Monday, April 30, 2012

Month to Month Resolutions, May 2012

Categories and Goals for May 2012

In April, my Month-to-Month Resolutions went off the track almost immediately.  I had a frustrating first day of the month, then a flurry of short trips and work stuff, and several of my good habits rather hit the skids I'm afraid.  On the other hand, I am also going through some binges of productive activity, and I find that it's best to stay out of one's own way during a productive spree.

Meanwhile, I've got a road trip coming up during which it's going to be hard to keep a routine.  So, a lot of the May Goals will be last-half-of-month-only.  (There should be a word that means "last-half-of-month-only.")

Weighing-in: I remain over 200 pounds; in fact, I seem to have added a few.  It's a darn good thing nobody ever came up with a good use for that financial penalty.
  • May Goal: I will recommence weighing myself every morning in the established manner, with the idea of recommencing the 10 cents per tenth of a pound over 200 pounds penalty come June.
Push-ups: This is where I'm most surprised that I've fallen off.  Try try again.
  • May Goal: I wish to perform 50 push-ups a day. 
Pull-ups: The pull-up thingy that I bought proved to have pieces missing.  I returned it, and now have a new pull-up thingy in a box, in the guestroom.
  • May Goal: To try to work towards a state of being where I am capable of doing pull-ups. 
Cola: I will not worry about cola intake this month.

Veggies: I quite fell off of this horse, too.  It is surprisingly difficult to eat veggies on the road, even when you are only on the road for a day or two.
  • May Goal: Steady – Four units per week after return.
Paper Mail Sent: This has plunged to zero, due to the productive binges noted above.
  • May Goal: To atone for my April ways, I must send ~100~ pieces of mail in May!!!
Writing Projects:
  • May Goal: To be worked out after return.
Garden: My gardening efforts have really picked up!  I think I will return to motivating myself through my elaborate fitness spreadsheet system rather than these MMRs.
Quilting: I've been quilting like a madman!
  • May Goal: None in particular.
By the way, after quite a bit of puzzling about what I would do to replace the old “run every street” map that I finished last month...

Meanwhile, on the running front, I’ve started filling in the new map....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 1: Brueghel v. Bruegel

Jan Bruegel (the Elder)
1568 - 1625


Pieter Bruegel (the Elder)
c.1525 - 1569


Vote for the artist of your choice!  Votes go in the comments.  Commentary and links to additional work are welcome.  Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's the Book Arts! Open Studio with Mrs.5000

Come along with Infinite Art Tournament as we take an exclusive tour of Mrs.5000's subterranean book arts lair!

Shh, she's working!

...with her characteristic care and precision!

The subterranean book arts lair shares much in common with the retreats of other wizards, especially in its profusion of eldrich tomes and colorful bric-a-brac.

You never know what you might end up needing, so it's best to keep everything well sorted.

After all, art is an intuitive process that depends on, and evolves in interrelationship with, its component materials!

And the craftsperson is nothing without her tools.

It's fun to go exploring in the lair.  You never know what you'll find.

It is, however, very well organized.

If you need a few broken umbrella skeletons, for instance, you'll find them right where they belong.

A place for everything!

And everything in its place!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Wednesday Post

Unremarkable Greetings
Gifts of sister jen, Christmas 2011


This building provides office, lodge, recreation and banquet rooms beautifully furnished and equipped, for local Masonic orders.

In the Copper Country of Michigan's Upper Peninsula

In the distance can be seen Lake Superior, Lake Fanny Hooe, and Keweenaw Park Cottages.

[Written on back: Wed, Oct. 4, 1967]

C.N.R. BRIDGE, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan -- 4

Saturday [July 14, 1941]

2 am up and around and feel good...  geting fat.  p.a. is a beautiful city.  We plan to go to Waskesiu about Wednesday.  Write to us there general del.  address: Waskesiu, Sask., Prince Albert Park


Hello to all.

Large Striped Bass Have Been Caught Here on the Annapolis River


Near Annapolis Royal a dam with a causeway has been constructed at the eastern end of Annapolis Basin.  Flood gates control the height of water on the east side and the exciting action of the reversing tides may be viewed here.  The tidal flow through the narrow opening causes a loud roar and produces the white foam seen in this picture.  Since a fishway allows the fish to travel the river without hindrance, fishing the striped bass is a popular sport on the Annapolis River.

State Capitol, Bismarck, N. Dak.

12-14-45 [postmark: Nov 14, 1945]

Dear Catherine,

This is a building in which I have been working while here.  From it you can see for miles across the state and see the Missouri river winds its crooked way toward the Mississippi.



