (They're also an example of what happens when Adri dashes off ten-minute sketches from memory rather than detailed artwork.)
These ten basic phoneme shapes can match almost any sound of speech, in varying degrees of expression--and with the in-between frames moving from one to the other, are remarkably accurate.
You may want to keep this for reference.
- A and I: For the A and I vowel sounds, the lips are generally pulled a bit wider, teeth open, tongue visible and flat against the floor of the mouth.
- E: The E phoneme is similar to the A and I, but the lips are stretched a bit wider, the corners uplifted more, and the mouth and teeth closed a bit more.
- U: For the U sound, the lips are pursed outwards, drawn into a pucker but still somewhat open; the teeth open, and the tongue somewhat lifted.
- O: Again the mouth is drawn to a pucker, but the lips don't purse outwards, and the mouth is rounder, the tongue flat against the floor of the mouth.
- C, D, G, K, N, R, S, Th, Y, and Z: Long list, wasn't it? This configuration pretty much covers all the major hard consonants: lips mostly closed, stretched wide, teeth closed or nearly closed.
- F and V: Mouth at about standard width, but teeth pressed down into the lower lip. At times there can be variations closer to the D/Th configuration.
- L: The mouth is open and stretched apart much like the A/I configuration, but
- M, B, and P: These sounds are made with the lips pressed together; it's the duration that matters. "M" is a long hold, "mmm"; "B" is a shorter hold then part, almost a "buh" sound; P is a quick hold, puff of air.
- W and Q: These two sounds purse the mouth the most, almost closing it over the teeth, with just the bottoms of the upper teeth visible, sometimes not even that. Think of a "rosebud mouth".
- Rest Position: Think of this as the "slack" position, when the mouth is at rest--only with the thread of drool distinctly absent.
When you're drawing or modeling your animation, by listening to each word and the syllable combinations inherent you can usually break them down into a variation of these ten phoneme sets. Note that my drawings aren't perfectly symmetrical; that wasn't just shoddy sketching. No two people express themselves in an identical fashion, and each has individual facial quirks that make their speech and expressions asymmetrical.
Whenever I look through animation discussions on lip-synching—and some become vastly more complicated than this—I always remind myself of Kermit the Frog.
A guy’s hand in a sock puppet. The mouth opens. The mouth closes. Sometimes the mouth scrunches up.
It’s easy to become seduced by interesting complications.
It’s better to embrace simplicity.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Who are these children
Who scheme and run wild
Who speak with their wings
And the way that they smile
What are the secrets
They trace in the sky
And why do you tremble
Each time they ride by
“Your Gold Teeth II”
All the girls are laughing at the local mall
and all the boys are watching the girls walking.
The girls are laughing because boys are watching.
There are psychedelic shadows on the wall.
Some religious types worry about a Fall
while most science types think we’re just evolving,
no thought, design or over-arching scheming
like a young boy choosing which young girl to call.
I used to keep a journal. Very detailed.
I stopped it when I looked back after five years
and saw nothing of my life in all the facts.
The who, what, where, when, why and how business failed.
The scientist fears peer review. The priest fears
divine revelation. What’s the book of Acts?
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
In ITV's new version of 'Frankenstein,' the pioneering scientist is a woman who treats the Monster like a child. Gerard Gilbert visits the set to find out more
Published: 16 October 2007
Independent News and Media Limited
It was less depressing than anticipated to revisit London's now-decommissioned Middlesex Hospital. The last time I was there, 15 years ago, it had been to call on a dying relative, but, in place of morbidity, I found myself thinking what a fabulous setting these echoing rooms and corridors, with their peeling, institutional green paint and extant operating-lights and stainless-steel sinks, would make for a David Cronenberg movie.
And, indeed, one corner of this vast mausoleum of suffering is now being used as a film location by Jed Mercurio, the doctor-turned-screenwriter who wrote Bodies and Cardiac Arrest.
Mercurio's latest venture is an updating of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to the age of stem-cell research and human cloning. When I meet him between takes in an ancient operating theatre and remark how Cronenberg might appreciate the setting, he replies: "I would compare my Frankenstein to Cronenberg's remake of The Fly. The monster in the original Fifties version of The Fly was a crude, anatomical combination of man and insect, whereas Cronenberg's version exploited knowledge of DNA to depict him as a transgenic chimera."
In commissioning Mercurio, it's obvious that ITV are hoping for something a little more ambitious than just some Hammer rehash with post-modern bolts on, and the writer-director is keen to put his knowledge of medical science to good effect.
"When Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, science had no idea how life developed. We now have a better idea of how organisms develop at the cellular level, and this is why stem-cell biology gone wrong provides such a credible and frightening basis for the creation of the Monster. The story of Frankenstein is now far closer to reality than it ever was when it was first written."
In Mercurio's version, Dr Victor Frankenstein is a woman – Victoria Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist conducting highly controversial organ-cloning experiments. Her work is driven increasingly beyond ethical limits by the fact that her young son is dying, and the remote, desperate hope that her work might somehow cure or even replicate him.
"As it was written by a woman, I wanted to honour the fact by making Victor Frankenstein female," says Mercurio. "Plus, I was excited by a maternal relationship between Frankenstein and the Monster."
