Tag: illustration

  • Superstition and the Dog Days of Summer

    Canis Major & Lepus Astronomical Chart, Source: History.com

    Sirius is part of the Canis Major constellation, lower and to the left of Orion. In mythology, the name Sirius is used in a variety of stories, including the dog of Icarus. If you are a superstitious sort, you can expect bad luck, intense heat, abrupt thunderstorms, fevers, flooding, and a generally more ill-tempered population. Many of them originate from Greek mythology. The hunting dog of Orion, his appearance was generally not a welcome omen. The Farmer’s Almanac entry cites Virgil’s description of Sirius “as a ‘bringer of drought and plague to frail mortals, rises and saddens the sky with sinister light.’”

    Wow, I think our luck is about to change. While researching canine symbology and derivatives of the name Sirius, I think I might have stumbled upon something huge. Like New Testament or Star Trek: the Next Generation huge. Like they are blowing the lid off of all of everything and cracking it all wide open. It’s … a lot.

    Either way, fortunately there is a wikiHow to save us: How to Get Rid of Bad Luck (with pictures!) I love wikiHow. Full disclosure: I inherited a good many superstitions from a childhood deeply influenced by 1st generation Italian grandparents, and I absolutely throw salt over my shoulder.

    I’m off tomorrow, so catch you all on Monday. Be careful with fireworks, for serious.

    Lucky number: 101

    Affirmation: All dogs go to heaven

    Good luck finding your way out there.

    a slightly different version of this post was first published on theanatomyofmelancholy.com on July 3, 2018

  • The End and the Beginning

    Following on the theme of last night’s halfmoon, we have reached the exact midpoint of the year (12 noon July 2nd).

    Born on July 2nd: organ builder extraordinaire Arp Schnitger (as in musical instruments, not Dr. Frankenstein), French dancer Liane de Pougy; the last Queen of Bavaria Maria Theresa of Austria-Este; Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska; racecar driver Reg Parnell.

    Reg Parnell

    I’m not a racing expert (I am not really even that great at regular driving), but I am pretty sure you should be facing the other way.

    July 2nd also marks the anniversary of the 1560 death of Nostradamus. Also the first Zeppelin flight in 1900 (three years before the first airplane). Also, the Lawrence Welk show debuted today in 1955. Electrical engineer Guglielmo Marconi obtained a patent for the radio in London on July 2, 1897.

    So here we are, on the first day of the second half of the year, or in AA-speak the first day of the rest of your life. I think you should pause and read this lovely poem by Wislawa Szymborska. Then you and a group of your friends could play on a classic radio game or perhaps a virtual game of telephone? Or you could build an organ (the Dr. Frankenstein kind).

    The End and the Beginning

    BY WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA TRANSLATED BY JOANNA TRZECIAK

    After every war
    someone has to clean up.
    Things won’t
    straighten themselves up, after all.

    Someone has to push the rubble
    to the side of the road,
    so the corpse-filled wagons
    can pass.

    Someone has to get mired
    in scum and ashes,
    sofa springs,
    splintered glass,
    and bloody rags.

    Someone has to drag in a girder
    to prop up a wall.
    Someone has to glaze a window,
    rehang a door.

    Photogenic it’s not,
    and takes years.
    All the cameras have left
    for another war.

    We’ll need the bridges back,
    and new railway stations.
    Sleeves will go ragged
    from rolling them up.

    Someone, broom in hand,
    still recalls the way it was.
    Someone else listens
    and nods with unsevered head.
    But already there are those nearby
    starting to mill about
    who will find it dull.

    From out of the bushes
    sometimes someone still unearths
    rusted-out arguments
    and carries them to the garbage pile.

    Those who knew
    what was going on here
    must make way for
    those who know little.
    And less than little.
    And finally as little as nothing.

    In the grass that has overgrown
    causes and effects,
    someone must be stretched out
    blade of grass in his mouth
    gazing at the clouds.

    .

  • As the World Turns

    .


    Great Comet of 1819
    , C/1819 N1, discovered July 1, 1819 by Johann Georg Tralles.

    July 1st is the 202nd anniversary of the discovery of The Great Comet of 1819. In 1770, Lexell’s Comet came closer to the Earth than Considered a lost comet, Lexell’s Comet came in the closest proximity to Earth of any comet ever recorded. It came “super close” (not very close), and then sped off into the emptiness of space, and has never been seen again.

