Thursday, December 8, 2011

Valentin Podpomogov

Valentin Podpomogov is (or was- I have not yet found out whether he is living) exactly the kind of painter I like best. The piece above, Homer, is perhaps the finest depiction of cut stone I have ever seen.

The piece below that, Expectation, is what first caught my eye. I liked the absence of a face and the finely detailed rendering of the hair, face and bandages- a suggestion of a throat was a nice touch, too.

You can see the artist's biography and a full gallery of paintings at the website linked below:

As I said, I know next to nothing about this painter, but I know what I like.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I was thinkin' how they shot Mr. Lincoln...

The title line is from Brewer and Shipley's beautiful song Platte River. You can click on their names to visit their website- you'll land on the words to the song, and you can see the rest of their site here.

For another take on Mr. Lincoln (and meat, and Jimi Hendrix, and yaks) please check out the strange and disturbing paintings of Mark Ryden, whose Angelica Carnis appears third from the top of this page. I can't promise you'll come away happy, but I believe anyone who looks at his stuff will find something to like.

Are there things I don't care for in his work? Oh, yes. Not least is his fixation on pouty, corpse-like little girls. Very creepy, and not in a good way. I could also do with a bit less of the balloon-headed characters. Another thought, about which I may be mistaken- please take a look and draw your own conclusions: there seem to be occasional failures of perspective, as in The Grinder second from the top of this page. Note Mr. Lincoln's distorted face. Failure is too strong a word- I think there is a certain slippage in perspective, as though the artist's attention had wavered or wandered.

Oddly, I don't mind his kinky use of meat and fetuses one little bit. Yes, hmmm. That is odd. But that's me. I am also very impressed with the picture frames- it's almost impossible not to see them as part of the picture; actually in my first several viewings, it did not occur to me that the frames had not been painted within the pictures.

A word on color: his rich and varied yet restrained palette, which I think is usually well complemented by his sky tones, goes a long way toward explaining his technical appeal, at least in my view. The deep reds are used to good effect within a mainly pale range. An example of surprising color: the pinkish Nazi suit in Little Boy Blue, shown at the very top of this page.

These pieces are not tiny, nor are they huge- they range from under a foot by a foot to about four feet by six feet, roughly. It's fair to say I find the scale inviting, even intimate, both in the exterior sense (size of painting) and the interior sense (space within)- while there is often quite a lot going on within the picture, there is also plenty of room for the action, and the elements are never crowded.

Overall, I'm very glad to have seen these works (oil on canvas, if you're wondering) and I will be keeping an eye on this artist.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Wine cork handlebar plugs....

Really, finding a set of handlebar plugs is the least of my worries in my latest bike project, but I am pleased to have tackled the problem head on and solved it in record time- two minutes from conception to installation. None of the many handlebar plugs I have in my parts bin would fit the old BMX handlebar I'm using, so I whittled down two halves of a wine cork and popped them in. Done! Apologies for the picture quality.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Follow-up: Bike race

Last week I posted about some upcoming bicycle racing events scheduled here in the South Bay- scroll back to July for details. One of these has already taken place, and here's my report:

I packed a lunch and rode out to watch a day of bicycle races at Foothill College this past Sunday. Because the course ran on the campus perimeter road it was easy to find multiple places for watching. For the first race I cruised around the racers' prep area, joining the throng at the fence whenever the riders came around. I liked hearing the whoosh of all those tires on asphalt, but I cared less for the crowdedness and for having to look through a chain-link fence. For the second race I rode over to another parking lot, where there were no fences- I could have stood right on the edge of the course if I wanted to, but I didn't want to. The main attraction at this spot was that I had it all to myself. And I mean ALL to myself. It was just me and a flagman and hundreds of empty parking spots. Actually, he was a race marshal, and his job was to wave a flag and shout the number of laps remaining as the pack passed. Although the unobstructed view here was nice, there was no shade. For the third race I rode over by the start/finish line and watched there for a while, still without shade. Eventually, while riding around some tennis courts above the football field, I found a shady spot just down the hill from the finish line, about half way through a steepish, snaking descent in the course. Great views of some tricky riding! That was my favorite location, and I stayed there until I left for the day. Along with deep shade, I had a drinking fountain and a real restroom to myself. For some reason, none of the hundreds of other attendees ever discovered this oasis, and they all made do with porta-potties and purchased beverages. The finish line was all of twenty seconds away, so I had plenty of time to get there for the finishes, thanks to the advance notice provided by a race announcer via loudspeakers. Though I had many wonderful opportunities, I took no pictures, but I don't regret that. And I didn't have a camera with me anyway. I greatly enjoyed the whole thing, and I hope it will become a regular event. Race results and links to photos can be found here:

