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Rocky and Bullwinkle turn 61

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Sixty-one years ago this past Thursday, Rocket "Rocky" J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose were introduced to American TV audiences. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends debuted on ABC and NBC at 5:30 pm on November 19, 1959.

Rocky and Bullwinkle was one of the first cartoons I saw as a child and I'm sure it twisted my tiny, impressionable nervous system in all sorts of subversive way. — Read the rest

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fruno
633 days ago
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How Cartoons Saved R. Crumb’s Life, and How R. Crumb Turned Cartoons into an Art Form (NSFW)

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Robert Crumb, the iconic, founding figure of the underground and alternative comix scene, began his career as the ultimate outsider. “I was so alienated when I was young that drawing was like my only connection to society,” he says in the video interview above from the Louisiana Channel, “the only thing I could see that was gonna save me from a really dismal fate of god knows what.” He had no social skills and no other abilities to speak of. He was debilitated by self-doubt yet inflated by the buoyant ego of the lone artist determined to “make [his] mark on the world.”

What Crumb calls his “two sides” have never been reconciled, although he has left behind certain racial caricatures in more recent work and he claims, in a recent interview with Nadja Sayej, that he is “no longer a slave to a raging libido.” But his shameless indulgence in exaggerated stereotypes was always a blunt instrument that both pulled readers in and pushed them away from the more subtle satire and pathos in his comics. As an editor at a London gallery put it, “there’s something irreconcilable at the heart of the work that doesn’t resolve towards a single vision of beauty.”

Crumb’s comics are “about seduction and repulsion. You are drawn into the work and you are judging yourself as you look at it.” We are also judging the artist. Crumb has been called racist, misogynist, a bitter, hateful loner with a nihilistic streak five miles wide. These descriptions happen to apply to a significant number of convicted and potential terrorist killers these days, the very people we seek to marginalize from public discourse with hate speech laws and public shaming and shunning.

As you might expect, Crumb has no tolerance for such things as fall under the heading “political correctness.” Suppressing art that offends “can even lead to censorial policies in the government,” he says, defending the rights of the artist to say whatever they deem necessary. His work, he says, even at its most extreme, was necessary. It saved his life. “The artwork I did that used those images and expressed those kinds of feelings, I stand by it…. I still think that’s something that needed to be said and needed to be done…. It probably hurts some people’s feelings to see those images, but still, I had to put it out there.”

Some of Crumb's imagery is hard to defend, such as his use of blackface imagery from the 1920s and 30s, and his sometimes violent objectification of women, from the point of view of characters nearly impossible to separate from their creator. But why, if his art is confessional, should he not confess? In so doing, he reveals not only his own teeming desires. Crumb illustrated the male hippie unconscious as well as his own.

After starting a relative mass movement in underground comix in the 60s (and becoming a reluctant legend for “Keep on Truckin’”), he says, “I decided I don’t want to be America’s best-loved hippie cartoonist. I don’t want that role. So I’ll just be honest about who I am, and the weirdness, and take my chances.” Crumb’s candor happened to lay bare many of the attitudes he observed not only in himself but in the denizens of the San Francisco scene, as he told Jacques Hyzagi in a very revealing Observer interview (which prompted a very bitter feud between the two).

The hippie culture of Haight-Ashbury, where it all started for me, was full of men doing nothing all day and expecting women to bring them food. The ‘chick’ had to provide a home for them, cook meals for them, even pay the rent. It was still very much ingrained from the earlier patriarchal mentality of our fathers, except that our fathers, generally, were providers. Free love meant free sex and food for men. Sure, women enjoyed it, too, and had a lot of sex, but then they served men. Even among left-wing political groups, women were always relegated to secretarial, menial jobs. We were all on LSD, so it took a few years for the smoke to dissipate and for women to realize what a raw deal they were getting with the ne’er-do-well hippie male. 

Do we see in Crumb’s work, in which burly, huge-calved women dominate weak-willed men, a celebration or a condemnation of these attitudes? We can say, “it’s complicated,” which sounds like a cop out, or we can go back to the source. Hear Crumb himself explain his work, as a product of two warring selves and a need to draw himself into the world without holding anything back. He showed other artists and writers who were also "born weird," as he says, that they could tell their stories entirely their own way too.

