Monday, February 28, 2011

Catchin' up with the crazy!

Dearest readers,

I am soooo busy and sorry to not be posting as much on this blog. There's just no excuse! lol

I have some new graphics to share with y'all...

Somehow I got chosen to be the captain for the Etsy Graphic Designer's Team. (More of being the next person on the list;) If you are a graphic designer that would like to join an Etsy team, please sign up here.

We could really use everyone's help getting this team off the ground. There is also a new Twitter that could really use some love.

Etsy Graphic Designer's Twitter

Please scroll down to the bottom of  this blog if you would like to advertise cheaply with Project Wonderful. You can also advertise on this blog at the tippy top and have it show up on both my blogs for one low price;0

Please visit Give it to me Tara! to enter some great giveaways.

All for now, I'll keep everyone posted!

Thank you for reading,

Give it to me Monday! Giveaway Linky and Blog Hop 2/28

Welcome to Give It To Me Monday! A Blog Hop and Giveaway Link Up! Linky will open on Sunday nights! Make sure to post our button and get the word out, the more the better! Add your giveaways and enter some too!
Lets kick the Monday funk and have some FUN!

Make sure to follow your two co-hosts and we will follow you back:

Make sure to follow your two co-hosts and we will follow you back:


Just Married with Coupons



Sunday, February 27, 2011

Despicable Me

There was once a time when the early morning hours were mine alone.

Mojo and the Peep are sleepers. They love their sleep, they crave it, they cherish it like a rare, delightful treasure, and whenever possible they indulge themselves by drowsing on into the late forenoon. And that was always fine with me.
I could get up early and make coffee, savor the rich scent and the dark, earthy taste in silence. I could read, or exercise, or go on-line. It was my private world before the rest of the family got out of bed.

But now I have another early riser; Little Miss is seldom asleep past six and often awake before five. She's never noisy or fretful. She comes stumping out, her little legs determined as her eyes are still full of sleep. She wants to be cuddled, and happily crawls up in my arms and curls onto my lap.So I feel like a real heel resenting the loss of my private mornings.

But I do; as sweet and quiet as she is, the girl won't be ignored or put by; any attempt to park her on the couch or in front of the television results in a monumental sulk, and this girl is an expert sulker; once you've hit the "sulk" button it's nearly impossible to reset - she will fuss and fume for a good hour or so.And even the semi-silence of her immediate snuggling is transient. Soon she is fully awake and wants to play, or use the computer. And I'm reminded of the old saying about playing catch with a dog; you will tire of it long before the dog does. So with Barbies or ponies or LEGOs. There are only so many scenarios the girl can invent, and we usually run through them all inside of five minutes or so. After that the only variable is how durable my patience is; the eventual consuption of it is never in doubt.
So I feel like even more of a lout; I love my little girl and all she wants to do is share my time. But I resent, somewhere ranging from mildly to bitterly, the loss; like a miserly old curmudgeon, I am ungracious about dividing the early hours of the day with this child who loves and depends on me. God, how despicable can I be?

I suspect that this says something truly unflattering about me, and in my better moments I try and staple a smiling face over my bad attitude. But then comes the thumping of the little feet down the morning hallway and my smile fades like the stars in the sunrise.

Visual News of the World: Flaneur No. 2

UPDATED February 28.

My last post on Baudelaire and his reflections on Guys the illustrator as observer-reporter left off at the Spanish-American War. The turn of the 20th century coincides with widespread adoption of the halftone screen as a method for photo-mechanically rendering a continuous tone image for reproduction purposes. Practically speaking, this development brought an end to the era of the illustrator as reporter. Once it became possible to print photographic images at low cost and high speed, illustrators would not again be needed as visual stenographers.

Reportage drawing would not die out, however; it would shift in emphasis, intriguingly so. That's for another time.

But today I'm interested in what happened, culturally and technologically, to the visual news-of-the-world.

In Alfred Waud's day, Harper's or the London Illustrated News provided the technological means and the cultural frame for presenting visual reportage. A wood-engraved translation of the drawing below, of wounded soldiers at the Battle of the Wilderness threatened by a burning forest, was presented to the reading public in May 1864. The authority of the publication and the authority of the image were mutually reinforcing.

