Saturday 23 February 2008

Two more pictures from the batch I mentioned a few days back:


Friday 22 February 2008

Today I watched Sophia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. I don't understand why the Wikipedia entry has described it as 'lightweight", nor why it might have been booed at Cannes, nor why it had trouble at the box office, but then I don't understand why i have trouble either. What a magnificent film. I give it two of Ebert's thumbs and three of my own. And the soundtrack! Take a bow, Jean-Philippe Rameau, take a bow, Francois Couperin, take a bow wow wow.

I can't find a name on it or around it, but the guy who draws 'Duty Calls"made me laugh. Go and see if he's got any more.

Update: That's Randall Munroe's work. thanks, Auz.
(via weehayleycampbell)

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Thursday 21 February 2008

Good English, bad English; again.

Halfway through the following item in which a semicolon makes the news I had to check the top of the page to remind myself I wasn't reading The Onion:
Celebrating the Semicolon in a Most Unlikely Location - NY Times-February 18, 2008

It was nearly hidden on a New York City Transit public service placard exhorting subway riders not to leave their newspaper behind when they get off the train. “Please put it in a trash can,” riders are reminded. After which Neil Neches, an erudite writer in the transit agency’s marketing and service information department, inserted a semicolon. The rest of the sentence reads, “that’s good news for everyone.” Semicolon sightings in the city are unusual, period, much less in exhortations drafted by committees of civil servants. In literature and journalism, not to mention in advertising, the semicolon has been largely jettisoned as a pretentious anachronism. But, whatever one’s personal feelings about semicolons, some people don’t use them because they never learned how. In fact, when Mr. Neches was informed by a supervisor that a reporter was inquiring about who was responsible for the semicolon, he was concerned.
“I thought at first somebody was complaining,” he said. (link thanks to Bob Morales)
At the foot of the article on the following day, its author adds a correction:
Correction: February 19, 2008
An article in some editions on Monday about a New York City Transit employee’s deft use of the semicolon in a public service placard was less deft in its punctuation of the title of a book by Lynne Truss, who called the placard a “lovely example” of proper punctuation. The title of the book is “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” — not “Eats Shoots & Leaves.” (The subtitle of Ms. Truss’s book is “The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.”)
I'm not familiar with Truss's book, though upon rummaging around in her website I would say we are siblings-in -arms: "Whether it’s merely a question of advancing years bringing greater intolerance I don’t think I shall bother to establish" (that's from the intro to her treatise on the decline of manners, Speak to the Hand). In investigating 'Eats, Shoots...' a title which bothers me for reasons I'll get to in a minute, I found myself reading this piece from a year ago at Language Log:
A zero tolerance approach to parody
- February 14, 2007
Jan Freeman takes note of a recent article in The Independent about the latest bee in Lynne Truss's bonnet: parodies of her best-selling book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. In an outspoken attack on the wave of imitators who have spoofed the book's quirky title and cover design, Ms Truss said she did not know how publishers of such imitations "live with themselves".
The titles that are irking Truss include Dr Whom: E.T. Shoots and Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Parodication and Eats, Shites & Leaves: Crap English and How to Use It...and The Fight for English: How Language Pundits Ate, Shot, and Left... That (last) is no spoof (besides the subtitle), but rather a serious critique of the "linguistic fundamentalism" encapsulated in Truss's "zero-tolerance approach."
The problem I have with Truss's title is that you need to tell an absurd story in order to explain it. it begins like this: "A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons..."
I read that "The book was a huge commercial success. In 2004, the U.S. edition became a New York Times bestseller. Contrary to usual publishing convention, the U.S. edition of the book left the original British conventions intact."
However, observe that the success of the wording of the title is due to the fact that sex has been replaced with an animal killing people with a gun. What I believe is the orginal and better version of the joke belongs to Australia, and uses the word 'roots,' a thing that is more natural to animals: 'The koala eats, roots and leaves." But then I guess for anybody outside of Australia, instead of a story you would need to supply a dictionary definition:
Root (verb and noun) : synonym for f*ck in nearly all its senses: "I feel rooted"; "this washing machine is rooted"; "(s)he's a good root". A very useful word in fairly polite company.

Ah, you thinks to yourself, "now I understand why the laff went round the room when Dame Edna Everage announced she was going 'back to her roots'".


