Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament Left Bracket Second-Round Elimination: Van Doesburg v. Martin!

It's a tough week for the early Italians, as First Round rivals Simone Martini and Masaccio have both been forced out with records of 1-2-1 and 1-2 respectively.

Both of today's contestants have struggled to stay alive in the Tournament.  A big win here might give one of them some momentum going into an eventual trial against the loser of the Ely/Manet match.  But that's all probably a few months in the future.

Theo Van Doesburg
1883 - 1931

John Martin
1789 - 1854
  • Beat Italian sculptor Marino Marini in Round 1.
  • Tied with Simone Martini in his first attempt at Round 2.
  • Lost to scientific illustrator Ernst Haeckel in Round 2.
  • Beat Masaccio in Round 2.

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, but likely much longer.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Wednesday Post

the lushness of Canaan's blue ribbon fairways
an alternative Christmas card from nichim


Canaan Valley Resort Park
Canaan Valley, West Virginia

Beautiful 18 hole championship golf course... awesome natural grandeur... Canaan Valley Resort Golf Course.

A common evening spectacle... handsome white-tailed deer browsing on the lushness of Canaan's blue ribbon fairways.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament Left Bracket Third-Round Elimination: Kupka v. Ghirlandaio!

Frantisek Kupka and Domenico Ghirlandaio both won into the Third Round before taking a loss, Ghirlandao to Krøyer and Kupka to La Tour. Both of them have now won their matches in the Left Bracket Third Round -- Kupka against Raoul Hausmann, whom Ghirlandao beat all the way back in Round One -- but only one can move on from here. Will it be the 20th century Czech or the 15th century Italian? Let's see!

Leaving us this week are Hausmann (3-2-1) and the American Thomas Cole (also 3-2-1).  Cole breaks into the top ten of artists who have left the tournament: his "batting average" of .564 (44 votes for, 34 votes against) is the 8th best out of 205.

Frantisek Kupka
1871 - 1957
Czech; worked in France
  • Defeated Wilfredo Lam in an unusual Cuban/Czech IAT Round 1 pairing.
  • Beat beachcomber Andres Amador in Round 2 by a single vote. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!
  • Lost to Georges de La Tour in Round 3, again by a single vote.
  • Mauled Raoul Hausmann in the Left Bracket Third Round.

Domenico Ghirlandaio
1449 - 1494


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, December 28, 2015

After Christmas, After the Christmas Cad

After Christmas, After the Christmas Cad

During the four years that I have shared Allison's diary entries about her relationship with the Christmas Cad, several of you have called her foolish, or expressed sadness that such a good-hearted person is "doomed." Neither statement could be further from the truth. Allison, although she has grown up naive, sheltered, and optimistic to a fault, is a very bright and capable young woman. This was the last Christmas season that she will have been blind to the Cad's many character flaws. Their break-up this coming spring will be briefly painful for her, of course -- intensely painful, why deny it? -- and she will be certainly be mortified afterwards as she gradually recognizes the depths of her past naivete. Against this, however, her natural buoyancy will serve her well. A little older and quite a bit wiser, she will soon realize that there are many, many more promising fish in the sea.

Next fall, to the infinite relief of her long-suffering father, Allison will finally enroll at the state university. For the next four years, she will never be off the dean's list. She will enjoy dating several very kind and reliable young men for a few years, and then, after that -- who knows? -- maybe she'll meet someone special!

Things will go harder for the Christmas Cad, I'm afraid. He involved himself on the fringes of organized crime last year, and as everyone knows, once you've established those kinds of connections it is awfully hard to break them off. In the spring and summer of 2016 he will be an increasingly frightened man, under pressure to submerge himself deeper and deeper into scarier forms of criminal activity. About Allison? I wish I could tell you that he will understand what he has thrown away, but he won't, not for a long time.  And this is no surprise, really.  Like many young men in trouble, he is far too concerned about his own shabby immediate crises to be able to invest himself in meaningful personal relationships.

About the same time that Allison moves into her dorm room -- although he will no longer be in touch with her, and will not know of the coincidence -- the Christmas Cad will leave town in a hurry, fleeing to the Chicago suburbs. There his older brother, no saint but at least a role model with a relatively stable lifestyle, will help him land a steady job in a restaurant. This act of petty patronage doesn't sound like much, but it will save the Christmas Cad's life. His abundant natural grace and charm will serve him well in food service, and as the years go by he will be able to move into the upper reaches of restaurant work, almost always lavished with more money in tips than most of his peers could ever hope for. He'll steer forever clear of any further criminal activity or drug use -- although, to work in food service is to be surrounded by alcohol, and I'm afraid he'll always drink a little bit more than he ought to.

