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february 29, 2004

Natural Observations

An interesting winter light this afternoon that adds a thin layer of hard-edged golden contrast to the surfaces it shines upon; the bare branches of the trees, for example, which, transformed by the sun, seem like tangled and twisting scaffolds of tubular, darkly rusted iron that uncertain in which direction to extend have clenched these metallic branches together as if preparing to a punch a hole through the sky. For some reason, it is the same look assumed by trees painted on canvas depicting a No-Man's Land in the Great War.
stephenb 14:46 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 28, 2004
Thoughts In A Churchyard After The Funeral

Negotiating The Hearse Platitudes:

When I die, I am thinking of having myself buried in a green coffin with one of those "please recycle" symbols stamped on it; taking such a precaution, I believe, will ensure that the people working in the receiving department at the Dead Body Depot on "The Other Side" will know that I wish to be reincarnated, and I won't just get stuffed in one of those big wheelie bins with all the other rabble, or simply slung out on Heaven's front stoop or back yard in a black plastic garbage bag like so many people are.

Note to self: I need a new black suit, this one is getting rather worn.

Note to others: if you don't understand the joke "Hearse Platitudes", then visit our good friend Enoch Soames who has been turning himself into a very salty sea dog of late
stephenb 15:15 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 26, 2004
More Passion

Taking my cue from Mel Gibson's latest blood soaked film, I am hoping to have my latest cinematic treat in theaters by Christmas.
Titled Nativity, it is an extremely graphic - but highly truthful - account of the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus - as if it had been filmed by Joseph with a camcorder. My artistic treatment of this immortal story will be so realistic that the audience should be able to smell the placenta and cow dung through the screen.
Unfortunately, it might offend any Inn-Keepers who might happen to be watching, since they are presented as greedy and heartless people who will not provide a bed for a pregnant woman.
stephenb 14:43 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 25, 2004
Bitten By A Lizard

In the age of the motion picture, one begins to feel sorry for the Milanese painter Caravaggio; not content with making a "gay biopic" of his life, movie-makers will just not leave the poor man alone.
I have just read that, predictably, film director Mel Gibson required that the cinematographer of his latest film - dare one name it! - produce filmed images that emulated those created by Caravaggio's paint brush four hundred or so years ago.
Caravaggio, of course, Old Master though he may be, is often credited with "the invention of cinematic lighting" (whatever that is), so one would assume that filmed images would look like his paintings anyway: apparently not.
Alas, it seems that Caravaggio's name will be forever linked with the rubbish they call "the movies" - just like it will always be linked with that favorite word of pretentious people, "chiaroscuro".
So spare a thought for poor Michele Caravaggio next time you are stuffing your face with popcorn.

stephenb 17:58 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 24, 2004
New York! New York! So good .... they named it twice?

Actually, it would seem to indicate that "they" suffer from a distinct lack of imagination, if you ask me.
But anyway ... The Tale of Nerdy Tim Who Works In My Office And Goes To New York City A Lot:

Tim lives in Boston but he travels to New York City every weekend, taking advantage of the cheap inter-Chinatown bus fares: "I'm going in to the city tomorrow." he says, as if Boston were merely some outlying suburban borough of New York, and not an entirely seperate metropolis several hundred miles away.
Tim speaks of New York street junctions as though they were just around the corner; and when he does speak of these addresses - generally once or twice every day - he casually tosses them into a conversation that has nothing to do with the subject, like they had been suspended above his head in a thought bubble all afternoon and he had only just noticed they were there. For example:
"It's on the corner of Fifty-Seventh and Madison."
"What is?"
"This great record store in the city."
"Oh. Really"
This habit of his can become so annoying that one if forced to one-up him, just so that he will hopefully shut up.
"They have that CD I was telling you about," Tim continues, "You know, the one that has the theme from Black Orpheus played on an accordion."
"I already have that, Tim. I bought it in Paris two years ago."
"Oh, er ... this one was on sale."

stephenb 18:26 - [Link] - Comments ()
The New Book of Revelation

It is luncheon time at the local gorging hole. Barging forward with remarkably cumbersome, inelegant steps, the greedy human wildebeest herds who carry steaming trays packed with greasy, smelly, repellant foodstuffs are gathering around the plastic tables with goggled-eyed, slack-jawed expressions fixed on their unpleasantly acne-scarred and drool stained faces.
For I have seen the number of the beast, and his number is 2 minutes on high heat in most microwave ovens.
In other words, one especially fat, belching pig has just ruined my lunch hour. Guess I'm going to the Chinese Market food court tomorrow. Apparently it's the only safe spot to eat around here.
stephenb 14:45 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 23, 2004
The Source of the Nile...

