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  1. Holiday Air Travel Question
  2. Raw Milk, Cont.
  3. Painting California
  4. Best of the Best-Ofs, 2007
  5. Low-Carb Linkage
  6. Pic of the Day
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  8. Generic Heroism

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Holiday Air Travel Question
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Before the Christmas-New Year's season, the news media were full of speculative stories about how horrible air travel would be over the holidays. Christmas is over, so I suppose we're at least halfway through the process. And I'm wondering how things are going. Rather than dreary old data, and in the spirit of those news geniuses, I delcare that it's time for some serious anecdotal evidence! I'll start with me. Our December 21st flight from Seattle to San Francisco (Alaska Airlines) went well; we arrived on time. Our December 27th flight from San Francisco to Honolulu (American Airlines) arrived a tad early. The only bad thing was a nasty, unexpected bit of turbulence about 700 miles from the Islands. On the other hand, Nancy's cousin's family on a December 26th flight from Seattle to Honolulu (Northwest) had a six or seven hour delay because an improper flight recorder had been installed the night before and the error wasn't detected until the flight deck crew was running through their checklist. A correct part had to be flown in from Minneapolis. I'm not out of the woods yet. On January 3rd we fly to LAX (American) and then up to Seattle (Alaska). Until then, I'll relax and sip some Kona coffee. But how about the rest of you who've been flying during the holiday season? Any good / bad /interesting things to report? Later, Donald... posted by Donald at December 28, 2007 | perma-link | (5) comments

Raw Milk, Cont.
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- The raw-milk battles continue. In California, producers and fans are fighting a new law that some say would destroy the raw milk market. Apparently they have made their voices heard. Dr. John Zoldberg predicts that raw milk will be the top health story of 2008. I'm not going to gloat and say "you heard about it here first." But, hey, you might have. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at December 28, 2007 | perma-link | (8) comments

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Painting California
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Unless you live in or near California, it's quite possible that you never heard of a painting movement known as the California Impressionists. California began to attract the attention of artists not long after Gold Rush days. But from the 1890s till the 1930s the California Impressionists flourished, almost in defiance of painting trends in France and the rest of the United States. Even now there are artists who paint in this style and their work can be seen in galleries in Carmel and the Los Angeles area. The movement got its name because the artists borrowed color and light concepts from the French Impressionists of the 1870s for use in depicting California landscapes. Before World War 2 this was fairly easy to do. A satisfactory highway system was in place by the 1920s that allowed artists to head for remote areas for plein-air work. Also, because the state's population was less than 15 per cent of what it is today, plenty of unspoiled scenery was handy to the cities where the artists were based. Plus, artist colonies sprang up in places such as Carmel and Laguna Beach. I wrote about Arthur Mathews, a borderline California Impressionist, here. And I plan to write about some of the better California Impressionists in the coming months. The present article is intended to briefly set the scene and pose an impotant question. Here are some examples of California Impressionism along with two photographs of California scenery. Gallery La Jolla Shores - Alson Clark, 1920 California Oaks - Granville Redmond, 1910 Goleta Point - John M. Gamble, n.d. Saddleback Mountain, Mission Viejo - William Wendt, 1923 Photgraph of a California landscape Photograph of section of California coast And that question I said I'd pose? It's To what extent does California's natural beauty make painters "look good"? In other words, I'm wondering if California scenery can be so powerful and distinctive that it can be captured by even passingly-good artists -- or perhaps you don't have to be a great artist to do California Impressionism. If that line of thinking is so (and I'm inclined to agree at this point), then it can be hard to evaluate the greatness of California Impressionists as artists in cases where all they painted was California scenes. This potential problem will reappear when I write about specific painters of that school. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at December 25, 2007 | perma-link | (16) comments

Best of the Best-Ofs, 2007
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Here are my nominees for the Best of the "Best Of" Lists of 2007. * Publishingdude John Williams runs through his 2007 movie faves. * Yahmdallah sums up the high points of a very busy culture-consuming year here. * WhiskyPrajer puts together his dream mix tape. * Alex Billington reviews "the best 19 movies you didn't see in 2007." Semi-related: Back here, I gabbed a bit about what I look for from a best-of list. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at December 25, 2007 | perma-link | (6) comments

