Sunday, September 30, 2007
The first time I remember seeing an autoharp was the one John Sebastian, of the Lovin’ Spoonful played on “Do You Believe in Magic?” when they were on something like the Ed Sullivan Show (To me, at the time, Sebastian’s autoharp looked as alien as the dopey accordion player in Gary Lewis and the Playboys.) Later on in art school, I had a friend who played autoharp and I got to monkey around a little with it but I never really appreciated its potential as an instrument.
After all, the autoharp is bit of a peculiar instrument.
For one thing, although it sort of looks like one, it isn’t a harp at all. It belongs to the zither family. The delightful, haunting music that accompanies the opening credits of the British film noir, The Third Man, is an excellent example of what the zither sounded like in traditional European folk music.
Now, the autoharp is in fact a chorded zither. Its origin seems to be clouded in fuzzy memory and patent litigation, but one thing is for sure, it became a very popular rhythm instrument in the folk music of the American south in the early part of the 20th century.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been listening a lot lately to the Carter Family. My appreciation for Mother Maybelle Carter as one of the most innovative guitar pickers of all time has been growing in leaps and bounds. Maybelle’s cousin and sister-in-law, Sara Carter, sang lead melody on most of their songs and strummed an autoharp as a rhythmic accompaniment to Maybelle’s scratchy-thumping lead on her guitar. A.P. Carter, Sara’s husband, joined in with the bass vocals when they sang three part harmony.
After the trio broke up, Maybelle continued performing with her daughters, The Carter Sister—June, Anita, and Helen. They were regular performers on the Grand Ole Opry.
This video showcases Mother Maybelle, in 1961, playing “Liberty Dance” on autoharp with Flatt and Scruggs on the Grand Ole Opry/Pet Milk Show.
It is an excellent example of how the autohard, in the hands of an accomplished musician, can easily carry the lead parts in a rollicking song.
I find this music intoxicatingly hypnotic.
(It even ends with a proverbial “Shave and a haircut—two bits” riff!)
Thought I’d share.
Friday, September 28, 2007
While looking for something else, I found this great little piece online. Not only does it perfectly illustrate the five senses--it tells a very funny story--DURING prohibition no less!
Somehow, I don't suspect that in today's world we would see a mainstream cartoon character doing gags concerning the abuse of an illegal substance. I think those years of the twenties really did roar!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I remember these Brylcreem "A little dab'll do ya!" television ads very well.
For a product benefit to be described, however, as "disturbingly healthy" just demonstrates how different a nation and culture we have today compared to 50 years ago. Even the product category of "hair dressing" seems hopelessly antiquated today in a marketplace of seemingly endless hair products.
"During WWII the Army Corps of Engineers needed to hide the
Lockheed Burbank Aircraft Plant to protect it from a Japanese air attack. They
covered it with camouflage netting and trompe l'oeil to make it look like a
rural subdivision from the air."
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Above are two drawings that will be accompanying me looking for good homes .
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I fully intend to write about our day on Lake Titicaca and our visit to the native people that live on floating islands there.
Even more, I really enjoyed how the Peruvian people decorated walls of their houses with hand drawn advertisements, political messages, and plain ol' personal expressions.
One final note on the meteorite--a quote from the LA Times story:
"Now that various experts from Japan and other countries have assured us there is nothing bad, we have decided this belongs to us," said Benito Mosaja Pari, 56, who called himself the village lieutenant governor.
"We're going to dig it out.
The scientists tell us this was part of a world that fell apart.
It has some value.
And now it's ours."
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I love print. It's in my blood. My maternal grandfather, Larry Post, was a printer and I loved it when I was allowed to got to work with him and visit the printing facility at PhotoPress in Chicago. It was quite a thrill for a little boy.
My dad, Bernie Marder, owned a large commercial silkscreen factory, Windsor Textiles. Dad always came home smelling of ink. I really liked it.
My first real job,in Connecticut from '73 to '76, was at a printing company, Lithographics, Inc. There in addition to the clanks, and hisses and wheezes of printing presses, I grew accustomed to the bangs, thumps and thwackings of bindery equipment.
To this day, I get a real rush looking a specimen of finely printed paper.
The incredible array of printed materials collected at BibliOddysey not only consistently piques my interest but also can keep me entertained for hours on end.
The illustration above is from a terrific gallery of antique advertising trade cards. The late 19th century was a revolutionary time in the history of printing as both color lithography and rotogravure started to radically change the art and commerce of printed goods.
Out of this new technology came great changes in advertising, newspapers, magazines--and eventually the birth of the modern comic strip.
Even though I like being able to see artifacts from all over the world in American museums, I recognize that a by-product of cultural imperialism is plundering and looting of palaces, temples and burial grounds by the conquering cultures has been a fact of human history. This process was later practiced in a more civilized manner in the name of anthropology and archeology.
Sometimes there might have been the appearance of obtaining “permission” from some local honcho to crate up and export artifacts, but generally the German, French British, and American explorers and archaeologists took whatever they could find with relative impunity.
I am a firm supporter of the notion that ethnographic and archaeological discoveries should remain very close to where they were discovered and unearthed. I applaud The Getty Museum for returning artifacts to Italy and Yale University’s return of these Incan antiquities.
Yes, I’m distressed that Yale is keeping some for “further study.” I don’t really see any sort of explanation of as to why they can’t continue their studies of these findings in Peru. After all, Hiram Bingham sent these discoveries to Yale almost a century ago. But, that said, any sort of progress is progress indeed!
