August 8, 2017

"His music fulfills a deep human need that has nothing to do with fashion"

My favorite contemporary composer is the Estonian Arvo Part, composer of classical and sacred music
Pärt grew up, was educated and began his career behind the Iron Curtain and many of his early works were banned by Soviet censors.  "He had reached a position of complete despair in which the composition of music appeared to be the most futile of gestures, and he lacked the musical faith and willpower to write even a single note."  For years he did not write but immersed himself in early music, reinvestigating the roots of Western music, studying plainsong, Gregorian chant and polyphony in the European Renaissance. 

Emerging from his self-imposed creative exile, he found his own musical language with a love of every note at its heart

the result sounds as if it had existed all along, music of the "little bells", the so-called "tintinnabuli", which you hear for the first time in this two-and-a-half minute piano miniature, Für Alina. This little piece is the seed from which the rest of Pärt's musical life has grown.... The power of the "tintinnabulation" he discovered comes from its combination of ascetic rigor and the apparent simplicity of its materials...That austerity of process makes Pärt's tintinnabulation a new use of tonality, even a new kind of tonality, and it explains why his music sounds simultaneously ancient and modern...

 Arvo Part

The "founding father of minimalism" Steve Reich said of him,"I love his music, and I love the fact that he is such a brave, talented man. He became involved in the Russian Orthodox church at a time when that was dangerous, and for the last 20 years he has written religious music for ensembles that might have existed in the middle ages. He's completely out of step with the zeitgeist and yet he's enormously popular, which is so inspiring. His music fulfills a deep human need that has nothing to do with fashion."

Pärt has received honorary degrees around the world, been inducted into the French Legion of Honor, appointed a member of the Pontifical Council for Culture and won numerous prizes and distinctions including a Grammy in 2014.  For the past five years, Pärt has been the most performed living composer in the world.

In 2014, he received an honorary doctorate from St Vladimir’s Seminar and his short address "From my musical diaries" was captured on video. Joseph Pearce wrote, "It’s rare indeed for a speech to bring me to the verge of tears. This marvelous short address by the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is simply breathtaking. It’s well worth seven minutes of anyone’s time."  "From my musical diaries" 

....These unexpected words were said by a little girl. I remember exactly…it was July 25th, 1976. I was sitting in the monastery’s yard, on a bench in the shadow of the bushes with my notebook.

‘What are you doing? What are you writing there’, the girl who was around ten asked me.
‘I am trying to write music, but it is not turning out well’, I said. And then the unexpected words from her, Have you thanked God for this failure already?’

The most sensitive musical instrument is the human soul. The next is the human voice. One must purify the soul until it begins to sound.....We shouldn’t’ grieve because of writing little and poorly, but because we pray little and poorly, and lukewarmly, and live in the wrong way. The criterion must be everywhere and only humility.

Music is my friend, ever-understanding. Compassionate. Forgiving. It’s a comforter, the handkerchief for drying my tears of sadness, the source of my tears of joy. My liberation and flight. But also, a painful thorn in my flesh and soul, that which makes me sober and teaches humility.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

April 5, 2017

Miscellany #64

Circular Tunnel of Books in Zhen Yuan, China, the bookstore Yangzhou Zhongshug

 Tunnel-Like Book Entrance China

A grand optical illusion that you only see once you’ve set foot inside. Its lobby is a cavernous tunnel that most notably features striking black mirrored flooring. Together, the reflective ground and curved shelving creates the feeling that you’ve stepped into a perfectly circular room, making you question which way is up. Luckily, there’s help in finding the path forward. The shelves are split by a lightning bolt-shaped gap in the ceiling that leads you into the rest of the store.

Compare that to this photograph of the Stuggart Library entitled "Paradise is a Library"

 Sony Winners 2017 Paradise Library
© Luis Pina, Portugal, 2nd Place, National Awards, 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

How To Irritate Europeans In Just One Sentence

In a contest to find Canada's equivalent of "as American as apple pie", the winning entry was "as Canadian as possible under the circumstances."

The domestic terrorist Ted Kaczynski, known as the 'Unabomber', was a Harvard graduate who submitted his current information to the Alumni Association in 2012 and listed his eight life sentences as "awards" and his current occupation as "prisoner."

A “grammar vigilante” sneaks around at night fixing an infuriatingly common error on public signs.

A BBC video shows an anonymous “grammar vigilante” roaming the streets of Bristol, in the UK, adding apostrophes where they’re missing and covering unnecessary ones. He’s been moonlighting for 13 years, according to the story, and carries a long stick—the “Apostrophiser”—to help him reach improperly punctuated signs. The stealthy stickler does what every English grammar defender wishes they could. In the video, the grammar vigilante denies it's a crime, "It's more of a crime to have the apostrophes wrong in the first place."

Another Sony 2017 winner, Mathilda

 2017 Sony Matilda
© Alexander Vinogradov, Russian Federation, 1st Place, Open, Portraits (Open), 2017 Sony World Photography Awards

Lady Deborah Moody, the Dangerous Woman Who Started a Colonial Town

Deborah set up a town on the southwestern tip of Long Island, becoming the first woman to charter land in the New World.  Gravesend, as it was called, was located in what is today Brooklyn.

Chile Is a Ridiculously Long Country – Europe & US Size Comparison

A Visual Guide to Vantablack, the Darkest Substance Ever Made   See videos at link to understand how black

Vantablack® is a super-black coating that holds the world record as the darkest man-made substance. ...Vantablack is not a black paint, pigment or fabric, but is instead a functionalized ‘forest’ of millions upon millions of incredibly small tubes made of carbon nanotubes. ....

It's so dark because light energy striking the Vantablack surface enters the space between the nanotubes and is rapidly absorbed as it ‘bounces’ from tube to tube and simply cannot escape as the tubes are so long in relation to their diameter and the space between them. The near total lack of reflectance creates an almost perfect black surface. To understand this effect, try to visualize walking through a forest in which the trees are around 3km tall (that is almost 2 miles tall) instead of the usual 10 to 20 metres (30-65 ft). It’s easy to imagine just how little light, if any, would reach you.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:58 PM | Permalink

February 13, 2017

Miscellany #57

I really admire this weatherman's sang-froid on live TV. This Arizona weather report started out normally… except for one small glitch on the green screen. After all, he was reporting on the hottest day of the universe.

The Devil Went Down To Georgia, washing machine edition (video)

Aaron McAvoy’s washing machine makes a banging noise while washing clothes so he played The Devil Went Down to Georgia in time with the banging. This is the most perfect little internet entertainment…I actually started crying I was laughing so hard. A much needed respite from the world.

Overflowing Bouquets Built From Hundreds of Spare Utensils

Ann Carrington produces sculpture that elevate objects used in the everyday... In her series Bouquets and Butterflies, Carrington gathers hundreds of spoons, knives, and forks both shiny and tarnished to create elegant bouquets. Clumping spoons together she is able to recreate the shapes of roses and tulips, some appearing so realistic you wonder if they are organic flowers dipped in a layer of silver.

Anncarrington Silver Bouquet

Scientists Engineered the Perfect Song to Make Babies Laugh with video at the link.

Get a professional musician together with some psychologists, brush up on the baby-laughter literature, write some tunes, write some lyrics, and cobble it all together into a research-backed piece of sonic science. There are easier ways, sure, but this one’s still pretty cool: As Caspar Addyman, a developmental psychologist at the University of London, recently explained in the Conversation, he and his colleagues — including singer Imogen Heap — have created the first song engineered specifically to elicit adorable baby giggles.

Kingfishers are perfectly preserved after plunging into a pond to catch fish... and FREEZING

The two birds were discovered by a priest in Weisendoft, northern Bavaria.  Foresters cut the remains of the kingfishers from the ice with saws  It is assumed that either they could no longer find the exit while underwater, or the hole froze over quickly. Forestry director Peter Proebstle called it a 'tragic, but also a bizarre and somehow beautiful sight'

 Kingfishers Preserved Ice

The Apollo Astronaut Who Was Allergic to the Moon

On the last of NASA's manned moon mission, Apollo 17 in 1972, Astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt came down with lunar dust hay fever. Schmitt, it turns out, was basically allergic to the Moon....Of all the difficulties involved with putting a man on the Moon, “the major issue the Apollo astronauts pointed out was dust, dust, dust.”  Moondust may look soft and pillowy, but it’s actually sharp and abrasive, largely the detritus of micrometeorite impacts. With no wind or moving water on the Moon’s surface, moondust never erodes. Effectively, no natural process exists on the lunar surface that can round its edges. When astronauts inhale what is essentially finely powdered glass.....

Schmitt was the first, and only, professional scientist to walk on the Moon, a  Harvard-educated geologist who had dedicated the better part of a decade to studying the Moon’s landscape

 Harrison Schmitt

In December 1972, Schmitt landed in the Moon’s Valley of Taurus-Littrow, surrounded by mountains and endless stretches of moondust. During their first moonwalk, the lunar roving vehicle lost a fender. The tires spun, and the rover kicked up a cloud of dust.  The sediment got lodged in every wrinkle, fold, nook, and cranny of Schmitt’s spacesuit. The dust “gummed up the joints” of his suit so badly that he had trouble moving his arms. The powder chewed up his footwear, too. “The dust was so abrasive that it actually wore through three layers of Kevlar-like material on Jack’s boot,” Taylor said.

My favorite Gifs of the week.
Dog confronts robot dog
Timeline of Queen Elizabeth's Life As Told Through Banknotes.
High Five
Entire crowd goes nuts when special needs player scores final basket
I'm OK

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink

May 7, 2016

Art is Good for your Heart

A scientific study confirms the obvious, Art is Good for your Heart.

Experts recently studied 100 people during a visit to the monumental Basilica of Vicoforte in northern Italy's Cuneo - with surprising results.
Prior to entering the 18th century church, participants had their saliva tested for presence of the stress hormone cortisol.  The volunteers - men and women of different ages and with varying IQ levels - climbed 200 ft to the apex of the building as part of their two-hour experience. Then, following their tour of the building - which is famed for its elliptical cupola, the world's largest - the test was performed again.

 Oval-Cupola Basilica-Vicoforte

Professor Enzo Grossi, who studies the relationship between culture and physical health, told La Repubblica newspaper: 'On average, we found that cortisol levels dropped by 60 per cent. More than 90 per cent of the participants said they felt much better at the end of the experience.

'The idea of art as therapy is not new. But this is the first time that the beneficial effect of art on health has been measured.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:38 PM | Permalink

April 23, 2016

Why make art?

Beauty Speaks writes Mina Milburn

It was a brief conversation, but it confirmed for me what I had suspected for some time: there was no place for me in the world of visual art....[One] day during my final semester when I asked the most approachable of my professors the question that I could find no answer for: “why make art?” She was understandably taken off guard by the question, and did her best. “Some people make art to express themselves…” is the only part that sticks in memory, though there was a bit more than that, but nothing convincing....that moment stands like a column marking the division between the time when I was pursing being an artist and the time when that idea was officially dead to me.
So I don’t know what specifically lead me to the great truth that I had needed for so many years, but I remember I was simply pondering the topic in the quiet of our dining room-studio after the students were gone and a phrase from an old jewelry advertisement wandered into my mind: “Beauty has its reasons” and I was thinking how that had not quite ever made sense.

Suddenly She stood in my mind’s eye, majestic, noble, powerful: Beauty. There she was – reason Enough.  I sat down suddenly struck by the vision and truth and wept. To make something beautiful, to do something beautifully, that was all the reason one needed, Ever.

Does not God himself do the most amazing things for no other reason than the sheer Beauty of it? Consider the stars and moon! And someone explain why the ocean must be so Ravishing! Sun sets and rises, though no artist can do them justice, hit you in the very soul. And didn’t He make us in his likeness? don’t we enjoy bringing into existence something which was not there before? And don’t we always make our things to be shared? Always. And isn’t the beautiful thing like a blessing in solid form, something which lifts the heart just by being?

Is it not beauty the ornament of all Truth?  Oh, Beauty, where had you been all these years? Why could I not see you were the reason all along?

“Because my dear child, those who trained your thinking did not want me. They could not bear me in their brave new world. They could not define, measure or quantify me and so they said I was not real. They dismissed me to the “eye of the beholder” which means beauty is nothing more than preference. So they denied my autonomy and authority. And you, poor thing, you couldn’t see me until the scales of the ugly stingy world were washed away and you were ready to look with new eyes.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:48 PM | Permalink

November 12, 2015

Some of the creepiest photos ever

Antoine Geiger thinks phones are almost literally soul-sucking.


Soul-Sucking Photos By French Artist Show How Phones Are Stealing Our Identities Creepy

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:38 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2015

Miscellany 17

Becoming a Southern Lady, An Essay

She felt like an outsider who didn’t fit in with Southern ladies—that is until, after studying us, she finally figured us out. “All you have to do,” she told me, “is say two things: ‘How’s yo’ momma?’ and ‘Love yo’ hair’.”

Welcome to the Quietest Square Inch in the U.S.

The quietest inch isn’t a sound vacuum. It represents a place with a minimum of human-made noise. The discipline of acoustic ecology, which is dedicated to understanding the natural sounds that come through loud and clear when we're not around, outlines an important distinction between sound and noise.  The blip of water droplets from a forest canopy? Sound. The tinny din of Taylor Swift through smartphone speakers? Noise.

Cooling is as important to civilization as making fire — only much harder

Chilled, Tom Jackson’s enthralling history of how refrigeration changed the world, takes us from Mesopotamian ice-houses to the Large Hadron Collider  It’s a fascinating journey and Jackson conducts it in the manner of a wizard. From heat-pumps we whisk in a flash to 18th-century BC Terqa, on the west bank of the Euphrates, where the new king Zimri-lim sets about building an ice-house. We race, shivering and sweltering by turns, around the ancient world, to fifth-century BC Persia, to Egypt, from stone jars in water-pits to ceramic pots standing in kraters of snow (and, incidentally, giving sense to the naming of sorbet). Cold — colder than it should be — is always, in this narrative, as magical as Kubla Khan’s ‘sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice’

.Russian Photographers Show The World The Way Birds See It

 Russian Drone Central Park

 Birds-Eye-St Basil's Cathedral Moscow

20 Weirdest Waterfalls on Earth


GravityLight generates light from gravity.

GravityLight is unique - it doesn't need batteries or sunlight and costs nothing to run.  GravityLight provides:Instant light, any time.  It takes just a few seconds to lift the weight that powers GravityLight. There's no need to charge in advance, it's ready when you need it.  With no running costs. Meaning that GravityLight pays for itself within weeks of switching from a kerosene lamp.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 AM | Permalink

May 27, 2015

Miscellany 14

A lovely new stamp for Flannery O'Connor  whose Habit of Being is the greatest collection of letters I have ever read.

“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.”


How the Little Free Library project launched a global trend.  Tiny Libraries

Tiny libraries in converted phone booths, purpose-built kiosks, experimental art installations, quirky handmade boxes—and even one refrigerator—are springing up on street corners around the world at a rapid rate. These miniature lending libraries lead the communal book revolution, bringing reading material to the masses at a level that far exceeds their size.

Fashion Inspired By Nature: Russian Artist Compares Famous Dresses And Landscapes


Travel advice Russians are given before traveling to the U.S.>

7.When invited on a picnic  - ""As a rule, the invitation will be only on a weekend, and you don’t have to prepare for something extravagant. Everything is the same as ours, only with far less booze. Bring something sporty—ball, badminton, Americans are certainly fervent fans of these things.” "
17. Don't call people ugly. "At the table is better to avoid talking about politics and religion, as the United States is a country of Puritan values. In the straight-line American culture there is a taboo forbidding calling out the physical defects of another person. This is probably due to the constant desire of Americans to always be in great shape and look young."

What's on the other side of the ocean?

 The-Other-Side-Of-The-Ocean Click to enlarge.  It's Spain and Japan where I am.