If you would like to receive "West Bluff of Brockway Mountain Drive," complete with cheerful message and anachronistic postage, send your name and mailing address to our new email address, InfiniteArtTournament@[The popular email service that rhymes with "female"].

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 1: Broodthaers v. Brown

Today's scheduled matchup was the second round contest between the winners of Boltanski v. Bomberg and Bonington v. Bonnard. Boltanski laid a real beating on Bomberg, but a last-minute flip-flop by awesome commentor Chuckdaddy put Bonnington and Bonnard into a tie -- YOUR VOTE COUNTS!  Or his does, anyway.  That puts this bracket on hold, with Boltanski waiting nervously in the locker room to take on the winner of Bordone v. Bosch in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, we'll once again use the Tuesday spot for a rare off-weekend first-round pairing, which is good because it will help avoid the second round getting ahead of itself and bumping into the first round by accident.  

Marcel Broodthaers
1924 - 1976


Ford Madox Brown
1821 - 1893


Vote for the artist of your choice!  Votes go in the comments.  Commentary and links to additional work are welcome.  Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Monday, April 23, 2012

At the Movies: Hugo

At the Movies with Michael5000

Another movie from Mrs.5000's culling of the December “Best of 2011” articles.


Martin Scorsese, 2011

Ebert: Four Stars

Hugo is a visually-oriented young adult movie about the adventures of a young orphan boy, the eponymous Hugo, who lives in the utility spaces of a Paris railroad station between the wars. He spends his days trying to repair a broken automaton -- a robot, basically -- and over the course of the movie, he will meet and have adventures with the owner of a small toy shop, a precocious young woman who takes a shine to him, a buffoonishly sadistic station guard, and an earnest young professor of film studies who has arrived on the scene about 40 years ahead of his academic discipline. The action is superbly acted and filmed. Although it is rather predictable, it is also fairly charming, and predictability is perhaps not all that important in a movie intended for young people.

I should mention that Hugo is apparently based on some a well-beloved children's classic that I've never heard of. Its depiction of a young orphan boy's life is also self-consciously Dickensian, as long as we're mentioning the literary grounding, and this works well even though the movie is set a good 50 years after Charles Dickens shuffled off this mortal coil.

Also, it was filmed in 3-D. I watched it in two dimensions, which is the form in which every movie will have to stand or fall in the long game; 3-D will ever be, I think, a sporadic fad.  Having been filmed in the 3-D format probably contributes to a peculiar falseness in many of the film's visual effects, which often seem more appropriate to a computer game than to a feature film. There is a golden light suffusing the film with saturated colors and exagerated contrast, and whether this was done to create a magical world of imagination or is just another a side-effect of 3-D filming I don't know. There are certainly any number of scenes where things move pointlessly towards us through the screen.  It's a minor annoyance.

Hugo is another movie about movies -- there seem to be a lot of these in recent years, but this is a good one. Hugo's robot is eventually going to connect him with the very early history of cinema, and he -- and we -- will get a fanciful guided tour of the birth of the movie industry. Although this history lesson completely derails the story of Hugo's personal adventures, it is very nicely realized and has an air of real reverence about it. This is clearly Martin Scorcese's great homage to the roots of his medium.  (And not just the deepest roots, either; the opening sequence, although it's a showy piece of 3-D tech, is also a visual homage to Citizen Kane).

Prognosis: I'm not going to give stars, because I am not a young adult, nor am I in possession of a young adult. I enjoyed it well enough, but didn't think it was anything to write home about for me, as an adult viewer. I think, though, that I would really enjoy watching it with someone of the under-16 set. And, it's exactly the kind of movie I'd like the people I know in the under-16 set to be watching. It's evocative, humane, and fairly smart. It celebrates the imagination and the impractical.  It is nice to see a wholesome quote-family-unquote movie that doesn't feel like it needs to throw in a bunch of innuendo and pop culture reference to keep the parents from checking out.

Alternatively, I also think I would have enjoyed Hugo more on the big screen, and with a couple of beers in me. Sometimes we grownups need a little help to rediscover our childlike sense of wonder.

A Note on the Title:  The name of this movie's title was changed twice before release, from The Invention of Hugo Cabret to Hugo Cabret to Hugo. It is not hard to imagine the corporate thought process behind these changes, which progressively get rid of any suggestion that it might be an intellectual or European movie.  Poor decision-making, but whatever.  Still, it's too bad for Martin Scorsese that his movie is left with a name so bland, generic, and unmemorable that its legacy is pretty much doomed from the outset. Ten years later, you would have still remembered what "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" was all about. You won't remember "Hugo" two years from now.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 1: Brauner v. Bronzino

Victor Brauner
1903 - 1966
Romanian; worked in France.


