Category Archives: …Of the Week

. . . Of the Week (7-6-14)

So, I am again a day or two behind.  This time I can chalk it up to it being the Fourth of July weekend.  On top of that my house has been undergoing some major work, so that has occupied much of my time as of late.  But anyway, here it is . . .

Article of the Week

This week’s article comes from a site called {Life}Buzz.  I don’t want to say too much about it, but it includes a touching video clip that’s guaranteed to bring a tear or two to your eye.

He saved 669 Children During the Holocaust…

Artwork of the Week

Marcela Bolívar is surrealist digital collage artist whose work has adorned album covers, book covers, t-shirts and magazine articles.  Her style reminds me a good deal of Dave McKean’s, though with a more feminine feel to it.  Here website contains a nice assortment of her work, so check it out.  This piece references Eden and the Fall of Man.

Marcela Bolívar - Garden
Marcela Bolívar – Garden

Album Cover of the Week

This cover design is for Enigma’s A Posteriori album.  Again, the design is enhanced by strong basic shapes, in this case circles.  The muted colors also give it a nice antique aura, and the pink lines (almost literally) tie all of its various elements together.

Enigma - A Posteriori (cover)
Enigma – A Posteriori (cover)

Book Cover of the Week

I haven’t done one of these in awhile.  This is a cover design for Ray Bradbury’s Machineries of Joy.  The coolest things about it are the way the artist/designer worked Bradbury’s name into the frames, and the Art Deco feel of it.  I could easily see this as a poster design from the 1920s or 1930s.  A great concept well executed.

Ray Bradbury - Machineries of Joy (cover)
Ray Bradbury – Machineries of Joy (cover)

Meme of the Week

Here’s a wonderful little cartoon that charmingly symbolizes the nature of books and the knowledge they offer.

Everyone, be good and have a wonderful week!

 

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. . . Of the Week (6-28-14)

Art of the Week

I don’t really have an article this week, so I’m going straight to the artwork.  This is a gorgeous Art Nouveau-style poster by Florian Bertmer representing John Milton’s Paradise Lost.  I don’t know if it’s ever been used this way, but it would make a damn fine cover for the book.  Bertmer usually does work for the extreme metal and punk scene, including album covers, and he was himself the singer for a band called Cheerleaders of the Apocalypse.  I don’t know anything about that, but he’s a freakin’ sweet artist.

Florian Bertmer - Paradise Lost
Florian Bertmer – Paradise Lost

Album Cover of the Week

I thought about posting one of Bertmer’s covers here, but I wanted to give equal time to a different artist and decided to go with yet another excellent poster and album cover artist, John Dyer Baizley.  He’s another artist associated with the extreme metal scene, and, like Bertmer, is himself a musician.  Also like Bertmer, his artwork is heavily influenced by Art Nouveau artists like Alphonse Mucha.  Check out this lovely cover for Gillian Welch’s The Harrow & the Harvest album.

John Dyer Baizley - Gillian Welch - The Harrow & the Harvest (cover)
John Dyer Baizley – Gillian Welch – The Harrow & the Harvest (cover)

Song of the Week

This week’s song is by The Veils and comes from their Nux Vomica album.  I love the sweaty, gritty, desperate feel of this song, which fits the subject matter quite well.  The song is called Pan, ostensibly after the Greek god of the same name.

The Veils – Pan

Meme of the week

A bit of humor for you. 🙂

And finally . . .

Quote of the Week

It’s a universal law—intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility. – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Everyone enjoy your weekend and the week ahead!

 

 

 

. . . Of the Week (6-22-14)

This really should’ve been put out yesterday, but much of my day was consumed with writing a longer article for this blog.  Anyway, a day late and a dollar short . . . the story of my life.

Article of the Week

I’m not a fan of the American gun culture at all.  I own a rifle, but more out of necessity (everyone in the South has at least one) than any desire to have it.  I have lost two different family members in two completely separate incidents to gun violence, both of them crime-of-passion murders that almost certainly would not have happened if guns hadn’t been present in the home.  Here’s a lovely fact: in America, on average, three women a day are murdered by their spouses or partners.  And the number one means of doing it?  Guns, by far.  Something to think about.

A ‘Grim Tally’: Abusers, Guns, and the Women They Kill

Album Cover of the Week

Sound Tribe Sector 9 is an instrumental/electronica band–not my usual taste, but I do like a couple of their songs.  And I absolutely love this cover design!  Outer space?  Check.  Surreal weirdness?  Check.  Strong composition?  Check.  There you have it.

