The Sims: Analog Version

Yep. In the teeny world where I am a giant, people like to relive the fun and adventure of painfilled dentistry. They like to relive it so much, they go on Ebay and buy the moment for $300. And, if they like it for themselves, there are five additional offices available to give to friends and family so that they can enjoy the dentist in old fashioned style.

I love it that one of the sellers calls themself, “Precious Places” because that truly is all that. When one searches vintage dollhouse, that is when the wonderful and wierd pops up…along with Lithuanian couples (dolls) in national costume and of course, the servant class in uniform, ready to provide you a delicious dinner or neaten up after you. I wonder if they do dental exams or whether the Lithuanians have that skill.

Then there is the magic that only the Chinese can bring to this wonderland. The view of the  these “precious places” through the asian lense is a miraculous thing indeed. There are exotic hotels, and beach houses….little vacation get away cabins, and then mansions that only princesses can live in. They have pets, and horses, and all sorts of fabulous things though it does surprise me that the fascination with bling has not manifested itself in furniture, frames for mirrors etc…but believe me, I do keep hoping I am going to hit a rich vein of absurdity sometime soon. More later on this silliness.

Just finished a wonderful read that lead me on a journey almost Harry Potteresque only instead of witches and magic, it wove technology, Google, cyberspace, antique books, codebreaking, graphic design and fonts—in a wonderful chase for an answer-to let the good guys “win”. I highly recommend Robin Sloan’s “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore”.

“Robin Sloan cleverly combines the antiquated world of bibliophilia with the pulsating age of digital technology, finding curiosity and joy in both. He makes bits and bytes appear beautiful … The rebels’ journey to crack the code—grappling with an ancient cult, using secret passwords and hidden doorways—will excite anyone’s inner child. But this is no fantasy yarn. Mr. Sloan tethers his story to a weird reality, striking a comical balance between eccentric and normal … The pages swell with Mr. Sloan’s nerdy affection and youthful enthusiasm for both tangible books and new media. Clay’s chatty narration maintains the pace and Mr. Sloan injects dry wit and comedic timing suited to his geeky everyman … A clever and whimsical tale with a big heart.”
—The Economist

I was so taken with Mr. Sloan’s wonderful tale that I read his earlier book immediately after the Bookstore fun. “Annabel Scheme” started as a kickstarter project about the relationship of a detective and her cyber sidekick, a computer. Not as refined and as wild a ride as Mr. Penumbra, but none the less loveable heroine, loveable sidekick and a topsy turvy story that kept me turning pages at my 3 a.m. wakeup time. I wish there were more books from Robin Sloan as it was a dreamy place to go. I highly recommend both. They will be in the present box for the holidays.

More later.

mired in words

Halloween Warmup, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5Rob coming back today. Its a dreary, rainy day with golden leaves sparkling in the grey. I am cold….freezing to be exact. I should kick the hearter on…Alex and I had a nice chat about this and that…about funny things at school and the conflict of school play and a XC race. Alarm didnt go off this a.m….so we were rushing around a bit.

I am enjoying drilling into some Halloween imagery—done quickly (new one to the left)— with a crow today…all in one color. Not the most creative, but fun and at least I am doing stuff. I think the creative jangle, the emotional push is somehow related interestingly (for me) with the seasons…and those shoulder seasons can stymie me. I need to pay better attention to this, and have some strategies (maybe working in this vector mode) around how to keep going…and not fall off the illustration train…I must keep learning and doing…so an approach is key.

I just read a wonderful young adult fiction book, Chime by Franny Billingsley. It is a very graphic book both from the storytelling, but also very visual and suggestive. Really good. A new friend is interested in my taking on making some image from this story…which I am stewing on.

I also just finished listening to a really good, really inviting book Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman. I heard a very good interview on a podcast with Janet Reitman. She was so engaging and smart, I downloaded the book from Audible and have been fascinated with all the detail and explanation of this community/ cult/ religion (?)/ tax dodge. The whole world of Scientology from cradle to grave— from their schools, to their hotels and cruise ships, their own military based organization, to Golden Era Productions, their production/film/ design operation is a contained community—with some very odd rules, lifestyle etc. that is based on the writings and thoughts of a science fiction writer. Kooky…but the book is well worth the time as it is so informative and illuminating.  It feels somehow apropos with Scientology in the news these days.

Gloria update: Leaving Lexington KY and getting to Georgetown KY for tonight.

Need to get rolling. Tons of thises and thats piling up.


