Category Archives: art

September Morn (Unburied Nuts)


Squirrels love to bury their precious nuts so as to uncover them later to enjoy at leisure. In the same way, this blog, from time to time, brings an old post back for another short period in the sun. This particular nut first saw light of day in 2007.  My goodness – that’s a decade ago!  Well, as September is always special to me for a number of reasons, here it is uncovered again……with a couple of editorial changes.

But first, let’s have some mood music by Neil Diamond who apparently also loves September morns….

It is the beginning of September and I noted a number of my blogging friends from the Northern Hemisphere are lamenting or at least marking the passing of summer. However, a few like me are ready to welcome September and the beginning of autumn. September has always been a special month for me. It seems like some of my happiest moments have been tied to this month or at least this season. In celebration of September, I offer this posting on the theme of “September Morn”. Below is a famous painting by Paul Chabas and the music is by Neil Diamond.

“September Morn” by Paul Chabas

 

Quoted from Bonnie Bull
“On a September morning in 1912, French painter Paul Chabas finished the painting he had been working on for three consecutive summers. Thus completed, it was aptly titled “Matinee de Septembre” (September Morn). As was typical of his style, the painting was of young maiden posed nude in a natural setting. This time the icy morning waters of Lake Annecy in Upper Savoy formed the natural setting and the maiden was a local peasant girl. The head, however, had been painted from the sketch of a young American girl, Julie Phillips (later Mrs. Thompson), which he had made while she and her mother were sitting in a Paris cafe. Apparently, he had found her profile to be exactly what he was looking for.

(LGS notes: Could this be a pre-Photoshop example of pasting someone’s head on to someone else’s naked body?)

The completed painting was then sent off to the Paris Salon of 1912 to be exhibited. Although the painting won Mr. Chabas the Medal of Honor, it caused no flurry of attention. Hoping to find a buyer, the artist shipped the painting overseas to an American gallery. It was here in America that the painting was destined to receive undreamed of publicity and popularity.

One day in May of 1913, displayed in the window of a Manhattan art gallery, it caught the eye of Anthony Comstock, head of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice. Horrified by what he saw, he stormed into the store, flashed his badge, and roared: “There’s too little morn and too much maid. Take her out!” The gallery manager, however, refused to do so.

The ensuing controversy was given wide publicity by the press and the painting was simultaneously denounced and defended across the entire country. Meanwhile, curious crowds filled the street outside the shop straining to see the painting that caused such a stir.

Soon enterprising entrepreneurs were reproducing September Morn on everything conceivable: calendars, postcards, candy boxes, cigar bands, cigarette flannels, pennents, suspenders, bottle openers and more. Purity leagues tried to suppress it. Postcard reproductions were forbidden in the mails. The painting became the object of stock show gags and even inspired an anonymous couplet that swept the country, “Please don’t think I’m bad or bold, but where its deep it’s awful cold.”

(LGS notes: Why, this is like a meme!)

The painting went back to Paul Chabas who sold it to a Russian collector for the ruble equivalent of $10,000. After the Russian Revolution it turned up in Paris in the Gulbenkian Collection. Ultimately the painting was purchased by Philadelphia Main Liner Willaim Coxe Wright and donated to Manhattan’s Metropolitan Museum in 1957 after being refused by the Philadelphia Museum of Art because it had no significance in the twentieth century stream of art. It’s estimated market value in 1957 was $30,000. The painting still hangs in the Metropolitan Museum as an example of 20th century French works and reproductions can be purchased in the museum’s gift shop.”

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Where in the World…..


The Lone Grey Squirrel is out.  He is not here

He is scouting for suitable locations for his secret hideout from which to plan world domination and enslave mankind for their own good.

You might ask, “Where in the world is ………LGS?”

Here are some clues to which country I am scouting out.  See how many clues you need before you figure it out!

  1. Imports 85% of Jamaica’s coffee produce.
  2. You could feel the earth move under your feet at least 1500 times a year.
  3. Has the world’s largest fish market.
  4. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson appear together in a movie filmed here.
  5. “Handsome Weeping Boys” is a good paying career.
  6. Surprising number of missing fingertips.
  7. Baseball is its most popular spectator sport.
  8. In 2015, the title of “World Whiskey of the Year” was awarded to one of its brews.
  9. Won a famous victory against South Africa in the Rugby World Cup 2015.
  10. “Wax on, Wax off ” Part II

Have you figured it out?  Where in the world is LGS?

To_prince_edward_island
“To Prince Edward Island” by Canadian artist, Alex Colville – One of my favorite paintings.

