Folsom Prison Blues

Friday, August 18, 2017

Get ready for a weekend of doing time with this cover of the Johnny Cash song by Josh Turner and Carson McKee.

Western Saloons

Thursday, August 17, 2017
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In the old west, after a hard day of herding doggies, gunning down buffalos and dodging Apache arrows, a man needed a place to wet his whistle. The saloon was just such a place. Here, and after the jump, are some old photos of those iconic drinking holes.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

This video is filmed forwards, but made to look like it is being ran backwards. I found it looking for an old Steve Allen Tonight Show clip of the same sort of thing. He used to do a bit where they would act out a scene backwards, and then run it backwards to see how it looked going forwards. I never did find a clip of that gag from his show, so this will have to do.

Crown Shyness

Tuesday, August 15, 2017
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Crown shyness is an interesting effect among certain species of trees. When the trees grow in proximity their crowns will not touch, leaving a slight gap between them.

The causes of crown shyness are not known. It may be caused by abrasion between the outer twigs and leaves, a strategy to maximize sunlight, a barrier to the spread of parasitic insects, or some other reason altogether.

Found via Colossal Art

An eagle's view of a flight

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Freedom Conservation is a group, operating out of France, that breeds birds of prey and teached them to hunt before releasing them to the wild. They've attached cameras to some of the birds to create amazing videos of the birds in flight.

Stained Glass Windows

Saturday, August 12, 2017
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It seems like I would have done a post about stained glass windows already, but I've looked through the archives and can't find one.

At any rate, the enormous mosaics of colored glass are amazing in their detail and artistry. These images show effects of the settings of stained glass windows, as well as details from them. There are more examples after the jump.

Space Oddity

Friday, August 11, 2017

Get ready for a celestial weekend with Gabrielle Aplin's cover of  Space Oddity.

When you need music for a seduction

Thursday, August 10, 2017
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A dapper fellow brings his portable radio to set the mood for a seduction in the woods. The young lady appears to be falling for the cad's suave move.

Picture swiped from Beachcombings' Bizarre History Blog, which is well worth a visit.

Landing in Fukuoka Japan at the end of the war

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

A story about a U.S. cargo plane landing at Fukuoka Japan at the end of the war and being confronted with armed Japanese soldiers and a single low ranking Japanese officer. There is something off kilter about it -- it is hard to believe the civilian Japanese girl knows the war is over, but not the Japanese lieutenant. I would be curious to hear her version of the night. Still, it is a fascinating vignette from the end of WWII.

The Landau Roof

Monday, August 07, 2017
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I had forgotten about the Landau roof --  the fake convertible tops that used to be ubiquitous. The style, which was meant to look like the movable tops of horse drawn carriages, started in the 1920s but quickly faded out of favor.

It returned in the 1960s and 70s as a styling touch which was meant to invoke luxury. As explained in Motoring Research's article A brief history of the vinyl roof, covered:
In 1955, Ford had created a so-called ‘Personal Luxury Car’ segment with the Thunderbird – a car majoring on style and luxury, rather than performance and handling. If any car was able to provide a suitable platform for the second coming of the vinyl roof, it was the T-bird.

Step forward the 1962 model, which offered more than 100 improvements compared to the previous Thunderbird, along with the option of a vinyl-covered hardtop coupe. It even re-introduced landau bars as a styling touch – a feature not seen since the 1920s.

Suddenly, the vinyl roof developed ideas above its station (certainly above a car’s roofline). No longer positioned as styling garnish, the vinyl roof was now a must-have option for the style-conscious and drivers of good taste. As least that’s what the manufacturers wanted us to believe.

Ford claims the Thunderbird “reached its pinnacle as a personal luxury car” with the 1975 model, offering features such as concealed windscreen wipers, an opera window, solid-state ignition, electric windows, automatic seat-back release, white-wall tyres and – you’ve guessed it – a dense-grain vinyl roof.

Tick the ‘Silver Luxury Group’ option box and “discriminating owners” could enjoy “exterior accoutrements” such as a padded Silver Odense grain half-vinyl roof, or a full-vinyl roof when combined with an electrically-operated glass moonroof. Opt for the ‘Copper Luxury Group’ and the vinyl roof was finished in a shade of copper. Americans had never had it so good.
However, like most ghastly 1970s styles, they again lost popularity and these days are mainly considered as pointless and faintly ludicrous details. Regardless, there is an aftermarket for Landau roofs if you have a hankering for one.

The Back Streets of Delhi

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Long-time regulars will know I have a fascination for videos of people just walking down streets. In this video an Australian (I think) fellow films some back streets in Delhi, India. It is interesting how many people say hello to him on his little jaunt.

