Friday, December 23, 2011

Operation Faster and Furiouser - Let's facilitate illegal missile shipments?

They're saying this was a mistake - that there is nothing to worry about in the strange case of US Patriot missiles, mysteriously labeled as "fireworks," found on a ship that was bound for China. We can all breathe easily because apparently those missiles were actually headed for South Korea, even though that destination appeared nowhere on the Ship's paperwork. 

And we should not be concerned that the ship was not registered as carrying weapons.

Or that, in addition to the Patriot missiles, the ship carried a cargo of nitroguanidine which, despite the name, does not contain bat guano, but is instead an explosive. 

Despite all my fears being so nicely laid to rest by unnamed experts and anonymous government spokespeople, I still feel a little unsure of the whole thing.  Yes, I realize this is a character flaw; I am sometimes unable to subvert my natural skepticism to my overriding trust in government.  I'm working on that.  But until my lobotomy is administered by my government healthcare provider, I just have to wonder - is this all some kind of Operation Super Fast and Furious? 

I mean, if our government is stupid enough to provide thousands of automatic weapons to murdereous drug cartels, ostensibly so that they could be tracked into a country (unbeknownst to its government) where we have no jurisdiction, why would they not go for broke and try the same thing on a really grand scale?  In for a penny, in for a pound, right?  If it was a great idea to do it with rifles, why not with missiles? 

Why not indeed.  No word so far from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on this topic, but that's hardly surprising, seeing as he took months to respond to questions about Fast and Furious, and that was after Fast and Furious led to the death of one of our federal agents and hundreds of Mexican citizens.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Ambitious Rap Partnership Dissolves Amid Personality Conflict

Go-Vez and B-Sane in happier times

The much-anticipated collaboration between rap mastermind Hugo (Go-Vez) Chavez, and Barak (B-Sane) Obama has come to naught. Despite late-night attempts at rapprochement by the entourages of both parties, the vaunted mind-meld rap extravaganza is still-born. 

Citing irreconcilable artistic differences, spokespersons for both artists reluctantly issued statements this morning attesting to the dissolution.   News of the project has had industry insiders and fans of left-wing gangsta-che-rap on pins and needles since December of 2009, when it was discovered that the artists had met at the Copenhagen International Climate Talks.  Go-Vez, Mo-Jad (Mohmud Ahmadinejad) and Robert (Kronic) Mugabe, who together comprise the mega-group Kronic Mo-Go, had chosen the Talks as the scene for the announcement of their newest disk release, and witnesses to the event said that B-Sane was transfixed by their performance.  Ever since that time, teams have been working feverishly to forge an agreement between all four artists, but Kronic and Mo-Jad remained aloof, preferring to work on independent projects. 

Go-Vez during his "Stanky Thang" tour

Our sources tell us that negotiations briefly included rap sensation Kim Jong (Chill'in) Il, but his demanding film career (See article below.) has required him to put his musical aspirations on hold for now.

"Chillin' Il" - No rap for you!

No to be deterred, B-Sane's people began laying the groundwork for a duet disk with Go-Vez.  "This was our intention all along, really," said spokesman Jay Carney, "We felt from the beginning that the real magic would be found in the interplay between North and South America - the feedback between Latin and Chicago rhythms.  Fo' shizzle."

Fans agreed.  Would-be concert-goers braved weeks of freezing weather to occupy the park outside the office of Rod "The Coiff" Blagojevich, when rumors circulated that he would be presiding over early ticket sales.  It wasn't until after more than a dozen cases of frost-bite, and nearly twice as many cases of herpes were reported in the makeshift settlement that disappointed fans eventually decamped.

The Coiff - Hair yes, scalp no.

Not even the lack of ticket sales, though, dampened the hopes of those who awaited the results of Go-Vez, B-Sane fusion.  Internet forums buzzed with discussions of possible themes for the new album, and although thousands of ideas were exchanged, the constant undercurrent remained that heart and soul of both artists' work - the redistribution of wealth.   

B-Sane in his early days, as backup singer for the Bill Ayers Band

Despite the philosophy common to their work though, it seems that neither artist's ego can take a back seat long enough to produce an album together.  Apparently B-Sane, stung by the discovery that Go-Vez and Mo-jad were continuing to pursue ventures jointly without including him, vented some frustration, saying, “It seems to me that the ties between Venezuela’s government and Iran and Cuba have not served the interests of Venezuela and its people.”  Predictably, this did not sit well with Go-Vez who, for all his musical brilliance, has never been known to accept a dressing down from anybody.  Today, as their people were making their sad announcement, Go-Vez, with all the bluster that has made him such a presence on stage (and such a handful offstage, says his business manager) told B-Sane "You are a clown, a clown. Leave us in peace." 

