Springfield Makes The New York Post

But not in a good way: Two Missouri hairstylists may have exposed 147 people to coronavirus

Although it’s way up on the east side of town (from our perspective), we have taken our boys there for a haircut a time or two, but not recently.

Although my beautiful wife and I did celebrate our wedding anniversary at a restaurant in the same plaza on Friday.

I mused to my son whilst we were out running errands yesterday, if they (society, the government, so many theys, but just because I say they doesn’t mean I’m paranoid in saying it), if they want you to wear a mask because you might spread germs to someone else, when does it stop? This has happened since you were born and will happen until you die (and perhaps beyond). So when should people stop wearing masks? Later.

Book Report: Paul Cézanne by Carl Belz (1975)

Book coverI just read the book on Marc Chagall and didn’t care much for it. Cézanne is a generation earlier than Chagall, a contemporary and exhibitor with the Impressionists, and he differs from the Impressionists and especially the later Impressionists in his depth of representation–which means he doesn’t quite treat the canvas as a flat thing to look at instead of to look through.

Still, later he gets into some strange perspectives, and the text indicates that he is a forerunner of Cubism, so he has that going against him.

Like the Chagall book, this one has black and white images along with 20 slides that are five years younger than the Chagall slides, but they have also faded to red. I have to wonder why these slides are so much more faded compared to other slides I have inherited or bought at church garage sales.

At any rate, I like Cézanne better than 20th century painters, but I’m not sure I’m going to find anything of his to put on a wall in place of a Renoir print.

I noted two things in the book:

By 1870 Cézanne had been painting for nearly a decade, though without any kind of critical or public recognition. Still, he persisted, dividing his time between Paris and his family’s home in Aix

I guess that’s not quite Nevertheless, she persisted but you can see that basic formulation was out there decades ago.

Also, I could have written this:

On the other hand, Cézanne’s decision to separate himself from impressionism had an intuitive rightness about it. He once said that he “wanted to make of impressionism something solid and durable like the art of museums.” His remark was directed at an aspect of the style that began to appear toward the end of the 1870s, when impressionism increasingly became a style of dissolution. That is, it tended more and more to lose the illusion of three-dimensional space and of plastic, three-dimensional figures. The “losses,” however, were not intentional; they resulted from a natural process whereby the painters who invented impressionism conscientiously pursued the basic implications of their own method. As they sought to capture the effects of light falling on objects, their brushstrokes became increasingly divided and their palettes became increasingly varied. The surfaces of the things on which natural light settled assumed the greatest importance. But as the assault on surface and light continued, the impressionists’ pictures tended more and more to dissolve into a haze of flickering color incidents. Deep space and solid figures were forced out of the paintings, which became decidedly flatter than they had been at the outset of the movement. In addition, the gestural surfaces of the paintings compelled an awareness of the artists’ tools, particularly his brush and pigments, which gradually accrued interest in and of themselves instead of serving an illusionist purpose. In part, this development is the paradox of impressionism: conceived as a modern version of an Old Master premise–namely, that paintings are windows through which we see fictive images of the visible world–it eventually repudiated the Old Masters by proposing that paintings are discrete objects whose surfaces are to be looked at rather than through.

Which is pretty much the thesis that I’ve kind of developed to describe the breakdown of visual art and even literature/poetry in the 20th century, and I’ve also often suspected that the Impressionist movement proved to be the point where it all went wrong. So I guess it’s been noticed before I mentioned it.

Although the author of the book is the sort of person who writes books about artists, so he’s cool with the new things.

Apparently, This Will Now Be An Annual Tradition At MfBJN

As I mentioned, gentle reader, I mostly do this blog for my own entertainment, as I like to prowl through my archives, often using the visit counter’s note of a random search engine hit as a starting point, wherein I read the post that the visitor browsed, and then I start next posting or previous posting to see what else I might have been doing/thinking/reading at that time.

So somehow, I got to browsing my archives, when I got to a post from last March about Tide’s Fresh Linen scent called Unlike The Other Leading Brands.

In recent memory, I did another post with the same gag, albeit presented differently, this very month: What Do Clean Clothes Washed With Other Varieties Of Tide Smell Like?

Sorry for the reruns. I’m getting to be like that old guy who keeps telling the same stories over and over again. Just ask my children.