Dreary, wishy-washy seconds floating downstream, eventually collecting in the stagnant inlet of flotsam and jetsam we wearily call "a minute", before finally being dragged below the surface by the combined weight of polluted moments, sinking deeper, deeper into the dark, muddy bed full of rusting and tangled hours in this wretched industrial canal called "day".
Personally, I never have time on my hands because I wear special time-resistant gloves whenever I am handling the clocks. My gloves have this coating that repels the tick-tockety residue so I can clean up and not get infected.
stephenb 15:32 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 22, 2004
In Search of Wasted Time

In my new role as louche, devil-may-care, philistine populist about town, I have decided to rewrite Proust's famous novel, Remembrance of Things Past I shall, of course, be employing a modern idiom, and I will be updating both the time and the place where the action takes place: I am thinking the year 2004 in contemporary Tokyo, with the narrator's reverie beginning as he relaxes in one of those Japanese capsule hotels. Consequently, to emphasise this new Eastern approach to the novel, the first volume will be re-titled "The Way of the Swann"; and will mainly concern the narrator's (Fresh Marcel's) growing interest in Samurai swordplay and nubile women dressed up like schoolgirls.
Here, for example, are the opening lines of the novel with my hip new additions. You will notice that it is far more exciting than the original:

The Way of the Swann
Part One: Vengence of the Madelaine (Hell Comes To Combray)

For a while back there, I would hit the sack immediately after The Sopranos had finished because there wasn't anything else on TV that I wanted to watch. Then I became interested in beheading my enemies with a massive sword; and so excited did I become with this idea that I barely had time to think "I am bagging out on the day" before I fell asleep, so tired was I after a hard days samurai training.
But then I would suddenly jolt awake again as a synthesised pop tune heard that morning ran through my head and I remembered the buxom women in schoolgirl clothes dancing on the stage that I had read about in my mother's fashion magazines.
_ _ _ _

That's all I have done so far. Pretty exciting isn't it. Much more up to date than the original French nonsense. No wonder nobody reads that old Proust crap anymore when they can read my gripping adventure instead.

stephenb 15:36 - [Link] - Comments ()
Checking Account 275703: The Final Frontier

Somewhere in deep space, in a region of the heavens, as yet unexplored by humankind, there is a galaxy of personal finance where the stars of money never supernova and the Music of the Spheres is supplied by the constant crinkling of crisp $100 bills being forever folded in to people's pockets.
Today, alas, my own Planetary Zodiac of Cash seems to be telling a fluctuating fortune at the present time; the dollars and decimal points are apparently poorly aligned in the House of Payments. They say, bank balance is in retrograde - whatever that means.
Oh well, there will be a new zodiac tomorrow, naturally, and I will be richer than Croesus and NASA combined once again.

A Brief Word About Firday

An interesting and knowledgeable person called "MG", who has a wit as quick as their sports car namesake, points out - while correctly answering one of the questions below - that I have inadvertantly mis-typed the word "Friday" as "Firday"
How very true that is.
Alas, I type very quickly and badly, never having been sent to secretarial school, and such in the time consuming pain in the neck caused by printing what I have written on the internet - that mistakes do often creep in to my otherwise flawless texts.
Nevertheless, to cover up my ghastly error, I declare that we shall celebrate this Friday coming as "Fir Day", when we gives thanks for all the fir trees that sprout up here, there, and everywhere.
Could some one please remind me of this public holiday on Thursday, otherwise I will forget. Thanks.
stephenb 12:51 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 20, 2004
Firday Quiz

1. YOU are invited to connect Evelyn Waugh to the The Bride of Frankenstein in one move.

2. YOU are requested to identify the historical personage who was nicknamed Fat Boy Gort.

3. THAT is all, really.

I will leave the answers in the comments section of this post next week if no-one can supply the solutions before then.

stephenb 17:59 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 19, 2004
Help Wanted

I am writing a piece of so-called Chicklit in the hope of making some quick, easy, and dirty money. Here are the first few paragraphs. However, I need some help with brand name usage, since my knowledge of that sort of thing is probably terribly out of date or just plain wrong. If anyone can recommend a good Brand Name Dictionary, I would be most grateful. I am sure they must publish them these days.

