Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Rodchenko v. Rodin!

Alexander Rodchenko
1891 - 1956


Auguste Rodin
1840 - 1917


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 28, 2016

The Infinite Art Tournament Left Bracket Second-Round Elimination: Morisot v. Léger!

Berthe Morisot
1841 - 1895
  • Defeated Giovanni Battista Moroni in Round 1 by a two-vote swing. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!
  • Lost to Gustave Moreau in Round 2 by a two-vote swing. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!
  • Beat Henry Moore by a single vote in the Left Bracket Second Round. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!!!

Fernand Léger
1881 - 1955

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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round Two: Modigliani v. Raphael!

Amedeo Modigliani
1884 - 1920
Italian; worked in France

Tied with Paula Modersohn-Becker in his first try at Round One.
Beat László Moholy-Nagy soundly in a second go at Round 1.

1483 - 1520

Defeated Allan Ramsay 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, April 25, 2016

Through History with The New Monday Quiz: the 1270s

The 1270s are starting to feel pretty modern and well documented.  This was the easiest decade quiz to write thus far.  Which is not to say it will be any easier to take.   

1. On August 10, 1270, Yekuno Amlak overthrew the Zagwe dynasty. Claiming decent from the royal family of ancient Axum and ultimately from King Soloman, he established a dynasty that would rule his county continuously until 1974, when the last emperor was deposed in a coup d’état.  What country?

2. In 1270, Louis IX of France took sick and died outside of Tunis; in 1271 prince Edward of England raided and sacked towns in the Eastern Mediterranean, established a brief alliance with the Mongols, and then signed a peace treaty with the Sultan of Egypt. And that was pretty much the end of what?

3. In 1271, a young Venetian merchant set off with his dad and his uncle on a trip to the mysterious East. After he returned 24 years later, he narrated an account of his travels that has pretty much stayed in print ever since. What was his name?

4. In 1273, Rudolf I of German was elected Holy Roman Emperor, ending the 20 year Great Interregnum. What’s an interregnum?

5. In 1274, a Mongol army attempted to invade Japan. Despite superior numbers, technology, and tactics, the Mongols were repulsed by the Japanese. Part of the reason for the Japanese victory was the appearance of a kamikaze – not a suicidal fighter pilot, of course, but the thing the suicidal fighter pilots were allegorically named after. What is a kamikaze?

6. Finished in 1275, this medieval French poem “styled as an allegorical dream vision” claims to be a teaching about the “art of love.” With its “emphasis on sensual language and imagery,” the poem was naturally “both popular and controversial—one of the most widely read works in France for three centuries.” It was translated into numerous European languages. What was the name of this early international best-seller?

7. Originally (and still) the flag of Genoa, the red “St. George’s Cross” began to be used as the flag for what other European country in the 1270s?

8. In 1278, the Bishop of Urgell and the Count of Foix resolved a dispute over a chunk of land in the Pyrenees by agreeing to an unusual arrangement of joint sovereignty. Surprisingly, this setup endures today, with the Count of Foix’s piece of the action having been taken over by the King of Navarre, and then by the French head of state. This is the essential history of what country?

9. We haven’t talked about the Cholas for a long time, and this is our last chance! For, The Pandyas in the south had risen to the rank of a great power who ultimately banished the Hoysalas from Malanadu or Kannada country, who were allies of the Cholas from Tamil country, and the demise of the Cholas themselves ultimately was caused by the Pandyas in 1279. Where was all of this happening?

10. The Cholas were not the only ancient empire to perish in 1279. The newly-organized Yuan Dynasty defeated the Song Dynasty at the Battle of Yamen in that year, extinguishing an imperial line that had been around since 960. Who was now the emperor of all China?

