Spot The Howler

I was listening to a repeat of the most amazing programme about an extremely ancient murder mystery – 2 million years old to be exact – that was part of a Radio 4 Science broadcast.

In the first minute of this fascinating piece, the scientists presenting the show completely threw away their credibility. Listen to the clip, and see if you can spot their howling mistake.

I hope the link to the audio for the whole programme stays live, because it’s one of the most engaging stories you will hear in a long time (excepting the goof, of course).
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Picture from The Natural History Museum

(Answers in the comment box :) please )

Speculative Cigar Box Samples

Here is a selection of beautiful samples of the chromolithographic printer’s art, applied to cigar boxes.
They seem to be speculative samples that were sent out to North American cigar packers around 1880 -1910, judging by the costumes.

While it’s fortunate that whoever runs the Brasilian website containing these images has gone to the trouble of collecting and showing them to us, it’s a pity that there’s such a heavy handed application use of elliptical cutouts that often spoil the presentation.

Naturally, I was attracted to the more bizarre images….
(As usual, please click the small pictures to enlarge them.)

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Cuba. Home of the fine cigar.

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Don’t they smoke stogies, rather than cigars?

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Cow Girl, surely???

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Hey, have a Segar before you blow your horn solo…

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“Easy on the terrible puns, please…”

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“A woman is an occasional pleasure but a cigar is always a smoke.” – Groucho Marx

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A brilliant, almost 21st Century, brand name on this one, and the best ampersand I’ve seen in ages.
I’m curious about what the little girl is doing with the dog, though. Doesn’t that amount to abuse?

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“*Cough* O.K. Get your coat: – you’ve pulled. *Cough*”.

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I can’t even conjecture what might be happening here, nor guess its association with cigars.
Let’s move along swiftly to the next please….

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The connection with cigars becomes increasingly abstruse as you plough through this collection of cigar box labels. …. Next!

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Is this one of the people who is posing such a threat to the US Army in Iraq at the moment? If so, it’s a damn’ fine disguise!

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The Man. “The first sample is free, kids…”

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Here are some links. (They don’t obey any known logic system. That I know of.)
Link 1
Link 2
Link 3
Link 4
Link 5
Link 6
Link 7

More Car Problems…

This car problem is entirely my own fault (which makes it extra hard to bear), and it has nothing to do with wearing high heels (see the post below).

I drove back from work on Monday early in the afternoon, I walked to the post office and posted a parcel (a short journey of 200 metres there and back), let myself back into the house, had a cuppa, went into the studio, sat down, and worked for a couple of hours. Later that afternoon, my partner asked me for the car key.

Now normally I’m very methodical about this part of car sharing and I religiously put the key on the allotted hook in the cupboard under the stairs as soon as I enter the house if I’ve been driving. In fact, if there were a religion based on car key replacement, I’d be out there on the fanatical wing of that church. The main reason for this fanaticism is that we only have one car key. One holy, divine and irreplaceable key. It’s normally She who loses the key and while I try to keep my trap shut and not ask idiot questions about places she might have failed to search, it’s usually discovered in her coat pocket or bag within sixty seconds of starting the search.

Continue reading this post >> Continue reading More Car Problems…

Art & Design in The British Film # 15: Laurence Irving

Continuing a series about Art Directors in the British film industry up to 1948, when the book containing these articles was published.

This chapter deals with Laurence Irving. (1897 – 1988)

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The Doctor’s Dilemma Pre-production sketch for a film that wasn’t released until 10 years later, in 1958. Watercolour.
(Click thumbnail images to enlarge)

Irving was one of the first English designers to feature figures in his sketches. He realized how unfinished a background was without the presence of the characters that brought it to life.

The more he became aware of the interdependence of the various arts that went to make a film, the more he realized how essential it was for an artist to control them and he was the first in this country to assume the title and the responsibility for the design of the whole production, instead of just the settings.

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Sketch for The Man In The Iron Mask 1928 Watercolour.
Irving is credited as a set dresser on this film.

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The set of The Man In The Iron Mask 1928, Production still.

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Pygmalion 1928. Watercolour. Irving was credited as an Art Department Set designer, and John Bryan was credited as Art Director. (John Bryan is a designer featured earlier in this series).

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Pygmalion 1928. Watercolour.

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Uncle Silas Continuity sketches. Irving is credited as Producer and Production Designer for this film.
The text continues below the fold >> Continue reading Art & Design in The British Film # 15: Laurence Irving

Well Chuffed

One of the interesting dynamics of publishing a blog is the positive affirmation bounced back to the author in the shape of comments left by readers.

