Thursday, January 31, 2013

January: Decades of Music

Bee Gees, Saturday Night Fever, 1977
The Bee Gees kicked off their Saturday Night Fever success with "How Deep Is Your Love"

I stopped writing the old "Monthly Dance Party" posts a while back because of two reasons. First, although it's fun to look at different musical trends over the decades, contrasted in five-year intervals, I didn't feel as if my writing was giving anything special to the topic. My posts were little more than a couple pictures and a list of videos.

Second, I got lazy. Feeling as if these music posts were just list-compiling drudgery, I couldn't muster up the energy or enthusiasm to write about the songs or my experiences of the music. Yeah, with a little effort, I could have addressed my first concern, but that very problem broke my morale and sapped my will, creating a vicious cycle of negative feedback. My posts were vapid and that drained my enthusiasm, which, in turn, kept me from improving upon my posts.

That's kind of stupid, but that's how it went down. But, with a new year, I'll try to start the project up again and try to make things more interesting. We'll see.

Duran Duran, Ordinary World, Wedding Album
Artwork for Duran Duran's "Ordinary World" from the interior of the Wedding Album 

This month, I went easy on the selections with nothing too far from the mainstream. I didn't hit many Billboard Hot 100 chart toppers, but they all probably made good chart positions. Sure, I could have dug a bit deeper into the music, turning up forgotten gems, but there's nothing wrong with mainstream music.

After all, we're here to have fun. ;-)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When the Sun Sets

Sunset, Purple Sky, Red Tail Lights, Twilight
Twilight descends upon the land, as the last rays of sunlight glow red upon the horizon.

The grind of days keeps on wearing me down.

Even the beauty of the sunset, with the last rays of light stretching across the horizon in shades of crimson and orange, brings me no happiness or comfort, only a distant aesthetic appreciation. The moon, so full and near in the winter night, has no charm for me right now. And it has been so very cold, at least by our local standards.

I know that this current malaise will pass. Yet, the moments seem to drag with excruciating slowness. I feel like I'm in some annoying Existentialist drama, waiting for Godot or some other Sisyphean futility. And I freakin' hate it!!!

Yeah, I know this doesn't make for interesting reading. Don't worry. This angst shall pass. For now, just look at the photographs and forgive me for the weepy prose.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fallen Leaves and Barren Trees

The branches, nearly bare, stretch up into a turbulent sky.

Yeah, another photo blog. I don't have the energy today to write about anything really cool or exciting. Like these trees, I'll have to wait for a warmer time to show a proper flourish.

But I'm keeping up the daily output, even through these difficult times. That's something about which I can be happy. There are many wonderful things around me; if only I could rally my spirit, there would be an overabundance of writing. ;-)

Yet, for today, we'll look at these poor fallen leaves.

Dry and discarded, the fallen leaves rest upon the green grass.

Maybe tomorrow. . .

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monumentality of Everyday Objects

The Flashlight (1981) by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Height: 38 ft.; Weight: 74,000 lbs.

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas. Being a Claes Oldenburg enthusiast, I absolutely had to visit a couple of his sculptures in the area.

First, I went to visit the Flashlight at UNLV. It's an interesting experience viewing this work, seeing it at a distance but not realizing the full height of the piece until you get right up to it. Approaching from the nearby stairway and ascending to its base level, the full monumental quality is impressive. It may be a giant flashlight, but the scale makes it transcend mere commonality; like a Roman column or Egyptian obelisk, this sculpture has a commanding presence.

Then, I headed over to the City Center to see the Typewriter Eraser (Scale X). Although not as imposing as the Flashlight, this piece was more humorous, more dynamic. Amid the towering hotels and bustling crowds of the Strip, the Typewriter Eraser seemed at home, colorful and whimsical.

Typewriter Eraser, Scale X (1998-99) by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Las Vegas City Center
Height: 19 ft.; Weight: 4 tons
1 in an edition of 3

Fun stuff!!!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Morbid and Bizarre

Detail of The Innsmouth Look by Russ Lukich

I recently had the opportunity to visit CoproGallery's current show, "Conjoined III: The Final Chapter," a group exhibit curated by Chet Zar. It was a ghoulishly good time.

