Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Some outstanding costumes were required for "Toad Of Toad Hall" and duly supplied by Margaret Stevenson in England, Circa 1961. Via: Cue Theatre

Monday, August 24, 2009

Philip Ross.

Philip Ross. Juggernaut- 2004 24" x 36" 10"

Three blown glass enclosures provide a hydroponic environment; the plant's roots are submerged in nutrient-infused water, while LED lights supply the necessary illumination.

The Marree Man.

Charter pilot Trec Smith was flying over South Australia in 1998 when he discovered something astonishing: the colossal image of a human being, 4.2 kilometers long, carved into the earth. Via: Futility Closet

Monument to Isaac Newton, c. 1784 by Etienne-Louis Boullee

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Gizmo! An amusing documentary that takes a loving look at oddball inventors and their often outlandish contraptions. Narrated by Howard K. Smi Thanks to "Gizmofan" for the youtube posting.

Skull with Burning Cigarette. Winter 1885/1886 Vincent Van Gogh.
Via: Cal Academy

"Death on Ridge Road" by Grant Wood

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Smiling Geisha

The photographer is unknown, but possibly K. Ogawa or K. Tamamura.

his shot is one of at least 50, and possibly 100 or more images of the same Geisha in all kinds of poses from the ridiculous to the sublime. Her range of expressions and poses is great.

There are few postcards that give her Geisha name as "MISS TOKIMATSU". So, until more is known, that will have to do. But among Western collectors, she is generally called 'The Smiling Geisha" -- and in Japan she is now generally called "EMIKO". This name was coined by well-known Photo Collector and Historian ISHIGURO. Back in the 1990s he published a small paperback book containing several photographs of her modeling in poses such as seen above.

"EMIKO" is simply a combination of two Japanese written characters for "SMILING [or LAUGHING] CHILD [or GIRL]". Thanks to Mr. Ishiguro's book, the name "Emiko" was soon adopted by collectors throughout Japan."

Via: Okinawa Soba's photostream


The surreal folly gardens at Xilitla were created by Edward James, an eccentric British millionaire and patron of the arts. Set into 80 acres of jungle, he and his builders spent 25 years and millions of dollars creating a nature inspired fantasy in concrete.

Edward James began his life in the sheltered luxury of the English upper class. He attended Eton and Oxford, and later became a great supporter and collector of surrealist art, sponsoring both Dali and Magritte in the 1930s. His English home Monkton House is also a dedicated surrealist fantasy. His role as a patron of the arts put him in touch with luminaries of his times, including Dylan Thomas, Sigmund Freud, DH Lawrence, and Aldous Huxley. Huxley introduced him to Hollywood types, who in turn introduced him to spiritualist, surrealist, west coast visionaries, who then introduced him to the wilds of Mexico. A great lover of plants and animals, he was immediately attracted to he jungles of Mexico by the lush vegetation and the leisurely pace."

Via: Atlas Obscura
William Pene du Bois’ Illustration from The 21 Balloons. Via: Looky

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Turn him to any cause of policy, The Gordia knot of it he will unloose, Familiar as his garter

Alexander cutting the Gordian knot by Andre Castaigne


The Gordian Knot is a legend associated with Alexander the Great. It is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem, solved by a bold stroke.

At one time the Phrygians were without a legitimate king. An oracle at Telmissus (the ancient capital of Phrygia) decreed that the next man to enter the city driving an ox-cart should become their king. This man was a poor peasant, Gordias, who drove into town on his ox-cart. He was declared king by the priests. This had been predicted in a second way by a sign of the gods, when an eagle had landed on that ox-cart. In gratitude, his son Midas dedicated the ox-cart to the Phrygian god Sabazios (whom the Greeks identified with Zeus) and either tied it to a post or tied its shaft with an intricate knot of cornel (Cornus mas) bark. The ox-cart still stood in the palace of the former kings of Phrygia at Gordium in the fourth century BC when Alexander arrived, at which point Phrygia had been reduced to a satrapy, or province, of the Persian Empire.

