Arts and Letters – Ghost in the Machine http://www.ghostinthemachine.net Haunting the Web Since 1999 Fri, 22 Sep 2017 22:14:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 A Free-Born Woman of the USA. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/a-free-born-woman-of-the-usa/ Fri, 01 Jul 2016 17:57:53 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=22232
Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie called her, ‘a joy…for every minute of 20 years! She is gifted and smart, willing to absorb from her peers and be an example at the same time. We have watched her grow organically into her potential – blossoming into a truly unique American ballerina with an astonishing command and range of repertoire.'”

As she celebrates her 20th season with ABT, Gill makes the cover of Irish America, and is named one of their inaugural “Top 50 Power Women”. Brava!

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Trenches of the Black Land. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/trenches-of-the-black-land/ Fri, 01 Jul 2016 17:47:29 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=22228
The descriptions of battle scenes in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ seem lifted from the grim memories of the trenches: the relentless artillery bombardment, the whiff of mustard gas, the bodies of dead soldiers discovered in craters of mud. In the Siege of Gondor, hateful orcs are ‘digging, digging lines of deep trenches in a huge ring,’ while others maneuver ‘great engines for the casting of missiles.'”

In the NYT, author and historian Joseph Loconte writes on the impact of the Battle of the Somme on young J.R.R. Tolkien. “When the Somme offensive was finally called off in November 1916, a total of about 1.5 million soldiers were dead or wounded.” (Among the deceased: my great-grandfather, Alfred Amory Sullivan.)

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Catching Up: Books. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/catching-up-books/ http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/catching-up-books/#comments Wed, 01 Jun 2016 19:32:03 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=22081
As the clown said, if you’re halfway decent at something, don’t do it for free. So, while it’s been quiet around here, and with the ginormous dissertation finally behind me, I’ve been focused on a few other published writing projects in recent years, either coming to or already on an Amazon website near you.

Prime Minister for Peace tells the story of Milan Panic, a California businessman who’s lived a Zelig-like life of sorts. As a child, he fought with the partisans against the Nazis in his native Yugoslavia. As a young man, he became an Olympic cyclist, and used that opportunity to escape Tito’s Communism and defect to the West. He then started a pharmaceutical business that made him a millionaire several times over.

This book focuses on his experiences in the 1990s, when he went back to the then-fragmenting Yugoslavia to serve as Prime Minister, and, in trying to bring peace to the Balkans, went toe-to-toe with Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, not to mention cynical Western diplomats and sundry other ethnic nationalists.

Buyer’s Remorse, my sixth collaboration with Bill Press since 2001 — he writes; I research, outline, edit, and fine-tune — covers, in a nutshell, all the many ways Barack Obama’s presidency let progressives down. If you’ve swung by here at any point in the past, you’ve already heard me go on about this at some length, so no need to belabor it here. (This book came pre-researched, in that regard.)

Interesting sidenote: This has been the biggest-selling book I’ve been involved with since the Carville/Ken Starr one in ’99, in part because the Clinton campaign tried to bash Bernie Sanders with it in the early primaries. (Clinton is apparently Obama’s biggest fan, except when she isn’t.)

And The Past and Future City, coming out this October, is what I’ve been working on this past spring, with NTHP president and CEO Stephanie Meeks. It makes the case for historic preservation in the 21st century and argues, in effect, this isn’t your grandparents’ preservation movement anymore.

All over America, historic buildings are helping make cities more desirable, and urban residents happier and healthier. They are spurring economic growth, nurturing start-up businesses, and creating jobs. They are reducing energy costs and environmental impact, and encouraging healthy living practices like walking and cycling. They are helping to provide solutions to challenges like affordability, displacement, and climate change. And they are turning diverse neighborhoods into communities, and helping us come to terms with the difficult chapters in our history. And the best part is, they’re already there — they just need smart, forward-looking policies to unlock their power and potential. On sale soon!

