27 February 2011

week in review...

Reading: Wigs on the Green

Watching: Whisper of the Heart

This is a really lovely film about courage and creativity.  The DVD set contains both the original film and  the storyboard version.  Here, the mysterious cat Muta makes his appearance.  The screenplay and storyboards were created by Hayao Miyazaki; the film was directed by Yoshifumi Kondo.   It's a treat to get a glimpse of the filmmaking process through these sketches. 

Making: Stuffed Fish

Inspired by some prints by Hiroshige...

...and these wee pups lurking in the pages of a Japanese craft book at Kinokuniya.

This fish is inelegant and awkwardly filled with fabric scraps, but I think my stuffed creature skills will improve beyond recognition thanks to my recent discovery of a wonderful series of tutorials.

20 February 2011

o, dog of my dreams...

8:00 A.M., Tuesday, 15 February. Grand Champion Officer N A Gentleman is in Ring 4 competing with three other Komondorok for the coveted title Best in Breed at the 135th Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden.  8:00 A.M., Tuesday, 15 February.  I am still in the Bay State preparing to leave for my dream date with the dogs in New York.  Just a few hours later, in the madhouse that is the benching area, I see him, the noble winner, the aforementioned Officer, looking like a wilted spider chrysanthemum in his metal cage.  I move toward him and speak to his owner/handler.  "This is my favorite breed", I gush, beaming with reverence.  My favorite breed?  No, for me, this is the Ferrari 612 Scaglietti of dogs, the Frank Gehry Guggenheim Bilbao of dogs, the Mozart Symphony No. 25 in G minor of dogs.  "My favorite breed" doesn't quite cover it. 

It is difficult, mentions Officer's human companion, for a dog like the Komondor to endure the trials of the benching area with its eye stinging fluorescent lighting, its Saharan temperature, its inescapable hurly-burly.   All around him, other dogs, admirably composed given the atmosphere, are being pruned and primped, shampooed and sprayed.  The Komondor is not a particularly social creature, he does not need constant attention like the Golden Retriever.  He is a Working Dog and his work is as Guardian, always on the qui vive.  This snake pit is taxing his senses.  Suddenly, my moment with Officer is cut short.  He has given the signal; his bladder has reached critical mass, it's time to go.

Komondorok, is plural, as in four Komondorok competed this morning, three get to go home; one Komondor has to sit here for the rest of the day and put up with this hullabaloo.  It is a Hungarian breed, thought to have been bred first by the Cumans, a Turkish speaking people who lived near the Yellow River.  Forced westward by the Mongols, the Cumans fled to the borders of Hungary where they settled in the 13th century.  The Komondor is a livestock guardian, a strong-willed, independent thinker with a distinctive coat that looks as though it's been extruded through a spaetzle-maker.  As puppies, Komondorok look like miniature polar bears and grow to resemble flokati rugs.  Then, after one year, the coat begins to form its feltlike cords, helped along by human hands to avoid painful matting.  Though not slaves for affection, they seem to adore their people.  One German breeder whose website I visited has a short video of the dogs romping, sleeping, and lovingly mauling a small child.   A caution: Cave Canem.  These are not overgrown household pets.  They require the respect and attention of a responsible human who understands the specific needs of the breed.  I hope, someday, that will be me, with the means to give my Hungarian protector everything it needs short of a sheep filled alpine hillside overlooking the Danube.

Officer N A Gentleman returns and I get one last glimpse of him before I leave the benching area.  A few dogs daringly practice baying.  Their wolf tune needs some work and a little more confidence but it's nice to hear that some of these beasties still know that underneath the meticulously mangaged frippery, at heart they're all dog. 

14 February 2011

Lion Dances in Chinatown

Scenes from yesterday's roisterous Lunar New Year celebration in Boston's Chinatown...

08 February 2011


The estimable Gately's takes on Natural History with a few plates of wild creatures, fierce looking for the most part, although the author of this chapter gently notes,

"Inoffensive animals make their appearance in the daytime, while the wild ones go forth at night."

"Many animals seem to have a spirit of mutual benevolence and mutual friendship when remote from the tyranny of man.  Beavers are known to build like architects and rule like citizens.  When man intrudes upon their society, the bond is dissolved, and every animal looks for safety in solitude."
Regrettably, there is no picture of this I.M. Pei of the quadruped realm; a shame, as it's one of my favorite animals.

Extravagant cartouches fill the pages of Gately's.
  Here is one stripped of its flourishes.

Two paper pups from artist Peter Clark in the pages of the latest issue of Selvedge magazine.  Be sure to take a peek at his fantastic website. 

A new friend arrives. 

A lizard puzzle.

French milled soap.

A replacement presenter for Top Gear
Feline motorist in his herringmobile from the Shelburne Museum.

Peppermint Leo

A sincere wish for an early Spring.
My love of flowers compels me to put this here.

03 February 2011

year of the Tiger over?

Recent activity casts some doubt...

...although in Vietnam, where the Tet Nguyen Dan or Lunar New Year is celebrated, this is the Year of the Cat; there is no Rabbit in the Vietnamese zodiac.  As a Rabbit who worships cats, even the saucy ones who are hellbent on being tigers this morning, I am absolutely relieved/grateful/intoxicated with joy that this is going to be my year.  Finally!  Happy New Year of the Cat/Rabbit!

02 February 2011

art project!

Google's latest innovation, Art Project, allows visitors to travel through seventeen of the world's major art museums and examine works of art in minute detail. The experience is truly marvelous.  A short article in today's Telegraph gives an overview of this new online delight and provides links to fifteen additional  digitized cultural archives.