Monday, April 29, 2013


Alebrije (1977) by Miguel Linares, on display at the Museum of Man in San Diego

Over the weekend, I took a trip down to San Diego. Since I was in the neighborhood, a quick visit to Balboa Park and some of its fine museums was on the schedule. There were plenty of interesting pieces on view, but, today, let's look at a few examples of Mexican folk art, the Alebrijes, colorful nightmare creatures given form in paper mache.

Created by Pedro Linares in the 1930s, these weird creatures were inspired by a fever dream, in which the grotesque critters frolicked within a dream forest and hallucinatory clouds. Throughout the bizarre vision, the creatures kept on repeating the nonsense word "Alebrije". So, upon recovering from the illness, Linares fashioned their likeness out of paper mache, brightly painted.

The tradition has since been passed on through the Linares family and has become a popular form of Mexican folk art, especially in Oaxaca.

Alebrijes by Ricardo and Miguel Linares, on display at the Mingei Museum


Friday, April 26, 2013

Pink Moon

The Pink Moon rises over the neighborhood

Although I often post my photos of the Full Moon, I rarely catch it low on the horizon. Normally, my images show it high in the sky, with nothing but an occasional cloud to contrast with its silvery light. Well, here's a photo of the Pink Moon making its way just above the rooftops of some buildings.

Given the limitations of both my photographic skills and my camera's technical capacities, capturing this image was not easy. The various lights on the street level kept on interfering with my ability to get a good shot. This one is the best that I got.

Oh well, practice makes perfect. ;-)


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Three Views of the Bad Dog

Bad Dog by Richard Jackson, on view at the Orange County Museum of Art, at twilight

Bad Dog by Richard Jackson, on a hazy day

Bad Dog by Richard Jackson, in the middle of a sunny day


Monday, April 22, 2013

Barbie: Goddess of Spring

Barbie, as the Goddess of Spring, wishes everyone a Happy Earth Day

Given my love for flowers and fascination with landscapes, one would think that these would be the images that would grace this blog on Earth Day. Well, I've been sitting on these Barbie photos for a while. So I figured that today would be a nice occasion to share them with you. ;-)

It's funny how blogging evolves over time. Going back a couple of years, I wrote about environmental topics on a regular basis, although it was never a primary focus. Now, I rarely discuss such matters. Perhaps it is because I find it so disheartening a topic. In spite of a continuous data stream of studies that reliably indicate looming ecological troubles, the governing powers of the world are not yet interested in seriously addressing the issue. Moreover, the populace as a whole is either too stuck in complacency or blinded by ideology, refusing to demand action on the matter.

It's too depressing. In short, I consider the debate for a ecologically comfortable future to be over, with the win going to those who enable the pollution and despoiling of our world. The wealthy exploitative elite will get their filthy lucre, while the powerless will suffer the consequences. Maybe some technological breakthrough will save the day, but the tipping point to bad times is soon to come.

Full length view of Goddess of Spring Barbie (2000)

Anyways, Barbie makes for a nice Earth Day image. Her plastic figure will endure well beyond our days, beyond whatever troubles may come, whether she ends up submerged beneath the waves of a toxic sea or buried in the arid desolation of a great drought-induced desert. Our little goddess will persist. ;-)


Sunday, April 21, 2013


Los Angeles viewed from a parking structure on Exposition, overlooking the 110 Freeway

For all the photos that I take of local landmarks or buildings, I realized that I don't take many photos of the city itself. So, here are a couple images to redress the situation.


View of Los Angeles from the Griffith Park Observatory


Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Flowers: Tulips and Turtles

Yellow and orange tulips

The Turtle
(By Ogden Nash)

The turtle lives 'twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile.

Pink tulips

It's been a rough couple of days, but I figured that we could have a bit of levity to round out the week, setting a positive mood for the weekend. And what makes for a smile and chuckle better than a pretty bouquet of tulips and the verse of Ogden Nash?

Moreover, how often do you see tulips and turtles thematically paired? ;-)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Behold This Day

Gnarled bark upon twisted branches

"Peace will come to the hearts of men when they realize their oneness with the universe. It is every where."
-- Black Elk

"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff."
-- Carl Sagan

Rather than spend today focusing on fear and phobias, I figured that we would take a moment to look at the beauty around us, to cherish our world and our opportunity to live in it. Most importantly, let's rejoice in the company of those we love, present and past and future.

There are so many wonderful things that we may experience and learn. Let's take a day to live it.