Related Content:  

R. Crumb Illustrates Genesis: A Faithful, Idiosyncratic Illustration of All 50 Chapters

Underground Cartoonist Robert Crumb Creates an Illustrated Introduction to Franz Kafka’s Life and Work

The Confessions of Robert Crumb: A Portrait Scripted by the Underground Comics Legend Himself (1987)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How Cartoons Saved R. Crumb’s Life, and How R. Crumb Turned Cartoons into an Art Form (NSFW) is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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fruno
958 days ago
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Beautiful NASA satellite image of the mysterious giant man of South Australia

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NASA Earth Observatory's Lauren Dauphin captured this lovely portrait of the Marree Man, a 2.2 mile (3.5 kilometer) tall illustration of a person etched into a South Australian plateau, southeast of Lake Eyre. A pilot first spotted Marree Man in 1998 but to this day nobody knows for sure who created the geoglyph.

While an Alice Springs artist reportedly confessed on his deathbed that he is the artist behind the geoglyph, there are other clues suggesting an American origin. Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith has offered a $5000 reward to anyone who can definitively solve the mystery of the Marree Man.

From NASA:

In August 2016, local business owners, concerned about the loss of what had become a tourist draw, decided to restore the fading geoglyph. With accurate GPS coordinates for the original in hand, they used a construction grader to redraw Marree Man over a period of five days.

The restoration team thinks the updated geoglyph will last longer than the original because they created wind grooves, designed to trap water and encourage the growth of vegetation. Over time, they hope vegetation will turn the lines green. The OLI acquired this image of the feature on June 22, 2019.

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fruno
958 days ago
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A Recently-Discovered 44,000-Year-Old Cave Painting Tells the Oldest Known Story

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Where did art begin? In a cave, most of us would say — especially those of us who've seen Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams — and specifically on the walls of caves, where early humans drew the first representations of landscapes, animals, and themselves. But when did art begin? The answer to that question has proven more subject to revision. The well-known paintings of the Lascaux cave complex in France go back 17,000 years, but the paintings of that same country's Chauvet cave, the ones Herzog captured in 3D, go back 32,000 years. And just two years ago, Griffith University researchers discovered artwork on a cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi that turns out to be about 44,000 years old.

Here on Open Culture we've featured the argument that ancient rock-wall art constitutes the earliest form of cinema, to the extent that its unknown painters sought to evoke movement. But cave paintings like the one in Sulawesi's cave Leang Bulu’ Sipong 4, which you can see in the video above, also shed light on the nature of the earliest known forms of storytelling.

The "fourteen-and-a-half-foot-wide image, painted in dark-red pigment," writes The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik, depicts "about eight tiny bipedal figures, bearing what look to be spears and ropes, bravely hunting the local wild pigs and buffalo." This first known narrative"tells one of the simplest and most resonant stories we have: a tale of the hunter and the hunted, of small and easily mocked pursuers trying to bring down a scary but vulnerable beast."

Like other ancient cave art, the painting's characters are therianthropes, described by the Griffith researchers' Nature article as "abstract beings that combine qualities of both people and animals, and which arguably communicated narrative fiction of some kind (folklore, religious myths, spiritual beliefs and so on)." Given the apparent importance of their roles in early stories, how much of a stretch would it be to call these figures the first superheroes? "Indeed, the cave painting could be entered as evidence into a key aesthetic and storytelling argument of today — the debate between the paladins of American film, Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola, and their Marvel Cinematic Universe contemporaries," writes Gopnik.

If you haven't followed this struggle for the soul of storytelling in the 21st century, Scorsese wrote a piece in The New York Times claiming that today's kind of blockbuster superhero picture isn't cinema, in that it shrinks from "the complexity of people and their contradictory and sometimes paradoxical natures, the way they can hurt one another and love one another and suddenly come face to face with themselves." ("He didn’t say it’s despicable," Coppola later added, "which I just say it is.") And yet, as Gopnik puts it, "our oldest picture story seems to belong, whether we want it to or not, more to the Marvel universe than to Marty Scorsese’s." If we just imagine how those therianthropes — "A human with the strength of a bull! Another with the guile of a crocodile!" — must have thrilled their contemporary viewers, we'll understand these cave paintings for what they are: early art, early storytelling, early cinema, but above all, early spectacle.

Related Content:

Was a 32,000-Year-Old Cave Painting the Earliest Form of Cinema?

40,000-Year-Old Symbols Found in Caves Worldwide May Be the Earliest Written Language

Archaeologists Discover the World’s First “Art Studio” Created in an Ethiopian Cave 43,000 Years Ago

Hear the World’s Oldest Instrument, the “Neanderthal Flute,” Dating Back Over 43,000 Years

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A Recently-Discovered 44,000-Year-Old Cave Painting Tells the Oldest Known Story is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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fruno
959 days ago
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Comparison of Reverse Image Search Engines

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Aric Toler (via Nick Heer):

However, if you only use Google for reverse image searching, you will be disappointed more often than not. Limiting your search process to uploading a photograph in its original form to just images.google.com may give you useful results for the most obviously stolen or popular images, but for most any sophisticated research project, you need additional sites at your disposal — along with a lot of creativity.

