Thursday, April 30, 2015

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

You know what we haven't had around here for a while?  A grudge match, that's what!  Gustav Klimt really beat up on Franz Kline back in Round 1, but then fell to Paul Klee to end up in the Left Bracket himself.  Meanwhile, Kline has done fairly well for himself against International Blue Klein and Ernst Kirschner -- not, perhaps, the most daunting of opponents -- and finds himself with a rare chance at redemption!  Remember the Grudge Match Rule: Kline would have to win outright.  If it's a tie, Klimt wins on the strength of his previous victory.

Kirschner gets knocked out of the tournament this week with a record of 1-2 (16-25), and Pierre Bonnard goes out at 1-2-1 (21-29).

Gustav Klimt
1862 - 1918

Franz Kline
1910 - 1962

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, April 29, 2015

The Wednesday Post

Tales from an American Roadtrip, part 1
Doesn't yet seem like we are on vacation but it probably will soon

Ralfroy Motel
“On the Old Oregon Trail”
2½ miles east of Boise’s Business District on Highways 30 and 20
15 Modern Courts – Some with Kitchens

Mon. Morn.

Only drove here – Boise – last evening. We plan a little longer drive today maybe. Doesn’t seem yet like we are on vacation but it probably will soon.

Caymus & Townsends

The marker is on the site of the Indian village of Piqua and the Battle of Piqua where George Rogers Clark defeated the Shawnees in 1780. The marker as well as a statue of Clark are in a memorial state park, 5 miles west of Springfield, Ohio on Rt. 369.


Once an Indian Trading Post, next to grow into Fort Hawkins, this city became known as Macon in 1823. Today Macon is important both in cultural and industrial fields. Its schools offer more than ordinary educational facilities.

Dear Peter:

Am spending my vacation with Pat and Hank. Macon is a beautiful city. How is school going?

Love, Aunt Elva

“Over the Gulf of Mexico”
Galveston, Texas

Dear Bev & Jack,

So far I’ve been having a pretty nice vacation! (Sure needed it after 7 yrs. With Gene Smith – eh, Jack?) Guess in about 3 weeks I’ll have to get down to “business.”

Hope all is well with you. Tell Jell & Drew hello for me.

Much love, Joanne & Ann

American Falls of Niagara under illumination.
Taken from Niagara Falls.


Hi, how are things with you? I’m having a blast and my cold was almost gone but I went swimming and it got worse. Hope you are having fun. Will write soon.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Third Round: Jordaens v. Ingres!

Back to the Left Bracket Third Round, for a clash of the 17th and 19th centuries.  Ingres got here through a loss to the American Edward Hopper; Jordaens by two close wins over Jasper Johns and Gwen John.  Ms. John leaves the Tournament with a 2-2 record and a very respectful 28-25 (.528) vote total.

Jacob Jordaens
1593 - 1678

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres
1790 - 1867
  • Beat Victorian painter William Holman Hunt by a two-vote swing in Round 1. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Crushed Alexander Ivanov in Round 2.
  • Lost to Edward Hopper in Round 3.


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, April 27, 2015

The New Monday Quiz XIII

1. This might be a self portrait of the great painter ________________.

2. What famous text is the source of this quotation?
“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
Everything is meaningless.”
What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever....

Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.

3. What country is the proud home of the little lighthouse shown here?

4. Who wrote Medea, Electra, and The Trojan Women?

5. He wrote an adaptation of the Nutcracker Suite and incidental music for Timon of Athens, but more importantly a huge catalog of jazz standards including "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)," "Mood Indigo," and "Take the A Train," and "I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good."

6. There are three elements that would have been eligible for this week's quiz. Can you name one of them?

7. It's a map of Sunday church attendance. Where?

8. After the dissolution of the Portuguese Empire in 1975, this country was immediately invaded by a large neighboring state. After 27 years of resistance, it became an independent country in May 2002.

9. Here's a still from a well-known 1980 film. What's it called?

10. What's the northernmost city in the Western Hemisphere with a metropolitan population of more than a million?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Millet v. Miro!

