Thursday, December 29, 2016


Now that Christmas is over my thoughts turn once again to what kind of house I can expect to live in when I move out of L.A. (Sigh!) I'll miss the California ranch style (above).

If I end up with a small house maybe I can convert it into something nice. I like the simple, open-plan living room, above. The blue sofa makes a nice contrast with the varnished wood.

Here's (above) a light and airy living room furnished by Ikea. The curtains unexpectedly turn out to be a potent unifying element.

I like wide living rooms with low ceilings. This room (above) is by Frank Lloyd Wright. 

In California you hear of people converting outdoor pre-fab tool sheds into tiny offices. It would be a place to get work done if the house were too noisy. I wonder what the zoning laws say about this.

Here's (above) another outdoor office. Gee, all that glass would make it hard to heat. It looks great, though.

Wow! I love the way this dark, woody bedroom looks! It would be like sleeping in a cabin in the Klondike.

This unusually dark room raises a question: would it be wise to allow each bedroom to have its own unique look and feel? Would a house with wildly different rooms be a platypus?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


How was your Christmas? Mine was wonderful, just wonderful, what with my family all around me and an unusual Christmas Eve church service that I'll tell you about here.

It was a cold night outside the house when my wife tried to rouse the family to get dressed for church. We all made excuses for staying home where it was warm and cozy and we had presents to wrap.  She didn't get mad but instead got quietly but visibly disappointed as if she sensed that this was the year when an important tradition of family church going might come to an end. When we realized what it meant to her we were embarrassed by our laziness and one by one we reached for our coats.

The service we attended was held in an old mission church which enclosed the interior space so intimately and with such perfection of mood that the experience was magical. The priest was old and completely sincere, and the ceremony...which minimized instruction...really did adhere to Christ's simple admonition to "Do this in remembrance of me." But that's not the most amazing thing.

The service was so beguiling that I found myself lulled into a kind of half sleep where I dreamed while awake.  In that state I found my head filling with memories of unexpected good things people did for me over the years. Some were done by people who had it in their power to do me tremendous harm, and yet they refrained, and even helped me. I felt protected beyond what I deserved.  I tried to balance this out by remembering some irredeemably bad events but my mind refused to entertain them.

Just as odd, when we left the church for the parking lot the flashes of memory continued. They continued the next morning, too; one after the other.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Merry Christmas all you Theory Cornerites!!!! It's a great time of year, isn't it!?

Gee, it brings back memories of my childhood when my parents used to take me to the big department stores to Christmas shop.

Geez, the stores were unbelievably crowded in the final days before Christmas. Once I almost fainted from lack of was worth it, though!

The day after Christmas is still like that. 

This is also the season when the great Christmas movies come to TV.

Just for fun I like to act out the best roles. Here (above) I am as Bob Crachet in "The Christmas Carol."

This (above) is me as Scrooge.

Here's me (above) playing Potter from Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life."

And here I am (above) playing the Jimmy Stewart role.

Here I am (above) as Fagen, from "Oliver Twist." Okay, that's not a Christmas story but it's by Dickens and nearly every major story Dickens wrote is a Christmas story under the skin.

This is my favorite time of year, but it's also my busiest. I wish I could blog every day of the week before Christmas, but it's just not possible. I might still do a good deed by turning people on to these wonderful versions of my favorite Christmas carols. Try all three and see what you think.

Merry Christmas Everybody!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!\

Friday, December 16, 2016


Here's some more Christmas gift ideas! How 'bout one of Hattie Stewart's posters (above)?

No? Well, how 'bout a poster of Dora Maar, one of Picasso's favorite models? I'm guessing this photo (above) was taken by Man Ray.

Ceramic tiles? You can get all kinds on the net.

A lamp?

A framed picture of Dimwit?

For a martial arts fan, a photo of a female athlete?

A poodle poster?

How about Dick Tracy? I love this picture!

Saturday, December 10, 2016


'Want more Christmas gift ideas? Why not get one of those Rodin books that are in the bookstores now?

It's possible that Rodin was the greatest sculptor of all time, a man capable of great force and delicacy at the same time. We see those qualities in his "Study for the Burghers of Calais" (above, 1894).

When I say "delicacy" I don't mean something sentimental or mawkish. Look at his "Bust of Mme. F" (above). The subject is nuanced and unique but simultaneously universal. In this woman we see a flawed human being who nevertheless exemplifies the greatness and nobility of man.

