Monthly Archives: April 2014

Happy Blueberry Pie Day 2014!

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Today is Blueberry Pie Day. Blueberries grow in many places around the globe. Native Americans called them “star berries” because of the 5-point blossom that grows at the end of each blueberry. According to legends among Lake Huron’s indigenous populations, a “Great Spirit” (who else?) sent the berries to feed children amidst a famine. Rich in antioxidants that benefit the central nervous system and can improve memory, blueberries are among the healthiest of fruits. They can also be frozen for long periods of time without any negative effects. There are few things worse than fruit with freezer burn.

So, it’s alright to indulge in some blueberry pie today. Remember, not only were children once saved by them, but blueberries can help you live a long, healthy life!

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Happy Birthday Harper Lee!

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“Many receive advice; only the wise profit from it.”

Harper Lee

Born on this day in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama, she is known for only two things: authoring “To Kill a Mockingbird” and being friends with fellow writer Truman Capote. Still, for (essentially) a one-hit wonder, she’s left an indelible mark on American literature.

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God Save the Horses from the All-American Fat Ass!

Joker, a Belgian draft horse, awaits a tour at Sombrero Ranches.  Please pray for him!

Joker, a Belgian draft horse, awaits a tour at Sombrero Ranches. Please pray for him!

First, plumbing companies started manufacturing toilets to support butt cheeks large enough to qualify as the mouths of orca whales. Then, ambulance firms began installing extra-wide stretchers for those extra-wide figures. There are even easy chairs with specially-designed hydraulic lifters to aid the large among us in getting back to an upright position.

Now, as if we haven’t done enough to accommodate the growing and relentless obesity epidemic in the United States, Sombrero Ranches, a conglomeration of horse-riding tour guide companies based in Colorado, is switching to sturdy draft horses to hold up those with extra pounds. In a twisted combination of animal safety and political correctness, want to make certain America’s biggest butts can enjoy the views of the treasured West from atop a horse, just the like the rest of us.

“Even though a person might be overweight, or, you know, heavier than the average American, it’s kind of nice we can provide a situation where they can ride with their family,” says Sombrero Ranches wrangler T. James “Doc” Humphrey.

Thanks, “Doc.”

Ranch operators note they’ve been adding draft horses to their ranks since the 1990s. But, the increased rate of obesity among both American adults and children has compelled various horse-riding entities to consider the welfare of their equestrian employees. Rockin’ HK Outfitters in Montana, for example, removed the 225-pound limit for riding guests last year.

“Little horses just aren’t sturdy enough to hold up in a dude operation in the Rocky Mountains,” Kipp Saile of Rockin’ HK said, noting that about 15 of their 60 horses are Percheron mixes. Their largest equine weighs 1,800 pounds.

Peggy Howell, a spokeswoman for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, calls the ranch’s decision “wonderful,” adding that all businesses should become “size savvy.”

One drawback, though, is that larger horses cost more to maintain. Obviously, they eat and drink more, plus they require heavier doses of medication and larger horseshoes. It’s not surprising ranch owners would pass those costs off to consumers, including those of us who don’t cause the bathroom scale to scream, ‘Oh, Jesus Christ!’

I know some people have weight problems. But, obesity isn’t a weight problem. It’s more of a ‘can’t-wait-to-eat’ problem. If a person is so fat they could break the back of a 1,000-pound horse, then the problem isn’t with the horse; it’s with that lard-ass! Tour the Rocky Mountains on foot, instead, and lose some of those damn pounds. But, don’t torture a helpless animal just because you can’t keep your mouth away from the donuts!

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Medieval Women in Art

When you think of famous medieval artists, what names usually come to mind? Leonardo da Vinci? Lorenzo Ghiberti? Donatello? Most likely. But, if the question is narrowed down to medieval female artists, can you name just one? Neither can I.

It’s highly probable that women were just as much a part of the artistic Renaissance that swept across Europe beginning around the 12th century A.D. – and not dishing up water and tea to the male artists, or serving as models along pastoral backdrops. Sadly, the names of most of these women weren’t recorded in the history books. But, at least one Renaissance contemporary, Giovanni Boccaccio, made an attempt with “De Mulieribus Claris (Famous Women or On Famous Women or Of Famous Women).” First published in 1374, the tome is actually a collection of biographies of famous women in literature and history; from the biblical Eve to Queen Giovanna I of Naples. Boccaccio is best known for “Decameron,” a collection of 100 tales told by seven young women and three young men who sought refuge outside Florence from the “Black Death,” which was ravaging the city and much of Europe at the time. But, in “De Mulieribus Claris,” Boccaccio takes on the more serious themes of daily life, politics, wealth and individual talents – pretty much from an exclusively female vantage point. That, in itself, was a rarity in such a patriarchal environment as 14th century Europe.