STS9 - When the Dust Settles (cover)
STS9 – When the Dust Settles (cover)

Website of the Week

As a bona fide agnostic (more or less), I love a good skeptical site, and this one is a winner.  There are some annoying aspects to the site, like the email updates pop-up and a crappy layout, but the information it provides is fantastic.  So, check it out.

Skeptoid

Artwork of the Week

Two for one today, both by William Mortensen.  Mortensen was an early twentieth century photographer of the Pictorialist school, which was basically the opposite of documentary style photography.  Pictorialist photographs were artificially crafted scenes made to resemble paintings, and sometimes elaborate set pieces were created just for one photograph.  Mortensen was one of the best photographers who worked in this style.

William Mortensen - The Heretic
William Mortensen – The Heretic
William Mortensen - Mutual Admiration
William Mortensen – Mutual Admiration

Song of the Day

I almost included this song in my post The Ultimate ‘Dark Tower’ Playlist.  It’s dark, haunting and somewhat surreal, so it fits the theme in a vague way, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t actually about the books and in the end I didn’t include it in that list.  Still, it’s such a fantastic song that I felt it needed to be posted somewhere on my blog.  It’s the first track from Dave Smallen’s album Desolation.  Incidentally, Smallen is also a visual artist, and he creates his own album covers in addition to the music, including the one for Desolation, which you can see here.  You can hear the entire album–not to mention his other albums–at his site as well, and I encourage you to do so.  He deserves to be better known.

Dave Smallen – The Tower

That’s all for this week.  Until next time, sayonara and have a great week!

. . . Of the Week (6-13-14)

Well, I missed Of the Week last week, but I made sure to set aside time for it this week.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

Article of the Week

I first came across this at one of my favorite sites, io9, so a shout-out to them.  The Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan info gathering organization, recently published a study that shows Americans have become more politically and ideologically divided than they have been in over twenty years.  My contention is that much of this polarization has occurred for largely two reasons:

1) The advent of the internet has exposed people to others who do not think like they do on a scale unprecedented in history, and we know that when their beliefs are strongly challenged, most people do not immediately adjust to the change but instead have a tendency to become entrenched a la the Backfire Effect.  When and if they do revise their beliefs, they generally do so very slowly and often inadequately, meaning not enough to compensate for the Backfire Effect.  (See also the Semmelweis Reflex.)

2) In times of uncertainty and hardship (e.g. that caused by an economic recession), people often dig in their heels, retreating into what is familiar and unchallenging to them.

Anyway, it’s a pretty interesting read, with lots of lovely graphs and charts.

Political Polarization in the American Public

Album Cover of the Week

I don’t know much about this band other than that they are a doom/death metal band.  Not really my cup of tea, but I do love this black-and-white cover design for their album Ritual of Passing.  It adheres to my preference for strong basic shapes as design elements, and I’ve always loved the Eye of Providence concept (as my last banner design attests).  It always seems to make for a strong graphic design element.

Atriarch - Ritual of Passing (cover)
Atriarch – Ritual of Passing (cover)

Artwork of the Week

I spotted this sweet design on the TeeFury site and felt it was worth sharing.  The design is a mash-up of Aliens and Jurassic Park done by Justyna Dorsz.  I love it!

Justyna Dorsz - LV-426
Justyna Dorsz – LV-426

Song/Video of the Week

I love a good sci-fi themed song, and the band Only Son hit my sweet spot with this one.  It’s a creepy tune about a future society in which genetically engineered children are par for the course and your financial status determines the quality of the child you will get.  An eerily effective song,  and the music video beautifully reinforces the music.

Only Son – It’s a Boy

Quote of the Week

Finally, a quote from Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, a rare religious leader who has the courage to be honest about the Bible.

“The Bible has been used for centuries by Christians as a weapon of control. To read it literally is to believe in a three-tiered universe, to condone slavery, to treat women as inferior creatures, to believe that sickness is caused by God’s punishment and that mental disease and epilepsy are caused by demonic possession. When someone tells me that they believe the Bible is the literal and inerrant word of God, I always ask, ‘Have you ever read it?'” – Bishop John Shelby Spong

Have a great weekend and enjoy the week ahead!

