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That’s why I keep really stupid chickens

From a site called Good Bear Comics. A few sensible chuckles.

It’s kind of fun to start at the beginning, four years ago, and watch him get better at it. Or is it just me? I like that kind of thing.

Oh, it’s Monday, isn’t it? Yes it is.

October 18, 2021 — 5:45 pm
Comments: 4

Round boi

This picture tickled me, for some reason. It’s by Paul Gavarni (real name: Hippolyte-Guillaume-Sulpice Chevalier, hoo boy!), 1804-1866. French. Brittanica calls his late work ‘bitter‘.

Title: Revers des Médailles (1842) or Reverse of the Medal.

Caption, as near as I can make it (it’s faint): dangereux effet des pates orientales, lelles que le Rachaoul ou le Nafe d’Arabie, sur des organisations trop delicates or (as Google Translate would have it) dangerous effect of oriental pasta, such as Rachaoul or Arabian Nafe, on too delicate organizations.

Not actual pasta, I don’t think. Some kind of sweetie. I only found one reference to Rachaoul and it was a translation of a French pamphlet on agriculture from 1836:

The edible merchants [of Paris] also devise a substance called tapioca, which they advocate almost as much as the famous Rachaoul, which fattens the odalisques of the seraglio; but the tapioca itself is nothing other than cassava, which does not fatten negroes much.

The crack about negroes is not as strange as it looks, I don’t think. Cassava was a staple in Africa and Africans were, by and large, not fat.

As for Arabian nafe, no idea. Knafeh, maybe? Anyway, it’s something he eats with a spoon from a jar that comes out of a cabinet, so early Victorian pudding cups, at a guess.

July 20, 2021 — 7:42 pm
Comments: 8

Not a gemstone

Hast thou heard of Fordite. It’s overspray from car spray booths – hundreds and hundreds of layers of it – baked hundreds and hundreds of times and (usually) as hard as a gemstone. This article says 997 layers per inch, though that seems a little precise to me.

Eventually, the clumps of overspray got in the way and were chipped off and thrown away. I imagine in the era of “any color as long as it’s black” it wasn’t particularly interesting stuff. But the colorful ones people often took home to keep.

Also called ‘Detroit agate’ or ‘motor agate’ or even the specialized Corvettite. People do make jewellery out of it – it’s apparently light enough to be especially good for earrings and pendants. Early bits are more subdued, then the colors get louder and louder. Remember that?

In the 80’s, they switched to a different process. No more spray booths and baking. That means the supply of Fordite is limited, and we all know what THAT means.

Judging by the Ebay listings, there’s still plenty to be had., but the prices are getting on for semi-precious gemstone territory.

I just did another Ebay search. Man, people make some stupid stuff out of amethyst.

June 1, 2021 — 8:29 pm
Comments: 11

A Mr Peabody sort of day

Elbow pain woke me up this morning. Elbow pain. Then I discovered my hands didn’t work properly. Then it travelled to my other elbow (which was a relief, I could stop thinking ‘stroke’). And then it dawned on me I had a trapped nerve.

Radiculopathy, which sadly doesn’t mean ridiculous and pathetic. Had it before, went to a physio, got some exercises which I do with enthusiasm until the pain goes away. Never had symptoms all the way down to my fingers before. This sucks.

So while I’m a monkey (my thumbs are no longer opposable), please enjoy this illustration from my favorite contemporary cartoonist, MK Brown. I see she’s fleshed out her website since I last checked. Start with cartoons.

Look at a bunch. You need a biggish dose to get the flavor.

May 21, 2021 — 7:33 pm
Comments: 14


In the thread below this one, MikeinFairfax pointed me to this web cartoon. Johnny Optimism. If you like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you like.

I have helpfully linked you to 2010. Scroll to the bottom to read from the beginning. Blogspot is hopeless at letting you read a thing in sequence, but I checked and he doesn’t mirror on a more comic-friendly site. He does, however, have book versions for sale.

Because I am thick, it took me a minute to realize he was cutting and pasting old illustrations to make his comics. They are funny to very funny, and the Public Service Announcement pictures only make it funnier.

Did I ever tell you about the time I had to write and illustrate an 8-page booklet on business hygiene because the special needs hire in the company kitchen smelled really bad and no-one had the heart to tell him?

May 18, 2021 — 7:54 pm
Comments: 14

Darling, Darling

The caption to this one is:

Edwin (suddenly, after a long pause) “Darling!”
Angelina “Yes, Darling!?”
Edwin “Nothing, Darling. Only Darling, Darling!”
[Bilious Old Gentleman feels quite sick]

I have found the Punch cartoon archives! Naturally, I’m paddling around in the Victorian era, when the magazine was most influential.