In subsequent decades, new technologies of production and display would provide new temporal and spatial contexts for consumers of news. World War Two newsreels were viewed in movie theaters. Castle Films' U.S. Carrier Fights for Life, about "Carrier X" (the U.S.S. Yorktown) did much the same job as an Alfred Waud field sketch in Harper's from the American Civil War, except that the newsreel adds the elements sound and motion. (A video file of the whole reel is available here) The attack on the ship by Japanese bombers feels quite immediate; I imagine it would have been distressing to watch at the time. The first half of 1942 was rough in the Pacific; people sitting in those theater seats would have been eager for good news. As it happened, the Yorktown survived the attack but was sunk in the Battle of Midway a few months later (in an otherwise decisive victory for American forces.)

The script for the newsreel reads a little like overheated sportswriting:

An enemy plane is spotted swooping down on the mighty flattop. Anti-aircraft guns mark their warning, but the Nipponese airman throws caution to the wind. There's a hit on the afterdeck, port side. A bomb blasts through...Under clouds of black smoke, two Jap planes dive to a smoldering, watery end... As another dawn breaks through the tropical skies, Carrier X again gives battle. Again the Japs swoop down from the clouds, again our anti-aircraft guns pepper the sky with tracer bullets, each carrying bad news for the invaders...Uncle Sam's gunners are straight shooters. The Japs find that out in this fight to the finish.

The newsreel brought propaganda-inflected reportage to the public space of movie theaters in the World War Two era. Military censors shielded the public from the most ghastly combat images. The newsreels simultaneously provided a technologically current format for updates and a device to keep people focused on the task at hand, which was winning the war. Twenty years later, television brought the Civil Rights struggle and the Vietnam War into people's living rooms. The medium of television moved at new speeds. In part for this reason, in Vietnam the press was able to play an editorial role which challenged authority of the government.

Cable TV accelerated the reach and pace of broadcast news coverage in the 1990s.

Today, events in North Africa are adding a new chapter to the story. Accounts from Libya suggest that the footprint of the Gaddafi regime has shrunk to areas in and around Tripoli.

Consider the cultural frame provided by the image at the top of this post, a screen shot from a broadcast segment on Al Jazeera English posted to YouTube. This is the already-classic Gaddafi rant from the golf cart with the umbrella. The AJE report goes on to note that the rant has been bracketed by footage from what looks like a Libyan Lawrence Welk hour (directly above) utterly unconnected from the ongoing collapse of the regime. Ponder the frame-within-a-frame conceit of Libyan State TV showing a governmental absurdity, self-consciously [and disapprovingly] bracketed by AJE, subsequently bracketed by YouTube.

An aside: how about that guy in the yellow suit? Has he misplaced his hat? Is he looking for a curious monkey?

Images: Citations forthcoming.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Weekend Blog Hop 2/25-2/27

Welcome to my Weekend Blog Hop!
I would love if you could drop by and add yourself to all of my blogs this weekend (optional:)
In case I didn't say this before, if you don't have a blog you can link your site, Facebook, etc. Whatever you want, it's all in fun☺

It's simple to participate, here are the rules:
  1. Please place the "Weekend Blog Hop" button in a blog post and/or on your blog somewhere. This lets us all know where to find each other!
  2. Follow my blog.
  3. Visit at least 2 blogs on this list.
  4. Add your name to the linky list below so we can visit you back. I will be following everyone who posts.
  5. Comments are optional but always appreciated.

Please support this blog hop by using your Facebook, Twitter, and forums to advertise. It's great for everyone to discover new friends, followers, and fantastic blogs!

Thanks so much for participating!

Friday Jukebox: Too Cold To Dance Edition

Heard this on the "new rock" station the other day and was immediately hooked by the catchy..umm..hook.Plus I loved the notion that this insanely catchy, peppy, DANCY pop song is called "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'".

The "Scissor Sisters" seem completely silly, utterly disposable, and the Teens answer to the Brothers Gibb but, whatthefuck, it's Friday, the sun is out and I just feel like dancin'.

Have a great weekend!

Orange Alert

This is courtesy my friend Brent, "The World's New Security Levels", written by John Cleese.I repost without further comment just because, frankly, I need a bit of a laugh this Friday. So:

The World's New Security Levels

Great Britain: The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out.Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

France: The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender."The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

Italy: has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing."Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

Germany: The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs."They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgium: Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual;the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

Australia: meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is canceled."So far no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.So wherever you're travelling this weekend, remember: be afraid - be VERY afraid!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What Dreams May Come

from Brian Turner's wonderful "Phantom Noise":

Illumination Rounds

Will the girl find a bed among stones?
Will the fighter find a trench?

