Time for a break!

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After 30 posts, each more impressive than the last, I fear maybe a break is in order to insure my head doesn’t collapse in on itself with all the valuable knowledge I have imparted. (At least until the end of this semester, oh the frivolous life of a carefree student!)

In the mean time, here are some thoughts I’ve been having recently, to leave you with something to ponder:

I bought a four-pen to use for mostly blue ink, do i throw it away now that the blue is almost done?

Mortgage contains the French word for death, to which I agree.

Is group work ever worth while?

Finally, to the guy that car-doored me the other week: way to be a dickhead!

Be back soon!

Write like 1976 NASA, for free!

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It seems I am going through a bit of a typography phase at the moment. Or at least a design phase. Regardless, this isn’t going to go in-depth into the story or history of NASA’s 1970s graphics redesign, which from what I have read is very interesting, rather this is just advertising that you can download their 1976 Graphics Standards Manual right now from the NASA web site! For free! 

I had never thought about just how much work goes into every little area of typographic design; from letterheads to space shuttle doors.

I wonder how everyday workers received this graphics overhaul? From working in a government agency myself I can imagine: not well.

Why get bogged down in these though? Download your copy of the Graphics Manual and get studying NASA typeface so you can start NASA typefacing everything! And not only NASA or space related stuff like you see above, you could also NASA:

Any other building to make it a NASA building

buildings-in-the-minneanapolis-skyline

Some bananas:

banana

Sportspeople:

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A rancor

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The Soviet Space Program

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Anything you want!


Sources:

NASA!

Lessons from Outlander season 1

OUTLANDER!

Sing me a song of a land that is gold.

Period dramas can only get better when you put them inside another period drama.

It isn’t considered cheating if your husband hasn’t been born yet! WINK!

Scottish men can have long, lush flowing curly hair and completely hairless bodies.

Men in kilts?…not bad, not bad at all.

Playing jaunty music over a scene where a husband is belting his wife for her misbehaving means we, the audience, find it funny…?

(do we accept Jamie’s apology for this?).

Women of science no not fair well in the 18th Century, but probably better than they do now!

Basically everyone from the 20th Century is also living in 1743.

Women enjoy sex? Oh boy, this must be science-fiction.

Don’t let your nerd husband choose your romantic post-war holiday.

Unless, as we observe, abandoned castle basements really get you going. (And oh boy, they do! You go Brutus!)

Pregnancy feels like…urhh…boy I hope not.

It’s pretty easy to reach up a woman, spin and pop out a baby.

Where is Jamie?


Sources:

Starz original programming!

Should I revisit Spartacus? I think so…

Open House Melbourne 2015: take a peek!

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Myer Mural Hall: shhh, photos not allowed.

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Looking out of the Mural Hall: art deco Dimond House, you think you are so cool next to that other awesome building.

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Looking out from the Melbourne Town Hall upper portico: this building’s alright.

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Ohhh yeah, much better view of that same building.

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Hi Mike!

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Royal Arcade from Coco Black: saw someones butt while they were bending over. I mean, I know it’s Open House Melbourne, but this is ridiculous!


Sources:

My own sneaky self!


sdsdf

More musical pairings: I can has analysis!

LaurynHill

This one might be more about my own analytical process, and where I sometimes just miss the mark, than too in depth an analysis of these two songs. The two tracks I’m talking about are Lauryn Hill’s To Zion on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and how I had essentially deconstructed its meaning in my mind, to the point where I was going to write a post on it in and of itself, only to have the meaning I had built up in my mind be destroyed (maybe elevated is a better word though) with Donnie Trumpet’s companion or response piece Zion featuring Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa on his debut EP.

I’m now almost a bit embarrassed to admit what I had initially thought Hill’s To Zion was all about. I think I almost took her opening verses literally; Hill confused and touching her pregnant belly. I was listening to the song in almost isolation from any information about Hill’s life, and in the understanding this was a very personal and vulnerable song, I took the religious and angelic symbology at surface value (as any good critical thinker does) and concluded, oh clearly this is about an immaculate conception. Yes, I won’t even attempt to explain this away by saying this could be an analogy for a situation where the father is no longer around for whatever reason, I literally thought, baby from nowhere, message received Lauryn! Then to further this, I deduced that, while the mother chooses to defy what those around her think, that she should think about her career and get her abortion, as the chorus iterates “the joy of my world is in Zion”, I once more nodded in meaningful understanding. I’m no theologist, but I’m pretty sure “Zion” is something religious, it must be synonymous with Heaven; therefore, unfortunately, the child died. And I was genuinely moved and sad, it is a beautiful song after all, the song concludes with the repetition of “marching to Zion”, meaning the mother is dreaming of being reunited with her deceased child in Zion, AKA Heaven…because it is dead.