Jean-François Millet
1814 - 1875


Joan Miró
1893 - 1983


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 24, 2015

At the Movies: "Inception"

At the Movies with Michael5000

Christopher Nolan, 2010.

imbd score: 8.8 (imdb 250: #14)
Ebert: Four Stars.
Rotten Tomatoes: 86% Fresh

Inception is a movie made to be a middlebrow summer blockbuster. It's got the requisite gunplay, explosions, and computer-generated effects to pack in the crowds, but it also brings an intelligent script, strong acting, and strong art design to the table. Like Chistopher Nolan's earlier movie Memento, it has a nicely crafted non-linear narrative form. Both movies are a bit like puzzles, in that while watching them we have to perform a bit of mental work to figure out what is going on. Nolan has a gift for making the work involved just challenging enough to make the viewer feel pretty darn clever for being able to keep up, but simple enough that pretty much any dunce can follow along.

Among other virtues, Inception has a great beginning and a great ending. There are no opening titles; the action -- quite puzzling, at first -- simply begins. The opening few minutes establish that the lead characters are doing something, it's not clear quite what, in an exotic and highly ambiguous setting. Now, a couple of times later in the film, characters will distinguish between dreaming and waking life by saying that in waking life, you always know how you came to be where you are, but in dreams, you simply emerge into a situation. And the structure of Inception is such that, if you were to stop the film and bring up the lights at some random point, most viewers would probably have a tough time remembering how the movie started. So that's a neat trick. According to Inception's own definition, you emerge into it as into a dream.

The ending uses a striking visual device to create a simple but clever ambiguity, showing you that there are at least two ways to interpret all that has gone before. It's another neat trick.

Plot: So there's this technology that creates a virtual reality dreamspace, and guys who control it have apparently decided that its best and highest use is as a tool for industrial espionage. Their game is to, for instance, kidnap a powerful corporate dude, interact with him in a customized virtual reality environment, and trick his subconscious mind into spilling important corporate beans. Well, whatever. It is a premise that gives the filmmakers a great deal of latitude to create plot-friendly rules about how things work, and to knock themselves out with visual design, and they have cheerfully jumped at the opportunity. A few critics have attacked Inception for not creating an atmosphere that was more realistically dreamlike, but that's absurd. You can't say "no way, a virtual reality dreamspace wouldn't work like that," because there's no such thing as a virtual reality dreamspace.

Anyway, the plot of Inception involves an attempt to insert an new idea into a very rich young man's pretty little head. To do this, they hook him up to their dream machine and take off on adventures that involve complicated gun battles on city streets, complicated gun battles in a luxury hotel, and complicated gun battles in an isolated winter fortress. None of it really makes a heap of sense, but it holds together pretty well while you're watching it, and it's a lot of fun to look at.

Visuals: Inception is a real showcase of computer-generated special effects, in a good way. The scene where Paris is folded over on itself, the film's trademark image, is completely gratuitous. But it is also very impressive! It's a movie that is fun to watch.

Dialogue: Most of the dialog consists of characters rationing out the information we need to make sense of the special effects. But that's OK; the movie is stylish enough, and the actors strong enough, that it's easy to go along for the ride.

Prognosis: My opinion of Inception is necessarily dampened by the fact that, after watching it in 2010, I forgot all about it. When she saw that I had checked it out from the library a few weeks ago, Mrs.5000 told me we had watched it in the theater. "Really?" I said. Watching it now, in 2015, I knew that I had seen it before, but couldn't tell what was coming next. I think it may have blurred in my memory with two earlier movies that also experimented with narrative form and surrealist imagery, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synecdoche, New York.

So, I've been nicely entertained by Inception twice, but I can't help think that if it was a truly great movie, I'd remember it a little better. Therefore:

Michael 5000's imdb rating: 7.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament Left Bracket Third-Round Elimination: El Greco v. van der Goes!

This was not the match scheduled for today, but when Ghiberti v. Hunt ended in a 6-6 tie, it opened up the opportunity for a detour into Third Round Elmination.

El Greco and Hugo van der Goes have been rubbing elbows with household names all through this tournament. It was losing to the two of them, for instance, that shot Paul Gauguin to his surprisingly speedy exit. On the other hand, both of them have lost badly to Mr. Vincent Van Gogh. Now they face each other for a shot at the big time. Will van der Goes pull off another hairsbreadth win against a major opponent? Or will El Greco prevail? Let's find out!

Leaving us after very strong performances are Giulio Romano (3-2; 26 vf, 27 va) and Alberto Giacometti (2-2; 27 vf, 19 va). The latter's "batting average" of .587 ranks him 5th among the 153 artists whom have now been voted out of the Tournament.