Cows on the Beach in South Africa

Nguni cattle take daily walks untended to the beach in the sweltering afternoons. The locals believe the cows like the salty water because it helps keep away the parasites; plus, they seem to like cooling their heels. But all that beef on the beach isn’t a new phenomenon: apparently, shipwrecked sailors first talked about these cow-dotted beaches back in the 16th century.

This video is eerie and mesmerizing.  Watch Art of Ancient Greek Vases Come to Life with 21st Century Animation

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 AM | Permalink

May 15, 2015

Miscellany 13

The Uyuni Salt Flats:  Where Land is Indistinguishable from Sky.  Video at the link

 Uyuni Salt Flats

The most incredible treehouses in the world

It's Just Like Hogwarts! What makes Gothic architecture so magical?

 Christ Church Hall Oxford
Christ Church Hall at Oxford

Colorblind People See A Rainbow For The First Time With These Special Glasses

The Spy Among Us  A transcript of Steve Kroft's piece on 60 Minutes.  Jack Barsky held a job at some of the top corporations in the U.S. and lived a seemingly normal life -- all while spying for the Soviet Union.  So how did he quit the KGB without getting killed?

Barsky said: "There's three things I tell people that the Russians were afraid of. AIDS, Jewish people and Ronald Reagan." 

He wrote them a letter saying he had AIDS and the only place he could get treatment was in the U.S. And then the FBI moved next door.

The Curious Case of $2 Bills in Ecuador

They are in such demand that there is a black market where you can buy and sell them for double or triple their face value depending on the bill’s condition. Everyone wants them. Some stores have them on display underneath glass and discretely operate exchanges.

“They bring us good luck. If you keep a $2 bill with you it will bring more money,”

How to Drink Like a Saint  With moderation, gratitude, memory, merriment and ritual.

 Drinking Monk  Eduard Grutzner

Spiders fall from the sky in Australia leaving what enthusiasts call 'Angel Hair'

 Spiders Leave Angelhair

“What happens is that during a particular time of the year, particularly in May and August, young spiders in the Outback somewhere throw these threads of spiderwebs up in the air and use them as a parachute to detach themselves from the ground and move in large colonies through the sky,” Mr Basterfield explained.

“They fly through the sky and then we see these falls of spider webs that look almost as if it’s snowing.

In the Atlantic.  The Wedding Sting When a police department  lured all the drug dealers to one big party.

By 9:00 p.m. the party was in full swing, but behind the scenes was pure tension: Sweaty hands gripped weapons. Synchronized watches were checked. The band knew it was time to give the signal and began to play the song: “I Fought The Law (and the Law Won).”

Williams reached into her garter and felt for her revolver. Shooter jumped onto the stage, and grabbed the mic.

“Let’s have some fun,” he shouted. “Everybody here that’s a cop, stand up!”

A dozen undercover officers rose to their feet as uniformed detectives burst through the door.

“Okay!” Shooter yelled. “All the rest of you motherf***** put your hands on the table, because you’re under arrest! This is a bust!”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:40 PM | Permalink

May 9, 2015

Miscellany 12

The unbelievable backstory of the 18-year-old classified ad that refuses to die

 Time Travel Ad

What matters most to people in every country of the world in one fantastic infographic

In Madrid,  Julien de Casabianca is bringing Forgotten Classical Paintings Taken from Museums to the Streets

 De Casablance Classical Paintings Street

10 Interesting Facts About the Placebo Effect  It can still work even if you know you're taking a placebo

Bigger than 87 average-sized IMAX screens, Hoover Dam Turned into an Enormous Projection Screen

Mad Men endgame theory: Don Draper is D.B. Cooper


What Westeros would look like in Google Maps

Beautiful art made from old keys and coins by self-taught Australian artist Michael Moerkerk.


10 Amazingly Enjoyable Things About Having Kids
Is having kids 'all joy and no fun'? Totally wrong. If you're not having fun, you're not paying attention.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 AM | Permalink

May 1, 2015

Palate Cleanser

Korean illustrator captures sweet everyday moments of a couple in love

 1 Puuung Couple Everyday Moments

 2 Puuung Couple Everyday Moments.Jpg

 3 Puuung Couple Everyday Moments .Jpg

Her website here.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2015

Former Red Guard propagandist paints first official portrait of Pope Francis


Red Guard propaganda to papal portrait: An artist profile

Artist Shen Jiawei's paintings of Chinese soldiers during the Cultural Revolution were so popular with Mao's regime that 250,000 copies of his most famous work were made into propaganda posters and distributed throughout the country.
His hopes of attending art school dashed with the closure of China's universities, Shen joined the Red Guards and then the People's Liberation Army, fully embracing the communist spirit of the times. In the PLA, his self-taught artistic talents were recognized and he became one of the legions of propaganda artists who glorified workers, farmers and soldiers in the Socialist Realism style of Soviet propaganda.

"I stopped my propaganda work in the 1970s," he said, laughing. "Even church commission work, this is part of normal artwork, part of commission and part of history."

In 1989 after the Tiananmen Square protests, he fled to Australia and was given refugee status. Largely  self-taught. Shen first caught the attention of Australian church officials with a 1994 portrait of Mary MacKillop, the 19th-century nun who ministered to the poor and in 2010 became Australia's first saint.

 Stmary Mackillop By Shen

A local Australian art teacher commissioned the work after seeing the portrait of Mary MacKillop on the wall of the Australian embassy to the Holy See.  "We thought why not commission Mr Shen to paint a portrait of the newly elected and much talked about Pope Francis!"

With the seed planted, Pope Francis gave permission for the portrait to be made on his flight back from last year's World Youth Day, and last week, to his delight, was presented with the masterpiece at a special reception at the Apostolic Palace that coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Australian diplomatic mission to the Vatican.

"All this is a change of fortunes for Mr Shen who came to Australia as a refugee and scratched out a living at Darling Harbour knocking out tourist portraits," Mr. Hurst added. "A refugee artist and a Sydney school teacher finding themselves in the midst of a glittering reception in a Roman palace had us both pinching ourselves trying to believe we were there. We were surrounded by Cardinals, ambassadors and at least two Roman princesses who were all praising the painting

 Artist+ Pope

More about the artist and a portfolio of his paintings here.

Daily Mail From Red Guard posters to a papal portrait: Artist who fled to Australia after Tiananmen Square massacre will paint for the Vatican - four decades after his work was distributed as propaganda by communist China.

Shen's journey from favoured propaganda artist of the People's Liberation Army to papal portraitist is an unusual tale of talent and timing.  'For me, one door closed but another always opened,' Mr Jiawei said of his career in a recent phone interview from his studio in Bundeena, south of Sydney.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink

March 3, 2015

The Color Blue and colorblindness

Blue is the overwhelming “favorite color.Blue is seen as trustworthy, dependable, and committed. Blue is the least “gender specific” color, having equal appeal to both men and women. The color of ocean and sky, blue is perceived as a constant in our lives.


But our ancestors couldn't see it. Ancient people didn't perceive the color because they didn't have a word for it, say scientists

Ancient languages, for instance, didn't have a word for blue and scientists believe as a result our ancestors didn't notice the color even existed.  In 'The Odyssey,' Greek poet Homer famously describes the 'wine-dark sea.'  In 1858 William Gladstone, who later became the British prime minister, counted the color references in the Homer's Odyssey and found blue wasn't mentioned at all. Black is mentioned nearly 200 times and white about 100. Red, meanwhile, is mentioned fewer than 15 times, and yellow and green fewer than 10. It wasn't just the Greeks. Blue also doesn't appear in the Koran, ancient Chinese stories, and an ancient Hebrew version of the Bible, according to a German philologist named Lazarus Geiger.  Egyptians, who were the only culture that could produce blue dyes, were the first ancient civilization to have a word for the color blue.

A few years ago I was fascinated by a Radiolab podcast  Why Isn't the Sky Blue?   As languages evolve with new words, red is always the first color named and blue the last.  And this is the case in every language studied,  Linguist Guy Deutscher tested this out with an experiment on his daughter Alma.  He taught her every color but never  told her that the sky was blue.  One day he pointed to the sky and asked her what color it was.    Alma was perplexed.  She simply saw a void.  Every day that was 'sky blue'  Deutscher asked his daughter .  One day she said white and only learned over time that it was blue.

If you go to the link you can download the podcast and read the fascinating comments.  Some suggest that a vitamin A deficiency could result in a loss of the ability to see blue.  Others point that the Japanese had a word for blue but not for green until contact with the west;  the Vietnamese word "xanh" means both green and blue; the Hebrew Bible referenced blue in several parts.

Many people don't distinguish well between blue, cyan and green

 Cyan Icon  This is the color cyan

Wikipedia on cyan
The web color cyan is synonymous with aqua. In most languages, 'cyan' is not a basic color term and it phenomenologically appears as a greenish vibrant hue of blue to most English speakers.  Reasons for why cyan is not linguistically acknowledged as a basic color term can be found in the frequent lack of distinction between blue and green in many languages. Some varieties in the cyan color range are teal, turquoise, electric blue, aquamarine, and other colors described as blue-green..

 Color Icon Blue  This is the color blue

Wikipedia on blue
The clear sky and the deep sea appear blue because of an optical effect known as Rayleigh scattering. When sunlight passes through the atmosphere, the blue wavelengths are scattered more widely by the oxygen and nitrogen molecules, and more blue comes to our eyes. Rayleigh scattering also explains blue eyes; there is no blue pigment in blue eyes. Distant objects appear more blue because of another optical effect called atmospheric perspective.

From Work with Color where the links work

How Many Colors Can Most of Us Actually See?
Cones are photoreceptors on the human retina responsible for color vision. Most people are trichromatic, meaning that they have three types of cones — red, blue, and green — and information from the different types of cones combines to produce color perception. Since each type of cone enables the eye to distinguish approximately 100 shades, the average human combines those exponentially and is able to see about 1 million shades.
Evidence suggests that some people have four types of cones — including an additional orange one — and are able to see 100 million shades. According to color vision researcher Dr. Jay Neitz, only women can have four types of cones. Yet, despite the fact that up to 12% of women in the world possess four cone types, most don’t test as tetrachromatic. There are actually only 99 million women in the world with true four-color vision, according to Dr. Neitz. Based on world population estimate of 7.30 billion, that would mean only 1.36% of the world’s population has true four-color vision and can be called tetrachromats,

A Cure for Colorblindess

More than 15 million people in the U.S. and over 300 million worldwide don’t see normal colors. Most are men who inherit it from their mothers’ fathers.
Jay Neitz cured colorblindness five years ago.  Neitz, a professor at the University of Washington, tested two squirrel monkeys every day for a year and a half, confirming their colorblindness before experimenting on them.
Then Neitz injected their retinas with a virus that contained the genetic code for the red pigment found in human eyes. The monkeys, called Sam and Dalton—John Dalton was the first scientist to publish a paper on colorblindness in 1798—didn’t show any improvement at first. Five months later, they started passing their color-vision tests.

If injecting your eye with a genetic virus, there are glasses that can correct colorblindness.

"A 53-year-old ex-marine told me he broke down in tears when he saw the red in a brick building for the first time using EnChroma glasses. Another man said he was so overwhelmed by colors that he nearly got in an accident on his way home. “We’ll give the glasses to someone and they’ll be like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve never seen that color before,’” said a spokesman for EnChroma. “And we’ll tell them that the color is teal. And then they go around calling every new color that they see teal.”
"Most people have three types of receptor cones in their retinas—red, green, and blue. A small percentage of women have a non-functioning fourth type. If it worked, they could see 100 million colors instead of the 1 million most people see. (Colorblind people usually see between 10,000 and 100,000.) A recent study in England found one woman whose fourth cone was active; she could see hues no other known human can.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

February 12, 2015

Miscellany of the week

Lead, Mercury And Death: Beauty’s Historically High Cost

"Life is Short Even on Its Longest Days. Transcript of Bob Dylan's MusiCares Person of Year Award

I'm glad for my songs to be honored like this. But you know, they didn't get here by themselves. It's been a long road and it's taken a lot of doing. These songs of mine, they're like mystery stories, the kind that Shakespeare saw when he was growing up. I think you could trace what I do back that far. They were on the fringes then, and I think they're on the fringes now. And they sound like they've been on the hard ground.

The Photographers Behind Their Most Well-Known Images

The 600 year old butt song from Hell - Listen at the link

Luke and I were looking at Hieronymus Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights and discovered, much to our amusement, music written upon the posterior of one of the many tortured denizens of the rightmost panel of the painting which is intended to represent Hell. I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era.

 Bosch Butt Song

Found in a Swiss bank vault, the £90million long-lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece that vanished TWICE

 Da Vinci Portrait Isabella D"Este

A long-lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece thought to be worth £90million and discovered in a bank vault is finally being returned to Italy.  The painting of Renaissance socialite Isabella d’Este, attributed by experts to da Vinci, was seized by police after being found in a bank vault in Switzerland in 2013.  Investigators said the piece had been exported illegally and was in danger of being sold on to an investment fund in the UK.

The portrait, which had been missing for centuries, was uncovered among 400 pieces of art stored in the vault. But in a further twist, when art police ruled the painting had been exported illegally and went to the vault to seize it, they found it had gone missing again.
Incredibly, it surfaced for a second time last year during a car insurance fraud, when Italian police discovered a lawyer was trying to negotiate its sale for £90million.

Prosecutor Manfredi Palumbo said: ‘As part of a separate insurance fraud investigation came to know that an Italian lawyer in Pessaro had been made the agent to tell a painting attributed to da Vinci for no less than 95 million euros (£70m).
‘Just before we seized it we discovered that the lawyer was in negotiations to sell the painting to a UK fund for 120 million euros (£90m).’

Daniel Silva writes an convincing and exciting thriller, The Heist,  about the world of international art theft

Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon….embarks on a daring gambit to recover a stolen Caravaggio and learn the identity of the collector. His search will take him on an exhilarating hunt—from the shimmering boulevards of Paris and London to the gritty criminal underworlds of Marseilles and Corsica, and finally to a small private bank in Austria where a dangerous man stands guard over the ill-gotten wealth of a brutal dictator.  At his side is a brave young woman who survived one of the worst massacres of the twentieth century. Now, with Gabriel's help, she will be given a chance to strike a blow against a dynasty that destroyed her family.

How To Pronounce The Names of 24 Famous Places You‘ve Mispronounced Your Entire Life


In Wired, This Incredible Hospital Robot Is Saving Lives. Also, I Hate It by Matt Simon

Eating the Enemy. In Massachusetts, green crabs are an invasive species that is feasting on clams.
" I’ve been stepping on these pesky buggers at the beach for years,” says Legal Sea Foods executive chef Rich Vellante. “Who knew what a pure, clean, sweet crab stock they produce?”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:22 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2015

Miscellany 4

Lars Anderson takes Archery to a whole new level.  What he can do is absolutely amazing

Bill Whittle in Number One with a Bullet.  A devastatingly effective video that shows while the U.S. is number one in gun ownership per capita, it is one of the safest places to be in the world.

Neil Bromhall films a Mesmerizing Time-Lapse Video of an Acorn Growing into an Oak Seedling Over the Course of Eight Months

The Amazing Video that takes you INSIDE the Largest Photograph Ever Taken is awesome and mind-blowing.

 Nasa Andromeda

Earlier this month, NASA and ESA released the biggest and highest resolution image of our galactic neighbor, Andromeda, that has ever been taken. The 1.5 billion pixel image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Each tiny dot of light in the picture represents one of 1 trillion stars in the galaxy; many with their own expansive planetary systems.

As you watch this video and contemplate Andromeda’s mind-boggling size, remember that this is just a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the universe. As large as this galaxy is, it is only one out of 200 billion galaxies in the known universe

Source of Van Gogh's Starry Night
 Vangogh Parsons

Van Gogh likely based his famed Starry Night on this scientific illustration of the Whirlpool Galaxy by one William Parsons that appeared in a 19th century popular astronomy tome, according to Michael Benson's new book Cosmigraphics, a history of our efforts to illustrate the universe.