In 333 BC, while wintering at Gordium, Alexander the Great attempted to untie the knot. When he could find no end to the knot, to unbind it, he sliced it in half with a stroke of his sword, producing the required ends (the so-called "Alexandrian solution"). Once Alexander had sliced the knot with a sword-stroke, his biographers claimed in retrospect that an oracle further prophesied that the one to untie the knot would become the king of Asia.
Plutarch disputes the claim that Alexander sliced the knot with his sword, and relates that according to Aristobulus, Alexander pulled the knot out of its pole pin rather than cutting it. Either way, Alexander did go on to conquer Asia as far as the Indus and the Oxus, fulfilling the prophecy.
Via: flaneur

Monday, August 17, 2009

Godzilla: the 1954 Shinto Purification Ceremony. Via: Patrick Macias

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Life on a String.

Strings is a mythic fantasy film about the son of an ostensibly assassinated ruler who sets out to avenge his father but through a series of revelations comes to a much clearer understanding of the conflict between the two peoples concerned.

The film is made with marionettes, (Master puppeteer Bernd Ogrodnik and the strings are part of the fictional world as life strings.) It is famed for its innovative cinematography and scenic design.

Via: The Age

The fact that the characters are played by marionettes is incorporated into the movie's fictional universe. That is, the characters are literally marionettes. Wide shots of the countryside reveal millions of strings stretching endlessly into the sky, each one representing an individual on earth. Nobody knows how far the strings reach or who is controlling them. As far as the characters know the strings are controlled by a higher power.

When a string attached to a moveable limb is severed, it is analogous to amputation; the individual loses the ability to use that body part. Once a string is cut nothing can repair it or bring back to life whatever it was attached to. If the "head string" is cut it results in permanent death.

Since nothing can reanimate a body part after its string is cut, repairs to injured individuals must be made using healthy, unsevered parts. An unfortunate collection of poor people and prisoners is kept as a donor class. When a person of royalty or other social importance loses a body part, another is involuntarily taken from a prisoner and replaced with its string intact.
Prisons are designed around the fact that the strings reach up endlessly into the sky. Rather than cells, the prisoners are confined underneath huge horizontal grids, and the range of mobility allowed by their strings is limited by small square openings in the grid through which the strings are inserted and locked within.

Instead of giving birth, a couple fashions a new child out of wood. After an unspecified amount of time a set of luminous new strings gently descends from the sky and is quickly attached to the inanimate infant by the parents. This act immediately and miraculously endows the inert wooden figure with life.

Later it is also revealed that some people have discovered the ability to "leap" incredible distances and effectively fly for a short time; essentially this is analogous to the puppeteer jerking on the marionette's string and making it soar through the sky. It is only when the protagonist understands the unity of all living things, and the power of love, that he is able to acquire the skill.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Duane Keiser's Oddments.

Oddment means "a remnant or part of something, typically leftover from a larger piece." Duane Keiser creates these very small paintings on pieces of board leftover from Keiser's larger paintings. They are typically about 3"x2.5" and $150 each

Perspectiva Corporum Regularium.

Perspective of the Regular Solids: that is, a diligent exposition of how the five regular solids of which Plato writes in the Timaeus and Euclid in his Elements are artfully brought into perspective using a particularly new, thorough and proper method never before employed. And appended to this a fine introduction how out of the same five bodies one can go on endlessly making many other bodies of various kinds and shapes.

Via: bibliodyssey

Industrial Divinities.

In 1943 Walt Disney created a gremlin called Fifinella. "Fifi" became the mascot for the WASPs

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Devils gets his own due.

"Now a monument stands frozen solid and clear..."

"Now a monument stands frozen solid and clear beneath the light of the pale polar star, so remember the name and undying fame of Abdul and Ivan Skavar"
"Abdul Abulbul Amir" is a folk song written in 1877 by Percy French and later set to music. It tells the story of two valiant heroes — a Russian and one of the Persian Shah's mamelukes — who because of their pride end up in a fight and kill each other.

Frank Crumit, who was famous for his renditions of it, wrote three sequels: "The Return of Abdul Abulbul Amir", "The Grandson Of Abdul Abulbul Amir", and "Minnie Skavinsky Skavar".