All Basketball Games To Be Played Under The Matterhorn

NBA says it is talking with Disney about resuming season:

The NBA is in talks with The Walt Disney Company on a single-site scenario for a resumption of play in Central Florida in late July, the clearest sign yet that the league believes the season can continue amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Basketball Players Association is also part of the talks with Disney, the league said Saturday. Games would be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, a massive campus on the Disney property near Orlando.

Well, I guess not; the secret basketball court under the Matterhorn is at Disneyland in California.

Someone Played Dress Up

So the thing this last weekend on Facebook was for everyone to create “Avatars” to use in their, what, “rooms”? Dang this new fangled Facebook technology.

New fangled? I think Avatars peaked with Habitat on QuantumLink in the 1980s.

Now, I will spare you the speculation about how “avatars” on Facebook instead of actual, you know, profile pictures, further dehumanize and infantilize our online presences, but I realize that, again, that climbs the “Crackpot Mountain” which is the graph of how, if you get me started talking about how things might be crazy, it sounds like I’m nuts, but if you get to know me better, you know I’m just spitballing as I put my creative writer creativity to ill use. It’s kind of like the uncanny valley, but upside down. If you’re still reading this blog, gentle reader, you’re on the downhill side.

At any rate, I don’t use Facebook mobile applications, where I think that nonsense is hosted, and I don’t tend to follow Facebook trends/fads unless I make mock of them.

Which I did with this one.

I raided our winter closet for a brown jacket, a rather fancy scarf belonging to my beautiful wife, and a cap that fits underneath your bike helmet (well, my wife’s bike helmet) as well as my gear bag for my swimming goggles, and….

I shared my aviator.

It took me about five minutes before dinner; my wife was amused when she saw it, and said I certainly spent some time on it.

Well, not really, but I was inspired.

It didn’t get a lot of like-loving on Facebook, but I could go into my theory again about how Facebook’s algorithms probably hide me from my friends’ feeds (or my friends have done so, gentle reader, but how could I think that low of my friends’ sense of humor?), but you’re on the downhill slope of the Crackpot Mountain, and I’d hate to place another in your path.

Book Report: Tron: The Storybook by Lawrence Weinberg (1982)

Book coverClearly, I am not above reading children’s books to pad my annual total (I did just complete the Little House books, for crying out loud), so why not one of those movie-novelizations-for-children that were popular in the 1980s. I say popular based on the limited knowledge that the Star Wars Storybook was disseminated far and wide (I gave the copy from my childhood or from my beautiful wife’s childhood to our children and still see it at sales from time to time in the wild) and that this book exists for the movie Tron. Perhaps they’re the only two movie storybooks ever, and I just happened to chance upon them.

At any rate, it’s been a while since I’ve seen Tron–I must have rented it around the turn of the century. I know back then, I got into the habit of making sound schemes for my Windows computer, and I set a Tron theme that made it say, “Greetings, program!” whenever I launched an application and the Master Control Program saying “End of line” whenever I shut the computer down. I also had a sound theme for the original Battlestar Galactica, but that’s not relevant since I’m not talking about its storybook.

If you don’t know the story, it’s about a company called ENCOM that’s into artificial intelligence (although they didn’t call it that then). The head of the corporation is partnered with the Master Control Program, which is hacking into and taking over other systems. A renegade programmer, fired for his independent thought, now runs an arcade and is trying to hack into the system to find the goods on the corporation. A still-employed programmer, suspicious of the company, has created an independent security auditing program that he wants to run. So they break in to the offices, and the renegade programmer, Flynn, gets scanned into the system and learns about its whole anthropomorphized ecosystem under the control of the Master Control Program and his heavy Sark.

To be honest, even if you do know the story, that’s it.

The technology is steeped in mainframe metaphor, with all of the computer terminals connected to a big computer somewhere, so it’s a little different than what we experienced with the personal computer revolution. Although I suppose if you replace ‘mainframe’ with ‘cloud’ it’s not that dissimilar any more.

At any rate, the storybook rather indicates the prosaic vs. special-effect driven coolness in the movie in that the setup for the movie, before Flynn is scanned into the computer, is a full third of the book. Then the middle third is a bit of introduction to the computer world, but by the midway point of the book, the pages give over to pictures with brief descriptions of the action.

So it’s probably a better reminder of what you saw in the movie than a separate accounting.

