Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, First Elimination Round #13/64

Faceoff #1: Correggio v. Del Cossa

c.1489 - 1534

Did poorly against French landscape master Corot in Round 1.


Francesco Del Cossa
c.1435 - c.1478

Put up a pretty good fight against Gustave Courbet in Round 1.

Faceoff #2: Cuyp v. Daubigny

Aelbert Cuyp
1620 - 1691

Lost to Cranach the Elder in Round 1.


Charles-François Daubigny
1817 - 1878

Crushed -- crushed! -- by Salvador Dali 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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Wednesday Post

Greetings from the Early 20th Century
Going through the Bruners' mail.

Either because my father was the only child of two parents who both had unconventional family structures, or because I live in a society so corrupted by individualism that we have all but forgotten the meaning of Family, I am extremely fuzzy on the details of my family tree on Dad5000's side.  Also, on its broad outline.  But I know that there are Bruners in the mix, either as bona fide relations or as the kind of technically-not-related relatives that some families adopt when they are running low on the real thing.

Daniel Bruner, who may or may not have been my great or second or third something, lived at 297 E. 36th Street here in the City of Roses.  That address looks perfectly plausible unless you are actually from around here, in which case it is all wrong.  We have quadrants, so only Burnside Street gets to be "E.", and the numbered streets aren't Streets, but Avenues.  Well.  The letter is from 1923, and so predates the insanely complicated WPA street renumbering project that left us with a city in which you can actually find places, and where old curbstones often sport names that are mischievously inconsistent with what the green signs say.

Now Roland Bruner was, I think, Roland of "Roland and Gladys," and it seems right to call Gladys "Aunt Gladys." So perhaps Roland was in some sense an uncle?  He was a nice elderly man who once, when I was in sixth grade or thereabouts, saw me with a tape recorder and asked if I was listening to "the latest jazz."  The question stumped me utterly at the time.  It's a shame that, now that I could field the question pretty well, it is decades too late.

Apparently, in 1904 [Uncle?] Roland, so young that he had to put up with the title of "Master," could be reached at a shoe store in Salem.  And the shoe store was too cool to need an address.

At least 430 S. 24th, City, is an address, but isn't an address that works for Salem anymore.  Maybe they had a big street renumbering too.

Did you have to pay two cents for intercity mail but only one for in-city mail?  Hubbard is 25 miles north, about halfway between Portland and the capital.  I'm half-tempted to circle the P.O. Box return address with a sharpie and write "return to sender" on the envelope, just to mess with whomever has P.O. Box 54 these days.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 2: Degas v. Delacroix!

Edgar Degas
1834 - 1917

Whupped it up on sculptor Richard Deacon in Round 1


Eugène Delacroix
1798 - 1863

Defeated Robert Delaunay by a two-vote swing in Round 1. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!


Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Element of the Month: Scandium!

January's Element of the Month:


Atomic Mass: 44.955912 amu
Melting Point: 1541 °C
Boiling Point: 2836 °C

If you are an IAT/fL&TM5K "old-timer," you might vaguely remember The Thursday Quiz XLI, from all the way back in the summer of aught-eight:
Is it or isn't it a real chemical element?

1. Beryllium - Be - 4
2. Fluorine - F - 9
3. Bronze - B - 12
4. Argon - Ar - 18
5. Scandium - Sc - 21
6. Laudinum - Ld - 27
7. Nickel - Ni - 28
8. Krypton - Kr - 36
9. Yttrium - Y - 39
10. Byzantium - Bt - 63
11. Platinum - Pt - 78
12. Londinium - Ln - 79
Scandium, which really truly is Element 21, received a skeptical reception by the quiz-takers, so a few days later I published a special Michael5000 Salute to Scandium, just to spread the good word. For better or worse, that’s what gave me the idea for Element of the Month.

