“Still Life with Fungus & Poison Ivy”

 

I know, these pictures look like a nature walk with the Addams Family.  I’m enjoying the fresh new foliage and spring flowers as much as anyone, really, but on a recent hike, it was the tree fungi that caught my eye.  Doesn’t the 2nd shot looks like Pan di Spagna (Italian sponge cake)?

I also wondered about the minimalist spider web in the 3rd shot.  I once saw photos of spiderwebs, after the spiders had been given various drugs (OK, I guess it’s occurred to all of us to do that).  The caffeine web was jazzy, random, frenetic-looking.  The LSD web, as I remember, was unnaturally perfect.  Apparently nibbling on this fungus leads to a lack of ambition and inability to complete tasks?  Or just a desire to simplify and try something new, even if you don’t catch any juicy bugs that way.

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Nature, NY, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

A Fetching Flock of Fungus for Friday. Pictures of Upstate New York. May.

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craft projects for lifers, Japan

How to make a shining ball

A Guest Post by Miroku

Hello –
Once a year or so, I “re-blog” a post. I’d like to introduce Miroku, a blogger from Japan, who writes about many interesting and vital issues of our day.

Japanese English diary

Today, I have a good news.
I discovered the way how to make a wonderful thing.
Moreover, it is very easy.
I will introduce it.

It needs few things.
The things we have to prepare are cling wrap and sandpaper.
That’s all.

Firstly, roll cling wrap into a ball.

cof

Secondly, compress it very strongly.

cof

Finally, only one step remains to be done.
Polish it with sandpaper.
Polish single‐mindedly.
Polish! Polish! Polish! Polish!
After a while, we’ll be rewarded with this creation.

IMG_20180330_161413

And it’s very beautiful!
It needs a few times but it is very easy.
Let’s try it!

P.S.
I received some opinions.
They say “I can’t do it well”.
So I give you a tip.
The key to the success is “Don’t give up polishing”.
Keep polishing and check a calendar.
And you will find an answer.

(Please point out my mistakes in English grammar or my life. I…

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Well kids, we’ve been learning a lot of History by looking at statues, haven’t we.  Today’s entry is Paul Revere, an amazing guy – – silversmith, engraver, industrialist, propagandist, volunteer soldier, and patriot.

When I examined this statue, I noticed straight away, something very odd – – no pigeons were roosting on it. 

It’s always nice to see someone on horseback, who isn’t brandishing a sword.  But I also found his pose a bit odd, and wondered aloud, why Paul was depicted with his arm out like that.  A well-informed passerby informed me that Revere was famous for feeding the birds as he rode, and told me the story of “Paul & the Pigeons in the Park,” which has been set to verse.  I also have his recipe for Pigeon Pie, if anyone wants it.    

 

In days of old

Pigeons were bold

And chased all the kids from their play.

Never seen in the park,

Were the robin or lark,

Only pigeons on pavements gray.

 

In parks they’d lurk

Twice as big as a turk-

Ey, in days of yore

~

Kids sad as Eeyore

~

Then a hero did appear,

Named Paul Revere.

~

Paul mounted his steed,

And cast down bird seed,

Luring pigeons onto the highway.

On they came, bad and fat,

And Paul’s horse stomped them flat.

And for dinner they had them that day.

~

Boston loves its beans and cod,

Banks and money, more than God.

And Sam Adams rocks –

A very fine beer,

But after the Sox,

It’s Paul they Revere.

 

~

 

 

Granny Hitchborn’s Receipt for Pigeon Pye

Take ye the pigeons that look to be young fat & sweet.   After ye have trimmed them, drawn them, and trussed them as ye would a squab, scrub in salt water & then scald in fair water, heated ‘til seething.  Beat with a billet of wood & pluck them.  Then kill the birds & boil them until it be sufficient.

Lay the birds in a charger & add a handful of whortleberries, unless they be more sour than a Pilgrim at a May Pole Dance, then add rather a goodly store of currants instead.

Now boil the blood and with it Madeira & plenty of mace nutmeg & pepper.  Gum Arabick if needs thickening.

Roll a crust of flour & lard, or lard & hard tack, broke into pieces, or lard, flour, lard, hard tack & lard, and lay on it the crust daintily and bake it

When it has cooked sufficient, on top scatter rosemary & thyme, to lay the smell a bit.

Let cool before cutting and watch ye out for beaks.

Alternate History, Arrant Nonsense, Boston, Colonial History, Early American History, food, History, Public Art, Removing Statues, Revisionist History, statue, United States

Learning All About History By Looking at Statues. Chapter VII. Boston – – Paul’s Pigeon Pie

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St Paddy’s Day has come & gone, and still not much is wearing green in Upstate.