But it reminded me that I haven’t seen this in a long time and that my boys (and, admittedly, my wife) have never seen it, so I have since ordered it. Amazon then proffered me several other science fiction movies of the time period, such as The Last Starfighter and others that I already own, thank you very much. I was almost ashamed to have Amazon suggest those films. More ashamed than I am at reading a kid’s storybook anyway.

Homeschooling Update: A Ink-Licking Good Poem

Last night’s poem was Anniversary by Marjorie Maddox, a poem that my beautiful wife clipped from First Things magazine and deployed this week to remind me we have a wedding anniversary coming up.

Roark, a.k.a. the Big Bopper, a.k.a. Radar Love, kept interrupting my writing to lick the part of the poem I’d already written:

Not a bad poem; a villanelle, of which I might have written one or more once upon a time. Certainly better than the poem on the other side of the page, although the boys liked it better because it was shorter, mostly.

That’s Not How I Remember It Because That’s Not How It Is

In an article wherein the “journalist” says he has recently rewatched all of the Dirty Harry movies (possibly for the first time), he characterizes a well-known scene thus:

In the famed, “Do you feel lucky?” scene on Montgomery Street, Callahan forces an unarmed bank robber to play Russian Roulette for his life, for no reason whatsoever.

Dude, did you even watch it?

The bank robber has a shotgun within reach when Inspector Callahan walks up and delivers the speech. The hoodlum decides he does not feel lucky, and then Callahan picks up the shotgun. The hoodlum says he has to know if the gun was empty, and Callahan dramatically points the gun at the hoodlum and pulls the trigger. Because Callahan knew the gun was empty. It showed how cold-blooded Callahan was. At the end of the clip above (and the scene), the hoodlum curses Dirty Harry.

So at no point did anyone play Russian Roulette with an unarmed robber. Callahan faced a bank robber who had a loaded gun in reach even though he knew his own gun was empty.

In the “journalist”‘s defense, it was the first movie in the series, and if he made it all the way through The Dead Pool, I know what you’re thinking, ‘Did he watch ten hours of Dirty Harry movies or only nine?’ Well, to be honest, it’s a lot, and this was from the beginning. But he could have checked YouTube before making the assertion.

Or maybe the audience of SFGate.com wouldn’t know the difference, by and large not being Dirty Harry or Clint Eastwood fans.

(Link via Instapundit.)

Also, yes, I asserted by and large San Franciscans of the twenty-first century are not Dirty Harry fans without a “scientific” study (read: survey) to back it up. But it’s probably true.

Book Report: Marc Chagall by Alfred Werner (1969)

Book coverI bought this book last spring at the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale back when we had such things.

I didn’t review it during football games last year because I ended up traveling a lot and not watching that much football, and this book is a little text heavy for browsing as the book has some black-and-white images, but this book comes with a set of slides instead of the colored images.

After fifty-one years, the slides have all washed out into tones of red, so one cannot really appreciate the artist as the critics should you should appreciate him, which is to say for his use of color.

Because, let’s face it: In technique, he’s a twentieth-century man. The text says he’s the product of Gauguin and Matisse, so you know what I think about it. Middle school stuff. Look at this picture. Superficial no matter how much the critics will tell me that there is metaphor in it and that it’s an evolution or improvement over realism that came before it.

I have another volume like this for Cezanne which I’ll look over in the next couple of days or weeks. I might not like that, either. So it’s more a matter of reading it for completeness, so I can say why I don’t like a particular artist and be definitive about it.

Plus it’s an easy +1 to the annual reading list.

Book Report: Si-cology 101 by Si Robertson with Mark Schlabach (2013)

Book coverI got this book in my first ABC Books online order during the past-but-sorta-current unpleasantness, and after I finished the Agatha Christie omnibus, I fully expected to jump immediately into the ordered books because last in, first out. After all, I was excited to receive them in the mail, so I should jump on them as soon as I could while I was still sort of excited about them. Also, these books will be atop and in front of other books, so they’ll be the ones closest at hand.

Si, a member of the Duck Dynasty clan and a popular part of the show, recounts his life through stories from his youth and his army days peppered with tall tales and old jokes recounted as though they actually happened to him. It’s a pleasant enough read; it’s 230 pages, but lightweight prose that moves quickly.

