Saturday, December 31, 2011

Reflections on New Year's Eve

“New Year’s Eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.”

~ Hamilton Wright Mabie, American writer 1845-1916

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Eve

Silent Night
Danish painter Viggo Johansen
(Wikipedia is wrong, the name of this
painting is not Merry Christmas.)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Email from me to a friend

Since I am hitting the road on Monday I thought I'd get my tires checked at Valvoline, and then I decided it was time for an oil change and did that, too. But the young man who waited on me had a nice face and a great smile, so I said to him, “You’re a very nice looking young man.” I made him blush. If I was 20 I would have asked him out. He flashed his smile and said "Merry Christmas" as I pulled out. Four hours later I am still thinking about him. What a rush.

Christmas gift book 1900

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Season's Greetings from Scotland

My Scottish penpal Michael "Bogman" Murphy sent me one of his photographs for Christmas. Now I am sure it doesn't say "Merry Christmas," as we are both atheists, but in his own Scottish Gaelic idiom he wishes me a nice holiday season. Michael is a landscape photographer and doesn't use any tricks to develop his photos. He climbs mountains just to get the perfect shot. Quite a billygoat is he. If you like Scottish castles and ruins, Michael is also a passionate historian. His photos are too good for travel journals.

You can find more of Michael's photography, all of it for sale at incredible prices, at this link:

Happy Holidays to you, dear friend.

Email from a friend

"As I was mindlessly going through the TV channels the other day -- as I am wont to do -- I happened upon one of those community cable productions of someone with a shaky camera and next to no audio quality who recorded a church service. The preacher, amen, was preachin', amen, that when he and two of the elders were out the day before, they could feel it startin' to rain, amen, and the roof of the car was up, amen, and he said he rebuked, he said he REBUKED, amen, he REBUKED the rain to stop in the name of Jesus, amen, hallelujah, cuz he had the roof of the car up and he had the brothers with him, amen, and he REBUKED!!! the rain to stop, amen, in the name of Jesus, amen, and they didn't feel another drop of rain the whole rest of the day. Amen! Hallelujah."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And now for a little culture

Swan Lake
Bolshoi Ballet Company

Château de Pierrefonds, France

Fascinating history:

This looks a little like me at that age.

Flocked with Snow

Sierra Nevada

Gladys Deacon, Duchess of Marlborough 1881-1977

Portrait by Giovanni Boldini

European-raised American heiress Gladys Deacon was one of the great beauties of her time. She was celebrated in Paris and won many proposals. She wed the 9th Duke of Marlborough and settled into British life. As a child, Gladys' father shot and killed her mother's lover in a hotel in Cannes that caused an international scandal. Her father later died in a psychiatric prison. Later, Gladys' problems led her to seek care at a psychiatric hospital, where she spent the last years of her life.

Contemporary wildlife photographer Kenton Rowe

Buffalo in Yellowstone National Park

Holiday mail

1921 Xmas U.S. Post Office truck, Washington, D.C.

Santa Marathon, Kyoto, Japan

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Greek painter El Greco 1541-1614

Detail from "The Burial of Count Orgaz"

A jog in the park

How does he stop?

Benjamin Franklin "Join, or Die."

Benjamin Franklin's call to unity was the first political cartoon published in an American newspaper.

"The image first appeared in the May 9, 1754, issue of Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette. By the 1750s, France and Great Britain had been arguing for years over the extent one another’s landholdings in the Americas. Franklin considered the American colonies to be dangerously fragmented and, through this cartoon and its accompanying article, hoped to convince the American colonies that they would have great power if they united against the threat of French expansion in North America.

"The “Join or Die” snake enjoyed popularity long after its first publication in the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1754. Newspapers throughout the colonies copied and reprinted the image. For example, in 1774 Paul Revere adopted a snake device in the masthead of The Massachusetts Spy. As the years progressed, Franklin’s image lost its usefulness as a symbolic map, yet the powerful message of strength in unity it conveyed remained for centuries.",_or_Die

Himeji Castle, Japan

Himeji Castle dates to the early 1300s, but was completed in its present state in the 17th Century. It is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and five structures within are Japanese National Treasures. It escaped damage during WWII.