Through History with The New Monday Quiz: the 1260s

1. The Egyptian Mamluks defied Hulagu Khan, the Mongols attacked, and the Egyptians handed them their asses. It was the first major defeat for the Mongols, who would never advance any further to the southwest.
2. That Baptistry would be by Nicola Pisano.
3. The end of the Latin Empire was the rebirth of the Byzantine Empire, or the Roman Empire as they themselves would have had it.
4. Mindaugas is the father of Lithuania.
5. Dadu / Khanbaliq is still the capital; we call it Beijing.
6. The Kingdom of Cusco would eventually accumulate the Inca Empire.
7. Simon de Montfort's big meeting is sometimes called the "Model Parliament," and it was by some reckonings the first real English Parliament.
8. The smart theologian? Thomas Aquinas.
9. Norway turned over Man and the other islands over to Scotland, ending years of war between the two countries.
10. After Clement IV died, the Cardinals took three years to elect a new pope. They clung to their stalemate after having been locked in a room and then having their food reduced to bread and water, and only caved as the roof was being removed.

Excellent answers all around, but I'm going to give the Mindaugas Cup to pfly, who not only shows his work in an amusing and successful fashion, but was the only one to catch on that this was the decade where it stopped going all the Mongols' way.



Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Infinite Art Tournament, Round One: Mondrian v. Orpen!

Piet Mondrian
1872 - 1944

Tied with László Moholy-Nagy in his first try at Round One.


Sir William Orpen
1878 - 1931

Tied with Adriaen van Ostade in his first try at Round One.


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 22, 2016

State of the Blog Ventures 2016

Lately I haven't been keeping as tightly to the schedule of this little online publication as has been my habit for the last, oh, nine years. I have, in fact, been "phoning it in." The reason is that I "haven't been feelin' it."

Two years ago, I did an assessment of where we were in the various blog projects.  I was even silly enough to list other, new things I could do in the blog, such as starting to review movies again, or to talk about classical music. A handful of commenters said "yeah, do something with classical music!" so with my unerring instincts I started reviewing movies again.

Well.  Maybe it's just the spring, or even just an inkling that I might be better served by putting more energy into the home, friendships, career, or other aspects of so-called "real life."  Maybe I need to attend to my so-called "spiritual growth."  Whatever the case, I think it's time to take another good hard look at the blog content.  Doubtless the upshot will be a ruthless KonMari-ing of my little projects.

Ready?  Here goes:

The Infinite Art Tournament
Believe it or not, we are already well past the halfway point of the Tournament. The Play-In Tournament is a distant memory, and of the 500 artists in the big show, more than 3/4 have already entered the ring.  Hell, more than 1/4 have already left it.

Will we finish the Tournament?  Well, here's the unspoken rule: a quorum is nine.  We've only ever missed it once.  As long as we keep hitting it, I'll finish the Tournament if I'm able.  I think it's grand.

Through History With the Monday Quiz
This one has been a real crushing chore, and no one likes it much -- but I've learned an awful lot from the process, and actually want to carry on with it.  And anyway, it's reaching the point where it's going to be a lot easier to write, and maybe even to take.
Element of the Month
Elements are kind of fun to write about and all, but it's been a long time since I really felt like I needed to write about an Element every month. 

Michael5000 vs. Shakespeare
There was a time when Shakespeare had the second-best blog all to himself. I notice, though, that the last time I wrote on a Shakespeare topic was 2013. So, I'm going to declare this line of inquiry dead.

Michael5000 vs. Dickens
Sure, I want to finish reading all of the Dickens novels.  Other than the Christmas ones, anyway.  I'm at 10 out of 14.5 novels.

Michael5000 vs. The Beatles
This sounded a lot more interesting then it turned out to be. I declare the project dead.

The Songs of the 50 States
These aren't interesting to anybody but me, but they help me organize my odd travels and they stoke my interest in seeing new places and new museums. So, they're still something I might do occasionally.

Saint of the Month
As with elements, it's been a while since I really tried to make sure there was a saint every month.  But unlike with elements, there is always something new and interesting (to me) when I look into a saint.  So, I might still do these.

The Wednesday Post
These are kind of fun, and -- strange as it may seem to some of you -- have a constituency. 

The Free Box Tapes
It sounded like a good idea at the time.  I declare the project dead.

The Jazz Thing
This thing barely got off the ground relative to its size as proposed, but even so I learned a hell of a lot about jazz, which now makes up perhaps 15% of my musical consumption.  So that's a win.  I declare the project dead.