This guide will walk through detailed strategies to use reverse image search in digital investigations, with an eye towards identifying people and locations, along with determining an image’s progeny.

He says Yandex is “by far the best.”

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fruno
959 days ago
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50% Chance Notre Dame Cannot be Saved says Cathedral Representative

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Notre Dame cathedral is a symbol of the French people that has stood for 850 years. The devastating fire that engulfed the church last spring broke hearts around the country, and indeed, around the world, as Notre Dame represents everything steadfast and spiritual in the French soul.

Donations poured in to help restore the cathedral once the blaze was under control, which consumed the roof and made the church instantly unsafe.  Parts of the structure remain so unsteady that this year, for the one and only time since the French Revolution, Christmas Mass could not be held inside the cathedral. Instead, mass was held at a church near the Louvre Museum.

Notre Dame cathedral

The fire at an early stage from the south Photo by Wandrille de Préville CC BY-SA 4.0

Immediately after the blaze, investigators began hunting for a cause, and last June prosecutors suspected that a carelessly tended cigarette, or perhaps a faulty electrical outlet, were possible causes. To date, no firm conclusion has been reached except that the fire was not set intentionally. Investigators spoke with about 100 witnesses and examined approximately 1,000 pieces of evidence looking for an exact cause, and so far have said only that the blaze was likely the result of negligence, but not arson.

Notre Dame fire interior

Inside Notre Dame after the fire. (Photo credit LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)

What matters now, to Catholic officials, government, and of course the people of France, is that Notre Dame is restored. But that is by no means a foregone conclusion, simply because the will to see it happen is strong. The structure is extremely delicate, and work to restore it is laborious, and very expensive.

Notre Dame reconstruction

Work continues on Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris after the fire that destroyed its roof on April 15, 2019. Photo taken on December 24, 2019; Catholic faithful will not be able to celebrate the traditional Christmas mass for the first time in 216 years (Photo by Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he hopes the cathedral will be open in time for the Olympics, which Paris is hosting in 2024. Church officials would like that as well, but not all are optimistic that it will happen.

A representative of the church, Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, who is rector of the cathedral, told the Associated Press recently that, “there’s a 50 percent chance not all the structure can be saved…today, it is not out of danger. It will be out of danger when we take out the remaining scaffolding.” The scaffolding is jeopardizing the cathedral’s vaults, he explained. “There is a 50 percent chance of the scaffolding falling into the three vaults… the building is still very fragile.”

Notre Dame cathedral

Notre Dame cathedral under construction. The cleaning and consolidation phase of the building should continue until the end of the year. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

“Fragile” is not a word one wants to use to describe a venerated building like Notre Dame. Its historic place in French society, and indeed its draw as a tourist destination, brings millions to its doors each year. According to some estimates, Notre Dame is the most popular historic destination in all of Europe. It is certainly the most popular in France; its visitor numbers annually outstrip even those of the Louvre Museum, as many as 14 million per year.

Notre Dame cathedral

Notre Dame before the fire.

When the fire broke out last April, the world mourned with France, and a foundation was swiftly organized to receive donations to help with the restoration. However it is an enormously expensive process, and some say not as much money has arrived as initially promised — while 400 million Euros were pledged, not all have arrived to the foundation’s accounts.

Still, what concerns Chauvet at this moment is seeing the scaffolding removed. It was crisscrossing the back of the building when the fire broke out because renovations were underway. So far, about 50,000 tubes of the scaffolding have been safely removed, but, Chauvet said, “We need to remove completely the scaffolding in order to make the building safe so in 2021 we will probably start the restoration of the cathedral. Once the scaffolding is removed, we need to assess the state of the cathedral, the quantity of stones to be removed and replaced.”

Of course Chauvet would like to see the church open in time for the Olympics, but he is less confident than Macron that it will be operational by 2024.

Still, French citizens are hopeful that their treasured church will be available to them again soon. One young man who spoke to Associated Press said that, when he learned of the fire, he thought, “It’s not possible, and I took my bike and when I arrived (there) I was crying.”

Related Article: The Grotesque Stories Behind the Famous Gargoyles of Notre Dame Cathedral

He added solemnly, “We are French.  We are going to try to rebuild Notre Dame as it was before, because it is a symbol.” A symbol of everything that’s great in the French spirit, in the country’s history, and in the citizenry itself.

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fruno
962 days ago
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