The second bicycle racing event is still in the future- the near future. In a little over a week, I'll be attending some track races at Hellyer Park in San Jose. I'm really looking forward to that. As with the story above, you can find all the details about the Hellyer Park races in my earlier post. I don't know why, but I can't link to earlier posts anymore, but if you search the blog for races or racing, you'll end up there. Sorry for the inconvenience, I'll try to figure out how to link posts. Oh, never mind- just go to the event's website-

And now... on to my favorite subject, me!

My interest in bike racing is only a few weeks old, and only came about indirectly. Here's how it happened. Because I love to read about bikes and bike riding, I was perusing the library catalog in search of yet more bicycle touring books (which are the very best kind of travel book, if you ask me) when I found a few Tour de France DVDs listed. 2003, 2004, 2005. Initially, I felt almost no interest- more or less on a whim, I brought them home, and BLAMMO I was hooked. Much to my annoyance, during the week I spent watching these highly condensed accounts of races past I learned that the 2011 Tour de France was in progress. Actually, what annoyed me was that I couldn't find any non-pay television coverage. I'm still not very happy about that.

Having become addicted overnight to watching bicycle races, I began to scour the web for local races and stumbled upon the aforementioned two exciting and very local events. My delight was and is nearly boundless. The only limiting factor to my joy is that the track races are twenty miles away and nowhere near any reasonable public transit routes. I'll probably have to drive, which I don't like doing anyway, and can't afford- then too, if I drive I'll have to pay $6 for parking, which I can't afford either. But I'll be there, no matter what!

Best Use of a Sex Doll Ever?

I don't know, but it's the best- and perhaps the only-
good use I've ever heard of. What am I talking about? I'm not, because there's really nothing to be said. Trust me, just go here and give the website a thorough visit. You'll regret it, most likely. I did. But I wouldn't undo the experience.

I may have something more to say about what you'll be seeing, later. Right now I'm still processing my reactions. I will say this immediately: The concept is good, and the execution is superb. The author writes interestingly about the technical aspects, and says little about the content, which is as it should be. The website is fairly well-built and engaging.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

You're not going to like this...

If this offends you... be offended. Or don't. Either way, I'll hate you. Or not. Probably not. You can hate me. I don't care. I won't hate you, I promise. All my promises are conditional. Sometimes.

Usually, I'm a nice person. No, that's a lie, but I do try. I'll try any damned thing. Once. I was a nice person once, for about ten seconds. It made my teeth itch. And it almost made me vote for Ross Perot, but luckily nothing can make me do anything (which is why I do nearly nothing), and anyway I always vote for Bob Pease (1940-2011, RIP) or Frank Zappa (also dead). Or Kurt Vonnegut (dead). Or Douglas Adams (dead). Or B. Traven (presumed dead). Yeah, especially B. Traven. I would probably vote TWICE for B. Traven, except he/she/it was a damned Commie. And speaking of dubious heroes- need I mention this? I have never failed to vote for Ed Abbey (dead) on any ballot on which he appeared, which is (so far as I know, in my voting area, to date... certain limits and/or restrictions may apply. . seek competent advice before acting upon information contained herein) none. I once voted for Willa Cather ( dead), but her ticket was disqualified because her running mate Nicola Tesla (dead) was declared an undesirable alien. And I routinely vote for cartoon characters. Without a trace of irony. By the way, just hearing me say these things makes you a better person. But you'll never be as good a person as I am. Or coulda/shoulda/woulda been. Or so I say. Your mileage may vary- draw your own conclusions, and keep 'em to yourself. Or don't. There's a Comments button at the bottom of the page.

