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Monday, December 31, 2018

A New Year already?

You can believe that to be sarcasm. Hell, it feels like I aged a decade since 12/31/17, but despite my eagerness for this year to end, I can't help but feel like the dates are all wrong. Is it really the 1st that's worth celebrating this year.....or does the 3rd actually hold more promise for a brighter new year?

Rosa and I have no plans for this evening but we are booked solid for tomorrow with a New Year's brunch with Marta & Wally at another neighbors' house to start the day, followed by a dinner here for family and friends towards early evening. We even have a whole new table setting concept we are going to use for the first time. (I'll post pictures afterwards)

As I mentioned on Dan's blog, I'm ambivalent about resolutions......



....since they are so prone to being easily abandoned.

But Rosa and I have discussed how we'd like to approach the New Year now that I am pretty much recovered from my surgeries. Hopefully we can see our intentions through. I have yet to broach the Year end/New year kick-off Punishment 'tradition' with Nickki or Marta......but I'll post about it when it happens. Ana has already told me that she'd be happy to join in again, and Rosa likes the idea but is taking a more down-and-dirty approach to it rather than my sentimental 'it's a tradition' outlook.

I do anticipate 2019 to be a very busy year for me "project-wise" with promised aid going out to Jean & Nickki AND to my biological daughter and her husband since they just purchased their first house and are looking to do some make-overs. I also have a small backyard project planned for here. But I'll go more into that as things develop.

Anyway, I'm heading out to get the food for tomorrow's dinner....and I'm honestly just not feeling very festive. And I'm not sure why. But like I said earlier......maybe my mood will improve after the 3rd?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Retablo

What? Retablo? What the hell is a 'retablo'? Well, the short answer to start things off is it's what I made for my Honey, Rosa, for Christmas! The longer answer is well......longer.

If you look up 'retablo' you'll find that there are different answers and you'll even see a search prompt suggesting "Peruvian retablos".....but even that can lead to a correct, but incomplete, answer. The typical Peruvian retablo, as colorful folk art looks like this:


As produced in rural areas in the Andes, the retablo often depicts a combination of religious Nativity and depictions of Andean culture.... in a colorfully decorated shallow box with doors.

Here is a small one we were given by Rosa's mother:

Here again is a Nativity and accompanying Andean scene.

But the origins of this tradition go back to much more classic, European-inspired Baroque altarpieces, like this one:

Here you see a combination of shallow spaces for both two-dimensional paintings and three dimensional sculptures. It is a duality that persists even in modern retablos.

And so, one can research 'retablos' and find examples of very classic paintings ensconced in elaborate shallow decorative pieces, often accompanied by doors.....very reminiscent of Orthodox Icons:

Here is a beautiful example that even contains a drawer.

In the much more Spanish-influenced city of Cusco in Peru, there are shops everywhere that sell detailed, gilded 'retablos' which look more like extremely elaborate frames:

A very typical example of a Cusco retablo.

When we were in Cusco, Rosa and I loved these so much, we bought one thinking it was the perfect accent for our Renaissance-themed dining room:

Our retablo, which we bought empty and into which I placed a depiction of St. Michael slaying the Dragon.......which is SO perfect for a couple into hosting backyard RenFaires!  LOL

However, as much as I loved this style of retablo, my Honey kept feeling a nostalgia for the more rural examples discussed earlier. And at one point, Rosa just asked me if I thought I could make one for her. It is important to mention at this point that despite her desire to have her own two-door Nativity-based retablo, Rosa's tastes do not lean towards the almost garish palette that is typically used in the Andean retablos. And since we decided that if I did make one, it's 'home' would be in our dining room, I had to see if there was any basis for some artistic compromise, and after some searching, lo and behold, there was:

This setting is rendered in much more classic and muted tones than the typical retablo....so there was precedent!


And this example proved that the box could be peaked rather than rectangular with a triangular facade. 

Armed with these possibilities, I went about collecting what I'd need. One day we found a two door shallow box with shelves in a second-hand store, and then I found an inexpensive collection of small Nativity figures on eBay. I used some customizing techniques to alter some of the figures so that they would look like a combination of the various types of cultures one would find throughout Peru......from the colorful Andes people, through the Afro-Peruvian population descended from slaves, all the way to European Spaniards. And this is what I came up with and ultimately presented to my Honey:

Rosa's retablo closed. I decided upon keeping the floral designs rustic, while muting the palette to correspond with the room.

