Monthly Archives: July 2009

Instant Oatmeal Cuisine

I keep telling people that cappucino and oatmeal are the perfect pairing, but rarely do I see anyone take me up on it. Sigh.

So let’s think about soup. Picture some nice carrot ginger soup, as sold by Trader Joe’s. Nothing wrong with that, other than not being filling enough for a meal. I mean, it’s carrot puree. You can drink a huge mug of it,
and all you have is carrot puree. Pretty much the only problem with any of their soups.

So the obvious move is to dump a packet’s worth of maple and brown sugar flavored instant oatmeal into your carrot ginger soup. Filling! Also, the maple really is interesting with carrots or ginger.

Yes, I really need to get more sleep. What can I say? I’m tapering off more than a week of sinus flareups every day. Caffeine withdrawal is gonna take a while. Still, I’m doing okay as long as life doesn’t start to look like an art movie. (Lowest grades I ever got on any set of exams. Sleep and a forgetful mind is better than caffeine and no sleep.)

But it actually was pretty nice, although that may be my latent Celtic addiction to oats speaking. Because I keep thinking that probably if you dumped oatmeal into a nice strong meat stew, it would be almost like having haggis.

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What Other Kind of Corgi Is There?

Why do people insist on calling their corgi a “Welsh corgi”?

Also, corgi = “cor” (dwarf) + “ci” (dog). That’s Welsh. The “c” changes to a “g” because it’s in the middle of the word.

No, I don’t know if this makes Gwrgi in The Black Cauldron a “man-dog”.

Yes, as far as I know, “ci” is cognate to the Irish “cu” (hound).

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Now See, We Could Have Stuff Like This in Church! (Part 3)

Donato Giancola. I think a lot of him, as an artist. He’s got the chops to do practically anything, and he can make something look beautiful without looking vacant or boringly overcommercial.

He can even draw the French and Indian War to look exciting. (Which it certainly was, but a lot of times in the “back in the trees where nobody can see” mode.)

And here is his rendition of a guardian angel. Not too shabby, eh? Also, here’s St. Joan of Arc, wearing the statutory “white armor”. (Well, actually the painting’s from a series of fantasies by Mary Gentle called The Book of Ash, and that’s the heroine, Ash. But Joan of Arc’s the name Giancola gave it.)

And if the man is drawing triptychs, why not for us, hmmmmm?

Doors. Stratego. Crimony, is there nothing this man can’t design? Sigh. There’s even a couple of good Irish wolfhounds next to Fiona here, and we all know how badly some people draw those!

(Though I think he drew them in separately, because there’s something wrong with them vs the rest of the painting and the shadows and light. Also, not saggy and uneven hairline against the stone on their backs — wolfhound back hair is always going to stick up a little more than that, even if you’ve just combed them, because it’s so wiry, and it catches the light a lot — although the ‘perfectness’ of Amber may affect this.)

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Now See, We Could Have Stuff Like This in Church! (Part 2)

Michael Whelan did a whole series illustrating Virtues. Now, yeah, he decided that what the Virtues really needed was More Fossil, but I personally sympathize with this view. We could work with it, since ammonites were seen as symbols of bread at various times (mostly by people accustomed to spiralling round loaves of bread — and btw, the ammonites probably explained the Greeks calling those Egyptian buildings “pyramids”, according to John Ciardi).

Anyway… here’s one Virtue. Hope.

Then you have a nice rendition of the Star of Bethlehem. But since this was not commissioned for some church somewhere, you get a beautiful but generic Star of Peace instead.

You don’t exactly have to thrash sf artists, or astronomical artists, into painting stars. We could have a hundred thousand zillion beautiful versions of the Star of Bethlehem out there, assuming everyone could achieve a decent amount of theological or iconographical harmony on matters. But we don’t even try.

And this is why we don’t have nice things, in American parishes. Because we don’t get out there and commission them — not even from our own local community’s artists, not even in some tiny corner of some vast and boringly grey-and-acoustic-tiled church. We’d rather have nothing, or crud.

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Now, See, We Could Have Stuff Like This in Church! But Nooooo.

The Church is supposed to be the premier patron of the arts, not Marvel Comics and Ace Books. Just sayin’.

Old Conan “Tree of Death” cover by Boris Vallejo, after John Buscema.

I mean, yeah, not sacred art. Obviously, duh. (Unless there’s some sort of Conan the Man-God cult I didn’t know about, by Crom.) But equally obviously, this is where our sacred art has run off, since we haven’t grabbed the Vallejos and such for our own; or even partially our own.

I mean, it’s not like a real Crucifixion wouldn’t have anything for a Vallejo to illustrate. Jesus was after all a freakin’ construction worker (“tekton”), so his famous love of muscles and skin tones would have something to work with. There’s a wide choice of facial expressions, you can show all sorts of people around the Cross or nobody, and it all takes place at the Place of the Skull (gosh, he’d never draw the Adam/Golgotha skull in. Noooo.). With an eclipse and earthquake and storm about to happen. Drama!

But noooo. We abandon an artist like that to make movie posters for European Vacation, because Chevy Chase’s people are smarter than Jesus Christ’s people. (So much for “be wise as serpents”.) And let’s not even mention the obligatory fantasy artist set of Tarot cards, something that’s only gotten really popular the last ten or fifteen years. We could be paying fantasy artists to do the obligatory pack of holy cards of saints, instead. Much more scope, much less involvement with Bad Stuff. But noooo. Decorate your church with “modern” art or no art, instead, and let the good artists scrabble for whatever will pay.

You could certainly picture Frazetta having drawn things like Joshua in the Battle of Ajalon. You could picture a lot of the really good illustrators doing painting cycles in churches. But it’s not likely to happen, unless parishes or donors with vision were to get out there and commission them to do them. (And assuming the artists are interested by such commissions, and can be inspired to do something to God’s glory.) But you can’t go back in time to the sixties and seventies and eighties and summon up certain artists. They’ve gone to their rest, with or without the hope of rising again.

Man, the Catholic Church in the late twentieth century surely fell down on the job, and this is just one more sign thereof. Sigh.

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St. Barbara, Patron of Archery and Firearms and Artillery

Ghirlandaio has a very demure picture of St. Barbara holding her tower. Then you notice she’s standing on a corpse.

Yeah, she’s doing her military saint gig.

Legend has it that God smote down her pagan father with lightning for imprisoning and martyring her. Thus her work as patron of artillerymen, et al. Later versions of the legend often reinterpret pagan as paynim, making Barbara’s dad look Muslim by giving him a Persian-looking helmet. Ghirlandaio uses such an Eastern helmet here, also.

Another popular one was depicting her holding a chalice with the Host suspended over it. Much more peaceful.

But be sure to check out this huge wallpainting of Stories of St. Barbara by Lorenzo Lotto. Holy cow, look at that beautiful marketplace! You could go there tomorrow and recognize people! Also, it is not everyday, outside of a comic book, where you see scenes of the watching cloud of witnesses shooting out of someone’s hand.

UPDATE: However, she’s not just for pre-moderns and Catholics. Behold, the American military honor society, the Order of Saint Barbara, which has its own medallion and everything. Also, there’s the Order of Saint Maurice for infantry guys, the Order of Saint Martin for quartermasters, the Saint George Award for tankers and the Order of Saint Joan d’Arc for their spouses…. Awesome stuff I’d never heard about!

Also, loukoumades (honey puffs – you’ve probably had them at Greek restaurants) are served on her feastday in Greece by the artillery guys, under the theory that they look like cannonballs.


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Hardbitten Hunter Saints

Check out this Durer altarpiece! (Click for bigger size.)

I am not kidding about the “hardbitten” thing. It looks like St. George and St. Eustace have been riding all day, want a beer bad, and wouldn’t be above a brawl in the tavern if anybody gives them reason. Check out St. Eustace’s riding boots; even they say the same thing. And check out that dragon… or rather, that ex-dragon!

Apparently, somebody named Paumgartner must have told Durer they didn’t want any wimpy-looking saints, and he must have taken it as a challenge…. 🙂

The altarpiece was commissioned by a couple of Paumgartner brothers (not the religious kind) who had just come back from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and wanted to make a thank-offering. I don’t know why they went to Jerusalem (I hope they didn’t murder anybody in a tavern brawl!), but apparently the dangers of the journey didn’t make them look much like St. Francis. Anyway, Durer did something radical and modelled St. George after Stephan Paumgartner and St. Eustace after Lukas Paumgartner; their whole family is depicted as a group elsewhere on the altarpiece, in the corners of the Nativity panel in the center. Mom could take somebody out, with those rosary beads. But actually, in closeup it looks like Lukas had a softer side, which is probably why Durer is a great artist and I’m not. 🙂

It’s weird to see the Nativity from behind, isn’t it?

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