Friday, February 27, 2009

Back Online

Well, I've been away for a while. No, it wasn't a great vacation. Nope, it's not that I didn't have anything to say. It was because I spilled tea on my Macbook, and had to get the keyboard replaced.

So, here I am, 10 days since a post and there's almost too much to choose from for topics. Baseball and steroids. Or maybe the stimulus. Maybe I should post a couple of the drawings I finished with all of the free time I had without a computer to suck me in. It's like trying to begin Thanksgiving dinner. So much good stuff you can't choose where to begin.

So I choose the lima beans.

FR. BARRY has recently written about 'Lost in Austen', a NEW FLICK about a Jane Austen fan who time travels to get swap lives with Austen's fictional character Elizabeth Bennett...

OK, I like Jane Austen. The books, that is. I don't like watching the silver screen versions. At all. Let alone the bazillion take-offs. I'd much rather watch something based on Flannery O'Conner. You know, they weirdness, the freakishness. I'm thinking 'Temple of the Holy Ghost'.

But alas, somebody is trying! I wander what Fr. Barry will think of 'Pride and Predator'. Yes, that's right. Elton John's production company is doing a version of 'Pride and Prejudice', except that the main protagonist isn't Mr. Darcy, it's our favorite 7 foot tall alien armed with a nuclear warhead:
It might prove something of a boon to those who reach for the remote control when yet another costume drama comes on television: Elton John's Rocket Pictures is developing a new spin on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, this time featuring a nefarious seven-foot extraterrestrial with hideous mandibles and a penchant for human blood. Yes, it's Pride and Predator.

"It felt like a fresh and funny way to blow apart the done-to-death Jane Austen genre by literally dropping this alien into the middle of a costume drama, where he stalks and slashes to horrific effect..."
That sounds...awesome. Finally an Austen movie with something men can enjoy. Why wasn't this thought of before? Maybe the sequel should be Charles Mansonfield Park.

Of course, if you can't stand watching the Predator for the images it conjures of Arnold (and as a conservative Republican in California, I'm constantly trying to distance myself from thoughts of him), you can always pick up A COPY of 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies'. Because, well, the author of the article put it best:
"I've always said the problem with Jane Austen's novels is that there simply aren't enough zombies."

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hurry Up and Wait

Is it any wonder we Catholics, on February 14th, now celebrate the Feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius rather than the commercially and hedonistically ruined St. Valentine? I'm sure that fact was nowhere near the mind of our dear President this past weekend, as his priority was given to Cupid rather than Hermes:

"After pushing Congress for weeks to hurry up and pass the massive $787 billion stimulus bill, President Obama promptly took off for a three-day holiday getaway. Obama arrived at his home in Chicago on Friday, and treated wife Michelle to a Valentine's Day dinner downtown last night...

...The president plans to spend the Presidents' Day weekend in the Windy City, and is not expected to sign the bill until Tuesday, when he travels to Denver to discuss his economic plan."

I'm so glad to know our President spent the weekend getting laid, while Americans spent their weekend fearing they might get laid off.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Poor Steve

Poor Steve just needs to get to the store.

But now poor Steve needs to get to the orchard:

Steve can't even seem to stay off the grass when he's not on a lawnmower:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Internasty

A RECENT STUDY has found that teenagers spend an average of 31 hours online including 2 hours of viewing pornographic material.

Think things are bad now? Just you wait. In about 15-20 years, when current teenagers have reached 35-40 years old, there's going to be a huge number of new pedophiles and general sex offenders out there.

Thanks, technology! And a special thanks goes out to you, parents who don't know how to, or don't wish to, supervise.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Justice of Proportions

Previously, I posted some proportional studies of male and female figures. Male HERE and female HERE.

People fall within a range of proportions. Men can range from 7:1 on the squat and robust end, to 9:1 on the attenuated end (this proportion is reserved for adolescent boys and delicately proportioned men) Women can range from 8:1 on the more full-figured side of the scale to 10:1 for adolescents and very ethereally proportioned girls. Why the importance? Because if you're trying to draw a matronly lady you'd proportion her at 8:1. A barrel chested farmer who has spent his life working in the fields would be 7:1. A vestal virgin would be 9 1/2 or 10:1, while the effeminate and lisping Alcibiades would probably be well represented by an epicene body that is 8 1/2 or even 9 heads high--it all depends on what you're trying to represent to the audience. One thing is clear... Alcibiades at 7:1 wouldn't be right.

All this doesn't take into account the proportion of children which never meet the mark of adults--a phenomenon found in the higher mammals known as allometric growth--they start out in life with a head 25% or more of their body length, and then gradually stretch, becoming overly attenuated at adolescence before they elastically snap back to the overall proportion of maturity they'll maintain until old age, at which time they head back to, well, 0:1.

What is being set up here is a set of 'keys' for architectural design. There are 5 basic keys in the ordering of architecture. In fact, they are called the 5 'Orders', and many of you just call them the different kinds of classical columns. They are, in order of robust and non-sculptural to attenuated and highly ornamented, Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Roman (sometimes called Composite). Above is a parallel of the orders I drew comparing the orders to each other, keeping the height static and the lower diameter, or modulus, variable. How are they related to the human figure? Because the classical orders, anthropomorphic in origin and symbol, share the same basic proportions as the range of human figures. The Tuscan is 7:1, the Doric 8:1, Ionic 9:1, while Corinthian and Roman are 10:1, but differ in the amount and delicateness of ornamentation. Note that along the scale there is no ornamentation on the Tuscan (who's heard of a country farmer wearing jewelry?) All the way up to highly ornamented in the effeminate range of Corinthian and Composite.