And here it is open.

I used the interior to depict two traditional Christmas scenes....the Nativity and the procession of the Magi. For the interior doors, I decided to try to use the classic geometric border designs used in Peruvian tablecloths and shawls but in a way as to evoke the feeling of stained glass church windows. And on the middle shelf, I depicted an assembly of Peruvian people all making their offerings of homage:


It was a lot of detailed work, but I was pleased with the result......and more importantly so was Rosa! For more on Peruvian retablos, check out this Wiki (link).










Friday, December 28, 2018

Third year?


I was talking with my favorite Monster, Ana today and during the conversation mentioned that with everything that had been going on and with certain things still in the air, that I hadn't given any thought to initiating another Year end/New Year kick-off "committee punishment" like we had done for the last two years. And before I went much further Ana very casually said that she'd be just fine with being asked to participate again (via slip).

Well, that got me thinking that perhaps I should run it past Rosa after all. It also occurred to me that with Nickki being more willing to be personally active and Jean being OK with that, that perhaps that could lead to Nickki's  just doing the punishment she decides upon herself rather than just offering numerical suggestions for Rosa on a Discipline Slip? 

And to be honest, it seems that Marta has also gotten very comfortable with the idea of using the slips even though she usually doesn't hand them out without a little encouragement. But once prompted, she usually gets in the spirit. So who knows? Maybe this is just what I need, and rather than feeling all morose over things I can't change, I should take advantage of a pretty willing circle of wonderful people who could liven things up?

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas!

I had another free moment before getting back to the Christmas whirlwind, so I thought I'd offer my advice that in these tense and hectic times, instead of listening to some annoying modern Christmas song, we relax a bit with a Christmas classic......................



(rimshot please?......pa-rumpa pun pun)

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve

Amazingly I find myself with about one free hour between Christmas Eve tasks! And so....here are some great vintage images for the day......featuring the European tradition of the Krampus! (with a twist!) The Krampus is akin to the German "Belsnickel" (made famous in an episode of "The Office" with Dwight Shrute extolling the virtues of the tradition.)



For more on the legend of the Krampus check out ( this link ) !

And although I've used the following image before, lest anyone accuse me of not keeping "Christ" in "Christmas", here's an interesting painting by surrealist master, Max Ernst:


MERRY CHRISTMAS! to all of my loyal readers and participants!







Friday, December 21, 2018

Fast approaching


Cute image. Cute idea. But WHO HAS THE TIME?! I have been ridiculously busy this week and it doesn't look like there's any let-up in sight. Maybe when Christmas is over, I'll have time for a more lengthy post about.................something. Until then? If you have the opportunity, make the most of it. I'm probably going to be shopping, wrapping, and cooking!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Tumblr-rumbler

Well folks, today is purportedly the day when Tumblr begins their campaign to save the world from any evil, female-presenting nipple that is not in a baby's mouth.

A Tumblr crew busy making the online world safe for us all.

In my last post about this I ended by suggesting someone devote an entire Tumblr to nipple close-ups that appear to be female, but are actually cropped shots of select, female-looking male nipples. I still would LOVE to see someone do that. recently I came across this image which made me think of the same irony:

How cool would it be if the model was actually a young male?

I am very curious to see how the new policy is going to play out. Will sites begin to be censored? eliminated? Will Tumblr challenge photos that technically don't violate their own written rules and be forced to amend them? (If you read the guidelines, a photo of a person getting spanked on a bare bottom without revealing a nipple or genitals, is technically not prohibited.) 

My sincere wish is not that Tumblr bow to pressure to reconsider, but rather discover through experience how impossible it may be to determine what "adult content" truly is.

And in the midst of it all perhaps someone somewhere is going to see how downright silly the fear of nipples is. ( I wonder if Jeff D'Onofrio puts stickers over his National Geographics?) 


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Holiday Nightmares

The REAL "Nightmare Before Christmas"!

