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Writ in sand

That there is an image by a man named Benjamin Zobel (1762-1831), made entirely out of sand. To create this one, he dribbled sand from little paper funnels onto a sticky surface, which is why it survives. Most sand paintings — duh — didn’t survive the night.

In the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries, European and British royalty employed artists as table deckers — before important feasts, these guys would be hired to make huge images out of sand and sugar and marble dust and whatever on top of the banqueting tables. Dishes of snacky foods would be laid on top. At the end of the night, it would all be swept away. Landscapes, religious pictures, portraits, hunting scenes, still lifes (yes, dammit, that is correct) — whatever was fashionable in painting was fashionable in sandpainting.

Which sounds at first like ghastly aristocratic extravagance, but I’m guessing these artists were paid considerably more than, say, the ones who make chalk pictures on pavement. Same difference.

I have a warm spot for ephemera. Making ephemera for a living teaches humility — not something you get a lot of in the art world. Nearly all the art I’ve made for money was intended to be used once, or a few times maybe, and then fade away. For most of it, that’s just as well.

Anyhow, table deckers and sandpainting — that’s what to Google if you want to know more.

February 16, 2010 — 7:21 pm
Comments: 10

A thousand miles/years/incarnations ago

I was having a lovely, peaceful afternoon, sitting at the computer drawing a sheep (as you do), when I heard the rhythmic guk-guk-guk which means a cat is fixing to unload a steaming cargo of rabbit flavored Whiskas somewhere nigh. Like, on my desk.

We did that furious pas de deux cats and people always do, where I grab up my stuff and try to maneuver something expendable into her sweet spot, and she brushes me aside and aims wildly for the most expensive, inappropriate object she can find to hack up all over or into. The mouse, the keyboard, the tablet, my lap.

At last, I caught the whole barfload on a notepad and held it aloft triumphantly, like Shoney’s Big Boy. Thank god it’s trash night.

She had sullied the back of one of my best gridded engineering pads from the old days, and I had all kinds of recent notes in it, so I tore away the cardboard and kept the pages. And there on the inside back was this post-it note.

Sandy was a typesetter I worked with, who’s been dead and buried for…oh, fifteen years, at least. 00005307 was a database designation for a technical illustration that I must have been drawing or inserting into a document or something. A pristine fragment of a whole nother universe floating down onto my desk, right out of sweet fuck-all.

Oh, well. It’s like trying to describe a dream, I guess.

February 15, 2010 — 6:15 pm
Comments: 29

Anybody watching this thing?

Scootch over, everybody. Our own Red State Witch has started a blog.

Imagine that, huh? A whole new blog!

Anyhow, he asked if I would put him on the Official Moronosphere blogroll and it occured to me — is anybody minding that thing? Conservative Belle maintained the original list, but I don’t know if it’s been updated since forever (I sent her a note this morning, but I reckon I’m caught in the spam filter with the rest of the pocket lint).

The Moronosphere, for youse latecoming morons, is a list of blogs inspired by Ace of Spades and broadly similar in outlook, if not necessarily awesomeness.

I used to walk that whole list every day, back when I had a corporate gig. There are some excellent blogs on it. Now that I’m unemployed, though, I just don’t have the time.

Even when I was checking it, there were a few blogs on the list that had gone dark. I’d love to have the latest, if any Moron out there knows of a clean list.

February 13, 2010 — 5:38 pm
Comments: 12


Welp, thar he blows. The last of the Kennedys.

I can’t believe I turned up every two years to vote against this douchenozzle — hopelessly, doggedly — only to have him give up with a whimper as soon as I leave Rhode Island. Makes you wonder if he survived DC strictly by way of his dad’s protection.

Something wrong with that boy. Something bad wrong. He’s dumber than several dumb things stacked on top of each other, and he’s got the weirdly asymmetrical face of an inbred.

The last Patrick Kennedy campaign ad I saw was about some unfortunate bureaucratic screwup — a kid not getting into a special school or something — and how he fixed it.

For that one kid. He didn’t tackle the underlying systemic problem so the same issue wouldn’t happen to anybody else. That’s how he saw himself — a political fixer, doing small things for little people.

Go away now, Patches. I have drawn the ugly picture, and I am done.

February 12, 2010 — 5:40 pm
Comments: 23

Goofin’ on the first lady

You know, sometimes having the mind of an illustrator is a curse. When I saw Michelle Obama’s new thing, I totally didn’t get that the child with the circle under it was an exclamation point. I saw a small child hurtling knees-first at one of those red rubbery kickball balls. Remember them?

And then the whole action sequence played out in my head, see above.

You know, I don’t think Mrs O should be picking on fat kids. I mean, sure, she’s got those terrifyingly toned arms, but then there’s the…you know.

Though I can’t really tell if she really has a Hugh Jazz, or if the combination of the boob belt and a moderate hinder just makes her look like a giant Bartlett pear.

February 11, 2010 — 6:30 pm
Comments: 24

Lookit the kitty!


So Uncle B’s, like, “you can’t go take a bath instead of writing a blog post!”

And I’m, like, “pff! Sure I can! I’ve done disappointing, lame-ass posts lots of times. I’ll just put up a cute cat picture and act natural.”

I hit one of those “ZOMG you have a virus click here to fix it!” fake sites earlier and had to stop everything and do a full Malwarebytes scan, so here’s your cute cat picture.

I don’t know where I stole that snow leopard, but it seems appropriate. We’ve been snowed in today, and it’s snowing like a BASTARD out there right now. Okay, we’re only in the four inches range — which I realize now qualifies as flurries in our nation’s capitol — but it really isn’t letting up and that’s about max for where we are.