I figured that I would share a few images with you all.

H.P. Lovecraft's Hound of Tindalos by Dave Grasso

Yeah, there were a few Lovecraftian-inspired works on display, plenty of occult imagery, and more Pop Surrealistic visions than you'll find with a full flask of adrenochrome. ;-)

Detail of Weird Science by Mike Regan

This exhibit runs until February 9, 2013.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Living Foodstuffs

Sophie the Pink Lemonade Ice Pop and Vampire Candy Corn from the World of Mr. Toast

Well, we've been looking at various toys over the past few weeks. So, let's check out a few plush dolls from the World of Mr. Toast!!!

You might be wondering why anybody would want to have dolls of drunken carrots or smiling ice pops. You might not find comics of sentient and mobile foodstuffs engaging in absurd behavior, minimal though it may be, to be of great interest. Well, there are some out there that enjoy playing with their food. ;-)

And, anyways, how can anyone dislike a fanged and winged candy corn?!!

Joe the Egg and Shaky Bacon

Fun stuff!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dainty and Darling Dunny

Shadow Friend Dunny by Angry Woebots

Well, it's been another tough day for me, but this fierce little beastie lifts my spirit. Seriously, how can a snarling panda/bunny with a speared fish not bring a smile to your face?

We'll see what tonight brings. Maybe tomorrow. . .

But, for now, have a dunny. ;-)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Blah Blah Blah, Blah Balh

A random assortment of groceries

Sorry, folks.

I'm feeling terrible today. So, rather than doing something cool, I'll just offer you all an image of some foodstuffs. Yummy. ;-)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 Weekly Wrap #2

Detail of Lost & Found by Eric Joyner, part of the Corey Helford Gallery's exhibit, Crucifixion

Yes, we have a flexible definition of "weekly" here at Paideia. Let's assign it a value of ten days plus or minus two. Therefore, a year at this blog will have approximately thirty-six "weeks." ;-)

I was hoping for a better production rate, but circumstances interfered. However, seeing as how I visited some galleries this weekend, my rate over the next "week" ought to be much improved. Moreover, I'm really getting into the whole photography blogging.

Of course, things within my personal life have ways of trumping all my blogging intentions. To be honest, things are a bit tough right now. Yet, writing these posts is a welcome way to take my mind off of the troubles of my daily life, a mental escape in which my whimsy can take flight. Unless I'm really too drained to write, it's fun to get away from the quotidian woes.

I hope my blogging gives you, my dear readers, a pleasant diversion as well.

Lawrence at the library, again

So, here's the Wrap:

We had a couple Friday Flowers, with a return to our old tradition of including poetry. First, we showcased a selection of beauties from the South Coast Botanic Garden, along with a poem from Emily Dickinson. Then we put the spotlight on some lovely roses, paired to a Shakespeare sonnet.

Regarding Art, there were two posts. First, we celebrated minimalism and the works of Tony Smith. Second, we reviewed the Corey Helford Gallery's exhibit, Crucifixion, which we thoroughly enjoyed. You can't beat Pink Ice Cream cones, robots, and Wicker Man sacrifices. ;-)

For Music, we had two posts, birth date celebrations. We listened to some Foo Fighters on Dave Grohl's birthday. Then, we enjoyed the sultry sophistication of Eartha Kitt on her birth date. It was purrfect!!!

Our one view of Cinema was another entry into the Hall of Shame, to which we consigned Leprechaun from 1993; just give him the gold so we can put an end to these horrible movies!!!! Then we looked at some Toys, various collectibles from the local retailer, Pop Monster, featuring some Tokidoki Unicornos and Kidrobot Dunnies. Good stuff!!!

And then we had three posts that primarily featured my photography. One was all about taking pictures of the sun, green retinal burns and all. Then we looked at some random photos while enjoying a few renaissance musical pieces. Finally, I demonstrated my love for vanishing points and linear perspective.