Spring flowers, pink and bright

And another quote:

"Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them."
-- Marcus Aurelius

Monday, April 15, 2013

When a Dancer Becomes a Dance

Flashdance was released on April 15, 1983

Given the 30 year anniversary of Flashdance, I have been looking at some of the classic dance movies of the late '70s and early to mid '80s. In my youth, I was not a fan of the genre. However, I've grown to enjoy both the performance aspects of such movies and the symbolic significance that dancing holds within the narrative.

So, in Saturday Night Fever, the dance is a form of escapism, a way of forgetting the slow death of daily life, an uplifting moment when pride overcomes despair. In Fame, the performances are about honing a unique genius for expression, a distinct talent that can lift one from obscurity and hardship, bringing the much desire fame. In Footloose, rebellion, from stifling rules and small town petty "moralism", is expressed through the dance. And, in Dirty Dancing, the confidence and self-determination of adulthood is gained through the dance.

But in Flashdance, what is the purpose of the dance? Well, it's a glass slipper. The means through which Cinderella may become a princess, and catch a prince. Unlike the other classic dance movies of the era, the story is too simplistic and contrived to carry any deeper message. While her friends may fail at realizing their dreams, Alex prevails by narrative fiat over her uncertainties and social awkwardness to win the prize.

Jennifer Beals starred as Alexandra Owens, a welder by day and exotic dancer by night.

Well, the story was really mediocre, but the dance scenes are fun. The cinematography and editing style became vastly influential, having an obvious influence upon later movies, such as Footloose and Dirty Dancing. Although there is no "training montage" scene, the framework of the genre staple is laid out in the "Maniac" practice scene. Yeah, we luv the '80s. ;-)

So, in celebration, put on your dancing shoes, take your passion, and make it happen. What a feeling!!!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Two Views of Twilight

Beautiful Clouds at sunset

Yeah, it's Snapshot Saturday again. So, this time I've decided to share a couple photos of the sky at sunset. The diverse colors cause by the ever unique positioning of the sun through the constantly changing atmospheric conditions makes each photo a distinct experience.

Because of this, I never get tired of just snapping a shot at the twilight sky. ;-)

Twilight, as viewed from a parking lot, through the trees


Thursday, April 11, 2013

2013 Weekly Wrap #6

Barbie celebrates the 80th anniversary of King Kong

Curses!!! Foiled again!!!

Yeah, it has been over a month since I last wrote a "weekly" Wrap. What can I say? Lazy, stupid, busy, or whatever, I'll try harder next time. Just like I promised the last time this blog slipped the schedule. ;-)

Anyways, we had fourteen posts in this period, with lots of Barbie doll photos, celebrating such diverse topics as St. Patrick's Day to the anniversary of The Birds. Indeed, our blonde plastic friend from Mattel has been the featured star of the last month. I don't know what I would have done without her.

However, I've stocked up on plenty of photos over the past month. So, as of this Wrap, I'm going full throttle on doing the "photo blog" thing. Although I'd rather provide significant writing to accompany the images, it is better to just have a picture than nothing at all.

We'll see how it goes.

Lawrence at night

So, here is the Wrap:

We celebrated three holidays. Barbie hosted St. Patrick's Day celebrations. The Kewpie dolls presented Rankin & Bass Easter cartoons. Finally, the odd music of Llyn Foulkes was accompanied by laughing dummies on April Fools.

Movies and music together comprised five posts. We celebrated the anniversaries of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and the original King Kong. For the month of March, we had our normal selection of songs from over the decades. Then, we celebrated the birth dates of Tartini and Bix Beiderbecke.

The Worm Moon and a trip to the beach were featured in snapshot style posts. Along the theme of phobias, we looked at photos featuring heights and darkness. And we had two Friday Flowers, camellias and Paschal White. Pretty stuff!!!

So, that's it for this Wrap. We'll do better next time. I know it. ;-)

Or maybe we'll head back to the beach for some more relaxation.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

In Darkness

Lights in the kitchen, on a cold, dark night

Last week, I played around with the concept of the fear of heights. This time around, I'm considering fear of the dark. This isn't a phobia that I personally have, but I do have empathy with it. After all, who likes fumbling around in shadows, attempting to get somewhere or do something that requires precision? With a few exceptions, everything that we would like to do is probably done better in the light.

Darkness transforms familiar locations into dangerous unknown realms. Take the simple walk across a familiar room. With normal lighting, it is such a quotidian task that we don't even spend a moment thinking about it. In the dark, stepping on something discarded upon the floor or banging a foot against a newly moved piece of furniture are commonplace missteps. (Yes, I have sympathy for the parents of young and energetic children.)