Why Cary Grant's suit in North by Northwest  is iconic and still looks so good

12 Enjoyable Names for Relatively Common Things

4. The string of typographical symbols comic strips use to indicate profanity ("$%@!") is called a grawlix.
7. What do you call a group of rattlesnakes? A rhumba.
8. To waste time by being lazy is to dringle.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:46 PM | Permalink

December 5, 2014

Weekend Miscellany 6

The Detectives’ Lunch Club

Word soon got out and detectives from all over the country flooded the office with requests. Before long, the Vidocq Society upped its meeting schedule from four times a year to nine. Today, the 82 chartered members hail from all areas of the crime-solving trade. There are DNA specialists, experts on cults, psychoanalysts, Naval Intelligence men, polygraphers, and long-retired FBI special agents. They convene every month, except July, August, and December—even veteran sleuths need a vacation—in the upper reaches of the Union League, a stately old building in the heart of Philadelphia. And at each meeting, over a lavish multi-course meal, they hear the details of a single unsolved case.

From DeMilked, 23 Breathtaking Ice and Snow Formations  like these Baikal Ice Emeralds

 Baikal Ice Emerald

An amazing video if you want to know  What Sound Looks Like

An Hungarian art historian was watching a Christmas movie with his daughter when what did he see but a long lost Hungarian masterpiece in the background in a scene of the movie Stuart Little.   Researcher spots Sleeping Lady with Black Vase by Robert Bereny being used as a prop in Hollywood children’s movie

 Stuart Little  Still

Pantone's Color of the Year 2015 - Marsala


The Motions Of Kayaking, Canoeing, And Swimming Captured With LED Lights And Long Exposure


7 Minutes on Queen Victoria

Photographer Elena Sumilova captures the bonds between children and their pets

 Children+Pets Elena Shumilova

Artist Sacha Goldberg delights with Portraits of Superheroes in Flemish Style

 Spiderman In Flemish Style

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:46 PM | Permalink

November 21, 2014

Weekend Miscellany 5

The Modern Supermarket is a Miracle  [M}ost Americans are but a handful of generations removed from subsistence farming. Our forebears watered the crops they planted in tiny plots of land with their own sweat; we stand in air-conditioned bazaars and pick from an endless array of produce—pears from Chile, and chilies from Mexico, and kiwis lovingly cultivated by actual Kiwis—and then complain about the Muzak.

Best video of the week.  On YouTube.  Hilarious Golden Retriever Really Wants To Race But.. First Things First.

Deer found with incredible single antler, a real life unicorn  This roe deer, shot in Slovenia at an advanced age, had a rare antler deformity that caused its two antlers to fuse together in a single, unicorn-like protrusion central bone that was  probably caused by an injury when its antlers first started growing.

 Unicorndeer Skelton

In Quartz We may be close to a world of limitless power from artificial leaves  Formed in 2010, JCAP is a $122 million federally funded initiative based at the California Institute of Technology. Its assignment was to develop a viable artificial photosynthesis device by 2015. The prototype had to be durable, be made from commonly available materials and convert sunlight to fuel at an efficiency of 10%….“Four years ago you would have said this would not be possible,”

Facts That Make You Smile
• Every year, hundreds of new trees are planted because squirrels forget where they bury their nuts.
• Cows get stressed when separated from their best friends.
• Otters hold hands when they sleep so they won't drift away from the group.
• This smiley animal, the size of cat, lives in Australia and is called a quokka.

Beautiful, Terrible Watercolors of a 19th-Century Whale Hunt, Found in a Ship's Logbook.  These watercolors, painted into the pages of the logbook of the ship Hector during a voyage it took between 1842-1845, were made by a seaman named James Moore Ritchie.

Charles Cooke takes a trip to the Canadian oil sands, a "wonder of the world" and reports Whence Keystone Comes  It's utterly fascinating.

Republished, a 1984 article: A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledge  A generation ago, a tool unleashed the power of business modeling — and created the entrepreneurial boom that has transformed our economy. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

November 11, 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red - Extraordinary Memorial

This may be the most extraordinary memorial I've ever seen.  A single red ceramic poppy for every British and Commonwealth soldier who died in the 'war to end all wars'  was planted in the moat surrounding the Tower of London to commemorate their lives and the 100th anniversary of World War I. 

Including one for my great uncle Jack Paterson. Jack, a Canadian, a member of the Cameron Highlanders, 9th Brigade, 43rd Battalion, was killed in France in 1916.    When I learned that Clifford Holliday, who fought alongside of him in the Cameron Highlanders, died at the great age of 105 in May, 2004, I began to grasp that the loss of life was also the loss of length of life that would otherwise have been lived.  Lost in the mud and the constant shelling ever fearful of mustard gas attacks.  John McCrae, another Canadian wrote:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

A sea of sacrifice; a flood of blood has drawn some 5 million visitors. 

The last of the poppies is planted this morning as thousands flocked to Tower of London to see the final ceramic flower put in place by 13-year-old cadet and  the nation fell silent to remember Britain's war dead

From the first ceramic poppy to the last: How the field of flowers at the Tower of London grew over four incredible months to create an unforgettable memorial

 1St Poppy

It began as a parched grass field but was turned into one of the most spectacular installations in memory - these photos show the gradual process by which 888,246 poppies transformed the Tower of London.

The site was cleared for work on the installation to begin four months ago and once completed, it went on to fill the tower's 16-acre moat and attract millions of visitors.
The artwork – the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red – has proved so popular, with an estimated four million visitors, that there have been calls to keep the poppies at the Tower until the end of the year.
Each poppy - which represents the life of one British or colonial soldier - was made by hand and took around three days to create.

 2Poppy Bloodsweptlands,Seasofred

When Paul Cummins decided to create 888,246 poppies in what has now become one of the most significant pieces of artwork in British history, he knew it would be no easy task….Mr Cummins felt so overwhelmed with the sheer scale of his task that he had to draft in emergency help from two other ceramic factories to ensure the work was finished by today - Armistice Day.
After being personally asked for help by Mr Cummins, two factories in the Midlands pulled out all the stops in a bid to produce 500,000 poppies in just four months, ensuring there were enough flowers to fill the 16-acre dry moat.
Today, Harry Foster, from Johnson Tiles, Stoke-on-Trent, told how his team of unsung heroes have made nearly 400,000 poppies since July, working around the clock through nights and weekends to ensure the project was completed.

He admitted the work had been 'relentless' but added it had been a 'great source of pride' seeing the almost-finished crimson sea of poppies - and knowing some 4million people had managed to see the work.


To see how much Britain has changed, you only have to read how an Army veteran, 70 was assaulted as  he walked to cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday by gang of thugs who stole his regimental beret and medals

George Gill, 70, had been walking through a park on his way to the service in Keighley, West Yorkshire, when he was attacked by a gang of Asian [Pakistani muslim] youths he said had grabbed his beret 'like a pack of dogs would a piece of meat'.

The gang then ran off laughing, leaving Mr Gill with cuts to his lip, but the courageous former soldier dusted himself off and continued to the cenotaph to pay his respects before reporting the mugging to police.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:38 PM | Permalink

October 4, 2014

Weekend Miscellany 1

From the Art of Manliness, How to Gird Up Your Loins, an illustrated guide.

Deep Into Green by Michael Gorra, a review of Green: The History of a Color by Michel Pastoureau in the New York Review of Books

 Van Eyck Wedding Green
Jan Van Eyck: The Arnolfini Wedding, circa 1435

Trained as a medievalist, Pastoureau argues that the history of color is an “altogether more vast” subject than the history of painting, and this book’s concerns range from Latin etymologies to the green neon crosses that hang outside modern French pharmacies.
Pastoureau writes many pages further on, that trash cans are often green, a bit of sympathetic magic against decay, for “green cleans, green refreshes, green purifies.” It means health, and it did so long before it became the name of a political party, “no longer so much a color as an ideology.” Yet growth implies change, change betokens instability, and green is in fact “an uncertain color,” ambiguous and at times even forked in its significance.

Those pharmacy signs suggest illness as much as health, and green has often functioned as the color of poison and disease; think of the pustular figures on the Isenheim Altarpiece, and even of that work’s dead Christ. We speak of certain greens as sickly in a way that has no parallel in talking of blue or red or black, and for that there might be a reason in the very chemistry of the color itself.

In the Renaissance the color’s chemical instability made it seem “false” and even treacherous, a “deceptive color, simultaneously appealing and disappointing.” As such, it became associated with games of chance or hazard; think of the green baize with which tables for cards or craps or pool are covered even now. The color here carries a symbolic charge that is inseparable from its use—gambling means green. It connotes luck, the ups and downs of a player’s fortunes, and it also suggests avarice.

The death of the first star in the Universe: Incredible image could shed new light on how solar systems formed

Researchers say the death throes of these early stars were unique as they exploded as supernovae and burned completely, leaving no black hole behind, but instead spewing out chemical elements into space that eventually formed our Universe.


Two Blind Sisters See for the First Time  YouTube link

Sonia and Anita, two sisters living in India, have been blind since birth, but a simple eye operation makes it possible for them to see their mom for the first time. The nonprofit organization 20/20/20 provides free operations to these sisters--as well as thousands of other people in developing countries. These procedures empower people in impoverished communities to create better futures. In this short film, Blue Chalk Media shares the sisters’ poignant story and captures their initial experiences after the bandages come off.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:15 AM | Permalink

September 27, 2014

John Malkovich transformed

John Malkovich transforms himself into Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock, The Joker, John Lennon, Salvador Dali, Bette Davis, Pablo Picasso, Che Guevera and others in an astonishing series of photographs by Sandro Miller. who said, 'I can suggest a mood or an idea and within moments, he literally morphs into the character right in front of my eyes.'

 Malkovich As Einstein

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 AM | Permalink

August 2, 2014

Artist uses tiny insects to build his creations

Artist Hubert Duprat Collaborates with Caddisfly Larvae as They Build Aquatic Cocoons from Gold and Pearl

 Caddisfly Larvae Gold Cocoons

Right now, in almost every river in the world, some 12,000 different species of caddisfly larvae wriggle and crawl through sediment, twigs, and rocks in an attempt to build temporary aquatic cocoons. To do this, the small, slow-moving creatures excrete silk from salivary glands near their mouths which they use like mortar to stick together almost every available material into a cozy tube. A few weeks later a fully developed caddisfly emerges and almost immediately flies away.

After first learning about caddisflies, self-taught (and self-professed amateur) artist Hubert Duprat had a thought. Had a caddisfly ever naturally encountered a fleck of gold in a river and used it to build a home? And then one step further: what if a caddisfly had only gold and other precious stones or jewels to work with?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:55 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2014

A flower and a bird under an x-ray

Colorized X-ray photographs of flora and fauna.  The Telegraph has a slideshow of the astonishing 1mages by Arie van't Riet.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:35 PM | Permalink

July 10, 2014

Who Turned Out the Lights and Who Turned Them Back On

 Monks Copying Books
An illustration from a medieval manuscript depicts monks copying books by hand in a monastery.

The Dark Ages: Who Turned Out the Lights?

Polemicists who comment on blogs often blame the Church for the Dark Ages. Actual historians know that the Dark Ages, insofar as they were dark, were darkened by the barbarian invasions that inundated the western Roman Empire, and that it was only in the Church (and in its monasteries in particular) that any light was preserved. It might be a bit of a stretch to suggest (as Thomas Cahill did in his book of similar name) that “the Irish (i.e. the Irish monks) saved civilization,” but it is certain that whatever vestiges of earlier Roman civilization managed to be saved were saved by the Church.

It was the pagan Gothic tribes sweeping down from the north and east that submerged classical Roman and Christian culture in a sea of barbarism. It was the Church that tried to preserve what learning it could, and which strove valiantly to convert them. After centuries of work it did a passable job, and it was only thanks to this that classic learning was preserved to become the foundation for later progress. On that foundation the west has built many things, including modern democracy, modern science, and the concept of human rights. But the foundation upon which they were built was a Christian one, one laid painfully and laboriously by the Church in the so-called Dark Ages. In short: it was the pagans who turned out the lights. It was the Church who kept a lamp burning, and eventually turned the lights back on again.
In all these debates about the Church and the Dark Ages, the real disagreement is not between the Church and the secularists, but between real scholars and ignoramuses.  . Real historical scholars know that the concept of “the Dark Ages” is an historical construct of fairly recent vintage, and that the Church of that period was the defender of learning and the arts.

Life and Work in Medieval Monasteries

Some of the most important work carried on during the Dark Ages was done by humble monks copying ancient manuscripts in cold, dark monasteries.

 Monk In Scriptorium

The printing press had not yet been invented and all documents were copied by hand on parchment. Scribes copied thousands of Bibles and classical works for circulation in the Christian areas of Europe. Theirs was the labor that would lift the western world out of the darkness of ignorance and illiteracy.

Fortress Protection From Viking Barbarian Attacks
Viking invasions were a major danger for the peaceful monastic communities in Europe. The scriptorium was the most important room in a monastery next to the chapel itself and for this reason, these writing rooms were often built at the top of an attack-proof fortress tower with curved walls resembling a tall cylinder. The towers were separate buildings enclosed within the walls of the compound. The monks climbed 15 to 20 feet up a ladder to the scriptorium and then pulled a ladder up after them. This made it almost impossible for the attacking warriors to reach them.

A Monastic Scribe’s Workday
After lauds, the morning prayer, each scribe entered the scriptorium and worked hunched over at a tiny table while seated on a backless stool. The desk was placed in front of a small window that provided the only available light in the room. No candles or fires for warmth were allowed because of the flammability of the parchment material. They worked in these conditions no matter how cold or wet the weather might be.

The threat of the Vikings and the perilous nature of life in the Dark Ages is brilliantly told in The Secret of the Kells, the most beautiful animated movie I've ever seen.  Variety called it "A Tour-de-Force!" and  "Absolutely luscious to behold!".    The LA Times movie critic Kenneth Turan said,  "Four Stars! Ravishing! Magical! Glorious!"  Now on dvd, it's a marvelous film for families and children. 

And then there is the engaging classic by Thomas Cahill How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe

But the best is probably by Thomas Woods, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.    You can download as a free ebook chapter 3 How the Monks Saved Civilization here.    You will learn how during a period of great turmoil as Roman rule collapsed all over Europe, Benedictine monasteries were "oases of order and peace".

"“Wherever they came,” adds still another, “they converted the wilderness into a cultivated country; they pursued the breeding of cattle and agriculture, labored with their own hands, drained morasses, and cleared away forests. By them Germany was rendered a fruitful country.” Another historian records that “every Benedictine monastery was an agricultural college for the whole region in which it was located.
For the monks,  manual labor was a channel of grace.  "They chose the most secluded and inaccessible sites to reinforce the communal solitude of their life and partly because this was land that lay donors could more easily give the monks. Although they cleared forests that stood in the way of human habitation and use, they were also  careful to plant trees and conserve forests when possible.
They introduced new crops" "Here they would introduce the rearing of cattle and horses, there the brewing of beer or the raising of bees or fruit. In Sweden, the corn trade owed its existence to the monks; in Parma, it was cheese making; in Ireland, salmon fisheries—and, in a great many places, the finest vineyards."  They pioneered in the production of wine and one monk Dom Perignon is credited with the discovery of champagne.

Monks as Technical Advisors.  Cistercian monks were superb metallurgists. "In effect, whether it be the mining of salt, lead, iron, alum, or gypsum, or metallurgy, quarrying marble, running cutler’s shops and glassworks, or forging metal plates, also known as firebacks, there was no activity at all in which the monks did not display creativity and a fertile spirit of research. Utilizing their labor force, they instructed and trained it to perfection.  They explored aviation.  In the early 11th century,  a monk named Eilmer flew more than 600 feet with a glider.  Centuries later, a Jesuit priest , Father Francesco Lana-Terzi explored the subject of flight more systematically and earned the honor of being called the father of aviation.  They built the first clocks one of which from the 14th century still sits in excellent condition in the London Science Museum.