Mercurio has been clever enough to have cast Helen McCrory – an actress adept at playing passionate women verging on the insane – in the title role.
I first bump into McCrory by the cavernous hospital lifts. "Thank God for the Monster," she exclaims. "I was so worried and now I've seen him I'm so relieved." I ask her to elucidate. "Well, if I'm honest, I was a bit concerned about it because it's television, it's horror, and there's a monster and you immediately think: 'Oh God, it's going to be some guy with a bucket on his head with two holes in the middle and none of us are ever going to work again!'"
McCrory was reassured by the involvement of CGI experts behind shows like Primeval and Walking with Dinosaurs. So, although the creature is played by Julian Bleach, whom I meet in his trailer at the end of a marathon session in make-up, there is some sophisticated post-production touching-up.
"One of the things I was certain about was that I wanted a real actor for the Monster," says Mercurio. "I wanted someone for the others actors to play off, not a blue light or empty space."
Naturally, ITV want to keep the Monster's look a secret. Suffice it to say, he looks nothing like Boris Karloff in James Whale's 1931 movie – the look universally identified with Mary Shelley's creation, with his flat head, big boots and enormous hands. "Shelley wrote about a Monster that had been put together piecemeal – that's why there are scars all over him," says Mercurio. "Ours is different, as it was grown from cells."
There are other differences, too. One cinematic reference involves the scene from the Whale movie where the Monster meets a little girl by the pond and comes to realise that she won't float. Whale handles this episode with great pathos, drawing out the Monster's potential for love when it is not feared. Mercurio's version culminates with a scene of sudden brutal violence.
"I wanted to show that the Monster should be feared and reviled, which is part of the story," he explains. "If that was purely based on the Monster's appearance, I don't think that would work. You'd say: 'OK, he's an ugly beast but I'm not scared of him.' The Monster had to have elements that would fight that sympathy. I didn't want it to be like ET, where the Monster is just misunderstood."
Not that his Frankenstein is unduly gory. "I think you've got to be careful with gore – in different genres it means different things. In Bodies, we had a lot of gore because it was a medical drama. The gore was authentic. But I wanted to be careful here, because there's been this movement in horror to have gore-fests – things like Saw and Hostel. I wanted to remove that thing where they're just playing on people's squeamishness."
Indeed, Mercurio seems more interested in pathos than in pure horror, although it can be a fine line between intended pathos and unintended comedy. At a recent preview, I had to suppress an astonished laugh at a scene towards the end where the Monster and its "parents" play happy families together on the beach.
I like this scene more in retrospect, just as I like the spirit and style of the production, although the narrative sometimes feels rushed and confused. As it is, the most distinctive strand is the maternal bond between Victoria Frankenstein and her creation. "In the novel, Frankenstein actually loves the creation and feels an enormous sense of responsibility for him," says McCrory. "Equally, my concern for the Monster is the concern of a mother for a child. I felt this very strongly, as I was pregnant when we were filming, and Mary Shelley had a child who died very young."
Her Frankenstein is a passionate scientist, not some bonkers inventor playing God. And, despite outward appearances, Mercurio argues that his adaptation is not anti-science.
"I share the beliefs I've instilled in Victoria," he says. "Advances in medical science save lives and ease suffering. I believe that properly regulated research in stem-cell biotechnology will lead to many valuable improvements in medical treatment, and that objections on religious or ethical grounds should be vigorously opposed. But then I wouldn't want to see ill-conceived experiments with distressing consequences."
He has a funny way of showing it, but Mercurio's might be the most optimistic version of Frankenstein yet made.
'Frankenstein' is on Wednesday 24 October on ITV1 at 9pm
The creation of a legend: Frankenstein at the movies
James Whale creates the modern-day image of the monster, and the iconography that subsequent movies have found it hard to shake off. Boris Karloff (right) wears the bad haircut and the ill-fitting suit.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
The extraordinary Elsa Lanchester is the initially reluctant bride in Whale's very knowing sequel – the funniest and greatest of all Frankenstein movies – driving Karloff's monster husband to despair.
The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
The first of Hammer's five Frankenstein movies. James Whale's Monster was copyrighted, so Christopher Lee had to labour under inept make-up.
Flesh for Frankenstein (1973)
Paul Morrissey targets the drive-in market with his camp, deliriously sexed-up version.
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Mel Brooks's loving black-and-white parody of the Whale movies provided the arch-spoofer with his greatest hit. Gene Wilder is Frankenstein and Peter Boyle the Monster.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994)
Kenneth Branagh goes back to Shelley's source novel but loses any scare-value en route, while Robert de Niro is buried under Elelphant Man-style make-up.
Gods and Monsters (1998)
Not a Frankenstein movie as such, but a marvellous tribute to Whale, superbly portrayed by Ian McKellen.
Monday, October 15, 2007
The Wednesday before last I posted a short monologue from a story I’m working on. The story probably will be called “The Skeleton From The Telephone Pole,” and this is another brief excerpt:
A little after midnight a skeleton squeezed itself out from inside a telephone pole. It simply walked over the alley fence of Sasha’s back yard and began chasing a rabbit.