Rodin's ability to combine opposites might be what tempted him to accept the commission to portray Balzac (above), his favorite French writer. I'll bet he wished he hadn't. He compulsively tried again and again to capture the essence of the man (above) and discovered that he couldn't do it.

I'm guessing that the reason was that Rodin had never actually met Balzac (above), who died before the artist got the commission. The sculptor was forced to use paintings, caricatures and media made by others to find out what the great man was like. To make matters worse, Rodin's enemies publicly ridiculed him for missing the deadlines. Yikes!

Of the several Balzacs I've seen this one (above) is the best, but its strength is all in the lower torso and legs, and not in the face.

Looking back on it, I can see why Rodin's sources (two examples, above) failed him. Balzac, for all his seriousness in print, was in person a jovial man far more suited to drawn caricatures (above) than to sculpture. He was a living contradiction, someone who was serious and funny at the same impossible subject, even for Rodin.

What makes this tragic story doubly interesting is that lots of art critics consider his Balzac sculptures to be his best work. Were they? Judge for yourself.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016


Here I am posting about old Paris again. This photo (above) from the Paris Exposition isn't really typical of its period but I can't get that event out of mind, so it finds a place here.  

Thinking about old France provokes me to announce my pick for the best Christmas gift a book lover can give or get this season..."The Other Paris" by Luc Sante (pronounced "sant", which rhymes with "font"). It's the best thing I've read in at least a couple of years... probably a classic in its field.

It's about the shady side of Paris in the 19th and early 20th Century: the pre-Haussmann streets, the bohemians, the prostitutes and dance halls, the hobo shelters, the rabblerousers, singers, pamphleteers, crooks, poets and painters.

It was a city that attracted non-conformists from all over the continent. There were no jobs for many of them so they had to improvise. The strange life they were forced to live on the streets created a restless, bohemian lifestyle that spread all over the West and is still with us today. How all this came about makes for a fascinating read.

For that someone who's really special, I recommend giving the audiobook version as well as the book. Yes, that's right...both! The text is the same but the book and the discs succeed in delivering different experiences, both valuable.

Here's Sante reading from his book.

Saturday, December 03, 2016


That's the young Wally Wood above, maybe (I'm guessing) from the period just before Kurtzman began Mad in 1952. Wood was onboard starting with the very first issue.

That's Al Feldstein above, the artist and writer who became editor after Kurtzman left and the comic became a magazine.

Maybe there was some tension between the two men. Wood is said to have believed that the quality of writing had slipped under Feldstein and Feldstein described Wood as depressed and resistant to criticism.  Anyway the fateful day came when Wally delivered his famous last stories...all newspaper strip parodies... and Feldstein rejected them as "sloppy." Wally turned around and walked out for good.

Wood fans have long waited for someone to publish those last sloppy pages and finally someone has. Here (below) from the just published bio "The Life and Legend of Wallace Wood Vol.1" are the comic strips that got Wood fired.  Was Feldstein right? Were they sloppy? Judge for yourself.

Well, these certainly are wordy! Feldstein wasn't a bad writer...he wrote the fan favorite "My World"...but this wasn't his best work.

My guess is that Feldstein's plan was to contrast deliberately long-winded dialogue with with over-the-top funny drawings.  Unfortunately Wood had a painful medical condition that he attempted to self-medicate with alcohol. He also had a sleep problem. He just wasn't in a funny mood. Even so, you could argue that Wood's material was still adequate and Feldstein should have used it.

How would Wood have handled characters like these when he was healthy and inspired? Here's (above) an example of how he treated Little Orphan Melvin in the days when Mad was still a comic book.   

Friday, December 02, 2016


I have a lot of work to do around the house but when I take a break it's fun to go through my files of clippings from old art magazines. Here's (above) an interesting artist I just rediscovered. Sorry, I don't know his name. 

His technique resembles Del Sarto's (above), the Renaissance painter who liked to use wide fields of relatively flat color. Sarto's color was was so striking that it dominated his pictures. 

This modern artist (above) pushed that technique even farther. He gives no emphasis at all to his model's personality. She's just a color field like everything else in the picture. Well...sort of. She does have a nuanced fleshiness that makes her stand out.

For comparison, here's (above) a picture by Lucien Freud. I'm not a fan of Freud's art, though his skill is undeniable. He's just too cold for me. Anyway, It's another work where technique dominates the subject matter. Maybe that's the secret of some of the better figure painters.