Their charitable works ranged from the monasteries themselves that served as gratuitous inns for foreign travelers, pilgrim and the poor
to the building of lighthouses, the establishment of libraries, the preservation of classic texts and the preservation of the Bible.
Above all, they built schools and were teachers  and laid the foundations for universities.  "They were the thinkers and philosophers of the day and shaped the political and religious thought. To them, both collectively and individually, was due the continuity of thought and civilization of the ancient world with the later Middle Ages."

"The monastic contribution to Western civilization, as we have seen, is immense. Among other things, the monks taught metallurgy, introduced new crops, copied ancient texts, preserved literacy, pioneered in technology, invented champagne, improved the European landscape, provided for wanderers of every stripe, and looked after the lost and shipwrecked. "

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:38 PM | Permalink

June 25, 2014

"Our hands are stained with ink and paint, not blood" "

Terry Teachout's remarks on accepting the Bradley prize.  Freedom and the Role of the Artist

….But what am I? Not long ago I was introduced to an audience as an "intellectual." To me, an intellectual is a person who is primarily interested in ideas. What I am is an aesthete, a person who is primarily interested in beauty. That's why I write about art. What's more, I think there's much to be said for my preference. All history, and most especially the history of the 20th century, argues against placing ideas in the saddle and allowing them to ride mankind. Too often they end up riding individual men and women into mass graves.

That's one of the reasons why I choose not to call myself an intellectual. …. Aesthetes have it all over intellectuals in one very important respect: You'll rarely catch us hustling anyone off to the nearest guillotine. We're too busy trying to make the world more beautiful. Our hands are stained with ink and paint, not blood.
…. the artist must first of all be able to tell the truth as he sees it about the world he sees around him. That task can only be pursued to the fullest degree under the aspect of freedom. Where there is no freedom, there is no art, save at the risk of the artist's neck. And this freedom includes, among many other things, freedom from the paralyzing obligation to persuade.

The artist whose chief goal is not to make everything more beautiful but to enlist his audience in a cause—no matter what that cause may be—is rarely if ever prepared to tell the whole truth and nothing but. He replaces the true complexity of the world with the false simplicity of the ideologue. He alters reality not to make everything more beautiful, but to stack the deck.
Great art doesn't tell—it shows. And this act of showing is itself a moral act, a commitment to reality.

A man who thought otherwise said, "Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it." But Karl Marx, as usual, got it wrong. The greatest philosophers and the greatest artists seek not to change the world, but to see the world as it is, then show it to the rest of us with the transforming clarity that is beauty. That is a supreme act of freedom. It's what Shakespeare and Mark Twain and Flannery O'Connor did. What Rembrandt and Sargent and Edward Hopper did. What Mozart and Aaron Copland and Louis Armstrong did. They looked, they saw, they showed—and we understood.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:13 AM | Permalink

June 19, 2014


Vintage postcards of New York City from the Boston Public Library.

 Vintage New-York-Postcard

One of my very favorite writers Bill Bryson is absolutely right when he says the great failure in education is a lack of excitement

Throughout the talk, Bryson demonstrated, through personal experience, how excitement in a subject can propel continued learning, and how embracing curiosity – a trait that he argues is “undervalued” – can stimulate this initial excitement…..

So how do you keep that curiosity alive in children; an apt question put to Bryson by one teacher in the Q&A session at the end of the lecture, which Bryson – boldly, in my opinion – agreed to take part in.
“I suppose the main thing,” he laughs, “is to do your very best to be interesting. But also to remind kids – as I was trying to do with my talk – that even the most obvious things, if you stop and think about them, are amazing."

He practices what he preaches.  I've read many of his books and have been captivated by how interesting he makes everything.  A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail:  A classic and laugh-out-loud funny.  In a Sunburned Country:  "Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out"  His guide to Australia is a "deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity."    A Short History of Nearly Everything : "Sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining."    At Home: A Short History of Private Life: "Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and his sheer prose fluency makes At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life"

22 Masterful Body Paintings That Disguise Humans As Animals

 Humans Disquised As Animals

James Henry writes Big Bills: How Western central bankers and Treasury Secretaries cater to illicit drug syndicates, money-launderers, racketeers, and kleptocrats.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:30 PM | Permalink

November 25, 2013

St Peter's Bones

 Peterandfrancis  Pope Francis cradling the bones of St Peter

At the closing Mass of the global church's Year of Faith, the relics of St Peter were publicly unveiled for the first time since they were discovered in the 1940s and were held by Pope Francis during the recitation of the Nicene Creed.  In his homily, he said, "God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it."

So How Does the Vatican Know That Those Old Bones Are the Relics of St Peter?    After all, he died nearly 2000 years ago.

It was the Vatican’s art historian, Elizabeth Lev, who first told me the story of the remarkable discovery of Peter’s bones.  It’s a story which has been told often in history books and reports, but I draw some of my information from Paul of Tarsus: A Visionary Life by Edward Stourton.

The Church has had a long tradition that St. Peter’s Basilica, construction of which was funded by the Emperor Constantine, was built in the early fourth century atop the burial site of St. Peter.  But in 1939–less than 100 years ago–a team of workmen digging a grave for Pope Pius XI in the crypt beneath the Basilica uncovered what was plainly the top of a Roman building.  The new pope, Pius XII, ordered further investigation; and archeologists gradually unearthed a well preserved Roman necropolis, or city of the dead, immediately beneath the foundations of St. Peter’s.

In actuality, we don’t know with certainty whose bones those are.  There are strong evidences through history:  writings by early popes and kings, graffiti messages in the tomb, and the placement of the graves themselves.  The early Christians, it seemed, considered it a great honor to be buried near the remains of Peter, the first pope.  And DNA testing has confirmed that the bones are from a male in his 60′s who likely died in the first century.
And here is the remarkable truth:  If one were to drop a plumb line from the center of the Dome of the great St. Peter’s Basilica, 460 feet above, it would extend downward

• through Bernini’s baldacchino,
• through the Basilica’s great papal altar, then
• through the twelfth-century altar of St. Callistus.
• through the sixth century altar of Gregory the Great, then
• through the fourth century Constantine shrine.
• to the second-century trophy (a kind of triumphal arch built to mark the burial place of great men), and finally,
• it would land upon the burial place of this great martyr of Christ, St. Peter.

“It doesn’t miss a foot,” writes Stourton.

 Side-View-Red-Wall-Trophy-Peter-Grave Diagram from St Peter's Basilica
 St Peter's Confessio St Peter's Confessio under the Papal High Altar
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:34 PM | Permalink

November 22, 2013

Dried Human Tears

Photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher's latest project is called “Topography of Tears.  She uses microscopes to give us an unexpected view of dried human tears.

In the Smithsonian.  The Microscopic Structures of Dried Human Tears

“I started the project about five years ago, during a period of copious tears, amid lots of change and loss—so I had a surplus of raw material,” Fisher says. …..“everything we see in our lives is just the tip of the iceberg, visually,” she explains. “So I had this moment where I suddenly thought, ‘I wonder what a tear looks like up close?’”
Scientifically, tears are divided into three different types, based on their origin. Both tears of grief and joy are psychic tears, triggered by extreme emotions, whether positive or negative. Basal tears are released continuously in tiny quantities (on average, 0.75 to 1.1 grams over a 24-hour period) to keep the cornea lubricated. Reflex tears are secreted in response to an irritant, like dust, onion vapors or tear gas.

 Tears Onion-1    Onion tears

 Tears Grief    Tears of Grief

 Tears Laughing    Tears of Laughter

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:26 PM | Permalink

October 29, 2013

Baby on the phone

 Baby On The Phone Cute, but babies are always cute.

A very modern milestone: 40% of babies use a mobile phone or tablet before they can even speak full sentences

Most parents monitor their child's development by the first time they crawl, walk and eventually talk.  But now there's a new milestone that mothers and fathers can eagerly look forward to: the first use of a mobile phone.

Nearly two in five babies have used a mobile phone or tablet - before they can even speak full sentences, new research has found.

A survey has found that 38 per cent of children aged under two have used gadgets like iPhones or Kindles for playing games or watching films.  In 2011 the same figure was just 10 per cent.

The researchers said that the findings showed a ‘fundamental change in the way kids consume media’.
They should also serve as a wake-up call to parents who increasingly turn to gadgets to entertain their children - but could be doing them harm.

The current recommendation from the American Academy of Paediatrics is that the under-twos should have no screen time at all.

If you want some really cute photos of kids, look at the Crazy Photos a Creative Dad Takes of His Daughters.

Also Artist Queenie Liao who takes adorable photos capturing her sleeping son in flights of the imagination

-Sleeping-Baby-Dreams Artist

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2013

Lost for 500 years, Leonardo da Vinci painting discovered in Swiss vault

Lost Leonardo da Vinci painting of a noblewoman with same smile as the Mona Lisa discovered in Swiss vault after 500 years

For five centuries, it has been one of the art world’s greatest mysteries, with even its very existence in doubt.
But now, almost 500 years after he painted it, a priceless Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece has been unearthed in a Swiss bank vault.


 Lost Leonardo Painting

The painting is a canvas and oil, finished rendering of a well-known pencil sketch of the same woman, the wife of the Marquess of Mantua and one of Renaissance Italy’s most influential women.  The sketch, which was drawn in 1499, hangs in the Louvre, and is considered a forerunner to his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa.

Isabella, who appears to share the world-famous subject's mysterious smile and rounded chin, wanted to be painted by the all the greatest artists of the day, which naturally included da Vinci.
Professor Carlo Pedretti of the University of California, Los Angeles, the world’s leading expert in da Vinci told Italy’s Corriere della sera newspaper. 'There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo.

'I can immediately recognise Da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:27 PM | Permalink

June 12, 2013

"I am only a public clown," Pablo Picasso

‘What happens to art in a society when belief in God has withered away?’

Pablo Picasso who had, however, his moment of honesty when he wrote to Giovanni Papini as long ago as 1952: “In art people no longer seek consolation and exaltation…they seek after whatever is new, odd, original, extravagant or scandalous. And since cubism and what followed, it is masters and critics such as these that I have sought to please with whatever bizarre extravagances entered my head, and the less they understood, the more they admired me. By dint of amusing myself with such fun and games and meaningless head-splitting riddles, I became a celebrity in no time. And fame for a painter means sales, gains, riches, a fortune. Today, as you know, I am both famous and rich.

“But when I am alone, alone with myself, I haven’t the courage to consider myself an artist in the former grand sense of the term. Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt, Goya, these were great painters. I am only a public clown who has understood his period and has exploited as best he could the imbecility, the vanity and the cupidity of his contemporaries.”

An elderly writer on Catholic subjects once told me “Art should elevate us.” In that he would have included the “consolation and exaltation” that Picasso mentioned: the inner journey towards truth, glimpsed through beauty, which is especially significant for those who have not (yet) encountered the God who is beauty himself. What happens to art in a society when belief in God has withered away? Or when you have prodigious gifts of draughtsmanship but no inner vision? I suppose Picasso is the answer. The story of Western art -including the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe – and its magnificent flourishing in the Christian centuries has been told by the late Lord Clark in the celebrated 1960s TV series “Civilization.” Significantly, the series ended with the 20th century – just when Picasso stepped into the circus ring.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:29 AM | Permalink

June 10, 2013

Penn Station, yesterday and today


Vincent Scully, the architectural historian, not to be confused with Vin Scully, the sports announcer,  said that arriving at the old Penn Station was very different from arriving at the new, “One entered the city like a god. One scuttles in now like a rat.”

 Ny-Penn-Station Today

Via Jay Nordlinger who wrote today in Paris Journal, Part 1,

By rights, the Gare du Nord and the Gare de l’Est should be spaced far apart — the one somewhere near 12 o’clock in Paris, the other somewhere near 3. But no: They’re very close together. Beautiful structures, too.

Which makes me think of the train stations back home in New York. I was just discussing this with someone, the other day. Grand Central is just what it should be — glorious. But Penn Station? Quite possibly the ugliest train station in all the world. And many people’s introduction to New York — a shame.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:12 PM | Permalink

May 28, 2013

Fabulous self portraits by a 14-year-old boy

 14-Year-Old Zev Manipulates Self-Portraits

Amazing self-portraits by a 14-year-old boy named Zev who manipulates photos to show his world.

They are fabulous.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:36 PM | Permalink

April 26, 2013

"Our Lobby Is still filled with shoes"

Boston Magazine's Heart-Shaped Shoes: The Story Behind the Beautiful Cover

 Boston Cover

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 PM | Permalink

April 13, 2013

A God's eye view of the planet

If you are going to be in London in the next few months, don't miss the new exhibit at London's Natural History Museum by one of the world's greatest photographers.

 Grand Canyon Sebastiao Salgade

Sebastião Salgado's Genesis exhibition offers A God's eye view of the planet

Salgado has described Genesis as a “love letter to the Earth and to the resilience of nature” and it is impossible to look at the photographs and not wonder whether Genesis is an elegy as well as a hymn. “I did not do Genesis as a journalist or an anthropologist or as a biologist,” he says. “I did it for pleasure. It was my idea of fun. To do a two-month walk or to go to the Himalayas and Antarctica gave me a huge amount of pleasure and I want to share that. But I am also much more hopeful about the future of the planet after this project than I was at the start.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:44 AM | Permalink

April 12, 2013

Angel with a cell phone and a number

 Angel-Cellphone Dutch-Church

A Dutch Angel's Cellphone Number Is in Demand The New York Times

’S HERTOGENBOSCH, the Netherlands — High on the cathedral (ed. St John the Evangelist) in this trim Dutch town, amid a phalanx of stone statues of local noblemen, crusaders, saints and angels, one figure stands out. Smiling faintly, with lowered eyelids, one of the angels wears jeans, has a laptop bag slung over one shoulder and is chatting on a cellphone. The angel gets about 30 calls a day on the phone.
That is because, shortly after the statue was unveiled last April, a local couple, the parents of two children, set up a number so people could call the angel. Business cards soon appeared in pubs, restaurants and hotels with a picture of the angel and the number. So successful was the line that the couple opened a Twitter account, @ut_engelke, managed by the husband, which now has about 2,700 followers.

“The telephone is ringing all day,” said the wife, who like her husband agreed to meet a reporter on the condition that they not be identified. “It was a fairy tale,” she said over beer and snacks. “Now, it’s real.” To identify them, she said, would end it.

What began as a joke continues because the cellphone number has become something of a hot line, dialed by people of all ages, some in need of help, others just because they are lonely.

At the holidays, the calls became so frequent and so pressing that the couple was tempted to give up. “Between Christmas and New Year’s, that was an emotional time frame, it was so heartbreaking,” she said. A small girl called begging the angel to pray for a grandmother who had just died; a woman asked help to celebrate her first Christmas without her parents. A widow sought prayers for her dead children.
The statue of the Little Angel arose out of a 1997 competition, won by the Dutch sculptor Ton Mooy, to create 40 statues, including 14 angels, to replace those on the cathedral that time and pollution had ruined. The Little Angel was the only unconventional one.

“You can make a phony Gothic statue,” Mr. Mooy, 63, said in his studio in Amersfoort, about an hour north of here. “That’s not what I wanted. It had to fit in with what was always on the church, namely, refinement, emotion. Angels are there to guide, to protect people, they get messages from above. How do you show that? With a cellphone.”

“I tell kids, ‘There’s one button on that cellphone,’ ” he said with a chuckle — a direct line to heaven. “So she doesn’t get naughty, calling other angels.

The cathedral, which dates to 1220, has a centuries-old tradition of unusual, sometimes bawdy, art. One medieval statue is of a bricklayer bending over and baring his bottom. Some is tragic. A stained glass window over the main entrance depicts the apocalypse with a panel showing the Sept. 11 attack on the twin towers.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:11 PM | Permalink

April 10, 2013

Rembrandt Flash Mob in a Dutch mall celebrates the re-opening of the Rijksmuseum

Reconstruction of Rembrandt's The Night Watch in a Dutch shopping mall to promote the re-opening of the Rijksmuseum.  It's great and only a minute long.

