Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oskar Fischinger

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1967 of Oskar Fischinger, artist and film maker. He is best known for his animated short films.

Composition in Blue (1935):

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Today is Amartithi or Deathless Day, the anniversary of the death in 1969 of Meher Baba, the self-proclaimed Avatar of this Age. I remember hearing about his death at the time. His followers observe this day by keeping a 15-minute silence beginning at 12:15 p.m. and by flying his flag:

Meher Baba said:
"The colors in the flag signify man's rise from the grossest of impressions of lust and anger – symbolized by red – to the culmination in the highest state of spirituality and oneness with God – symbolized by sky blue."

"Red should be at the bottom of the flag and sky blue at the top. Arrangement of the other five colors is your decision."

Tennessean Runs Iditarod

Rodney Whaley will compete in this year's Iditarod. WTVF in Nashville has the story:

Whaley, the 56-year-old National Guardsman from Franklin will run 16 sled dogs on March 1, 2008, the first day of the Iditarod. The Iditarod starts in Anchorage, and the mushers will be on the trail from 10-17 days with only their dogs.

The Iditarod is considered by many to be the most grueling and demanding individual sporting event in the world today. Musher battle the fierce elements along the dangerous route with only their dogs by their side.

Wikipedia has an article on the Iditarod here. Here's the official profile of Whaley at He has his own website here, which tells that he's the first Tennessean in the history of the race to compete.

The photo at the top of the post is from tomspixels' flickr page.

2/4/2008: has an update.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mohandas K. Gandhi

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1948 of Mahatma Gandhi, who was assassinated by a Hindu radical. Gandhi's autobiography is The Story of My Experiments with Truth. We have the film on Gandhi's life that stars Ben Kingsley as Gandhi. There are many online resources providing information on his life, including Time Magazine, BBC and GandhiServe Foundation.

a 6-minute video tribute:

TimesOnline has coverage of the anniversary here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

All we want to do is eat your brains

We're not unreasonable.

HT: 55-40, who suggests this is the Republican negotiation strategy.

Frugal Dad's 7-Day Turnaround

The Frugal Dad is posting a week of turnaround tips. I thought I might go along for the ride and post the results at the end of the week.

Day 1: Take an inventory of your finances.

This is basically a look at net worth, taking all the debt totals and asset totals and looking at the difference. It's encouraging to me to be debt-free except for the mortgage -Thank you, Dave Ramsey! I find the mortgage scary, though, and think of it as a debt rather than an investment, so debt totals are something I'd like to have at zero.

Day 2: Build an emergency fund, quickly.

The first of Dave Ramsey's "Baby Steps" is to have $1,000 to start an Emergency Fund. The Frugal Dad is advocating a minimum of 3 months of living expenses or $10,000 for this fund. He recommends getting the fund up to the $1,000 mark within a month by selling stuff and taking opportunities to earn extra. I'm wondering what tomorrow's step will be. Dave's next step after the $1,000 emergency fund is paying off all debt except for the mortgage, after which he places the 3-6 month emergency fund. I'm curious about how The Frugal Dad's approach will differ at this point, since both plans have 7 points.

Day 3: Cut up those credit cards.

I actually did this one a while back. We canceled my card and canceled all the gas cards. But then I was stuck keeping enough cash around to pay for gas, and I don't like carrying around $20 bills. He suggests debit cards as a substitute, but I just don't trust debit cards. I'm afraid of having my checking account emptied and having my own legitimate checks bounce. With a credit card the billing errors can be worked out while I still keep my money in the checking account. I've since gotten a new credit card which is used only for gas and paid off every month. I feel better with this plan.

Dave Ramsey doesn't have the elimination of credit cards as one of his baby steps. It's more of a prequel to the baby steps for him.

Day 4: Slash your expenses.

Frugal Dad offers several specific suggestions:

Gym memberships are usually the first to go.

We've never had gym memberships, so this day is starting out easy.

Consider canceling the cable.

We did this several years ago. So far so good.

