Friday, October 31, 2008

charlie brown's hallowe'en

a hallowe'en tradition for me as a kid and now for my own children is the viewing of the charlie brown hallowe'en show. capturing so much of the angst and avarice of the eve, the program has many scenes and situations that remain hilarious and memorable to me despite having viewed it - well a lot of times!

i especially love snoopy as the world war one flying ace!

here's part one . . .

here's part two . . .
here's part three . . .

jonathon keats' "the atheon"

there are a lot of little machines orbiting around out there. for example this little golden machine is responsible for gathering the data to create a full sky map of the faint variations in the temperature of the cosmic microwave background radiation. to learn more about this project then pop over to this nasa news link.

cosmic microwave background radiation
 (this image has been modified from an image at cobe)

here on earth, jonathon keats is what is commonly termed a “conceptual artist”. this places him squarely in a tradition that has laid bare the assumptions, and architecture of society and placed them up for reflection for many years. because some of these assumptions are sacred, taboo, or for some people, simply “not up for discussion”, conceptual artists have functioned in that part of the artistic spectrum that places them near the fringe if they challenge in a big way, or nearer the centre if they challenge after the manner of the court jester (which contrary to the common use of the term "jester" was a serious role requiring an astute sense of when and what to say as the life of the jester would literally hang in the balance as he drew attention to or made fun of the king) whose role was circumscribed by the understanding that he would be given free reign to ridicule the extant power structure without fear of consequence.

keats’ latest work sees him somewhere in-between those two extremes addressing as he does the age-old difference of opinion that has delineated the worlds of science and religion. he has entered the fray through his creation of “the atheon”.

so what exactly is “the atheon”? well keats describes it as “a secular temple devoted to scientific worship. delivering spiritual fulfillment through exposure to the latest research in fields ranging from cosmology to quantum mechanics.” a heady and intriguing objective underpinned by the ambition to provide “a nondemoninational alternative to theocentric religions.”

the credo? “to make faith rational.”

the atheon is located in berkeley, california a city noted as one of the more politically liberal cities in america. so the atheon fits right in with its challenge to reassess exactly where religion fits - if it still does - or if indeed its form and purpose are ready for some sort of reconsidering.
a short but detailed write-up on the atheon can be read here.

the sounds you will hear at the atheon are the work of university of virginia astronomer mark whittle who used audio files of sounds "pulsating through several hypothetical universes as well as our own living cosmos". mark has also posted a lovely article chronicling a journey through the history of matter that explains the whole of physical science in a manner that even i, a fully accredited artsy can understand and get excited about. nip over here to read mark's writing.

entering the atheon through my laptop i encounter an image that i later learn is cosmic microwave background radiation. in the background can be heard a faint hissing sound that ebbs and flows. that is sll that i found. the installation is apparently much more complex and detailed and i am looking forward to much more images and text when they become available.

meanwhile, my own take on science and religion is that science is one facet of the description in the same way as the map is one facet of the place it describes. science articulates our understanding of the physical manifestation of all that is. because it is inexorably drawing closer to essences and deeper mappings of our understanding, my sense is that it is inevitable that it’s language become more spiritual. when it is no longer necessary to articulate that language, then we’ll know that we’ve truly sourced elements of the allness of everything.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


i walked down to the woods the other day. a simple undertaking but absolutely filled with hope and expectation that there will be loveliness abounding and it's rare that i am disappointed by this simple journey. today i saw a wonderment of berries ready for over-wintering birds . . .

and what better poet to accompany these riches than that most extraordinary man from kentucky - mr. wendell berry!

the peace of wild things

when despair for the world grows in me
and i wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
i go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
i come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. i come into the presence of still water.
and i feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. for a time
i rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— wendell berry

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


a mask "is an artefact normally worn on the face, typically for protection, concealment, performance, or amusement."

hmmmmmm . . . . .

from 1 giant leap: "masks" . . .