His days of dancing the lead in ballet performances are over, obviously. Indeed, as he puts on weight, his nights on the stage will begin to seem like dreams from another lifetime. But he will remain emphatically one hell of a dancer, and he will always love dancing both for its own sake and and for the attention from women, at first sexual and eventually, as he ages, merely flirtatious, that his ability on the dance floor earns him. Fifty-one years from now, unwell and pushing eighty, he will still reduce everyone to tears at his granddaughter's wedding, dancing with her at the reception with the same effortless ease and grace that he possessed at twenty, the two of them together ("she inherited Daddy's moves," her mother always boasts) almost gliding over the floor. By then, he will have long since been no longer a Cad, but simply a man who lived a life made up of missed opportunities, second chances, and stolen joys.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Pollaiolo v. Pollock!

Antonio del Pollaiolo
1430ish - 1498


Jackson Pollock
1912 - 1956


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, December 24, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, First Elimination Round #44/64

Faceoff #1: Orcagna v. Organ

Orcagna (Andrea di Cione di Arcangelo)
1308 - 1368

Trounced by Claes Oldenburg in Round 1.


Bryan Organ
Born 1935

Lost to José Clemente Orozco in Round 1.

Faceoff #2: Overbeck v. Parmigianino

Johann Friedrich Overbeck
1789 - 1869

Lost to Palma Vecchio in Round 1.


1504 - 1540

Sandwiched by Giovanni Paolo Pannini 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, December 23, 2015

The Christmas Cad

XIII: An Emergency!

My favorite part about Christmas is always watching my Christmas Cad dance the lead in the Nutcracker.

Except, an emergency came up this year, and he wasn't there in time for the performance. They had to cancel the show!

He doesn't want to tell me what happened.  He says it would be really embarrassing for the people he was helping out. I'm impressed at how discreet he's being.

I guess everybody in the ballet company is really mad at him.

I just hope this doesn't ruin anybody's Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament Left Bracket Second-Round Elimination GRUDGE MATCH: Miró v. Millet!

Jean Baptiste Oudry beat Gerrard Dou in the First Round, but both artists ended up getting knocked out of the Tournament this week with records of 1-2.  Oudry fell to Jean-François Millet and Dou to Joan Miró.

Millet and Miró, meanwhile, have a First Round history of their own.  When they met back in April, in a contest that barely made a voting quorum, it was
Miró who ended up advancing 5-4 to take on Michelangelo.  That means that Millet needs to win outright this time to stay alive.  In the event of a tie, Miró will win on the strength of his earlier victory.  That's some catch, that grudge match rule.

Joan Miró
1893 - 1983
  • Defeated Jean-François Millet by a single vote in Round 1.  YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Lost to one "Michelangelo" in Round 2.  YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Crushed Gerrard Dou in the Left Bracket Second Round.

Jean-François Millet
1814 - 1875

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, but likely much longer.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Quiz of the New Monday

We continue to take time off from the march of decades until the new year.  Today's quiz has two extra questions!  That's called a "Christmas Bonus."  

1. When the apartment where she is trysting is hit by a German bomb, Sarah Miles promises God that if her lover is spared, she will never meet with him again. What Graham Greene novel have I just spoiled for you, if you hadn't read it yet?

2. Lasting from December 16, 1944 – January 25, 1945, this doomed operation was called Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein by the German army. What do we call it in English today?

3. Here's one of the most famous religious buildings in the world, as seen from the Mount of Olives. What is it called?

4. Kazuo Ishiguro's well-known 1989 novel about the late-life regrets of an emotionally stunted butler was also adapted into a successful movie. What were they called?

5. In August 1453, English King Henry VI had a mental breakdown and ceased responding to external stimuli. After he recovered in December 1454, people who had gained power during his lapse -- including the Duke of York and the Earls of Warwick and Salisbury -- proved reluctant to welcome him back to the throne. What are the ensuing three decades of civil war usually called these days?

6. Alexander Pope wrote a satirical epic poem in which much fuss is made over the snipping of a bit of a young woman's hair by an admirer. What is the poem?

7. Here's a painting by Thomas Cole based on a very popular novel by James Fenimore Cooper. Its title is Cora Kneeling at the Feet of Tamenund, but it usually goes by the same name as the book. Which is what?

8. It's a story that includes the Council of Elrond, an entmoot, and the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Its protagonists are eventually saved by eagles. What is it called?