The handful of delineations here represent what surely is an unwritten chapter in artistic lore. The names and life stories of these women may be unknown at this time. But, the determination of art historians could help to rewrite the narratives of these mysterious foremothers. Thank you to art blogger Barbara Wells Sarudy for this extraordinary presentation.

Also reference “Painting and Writing in Medieval Law,” by Marta Madero.

Unknown artist from detail of a miniature of ancient Greek artist Thamyris (Timarete) painting her picture of the goddess Diana, N. France, (Rouen). The original is in the British Library collection ID 43537, c 1400-25.

Unknown artist from detail of a miniature of ancient Greek artist Thamyris (Timarete) painting her picture of the goddess Diana, N. France, (Rouen). The original is in the British Library collection ID 43537, c 1400-25.

Unknown artist ‘Marcia Painting Self-Portrait using Mirror,’ from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library Artiste faisant son autoportrait.

Unknown artist ‘Marcia Painting Self-Portrait using Mirror,’ from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library Artiste faisant son autoportrait.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library Autoportrait sur bois.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library Autoportrait sur bois.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library Autoportrait sur bois.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library Autoportrait sur bois.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library Artiste préparant une fresque.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library Artiste préparant une fresque.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “Des cléres et nobles femmes,” Spencer Collection MS. 33, f. 37v, French, c. 1470 Artist in her Atelier.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “Des cléres et nobles femmes,” Spencer Collection MS. 33, f. 37v, French, c. 1470 Artist in her Atelier.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library Femme Sculpteur.

Unknown artist from Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library Femme Sculpteur.

Roman des Girart von Roussillon, Cod. 2449, f. 167v, Flemish, 1447, Österreichishe Nationalbibliothek, Vienna. Women Building.

Roman des Girart von Roussillon, Cod. 2449, f. 167v, Flemish, 1447, Österreichishe Nationalbibliothek, Vienna. Women Building.

From Tabula Picta, “Painting and Writing in Medieval Law,” Marta Madero.

From Tabula Picta, “Painting and Writing in Medieval Law,” Marta Madero.

From Tabula Picta, “Painting and Writing in Medieval Law,” Marta Madero.

From Tabula Picta, “Painting and Writing in Medieval Law,” Marta Madero.

Royal 16 G V f. 73v Irene, Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library.

Royal 16 G V f. 73v Irene, Giovanni Boccaccio, “De Mulieribus Claris,” anonymous French translation, Le livre de femmes nobles et renomees, France, c 1440 British Library.

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Happy Birthday Carol Burnett!

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Carol Creighton Burnett was born in San Antonio, Texas on April 26, 1933. She’s had a long and prosperous career, mostly as a comic and parody specialist. But, she’s also proven herself to be a good dramatic actress. Last year she finally received the coveted Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

From “The Garry Moore Show”

 

From “The Carol Burnett Show”

 

With Julie Andrews at Carnegie Hall (1962)

 

With Beverly Sills at the Met (1976)

 

“I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together”

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First Known Photographs of Jerusalem

Jerusalem is one of the oldest and most continually-occupied cities in the world. It has a rich history, and it’s disgraceful that it has remain mired in the ongoing battle between religious and political factions that occupy the region. Still, it holds a special place in the collective hearts of the faithful.

Earlier this year the Smithsonian Institution released what are believed to be the first photographs ever taken of the city. They date to 1844 and were taken by French photographer Joseph Girault de Prangney. De Prangney was a pioneer in the field of daguerreotypes, but he’s not well known among aficionados of art and photography. He studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and learned about daguerreotypes in 1841, the same year inventor Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre publicly demonstrated the process. It’s unclear if de Prangney studied daguerreotypes directly under Daguerre or one of the latter’s associates. But, he developed a fascination with the new art form and meshed it with his interest in the Middle East. In 1842, he embarked on a three-year tour of Italy Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Syria and Palestine. He carried hundreds of pounds of photography equipment and produced more than 800 daguerreotypes. If you understand how cumbersome photography equipment of the day was and how long it took to make just one daguerreotype, then you’ll truly appreciate his dedication.

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Happy Birthday Al Pacino!

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Born Alfred James Pacino in New York City in 1940, he is another one of my most favored performers. When I was in my teens and 20s, people often said I resembled him, which I considered a stretch. He actually inspired me to contemplate an acting career. But, I ended up focusing on my writing ambitions. Still, a movie with Al Pacino is never dull.

“The Godfather” (1972)

 

“The Godfather: Part 2” (1974)

 

“Dog Day Afternoon” (1975)

 

“Scarface” (1983)

 

“Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992)

 

“Scent of a Woman” (1992)

 

“Donnie Brasco” (1997)

 

“Stand Up Guys” (2012)

 

Pacino as Phil Spector

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