(Now I just feel the need to clarify here, I now understand that Hill’s first child, who she had early in her career, she named Zion and this song is a tribute to the inspiration and creative love that he gives her. But, hey, who could have known. Also, now a number of other verses make more sense. Hindsight is beautiful!).

Satisfied with by probing dissection of To Zion, I ticked that meaning off as done. Then, a year or two later, eagerly awaiting anything new by Chance the Rapper since Acid Rap, I notice this Donnie Trumpet video: Zion. Huh, okay, let’s see how this holds up with my understanding of the original (It took a few listens before I actually make the connection between these songs if I’m honest). Man oh man, Donnie Trumpet playing the tune from To Zion, it’s so smooth and warm, I loved it (listen here for an extended version where the trumpets get centre stage). Chance is on point as usual and it was his lyrics that struck me and made me think: wait a minute holdup; maybe To Zion isn’t about immaculate conception. (just quickly also, I don’t love Vic Mensa’s verses on this, I think they come in a bit too fast compared to the rest of the track for my liking, this is purely my personal opinion). Chance’s rap made me rethink the whole song, that it could be about the relationship and love between the mother and the (living) child, about the strength of a mother as a child’s “Queen”. The clincher comes as she sings as she wraps her child’s dredds, described by Chance “my momma loves me like the song that she sings, but I think she loves me just a little bit more”, channelling (what I now know) is the message of Hill’s original track, that she will put her own family before her career.

To gush just a little bit more over both songs, I love the image that Chance creates with his lyrics in Zion. It really forms a nice vivid scene between a mother and child in a few simple lines. In its spirit though, I believe Zion to be a really powerful companion, homage, tribute to Hill’s original; and the respect that can be felt from Zion towards Hill perfectly captures the themes of Hill’s To Zion, as she serves as a forerunner, a mother, for new aspiring artists whom her music has touched across the generations.

I could go on, however I will just conclude by saying if you haven’t listened to Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment’s new album Surf (which Chance the Rapper is part of), then jump up on it, grab it like you want it. Watch the video for Sunday Candy here, it is tight!

(And also since writing this, there has been even more Chance activity, a freestyle mix tape with Lil B: I’m currently crushing on Amen. AND a great little song Israel dropped about a week ago. Phew, so much good stuff to be getting on with.)


Sources:

my brainy?

History climaxed with the opening of a floating McDonalds in 1986

McBarge

Yes, it is true, humanity can never reach the lofty heights gained during the ’86 Vancouver Worlds Fair, with the opening of the “McBarge”. It will be a uneventful slide into obscurity and oblivion for the human race for from this point on, we have won life!

Have you ever found yourself on some stupid marina, with nothing but the dumb ocean around, boy isn’t that guy a square, thinking: I want nothing more than to crush a happy-meal with a side of fillet-o-fish? Well, behold the majestic McBarge chugging towards you against the horizon! Glinting in the sunlight like the mighty thunderbolt of Zeus, as it glides effortlessly through the undisturbed water, Poseidon couldn’t hold this vessel back, it is such a perfect object that the water parts imperceptibly before this McMoses-ship. You can get your happy-meal with a fillet-o-fish on the side, here my friend, or even just a humble chicken nugget! This is the climax of your life, once you step off this floating Shangri-La, you would have reached enlightenment, found heaven on Earth and the answer to all the infinite questions of the universe, you can lie down and fade from this world. It will never get better than this.

Yes, the officially named Friendship 500 (which doesn’t have the roll off the tongue, mouth-wateringly provocative name like “McBarge”), was constructed as one of the attractions for Vancouver tourism during the ’86 Worlds Fair, however lets face it, it would outshine any feeble pavilions that any measly country could think to include. The fair was even opened by Prince Charles and Lady Dianna, whom I don’t think it is any stretch of the imagination to suppose, would have been the first in line to order a McChicken Burger with extra lettuce (a little McDonalds code there for you). It was designed by Robert Allan Ltd., which I only mention because on this navel architectural design firm’s Wikipedia page this fact is not included anywhere! Shame on you!

