In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

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Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

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  1. Public Pleasures/Private Pleasures?
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  7. Random Visual Attack 3
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  9. Random Visual Attack 1
  10. Hometown USA

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Our Last 50 Referrers

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Public Pleasures/Private Pleasures?
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- I find myself wondering how the girl in these photos (NSFW) would react if she were ever to run across them on the web. Perhaps she'd feel violated, hurt, and enraged. On the other hand, she looks great. She's fit, she's young, and she's full of humor and spirit -- she'll probably never look better. And it wasn't as though she was keeping her joy and her freedom entirely to herself at the time the photos were taken. So maybe she'd feel delighted instead. Any guesses about this from anyone? Ladies, if you were she, etc., how would you react? Best, Michae... posted by Michael at August 27, 2005 | perma-link | (39) comments

Friday, August 26, 2005

X-rated Elsewhere
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- This Blowhard does not endorse X-rated behavior. This Blowhard thinks that, generally speaking, caution is wise, that there's a time and a place, etc. But this Blowhard also has a mischievous side, enjoys a good dirty joke, assumes we're among adults here, and doesn't mind violating his own rules. (Actually, one of his most unshakeable convictions is that sex, humor, art, poetry, and religion all bubble up from the same deep well -- or, better put, are related manifestations of similar energies. But that's for another posting.) Plus: The electronic-media explosion that we're engulfed in has thrown open doors to all kinds of raunchy, uninhibited, and pornographic material. How not to take notice? Most of these links are highly NSFW, if you hadn't guessed. * The Onion has some bad economic news. * Jill tries a bigger one than usual, then returns for more. * Who says traditional drawing skills have been lost? * Dr. Photo thinks that, with only a couple of tweaks, Scarlett would be perfection itself. Shame-Ridden Disgrace suspects that certain practices may prove more rewarding than going to a shrink. * Male movie stars: best served cut or uncut? * Maybe it's true what they say. Actually, judging from this photo, it seems to be true about four times over. * I found the geometry of the swinger session that "M" describes a little hard to follow, but I was amused that the image of Helen Slater as Supergirl played such a large role in M's imagination. Helen Slater as Supergirl has played a role in my erotic imagination too. * This blog is a wide-ranging, knows-no-borders kind of blog. Other blogs are much more tightly focused. * I will never take a photograph half as witty as this one. * What to do when The Hubster is mentally in the mood but doesn't have the physical energy to perform? Maybe the time has come to call in a pinch hitter. * Demure College Student lets down her hair and admits that she has an erotic thing for mirrors. * Excellent use of a cameraphone. * Nikiee has an awe-inspiringly take-charge attitude towards her pleasure ... * Eating a McDonald's Happy Meal reminds Avatar of something. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 26, 2005 | perma-link | (5) comments

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Donald Pittenger on John Sloan
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- I'm pleased to announce that Donald Pittenger has agreed to start writing as a full-fledged Blowhard. Visitors have had a chance to enjoy Donald's thoughts and observations about cars, cities, and illustration. I'm looking forward with great eagerness to what else he comes up with. Donald has some traveling on the near-term agenda, but he'll begin regular blogging on his return in late September. Until then, I'm glad to say that I have some pieces that Donald has written waiting on the hard drive; I'll be putting them up as Guest Postings over the next couple of weeks. Here's one of them: some thoughts about the American Ashcan School artist John Sloan. *** John Sloan -- Political Radical, Artistic Conservative by Donald Pittenger Thank heaven for Dover books. Inexpensive, well assembled (considering their price) and offering a lot of content in a variety of specialized fields. I recently bought their edition of "John Sloan on Drawing and Painting" by Ashcan School artist John Sloan, a revised and re-titled version of his "Gist of Art" that first appeared in 1939. Actually Sloan didn't write it, even though his name is on the cover. It was compiled by Helen Farr, a former student and lover who became his second wife. Much of the content was from notes taken by Farr at classes taught by Sloan at the Art Students League and supplemented by notes and recollections from other former ASL students. Sloan did go through the manuscript and made such changes as he saw fit, blessing the result as faithfully expressing his views. I bought the book because I find it interesting to read the mature views of people who know their business: I hope to learn something that might prove useful. Actually, I've never liked Sloan's paintings. And I don't like most of his politics, either. Nevertheless the book intrigued me because, although Sloan was an avowed Socialist, his views on art struck me as being conservative at the time they first appeared in print and well-nigh reactionary today. These are interesting contradictions, because many of us tend to be more consistent in our views. Not entirely consistent of course, perhaps ranging from middle-of-the-road on some matters to somewhat-extreme on others. This posting sketches Sloan's life and politics, but focuses on his art and theories of art. My main source is "John Sloan on Drawing and Painting" cited above, and I also made use of the biography "John Sloan" by John Loughery, Henry Holt, 1997. A bit of biography Sloan was born in 1871 in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, a lumber and paper industry town at the time and later the home of the Piper airplane firm, builder of the famous Piper Cub light plane. His family moved to Philadelphia where Sloan attended the elite Central High School with classmates William Glackens (another Ashcan artist) and Albert Barnes (the famed art collector). Thanks to his father's nervous breakdown, Sloan had to leave high school to earn... posted by Michael at August 25, 2005 | perma-link | (13) comments