The Goddess Wears Diesel Jeans
part one:

Darla dashed down the street weeping uncontrollably, shiny Blahnik heels clattering across the pavement, Kate Spade handbag clutched tightly into her flat stomach to prevent her guts falling out, so upset was she.
Darla had just witnessed Brad picking out paint and flooring samples at the Home Décor Showroom with another woman: the fat bitch Janice Gold.
Eventually, wiping away tears from her tanned and rouged cheeks with a Kleenex held in carefully manicured nails painted spectral blue, she pushed open the door to Functionality West, her favorite downtown coffee shop; she would order a double choco-mocha chai; that would lift her spirits and increase her self-esteem, it always had before. Later she would practice a little speed yoga at the Centering Center.
But first she needed more cash. Stopping at the least smelliest ATM, before she slipped her bank card into the machine she kissed the plastic goodbye just in case it never came back out again.
Poor girl: in the midst of life she was in debt.

stephenb 10:37 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 18, 2004
Ain't That The Truth

Today, an especially long and challenging day mercifully beginning to draw towards its close, I received a spam email with the following subject line: "mr. little cock, grow up ur bird with plaster mong doldrums."
Says it all, really.
stephenb 17:49 - [Link] - Comments ()
A Vision

Dawn: an office building: thirty floors up: waiting without a cup of coffee, I stare from one of the large windows into the awakening streets below; the gray-blue light of early morning sweeping across the concrete and glass, and just for a moment, suddenly granted by higher power, I am sent a vision of this urban landscape beneath me as the pristine model its architect designed many years before: the forecourt's brazen imitation of an Italian piazza; the evenly spaced, gleaming, plastic greenery; the sprinkling of Matchbox automobiles parked against the painted curb; the faceless figurines and their dogs frozen in mid-step; the cleanliness; the open spaces. The world trapped in a bottle like a sleeping Djinn ... waiting to escape.
stephenb 09:21 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 17, 2004
New Header

For the record:
The picture is a detail from Hogarth's Marriage ala Mode
The misquote is non-attributable to some Carthagenian scribbler (never read him, but I know the Sir Thomas B. connection)
stephenb 17:43 - [Link] - Comments ()
Unkind Thoughts At The Bar

She: straining, darting, buzzard eyes - her hungry face daubed with a deep brown tanning cream and pale green eye shadow, spade shaped, hung with enormous golden ear rings, and framed by bleached, static-charged, fly-away hair that wanders into the air in strands as if it trying to make it's escape from her head; a romany scarf is draped around unwisely naked, bony shoulders, and cascades in silken layers down and across deflated breasts that barely support what seems to be the tattered remains of Joseph's Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat; which in turn is sliced open at the hem revealing bulimic legs dipped in fur-lined boots. Her expression suggests she feels like a million dollars: alas, she looks like a threadbare, dirty sock stuffed with $1.50 in Canadian quarters.
My friend's ex-wife, out on the town.

stephenb 10:14 - [Link] - Comments ()

My objection to George W. Bush is that he seems to have no sense of humor. I mean, if I was accused of the same mad NWO/Black Arts/Right Wing Cabal nonsense that the President and his family are, then the first thing I would do is take a black helicopter to Rennes Le Chateau for a casual yet sinister weekend; and I would inject veiled references to the Knights Templar in my speeches during my visit; and I would make weird Masonic hand gestures behind Dick Cheney's head at meal times; and then I would re-board my black helicopter and fly to Roswell, ensuring that I was photographed wearing a protective suit while examining strange pieces of rusting metal in the desert: in short, I would give the chattering masses what they want, and laugh up my own sleeve while I was doing it.
stephenb 09:16 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 15, 2004
National Democratic Radio