WARNING: THIS POST IS GUARANTEED TO OFFEND MOST EVERYONE ( if what I see driving around is any indication.) BUT MEANT TO MAKE YOU LAUGH.  However,if you are sensitive about your Christmas decorations, (a Holiday Snowflake perhaps?)  please skip this post as I will be ripping into almost every house decorating trend commonly sold and used today.


Christmas the puffy 2018 way!

Okay, if you are still with me sit tight, because today we are going to forget "Bad Santa" and focus on 'bad decorating' as I take you all on the “Tacky Tour of Outdoor Christmas Decorations”. Try not to wince if you see your own home along the way.

Before the ‘virtual ride around town’ let’s look back on the history of outdoor decorations. There's a lot of good information on Wiki (read more) It seems like the idea of outdoor lights goes as far back as the late 1800s with the notion really catching on in the 1930s. So those older vintage decorations must have been very tasteful, right? Let's have a look. Here are a few images from the 1940s and 1950s.


This is a shot from 1945. Perhaps the owner's son was a returning veteran paratrooper? Even then, there had to be a more tasteful way to acknowledge that.



Here's another tidbit of taste from a little later, 1958. 

These images prove that being corny and tacky in one’s attempts to celebrate Christmas is timeless. Perhaps the two most popular depictions of this cultural phenomenon can be seen in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” & “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” The scenes in these productions reflect that the notion of overdoing it to a point of visual catastrophe is inextricably linked to the season.


I can forgive Snoopy because dogs ARE colorblind.

But a human then decided it was a good idea to recreate it....and that I cannot forgive.

Leave no spot unlit.

Now you can Google up images of outdoor decorations that are exceptionally tasteful…..and tasteful in various genres from traditional to modern. Here is one example that reflects my own traditional and minimal preferences:


How timeless, simple, yet elegant.

But one's inclinations need not be traditional:

Totally modern.....................utterly tasteful.

But while such a possibilities are within the reach of anyone with taste…..or even the ability to copy someone else’s good taste from a Pinterest photo, the unfortunate truth is that it rarely happens. Instead any trip through town on a December evening turns into an annual assault on one’s senses. I have noticed that there are a few key categories of Christmas atrocity. Some folks merely fall prey to one or two, but some unfortunate souls manage to hit every one. Here they are listed, explained, and illustrated. And just to prove I’m not a total dick, I conclude each with a simple solution or hint to correct the problem:



1: The Mismatched Hodgepodge I list this one first because it’s the one that bothers me the most and also the one you see most frequently. I characterize this ‘style’ as the “I bought white icicles three years ago to go with the white wicker lit reindeer, but last year I got the blue shimmer bush nets for the arbor vitae, except I forgot I had three bushes and when I went back for the third set they only had the blinking red left. This year I strung some flashing multi-color lights on the porch rail and put a 8' inflatable Holy Family next to the 2' deer.” -mentality. The end result looks like what would be a great visual celebration if the Holy Family had traveled to Las Vegas instead of Bethlehem.


How many colors and themes can you fit on one stretch of property? Trees, stars, deer, candy canes, Santa and a bush in every color. And these aren't even the worst I've seen...... just the best I could find through Google.

How do you fix this? Easy. Pick a theme in subject, then pick a color scheme and visual rhythm in which to execute it. Avoid bizarre scale discrepancies too. ( A local church does an annual Nativity that actually is pretty classic…….except that the camels for the Magi are the equivalent size of German Shepherds making me giggle every time I pass it.)

2: The Overdone If you believe that when seeking the best, one should listen to an expert in that field rather than an idiot, then ignore the philosophy of Clark Griswold and listen to Aristotle instead: “Moderation in all things”. There is simply no need to fill every available space with a light or prop. More lights will not mean a better Christmas. We have a house nearby whose jam-packed lawn looks like a shop for  holiday props. To be honest I don’t think this is a taste issue. This is a symptom of a mental illness probably not too far removed from being “obsessive/compulsive” or being a hoarder. How to fix this? Get psychological help. If it turns out that you are not mentally ill…...then just stop being some kind of competitive asshole over lights.


This is a good example of both 1& 2.......or 'the overdone hodgepodge'.