Though there was one legendary snowstorm in the Sixties when they had to airlift food to this area. I sure hope Brits know beer is food.

February 10, 2010 — 9:03 pm
Comments: 17

teezie mithy katra hornie dick bumfit

One of the neat things about our area, all the little towns around have historical societies and art clubs and so on which sponsor lecturers on a regular basis. If you like that sort of thing. And we do.

Tonight, we went out to hear a microbiologist deliver a talk on the origin of nursery rhymes. And very interesting it was, too. They’re all tragedy, gossip and porn. Apparently.

About a third of English nursery rhymes go back a thousand years or more, in one form or other. Some of the very earliest go right back to proto-Indo-European, way pre-historical times. A version of “ladybird, ladybird” was written on the side of an ancient building in India.

“Rain, rain go away” is another one that goes back that far and crops up all across Europe in a variety of languages. The German version, for example, goes “Rain, rain go away. Go rain on Poland.” No shit.

“Eeny meeny miney moe” is another ancient one, part of a genre of counting nursery rhymes. (Yes, America contributed the line about the person of color and his toe, quite recently. It’s universal now. We should be so proud).

I checked it out online when I got back, and stumbled across this delightful page describing the various ways sheep are (or were) counted all around Britain:

Counting to 1 2 3 4 5
Keswick yan tyan tethera methera pimp.
Westmorland yan tyan tetherie peddera gip.
Eskdale yaena taena teddera meddera pimp.
Millom aina peina para pedera pimp.
High Furness yan taen tedderte medderte pimp
Wasdale yan taen tudder anudder nimph
Teesdale yan tean tetherma metherma pip
Swaledale yahn tayhn tether mether mimp(h)
Wensleydale yan tean tither mither pip
Ayrshire yinty tinty tetheri metheri bamf
Counting to 6 7 8 9 0 15
Keswick sethera lethera hovera dovera dick bumfit
Westmorland teezie mithy katra hornie dick bumfit
Eskdale hofa lofa seckera leckera dec bumfit
Millom ithy mithy owera lowera dig bumfit
High Furness haata slaata lowera dowra dick mimph
Teesdale lezar azar catrah horna dick bumfit
Swaledale hith-her lith-her anver danver dic mimphit
Wensleydale teaser leaser catra horna dick bumper
Ayrshire leetera seetera over dover di

Children’s counting games:
[Edinburgh]“Inty, tinty, tethery, methery; Bank for over, dover, ding ..”
[London] “Eena, deena, dus; cattala, wheela, wheila, wus; spit, spot, must be done.
[Cincinnati] een, teen, tother, feather, fib, soter, oter, poter, debber, dick
[Vermont] eeni, teni, tudheri, fedheri, fip, saidher, taidher, koadher, daidher, dik

NB: those are last year’s lambs. We’re about two weeks away from the first of this year’s crop.

February 9, 2010 — 7:20 pm
Comments: 27

From one old broad to another…

GrannyJ is a former journalist and sometime sweasel-reader who has been knocked down with pneumonia. Or the peenumonia, as my mother used to call it. If you want to know what that has to do with Her Maj, you’ll have to wander over to Granny’s blog to find out.

And leave her an encouraging word, if you’re so inclined. She’s in rehab at the moment (no, not THAT rehab — been-sick rehab); I’m sure good wishes will go a long way.

I had pneumonia (I think) a few years ago. Sick as a dog. By the time I realized how sick I was, I was too sick to make arrangements to go to the hospital or anything. I slept sitting in a chair for a week waiting for it to pass.

Worse, it was six months before I got my stamina back. Before that experience, I had no idea oxygen and stamina were essentially the same thing.

Hey, GrannyJ — if you move over here, Her Maj will send you a birthday card on your 100th. No kidding.

Of course, she’ll be a pretty old broad herself by then.

February 8, 2010 — 4:34 pm
Comments: 22

Looks like a turd, smells like an armpit

To be sung to the tune of “looks like a pump, feels like a sneaker.” (Uncle B says I perceive the world through advertising jingles, but he’s just squeezin’ the Charmin).

Anyhoo, this is his fault. He’s one of those guys — I’ve known a few, and it’s almost always guys — whose entire diet consists of peas, potatoes, bread, fruit and dead animals. No veg, no sauces or herbs, certainly no casseroles or stews or furrin food. It’s kind of the Grizzly Bear diet.

(Except he likes Chinese. Work that one out).

So when it comes to navigating my way through all the exotic food on offer here, he’s no damn help at all. One of the oldest and most pervasive being Anglo-Indian food.

That thing in the front is a bhaji, a deep-fried onion concoction. Pretty good, as you might imagine, but really does smell a bit arm-pitty. The other two things are samosas, which are little fried pastry packets full of spicy meat and veg. The pastry was nice, but the filling was heavily ginger. I like ginger, but not as a savory.

So, ummm…that’s it. Later, we went to a farmer’s market.

Any idea what I can do with a large rutabega? SFW suggestions only, please.

February 5, 2010 — 8:06 pm
Comments: 54

Hey! Hey, readers! Hey, readers! Hey!


Okay, so am I, like, the last person to discover the internet meme again? Been laughing myself silly over the Really Annoying Orange this morning.

If you’re even more behind than I am (what’re the odds?) the orange’s personal YouTube channel is here.

Or, if you’re a thoroughly lazy sack of shit (again, odds?), here are direct links to episode 1, episode 2, episode 3, episode 4, episode 5 and episode 6.




February 4, 2010 — 11:08 am
Comments: 26