-Saadi YoussefParachute flares drift in the burn time
of dream, their canopies deployed
in the sky over our bed. My lover

sleeps as Iraqi translators shuffle
in through the doorway- visiting
as loved ones might visit a hospital room,
ill at ease, each of them holding
their sawn-off heads in hand.

Wordless, they wait for me
to dress in my desert fatigues,
my aid pouch with painkillers

of little help in sewing the larynx back,
though I try anyway, suture by suture.


She finds me at 3am shoveling
the grassy turf in our backyard, digging
three feet by six, determined to dig deep.
We need to help them, if only with a coffin.I say, and if she could love me enough
to trust me, to not cover her mouth
in shock or recognition, her hair lit up
in moonlight; if she could shovel
beside me, straining with the weight
each blade lifts in its gunmetal sheen,
then she'd begin to see them - the war dead -
how they stand under the lime trees and ash,
papyrus and stone in their hands.She stares at these blurry figures
in silhouette, the very young and very old
among them, and with a gentle hand
stays the shovel I hold, to say -
We should invite them into our home.
We should learn their names, their history.
We should know these people
we bury in the earth.

Snow Day!

We woke up to a magical blanket of white.It was a snow day in North Portland.Mind you, Portland is not like your typical, say, Midwestern or Northeastern city. We react to a stray falling crystal of frozen water like a Baptist deacon's wife receiving a pink plastic dildo in the mail; great outbursts of fearful hysterics and shrieking. So when the day dawned on a one-inch carpet of snow the Portland Public Schools were already closed.It was my turn to stay home with the kiddos, so Mojo went slipping away off to work and I led (or was led by) the progeny out into the wintery landscape.Portland snow is usually a bottomish sort of snow on the Snow Quality Scale; thick and wet, half water before it even lands, it makes decent snowball-and-snowman snow but is somewhere between moderately adequate and semi-crap for skiing and sledding. No matter; the little ones slid about on it was much as they could, the North Portland plateau having no more defilade than would provide a small rodent with cover.The snow fun lasted for an hour or so, and was fortified by the addition of the neighbor kids, until the cold and wet were sufficient to drive us back indoors. So there had to be cocoa, and Tinkerbell, and video games (coffee and gossip for the grownups).And by noon the snow was gone.

Flaneurs @War No. 1

Today in Commercial Modernism we explored shifting cultural and technological frames for visual reportage. Civil War illustrator-correspondent Alfred Waud produced onsite sketches close to the action. Above, a Waud sketch from the first day at Gettysburg, on brown paper in pencil with Chinese white. Waud also produced written accounts to support the illustrations he sent back to the shop:

CULPEPPER, Friday, September 18. Your artist was the only person connected with newspapers permitted to go upon the recent advance to the Rapidan. An order of General Meade’s sent all the reporters back. It was a very wet and uncomfortable trip part of the time. I did not get dry for two days; and was shot at into the bargain, at Raccoon Ford, where I unconsciously left the cover and became a target for about twenty of the sharpshooters...

Above, Waud captures a cavalry unit on reconnaissance at Raccoon Ford. His written account (cited above and below) and the wood engraved translation of his sketch appeared in the October 3, 1863 edition of Harper’s.

The caption below the illustration reads, “Army of the Potomac–General Buford Attacked the Enemy at Raccoon Ford, September 14, 1863–Sketched by A. R. Waud.”

On Sunday, September 13, 1863, soon after our troops advanced from the Rappahannock, they became engaged with the enemy....General Buford made an attack to unmask their force at Raccoon Ford, while another cavalry division was doing the same at Somerville Ford; since which time shelling and sharp-shooting has been constantly kept up on the river banks. General Custer charged right up a hill to the enemy's battery, taking three guns and a number of artillerymen...

The cannon group that dominates the sketch appears bottom left on the printed page.

Wars and conflicts generally mean good business for publications and outlets like these. Above, an auspicious launch for DianShiZhai Huabao, a Shanghai pictorial (previously discussed) which in its first issue (1884) describes a battle in the Sino-French War, then raging; a matter of pronounced public interest.

The Japanese version of war "reportage" wedded the international vogue for illustrated newspapering with the craft tradition of Ukioy-e woodcuts to produce dramatic images of naval battles in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95. (When in Shanghai looking through pictorial coverage in FeiYingGe Huabao for 1895, I was curious to see if that conflict–a disaster for China–showed up in its pages. A cursory review suggested no. But I did not have the chance to look through DSZHB in search of the same information.)