All in all, it was a fun batch of posts. I'm looking forward to next "week" and the diverse topics that we will be able to explore.

"A friend with weed is a friend indeed."


Monday, January 21, 2013

Vanishing Points

Corridor through the storage units

Another day, another post. ;-)

I don't have much to talk about today, being distracted by various matters, both good and bad. However, I do have a few photos to share, images that illustrate my fascination with perspective and distance, specifically within architectural forms. I just love those lines converging in the distance.

I think that my photographic skills are improving, especially in having cultivated a mindset that keeps me alert to interesting subjects, the ability to mentally compose a picture from the chaotic forms that surround me. This is a long learning process, but I'm feeling good about my progress. When starting this blog, taking photos was just part of "content creation" and, to my way of thinking, a mere complement to the writing.

Although my prose is definitely stronger than my images, photography has grown into more than a side effort, meant to showcase my words. It is no longer a necessary chore, but an exciting pastime.

A blue dumpster at the end of the parking alley.

On a slow day like this, when my mind is too tired to engage in critical thought or witty reviews, it is nice having a reservoir of photographs to prop up my daily production while maintaining the distinct feel of this blog.

It is said that a picture is worth a hundred words. So, these images really inflate my word count. ;-P

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Crucifixion Variations

Detail of Financial Sacrifice American Depress by Ron English

Over half a year has passed since last I wrote about an exhibit at the Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City, which is an inexcusably long time, especially since they have had so many awesome shows on exhibit. Well, I made a trip over to see their current show, Crucifixion, which presents works by a selection of their artists on the topic of sacrifice and sacred iconography. The variations were extremely interesting.

Although the images ranged from the haunting to the humorous, the theme was tightly represented by the artists, each in their own unique way. So, Ron English delivers upon the theme of sacrifice, while keeping true to his distinct imagery of social criticism. Likewise, Buff Monster subverts traditional Christian symbolism with anthropomorphic pink ice cream cones, turning a scene of devotion into one of humor.

Across the board, this show presents the unique vision of the gallery, coherent in theme but so wonderfully diverse in implementation.

Detail of Stigmata by Ray Caesar

I highly recommend paying this show a visit.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Minimal Words

Die (exhibition maquette, 1967) by Tony Smith, at the Orange County Museum of Art

This Is All

Will Let Me

Detail on Smoke (1967, fabricated 2005) by Tony Smith, at LACMA


Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Flowers: Among the Winter Roses

Rose: Honor

Sonnet 73

That time of year thou mayst in me behold 
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang 
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. 
In me thou seest the twilight of such day 
As after sunset fadeth in the west, 
Which by and by black night doth take away, 
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest. 
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire 
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, 
As the death-bed whereon it must expire 
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by. 
   This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, 
   To love that well which thou must leave ere long. 

---William Shakespeare

Rose: Olympiad

It's always a good time to feature a poem by Shakespeare, but, during this drab period in which so few flowers are in bloom, stunted by the unusually frigid weather, it seems especially appropriate. Though the blossoms are scarcely to be found, these elegant words bring color to the gardens of our minds.

Well, the icy days may be behind us now. Today was nice and warm, inspiring me to head outside and bask in the sunlight. Perhaps the flowers will be soon to follow. ;-)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Just an Old Fashioned Girl

Eartha Kitt in St. Louis Blues (1958)

Many a week has passed on by since we last celebrated a classic female vocalist's birth date. So, let's return to the tradition by giving great thanks for the wonderful works of Eartha Kitt, one of the sultriest and smoothest of mid-century songbirds.

Her most iconic performance was the original 1953 recording of "Santa Baby," a rendition that stands out above subsequent performances for its playful yet sexy lyrics, not too coy and not too vulgar; Eartha does it just right.

But her songbook is way deeper than this one Christmas novelty piece. From jazz to disco, she had a rich array of musical styles, expressively mixing them up into a unique blend of influences and ideas. Honestly, her aesthetic depth is frequently overshadowed by the focus on her strong personality and activist efforts. That's not to say that she shouldn't be appreciated for speaking out in support of unpopular or anti-establishment positions, but, rather, that she was an artist of the highest caliber, a fact that should not be forgotten.