The idea was to reinvigorate McDonalds to a growing class of people who where beginning to shun fast-food chains, and I mean, what’s more classy that McDonalds on the water? The restaurant could then chug away to different parts of the expo and hopefully live a long and happy life afterwards exploring the waterways of the Canadian North, enriching the lives of the small-towns folk it happened upon in its wanderings, and when the towns people turn back around to thank the McBarge for all it’s done, repairing estranged families, rescuing an injured cat, teaching children how to stand up to bullies, etc, etc, it has already moved on.

Sadly, fate had other plans in store. In 1991 the McBarge was asked by the new owners of the expos site to move along and came to settle amongst an oil refinery, abandoned by all those who claimed to love her. This is why we don’t deserve nice things.

Recently, however, there have been plans to renovate the McBarge and create a new waterfront marina in Mission, British Colombia. I find these plans shocking and offensive. Defiling the corpse of a once proud vessel, who was the best of us, certainly better than anyone I’ve ever known. When will the atrocities of the human race end?

You’ve earned a rest, McBarge. Sleep well.


Sources:

Lovejoy, B 2015, ‘The McBarge: a failed floating McDonald’s that wants a second chance’, Atlas Obscura, http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-mcbarge-a-failed-floating-mcdonalds-that-wants-a-second-chance.

Morgan, H 2013, ‘McBarge: Abandoned floating McDonalds to be given new life as a marina in Canada’, InHabitat, http://inhabitat.com/mcbarge-abandoned-floating-mcdonalds-to-be-given-new-life-as-a-marina-in-canada/

There are also many videos of attractions and footage from Expo 86, such as this, you can even hear one women raving over how nice Princess Dianna’s skin was, so smooth.

Protests and barricades in my own backyard

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Now, in terms of places that could spontaneously erupt into protests and barricades and revolutions, I see that more along the lines of, I don’t know, France or somewhere like that might jump to mind, however these events can sometimes occur right in your backyard! Struth! or in a more Collingwood area, I guess, I wouldn’t want to say Collingwood is MY backyard. Fair dinkum!

So let’s jump off the South Morang train line, back when it was still the Epping line (which, incidentally, a friend of mine did [SHOUT OUT!] at Victoria Park Station on our way to the beach one time, not to enjoy the view of the home of the Magpies, rather to vomit off the elevated edge of the station, which, while it was the result of drinking, it occurred just as I was informing them of two high school acquaintances who were now, then, currently dating. Ha. Comedy is all about timing!), and remember the civil disobedience in inner city Melbourne.

The city of Melbourne, following in the well trodden tyre-prints of many American cities *cough*L.A.*cough*, decided by the mid-20th Century to abandon public transport in favour of the mighty automobile. To this end, the State Government of Victoria designed a glorious new freeway plan that would criss-cross the whole city, cutting great swathes through the inner-suburbs. This stirred up a great deal of discontent within local residents whose houses would be reclaimed by the freeway-gods, and work on the overall plan occurred incrementally -due to residential pushback areas would be cancelled or shelved for several years only to be revived later.

By 1976-7, the State Government had decided to give one of its freeway plans another crack. The F19, proposed to connect Doncaster and Templestowe with the inner-and-north city, exiting under Hoddle Street into Alexandra Parade, and was based on the arguments that this would relieve clogged arterial traffic. Now the two neighbourhoods that would be greatly affected by this freeway exit were two of the oldest, meanest and scariest (haha, jk, please don’t hurt me) Collingwood and Fitzroy, the local residents of which were none too pleased with this plan. After a lot of back and forth between protest groups, the local council and freeway planners, events reached a head in October 1977 when police broke up a protest and arrested many anti-freeway campaigners, including the mayors of Collingwood and Fitzroy amongst the rabble, obstructing construction crews from working on the freeway. There was a measured response to this: BARRICADE! Yup, the fair constituents of Collingwood, Fitzroy an other Melbournian rabblerousers grabbed any handy abandoned cars, fridges, doors, slabs of concrete, corrugated iron and barricaded, head-high, the Wellington Street intersection. Protesters then camped out for a bit around the barricade to ensure police did not dismantle it and smattered it with slogans, such as one cheeky protester whom was stopped by police from including his “Fuck the Freeway” sign into the barricade, returned the next day with his slogan cleverly concealed in wordplay to now read “Free the Fuckway”. This was truly the height of political commentary and anti-freeway protesting.

Eventually though, the police arrived in earnest and removed the protesters and the barricades as the anti-freeway groups had lost momentum, and the F19 freeway began spewing cars onto Alexandra Parade and inner-city Melbourne.