    Born on July 1st: Writers George Sand, co-author of Elements of Style William Strunk Jr., and Irna Phillips. Known as “Queen of the Soaps, Phillips created Guiding Light, As the World Turns, and Another World.

    Amy Johnson c. 1930

    Also born on July 1st: painter and naturalist Willard Metcalf, mountaineer and founder of the Sierra Club David Brower, mathematician Jean Dieudonné, cosmetics entrepreneur Estée Lauder, and English pilot Amy Johnson.

    Tonight the waning moon enters the last quarter moon. Half-lit by the sun, the moon has completed 3/4ths of its orbit. Some astrologers suggest we are more accident-prone during this time, or at least a little more clumsy. The moon is in Aires, which could make us fiery and impulsive. 

    Overall a wonderful setup for a soap opera script which I would like you to draft using the cast of characters above. Bonus points if you can work in getting ghosted by a comet.

  • Carry Moonbeams Home in a Jar

    Would You Like to Swing on a Star? from the 1976 album Sunday Street by Dave Van Ronk. I would very much prefer it if you listen to this while you read about June 30th.

    June 30th is the birthday of singer Lena Horne, musician Stanley Clarke, folk singer Dave Van Ronk; and Lithuanian poet Czesław Miłosz. Also born on June 30th: Engineer and inventor of the modern hot air balloon Ed Yost; magician Harry Blackstone Jr, and sports broadcaster Harry Wismer.

    Dave Van Ronk at Newport Folk Festival, 28th July 1963. (Photo by John Byrne Cooke Estate/Getty Images)

    Today I will just send my sincerest congratulations along with an anecdote about Wismer as told by sportswriter George Plimpton: “He was an odd man. He used to say ‘Congratulations’ to many people he met, on the grounds that they had probably done something they could be proud of.”[18]

    Publicity photo of sportscaster Harry Wismer. Public domain.
    One For My Baby (and One More for the Road), Lena Horne, 1957

  • Consulting a Figurative System of Human Knowledge and Building a Pillow Fort

    Seven sleepers (Menologion of Basil II)

    French scientist and contributor to Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, Louis-Guillaume Le Monnier was born on June 27, 1717.

    I love encyclopedias. We had a white and green leather set, published circa 1962 (I only know that because of the number of times they made it into the citations of a great many poorly-researched high school papers in the early-to-mid 1990s and that according to these volumes, the moon landing had not happened yet). I am positive encyclopedia diagrams lead directly to my interest in mixed media art. I recall in particular the “F” volume had an intricate series of layered pictures of the anatomy of a frog, using clear sheets and onion skin paper that was just lovely.

    Classification chart with the original “figurative system of human knowledge” tree, in French.

    Also born on June 27th: musician Elmo Hope, Helen Keller, and physicist and astronaut Joseph P. Allen.

    June 27th is also Seven Sleepers Day. Known as Siebenschläfertag, it’s basically German groundhog’s day. Folklore says that today’s weather predicts what the weather will be like in July and August. Though this is a German holiday, the medieval story of the Cave of the Seven Sleepers is found in both Christian and Islamic religious traditions.

    You can take a day trip to the Cave of the Seven Sleepers in the Dead Sea for less than $60, excluding travel costs to Amman, the capital city of Jordan. I am going to go out on a limb and guess that, like me, you could not in your wildest dreams afford this right now so how about you build a pillow fort and nap inside it instead? It will feel hot and stuffy, and presumably also predict the weather for the next 8-12 weeks.

  • Liar Liar Pants on Fire

    June 26th is the 1819 birthday of Civil War General Abner Doubleday. He has long been rumored to have invented baseball, though he never claimed this, and it is actually not true. I thought he did too until today, though apparently it has been widely debunked for quite some time, but I spent a good deal of time on the doubledayfield.com photo gallery because though I don’t particularly care about baseball, early photographs of baseball players are inexplicably one of my most favorite things.

    I was thinking this morning a fatal flaw of mine is that I almost invariably assume people are telling me the truth unless there is some direct evidence to prove otherwise. And even then, it’s not so much that I will believe anything, but I will let us hover in a delusion if it is the easier and/or merciful thing to do.