B-Sane, on his way to an urgent meeting in Hawaii, tweeted of his disappointment in the state of affairs.  "Is that all he's got?" he wrote, "It doesn't even rhyme."  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Critics Hail Kim Jong Il's Latest Role

Kim Jong Il, universally beloved film and stage actor has once again established himself as the very definintion of avant-garde screen presence.

Hard on the heels of his overwhelming film success "The Greatest Love Story Ever Told - Ever" Kim Jong Il, who includes  among his credits such titles as "Beloved leader," "Great man who descended from Heaven," and my personal favorite, "Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradely Love," has chosen for himself a role that is destined to transcend all others, even that of Jim Stark, (Rebel Without a Causing, 1955)
As Jim Stark, 1955

This latest role, explained his press agent B. bimbop, will redefine forever and in every way, how an actor uses nothing but presence to conduct universes of meaning to his audience.  Under the working title "Room Temperature," the beloved actor has undertaken a rigorous program of his own devising, which will stretch his abilities to convey meaning, emotion, and presence beyond all known human limits.

Surrounded by herbal extracts and dried flowers, and encased in a lucite hyperbaric chamber wherein the oxygen ratio is triple that found in ambient air, Beloved Actor lies absolutely rigid, eschewing motion, facial expression, and other outmoded means of conveying meaning, and seeks instead to find a deeper connection with his audience, an emotional, spiritual bond that will render all other means of acting forever obsolete.  Even at this early stage in his experiments, Emoter of Devine Essence has managed to establish a link with his beloved audience whereby he channels the great depths of his soulful being.

There is no question as to the success of this bold venture; the only issue is whether average mortals can stand being exposed to such profound feeling for any extended period of time. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

OK, now it's done.

I couldn't leave this painting without its border of Moorish tile along the outside of the arch.  I'm glad I added it.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Tonight's Painting

Here's another view of Penha Palace, in Sintra.  This tiny courtyard is tucked away behind the other part of the palace that I painted last time.

Cascais Lighthouse

Not long ago I posted a small study I did of this same location.  Almost as soon as I'd finished it, I started working on this much larger version.  (This one is 12 x 22 inches.) I had to set it aside for a week while I was in Sicily, but I've finally gotten around to getting back to work on it.  Now I'm at the stage where I'll set it aside for a few days, then look at it with fresh eyes, to see if anything's missing.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Now that's a Painting.

Click on over to Si Vis Pacem and have a look at a master's work.  John Singer Sargent has always been a favorite of mine, and I use many of his watercolor paintings to illustrate points in my classes.  Ran has an excellent example of his oil work on display, cleverly juxtaposed with a piece by Diego Velasquez.

John Singer Sargent
One of his many paintings of Venice.  Not what anyone would consider a normal composition; light is the feature here, and the architectural details, which one might mistakenly think are the subject of this painting, are just props for hanging light and shadows.

AG Eric Holder - "Nobody at DoJ has lied."

Today, at least.

And in the past - they just issued "inaccurate information."

That's a relief.  No go on back to your business, Mr. and Mrs. America.  Nothing to see here...

Viewing Caravaggio's "Burial of St Lucy"

Last week the conference I attended in Syracusa, Sicily, was very close to the Church of Santa Lucìa alla Badìa, where Caravaggio's "Burial of St Lucy" hangs. Caravaggio was a troubled soul. He fled Malta after killing a man, and seemed to spend the rest of his life painting commissions for anyone who could help him stay out of jail. He died at 38, and some theorize that lead poisoning could have sped his demise, and perhaps contributed to his erratic lifestyle. (Note to self - When working with multiple paintbrushes, do not hold spares between teeth.)

This painting is notable for a number of things. First, at about 18 feet tall, it's enormous, but he finished it in less than a year. The lack of background detail certainly played a role in making that possible, but I don't get the sense that he sacrificed background for the sake of speed. Instead, this reads to me as if he never intended to draw our attention away with superfluous information. I find it interesting, also, that St Lucy is more or less central to the painting, but not really to the narrative of the painting. It's almost as if she's a bit player in her own burial. The gravediggers are much more important to Caravaggio, for some reason, and even the priest who's administering the rites has a more central position and is rendered in greater detail than Lucy herself. Contrasted with other painters' portraits of saints, one has to wonder if Caravaggio was questioning the relevance of saints compared to regular, everyday people like the gravediggers.

Friday, December 02, 2011


I've been in Syracusa, Italy for a conference all week.  The conference was awful, but wow, what a lovely place.
I ran about 4 miles a day on my off-time, but I don't think I got any decent training in, because every 20 or 30 feet I stopped to take a photo.  I managed to squeeze in three quick paintings while the light was good.  I'd love to come back here for about a month and paint non-stop.
I'm always intrigued by views of narrow alleys with balconies and clotheslines.  There's no shortage of views like that here.
Peaceful, isn't it?