Official WWI Art of the American Expeditionary Forces

Wednesday, August 02, 2017
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Upon entering WW1 the U.S. Government selected 8 artists and commissioned them as Captains to record the war for the public. From Picturing World War I: America's First Official War Artists, 1918-1919:
By spring 1918 the artists were in France, busy at work. Both the American and French high commands gave the artists carte blanche to travel where they would in the war zone and to draw whatever they saw. They took full advantage of their freedom to create images of men, machines, and landscapes from the ports of debarkation to the front lines. Ultimately they produced more than 700 sketches, drawings, and paintings. Their work fell into four broad categories: warscapes, which depicted devastated landscapes and damaged buildings, usually with little or no human presence; soldier life and activities, both at work and at rest behind the lines; military technology and engineering, with particular attention to such novelties as tanks, planes, and motor vehicles, as well as the AEF’s logistical underpinnings; and combat.
These images of saome of their work are from the Smithsonian Institution archives collection:  Official Art from the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I. There are more pictures after the jump, and of course many more at the link.

There but for the Grace of God

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

If you've ever had a hankering to quit your day job and take up the carefree life of a hobo, now's your chance. Hobo Tough Life is a city survival simulation where you can test your mettle on the mean streets. Beg for money, dumpster dive, try not to smell like a pig or freeze to death, and more!

The game is much sillier than the trailer makes it out to be. Below is some gameplay from it.

Ottoman Birdhouses

Sunday, July 30, 2017
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The Ottomans had a tradition of adding birdhouses to their public buildings. From Colossal Art's The Ornate Bird Palaces of Ottoman-Era Turkey:
"... providing shelter to sparrows, swallows, and pigeons while preventing bird droppings from corroding the walls of the surrounding architecture. In addition to providing shelter, the birdhouses fulfilled a religious vision. They were thought to grant good deeds to those that built the tiny homes."
You read mead more about them, as well as see a few more pictures, at the Colossal link.

Frog Metamorphosis

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Helter Skelter

Friday, July 28, 2017

Get ready for a strangely relaxed weekend with P. Leslie and his Orchestra's cover of Helter Skelter. 

Down to the Seas Again

Thursday, July 27, 2017
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Sea Fever - John Masefield

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

A Different, Yet Familiar, 1960s

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I would have been about 10 years old when the above film was shot. I grew up far from Kentucky, so dancing to a blue grass band in the living room was something I never saw. Still, the look of the room, and of the people in it, is very familiar. For me a very odd juxtaposition of the exotic with the nostalgic.

A Boundary Commissioner and Artist

Saturday, July 22, 2017
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In the early 19th Century John Russell Bartlett was a prominent scholar in New York circles. He belonged to the Franklin Society, the American Geographical Society, several historical societies, the Providence Athenaeum and the American Ethnological Society.

Because of his involvement in these organizations he was politically well connected. That led President Zachary Taylor, in spite of Bartlett's lack of qualifications for the position, to appoint Bartlett as the Commissioner for the U.S. and Mexican Boundary Survey.

He ended up botching his assignment, setting the border well north of El Paso. Congress rejected that, and ended up having to negotiate the Gadsden purchase to move the border south.

In his travels through the southwest he made a considerable number of sketches and paintings. Some of his paintings are pictured here, with more after the jump. They are taken from the digital Luna Archive.

Wayfaring Stranger

Friday, July 21, 2017

Get ready for a weekend, hopefully on this side of the Jordan River, with Johnny Cash's Wayfaring Stranger.

Using a Toaster as a PC Game Controller

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Yeesh. Alternate post title:
A Geek With Too Much Time On His Hands.

Plagues and Pestilence

Tuesday, July 18, 2017
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Deadly pandemics are a feature of living that the West, largely through vastly improved sanitation, have reduced over the last Century. Still, as this list of Cholera outbreaks shows, outbreaks still bloom from time to time.

Being such a feared aspect of life, plagues, pestilence and death by disease were naturally a subject of art. Here, and below the fold, are a few examples of such art.

The Von Jankó Keyboard

Sunday, July 16, 2017
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While on vacation I stopped at the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center in  White Springs, Florida. One of the pianos they had on display was the one pictured above, featuring a Von Jankó keyboard.

It had never crossed my mind, but of course piano keyboard layouts are arbitrary and -- like mousetraps -- innovators are bound to try to improve upon them. in 1882 Paul von Jankó devised a keyboard with a 6-6 layout. As described at the Music Notation Wiki:
Because it has an isomorphic layout, each chord, scale, and interval has a consistent shape and can be played with the same fingering, regardless of its pitch or what the current key is. If you know a piece of music in one key you can transpose it simply by starting at a different pitch because the fingering is the same in every key.

