Feb 28, 2011

RIP Frank Buckles

So, I haven't written anything for a really long time. Sorry about that. Anyway, some sad news that I just saw: the last American veteran of World War I has died. Frank Buckles, at 110, was the final one of 4,734,991 Americans to have served in the Great War. He was a Missouri farm boy, born in 1901, who served in France from 1917-1920. In World War II, he happened to be in the Philippines and was held by the Japanese as a civilian POW for three years. He held no particular distinction in the Army; that is, he didn't do anything more remarkable than almost all the millions of other men with which he served. It seems fitting, however, that the last standing veteran of a war should be just a normal guy, since those 'normal guys' are the ones who really do the work of war, yet their overwhelming contribution is often the least celebrated.

As an aside, there are still two remaining World War I vets in the world. I imagine that in the next few years, they too will pass, and the world will keep on revolving, barely noting it.

Feb 11, 2011

Jim Henson's House For Sale!

Calling all people with $28 million lying around the house: Jim Henson's former Manhattan workshop is for sale. It was here where many of the Muppets we all know and love were created and built and tested. While it's been out of the Henson fold since 2003 (and owned by a Seagram's executive), it's still got the giant 1980's Muppet mural in the lobby (as far as I know...someone would've reported if that were gone, right?).

Here's a photo of Jim and Kermit in front of the mural:

Now, let the bidding begin!

Feb 5, 2011

Yesterday At The Art Museum and Sculpture and Stuff

Yesterday was the last free day at the Art Institute of Chicago for the month, so Emily and I went after work. It's always a pleasant place to be, though since they remodeled it, everything kind of throws me off.

Whenever I go there, I really enjoy sketching sculptures. It's a great chance to play with light and shadow and to be able to understand how a figure's different protuberances change as you walk around it. In the past, I've enjoyed the Lincoln in thought by Daniel Chester French and Nathan Hale by Frederick Macmonnies. This time around, there were two that I had either never seen or never noticed, which is disappointing, since they are both amazing. They are called "Saïd Abdullah of the Mayac, Kingdom of the Darfur" and "African Venus," both by Charles Cordier.

I really enjoy sculpture in which a character is brought out. It's a very subtle art--the tilt of the head, the slight variations of the mouth, or the angle of the eyebrows are just a few of the hundreds of tiny tweaks that carry a figure's attitude. Too often, sculptures become boring classical relics:

The work itself is impressive, but there is no feeling to it. The figure is certainly figure, but it isn't alive. Now, the Romans advanced over the Greeks by making people actually look like people instead of idealized versions of people.

Greek (boring, idealized):

Roman (interesting, realistic):

But the Romans still weren't big on giving an attitude to a sculpture (the po'ed old guy above notwithstanding). That's why I like the two in the Art Institute so much. The bust of Saïd Abdullah is so proud, do dignified. He looks like he's staring into you, ready to speak. The African Venus is proud, too, but she doesn't look like she's going to speak. She just seems to be looking down on you. It's awesome.

So, I drew Saïd Abullah. I really like how both pictures came out, even though the front view doesn't look very much like the sculpture. The expression I got in my drawing is more inquisitive than challenging, mostly because of his eyebrows looking less furrowed and his head being tilted to the side, unlike the original.

Anyway, enjoy!

Feb 3, 2011

I'm Sorry For This

I just watched the music video for Earth Wind and Fire's Let's Groove, and I just can't handle it. I apologize that you haven't seen it until now. The retro cosmo-funk just gets my groove on like nobody's business.

Feb 1, 2011

Snowpocalypse Now

Chicago is being socked by snow as I write. Who will survive? When will the four snowmen of the apocalypse appear? I can't say. I can say, however, that it is accompanied by thunder and that the federal government in Chicago, in its grand idiocy, isn't going to close its offices tomorrow.

UPDATE: My apologies to the federal government. They did close their offices, even though they didn't do so until around 6am this morning, after everything else in the city had come to a standstill. Good work, Feds. Good work.