Monday, January 28, 2019

Ginger Rogers on the Treadmill | Testimonial

Weight loss evidence. Thank you, Ingres.
Above Thanks for all the appreciative notes with regard to my retirement. Not to mention the many good-natured inquiries about my plans to lose a little weight. From this, you'll notice the progress I've already made. I attribute most of it to my strenuous treadmill workouts. In particular, I have come up with a new exercise program, which I call the Ginger Rogers Routine. It's really quite simple: Dance backwards on the treadmill while wearing high heeled shoes. 


Benvenuto Cellini, Autobiography (c1558)—

When I was about five years old my father happened to be in a basement chamber of our house, where they had been washing, and where a good fire of oak logs was still burning; he had viol in his hand and was playing and singing alone beside the fire. The weather was cold. Happening to look into the fire, he spied in the middle of those most burning flames a little creation like a lizard, which was sporting in the intensest coals. Becoming instantly aware of what the thing was, he had my sister and me called, and pointing it out to us children, he gave me a great box on the ears, which caused me to howl and weep with all my might. Then he pacified me good-humoredly, and spoke as follows: "My dear little boy, I am not striking you for any wrong that you have done, but only to make you remember that the lizard which you see in the fire is a salamander, a creature which has never been seen before by any one of which we have credible information." So saying, he kissed me and gave me some pieces of money.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Find the Three Skulls in this Picture | Holbein

After Hans Holbein, The Ambassadors (1533)
Above The pleasures of having a name that means "king"; with apologies to Hans Holbein the Younger (saw the original recently). My official retirement portrait, complete with academic regalia. Can you find the three skulls in this picture?


Edward King, Anecdotes (recalling his friendship with Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels)—

The last time I dined with [Jonathan] Swift, which was about three years before he fell into that distemper which totally deprived him of his understanding, I observed that he was affected by the wine which he drank, about a pint of claret. The next morning, as were were walking together in his garden, he complained much of his head, when I took the liberty to tell him (for I most sincerely loved him) that I was afraid he drank too much wine. He was a little startled, and answered, that as to his drinking, he had always looked on himself as a very temperate man, for he never exceeded the quanity which is physician had allowed and prescribed him. Now his physician never drank less than two bottles of claret after dinner.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Charles Henry Bennett / Shapeshifting Cat

C.H. Bennett, Poor Puss (1863)
Above One of a series of elaborate comic metamorphoses (aka shapeshifting) created by Victorian-era British illustrator Charles Henry Bennett (1863) in sardonic reference to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, this one titled "Poor Puss." Courtesy The Wellcome Library.


The Reverend Benjamin Newton (Vicar of Landwit), Diary (September 1, 1816)—

An entertaining German dined here who teaches the girls music and plays delightfully and sings well with no voice having been shot through the lung. A Mr. Causer having been bit in a drunken frolic by a man of the name of Shipley in the leg last week is obliged to suffer amputation. During an armistice in which the Prussian and French officers were drinking together a son of [Prussian Field Marshall] Blücher gave for a toast the King of Prussia, which a French officer would not drink and soon after when it came to his turn gave [Napolean] Bonaparte which young Blücher would not drink, on which the officer went up to him and without saying anything struck him a smash in the face. Blücher said nothing but went out of the room and returned immediately with a pair of pistols, with one of which without uttering a word he shot the officer dead and then held up the other and said he had that ready for any man who would take up the quarrel. This came to his father's knowledge, who put him under arrest for six weeks.

Charles Henry Bennett / Shapeshifting Dog

C.H. Bennett, Good Dog (1863)
Above One of a series of elaborate comic metamorphoses (aka shapeshifting) created by Victorian-era British illustrator Charles Henry Bennett (1863) in sardonic reference to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection, this one titled "Good dog." Courtesy The Wellcome Library.


The Reverend Francis Kilvert, Diary (July 22, 1871)—

Mrs. Nott told me that Louie of the Cloggau was staying in Presteign with her aunt Miss Sylvester, the woman frog. This extraordinary being is partly a woman and partly a frog. Her head and face, her eyes and mouth are those of a frog, and she has a frog's legs and feet. She cannot walk but she hops. She wears very long dresses to cover and conceal her feet which are shod with something like a cow's hoof. She never goes out except to the Primitive Methodist Chapel. Mrs. Nott said she had seen this person's frog feet and had seen her in Presteign hopping to and from the Chapel exactly like a frog. She had never seen her hands. She is a very good person. The story about this unfortunate being is as follows. Shortly before she was born a woman came begging to her mother's door with two or three little children. Her mother was angry and ordered the woman away. "Get away with your young frogs," she said. And the child she was expecting was born partly in the form of a frog, as a punishment and a curse upon her.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Audubon's Birds of America Re-Interpreted

Waterloo Courier (Waterloo IA), January 13, 2019
Above Screen grab of the cover page of the Sunday Living Section of the Waterloo Courier, January 13, 2019, with an article, written by Melody Parker, about an exhibition of Audubon-themed student posters at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center, in Cedar Falls IA. Many of the same posters were posted earlier on this blog in 2017.


The posters in this exhibit here were produced in the fall of 2017 by undergraduate students at the University of Northern Iowa. They resulted from a problem that was given in an introductory course in graphic design. When the course began, most of the students had little if any experience in designing, whether the process of layout (arranging parts within a page) or the use of appropriate software.

Each student was asked to design a suite of three posters that would be used to advertise an exhibition of the posters they themselves had made. Titles, dates, locations and other text components were provided, as was the agreed upon emphasis on the exhibition’s title, RARA AVIS: A Poster Exhibition About Audubon’s Birds.

All images used in the posters were extracted from online high resolution images from American naturalist John James Audubon’s famous book, The Birds of America, first published in 1827 and 1838. His paintings are now in public domain, out-of-copyright, and available freely for download at their large, original size.

The series of posters was given the name RARA AVIS to signal that these are not merely unaltered reproductions of Audubon’s original artwork. Instead, the problem required that each student reinterpret Audubon’s work. They were free to extract fragments from any of his paintings, to dissemble them, to remix and rearrange the parts. The Latin term rara avis (which translates literally as “rare bird”) is suitable for the eccentric results.

Some of the student designers whose work is represented have since graduated. The work of nine designers is shown, including Sophia Grover, Ross Hellman, Sydney Hughes, Lydia Madsen, Hanna Seggerman, Cheyenne Strelow-Varney, Mallory Thurm, Samantha White, and Charles Williams. The course instructor, UNI Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Scholar Roy R. Behrens, retired at the end of 2018 after 46 years of teaching.