But enough nostalgia. Scandium in its elemental form is – all together, now – a soft, silvery metal! But it’s hardly ever found in its elemental form. Scandium is one of those elements that is reasonably common – about the 35th most common up here on the Earth’s surface – but is spread so thin that there isn’t very much of it in any one place. It was one of the holes on Mr. Mendeleev’s original spreadsheet, prompting him to suggest that there was probably an “eka-boron” out there to be found. He was right! Since eka-boron was, like so many elements, found by brainy Swedes, it was named after Scandinavia.

The Centerfold!

Because it’s hard to find Scandium in usable quantities, and because it is not especially easy to work with – it wasn’t isolated from its oxide until 1937, and not in a one-pound quantity until 1960 – it is not exactly one of the heavy-hitter elements in the human community. Aside from some technical esoterica, the major useful thing you can do with it is sprinkle a little into your aluminum (or your aluminium, if you’re British) to give it better tolerance to welding. It’s used in some high-end sporting equipment and Russian-made fighter jets. But to give you a sense of scale, the total yearly production of metallic Scandium among humans is said to be in the neighborhood of 25 pounds.

It is also said that Scandium is the 23rd or 24th most common element in the Sun. But since the sun is, to say the least, dominated by its #1 and #2 elements, that’s probably more of a “fun fact” than a “meaningful fact.”  However, H. W. Zhang, T. Gehren, and G. Zhao, authors of “A non-local thermodynamic equilibrum [sic] study of scandium in the Sun” (Astronomy & Astrophysics 481:2, April 2008) might see things differently.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Tournament Announcements...

1.Oh my, it's almost time for the first bestowal of a FABULOUS PRIZE!!!  The rule for January 2013 is that all votes made this month, for any active contest, count as entries in the fabulous prize drawing!  From February on, only votes made during that month for matches from that month will count -- so this is a good moment to make sure you have expressed your aesthetic opinions on matches from January and before!

2. Also, we are on the cusp -- the very cusp!!! -- of our third Fouth Round Match, which comes up this weekend!  It will pit the winner of Botticelli/Boyd against the winner of Brown/P. Bruegel.  Are you braced!?!?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Duchamp v. Dufy!

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the third of the eight initial brackets!

Marcel Duchamp
1887 - 1968


Raoul Dufy
1877 - 1953


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, January 25, 2013

Michael5000 Loses His Enthusiasm(s)

Personal blogs -- to the extent that there are still such things around -- often focus on new enthusiasms.  Indeed, probably a good proportion of all blog posts ever written are on the topic "Hey look, I have a new blog!"  But enthusiasms of all sort are often transient, flaming out in their glory and leaving behind a cluttered secondary market in fitness equipment, musical instruments, fancy cookware, and beer-making supplies.  Reflecting this aspect of the human condition, today on Infinite Art Tournament we officially decommission two of Michael5000's hobbies.

Chess (November 2009 - January 2013)

Nature of Project: An attempt to play a game of chess with someone from every country in the world on the website.
Level of Success: Reasonably good.  I made my way through 157 "countries," about 2/3 of the entities recognized as such by
Decline: Long-term burnout generated by a chronic tendency to initiate too many games; the difficulty of finding players to represent the world's smaller and poorer countries; my failure to significantly improve my chess skills in three years of regular play.
Fall: Failure to compete with droll online entertainment Fallen London for limited casual gaming time resources.

Geohashing (October 2009 - August 2012)

Nature of Project: A highly arbitrary and difficult-to-explain pastime (I tried here) that rewards local exploration, navigation and map skills, and a certain low-grade form of what you might call "daring-do."
Level of Success: Very good.  I really enjoyed this pursuit, and was assiduous in its pursuit.  Indeed, I think for a time I might well have been considered among the top 50 geohashers in the international scene.  There are several people of my acquaintance who think of me primarily as "that guy who does that geohashing thing."
Decline: An interruption of service on the website where participants record the results of their expeditions fixed my attention on the artificiality and fragility of the hobby.  Afterwards, I found it strangely difficult to regain my enthusiasm.
Fall: During a period characterized by increased work responsibilities and hours, geohashing expeditions became less frequent, ceasing altogether in late summer 2012.