Adjust your W-4.

We make quarterly estimates. We do try to be accurate and send the correct amount, but some years we end up paying too much and some years we end up owing. During years when we send too much we just have it applied to the following year's tax estimates. We do not do our taxes ourselves, because we think it's too complicated and we are afraid of making a mistake. "Do right by the IRS" is a motto to live by.

Brown bag it.

We eat out only occasionally. Lunches out are paid for out of personal "allowances". We get a set amount out of each of The Husband's paychecks for personal discretionary spending.

None of these suggestions are radical. In addition to the things he lists we're also doing things like keeping the heat down, switching to fluorescents from traditional incandescent bulbs, using cold water and half the recommended amount of laundry detergent for all our laundry, using half the recommended amount of automatic dish-washing detergent, buying clothes at the Goodwill store, buying some items (toilet paper, paper towels, bar soap, shampoo and conditioner) at Sam's, eating much less meat, increasing the deductible on our car insurance, canceling all our magazine subscriptions, buying books at the local used book store rather than buying books new even for gifts for immediate family since none of us object to receiving used items as gifts...

Day 5: Start saving for retirement.

Saving 15% towards retirement is Dave Ramsey's 4th step, after the baby emergency fund, paying off all debt except for the mortgage and building up a 3-6 month emergency fund.

Frugal Dad makes lots of sense here, of course, suggesting we do the planning it takes to come up with a specific financial goal for retirement, that we take advantage of employer offerings and that we use the Roth IRA.

Day 6: Give the gift of education.

Frugal Dad had several posts over the week-end but none on the 7-Day Turnaround. It looks like the 7-Day Turnaround takes 9 days. (grin)

College funding is Dave Ramsey's 5th step. My first 2 kids got full scholarships, and we're trying to free up enough disposable income so we can cash-flow child #3 at a state school if he is not so fortunate. It's too late for us to have the kind of savings plan for college that Frugal Dad recommends, but we're committed to getting the kids through college without debt.

Day 7: Invest for an early retirement.

Since I'm over 50 and I "retired" for the first time when my first child was born, it's a bit late in time for me to plan ahead for an early retirement. In fact, I'm looking at returning with pleasure to the work force when my youngest goes to college.

Frugal Dad recommends investing outside of retirement accounts, remembering taxes and working towards having monthly expenses covered by investment income.

Dave Ramsey's plan has "Build Wealth and Give" as the 7th step, with nary a mention of retiring early, and his plan is closer to our needs. Because The Husband is a preacher with a love of the ministry, retirement is not the goal it might be for someone whose job is just a way to make money. The Husband's goal is not retirement, though we do realize how important it is to plan for the retirement that will someday be required.

Frugal Dad's plan, as Dave Ramsey's plan did before it, made me realize how obsessed I am with the mortgage. I do seem to live for the mortgage pay-off.

New Year Sumo

Hakuho has won the New Year sumo tournament:

Mongolian Hakuho has won the New Year Basho, beating compatriot and fellow Yokozuna Asashoryu in a fantastic finale to the fifteen day event.

Hakuho finally won with a throw to claim his third title in a row and sixth overall. Hakuho's only loss was to one of the other Mongolians wrestling in the top-tier

The photo by Eckhard Pecher was taken from wikipedia.

More news on the subject at The Japan Times. And ABC News reports on attempts to popularize the sport in America.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Retires

The Beatles' guru has retired:

"His work is done and now he'll be concentrating on the field of silence and dedicating himself more to pure knowledge rather than administrative matters," Benjamin Feldman, finance minister for the Global Country of World Peace, told Reuters.

I remember when the Beatles were learning under him. I went to a couple of introductory TM meetings when I was in high school but was unwilling/unable to pay the price for the classes. I did find it fascinating, though.


More on the subject here:
News Post India
and here: AP

Feast of Thomas Aquinas

Today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, the date being changed from the traditional observance on the date of his death to his birthday after Vatican II.

