Archive for the ‘Art/lit/music/film’ Category

Pasta fazool

October 16, 2015

Some time back I was assauted by the Dean Martin recording of “That’s Amore”, a hymn to love that includes the ugly lines

When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazool / That’s amore

The word drool just doesn’t belong in a song about love; nor for that matter does the line “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie”.  And what’s pasta-and-bean soup / stew doing in there?

The song is a play on all things Italian-American, including Martin using an Italian-American accent in English (which came to him legitimately, from childhood), where the Italian in question is the language (with its accompanying peasant culture) of Italian immigrants to the US, that is, primarily the Neapolitan language (and its accompanying culture), of the Italian south, and not by any means something approaching standard Italian. Along with the linguistic features come the peasant foods of the south, in particular pizza and pasta e faglioli (Ital.) / pasta fasule (Neap.).


Morning name: La Bayadère

June 23, 2015

Yesterday’s morning name, for a ballet. From Wikipedia:

La Bayadère (en. The Temple Dancer) … is a ballet, originally staged in four acts and seven tableaux by French choreographer Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus. La Bayadère was first performed by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 4 February [O.S. 23 January] 1877. A scene from the ballet, known as The Kingdom of the Shades, is one of the most celebrated excerpts in all of classical ballet.

Today, La Bayadère is presented primarily in two different versions — those productions derived from Vakhtang Chabukiani and Vladimir Ponomaryov’s 1941 revival for the Kirov Ballet, and those productions derived from Natalia Makarova’s 1980 version for American Ballet Theatre, which is itself derived from Chabukiani and Ponomaryov’s version.

… Petipa’s La Bayadère … tells the story of the bayadère Nikiya and the warrior Solor, who have sworn eternal fidelity to one another.

Very brief excerpts from a Bolshoi performance here:

David Hockney

June 16, 2015

Having posted yesterday about, among other things, Pascal Blondeau’s photographic tribute to David Hockney and his pool paintings, I realized that although I’ve mentioned Hockney in passing several times, I haven’t properly posted about him, even during this exhibition of local interest:

From 26 October 2013 to 30 January 2014 David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition was presented at the de Young Museum, one of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, showing work since 2002 and including Photoshop portraits, multi-canvas oils, iPad landscapes and digital movies shot with multiple cameras. (Wikipedia link)

Now to right that wrong.


Collage postings

January 2, 2015

Another set of Pages, with links to more collage postings. To the existing Page with academic collages (Collages: Academic), I have added two others: Collages: Miscellaneous, mostly with lesbian-related (but not X-rated) collages; and Collages: Gay, with gay-male-related (and mostly X-rated) collages.

No cultural clichés!

November 16, 2014

In a possibly apochryphal story, someone complains that they can’t appreciate Shakespeare’s plays because they’re so filled with clichéd expressions. Of course, those expressions were either innovations of Shakespeare’s or other figurative language spread through Shakespeare’s. If you come to works of art in a vacuum, with no sense of their cultural context, then even works of genius can seem banal.

Another example: a friend of mine who found Mozart’s music boring, because for him it was all generic “classical” music, only too familiar.

And now, another friend who (despite his attraction to action movies of many sorts) can’t appreciate classic Westerns, like Red River, because he feels they’re too predictable.

I’m sure there are other examples from other arts, though I can’t provide them from my own experience. Probably there are people who can’t appreciate Monet’s water lily paintings, or Charles Dickens’s novels, or John McPhee’s non-fiction books.


Banned comics

September 24, 2014

For this year’s Banned Book Week, the focus is on comics. From a story today on NPR by Lynn Neary, “Too Graphic? 2014 Banned Books Week Celebrates Challenged Comics”:

Comics and graphic books are flourishing these days — writers and illustrators are taking on increasingly sophisticated topics and children’s authors are finding just the right balance between naughty and nice. But a number of the books have come under fire from critics who would like to see them banned from schools and libraries. That’s why comics and graphic books are the focus of this year’s Banned Books Week, an annual event that calls attention to challenged titles.

Two books catch most of the attention: Jeff Smith’s Bone and Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants.


Linguistic diversity among the nopalries

September 13, 2014

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.


Red devil

September 10, 2014

(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)).

Birthday presents

September 8, 2014

Among the presents for my birthday (on the 6th): a penguin, a spelling Owl, an Archie comic, and a rainbow cake. (At least one more to come, in a future posting.)


Greg Brown

September 5, 2014

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.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 855 other followers