Sasha and Terry watched from his back yard across the alley.
Sasha had thought Terry asked her to sit with him in his back yard because he wanted to get frisky. He’d said he wanted to show her something weird. She’d giggled and agreed. They’d sat outside, whispering, Sasha herself getting more and more frisky, while Terry kept his attention focused on the alley.
Then, a little after midnight, a skeleton squeezed itself out from inside a telephone pole and began chasing a rabbit around Sasha’s back yard.
The rabbit finally escaped by slipping under an old, wooden fence along the north side of Sasha’s yard. The skeleton made a fist and pounded the wooden fence. The impact made a loud bang that echoed through the night.
The skeleton across the alley spun toward the sound of Sasha’s gasp.
Terry took Sasha’s hand. They stood up.
The skeleton stalked to the alley fence behind Sasha’s yard. The skull starred at Sasha and Terry.
Terry took a step backward toward the enclosed porch of his house. He pulled Sasha, but Sasha stood rigid, terrified, her eyes fixed on the skeleton across the alley.
The skeleton slowly stepped over the fence and into the alley. It crouched.
Terry tugged at Sasha’s hand. She wouldn’t move.
The skeleton lunged forward, running across the alley.
Terry dragged Sasha backward. He opened the door to his porch and shoved Sasha inside. He jumped in after her, pulled the door closed behind him and pushed the deadbolt lock and twisted the doorknob lock.
Terry looked out through the window in the door. Sasha stood behind Terry and looked over his shoulder.
The skeleton ran across the pavement outside the porch. The bones of its feet made clacking sounds against the stones. At the door, the skeleton raised a fist. Terry, remembering the force of the skeleton pounding on the fence, tried to take a step back, but again Sasha wouldn’t move.
The skeleton stopped with its fist raised. The skull leaned forward. Its cranium clicked against the glass. The black, empty eye sockets seemed somehow focused on Terry and Sasha.
Terry felt Sasha’s hands clutching his arms so tightly he wondered if she might be able to break his bones just from the pressure of her fingers.
Outside, the skeleton backed up, whirled around and ran from the yard. Out in the alley, the skeleton ran to a telephone pole. It positioned itself sideways to the pole, then leaned in and somehow squeezed itself into the pole and disappeared.
Sasha spun Terry around. She punched him, hard, in the chest. She spoke and her voice was practically a scream.
“Any guy on earth tells a girl he wants to show her something weird,” Sasha yelled, “and it means he, you know, wants to show her something weird! Why do I get the only guy on the planet who tells me he wants to show me something weird and he really means he wants to show me something weird!?”
Friday, October 12, 2007
When I was in school, our school library stocked only one ‘art’ magazine, American Artist. Local bookstores also carried The Artist. The two magazines are so similar in content and ‘look and feel’ that I’ll be referring to both of them when I speak of American Artist.
When I moved into the business world I talked with typesetters and designers and illustrators. It quickly became clear that professionals who worked with images for a living only regularly read one periodical, Communication Arts.
Communication Arts is a kind of trade journal and American Artist is a mass-market art magazine. You might expect—well, I expected—the trade journal would be defined by narrow, commercial interests, business arts, and the mass-market magazine would be open to the widest, most dynamic view of art imaginable.
But just the opposite is true.
Looking through any issue of Communication Arts and any issue of American Artist it’s immediately apparent that Communication Arts is vital, dynamic, broadly-themed and powerful. American Artist is insular, subdued, narrowly-focused and, well, weak.
I’ve spent a long time thinking about the differences between these magazines. I am not really one hundred percent happy with the conclusions I’ve come up with, but I offer this post as a kind of status report so far, a kind of work-in-progress. A sketch.
Communication Arts is about art in a social context. It’s about art as part of a communication process. American Artist presents art as an end in itself.
I don’t think art has ever been an end in itself.
Twenty generations ago, when Caravaggio presented his latest canvas to a patron the painting was not locked away to be appreciated only by fans. The painting would have been put on display. People from all walks of life in Rome would have found time to pass by and glance at the latest Caravaggio image. Other artists would have made copies. The proto-newspapers of the era would have discussed the painting. And just about everyone in Rome would have been gossiping about which infamous courtesan Caravaggio used as a model for the Magdalen or Mary. People probably would be betting among themselves if the particular juxtaposition of earthy model and divine image would be so scandalous that the Church would have to refuse to accept the painting. (That happened!)
Six or seven generations ago when Manet painted a naked woman at a picnic with fully dressed men the image was not locked away in some museum’s side gallery. Manet displayed the image where anyone from Paris could view it. And people from all walks of life in Paris did find time to check it out. Newspapers printed reproductions. Columnists speculated if the image was art or salacious exploitation.
Real art has always had a social context. Real art has always been part of a process.
Real art is still around. Society still exists—although it’s certainly wildly different from what Manet lived within, wildly different from what Caravaggio lived within (well...).
All the various processes of communication between artists and the culture around them continue.
The magazine Communication Arts is about those processes. It’s about real art. American Artist, in presenting art as some kind of end in itself, denies the reality of art, ignores the encompassing communication processes between an artist and the surrounding culture and creates a kind of denial in the reader, creates a kind of virtual reality inhabited by the reader, the magazine and the advertisers.