09.24.2011, Baldwinsville, New York: TBXC Varsity (left to right) Ben Maracle, Alex Cassetti, Cal Randle, Tyler Sutherland, Alex Kenny, Steven Dunn, Kevin VanDeldenWe went up to Baldwinsville yesterday for the annual Bee Ville XC meet. Always a favorite for the team but also as a parent as the course is so beautiful and the anniversary quality that this meet evokes. We have been going to BeeVille since Alex was in seventh grade with the little modified runners, so this being his senior year, we have been able to compare from year to year to measure his growth as an athlete, as an individual and as our boy. How wonderful and bittersweet. Tyler Sutherland was, to use Alex’s phrase “killing it”—bringing home a very good time and finish being the first of the group of varsity runners. The shorter guys in the middle of the shot were the lead dogs in this race. Double excellent as they are sophomores and juniors—so the team has some terrific horsepower for a couple more seasons!  They all seemed to have a jolly time with good results and great comraderie amongst themselves. So, the season is on, the season of brotherly love and friendship, hard races but good times. Sweetness on the edge of frost. The dualities are remarkable.

I guess I was wiped out. We got home and I decided to take a nap as I was winking out on the drive home. And so I did. I napped and then read a junky book. It got darker and darker until it was time to get out of my nest to see if there was another place to plop down. And so I did. Alex came home from a movie date. Rob went to a funeral and was back late…and then it was time to sleep again. I am still wiped out. I am gauging it my my impatience for stuff that normally doesnt drive me crazy, but I can push to the side of my perifery and disengage. I am all loose ends and frazzled. So, instead of attending Porch Fest all day, I think I will catch up with some email, do a bit of reading and maybe close my eyes again. I am just feeling so strung out. I need to get myself back to the point where I do not have to leave the room to prevent a rude outburst on my part or some sort of physical nastiness.

I just finished the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and enjoyed it immensely despite the sadness of the story and the end result to the family of Mrs. Lacks. I was stunned to read about scientific experiments performed on the poor in recent history—mad scientists gone wild that rivelled some of the antics of the German scientists during WWII. We should be teaching this stuff to our kids…that this sort of inconvievable behavior and treatment of others happened right here in our happy little big island…and not just “over there”. Additionally, it pointed up the import of HIPAA and the rights and privacies we are guaranteed with our medical information and data. However, how are our personal cells and tissue material tracked. Do we have the right to that material and how it is used? or once blood is drawn, or a specimen taken, or birth is given—all of those byproducts we no longer have a right to? Though we are much further ahead than the mid-fifties—there are miles to go to better understand our rights to our own cells and the information they hold about us. One of the big take aways from the HeLa cell book was the gift Mrs Lacks gave (unknown to her, her family) to better mankind— through the truly immortal HeLa cells—was an singular one. Why her family was never notified, were treated badly and stupidly by doctors (all horrible communicators and frankly thoughtless people), and were unable to be treated or helped medically as they could not even afford health insurance while big Pharma made money (millions) due to the work they had done with their mother’s cell. This is just wrong all around.

I loved The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks so much, that I am now on a path for more of that sort of reading. I have The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. This book started as a blog or diary of a young doctor and his fellowship focusing on oncology. From that pretext, Dr. Mukherjee begins to simply tell the story of cancer to laymen. I have just started but am engaged and intrigued by the elegant way the writer is peeling away the complexity of the ideas—and making them pristine and memorable. He presents cancer as a character—the hero and villain—a character of great stealth, dimension and scope. I am looking foward to diving into this.

I am beginning to get more than stupid right now. I hear the siren song of my pillow.

Summer dreams

StarGazing, Q. Cassetti, 2010, vectorHere we are in Sheldrake with the day lilies brilliant by the side of the road. It is the time of ebullient sweet peas in masses, curling and twisting themselves in the greenery and down by the shore. It is breezy and definitely summery— that sweet spot I remember on dark and snowy February days and whisper to myself that  the time would be coming for breezes and the tonic of lake water and blue skies. And, we have sunsets dwindling at 10 p.m. with the sketching of pink reminding us of the slow burn of the sun.

New things on the local front. First and foremost, celeriac. Yup. celeriac! Our Sweet Land Farm often has a tub of it to pick from, so last week to amuse Kitty who adores the mandrake quality of alll the rootiness of this root, I grabbed two, determined to make something, I have discovered that if my friends are at the market, then we have a chance that someone is a champ with daikon, celeriac or kale (not part odd my local mis en place). So after quizzing a few moms who are good cooks, I dove into making a cold soup of celeriac, cucumber, potato and onion. Remarkable and very complex and herb ally  delicious. I fed it to the corporate lunch table to good results. More this week. Bring on the kale and Swiss chard!

 Also, I have been honored to be asked to on the Tburg farmers market board. It should be interesting as it is in it’s infancy and is ready for the next steps of programming and public awareness. The Wednesday market is wonderful and embraced by many with our Tburg musicians, chefs and farmers there to make Wednesday evenings more jolly. I have been charmed to see groups of scouts congregating there for ceremonies. We could have community dish to passes or bring back the summer movie fun of a few years ago. Our new bandstand is perfect for a summer wedding…with tables under the roofs for the reception. Maybe a permanent puppet theatre / child  mini farmers market too? Something new to ideate about. I can see a posters or something illustrative!

Part of this momentary peace comes from drawing and reading. I had to stop drawing a few weeks for a project, however, I am in the warm up phase, looking for my topic again. I have jet downloaded some fiction along with listening to the newest from the author of The Devil and The White City. A miasma of sleep, books, and my imaginary world with my ink pens. Dreamy!


