30 November 2014

John Carter of Mars

I know,... I know, yes, it was panned by the press when it came out, and it was ridiculed by many, but I take the contrarian view after watching it the other night. Expecting a joke, I was pleasantly surprised because, as a crazy film adventure, it actually works in an even crazier way. I think it is saved by its own natural camp, and its lack of any pretension which seems to haunt so many sci-fi films of recent years. Nor does it suffer from that moronic sentimentality which plagued The Lord of the Rings (and neither, does it generate a headache from so much CGI (computer generated graphics) which left me feeling dizzy and cheapened watching it).

I could never make it through Star Wars so many years ago because I also found it so moronic but in that dreadfully smug Hollywood kind of way. It had a kind of antiseptic chilliness about it which never touched me.  
Too very slick like so much from Hollywood. And yet, I know that the story was supposed to be one of heroic Greek stuff lauded by the great Joseph Campbell, but, non! non! de tout!

Now, John Carter does not pretend to be a anything but a romp; a weird campy lark between comic book pages so unabashedly stolen from another era completely. The story is so wacky that it actually works. It manages to pass through unscathed, that delicate and surreal zone which can make or brake our tolerance in Sci-Fi. I found myself completely unhinged from reality after just 10 minutes into it. Embracing its abstraction it stays true to its B-movie integrity. I think what really saves it from many possible disasters is that the main characters play it cool and, they have a certain likable charisma, not a wink, but a subtle smile to the audience (and each other) as if to say: "Isn't this pretty wild and crazy?" without an cheekiness visible.

So, my advice is to watch it with the kids, or just alone, with a large bowl of chocolate ice cream, fudge, and sprinkles on top.

29 November 2014


Sometimes I wonder-
Do I want to plant palms trees
Or be painting them?

25 November 2014

morning piano

Summer crickets
Keep time with the metronome-
The morning piano.

21 November 2014

Emilio Ambasz (architect 1943- )

"In reality, some images or drawings have a greater impact than many buildings that are built."

13 November 2014

Giacometti's Comet....(!)

A remarkable achievement landing a 7X7 foot spacecraft on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. And what photographs taken from the mother ship 'Rosetta'! (These come from the NYTimes article today)

In the lower photo is the comet, and the tiny speck of white to the right is the lander named 'Philae' (after the Egyptian island below Luxor I presume, and Rosetta after the small city north of Alexandria).

To travel all that way only to find Giacometti(!)

12 November 2014

my favorite things (Delacroix)

These images have always been close to my person, wherever I have lived; sometimes pinned to the bathroom wall, at others, on top of the piano. The portrait above is a photo from a book taken many, many years ago and has suffered from coffee stains and fly dung, and  yet, it has survived. And what beauty! What life in it! They are both watercolours, and were done somewhat early in his life. 

11 November 2014


My neighbor's jasmine 
Than the neighbor.

09 November 2014

fun with mushrooms

Terry Riley forever from cloudsandsea on Vimeo.

Ki no Tsurayuki

'Poetry in Japan begins with the human heart as its seed and myriad words as its leaves. It arises with when people are inspired by what they see and hear to give voice to the feelings that come forth from the multitude of events in their lives. The singing of warblers in the blossoms, the voices of frogs in the ponds, these all teach us that every creature on earth sings. It is this song that effortlessly moves heaven and earth, evokes emotions from the invisible gods and spirits, harmonizes the relations of men and women, and makes serene the hearts of brave warriors.'

from the introduction to the Kokinshū, an anthology containing twenty books of poetry (A.D. 915 -920).

  Its color fading
with no outward sign
  in this world-
the flower
of the human heart.

Ono no Komachi (A.D. 834 - 880).

I wonder why so much celebrated 'avant-garde'  'cutting-edge' Western art of our time seems to mock and denigrate Beauty? Would it not be possible instead, to shock people by Beauty in the world instead of its horrors? I do not speak of a sentimentalization in front of Nature (of which we are also inundated) but of finding a way through to Beauty using metaphor like so many Japanese poets and artists. How can we (in the West) learn to show reverence for Nature instead of hating it and by doing it without sentimentalism?

07 November 2014

chemin du Chateaunoir (bashful)

I recently came across this lovely, small painting which was sold to a friend in LA more than 20 years ago. I had always regretted not having a photo of it, but in those days, (and none of my friends now would believe it) I didn't take so many photos of art work. This was done around 1995, when I hardly signed anything, just a tc at the lower left. I was so bashful!
My painting has taken a different direction but in my mind, always, I still see Nature in its most abstract form no matter where I am.  

03 November 2014

W B Yeats

'We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric,
but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.'