"masks part two" . . . (heads up for a couple of rude words!!)

on this day twelve years ago

on this day twelve years ago a girl entered my life who i was entirely unprepared for but on whom (for me) the sun rises and sets. i still vividly recall the moment when our family doctor "rick" as i know him ( a cyclist, advocate for a local marshland, wears duck boots into the birthing room) said "hey, we've got a baby girl" . . . and i was so thrilled, so deeply thrilled i almost cried. but i didn't, because at that moment he gave her to me to give to my wife. it was a stunning rich magical massive momentous deep moment. i had never had a sister. i grew up with the mystery of girls and women and here was one thrust into my arms for whom i would be "daddy", "dad", and eventually steven. always there. always caring and loving. easily wrapped around the finger of her wishes and dreams.
in my life i have been blessed with two sons and a daughter. each a unique, amazing person in their own right. today is my daughter alexia (lexi's) day. happy birthday sweet girlchild of mine and thankyou for all that you are.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

parallels in snow

j. m. w. turner, snow storm: steamboat off a harbour's mouth. 1842. oil on canvas. tate gallery, london.

it's all gone for now - the remnants of an early winter's blast in mid october that is . . . but here are some lingering images that are still etched in my mind and bones . . . .

the snow-storm

announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
hides hill and woods, the river, and the heaven,
and veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
the sled and traveller stopped, the courier's feet
delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
in a tumultuous privacy of storm.
come see the north wind's masonry.
out of an unseen quarry evermore
furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
curves his white bastions with projected roof
round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
so fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
for number or proportion. mockingly,
on coop or kennel he hangs parian wreaths;
a swan-like form invests the hiddden thorn;
fills up the famer's lane from wall to wall,
maugre the farmer's sighs; and at the gate
a tapering turret overtops the work.
and when his hours are numbered, and the world
is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
to mimic in slow structures, stone by stone,
built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
the frolic architecture of the snow.

1835 [1841]
ralph waldo emerson

Monday, October 27, 2008

autumn evening in suburbia

the twilight turns from amethyst
to deep and deeper blue,
the lamp fills with a pale green glow
the trees of the avenue.

excerpted from james joyce “the twilight turns

Sunday, October 26, 2008

catching the colour

"the wind flapped loose, the wind was still,
shaken out from tree and hill:
i had walked on at the wind's will, -
i sat now for the wind was still."

dante gabriel rosetti
autumn's inexorable progress can be measured in the quickly thinning trees whose multi-coloured food processors are scattered by the wind which blows with a chill about it every day now. soon the leaves will all be gone and hidden under snow, returning to the ground as food for the spring. in the meantime we get to enjoy their decayed beauty . . .

"a sweet disorder in the dress
kindles in clothes a wantonness."

excerpted from robert herrick's "delight in disorder"

Saturday, October 25, 2008

catching some heat with king sunny ade

the mornings are starting at or below the freezing point now so i am feeling the need for a little warmth. about twenty years ago, paul simon of simon and garfunkel fame took a trip into south africa and emerged a changed man. loaded with street music and musicians who were huge stars in their countries but almost completely unknown on this continent, simon assembled an album entitled ”graceland” that brought much of what was happening in areas of south africa such as soweto into his musical vocabulary. he was not the first, to be fair to all the other musicians who had done something similar, he was not alone. but his name and fame allowed the music into the homes of people who might otherwise never have experienced it

as a result of listening to simon’s music i went digging into the music of groups like ladysmith black mambazo, the boyoyo boys, and eventually king sunny ade. king sunny plays a form of music popularized in nigerian called juju music. it is a very detailed and precise kind of music and yet is also very laid back and easy to listen to. its most characteristic feature is the talking drum. here’s a talking drum . . .

for my friends in northern climes who are starting to feel the first chill, here’s some music from and about a place much warmer than where i am right now. the song is entitled “ja funmi”.

here’s a nice feature on king sunny.