Red Floral, Q. Cassetti, 2011, Adobe Illustrator CS5Feeling so happy that I have crashed through my creative barrier and have gotten the first blush of my project done  to see where we stand…what we hate? what we love? where we could lean a bit more…what could go away. I am always reticent to edit grandly as there may be stuff I weed out that the client loves as taste and perception is so personal and I admit, I always like the odd stuff. Always. I am always quick to apologize for liking the “wrong” solution…but maybe that has to do that I like the wrong colors, and have a skew that is not quite the same as the rest of the world.

Vector Basic Training: A Systematic Creative Process for Building Precision Vector Artwork (Voices That Matter) by Von Glitschka is front of mind for me. I am only in the second chapter but am charmed by how Mr. Glitschka peels back the mystery of the vector down to who Mr. Bezier was and how the curve was created mathematically to the delight of all of us that despair of numbers and figures. I love the author’s fearless writing style combined with his honesty on his likes and dislike/hates of the software. I hope I can get to another chapter today as he is building my confidence to try more things which are surprisingly speedy and fun. There have been some cool plugins that Glitschka recommends: Xtreme Path and Vector Scribe. Vector Scribe is something I am going to take a peek at when I have a chance.


Static Uniform, Q. Cassetti, 2011Things are sticky hot and its not even 11 this  morning. The newscasters were proud to tell us that it was going to 90˚ today so the fans will be whirring, shoes off, and little prayers to the computer gods that the machines don’t fry in the heat. I have been experiencing some glitches so I am not too certain that my little prayers have been heard.

Yesterday was tranquility base. Truly. I read. Made lunch and dinner and then took a monster nap. Truly a vacation day….and well received. If only I could do this for 3 or 4 more days, the strands of gluey spaghetti that constitutes my thinking and thoughts would become streamlined and elegant, giving me spaces to put new ideas, thoughts, pictures. But the ole biological hard drive had a day to cool down but not a total reboot.

We got into the water (knees deep) with poor hairy black Shady Grove (who is getting a new haircut from Mandy (who is back with us!!))—hot and panting. We made her do a little paddling around and she had a big drink of the lake water and immediately settled down.  I was entranced (and finished)The Murder Room: The Heirs of Sherlock Holmes Gather to Solve the World’s Most Perplexing Cold Cases—a fast and engaging read about the amazing problem solving skills of three particular, eccentric and brilliant people (an artist, a profiler and a polygrapher/manager) who through wit, intuition and deduction…and seeing what truly is there, to resolve cold murder cases that have frustrated generations of police and FBI agents. This tight knit group of friends founded the Vidocq Society, (from their page):

“An unusual, exclusive crime-solving organization that meets monthly at the Union League of Philadelphia, 140 South Broad St., in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Members of The Vidocq Society honor Eugène François Vidocq, the brilliant 18th century French detective who served the Sûreté, by applying their collective forensic skills and experience to “cold case” homicides and unsolved deaths. At Vidocq meetings Vidocq Society Members (V.S.M.’s) evaluate, investigate, refocus, revivify and solve the unsolved deaths officially brought to them.”

to address these cases with the best in the business. Hot lunch and cold cases…pro bono and as a way to bring the best minds together to unravel puzzles that they all have a passion and profession to solve. Not too heavy, but really good and a book you do not want to put down. True crime rocks.

This week is a short one…so I need to make this quick. More, I hope, later.

In Five Months, the Earth will be destroyed

End Times : The Time is Near, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and inkFrom the From Columbus Dispach:

The latest warning comes from radio evangelist Harold Camping, who has “deciphered” a complicated biblical code that reveals that Jesus will return to Earth on May 21.

Camping, based in California, says that Jesus will take a select group of believers to heaven with him (that’s the Rapture), and everybody else will be out of luck. Five months later, the Earth will be destroyed.

Countdown continues. The good anticipate the future. We evil one  go about the day to day. When the big escalator drops down from the clouds, and the chosen ones ascend, what do you say to firing up the grill and  swearing a bit just to get warmed up. Felicia’s Atomic Lounge is doing a Rapture Party for those of us left here on this spinning orb>>  Wonderful Amelia Sauter speaks of the Rapture today in the Ithaca Post>> My little celebration is ink driven (and burning down the lovely photo blue verithin pencils).

Here is the End Time Timeline>

MSN on the Final Stretch>

I am listening to the newest Tracy Chavalier’s “Remarkable Creatures” while I work. Tracy Chavalier has written a wonderful series of books with the most recognized one being “The Girl with the Pearl Earring”. This book jumps off of the life and work of Mary Anning. an untrained Englishwoman who has been recognized for her discovery of the first complete icthyosaur and plesiosaur fossils. Its a wonderful tale  told from two points of view, that of Mary Anning and a fictional  spinster and mentor to Mary, Elizabeth Philpot.  “Remarkable Creatures” is a good companion with the little thises and thats I keep throwing out the door.