Wednesday 20 February 2008

In 2002 I made a set of small colour pictures to sell and also used them in black and white to decorate the Alan Moore interview in Egomania #2 (reprinted in A Disease of Language). I just discovered that I kept colour scans of some of them. Here's a thinker:


Restaurant sorry over F word bill A restaurant owner has apologised after diners had their very own F word experience - without Gordon Ramsay.
Ten friends found the abusive and sexually-explicit message on their bill at Joe Delucci's Italian restaurant in Bird Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire. Diner Clare Watkin said she thought it was written after they complained about poor service.

(link thanks to wee hayley campbell, our bad language correspondent))

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Tuesday 19 February 2008

Two of those stolen Impressionist pantings have turned up:

ZURICH, Feb 19, 2008 (AFP) — Swiss police said on Tuesday they had found two stolen paintings -- one Monet and a van Gogh -- of the four that were stolen last week from a gallery in Zurich. The two paintings, estimated to be worth 70 million Swiss francs (64 million dollars, 44 million euros), were recovered Monday in the back seat of a car parked at a psychiatric hospital in the city, Zurich police said in a statement. "Poppies near Vetheuil" (1879) by Claude Monet, and "Blossoming Chestnut Branch" (1890) by van Gogh, were formally identified by the director of the Buehrle Museum from where they were stolen last Sunday, the police said.
They are in a good condition with their glass covering still intact.
I wonder if we have a better class of thieving bastard these days, compared to the maniacs who would cut the thing out of its frame with a penknife, like this one from 1971:
It was only the latest in a series of art thefts that have run through Europe like a plague in the past several weeks. But in some ways it was the most painful for art lovers. Vermeer was among the greatest of all painters, but he painted few pictures, and fewer still survive—no more than 36. Three weeks ago, a thief cut one of those precious 36 out of its frame in Brussels' Palais des Beaux-Arts, where it was on loan from Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. The place was closed for the night, four guards were on duty, but the burglar managed to roll up the painting and scramble down over a balcony. Roll up a Vermeer? Those surfaces cracked? The very thought is agonizing.
Indeed, my skin is crawling at the thought. we pick up the story with the little savage trying to pull a fast one:
Till arranged to meet Schwilden after midnight in front of a church in a remote village. At the rendezvous, Schwilden found a scared young man wearing a plastic mask who blindfolded him, then drove him for miles around the countryside. "I am not a thief," he insisted. "I am an idealist who stole to do something about the refugees and the hunger." Deep in a forest, he produced the picture, which he held up before the car's headlights while Schwilden photographed it.
Now he's on the lam:
The thief tried to cut across fields, but was finally caught cowering behind a heap of manure.
The boy identified himself as Mario Roymans, 21. In his small apartment above a restaurant where he worked as a waiter, the lost Vermeer was found under his bed. Roymans' knife had sliced an inch or so of canvas around the edge of the painting, and areas of paint had flaked away. Rijksmuseum Director Arthur van Schendel reported sadly: "I think it can be restored, but it will never again be as it was before."

Meanwhile, the Degas and the Cezanne are still missing.

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Monday 18 February 2008

Here's a coincidence. Just after posting the previous (now attached to this post), I'm in the middle of scanning the art for the big Alec omnibus and the next page up is the one from Graffiti Kitchen that begins like this:

"talk about buncakes my girl's got 'em"
"A national dance craze in Ivory Coast has spawned a black market in treatments claiming to increase one's bottom size. (BBC News monday feb 18) In the sprawling Adjame market just north of the city centre in Abidjan, women sell "bottom enhancers". Bottom enhancing treatments sell for $2 "You need to inject this liquid into your bottom once a day," says a market trader, showing a vial of coloured liquid labelled "Vitamin B12". Most women I spoke to preferred to avoid the treatments.
"Me? I prefer to be natural so you can know your true value. It's best not to use these medicines. It's not good - it's actually very dangerous," one said.
Another woman was happy with what came naturally.
"I do the bobaraba because I already have a big bum. When I dance, everyone looks at me.""

For the incurably curious, Youtube demonstrations of the Bobaraba in which girls perform the dance in the privacy of their houses. I find myself fascinated by the television playing in the background, and by the revealing little details of daily life in another part of the world.

(photie pinched from here, BBC link via wee hayley campbell, whose email 'subject' bore the Spinal Tap line used above)

Researchers at a Scottish university are aiming to answer the question. Heriot-Watt University's School of Textiles and Design has launched what is believed to be the world's first study on how clothing affects the bum. Four female models with various sized bottoms will wear different types of clothing as part of the research. The study will examine how designs, colours, patterns and fabric types affect perception. The university believes the research could have major implications for retailers.
Female volunteers wearing hundreds of different types of clothing will have their rears photographed for the research. Dr Lisa Macintyre, who is leading the research, said four models had been chosen to provide as representative as possible a sample of female rears. One has a "standard" womanly backside while another has a much fuller "pre-Raphaelite" bum.