Now, back to why they're called 'Orders'. They are given this name because they give order, they modulate the style, proportion and ornamentation of, the architecture. This is most clearly understood when it comes to building typologies. While it would be fitting for a Theater, the function of which is delicate, entertaining and frivolous to be in the 'key' of Corinthian or Composite, it would be an altogether misleading impropriety for a bank to be of such an order, given that it needs to project the ideas of sturdiness, lastingness, and impenetrability. So too, when choosing the order for a certain church dedication: It would be fitting for a church dedicated to St. Paul to be ordered with the Doric order, as he was a strong, princely figure. But to choose Doric rather than Composite for a church dedicated to St. Therese of Lisieux would be to represent the girl rather not as a little flower but as a douglas fir.

Granted, this is modulation 101, and while architects can most certainly change 'keys' within one piece of art in the same way as Bach does in his music, we nevertheless have to learn the basics first, or you designers out there will totally screw up your façade, also known as façadomy. This is often why I'm so frequently losing my temper at idiotic uses of columnar elements in McMansions and the like. Contemporary architects are ruining a perfectly good and clear symbology when they slap up a Tuscan column here, a Corinthian there, an Ionic around the bathtub, just for the 'look at me I'm wealthy factor'. Heck, in the majority of designs, you don't even NEED a column for the Order to be present, but rather the proportional and ornamental principles ought be present in all features and done in a commodius manner, and never for a Mannerist commode, as one would find at Mike's Marbleopolis:

Friday, February 6, 2009

The 10 Books That Screwed Up the World

One of my favorite professors in undergrad was Dr. Benjamin Wiker. He is, in my mind, a great leader of young men and women, for many reasons. Firstly, he's extremely amiable. Very few people are agreeable to all. Wiker is one of those few. Secondly, he's incredibly intelligent, and during many a seminar discussing Spencer or Aquinas, Virgil or Plutarch, he could pierce through the conversation with a pointed question that would immediately and correctly guide the course of a misdirected discussion. One can only do this with a thorough understanding of the text. Thirdly, he genuinely cares about the moral and intellectual development of his students, and this is probably his most rare trait, given today's rampant atheism and intellectual pride in academia. Last, but certainly not least, he has a fantastic sense of humor, laying down great pun after great pun. It was truly a sad day for Thomas Aquinas College when he left for other, more barren fields to plow.

No, this is not a eulogy for Dr. Wiker. He's still alive and well. But I'm compelled to write about him because I JUST READ A POST OVER AT SALVO by the post-Darwinian warrior Denyse O'Leary, about a book Dr. Wiker has recently written: 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help. Learning that Mrs. O'Leary is a fan of Dr. Wiker makes me an even bigger fan of both.

Trust me when I say that Dr. Wiker writes like he leads a seminar: unpresuming but unrelenting, humble but confident, funny but quite serious.

While, without a thorough grounding in political theory beginning with Aristotle and carried through de Toqueville, it may be a little difficult to see all the reasons why Marx & Engels' Manifesto screwed up our world, but Dr. Wiker will quite simply explain, in the language of common sense and without pre-fabricated vocabulary, why it is so. And so it will be with his dissection of the other evil books of Western Civilization, whether their subject is natural philosophy, scientific method, psychoanalysis, or political theory.

If you are still requiring a little push to drop the whopping Twenty Bucks on the book, I recall a line from Dorothy Sayer's FANTASTIC ESSAY (Seriously. Print this out and read it) entitled "The Lost Tools of Learning":
"We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of "subjects"; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spell binder, we have the impudence to be astonished"
So please, pick up a copy now. Read it. Learn from it. Absorb it. Share it. Then go read the original texts yourself. That is how we will destroy the beast that has become intellectual apathy rampant in American society.

You owe me a beer, Ben.
Actually, I owe a good deal of my intellectual life, and a great deal of my sense of wonder, to you.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And They Shall Be Known for Their Fruits

Or, more specifically, their fruitlessness.

Thanks, ladies, for LEGALIZING DIVORCE for a whole new demographic. Good job. I'm so glad the true love you had for eachother that couldn't be expressed in any way other than 'matrimony' has lasted the test of...time.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Adopt a Word

Do you love words? I do, too. I just love researching the etymology of common and not so common words. Between THE PERSEUS PROJECT and THE ONLINE ETYMOLOGY DICTIONARY, I can disappear for hours.

And I am saddened to see interesting and rare words senesce, which is happening at a much more rapid and alarming rate now that instant messaging and texting has become the choice method for communication by adolescent foppatees. Gone are the days of veteratorian differences in intended meaning understood through greater vocabulary, in large part because so many of those great words of the past are dying out through lack of use.

That's why it's so important to keep those words alive and leeftail. We inveterate pedants must do our part!

Oh, sure, I've RECENTLY RECOMMENDED that we'd be better off if we used simple, short words to more felicitously get our point across, but there still are those times when good old-fashioned sesquipedalianism is needed to maintain an air of omniregency.

So I keleusmatically implore you to get off your pigritudinous buttocks and ADOPT A WORD!

h/t Dragoo