Agnolo Bronzino
Italian (Florencian)


Vote for the artist of your choice!  Votes go in the comments.  Commentary and links to additional work are welcome.  Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Infinite Art Tournament: State of Play

Heavens!  Time flies, doesn’t it, and as of tomorrow we are already 1/16th of the way through the first round of the so-called “Infinite Art Tournament!”  At this rate, we’ll have burned through the tournament already by the fall of 2021!  Well, through the first round anyway.  Those of you who just can’t wait to see Jean-Antoine Watteau make his way through the brackets will, to be sure, still have to sit on your thumbs for a while yet.

Here’s the state of play so far!

As you can see, we’ve evolved a nice, standard double-elimination tournament system.  As long as an artist keeps winning, he or she continues advancing in the right-hand bracket.  After you’ve lost once, you go head to head against other artists who have lost once, and the winner “stays alive” in the left hand bracket.  

And here are the details for bracket dorks [non-bracket dorks may advance to “Play-In Artists,” below]:


  • First-round losers go immediately into an “elimination” round.  One-quarter of the field – 254 artists – will go 0-2 and out.  This is the only round where the face-offs are two-at-a-time. 
  • Winners of the losers’ bracket first round will go up against losers of the winners’ bracket second round – a 1-1 artist vs. a 1-1 artist.  This will eliminate another 254 artists with 1-2 records.
  • Neighboring pairs of second-round losers switch places when moving into the left-hand bracket to avoid repetitive pairings.  Algardi beat Allston in the very first match of the tournament, for instance, but then lost to Agasse in the second round.  If Allston ends up beating Albers in the losers’ bracket first round, then that would already pit Allston and Algardi against each other a second time, scarcely half a year later.  So, Algardi will take on the winner of Alma-Tadema/Amigoni instead, “switching” with Andre, who lost to Altdorfer in round two and so takes on the winner of Allston/Albers.  After the second round, though, it’s possible that old opponents may meet for a rematch.
  • Ties don’t advance, but are put on hold to either (1) match up against play-in artists (see below) in the first round, or (2) to switch off against other tied pairings.  Fra Angelico and Anguissola have tied in the second round, for instance, and let us say that Bazille and Beckmann were to tie as well.  In that case, the good Fra would take on Beckman in the upper of the two bracket positions, and Anguissola would take on Bazille in the lower.   
  • Once an artist has won the third round, he or she will get to enjoy the glory for a few years as new artists continually play in through the first round and the left-hand bracket sorts itself out.

Play-In Artists

“This is all fine and good,” some of you are saying, “but the system won’t work for a 1000-artist tournament!  We’ll need 24 more artists!”  And how right you are.  We’ll need 24 more artists.

Which is actually kind of cool, because we also have simmering in the background of this here tournament the fact that our initial selection of 1000 is both conservative and a bit dated.  Tournament followers may recall Voron X’s list of artists that he hoped would be in the tournament, that aren’t (yet).  So, in filling our 24 play-in slots, we can also add a little fresh blood into the tourney.  It’ll be fun.

How it shall work!

1)     YOU, gentle reader, YOU, may nominate any number of artists that you fear may not be on the initial list of 1000. 
a.       That’s admittedly a little nebulous, since I’m cagey about the initial list of 1000 and intend to continue this caginess.  Suffice to say that you can be pretty comfortable that the brand-name artists from your Art History class are all in there.  But when in doubt, nominate!  I’ll let you know which nominees are already in the running.
b.      Nominations can be left in the comments or, if you’re bashful, can be emailed to the blog at InfiniteArtTournament-at-gmail.  Or sent to me on an appropriately arty postcard if you know the address.
c.       I will recruit nominations again in a few months, after ideas have had a chance to percolate a bit.
2)      I will at some point curate the nominations to some number greater than 24.  In doing so, I’ll consider stuff!
a.       I’ll look into, and privilege, bona fide prominence and recognition within an arts community of at least one country.   Some degree of “fame” is a prerequisite; a significant community needs to take the artist seriously.
b.      I’ll privilege artists who are recognized as having become more prominent or influential in the last three decades.
c.       I’ll privilege, to a modest extent, the suggestions of established friends of this blog.
d.      If an artist is nominated by more than one reader, that will carry weight.
3)      I’ll come up with some sort of fun voting process to narrow the field down to the twenty-four play-in entrants we need for the larger tournament.
4)      Then, our twenty-four “wild cards” so determined will play into the tournament against artists that have previously fought to a tie in the first round.  For fairness’ sake, they won’t all be clumped together, but will rather be spaced so out that the earliest that two wild cards could go head to head would be the fourth round.