I do have one quibble, though. When he’s talking about a military posting in Massachusetts, he talks about the crazy accents they have, and he says:

The first time I walked into my barrack, I asked a sergeant where I could find some water to drink.
“The bubbler is down the hall,” he said.
“The what?” I asked him.
It took me a few minutes to realize he was talking about a water fountain.

That sergeant isn’t from Massachussetts. He’s from Wisconsin, Jack!

I have never seen the program, but Duck Dynasty had been a gift schtick for my recently passed aunt. She’d mentioned something about the show at some point, probably tut-tutting it, so for most of the last decade she got at least one Duck Dynasty branded product (but not the wine) as a Christmas gift. So reading the book kind of reminded me of her. Strangely enough, my other aunt (who once lived in Texas) spent a great deal of the decade living down the road from the Robertsons in Louisiana. Well, as down the road as Mickey Gilley’s anyway. That other aunt, my only remaining one from that side of the family, was and is a vagabond and is probably due to move soon.

Having read the book, I’m interested in seeing a bit of the program to see what prompted the interest in Si–it’s claimed that fans of their outdoor program and later Duck Dynasty wanted to see more of him telling stories like those in this book. I would, too. He is a couple of years older than my father was, and an outdoorsman, so he could serve as some middle-aged proxy of sorts. Well, not that psychologically deep, but still.

At the end of the book, there’s a page marketing the other books in the Duck Dynasty series, includign a cookbook and a book by/about the head of the clan/company. Which leads me to believe that someone believed that fans of this show could read, which probably differs from what the friends Facebook shows you would believe. Maybe I’ll pick some of them up at the book sales to pair with my Duck Commander wine if they even make that any more.

The Game Where I Became A Lefty

I have previously mentioned that Isis liked to get into the laundry basket to play her game after I emptied it of laundry to fold.

Somewhere in the last couple of years, I’ve altered my habit; instead of putting the basket on its base on the bench after emptying the laundry to fold, I’ve started setting it on the floor on its side instead.

So now, to play, Isis jumps onto the bed amidst the laundry to fold and pretends like she wants to be petted. Or that she can be petted. But once the hand comes out, she rolls on her back and it’s on.

Well, I have a black belt in a martial art. I should have no problem with this game. I even established some ground rules.

The main point of the game is for me to try to touch her, and she tries to prevent it.

I am pretty good at this game, although I use the two-handed “Look at this hand–whilst the other pokes you!” method which does not earn me double points.

Not that I get too much of a high score going. That kitty is fast!

The Song Takes Me Back

Wirecutter posted a set of Tanya Tucker songs, including “Texas”:

My mother had this song on a cassette. Not a Tanya Tucker cassette; instead it was a Reader’s Digest collection of country hits, where two cassettes were packaged into an oversized binder that perhaps some people displayed on their shelves. This collection had a bunch of hits from the 1950s to the 1970s or perhaps the early 1980s–I remember it from 1984, but the Tanya Tucker song is from 1978.

My brother and I, when we shared the guest bedroom of my aunt’s house in St. Charles (before we moved into the basement), we would listen to those cassettes on a simple tape recorder. Not a radio/cassette combination–this was one of the type associated with recording things in an office, and it had an earphone. Not headphones: A single earbud before earbuds were the thing, which was just as well as it was not a stereo tape player–it only had a single speaker. We would lie on the floor in that bedroom, marveling in the cool of the air conditioning (whole house air conditioning, not the window kind we’d been used to).

As you know, this was not long after we might have moved to Texas, and the song mentions Milwaukee (“The beer stays cold in old Milwaukee”), further evidence we cited when we urchins tried to convince our uncle of the superiority of Milwaukee over St. Louis. Which I continue to assert to this day although I moved in the opposite direction when I had the chance.

When I hear the song (not so much watch the video above), I can almost catch the remembered experiential flavor of those afternoons that summer, listening to “Tall Oak Tree” by Dorsey Burnette, “Haunted House” by Jumpin’ Gene Simmons, “Bottle of Wine” by the Fireballs, and “Texas” by Tanya Tucker.

By the time my mother passed away, the binders were long gone, and the cassettes were in little plastic boxes instead. I think I might have let my brother have the cassettes along with most of my sainted mother’s bric-a-brac after she passed away. But I’ll go looking for them now as my weekend project.