Movie Reviews
Don't know if you noticed, but I put up a movie review every Friday for a year.  That was fun.  But it's also been kind of fun not trying to make that deadline.  I declare weekly publication at an end, but that's not to say I might not like writing about the occasional movie still.

(Other Blog Projects)

Michael Reads the Bible
I'd actually kind of like to go back to this someday.  Maybe after the Tournament is finished.

State of the Craft
This was the most popular blog I did.  But, it's hard to keep interested in blogging about quilting when you don't quilt so much anymore.

Michael5000 Runs
For about a month and a half there, I was writing daily about the elaborate system of tracking and incentives I use to motivate my running.  I think I got that out of my system.


OK, here's what we'll do for now:
  •  Mondays: Will bring a Monday Quiz, if I feel like it that week.
  •  Tuesdays: Will continue to be a Tournament Day
  •  Wednesday: I'll do a Wednesday Post, if I feel like it that week.
  •  Thursdays: Will continue to be a Tournament Day
  •  Friday: If I feel like it that week, Friday could be an Element or a Saint or a Dickens or a State or a movie review or, you know, anything else I felt like writing.  And if I felt like writing a lot, maybe I'd throw some of that stuff at a Monday or a Wednesday too.  
  •  Saturdays: Will continue to be a Tournament Day.  The specifics of Tournament scheduling will need to be tinkered with soon, but that's another story.
OK.   I feel better for having talked this out with you.  Thank you for reading my little blog, as you apparently do. Even on days like this.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Second Round: Pietro da Cortona v. Picabia!

Pietro da Cortona
1596 - 1669

Crushed by Piero di Cosimo and RENAISSANCE DINOSAURS in Round 1.
Beat Piero della Francesca in First Round Elimination by a single vote. YOUR VOTE COUNTS!!!

Francis Picabia
1879 - 1953

Crushed Perugino in Round 1.
Lost to Joachim Patenier 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, April 20, 2016

The Wednesday Post

Exploring the Evergreen State, Part X
Similar to many year round beautiful drives in this Pacific Northwest Wonderland.

Great news for people who haven't been enjoying our tour of Washington: this is the last stop on our tour of Washington!  We end where we began, back in Seattle, the state's great metropolis.  From here, we will return to our various homes on different trains, or perhaps by plane!  But I'm sure we will always remember the many sights and attractions of the Evergreen State, especially those of a hydroelectric nature!


Posted: February 8, 1945

Dear Mom,

Everything fine.  Kids O.K.  Linda & Johnny's cold almost gone.  Everyone here just fine.  Hope you are same.

Rains so hard here the drops bounce on the sidewalks & hit you in the face.

Love, Ruth & Kids.

One of Seattle's many beauty spots.  The Seattle Art Museum may be seen just beyond the water storage reservoir.  Lake Washington in the distance.

Posted: July 6, 1964

Dear Marie & Charlie,

We might drop in to see you on the way back which might be around next Monday.  If your not home that's OK & if you are its OK.  Peggy
Love, Ethel

Similar to many year round beautiful drives in this Pacific Northwest Wonderland.

Posted: August 3, 1960

Enadel and I are in the Pacific Northwest to visit her many kind folks here.  Now are spending a couple of days in Seattle.  I am returning to L.___ next week but Enadel will stay on a little longer


The new one-million dollar Seattle Art Museum in Volunteer Park is noted for its fine collection of Oriental Jade.  From the steps of the museum building it is possible to see the peaks of more than 26 mountains, including Mr. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan, and Mt. Olympus.

Posted: [redacted]

Pfc. Wilhelm J Wojeck 357555760.
Co. A. 391 Inf. A.P.O. 98
c/o Postmaster
San Francisco, Calif.

Passed by Army Examiner 34273, Joseph W. Stunkel

Seattle, Washington
An interesting view of Seattle, Washington from the central buisness district across LakeUnion toward the northern residential area.  Showing on the right is the freeway, part of U.S. Highway [Interstate] 5, which runs from Mexico to Canada without a single stop sign.

Posted: [illegible]

Seattle April 8th.

Dear Marylyn, Just a card to let you know, I got here safely.  Grace is still very ill, don't know if, and when she will be home.  I am having a good time with my old time friends.  Today lunch at the Space Needle.  Dinner in West Seattle tonite.  Hope all is fine with you.

