BOOK REVIEW: Famous Works of Art – And How They Got That Way

Famous Works of Art – And How They Got That Way
John B. Nici
Rowman & Littlefield
Copyright 2015 by the author

Ask a hundred people what is the most famous or greatest work of art in the world, and ninety-nine of them will most likely say it’s the “Mona Lisa”. Ask them to explain why, and most of them will mumble something about the smile. Nothing about da Vinci’s technique or composition or anything else that one would usually expect to hear when discussing a masterpiece, just an opinion that they are no doubt parroting from someone else.

What is it that makes a famous work of art famous? Art historian John B. Nici has taken time out from teaching art history at Queens College in New York to delve into the matter. As often as not, Fame comes from things external to the artwork itself.
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2016 in Review

Well, I managed to keep this thing going for another year!

Sixty-five posts in all for 2016 – still better than one per week.

There were a total of 1,434 page views from 817 visitors (and 65 “Likes”)

The Most Viewed posts in 2016 were:

Movie Review: A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) 80
Expanding Major League Baseball – 2 75
Movie Review: Russian Ark (Russia, 2002) 39
Book Review: Mars Girl by Jeff Garrity 28
A Christmas Mix for You – 2016 23
A Holiday Message from Our Sponsor – 2015 23
Indiana Jones and the “Top Men” 20

If we just count the ones that I actually posted in 2016:

Expanding Major League Baseball – 2 75
A Christmas Mix for You – 2016 23
The Olympic Team to Root For 14
Movie Review: Killdozer (TV Movie, 1974) 13
Eurovision 2016 – The Predictions 12
On Donald Trump 10
Our Long National Nightmare 10
Book Review: The Book of the Dead 10

Of course, posts added late in the year (like “Our Long National Nightmare”) suffer a bit from not having enough time to collect views…..

The countries that got me the most visitors were:

United States 897
Brazil 131
Canada 74
Germany 59
United Kingdom 40
Italy 25
Australia 14
Indonesia
10

 

I have to wonder why I’m so popular in Brazil….

Can someone from that fine country leave a comment? Thanks!

Finishing Off 2016

Lately I’ve been reading occasional comments about how we should just trash all of 2016 as being a horrible, no good, very bad year. What with all the celebrities and pop culture icons dying, and all that. These complaints started appearing around the middle of November…. Interesting, to say the least…..

But anyway, we keep making this same complaint every year. That this past year was the absolute worst, and we need a global Do-Over. What a depressing hellhole we must be living in, if each succeding year is worse than all the ones before!

Look, there are a couple of things that I wish had turned out differently. A president-elect who actually showed a real interest in doing the job, for one.

But if you throw the entire year onto the trash heap, you throw out a couple of things that we really should keep.

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Another Holiday Message from our Sponsor

It’s probably the most unusual version of “Deck the Halls” you will hear.

La Senza is a Canadian-based lingerie company. Back in 2010, they wanted to make it known that they had garments in the larger, hard-to-find sizes. Their ad agency noticed that there was a correlation between cup sizes and musical notes….

The campaign – a video and website – was launched in the beginning of December, 2010. The website not only linked to the store so you could purchase the featured items, but had an interactive app where you could “play” and even record your own tune.

The video is below the jump; it’s a lingerie ad (YouTube has it as “age restricted”), so it’s probably Not Really Safe For Work.

Unless you work someplace sexy.

In which case, can I send you my resume?

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How Chemists Decorate a Christmas Tree

Back in 2007, Brady Haran was making short films on science for the BBC and the University of Nottingham. Some of the material – scientists talking about their work in an informal setting – was uploaded to YouTube under the name “Test Tube”. The next year, he teamed up with Professor Martyn Poliakoff to make short videos about each chemical element. The “Periodic Videos” YouTube channel branched out to discuss molecules and other chemistry-related topics, and has earned praise from scientists, educators, and the media. Haran has branched out; he now has over a dozen channels covering everything from word origins (Words of the World) to psychology (Psyfile) to the history of science (Objectivity).

The above video is from 2009.

I’d have put caffeine on the tree, myself…….