Eartha Kitt as Catwoman (Batman, season 3, 1967-68)

With that being said, let's listen to some artistry. ;-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Resting on a Quiet Night

Entryway at the South Coast Botanic Gardens on a winter afternoon

It's one of those nights when my energy ebbs low, even though I have plenty about which to write and to share, photographs and ideas aplenty. Certainly, I could push myself to produce a witty review of some art exhibition or a lighthearted celebration of a birth date or historical fact. But, let's be honest, I'm tired.

Instead of some coherent essay or critical review, I'll offer you a couple images, featuring two of my favorite compositional elements, the passageway and the reflection. I have an affinity to their thematic qualities and find them aesthetically pleasing.

Just because I'm having a lazy evening doesn't mean that I'm going weak on the content. ;-)

Empty swimming pool reflecting the twilight sky

And some music. . .

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Looking at the Sun

The Sun behind a telephone pole

I'm an old-timer when it comes to photography, with most of my habits developed way back in the film exposure days. Although I have been using a digital camera for the past decade, I have a hard time shaking the techniques learned for an obsolete technology.

Lately, the unusually cold weather, at least for Southern California, has been weighing upon my mind. One idea that popped into my mind was whether or not the upper atmosphere would have enough ice crystals to create nice solar halos. People who live in northern climes are familiar with the phenomena of light refracted through ice, but the climate conditions don't show up that often in the Los Angeles region.

So, when running about my business, I looked up and, sure enough, I could see the circles glowing around the sun. Then, I began my quest to find a way to occlude the disk of the sun, so as to showcase the halo, earning many a green retinal burn along the way. ;-)

The sun partially obscured by a lamppost and the clouds

To be honest, I have never been much of a "Sky" photographer, especially not with a subject as difficult as the sun; give me the moon any day, or night. But repeat attempts brought out some decent images. It was a nice day for sky-gazing.

The rice blue skies, the wispy clouds, and the solar halos made for tough but engaging compositional elements. As the day progressed, I got to snap them from different angles. It was a fun project.

The upper arc of the solar halo, peeking over the top of a streetlamp

And that's when I came to a revelation. . .

Monday, January 14, 2013

This Could Take All Night

Long Beach Harbor on a gusty winter twilight

Again, my blogging time has slipped away from me.

Although I'm doing a decent job of putting up a daily post, I would like to write more things with actual substance. I don't think that I'm totally failing at this goal, but I can do better. Nevertheless, we make the most out of the time available, doing our best with the situation in which we find ourselves.

Therefore, tonight's post will consist of a few photographs, images that I've taken over the past few days that caught my fancy. Outside and inside, any location presents interesting sights. ;-)

The claustrophobic trail through the library's book-laden shelves

And, to celebrate the birthday of Dave Grohl, let's listen to some music.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Friend With Gold Is the Best I'm Told

Leprechaun (1993) featuring Warwick Davis

This week marked the 20th anniversary of the cult classic horror movie, Leprechaun, starring Warwick Davis, as the title character, and Jennifer Aniston, as the female protagonist. Although it was an eye-bleedingly terrible film, with dialog and plot so inept that they verge on madness-inducing, it spawned a franchise of six movies, albeit mostly direct-to-video, with talks in the works to launch a theatrical reboot.

Now, there are some notable, even positive, aspects to the Leprechaun movies. First, Warwick Davis really gives the little green sociopath a distinct personality, a style unique to the slasher genre, with a cheesy but creepy mix of humor and malevolence. Another praiseworthy element is the make-up that transforms the rather nonthreatening features of Davis into the otherworldly malice of the Leprechaun. It's an interesting blend. ;-)

And, of course, it's awesome to remember that this was Jennifer Aniston's first significant theatrical role, before Friends, when she became "America's sweetheart" and influenced hairstyles. After starring in this clunker of a movie, Aniston must have found herself a four-leaf clover indeed; other aspiring actresses have found their careers derailed by such a memorable stinker.