A Great Museum Enters a New Golden Age

After 10 years of comprehensive renovations, the Rijksmuseum—the Dutch national museum of art and history, where masterpieces by Rembrandt van Rijn and Johannes Vermeer mingle with 17th-century blunderbusses and Delft blue pottery—triumphantly reopens its doors in the Dutch capital this Saturday to reveal a profoundly transformed institution, whose elegant public spaces and intelligent presentation of collections are likely to serve as models for other museums around the world in years to come.

The Rijksmuseum's original 1885 Renaissance Revival building, designed by Dutch architect Petrus Josephus Hubertus Cuypers, has been painstakingly restored to its former splendor and outfitted with all the modern infrastructure a 21st-century arts institution requires—climate control, fire suppression, handicapped access, security systems, shops, restaurants, auditoriums—under the guiding hand of the Spanish architectural firm of Cruz y Ortiz, which has boldly reconfigured the museum's underground levels to create a vast new interior plaza that dramatically improves the flow of visitors throughout the building.
In this new scheme, Rembrandt's greatest masterpiece, "The Officers and Shooting Company of Capt. Frans Banning Cocq and Lt. Willem van Ruytenburch" (1642), popularly known as "The Night Watch," is the only object that remains in its original location—at the end of the second floor Gallery of Honor, where it looks splendid under natural light, just as it was meant to be seen.

 Rembrandt's Night Watch

….The  Gallery of Honor… surely one of the most beautiful museum spaces in the world. Its colonnaded central hall and intimate side galleries are perfectly proportioned, the vaulted ceilings are splendidly embellished in an array of pastel tones, and the very air seems to crackle with abundant, magical daylight. The sumptuous anthracite-gray hue of the walls—a perfect complement to Old Master paintings—was specially formulated for the Rijksmuseum by the French designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte, known for his brilliant work at the Louvre. The Rijksmuseum has prepared meticulously to make the grand reopening a truly special event, even revamping its website and publishing a wonderful new collection guide—a model of concision and insight—available in most major languages.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:37 PM | Permalink

April 5, 2013

Seniors Communing with Nature

Surreal Photos of Seniors Communing with Nature

Artists Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen have been collaborating on a multimedia project that started in Norway. Website iGNANT introduced us to Eyes as Big as Plates, a photo series featuring seniors (including a few 90-year old parachuters) immersed in the landscape as a play on characters from Norwegian folklore. Organic costumes and headdresses were created with scavenged materials — a poignant suggestion that each subject has embraced their eventual return to the earth.
 Hjorth+Ikonen Eyes11         -Eyes8-Hjorth-And-Ikonen

 Eyes21- Hjorth-And-Ikonen

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 AM | Permalink

April 3, 2013

The artist who draws himself into the picture

That's one way to draw attention to yourself: Artist who takes self-portraits and sketches himself into the pictures

At some stage, most artists struggle to find a captivating subject matter.  But when Sebastien Del Grosso, 32,  looked in the mirror, inspiration was staring straight back at him.
After taking a self-portrait, the digital artist began to sketch himself into the picture.

 Sebastien Del Grosso Self-Portrait

The best use I've seen of photoshop in a while.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

March 27, 2013

Spy Wednesday

Holy Wednesday or Spy Wednesday is the day in Holy Week when Judas Iscariot made his deal with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

The Sanhedrin was gathered together and it decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Here he was anointed on his head by a woman with very expensive ointment of spikenard. In John's Gospel, this woman is identified as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Some of the disciples, particularly Judas, were indignant about this. Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for money. From this moment on, Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

 Caravaggio - Taking Of Christ - Dublin - 2
The Taking of the Christ by Caravaggio

The painting above is the "lost' Caravaggio that is the subject of Jonathan Harr's best-selling 2005 book, The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece . 

It reads  more like a thriller with real characters that include a young female graduate student in art, a 91-year-old Caravaggio expert and a restorer at the National Gallery of Art who "ultimately discovers the lost masterpiece  grime-covered masterpiece in a house owned by Jesuit priests.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 PM | Permalink

March 16, 2013

Good news for the whole world, wonderful man and toy stories

Wonderful news for the world - Cheap, clean water may soon be available for the whole planet.

According to Reuters, defense contractor Lockheed Martin has developed a filter that will hugely reduce the amount of energy necessary to turn sea water into fresh water. The filter, which is five hundred times thinner then others currently available, lets water pass through but blocks all salt molecules. It will use almost 100 times less energy than other methods for making salt water drinkable, giving third world countries another way of expanding access to drinking water without having to create costly pumping stations.

A righteous and humble man gets recognized for his life-saving acts of kindness.  YouTube link

In 1938, Nicholas Winton helped 669 Jewish kids escape certain death from the Nazis. He never told anyone that he did this.

While on ski trip in Switzerland, Winton took a detour in Czechoslovakia to help the children of refugees. Nazi Germany had recently annexed a large part of Czechoslovakia and the news of Kristallnacht, a violent attack on Jews in Germany and Austria, had just reached Prague.

Winton set up a rescue operation for the children, filling out the required paperwork for them to be sent to homes in Sweden and Great Britain. He had to raise money to fund foster homes for all of them, and then he sent 669 children away from Czechoslovakia on trains before the Nazis closed down the borders.

Winton told no one that he did this, not even his wife. In 1988, his wife found a scrapbook full of pictures of the children and letters from parents in their attic. She arranged to have Winton's story appear in newspapers.    Many of the children Winton saved went on the BBC television program, That's Life, to meet him for the first time since the war. They refer to themselves as "Winton's children". 

Winton is now 101 years old and has received awards from Israel and the Czech Republic as well as Knighthood from the Queen of England in 1993.

Toy Stories  Fantastic Photos of Children from Around the World with Their Prized Possessions.

Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti spent 18 months photographing children from around the world and their most prized toy possessions. His website


Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:13 PM | Permalink

February 28, 2013

Piero della Francesca

Peter Schjeldahl's article about the Piero della Francesca exhibition at the Frick makes me want to dash to New York to see what he calls Heaven on Earth

The supreme early-Renaissance master Piero della Francesca is like no other artist in my experience: not better, exactly, but loftily apart, defying comparison

Writing of Piero’s “Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels” (circa 1460-70)

The work is only three and a half feet high, but it feels monumental and, at the same time, intimate, as if it were addressing you alone. It’s a kind of art that may change lives
One hot August, when I was twenty-three, I traversed Tuscany on the back of a Vespa driven by a painter friend, George Schneeman….Then we stopped at a tiny cemetery chapel, in the hill town of Monterchi, to see Piero’s highly unusual “Madonna del Parto.” An immensely pregnant but delicately elegant young Mary stands pensively in a bell-shaped tent, as two mirror-image angels sweep aside the flaps to reveal her. One angel wears green, the other purple. Here was the circumstantial drama of a ripeness with life in a place of death…

In another age, the experience might have made me consider entering a monastery. Instead, I became an art critic.

-Piero Della Francesca Madonna Del Parto

The Blessed Virgin Mary as the New Ark of the Covenant
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 AM | Permalink

January 10, 2013

Valjean based on Hugh Jackman's father


Bring him home: Hugh Jackman talks about modeling Jean Valjean on his own father’s conversion

His performance is both a tribute and a thank you to his father Chris, who brought him up after his mother walked out of the family home in Australia when Hugh was just eight years old. Both parents are English-born, but settled in Australia, where Jackman was born.
Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Without him, I wouldn’t have had an inspiration for my role in Les Miserables. Dad underwent the same kind of life-changing experience that my character undergoes in the film.
‘Dad was converted by the Christian evangelist Dr Billy Graham when he was 30 years old, and underwent a life-changing epiphany, too.

‘I thought about that constantly when I was playing Valjean, I tried to inject as much of Dad’s goodness, and change of life, into the character I was playing.
‘And he was wholly sincere. He lived —and lives — his life through a firm foundation of principle and he is both my inspiration and my hero.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:09 PM | Permalink

December 26, 2012

Gifts from an old woman

A new blog to me and a delightful one is Mme Scherzo who posts countless times a day sharing beauty she has discovered.

She's chosen this portrait by Denner Balthasar, a German portraitist (1685-17490  as her avatar.  Isn't it a gorgeous painting of an old woman.

 Mme Scherzo Balthasar Denner

This is what she says about Christmas

I would say Merry Christmas to some of my more surlier atheist friends and acquaintances, but seeing how this annoys them, just let me say this instead:

“May the glory and joy of Our Savior’s birth kindle in you a desire to know the One who created you, and who loves you enough to lay aside His Glory for a scant 33 years to live among us, and to reconcile us to Him. It is a free gift, given to people of free will. You can take it or leave it.

Just don’t take it from us, is all I ask.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:25 AM | Permalink

December 21, 2012

Christmas trees you can make yourself

Look at these clever and witty 33 ideas for do-it-yourself Christmas trees

 Hardcover -Christmas-Tree-

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 AM | Permalink

October 11, 2012

Sounds of the seas

False killer whale, White beaked dolphin, Humpback whale

White beaked dolphin,  Northern minke whale, Humpback whale

Sounds of our seas revealed - and they look a lot like the view through a kaleidoscope

Mark Fischer, the owner of Aquasonic Acoustics in California, takes whale songs and transforms them into beautiful images. The 51-year-old converts the voices of the 100-ton mammals into 'wavelets' and then colors them in with imaging software. He also uses the technique to capture the melodies of humpback whales, dolphins and birds.
The Californian said the images were well received by the public - but only aesthetically.    'Rarely are they interested in how the images are made, what kind of mathematics is behind the image or even what species made the sound,' he added.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:50 PM | Permalink

Art, Beauty and Artists

Camille Paglia How Capitalism Can Save Art

Today's blasé liberal secularism also departs from the respectful exploration of world religions that characterized the 1960s. Artists can now win attention by imitating once-risky shock gestures of sexual exhibitionism or sacrilege. This trend began over two decades ago with Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ," a photograph of a plastic crucifix in a jar of the artist's urine, and was typified more recently by Cosimo Cavallaro's "My Sweet Lord," a life-size nude statue of the crucified Christ sculpted from chocolate, intended for a street-level gallery window in Manhattan during Holy Week. However, museums and galleries would never tolerate equally satirical treatment of Judaism or Islam.
For the arts to revive in the U.S., young artists must be rescued from their sanitized middle-class backgrounds. We need a revalorization of the trades that would allow students to enter those fields without social prejudice (which often emanates from parents eager for the false cachet of an Ivy League sticker on the car). Among my students at art schools, for example, have been virtuoso woodworkers who were already earning income as craft furniture-makers. Artists should learn to see themselves as entrepreneurs.
Young people today are avidly immersed in this hyper-technological environment, where their primary aesthetic experiences are derived from beautifully engineered industrial design. Personalized hand-held devices are their letters, diaries, telephones and newspapers, as well as their round-the-clock conduits for music, videos and movies. But there is no spiritual dimension to an iPhone, as there is to great works of art.

Thus we live in a strange and contradictory culture, where the most talented college students are ideologically indoctrinated with contempt for the economic system that made their freedom, comforts and privileges possible. In the realm of arts and letters, religion is dismissed as reactionary and unhip. The spiritual language even of major abstract artists like Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko is ignored or suppressed.

Thus young artists have been betrayed and stunted by their elders before their careers have even begun. Is it any wonder that our fine arts have become a wasteland?

They would do well to read Pope Benedict's Address to Artists in the Sistine Chapel.

He quotes Pope Paul VI

"This world in which we live needs beauty in order not to sink into despair. Beauty, like truth, brings joy to the human heart, and is that precious fruit which resists the erosion of time, which unites generations and enables them to be one in admiration. And all this through the work of your hands . . . Remember that you are the custodians of beauty in the world."

Then says

What is capable of restoring enthusiasm and confidence, what can encourage the human spirit to rediscover its path, to raise its eyes to the horizon, to dream of a life worthy of its vocation -- if not beauty? Dear friends, as artists you know well that the experience of beauty, beauty that is authentic, not merely transient or artificial, is by no means a supplementary or secondary factor in our search for meaning and happiness; the experience of beauty does not remove us from reality, on the contrary, it leads to a direct encounter with the daily reality of our lives, liberating it from darkness, transfiguring it, making it radiant and beautiful.

Dave Carter recalls his visit to Cologne Cathedral

That Cathedral had been there over 600 years when The Red Barron's canvass and wood plane did battle in the First World War.  Those old stone steps were as old as the US Constitution by the time Christopher Columbus set sail for the New World.  And yet there we stood in 1989, struck dumb it seemed, trying desperately to comprehend the sheer size and endless intricacies of this colossal structure which literally dwarfed everything around it.  To view it from the outside is to feel rather like an ant contemplating a redwood. 
To venture inside and see The Shrine of the Three Holy Kings (purported to hold the crowned skulls of the Three Wise Men), or the Gero Cross which dates back to 976, or the legions of statues, is to become virtually intoxicated with the divine devotion that conceived and constructed such a solemn place. 

Where is there anything in modernity to compare?

You could say the same of almost any cathedral or Basilica  in Europe.  The list is endless - St. Peters, Chartres, Notre Dame, Toledo, Westminster, York….

Roger Scruton  Beauty and Desecration.  We must rescue art from the modern intoxication with ugliness.

At any time between 1750 and 1930, if you had asked an educated person to describe the goal of poetry, art, or music, “beauty” would have been the answer. And if you had asked what the point of that was, you would have learned that beauty is a value, as important in its way as truth and goodness, and indeed hardly distinguishable from them. Philosophers of the Enlightenment saw beauty as a way in which lasting moral and spiritual values acquire sensuous form. And no Romantic painter, musician, or writer would have denied that beauty was the final purpose of his art.
At some time during the aftermath of modernism, beauty ceased to receive those tributes. Art increasingly aimed to disturb, subvert, or transgress moral certainties, and it was not beauty but originality—however achieved and at whatever moral cost—that won the prizes. Indeed, there arose a widespread suspicion of beauty as next in line to kitsch—something too sweet and inoffensive for the serious modern artist to pursue. I
The haste and disorder of modern life, the alienating forms of modern architecture, the noise and spoliation of modern industry—these things have made the pure encounter with beauty a rarer, more fragile, and more unpredictable thing for us. Still, we all know what it is to find ourselves suddenly transported, by the things we see, from the ordinary world of our appetites to the illuminated sphere of contemplation. It happens often during childhood, though it is seldom interpreted then. It happens during adolescence, when it lends itself to our erotic longings. And it happens in a subdued way in adult life, secretly shaping our life projects, holding out to us an image of harmony that we pursue through holidays, through home-building, and through our private dreams.

"I think we are in danger of losing beauty and with it the meaning of life," says Roger Scruton in the full BBC production of Why Beauty Matters on YouTube

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:11 PM | Permalink

September 29, 2012

Glorious portrait of Queen Elizabeth

Abbey and glorious: Portrait of The Queen, alone, at the spot where she was crowned is unveiled in all its 11ft glory

 Portrait 50Th Queen

In centuries past, royal artists portrayed monarchs as grand, imposing and often rather stern.  But the latest portrait of the Queen pictures her in a moment of quiet reflection as she stands on the spot in Westminster Abbey where she was crowned 60 years ago. 

Artist Ralph Heimans said he sought to capture 'her humanity' in the 9ft by 11ft portrait, commissioned by the Palace to mark the Diamond Jubilee.

She stands on the Cosmati pavement – a spot where every English monarch has been crowned since it was commissioned by Henry III in the 13th century.

 Close-Up 50Th Portrait Qe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:37 PM | Permalink

September 18, 2012

Remember When Art Was About Beauty?