Let the Nominations Begin!

I will consider the nominations to have opened with Voron X having nominated the following artists: H.R. Giger, Luis Royo, Brom, Dorian Cleavenger, Michael Whelan, Sorayama, Brian Froud, Boris Vallejo, Frank Frazetta, Mark Ryden, and Royo.  (I don’t know who any of these guys are, but now I’ll get to/have to do some research, which is great!)

I myself nominate British land-art dude Andy Goldsworthy, American land-art dude Robert Smithson, Russian kinda-Cubist Pavel Filinov, American muralist Thomas Hart Benton, and two omissions from our original list that I consider frankly odd: Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher and the extremely well-known American illustrative painter Norman Rockwell (although to be fair, the artistic reputation of the latter has gained considerably since the original list was published).

Now it’s your turn!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Back to the Land, April 2012

Last weekend, we had a blissful interval of sunshine, and I made the first attempt of the year to bring some sort of order and intentionality to the yard, which has suffered a ferocious neglect in recent years.  The area that looked worst, or which caught my eye first, was the patch right around Mrs.5000's wrought-rebar garden scuplture.

Hoo boy.  A lot of the work was just weeding and grass-pulling to discover the actual garden plants beneath.  I filled a standard garbage can four times with weeds and grass.  After that, there was some modest splitting of primroses -- I am confident enough in my masculinity to state proudly, right here, right now, that I am a big primrose fan -- and the tranplantation of a boxwood shrub from a container into an empty space that used to have an azalea in it, back before the years of neglect.  Then there was some mulching and the reemergence of the bricks that mark the official border (if not always the actual border) between garden and grass.  And I mowed the damn lawn.

So, that's not going to get us into Sunset magazine, but at least it looks like we're trying.

Doing the yard work always involves trips to the compost heaps, and as I was gathering up some relatively good looking dark new soil, I heard an unexpected scrunching sound.  And that scrunching sound took me all the way back to January 21, 2010, when I wrote the following:


Mrs.5000 received some Australian footwear for Christmas. This was part of the packaging.

"This bag will decompose within 3 months of disposal," it says.

Well, I've been hurt before. I'm putting this into the CompostHeap5000, and we'll see what happens. I'll let you know.


Here's what the bag looks like within 27 months of disposal:


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Wednesday Post

Peace Candle of the World

On February 1, 2010, I posted five "Postcards from Michael5000." This was one of them.

Peace Candle of the World

Dedication and Lighting Ceremony performed by Governor Tom McCall on May 9, 1971. This candle is 50 feet tall, 18 feet in diameter, and contains 45,000 pounds of wax. Constructed by WESTERN CANDLE LIMITED, Scappoose, Oregon. Darrel Brock - President.

Last week, I got this email message:
Hey! I stumbled on the post you wrote 2 years ago now.  I was wondering where in the world you might have dug up a postcard of the World Peace Candle in Scappoose, OR, and how I might be able to get my hands on one?

My dad built that candle. He told me once when I was a kid that there were postcards made of it annnnd I've been looking ever since!

Thanks Michael, hope to hear back!

S_____ Brock
Of course I sent him the card.  It is always a beautiful thing, isn't it, to be given those tiny opportunities to do something that makes the world slightly more symmetrical.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Infinite Art Tournament, First Elimination Round #3/128

Faceoff #1: Auerbach v. Avercamp

Frank Auerbach
Born 1931
German; works in the UK
Lost to John James Audubon in Round 1.


Hendrick Avercamp
1585 - 1634
Lost to Francis Bacon in Round 1.


Faceoff #2: Baldung v. Fra Bartolommeo

Hans Baldung
c. 1484 - 1545
Lost to Giacomo Balla in Round 1.


Fra Bartolommeo
c.1474 - c.1517
Italian (Florentine)
Lost to Balthus in Round 1.


Vote for the two artists of your choice! Votes generally go in the comments, but have been known to arrive by email, by postcard, or in a sealed envelope.

Please note that you may vote only once in each face-off.  Opining that both of the artists in one of the two face-offs is superior to the other is fine, but casting your votes for two artists in the same face-off is not permissible.