Even the weather reports on NPR seem biased at the moment: "Wind chills will force temperatures into the single digits, almost as low as President Bush's I.Q, and it will feel even colder than Donald Rumsfield's heart. Overall the weather during the Bush regime has been much worse than under previous administrations. Meanwhile, ray of sunshine John Kerry visited Alabama today on the three-millionth stop of his ..."
And so This American Life becomes the only program on the radio that I actually enjoy these days... what a great show it truly is.
Anyway, fortunately it is Sunday .. and so I am off to the international newspaper kiosk to purchase my weekly copies of the The Week, the Spectator and New York Observer, the three worthwhile and reasonably cheaply priced news publications crinkling intelligently on the racks. And reading those periodicals, that is how I get my news because who can tell what the NPR commentators are talking about since many of them cannot even talk properly, nevermind the bias in their reporting.

stephenb 12:16 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 13, 2004
Dear Freidrich

I am thinking of growing a beard.
But what form should this architecture of hair take; what function, even.
Will it be structurally sound?
Should it be?
Ignoring the upper-lip - the so-called "moustache" section - for the present, if we consider that the beard will conform, a priori, to normal beard conventions - that is to say, it will appear as an inverted arch - then one must ask oneself serious questions with regard to the stubble foundation layer, and hence the overall impact of the future arrangement of sprouting and curling hairs. For example, should this inverted arch of beard be constructed in the Gothic manner? Or Moorish?
And more to the point, who is the Sir Christopher Wren of chins? Do we want a dome? One that echoes?
What would I.M Pei think? what would he think of a "goatee".
Such problems of facial geometry occur with greater frequency as one's jaw begins to recede with the onset of ..... (continued on page 85 at - link number 345678)
stephenb 13:03 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 12, 2004
Gay Marriage Furore

Gay, of course, is a word whose meaning has been altered considerably over the past several decades; one might even say that its meaning has been transgendered, it has had the op, etc.
The word Gay was once an adjective that meant something was amusing, it was light-hearted, and it was fun: for instance, one might have said in those halcyon days, "it was a delightfully gay party, an absolutely wonderful whirl of gaiety, and all the party-goers were exclusively gay heterosexuals."
What a great shame it is that gay can no longer be employed with that meaning.
These days, if they wish to be properly understood, people can only use the word in contexts similar to the following example: "Mapp and Lucia is the gayest television show ever, even gayer than the ones that are purely about gay lifestyles like gay wardrobe tips and gay things like that."
As for the gay marriage debate issue, personally I am anti "gay marriage", but I have absolutely nothing against "queer marriage" or "lesbian marriage" or "homosexual marriage" or ...

stephenb 18:14 - [Link] - Comments ()
New Public Holiday

Mis-hearing the phrase "President's Day", I thought I heard someone at work say that this coming Monday was going to be "Resident's Day"; a great idea, I thought, a fantastic, joyous day when there would be no long lines of out-of-towners at the local coffee shop, and there would be lots of available parking spots that were actually close to my home... what a wonderful world that would be, if only for a day.
Pipedream, of course.
stephenb 14:37 - [Link] - Comments ()
The Evils of the World

1. Public Opinion: this will undoubtedly be wrong. Whatever the opposite point of view to public opinion is - no matter how bizarre - it will be a shining example of truth and beauty for all mankind. Do not confuse "public opinion" with "consensus opinion"; consensus really means that everyone has agreed to agree just for the sake of getting something done, even though most of them probably disagree. Consensus is not a bad thing, I suppose, in certain cases, as long as it is always regarded with an arched eyebrow and a suspicious mind.
2. The Common Man: he is a leper, and if his bell tinkleth loudly in thy ear, ye should run away as far as thy legs wilt carry thee. Avoid the "common man" at all costs, even though he will try to be your friend, for he will try to make you in his own image, and that image adopts a slouched posture and wears baggy jeans, dirty tee-shirts, and a wooly hat in the summer.

stephenb 09:02 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 11, 2004
Why Does Nobody Sell Anything I Want To Buy?