The Tyranny of Artistic Modernism by Mark A. Signorelli'

Whereas earlier traditions of artistic creation embraced symmetry within complexity, modernism has embraced extreme simplicity, dislocation, and imbalance. Whereas earlier traditions sought to bring pleasure to an audience — “to teach and delight,” as Horace’s famous dictum would have it — modern art attempts to “nauseate” or “brutalize” an audience (the terms are from Jacques Barzun’s The Use and Abuse of Art). Whereas pre-modern architecture employed scale and ornament, modern architecture aggressively promotes gigantisms and barrenness. Whereas classical literature was grounded in regular grammar and public imagery, modern literature routinely resorts to distortions of syntax and esotericism.
This is how the farce of modernism ends, with the anti-bourgeois rebel revealed to be a money-grubbing little fraud.
Nothing is so important to the spiritual and mental flourishing of a people as its art. The stories they tell, the buildings they inhabit, the public spaces in which they gather, the songs they sing, the fashioned images they gaze upon — these things shape their souls more permanently and effectively than anything else. We live in a time when the art all around us accustoms men to, and insinuates into their souls, the most erroneous and degrading ideas imaginable about themselves and their world. A humane society can hardly be expected to grow out of such an adverse cultural environment.

You can read about the multi-millionaire artist Jeff Koons at Wikipedia and be dismayed to learn that he holds the record for the most expensive piece of art created by a living artist ever sold at auction.  His Hanging Heart sold for $23 million.

 Jeff Koons Hanging Heart

His balloon flower beat that by selling for $25 million.

 Jeff Koons Ballon Flower

Here's another example, Acrobat Popeye


And he doesn't even do his own work!  He's the 'idea' person and how banal his ideas are.

I Was Jeff Koons’s Studio Serf

“I’m basically the idea person,” Jeff Koons once told an interviewer. “I’m not physically involved in the production. I don’t have the necessary abilities, so I go to the top people.” He paid me $14 an hour, doubling my previous salary as an undergrad shelf-stocker at the Columbia library.
My job was simple: Paint by numbers. The most intricate sections required miniature brushes, sizes 0 and 00, their bristles no longer than an eyelash. The goal was to hand-fashion a flat, seamless surface that appeared to have been manufactured by machine, which meant there could be no visible brush strokes, no blending, no mistakes.

When you see this, does beauty even enter your mind?  Are you inspired in any way?  Or do you realize how fraudulent it really is?


Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 PM | Permalink

August 17, 2012

Round-up of fun links

Every two years, a huge floral carpet is laid out on the Grand Place in Brussels 

Floral Carpet Brussels

It takes just four hours with everyone pitching in.

-Floral Carpet Kids

The astonishing work of make-up artist Promise Tamang Phan who transforms herself into Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka and Johnny Depp  himself.

The Google Autocomplete Map revealing the fattest and most boring US states.

A History of the Past.  'Life Reeked with Joy'

Possibly as an act of vengeance, a history professor--compiling, verbatim, several decades' worth of freshman papers--offers some of his students’ more striking insights into European history from the Middle Ages to the present.

Winners of the National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012  The one below is by Ken Bower.  But you really have to go to the link to see winners in all their glory.

 Ngeo Winner 2012 Travelers' Photos

What do you see when you look in the mirror?  Tom Hussey's series on Reflections

 Tom Hussey Series  Reflections

Father Barron comments on "The Dark Knight Rises"  and the problem of evil.  Evil is solved by the great heroic self-sacrificing act of love on the part of a savior.    The Christ archetype, he argues, haunts the Western culture even in a secular age.    Bruce Wayne is an icon of Christ.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2012

Friday roundup: Churchill, microwaving socks, homeschooling , Locked In, 2 Moms, Lincoln and more

Survey shocker: Liberal profs admit they'd discriminate against conservatives in hiring, advancement.  No surprise to me.

Honesty is the best policy as telling fewer lies 'improves your physical and mental health'  People reported feeling better after they stopped exaggerating or making excuses.

Don't microwave clothes, use a hair dryer if you must.  Brit sets fire to home by microwaving socks.

Useful for any cook is this article, Common Cooking Mistakes: Cooking Tips and Questions Answered.

If you are going to NYC in the next month, don't miss Churchill: The Power of Words’ is at the Morgan Library, but first, read this review, Winston Churchill: American's enduring love for Winnie and his words.

Imagine being a child who never ever saw the outside world or even the sun. Islamist sect found living underground near Russian city for 10 years.

Ever fancy yourself becoming an archeologist?  Now's your chance to participate in The Ancient Lives Project from home.  Thomas McDonald has the details

A collaborative effort by Oxford, the Egypt Exploration Society, the Imaging Papyri Project, and other groups and institutions, Ancient Lives is trying to speed up the transcription process by crowd sourcing and computerization. This means that you can help decipher the Oxyrhynchus papyri… it could speed up the transcription and identification of fragments, allowing them to be published. It’s also about the coolest way to be an archaeologist without ever leaving your home.

As part of Operation Nightingale, recovering wounded soldiers performing a routine excavation found a warrior just like themselves, only buried 1400 years ago.

Home Schools vs. Public Schools.  A fascinating info graphic on how much better kids do if they are home-schooled.  Anthony Esolen has some examples in Aged Before Their Time

What united them all was an abiding happiness, which I can only describe as youth, not in chronological age but in soul…..
They had never known the subtle and corroding nihilism of a government school, for they had never gone to one; they had been taught at home. That meant, at the least, that they spent their days among people who loved them, and whom they loved in turn. And they seemed well on their way to becoming young men and women possessing that most attractive of character traits, the one that Chesterton embodied so well: that of being at once wise beyond their years

The Tragedy Europe Forgot
  Some 12 million Germans, mostly women and children, were expelled from Eastern Europe in 1945, an Allies-endorsed ethnic cleansing.

A question I've never been able to answer.  Why Aren't Murderous Communists Condemned Like Nazis Are?

A rare survivor of 'Locked-in syndrome recounts his ordeal

The medics believed he was in a persistent vegetative state, devoid of mental consciousness or physical feeling.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. Marsh was aware, alert and fully able to feel every touch to his body.

But he still weeps when he remembers watching his wife tell the doctors that they couldn't turn off his life support machine.

"The doctors had just finished telling Lili that I had a 2% chance of survival and if I should survive I would be a vegetable," he said. "I could hear the conversation and in my mind I was screaming 'No!'"

Funniest video of the week. Olympic Sailing. Commenting by Someone Who Has No Clue What's Going On.  It's hilarious. Watch it to the end.

19 Things the Millionaire Next Door Won't Tell You

Growing Up with Two Moms: The Untold Children's View by Robert Oscar Lopez

Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors….. People in our community didn’t really know what was going on in the house. To most outside observers, I was a well-raised, high-achieving child, finishing high school with straight A’s.

Inside, however, I was confused. When your home life is so drastically different from everyone around you, in a fundamental way striking at basic physical relations, you grow up weird. I have no mental health disorders or biological conditions. I just grew up in a house so unusual that I was destined to exist as a social outcast.

 Lincoln Daniel Day Lewis

Daniel Day Lewis as Abraham Lincoln in first official picture from Spielberg's biopic.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:41 AM | Permalink

July 30, 2012

50 Main Street, USA

50 different towns in 50 different states, Piero Ribelli spent 6 years interviewing and photographing the residents of 50 Main St.

A fascinating photo essay of Main Street USA

The resulting book, '50 Main Street', provides an honest observation on what it means to be American, focusing on the fundamental similarities rather than the differences.

Italian-born Piero Ribelli spent six years interviewing fifty people, in fifty towns across the fifty states for the project, which he says is 'a reminder of our roots, values and history, based on immigration, opportunities and hard work.'

 Pennsylvania 50 Main Street

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

July 26, 2012

Lofuten and Gloucester

One of the most beautiful places in the world is an archipelago above the Arctic Circle is Lofuten where I had the good fortune to visit some years ago.

Here are some gorgeous photos of the Arctic Circle Anomaly.


I lived in Gloucester for several years and was struck by the beauty of the place.  And there's about the light there that's attracted artists for years.    Like Edward Hopper who created many paintings in the bright Gloucester light.

 Hopper Gloucester

Photographer Gail Albert located the original houses used in his paintings and took pictures of them as they stand today.  It's now a New York Times photo essay you can enjoy.  The Original Edward Hopper Houses.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 AM | Permalink

July 22, 2012

For Sunday, a Classical Flashmob in Spain

Without further ado.

I loved the reaction of the little children.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:12 AM | Permalink

July 2, 2012

Astounding Star Trails

 Startrails - Lincoln Harrison

The stunning star trails over Australia's big sky

The swirling spectacles were snapped using long exposure lenses by Australian photographer Lincoln Harrison.

The colorful spirals are the result of the earth's rotation, which gives the impression the stars are hurtling across the horizon.

 Startrails -Lincoln Harrison2

Lincoln Harrison's gallery here.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:27 AM | Permalink

June 18, 2012

Books in Art 2

Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramee via Colossal.  See more at Laramee's website

 Laramee  Carved Book Landscape

 Laramee Booksculpture4

 Laramee Booksculture3

 Laramee Oceansurf

 Laramee Petras

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:41 AM | Permalink

June 13, 2012

Books in Art 1

Lately, I've come across several artists who use books in their art.  I've decided to feature them in a series of posts and this is the first. 

Alexander Korzer-Robinson creates 3D book sculptures by cutting around some of the illustrations and removing others.

 Alexander Korszer Robinson

A fascinating gallery of his work in the Telegraph.

 Book Sculture 2

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:37 PM | Permalink

April 27, 2012

A Pause for Beauty

Every day there comes the point when I can not stomach any more news.  That's when I turn to  Beauty. 

A newly-discovered, but now essential blog for me is Colossal.  Christopher Jobson, creator and editor says,

I often describe Colossal as a blog that explores the intersection of art, design, and physical craft. I enjoy artwork that is tactile, physical and non-digital in nature, especially sculptural work and installations that use impossible numbers of components, or sequences in a process. During the course of a week you’ll find roughly 15-20 posts on photography, design, animation, painting, installation art, architecture, drawing and street art. I share things that I feel are accessible to everyone, requiring little explanation or theory, so in that sense, I hope people not involved directly in the arts can also find it interesting.
Some examples:

Gravity-Defying Land Art by Cornelis Konrads

 Moment Of Decision

Drawing with Leaves

 Drawing With Leaves

Book Igloo


Gorgeous Macro Photographs of Dew-Soaked Dandelions by Sharon Johnstone

 Dew Soaked Dandelion

24 Hours of Photographs Merged into a Single Panoramic Image

 24Hr-Panormaic Chris Kotsiopoloulos

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:13 PM | Permalink

April 24, 2012

The beauty of the world below

Spectacular underwater images from the University of Miami's annual Underwater Photography contest.

'The quality of photos keeps getting better each year,' UM lecturer and photographer Myron Wang who judged among the panel of experts said in a release by the school

 Beneath Mangroves Matthew Potenski
Under mangrove trees

 Swimming Jellyfish
Sea nettle jellyfish swimming

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:05 PM | Permalink

April 19, 2012

Fish-eye view of the Empire State Building

Photographer Randy Scott Slavin using a fish-eye lens and stitching photos together makes extraordinary landscapes of America.  Below is the Empire State Building.

 Fisheye Empirestatebuilding

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink

April 18, 2012

“Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.” “Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.”

You don't want to miss this, The Night I Met Einstein by Jerome Weidman

Apparently I was in for an evening of chamber music….

After a while, becoming aware that the people around me were applauding, I concluded it was safe to unplug my ears. At once I heard a gentle but surprisingly penetrating voice on my right: “You are fond of Bach?”

I knew as much about Bach as I know about nuclear fission. But I did know one of the most famous faces in the world, with the renowned shock of untidy white hair and the ever-present pipe between the teeth. I was sitting next to Albert Einstein….

“I don’t know anything about Bach,” I said awkwardly. “I’ve never heard any of his music.”

A look of perplexed astonishment washed across Einstein’s mobile face.

“You have never heard Bach?”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:46 AM | Permalink

April 11, 2012

Self-portraits in the Flemish style

The most inventive use of airplane time I've ever seen.  Kudos to Nina Katchadourian.

Airplane Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style

Flemish Lavatory Portraits

While in the lavatory on a domestic flight in March 2010, I spontaneously put a tissue paper toilet cover seat cover over my head and took a picture in the mirror. The image evoked 15th-century Flemish portraiture. 

I decided to add more images made in this mode and planned to take advantage of a long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland, guessing that there were likely to be long periods of time when no one was using the lavatory on the 14-hour flight.

I made several forays to the bathroom from my aisle seat, and by the time we landed I had a large group of new photographs entitled Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style. 

I was wearing a thin black scarf that I sometimes hung up on the wall behind me to create the deep black ground that is typical of these portraits. There is no special illumination in use other than the lavatory's own lights and all the images are shot hand-held with the camera phone.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:30 PM | Permalink

April 10, 2012

The "Digital-Age Leonardo da Vinci"

Astonishing visualization from Alexander Tsiaras at TED, Conception to Birth

Here is his profile

Another beautiful image of the heart glowing in an open chest cavity at JAMA, Art from the Heart

 Alexander Tsiaras Heart

His mission: "We want to change how people think about health, think about their bodies. The way to do that is by telling stories--beautiful, compelling, visual stories that show what an amazing thing the body is."

His company is Anatomical Travelogue is "a pioneer in illustrating the intricate details of the human body in images that are at once high-tech, anatomically faithful and artistically striking—the ultimate "insider art," he jokes."

From a feature article at Business Innovation Factory

Tsiaras isn't a doctor; he's a photographer, technologist and visionary with an expert knowledge of anatomy and a passion for the human form. The books he has produced—including From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds, The Architecture and Design of Man and Woman: The Marvel of the Human Body, Revealed, The InVision Guide to a Healthy Heart and The InVision Guide to Sexual Health — have spawned educational videos and exhibits at the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

The images are 'visualizations' that Tsiaras and his team create using full-body scans, ultra-powerful microscopes and molecular modeling tools that allow him to illustrate the body in vivid detail, for both 3-D pictures and animations. He has described his work as "'Fantastic Voyage' meets the TIME-LIFE book series."

Some see Tsiaras as a digital-age Leonardo da Vinci, whose anatomical renderings set the standard for centuries. But Tsiaras describes himself in more prosaic terms.

"Most of this is just about information," he says. "I look at myself as a storyteller who works with artists and technologists."
Anatomical Travelogue is growing rapidly—it's now at 60 employees and has amassed what Tsiaras says is the largest library of high-resolution volume data on the body in the world—and Tsiaras believes its future is limitless.

One project from the Anatomical Travelogue is The Visual MD.  Anyone who is at risk for a heart attack should watch the video on Understanding Heart Attacks.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:35 PM | Permalink

Moonbow at Victoria Falls

 Moonbow Victoriafalls

How wonderful photography that we can see so many of nature's marvels.

More astonishing shots by Charlie Hamilton James  here.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

March 27, 2012

The extraordinary voice of Jonathan Antoine

An extraordinary voice.  I had tears by the end.  When they came on the stage, Simon Cowell whispered  "Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse."    When 17-year-oldJonathan Antoine began singing with his partner Charlotte Jocanelli, Cowell said, "Wow! Wow! Wow".    All four judges gave them a standing ovation. 

I can't embed the video from Britains Got Talent, but you can see it here.  Don't miss it.

Thanks for tip from the Deacon who said "Move aside, Susan Boyle"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:38 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2012

Isabella Guerra

I'm sick of the news. Time to be refreshed by beauty.   

These wonderful paintings are by Isabel Guerra who is a self-taught painter and a nun at the Cistercian monastery of Santa Lucia in Zaragoza, Spain.

 Girl Glass Pitcher-1

 Girl Reading Book

More over at lines and colors,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:15 PM | Permalink

March 16, 2012

Grab bag of Delights and 'Pink Slime'

A don't miss video that can't be embedded.  Rita Hayworth Dancing to Stayin' Alive.

A wonderful piece, Simcha Fisher's A Little Proof of a Large Thing.