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Galactic Getaways. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/galactic-getaways/ Fri, 16 Jan 2015 20:31:16 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=21921
“‘It feels like we’re living in the future, or science fiction is coming to life. We thought it would be really cool to explore the characteristics of each planet through the context of travel.'” As Kepler finds its 1,000th exoplanet, NASA celebrates by commissioning nifty vintage travel posters for faraway worlds. Either of the above might be good for a swing-through while folding space to Arrakis.

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Little Mindkillers. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/little-mindkillers/ Wed, 31 Dec 2014 15:06:33 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=21895
You may not have the resolutions sorted out yet, but here’s a solid list of things you probably don’t want to happen: Deepest Darkest Fears, a web-comic by Fran Krause (as seen at Gizmodo.)

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The Fields Under Lock and Key | In Eclipse. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/fields-under-lock-and-key/ Tue, 18 Nov 2014 19:02:54 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=21793
“Miller, whose parents would rouse him in the wee hours to watch space launches, was awestruck by Launch Complex 19, where the manned Gemini missions took off. It was slowly rusting away, and Miller resolved to photograph it while there was still time. It took two years of haggling before he made his first images of Cape Canaveral…Since then, he has photographed sites nationwide, including Johnson & Kennedy space centers, the Marshall & Stennis Space Flight centers, Langley Research Center and many more.”

In Wired, photographer Roland Miller captures the decaying infrastructure of the early space race. “As launch pads were replaced, retrofitted or decommissioned, Miller was invited inside. By his estimate, 50 percent of the things he’s photographed no longer exist. ‘It’s not in NASA’s mission to conserve these sites,’ he says. ‘With shrinking budgets it’s an impossible thing to do.'”

***

“There’s not only last week’s deadly crash by Virgin Galactic, which hoped to launch widespread space tourism, or the unexpected explosion of a rocket headed toward the International Space Station. The United States also retired the space shuttle fleet in 2011. And…we now spend less on NASA — relative to the wealth of overall economy — than at any point in history.”

In very related news, and in the wake of Interstellar (which, on account of all the reasons I just mentioned, I haven’t seen yet), the Post‘s Zachary Goldfarb briefly surveys our current neglect of the space program. (Here’s what we’ve got planned at the moment.) “As recently as 2012, polling showed that more Americans than ever before thought that we were spending too little.”

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Let’s Make Another One. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/sequels-that-never-were/ Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:38:08 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=21762
“‘It’s neat because the posters aren’t just something with a “2” attached to it,’ Gibson said during a recent interview while preparing to hang the show. ‘There’s concepts, and there’s actual story being developed here.'”

There’re actually sequel ideas they’re not using? The iam8bit gallery in Los Angeles features a fun exhibition of posters for sequels that never were, or at the very least, have not yet come to pass. (More here.)

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Migrant Malkovich. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/migrant-malkovich/ Wed, 01 Oct 2014 16:59:38 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=21684
“After selecting thirty-five images to emulate, Sandro contacted Malkovich, who instantly agreed to participate…Sandro states: ‘John is the most brilliant, prolific person I know. His genius is unparalleled. I can suggest a mood or an idea and within moments, he literally morphs into the character right in front of my eyes.'”

Malkovich, Malkovich. Malkovich, Malkovich… Ok, so this is pretty transparent blogger-bait, but, hey, I have a blog! John Malkovich recreates 100 famous photographs for artist Sandro Miller. “Sandro Miller ‘has been photographing people for over thirty years. He became interested in photography at the age of sixteen upon seeing the work of Irving Penn and has since devoted his life to creating expressive images.'”

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Then It Wouldn’t Be Sky Anymore. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/then-it-wouldnt-be-sky-anymore/ Fri, 12 Sep 2014 18:53:39 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=21660
“Someone asked me, ‘Do you think children born after, say, 1994, will ever feel the same things about 9/11 that people born before then feel? More and more, what we “feel” about collective history seems like something manufactured, and kind of pumped into us, rather than a real emotion. It’s all so framed by the sense that reality doesn’t exist any more, or at least not in a way that is alterable or questioning.”

