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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bucks Reviews Carl Larsson


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Carl Larsson is another dead Swedish Painter. He did most of his work in the late 1800’s. Carl went to Paris to study and become famous, but it didn’t work out so he moved back to Sweden. He must have learned something though, because he could really paint and did about a bazillian of them.

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Some of his paintings are kind of weird. This one is called, Day of Celebration. Must have been one of those long, dark winter days where there was nothing to do so they got dressed up and drank a lot.

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Larsson also did his share of nudes, but not as many as Anders Zorn.


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His paintings are kind of a cultural record of Sweden in the 1800’s. There is a nice, happy, warmth to his images of everyday life and how things were before cell phones and television. I would have loved to hang out in this carpenter’s shop.



My only complaint is that he did almost no cat paintings. He probably could not afford one because he spent all his money on brushes and canvas. If you want to see all of his work, find him on Wikipedia and click on “More Images.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bucks Reviews Anders Zorn



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I see Amber is going back on line with her blogs so I guess I should do something. Maybe an art review would be interesting to my followers. I’ve been looking at the work of, Anders Zorn, a famous Swedish painter who is dead now.

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In 1897 this rich railroad guy challenged Zorn to paint a better portrait of his sister-in-law than John Singer Sargent had done. Virginia really wasn’t much of a looker if you ask me, but they didn’t have cameras in those days so I guess they had to do stuff like that. People liked Zorn’s painting (left) because it was more intimate, they said. Why he would put a dog in the painting is beyond me. Whatever.

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I like Zorn’s nudes better. It’s fun to look at humans without their fur. This one is called, ‘Badande Kullor I Baston’, which means, Women In The Sauna. Swedes spend most of their time inside saunas because it gets cold here.
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The painting below is called, ‘Baking The Bread’. They don’t do much of that anymore. Now they just go to the ICA store which is much easier. I think there was a kat that used to sleep in that basket under the table, but he must have gone outside when this was being painted.

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This last painting is called, ‘Dandelions’. They still have bazillions of those here. I guess the Swedes like them, but they drive my servants crazy. They spend most of the summer out in the yard digging them up. Willie made a salad out of them once. His daughter in-law ate some and threw up, so he doesn’t do that anymore.

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You can see more of Zorn’s paintings at: http://www.anderszorn.org

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Ganges Satori



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Ganges Satori

There is so much beauty here
My eyes cannot absorb
Nor tongue describe
The Ganges at Benares
Mother calling to her sidlings
Chiding
Come along now
Get in step with Mother Ganges.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Observing Sweden - Easter



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Part of the Swedish Easter tradition is costumed children knocking on doors to present little drawings they have made. They are rewarded with treats – a sort of Easter/Halloween.
                                                     

Children dressed as witches give a clear indication that Swedish Påsk origins predate Christianity. Folklore alleges that witches flew off on broomsticks to dance with the devil at Blåkulla.

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In Sweden, this tale ties in with Easter. And so on skärtorsdag, Maundy Thursday, modern Swedish children dress up as påskkärringar (Easter hags) paint their faces, carry a broom and knock on neighbor’s doors for treats, much like American children do at Halloween.

Good Friday is more appropriately named in Swedish, Långfredag – Long Friday, the most unhappening day of the calendar. Fun not allowed. Only in recent years are cinemas allowed to be open. However, once the mourning of the crucifixion of Christ is over, the proverbial good times roll. Saturday morning resembles a resurrection of sorts.
Spring is in the air, merriment is on the menu. The family will sit down to an ample feast in the afternoon on Påskafton, or the Eve of Easter. Eggs and lamb are the quintessential Easter fare that very nearly connote Påsk all by themselves. They represent the fertility of the spring and the rebirth of the year after the long winter.

Bonfires are lit in most regions of Sweden in the late afternoon. Some say they are to scare off the evil influences of the Easter hags and their journey to Blåkulla. Others take the opportunity to clear gardens for the coming spring. For some regions, including the Stockholm area, the bonfires must wait until Valborgsmässafton or Walpurgis Night at the end of April to banish the remnants of winter.
There would have been droves of these youngsters coming by a few years ago, but not so many now.

Beauty changes.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Amber Reviews Murakami



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I get so bored sometimes. They’re letting me out of the house now and again, but it’s still not really warm and no good for sunbathing. I’ve divided to write some book reviews to pass the time. I mean, like I’ve been reading this whole long, Swedish winter and came across a few good ones. One of the most interesting was “Kafka On The Shore” by Haruki Murakami.