Friday, October 24, 2008

the seventh voyage of sinbad

it's friday night - the beer's cool, the wings are hot, there's bags and bags of popcorn and i dunno about you, but i'd like a little escape time!! here's a movie that has it all, lovely starlets, hunky stars, bad men, good men, cute little boys, magic, adventure and "dynamation" . . . . . .. the seventh voyage of sinbad . . . enjoy the film!!!

manfredi nicoleti

manfredi nicoletti and paolo soleri .

it still surprises me that the truly great thinkers of our world go largely ignored by most people. somehow unless they enrich our lives through entertainment, or through ill-gained notoriety, they are doomed to toil wihout the kind of recognition they undoubtedly deserve. manfredi nicoletti is one such person. perhaps it’s my own misguided sense of what is right and wrong but i think people should be familiar with the names and work of the great bridge builders, the great architects, the great artists, musicians, writers, dramatists, designers, and thinkers not only of the past but of the present time. perhaps especially those of the present time.

manfredi’s list of mentors alone is one of the most amazing (if you love architectural design) i’ve come across - manfredi has worked and studied with a veritable architecture hall of fame: buckminster fuller, walter gropius, louis kahn, pier luigi nervi, and eero saarinen. any one of those men would give you huge credentials and skills as a teacher and colleague, but five of them!!

let’s look at some of nicoletti’s thinking . . . . this won an honourable mention for a design to house the warsaw museum of modern art. the design is comprised of two elements. the “crystalline container” is an austere transparent structure that at once protects and reveals. the street that this structure is sited on is dominated by a stalinist-style skyscraper, the tallest building in warsaw and a symbol of the former soviet oppression. inside the crystal structure are two symbolic free and overflowing forms, which serve "as visual metaphors for polish untameable vitality". the two structures shatter the immobility of the container; they break out towards the space outside; they both characterise and dispute the urban skyline.

here are a few of nicoletti's designs . . . for malaysia . . . kazhakstan . . . palazzo di giustizia di arezzo . . .

manfredi's homepage is a treasure trove of brilliant design. be sure to visit!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

1 giant leap - first time 'round

when 1 giant leap came onto the music scene i have to admit that i was a bit skeptical of just how good the musical results would be. my experience of musical concepts has been that while they are jam-packed with "big name" musicians, the end result somehow doesn't match up to the possibility each musician represents in their own right. there is a sort of homogenizing that restricts each from being fully present.

the premise behind 1 giant leap was to send two musicians on a six month 'round-the-world tour gathering soundbites and video bites of people - mostly musicians but not all - and reasembling them into a sort of audio-visual pastiche describing an understanding of the world at a particular time in its history. put together by jamie catto and duncan bridgeman, the project took as its guiding theme "unity through diversity". the list of artists associated with the project was understandably diverse and extraordinary: dennis hopper, kurt vonnegut, michael stipe, robbie williams, eddi reader, tom robbins, brian eno, baaba maal, speech, asha bhosle, neneh cherry, anita roddick, michael franti and many other artists and authors.

the full history of the 1 giant leap project can be read and viewed here.

but let's give the music a listen. my favourite track off this disc is without a doubt the piece featuring the vocals of michael stipe, the 48 year-old lead singer for r.e.m., and asha bhosle the 75 year-old indian music star.

the song is entitled "i love the way you dream" . . .

spoken word:
"only silence remains because i have to listen to him,
i have to listen to the silence. I have to experience him."

(asha bhosle)

karmany evaadhikaraste ma phalesu kadacana
ma karma phala hetur bhur ma te sango’stv akarmani
paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam
dharma samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge


you have adhikara (ability, choice) over your respective duty only,
but no control or claim over the results.
the fruits of work should not be your motive.
you should never be inactive.
whenever there is a decline of dharma (world order) and the rise of
o arjuna, then i appear (or manifest myself).
i appear from time to time for protecting the good,
for transforming the wicked, and for establishing dharma, the world order.

fall over myself don't mean to interupt
i was miles away
things I forgot are the footstools of God.
that's how i behaved
i frighten myself and folded my hand as you talked to god.
i love the way you dream. (x9)

even my most base complaint my sweet, my aims were lower
and even though all my restraint my sweet my aim was clumsy.
And even if there's only one thing I want for you...I want for you.

i love the way you dream (x 3)
i love, love the way you dream
i love the way you love the way
even if there's only one thing i want for you, I want for you
i love the way you love the way you dream, one for me one for you, one for me,
one for you...

i love the way you dream . . .
here’s the video as envisioned by the creators of 1 giant leap . . . here. it is worth watching for the extraordinary footage of michael stipe singing and most especially asha bhosle.

here are some more pieces from the same disc:

one day . . .

my culture . . .

braided hair . . .