Monday, December 24, 2007

Low-Carb Linkage
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * Jimmy Moore runs two terrific interviews. The first is with the excellent Nina Planck, who is generous with information and advice. Great Nina line: "Even the sorriest grocery story has a produce section. Use it." Nina's own website is here; "Real Food," her very rewarding book, can be bought here. I raved about "Real Food" here, and I ran a note that Nina wrote to 2Blowhards here. * Terrific Jimmy interview #2 is with Tom Naughton, who has made a documentary attacking the low-fat gospel of the official health-tips class. I'm intrigued by Naughton, who has worked as both a health writer and a standup comedian -- interesting combo! And I'm curious about his movie, "Fat Head," which looks like a smart and snappy piece of work, as well as an appealingly handmade and personal one. You can watch a lot of teasers for "Fat Head" here -- great use of Monty Python-style Flash animation. And you can check out the website that Tom has made for his movie here. It's an interesting, entertaining, and informative work in its own right. * Jimmy Moore has issued his own low-carb chocolate bar. Jimmy Moore is a low-carbin' force of nature. * Having lost a bunch of weight, Prairie Mary finds herself experiencing a lot of things very differently. Best, Michael UPDATE: Dennis Mangan registers some disagreements with the low-carb crowd: here, here, here, here.... posted by Michael at December 24, 2007 | perma-link | (4) comments

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Pic of the Day
Friedrich von Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards, I have to confess a secret shame. Despite my very real admiration and attraction to the Impressionist school of landscape painting (including both the canonical French masters and the California school), I like Romantic landscape painting even better. There, it feels good to get that off my chest. I'm not saying I don’t have issues with Romanticism generally, although when push comes to shove most of my issues are actually with the way Modernism filed the serial numbers off of any number of Romantic notions and then misused most of them in the 20th century. But I have no issues at all with Romantic landscape painting. It's big, it's vast, it's cosmic, it's Deistic or polytheistic, and heck, it's often (although not always) amazingly brightly colored. It can combine the Big Picture with reassuring little passages of detailed description. It often transparently glues together different moments of time, different sources of illumination and absurd disjunctions of scale. All this makes me ridiculously happy, although I can assure you that I've dutifully absorbed many lectures about how modern landscape painting is morally superior because it refuses to do any of these inherently fun things. Anyway, it’s always a thrill to come across a new artist that I like, or at least an artist that is new to me. That’s why I’m posting this picture by an artist whose work I never laid eyes on before today, despite the fact that he died 120 years ago. Feast your eyes on this painting by Peder Balke (1804-1887), a Norwegian painter who, according to Wikipedia, …was known for portraying the nature of Norway in a positive manner and influenced a dramatic and romantic view of Norwegian landscape. Balke, P., Stedtind i tåke, 1864 You can see more pictures by Balke and read more about him here. Cheers, Friedrich... posted by Friedrich at December 23, 2007 | perma-link | (5) comments

Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- * A brave legislator in Alabama takes on a risky cause. (NSFW.) * Bartenders report that doctors and lawyers are "cheap bastards." * Why do many men find yoga more difficult than women do? Maybe it's because they're physically tighter, because they have a hard time letting go of their competitive drives, and because their mirror neurons are lame-o. * My inner trash-movie fan can't decide whether it's looking forward more to this film or to this one. Those are a couple of dynamite trailers, in any case. Today's MBlowhard Half-Baked Theory&trade: Movie trailers have become a far more vital and important art form than the movies they're meant to advertise. How soon until people wake up to this fact, skip the "creating movies" stage entirely, and begin putting all their energies into making trailers? Is there any reason not to bypass the boring stuff? Best, Michael... posted by Michael at December 23, 2007 | perma-link | (8) comments

Generic Heroism
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Slowly but surely, as they say, Seattle's Museum of Flight is becoming a major-league aviation museum. The tipping point was reached when it acquired the Champlin collection of World War 2 aircraft and built a special wing to display some of these and related planes. Naturally, every good thing (to Seattle airplane fans if not Champlin-less aircraft buffs in Southern California) can have a downside. To me, the downside was the name the museum gave to the wing housing Great War and WW2 planes. The call it the Personal Courage Wing. I'm not a pilot, so by my reckoning learning how to fly takes "personal courage." Going into mortal combat is a order-of-magnitude step higher in the courage department, I believe. So why didn't they call it the "War Years Wing" or maybe the "Aerial Combat Wing?" Beats me. But Personal Courage Wing strikes me as a politically correct gesture to suit liberal Seattle, even though part of the museum's funding came from Boeing. And didn't Boeing manufacture a few B-17s, B-29s, B-47s, B-50s and B-52s? Y'know, combat planes. Later, Donald BLOGGING NOTE: I'm writing this in the Bay Area and will be heading for Honolulu the 27th. I'll try to blog from there, provided that either (1) my cell-phone Internet connection is available or (2) our hotel has free Internet service ... though I'll have to buy an Ethernet cable to make that work, I suppose. And if all fails, I'll be back blogging January 4th or thereabouts.... posted by Donald at December 23, 2007 | perma-link | (6) comments