It's difficult to continue reading after that. Don't they know the 'pre-Rapahaelite ideal' had the tragic wasted look of the consumptive?

IN other news that has nothing to do with arses, my pal Bob Morales just informed me that Robbe-Grillet, pioneer of the 'new' novel, is dead at 85

PARIS (AFP) — Alain Robbe-Grillet, the French writer who pioneered the so-called "new novel" genre in the 1950s, died Monday at the age of 85, the Academie Francaise (French Academy) said.
He had been admitted to hospital in the Normandy city of Caen over the weekend after suffering a heart ailment.
In a series of essays published in 1963 Robbe-Grillet developed the theory of the "new novel" which sought to overturn conventional ideas on fiction-writing.


Thanks to Richard Bruton I see that Alan Moore is interviewed at The WORD: 'Home of intelligent life on Planet Rock'.

"I do have quite an old and rare book called The Grimoire Of The Spirit Of The Place which purports to be written by "an old sea captain" and details how you can summon up and capture the local spirit using a pig – although apparently if you have the book you don't need to kill the pig, which is good. I might give that a try soon;...
It's fun to pick a rich line or two out of an interview. I was looking in an online collection of quotations recently and out of the corner of my eye I was astonished to find there were eighty three items under my own name. Jeez, they've only got 233 for Oscar Wilde. I can't possibly have been so wise and witty to have writ one third as many quotable gems as the mighty Oscar. Okay, let's see what they have under my name... oh dear, it's awful. What a sad bastard I must be. These are the only ones worth thinking about:

"I'm happy with it, the four issues I've done - or at least I'm writing the third one now." - -- Eddie Campbell

"I'm just drawing it now. It's totally revolting. I'm sure you'll love it." - -- Eddie Campbell

"It was in the eighties. I've sent all the bloody notes to Alan. But his special interest was treating women's problems with hysteria." - -- Eddie Campbell

"In his head he's very organised, in his day to day life it's a total disaster. Well, to an organised guy like me. I have to do two pages of book-keeping to go round the corner for a newspaper. " - -- Eddie Campbell

Put the twerp out of his misery.

Here's a better one, from the calendar on the desk here, which is Anne's. "Wild words from wild women." I've been using some quotes from this over the last couple of weeks.

"I may be the only mother in America who knows exactly what their child is up to all the time."- Barbara Bush, presidential parent.


Sunday 17 February 2008

Barbara Bradley

Leif Peng saved the above gorgeous painting to conclude his series of Barbara Bradley's little memoirs that he's been running over the last week: Mon, Tues, Weds, Thurs, Fri
Interestingly, in a great series of incidents and insights, particularly with regard to the trials of a woman making good in a male-dominated business in the 1950s, this is the line that I most identified with: "Still, in my day, illustration, being a stay-at-home career, was a great field for a woman. Most women are great jugglers. I would put a wash on the board, then a wash in the machine." (That just about describes my own daily routine)

From (Born 1927) Following training at Art Center in 1951, Barbara Bradley began her illustration career at Charles E. Cooper Studios in New York. In 1955, she returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to freelance. Specializing in expressive figures, she became known for her depiction of children, raising three of her own. Her illustrations for clients such as Bank of America, Borden’s, Dole, and C&H Sugar have brought her many national awards.
In 1958, she began teaching at the Academy of Art University, becoming Director of Illustration, a position she held for twenty-five years until her retirement. She continues teaching special Courses at the Academy and has taught drawing workshops in the US for Disney and Pixar, and in the UK. ... etc.
Ex-students of Barbara's have established a tribute page, with photos and loads of pictures. I particularly like this page of 'barbara-isms,' in which ex-students tell anecdotes : "All artists are in danger of falling in love with a part of a drawing or painting, even when that element is adversely affecting the rest of the piece. I was often guilty of changing everything but that tantalizing little bit I was enamored with. Barbara used to warn us that the success of the entire piece was sometimes dependent on removing that one thing that we had great feeling for. “Sometimes you have to kill your children”..."

some dingbat has written and performed a very funny song about alan moore (Youtube) (via Neil Gaiman)

thought for the day: "Keep in mind that no matter how cute and sexy a guy is, there's always some woman somewhere who's sick of him."- Carol Henry