There is more to revise and time is ticking away. Not much time for me to babble on today.

Rain and then some

Sheep study, Q. Cassetti. 2010, digital.Luckystone is being swamped with rain. The cats are circling, looking for a warm spot to twist themselves into to ride out this Noah inspired deluge.There are branches on the roads, willows bent over and the water, coming down in sheets, also is rough and tumble—and high, in the lake.  Chet, the Lawnmower man would refer to this sort of rain as a “soaker” which, to someone who loves and works with grass is imperative to the greening of the ground…and keeping it green versus the tan straw that often happens by August.

The temperatures, as they often do mid August onward, keep getting incrementally cooler that multiple layers are not out of the question, and the anticipation of thick sweaters and heavy socks do not seem too much of a stretch. But cool and wet are Chet’s friends, so the grass will be green as we roll into September, the change of seasons, the start of schools and the shoulder to winter. In this spirit of autumn, I made up a big pot of Restoration Soup, otherwise known as Recycled Soup (comprising of left over corn, tomatoes, sausage, noodles, beans with seasonings) to prepare for the hoards that are going to descend on us this week with the deconstruction of the back walkway and the finalizing of the backwall behind our woodfired range. From no action to action immediately. So my group of 6 for lunch is now jumping to 9-10 and I need to recalibrate to accomodate.

We spent the morning talking with a friend and making plans for an interesting and very important project on the horizon. Soon, you will hear about the content, but not until I have it better in my sights and understanding…and how to grapple with it creatively to package it beautifully, compellingly and memorably to galvanize support, awareness and better understanding among all of us who now (moi aussi) are naively waiting for “it” to happen…and it already has. So, get ready to buckle down with me… More on that front later.

I was the shuttle bus yesterday for Alex…picking up and delivering. I got the raspberries in the freeze and did a quick shot at the Shur Save (Savior) and loaded up a cooler with the goods. Kitty and Rob and I went to Target and did some college shopping (with the rest of the world) and was stunned by the stacks of $29. microwaves, bookshelves, towering stacks of plastic totes. All the cheap stuff was wiped out with all the new apartments and dorm rooms being furnished that I was really glad we had done a bit of this earlier—and only had the health and beauty stuff to buy. Absolute insanity. The televisions were amazingly priced ( I guess one needs a personal tv to go with your microwave for college…note to self: you should pay extra to go to Hampshire as in room tvs are forbidden). And the shelves to the tvs were scoured as well. New world for this mom. Jeez.

I am reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel Amazon’s Editorial Reviews capture this: Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2010: David Mitchell reinvents himself with each book, and it’s thrilling to watch. His novels like Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas spill over with narrators and language, collecting storylines connected more in spirit than in fact. In The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, he harnesses that plenitude into a more traditional form, a historical novel set in Japan at the turn into the 19th century, when the island nation was almost entirely cut off from the West except for a tiny, quarantined Dutch outpost. Jacob is a pious but not unappealing prig from Zeeland, whose self-driven duty to blurt the truth in a corrupt and deceitful trading culture, along with his headlong love for a local midwife, provides the early engine for the story, which is confined at first to the Dutch enclave but crosses before long to the mainland. Every page is overfull with language, events, and characters, exuberantly saturated in the details of the time and the place but told from a knowing and undeniably modern perspective. It’s a story that seems to contain a thousand worlds in one. —Tom Nissley

I agree with Mr. Nissley. Its a gem. Maybe its an Audible book too. Could be good as a listen to.

Looking for rain.

Looking at Roosters sketch, Q. Cassetti, 2010, digitalClient Holiday card still on the revision point. Worked on finalizing the tweaks to get completed by the end of the week. In that spirit, I created the Luckystone card and got it out to the insty-printer last night. Picked out some nice riblaid khaki colored envelopes that I need to order. Could be tan or a dirty green? Prices seem good. Maybe will get them imprinted with our address to make it seem a bit more pro. Next step, get the cranes cards to Interlaken to get the valentines day card done so we can stuff and finalize at the same time as Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, ordered three presents today for my nieces. Yay! I love working against the November 11th date to have all the holiday stuff done, wrapped and finalized (to be put in the mail) so that the month of December I have to make ancillary fun stuff, and to have the time to dig into whatever whimsey takes my fancy.

Working on revisions of the special project for a friend. Am working away on the logotypes and feel like there is a bit of breeze in this work.

Lots of local stuff. Need to layout the Tburg Farmers Market Thank you teeshirt and a totebag. Also, need to get my wits together for yearbook in advance. I have the Rick Smolen “Day in the Life” books from Alibris in hand as well as a few cameras I bought from Bargain Cell for the team. I will need to get a battery charger and some cards to let these little cameras go…I should try one out to know what sort of gift (?) I am extending to the group. This weekend definitely.