Need I say more.
I have been walking around all the shops with a miser's stuffed mattress worth of cash falling out of my bulging-at-the-seams wallet, and yet not one vendor is hawking wares I wish to purchase.
If you want to buy a fine pair of leather shoes, a well tailored suit, or a crisp shirt and attractively patterned tie with matching hankerchief at a reasonable price - and receive satisfactory customer service while doing it - then it seems that you will be forced to travel back to the nineteen-twenties or thirties in your time machine to find examples of such gratifying items. And exactly where, I ask, can you buy a decent time machine these days ... one that works, for instance.
Nowhere! What is the world coming to? What would H.G Wells think? It's a disgrace. No wonder the economy is in such a poor state.
stephenb 08:38 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 10, 2004
Wintry Observation

At last the Sun begins to make an effort worthy of Apollo; and so, beholden to a higher power, the ice begins to melt on the Public Garden pond where the summer's swan boats still lie frozen to their moorings. The proudly bald-faced ducks - looking very pleased with themselves as ducks always seem to do - waddle with a new found sense of ownership across this sunlit landscape, their tiny feet splashing about on the melting surface creating the impression that, like a quacking confabulation of web-footed messiahs, they are walking on water.

stephenb 14:23 - [Link] - Comments ()
The wretched of the Earth

The train - more iron lung than iron horse - drags itself through the gray, ambivalent morning, coughing up the thick, black residue of countless similar mornings spent shunting the pink bug passengers to their places of work and then back again. Inside the compartment, soiled and tattered newspapers hang folded like melting Dali clocks over hand rails and off the edges of empty seats; a can of Red Bull energy drink - all it's energy expended - rolls sullenly to and fro across the floor with nowhere else to go; brown scuff marks on the beige walls reveal that the more ill-mannered of the passengers have rested their filthy shoes there while traveling still half-asleep; someone has written their own or a lovers name on the seat in indecipherable graffiti scrawl, the hieroglyphics of the city ...
... and the passengers, oh God the passengers: these pink bugs, these fleshy tubes of polluted carbon; the veneer of civilisation has long since decayed and fallen away, and these sniffling, snivelling, tight-lipped people on the train, they are what's left.
Good morning. And how are you today?
stephenb 09:24 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 09, 2004
The Fused Muse

I find myself in rather a creative slump at the moment since the Idea Shares have plummeted and pin-striped Idea Brokers shuffle forward on the window ledges of Idea Towers preparing to leap off into the stalled traffic below on Fantasy Boulevard.
The Muses have swapped their gleaming nudity for filthy hobo dungarees and hitch rides in the back of beaten up, back-firing charabancs driven by Dust Bowl Inspiration Farmers looking for work up north: "Buddy, can you spare a joke for a lil ole pasticher down on his luck?"
Personally, I blame cigarette prohibition for this sorry, sad state of affairs. Takes some getting used to.
stephenb 17:52 - [Link] - Comments ()
Brave New World

I have seen the phrase "Brave New World" bandied about a great deal over the past few days; generally it is used as a title for some piece of writing concerning a region of scientific endeavor such as Pig Cloning or High Definition Television (the same thing really, eh).
Anyway, indeed, shiny scientific products of boffinania are what most people think of when they hear or see "Brave New World" uttered or written today, thanks to Aldous "drugs" Huxley.
However, it is important to remember, I think, that the words were originally from William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and are spoken by the awe-struck Miranda, daughter of a magician, referring not to a lab of new-fangled machines but to a horizon populated by interesting people not yet met: "Oh wonder, how many goodly creatures are there here, how beautious mankind is, oh brave new world that has such people in it."
Miranda was rather naive, I suppose, when all is said and done.

stephenb 17:22 - [Link] - Comments ()

Every Saturday afternoon without fail, after my morning attempt to induce premature heart attack by playing squash, I stroll along to my local massive BookDVDMagazineCD MegaEyesore, elbow the salivating Conde Nast reading hordes out of the way, trample over the Rolling Stone readers slouching on the floor, and I gather the latest edition of the Spectator to my protective bosom before one of the aforementioned Wretched of the Earth uses it to wipe their nose with.
Obviously, you can read much of the Spectator online for free and without being forced to brave the inky, squinty throngs in a BookDVDMagazineCD MegaEyesore. However, very cunningly, the Spectator's editors do not put the best bits of the magazine on the internet. I refer, of course, to the "Turf News" section; the charming restaurant reviews by that woman who would be either incredibly annoying or incredibly attractive should you ever meet her in the flesh; and the entertaining crossword, naturally.
So, in order, here are my top reasons for buying the Spectator

1) Turf News
2) Paul Johnson articles
3) Mark Steyn film reviews/articles
4) Crossword
5) Second Opinion with the Good Doctor.
6) Low Life
7) Cartoons
8) Book Reviews
9) Art pieces
10) Ancient and Modern