to learn more about 1 giant leap and especially their latest project, then nip over to their homepage.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

rilke's "autumn day"

our swimming pool is closed for the winter now - the swimming season lasted four months this year: june, july, august and september. i have been slowly but surely bringing in all the accoutrements as well as tying tarps over the equipment.

i saw this shadow and thought it symbolized the real end of summer - the shadow of a deck chair on snow.

rainer maria rilke's "autumn day" fits this one so nicely . . . . there are several translations of this poem, but i liked this one the best:

autumn day

lord: it is time. the summer was immense.
lay your long shadows on the sundials,
and on the meadows let the winds go free.
command the last fruits to be full;
give them just two more southern days,
urge them on to completion and chase
the last sweetness into the heavy wine.
who has no house now, will never build one.
who is alone now, will long remain so,
will stay awake, read, write long letters
and will wander restlessly up and down
the tree-lined streets, when the leaves are drifting.

translation edward snow 1991

the robot worlds of eric joyner

the first robot i can recall appeared on the epic and ground-breaking british tv series doctor who. those robots were a species with a name - the "daleks" (pronounced dah lex). the daleks were a highly-organized and mostly unpleasant bunch who went around in miserable moods, zapping people who interefered with their plans. you can learn much about these features of their makeup by visiting "dalek leader's" john roberto's excellent site on these nasty machines. you can also listen to their unforgettable voices which were treated to sound like an angry radio by dropping in here.

eric joyner's vision is generally much much more benign as this lovely painting "false spring" attests . . . in
joyner's world, robots sit happily mowing down donuts (or is it a bagel?) on the pier of a bridge as here in "the incident show" or head to the beach for a pensive moment with a small model of the mothership that perhaps delivered them to this planet. in the background, a massive dinosaur battles a monster but no worry!! it's lovely and warm "on the beach".

equally pensive and perhaps considering the import of a painting it recently viewed, here's a robot striking a familiar pose . . .

joyner's world is at once playful and discordant. the obvious references to childhood toys are tickled ever so slightly by their being placed as replacements for humans. crossing the line from mechanical objects into sentient feeling beings, they take on a new significance as strange mirrors of our own emotional experience and mental landscapes.

here's a video interview with eric . . .

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

frozen fingers on october 21st

the goldenfish layered clothes deep this morning full in the knowledge that his bike ride would be a little bit chilly. the journey to school was wind-driven and wild. the way home - well i rode right into a full-fledged snowstorm with a completely unexpected windchill that saw me arrive home with my fingers curled shut . . . and i couldn't uncurl them!! i tell you no lie!!

luckily my daughter heard my elbow bangs on the back door and opened it up. i got her to run some coldwater and stuck my hands (still in my lightweight early autumn riding gloves) into the cold water. it felt hot. then it felt like fire. then i wanted to cry and double over in pain. the blood returning into my numbed fingers was truly excruciating, so i pulled them out of the water and hopped up and down trying not to say anything i wouldn't want my children to hear.

after a few minutes i managed to pull the gloves off finger-by-finger by using my teeth, at which point i started to blow warm breath on my hands. a little mobility returned. i went upstairs and pulled a warm bath. half an hour later and it was (almost) as if nothing had happened. the mobility and warmth completely returned and i had all my bike gear in the laundry and was giving my daughter a hug for being such a kind person and helping her old dad.

the beautiful side of this? here's a picture of the front of my front lawn . . .

fleet foxes - white winter hymnal

i came across this band quite by accident - if there's such a thing as finding anything by accident in this entirely strung together universe!!! fleet foxes are new to me and maybe to you as well. telling you who they sound like is a big waste of time because they have such a beautiful and unique sound that they deserve to simply be praised for who they are and what they create.

here's the first fleet foxes song i heard . . . white winter hymnal. the accompanying video is astonishingly good just like the song . . . of course!!!

here's another beautiful tune - "drops in the river" . . .