The class had been assigned Baudelaire's The Painter of Modern Life as a reading. That essay, written in 1860 and published in 1863, pairs nicely with Manet's Olympia (1863), as the painting captures the frank engagement with the present for which the poet called, and was experienced as such an affront to the civilizing pretensions of art.

But Baudelaire's putative subject was the unnamed illustrator Constantin Guys, who did significant work for the London Illustrated News, particularly in Crimea. The essayist is less concerned with military reportage than with the immediacy and the evanescence of a cultural moment. Of Guys he writes:

The crowd is his element, as the air is that of birds and water of fishes. His passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd: For the perfect flaneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. To be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world–such are a few of the slightest pleasures of those independent, passionate, impartial natures which the tongue can but clumsily define. The spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito...

"Any man," he said one day, in the course of one of those conversations which he illumines with burning glance and evocative gesture, "any man who is not crushed by one of those griefs whose nature is too real not to monopolize all his capacities, and who can yet be bored in the heart of the multitude, is a blockhead! a blockhead! and I despise him!"

This imperative–to engage what is, who is, how things look–suggests journalistic output. But other modes emerged, too. There are connections to be drawn between American illustrators and American painter-reporters of the Ashcan School, for example in the person of William Glackens. Glackens traveled to Cuba to cover the Spanish American War for McClure's in 1898; later he focused on his painting career, but not without an editorial edge. The Shoppers (1907) above, suggests a point of view on the Gilded Age.

John Sloan, another of the Ashcan Clan, worked for Philadelphia papers but painted New York.

Sloan's political interests led him to work as the art director at The Masses, a socialist publication. His Ludlow Massacre cover is among his best known works.

But let's come back to Baudelaire and Guys. Baudelaire credits the illustrator with prodigious powers of observation, thoroughly attuned to his modern moment.

By 'modernity' I mean the ephemeral, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half is the eternal and the immutable. Every old master has had his own modernity; the great majority of fine portraits that have come down to us from former generations are clothed in the costume of their own period...This transitory, fugitive element, whose metamorphoses are so rapid, must on no account be despised or dispensed with.

Toward the end of class we posed questions of our own period. What would the Constantin Guys of our time notice? Which customs and costumes, which artifacts, what speech, what ways of holding oneself, which contemporary textures, would our illustrator note and record? The beginning of that discussion focused particularly on technology: its manifestations and uses. Such an observation might have credibly been offered in any of the last 100 years. Which technology, what manifestations, and which influences upon contemporary life?

Secondly: what's behind the half-and-half formulation of the now and the ancient, the "contingent" versus the "immutable"? How shall we parse that equation in today's terms?

I invite comment on these questions. With more time to reflect, what do you really think about this? What might be the difference between a superficial answer–iPhones!–versus a more searching one?

Presently, a second installment which extends the technological and cultural dimensions of our discussion of visual reporting, from Alfred Waud to YouTube.

Images: Alfred Waud, Attack of the Louisiana Tigers on a Battery of the 11th Corps at Gettysburg, (July 1, 1863) ink and Chinese white on brown paper; Waud, Reconnoisance [sic.] by Buford’s Calvary Towards the Rapidan River, ink and china white on brown paper; Waud, Army of the Potomac–General Buford Attacked the Enemy at Raccoon Ford, September 14, 1863, wood engraving in Harper’s Weekly, October 3, 1863; Wu Youru, Forceful Attack at Bac Ninh, DSZHB No. 1, 1884; Nakamura Shuko, Great Japanese Naval Victory off Haiyang Island, woodblock print, 1894; Edouard Manet, Olympia, oil on canvas, 1863; Constantin Guys, Reviewing the Regiment, inkwash illustration, n.d.; William Glackens, The Shoppers, oil on canvas, 1907; William Glackens, Loading Horses on the Transports at Port Tampa, Inkwash and Chinese white, field sketch on assignment for McClure’s Magazine, 1898; John Sloan, McSorley's Bar, oil on canvas, 1912; John Sloan, Ludlow Massacre, magazine cover for The Masses, June 1914.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nice to Tweet you Thursday! Twitter Hop 2/23-2/24

Welcome to Nice to TWEET you Thursday! A brand new Twitter Hop! Linky will open on Wednesday nights! We would love if you would post our button and get the word out, the more the better!

Lets start TWEETING and have some FUN!

Make sure to follow your two co-hosts and we will follow you back:
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Simple Rule, Just Follow Back Anyone That Takes The Time To Follow You! Happy TWEETING!