Reason not to read the Spectator

1) That really bizarre Ask Mary thing: "I have been invited to a silk underpants convention in the country and wonder whether it would be terribly non-U to bring a pair of cotton pjamas for sleeping.. my wife Brian says ... etc"
stephenb 13:40 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 08, 2004
Being Happy In Your Work

I am following John Ruskin's dictum that a happy man is a sketchy man .. no, that's wrong .. I mean, of course, that a happy man is a man who sketches. However, I have gone a little further than Ruskin because I now believe that a happy man is actually a man who paints; and I have gone even further still when I say that a happy man is really and truly a man who paints in the manner of James MacNeil Whistler. Unfortunately, since I do not own any painting equipment, I have been forced to write my paintings in words. Here is an example of my happy work:

"Word Picture: Symphony in Red and Black"

I bought a bottle of burgundy and bottle of rosé: $43.00, the strawberry blonde cashier demanded, her pursed and scarlet lips spitting out the sum as though it were some derisory and useless number, a pathetic fraction that had somehow fallen out of favor and was now considered beneath contempt by accountants everywhere; and then, with chipped, red fingernails, she snatched a twenty dollar bill from my hand and slammed it into the cash register draw, fishing around inside for my change, her bloodshot eyes squinted at the amount printed on the receipt causing deep lines to form on her ruddy face, the result of too much blush and rouge apparently applied with rough sandpaper and rusting steel wool, no doubt she hoped - in vain - that the addition of this thick pink mass might disguise the pimply red rash that ran from around her ears to the tip of her already crimson nose. Meanwhile, the sullen boy bagging my groceries behind the counter possessed such a vertical shock of crackly black hair and equally eldritch, seared eyebrows, that, together with his somewhat blistered, swarthy complexion and the circles of steam from a nearby coffee pot that enveloped his head and shoulders, made it seem that he owed his existence not to birth in the normal manner, but to sudden expulsion from a blast furnace at extreme velocity, the arc of this trajectory capriciously depositing him in his present position at the grocery store where he plied his bagging trade between sulfuric puffs on a cigarette he left balanced on the window ledge by the grocery store's front door.
stephenb 13:36 - [Link] - Comments ()
Important Information

I have recently been appointed Chairman of the Inter-Party Congressional HooHa Committee On What People Really Want, if you can believe that. Consequently, it falls within my remit to ask the following question:

Which of these Powerful Interests Do You Really Want To See In Power After the Next Election?
a) Powerful Oil Interests
b) Powerful Ketchup and Baked Bean Interests
c) Not interested.
stephenb 12:19 - [Link] - Comments ()
Readers Survey

Please answer the question below so that I may better serve YOU, my readership, and your friends:

Which of the following popular occupation categories best describes your current employment situation:

a) Drop Out
b) Suicide Bomber
c) Editor of the New York Times
d) Starbucks Counter Top Wiper
e) Your name is Friedrich and you spend most of your working day reading cerebral letters from some brainy maniac with a blog who calls himself a Blowhard
f) All of the above
g) Don't know

Please email your answers to the usual address, care of anyone who might happen to care to read them.
stephenb 12:11 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 06, 2004
The Weak End

We have completed the addition of a septic cortex to the central cerebellum sewage system serving the frontal lobe. Drainage of all excreted neurons must be synapsed via the cogitative sluice gates located between each ear by end of day Friday. Thank you for your attention in this matter.

stephenb 17:26 - [Link] - Comments ()
Art Quiz

I am trying to establish the provenance of the more obscure genre paintings in my private collection. Fortunately, the titles are written on the back of the frames, and I can supply some details concerning the style and era of execution, but the names of the actual artists still remain a mystery to me.
So. If anyone can help me identify the five artists of the following five genre paintings I would be extremely grateful.

1. Jesus Preaching From An Implausibly Convenient Rock
Italian quattrocento period. School of Brobdingnagio?

2. Saint Britney at her Toilet
Academic Classicism painted in the manner of David ... but David who?

3. Chorizon Berating the Apes of God
A vorticist artifact? I have got the Wyndham up over this one.

4. Sulla Pointing in the General Direction of Rome
Pointilism of a kind. Interestingly, Sulla's face has disappeared into the canvas. Is this vanishing pointilism?