There are numerous quotes and links to images and writings here. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has an extensive article here. The Catholic Encyclopedia article is here, and their hyper-linked edition of the Summa Theologica is here. Christian Classics Ethereal Library has links to works by and about him here. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy has information on his life and writings.

The SOAJ has a prayer:
Almighty God, who hast enriched thy Church with the singular Learning and holiness of thy servant Thomas Aquinas: Enlighten us more and more, we pray thee, by the disciplined thinking and teaching of Christian scholars, and deepen our devotion by the example of saintly lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

The picture at the top of the post is of Fra Angelico's painting.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Norman McLaren

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1987 of film maker Norman McLaren. His films won many awards.

Spook Sport (1940):

Begone Dull Care (1949) is a visual interpretation of an Oscar Peterson piece:

His best-known film is the disturbing short Neighbors (1952), which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subjects):

Blinkity Blank (1955) won the Palme d'Or:

A Chairy Tale (1957) has music by Ravi Shankar:

Pas de Deux (1968) won the BAFTA Film Award for Best Animated Film:

The National Film Board of Canada has information on his life and work.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 27

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

6 And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

7 Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

9 Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

11 Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.


Saturday, January 26, 2008


Gumbasia is a claymation short directed by Art Clokey:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Now this is downsizing!

but can you really call this a home?

HT: OffbeatHomes

Tongues and Taxis

HT: Culture Snob

George Cukor

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1983 of film director George Cukor. PBS considers him an American Master. Senses of Cinema has an article on his career. says,
Throughout the years he managed to "weather the changes in public taste and the pressures of the Hollywood studio system without compromising his style, his taste, or his ethical standards," as his honorary degree from Loyola University of Chicago is inscribed.

I've seen many of his movies. These are ones I have blog posts on:

A Woman's Face (1941)

Gaslight is at youtube in parts, with the first part here. A Star is Born is available the same way, with part 1 here. Camille begins here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Salvador Dali

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1989 of artist Salvador Dali. There is a documentary on him with interview clips here:

He was a film maker as well as a painter and collaborated with Luis Bunuel on the short film Un Chien Andalou.

The picture at the top of the post is of Dali's Christ of Saint John of the Cross.

2012: Penguins World Domination

I knew penguins were behind it. I knew it all along.

Bob Keeshan

Today is the anniversary of the death in 2004 of Bob Keeshan, Captain Kangaroo in the well-beloved tv show by that name. I was a loyal fan in my early childhood and loved Bunny Rabbit and Mr. Green Jeans and Grandfather Clock and Mr. Moose and all those ping pong balls and Dancing Bear and The Magic Drawing Board and Tom Terrific with Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog.

The opening:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

What's Your Blog's Reading Level?

Here's mine:
blog readability test

George Orwell

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1950 of George Orwell, pen name of Eric Arthur Blair. There is a documentary on his life and works at youtube: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and part 6. I discovered his writings in high school, reading Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four for English class.

Animal Farm has been adapted for the screen several times, beginning in 1954 with an animated version:

This one has been dubbed for a foreign market and doesn't have English subtitles, but it is available in the original English on DVD from This video shows the type of animation used, though. {7/27/2008: That video is not currently available, but it's available in English in 4 parts part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here and part 4 here.) 1001 Flicks has a review.

There was also a made-for-tv Hallmark version in 1999:

Nineteen Eighty-Four has also been adapted for film, beginning with a 1956 version starring Edmond O'Brien (who starred in D.O.A.) and Donald Pleasence (who was Melchior in the made-for-tv Jesus of Nazareth). There was a version made in, of course, 1984 with John Hurt and Richard Burton:

George Orwell didn't just write science fiction and fantasy novels. The Road to Wigan Pier is a 1937 first-hand exploration of the hard life of the working class in England's industrial north. It can be read online here.

5/12/2009: The House Next Door has a long and interesting article.

