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  1. Remembering Regional Gasoline Brands
  2. Patty Does Lyle
  3. Blogging Note
  4. At Mark Sisson's
  5. DVD Journal: "Gilles' Wife"
  6. Painter of the Indistinct
  7. Whatever Happened to Casein Paints?

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Remembering Regional Gasoline Brands
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- So here we are in Sheridan, Wyoming. Two days and 965 or so miles into our journey through the cowboy part of flyover country. Once we got nicely into Montana yesterday, I started noticing Sinclair gas stations with the little green dinosaur trademark. Brought back memories, that dino did. I did a lot of coast-to-coast driving 1965-75 and experienced regional gasoline stations. Nowadays, thanks to mergers and marketing rearrangements, different gasoline brands still tend to cluster geographically, but it's not the same as it was. Going back to the early 20th century, Standard Oil was broken into several regional oil companies. In the northeast was the Esso brand ("Esso" = "S" "O" for Standard Oil, get it?). There was Humble in Texas (an arm of Esso), Sohio and Marathon in Ohio and the Midwest, Standard of Indiana in the Midwest and in the West, Standard of California which sold gas in Standard stations and Chevron stations. There were other regional brands. Gulf in the east, along with Atlantic, Sunoco and Cities Service. Out west when I was young were Richfield, Associated ("Flying A") and Union 76. The Plains and Rocky Mountain West were served (in various subareas) by Phillips 66, DX, Conoco, Skelly and the aforementioned Sinclair. There were a few brands that came close to or succeeded in being nationwide. These were Shell, Texaco and Mobil (actually, a Standard fragment -- the company was for a while known as Socony Vacuum, "Socony" short for Standard oil company of New York, but products were marketed under the "Mobil" name). From the 1950s into the 1990s gasoline companies had their own credit cards for making purchases. This could create trouble for long-distance drivers not wanting to carry a lot of cash for buying gas. So some companies worked out deals with others for cross-honoring credit cards. As best I remember, I had cards for Shell, Texaco and California Standard, figuring that I could get reasonably good national coverage from those alone. One nice byproduct of all those gasoline brands for a road map nut like me was having the opportunity to scoop up lots of maps from lots of different brands -- this was before oil companies stopped giving away road maps. For better or worse, I still have most of them. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at September 12, 2009 | perma-link | (5) comments

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Patty Does Lyle
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Just because sharing YouTube music-video links is automatically a Good Thing ... Here's Patty Loveless singing the heck out of a witty and touching Lyle Lovett tune: Best, Michael... posted by Michael at September 10, 2009 | perma-link | (14) comments

Blogging Note
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- We're hitting the road again. This time, a ten day jaunt to South Dakota's Black Hills / Badlands area and points between, including Bozeman and Jackson Hole. As usual for domestic travel, I'll bring along a computer and post when I can. One potential problem in the Mountain West and the edge of the Great Plains is Verizon's coverage area. If I'm in a roaming zone, I can't use my Verizon connection to the Internet and this complicates blogging. So expect somewhat diminished content flow until the 21st or thereabouts. I'll also pack my digital camera in the hope that I find interesting subject matter for post-trip postings. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at September 10, 2009 | perma-link | (1) comments

At Mark Sisson's
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- A great rant from Primal eating-and-fitness guru Mark Sisson. Take a look at how well Melissa is doing on Sisson's "Primal" regime. Read our interview with Mark: Intro, Part One, Part Two. I warmly recommend Mark's helpful and inspiring book, which you can buy here. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at September 10, 2009 | perma-link | (6) comments