Detail from Leprechaun (1993) theatrical poster

While I don't mean to offend the fans of this franchise, I have to say that this movie and those that followed it, even with the quotable lines and Davis' unique charm, were abominable. Really, death by pogo stick, journeying into space, killer go-karts, these movies dredge up the bottom of horrific absurdity. Sometimes I think that they are so bad that they become good. . .

But, no, they're just really, really bad. And, therefore, Leprechaun and his pot o' gold go into my Hall of Shame!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Abominations of the Apocalypse

Rodeo, Sakura, and Kaili from Tokidoki's Unicorno Series

There's a toy shop in the southern part of Torrance called Pop Monster, which I get to on infrequent occasions. I'm not big on collecting, but I can appreciate the interesting toys and artworks on display. Well, as I was strolling out of my local library a few days ago, I noticed that they put up a nice showcase of the types of goodies that can be found at the store.

Yeah, it's a bit twisted, but I adore toys with a sense of humor. Therefore, here are a few photographs for Silly Saturday. ;-)

Smorkin Labbit from Kidrobot.

And then there were a few critters from the Apocalypse.

Kidrobot's Dunny Apocalypse Series, with Road Warrior by Huck Gee, Meltdown by Chris Ryniak, and Illuminati by Jermaine Rogers.

Fun stuff!!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Flowers: A Plethora of Pretties

Fuchsias: Angel Earrings

Some, too fragile for winter winds
The thoughtful grave encloses —
Tenderly tucking them in from frost
Before their feet are cold.

Never the treasures in her nest
The cautious grave exposes,
Building where schoolboy dare not look,
And sportsman is not bold.

This covert have all the children
Early aged, and often cold,
Sparrow, unnoticed by the Father —
Lambs for whom time had not a fold.

--- Emily Dickinson

Winter-Blooming Bergenia

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. We have returned to featuring poems as a part of Friday Flowers. It used to be a favorite of my readers back in the good old days, but I got lazy. So, here we are with poetry and floral pretties.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Weekly Wrap #1

The elephant-headed Ganesh, among the Norton Simon Museum's collection of Hindu bronzes

We're done with "Week #1" and here's the Wrap, just like in the good old days. It's been a long time since we've put up one of these, but it's been a long, long time since we've had sufficient posts to justify one. After all, why put in these "real time" indices, when looking at a month or more of material is as easy as scrolling down the page?

Well, at least for the first ten days of this year, we have enough material to make it worthwhile. And that's reason to celebrate!!! Woo hoo!!!

Now, I know that a bunch of my posts were on the "fluffy" side, but we did touch base on our usual weekly features. Art and music, history and mythology, flowers and toys, so many of these things that I adore made their appearance over the last eleven posts. Can it get better? Certainly, there is a whole lot of room for improvement, but the core interests of this blog were well represented. Though I hope make it even better, my assessment with the current state is highly positive.

Most importantly, I've been having fun!!!

Going back to basics, the Wrap will feature a photo of me again. ;-)

So here's the Weekly Wrap.

Our posts were a bit mixed in subject matter. For instance, there was plenty of art, music and literature, but they were combined together into hybrid posts. That's what creates that "fluffy" feel that I mentioned above. But we did have a few distinct features.

Friday Flowers featured some phalaenopsis orchids from my household collection. Silly Saturday showcased the wonderfully entertaining Loteria exhibit at the Museum of Latin American Art. On Spooky Sunday, we took a look into Hell as part of our celebration of Gustave Dore's birth date.

Regarding music, we celebrated Tolkein's birth date by listening to music inspired by his works. The holiday season came to a triple-royal finale on Epiphany. The birth date of Al Bowlly, a crooner from the early decades of the 20th century, was the occasion to appreciate some old-time singing. Then, we had a whimsy post featuring music inspired by ancient Egypt, along with a cute mummy doll. ;-)

We opened the year featuring the image of and music to the elephant-headed god, Ganesh, Lord of Obstacles. Then I set out a "meta" post that discussed my intentions and resolutions for this year, 2013. Finally, we had a couple pure "whimsy" posts showing a stop sign and a Budweiser delivery truck.