The Aloof Family

They're not talking to eachother.
 Could be Eugene O'Neill's family.

Filipino artist Fernando Amorsolo, 1892-1972

Market Scene

Noonday Meal

I like the way he uses light and shadow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

America the Beautiful poem and melody

Ray Charles
Katharine Lee Bates (1859-1929) wrote the original version in 1893, inspired by a trip to the 14,000-foot Pikes Peak, Colorado; she wrote the 2nd version in 1904, while her final version was written in 1913. Her poem, "America the Beautiful" first appeared in print in The Congregationalist, a weekly journal, on July 4, 1895. The music, "Materna," was composed by Samuel Augustus Ward (1847-1903) in 1882, nearly a decade before the poem was written! For two years after the poem was written it was sung to just about any popular or folk tune that would fit with the lyrics, with "Auld Lang Syne" being the most notable of those; the words were not published together with "Materna" until 1910.
 "O beautiful for spacious skies, / For amber waves of grain, / For purple mountain majesties / Above the fruited plain! / America! America! / God shed his grace on thee / And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea! / O beautiful for pilgrim feet / Whose stern, impassioned stress / A thoroughfare for freedom beat / Across the wilderness! / America! America! / God mend thine every flaw, / Confirm thy soul in self-control, / Thy liberty in law! / O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife. / Who more than self the country loved / And mercy more than life! / America! America! / May God thy gold refine / Till all success be nobleness / And every gain divine! / O beautiful for patriot dream / That sees beyond the years / Thine alabaster cities gleam / Undimmed by human tears! / America! America! / God shed his grace on thee / And crown thy good with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea! / O beautiful for halcyon skies, / For amber waves of grain, / For purple mountain majesties / Above the enameled plain! / America! America! / God shed his grace on thee / Till souls wax fair as earth and air / And music-hearted sea! / O beautiful for pilgrims feet, / Whose stern impassioned stress / A thoroughfare for freedom beat / Across the wilderness! / America! America! / God shed his grace on thee / Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought / By pilgrim foot and knee! / O beautiful for glory-tale / Of liberating strife / When once and twice, / for man's avail / Men lavished precious life! / America! America! / God shed his grace on thee / Till selfish gain no longer stain / The banner of the free! / O beautiful for patriot dream / That sees beyond the years / Thine alabaster cities gleam / Undimmed by human tears! / America! America! / God shed his grace on thee / Till nobler men keep once again / Thy whiter jubilee!"

Monday, November 7, 2011

Autumn scene by Van Gogh

 Autumn Landscape 1885

"The Autumn Landscape is one of Vincent van Gogh's earlier works, where he was painting in more of an impressionist manner, with more details and less color than his later works. Van Gogh was pleased with the results of this particular painting which he talks about in a letter to Theo below.

"Van Gogh wrote about the Autumn Landscape painting in a letter to his brother Theo van Gogh in 1885, saying "I think that I am making progress with my work. Last night something happened to me which I will tell you as minutely as I can. You know those three pollard oaks at the bottom of the garden at home; I have plodded on them for the fourth time. I had been at them for three days with a canvas the size of, lets say, the cottage, and the country church-yard which you have.

"The difficulty was the tufts of havana leaves, to model them and give them form, color, tone. Then in the evening I took it to that acquaintance of mine in Eindhoven, who has a rather stylish drawing room, where we put it on the wall (gray paper, furniture black with gold). Well, never before was I so convinced that I shall make things that do well, that I shall succeed in calculating my colors, so that I have it in my power to make the right effect."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top-Earning Dead Celebrities - Forbes

According to Forbes Magazine's "Top Earning Dead Celebrities," George Harrison's estate took in $6 million last year, thanks mostly to the Cirque Du Soleil Beatles show called "Love." George came in 13th place overall.