Thursday, April 24, 2014

3845 I Don't Understand "Art"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A few years ago a friend and I visited the art museum at Vassar College.  A lot of it was impressive.  Some was not, like the 10' x 10' sheet of what I can only describe as graph paper.  White with black vertical and horizontal lines making squares maybe 5" x 5".  Just plain old graph paper, made big.

Art?  I don't get it.

A few years ago a friend and I visited the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA).  There was a room with a bunch of large white squares of paper.  Apparently identical white squares.  Each square had a placard next to it explaining it.  I don't remember the exact descriptions, but it was something like this: The first had been exposed to sunlight for several hours.  The second had been kept in the dark for several hours.  The third had been snowed on.  Another had been exposed to a cloudy sky. One had been exposed to loud rock music, while another has been exposed to classical music.  And so on.  As if that wasn't already ridiculous enough, there were people in the room walking from piece to piece examining them carefully, stoking their VanDykes, and commenting to each other on ... something.  I don't know what they found so fascinating (yeah, the idea for the exhibit was amusing, but that doesn't need examining each canvas) and I didn't have a chance to find out what they were saying because I was giggling too loud.  I got dirty looks from the cognoscenti.

Art?  I don't get it.

I don't understand a lot of the stuff that is called art.  That guy who blocked off the canvas with black horizontal and vertical lines and then painted some of the rectangles with primary colors - Piet Mondrian.  Apparently a lot of people think/thought he's just wonderful.  Mind-blowing.
You can natter on all you want about "movement", and "weight" and "structure", yeah, I get all that, but, uh, no.   I see no "art" there.  I see craft only.

A woman died recently, Agnes Martin.  Her work is in major museums all over the world.  She's a "minimalist", which apparently means "paint a canvas solid blue and call it the sea", and "copy a sheet of lined notepaper".  (There's a good chance she was responsible for the graph paper at Vassar.)  This thing sold for $2,000,000.00.  Seriously.
Two million?  Why?  I see no particular skill or talent.  Go to the Google images of her work (here) and find anything there that couldn't be essentially duplicated by anyone with minimal training in technique (like, how to draw a straight line, how to color within the lines, etc.)!  

Is most of contemporary art a big joke?

I don't get it.

And then there's Cy Twombly.  Some few of his floral-looking things are interesting, but most of his output is like this:
Or this:

I think the REAL "talent" in the contemporary art world consists of showmanship, contacts, networking, salesmanship, business acumen, and a talent for convincing suggestible (rich!  famous!) people that what they are looking at is somehow special. 

Cyndi Lauper and Madonna hit the music charts at about the same time.  Madonna took off and soared while Cindi petered out.  In my opinion, Cyndi was a much better musician, but Madonna was a better manipulator.  

I guess art works the same way.


I used to live near Woodstock, NY, and there are a lot of talentless people there who define themselves as artists. I guess they're right.  They can pick up a brush (or whatever) and daub paint (or whatever) on a canvas (or whatever), and that makes them a painter, by definition.   But just because you can put paint on a surface doesn't make you an artist.

Or does it?

Maybe so.  Maybe they just need to develop that other talent.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

3844 Addicted

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I am addicted to the internet.  I browse for probably a good ten hours a day.  It's really getting out of hand.  There's just too much interesting stuff out there.  Too many links that lead me off into too many wasted hours.  Like, someone mentioned an episode of "Mama's Family" to illustrate a point the other day, and included a link to the clip on Youtube.  Three days later I had watched every 20-minute episode available.

I've been trying to limit myself, but it isn't easy.  Today I turned myself loose, and kept notes of what I did, where I went.  I learned a few things, like about methane, and about the active volcano in Antarctica, and how young men in Saudi Arabia are crazy.

Here's where I've been - one day in my addiction:

Five hours have passed.  Food.  Bath, got dressed. 
Cut open five 50-lb bags of sand, filled Nugget's new sandbox on my back patio.  Added shells and toys.  Her 3rd birthday is Saturday.  The wind was so strong I could barely stand.

Later, Daughter and Nugget visited and we had a tea party.  Nugget did an excellent job pouring iced tea from a small teapot, and serving little cuts of carrot cake.

It is now 7 pm.  Will wash yesterday's dishes, and start something for dinner, then watch Survivor at 8.  After that I'll peruse the 21 items that have already dropped into my feeds reader since I cleared it out at 5:30 (plus any additional that arrive later).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

3843 Tennessee schools enrich the learning experience

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Laptop, liquor, pornographic videos stolen from Sullivan school warehouse

I have no comment.  I just keep blinking.

3842 Kitchen shortcuts

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I just saw a nifty way to halve cherry tomatoes on another website.  Put the tomatoes on a dinner plate.  Put another plate upside down on top.  There should a space between the two plates.  Cut through that space.  All tomatoes are cut at one pass.

I have my own hacks that I'd never seen before:
  • If you want to make nice even slices of onion or large tomato, first cut an end off so you have a flat surface.  Instead of cutting down through the onion or tomato, which puts your fingers in jeopardy and sometimes gives you uneven slices, plop the thing flat on the cut surface on the cutting board.  Cover the "top" with your flat hand.  Using a very sharp knife with a fairly flat-sided handle, lying on its side, cut parallel to the cutting board, away from you, sliding each slice out from under after it's cut.  If you need thinner slices, move the cutting board to the edge of the counter to drop the handle (depending on your board), or for thicker slices, support the knife handle with your fingertips as you pass it through.
  • For uniform pie crust and pastry rolling, you'll need some pieces of wood the thickness of the dough (I've used variously chopsticks, a pair of rulers, strips of plastic Jay had cut to size for me, etc.).  When you're almost finished rolling the dough out, while it's still a little bit too thick, place the sticks on either side and roll across them.  You get uniformly thick dough.  I started doing that when I was making Welsh cookies.  They are rolled in batches, fairly thickly, and then cut into circles, and it's important that they all be the same thickness so they'll all cook evenly on the griddle.

3841 Enforced diet?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I don't understand saber-toothed tigers.  You always see them depicted with these enormous long teeth, right?  Well, how did they get food in their mouths with those barriers in front like that?

They could open their mouths 130 degrees.  Nice start.  But if you look at the skulls,
(photo from
even with the jaws fully open, you can't fit much more than a very small rabbit in the resulting open space.  I haven't found any explanation of how they got food into their mouths anywhere out there.

Maybe once the prey had been stabbed to death they could nibble off bits with those tiny front teeth, between the sabers, or chew off small sticking-out chunks with the side molars.  The saber-teeth would not be very helpful at tearing off chunks because they were very brittle and broke easily.  It all seems very inefficient for a beasty that big.

Saber-tooth tigers (not really a tiger anyway) just don't make any sense to me.