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Haruki’s kind of an acquired taste I guess, but a lot of readers have made that acquisition, which is weird, because he’s so off the wall. I mean really. His books are so different from anything else I’ve read. The protagonist is a fifteen year old boy with no mother on his birth certificate. He runs away from home and meets these weird people. Almost everyone in this book is weird, but they are believably weird which is refreshing. Nothing blows up, and nobody gets shot. I mean, it’s not a murder mystery. One human gets stabbed to death, but he made this old man stab him, and he had it coming if you ask me. He was killing cats, of all things. I guess that’s what I liked best in this book, not that someone was killing cats, but the old man who stabs him talks to cats, which is so cool. And there’s like, time travel, only not like science fiction, but time just sort of shifts around, starting from 1944 in Japan when a bunch of school kids are looking for mushrooms and they, like, trip out or something. One of them has a sort of Oedipus complex.

There are some interesting bits about Beethoven and Hayden. I guess Haruki’s kind of a music freak as he also manages to talk about the Beatles, Eric Clapton, Stan Getz, Bob Dylan, Otis Redding, Prince, Puccini and Coltrane, all in one book. It’s a long book, but really… There’s also a lot of philosophical stuff if you’re into that sort of thing.


I guess I really haven’t told you all that much, but if you’re looking for something to take to the beach this summer you could do worse.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Civil War



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The Civil War began on this day in 1861. Abraham Lincoln’s election the previous fall had signaled, for many Southerners, that the time for compromise on the slavery issue was over. Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Fort Sumter was built on a man-made island in Charleston’s harbor, and it was the last Charleston fort still held by Union troops. They had been facing off with South Carolina’s militia since the state had seceded from the Union in December 1860.

Union troops were running out of supplies and in danger of starving, so Lincoln tried to send in ships to relieve them. South Carolina viewed this as an act of aggression, and so, on April 11, they sent a delegation rowing out to the fort to politely demand that Robert Anderson, the Union officer in charge of the garrison, lead an evacuation immediately. Anderson just as politely declined, saying, “It is a demand with which I regret that my sense of honor, and of my obligation to my Government, prevent my compliance.” Commander Beauregard opened fire just after 4:30 a.m., beginning a war that would ultimately cost 620,000 American lives.
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Reichstag Dome



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The decision to move the capital from Bonn back to Berlin was made after the reunification of Germany. It was also decided that the original Reichstag building be constructed with a dome that emphasized a unified Germany. Architect Norman Foster designed the new Reichstag in 1993. He did not originally want a dome, but his original design was rejected, partly due to the unrealistic costs. The dome you see in these photos was at first controversial, but has become accepted as one of Berlin’s most important landmarks. It derives from a design by Gottfried Böhm, which was added to the competition information in 1992. Foster consequently gave up his resistance against it. The dome was constructed by Waagner-Biro.

Dome From Inside

Reichstag 1 - Name

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Amsterdam Memories - Oude Kerk



Thinking of Amsterdam, still months away, my yearly visit. Browsing some photos from my last.

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The Oude Kerk (Old Church) 1650. One of my favorite places, located in the center of the Red Light District. Filled with memories of times long past. Rembrandt was married here. His wife if buried underneath the floor made out of massive tombstone slabs. Rembrandt himself was planted somewhere less important. Some of the slabs are engraved with names and bits of wisdom.

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Don’t pull too hard on a weak rope.
Sail when the wind blows: Anything is easier when you have help.
Money doesn’t fall out of my arse. (I’d love to know the story behind that one.)

The door to the sacristy is red. Getting married was referred to by the people of that time as, “Going through the red door. Above the door, more words of wisdom: "Marry in haste, repent at leisure."

The organ. Notice reclining figure mid center.

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Looks like hard sitting. I hope the sermons were short!

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Stairway to heaven – Or maybe just the roof.


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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Herb Caen & San Francisco




Today is the birthday of San Francisco journalist Herb Caen. His column in the San Francisco Chronicle began in 1938, the year I was born. Caen was 22 then. The Golden Gate Bridge opened a few months later. What a wonderful time to live in San Francisco. Herb wrote 1,000 words a day, six days a week, for almost 60 years — the longest-running column in American history. He coined the term “beatnik” in 1958, and he made the word “hippie” popular in the 1960s. He said: “I’m going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to Heaven. I’ll look around and say, ‘It’s not bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.’”

I arrived there in the early sixties, and fell in love with the city, a wonderland for this naive, young man from Southern Illinois. A day was not complete without reading Caen’s column, a mixture on love and humor lavished on that incredible city, ‘Bagdad by the bay,’ he called it. Those spectacular views and places: North Beach, the Haight, Embarcadero, Panhandle, the Castro, City Lights, and the Vesuvio.


Golden Gate Park. Riding a cable car to work. God, how I loved that city, only place I ever felt I was where I belonged. Everyday ecstasy.

Two decades later fate and finance tore me away. I lived across the bay in Oakland for a while, and then Seattle. Now this final stop, in Sweden. Like a long lost lover unforgotten, San Francisco comes to me behind closed doors of consciousness. In dreams I wander in a labyrinth of fascinating streets and hills of times gone by. Few months have passed without her late night reappearance.