"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

24 November 2015


Steinlen, Cat in the Moonlight, 1900

Thou comest, Autumn, heralded by the rain,
  With banners, by great gales incessant fanned,
  Brighter than brightest silks of Samarcand,
  And stately oxen harnessed to thy wain!
Thou standest, like imperial Charlemagne,
  Upon thy bridge of gold; thy royal hand
  Outstretched with benedictions o'er the land,
  Blessing the farms through all thy vast domain!
Thy shield is the red harvest moon, suspended
  So long beneath the heaven's o'erhanging eaves;
  Thy steps are by the farmer's prayers attended;
Like flames upon an altar shine the sheaves;
  And, following thee, in thy ovation splendid,
  Thine almoner, the wind, scatters the golden leaves!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Van Allsburg, Third Story Window, 1984

Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason—Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half knowledge. This pursued through Volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.

John Keats

Happy birthday, Toulouse-Lautrec.

Toulouse-Lautrec, Simpson Chain poster, 1896

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was born on this date in 1864.

I paint things as they are. I don’t comment. I record.  In our time there are many artists who do something because it is new; they see their value and their justification in this newness. They are deceiving themselves; novelty is seldom the essential. This has to do with one thing only; making a subject better from its intrinsic nature.  I have tried to do what is true and not ideal.

Henri de Toulouse- Lautrec


23 November 2015


Artist David Hockney reveals startling evidence which suggests that cameras have been a secret tool for artists since the 15th century, a discovery that solves century-old mysteries surrounding famous paintings. 

Part 1

Part 2


Throwing toilet paper requires force and finesse, arch and accent, the power of a Hail Mary and the touch of a fadeaway jumper. It also takes speed. Within seconds of us pulling onto the grassy shoulder in front of Erin’s parents’ place, the trees paralleling the road at the property bottom were turning white.

The moon was up. No one who had wheels was home. What rolls the wind didn’t slap across the two-lane unspooled quick fast from our red fingers, looped over bare branches, and rappelled down the flip side in long, taut, unbroken belts. We dressed trunks. We scribbled in tissue along the front yard all manner of stall-wall worthy enjoiners. The wreckage was compact but not inconsiderable. The tree row had become a mob of resurrected mummies.

Any serious, midnight-running prankster knows ... corn is better.

- Ed.


The universe is an astonishingly big place, with everything moving in different directions at different speeds. With all that going on, the movement of a single planet a tough thing to get a grip on.


Do it, out of compassion for yourself.

Rameau, "La Dauphine"

Olivia Steimel, accordion ...


One could mention many lovable traits in Smee. For instance, after killing, it was his spectacles he wiped instead of his weapon.

J.M. Barrie, from Peter Pan

20 November 2015

Bad Co., "Deal with the Preacher"

Happy Friday!


Work without effort.

Jim Harrison


Caravaggio was extraordinarily secretive about the techniques he used to create his ingenious and revolutionary art. He didn't employ assistants and hardly let anyone into his workshop. Although jealous rivals offered rewards to anyone who could discover his trade secrets, he took them to his grave. Or so everyone thought.

In this documentary, experts examine his life and the artistic techniques suggested by the revealing inventory. 


Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

Calvin Coolidge


Williams, Emerald Pool, 1906

To enjoy anything, we cannot be attached to it.  What we usually try to do is capture any joy that comes our way before it can escape.  We try to cling to pleasure, but all we succeed in doing is making ourselves frustrated because, whatever it promises, pleasure simply cannot last.  But if I am willing to kiss the joy as it flies, I say, 'Yes, this moment is beautiful.  I won't grab it.  I'll let it go.'  And I live with a mind at peace and a heart untroubled.  Pleasure comes and goes.  When it goes, we don't need to cling to memories of the past happiness or dwell on when it may come again.  When we turn to the past yearning, we are running away from the present.  When we propel ourselves into the future in anticipation, we are running away from the present.  This is the secret of the world's spiritual tradition called detachment:  If we don't cling to past or future we live entirely here and now, in "Eternity's sunrise."

Eknath Easwaran


Wyeth, Long John Silver leading Jim Hawkins, 1911

Ever since Long John Silver clomped around on a wooden leg with a parrot on his shoulder, the literary and pop-culture conception of pirates has involved the parrot. But at this point, fact is very hard to separate from fiction. What, exactly, about a classic pirate Halloween costume—the parrot, the peg leg, the eyepatch, the bandana, the snarling vaguely Scottish accent—is actually real? Is any of it real?