In related news, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. talks about the art of Douglas Coupland and the legacy of 9/11. “Is that who we are now? Blind, unquestioning, warlike? Are we that violent, that childish, that silly, that shallow? Are we that afraid of others? Of ourselves? Of the possibility of genuine change? Are we that easily swayed, that capable of defending ‘American interests’, whatever ‘American interests’ means?

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The Terminal. | And the Bridge. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/the-terminal/ Fri, 12 Sep 2014 18:29:46 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=21656
“It speaks to the paucity of our civic imagination, and the small-mindedness of our politics, that simply to describe a project of such ambition is to invite the knowing smirks and raised eyebrows of those who will immediately recognize it as wholly incompatible with the current political and budgetary environment…At the same time, broader economic forces make Union Station expansion almost inevitable. As Doug Allen, the head of the Virginia’s commuter rail service, put it, ‘The question is how we do it, not whether we do it.'”

In a long and handsomely illustrated piece, WaPo’s Stephen Pearlstein looks into the reimagining of Union Station (or is it Truman Station), in light of both commuter needs and the burgeoning of NoMa, H-St, and the DC downtown in general. “This new Union Station would go well beyond the ambitions of Daniel Burnham’s original Beaux-Arts masterpiece. Its footprint would span 10 square blocks — two blocks east to west, five blocks north to south, from the foot of Capitol Hill to K Street.”

Update: “Make no mistake: Any of the finalists in the competition to design D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park is a winner. This is the savviest proposal for adapting outmoded infrastructure since the High Line. The four teams that made the grade as finalists to design the thing met the challenge.

And while we’re re-envisioning DC, CityLab looks at some intriguing “High Line”-style plans for the 11th Street Bridge. “Maybe the City Council could be convinced of the merits of the Southeast-to-Southwest Streetcar line once D.C. decides on a final design for the edgiest architecture project in the city’s history.”

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Microscopic Monets. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/microscopic-monets/ Tue, 29 Jul 2014 20:40:20 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=21535
“Each ovary of the female fruit fly houses multiple ovarioles or ‘assembly lines’ in which individual egg chambers develop into fully formed fly eggs…In this picture, cross-sections of ten ovarioles from different female fruit flies are arranged with stem cells and early stage egg chambers at the center, and the more mature chambers at the periphery. The nucleus of each cell is stained yellow/orange. The cell membranes are stained blue.”

As written up by Aatish Bhatia at Wired, the winners of Princeton’s annual Art of Science competition are announced. “Among the entries are some wonderful ‘oops’ moments, where an experiment goes beautifully wrong, revealing art where you might not have expected to see it…But most of these submissions aren’t accidents. Many of these pieces reveal form, structure, and beauty hidden at a scale that our eyes can’t perceive.”

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The Monuments Met. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/monuments-met/ Tue, 29 Jul 2014 16:05:56 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=21530
By way of Open Culture, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has put nearly 400,000 works of art online as of last Friday, free to use. Above is Edward Hopper’s “The Lighthouse at Two Lights” (1929), and there’s 398,240 more to peruse when the feeling strikes.

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Birth of Diana. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/birth-of-diana/ Thu, 12 Jun 2014 19:29:29 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=18655
“Worth1000 hosts a variety of photo-editing and illustrative contests. One of their contest series, Superhero ModRen, challenges users to incorporate superheroes into fine art pieces. It’s fun to see the contrast of modern characters we know and love placed in classic painting styles and poses.”

Superheroes added to classic art — click through for many more.

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Gashlygame Over. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/gashlygame-over/ Thu, 12 Jun 2014 19:20:30 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=18652
“Video game characters are always getting stabbed, burned, blasted, electrocuted, and crushed — when they aren’t falling to their dooms. So they’re perfect for this macabre poem in the style of Edward Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies.” (Via io9).