Georges Melies

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1938 of French film maker and science fiction/fantasy/horror pioneer Georges Melies. I've posted on his films before and included links to some of his films in my post inspired by the Short Film Blogathon. If it's special effects you want, he'll give you special effects. Senses of Cinema discusses the significance of his career. Who's Who of Victorian Cinema has information on Melies.

Here are links to my posts on his films:
Cendrillon (1899)
A Trip to the Moon (1902)
The Man with the Rubber Head (1902)
The Infernal Cakewalk (1903)
The Monster (1903)
The Infernal Cauldron (1905)
The Black Imp (1905)

More of his films are embedded below:

An Up-to-Date conjurer (1899):

L'homme orchestre (1900):

La Lanterne Magique (1903):

The Music Lover (1903):

The Impossible Voyage (1904):

The Living Playing Cards (1904):

The Eclipse - The courtship of the Sun and Moon (1907):

4/17/2008: The House Next Door has an article.

4/18/2010: 366 Weird Movies has a post.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Emile Cohl

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1938 of French animator Emile Cohl. His animated short Fantasmagorie was released in 1908 and is available online:

The Automatic Moving Company (1910):

He worked with Max Linder on The Dentures.

Volcanoes in Antartica

I had not realized there are volcanoes in Antarctica until I read this article, which tells me that

There are also volcanoes on Antarctica. Mt. Erebus, near the US’s Mc Murdo research station has a permanent molten lava lake in its crater.


More on Antarctic volcanoes here.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 40

1 I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

5 Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,

8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest.

10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.

11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.

13 Be pleased, O LORD, to deliver me: O LORD, make haste to help me.

14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.

15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.

16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified.

17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Plan 9 from Outer Space

When The Husband said he'd never seen Plan 9 from Outer Space. I couldn't let him remain in such a state of cultural deprivation. He was stunned into silence by his viewing of this film.

It stars Bela Lugosi, who died before filming began, and Vampira, who has only recently died, and is directed by Ed Wood.

Moria has a charitable review. 1000 Misspent Hours gives it negative 4 1/2 stars and closes with this:
Conventional and ritualistic though the identification has become, there is a reason why Ed Wood is the poster boy for us B-People. And there’s a reason why Plan 9 from Outer Space is the one we remember him for.

Aerial Sight-Seeing

How well do you know landmarks?
Take this quiz and see if you can name the landmark with an aerial view of the location. I scored 80%, making me a "global know-it-all" and missed some obvious ones.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is the sequel to Fantastic Four. The sequel is as fun as the original.


Maxed Out

(This is no longer available online at googlevideo, but you can see the whole thing at Veoh if you're willing to use their player. I'm not.)

I've been hearing about this expose but hadn't seen it yet. I am a regular listener to Dave Ramsey, and there are several clips of him in the film. Maxed Out takes about 90 minutes to showcase the effects of the predatory lending practices of credit card companies. It's tragic. And I'm more convinced every day that our representatives in D.C. are owned lock, stock and barrel by the corporations.

from Wikipedia:

Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders (2006) is an independent feature-length documentary film and book that chronicles abusive practices in the credit card industry. Written and directed by James Scurlock, the film and book use interviews with creditors, debtors, academics, and others to illustrate its story.[1] The film premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, USA, in 2006 where it claimed the Special Jury Prize. It went on to several film fests including Seattle, Full Frame Documentary, Maui, New Zealand, Milwaukee International, Woodstock, Bergen, Leeds International, Oxford and IDFA (Amsterdam) film festivals. It was released in movie theaters in select cities in the United States in March 2007 through Magnolia Pictures. The DVD was released nationally in June 7, 2007 in the joint effort Magnolia Pictures and Red Envelope Entertainment (a division of Netflix). The book Maxed Out is printed by Scribner, a division of Simon and Schuster.

Scurlock's purpose for the film and book was to raise awareness of how credit and lending issues are affecting society.[1] The main premises of the documentary and book are that banks and other creditors deliberately market to people who are more likely to have problems paying and that the creditors benefit from connections to government, the debt collection industry, and from lawmaker apathy.[2]

The non-profit organization Americans for Fairness in Lending (AFFIL) has organized screenings of Maxed Out around the country as part of its work. AFFIL sustains a formal collaboration with the film.

