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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn


cropHey, so many of these intros may be interesting but darned depressing. Here's one that's utterly charming, and I feel a bit connected, because I more or less let the milkweed grow where it will, to provide food for those beautiful orange and black butterflies—and, anecdotally, enough other folks in my town are doing the same thing that it seemed there were significantly more monarchs this year—I even had two on one joe pye weed flower at once! Don't remember that happening before... Next year, I'll have to add more food plants for swallowtails, my other fave, in addition to the queen anne's lace growing everywhere.

And speaking of orange and flowers, today's mouse combines the two in the focal (though not, alas, in the form of butterfly weed—which btw bloomed this year. Hurray.)


cropWe have a housemate for a bit, and he's much better about fixing a real meal for dinnertime, and that's probably contributed to a mild resurgence in kitchen-type info—so yes, I clicked on this click-baity list and concluded that, yes, having everything lined up and ready to go, even if it makes for a few more dirty dishes, is worthwhile, and much as I like using a knife and cutting board whenever possible, perhaps, given the success I've had with the zester on a handle, I would like having a mandoline—bonus that it's a) small b) looks relatively easy to clean and even c) you have to be a bit careful with it—hey, I know all about that, being a metalworker and flameworker.

But first, I have to decide where I would store it. Though I have to say, I'd buy this knife in a heartbeat...

In the meantime, a mouse featuring a technique that requires different sharp pointy tool, in this case a tungsten carbide pick.


cropWorking in a studio that's 50 degrees, and feels considerably colder when the torch is going owing to wind-chill issues (i.e. the hood pulling cold air around my back and shoulders) I'm all about finding ways to adapt to cold when the temps drop, as they've been doing. —I'd heard about the cold showers, but this article has a number of other tips of which the forcing myself to shiver for two weeks (ugh! Can I have the occasional hot tea/jumping jack break, please?) seems to be the most accessible.

If cold showers and baths don't appeal, how about a watery blue abstract mouse?


cropContinuing on yet again with more vintage mice. And so, keeping on with that theme, some now outdated, but nevertheless cool and slightly scary (though perhaps not for the reasons the original creators intended) vintage halloween cards. Turn of the last but one century was the golden age for all sorts of cards, but I hadn't realized that Halloween was at all popular—I thought these were mostly made for Christmas or Valentine's Day. (Since I have one myself for St Patrick's Day, this is clearly a lack of proper extrapolation on my part.)

And this person's modern halloween decorations are pretty darn scary too—honestly, measles, in this day and age?

Am also a bit behind the times with Barry Deutsch's Mirka series—I read the first two (in fact had a copy of the first one) but hadn't realized a third one came out in 2015: the same librarian who gleefully accepted my donation of the first book pointed out that the library had the most recent volume, How Mirka Caught a Fish, so I checked it out. This series, featuring an 11 year old orthodox Jewish girl, is a form of urban, er small-town, (i.e. current setting) fantasy whose archaic feel comes from the conservative dress and customs of its characters, despite their living in the modern world.

I'm not certain I agree with Shoshanna's assertion that they get increasingly darker as the series progresses but I did notice the Deutsch's improving sophistication with figures, particularly hands; the backgrounds and use of colour have also evolved. He also still does fun things with word balloons, as with the bear and skull shaped ones on pp. 16 and 52 respectively.

But what I really appreciated about Hereville, how the author-creator's ideas about combatting evil (or even corruption of ordinary folks—in this case the three main characters, Laele, Fruma and especially Mirka—by the wish-granting fish) still deeply inform the stories. The characters triumph not with force, or cutting corners during important religio-family activities (e.g. skipping Shabbat) but with intellect and compassion, which makes for some healthy pushback against, say, wham-bash-bam tentpole superhero (the concept is in the name...) films, where right is ultimately undergirded by might.

That sort of thing can certainly be entertaining, but it's not viable in the real world. But, without the easy answers, perhaps the Hereville books are getting darker, as their—our—milieu seems to: creators live in the world, and even if they aren't consciously attempting to reference, it creeps (heh) in.

So, who thinks today's dead mouse is creepy?


cropSometimes, systems change (or more often fail) catastrophically; but creation definitely tends toward the incremental, the slow'n’steady improvement: living creatures adapt more closely to their environments this way, artists typically refine their work this way, certainly software improves in this way! —and as it turns out, persuading people is generally easier more likely to succeed with this method as well, as a bunch of vegans who switched from screaming and throwing paint on fur coats to promoting meatless-one-day-a-week discovered.

Our household is living proof of this: though I never served gigantic chunks of roast beef or big steaks—because I'm cheap, frankly—as a young married I prepared meals with the usual USian proteins: chicken, hamburger, pork. To be sure, I was helped by the fact that the wizard would much rather eat cheese than meat, but, nevertheless, fast-forwarding to today, we now have a vegetarian housemate, a vegetarian offspring, and a mostly-meat free freezer. What meat we do buy is locally sourced, humanely raised and killed and very much a special occasion food.

I don't know that I'm particularly unusual (for the average almost-vegetarian) in that financial and medical (i.e. fear of prion diseases in particular and the need to be far more careful with raw animal than raw produce during food prep, not to mention the doctor's urging me to go whole-food, vegan diet in general) concerns have driven this direction. But the modern, harm-reduction campaigns have certainly had some impact—not just on me, but on my friends and acquaintances, which makes it just that much easier to go along.

I sometimes amuse myself by wondering what thing we take for granted that will horrify our descendants, the way slavery now sickens us; and if I had to guess, animal rights is one of the biggies: after all, slavery (and sexism) both come out of the idea that some people are less deserving than others; and as we (ever so slowly) add more and more people to the in-group deserving of dignity, it seems to me that other living creatures will also be given admission.

So those early animal-rights activists weren't wrong to scream and pound and chain themselves to fences; but we can't all be as prescient as Emma Goldman and even slavery abolitionists wore cotton: and thus, it's better to focus on the obtainable—while always striving for the transcendent.

Kinda like being an artist, really. (My art is far too slight in scope to be transcendent. But I'm very fond of today's piece anyway, one of those rare ‘out-of-the-box’ successes.)


cropSeeing as the posts for this week are all vintage, it seems only appropriate to feature this quite-a-bit-more-vintage Estonian animation (via bb) from the 70s. Couldn't help thinking that, like some other (older) animation I've seen from that region of the world, that there is a freedom from tyranny subtext.

It's not that long, nor is there any dialogue: it's very accessible. (Though I do think it could profit from having the purple bits colour-corrected, a bit—it reads very dark and unsaturated compared to the rest—a side-effect of the technology of the times; purple has historically been a difficult hue to reproduce which was, of course, while it a) expensive and b) thus associated with royalty. Ha. The comments provided a much better quality link...presumably, the poorer version is a several-iterations VHS copy.

Speaking of expensive and royalty, today's mouse features both dichro and silver bearing glasses, definitely amongst the ‘royalty’ of lampworkers’ materials. Enjoy.