And I suspect this last point is a key point. Communication Arts embraces the commercial aspects of the culture around us and the role they play in the communications between artists and consumers. American Artist, though denying the pervasive commercial reality of the art world, is none-the-less itself defined physically by endless ads for pencils and paints.
I read American Artist every month. I read every issue of Communication Arts. Every now and then in American Artist I come across an interesting tidbit of art history—like Hopper being inspired by Botticelli, or I learn about a great new tool, like Derwent’s Graphitint pencils. But reading Communication Arts I feel I’m seeing, so to speak, a report from the front, news from the real world, a glimpse of reality.
It takes a bit of effort to read American Artist. Reading Communication Arts is like plugging-in and recharging.
Art is food for the soul.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Okay. Today’s post is a little screwed up.
Today’s post was supposed to be a kind of part one/part two thing with tomorrow’s post. It still is, but it just won’t be as cool as I’d hoped it would be.
My plans started earlier this week when I was looking through the new (September/October ’07) issue of Communication Arts magazine. They have a cool article on the ad firm Modernista! with a lot of the firm’s work. One of the samples was a GAP print ad featuring Britney Murphy.
[And I have no idea how her name is spelled. The GAP ad spelled it as ‘Britney’ and Wikipedia spells it as ‘Brittany.’ Your guess is better than mine. All I really know about her is that she was GREAT in the movie ‘Cherry Falls’ and in real life she has had a lot of fiances.]
But back to the Modernista! GAP ad with Brittany in it.
Very cool. I planned on grabbing a copy of the ad from off the web somewhere and posting it today, and then tomorrow talking a bit about Communication Arts magazine.
But the ad doesn’t seem to exist anywhere on the ’net, at least not as indexed by Google or Microsoft Live.
I even checked out Modernista!’s GAP Gifted page and they don’t have it as an active image any more.
Tomorrow I’ll have something to say about Communication Arts magazine (and a few others). Check out the current issue on page 72 for a very cool pic of Brittany Murphy.
In the mean time, here’s a cool Brittany Murphy pic I did find today:
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
So here we are two episodes into season seven and suddenly we discover that somewhere back in the chronology of season six Lex cloned Lana.
Exactly when during the events of season six did Lex clone Lana? Exactly when during the events of season six did Lana find out about the cloning?
This cloning business raises some interesting issues and it answers a troubling question.
(Of course, we’re talking about TV here—it may raise interesting questions. It may answer a troubling question. It takes a lot of people to create twenty-two hours of a television show every year. Some of those people are very smart. Some are very stupid. Some of the Smallville people are very smart and carefully plan ahead—remember, one of the very first images of the series in season one episode one was Lionel reading a headline about Queen Industries and Oliver didn’t actually appear until season six. But some of the Smallville people are idiots—just recently we had Supergirl’s spaceship with a ‘self-destruct’ mechanism designed to go off if anyone tampered with her ship. Only it didn’t self-destruct immediately, it self-destructed after about half an hour, after bad guys were able to ransack the ship. And although the self-destruct mechanism was designed to keep the ship away from strangers, the self-destruct blast wouldn’t have been powerful enough to destroy Supergirl’s ‘crystal,’ the most valuable part of the ship. Idiots.)
So somewhere during the chronology of season six Lex cloned Lana.
Is the cloning why Lex pumped Lana full of the weird hormones that made her think she was pregnant?
Throughout season six, there always had been a strange conflict: If Lex really loved Lana, why did he do such horrible things to her? If Lex didn’t really love Lana, why did he put up with so much trouble from her? We [we fans] just assumed this was part of Lex’s general schizophrenia. We saw season six as an elaboration of the Clark-Lana and Lex-Lana triangle.
But this cloning angle suggests a whole new interpretation.
Very possibly the entire story arc of season six wasn’t about the Clark/Lana/Lex triangle, but rather was just an elaboration on Lex’s wild crush on Clark. It’s really been an unstated subtext ever since season one, episode one when Clark rescued Lex from the river and saved him with mouth-to-mouth. Lex is ‘mad’ about Clark.
The cloning business suggests that Lex’s whole purpose of getting Lana to move into the mansion was to prepare his trickiest plot yet against Clark.
Was the fake pregnancy not a ploy to get Lana to marry Lex, but just an off-shoot of the cloning procedure? Was the marriage itself not Lex’s goal, but was the marriage just a convenient way to keep Lana close at hand for the cloning?
Remember, Lex beat Lana’s doctor to death with his bare hands to keep him silent. That suggests the doctor might have been set to reveal more than just a fake pregnancy.
Why was the Lana clone so important to Lex?
Because a Lana clone would be Lex’s ultimate weapon against Clark.
Lex knew Clark would never tell him the truth. But Lex knew that Clark was in love with Lana. Lex knew that Clark—given the right circumstances—would tell Lana anything and everything.
So Lex cloned Lana.
And in the circumstances of the season six season finale, Clark did tell Lana everything. Or did he?