Fun stuff!!!

"Come and play with us, Danny. Forever. . . and ever. . . and ever."


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Keeping on Pace

Budweiser truck, delivering the King of Beers!!!

Well, I've kept up with the daily posting schedule, even with conditions beyond my control that made my new resolution tougher to handle. So, I think it's time to celebrate!!!

Of course, my other personal resolutions haven't fared as well as my blogging. Yeah, the photo above is a clue as to one area in which I have fallen short, albeit not totally failed. I love me some beverages. ;-)

In any case, this post is just to boost my spirits and give a cheer for the improved rate of posting. I really was about to throw in the towel last November, but here we are, perhaps better than ever, writing posts both whimsical and critical. And that makes me happy.

Woo hoo hoo!!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No Treats for You!!!

Little mummy wants a tasty treat.

Hmm, my internet is hassling me yet again.

Well, I'll just bump today's regularly scheduled fun and games, for tomorrow or Thursday. And we'll just enjoy this darling little mummy doll today. After all, if we used the ancient Egyptian calendar, with its leap year discrepancy, I'm certain that today would coincide with our Halloween sometime over the thousands of years from Old to New Kingdoms. ;-)

So, Happy pseudo-Egyptian Halloween!!!!!

Let's listen to some music.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Buried in a Distant Age

Suspicious patch of dirt upon a green field
What buried mystery might some digging yield?

The music, art, and fashions of bygone days fascinate me, inspiring me to imagine how life might have been in the years, decades, and centuries before my birth. This antique allure also lies at the root of my love for history. So, it is with great enthusiasm that I seek out information on these times past, from the actions of the great leaders of the age to the quotidian lifestyles of the average person.

This process of learning is like solving a mystery, like digging up buried treasure. It brings me stories and images, which, in turn, drive me to continue to seek inspiration among the hidden cultural gems of the past. Yeah, love for knowledge is a thirst that can never be quenched, an itch that can never be scratched. Yet, it is rarely painful, always beckoning and inviting, leaving gifts of insight with each step taken.

Which leads me to today's topic, the birth date of Al Bowlly. By coincidence, I was asked today about the popular music of the 1930s and his songs came straight into my mind. Although relatively obscure now, as are most crooners of the "sweet" style, Bowlly was quite popular in his day. So iconic was his voice that his music is occasionally used to evoke a nostalgic sense of the era, such as in movies like The Shining.

Photograph from The Shining (Overlook Hotel, July 4th Ball, 1921)
On view as part of LACMA's Stanley Kubrick exhibition

Well, let's dig through the years and excavate some fine music from the obscurity of days gone by. It's not forgotten now.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

Gustave Dore's illustration of Dante questioning the damned frozen in Lake Cocytus

Last year, we celebrated the birth date of Gustave Dore by looking at his biblical illustrations. Since today is Spooky Sunday, it seems only proper that we look at some of Dore's most haunting works, the images created for Dante's Inferno.

There are plenty of gruesome scenes to select, but my favorites are with Francesca and the Lustful being carrying aloft forever upon a tireless, swirling wind, and with Farinata who pridefully argues among the Heretical in their smoldering sarcophagi, and, of course, upon seeing the frozen bottom layer with the Treacherous trapped in the ice of Lake Cocytus, formed from the endless tears of Satan himself!!! Yeah, there are other horrific situations, loathsome and insidious. But these are my three iconic vistas of Perdition.

Other artists have tried their hand at drawing nightmarish visions from Dante's text, sometimes with great success. However, in terms of breadth and consistency, nobody beats Dore in envisioning the words. He makes Hell take shape.

Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta, tossed endlessly by the gusts of Lust

Personally, I've never been a Dante enthusiast, but looking at Dore's work makes me want to give the Divine Comedy another read, especially Paradiso, which I have only read once, back in my college years, when I thought it was so boring as to make my eyes blur with tedium. Yeah, I hate rereading works, but sometimes our perspectives become so changed as to make the text relate to us anew.