El Greco
1541 - 1614
Greek; worked in Italy and Spain
  • Defeated Florentine master Benozzo Gozzoli in Round 1 in a contest that went down to the last vote. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Tied with Francisco Goya in Round 2. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!
  • Stunned Paul Gauguin in a lopsided Round 2 tiebreaker.
  • Lost to somebody called Vincent van Gogh in Round 3.
  • Easily beat Giulio Romano in the Left Bracket Third Round.

Hugo van der Goes
1440 - 1482


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.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Element of the Month: Rutherfordium!

April's Real Element of the Month:


Atomic Mass: 267ish amu
Melting Point: possibly around 2100 °C
Boiling Point: possibly around 5500 °C

A few weeks ago, I published a post saying that the Element of the Month was Element #104, Londinium. That post was made in error. Element #104 is, in fact, Rutherfordium.

In the earlier post, I said that the first synthesis of Element #104 was contested between a Roman team led by G. Suetonius Paulinus and a Welsh team led by Boudica Iceni. Actually, first synthesis of Rutherfordium was contested between scientists at the USSR's Joint Institute of Nuclear Research and a team from the University of California. Seutonius Paulinus and Boudica's conflict was for control of the settlement of Londinium, in Roman Britain. I apologize for any confusion my mistake may have caused.

In the next paragraph, I noted that according to a major internet authority, Londinium is the first transactinide element and the first member of the 6d series of transition metals. This statement is actually true of Rutherfordium. We really are told by the Wiki that Rutherfordium's ionization potentials, atomic radius, as well as radii, orbital energies, and ground levels of its ionized states are similar to that of hafnium and very different from that of lead. That "very different from that of lead" part cracks me up. It's like saying "a zebra is shaped kind of like a horse, but not at all like a snake."

The Centerfold!
The Soviet team proposed the name Kurchatovium (Ku) for Element #104, in
honor of Igor Kurchatov (second from left), one-time chief of
Soviet nuclear research. Rutherfordium, the name that
was ultimately selected, was proposed by the American team.
In my previous post, I indicated that so-called Londinium was "widely used in cosmetics, paints, lotions, and food additives." I apologize for any confusion or harm that may have resulted from this misstatement. The synthetic Elements are subject to rapid radioactive decay, which gives consumer products made from them such a short shelf life as to be commercially unpractical.

A final error in the earlier piece was my citation of incorrect names for Elements #96 (Curium), #100 (Fermium), and #103 (Lawrencium). "Miraculum," "Militarium," and "Drumrolium" are in fact names of late Hadyn symphonies, or close enough. Despite pushing back on the theoretical frontiers of physics, modern science has not yet been able to produce a Haydn symphony numbered higher than #104, the "Londinium."  I can only apologize once more to any descendents and enthusiasts of Josef "Papa" Haydn and/or the great physicist Ernest Rutherford, in whose honor Rutherfordium was named, for any pain or anxiety that has resulted from my carelessness.

It is true, as I stated in the original article, that Element #104 is not generally found in nature. It seems very unlikely that it would really show up in the Oregon Vortex, but who really knows what goes on in that crazy place.

In a fiasco brought about by shoddy fact-checking in the Treasury Ministry, New Zealand placed the physicist Ernest
Rutherford on its new 100 dollar note.  Element 100, Fermium, is of course named not for Rutherford, but in honor of
the physicist Enrico Fermi.  Debate over whether to replace Rutherford's portrait with Fermi's, or even to create
an  unorthodox but scientifically accurate 104 dollar note, paralyzed the New Zealand parliament in 2004; public
disgust over the currency debacle led to sweeping landslides for the opposition in the next election.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Infinite Art Tournament Left Bracket Second-Round Elimination: Kiefer v. Cartier-Bresson!

Henri Cartier-Bresson and Anselm Kiefer both enter this contest with two wins and one loss.  Oddly, they have beaten the same two artists: Ellsworth Kelly and Richard Parkes Bonington.  Kelly and Bonington, of course, leave the Tournament this week on their second loss. 

It's a risky business, predicting future Tournament success from past performance.  But it's worth noticing that Cartier beat Kelly and Bonington by a lot, and Kiefer beat them, just barely.  We'll see if that means anything when the voting settles.

Anselm Kiefer
Born 1945
  • Defeated Ellsworth Kelly by a single vote in Round 1. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Lost to fellow living artist Anish Kapoor in Round 2.
  • Snuck past Richard Parkes Bonington in the Left Bracket Second Round by a single flipped vote. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!

Henri Cartier-Bresson
1908 - 2004

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.