Shakespeare's "Yo Momma" joke.

Flowers and vegetables! Very pretty:

The Basics of Herbs. (with a helpful illustrated chart)

The Open Goldberg Variations. A kickstarter-funded, open-sourced recording of Bach's masterpiece, downloadable for free. This is a newly-released recording by Kimiko Ishizaka, performed on a Bösendorfer 290 Imperial piano in Berlin.

❧ Cary Grant and his Sealyham Terrier, just because:


Nature studies

Just came across this Dürer watercolor at CheminFaisant and it made me remember how much I love certain nature studies. Beautiful.

Albrecht Dürer ‘Three Studies of a Tree Bullfinch‘ 1543 watercolor, located at the Real Monasterio de El Escorial, El Escorial, Spain 
'The Great Turf', 1503, watercolor, pen, and ink, Albertina, Vienna

 And then there is Pisanello (ca 1395-1455), another superb draftsman, in the same league as Dürer and DaVinci but much less well-known.

These elegant drawings are found at the Louvre Museum.

A fine essay by Andrew Graham-Dixon on Pisanello is here.
Nothing can alter the fact that almost all of the teeming painted worlds that Pisanello once created, from this multitude of observations, have long since vanished. The frescoes have disappeared, or the buildings that once housed them have burned down, fallen down, or been demolished. But to be drawn into his world even through its fragments – to witness the ruins, so to speak, of the Pisanello monument –  is still to see and feel the reality of Renaissance court life with an immediacy and fullness that can be had in no other way. Although we will never be able to see him whole, we can at least recover some sense of the epic amplitude of his art – and begin to understand what Lodovico Gonzaga meant when he called Pisanello “the Homer of painting”.


Augusten Burroughs on happiness

I love this essay. Our stereotypical ideas about "happiness" and "healing" can be stifling. There's a whole range of feelings to be experienced and savored that don't fall under the category of happiness, but enrich our existence nonetheless.
But "I just want to be happy" is a hole cut out of the floor and covered with a rug. Because once you say it, the implication is that you're not.
There are things that do make me experience joy. But joy is a fleeting emotion, like a very long sneeze. A lot of the time what I feel is, interested. Or I feel melancholy. And I also frequently feel tenderness, annoyance, confusion, fear, hopelessness. It doesn't all add up to anything I would call happiness. But what I'm thinking is, is that so terrible?

Don't take my word for it. Go read it all here. More about Augusten Burroughs here.

image from Paul Ekman, psychologist who pioneered studies of facial expression and emotion.


Happy Birthday, Albrecht Dürer

Born May 21st, 1471. Northern Renaissance artist known as a painter, printmaker, and theorist (he wrote a well-known treatise on perspective). His copper engravings are my favorite works.

Knight, Death, and the Devil, 1513–14
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528)
Engraving 9 5/8 x 7 1/2 in. (24.4 x 19.1 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1943 (43.106.2)

Melencolia I, 1514
Albrecht Dürer (German, 1471–1528)
Engraving 9 1/2 x 7 3/8 in. (24 x 18.5 cm)
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1943 (43.106.1)

Both images from the Metropolitan Museum of Art; more extensive biographical info can be found there as well.

Richard Feynman on Beauty

Beauty, Honors, Curiosity. From The Feynman Series by Reid Gower. Go watch all 3 of them-- they're short and really great and gorgeous to look at. Found via Brain Pickings.

"I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without any purpose. Which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell."


Words that don't exist in English. My favorites:

1.  Age-otori (Japanese): To look worse after a haircut

2.  Arigata-meiwaku (Japanese): An act someone does for you that you didn’t want to have them do and tried to avoid having them do, but they went ahead anyway, determined to do you a favor, and then things went wrong and caused you a lot of trouble, yet in the end social conventions required you to express gratitude

3.  L’esprit de l’escalier (French): usually translated as “staircase wit,” is the act of thinking of a clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it

4.  Meraki (pronounced may-rah-kee; Greek): Doing something with soul, creativity, or love. It’s when you put something of yourself into what you’re doing

5.  Waldeinsamkeit (German): The feeling of being alone in the woods


Alain de Botton on self-help books, and why he has edited a new series of them:

 There's no more ridiculed genre in the literary canon – and you can see why. Most self-help books are written by Americans of the most sentimental and unctuous sort. They promise their readers eternal life, untold riches and an escape from every grubby aspect of being human, all within 300 pages of upbeat, relentlessly repetitive and patronising prose. No wonder the unstated assumption of the cultural elite is that really only stupid people read them.
photo from The School of Life


 Painter Agnes Martin, photographed in 1966 by Diane Arbus:

via Rachel Comey's tumblr



What is education for?