At the end of season six, when Clark confesses to Lana in the barn, when Clark finally tells Lana his secret, was Clark talking to the real Lana, or was that Lex’s clone Lana? Was the Lana Clark confessed to the same Lana that then went to fake her own death using a Lana clone (one of the Lana clones?), or did the Lana Clark confessed to go and report back to Lex with everything Clark said?
It’s worth remembering indirectly Smallville has a long history of people finding out about Clark’s secret only to have the revelation become null-and-void because of some cheesy plot device like amnesia or a time reversal. A Lana clone certainly is a cheesy device (but they’ve explicitly said such things exist, even though most fans just groan).
The preview teaser says the Lana that comes back isn’t the Lana that left. How many Lana clones are there? Who knows about them? Does Lionel? In the barn, after Clark confesses, that Lana tells Clark about Lionel. And Clark almost kills Lionel. That’s what Lex would have wanted. In the barn, was that a Lana clone working for Lex? Does Oliver know about the clones? Someone with a strong arm helped Lana stage her own death. Was that Oliver? If Lana knew about the clones and Oliver was well-versed on Lex’s 33.1 work, then Oliver must know. If Lana and Oliver both know about Lana clones, would they leave Clark in the dark?
Are there other clones? Lex had Chloe in 33.1. He extracted her DNA. Lex knows Clark kinda/sorta loves Chloe.
I’m dubious about how all this is going to play out. I don’t think any fans wanted to see clones injected into the Smallville storyline. There are so many ways things can go bad and so few ways things can work out smoothly that I don’t hold out much hope season seven will be a return to the high quality of season four and most of season three. Certainly the Supergirl stuff so far has been written by idiots.
Still, it’s TV. You just never know. Even in the middle of awful stuff, sometimes you get episodes produced by a really good team.
For the memory of all the great episodes of Smallville past, I hope they handle season seven properly.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Recently I’ve been thinking about cool old things versus cool modern things. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about binoculars and telescopes.
The coolest binoculars on the market right now are Canon’s 18x50 IS binoculars. They require batteries. They need batteries because although 18x is kind of high power for that aperture, the binoculars compensate for the power by using dynamic image stabilization mechanisms. When you look at something and focus, you then press the IS button and high-tech micro-electronics apply tiny motions to the prisms inside the binoculars to keep the view you see rock-steady. Every user report I’ve read says the technology works great and has completely eliminated the need for a tripod when using the binoculars for astronomy. That’s pretty cool.
The coolest telescopes on the market right now are in Meade’s RCX line. They need to be plugged in. They require power because not only does the telescope mount use electric motors to move the telescope around in altitude and azimuth, but the telescope itself uses micro-electronics to shift the secondary mirror forward and back to focus the telescope. Since everything is computerized—the mount uses GPS signals to help calibrate its GOTO mechanism—even collimating the mirrors is automated. With everything under computer control, astrophotographers can define and return to precise image settings from session to session. That’s pretty cool.
This is all techno-sexy and if I had a lot of disposable income I’d probably be a happy owner of the high-tech binoculars and telescopes. But they are certainly different from what I’m using now.
The telescope I’m using now is the same telescope my parents purchased for me back in 1968 or ’69. It was the first really good thing I ever owned. Optical systems built around lenses don’t really degrade if you refrain from using them to do things like hitting people on the head. My telescope is generally as good today as it was almost forty years ago. Of course, modern refractors are better color-corrected and modern eye pieces are better designed. But my telescope works as well today as when I was a kid. In fact, the telescopes works better, since I’m more familiar with the sky and can operate the telescope better.
The binoculars I’m using now are about thirty-five years old. My dad bought them when he and I were on our way to Wisconsin on a fishing trip. Like telescopes, if you don’t use binoculars to hit someone over the head, there’s little that will degrade over time. They still function great.
But what about modern binoculars and telescopes?
There is an acronym close to the heart of everyone who has worked in the computer business: MTBF   The letters stand for “mean time between failure.” Computers always break down. There’s never a question that computers will break down. Computer professionals distinguish between good and bad systems, however, by their MTBF. Bad systems will break down more often and more quickly than good systems.
Canon’s binoculars and Meade’s telescopes are built around microelectronics. There’s no question the equipment will fail. The question is, how long will it function before it fails? In the product documentation I’ve read the companies don’t address this.
A second, related, issue is, what happens ten years from now? Twenty years from now? Will the micro-electronic components at the heart of these high tech systems still be manufactured? Will ‘repair’ even be an option or will people simply be advised to purchase new equipment?
And is that a bad thing?
I don’t know.
I wrote six novels using the original Macintosh and its follow-on computer models. That hardware and software architecture doesn’t exist any more. For the most part, it is simply easier for me to use printouts and re-type the manuscripts than it is for me to track down some specialty shop that takes old disks and reads them, recognizes old software formats and translates them.
Computers make almost everything easier. They transform almost everything that once was regarded as a kind of chore into something like a kind of pleasure. The price for this transformation is constant change. Disconnection from the past. Not only constant residence in the present, but constant embrace of what is coming.
Is that a bad thing?
I don’t know.