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * John Massengale has been watching some movies. Who needs Anthony Lane? * Now that I've read George Hunka's posting about it, I'm eager to see "The Aristorcrats," a new documentary about the dirtiest joke ever told. * Does GDP do a good job of measuring economic well-being? Lots of people have pointed out flaws. Here's a new one on me. Anthony Mueller argues that what's really wrong with GDP is something very basic: GDP is itself a function of the armed-for-war welfare state. * Is your corporate boss a psychopath? * Evan Kirchoff's evocation of a some time spent with a PT Cruiser may be a classic. * Thanks to Michael Gates for pointing out this cheerfully gruesome Flash animation set to The Beatles' "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." * Some people have become very creative with their tattoos ... (NSFW) * Shame-Ridden Disgrace confesses that he finds the spectacle of naked chicks wrestling surprisingly sexy. Dr. Photo asks, Who needs silicone if you've got Photoshop? (NSFW) * Thanks to Quiet Bubble for pointing out this amusing Ruminator interview with the wisecracking Fran Lebowitz. * John McWhorter thinks that the urban riots of the '60s aren't anything to celebrate. * The talented young designer Yuko Kondo reminds me of Peter Max crossed with Tadanori Yokoo. * Six Muslim women living in Germany have been killed recently by their families for the crime of trying to act like free Western women. Randall Parker comments. * It's not as though the U.S. is the only place on the planet that has tolerated slavery. Razib brings us up to date on the history of Islam and slavery. * Jim Kalb suspects that Islam may be very well-suited to the part of the world where it flourishes. * Here's a long q&a with happiness economist Richard Layard. * Thanks to Shouting Thomas for pointing out this funny and oh-so-true Hog on Ice posting about the glories of men. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 24, 2005 | perma-link | (4) comments

Me on Books, Redux
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- The attitudes I sometimes express about the experience of interacting-with-books might strike some visitors as odd, offensive, or far-out. (Here's hoping a few people are tickled by 'em too.) They're certainly unusual, at least in the sense of "You don't see that expressed in print too often!" I've been blogging for three years now, and I long ago unloaded many of my most urgently-felt Big Ideas. These days, I'm a happy, fulfilled blogger who generally free-associates, takes note, muses out loud, and moves on. Having already put my small handful of Big Ideas into words, I now take them for granted. I glance off of 'em more than I spell 'em out. Fun -- for me, at least. But this new mellow-me may also be leaving some recent visitors puzzled. What the hell am I talking about? Where do these zany ideas come from? Is there anything to 'em? Why are they so unlike the ideas and attitudes the profs and the critics are selling? And who the hell am I anyway to be expressing such bizarre notions? A quick, if necessarily vague, self-introduction: I've got a perfectly-OK academic background, but I've also spent more than 25 years as a fly on the wall of the NYC culture and media worlds. I've known artists, poets, novelists, musicians, producers, and actors personally and as friends. I've also met and interacted-with-professionally hundreds of culturefigures, many very superficially and some in considerable depth. I've been a moviebuff for more than 30 years, and for 15 years I followed the book publishing world closely. Nothing special about me, or about any of this, by the way: These are simply the kinds of experiences you have if you spend a big part of your adulthood in the culture-and-media worlds. And I've never been anything but a worker ant in this world. Still, I've tried to be an observant worker ant. I've watched the personalities, the business, and the processes. I've been far more interested in taking note of what the world I've found myself in is like than in what I think it should be like. I seem to be, temperamentally, more of an anthropologist than a debater, let alone an opinionator: I have always got on better with journalists for trade magazines than I have with critics, for instance. I enjoy the sensation of my feet on the ground. As a consequence, I've found that I've had to throw overboard much of what I was told about art and culture as a student. It was simply wrong, or misleading. I've also found myself unable to endorse much of what the media and the profs tell us about culture and the arts. The media, I've found, are generally selling us an image (often more than half believed-in, by the way, and often quite hard to resist), while the profs are generally pompous, naive, and deluded. The main thing I like using this blog for is passing along my own... posted by Michael at August 24, 2005 | perma-link | (6) comments

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Random Visual Attack 4
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Like zillions of other digital-photography amateurs, I've discovered the joys of the "Macro" setting. My little Kodak seems to be able to focus down to about one inch. Here's a sophisticated abstract composition -- er, actually a lucky closeup of some bookjacket or other. Nice glare! Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 23, 2005 | perma-link | (10) comments

Random Visual Attack 3
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Not too long ago, The Wife and I visited the Florida Panhandle. The Panhandle is the location of the legendary New Urbanist town Seaside, but it's more generally known as "the Redneck Riviera," and it's very Britney Spears, if you know what I mean. We did our best to live the life. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 23, 2005 | perma-link | (9) comments

Random Visual Attack 2
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- From a visit to Graceland, here's The King's Hall of Gold Records. It looks a bit like "The Matrix" to me. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 23, 2005 | perma-link | (6) comments

Random Visual Attack 1
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- It doesn't take much encouragement to get me to inflict more of my bad photographs on visitors! Here's a shot of backlit leaves and flowers -- very Victorian, no? Would you have guessed that this photo was taken in Manhattan? Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 23, 2005 | perma-link | (4) comments

Hometown USA
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- A pure-self-indulgence posting: a couple of images from a recent visit to the town in western New York state where I grew up -- more a branch of the midwest than a suburb of the northeast. Who says smalltown America doesn't really exist? Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 23, 2005 | perma-link | (26) comments