I’ve been reading through Amy Butler Greenfield’s fascinating A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (HarperCollins 2005, paperback in 2006), which abounds in great topics: conquest, colonialism, skullduggery, official secrecy, piracy, medieval-style commercial guilds, mysteries of natural history, the growth of science, international trade, cultural diffusion, and more. Officially it’s about dyes, in particular the intense and durable true red dye sought by cultures around much of the world. So of course it turns out to be about cactuses and scale insects. Plenty of linguistic interest in there.
Archive for the ‘Art/lit/music/film’ Category
(Not really about language. Warning: the image, involving a statue with prominent male genitals, might be offensive to some.)
Bulletin from Vancouver BC, “Raunch Devil Statue Suddenly Erected Outside SkyTrain” by Lindsay William-Ross:
A large red devil statue with a very prominent feature has shown up outside a Vancouver SkyTrain station.
The statue stands about eight to nine feet tall, and was set on a pedestal near the VCC/Clark Drive SkyTrain station in Grandview-Woodland. The statue is at Clark and Grandview Highway.
Commuters have definitely taken notice, not only because of the statue’s size, but because the male figure is depicted with a large erect penis.
An artistic statement, but about what? Why a red devil?
The statue was quickly removed by city crews.
[Added a bit later: Tim Evanson suggests on Google+ that the statue is of Hellboy. From Wikipedia:
Hellboy is a fictional character, a superhero created by writer-artist Mike Mignola. The character first appeared in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 (Aug. 1993), and has since appeared in various eponymous miniseries, one-shots and intercompany crossovers. The character has been adapted into two live-action feature films in 2004 and 2008 that starred Ron Perlman in the title role, and two straight-to-DVD animated films, as well as two video games – Asylum Seeker and The Science of Evil.
A well-meaning demon whose true name is Anung Un Rama (“and upon his brow is set a crown of flame”), Hellboy was summoned from Hell to Earth as an infant demon on December 23, 1944 … by Nazi occultists (spawning his hatred for them). He was discovered by the Allied Forces; amongst them, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, who formed the United States Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD). In time Hellboy grew to be a large, red-skinned man with a tail, horns (which he files off, leaving behind the signature circular stumps on his forehead), cloven hooves for feet, and an oversized right hand made of stone. He has been described as smelling of dry-roasted peanuts. Although a bit gruff, he shows none of the malevolence thought to be intrinsic to demons, and has a strong sense of humor.
(with unfiled horns)).
In the (San Francisco mid-peninsula) Daily Post on the 3rd: “Mural artist Greg Brown dies: He brightened up downtown with his amusing paintings” by Elaine Goodman:
Greg Brown, an artist whose whimsical paintings of burglars, space aliens and other creatures enlivened the sides of buildings throughout Palo Alto, has died [on August 29th, at the age of 62]
Brown’s murals are trompe-l’oeil fancies. Some have been destroyed, and others have been re-done at new locations, but a considerable number remain.
(About photography, in particular male photography, exploring the male body (in this case with a gay gaze). With some reflections on the aesthetics involved. No linguistic discussion, but on the other hand, the posting isn’t sexually incendiary, though it does refer to gay sex acts.)
For some time, my friend Max Meredith Vasilatos has been sending me cards from a postcard set sampling the images in Jonathan Black’s 1998 hardback Idols (Bruno Gmünder, Berlin), which featured gay pornstars (that is, stars in gay porn) and professional models, all of them displaying their naked, or largely naked, bodies (in photos that seem to have been taken in 1995-97). I’ve picked three images, of very different tones, for discussion: veteran pornstars Hal Rockland and Max Grand and nude model Jordan Scott (who has appeared in some soft porn emphasizing muscles). Here are the images; the latter two have been cropped to eliminate the genitals and focus instead on the model’s faces and upper bodies.
The full images will be available on my XBlog, along with some shots from gay porn. [9/3: Now posted here.]
From Xopher Walker recently, this image from the American Postcard Co. in 1995; design by George Costaldo, photography by Michael Huhn. One of a set of political leather images — involving Hillary alone, Bill alone, Hillary and Bill, and (below) Bill and Al — sometimes described as parodies, but to my mind better characterized as (visual) burlesques.
From the MUU Galleria in Helsinki, Finland, this recent sculpture “My Little Tom of Finland” by Mari Kasurinen:
The figure is a hybrid of two (very oddly assorted) creations from popular culture: the cute My Little Pony toys (favored by young girls) and the hypersexual characters from the graphic artist Tom of Finland (favored by gay men). It’s one in a large series of My Little X sculptures by Kasurinen, playfully (and critically) combining the little ponies with characters from popular culture or famous iconic people (“superstars”, as Kasurinen puts it, “presented to us as examples, ideals, even as authorities”).
(Mostly for the silliness. Not much language-related here.)
First, the transformation into Rembrandt (admittedly, in a muumuu), then the appearance of the writer and art collector Gertrude Stein (also in a muumuu).
There’s the diner, and there’s the address term Stan.