I type fast and I make little corrections as I go so I don’t really mind re-typing old manuscripts. I enjoy high tech stuff so I don’t mind the constant turn-over of equipment.
But I’m aware this is a very different world we’ve created, very different than the world thousands of previous generations of human beings have lived in and I wonder if the techno-sexy consequences all will be benign.
Monday, October 08, 2007
‘Boozing Angelina Collapses!’
‘Boozing Angelina Collapses!’ who?
‘Boozing Angelina Collapses!’
And a thousand violins begin to play
Or it might be the sound of your ‘Hello’
This music I hear
I get misty
The moment you’re near...
* The title refers to a story in the 10/15 issue of the National Enquirer about Angelina Jolie. It’s not about my friend Angie. Angie’s full name is Angeline. And Angeline has told me repeatedly that when she goes out with Brad Pitt she never gets falling-down drunk.
Friday, October 05, 2007
So a few years ago my friend Derrick went to Los Angeles to make it as a screenwriter. He didn’t even last two years out there. He came back in a year and a half without a satchel full of unproduced screenplays and without an agent. He did bring back, however, two Hollywood stories.
The first Hollywood story involves a beautiful actress.
Derrick had gotten a job working at a store that sold furniture. One day Raquel Welch bought a small coffee table and Derrick got the job of carrying out the table to her SUV. He said Raquel Welch in real life was very pretty, very nice and gave him a twenty dollar tip.
I said, “Yeah, well, was she wearing a bra? Did you see her breasts?”
Derrick said, “She was furniture shopping and I was carrying furniture out to her SUV. She wasn’t dressed for club-hopping and I wasn’t looking at her breasts!”
I said, “Oh, Derrick, you were in Los Angeles!”
His second Hollywood story involves a famous director.
One night Derrick was out taking an evening walk. He didn’t remember what street he was on. (It’s always a bad sign when a writer doesn’t remember [or won’t make up!] the pointless details that flesh-out a story.) At some point Derrick looked up and saw Blake Edwards walking toward him. Derrick introduced himself and told Edwards how much he admired his films. Blake Edwards made some strange hand gesture and then said something amusing and cutting which illuminated the very heart of the movie business. Unfortunately Edwards apparently had been drinking that evening and his speech was so halting, his pronunciation so slurred, that Derrick didn’t understand a single word of what Edwards said. Then Edwards just nodded and walked off into the beautiful Los Angeles night.
I said, “That’s a cool story for folks who know who Blake Edwards is. But is that the way you’re going to tell it?”
Derrick said, “That’s what happened!”
I said, “Yeah, well, but it’s a Hollywood story.”
Derrick told me that’s the way it happened and that’s the way he was going to tell it.
It the grand tradition of Hollywood stories, however, whenever I tell the story about my friend meeting Blake Edwards, in normal conversation—normal, that is, unlike a heart-to-heart blog posting—I usually tell it like this:
Yes, a friend of mine went out to Hollywood to be a screenwriter. He didn’t have much luck, though. He did have a cool brush-with-greatness while he was out there.
One evening he was walking along Hollywood Boulevard, looking at all the names and stars in the pavement of the Walk of Fame. At one point he looked up and there, walking right toward him, were Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards! My friend introduced himself and told them how much he loved their work. He told them that he was trying to make it as a screenwriter, he wanted to write films. They wished him luck. Julie Andrews said show business was all about persistence, about not letting the grind get you down. Then Blake Edwards pointed his index finger at my friend and said, “Let me tell you something about the movie business you should always remember. Really great movies don’t get made because of the skills and passions of a team of filmmakers. Really great movies get made in spite of the so-called skills and so-called passions of a team of filmmakers!” Julie Andrews grimaced and said, “Oh, Blake!” and hit him on the shoulder. My friend laughed, and said, “That’s very good!” Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards both wished my friend luck again, and then continued their evening walk. My friend shook his head, smiling. He was thinking, ‘Wow, that old Kinks song is right. You really do see the stars when you walk down Hollywood Boulevard!’
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Almost every group of young friends sooner or later will spend some time voting among themselves, deciding who is most-likely-to-succeed, who is most-likely-to-be-divorced-before-thirty, who is most-likely-to-spend-time-in-prison. Those kinds of things.
I did that with my friends in high school. Most of us were show business wannabees of one kind or another. I wanted to be a novelist. My friend Derrick wanted to be a screenwriter. Martha wanted to be a writer-producer-director-performer. Et cetera. One afternoon about a dozen of us sat around in an abandoned chapel (I went to a Catholic high school) and we decided that everyone would get voted something.
So, Martha got voted most likely to have her own TV show. Phil got voted most likely to have his own comic strip. Derrick got voted most likely to make a movie.
Everyone got voted something.
I’ve never attended any of my high school reunions so I can’t compare how my group of friends actually turned out compared to the votes. I do know, however, that from among my friends I am the only one who hasn’t (yet?) made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles.
Tomorrow I’ll tell a story about my friend Derrick’s eighteen month excursion to Hollywood to be a screenwriter.
I’ve always remembered Tom Snyder saying that Los Angeles is a wonderful, wonderful city to live in—if you have a job. He said that the better your job, the more wonderful Los Angeles is to live in. If you don’t have a job, Los Angeles isn’t so hot.