3/5/2008: My Money Blog has a review.

10/29/2008: The Dancing Image has a review.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tomaso Albinoni

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1751 of Baroque composer Tomaso Albinoni. He is best known for Adagio in G Minor, a later reconstruction of surviving fragments of one of Albinoni's works.

arranged for pipe organ:

The Doors' version:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dixie Quiz

How Southern are you? My results:

96% (Dixie). Is General Lee your father?

Can you beat that?

The Nietzsche Family Circus

At times one remains faithful to a cause only because its opponents do not cease to be insipid.

This site randomly combines Family Circus comic panels with Friedrich Nietzsche quotations for a fascinating result. The one pictured above is an example. Click here for more.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Humphrey Bogart

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1957 of Humphrey Bogart. We've never been obsessive fans as some seem to be (like my sister who named her cat Bogie), but we've seen several of his films and enjoyed all we've seen. closes with this:
Throughout his career till his death and onward for almost four decades now, the Bogart image and the sense of integrity and courage that image carries prevail at the center of American film history.

Movies I have blog posts on:

Dead End (1937)
High Sierra (1941)
Maltese Falcon (1941)
Casablanca (1942)
Passage to Marseille (1944)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Key Largo (1948)
Beat the Devil (1953)
The Caine Mutiny (1954)
We're No Angels (1955)

a tribute slide show:

Val Lewton Blogathon

The Evening Class is hosting a Val Lewton Blogathon this week. Updates are here. I remember the first time I saw Cat People, which he produced. I was 13 or so, I guess, and saw it on tv one summer afternoon. It had a big impact on me, and, though I didn't see it again for years, I always remembered it. Val Lewton produced a series of horror films in the 1940's. I wish we had cable (I know, I know...) and could watch the film on him set to air tonight on TCM.

Lewis Carroll

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1898 of Lewis Carroll, best known as the author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. That book and its sequel Through the Looking Glass have been favorites of mine since my childhood, and I have on my shelf the much-read boxed set which was my first exposure to Lewis Carroll. What a treasure! Both books with the Tenniel illustrations are online here. I discovered The Hunting of the Snark much later. My kids like it as much as I do, and my copy of that has permanently disappeared into one of their rooms. It can be read online here.

VictorianWeb has extensive information on his life and times.

Here are excerpts from Alice films from as early as 1903: [gone as of 3/4/2010]

You can watch the 1903 version, the first film adaptation of the book, at The Auteurs.

This is an excerpt from a 1933 movie with Gary Cooper:

The entire thing appears to be at youtube in parts here. [oops. their account is suspended as of 3/4/2010]

In 1951 Disney released a movie based on Alice. Here's the trailer:

Tom Petty has a music video that illustrates one of his songs using imagery from Alice:

Jefferson Airplane's song played against Star Trek clips:

Another Star Trek connection, here are video clips from "Shore Leave" that feature Alice and the White Rabbit:

Mother gives an Unbirthday party every year, usually in June. Alice has lasted a long time in my family.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Civil War in 4 Minutes

I liked this video when I posted it here, but it was removed from the site where I found it. I ran across it at youtube and have embedded it in the Battle of Memphis post.

8 Reasons I Don't Share My Faith

I thought I had this video on my blog but couldn't find it when I wanted to show it to The Daughter. Here it is:

Baptism of the Lord

Matthew 3:13-17

13 Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.

16 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.


The picture at the top of the post is of Giotto's Baptism of Jesus.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Play Sudoku

This has started causing a weird authentication pop up, so I'm removing it.