The song was adapted in 1941 into an MGM cartoon, Abdul the Bulbul-Ameer, produced by Fred Quimby, directed by Hugh Harman and featuring Groucho Marx, Lou Costello and Harry Ritz as news reporters. In this version Abdul is depicted as a bully who picks on Ivan's dwarf friend, provoking Ivan into treading on the Turk's toe. He has many traits of 1930s and 1940s cartoon villains like Bluto including thick lips, a beard and a big belly. There is a brief swordfight which soon changes into a brawl that ends with Ivan and Abdul literally "out cold". The more positive portrayal of the Russians could be due to the alliance between Britain and the USSR following Hitler's invasion of Russia.
The original lyrics by William Percy French, 1877:
1. The sons of the prophet
Were hardy and bold,
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far,
In the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

This son of the desert,
In battle aroused,
Could spit twenty men on his spear.
A terrible creature,
Both sober and soused
|: Was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer. :|

2. If you wanted a man
To encourage the van,
Or to harass the foe from the rear,
Or to storm a redoubt,
You had only to shout
For Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

There are heroes aplenty
And men known to fame
In the troops that were led by the Czar;
But the bravest of these
Was a man by the name
|: Of Ivan Skavinsky Skivar. :|

3. He could imitate Irving,
Play euchre and pool
And perform on the Spanish Guitar.
In fact, quite the cream
Of the Muscovite team
Was Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

The ladies all loved him,
His rivals were few;
He could drink them all under the bar.
As gallant or tank,
There was no one to rank
|: With Ivan Skavinsky Skivar. :|

4. One day this bold Russian
Had shouldered his gun
And donned his most truculent sneer
Downtown he did go,
Where he trod on the toe
Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer

"Young man" quoth Bulbul,
"Has life grown so dull,
That you're anxious to end your career?
Vile infidel! Know,
You have trod on the toe
|: Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer." :|

5. "So take your last look
At the sunshine and brook
And send your regrets to the Czar;
By this I imply
You are going to die,
Mr. Ivan Skavinsky Skivar."

Quoth Ivan, "My friend,
Your remarks, in the end,
Will avail you but little, I fear,
For you ne'er will survive
To repeat them alive,
|: Mr. Abdulla Bulbul Ameer!" :|

6. Then this bold mameluke
Drew his trusty chibouque
With a cry of "Allah Akbar!"
And with murderous intent,
He ferociously went
For Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

Then they parried and thrust
And they side-stepped and cussed
Till their blood would have filled a great pot.
The philologist blokes,
Who seldom crack jokes,
|: Say hash was first made on that spot. :|

7. They fought all that night,
'neath the pale yellow moon;
The din, it was heard from afar;
And great multitudes came,
So great was the fame
Of Abdul and Ivan Skivar.

As Abdul's long knife
Was extracting the life -
In fact, he was shouting "Huzzah!"
He felt himself struck
By that wily Kalmuck,
|: Count Ivan Skavinsky Skivar. :|

8. The sultan drove by
In his red-breasted fly,
Expecting the victor to cheer;
But he only drew nigh
To hear the last sigh
Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer.

Czar Petrovich, too,
In his spectacles blue
Rode up in his new crested car.
He arrived just in time
To exchange a last line
|: With Ivan Skavinsky Skivar. :|

9. A loud-sounding splash
From the Danube was heard
Resounding o'er meadows afar;
It came from the sack
Fitting close to the back
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

There's a tomb rises up
Where the blue Danube flows;
Engraved there in characters clear;
"Ah stranger, when passing,
Please pray for the soul
|: Of Abdulla Bulbul Ameer." :|

10. A Muscovite maiden
Her lone vigil keeps,
Neath the light of the pale polar star;
And the name that she murmurs
As oft as she weeps
Is Ivan Skavinsky Skivar.

The sons of the prophet
Were hardy and bold,
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far,
In the ranks of the Shah,
|: Was Abdulla Bulbul Ameer. :|

Via: MKF


"He skipped off the gunrest and looked gravely at his watcher, gathering about his legs the loose folds of his gown. The plump shadowed face and sullen oval jowl recalled a prelate, patron of arts in the middle ages. A pleasant smile broke quietly over his lips.

- The mockery of it! he said gaily. Your absurd name, an ancient Greek!"

Via: Joyce Images

The old man mad about drawing.