This provides much more consistency than the traditional keyboard layout where each chord, scale, and interval has multiple shapes and requires learning multiple fingering patterns. On the Jankó layout there are twelve times fewer chord shapes and scale patterns to learn. This greater consistency also improves awareness of interval patterns and harmony, and makes it easier to improvise and play by ear.

You can go to the following link to fiddle around with Jankó style isomorphic keyboard.
Because few pianists were willing to relearn their repertoires for the new keyboard few Jankó style pianos were ever built. Lack of demand eventually led to their demise.

A Bionic Rube Goldberg Machine

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

It strikes me this video is actually a facsimile of a Rube Goldberg Machine. The real machines are overly complicated pieces of nonsense to do mundane tasks, while this is an overly complicated sequence to do nothing but advertise Red Bull. Still, it is clever in shirt-tail riding sort of a way.

Under the Weather

Friday, July 07, 2017
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I've been sick, so my posting has been non-existent.  I hope to bounce back soon. The above painting by Wassilij Maximowitsch Maximow captures my situation perfectly -- me sick in my rustic cabin, laying under pictures of saints, and with Mrs. Sinistral praying for me.

OK, maybe one or two details are off, but let's not quibble over the small stuff.

America the Beautiful

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Happy 4th of July


Wish You Were Here

Friday, June 30, 2017

Get ready for a weekend of odd breakfasts with Yapay Seleksiyon
covering Wish You Were Here.

A Rare and Unusual Tool

Thursday, June 29, 2017

This is from Wranglestar's YouTube channel Modern Hoemsteading. He's got a lot of good videos so be prepared to spend a chunk of time there.

Order & Void

Tuesday, June 27, 2017
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These are paintings by the Chinese artist Cheuk Hiu Kwong. I've noticed that a fairly common technique in Chinese art is to divide the canvas in half and fill one half with detail while the other half is a sort of featureless void.

I wonder if that composition isn't a reflection of a duality of an earthly realm and a more elemental state? Order and the void entwined so to speak. Not sure if I'm being clear at all or just babbling. At any rate, they're interesting paintings and were found via the Blog of an Art Admirer

Uhhh... I Don't Want To Know

Saturday, June 24, 2017
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Above is an illustration from a patent of a device that does something. Frankly, I'm not sure I want to know what that something is. Regardless, it seems like another source of air might be preferable. I wonder if this thing ever got marketed?

Rocket Man

Friday, June 23, 2017

Get ready for a celestial weekend with Rocket Man by Iron Horse.

A Rigged Roulette Table

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

You can rest assured that if I -- following the example of Lizzy Warren -- decide to claim Cherokee heritage so's I can open up the Flares Casino & Resort, we'll have no sketchy roulette wheels like the one in the video above.

No siree Bob! Ours will be computerized for greater efficiency at cheating.

Dance in Paint

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
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My previous post was videos of dancers. Throughout the years artists have tried to capture the experience of dance in paint. Unable to show the motion, they have concentrated on dancers' poses, the situations of dancing, and the sensuality of the dancers. The paintings are often surprisingly effective.

There are more examples after the jump.

We Can Dance

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A very clever mix of old video clips to the Safety Dance.

Lady Liberty in France

Saturday, June 17, 2017
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Before being shipped to the United states as a gift from France, the Statue of Liberty was assembled in Paris. These pictures are from Messy Nessy, which has more pictures of the construction of the iconic statue.

7th Element

Friday, June 16, 2017

A bit of Russian goofyness to get you ready for the weekend -- Vitas singing 7th Element.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
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In the 1930s Nina Talbot had the idea to create a Christmas themed home development in Arizona. She created -- or more properly tried to create -- the town of Santa Claus, Arizona. She built some Christmas themed buildings, but the sales never came.

For a while in the 1940s it was a minor tourist attraction, and later in the 1960s its postmark of Santa Claus was used to re-mail kids' letters to Santa. These days it has fallen into disrepair and is apparently on the market. Get it while you can!



Mountain Talk

Monday, June 12, 2017

Once Upon a Time in India

Saturday, June 10, 2017
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A few posts ago we viewed Paige Jiyoung Moon's paintings of everyday life. These are pictures of everyday life from 19th century India. While Moon's paintings evoked a feeling of familiarity, these earlier pictures of the mundane are far enough removed in time as to be exotic to us.

They are taken from the New York Library's Digital Collection. There are more after the jump, and of course many more at the link.