A better timing for this may have been during the whole East-West Link stuff, to remind people the power that can be wielded by the average citizen (and here I could start a whole big thing about more freeways not being the solution to clogged freeways, that would be a whole other post). But if the proceeding decades of freeway construction have taught us anything, it’s that they will be back, and in greater numbers, so keep your abandoned cars and slabs of concrete on standby.


Sources:

Davison, G 2004, Car Wars: how the car won our hearts and conquered our cities, Allen and Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.

Anonymous, 1978, Barricade! The residents fight against the F19 freeway, The Australian Independent Movement, Melbourne.

Hawkins, B 1980, ‘The battle of Alexandra Parade’, The New Internationalist Magazine, no. 92.

Home Made Special: Historical Porridge

CROSSOVER!!!

Miss Muesli

In a shameless ploy to get Baby Chino’s History and Live some attention, I agreed to have him make me breakfast in bed. Aren’t I nice?

This morning we were travelling back in space and time to Ancient Greece, through the tried and true portal of porridge. According to the authors of The Classical Cookbookancient greek women who knew about herbs could use this porridge, or kykeon, for dangerous purposes – like sending men to sleep, or worse!

It is likely a breach of copyright for me to post the actual recipe, so the things that went into this dish are: semolina (soaked, drained), ricotta cheese, honey and some egg. The combination of those ingredients in quantities approximating 1 : 3: 1/2 : 1/2 grams, and heated to almost boiling point, looked like this:

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I had an immediate insight into how the Athenians built the Parthenon, how Pythagoras birthed his…

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Some sneaky names

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Don’t we all have a pen name of some sort? My own nom de plume “H.A.L” of course is derived from Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer.

Here are some other, if less interesting, pseudonyms:

The Brontë Sisters:

Acton Bell – Anne Brontë

Currer Bell – Charlotte Brontë

Ellis Bell – Emily Brontë

Taken as a whole, the requisite amount of manliness they chose for their pen names to disguise that they were, gasp, women authors, matching the brooding, intense dreamboats whom they penned, that of course prior to this could only have been captured by a male author. (Still they could have been more manly).


Charles Dickens:

Boz

Now the reason this piques my fancy is because a childhood friend of mine in primary school had a dog named Boz, so I cannot separate that in my mind. Try harder next time, Charlie D! Maybe, Charles “12 inch” Dickens. Big Swinging Dickens.


Katsushika Ōi:

Ōi Ei-Ji 

Ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Ōi, would sometimes sign her prints with “Ei” can be written with the pronunciation for “tipsy” or “drunk”, because she loved to get her crunk on. This is my kind of wordplay!


Benjamin Franklin – strap yourself in, he must have been a big fan of Alias.

Busy Body

BF, to be honest I don’t love this one. Feels a bit too clever and thought-out that it rubs me the wrong way.

Martha Careful

Again, BF, I like the Martha part, but the Careful feels a bit too smug.

Polly Barker

Nice and innocuous. I think I’m just reading a letter from sweet Polly Barker, then before you know it, you’ve been Benjamin Franklin-ed.

Richard Saunders

Nice follow on from Polly Barker, maybe her husband? There is something swarthy I like in this one.

Silence Dogood

Urgh, BF, enough with these ones.

Alice Addertongue

…no

Anthony Afterwit

…stop

Benevolus

Hold up, is that even a word? I like it.

Caelia Shortface

Here we go, you finally get it. What a great name! Caelia eyed the men offered before her across the ballroom, like a lioness tracking her prey; a Shortface always gets what she wants after all.


Samuel Langhorne Clemens:

Mark Twain

Clean and crisp. B+ overall, I’d say.

Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass

Fantastically fake sounding name of someone trying to sneak into a fancy party.

Josh

If it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it. “Did you hear who was in town? Why it was the fabulous author of Huck Finn, you know,  Josh”.


Willard Huntington Wright:

S. S. Van Dine

All aboard, huh huh huh.


Arthur Hoey Davis:

Steele Rudd

Step aside Brontë sisters, you missed your chance at critical-mass manliness. Steele Rudd, oh you know your business. Although now that I’ve actually said “Steele Rudd” out loud, it more seems like a the name of a pornstar. A google image search with safe search off, sadly, produces nothing but clothed results.


Washington Irving:

Jonathan Oldstyle

On the subject of porn names, Jon Oldstyle fits that bill. I like this one particularly because it feels like a 19th Century gangster or hip-hop name. I feel “the street” when I look into his name.