“The parrot trope is almost certainly grounded in reality,” says Colin Woodard, author of The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down. Long John Silver, the star of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, was the first major fictional pirate character to walk around with a pet parrot, but this, according to Woodard and other experts in the field of classic piracy I spoke to, was based on real truths. And the reasons why the parrot became associated with pirates actually give us a pretty good glimpse at the real, true-life existence of a pirate during the Golden Age of Piracy.

19 November 2015

Eisenstaedt, Children Watching St. George Slay the Dragon at the Puppet Theater in the Tuileries, Paris, 1963

Two hundred years ago elementary level education included Greek & Latin. Today we have to put “DO NOT EAT” on silica gel packs that come in shoe boxes.

18 November 2015


Jim Harrison interviewed ...



I thank GOD for YouTube.

And Jim Harrison.


On one of those sober and rather melancholy days in the latter part of autumn when the shadows of morning and evening almost mingle together, and throw a gloom over the decline of the year, I passed several hours in rambling about Westminster Abbey. There was something congenial to the season in the mournful magnificence of the old pile, and as I passed its threshold it seemed like stepping back into the regions of antiquity and losing myself among the shades of former ages.

I entered from the inner court of Westminster School, through a long, low, vaulted passage that had an almost subterranean look, being dimly lighted in one part by circular perforations in the massive walls. Through this dark avenue I had a distant view of the cloisters, with the figure of an old verger in his black gown moving along their shadowy vaults, and seeming like a spectre from one of the neighboring tombs. The approach to the abbey through these gloomy monastic remains prepares the mind for its solemn contemplation. The cloisters still retain something of the quiet and seclusion of former days. The gray walls are discolored by damps and crumbling with age; a coat of hoary moss has gathered over the inscriptions of the mural monuments, and obscured the death's heads and other funeral emblems. The sharp touches of the chisel are gone from the rich tracery of the arches; the roses which adorned the keystones have lost their leafy beauty; everything bears marks of the gradual dilapidations of time, which yet has something touching and pleasing in its very decay.

The sun was pouring down a yellow autumnal ray into the square of the cloisters, beaming upon a scanty plot of grass in the centre, and lighting up an angle of the vaulted passage with a kind of dusky splendor. From between the arcades the eye glanced up to a bit of blue sky or a passing cloud, and beheld the sun-gilt pinnacles of the abbey towering into the azure heaven.

 As I paced the cloisters, sometimes contemplating this mingled picture of glory and decay, and sometimes endeavoring to decipher the inscriptions on the tombstones which formed the pavement beneath my feet, my eye was attracted to three figures rudely carved in relief, but nearly worn away by the footsteps of many generations. They were the effigies of three of the early abbots; the epitaphs were entirely effaced; the names alone remained, having no doubt been renewed in later times (Vitalis. Abbas. 1082, and Gislebertus Crispinus. Abbas. 1114, and Laurentius. Abbas. 1176). I remained some little while, musing over these casual relics of antiquity thus left like wrecks upon this distant shore of time, telling no tale but that such beings had been and had perished, teaching no moral but the futility of that pride which hopes still to exact homage in its ashes and to live in an inscription. A little longer, and even these faint records will be obliterated and the monument will cease to be a memorial. Whilst I was yet looking down upon the gravestones I was roused by the sound of the abbey clock, reverberating from buttress to buttress and echoing among the cloisters. It is almost startling to hear this warning of departed time sounding among the tombs and telling the lapse of the hour, which, like a billow, has rolled us onward towards the grave. I pursued my walk to an arched door opening to the interior of the abbey. On entering here the magnitude of the building breaks fully upon the mind, contrasted with the vaults of the cloisters. The eyes gaze with wonder at clustered columns of gigantic dimensions, with arches springing from them to such an amazing height, and man wandering about their bases, shrunk into insignificance in comparison with his own handiwork. The spaciousness and gloom of this vast edifice produce a profound and mysterious awe. We step cautiously and softly about, as if fearful of disturbing the hallowed silence of the tomb, while every footfall whispers along the walls and chatters among the sepulchres, making us more sensible of the quiet we have interrupted.

Washington Irving, from Geoffrey Crayon's Sketchbook

Phalèse, Bransle

Royal Wind Music performs ...

Wind music.


NASA, Pluto, 2015 

Cold and dark, but still a great vacation spot.


An education on wind chimes ...

"Breezy Night" ... here.

Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15

Murray Perahia performs with the the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Sir George Solti ...


van Gogh, Mountainous Landscape Behind Saint-Paul Hospital, 1889

The Wind

I saw you toss the kites on high
And blow the birds about the sky;
And all around I heard you pass,
Like ladies' skirts across the grass--
                  O wind, a-blowing all day long,
                  O wind, that sings so loud a song!

I saw the different things you did,
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call,
I could not see yourself at all--
                 O wind, a-blowing all day long,
                 O wind, that sings so loud a song!

O you that are so strong and cold,
O blower, are you young or old?
Are you a beast of field and tree,
Or just a stronger child than me?
                O wind, a-blowing all day long,
                O wind, that sings so loud a song!

Robert Louis Stevenson


Poortvliet, Fox in a Winter Field, 1963

Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.


17 November 2015

Haydn, Symphony No. 39 in G Minor

Giovanni Antonini leads Il Giardino Armonico ...


Ortelius, Islandia, 1590

... [I]t seemed to me the height of arrogance to mock people for not knowing what we do now. How much do we take on faith today? Living five hundred years ago, I would surely have trusted the scholars who made these maps, who wrested some idea of the world from others who had sailed for weeks and months and kept charts with all the precision they could muster.


Happy birthday, Bronzino.

Bronzino, Lute Player, 1534

Agnolo Bronzino was born on this date in 1503.

14 November 2015


November Night

With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.

Adelaide Crapsey

Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Stone Blind Horses"


His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful stories they were--about hanging, and walking the plank, and storms at sea, and the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and places on the Spanish Main. By his own account he must have lived his life among some of the wickedest men that God ever allowed upon the sea, and the language in which he told these stories shocked our plain country people almost as much as the crimes that he described. My father was always saying the inn would be ruined, for people would soon cease coming there to be tyrannized over and put down, and sent shivering to their beds; but I really believe his presence did us good. People were frightened at the time, but on looking back they rather liked it; it was a fine excitement in a quiet country life, and there was even a party of the younger men who pretended to admire him, calling him a "true sea-dog" and a "real old salt" and such like names, and saying there was the sort of man that made England terrible at sea.

Robert Louis Stevenson, from Treasure Island

JuJu, "Mariama Trance"

Juldeh Camara, riti ...



Sea Fever

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.

John Masefield


Beethoven, Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123

Nikolaus Harnoncourt directs Concentus Musicus Wien Orchester ...


Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman, he thought. But that was the thing that I was born for.

Ernest Hemingway


“He is very responsive to atmosphere and changing light,” Mr. Sutton said. “He’s particularly good at the crepuscular dawn and dusk and the play of light on water, which he gets partly from the Impressionists, but he does it in his own distinctive way.”

In the early 20th century, Davis became best known for his paintings of clouds. Fifteen cloudscapes are assembled together in the exhibition, demonstrating his technical range and scrupulous observation. Set above low horizon lines, Davis’s clouds inhabit expansive skies. Some are wispy and serene, some are voluminous and laden, some seem to be scurrying over the countryside.

13 November 2015

Robert Plant, Bonnaroo (2015)

Happy Friday!

(For educational purposes only.)


Caillebotte, Young Man at His Window, 1875

The point of staring out of a window is, paradoxically, not to find out what is going on outside. It is, rather, an exercise in discovering the contents of our own minds. It’s easy to imagine we know what we think, what we feel and what’s going on in our heads. But we rarely do entirely. There’s a huge amount of what makes us who we are that circulates unexplored and unused. Its potential lies untapped. It is shy and doesn’t emerge under the pressure of direct questioning. If we do it right, staring out the window offers a way for us to listen out for the quieter suggestions and perspectives of our deeper selves.


Wyeth, Frostbitten, 1962


Today I opened wide my eyes,
And stared with wonder and surprise,
To see beneath November skies
An apple blossom peer;
Upon a branch as bleak as night
It gleamed exultant on my sight,
A fairy beacon burning bright Of hope and cheer.

  "Alas!" said I, "poor foolish thing,
Have you mistaken this for Spring?
Behold, the thrush has taken wing,
And Winter's near."

Serene it seemed to lift its head:
"The Winter's wrath I do not dread,
Because I am," it proudly said,
"A Pioneer."

Some apple blossom must be first,
With beauty's urgency to burst
Into a world for joy athirst,
And so I dare;
And I shall see what none shall see –
December skies gloom over me,
And mock them with my April glee,
And fearless fare.

"And I shall hear what none shall hear –
The hardy robin piping clear,
The Storm King gallop dark and drear
Across the sky;
And I shall know what none shall know –
The silent kisses of the snow,
The Christmas candles' silver glow,
Before I die.