    For example, after we both listened to a co-worker outright lie about the status of a work project, knowing full well she was lying, and knowing full well she knew we knew she was lying, a friend of mine observed that both of us listened to the bold-faced absolute insanity of the explanation without blinking an eye and without a single challenge because we both grew up around addicts, and learned to navigate within a world of denial. I think this is probably true.

    I don’t consider myself an especially honest or dishonest person (though I am probably better than most at compartmentalizing). My father has said all of his daughters are masterful at telling half-truths, leaving out the critical and objectionable details when it serves us, but I am of the mind that this is just a crucial survival skill.

    I can think critically about books, journalism, marketing, and whatnot, but if someone is speaking to me one-on-one, I will accept almost anything at face value. Given that it’s estimated that we lie about 1/5th of the time every single day, even to ourselves, I wonder about the amount of missing or outright false information each of us is working with every day.*

    Anyway, June 26th is also the date of birth of mathematician Leopold Löwenheim; Lebanese painter Daoud Corm (also a mentor to writer Khalil Gibran); Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia; inventor Yoshiro Nakamatsu; astronaut Pavel Ivanovich Belyayev; French poet and activist Aimé Césaire; and British-French secret agent Violette Szabo who was unfortunately captured and executed by Germans in 1945.

    The Madonna of Bikfaya, Daoud Corm
    Violette Szabo c.1944

    June 26th is the Feast Day of Jeremiah, the weeping prophet and Christian martyr Pelagius of Córdoba, patron saint of torture victims, the abandoned, the city of Castro Urdiales, and Spain.

    I am feeling kind of blue today, so I don’t have any recommendations or predictions for your day, but here is a link to listen to fiddler Kenny Baker, who was born today in 1926. Maybe listen to this while you journal about what crucial information you have been keeping from yourself and/or others and why that might be.

    And here is a link to my favorite astrologist Free Will Astrology if you are looking for a horoscope.

    *I did feel the need to at least lookup and confirm that estimate, given the overall subject matter, and found some interesting links.

  • Crossfit and Cross-Promotion #2

  • Crossfit and Cross-promotion

    Crossfit and Cross-promotion

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    June 26th: Lies, Lies, and More Lies

  • The Ghost Forest

    The Ghost Forest

    Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published July 5, 1687.

    Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, was born July 5, 1996. Astronomer A.E. Douglas was born July 5, 1867. He studied the connection of sunspot cycles and tree growth rings, founding modern dendrochronology. The study of tree growth rings reminds me of a New Yorker article published a few years ago, called The Really Big One by Kathryn Schulz. It is a fascinating piece about the Cascadia subduction zone, and the probability of earthquakes and tsunamis in the Pacific Northwest. I find tsunamis the most terrifying thing on earth, so I read the entire article with great interest a couple of times. There was an especially frightening part about the ghost forest, a group of dead but still standing trees standing in seawater along the Copalis River. These red cedars are estimated to be about 2,000 years old. In 1987, a couple of scientists analyzed samples of the trees’ growth rings and determined that the final rings were all in 1699, which lead to the confirmation that these remains are the result of a January 1700 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The description of the area, along with that history, makes me think it sounds like the creepiest, loneliest place on earth, and of course, I want to go there.

    Moving on. Activist Clara Zetkin was born July 5, 1857. Creator of Calvin & Hobbes Bill Watterson was born July 5, 1958. Artist Chuck Close born was on July 5, 1940. I read an interview with him once where he was talking about how he used sensory deprivation to commit things to memory. It sounded like a rather extreme and uncomfortable way to meet an objective, but interesting.

    Physicist and inventor Charles Cagniard de la Tour died July 5, 1859. Inventor Nicéphore Niépce died July 5, 1833. He developed the technique of heliography and created the oldest known photograph. Satirical poet Sasha Chorny died July 5, 1932. Painter Cy Twombly died July 5, 2011. Are you looking for new ways to irritate your friends with your hipster sophistication, yet feeling uninspired by the latest wares at Urban Outfitters? May  I suggest a  Cy Twombly shower curtain?