Doménikos Theotokópoulos:

El Greco

“The Greek”. Oh a simpler time, where there was only one person of any nationality anywhere so you could get away with such a name. Or you were just that bigoted not to care, the Renaissance truly was a glorious rebirth.


Colonel Tickell:

Old Log

“Oh yes, it is a pleasure to meet you, Mr Log.”

“Please, Mr Log was my father. Call me Old.”


Frederic M. Halford:

Detached Badger

Now even I don’t have any idea what is happening with this one. It must have something to do with these angler authors, they are a salty breed…I guess…?


Touko Laaksonen:

Tom of Finland

What old Tom o’ Finland worked out perfectly was a pseudonym. Completely nondescript and unassuming, then you google image search Tom of Finland and bam, nothing but man-muscles.


Charles Edouard Jeanneret:

Le Corbusier

Now I’ve said this before, but I’m pretty sure Le Corbusier means “the Badger”, because he looks like a badger, or was grumpy like one, maybe? I don’t want to actually look this up though, because I don’t want to live in a world where this isn’t the truth.


Sources:

wikipedia search: list of pen names!

Bitumen, The Raft of the Medusa, and the lifespan of art: finally, a serious topic?!

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You know, sometimes art can be interesting, and the Raft of the Medusa, which is an art painting, is also interesting. And with that soaring introduction, let’s get into this!

The subject matter of Théodore Géricault’s the Raft of the Medusa, or Le Radeau de la Méduse to our friends under the Sun King, is pretty interesting on its own, but it’s a bit outside what I’m going to talk about so let me sum it up quickly. The story, and by which I mean historical event the painting depicts, is something along the lines of a ship, the Medusa, hit a reef, or something like that, sank and the survivors crammed into a life boat, or maybe strung some planks together to form a raft. I think it was a week or two before they were rescued and without food, people were eating people. The painting is of the survivors near death on a shanty raft just as they spot rescue (as you can see from above); lets hope it’s not at the same time they are feasting on long pork as that would make for an awkward interruption.

What I find interesting about the painting is the materials that were used by Géricault, particularly bitumen. Bitumen, I believe, was used as a particularly glossy black pigment, that Géricault employed extensively to truly capture the death and desperation felt by our floating cannibal friends. Where Géricault’s use of bitumen has become a bit of a problem, however, is that it is a material that has a lifespan. While the pigment may initially appear a lovely glossy raven black, over time, surfaces painted using bitumen will eventually wrinkle, bubble, discolour and fade. This can be seen to be occurring in many areas on the Raft of the Medusa, where figures and patches of the huge painting are slowly darkening (please feel free to draw any parallels between the this physical darkening of the painting and the darkening of the soul that enabled the wrecks survivors to survive their ordeal).

Who knows if Géricault actually knew that this would be the result of his use of bitumen, as in the 19th Century pharmacist/painter Adrien Recouvreur wrote a scathing review of the substance indicating that since bitumen had been prominently used since the 1700s there must have been some idea of its inherent potentially problematic properties. Therefore, it may not be inconceivable that Géricault chose to use bitumen to capture the life and death, hope and despair, light and darkness, quality of his subject matter and have the fragile balance between these concepts transcend the objects he was depicting and also be captured in the life and eventual death of the physical painting itself.

Much more research on my part could answer some of these questions, but who has the time? It does raise some interesting questions.

Should the artistically intended lifespan of such works of art be respected? I always encounter in books and TV shows that try to deal with questions of mortality, life and death, an argument something along the lines that what makes life beautiful and worth living is that it is finite. Should the same be held true for inanimate objects, art, buildings, cities? I kind of enjoy the Romantic spirit behind the knowing creation of a work of art that like us only has a limited life until it will fade into death. In modern society this also does not mean the eradication of the painting altogether, there are countless reproductions and images of the such paintings in books and on the internet, so they would never be forgotten, and yet we obsessively cling to these objects. And maybe we should for future generations to enjoy and all that, but still, if da Vinci intended that the Mona Lisa should only exist for a few hundred years should it be continually restored and preserved against the will of the artist? Maybe it is a question of who art belongs to?

Welp, I’m not sure. Just some thoughts that are stuck in my craw, and now, maybe your craw.


Sources:

The poem Bitumen by Karen Solie, that initially got me thinking on this topic, which you can hear excepts read by her on the May 2015 edition of The Poetry Magazine Podcast.

Callen, A 2000, The art of Impressionism: painting technique & the making of Modernity, Yale University Press.

Spiegelman, W 2009, ‘Revolutionary Romanticism’, The Wall Street Journal.