The look of love? How a woman's glance can tell a man if she's interested (or whether to walk away now)

If she looks down and then moves her eyes in a sweeping motion across the floor it almost certainly means that she is attracted to someone.  But an instant stare into a man's eyes or over his head on meeting is very bad news for a suitor

'Pink slime' sounds gross, but how does it taste?

The pink slime burger also was perfectly seared and drew me in with an equally alluring aroma. But no juices collected on the plate. Or dribbled out. Or were apparent in the meat in really any way. The taste was - OK...t was not bad. But nor was it good. It was flat. I added more salt. No. It was simply one-dimensional....And then there was the texture. Unpleasantly chewy bits of what I can only describe as gristle, though they were not visible, seemed to stud the meat of the pink slime burger. The result was a mealy chew that, while not overtly unpleasant, didn't leave me wanting another bite.

Menopause 'brain fog' is real, study confirms    No surprise to millions of women.

The less you sleep, the fatter you become.  Tiredness makes us eat more, about 500 calories more on average.

You can see how white the cliffs of Dover are when a part collapses. Thousands of tons of chalk crash into sea after frost and drought.

 Dovercliffs Collapse

The extraordinary hyper-realistic pencil drawings of Paul Cadden PENCIL!

-Paul Cadden Pencildrawing

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

March 13, 2012

Astonishing discovery of a major Leonardo da Vinci painting hidden for 400 years

Astonishing discovery of a major Leonardo da Vinci painting hidden for 500 years in Florence, just  yards from his famous statue of David.

 David Palazzo Vecchio

'Lost' Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece may be hidden in 'secret compartment' in Florence  palazzo - as hi-tech drill reveals traces of paints used in Mona Lisa

A hidden message in a painting has led to the first evidence of a 'lost' Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece that has lain hidden for 400 years in a secret compartment behind another mural in Florence, scientists announced today. 

An 'endoscopic' probe was inserted into the interior of the wall in the Palazzo Vechio, and obtained chemical samples of a dark pigment which Da Vinci also used in the Mona Lisa.

The painting is thought to be one of Da Vinci's most significant works - but was long assumed to have been destroyed by fire in the 16th century. Now researchers believe that it may have been preserved by a hidden wall built by another painter. 

'Proof' that long lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece lies behind Florence painting

Art 'detectives' searching for a long-lost Leonardo masterpiece in a palazzo in Florence have found traces of paint which match that used by the Renaissance genius for the Mona Lisa.
Prof Seracini, of the University of California at San Diego, has spent the last 35 years trying to prove that the palazzo conceals one of the great undiscovered treasures of the Renaissance.

He believed the existence of the lost Leonardo was indicated by a cryptic clue which Vasari painted on his work for the benefit of future generations – a military banner which bears the words “Cerca Trova”, or “Seek and you shall find”.

To prove his theory, his team drilled a series of tiny holes no more than two centimetres wide in existing cracks and fissures in the Vasari.

The scientists pushed probes and micro-cameras through the holes and discovered traces of white, orange and black pigment.  The probes also found an organic red material which may be lacquer or varnish, used to protect the painting, and a patch of beige material that appears to have been applied with brush strokes.

Prof Seracini said it would be possible to remove the Vasari fresco, take out the Leonardo work and replace the Vasari without damaging it.    The question now is whether the Italian authorities will give permission for the Vasari painting – a valuable work in its own right – to be removed from the wall to reveal the Leonardo.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:29 AM | Permalink

February 11, 2012


 Agemaps Bobby Neal Adams

The family portraits that age you... in a split-second

Photographer's 20-year project puts together series of amazing pictures of his relatives without using Photoshop
Some are spliced with younger selves - while others combine parents with their children

The incredible series of pictures called AgeMap is a 20-year project by Bobby Neel Adams, who also merges portraits of family members into one image in his Family Tree series.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:45 PM | Permalink

October 14, 2011

Girl with a Pearl in a Spiral

Watch artist Chan Hwee Chong draw Girl with a Pearl Earring with a single spiral line!  Amazing.

See more here

 Girl Pearl Earring Fabercastell

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:16 AM | Permalink

October 5, 2011

Astonishingly beautiful

Dustin Farrell has made astonishingly beautiful time-lapse videos of the American West that you must see.  I can not embed them.

You can see Landscapes Volume Two on Vimeo here  and  learn how he did them.

I found out about him from this article in the Daily Mail  Astonishing photographs in time-lapse video which capture the American landscapes as you've never seen them before

His Twitter followers described the photographs as 'breathtaking', 'spectacular' and 'stunning'. One wrote: 'Name your superlative. Just brilliant.'

 Dustin Farrell Amer West

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:34 PM | Permalink

September 7, 2011

Painted Hands

Advertising art can be glorious.  Just look at what Guido Daniels has done with painted hands to sell AT&T.


Carribean Fish and Coral


Australian Boomerang


Costa Rica


Thailand White Elephants

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2011

Keith Jarrett playing Danny Boy

Watch and Listen to Keith Jarrett writes Michael Moriarty.  So I did.

Many years ago I went to two of his concerts and fell in love with his music and his genius.  But then, in time, I forgot about him.    Moriarty, in his ecstatic appreciation for Jarrett, reminded me what I had forgotten.

Now, thanks to YouTube, I can not only listen again to his playing,  I can see his amazing facial expressions. 

Keith Jarrett

It's as if  he channels from some place beyond the very heart and soul of the song.

Keith Jarrett playing Danny Boy

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:34 PM | Permalink

July 22, 2011

When a photo moves

Cinemagraphs: What it looks like when a photo moves

It’s somewhere between a photo and a video, a piece of artwork that seeks to perfectly capture a fleeting moment in time.

New York City-based photographer Jamie Beck and Web designer Kevin Burg “hand-stitch” together her photos and his Web design to make animated gifs they now call “cinemagraphs.”

I can't embed them but you can see how charming they are at the link.  There are more at their Tumblr link, From Me to You

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink

July 14, 2011

Then a lost Michelangelo discovered

'Lost Michelangelo' masterpiece worth £100million found hanging on wall of student halls in Oxford

A painting which has been hanging in a student hall of residence at Oxford since the 1930s could be a Michelangelo masterpiece worth £100million.

The mid-16th century work depicting the crucifixion of Jesus was believed to be by one of the Renaissance artist’s contemporaries, Marcello Venusti.

But Italian scholar Antonio Forcellino claims that infra-red technology revealed the 12-inch by 27-inch work to have been painted by Michelangelo himself. ‘No one but Michelangelo could have painted such a masterpiece,’ Mr Forcellino wrote in his book The Lost Michelangelos.

 Lost Michelangelo
Uncanny: An image of a painting of the crucifixion of Christ by Michelangelo, left, and the painting which was hanging in Oxford University, right, previously thought to be by Marcello Venusti but is now considered to be by Michelangelo

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:26 PM | Permalink

First a Lost Leonardo da Vinci

The 15th Leonardo Salvator Mundi, Savior of the World

 Salvator-Mundi Davinci

Lost Leonardo da Vinci painting discovered

Salvator Mundi was in an American private collection from that point until 2005, when it was purchased from what appears to be a consortium of art dealers, but the owners are keeping fairly mum about it. They commissioned New York art historian and dealer Robert Simon to study the piece and he saw through the repaint, dirt, varnish and tragic cleanings past to the details of Leonardo-level quality like the pattern of the stole and the bubbles in the crystal orb.

They still didn’t think it was an actual Leonardo original at that point. It was only after years of cleaning and restoration that the full beauty of the painting gradually revealed itself. In the fall of 2007, they called in the big Leonardo guns.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:14 PM | Permalink

April 11, 2011

Bring me sunshine

It's a cloudy Monday morning, so here is some sunshine to start the week, thanks to the Jive Aces.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2011

Weekend Catchup: London stags, the Pope and a beggar, morphine, beer and discrimination

London's secret wildlife wonderland revealed by photographer who rose at dawn every day to capture studding images.

 Londonstags Alexsaberi

The photographer is Alex Saberi.

 Swan Dawn Alexsaberi

From the Deacon's Bench, the beauty of humility in a wonderful story  about Pope John Paul 2 and the  beggar

Waste Ash from Coal Could Save Billions in Repairing US Bridges and Roads

Coating concrete destined to rebuild America's crumbling bridges and roadways with some of the millions of tons of ash left over from burning coal could extend the life of those structures by decades, saving billions of dollars of taxpayer money, scientists reported in Anaheim, California at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society on March 29. They reported on a new coating material for concrete made from flyash that is hundreds of times more durable than existing coatings and costs only half as much.

A literary appreciation for paper pushers and makers of boilerplate

Indeed, the boilerplate metaphor could itself be a metaphor for a larger transformation, two centuries in the making, that has taken many of us away from extracting coal and forging iron and assembling boilers toward waiting for an inspector to come sign off on a certificate that needs to be filed with the local Department of Buildings.

Meditation 'better than morphine' at easing pain

'One of the reasons that meditation may have been so effective in blocking pain  was that it did not work at just one place in the brain but instead reduced  pain at multiple levels of processing.

The Lenten fast on beer only continues

For the 46 days of Lent, J. Wilson is forgoing solid food and only drinking beer and water - just as Bavarian monks did hundreds of years ago.

Wilson is a husband, father, newspaper editor and beer enthusiast. The 38-year-old is the proprietor of the beer blog
brewvana, where the motto is, "An ideal condition of harmony, beer and joy."

"Three hundred or four hundred years ago, a group of Paulaner monks in a Bavarian region had made a stronger beer in a town called Einbeck and they called it bock. The monks started making a stronger beer, a double beer, called doppelbock," Sorensen said. "The story goes the monks would give up eating and literally would drink this 'liquid bread' to sustain them through their Lenten fast."

How's it going?  Here's Wilson's diary of a part-time monk

In the four months of their honeymoon, a Swedish couple survived six natural disasters: severe snowstorm, cyclone, flooding, bush fires and two earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand and Tokyo. 

Conflict History Browse the timeline of war and conflict across the world and down the centuries.

One man makes a shocking confession.  The Cause of All Discrimination? Me.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:17 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 8, 2011

Stunning and beautiful virtual choir

They've Never Met, But 2,051 Singers Perform Together

American composer Eric Whitacre is a rock star in choral circles. His music is performed by amateur and professional choirs alike, his chiseled good looks have earned him a modeling contract, and, Thursday night, he unveils his Virtual Choir 2.0 on YouTube.

The video has been viewed more than 2 million times on YouTube.  It is very beautiful and visually stunning.

What a terrific performance.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:23 PM | Permalink

Jazzy Treat

A wonderful jazzy treat that gets better and better,  a video of videos.

via Gerard Vanderleun who calls it A Long, Languid, Heartfelt Plea Launched Into the Ether.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:08 PM | Permalink

April 3, 2011

Week-end catch-up: Feminism, Emma, Tween girls, Superglue, and Baseball

Some articles that caught my eye last week that you might enjoy.

We really don't know when life begins

As our knowledge of the material world, of science, has exploded in modern history it has only been proven time and time again that what was revealed long ago is true.  God "ordered all things in measure, and number, and weight." (Wisdom 11:21)  Indeed if the material world were not ordered and in constant motion, there could be no "science."

‘I’d Kill for a Good Soda’ Takes on a Whole New Meaning

That Pepsi you are drinking may only be as good as the aborted fetal cell lines that were evidently used in its flavor-enhancement development. Pepsi, Nestle, Kraft, and others, partner with Senomyx (SNMX for you financial-wire watchers), which does just that. Campbell’s has severed its ties with Senomyx, but so far Pepsi stands firm ….

Not the first and certainly not the last to bemoan the downside of feminism, S.E. Cupp : For all too many women, the joys of motherhood are gone.

And I've been fairly content, living unencumbered in relative peace and quiet with my curdling dairy products and impressive collection of takeout menus, all of which are evidence of my go-go lifestyle, a successful career and a decidedly postmodern self-sufficiency. I own nothing and am responsible for no one, save a few friends who rely on me to occasionally accompany them to weddings, as they, too, have put off the seminal responsibilities of adulthood.

But as liberating as my life has been, I can't help but wonder if my mother's generation made a wrong turn somewhere.
Their success has been our failure. By getting married, starting a family, working hard as a public school teacher (how quaint!) and happily making all the sacrifices that come with that, my mother unwittingly but definitely ensured that I would grow up to want different things: an Ivy League education, a promising career with higher earning potential and the independence to travel the world. It's doubtful she ever imagined that that would all come at the expense of making life's ultimate investment: becoming a mother myself.

The AmExed Sexing Up of the American Tween

Dr. Meeker paints a blunt medical picture for any mom or dad being coy about parenting: “Here’s how we know. In 1979, when I graduated from college, there were two sexually transmitted infections snaking their way through the sexually ‘open’ teens and adults who chose to explore their sexuality through freer sexual expression. Herpes 2 broke upon the scene in a fierce way, increasing 500 percent from 1980 to 1990. By the time 2000 rolled around, there were over 30 STIs in the then–15 million Americans each year who contracted a new STD. Now, in 2011, the CDC reports that 20 million Americans each year contract a new STI, and almost 50 percent are young people (teens and college students). This is completely unacceptable.”

In praise of the homely female arts, Jillian Tamaki's beautiful  cross-stitch covers of deluxe Penguin classics, Emma, Black Beauty and the Secret Garden.


The Anchoress recommends "The Music Box" by Daniel Cloud Campos

Things I learned at ProCommerce

Al Jazeera has more complete news than the New York Times and its bias against Israel is much smaller.

The technological advance in vegetable packaging is due to nitrogen and plastic that looks like cellophane.

Life expectancy is increasing by five hours a day.  IQ keeps going up by three points a decade.  Agriculture gets ever more productive, leaving more land to remain wild.  Even economic inequality is decreasing, with poor countries getting rich faster than rich countries are getting richer....Overall global warming is proceeding slower than was predicted.  Humanity has been decarbonizing its energy supply steadily for 150 years as we progressed from wood to coal to oil to natural gas.  A few years ago it was thought that only 25 years of natural gas was left, but with the invention of hydrofracking shale gas, the supply is suddenly 250 years worth, and it is a hugely cleaner source than coal.

There is one and only one reason that American education never improves.  It is not Darwinian.
Failures don’t disappear and successes are not reproduced.
Minimum wage increases kill jobs and here is data to prove it.  More than two million jobs paying the minimum wage of $7.25 or less were lost between 2010 and 2006

Why it's good that Millions of Spiders in Pakistan Encase Entire Trees in Webs

Superglue inventor Harry Coover dies at 94. 

His fast-acting and super-strong adhesive was invented in 1942 as a side effect of another project to create transparent plastic gun sights. The sights didn’t work out because the material created stuck everything together, but the adhesive that came out of those experiments was eventually sold as a super glue called Eastman 910.

If you follow the Original  Superglue blog, you'll learn that dermatologists recommend superglue to seal the cracks on winter dry hands.    But don't use superglue to attach a tiny top hat to your head, lest you look like Sean  Murtagh who had to go the the emergency room to get it  cut off.

 Superglue Tophat Head

John Allen gives us the Top Nine Reasons why Baseball is to Sports what Catholicism is to Religion.

1. Both baseball and Catholicism venerate the past. Both have a Communion of Saints, all the way down to popular shrines and holy cards.
2. Both feature obscure rules that make sense only to initiates.
3. Both have a keen sense of ritual, in which pace is critically important.
5. In both baseball and Catholicism, you can dip in and out, but for serious devotees the liturgy is a daily affair.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink

November 10, 2010

Huntress with Buck

David Chancellor won the 2010 Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize awarded by the National Gallery in London.

Winner--2010 Huntress With Buck

He says about 14 year-old Josie Slaughter from Alabama on her first hunting trip to South Africa:

‘Josie had hunted her buck earlier in the day and was returning to camp. As we arrived, the sun set below the cloud cover and I had almost unreal light for around a minute. The contrast between the peace and tranquillity of the location, plus Josie’s ethereal beauty and the dead buck, was what I wanted to explore. Here was a vulnerability and yet also a strength.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:55 AM | Permalink

October 12, 2010

Bright Spark of Liberty

Lightening hits the copper-clad Statue of Liberty about 600 times a year.  It took photographer Jay Fine more than 40 years to capture the exact moment.