  "Then from your frost-gemmed window pane
One morning you will look in vain,
My smile of delicate disdain
No more to see;
But though I pass before my time,
And perish in the grale and grime,
Maybe you'll have a little rhyme
To spare for me."

Robert Service


The things we want are transformative, and we don’t know or only think we know what is on the other side of that transformation. Love, wisdom, grace, inspiration -- how you go about finding these things that are in some ways about extending the boundaries of the self into unknown territory.

Rebecca Solnit

Happy birthday, Stevenson.

Robert Louis Stevenson was born on this date in 1850.

Find out where joy resides, and give it a voice far beyond singing. For to miss the joy is to miss all.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Treasure Island ... read it.

12 November 2015


Schiele, Sunflowers, 1917

Sometimes I spend all day trying to count the leaves on a single tree. To do this I have to climb branch by branch and write down the numbers in a little book. So I suppose, from their point of view, it’s reasonable that my friends say: what foolishness! She’s got her head in the clouds again. But it’s not. Of course I have to give up, but by then I’m half crazy with the wonder of it—the abundance of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort.

Mary Oliver


Homer, Summer Squall, 1904

Break, break, break,
         On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
         The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
         That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
         That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
         To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
         And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break
         At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
         Will never come back to me.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Chatham, Moonrise in Montana, 1997

Weak Winter Sun

I have been enshrouded for months
by the weak winter sun, so weak
you can stare into the face of it
without hurting your eyes and see the fire
veins in its body. It is stupidly
human to rush the season. The boy
cleans up his trout equipment. Only two
more months to the fishing opener
and the dry flies and streamers
are impatiently waiting. Seventy-seven
years of weak winter sun, the lake
frozen over with several feet of ice. The moon
glowing once without a trace of heat.
The bulbs in the flower garden ache
from the last inches of snow. Under the bridge
the trout feed on snow flies, so tiny hardly a bite.
The moon behind the skein of clouds freezes
me and advises patience. It says, be the moon with me.

Jim Harrison


Goya, Three Salmon Steaks, 1812

Fantasy, abandoned by reason, produces impossible monsters; united with it, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of marvels.

Francisco Goya

Don Edwards, "The Old Cow Man"

The Old Cow Man

I rode across a valley range
I hadn't seen for years.
The trail was all so spoilt and strange
It nearly fetched the tears.
I had to let ten fences down
(The fussy lanes ran wrong)
And each new line would make me frown
And hum a mournin' song.

Oh, it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
Hear 'em stretchin' of the wire!
The nester brand is on the land;
I reckon I'll retire,
While progress toots her brassy horn
And makes her motor buzz,
I thank the Lord I wasn't born
No later than I was.

'Twas good to live when all the sod,
Without no fence or fuss,
Belonged in partnership to God,
The Gover'ment and us.
With skyline bounds from east to west
And room to go and come,
I loved my fellow man the best
When he was scattered some.

Oh, it's squeak! squeak! squeak! 
Close and closer cramps the wire.
There's hardly any place to back away
And call a man a liar.
Their house has locks on every door;
Their land is in a crate.
These ain't the plains of God no more,
They're only real estate.

There's land where yet no ditchers dig
Nor cranks experiment;
It's only lovely, free and big
And isn't worth a cent.
I pray that them who come to spoil
May wait till I am dead
Before they foul that blessed soil
With fence and cabbage head.

Yet it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
Far and farther crawls the wire.
To crowd and pinch another inch
Is all their heart's desire.
The word is overstocked with men
And some will see the day
When each must keep his little pen,
But I'll be far away.

When my old soul hunts range and rest
Beyond the last divide,
Just plant me in some stretch of West
That's sunny, lone and wide.
Let cattle rub my tombstone down
And coyotes mourn their kin,
Let hawses paw and tromp the moun'
But don't you fence it in! 

Oh it's squeak! squeak! squeak!
And they pen the land with wire.
They figure fence and copper cents
Where we laughed 'round the fire.
Job cussed his birthday, night and morn,
In his old land of Uz,
But I'm just glad I wasn't born
no later than I was!

Badger Clark, Jr.

Happy birthday, Rodin.

Auguste Rodin was born on this date in 1840.

Where did I learn to understand sculpture? In the woods by looking at the trees, along roads by observing the formation of clouds, in the studio by studying the model, everywhere except in the schools.

Auguste Rodin

Omnibus on Rodin ...

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5