Oh, factual interjection: That crack about Tesla being declared an illegal alien is pure hooey. Nothing to it, so far as I know. But I didn't want to waste a good lie. If I'm ever an alien, I hope I'm desirable. No, I hope I'm irresistible. And undeniably alien. Some aliens blend right in. They walk around like they own the place, and everyone accepts them. I don't want that for me. I want to leave a scar where I settle. I want to be a living mystery, a 9th Wonder of the World. In fact, I'd like to be unfathomable. Maybe even inscrutable. And certainly unflappable. I'd like to be the Napoleon of the law-abiding world. Sadly, I'm all too ordinary. And I'm not much of a Peronist. Well, frankly speaking, I am truly no kind of a Peronist at all. Also a damned poor periodontist. Have a look inside my mouth if you doubt that. I'll thank you kindly to leave my politics out of this. And fuck your mother's Majolica toaster oven, while we're at it. Oh, wow. Where did THAT come from? Well, how do I know what I think until I hear what I say?, as someone once cleverly said.

But seriously, folks, Google the toaster oven reference, including the place name. It might just thrill you through your socks. Or maybe it won't. My money is on won't. Unless you like living a boring life. Or I might be wrong- I haven't Googled it myself, though I probably should have, and maybe will. Or not. That's one of my many favorite qualifiers. Covers a whole lot of nothin', if you know what I mean. And while were on THAT subject, don't forget to drink some water today. Here's a motto: Never let 'em catch you a pint low! And remember, a pint's a pound the world around.

Now, here's why we're all here:

I won't cite sources or dig deep into history on this topic, but here's my take on... well, you'll see.

A microphone is a mic
A bicycle is a bike
Is a dyke a dichotomy?

See what I mean? It ain't worth quibbling over, but it's probably worth talking about. Got any thoughts? You could keep them to yourselves, or you could share them with us. We are tolerant eed-jutz. We see your folly and raise (or lower) it a level or two. And if you would like to vote my poetry in for a Nobel prize, please do. I won't object. I can't, because I have no idea how anything I write ever came into print. Honestly, I don't. Or shouldn't. My lawyers (all 0.000000000001321 of them) tell me I must not say otherwise. As for you... you can (and should, I urge you) take a long walk on a short pier. Really, go for it! Thanks for your attention.

And, on that note...

Have a day, as they say. Thank you, please come again, as the sex-worker said on two-fer-Tuesday. And... Sank ewe- awl be here all zuh veek.

OTE: Check your facts before quoting me. And then don't quote me, or I WILL sue you, big time. Melvin Belli big time. F. Lee Bailey big time. Remember, I am smarter than Leonardo da Vinci and more attractive than Leonardo di Caprio.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Real live bicycle racing, right here in town!

That's right, if you live anywhere in the south San Francisco Bay Area and care about bike races, I have news for you.

First, nearest and dearest to my own heart because it's within biking distance of my home, is a day of racing at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills (12345 El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, CA 94022). 7:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 31 2011. Admission is free for spectators. If you drive there, parking is $2. The race is a fund-raiser to help pay for a new multi-use path around the perimeter of the Foothill College campus. This race is run on a closed road course, with numerous classes and start times.

Racers must register, and must have a USAC license, which may be purchased upon registration or online. I checked the USAC website and it looks like a one-day license is either $5 or $10. NOTE: USAC charges $10 for non-electronic license applications, so think about doing it online. Also, The race organizers impose a $10 late fee for registrations made after July 28th, so think about that too. Schedule and registration information here:

Second, did you know there's an outdoor velodrome in San Jose? Neither did I! It's at Hellyer County Park, and if you live in Santa Clara County, you own it. Did you know that on select Friday evenings you can watch track racing for free- and eat and drink for free, too? Neither did I! But it's true. All you have to pay is $6 for parking, if you drive there. Racers must pay fees and have a license and all that. Click the poster at the top for all the details.