By Tony White Films

Katsushika Hokusai (October or November 1760–May 10, 1849) was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. In his time, he was Japan's leading expert on Chinese painting. Born in Edo (now Tokyo), Hokusai is best-known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

Call me Madame.

"I always knew my inside leg would lead to power."

The Bed-Sitting Room is a satirical play by Spike Milligan and John Antrobus. It started off as a one-act play which was first produced at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury. This was adapted to a longer play which was first performed in 1963 at London's Mermaid Theatre, it was a critical and commercial hit, and was revived in 1967. A film based on the play was released in 1970, although this was less successful. The film was directed by Richard Lester and the cast included Ralph Richardson, Arthur Lowe, Rita Tushingham, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Michael Hordern, Marty Feldman, Harry Secombe and Milligan himself. The screenplay was adapted by Charles Wood.

The play is set in a post-apocalyptic London, nine months after World War III ("the Nuclear Misunderstanding"), which lasted for two minutes and twenty eight seconds – "including the signing of the peace treaty". Nuclear fallout is producing strange mutations in people; the title refers to the character Lord Fortnum, who finds himself transforming into a bed-sitting room (other characters turn into a parrot and a wardrobe). The plot concerns the fate of the first child to be born after the war.

The absolute proof of a hateful god: The Durian fruit.

The unusual odor has prompted many people to search for an accurate description. Comparisons have been made with the civet, sewage, stale vomit, skunk spray, and used surgical swabs. The wide range of descriptions for the odor of durian may have a great deal to do with the wide variability of durian odor itself. Durians from different species or clones can have significantly different aromas, and the degree of ripeness has a great effect as well. In fact, three scientific analyses of the composition of durian aroma — from 1972, 1980, and 1995 — each found a different mix of volatile compounds, including many different organosulfur compounds, with no agreement on which may be primarily responsible for the distinctive odor.

This strong odor can be detected half a mile away by animals, thus luring them. In addition, the fruit is extremely appetizing to a variety of animals, from squirrels to mouse deer, pigs, orangutan, elephants, and even carnivorous tigers. While some of these animals eat the fruit and dispose of the seed under the parent plant, others swallow the seed with the fruit and then transport it some distance before excreting it, the seed being dispersed as the result. The thorny armored covering of the fruit may have evolved because it discourages smaller animals, since larger animals are more likely to transport the seeds far from the parent tree.

My deformed, ex-conjoined twin lives here: The Mutter Museum

At the Mutter Musuem "Food, drink and oversized bags will not be permitted in the Museum. Cell phones may not be used and should be turned off or set to silent mode before entering the galleries.

All found specimens, and ex-loved one donations should dropped be through the night deposit slot at the rear of the musuem."

A Romance in Lower Mathematics.

The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics (ISBN 1-58717-066-3) is a book written and illustrated by Norton Juster, first published by Random House in 1963. The title is a reference to Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott.

In 1965, famed animator Chuck Jones and the MGM Animation/Visual Arts studio adapted The Dot and the Line into a 10-minute animated short film for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, narrated by Robert Morley. The Dot and the Line won the 1965 Academy Award for Animated Short Film. It was entered into the Short Film Palme d'Or competition at the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.

Beware: The Motor Zobop.

"At an undisclosed period, probably in the 1940s, a panic gripped the Haitian peasantry concerning a motor car which was said to abduct people. In the capital Port-au-Prince the car was known as the auto-tigre (tiger-car); in Marbial, where Metraux conducted his fieldwork, it was the motor-zobop, a vehicle supposedly driven by the zobop, members of a secret society of sorcerers having many of the characteristics of traditional witches. This car had bluish beams for its headlights."

Via: MKF

"In the premises of Mr Nike, ask to be measured for a suit by the head cutter".

The Chap Manifesto

"Society is withering, like the fruit on some diseased vine. We have become the playthings of corporations intent on converting our world into a gargantuan shopping precinct. Pleasantness and civility are being discarded as the worthless ephemera of a bygone age - an age when men doffed their hats at the ladies, and small children could be counted upon to mind one's Jack Russell while one took a mild and bitter in the local hostelry.

Instead, we live in a world where children are huge, inelegant hooded creatures lurking on street corners; the local hostelry has been taken over by a chain and serves chemically-laced lager which aggravates the nervous system. Needless to say, the Jack Russell is no longer there upon one's return.