...there is a myth that the purpose of education is that of giving you the means for upward mobility and success. Thomas Merton once identified this as the "mass production of people literally unfit for anything except to take part in an elaborate and completely artificial charade." When asked to write about his own success, Merton responded by saying that "if it so happened that I had once written a best seller, this was a pure accident, due to inattention and naiveté, and I would take very good care never to do the same again." His advice to students was to "be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success." The plain fact is that the planet does not need more "successful" people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.
From What is Education For? by David W. Orr


The Department of Redundancy Department

Interesting and well-written essay by Eric Garland, entitled "The coming bubble of obsolete advice". From the introduction:
Last week I read a piece in Forbes about how young people today should not complain about “underemployment,” the phenomenon of working part-time or at a job unsuited to one’s level of education. Instead, says the author, young people should be completely excited to work at minimum wage for an indefinite period of time, to take whatever they can get. The article, helpfully titled Get Over It!, restates, for those who have never heard the myth, that in America you just need to work hard and make your own luck, even if you are starting out with five or ten times as much debt as previous generations.
And the authors of this crappy advice?
Their expertise and their insight have become completely obsolete. Rather than admit that they no longer possess relevant expertise and set themselves to being curious about the future, these writers are choosing to express advice from a bygone age, one in which they still possess authority. To do otherwise would be far too personally painful. And to a majority of their audience, which formed its ideology in an America than no longer exists, hearing the old myths repeated brings comfort. After all, in the America of the 20th Century, a solid work ethic and an education was enough to bring most people a career that would provide a lifestyle filled with the goods and services of the Middle Class. It was a good system, and it attracted the attention of the world. Who wouldn’t want to go back to that land, however mythical, in their mind?

 Mr. Garland is correct, we can't go back to the way it was. Because it was only true for a limited time and in a limited place.

Source: boingboing.net via LB on Pinterest


Nina Paley

"All creative work is derivative"-- filmmaker Nina Paley photographed sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and animated them in this gorgeous video to demonstrate her point that all creative work builds on what came before. Found via Brain Pickings.


A good time at the movies

This entire post was prompted by a tweet from Roger Ebert.  Movies are not listed in order of preference. And, um, they're not all movies. What can I say? So make yourself a nice batch of popcorn...

1. Bubba Ho-Tep (2003). Here is a bit from Roger Ebert's review: "Elvis and JFK did not die, and today they're roommates in an East Texas nursing home whose residents are being killed by an ancient Egyptian Soul Sucker named Bubba Ho-Tep. I want to get that on the table right at the get-go, so I can deal with the delightful wackiness of this movie, which is endearing and vulgar in about the right proportion."

2. Werewolf of London (1935). The first Hollywood werewolf flick, and it's a good one. My favorite part by far, though, is the comic relief bit with Mrs. Whack and Mrs. Moncaster.

3. Look Around You (2002). Hilarious television parody of 1970s educational science films. Deadpan British humor at its best, it nails the detail and tone (even the music) perfectly.  Here's a bit from the episode (or "module") on Sulphur. "Write that down."

4. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) I never get tired of this beautifully shot and perfectly goofy movie, easily my favorite of the Coen brothers' films. Plus it has one of the best movie soundtracks ever.
"I'm gonna R-U-N-N-O-F-T!"

5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). The source of many of our family jokes.
from monty python's completely useless website

Dennis: Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I'm being repressed!
King Arthur: Bloody peasant!
Dennis: Oh, what a giveaway! Did you hear that? Did you hear that, eh? That's what I'm on about! Did you see him repressing me? You saw him, Didn't you?
(via imbd)

from imdb

6. The Lady Vanishes (1938). Francois Truffaut said this was his favorite Hitchcock film. The Lady Vanishes has it all: 1930s espionage and intrigue, vintage European trains, humor, and romance. Right up there with The 39 Steps.

Here's a very sweet fanvid:

(all images found via google except as noted)


And in case you missed this...

RIP Maurice Sendak, 1928-2012.

Damn. More Maurice here. And here: "I refuse to lie to children." My favorites:

illustration from "Outside Over There"

And one I read to my children over and over ("no fighting no biting" became a catchphrase):

from "No Fighting No Biting" by Else Homelund Minarik

P.S.  Had to add this tweet:

Love quote on talking about when he was a kid, "I thought Italians were happy Jews."


A very young Barbara Stanwyck.


An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail. Scientists made a great invention by calling their activities hypotheses and experiments. They made it permissible to fail repeatedly until in the end they got the results they wanted. In politics or government, if you made a hypothesis and it didn’t work out, you had your head cut off. 
Polaroid inventor Edwin Land on embracing failure, among other insights on what it takes to innovate.
Via Exp.lore.com.


Animal planet

So videos about my 2 favorite animals showed up on the interwebs in the past week, and I couldn't resist.

From Smithsonian's Around the Mall Blog, a harmonica-playing elephant (I love how she always ends with a crescendo).

And this is my idea of paradise, too. From BBC News:


Noticed I've been collecting images and information about using industrial items in the home. Here are some of my favorites (and resources for getting them).

Blackout welding curtains from McMaster-Carr.

Source: remodelista.com via LB on Pinterest

Source: remodelista.com via LB on Pinterest

Heavy canvas dropcloths in black or natural for bedspreads, sofa covers, curtains.

Planters made from old file cabinets.

And I don't know what kind of cabinet was used for this, but I like it:
Source: designsponge.com via LB on Pinterest


via even*cleveland, ca 1920s photo.

You want your balance on Charlie Sheen?

Nice. Some ATMs in London are offering cockney rhyming slang as a language option, and ATMs in Vatican City used to use Latin (the practice was discontinued in 2011). Via kottke.org.

Here's a list of "money-related cockney terms":
  • Sausage and mash (cash)
  • Cab rank (bank)
  • Barrel of lard (card)
  • Huckleberry Finn (pin number)
  • Balance on Charlie Sheen (screen)
  • Balance on Fleet Street (paper print out)
  • Lady Godiva (£5)
  • Speckled hen (£10)
  • Horn of plenty (£20)
  • Pony (£25)
  • Double top (£40)
  • Dog and bone (top up mobile phone)
  • Nigel Manselled (transaction cancelled)

Or Latin?