Wednesday, 31 October 2018

If You Live Somewhere,

that is very hilly, 

like Japan, you will see lots of these, retaining walls, they are a common sight, as the name implies, they’re designed to retain soil to a slope and keep it from spilling into streets and other areas, and where there are retaining walls you’ll also likely find drainage systems: piping that’s essential to keeping water from building up behind the wall and creating unwanted pressure,  the sight of these walls and drainage are so common that most people would walk right past them without thinking twice, but for one Japanese amateur photographer who goes by the name sakanakudo, who took all of the photographs,  

 the drainage pipes and their constant moisture maintain rich, miniature ecosystem,

 all of the plants and mosses,

 growing in them,

 I guess arrived there purely by chance,

 but here is a thought,

 I wonder if now seeing these miniature gardens,

some people start planting their own mosses and plants to make their own miniature worlds?

Keeping To A Japanese Theme,

if you live in Tokyo,

and want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, here is an idea head to Odawara, a coastal town Southeast of Tokyo, and here are a few of the sights you will see there, a cornerstone from Kyoto Gojo-Ohashi Bridge,

 circular stone stage with a garan-ishi at the center that once supported a large stone lantern at the home of a daimyo,

 the optical glass stage which, to an audience, will appear to float on the surface of the sea,

left: Komatsu stone arrangements from a nearby quarry | right: Stone torii gate assembled from stones from medieval times,

the Uchoten (“Listen-to-the-rain”) Tea House, as well as these there is the Enoura Observatory it is an absolutely stunning space that artist Hiroshi Sugimoto has carved into the Hakone mountains, overlooking the Sagami Bay, conceived over 20 years ago and finally completed in the Fall of 2017, but remember you will have to book tickets in advance though, and if you’re coming by train, make sure you reserve a ticket for the free shuttle that take visitors from Nebukawa Station to the observatory, to get to to Odawara, it’s an hour and a half by train and little faster by car, if we ever visit Japan it will be on our 'to see' list!


was another quiet day for us,

 but in the far distance,

 this chappie popped back to the same branch a few times,

although difficult to see I am pretty sure it is a Black Drongo, (Dicrurus macrocercus), throughout the late afternoon it kept crossing the pool, in search of insects I guess, 

in the evening after our evening meal, it was feet up for a couple of new Antiques Road Trips, a couple from Tipping Point, and we rounded the evening off with the last of The Last Ship Season 3, and with that we were off to bed.

Whenever I Think Of Tattoos,

they seem to be blue,

 mixed with a touch of dull red, 

 and not very well defined,

 but not these,

 they are full of sharp shapes and vibrant colors,

 they are the work of Oregon-based tattoo artist Dave, a.k.a. Winston the Whale

 he uses a wide spectrum of colors in his trippy tattoos,

the works merge a 60s aesthetics with inspirations from Scandinavian folk art to Memphis design, You can see more psychedelic compositions and brightly colored animals on Dave’s Instagram, they look so colorful I might have one myself! no I am joking, they are not for me, but they certainly do look colorful.

Many Are Staring To Feel Fighting Over Water Is A Matter Of Survival.

as Mark Twain is alleged to have said,

whiskey is for drinking water's for fighting over, so it was hardly a surprise when I read that the bloodiest medieval war was fought because of a water bucket! in 1325, two armies clashed near what is today the Italian town of Castello di Serravalle in the region of Emilia-Romagna. It was the largest medieval battle which cost thousands of men their lives, changed the history of Italy, plunged the peninsula in a centuries-long conflict, and ensured the papal supremacy that Italians today take for granted, while such bloodshed was common in Europe, its cause was not, for it was waged over a wooden bucket, a bucket made of oak, to be precise, it all began in October 1154 when the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (who was also the King of Germany) invaded Italy. Frederick did so because he believed that he was god’s chosen representative on earth, not the Pope,

The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II

the Italians disagreed, however. It was Pope John XII who crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor, and based on that logic, it was popes, not emperors, who were the conduit between god and the world. And since popes conferred spiritual legitimacy to Christian rulers, they were therefore seen as the true leaders of Christendom, so Frederick took the Italian cities of Milan, Tortona, and Pavia where he became the King of Italy. He then took Bologna and Tuscany before making his way to Rome where he spoke with Pope Alexander III, though they resolved nothing, and because of that, the emperor continued his invasion of other cities till his defeat by the pro-papal Lombard League at the Battle of Legnano on 29 May 1176. Frederick was forced to return to Germany, but his revenge was to leave behind a political divide that went on for centuries,

Pope John XXII
on the one side were the Ghibellines who supported the emperor, while on the other were the pro-papal Guelfs. At the time, Italy wasn’t a unified country but a collection of city-states who often warred with each other. As a result, Modena was Ghibelline, while Bologna was Guelf, the boundaries between pro-emperor and pro-papal cities had been set by Frederick before they kicked him out, but things in Modena and Bologna were a lot more complicated. Barely more than 31 miles apart, divided and changing loyalties ensured that tensions between the two always remained high, in 1296, the Bolognese attacked Modena lands, seizing Bazzano and Savigno. Those who supported the emperor began moving out, while those who supported the pope began leaving Bolognese territory. Such border skirmishes became common as each side seized territory from the other only to lose it again,

Ottavio Baussano’s painting of the Guelph and Ghibelline families

in 1309, Rinaldo “Passerino” Bonacolsi became the ruler of Mantua, Modena, Parma, and Reggio. Under his rule, more attacks were launched on Bolognese territories, so Pope John XXIII declared Bonacolsi to be an enemy of the Church, to make his edict stick, the pope offered indulgences to anyone who successfully attacked Bonacolsi and/or his property. Indulgences were a guarantee that sins were either forgiven or lightened to the extent that one didn’t have to burn in hell. Not even for the sin of murder, by the start of 1325, border skirmishes between the two cities increased. In July, the Bolognese raided Modenese farms, slaughtered people, and burned several fields before retreating. Others managed to do some looting before they returned to Bologna to display their catch. They did so again the following month, doing as much damage as they could during a two-week spree,

Giovanni Sercambi of Lucca’s depiction of a 14th century skirmish between the Guelfs and the Ghibellines in Bologna

Bonacolsi had his revenge in September when his Mantuan troops captured the Bolognese fort at Monteveglio. Located a mere 12 miles west of Bologna, the fort had been betrayed not by pro-Ghibellines, but by malcontents, taking advantage of the chaos and confusion, some Modenese soldiers snuck into Bologna. There in the town’s center was the main well next to the San Felice gate. Beside it rested a bucket filled with Modenese loot. Unable to resist, the soldiers stole the bucket and its contents, then proudly displayed it beside Modena’s main well, furious, Bologna demanded the return of the bucket and its loot. As far as they were concerned, they had stolen it fair and square. The Modenese refused, of course, so Bologna declared war. Everything that had taken place up to that point was mere child’s play,

Only 31 miles separates Modena from Bologna – Google Maps
The War of the Oaken Bucket began on the Friday morning of 15 November 1325. Malatestino dell Occhio, Lord of Rimini, led the Bolognese and their allies from Florence and Romagna to besiege Monteveglio and take it back, they were met by Bonacolsi who led soldiers from Modena, Mantua, and Ferrara, as well as German troops sent over by the emperor. With him were Cangrande della Scali, Lord of Verona (and patron of the poet Dante Alighieri), as well as Azzone Visconti, the Lord of Milan, having repelled the Bolognese, a larger force assembled outside the town of Castello di Serravalle, in today’s hamlet of Ziribega. Pope John XXIII led an army of 30,000 foot soldiers and 2,000 knights on horseback. These were arrayed on the slope which descended from Bersagliera toward the Bolognese town of Valsamoggia (now a suburb of Bologna),

The Torre Ghirlandina where the replica bucket is still displayed – Source: Photo Credit
the Modenese had a smaller force of about 5000 foot soldiers and 2000 mounted knights. They were deployed on the plain where Ziribega now stands, despite their smaller numbers, the Modenese made their move just as the sun began to set. The larger Guelf force was routed and fled back to Bologna. According to the Bolgonese chronicler, Matteo Griffoni, it was over by nightfall, the Modenese advanced toward the city walls, but instead of besieging it, they instead destroyed the outer protective castles of Crespellano, Zola, Samoggia, Anzola, and Castelfranco. They also captured 26 nobles and took them back to Modena as hostages,

The Palazzo Comunale in Modena – Source: Photo credit

it’s estimated that about 2,000 men were killed on both sides. The following year in January, a treaty was made returning Monteveglio and other properties to Bologna, but peace did not return, Ghibelline-Guelf wars continued till 1529 when Charles I of Spain (who was also the Holy Roman Emperor) invaded Italy. This forced the two factions to unite, something that led to the decline of the Ghibelline faction in favor of the papacy, After the war, the oaken bucket was proudly displayed in Modena and kept in the Torre della Ghirlandina as a memorial of the city’s victory. The one today is just a replica, however. If you want to see the original, go to the Palazzo Communale, what a fantastic true story, courtesy of Shahan Russell, and all over a bucket!

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

The Last Thing I Guess You Would Want On Halloween,

is a vampire bat hunting you,

but for some they go on a quest hunting it, 

as this pre-Halloween video shows, one quest I think I will leave alone!


the start of a new week,

and for us a quiet day, so I spent some time upgrading the computer, a few programs needed updating and I did a defragmentation and complete virus scan, all of which seemed to take an inordinate amount of time, also to the many that send anonymous comments, I do not post them, which is why you do not read them, all comments and questions that you scammers post, are all are sent to the scam file, the computer is now up and running with a full head of steam, so back to the evening, there was lots for us to watch, it appears that Sunday is the day that Crime and Investigations, Border Patrol and a few others rollout their weekly new programs, so after watching some of those and a few from The Last Ship, we were off to bed. 

Great News For Art Lovers Around The World,

the Art Institute of Chicago,

now offers unrestricted access to over 52,000 high-resolution images from their collection, pictures like the one above and the ones that follow, above, Georges Seurat, "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884" (1884–8), oil on canvas, 81 3/4 x 121 1/4 inches (image courtesy Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection)

 Vincent van Gogh, “The Bedroom” (1888), oil on canvas, 29 x 36 5/8 inches (image courtesy Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection)

 Gustave Caillebotte, “Paris Street; Rainy Day” (1877), oil on canvas, 83 1/2 x 108 3/4 in, (image courtesy Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection)

 Edvard Munch, “The Girl by the Window” (1893), oil on canvas, 38 × 25 3/4 inches (image courtesy Searle Family Trust and Goldabelle McComb Finn endowments; Charles H. and Mary F.S. Worcester Collection)

 Katsushika Hokusai, "Under the Wave off Kanagawa" (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as the Great Wave, from the series "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjurokkei)" (c. 1830/33), color woodblock print, 10 x 14 3/4 in (courtesy of Clarence Buckingham Collection)

Charles White, “Harvest Talk” (1953), charcoal, Wolff’s carbon drawing pencil, and graphite, with stumping and erasing on ivory wood pulp laminate board, 661 x 992 mm (courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Hartman)

David Hockney, “American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman)” (1968), acrylic on canvas (courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Frederic G. Pick), the Art Institute of Chicago recently announced the release of tens of thousands of images from their collection to the public domain, providing high resolution access to many of their works which have been made available under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which presents the works without copyright, visitors to the Art Institute’s website also can experience enhanced viewing for each image by zooming in on the paintings, drawings, and other artworks with more detail than before, the current image count is at 53,438, however the Art Institute explains that this number will continue to expand regularly, what great news for students, scholars and everybody else that loves art.

Opened Topped,

with no choice of a hood or windscreen, 

 seems a strange way to go for a super sports car, 

 but that is the route Ferrari have chosen, 

for the Monza SP1 and SP2 the cars are entirely open-topped and equipped with the most powerful engine the company has ever built, the two limited-edition cars are the first in a new range by Ferrari called Icona, the cars' design draws inspiration from the Ferrari's of the 1950s and features the most advanced technology available today, according to the luxury Italian car-maker,

 the cars' most distinguishing feature is the complete absence of a roof and windscreen, the company said that by eliminating these elements it has been able to create unique proportions that would not have been possible on a traditional open two-seat car, "The result is the feeling of blistering speed, which derives from the concept of a cockpit carved from the car's very volume that wraps around the driver," explained the marque,

the models run on a 12-cylinder engine and can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds, and zero to 124 miles per hour in 7.9 seconds, the Ferrari Monza SP1 is a single-seat road car while the Monza SP2 is a two-seater, they have a maximum speed of 186 miles per hour which Ferrari said is a speed that is ordinarily only experienced by Formula 1 drivers, unless of course you have one of these,

2013-2015 Aston Martin Rapide S.
2013-2015 Aston Martin Vanquish.
2014-2015 Aston Martin V12 Vantage S/Roadster. 
2013-2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed/GTC Speed. 
2016 Cadillac CTS-V. 
2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. 

all of which top 200 miles per hour in comfort, that is with a windscreen and hood, so after 187 miles per hour you can leave both new Ferrari's blindly scrambling in your collective dust! starting at 1.6 million euros including Italian VAT, they will only be available to loyal previous customers as allegedly only 499 will be built, that seems like a nice little earner, and would I like one? yes please, but the 2 seat model, if it has a boot to put the weekly shopping in!

How Do You Get,

all of those people to stand,

exactly where you want them to make this picture? use mobile telephones? 


none of the above! seen from afar, Craig Alans celebrity portraits seem made out of thousands of expertly placed paint dots, but as you draw nearer, you notice that those dots are actually tiny detailed human figures,

Craig Alan’s “Populous” series was inspired by a bird’s eye view from his mother’s 6th story condo, in Orange Beach, Alabama,  

He was watching the people down at the beach and photographing them when he noticed that their tiny figures forming patterns,

in one of his photographs the people appeared to have formed a eye, and the artist recalls that this was what first got his creative wheels turning, 

He started spray-painting tiny human figures on white canvases, positioning them in such a way that they and their shadows formed detailed portraits of some history’s most iconic personalities, from Michael Jackson to the Joker, what a different take on a bird's eye view.