But beyond the hazards of toys and tables, there is the insidious play of the imagination. Our minds detest a void. When a strange sound comes to us through the darkness, there is an irresistible impulse to visualize how it was made. Was a creak the result of an intruder's footstep upon the stairs? Was that rustling a monstrous vermin? Was that moan something more than the wind? In the brightness of day, a glance towards the source of the bothersome noise sets our minds to peace. But, in a murk of night, the source is unconfirmed, unresolved, and our imaginations may provide disquieting images to match the sound.

Darkness falls, transforming the familiar to the foreign

So, it makes sense that this is one of the oldest and most enduring of human phobias. Heck, if some prehistoric beast preyed upon my little community of hunter-gathers, I'd also be freakin' terrified of the deadly dark. Next to the fire, keeping it well fed and bright, that's where I'd be to hold the nighttime horrors at bay.

Anyways, I have plenty of fears, but I'm really happy that the darkness is not one of them.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Devil's Trill

It's all about me!!! and Elmo!!!

Well, I haven't very much to share with you today. However, I do have this photo.

I encourage you to engage in your creative faculties. Embrace your inner artiste and discern the significance of this image for yourself. After all, according to contemporary critical theory, no work of art is completed until the viewer finds a personal meaning for him or herself.

So, what does this work say to you? Given your personal experience, your prominence as the height of Creation, what does it all mean?!!! Only your personal genius can bring order from chaos, establishing the Foundation from the Void.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

To Gratify Your Curiosity

King Kong (1933), promotional image

Unexpected demands upon my time came up over the past few days, leaving me with little time to blog. However, I'm not complaining; it's better than being sick or pointlessly idle. Nevertheless, we can't let the day pass without celebrating the 80th anniversary of the release of King Kong.

Although it has been remade, spoofed, and copied on more than a few occasions, the classic 1933 movie still provides a compelling story, filled with thrills and adventure. Yeah, the narrative techniques and characterizations do feel antique and awkward, by modern sensibilities, but, if one is willing to suspend disbelief, to turn off the contemporary critical standards, King Kong still makes for good viewing.

Then there is the whole historical appreciation angle, assessing how it influenced subsequent "monster" films and the development of special effects in movie-making. And has there ever been a "Scream Queen" as compelling as Fay Wray? ;-)

Barbie as Fay Wray, caught in Kong's clutches (2002).

Anyways, here's to the Eighth Wonder of the World.

And remember, it was Beauty that killed the Beast.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Elevated Anxieties

Elevator at the South Bay Galleria

Today, I haven't any special topic prepared. However, since I've been sitting on this photo for a while, I figured it could fill the gap, inspiring some appropriate topic for "Terror Tuesday". Then, I realized that, for all my photos taken, it's rare to have an image looking down, from a balcony or cliff or any precipitous elevation.

The reason is obvious; I'm somewhat afraid of heights. The vertiginous sight on a steep incline, a plunging descent below me, makes me uncomfortable, keeping me back from the edge. Therefore, even when I approach a raised platform or high vista, I tend to record the panorama unfolding before me, not the abyss which recedes beneath me.

So, there are many photos here at Paideia that look up at a soaring structure, but extremely few that showcase the opposite vantage point. It's an amusing bias, one that impacts my craft of image-making in a manner that I had not previously considered.

Going down? Escalators at the South Bay Galleria

Yes, I'm a man of many phobias. Maybe, since it constrains my Art, I'll try to overcome this one. Nevertheless, you will not be finding any rock-climbing photos at this blog anytime too soon. And no sky-diving either!!! ;-)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Foolish Fun

Laughing dummies, produced by Big Smile Mannequins

April Fool's Day is the most obnoxious day on the internet. All the silly "joke" stories, all the pranks and spoofs, these are rarely as clever as their writers intend. Normally, I consider it to be a day to take an on-line hiatus. ;-)

Maybe, it's because I have no sense of humor. Perhaps, it's because I'm too serious or self-important. Whatever the case, I find much for exasperation and little for amusement.

Well, you will not find me partaking of the folly of the "holiday" but, if you're inclined towards the silly, here are a few photos of mannequins. Creepy or funny? You decide.

Clearance sale, including mannequins for $50

I vote for creepy, especially those Big Smile laughing dummies. That's an image for a quick trip down into the Uncanny Valley.