In a melancholy but stirring ceremony Wednesday evening, sidebar boxes related to both enthusiasms were formally removed from this blog.

Have you, dear reader, abandoned a hobby or interest lately?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Play-In Artist SubTournament: Phase 1, Flight 7

Phase One Rules:
  1. You may cast votes for up to four artists.  
    • One vote per artist per person.
  2. Since play-in artists were nominated by your peers in the IAT community, including myself, courteous and affirmative voting is in order
    • Which is to say, no baggin' on the aesthetic sensibilities of the nominators.
  3. Full rules, procedures, and anticipated timeline for the Play-In SubTournament are available on the Play-In SubTournament page.

Phase 1, Flight 5 will be open until noon PST, Saturday, January 26th.
Phase 1, Flight 6 will be open until late February.
Flight 7 will be open for approximately two months.

H.R. Giger
born 1940

Timothy Ely
born 1949

Maskull Lasserre
b. 1978

Steven Charles
b. 1967
English; works in U.S.

Reg Mombassa
b. 1951
New Zealander; works in Australia

Nick Cave*
1959 -
*not Nick Cave the musician. Nick Cave the artist.

Andres Amador
b. 1971

Boris Vallejo
b. 1941
Peruvian; works in U.S.

Vote for up to fours artists! Votes go in the comments. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. This poll will be open for approximately two months past posting.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Wednesday Post

Greetings from Los Angeles
Michael5000 thought of you during his travels.

Last weekend, Mrs.5000 and I flew to Los Angeles County, my 38th county in the State of California and my 1024th county overall.

It is home to a large and tremendously expansive city, with streets and neighborhoods with names that are so familiar from movies, songs, and books that visiting the place for the first time feels like a return to someplace barely remembered from childhood, or a dream.  It has the same kind of time-layered architecture that make European cities so interesting, except here all the layers have been laid down, scraped away, and interwoven within the last 100 years.

It was sunny and, in January, had the extravagant temperatures that I am used to experiencing in July.  There were lots of interesting things to see and do.  It was really quite wonderful.

Artwise, the Getty Center gets all the attention, and ain't at all bad.  But, the scale, accessibility, and stellar collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art won my heart.  Between the two, we must have seen pieces by well over half the artists in tournament competition.  I will also insert a little shout-out for the Long Beach Museum of Art, which is not quite in the same league but which treated Mrs.5000 awfully well for her talk there, the raison d'etre of our junket.  They had a Jim Dine exhibit up, which didn't exactly convert me as a fan but at least gave me an idea of what folks like about him.

We saw a mariachi show.  I ran on the beach to establish a California record.  It was really quite a weekend.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round 2: Daumier v. David!

Honoré Daumier
1808 - 1879

Beat Dutch master Gerard David easily in Round 1.


Jacques-Louis David
1748 - 1825

Beat 20th century American Stuart Davis after a tough fight in Round 1


Vote for the artist of your choice in the comments, or any other way that works for you. Commentary and links to additional work are welcome. Polls open for at least one month past posting.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Jazz Thing

The Jazz Thing, Round 1 (40 Word/Album Limit)

#12 Miles Davis – "Bitches' Brew" (1970)  v.  #124 Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society  "Infernal Machines" (2009)

An unfortunate match-up.  I found Bitches' Brew a few years ago, and called it "one long festival of groovy sounds."  It's one of the records that sparked my interest in jazz.


Largely driven by hard, simple beats, Infernal Machines is very eclectic, highly accomplished, and packs much of the excitement and grit of intelligent modern rock.  Excellent jazz in our time, with no whiff of retro.  Who knew?

Very regrettably, Infernal Machines must yield to Bitches' Brew.  But there is no shame in that.