. . . Of the Week (5-31-14)

Artwork of the Week

I’ve been perusing the work of several contemporary Japanese poster artists and graphic designers this week, so I am sharing an image from one of the best, Tadanori Yokoo.  Tadanori’s career really took off in the late sixties, as he thoroughly embraced the psychedelic art of the era and filtered it through his own culture, thus becoming one of the first Japanese artists to be recognized for their psychedelic art in the West.  Around the early eighties he more or less gave up graphic design and focused on painting, but it is his poster and album art that I am most fond of.

Tadanori Yokoo - The Bombay Store
Tadanori Yokoo – The Bombay Store

Album Cover of the Week

The central image of this cover for Matt Elliott’s Howling Songs is interesting enough, and the cover would’ve been okay with just that, but the graphic designer’s decision to flank the image with a floral pattern was the icing on the cake, I think.

Edit: I have since learned that the artist for this piece is Vania Zouravliov.  I had seen his work before, but I didn’t make the connection.  I actually had the good fortune to stumble on it accidentally.

Vania’s official site is here.

Vania Zouravliov - Matt Elliott - Howling Songs (cover)
Vania Zouravliov – Matt Elliott – Howling Songs (cover)

Song of the Week

This week’s tune is from the excellent album The Body, the Blood, the Machine by the rock band The Thermals.  The song is called Here’s Your Future.  You really should give the entire album a spin though.

The Thermals – Here’s Your Future

And last but not least . . .

Meme of the Week

Everyone have a wonderful week!

. . . Of the Week (5-24-14)

Article of the Week

As serendipity would have it, I happened to be doing some research on Austrian writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch a few days ago in relation to my novel AL+ER.  The connection is a bit oblique, but AL+ER is in part about the history of pop and rock music, as the main protagonist is both a musician and an aficionado of a wide range of music.  And as it turns out, Sacher-Masoch is a distant relation of singer Marianne Faithfull.  His most famous contribution to literature was the story Venus in Furs.  Sacher-Masoch also gave rise to the sexual kink we call masochism, so-named after the second part of his hyphenated last name.  With the Marquis De Sade’s fetish, sadism (the flip side of the coin, so to speak), masochism is usually combined into the all-encompassing erotic pain fetish known as sadomasochism, or S&M.  I confess that I’ve never really understood this fetish; but, as long as no one is really getting hurt and everything is consensual, who am I judge?  But I have long found the historical figures behind the odder aspects of science and culture to be fascinating.  I have an obsession of sorts with such people–the weirdos, outsiders, unsung geniuses, et al of history, as I have a sort of kinship with them.  Yes, folks, I too am weird. 🙂

Anyway, someone in the WordPress network caught my last Of the Week post and gave it the thumbs up.  I make a point of visiting every blog/website (if one exists) of whoever ‘likes’ anything on my site and was thus led to the blog ArtLark and, fortuitously, to this  article:

Furs and Female Domination in Sacher-Masoch’s Writing

If you like art and cultural history, the quality of ArtLark’s articles is consistently excellent. They’re going in my blogroll, so you can find them there from here on out.

Album Cover of the Week

Our album cover this week is from Moon Taxi’s Running Wild.  I can tell you pretty much exactly how this beautiful cover design was created.  First, the base image is a photo of some kind of natural formation taken from above at great distance.  The designer may have tinkered with the colors a bit beforehand, but it looks to me like he or she used a feature in Photoshop called ‘Invert’, which renders colors into their compliments.  It’s a bit like a film negative, actually.  Anyway, the inner image is simply a slightly smaller version of the base image rotated 180 degrees, so that’s how you get that bordered look.

Moon Taxi - Running Wild (cover)
Moon Taxi – Running Wild (cover)

Song of the Week

Josh Ritter has become one of my favorite singer-songwriters largely on the strength of one album, So Runs the World Away.  Not that his other albums are bad, mind you; it’s just that that particular album is . . . effin’ . . . amazing.  My favorite track on the album tends to shift day to day, but probably the one that I return to the most is Another New World.  The fact that one of the most poignant and haunting love songs ever penned was for a ship (called the Annabel Lee, no less) is, in my opinion, the ultimate testament to Ritter’s strength as a songwriter.  That he counts Stephen King as a fan doesn’t hurt either.  King may have provided the biggest bump to Ritter’s ever-rising popularity, and in return the musician gave the horror author a gift in the form of The Remnant, a song that, although not specifically about The Dark Tower as far as I know, definitely channels the spirit of King’s magnum opus.