I hopefully will be working on the companion animal graphic work (two annual reports). Not huge projects nor huge budgets, but work is work— and we welcome it. Also have some work with Amy Brill>> a local fashion designer and creative person all round. I was doing a little branding for her…and now she needs a hangtag and something to wrap her fibers in for sale. Kitty did a little modelling for her…and the pictures are great.

Just finished the trilogy: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked Hornet’s Nests. I throughly enjoyed them…it was a mad trip, a wonderful ride from the first page of Dragon to the last page of Nest….an engrossing story in the spirit of the Hannibal Lechter stories…that is very scandinavian in style and spirit. So clean and bright with a really deep, dark slice. Summer reading extrordinaire. Recommended.


Messing around inspired by Alexander Girard, Q. Cassetti, 2010, digitalReally going deep on a project I have wanted to resolve— and now, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thought out enough to show—with some ideas roughed out on a grid with black and white to color rollovers, using the standard html font I like the best (Georgia)—a website layout designed to be implemented in Drupal using the grid system that “Blueprint” offers. So, with this gridded approach, my publications background really is holding me in good stead. Not a lot of fancy schmancy, but simple is elegant. This design is a little black dress. I think I may have to be the photographer on this job with my point and shoot…but I enjoy that, so no biggie.

Fixed the Farmers Market graphic from yesterday. tweaked a few things along with adding and subtracting (digital plakat) with the eraser and blob brush. Then. did the little doodle diddle to the left just messing around with those same tools. It was fun, quick and I like how rough it is. Need to work on more rough stuff. I would love to work up a little linoleum block look for fun.

Got Alex rolling and scheduled for the PSAT prep. He is surprising all of us by willingly picking up books and The New Yorker and reading them. Happily. If you wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday, I have already gotten it. I never thought I would see the day that my dear boy would actively engage in reading willingly…and happily. Now, as his reading coach and librarian, I need to put my head around what is next? John Krakauer’s Into Thin Air? Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential? Albert Goldman’s Elvis? Need to worry this. Any suggestions? Its gotta be good and engaging. He is reading Neverland by Neil Gaiman, a very interesting, simply written, visual book about an alternative world. Love Neil Gaiman. We could try William Gibsons Idoru.

It’s 7:30 and it’s getting darker. Imagine. We are on the downside of the bright side of the year. Rolling into August is just plain shocking. Christmas design work and Christmas presents are on the list of things to do. I am def. going to do a letterpress valentine. I think the Luckystone card is going to be derivative of the Advent calendar work from last December. Likely nutcrackers.

Off to the Pourhouse to buy teeshirts!

Cinnamon snippets

The boys are coming home from a long week at the office. We have two lovely senior girls who are here for a french movie festival with Kitty. Alex is all over it....trying to be cool....but you know...gorgeous girls can make a young man's head turn. We had a mess of track runners parked in the kitchen talking about books and such. Lots happening in the office. A total redesign of a publication keeping aspects of it.. and then, after throwing my hands up...redesigning and writing as I go. I even found new pictures, did some retouching and background matching for the comp...and DANG. It looked pretty good for being stone soup. Cleaner with some thinking about the hierarchy of headlines, subheads, pullouts etc. And a grid...imagine! A structure to hang this whole magilla off! 

Cinnamon bun making is the bread project for tonight. I made oatmeal bread (on the King Arthur bread flour bag) and folded a bunch of bulgur wheat into it. Didnt puff up like I expected, but its more than edible and with the crew around here, we will devour two loaves in two days. So more learning about yeast and proofing, rising and raising and how long the loaves need to cook to be done but not overdone...Its all a new path that seems to fill in the time between my funny silhouette drawings. These babies are quick...not as much articulation as the others and right now, a welcome change.

It's fun how the current flip mirrors a technique that is all about flipping. I hold the idea of Hans Christian Anderson cutting his wicked little pictures as he spun stories of little mermaids walking on feet that bled or the spinning eyes of the frightening dog that guarded the treasure in the Tinderbox. Cutting and stories, an aesthetic that is shared with Slovenly Peter and the wild haired, wicked heros that have entertained and frightened me since the first hearing. Nice to know that being over 50 and still fearful is a good place to be. Time moves forward and some of us stay locked in the same fears and pleasures as our childhood. And sometimes those fears and pleasures, as in the case of fairy tales, can be the same.

My stamp with the Double Happiness illustration got recognized as a "Best" yesterday. I got a lot of nice kudos from my fellow Zazzle designers along with two sales...(to the tune of $2. profit). However, it is fun to do, and if the illustrations can make me dresser change, then its more dresser change than I had yesterday.

work in process

I was messing with Double Happiness--and seeing if color helped/hurt. Dunno. Its pretty rubber. While I was solving the world's problems last night(read, I woke up at 3 and my brain clicked on superdrive)I was thinking about illustration, taxes, business, and getting Kitty through this college gambit.There is just so much personal stuff that time will help to resolve, but having the bones of planning and thinking put in place is necessary so that the home team can get what they need out of the experience. Bones. Hmm.