    Methods of recording and understanding moments in time stick out to me as the common thread of July 5th.  Early cameras, sensory deprivation, dendrochronology, copying a genome. What have you recorded about your life in unconventional and unexpected ways? Where is your ghost forest? I think it is time to visit and commit it all to memory.

  • The Middle of Things

    Amelia Earhart in 1936, Harris & Ewing.

    Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappeared on July 2, 1937, flying over the Pacific Ocean. Her plane took off at 12:00 midnight GMT from Lae Airfield in Papua New Guinea. Her last radio messages were received about 8 and half hours later.

    Pluto’s fourth and fifth moons, Kerberos and Styx were named on July 2, 2013. Does anyone else find it eerie when planets and moons are named after things and places from the mythical land of the dead? I don’t believe in hell, but some part of that dark, silent, absolute zero space feels closer to my fear of what it might be if it actually did exist.

    President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law on July 2, 1964. Civil rights leader Medgar Evers was born July 2, 1925. He was shot and killed by a white supremacist on June 12, 1963.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guglielmo_Marconi#/media/File:Post_Office_Engineers.jpg

    On July 2, 1900, the first Zeppelin flew over Lake Constance in Germany. One hundred and two years later, on July 2, 2002, Steve Fossett became the first person to fly a hot air balloon solo around the world. Astrologist and physician Nostradamus died on Saturday, July 2, 1566. Thomas Savery patented the first steam engine July 2, 1698. Writer Hermann Hesse was born July 2, 1877. Engineer Guglielmo Marconi received a patent for the radio July 2, 1897. Tennis player Jean-Rene Lacoste was born July 2, 1904. He created the polo shirt.

    Freytag Pyramid

    July 2nd is the 183rd day of the year. If 2018 were a play, the inciting incident has happened and approaching the turning point. In Aristotle’s Poetics, the middle of your story is the place “that which follows something as some other thing follows it.” We are working towards the end, the place “that which itself naturally follows some other thing, either by necessity or as a rule, but has nothing following it.” Make sense? Yeah, me either. I mean, I understand the words, but they aren’t inspiring me either.

    To describe the perfect story arch, and where we might be on that spectrum, I am going to use the 1988 horror movie The Blob:

    • A meteorite crashes, the Blob emerges and slimes its first victim.
    • Brian, Meg, and Paul find this victim and rush him to the hospital, but it is too late. The Blob dissolves him, and then Paul. Brian and Meg escape, while the Blob oozes out of the hospital to engulf a couple of teens drinking and making out in a car.
    • Movie heroes Brian and Meg plead for help from law enforcement, but no one believes them.
    • They meet at the local diner and find that the Blob has made it there first. It pulls a maintenance worker down a drain face-first and then chases Brian and Meg to a walk-in freezer. Surprisingly, it retreats and instead eats the diner owner and the sheriff before entering the sewer.
    • Meg and Brian run back to the police station, the dispatcher tells them the Deputy has left to inspect the meteor landing site. They find out the Blob is a Cold War-era military experiment that had been launched into space. The scientist who created the Blob orders the town quarantined.
    • Brian escapes. Meg saves her brother and his friend from the Blob at the movie theater. Mr. Scientist wants to trap it in there and blow it up, even if that means killing Meg and other Arborville residents.
    • Brian hears this and jumps on his motorcycle to save the day. The Blob eats the scientist and makes attacks more townsfolk. While putting out a fire that has engulfed a preacher who was warning about doomsday, Meg realizes the Blob retreated from the fire extinguisher. She remembers it also backed away from the walk-in freezer.
    • They retreat to the town hall, where it swamps the building and begins its final attack. They fight the Blob with liquid nitrogen, which flash-freezes and shatters.
    • In the end, we the Reverend again warning about a doomsday, and see that he has a tiny piece of Blob in a jar, leaving the world open to future destruction, and destined for a sequel.

    So basically, if 2018 was the movie The Blob, admittedly, we’ve had a tough year. We’ve seen some shit, including the handyman getting sucked down the drain. The people in charge aren’t listening. No one is hungry anymore.

    2018 has just come out of the walk-in freezer, and it’s time to come up with a plan. Your enemy is in the sewer. You have 183 days left, what are you going to do first? Beware of your fatal flaw.

    Originally published at theanatomyofmelancholy.com on July 3, 2018.