9. You will find it between John and Romans.

10. Here's a section of a Thomas Hardy poem. What's it called?
Well: while was fashioning
This creature of cleaving wing,
The Immanent Will that stirs and urges everything

Prepared a sinister mate
For her -- so gaily great --
Shape of Ice, for the time far and dissociate.

And as the smart ship grew
In stature, grace, and hue,
In shadowy silent distance grew the Iceberg too.
11. What item, forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold he stole from the Rhine maidens, grants the power to rule the world?  According to Richard Wagner, anyway.
12. It starts with "Break on Through," "Light My Fire," and "Crystal Ship." What's its title?

The Official Quiz of December 14!

1. 557: The earthquake hit Constantinople.
2. 835: Rise of the eunuchs in Song China.
3. 1287: St. Lucia's Flood in the Netherlands.
4. 1542: Rise of Mary, Queen of Scots.
5. 1911: Amundsen reaches the South Pole.
6. 1947: Birth of Christopher Parkening, who would eventually become probably the most famous classical guitarist in the world.  Now, I find I can only give half marks for "guitarist"; I can't believe that Parkening has ever been remotely competitive with, say, Eric Clapton, Pete Townsend, or Eddie Van Halen for household-name status.  As pfly puts it: "Gotta classical."
7. 1962: Mariner 2 reaches Venus.
8. 1994: Construction begins on the Three Gorges Dam.
9. 2001: Ocean's 11 opens for the holiday season.
10. 2004: The highest bridge in the world opens in France.

And I believe our winner, out of small but vigorous field, is gS49!  Well done as always to Doc Schnell, pfly, and Susan.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Poliakoff v. Polke!

Serge Poliakoff
1906 - 1969
Russian; worked in France


Sigmar Polke
1941 - 2010


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, December 18, 2015

At the Movies: "Thale"

At the Movies with Michael5000

Aleksander Nordaas, 2013.

imbd: 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 55% Fresh

Thale is a brooding supernatural feature made by a kid from central Norway in his family home. Most of the action takes place in an underground bunker – dad’s workshop, made deliciously squalid with a beautifully selected assortment of old decaying detritus. A great strength of the film is how well this dark, claustrophobic space works as a setting.

There is not a lot of dialog in Thale, which is a good thing, because the version I watched was dubbed, and dubbed badly. I wondered at times if the voice actors actually had a chance to see the film, or if they were just reading their lines in a stiffly conversational tone. Eventually I turned the sound way down and turned on subtitles, which helped.

Now, there is an old tradition in film of making the alien or the supernatural being a beautiful, naked young woman. This strategy has an obvious appeal: it avoids the needs for expensive special effects. In this case, the title character is (probably) a siren-like figure from Norwegian mythology. She is very beautiful, and very naked, but the camera tries to be fairly gentlemanly about the whole thing. It helps that she (Silje Reinåmo) is a pretty solid actress who does a nice job of inhabiting a very peculiar role. The two male leads have an easier job, displaying almost no emotional range whatsoever. I think it’s intentional. Or, it might be the dubbing.

Prognosis: As a truly independent film, Thale lacks a certain polish. But then, that makes it a little different than most other movies you’ll watch. Its story has enough ambiguities that it doesn’t have to work all that hard to make sense, and that can be a little off-putting. On the other hand, the same lack of concern with backstory gives the proceedings a weird, mysterious vibe. It can seem a bit like pieces cobbled together from other movies you’ve seen, and maybe some old X-Files episodes. But, Thale has a personality of its own, too. It was more engrossing than I expected, even with the awful dubbing, and it has stuck with me more, and longer, than the average movie.

Michael5000's imdb rating: 7.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Third Round: Filippino Lippi v. the Limbourg Brothers!

Filippino Lippi has won two easy matches, but split a double-header with his father, Fra Fillipo Lippi.  After losing to dad in the First Round, he came back in Second Round Elimination to decisively reverse the earlier result!  And that means that today he's going up against the Limbourg Brothers, who just came within a single changed mind of upsetting Leonardo da Vinci.  Never a dull moment, in the Infinite Art Tournament.

Filippino Lippi
1457 - 1504

Jean, Paul, and Herman Limbourg
died c. 1416
  • Defeated Roy Lichtenstein easily in Round 1.
  • Beat Wyndham Lewis in Round 2 by a two-vote swing. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Lost to Leonardo da Vinci -- Leonardo da Vinci! -- in Round 3, by only a two-vote swing. 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.