In fact, I would call So Runs the World Away one of the most literary albums ever produced, containing as it does the musical narrative hat trick of The Curse, The Remnant and Another New World, not to mention a fine contribution to the Stagger Lee mythos in the form of Folk Bloodbath.  So there are many great choices here, but I have to go with Another New World.  It’s a heartbreaking story-song about one of those early polar expeditions that goes tragically wrong, and a man’s love for the ship that carried him through it.  Try not to cry while listening to this, I dare you . . .

Josh Ritter – Another New World

Meme of the Week

The quote, although not identified as such, is from dream hampton.

Art of the Week

A sweet Art Deco poster by Georges Favre for Peugeot, now a famous car company but originally a manufacturer of bicycles and coffee grinders . . .

Georges Favre - Peugeot (1924)
Georges Favre – Peugeot (1924)

That wraps it up for this week.  Everyone have a great Memorial Day weekend!

. . . Of the Week (5-17-14)

Articles of the Week

You’re getting two for the price of one this week.  The first article comes from one of my favorite websites, io9.  As you know if you follow my blog regularly, a pet topic of mine is cognitive biases.  Well, as it so happens, io9 published a great article on cognitive biases a few days ago, and I think it is quite worth sharing.  The article references one of my favorite nonfiction writers, Steven Pinker.  Please note that the title is a bit misleading.  There are actually hundreds–perhaps thousands–of identified cognitive biases, and they all prevent us from being rational in their own way.  Rather, these are twelve of the most common ones we all deal with.

The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational

Our second article comes from a homegrown libertarian who explains why he has abandoned libertarian values in favor of liberal ones.  I once favored a more libertarian system as well, having read and admired Henry David Thoreau in high school, although in my case I abandoned libertarianism pretty shortly thereafter, as I had met some other libertarians and found them to be . . . well, less than reasonable, let’s say.  I then gave it a lot more thought and realized that the principle flaw in libertarianism is that it consciously ignores the fact that we don’t all live in our own self-contained little bubbles nor have zero impact on the environment and other people, which they deny whilst touting the concept of “rational self-interest,” really just a positive semantic spin on their supreme value: pure selfishness.

They argue that it isn’t really selfish because they want the same thing for everyone.  That’s like me arguing that my smoking in public isn’t bad for the people around me as long as they “get” to smoke too.  Have you noticed that extremist political philosophies are always based on simplistic, one-size-fits-all moral philosophies?  Anyway, without further ado . . .

Why I fled libertarianism — and became a liberal

Art of the Week

Modern surrealist artist and graphic designer H. R. Giger passed away last Monday.  Giger’s imprint has been left on so many things: album covers, furniture designs, interior designs, film sets, and so on, but his most famous contribution to pop culture was his xenomorph design used in the film Alien and its sequels.  Perhaps Meister Giger has moved on to some biomechanical paradise, something like the spooky place seen in this piece (a nod to Symbolist painter Arnold Böcklin’s Isle of the Dead paintings) . . .

H. R. Giger - Hommage à Boecklin
H. R. Giger – Hommage à Boecklin

Video Clip of the Week

Jack White tells an amusing story about how he came up with this song.  It came about from a conversation with his young daughter, who had asked him for a snack.  When he inquired what she’d like to eat, she replied that she’d like sixteen saltine crackers.  Yep, that definitely sounds like something Jack White’s kid might say.  🙂  Anyway, the music video for this song is bizarre, which means it’s right up my alley.

Jack White – Sixteen Saltines

Website of the Week

If you’d like to learn about the history of art but are put off by all the pretentiousness that tends to come along for the ride in any critical discussions of art, then this is the site for you!  This one will be going in the blogroll as well, so you can find it there in the future without having to search this blog.

Art History Unstuffed 

Meme of the Week/Quote of the Week

That will do it for this week.  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

. . . Of the Week (5-10-14)

Hello!  Well, it’s been a long week and I have a lot on my plate today, so I’m going to keep this short.

Video Clip of the Week

This week’s video clip is a fan-made trailer for a live action film version of the sci-fi manga Akira, which is something of a touchstone for Western translations of manga works and is considered by many critics to be a masterpiece.  I don’t generally get into fan-made works, but the production values and attention to detail in this case are astounding, and I felt it was worth sharing.  Somebody please make this movie happen!

Akira Project – Live Action Trailer

Album Cover of the Week

This is the cover design for the Dutch prog metal band Within Temptation’s album Hydra.  In addition to the fact that I love well-executed bisymmetrical designs, what really struck me about this design was the wonderful contrast between the more organic art style used to create the dragons and the rigidly geometrical if somewhat ornate ‘H’ (which is also somehow a ‘W’)–it’s a simple design and it all works quite well, in my estimation.