I created about 10 bodies of work--all but doing it. Was thinking about the CF Payne and Gary Kelley project (week one at Hartford this July) which is sort of open as it can be working on your personal work (thesis or otherwise) or a portrait of a literary figure. I am thinking that I bend it a bit (and check with Chris today) and work either on the body of work (Holbein inspired pictures of local friends/kids) or to take a few heads and work with them wearing my Picasso/Braque/Juan Gris hat....with a nod to this great illustrator I admire, Pablo Lobato. I love his charactures and would love to see if I can do a distill like this with my logo/symbol design background. I think it would work? Do you? I am sort of charged up to pursue a decorative approach to portraits...and I am leaning this way and with Chris Payne who is noted for his ability to stretch a might be great. As I write this and look at Pablo's work fresh...I am definitely going to do this. Now, the literary figure...could be Twain because I have been reading about him and have a nice little pile of images to work with. Could be Ben Franklin? Could think about someone more dramatic though...literary literary literary.... I like Dante. But not photos. Back to get a bookish, cuter Einstein. Reading about Twain, I find out that he was well over 10 yrs. older than his wife--meeting her after striking a friendship with her brother Charles who was on the "Quaker City" cruise to Europe to do his "grand tour". Twain is a really wonderful writer with wit, snap and a tremendous amount of edgy "tude" that the sweetness of his public writing doesn't communicate.

Finished the first round of edits to the thesis. Will meet with Peter, my editor within the next day or so for the second comb through soon. New waterfall on board today. Haircut too!

Packaged Queen

I am in love with all things apiary. I have been for quite a while--and have been thinking about the bees, their lives and how they build their hives, the job they do with pollination, their clannishness as a swarm, and now their sudden departure. I am so in love with bees, I am looking into getting a hive with Kitty and seeing if we can do this sort of thing. There are some wonderful sites--with the starter set from Bee Commerce to "packaged bees"and Queens (love it that queens have a price list...>). Virgin Queens or Breeder Queens? or packaged Queens? Just the language is rich and funny. Here is a beekeepers blog>>Maybe that lovely man from the Tburg farmers market can advise? Remember him? He told me about how he rents his bees for around $70 a day to pollinate people's fields. He packages them up and drives them carefully over to the new field...and takes them home at night. Plus, he must get more than the money with what the bees bring home at night..Look at this>we have a fingerlakes bee keeping club! More to learn.

I am also going to get Digimarc for the studio. Digimarc is the copyright service that is part of the pulldown in Photoshop under filters. They have several levels of service and will give me a bit more peace of mind surrounding the ownership thing that is snowballing with the Orphan Rights Act being out there, looming on the horizon--and also just the cherrypickers who take from websites for their own websites etc. This is what Digimarc says:

Content (images, audio, and video) often circulates anonymously, without the ability to communicate who owns it or how contact them to obtain the right to use it. Digital watermarking provides a persistent digital identity for all forms of media content and enables copyright holders to reliably communicate their ownership while also providing links to related details and purchase information. This helps to promote licensing and protect copyrighted content from unauthorized use or becoming an "orphaned work."

Digimarc embeds code into the image/illustration versus the fugly circle C and a name over the image which is repulsive and seems so amateur hour. There are shows to enter soon...and having this tool in tandem with that is probably a good idea.

Chad is coming this Saturday with his children to do the Ithaca Paint Off. Jime will be there too. I don't/didn't want to do it as I don't really paint. If they had an Ink Off...I might have had a crack at it. But as the tribe is gathering for this, I was musing that this would be the opportunity next year to get all the local illustrators I know from Rochester/Syracuse, down to below Sayre/ Binghampton to participate--and I could have an early dinner here for them prior to the even. Combine networking with fundraising--and let people show off a bit. Need to think a bit more on this.

I am choking a bit with the illustration--getting a bit caught up in the time it is taking to finish things...but still in a positive motion. Got a very encouraging note via Facebook with people I should contact specifically as it relates to the portrait work I have done (Corning Museum of Glass and the Burkas) as this person thought this work has traction. Am a bit panic-y about that and will talk it through with the mentor in SF. Gotta get to work...times a wasting.

Taschen Warehouse Sales

The best and affordable art books, Taschen--is having a series of sales:

Thousands of slightly damaged and display copies on sale at bargain basement prices, 50-75% off.

June 19 - 21, 2008
Thursday to Saturday 10:00 am to 8:00 pm

TASCHEN Store Paris
June 19 - 21, 2008
Thursday 11:00 am to 10:00 pm,
Friday and Saturday 11:00 am to midnight

TASCHEN Store Beverly Hills
June 20 - 22, 2008
Friday, Saturday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

TASCHEN Store Hollywood
June 20 - 22, 2008
Friday 9:00 am to 9:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm

TASCHEN Store New York
June 20 - 22, 2008
Friday, Saturday 11:00 am to 8:00 pm
Sunday 12:00 to 7:00 pm

something for the armchair

Before the listmaking and planning happens for today, I just wanted to suggest that on this "day of rest" you consider a book I am reading, absorbing and frankly am shouting "right on!" about every other line. It is a very short book, more like an essay, that is a small (in size and page count) and through, an hour's listen. It is Sam Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation". Harris slowly, and simply, starts with those things we all assume are part of the"Judeo Christian tradition" and takes them apart referencing scripture etc. He states facts to the reader he addresses as a Christian (as in right) and peels away all of these righteous approaches to our culture along with the same with Muslims etc. Harris' book makes you think. He makes us consider and weigh our mass think--and really points up traditions and philosophies that really are more moral and balanced. It is worth an hour of listening or a few of reading to shift your thinking during this time of amoral behavior at the highest places--and our lives day to day.