Love, Thera

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Infinite Art Tournament, Left Bracket Second Round: Perugino v. Piero di Cosimo!

1447ish - 1523

Lost to Francis Picabia in Round 1.
Beat Max Pechstein in First Round Elimination.

Piero di Cosimo
1461ish - 1521

Skunked Pietro da Cortona in Round 1.
Lost -- but respectably -- to Pablo Picasso, 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.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Through History with The New Monday Quiz: the 1260s

The 1250s were 1/4 of the way from 1000 to 2000.  And the world was a lot more like the one we live in than it had been 250 years earlier.  And yet, sometimes things seem a little alien to us today.   

1. In 1260, Hulagu Khan, leading a powerful Mongol army south from Damascus, sent a letter to the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt:
From the King of Kings of the East and West, the Great Khan. To Qutuz the Mamluk, who fled to escape our swords. You should think of what happened to other countries and submit to us… Resist and you will suffer the most terrible catastrophes. We will shatter your mosques and reveal the weakness of your God and then will kill your children and your old men together.
The Sultan responded by beheading the envoys and putting their heads on pikes. What happened next?

2. Meanwhile, in Pisa, a master sculptor was working on the Baptistery pulpet. Was the sculptor Francis Picabia, Nicola Pisano, Camille Pissarro, Jacopo Pontormo, or Nicolas Poussin?

3. In 1261, the Empire of Nicaea conquered and eliminated the Latin Empire, thereby re-establishing what?

4. From the 1230s to the 1250s, Mindaugas unified the tribes and dutchies of the southern Baltic, forging together a country that would become immensely powerful in the next two centuries. He was its first and only king. A convert to Christianity, he ordered the construction of a cathedral in Vilnius. But after he was assassinated in 1263, the new country would have to endure seven years of unrest and chaos. Of what country is Mindaugas usually considered the father?

5. The Tang had called it Tanyeng, the Yan called it Yanjing, the Liao called in Nanjing, the Jurchin Jin called it Zhongdu, and the Mongols razed it. But in 1264, Kublai Khan changed his mind about Xanadu and decided to build his imperial capital there, naming it Dadu or Khanbaliq. What do we call the city today?

6. Somewhere around this time period, Manqu Qhapaq died of natural causes and left his son, Sinchi Roca, as the successor to the Kingdom of Cusco. In a couple of centuries, that kingdom would expand rapidly into what empire?

7. In 1264, Simon de Montfort called a big meeting, inviting all of the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls and barons in England, as well as a handful of knights and minor officials from each shire. Although it was by no means the first major meeting of the English nobility, this assembly is still often thought of as the first what?

8. He is considered the Catholic Church's greatest theologian and philosopher.  His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory… The works for which he is best known are the Summa Theologiae and the Summa contra Gentiles.” And he finished the “Summa contra Gentiles” in the 1260s. Who was this important brainy guy?

9. In the 1266 Treaty of Perth, Norway ceded the Isle of Man, the Hebrides, the Orkneys, and Shetland, in exchange for a cash payout and additional yearly payments. What country was on the other side of the deal?

10. When Pope Clement IV died in 1268, the College of Cardinals was split down the middle on Italian political questions. What was remarkable about the ensuing papal election?

Through History with The New Monday Quiz: the 1250s

1. Out with the Ayyubids and in with the Mamuluks in medieval Egypt.
2. Element 33: Arsenic.
3. Where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic: Stockholm.
4. Florins are from Florence.
5. Dali was subsumed by the Mongols.
6. Pope Innocent was creating the doctrine of purgatory.
7. Lisbon, the capital on the western tip of Europe.
8. Bagdad, put to slaughter by the Mongols.
9. Osman I would found the Ottoman dynasty.
10. The Golden Horde was an increasingly independent semi-nomadic khanate, a splinter group of the Mongols as they began to lose their cohesion.  Mongols, in a way; anti-Mongols, in a way.

Morgan and Susan provided superb sets of answers, but if one were to be persnickety -- and here I go -- Christine M and pfly would have to take joint custody of  the victor's cup, which they can take turns enjoying until the Mongols arrive.