But this clump of moss was like a vibrant little island in the woods.

I took a picture of it with my cellphone, to look at daily, because it’s the greenest thing I’ve seen for months.

You may spot a few white pellets — the snow was pelting down in angular, misshapen granules.

I was once in a kind of sketchy pub, and the bartender told us, “No ice, it’s gone off.”

We stuck with bottled beer that night, and didn’t use the glasses.

I’d never heard of ice going bad before.  But then, moving into a new apartment, we found the ice cubes in the freezer were shrunken in their little tray compartments, no longer cubes in fact, and seemed to have picked up a metallic odor.  I guess there was that incident with the Titanic, too, now I think about it, under the heading “Bad Ice.

Even the weather is tired of ice and snow by now.  The precipitation has become unimaginative.  Old Man Winter is  spring cleaning, shoveling out whatever icy trash is left in the clouds,  just grayish-white grit, can’t be bothered with delicate snowflakes, too tired to dream up new crystalline shapes.

And so a homely clump of moss receives its due, and becomes our hero for the day, a real luminary in the woods.

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, Nature, NY, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. April. Moss, the Only Green for Miles.

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Finger Lakes, FLX, Frostbite, Ithaca, Nature, NY, snow, Things to Do When Your Water Crystallizes on You, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York ~ March ~ It’s Spring! Breaking Out the Lawn Furniture

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Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Nature, NY, photography, snow, Upstate New York, Winter

Pictures of Upstate New York ~ March ~ A small waterfall on Enfield Creek

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Alternate History, Arrant Nonsense, Art, History, Removing Statues, Revisionist History, Sculpture, statue, Waterloo, William Seward

Learning All About History by Looking at Statues. Chapter VI. It Was a Dark & Stormy Night…

Chap VI.

Our next statue, “Nydia,” was chosen because its creator was born in my hometown.

I wanted to discuss the intellectual and aesthetic question “Why is this artist’s most famous work, the most-replicated statue by an America sculptor, during the 19th century, like a chronic sinus infection?”

The answer to the question:  Drip, drip, drip.

I’ll explain the dripping in just a sec.

I am from Waterloo, NY.

If you ask people in my village, the only famous person from here is a football coach, named Coughlin.

He’s depicted in a mural, painted on the side of a bar on Main St., overlooking a vacant lot where they play quoits.  Genuine old-time residents pronounce his name like a cat hacking up a hairball.

Runner-up is a guy named Gridley, who invented an improved washboard. (No kidding.  It was curved.)

The back of the village garage, which faces a defunct grocery store, and a crumbling, unusable bridge, has a mural, showing two more local heroes:  Murray & Welles, who began the village’s Memorial Day observances in 1866.

Then one day, by chance, I found out that one of the most successful American sculptors of the 19th Century was born here.

Not only is there no statue of him in Waterloo, but in all seriousness,

I’ve never once heard his name mentioned in his birthplace.

It’s Randolph Rogers.  Born 6 July 1825.

You can see his works in parks, galleries, and the better sort of cemeteries in NYC, Hartford, Gettysburg, Cincinnati, Detroit, Richmond, Philadelphia, Washington, etc.

His “Columbus Doors,” all 20,000 pounds of them, are the main entrance to the U.S Capitol.  They’re an homage to Lorenzo Ghiberti’s Renaissance masterpiece, the “Gates of Paradise” in Florence.

Randolph Roger’s versions are 17′ tall, and depict everyday life in Columbus, Ohio, during a political convention.

 

One one door, a stylized border of venial sins surrounds panels with scenes of graft, extortion, lobbying, malfeasance, pettyfogging, etc. while the other door depicts the politicians’ torments in the afterlife.

Rogers created statues and busts of Adams, Lincoln, William Seward, General Lew Wallace (of “Ben Hur” fame), and allegorical figures like “The Genius of Connecticut” for the top of their statehouse.  (This last one was later re-named “We’re All Above Average” and then melted down for scrap during WWII.)

His Civil War monuments include the Soldiers’ National Monument at Gettysburg.

The Seward statue is in Madison Square Park, in NYC, and was the subject of a scurrilous rumor that Rogers re-purposed a leftover Lincoln body and stuck on a Seward head.  It’s simply not true.  The proportions are fine – Seward just had a small head, relative to his body and nose.

(Henry Adams wrote that he had “a head like a wise macaw.“)

 

And one of Roger’s statues has replicas in almost every big art gallery in the U.S.A.

The work is called “Nydia

It was the most popular American sculpture of the 19th Century.