 

Colouring Between the Lines


Has it finally happened?!?!?!  Has the Lone Grey Squirrel become so grey that he has entered the proverbial second childhood?

For whatever reason, LGS has returned to the childhood activity of trying to colour between the lines.  I blame my wife. She started it and I got dragged in.

As you smart and trendy readers would know, there seems to be a surging interest in colouring books for adults.  These books are full of line drawings of varying complexity but all uncoloured.  All awaiting our inner child to awake and put our imagination and creativity on paper.  It is touted as a great way for stress relief and I guess it is more constructive than my old standard of throwing darts at a picture of my boss.

At any rate, the sheer proliferation of such books are a clear reflection of its popularity.  And as I always say, “50 million monkeys can’t be wrong”!*

*in case you are wondering, those are lyrics from the song “The Peanut Vendor” by Moises Simons of Cuba; although the English lyrics were by L. Wolfe Gilbert and Marion Sunshine.

Anyway, I present before your cruel, critical eyes,some of my early work in this medium.  Please be kind – like to a helpless baby seal. Thank you.

squirrel
SQUIRRELS! Of course, I had to start here!  This could be my coat of arms….what do you think? (drawing from Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom; colouring by LGS)
mushrooms
You may be wondering what possessed LGS to do this?  All I have to say is SHROOMS! (drawing from Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland; colouring by LGS)
bird nest
Now, colouring between the lines seems to be here to stay, like a  BIRD COMING IN TO NEST! (drawing from Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland: colouring by LGS)

Will you catch the bug too?

Birthday Wish


As I mentioned in passing in my last post, I had my birthday last month.  I did not really celebrate it in anyway as is usually my custom.  However, one of you dear readers wanted to know what I wanted for my birthday.  So here is the answer(s);

1. The PC answer –  “I only wish for world peace.”

2. The megalomaniac answer – “I want to rule the world.”

3. The isolationist answer – “I just want to get away from the world.”

4.  Probably the most heart-felt answer at the moment……… I want one of these………

Model of Eagle Transporter from Space 1999
Model of Eagle Transporter from Space 1999

 

This is my current obsession.  Made worse because I cannot get it.  It’s like an itch that I cannot scratch. Arrrrgh!

Some of you will know or remember Airfix models?  I used to have a few of those kits which you had to assemble yourself with a bit of glue.  It was my childhood passion.

Let’s see I had planes like the Skyhawk, the Saab Viggen and the Jet Provost below;

jetprovost72md_1

I also had model ships like the RMS Mauritania luxury cruiser ……

886-maurentania-model-cruise-ship-model9

and the Graf Spree pocketbattleship…….

Admiral_Graf_Spee_model

Unfortunately, my mother did not share my enthusiasm and considered my models a nuisance that collect dust and take up table and cupboard space.  So eventually, my collection disappeared.

When I was not around, some of the better ones were given away by my mother to obnoxious brats (otherwise known as distant cousins and kids of family friends).

Before they were all given away, I decided to go down with the ship – so to speak.  I personally disposed of my few remaining models in spectacular fashion.

The Pièce de résistance was my sinking of the RMS Mauritania.  I placed ballast in the hold of the ship and floated it in an old abandoned bathtub in an empty lot and then set it on fire.  Then I sat back and watched the thick acrid smoke billow from the many tiny porthole windows until the mighty (model) ship sunk below the waves.  That was the funeral pyre for my model collection.

That was many, many years ago but now that I have a bit more time on my hands, I am hankering to get back into doing these model kits.  Not too many.  Just a select few.  And the one I really want is the Eagle Transporter from the old TV series Space 1999.

1999EagleTrans1

Firstly, I was a fan of the series; secondly, the Eagle is just way cool and has such interesting details and thirdly, it can come in several configurations by having interchangeable central pods.  It could be a standard transporter or it could be a science laboratory or it could be a rescue ship etc.

My problem is that I cannot find this model kit anywhere now.  It’s production probably stopped years ago and the remaining kits still out there are quite rare.

So that’s what I would like to get.  Have you seen one near you?

The Forgotten War’s Memorial


A few years ago, I was in Washington D.C. and I took the opportunity to visit the museums but because I am a taphophile, I was also very keen to visit the Arlington National Cemetery and the war memorials.