>>Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation
If anything, read the comments left on the page on Amazon. The readers nail it...and present a fairly wide swathe of the thinking around Harris' work.

A breath of fresh fire." —Wall Street Journal

“I dare you to read this will not leave you unchanged. Read it if it is the last thing you do.” —Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion

“It’s a shame that not everyone in this country will read Sam Harris’ marvelous little book Letter to a Christian Nation. They won’t but they should.”
—Leonard Susskind, Felix Bloch Professor in theoretical physics, Stanford University

Slip slide

Hohlwein Poster
We woke up to two hour school delays due to ice. The trees are all bent over, laden with ice which can really damage them…so I hope the forty degree weather they are promising for later will take the burden off these poor things. Shady Grove is begging to have another cone thrown out into this mess—with her back legs scrambling to keep upright and not totally wipe out. R. has the tundrabus as the wonderbus is still at Winks, so I am landlocked with a nonfunctioning internet (power outage last night)…and I have done all the amelioration that normally works—so it may actually be a service interruption. The phone works. And I am canceling my haircut as I really value my limbs functioning—and shorter hair is not the beginning and end of this equation. I need to get the home team moving despite the later wake up. They are going to have a tough day with lots of work, play practices and finally basketball tournaments in Elmira (in the evening!!). I have the first of “get ready, here comes the college freight train” discussions later this p.m. Urg. And then there is summer to plan and pay for as well as taxes (everyone’s favorite), and committing to spring break.

Sorry for the caterwauling…I feel a bit better. Oh, and here is A. saying that school has now been cancelled. He is networking with his pals to validate that –and I think a call from me to the school secretary might be in line. A. is psyched. A day of movie classics here. I might as well start popping corn, ordering pizza and planning the teen party that will happen.

Ludwig Hohlwein
Compiled and Edited by Professor H.K. Frenzel
with an introdution by Dr. Walter F. Schubert
Translated by Herman George Scheffauer
Berlin 1926
Phonix Illustrationsdruck Un Verlag G.M.B.H.

Got the Ludwig Hohlwein book. It is a class on Hohlwein filled with colored plates, monochrome plates and copy (one side is german, the other English) referring to Hohlwein as a genius (as this book celebrates his 50th anniversary) who produced “kleingraphik” or small graphics/posters, and was best known for his involvement and inroads he made as a “Gebrachsgraphik” Or the author modestly refers to Hohlwein as the “most important Gebrauchsgraphiker of present day Gemany.” Here is what is said about “Gebrachsgraphik”:

“Gebrauchsgraphik”– even in German this word stumbles clumsilyover the tongue. The treasure-house of German speech will certainly not be enriched by it to any edifying degree. And yet this term expresses, objectively and technically, its inward and essential significance much more clearly than other designations such as “Reklame” or “Webekunst” (Advertising or the Art of Canvassing). For the second half of the word precludes all those auxiliary means of canvassing or advertising which do not originate in the graphic arts – such as the printed or spoken word, the film and whatever else may serve as a vehicle for commercial solicitation. And the first half of the compound word clearly defines its relation to the graphic arts themselves. "Gebrauchsgraphik" is not free "graphik" whose purpose is bound to a purpose, it is an artistic means for the expression of a definite intention towards commercial propaganda."

I am going to read and scan and share with you. I was stumped with the picture of a horse I was whaling on yesterday. I cracked open this book and I am back on track. Monochrome. Simpler but not as bare bones as Hohlwein...though I want to try that. I love the different lettering styles, his amazing sense of design and simplicity and his pared back narrative--in some cases little snapshots of Germany in 1920s (prewar energy) with domestic scenes that mirror some of the dutch still lives and personal lives imaged by Vermeer. i am not comparing the artists--just the way they capture domestic moments of making tea, looking in mirrors, quietly reading. An individual moment in a frame. A flicker of time.

Onward to horses.

Briar Press--New Resource

Briar Press>>
Briar Press refers to itself as "a letterpress community"-- and it is. They have cuts and caps scans of ornaments and initials from old specimen books converted to Postscript files. Nice selection...not overly wide, but perfect if you are in need of that sort of thing. And free unless its commercial work. Then,its a pittance to use.They have Yellow Pages of letterpress, die cutting machinery and classes and Classified where you can find a press in your area. Boxcar Press, per my friends at Syracuse is a wonder. Our local letterpress/stamping shop is Pioneer Press owned and operated by the impassioned and inspired Joe Seppi--a tremendous resource in Interlaken NY. However, the other offerings from all over the world (even a cool one in Siena Italy) gives one a happy lens through which to view the world. The discussion area is lively and very I feel that I may be peeking in regularly to see what happens.