It was founded in 1841 by a writer and a wood engraver, reached peak circulation in the 1940s, declined until its demise in 1992, revived in 1996 and died again in 2002.

I love a good editorial cartoon. We saw a program the other day about editorial cartoons that lamented that, with the decline of newspapers and magazines, there weren’t many any more.

Dude, what do you think memes are?

March 18, 2021 — 9:13 pm
Comments: 6

Rejoice! There’s a new blue!

Okay, but it’s kind of a big deal. Blue is a rare color in nature, and stable blue pigments even rarer. For a long time, all we had were ground up semi-precious stones like Lapis, which is why they saved it for the Virgin Mary’s robes. You probably knew that.

Even now, many blue pigments – the cobalts, for example – are expensive and a bit toxic. Cerulean is a cobalt color and very expensive and I have to have one tube on hand, because it is exactly the slightly lemony blue of the sky at the horizon. I still have the same tube from art school because I don’t paint landscapes very often.

This new one is called YinMn Blue but it is not, as it sounds, Chinese. It was discovered by two guys at Oregon State University twelve years ago. They were looking for novel electronic components. The name is from the three elements that make it up: Yttrium (Y), Indium (In), and Magnesium (Mn).

In the improbable event you find this at all interesting, there’s a good article on it here.

It looks like a good blue. Strong and opaque, but not overwhelming when mixed with other colors. I was once traumatized by a tragic pthalocyanine raw pigment spill. It stained me and everything I touched a vivid blue.

Sad to inform you that BullDawgGuy has won the pool with Rush Limbaugh. Fare thee well, Rush.

February 16, 2021 — 7:44 pm
Comments: 19


We watched The Dig over the weekend, the Netflix dramatization of the dig for Sutton Hoo just before the outbreak of WWII. It was 4/5 a brilliant film that somehow decided to spend its last twenty minutes tying up a minor subplot I didn’t give a shit about. With any luck, there will be a director’s cut with that excised.

Still a recommend.

They worked with the British Museum to get the costumes and sets right. There’s an interesting blog post from the BM here that describes the process. Spoilers, I guess.

And you can take a virtual walk around Room 41 that they’ve somehow built using Google Street View technology.

Very cool.

February 2, 2021 — 8:09 pm
Comments: 12

‘Tis but a scratch

This charming example of Victorian taxidermy – and my charming, I mean disgusting – was in the collection of Louis Mantin, a wealthy eccentric from Moulins. He built an entire mansion around his art collection. Not all of it in execrable taste.

When he died in 1905, he willed the property to the town – on the condition they put it on display and change nothing inside. He wanted people a hundred years hence to see “a specimen of a bourgeois home of the nineteenth century.”

It’s not clear to me that he meant to board it up and completely neglect it for a century, but I haven’t seen the will with my own eyes. Anyway, that’s what they did. Boarded it up and let it gently rot.

After pouring a bunch of money into it again, it opened to the public in 2010. NatGeo has a short slideshow, but you’ll probably see more on an images search.

What it is to have money, with or without taste. Good weekend, all!

Oops! I didn’t hit publish on this last night! Happy Caturday, folks.

January 30, 2021 — 1:10 pm
Comments: 5

Then there’s this thing

A thing I found looking for ancient Persian metalwork: behold the Luck of Edenhall. Do follow the link and see it in color.

It was made in Syria or Egypt around 1350, and the leather case in France or England not long afterwards. The leather case is undoubtedly how it manage to survive all this time in tact. How it got from there to here is unclear; Eden Hall was in Cumberland, a county to the far North. It’s first mentioned by name in 1677 in the will of Sir Philip Musgrave.

It is a wonderful example of luxury Islamic glass, but by the time it found its way to England, it was blamed on the fairies. Naturally.

The (probably 18th C.) story goes that a yokel interrupted a fairy drinking party. The fairies ran off, leaving the cup behind. A pissed off and drunken fairy shouted over his shoulder: “If this cup should break or fall/ Farewell the Luck of Edenhall!”

A luck is a class of objects from the North of England that have a legendary significance to the fortunes of a family. Lost, broken, stolen or sold would ruin the luck of a family. It stayed in the Musgrave family until they loaned it to the V&A in 1926; Eden Hall was demolished in 1934.

You decide!

January 21, 2021 — 8:22 pm
Comments: 10