Sudoku - Free Online Sudoku Game

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Jungle Book

The Disney Jungle Book is a movie that The Younger Son somehow never saw. When Disney has the incomprehensible policy of only rarely releasing its films I suppose this kind of slip-up is bound to happen. Although I'm sure he would have loved it at the right age, he is not favorably impressed now. My favorite of the voices is George Sanders as Shere Khan. He plays an equally despicable villain in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, which is one of my favorite films.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Giotto di Bondone

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1337 of Italian Renaissance artist Giotto di Bondone, best known for his work on the chapel in Padua. There is a virtual tour of the chapel here. Other sites containing biographical information and links to pictures are the WebMuseum and Olga's Gallery.

The photo above is of Giotto's Last Judgment.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Nikola Tesla

Today is the anniversary of the death (actually, the exact date of his death is unknown) in 1943 of Nikola Tesla. He seems little known, but his scientific contributions were great, including the invention of the radio for which he holds the patent. There is a Tesla Museum in Belgrade. PBS has a site devoted to him. has an overview and links.

Nikola Tesla: The Genius Who Lit the World (a 42-minute Tesla Memorial Society video):

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Dizzy Gillespie

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1993 of Dizzy Gillespie, jazz musician. He was a Bahá'í.

Hot House:

Salt Peanuts:

A Night in Tunisia:


Today is Epiphany, the celebration of the revelation of Christ to the Gentiles. We honor the tradition of the Wise Men who came from afar to worship the Christ child.

Matthew 2

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

This is a traditional hymn for the day:

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.


O star of wonder, star of light,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

Born a King on Bethlehem’s plain
Gold I bring to crown Him again,
King forever, ceasing never,
Over us all to reign.


Frankincense to offer have I;
Incense owns a Deity nigh;
Prayer and praising, voices raising,
Worshipping God on high.


Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.


Glorious now behold Him arise;
King and God and sacrifice;
Alleluia, Alleluia,
Sounds through the earth and skies.


The picture above is Giotto's Adoration of the Magi.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Twelfth Night

Tonight is Twelfth Night, and we're taking down all the Christmas decorations. So sad. It does make me wonder why we put it up every year when it hurts so much to take it down. I was grumpy.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four was The Husband's pick for family movie night. It was a fun super-hero movie, even for someone like me who had no knowledge of the characters.


Anansi Boys

Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman, won the Locus Award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and the August Derleth Award in 2006.

from the book flap:
God is dead. Meet the kids.

When Fat Charlie's dad named something, it stuck. Like calling Fat Charlie "Fat Charlie." Even now, twenty years later, Charlie Nancy can't shake that name, one of the many embarrassing "gifts" his father bestowed — before he dropped dead on a karaoke stage and ruined Fat Charlie's life.

Mr. Nancy left Fat Charlie things. Things like the tall, good-looking stranger who appears on Charlie's doorstep, who appears to be the brother he never knew. A brother as different from Charlie as night is to day, a brother who's going to show Charlie how to lighten up and have a little fun...just like Dear Old Dad. And all of a sudden, life starts getting very interesting for Fat Charlie.

Because, you see, Charlie's dad wasn't just any dad. He was Anansi, a trickster god, the spider-god. Anansi is the spirit of rebellion; he is able to overturn the social order, create wealth out of thin air, baffle the devil, and cheat Death himself.

I liked this one much better than American Gods, though I can't remember why that one didn't strike my fancy. It's been a while since I read it. This one was a fun read, and I found myself laughing aloud.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, directed by Sergio Leone, is the 3rd in the Man with No Name Clint Eastwood trilogy. It's a prequel of sorts and shows where he got that great poncho. I had somehow missed this one, so it was the first time to watch it for both The Younger Son and me. The Elder Son came in partway through the film, and his question was why I was laughing through such a serious film. Hmmm... I just didn't see it as such a serious film. The Younger Son didn't care for it at all, describing certain scenes as "interminable". I have to agree some of the scenes did go on. And on. But I enjoyed it anyway.


Images Journal considers it one of the 30 great westerns.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Bourne Supremacy

The Bourne Supremacy is the 2nd film in the Bourne trilogy. We watched the 1st one back in September. We liked that one, and we liked this one.