 Lightening Ladyliberty

That really is a bright spark: Snapper captures the moment a huge lightning bolt strikes Statue of Liberty

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:59 PM | Permalink

October 11, 2010

'The Mike'

More on The Lost Pieta which just could be the art find of the century.

 Lost Pieta

Is this New York family's old painting - shoved behind a sofa and known as 'The Mike' - actually a $300m Michelangelo?

When their children knocked it off the wall with a wayward tennis ball, the Kober family wrapped up the painting they knew as ‘The Mike’ and shoved it behind the sofa.

There it remained for the next 27 years, ignored and forgotten along with the family legend that it was actually painted by Michelangelo.

Now, having finally consulted the experts the Kobers are reeling with the news that it does indeed appear to be genuine - and could be the art find of the century.

It has already been whisked out of their modest suburban home and put in a safe, with a possible price tag of $300million (£188million).

It appears that Michelangelo painted the painting in 1545 for his friend Vittoria Colonna, some 45 years after his famous ‘Pieta’ of Mary holding Jesus at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The painting was handed to two Catholic cardinals before it found its way to a German baroness called Villani.
She gave it to her lady-in-waiting called Gertrude Young - the sister-in-law of Kober’s great great grandfather - and she sent it to the U.S. in 1883 where it has remained ever since.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink

October 6, 2010

The Lost Pieta

His parents gave "The Mike" to their son Martin, a  pilot in Buffalo nine years ago.  They called it "the Mike" because they also believed the painting of the Virgin and Child  they grew up with done by Michelangelo. 

'Genius pieta definitely' done by Michelangelo

If the attribution is confirmed, the work will rank alongside only three surviving panel paintings by the Italian master, potentially making it worth more than the record $118 million so far achieved for a work of art.

Antonio Forcellino, an art historian and restorer who has worked on Michelangelo's masterpieces, first came across the pieta, a 63cm x 48cm oil painting on a panel made of fir, when he was contacted by email by its US owner.

He has since spent five years seeking documentary evidence in Europe and examining the painting at its location in Buffalo.

"The first time I saw it, I was so struck by the strength of it that I felt breathless," said Mr Forcellino, an Italian.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:18 AM | Permalink

September 30, 2010

The Master of Blue Jeans


This poor little boy was painted in his jean jacket with a piece of pie 400 years ago by an anonymous Northern Italian painter.  A whole trove of his painting is now on display at the Canesso Gallery in Paris.  Livius at the History Blog tells the story of The Renaissance jean jacket. 

HT Kottke

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:31 PM | Permalink

July 22, 2010

Gods in Color

What caught my eye was the splendid color and pattern in the Boston Globe story. 

 Trojanarcher Sacklerharvard

I will definitely see "Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity at Harvard's Sackler Museum.

Definitely,  Sculpture show of a different color

Susanne Ebbinghaus, Harvard's curator of ancient art, says the painting on classical sculptures "has been studied by so few people. The biggest obstacle has been our own preconceptions." And even though we may know intellectually that ancient statues were painted, the brilliantly toned reconstructions in "Gods in Color," with their riotous patterns and alert gazes, are a shock to behold.

Reconstructions in such detail are possible now in part thanks to advances in technology. German researcher Vinzenz Brinkmann has spearheaded this work for the past 25 years. In addition to his trusty flashlight, which reveals unexpected finds on the surfaces of sculptures, he employs ultraviolet light, which shows ghosts of paint patterns. He and his team deploy even more high-tech tools such as polarized light microscopy and X-ray fluorescence to examine the pigments. They then use 3D scanners to create plaster and synthetic marble reconstructions, which Brinkmann has painted by hand using the same kinds of mineral pigments classical painters would have mixed themselves.

"Gods in Color: Painted Sculpture of Classical Antiquity" at Harvard's Arthur M. Sackler Museum deals a thrilling blow to a popular notion - indeed, a paradigm of beauty and purity - of monochromatic ancient sculpture. Setting polychrome reconstructions alongside original sculptures, it's a carnival of color, parading wild patterns and gaudy tones.
It's grounding to see true antiquities beside Brinkmann's reconstructions, which have such comic-book pizzazz they seem almost unbelievable. While many questions remain about painted classical sculptures, "Gods in Color" makes boldly clear that history is not what we have pictured. The ideal forms of physical beauty and realism have not changed. They're just a lot more colorful than many of us ever imagined.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 AM | Permalink

April 16, 2010

The Scream of the Iceland volcano

 Iceland Volcano

A photograph of the ash spewing from the Iceland volcano that's now causing havoc in Europe.  Eyjafjallajökull is its name.

Health chiefs in Europe say 'Stay inside' especially if one has breathing problems.  For the second day, the vast ash cloud has shut down all airports in Britain and all flights in or out, stranding tens of thousands of travelers.

Below is the radar image showing the crater of the volcano

 2 Radarimage Iceland Volcano

One reporter saw the resemblance to the famous Edvard Munch painting, 'The Scream'.

Coincidentally, it is thought that the masterpiece was inspired by the blood red skies caused by the powerful volcanic eruption of Krakatoa in 1883.

In his diary Mr Munch wrote: 'I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city - my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.'

The picture was taken by the ELTA radar from an Icelandic Coast Guard airplane.

 Radar-Image  Iceland Volcano

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:56 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 11, 2009

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

The Armistice between the Allies and Germany calling for the cessation of hostilities and ending WWI  took effect. 
Twenty million died.

 In Flanders' Fields

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:54 AM | Permalink

November 7, 2009

"Human individuality cannot be contained"

A portfolio of tract houses by photographer Julie Baum who writes

 Julie Baum House

Over the past 50 years these Houses have transformed from modest white cubes into a vibrant display of personality and present a rebellion against conformity. My work asserts that human individuality cannot be contained. Inevitably it shines through even the most average facade.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

November 2, 2009

Best body art ever

 Body Art Tracy

Absolutely stunning body art by Craig Tracy with more examples here.  Above is 'Butterfly'.  I'll leave it to you to find the human body.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:34 AM | Permalink

October 22, 2009

Sharpie basement

This is just wonderful. Man decorates basement with $10 worth of Sharpie pens

Good work, Charles Kratzer, the lawyer who did this art project in his spare time.

But where do you put all your  junk?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:01 PM | Permalink


From the National Geographic comes a photo gallery by Charlie Hamilton James, featuring the Eurasian kingfisher, a Blaze of Blue


Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:25 PM | Permalink

September 16, 2009

Leonard Cohen turns 75

Leonard Cohen turns 75 next week and in his honor Mark Steyn reprises a piece about his favorite Cohen song, Dance Me to the End of Love

the song is almost like a lyric-writing exercise, as if Mr Cohen had wearied of avoiding the four-and-a-half rhymes for "love" and set himself the challenge of using them in fresh but entirely natural ways.
But then I chanced to stumble across an interview in which Cohen talked about how "Dance Me To The End Of Love" came to be written:

It's curious how songs begin because the origin of the song, every song, has a kind of grain or seed that somebody hands you or the world hands you and that's why the process is so mysterious about writing a song. But that came from just hearing or reading or knowing that in the death camps, beside the crematoria, in certain of the death camps, a string quartet was pressed into performance while this horror was going on, those were the people whose fate was this horror also. And they would be playing classical music while their fellow prisoners were being killed and burnt.

Just like Irving Berlin, the Gershwins and all the rest, Cohen is a Jewish songwriter. But, as that genesis suggests, he's far more explicitly Jewish in his work. On the other hand, just like the best songs of Berlin & Co, "Dance Me To The End Of Love" is trembling on the brink of becoming a standard - a song for anyone to sing, and to bring anything you want to it, for now and till the end of love:

Oh let me see your beauty when the witnesses are gone
Let me feel you moving like they do in Babylon
Show me slowly what I only know the limits of
Dance Me To The End Of Love.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:50 AM | Permalink

August 28, 2009

The slightly bewildered surgeon and writer that has me captivated

Atul Gawande is one of the those writers I never miss.  Writing in the Annals of Medicine  in The New Yorker, he writes unforgettable articles that have illuminated the world of medicine for me like no one else.  They "open up like an umbrella" said his New Yorker editor Henry Finder.

Some of my favorites are:

The Cost Conundrum
The Itch
The Checklist
The Way We Age Now

 Atul Gawande

So I was quite interested in this profile on Atul Gawande in Harvard Magazine, Surgeon, Health Policy Scholar and Writer.

On the desk in his office at the Brigham is a framed copy of Sylvia Plath’s poem “The Surgeon at 2 a.m.” She describes a patient’s innards as “tubers and fruits/Oozing their jammy substances.” From the surgeon’s perspective, she writes: “I worm and hack in a purple wilderness.” Gawande notes that Plath, not a surgeon, nevertheless got things just right. “That,” he says, “is the really amazing thing, and that’s the difference between me and a real writer.”

He likes the Plath poem because it casts the surgeon in an ambiguous light. “Most writing about people in medicine casts them as either heroes or villains,” he says. “That poem captures the surgeon as a merely human, slightly bewildered, a little bit benighted person in a world that is ultimately beyond his control.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:06 PM | Permalink

August 12, 2009

Dirty car art

 Dirty Car Art

The artist is Scott Wade from Texas

The images are so incredible that motorists often stop at traffic lights and jump out of their own cars to admire them.

See more at A life of car grime

He said: 'I lived on a long, dirt road for over 20 years. Our cars were always dirty and I would often doodle in the dust on the rear windows of our cars.

'Mostly I would draw funny faces, then I started experimenting with ways to get shading.

'At first I would use the pads of my fingers and brush very lightly to get grey tones.

'Once I tried using the chewed-up end of a popsicle stick as a brush - I liked the effect, so I started trying paintbrushes, and eventually developed the techniques I use today.'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:41 PM | Permalink

July 2, 2009

"Kitsch is a disease of faith" but "Beauty will save the world"

Roger Scruton on Beauty and its corruptions

Kitsch is a mould that settles over the entire works of a living culture, when people prefer the sensuous trappings of belief to the thing truly believed in. It is not only Christian civilisation that has undergone kitschification in recent times. Equally evident has been the kitschification of Hinduism and its culture. Massproduced Ganeshas have knocked the subtle temple sculpture from its aesthetic pedestal; in bunjee music the talas of Indian classical music are blown apart by tonal harmonies and rhythm machines; in literature the sutras and puranas have been detached from the sublime vision of Brahman and reissued as childish comic-strips.

Simply put,
kitsch is a disease of faith. Kitsch begins in doctrine and ideology and spreads from there to infect the entire world of culture. The Disneyfication of art is simply one aspect of the Disneyfication of faith -and both involve a profanation of our highest values. Kitsch, the case of Disney reminds us, is not an excess of feeling but a deficiency. The world of kitsch is in a certain measure a heartless world, in which emotion is directed away from its proper target towards sugary stereotypes, permitting us to pay passing tribute to love and sorrow without the trouble of feeling them.

"Beauty" (Roger Scruton)

The paradox, however, is that the relentless pursuit of artistic innovation leads to a cult of nihilism. The attempt to defend beauty from pre-modernist kitsch has exposed it to postmodernist desecration. We seem to be caught between two forms of sacrilege, the one dealing in sugary dreams, the other in savage fantasies. Both are forms of falsehood, ways of reducing and demeaning our humanity. Both involve a retreat from the higher life, and a rejection of its principal sign, which is beauty. But both point to the real difficulty, in modern conditions, of leading a life in which beauty has a central place.

To point to this feature of our condition is not to issue an invitation to despair. It is one mark of rational beings that they do not live only -- or even at all -- in the present.
They have the freedom to despise the world that surrounds them and to live in another way. The art, literature and music of our civilisation remind them of this, and also point to the path that lies always before them: the path out of desecration towards the sacred and the sacrificial. And that, in a nutshell, is what beauty teaches us.

Fyodor Dostoevsky once made an enigmatic remark, "Beauty will save the world" about which  Alexander Solzhenitsyn organized his Nobel Lecture on Literature in 1970

And so perhaps that old trinity of Truth and Good and Beauty is not just the formal outworn formula it used to seem to us during our heady, materialistic youth. If the crests of these three trees join together, as the investigators and explorers used to affirm, and if the too obvious, too straight branches of Truth and Good are crushed or amputated and cannot reach the light—yet perhaps the whimsical, unpredictable,
unexpected branches of Beauty will make their way through and soar up to that very place and in this way perform the work of all three.

And in that case it was not a slip of the tongue for Dostoyevsky to say that “Beauty will save the world,” but a prophecy. After all, he was given the gift of seeing much, he was extraordinarily illumined.

And consequently perhaps art, literature, can in actual fact help the world of today.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:56 PM | Permalink

May 6, 2009

Who cut off Van Gogh's ear?

Would you still think Van Gogh was mad if you learned that Van Gogh didn't cut off his ear - it was 'chopped off by Gaugin in a row over a woman outside a brothel?

"The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people."  Vincent Van Gogh as quoted in Van Gogh : The Self-portraits (1969) by Fritz Erpel.  Here's another.

-Vangogh 1887 Selbstbildnis

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:28 AM | Permalink

April 9, 2009

Standing Under The Last Supper


      Schematic diagram From Restoration of the Last Supper

 The Last Supper Da Vinci
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci finished in 1498 on the refectory wall of of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan

The artist Makoto Fujimara, taking up the invitation to Come and See,  travels to Milan to stand under the masterpiece.

"If you want to 'understand' something," said my friend Bruce Herman, "you have to be willing to 'stand under' it." Bruce, an art professor at Gordon College, went on to cite C. S. Lewis' Experiment in Criticism:

We sit down before the picture in order to have something done to us, not that we may do things with it. The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way.

Leonardo painted in a grand, dominating scale for a small space. Even standing in the far back of the refectory, it is difficult for the eye to decipher the whole painting all at once. He painted The Last Supper in such a way as to force the viewer to enter the painting, physically and emotionally, and to viscerally become part of the narrative.

Only when the viewer stands under the painting can it be seen as it was intended to be (plate A). Leonardo had a specific visual message for those who stand under the painting. He had the visual sophistication to carry off what very few artists could even dream of doing: he painted the complex psychology of betrayal. It starts with Philip, and ends in a moneybag. Invited to walk into Leonardo's funhouse of mirrors, we are all meant to be part of this narrative, which is refracted within our own dark journeys.
As an artist, I naturally try to identify the source of light in a painting, because I know that artists often use light to reveal what they want the viewer to see. In this painting, it would be easy to assume that the light is coming from behind from the windows, through which we see a Renaissance landscape. But the source of light in this painting actually is the face of Jesus reflecting on all of the disciples – all but Judas, who is under-painted with black, denied a brightened countenance.
For him to have painted as he did, he had to be convinced of a center that holds.

So who is at the center? Where does the “vanishing point” end?

It ends on the forehead of the Savior.

And that foundation will hold, no matter how full our moneybags get, nor how little it takes for us to engage in betrayal. To Leonardo, the triangular shape of Jesus literally holds the painting in its visual movement.

A very high resolution photograph (16 billion pixels ) of the painting can be explored here

Timothy Verdon, an art historian and priest explains the profound meaning of the masterpiece from an artistic, theological and liturgical perspective in The Last Supper According to Leonardo published last week in L'Osservatore Romano.

By the use of perspective, the artist focuses the attention on Christ, making him the convergence point of the entire pictorial cosmos defined by the room. In fact, the diagonal lines that draw the eye forward inevitably lead to Christ, everything meets in Him, He is the center of the visual logic of the whole, as well as its narrative logic. He is not the last point, the vanishing point in the perspective; the diagonal lines, instead, converge behind Christ, in the evening sky outside of the window; but that vanishing point remains hidden. Seeking the infinite, our gaze comes to a halt with Christ, as if He were still saying, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 AM | Permalink