I’ve always been waiting for some set of circumstances to transpire so that I could go to Los Angeles without having to put an open guitar case on the sidewalk in front of me and depend on my Neil Young-like guitar and voice skills [!] for making a living.
Yeah. So, everyone was voted something.
I was voted most likely to end up floating face down in a swimming pool.
I just know that when I do go to Los Angeles someone like, say, Jamie Lee Curtis will mistake me for the guy who is supposed to take away her dead monkey.
I’m not fighting my destiny. Not really. I’ll go to Los Angeles. I’m even kind of in a perverse way looking forward to going there. But there are just one or two things I still want to do before I go out there and check-in to the swimming pool with my name on it.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
I’m working on a story now and at one point in the story a young man offers to take a young woman to Los Angeles. The young woman laughs, and says, “Is that an invitation or a threat?” The young man then says:
“Let me tell you something about Los Angeles. Los Angeles is different from every other city in America. Los Angeles is special because of the people in Los Angeles. Unlike every other city in America the people in Los Angeles are in Los Angeles because they want to be in Los Angeles. They’re not there because they were born there. Nobody was born in Los Angeles. They’re not there because someone they love is there. Nobody loves anybody in Los Angeles. They’re not there because some magazine singled out the city for its cool jobs. All the jobs suck in Los Angeles. People are in Los Angeles because they choose to be there. Maybe they want to be part of what they think is the entertainment business. Maybe they want to be part of what they think is the party scene. Maybe they want to run a criminal enterprise built around the entertainment business or the party scene. Hell. Maybe all those things. Whatever. But they choose Los Angeles. People are in Los Angeles because they want to be in Los Angeles. That’s why the city is different. That’s why the city is special. That’s why the city is magic.”
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
About the only downside to keeping Sea Monkeys is that—to use one of my favorite phrases—in the fullness of time their little Ocean Zoo aquarium gets to looking very grungy. The bottom becomes covered with dead Sea Monkeys and cast off shells and uneaten food. The walls becomes covered with whatever kind of algae manages to grow in such salty water. It’s possible to scrap the walls a little, but then the stuff just falls to the bottom and joins that mess and the clean streaks make the rest of the walls look even dirtier. And it’s possible to use the official Sea Monkey plastic siphon (yes, I have one) to siphon away the mess from the bottom, but then you have to replace the water with equally salty water and none of their documentation ever actually spells out the salinity level.
Just over a year ago I thought I’d worked out a solution to the dirty Ocean Zoo problem.
The official Sea Monkey handbook says that if you let the water evaporate completely, all the salts will remain, dried as crystals on the inside of the container. You can just re-fill the container with water and Sea Monkey eggs—which by their nature survive dry spells—will hatch and a whole new generation will be born.
I decided I’d try out that procedure. But I planned to have a second Ocean Zoo aquarium standing by, all clean and with freshly mixed Sea Monkey water. When the new generation hatched, I would siphon up the youngsters and transfer them to the new Ocean Zoo. Then I could thoroughly wash out the dirty Ghostly Galleon.
So, early last Summer I let my Ghostly Galleon Ocean Zoo evaporate completely, leaving just dried residue on the inside walls. I put the container away and, while I was waiting, I purchased a second Ocean Zoo. (I couldn’t find another Ghostly Galleon, so I got a classic red Ocean Zoo.)
Now that the hot part of Summer is over, I decided to try and re-animate the dried out container of Sea Monkeys.
I added bottled water and waited. And waited. And waited.
Nothing happened. No new births. I waited seven days, but none of the (presumably present) Sea Monkey eggs ever hatched.
So, I called that procedure a failure. I emptied out the Ghostly Galleon Ocean Zoo and washed it out completely.
I still liked the idea of alternating dirty Ocean Zoos with clean ones, so I hatched a fresh population of Sea Monkeys in the newly clean Ghostly Galleon Ocean Zoo. After a few months, when the Ocean Zoo gets grungy, I will siphon up the mature Sea Monkeys and transfer them into the new classic red Ocean Zoo. I figure alternating from container to container, I’ll be able to keep their home relatively clean and I’ll always have an influx of new Sea Monkey genes from the mixture in the ‘new’ container they get transferred into. The combination of a clean Ocean Zoo with new water/egg mixture and the ‘old’ population from a dirty Ocean Zoo may be able to continue forever . . .
I don’t know why that drying out procedure didn’t work. Maybe when I was letting the water evaporate, at some point the container became too hot. (I had placed it on a sunny windowsill.) Toward the middle of this Winter, after I siphon up the mature population from what will be a dirty Ghostly Galleon Ocean Zoo, I may let that container dry out (away from hot sunlight) to try the re-animation routine again next Summer. (I’d have to purchase a third Ocean Zoo for this Winter’s transfer, but one of the great things about Sea Monkeys is that none of their accessories cost more than ten or fifteen dollars.)
So, that’s my Sea Monkey update. My re-animation procedure didn’t work. But I have a fresh population happily swimming around in a clean Ghostly Galleon Ocean Zoo, with a brand new classic red Ocean Zoo waiting in my closet for when the Ghostly Galleon gets dirty. And I’ve got a plan that may keep this hatching population alive for many years.