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Wounded Giselle. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/wounded-giselle/ Thu, 12 Jun 2014 17:20:15 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=18638
“[T]he fundamental key to embodying Giselle is to radiate purity and sensitivity. In the first act, she glows with an inner joy and with her love for dance and for Albrecht. She is so honest, and her feelings for Albrecht so wholehearted, that she cannot reconcile his betrayal with her soulful belief in the goodness of the world.”

In Pointe Magazine, my sister Gill explains her process for embodying (and mastering) the psychology of Giselle. (Hint: Dancing well helps too.) “[E]ven death pales in the face of her eternal compassion…Her inner joy is now a quiet sadness, but more than ever she exudes love.”

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Backstream Color. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/backstream-color/ Thu, 12 Jun 2014 17:11:14 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=18635
“Typically one might think of a ‘colorized photo’ as being kind of garish and tasteless, with broad one-color strokes with no regard to detail or any attempt at subtlety or nuance…But a newer generation of colorizers, such as the community of artists at r/ColorizedHistory, approach colorizing with a real reverence towards history, using their skills to eliminate the distraction of the “colorization,” ultimately bringing these scenes to life with a natural realism that hopefully connects the viewer to the past in a new way.”

A follow-up to this post: Paleofuture‘s Matt Novak discusses the art and craft of colorizing historical photos with colorizer Dana Keller. “If done well, the addition of color can help “connect” people to history. It can bridge the gap from a seemingly distant event and make it more immediate and relevant.”

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Conjurer of Nightmares. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/conjurer-of-nightmares/ Fri, 16 May 2014 17:33:55 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=18561
“A thread running through Mr. Giger’s work was the uneasy meshing of machines and biology, in a highly idiosyncratic blend of science fiction and surrealism…He kept a notepad next to his bed so he could sketch the terrors that rocked his uneasy sleep — nightmarish forms that could as easily have lumbered from prehistory as arrived from Mars.”

R.I.P. Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger, best known as the creator of the Lovecraftian Xenomorph from Alien (which, along with The Shining twins, Freddy Krueger, and the final shot from Carrie, is responsible for a goodly percentage of my nightmares over the years), 1940-2014. “My paintings seem to make the strongest impression on people who are, well, who are crazy. A good many people think as I do. If they like my work they are creative…or they are crazy.”

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Gone with the Whiskey. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/gone-with-the-wind-memo/ Tue, 29 Apr 2014 16:52:54 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=18499
“The memo..[is] candid in its assessment of the writers’ strengths and weakness. Of William Faulkner, who had written a few screenplays in the early 1930s, the anonymous memo author notes that he was now living in Mississippi but ‘can fly anywhere in his own plane.’ On the downside, Faulkner was ‘not very reliable in his plane nor his habits.'”

But has he taken a stab at the rasslin’ form? Rebecca Onion of Slate birddogs this memo to David O. Selznick on possible Gone with the Wind screenwriters. The quip above reminded me of Mencken’s review of Lewis’s Elmer Gantry, from the dissertation: As good as Babbitexcept the last 30,000 words, which you wrote in a state of liquor.”

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Arkham Aquarium. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/arkham-aquarium/ Tue, 18 Mar 2014 15:29:04 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=18352
“Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. I must be a creature. I must be a creature of the night…I shall become a shark.” Iconic Batman villains reconceived as cartoon sharks, by artist Jeff Victor. Mr. Freeze’s goldfish is a nice touch.

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Mr. Toad’s Cantankerous Contraption. http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/mr-toads-cantankerous-contraption/ Thu, 13 Mar 2014 16:01:50 +0000 http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/?p=18278
“For her Steam in the Willows illustrations, Brennan takes as her inspiration the industrial era in which Grahame was writing, but chooses to celebrate artisanal technology in lieu of mass production.”

Lauren Davis of io9 offers some glimpses of artist Krista Brennan’s forthcoming steampunk rendering of The Wind in the Willows. Makes sense. Mr. Toad is as steampunk as it gets this side of Jules Verne.

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