More later>>

Sugar coated mourning

Perfect day for costumes and gummy eyeballs. We carved and changed the lightbulbs until late last night. We should see around 300 kids between 5:30 and 9. I have a new girl friday from the source of all good workers, the high school, coming this p.m. Her first new assigment is to fill 100 paperbags with a scoop of cat litter and a tea light. Then place them...and at around 5:15--lighting time. Also, there might be some raking to add to the jumbo composter we have. R. checked it the other day after loading it with leaves and that baby was literally smoking. Hot compost!.

Just started the Ludwig book.The book was written in the sixties as a graduate thesis that got funded and we now have this invaluable reference. I love what he says about the context of writing this book:

"The sixties were, among many other things, a time when high art finally succumbed to low. All kinds of objects crept into the museum, which were previously banned by the keepers of the gates. The very definition of what was art was challenged by the likes of Johns, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, and Warhol. Most universities were often far behind the museums in their willingness to accept these new developments. Cultural history in general and art history in particular were based on the trickle down theory. According to the mantra of the day, culture flowed from the top down. At the bottom of the barrel, below quilts and samplers, lurked kitsch."

"I stumbled into what was then considered the chaos of low culture when I got lost on the way to an outdoor pig roast and found myself looking at the Thomas Cushman stone of 1727 in Lebanon, Connecticut. I remarked at the time that it looked like the kind of stylization that would have appealed to Paul Klee. The more I discovered, the more I became convinced that here was the early religious art of New England."

This was the beginning of his journey. We will share it together.

This is your treat. No tricks here.

The Bible for Gravestones

I was surfing around and this name, Allen Ludwig kept popping up. Mr. Ludwig photographed a huge portion of the important stones and the key to learning about him was through a university library website and the collection of originals that they have of his work. So, off to Alibris and then finally to Amazon to type in his name and find out that yes, his work and writing have been published as a book,
Graven Images, New England Stonecarving and its symbols, 1650-1815
Looks like I have something to read. Really Read. Jam packed with reference from very primative stuff, to portraits with lots of information on carvers, geography, art, handbills of the time. Sets this funerary stuff in the social context of the time.

A view of the world from the lap pool

I am swimming laps every morning before the office officially opens. Its been great-- a little stunning how it shuts your brain off almost entirely except for the ability to breathe and count the laps...(even the counting can be a little shaky. I have thought that getting a little knitting counter and pinning it to the front of one's bathing suit might be the goofy answer. Or having a handful of rings that you move from one finger to the next. To be honest, I have tried...and almost just given up counting...making it a time based experience. We'll see.) I am feeling spoiled to have this glamourpuss place to go to with lovely lockers, glass doors on the showers and all sorts of amenities along with all the weights and machines if you want them. I hope I can keep it up as I have more energy...and thats what its all about. Coffee only gets you so far. This really is much better. My shoulders hurt. I swam daily through college and the first few years of work at Corning. Then walking...And to be honest, I like swimming the best. I somehow think that as we, as beings, are made up of so much water that there is a balancing that goes on with swimming and lake paddling. Chlorine gets in the way of the total flat line (brainwise). That's all for my non scientific babbling.

Spent the better part of the day on the almost Memento Mori project for a client using some of the scrap from my first phase of drawings--filling in the time while things print or save drawing octopus and skulls. Be YouTiful...hard and wiggly. Rigid and organic. A wealth there. I dont know if it is true to the Memento Mori...or as hard line as the rest, but I write the rules...and the more out there I go, the work gets more interesting. Did a nice star of david and cross. Not totally calligraphic, but inspired by the thicks and thins.

Gotta get started on the stuff I want to send down to Corning's 171 Cedar Street Christmas Bazaar--art and cards from the Ithaca Art Trail, and some new things in frames. Barbara compiled what we sold, quantities and total dollars on each "sku"-- so we actually have "data". Maybe a tiny bit of cash there too. Who knows. Erich says he thinks the cards will sell. I agree.

Am re-reading the Great Elizabeth by my all time favorite historical biographer, Carrolly Erickson--a great writer who tells a good story studded with bits and pieces of life, lifestyle, intrigue, gossip and sidebar information that somehow makes the individual she is writing about absolutely breathe. She has written about Elizabeth, Henry, Ann Boleyn, Mary Queen of Scots, Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great (of Russia). You get the jist. Its terrific. I should also go the library ( here in Tburg, our library is a Philomathic yours?) and get a new, hot off the presses book. They always have things that I never thought I would like...and do.

Memento Mori continues. Today with Octopus. I have been working with skeletal hands...and have a little groove happening with them. You know...this work is evolving. Wow.

Gotta sleep.