Monday, October 01, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007 -- Faraday’s Legacy
Thursday, September 27, 2007 -- Faraday On Speculation In ‘Natural Philosophy’
Wednesday, September 26, 2007 -- Faraday On The Non-Rotation Of Lines-Of-Force
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 -- Faraday On The Separation Of Matter And Space
Monday, September 24, 2007 -- Rex Grossman And Ximena Gonzalez
Friday, September 21, 2007 -- Knobs
Thursday, September 20, 2007 -- Blazing Dawn
Wednesday, September 19, 2007 -- Pastels (Dry): A French Perspective
Tuesday, September 18, 2007 -- Mischa Barton In The News
Monday, September 17, 2007 -- Starhopping Through Capricornus To Neptune
Friday, September 14, 2007 -- Isaac Newton and Stephen Wolfram, Angie, Neptune
Thursday, September 13, 2007 -- Sir Isaac Newton: An Indian Perspective
Wednesday, September 12, 2007 -- Nonstandard Analysis: A (Lost) French Perspective
Tuesday, September 11, 2007 -- Isaac Newton And Britney Spears
Monday, September 10, 2007 -- Sir Isaac Newton: A French Perspective
Friday, September 07, 2007 -- Magic, The Elder Gods, Fall Festivals
Thursday, September 06, 2007 -- Oil Pastels: The Cray-Pas History
Wednesday, September 05, 2007 -- Bee Dates Orchids Back To Time Of Dinosaurs
Tuesday, September 04, 2007 -- Star Hopping
Friday, August 31, 2007 -- Michael Vick in “The Man In The Chain-Link Cage”
Thursday, August 30, 2007 -- Michael Vick’s Dead Dog Blues Waltz
Wednesday, August 29, 2007 -- Dr. Phil, Michael Vick And Hillary Clinton
Tuesday, August 28, 2007 -- Michael Vick And Garfield
Monday, August 27, 2007 -- How Do You Make A Dead Dog Float? *
Friday, August 24, 2007 -- Fred Hoyle On Insensate Fury And Really Odd Explanations
Thursday, August 23, 2007 -- Fred Hoyle On Time And Really Odd Explanations
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 -- Solar System Formation And Really Odd Explanations
Tuesday, August 21, 2007 -- Exploding Planets And Really Odd Explanations
Monday, August 20, 2007 -- Gravity, Redshifts And Really Odd Explanations
Friday, August 17, 2007 -- Corporate Communications #5: Alison
Thursday, August 16, 2007 -- Corporate Communications #4: Alison (Introduction)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007 -- Corporate Communications #3: Shelley
Tuesday, August 14, 2007 -- Corporate Communications #2: Penny
Monday, August 13, 2007 -- Corporate Communications #1: Pamela
Friday, August 10, 2007 -- Cosmic Swarms
Thursday, August 09, 2007 -- Cosmic Scorpion
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 -- Cosmic Fireflies
Tuesday, August 07, 2007 -- Cosmic Butterflies
Monday, August 06, 2007 -- Stars And Bugs
Friday, August 03, 2007 -- Rembrandt, Magic And Constructing Reality
Thursday, August 02, 2007 -- Rembrandt, Magic And Retinex
Wednesday, August 01, 2007 -- Rembrandt, Magic And Substance Becomes Mind
Tuesday, July 31, 2007 -- Rembrandt, Magic And Colors Beyond Words
Monday, July 30, 2007 -- Rembrandt And Magic
Friday, July 27, 2007 -- Mischievous Girls: A Cautionary Tale
Thursday, July 26, 2007 -- Mischievous Girls: A Paragraph Re-Write
Wednesday, July 25, 2007 -- Mischievous Girls—Hard Times
Tuesday, July 24, 2007 -- Mischievous Girls In The News—Lindsay!
Monday, July 23, 2007 -- Mischievous Girls Make The World Go Round
Friday, July 20, 2007 -- “How To Survive a Robot Uprising: Tips on Defending Yourself Against the Coming Rebellion”
Thursday, July 19, 2007 -- A Resurgence Of Things Wagner
Wednesday, July 18, 2007 -- Nessie Monster Spotted In Chinese Lake
Tuesday, July 17, 2007 -- Is Bigfoot In Michigan?
Monday, July 16, 2007 -- Batteries And Bunnies And Bras—Oh My!
Friday, July 13, 2007 -- The End Of The Renaissance
Thursday, July 12, 2007 -- “One Of The Hardest-To-Imagine Tenets Of Ptolemaic Astronomy”
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 -- Has Science Proven That The Earth Is Stationary?
Tuesday, July 10, 2007 -- The Windmills Of PHYSICS TODAY
Monday, July 09, 2007 -- Catholic Apologetics International
Friday, July 06, 2007 -- Signs And Symbols Of Jung
Thursday, July 05, 2007 -- Overture! Curtains! Lights! Cue The Dog!
Tuesday, July 03, 2007 -- Amateur Science--Strong Tradition, Bright Future
Monday, July 02, 2007 -- 2007 2nd Quarter Index