Within Temptation - Hydra (cover)
Within Temptation – Hydra (cover)

Meme of the Week

Indeed . . .

Song of the Week

I love this song.  It’s quite haunting and reminds me of a girl I once knew named Heather, who I think of now and again.  Ah, youth.

Ponderosa – Heather

That’s all for this week, boys and girls. 🙂

 

 

 

. . . Of the Week (5-3-14)

Article of the Week

A Facebook friend of mine posted this, and I felt it was worth sharing here.  It’s about an Auschwitz victim, a young child at the time, who is using social media like Facebook to try to locate the twin he was separated from at the concentration camp.  Pass it on, please.  Let’s make this happen for him!  And while we’re at it, here’s a story of a similar search where it worked like a charm (you’ll need a Facebook account to see it).

An Auschwitz Survivor Searches for His Twin on Facebook

Album Cover of the Week

Here’s another excellent use of photo collage.  I particularly love how the pyramid was handled.  But then, I’m a sucker  for anything that uses outer space graphic elements.

Dirty Art Club - Heavy Starch (cover)
Dirty Art Club – Heavy Starch (cover)

Song of the Week

Your song this week is a bit dark, so be forewarned: if you don’t like dark music, avoid this one.  It’s from the Norwegian psychedelic hard rock band Ulver.  Ulver means ‘Wolves’ in Norwegian.  This is a cover of a Pretty Things song, and it is fantastic.  I have a category of music I call the Darke Nostalgick, which I use to describe those songs that give me that creepy feeling one sometimes gets when reminded of something from childhood that can’t quite be nailed down.  I know, I know, the Medieval spelling is pretentious, but it just felt right.  Incidentally, I also have a category for songs that trigger nostalgia in a purely pleasant way: Memoria Mystica.  Anyway, this song, Bracelets of Fingers, definitely falls into the first category.  The album from which it was taken, Childhood’s End, features another exceptional cover design, one that incorporates the famous photo by Nick Ut of kids running from a napalm attack in Vietnam.

Ulver – Bracelets of Fingers

Art of the Week

I love elephants, and I love H. P. Lovecraft, so this was a must-post.  It’s a mural painted by artist Alexis Diaz.  Seriously, follow the link and check it out.  Diaz’s stuff is incredible.

Alexis Diaz - Hanbury Street mural, London
Alexis Diaz – Hanbury Street mural, London

Quote of the Week

Finally, something new, a quote of the week . . .

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves. – Carl Jung

 

. . . Of the Week (4-26-14)

Article of the Week

If you haven’t realized it by now, a major theme of this blog is prejudice and bigotry in all of its various forms.  This week the online journal Salon published an article about the connection between racism and anti-big government sentiment on the political right.  It was presented in the context of the revelation that rancher Cliven Bundy turned out to be a massive racist, which neither I nor the article’s author Paul Rosenberg found surprising.  The article shows that the connection is much more entrenched than many people realize, and it’s definitely a fascinating read.

Ronald Reagan owns Cliven Bundy: he’s born of GOP racial and anti-government hostility

Album Cover of the Week

This week’s album cover is from the Crystal Fighters’ album Cave Rave and was designed by artist and architect Paul Laffoley.  Laffoley is a bizarre guy whose artwork is generally considered to be outsider art.  Usually his work is colorful throughout, but in this case the majority of the design is black & white and bears more than a passing resemblance to the iconic covers of McSweeney’s, which I believe was an influence here.

Paul Laffoley - The Crystal Fighters - Cave Rave (cover)
Paul Laffoley – The Crystal Fighters – Cave Rave (cover)

Meme of the Week

I’ve been encountering a lot of anti-science people lately, so this is for them.

And on that note . . .

Art of the Week

This next piece was designed by creative polymath Stéphane Massa-Bidal.  If you’re not familiar with his work, you really should take a gander at his lovely website Retrofuturs.

Stéphane Massa-Bidal - Go Back Creationists!
Stéphane Massa-Bidal – Go Back Creationists!

Song of the Week

I’ve been listening to a lot of David Bowie lately, and this week’s song comes from his latest album, The Next Day.  It’s called Dirty Boys.  Just a heads up: the video clip accompanying the song is homemade.

David Bowie – Dirty Boys