5. The Wedding at Canada
Surrealism of the most bizarre kind.

Can you please help me?

stephenb 10:30 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 05, 2004
Glossed In Translation

People often ask me, please Mr. Stephenhead, they ask, what exactly does the famous phrase "Et In Arcadia Ego" really mean when translated properly from the original Latin?
Well, ladies and gentlemen .... when exactly translated, it means precisely this:

"And I also was a bronzed, nude goat herder with curly hair playing my flute in a highly fertile and pastoral landscape suitable for painting. But one day I fell down dead. Just like that. Dead. And all that is left of me is this grinning skull that you happen to have discovered while you were looking for your lost ball in the twilight beneath this ivy covered and ruined stone archway that leads nowhere and really has no reason to be built here at all. Oh, and by the way, you are going to die too so don't look so pleased with yourself."

Latin is a very expressive language. You can say a great deal with only a few words of Latin. However, Latin is dead also and once was in Arcadia. Interesting, isn't it, how Everything fits together in the big cosmic plan.
stephenb 16:04 - [Link] - Comments ()
How Schpeist Can Change Your Life

As Hegel famously remarked, "Anyone who claims he understands Schpeist, does not really understand Schpeist."
Therefore, the Schpeist neophyte often finds himself at a considerable disadvantage when studying Schpeistian thought because, according to Hegel, the professor teaching Schpeistianism is undoubtedly a fraud ... no matter how many honorary degrees and fancy scrolls that professor has been awarded by New England?s venerable Old Scrotum Community College.
However, at last, I, the person whom Hegel called "The Exception to the Rule", can now offer a rewarding correspondence course in "How to Impress People By Talking About Schpeist In A Loud Voice at Bookish Parties." The syllabus is split into five easily emailed component parts:
1. Poetics of Schpeist and the Disfigured Muse
2. Freud, Jung, Reich, and Schpeistian Analysis
3. Schpeistian Economic Dialectic in Weimar
4. Metaphysique des Schpeist ala Madame Gypsy Rose Lee
5. Schpeist Contra Schpeist
Call now to claim your free booklet and starter kit for only $19.95. All money is fully refundable to me if you are not fully satisfied with your new Schpeistian approach to ordering drinks in a crowded bar at lunchtime. Get Schpeist now. You know it makes sense of a kind.

stephenb 11:26 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 04, 2004
The Eye of the Beholder

Ruskin, of course, believed that man should sketch the world if he wished to understand the sublime nature of its whole and component parts; such pencil drafted concentration on precise details of line and form and light and shade, Ruskin thought, would bestow upon the artist a deeper insight into and sympathy with God's pattern and design for His creation.
So, following Ruskin's sage advice, I spent most of last night sketching my 2003 tax return; but, alas, I must record that at no point during this intense activity was the profound beauty of the Internal Revenue Service revealed to me.
Therefore, I can only surmise that the Ordeal of the Tax Returns, and the proliferation of papers associated with them, is a plague sent by God to chastise us for some unspecified misdemeanor. In fact, the only way I was able to get through filling in all the forms was by pretending that I was Lord Curzon, and that my tax returns were important administrative papers connected with the government of India.
So much for Ruskin's theories! Pah!

stephenb 09:42 - [Link] - Comments ()
Political Kerrymandering

Now let us be perfectly clear and frank about this, as every sane person knows, there is only one, true "The North Face", and it is on the Eiger. All other facades, no matter where they hang on this great compass of ours, are merely pretenders to the throne of Facial Northernliness, and should be dismissed as unworthy of that great title, The North Face, a name which belongs to one face and one face only, that of the Eiger. And never let it be forgot, as John F. Kerry once said, "Ich Bien Ein Eigerian".

stephenb 08:36 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 03, 2004
Live Cultures. No 1...Chateaubriand
Take One: Cue the Comte: And Action!

