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Posts Tagged ‘art’

The cherry blossom is an iconic Japanese image.

Cherry Blossom Trees, Japan

The season is short so it must be fully appreciated when the blossoms are in bloom.

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Small, delicate, beautiful…

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But seeing cherry trees on a large scale…

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Dozens, hundreds…

Fuji Temple

Thousands of cherry trees carpeting the landscape. My mind reels at the thought.

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And yet when all is said and done, it comes down to each individual blossom, standing on its own.

blossoms

“The perfect blossom is a rare thing. You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life.” [1]aa-kendo-kanji-red___________________________________________________________________________

[1] Lord Katsumoto (from the movie, ‘The Last Samurai‘)

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There is a wonderful site called PhotoBotos.com.

Some of the most amazing photographs are posted there.

Here are just a few recent examples.

I get daily emails from them with the latest sample of excellent photography.

Do yourself a favour and get PhotoBotos to email you their artwork.

You won’t regret it!

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On the eve of Star Wars Day (May the Fourth Be With You), fun by Geektroverted!

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A carving of a stick figure discovered by archaeologists in a cave in Brazil is believed to be the earliest example of rock art in the Americas and could shed new light on when the New World was first settled.

(No, not THAT kind of rock art!)

The team of archaeologists from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil made the discovery during excavations in 2009 but unveiled their findings in this month’s PLoS ONE scientific journal.

“It shows that about 11,000 years ago, there was already a very diverse manifestation of rock art in South America, so man probably arrived in the Americas much earlier than normally is accepted,” explained Walter Alves Neves, the archaeologist and biological anthropologist leading the team.

The figure, scratched into a cave in Lapa do Santo in central-eastern Brazil, appears to be squatting with his arms outstretched. It is about 12 inches tall from head to feet and about 8 inches wide. The phallus is about 2 inches long, about the same length as the man’s left arm. (Yikes!)

“The figure, which we named ‘the horny little man’, is probably linked to some kind of fertility ritual,” Mr Neves said.

(Seriously? That was the best name they could come up with??)

Carbon dating and other tests of the sediment covering the petroglyph suggest the engraving dates between 10,000 and 12,000 years old – making it the oldest reliably dated example of such rock art found yet in the Americas.

Well, there you have it, boys and girls. Notwithstanding the puerile (and penile) humour, it turns out that people have been living (and drawing randy pictures) in the Americas for a lot longer than originally thought.

Who said Art History was boring?

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For those who have not yet had the pleasure, William Hamilton is a brilliant cartoonist. His works are most often found in The New Yorker magazine. He is also a lawyer and a playwright.  Few people capture the privileged preppy world as well as he.

(Post ‘Official Preppy Handbook’?… or maybe some downward social mobility?)

William Hamilton [1], in a very real way, got me through law school and my bar exams in terms of social interaction. He remains to this day my steadfast companion when I attend virtually any (non-Jewish) social functions, especially of a professional nature.

(The whole ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ aspect is an ongoing theme)

Hamilton’s cartoons shed light on what is, to most of us, a very closed segment of society. It is a world populated by preppies, high-society types, Park Avenue wives and daughters, corporate big wigs, business executives, high-end lawyers, and members of exclusive yacht clubs and country clubs.

(It’s when you overhear people actually talking like this that you ‘get’ Hamilton)

I was introduced to Hamilton the way most of his admirers were… through his New Yorker cartoons. I was still working in the theatre in those days, so many of the nuances of his humour went over my head. I experienced a similar situation later on when I began to follow Scott Adams’s Dilbert cartoons. It was only when I worked in a government agency where the office was set up in a standard ‘cube farm’ plan (i.e. many cubicles set up throughout the office space in a manner remeniscent of a petting zoo) that I truly ‘got’ his humour.

(Always a bit awkward in certain situations, I particularly enjoy the party cartoons)

Similarly, while I enjoyed Hamilton’s characters and situations  and admired his wit and gift for language, it wasn’t until I was put into a position where I had regular contact with a lot of preppies that I fully appreciated his work.

Other settings for Hamilton’s works include gentlemen’s clubs, office board rooms, cocktail parties, the insides of chauffeured limosines… anywhere where his people can let their sparkling dialogue glitter all the more.

(I often say this in court, regarding sentencing someone to ‘community service’)

Over the years, many Hamiltonianisms have crept into my conversation. I can’t help it. Sometimes I am in one situation or another, I open my mouth and out comes one of Hamilton’s snippets of dialogue line right out of the pages of The New Yorker magazine.

Here is a recent example…

I didn’t plan it. It just slipped out. It was tucked away in some ivy league corner of my brain and, at the right moment, sallied forth and presented itself. And, all credit to Mr. Hamilton, it got a positive response from those within earshot.

Here’s another one…

(Of course, the listener has to be old enough to get the reference)

Many of Hamilton’s best pieces revolve around introductions at parties, functions and get-togethers.

For those who’ve found Hamilton’s cartoons amusing, I highly recommend going over to The New Yorker magazine’s The Cartoon Bank and enjoying as much as you can stand.

Until then, I will leave you with some of my favourite Hamilton quips…

Of course you’re going to be depressed if you keep comparing yourself with successful people.

Old is when your daughter announces she’s seeing a younger man.

Someday, you may thank me for breaking what was becoming, in this family, a vicious cycle of inheritance.

You know, when I get over my thing for bad boys, Chip, you’re going to be one of the first to know.

I’ll see if he’s emotionally available.

She’s a Rolex. He’s a Timex.

Oh, God. Here comes the global-village idiot.

Boys, boys. You’re getting loud and no one gives a damn how big your salaries used to be.

I tried a slice of pizza yesterday, and frankly I don’t get it.

Frankly, what’s killing me about this marriage is realizing how entirely preventable it was.

Thank you, Mr. Hamilton, for making my life a better, wittier place.

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[1] Along with Lisa Birnbach, author of The Official Preppy Handbook and True Prep, and English writer P.G. Wodehouse, author of the Jeeves & Wooster novels and many other humourous books. After my call to the bar, screenwriter and director Whit Stilman rounded out my ‘social advisory committee.’ Without them, I would be lost.

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There is something about sumi-e artwork that really speaks to me.

Black ink brushed or dragged across paper. A smudge here. A stroke there. A bit more water. A bit less. And in the end a piece of art that captures my imagination and holds my heart.

A lot of it has to do with simplicity. When you think about it, there’s not a lot there. The basic strokes aren’t complicated, although they can take years to master.

I’ve watched sumi-e artists work the ink from a small brick to a powder until it achieves exactly the right consistency. Adding just the right amount of water. Choosing exactly the right brush. Swirling the fibres into the ink, removing excess moisture. All to achieve… perfection.

I can look at a good piece of sumi-e art for a very long time, following with my eyes and mind the ink, how the brush must have worked its way across the paper. The tip. The edge. Light strokes. Heavy strokes.

When done right, the sumi-e art lifts my spirits and calms my heart. I find peace within it.

There are so many things about Japan, the Japanese and Japanese art, history and culture that I admire. Sumi-e is near the top of that list.

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