3: IT'S NEW!  Avoid falling prey to any new technology and trend. Just because some store makes it and your neighbor has it, doesn’t mean it looks good or that you need to have it too. The absolute WORST new trends in outdoor decorating? INFLATABLES & HOUSE PROJECTION!


"Oooooh! Where can I get one?!!?"

I might be able to forgive this if the owners have young children. 
The more I think about it? No. Not even then.

I suppose if you've always wanted your house to look like the Christmas Intermission scene at a Drive-In................

How to fix this: Don’t buy something new just because it’s new. Granted some new items are pretty good solutions to old problems. ( The bush net lights really do help the average person illuminate a shrub evenly and quickly.) But be selective. See the advice for #1 and ask yourself: does an inflatable Santa in a helicopter really fit in with my genuine evergreen wreath and garlands?

4: ALL THUMBS Some folks are just cursed by an unfortunate lack of any physical ability to carry out installations. This is a sad one because sometimes the visual atrocity we see is not due to lack of vision but rather a lack of basic dexterity. Some people are just not handy…..and that doesn’t make them bad people worthy of being laughed at. But if you fall into this category, admit it…….and then ask, cajole, bribe, or plead with a more handy member of the family to help you execute your Christmas vision.


I guess it is a sign of realistic self-awareness to know when one is beaten.


In conclusion, I suppose it is every American's right to do what they want to their house for Christmas. And while I could protest a lot of what is out there as an eyesore (which people can lodge complaints against) the counter-argument is that I am also free to look away. But I won't. I'm going to look. I might even stare. And eventually.........I'm going to laugh. So folks, just keep 'em coming! Free entertainment is hard to come by.


You think I'm cruel? Tell me you didn't look at this and laugh!


Friday, December 14, 2018

Darts & Targets

One of the things I've always enjoyed about writing for this blog is the opportunity to come across things that prompt thoughts I might not otherwise be exposed to or consider. I had just such an experience and came across some images that initially made me grin and  then actually got me thinking. And I don't believe I've ever really examined this area as a point of interest: human dart boards!



And while I tend to doubt this is anything other than body paint, the notion is kind of cute. Although in this case....and a few others, I believe the intended "dart" is something fleshy attached to a male groin rather than a pointed projectile.

Yeah, somehow I'm thinking her goal is  penetration, not puncture.

And this is just a gaudy nightmare!

More neat craftsmanship with a definite goal in mind.

And as appealing as burying your own 'projectile' deep into the bullseye may seem, what about the other more "BDSM-ish" option......true pointed darts?

Here is a cartoon version I believe is from a recurring Penthouse comic.

She seems less than happy with her tormentor's marksmanship. But she is still a cartoon character.

But here is a poor gal whose bottom is all too real. Granted the darts are the lighter, more pin-like ones that in this case I believe came from a blow-gun. Even still, there must be a bit of sting in being the human dartboard for them:


Ouch!

I have to admit that I immediately began to think of the dangers in a game like this. Foremost being stuck in the tailbone, and at first I figured that these darts don't penetrate very far....as evidenced by the way some are barely staying 'stuck'. Here's another:

This is a pretty fleshy target. And perhaps that adds a layer of protection? Although being a bit zaftig also presents an easier target to hit.

But then I found a few images where it seems like the darts did indeed stick quite emphatically:

I would not have predicted the reaction I had to this shot. I found it pretty hot.

Here you can see the blow-gun.

Wow! This young lady must have had a terrible ride back home!

And, while some of those blow darts definitely made an impression, I found another ample bottom that ended up pierced....only this time it looks like real darts were used! Big ouch there, right?

I can't help thinking this is a bit dangerous.

And speaking of danger, I have to think this last shot is posed. As risky as being a human dartboard may be, I can't imagine anyone wanting to risk a bullseye like this one:


So there you have it! Something new and different. Love it or hate it, but whether you are thinking someone should hire a psychotherapist for these people or wondering where you can buy a blow-gun, it is something that it seems appeals to more than just one oddball in the world. Like I said, I didn't like all of these scenarios, but a couple had me daydreaming. Did I mention I used to play a lot of darts back in college? ;-)