Additionally in the news, a Peruvian adventurer and self-styled swashbuckler named Gene Savoy has passed away. I never heard of Mr Savoy before, or had opportunity to visit his discovery, the lost city of Vilcabama. I was interested to see he started some sort of new-age theology called Cosolargy.
When Cory and I were in Peru, last year for our 20th anniversary, we were lucky enough to get to visit Machu Picchu. We traveled there from Cusco, the traditional capital city of the Inca Empire, on the ultra-swank Hiram Bingham train—another one of Cory’s fabulous A&K perks.
Cusco has an 11,000 foot elevation.
And that is really, really high.
Although adjusting to high altitudes is a process that generally unfolds relatively quickly, the first day or two can be a woozy thing—your head pounds, your lungs gasp, your knees wobble.
The local remedy is something called coca tea, and yes, it is brewed using the leaves of the coca bush making it a cousin to an illegal substance. It’s not bad tasting at all and did help as a tummy settling agent. It was served gratis in hotel lobby and everyone encourages you to drink a lot of it. We did. And I can honestly say—it is a great remedial tea.
The irony is that Machu Picchu is actually located at a lower elevation of 8,000 feet but there is so much climbing to do there that the lower 3,000 feet somehow didn’t afford much comfort at all. The act of breathing felt exactly the same as it did in Cusco.
So big deal if we had to take frequent rests and catch our breath every thirty yards or so? So was everyone else over the age of 35 climbing on the uneven original stone steps. We all laughed and smiled at each other regardless of the languages we were speaking.
As Cory and I sat together on a rock waiting to recover, the panoramic vista was plenty engaging and really filled our hearts with awe and wonder. I felt so fortunate to able to visit this magical place—and on our anniversary yet!
Our two days of exploring the ruins were absolutely inspirational. No one is really quite sure what Machu Picchu was intended to be or why or when it was abandoned by the Incas. It’s all guess work.
But the beauty of these elegantly crafted dwellings that are still stunning in a state of ruin is something that if one wasn’t already quite breathless from the elevation would succeed in taking your breath away.
The Incas, and their Peruvian descendants, have an incredible relationship with the llama and its kin, the vicuna and alpaca. There are over two dozen llamas that have absolute free reign at Machu Picchu and do a really swell job of keeping the beautiful lawns immaculately groomed
What a place! I’d go back at the drop of a hat.
A Tilly hat!
Click here for more photos from our Machu Picchu experience.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Sunday, September 16, 2007
When I worked on Beanworld it was always the same process and materials--HB pencils on Bienfang 360 layout paper that I would then photocopy and blow up & down, mix & match, and cut & paste until the story arrived in its proper order and pacing.
I'm still working that way more or less. The fun I'm having is teaching myself how to ink digitally. I haven't faced as challenging a learning curve since I taught myself QuarkXpress on a Mac Classic in 1991. I love every minute of the aggravation as I feel my way around teaching myself this time around--although Gonzo and Tyler have been a big, big help with tips at work when I find myself back into an Adobe corner.
Oh, and when someone in the industry asked me if this meant I was no longer going to make more Beanworld Orphan drawings--my answer was "What? Are you kidding? Of course I am!"
I'm old enough that I probably will never be able to give up the joy of feeling the resistance of the texture of the paper against the tip of my drawing tool.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
She took a pass on chemotherapy and had spent the spring and summer living with us, spending a lot of time replanting our garden.
That her life was ending was not unexpected--it's that her hip injury wasn't anticipated.
Regardless, Margaret has made the decision to enter a hospice program in a skilled nursing facility.
Cory and I are determined to make her last days comfortable and as pain-free as possible.
I will tell you more when there is more to tell.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
Friday, September 7, 2007
Seriously...how many cheezy monster movies have started with such a premise?
(Now this might be because I recently read "At the Mountains of Madness.")
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Honestly, can you communicate a sales message any more clearly than this?
Check out the snazzy tropical drink umbrella and the sparkling bubbles from Speedy's wand.
Speedy Alka Seltzer is one of my favorite advertising icons NOT created by Leo Burnett.
(The others that immediately pop into my mind are Reddy Kilowatt and Mr. Peanut.)
Although the product had been marketed since the 1930s, it wasn't until the advent of television that Miles Laboratories thought they had a need for an animated character to help promote their product in the new medium.
Created at Wade Advertising in Chicago, the spunky little guy with his effervescent wand was originally named "Sparky."
Apparently an insightful Sales Manager at Miles Laboratories suggested the name "Speedy" to coincide that year’s promotional theme, “Speedy Relief.”
Speedy was featured in hundreds of television and print ads an I fondly remember enjoying his animated exploits as a kid.
I always liked that he was called "Prontito Alka Seltzer" in Latin America. I love the way it rolls off of the tongue when said aloud!
Here is an ad clearly from the '50s.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
with the Alka-Seltzer is so cool--to ME anyway.
It's a bubble eat bubble world up there...
as bubbles battle it out for supreme dominance of the water sphere!
Saturday, September 1, 2007
I found this while looking for something else....what a gem!
It tells a micro-story with a begiining, a middle, and an end--in 28 seconds no less!
The Katzenjammer Kids got nothing on this girl!
Kerouac didn’t write autobiography exactly. But he wrote about people. Places and things that he had experienced, imagined, fantasized, reconstituted, and hallucinated in a new bold style that he called “spontaneous bop prosody.” He wanted his writing to be created using the same thought and feeling that fueled bop jazz musicians.
Do variations on themes.
Explore diverse harmonics
Just Go! Go! Go!
Kerouac himself wrote: