Monday, August 31, 2009


Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me...

- from Caliban's speech to the shipwrecked mariners in the Tempest

We all begin as Caliban when we are children, awkward, clumsy, raging and fearful we will not get what we want, experiencing the world as a mysterious place in which events seem inexplicable. I did an etching based on this speech 30 years ago...I seem to be returning to some old themes recently. Possibly the first black and white one is my favorite. I'm not quite satisfied with it.

Monsters doing the funky chicken here

A thoughtful monster here

I will start posting the Alices tomorrow.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Three Alices

Bee kindly provided transportation for Alice's visit to her native Oxford.

Lettuce in London has also sent Alice travelling.

Here she views the reading selection across the broad Atlantic in New England on Subtorp's bookshelves.

Readers Request #2

Although I had hurried past its window many times, it was the first time I had ventured into the little shop, a last resort in my search - it seemed as if it might be a haven for the hidden, lost and necessary.

This illustration combines three suggestions:

Ger's of a catsuit with eyes on the sleeves – You can see her recombined fabrics on The Gerdiary

Tom's of the discovery of his sister's head in the back room - you can see his delightful drawings and meandering verse on Half-moose with a twist

Peadar's relentless campaigning for the effulgent Shane McGowan - you can see his poetry and other ruminations on Totalfeckineejit. This is a pre-bloat Shane, although even then he was no oil painting.

I will post Alices later today.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Hypnagogue

The online dictionary refers to hypnagogue as an agent that induces sleep - but I have pictured it as a sort of mythago. In sleep-related imagery, I was struck by this picture Rick at Kyklops took of his beautiful daughter - she is almost always in motion, but in this case she seems to be climbing through levels of perception.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Salamander Dream

Last night I dreamed I had a salamander as a sort of familiar, which had instead of a mouth the nib of an old-fashioned pen. It was so small, to be carried on the body (for inspiration?). Noting its absence, I found its nib separate and crushed, and then the creature itself, fragile with its torn mouth. I ordered that another nib be made, which needed time and craftsmanship, and told it to be patient, that it would be mended. Apparently all things are possible in alchemy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mythagos and other monsters

Lettuce at Lettuce Eating sent me the book Mythago Wood, in which people living near a mysterious wood manifest creatures from the unconscious, these creatures first becoming visible out of the corners of their eyes - they vanish when looked at directly (a little of Sheridan Le Fanu's Green Tea?). 

I note that as I linked I discovered that L. has Alice up in her post today. I am expecting more Alices on Sunday.

By the way, if anyone can think of an appropriately mythic name for this creature, let me know. Also,  any mythic creatures of your own you'd like to see in these pages – more will be appearing here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


It seems to me this Fall is falling hard, thinking about Kennedy and the fire in Greece. I was struck by the poem "Today" on this post at totalfeckineejit.

And then again...
I have in recent years found the poem "Dover Beach" to be deeply disingenuous...

...the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help from pain...

WRONG! The only reason that we have all of these lovely, transient manifestations of light and life is that there is no certitude = there is change. Should I cut Matthew Arnold some slack because he's, you know, a dead Victorian? Maybe. Pisses me off though.

Lost Boys #6/Michael and Star

This is what is happening on the cliff above as Sam is escaping David - Michael is carrying Star to safety. The Last of the Lost Boys scenes. I am probably going to start posting Alice next week...There will be a sort of coming attraction tomorrow, Friday ??? I have decided to do Donnie Darko. partly because I haven't watched the film for a couple of years.

The last of the three photos shot at San Francisco's Land's End.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lost Boys #5/David's hand

The film's iconic moment occurs when Sam escapes David's grip. Exposed to sunlight, David's hand bursts into flames. He pulls his hand back in and chuckles "Tonight....". I have one more of Lost Boys for tomorrow.

Edit: I'm looking at this and thinking this is the vampiric equivalent of approaching a light socket with a fork - the thrill of it all. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lost Boys#4/The Cave

David passes Michael a curiously decorated bottle of wine - or is wine? Star, in the background, warns Michael not to drink it, but by this time Michael seems to be imitating David's every sneer and is not inclined to listen.

David remarks that the vampire's home is an old Luxury Hotel which collapsed into the earth "When the big one hit in '06". The photograph was shot at San Francisco's Sutro Baths, which survived that earthquake but later burned down in the 1960's.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


A reality check from a friend last Thursday has been taking a little while to digest. Gratitude takes its time to rain down - at least for those of us not fluent in emotion. A relief when it begins. Here's to friendship, in its many unexpected forms.

All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.
                                                            - Julian of Norwich

The photo is of one of my assemblages. 

Post of non-round things resume tomorrow, that is to say, Lost Boys.

Reader's Request

Add a few lines to this sentence in the comments section, if you are so inclined, and I'll come up with something illustrative next Sunday in response to one or more suggestions:

Although I had hurried past its window many times, it was the first time I had ventured into the little shop, a last resort in my search - it seemed as if it might be a haven for the hidden, lost and necessary.

 a shot of the window of Aria, in North Beach, again.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Light Between

Crepuscular, lucent, inchoate, liminal, immanent, coruscating, nacreous, incandescent, penumbral.

(Okay, two of those aren't to do with light, I just like them).

Is the uncertainty principle the equivalent of negative capability in poetry?

For my sister Aleph.

Lost Boys#3/Caution

Max should have a "Caution" sign on his gate - his dog Thorn is a little over-zealous. Did he chase Lucy from the house because he ate some bad kibble, or is he a Hound of Hell?

Shot on the lovely filbert Street steps.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lost Boys#2/Max's Video Store

Max, the toothy owner of Max's Video Store, hands a lollypop to Lucy, with whom he appears smitten. "Wild Kids", he says of the vampire gang he has just kicked out. "We were young once", she replies. Passing behind Max, each of the Boys eyes Max eyeing Lucy and sneers mightily, I have pictured only David (Kiefer Suthrland) here. In the background is Jasmine of Silver Screen Video on Grand Avenue, who is also a fan.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Not a giraffe/starry crown

Son of Incogneato suggested I do a t-shirt of Sunday's changed. I like giraffes, I wouldn't even mind have one or two around, but something about it on a t-shirt wasn't working - I think because I felt I'd have to be literal with the yellow and black. So this is the actual t-shirt design I put on redbubble.

Lost Boys #1/Not the Nouvelle Vague

Lucy, with her sons Sam and Michael, moves to Santa Carla after her divorce to live with her eccentric father. On arriving, the first things they see are bizarrely carved wooden totems in his yard. The life of the town is on the Boardwalk, where younger son Sam meets the Frog brothers, who try to give him a horror comic which they insist is a "survival manual".

Well, I belonged to a film group a couple of years back which viewed extremely long circuitous French films from the sixties of people standing around talking. I fear I do not have the makings of an intellectual. I could watch this film every day, the script is a marvel of condensation and character revelation in each line, the ensemble cast is amazing, don't let me get started on the clothes...It is perfect in every detail. Link to the trailer if you want to know who you'll be seeing here.

The scary creature at top was shot at the cliff trail at San Francisco's Land's End, which closely resembles the film's Santa Carla (Santa Cruz) location. The second was shot at Dr. Comics and Mr. Games on Piedmont Avenue.

Edit: scroll up for more Lost boys

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rear Window #2

Thorvald arrives home while Lisa is inside his apartment looking for evidence. What is it about Grace Kelly? I'm not talking about the sensuality kept in check by good breeding yada yada, I'm talking about her sadness. She's not a great actress, that is, you don't completely buy Lisa as a fleshed-out character, but Kelly's melancholy works in conveying Lisa's unenviable situation as "the perfect woman" ignored by Jeff for his telephoto lens. In the end, by breaking and entering, nearly getting strangled, and hauled away by the police, as observed by Jeff, she wins him. A victory?

Tomorrow starts Lost Boys, followed by some new Alice posts. 

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rear Window #1

L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries is much more interested in the goings-on of the neighbors than he is in his would-be fiancée Lisa. He only seems to come alive when seeing things he shouldn't, and when his neighbor's wife disappears one night, he is most intrigued by the neighbor's careful wrapping of a saw and an enormous knife in newspaper. My greatest respect for Jimmy Stewart as an actor is for his expression when he realizes he will be able to watch Lisa through his telephoto lens digging up (they think) Mrs. Thorvald's head from the garden - wonderfully, creepily avid, as opposed to his merely tolerating her presence on his lap.

The film was based on a Cornell Woolrich (the best of the Noir fiction writers, to my mind) story, which gives Hitchcock a very strong framework to work within/against.

Please note: Carlos, my neighbor who plays Thorvald for the photo, wishes to state that he is not a murderer. He does not even own the saw, which has red acrylic paint on it. 

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Alice and the Taxi

The much esteemed Eva at Creative Diary took this photo of Alice. This is what Eva said:

Alice tried to take a taxi. It is brand new, but she hesitated to step in because the air condition did not seem to be working. So she concluded that poor view might be a serious problem for the driver, and walked.

See Eva's blog for reports on stitching, life in Hamburg and witty observations.

This just in: Michael at Coffee Messiah has a new video, Alice at Stampland

Reader's Request

This image is the result of the synthesis of three suggestions on last Sunday's post:

From justdoodle it, the idea of the round building providing transport to a different dimension.
     ~ See his blog for visual ruminations.
From Bindu, the idea of chewing toward enlightenment
     ~ See her blog for an appreciation of surroundings near and far
From Inky, the idea of enlightenment from breaking through limitations
    ~ See her blog for poetry.

If you can't remember where you have seen an image similar to this, it's the Flammarion Woodcut, an image permanently printed on my brain the first time I saw it.

I have an Alice to post later today

And then again...

...there are times when we seem to reach through what is solid, and joy descends, unlooked for and unearned, a gift.

...It is there, being imperfect, and with these things
And erudite in happiness, with nothing learned,
That we are joyously ourselves and we think

Without the labor of thought, in that element,
And we feel, in a way, for a moment, as if 
There was a bright scienza outside ourselves,

A gaiety that is being, not merely knowing,
The will to be and to be total in belief,
Provoking a laughter, an agreement, by surprise.

     - Of Bright & Blue Birds & The Gala Sun, Wallace Stevens


Hommage to Jan Svanmajer's Little Otik

Once upon a time, there was a woman who wanted very much to have a baby. To cheer her up, her husband carved one from a tree root, and was horrified when his wife treated the bit of wood as if it were a real infant...

Imposing our desires and the words and structures that come with them on things can turn those things into monsters. We always do this for safety, though, these attempts  at mastering the world that surrounds us with our limited expectations and understanding.  All of our cerebral tools can separate us from the pure apprehension of the thing itself, at a certain point they must be left behind.

Part Two (of sorts) later today.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Third Man #5/wrapped up

This wraps up the Third Man Series.  Circling back to the graveyard, as at the opening scene- Holly Martins waits, hoping Anna will stop. She seems to glide forward, almost resembling a nun in a wimple and habit. Although she no longer loves Harry, she has chosen loyalty to his memory as her compass point. Holly is free as a bird, although not enjoying it much. Strange, because here Anna moves forward although emotionally fixed in place, while Holly, shortly to leave the country, remains still. Well, I may provoke some controversy here, but I felt disappointed by The English Patient, which examined some of the same issues of loyalty and morality, because they were presented as serious fare, whereas this story is told so lightly (that zither music) that one is able to participate more in the story and I think come to one's own conclusions. 

Edit: The Dancer Upstairs also falls into this category of film. There are probably others?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Third Man #4

Lime loses his divine status and passes directly into being a hunted thing.

Yup, short text today, I will be making up for it tomorrow in the concluding post for this series. Beware!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Third Man #3

The central moment of the Third Man, Harry Lime's merry, luminous eye at the center of the darkness when he reveals himself. Despite having just been told just how terrible a human being he is, this is pure joy - the trickster choosing to step into the light , laughing at ordinary mortals as if he were Hermes or Reynard the Fox, before vanishing once again into the darkness.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Third Man #2

Never trust a Baron with a chihuaha. This guy looks like a bad Marx brother who got kicked out for being more creepy than comical. Holly Martins meets the him at the Mozart cafe, where the Baron holds a copy of Holly Martins' immortal opus, "The Oklahoma Kid".

The Third Man #1

Callaway watches Holly Martins who watches Anna Schmidt. The Third Man is a film of overcoats - here there are Callaway's hard edged official leather coat, Martins' worn nubbly coat, and Anna's poor actress thin one. Later we will see Harry Lime's suave unfathomable black coat.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Last night I dreamed #1

A couple of visual prompts to take off from. Write a little narrative in the comments section, related to one of these if you like, or something of your own. I will pick a couple to illustrate for next Sunday. 

Start your zithers...The Third Man begins tomorrow. 

Saturday, August 8, 2009


So they walked on together through the wood, Alice with her arms clasped lovingly round the soft neck of the Fawn, till they came out into another open field, and here the Fawn gave a sudden bound into the air, and shook itself free from Alice's arms. "I'm a Fawn!" it cried out in a voice of delight. "And, dear me! You're a human child!" A sudden look of alarm came into its beautiful brown eyes, and in another moment it had darted away at full speed.

  - Lewis Carroll, Through The Looking Glass

This passage is after Alice meets the fawn in the woods, both have lost their identities/names. Coming out into the daylight of consciousness, they are once again confined in their individual selves, both a delight and a prison. The connection of language to consciousness is so close as to seem inseparable at times, that is, the ability to manipulate reality by (believing one is) standing outside it is intrinsic to both. And then, there is always a longing to return to the woods, where things are in their undefined, inchoate fullness. As documented in the R.E.M. song Radio Free Europe. Even those who aren't big fans are respectfully requested to look at this early one, which was partly filmed in Howard Finster's Paradise Gardens and features an appearance by the man himself at the very end.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Imaptience/Rebecca #4

Maxim displays impatience (illustration friday prompt) with the narrator when she wears a costume identical to that of the previous Mrs. DeWinter. This is the quotidian woman's fear of wearing the same outfit as another woman blown up to operatic proportions. In the novel, the heroine completes her passage into Real Woman hood by becoming complicit in concealing the fact that her husband is a murderer - in the movie, it softened, so that the Rebecca just kind of bumped her head when she fell over. I have another rumination for Saturday, Sunday...hmmm. The Third Man starts on Monday.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rebecca #3

Mrs. Danvers forces the narrator to listen to her obsessive rant about the first Mrs. DeWinter. The performance of Judith Anderson as Mrs. Danvers seems to me exactly the performance that an Egyptian sphinx,  inserted into domestic service, would give - stony, unknowable, implacable.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Rebecca #2

My story begins in the South of France...

I wish, ha, it's actually Lake Merritt in Oakland. Return with me to the romantic days of yesteryear, when if a man told a woman she was "A little fool" it meant he thought she was, you know, kind of hot. In this scene, the unnamed narrator stops Maxim DeWinter, played in dry-stick like fashion by Laurence Olivier, from taking a header off a cliff. He does not appear to be thankful.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dr. Dee and Alice

Here is Queen Elizabeth's astrologer scrying in a crystal ball. this drawing was done with the help of visual reference provided by the very kind Coffee Messiah, who has featured Alice in a video featuring a visit to Kerr Lock in Indiana. 

Alice also recently visited the wonderful  American Visionary Art Museum, courtesy of Mouse Medicine. In the slide show for the AVAM, I spotted several of Paul Spooner's pieces which I saw at the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in London, mentioned in Sunday's post.

Rebecca # 1

Last night I dreamed I went to Manderley again...Moonlight can play odd tricks upon the fancy, and suddenly it seemed as if light came from those windows. And then a cloud came upon the moon, and hovered for an instant like a dark hand before a face. And the illusion went with it.
     - from the script for Rebecca
Finding photo opportunities at the Antiques Centre is like shooting fish in a barrel. These weren't among the scenes I was going to shoot, but they seemed perfect. I will be posting more news of Alice later today, I missed doing so on Sunday. There were some wonderfully creative responses to yeterday's "Last Night I dreamed" after the identification, so I'm thinking of having a feature where I illustrate a narrative from the comments section. Must take a walk to figure out how this will work.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dark Passage #6

Here you see Madge Rapp, the murderer of Victor's wife and also of his friend George. Madge is a woman like a demented terrier, as played with great vitality by Agnes Moorhead. I think I am exaggerating here, and she didn't actually kill George with his clarinet, but with a trombone. George is portrayed as an obliging fellow, so possibly he offered Madge, a woman half his size, a stool to stand on while she beat him to death. 

Madge, Madge - your 12 foot tall satin curtain has seen too much, and is shortly to hurl you from your own window when you attempt to hide behind it.

At least, if you believe Victor. He ends up in a white dinner jacket dancing with Irene in a club in Peru. Is he able to afford well-tailored white dinner jackets because he is making a living as a hit man? We'll never know. 

Can you finish this sentence for tomorrow's opening scene "Last night I dreamed..."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mechanical wonders

Athur Ganson is the artist in residence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has made machines with  no purpose other than to be beautiful and to show us the grace of motion. The first one, the artichoke leaf, reminds me of a Brecht play, and also of a very small figure in a vertical Chinese landscape.

When in England to visit my sister, I loved stopping by the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre, which was located in Covent Garden (and may still be - I'm not clear on this) . At this point they stage exhibitions in various locations around the world, there are several in the U.S. now. Their web site has some videos of Paul Spooner's work.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Containers (Wallace meets Shane)

The maker of catastrophe invents the eye
And through the eye equates ten thousand deaths
With a single well-tempered apricot, or say,
An egg-plant of good air.

- Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas, Wallace Stevens

Stevens was always trying to get beyond the artificial to the entirety and immediacy of things - and yet his medium was words. How can these invented containers evoke the intimacy of real life? The poet is a trickster or magician - by recombining words in unexpected ways, his hope is to conjure a world out of thin air by sheer startlement.

Here a tower shining bright
Once stood gleaming in the night
Where now there's just the rubble
In the hole...

- White City, Shane MacGowan

Sometimes, only the container is left - the words are the shell for something vanished, or for something that never quite manifested. It's interesting to compare the typically rollicking song as performed with the quiet lyrics (or at least for those of us who are Shane MacGowan fanatics).