When I was growing up, the Vietnam War was not far away and people spoke of the “domino theory” which suggested that a communist victory in Vietnam would lead to the fall of other nations in South East Asia to communism in quick succession.    The war was never far from our thoughts and from our news.  And then the Vietnamese refugees started coming to our shores; we called them the “Boat People”.  When I was  14, I spent my school holidays as a volunteer with a U.N. office trying to match names on search requests sent in by relatives against a long list of names of registered refugees in the hope of reuniting separated loved ones.  I never did succeed in making even one match.

And so, I was very aware about the Vietnam War and I did visit the Vietnam War Memorial.

But there was another earlier Asian war that I and many, many people  are less familiar with …….. the Korean War.  It was a little before I was born and I was never taught anything about it in school.  Believe it or not, the first I learned about it was from watching the TV series M.A.S.H.

Yet in many ways, although much shorter, it was a bloodier war than the Vietnam War.  The percentage of casualties compared to soldiers committed was extremely high.  For example, the average U.S. casualties per month was 4,257 for the Korean War as compared to 2,092 for the Vietnam War (source:Korean War Educator).    And the suffering of the Korean people was great with as much as 10% of the  population killed – a rate of civilian deaths which were higher than that for World War II.

I was deeply moved when I had the opportunity to visit the memorial to what some have called “the Forgotten War”,  and remember the sacrifices made and the lives lost.

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This commemorative stone was actually in the Arlington National Cemetery but the inscription of the number of casualties suffered attest to the ferocity of the fighting. ( Photo by LGS)

 

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Historians may debate the why’s and the how’s of the war but the sacrifices of the soldiers were real and worthy of our respect. (Photo by LGS)

 

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One of the main elements of the memorial is this collection of statues; a ghostly squad on  patrol in eternal vigilance. (Photo by LGS)

 

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As a monument, I prefer this to the Vietnam Memorial as it’s visual impact is more visceral. (Photo by LGS)

 

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The other main element of the Memorial is this dark granite wall with faces of soldiers and civilians from the war. (Photo by LGS)

 

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As I look at the faces, I wonder what were their stories. Were they killed? Did they survive? What has happened to those who came back? (Photo by LGS)

 

The Big 5 -Uh Oh!


Judging from the noticeable lack of comments on my previous post and the content of the few comments that were there, the political situation in the USA remains tense and is a topic that is either offensive or uncomfortable with readers.  So I decided that for this post, I should stick with a topic that should be offensive to no one but myself …….. i.e. my recent 50th birthday.

It was actually in September but that was right in the middle of my big house-moving exercise and blog break, so I did not post on it earlier.  Of course, I got my expected portion of “50 year old” gag birthday greetings like “You are now officially an Oldie” or “Don’t worry – once you are over the hill, you pick up speed”.   Sadly, that was about all I got.  Not a single present. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

My wife was trying to plan a surprise party for me with some friends but with all the packing and the rush of moving house, it did not materialize.  I don’t usually celebrate my own birthdays so it was not really missed.  Some say that turning the BIG 50 is an important milestone that should be celebrated but I think they are just hoping for a party and some cake.  Besides, I don’t think of myself as 50 but as 18 with 32 years of experience!

 

 

Anyway, to celebrate the additional 32 years of being 18, I tried to trace how my tastes and directions have changed during that time.  As you see, I am still a work in progress and still changing……..

 

LINKS

Music: Anne Murray , Clannad , Sinead O’Connor , Billy Joel, Sarah MacLachlan , Shania Twain , Adele , The Black Eyed Peas

Reading:  James Herriot , Ray Bradbury , Douglas Adams , Richard Adams , Sue Townsend , Stephen R. Donaldson , Arthur C. Clarke , Neil Gaiman

Art: Monet , J.M.W. Turner , Klimt , Andrew Wyeth

 

Pole Dancing


One of the wonderful things associated with Chinese New Year celebrations (which is still going on as it lasts 15 days), is the Lion Dance.  Here are some photos and a video that I took during a performance by a lion dance troupe at a friend’s home in Malaysia.  To make it more interesting, the dance is carried out by the lion dancers as they prance around on top of poles some 2-3 metres off the ground.   Yes, this is “pole dancing” the Chinese Lion Dance style.  “Pole dancing” by men in costumes.

Astute readers will have noticed that the Squirrel is making repeated references to “pole dancing”.  This is a thinly veiled and  brazen attempt to get more hits on this blog from people googling “pole dancing”.  Anyway, now that you are here, get your brain out of the sewer and be enlightened by some culture.

The Lion Gets Ready
The Lion Climbs on Board

Wait for it! Lion Pole Dancing!
Vodpod videos no longer available.

(ALL PICTURES AND VIDEO BY LGS)