Nydia is based on a character in a book called “The Last Days of Pompeii” (1834).

The author, Bulwer-Lytton, was a politican-novelist, and poet-playwright.  It-is-all-about-hyphens-with-this-guy.

The book was a huge hit.

And it’s absolutely unreadable.  I know that, because I tried.  Really.  Cannot be done.

I mean, I have an exceptionally high tolerance for tedium.  I can show you my survivor badge for “One Thousand PowerPoint Presentations” and once, I stayed awake for 3 ½ minutes of “Twilight.”  But this book – –  I lasted one page.

Here’s the beginning:

’HO, Diomed, well met!  Do you sup with Glaucus to-night?’ said a young man of small stature, who wore his tunic in those loose and effeminate folds which proved him to be a gentleman and a coxcomb.”

Doesn’t that just make you long for a dark & stormy night, so you could rub out the author before he writes anything else?

“Sup with Glaucus”??  Why no, I finally got a prescription for Amoxicillin and it cleared up that Supping Glaucus, boy, I’m glad to be done with all that Mucus and Phlegma.

But it turns out, Glaucus is not a medical condition, it is the hero.  And he and Nydia live in Pompeii.

And also a type of sea gull, I looked it up in Wikipedia.

The glaucous gull …the second largest gull in the world. which breeds in Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere and winters south to shores of the Holarctic.”

I remember thinking that you might want to know that, but now I don’t know why.

(Didn’t you think for sure, Glaucus was a sinus or eye infection?)

One more sentence, and you’re done.

Well, you must sup with me some evening;  I have tolerable muraenae in my reservoir, and I ask Pansa the aedile to meet you.”

Well, sure, I’d love to sup, unless some clever blacksmith has invented tines, and then we could just eat with forks, like grownups, and stop all this supping crap.

Um, aedile is a type of Roman magistrate?

And I found, with a dawning sense of horror, that muraena is a type of Mediterranean moray.

So this idiot  is bragging that his reservoir is infested with eels ?? and no doubt we’re going to be supping up jellied eels for dinner??  and why is this paired with the magistrate??  Unless it’s the politician/slimy eel thing??

 

I misplaced my notes – – this is either a still from the 1913 silent film “Last Days of Pompeii,” or a current cabinet meeting in Washington.

 

It’s a long, convoluted lava flow of melodrama — Greeks, Romans, Christians, the Cult of Isis, love potions, a witch, and eels.

Most of the characters are wiped out by the volcano, but not nearly soon enough.

Pompeii is depicted as a warped and decadent place, and yet, not fun.  If anyone tried to get a good bacchanalia going, I’m sure Bulwer-Lytton threw a wet toga over it.  His artistic conceit was clearly to deep-fry every sentence into agonized contortions, to mirror the bodies found in the ashes of Pompeii.

Better to dig up roasted Romans than to be engulfed and buried in this book – I never made it past the first page.

So anyway.

The book was a huge hit.

It was 1834.  In three years, if you’d finished the book, Victoria would begin her reign, and you’d have 63 years, seven months, and two days of additional dullness ahead of you.

In the U.S., free from monarchies and elitist literature, we were celebrating Jacksonian Democracy and getting ready for bank failures, 25% unemployment, and a 7-year long recession.

Most of this wasn’t Bulwer-Lytton’s fault, but he didn’t help.

So…some years after all that, I was in the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, NY and ran across a statue of “The Toothache”.

At the sufferer’s feet rests the broken capital of a Corinthian column, symbolizing an impacted wisdom tooth.

 

 

It turned out that in 1861, inspired by the book, Randolph Rogers created this depiction of Nydia.

Nydia is guiding Glaucus, the hero, and the love of her life, through the eruption and ash-storm that was engulfing Pompeii, towards the harbor.

There he would be safe, and have lots of lovely eels to eat.

Her mission accomplished, Nydia then continues on, into the Mediterranean, and dies.

I don’t remember why, unrequited love I think, but she drowns, or maybe the eels get her, but she definitely dies.

It’s all very tragic, because she didn’t drag Glaucus and Bulwer-Lytton with her.  Somebody really should have tied them all together and dropped them off a pier, attached to a Corinthian column.

I think Nydia washes up again, in the epilogue.

So, somehow, Randolph Rogers was inspired to depict Nydia, pre-drowning, but already drippy.

The statue was a huge hit.

It’s displayed in the big galleries in NYC, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Portland, Providence, L.A., and a whole lot more places.

In fact, Rogers replicated it 167 times (seriously).

Rogers didn’t actually chisel all these himself, of course.  He had a workshop in Italy, where workmen cranked these out for Culture Tourists, in the days when a souvenir was a souvenir, and before snow globes were invented.