Christmas with Mr. Weebl

You’ll find a lot of people on YouTube these days who consider themselves celebrities. But none of them can hold a candle to Jonti Picking of the UK. An animator and musician, he uploaded his first video to the Web in June of 2002. It featured two egg-shaped beings called “Weebl” and “Bob”. Since then, he’s produced something like 200 videos, and has done some professional advertising work.

Over the years, Weebl and Bob have appeared in a number of Christmas-themed shorts. This one is #4:

In addition to Weebl and Bob, he’s done a few other series (with their own Christmas episodes):

“On the Moon” with the Toast King and Insanity Prawn Boy:

“Cat Face”, about a giant-headed floating cat:

For 2013 through 2015, he did “Advent Calendars” – one short animation per day for December, leading up to Christmas. Here are all the videos from 2014 in one convenient place:

Picking’s production seems to have tailed off recently. One can forgive him; fourteen years on the Internet is a very, very, VERY long time.

Well, if by chance you come across this, thanks for all the laughs, Mr. Picking, and a Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Some More Holiday Music For You

I goofed.

I was in such a rush to get out my annual Christmas Mix that I didn’t realize that I duplicated a tune from my very first collection in 2014. I also neglected to adjust the file names to a standard format – one where if you sorted them by file name in your media player, they would play in the order listed.

My apologies.

To make it up to you, allow me to share a couple of other mixes that I have in my collection.

These are from WFMU’s Rock and Soul Ichiban blog, and you can get them here:

http://wfmuichiban.blogspot.com/2014/12/merry-twistmas-from-ichiban.html

The blog post has links to three mixes; each over an hour long. And it has track lists, too. Since they are professionally made, the tracks are all properly balanced for volume and blend into each other with no gaps.

WFMU is the coolest radio station on the planet. Based in northern New Jersey, they are a completely independent freeform station. They get no advertising money; except for a few grants, all their money comes from listener donations. This means the DJs are free to play whatever they want (within the guidelines of the FCC and basic decency, of course).

Back in 2009, they launched a couple of 24/7/365 “Web Only” streams. Rock and Soul Ichiban was one of them. It features obscure and lesser hits from the 50s and 60s, mixed in with movie trailers and vintage commercials.

In addition to the blog, there’s also a Facebook group where you can follow all the goings-on with the stream.

So if you like what you hear in those holiday mixes, give the stream a listen!

A Christmas Mix for You – 2016

This could turn out to be a habit. I’ve collected so much Christmas music over the years (around 7 GB worth!) from various places around the Internet, including many music sharing blogs, that I feel rather compelled to share some of my favorite finds with you.

Here’s this year’s collection.

Over an hour of holiday, well, cheer – I hope.

The list after the jump.

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On the 2017 Hall of Fame Ballot – Part 2

Okay, now that we’ve gotten the “one and dones” out of the way, who’s left among the thirty four players on the ballot?

We can pretty much divide the remaining twenty one into three groups:

The Hall of the Really, Really, Really Good:

Jeff Bagwell, Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Tim Raines, and Gary Sheffield are holdovers from last year. They are joined by Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez. There’s no one here that stands out as an obvious Hall of Famer like Ken Griffey Jr. did last year. You’ve got to dig into the numbers. They are all potentially worthy; it pretty much comes down to personal opinion. I think closers are overrated – so much for Hoffman. Mussina was never the best pitcher in his league, and really wasn’t that great – he was just very good for a long time. Sheffield never really stood out as a superstar, unlike Guerrero and Rodriguez….

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On the 2017 Hall of Fame Ballot

It’s that time again – the Hall of Fame ballot has been released. Fans and writers are already debating the worthiness of holdovers Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, newcomers Ivan Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero, and the usual arguments over Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

But also on the ballot are a squadron of new names; many of which you’ve never heard of and will probably never hear again. But they have met the minimum requirements for nomination, and might get a vote or two from a friend. And when you’ve been in the Major Leagues for ten years (the required minimum for consideration), it’s kind of hard NOT to pick up a little fame along the way.

So let’s pause and tip our hats to these likely “one and done” candidates, because I’m sure we’d all wish we could at least get as close to Fame as they have.

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