Monday, October 20, 2008

japanese paper up close - really close!

japanese paper - well i first came across it when i bought a beautiful origami paper set. folded exquisitely and layered with absolue precision, it was a wonder to behold and begged me to leave it sealed in its cellophane wrapping. a lovely background and history of japanese paper making can be read and viewed here.

if you'd like to see a video of how japanese paper is made the look here but first a warning - this is extremely labour intensive stuff and may make those of you reclining on your cushion of ease feel restless and fidget a lot!!

so my header suggested that you're going to get to see japanese paper up "really close". well i tell you no lies. microphotography has long held me in devoted fasination of its incredible revealing of the very very tiny bits of our world that comprise larger bits which we can actually see with the naked eye.
although it looks like a close-up of a bag of grass clippings, charles kazilek's laser microscopic image of japanese paper reveals just how randomly ordered even some of the plainest things are--especially when magnified a hundred times.
kazilek studies both the art and science of fine papermaking at arizona state university. fluorescing as a result of the microscope's laser light, the "green" and "blue" fibers' compositions and structures are exposed.

if you are anything like me then your appetite for these kinds of images has only been whetted and so i'd like to share an extraordinary compilation of microphotography images right here.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

stick insects

stick insects come in all shapes . . . and sizes . . . is it possible to have a favourite stick insect? if yes then the macleay's spectre stick would be mine!!

stick insects (known among those who study these creatures as phasmatodea) are very clever creatures in their ability to mimic the features of their surroundings . . . . here's one that melds right in . . .
the walking stick enjoys a special relationship with ants in some locations as is described and shown in this video . . .

some stick insects can be extraordinarily long and the natural history museum is hosting a video in which a variety of bugs are shared and discussed. among them is one that is apparently the longest stick insect in the world. seen here in its specimen case, it is over half a metre long. i like insects or "bugs" as north americans call them. i get why they're here and i like their incredible diversity.

here's the video from the natural history museum.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

the leek and manifold light railway

the leek and manifold light railway has a well-documented past. its "past" actually began in the late 1890's when construction was begun on this very special railway.

incredibly, some archival footage of the l and m light railway has recently surfaced and it is this that i would like to share with you here. released as a short silent film under the title "a quaint little railway", this lovely and lovingly filmed documentary captures the essence and spirit of a little derbyshire local line circa 1930 . . .

here's the leek and manifold circa 1934 . . .

here's an additional little feature on the railway from the bbc.

Friday, October 17, 2008

beautiful people - melanie safka

melanie safka might not be a name that springs to mind when asked about favourite love songs, but for those who grew up steeped in the music and culture of the late sixties and early seventies, melanie is a name that will resonate through your consciousness. if you're anything like me, then one of your all-time favourite quirky love songs might tinkle and burble outwards from whatever synaptic map has encoded it for just this moment.

"i got a brand new pair of roller skates / you got a brand new key / i think that we should get together and try them out you see / i been looking around awhile / you got something for me / oh! i got a brand new pair of roller skates / you got a brand new key. / i ride my bike, i roller skate, don't drive no car / don't go too fast, but i go pretty far / for somebody who don't drive / i been all around the world / some people say i've done alright for a girl..."

melanie - you've done more than alright . . .

melanie singing “brand new key”

melanie is still very much around. if the tune has locked itself into your cranium and you feel compelled to hear more, then you might like to nip over to amazon and pick up a copy of her greatest hits compilation "beautiful people" produced by no less a musician than the english guitarist for king crimson - robert fripp.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

juan ramon jimenez

juan ramon jimenez was born into a banker's family but left much of that world behind when he took up writing.
(otto freundlich 1924)

a powerful sense of self and selflessness is revealed in his poem "i am not i" . . . .

i am not i.
i am this one
walking beside me whom i do not see,
whom at times i manage to visit,
and whom at other times i forget;
the one who remains silent while i talk,
the one who forgives, sweet, when i hate,
the one who takes a walk when i am indoors,
the one who will remain standing when i die.

that takes flight in his expansive poem "full consciousness" . . . (paul klee "ancient sound")

you are carrying me, full consciousness, god that has desires,
all through the world.
here, in the third sea,
i almost hear your voice: your voice, the wind,
filling entirely all movements;
eternal colors and eternal lights,
sea colors and sea lights.

your voice of white fire
in the universe of water, the ship, the sky,
marking out the roads with delight,
engraving for me with a blazing light my firm orbit:
a black body
with the glowing diamond in its center.

an excellent and insightful overview and critique of juan's thinking and work can be found here. a beautiful meditation on his writing can be found here.