The venerable Ice Cream Scoop of Wisdom doth ply its scooping labors hourly in the Dairy of Knowledge, and yet, to the Milkmaid of Learning's noble question, "one scoop or two?", it seems Master and Mistress Publick doth so oft respondeth in the singular!
How cometh Master and Mistress Publick art satisfied with but one Scoop of Wisdom? Canst be that Master and Mistress Publick art afraid that two scoops of Wisdom shalt melt under the intense heat from the Thousand Suns of Ignorance and so runneth down the sides of the Cone of Clarity, and hence Master and Mistress Publick art afeared they shalt get their hands all sticky?
Aye, tis so, alas.
But these be phantom fears, for I myself hath enburdened all my fingers with mountainous Scoops of Wisdom in diverse new-fangled flavors, and verily hath I fetched these from the Dairy of Knowledge and over the Sand Dunes of Clumsiness until I approach the distant Savage, and yet not one drop o' One Hundred Percent Low Fat Wisdom hath I dripped upon my buckled shoes.

stephenb 17:29 - [Link] - Comments ()
Great War

Inspired by those hardy fellows who tramp around Lexington fields dressed up in knee breeches, tricorn hats and frock coats as they re-enact scenes of the Revolutionary War,
I have set up my own group to re-create famous battles of the ancient world: Trojan War Action Team (T.W.A.T).
So far, membership is in the single digit, and I reckon if it remains at this easily manageable number then there should be absolutely no problem constructing a Trojan Horse big enough to fit everybody inside when we do the Siege of Troy.
Also, since the T.W.A.T membership is afraid of looking silly in our authentic costumes and sandals, all battle re-enactments will take place in my apartment:
The Siege of Troy will take place in the living room, with my couch acting as the walls of that great city.
Thermoplyae is in the hallway after lunch.

stephenb 11:30 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 02, 2004
Ancient and Modern

Surely all sane historians must absolutely agree that is without doubt time that I should certainly return the Threadbare Towel of the Hotel Aegean to the ancient Athenian ruin from which it was removed my father in 1974. Only if this terrible wrong is righted, and the towel is finally draped once more over the radiator in the cheap, musty and uncomfortable room where it properly belongs, will other over-charged tourists be able to view the Hotel Aegean in the manner its builders and chambermaids intended it to be seen: namely, with the roof caving in, blocked toilets, damp bedding, and sandpaper textured towels such as the one in question.
Should the Greek Government - whatever that is - agree to pay for my airfare, four months accommodation on the island of my choice, all my food and other expenses, plus a personal trainer, I will be only to happy to return this wonderful towel to its rightful historical location.

stephenb 13:18 - [Link] - Comments ()

And so, everywhere around the tepid water coolers that weep beside dying plants in open plan offices across this land, views on Janet Jackson's nipple are articulated with such tremendous force that the kinetic, thermodynamic energy generated by these moving lips, foaming saliva, and the consequent expulsion of hot air could easily propel a modular vehicle over the surface of the planet Mars should we wish to harness this particular brand of blubbery power; frankly, I suggest something along the lines of a Tongue Silo, you know, something like that.
However, I do not watch the Super Bore and so did not witness the fleshy nodule in question extract itself from Miss Jackson's breast support system. And so I can say no more.
stephenb 11:29 - [Link] - Comments ()
Gross Error

The charitable and righteous Stefan Beck has drawn to my attention the fact that there is no such word as "prophesizing". He asks, kindly, if its appearance on this page is a joke of mine.
Briefly, I grabbed at this lifeline and attempted to think up something funny ... er, prophesizing, downsizing.... er, downsizing the Priests of the Temple of Jupiter ... use smaller entrails, etc.
But it was no good.
In my defence - oh dear - all I can say is, I am stupid.
However, I must say, the word "prophesizing" is actually one of the options in the Microsoft Word Spell Check for Mac OSX if you do spell "prophesying" wrongly; although it is not in the dictionary.
Anyway, that's enough contrition and humble pie eating for now.
The offending article has now been removed.
stephenb 09:18 - [Link] - Comments ()
february 01, 2004
Pretenders to the Throne

Felafal King: so many rat-infested shacks aspire to this particular crown; yet they are merely a collection of chick pea Richard the Thirds prepared to slit each others throats and drown their rivals in the hoummas vat in the great clamor for the Felafal throne - ignominious though such a seat may be to most of us.
Personally, I do not like Felafal and it remains a stranger to my dining table. In fact, I am loathe to grant the substance any regal status whatsoever. To be honest, there is something vaguely communist about the food, if you ask me. Felafal Commissar is more like it, sold at the Felafal Politburo no doubt.
stephenb 16:09 - [Link] - Comments ()