Here’s a mention in “A History of European and American Sculpture” by Chandler Rathon Post (1921):

“Randolph Rogers never found his vein.  He tried his hand with tolerable results at several kinds of sculpture, but all his many productions suffer from a blight of dullness…his portrait statues…are fairly respectable performances in stiff rhetoric.”

Well, quite likely, you think I’m all wet, and ignorant, and that Nydia is a lovely statue.  They have one in the Memorial Art Gallery, the National Art Gallery, the Met, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Chicago Institute of Art, I’m tripping over this thing where ever I go.

But to my uneducated, rustic eye, it looks awkward, and a bit odd.

 

Like someone you’d feel bad for, if you ran across her downtown, and probably kind of avoid, because she’s hunched and her dress is half-off, and then you’d feel terrible, when it dawned on you that she was blind, and you weren’t sure if she was trying to cross the street, or if she was aware of her wardrobe malfunction, and depending on the angle, she’s either suffering from toothache, or is listening for something, like maybe an oncoming bus, or chariot, so you’d have to go back and hesitantly ask if she would like assistance in crossing the street, and she says, no, thank you, I’m actually listening for a volcanic eruption.

And until Mount Vesuvius actually blows, you’d think she was delusional, and should you call social services or something, the whole thing is awkward.

Oh, I forgot to mention that.  The character was blind.  I hadn’t realized this until I looked at the book, it’s hard to tell with a statue.  The full title is “Nydia, The Blind Flower-Girl of Pompeii”.

 

She’s not identified as such, but pretty sure this is Nydia, from the 1913 silent movie “The Last Days of Pompeii” (Library of Congress)

 

It’s an interesting example of how tastes change.  I don’t know if most people today, would be crazy for the statue, or the book.  I’ve yet to find anyone who’s actually read Bulwer-Lytton.  Because I’ve asked a lot of random people at airports, bus stops, restrooms, and bars, and only gotten funny looks.  Apparently he’s really not popular anymore.

 

(Do you know he added a third Lytton to his name?  Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton.  Because having it only twice, you might forget??  Or to distract people from “Bulwer”?)

(Today, “Bulwer-Lytton-Lytton-Lytton Disorder is better known as “Compulsive Redundancy Syndrome.”)

Most of us tend to remember and focus on the good stuff.  In the 1830’s, people were reading “Oliver Twist,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Lady of Shalott,” etc.  But just like our own time, people consumed lots of not-so-wonderful stuff.

Maybe that’s the value of looking at “Pompeii” and “Nydia”  – – for contrast, and to show just how wonderful the good writers and artists were.  To remind ourselves, just how exceptional Dickens, Poe, Shelley, Hawthorne, Washington Irving, Byron, Emerson, Delacroix, etc. were.

In 1861, when the statue was unveiled, there were other horrible things happening, like Fort Sumter and the Battle of Bull Run, but there were also wonderful things:  Church’s “The Icebergs,” Whistler’s “Symphony in White, No. 1,”  Manet’s “Music in the Tuileries,” and Leutze’s “Westward Ho!” so Rogers can’t use the Civil War as an excuse.

Nydia is shown as she guides some Pompeii people through the blinding volcanic ash-cloud to safety – the man she loves, his girlfriend, and some really insistent people hawking postcards.  That’s admirable, and that’s why she’s holding her hand to her ear.

Although I still say, she could have had a toothache, too, right?  and that’s why she drowned herself, not the unrequited love thing.

The museum sign informs us, that the statue is evocative.  But would you have understood the situation, if I hadn’t told you? That she’s listening for which way an exploding volcano is located?  If she were a Labrador, would you guess that someone was blowing a dog whistle?  Or figure, poor doggy, has a toothache.

Well, we’re all learning a lot from these statues, aren’t we.

And anyway, Randolph Rogers was born in my hometown, he was knighted by King Umberto I, and Art is in the eye of the beholder.

So is glaucoma, I did look it up, and it’s related to Glaucus, but I forget how.  Something to do with seagulls.

 

Excavation of the Temple of Isis at Pompeii (Wellcome Library)

 

 

P.S.  Glaucus, glaucoma, and the seagull really are all related!  But this post is way too long already.

 

 

An earlier, and I think, much nicer work, “Ruth Gleaning” (1850).  As in the Book of Ruth in the Bible, and “gleaning” as in gathering up leftover barley.

 

 

 

 

And one final piece, “The Last Arrow” (1880) – – I wonder if his fellow Upstater, Frederic Remington, saw this, since it predates his bronzes by fifteen years.  These two pictures are from the Met website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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