The Chap proposes to take a stand against this culture of vulgarity. By turning ancient rituals of courtesy and dress into revolutionary acts, the immaculately attired Anarcho-Dandyist can use the razor-sharp crease in his trousers to press home his advantage. Once presented with the dazzling sight of rakishly angled trilbies, gleaming brogues and exquisitely mixed dry martinis, hoi polloi's long-cherished nylon sportswear and strawberry milkshakes will suddenly lose their appeal.

It is time for Chaps and Chapettes from every walk of life to stand up and be counted. Naturally unsuited to all forms of exertion, we propose a Charmed Uprising based on excessive languor and delivering pleasantries such as "How do you do?" and "A very good day to you, madam!" with revolutionary zeal. Our methods will be stealth, civility and charm, our targets the behemoths of corporate blandification. We urge sympathisers to assist our cause by engaging in the following revolutionary acts:

Enter the purveyors of ‘fast food’ and request a table for two with “a pleasant view,” then order a breakfast of devilled kidneys, kedgeree and eggs Benedict.

In a high-street coffee chain which offers tea on its menu, ask for a pot of Lapsang souchong, a cup and saucer and some toast with Gentleman’s Relish.

In the premises of Mr Nike, ask to be measured for a suit by the head cutter.

In the type of high street hostelry that has a bouncer on the door, order a Pousse Café (the yolk of one fresh egg, 1/6 gill of yellow Chartreuse, 1/6 gill of Eau de Vie de Danzig, or Danziger Goldwasser).

Enter an ophthalmic optician and ask to see the monocle selection.

Enter an establishment offering “Internet chat rooms” and try to engage someone in conversation.

Offer “gentlemen of the road” (hobos) not money – which they might spend on food – but a nip of cognac from your hip flask."

The Chap Magazine

It Came in the mail last week...

I entered the contest when was ten (I had to eat thousands of boxes of poor quality macaroni), and then last week this very old, dead letter office stamped, and forwarded multiple times package was on my doorstep. Its almost entirely made of cardboard (with a few zinc fasteners some some pie-tin quality fuel lines). Like many childhood dreams it was probally better being just a fantasy to get me through the long boring summers and my grandmothers house.

Sure, it flies okay, but it shakes quite a bit at mach 2, the radio only gets staticky Buddy Holly tunes and only one of the landing gear really worked properly. Sadly, I put the launching pad too close to the lawn sprinkler and it got wet. It was in the recycling bin a week later .

..and I was a little sadder.

Wake me in a thousand years..

hen the worlds sky is full of machines like the work of Harry Grant Dart. See his work at lambiek The last one to go to sleep please set the alarm. We'll wake up together, and while we're are still in our pajamas and with bed-head we'll shuffle out into the futuristic light, and look into the sky and hope....

Via: MKF

The English Garden,..Railway.

Bob Symes (also sometimes credited-as Robert Symes-Shutzmann or Bob Symes-Shutzmann) is the stage name of inventor Robert Alexander Baron Schutzmann von Schutzmansdorff. Descended from an Austrian aristocratic family, Bob Symes became a familiar face to British TV audiences of the 1980s through his appearance on popular shows including Tomorrow's World. In addition to his appearances on Tomorrow's World, Bob also presented his own Model World programme dedicated to the hobby of modelling, on the BBC in the late 1970s.


My personal litmus test for fully developed human beings is a simple one. I merely say the name "Mr Hulot" and if the reaction is of a warm smile and a deep sigh with the full knowledge of what a true genius is, I let them in and we have a nice coffee. But if they have a blank, clueless stare, or worse- a smug cinema geek affect with a mock understanding of what the world is like with the work of Hulots creator-The French filmmaker Jaques Tati-within it, then I sadly cut their line and and let them drift back into the world of nothingness and despair.

Artwork: Giardino

But worry not, there is still time for you go to tativille Spend some time there. Listen to the music, have a bite to eat, go to the seaside, or maybe see your reflection in a skyscrapers ground floor window-go now. I'll wait for you at the end of the beach, you'll recognize me by my pipe and anorak.

Welcome to Omnibus

Omnibus (English plural omnibuses), is the Latin word meaning "for all, for everyone"