In the case of many artist’s blogs, it seems that the need for positive affirmation ( call it ego strokes if you will ) is one of the main drivers for the blog’s existence. And why not? Particularly in an industry such as animation, the admiration and respect for an artist’s work that is voiced by one’s peers is a highly valued commodity, especially when contrasted with the paucity of praise available from employers who often need to withhold praise, for fear of the resulting demands for pay rises or promotion.

Even a cursory scan of the comments left on artist’s blogs by other artists (and wannabe artists) shows that they’re almost universally positive.

It’s extremely rare ( prove me wrong here! ) to find negative comments on these blogs, even though there may be glaring weaknesses in composition of the pictures, or other easy-to-criticise “faults”.
It seems to be a strong element in the unwritten etiquette of commenting, that one should not dent the ego of the person holding up their work for approval by visitors.

I’m charmed by this behaviour, and its delicate application by the hundreds of visitors to a blog who have, more often than not, never met the publisher of the blog, nor had a chance to agree amongst themselves that this is the correct way to behave.

As I recently read in Lynne Truss’s excellent book on modern manners (and the lack of them) called “Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of Everyday Life (or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door)”, it isn’t the compulsory aspects such as laws that mark a civilization as being civilised, but the voluntary and unnecessary social actions of humans that characterise a civilised society.

So it is with comments, I feel.

My own recent little moment of validation chuffiness* as a blogger sprang up a couple of days ago when I discovered through my blog’s Incoming Links list, rather than through a comments box, that one of my principal art search web tools was actually linking back to me! (Click the thumbnail image below.)

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ArtCyclopedia has also linked to several other essays on my site, which at the same time as giving me a validatory glow, also makes me a bit guilty about not posting any new articles about obscure painters recently. I vow to get on with it!

*Don’t expect to find this word in a dictionary! The nearest translation is: a momentary ego-puff caused by recognition of some trivial achievement, that arrives suddenly out of the blue.

Early Cartoon Drawing By Paul Terry

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This is a drawing from early in Paul Terry‘s career, in the days before he became an animator. He later went on to produce over 1,300 cartoons between 1915 and 1955 including the many Terrytoons cartoons, making him one of the most prolific film producers in history. (Wikipedia)

I found it on the Otis Historical Archives Flickr group, which illustrates part of an astonishing collection of images about American military medicine.

Some of those images are truly bizarre. Only during wartime would an image like the one below ever be possible. It’s mind boggling to find a way of explaining how an object like that could ever find itself embedded in that part of the human body…

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Grenade embedded in soldier’s head

The amazing thing is that the soldier is actually alive – hence the breathing tube.

Jiří Bartoš

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From the “AdrÅ¡pach” Mountains 1999

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Winter Graphics 1983

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Hoarfrost in the “Jizerské” Mountains 2004

Some thumbnails of his photographic work here, but the enlargements have disappeared from that auction site now. If you click the thumbnails above, they will reveal the enlargements, however.

If you google his name, you come across an amazing story of a man with exactly the same name, who used to be a bedroom spy for the Czech secret police back in the day, and he preyed (with great success, it seems) on the buttoned up secretaries and legation wives at the British embassy.
(Excerpt after the fold ) >> Continue reading Jiří Bartoš

Clearing The Cellar – David Dabner of the LCP

For once, here’s a YouTube video with some intelligent comments appended to it. The subject is the Typography tutor at the old London College of Printing, David Dabner, or “Debner” as the slightly 1950’s style voice over artist pronounces it. The LCP is now known as the London College of Communication, and it’s the largest constituent College of the University of the Arts, London.

David Dabner
Click the picture to activate the video.

According to Dabner, the computers might be scarily accurate, but the thinking can be “sloppy”….

Some links; to the old LCP, the new LCC, and the University of the Arts.

Clearing The cellar – Terrible Lawyer Joke

* Lawyer: “Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?”
* Witness: “No.”
* Lawyer: “Did you check for blood pressure?”
* Witness: “No.”
* Lawyer: “Did you check for breathing?”
* Witness: “No.”
* Lawyer: “So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?”
* Witness: “No.”
* Lawyer: “How can you be so sure, Doctor?”
* Witness: “Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.”
* Lawyer: “But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?”
* Witness: “Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law somewhere.”

(More terrible lawyer jokes)…