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

DVD Journal: "Gilles' Wife"
Michael Blowhard writes: Dear Blowhards -- Emmanuelle Devos plays a loving working-class wife and mother in a small city in 1930s France who begins to suspect that something's not quite right in her marriage. Directed by Frederic Fonteyne, "Gilles' Wife" initially seems about as undramatic as can be. It's a very slow, very deliberate, very beautiful accumulation of sensory details and psychological moments. (Filmgeeks may be reminded of a cross between the austere experimentalism of "Jeanne Dielman" and the impressionism of "Elvira Madigan.") But this study of domesticity and infidelity sucked me in and fascinated me. If it works for you as it did for me, you'll find that despite its quiet and oblique ways it accumulates terrific power. The details convince on what feels like a pre-verbal level, and Fonteyne and Devos are quite amazing in the ways they find to convey this inarticulate woman's intuitions and discoveries, and their effects on her. I recommend Fonteyne's 1999 "An Affair of Love" too. It stars Nathalie Baye as a lonely middle-aged woman -- I suppose that her character qualifies as a cougar, though I don't think the term was around in the late '90s -- treating herself to an affair with a studly, if similarly lonely, younger guy. Don't be afraid -- the film isn't "empowering" or "political" in that rousing and inane American way. It's a melancholy-yet-erotic entry in the small, stylishly "objective," psychological-study French mode -- a beautiful example of the kind of film that Woody Allen wishes he could make. Fast-Forwarding Score: Not a painstaking, crystalline moment Best, Michael... posted by Michael at September 9, 2009 | perma-link | (5) comments

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Painter of the Indistinct
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- A few months ago while I was visiting Paris' Musée d'Orsay I noted a few paintings that were drastically different from any of the rest. A glance at the information plaques revealed that they were by Eugène Carrière (1849-1906), whose Wikipedia entry is here. Self-portrait, c.1893 Carrière was born near Paris and raised in Alsace, but left before that area was lost to Germany (he served in the Franco-Prussian war and was taken prisoner, a further war-related humiliation). His art training included the École des Beaux-Arts and study under Alexandre Cabanel. His career began to take hold in the mid-1880s, by which time his subject matter had narrowed to portraiture and domestic scenes, his palette to a very narrow color range and his technique to a generally indistinct effect probably created in part by using a cloth to rub paint off areas of the canvas . One biographical source suggested that the result was so distinctively personal that other painters were hesitant to pursue his lead. Carrière is generally regarded as a Symbolist perhaps because his declarations regarding his art have a misty, spiritual cast. My take, however, is that he was at best a borderline Symbolist; his Symbolism was more atmospheric than actually symbolic. Below is a sampling of his work I found on the Web. Gallery L'enfant malade (The Sick Child) - 1885 Paul Verlaine - 1891 Madame Caerrière Alphonse Daudet and his Daughter Femme en toilette de bal (Woman Preparing for a Ball) The Mothers - 1900 I'm not sure Carrière's paintings can be taken in large doses, though that can be said for many artists. Certainly the works of his that I saw in the Orsay were striking as well as intriguing. If I were filthy rich, I wouldn't mind having a not-so-misty one on a nearby wall. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at September 8, 2009 | perma-link | (6) comments

Monday, September 7, 2009

Whatever Happened to Casein Paints?
Donald Pittenger writes: Dear Blowhards -- Way, way back -- so many years ago the thought scares me -- I was a college student majoring in commercial art. As I ranted here and elsewhere, I didn't learn much in art school. This was because I wasn't taught much; students to too great a degree were expected to discover things on their own -- not an efficient way to learn a trade. Once I reached my Junior year I began taking courses dealing with my major. For a reason I cannot remember, our color work was usually done on illustration board using casein paints. Huh? you ask. What in the world are casein paints? The Wikipedia entry is here. Other links containing useful background information are here and here. Casein paints are a kind of tempera whose medium is milk-based. As the links indicate, the paints have a distinct sweetish smell and dry to a matte finish. You probably haven't seen them in art supply stores for quite a while (if at all), and neither have I. Because I haven't noticed them, I assumed that no one was making them any more. But the next-to-last link indicates otherwise. I recall that I wasn't terribly fond of caseins, but used them because everyone else did. For one thing, the drying paint tended to curl thinner grades of illustration board. And after I painted large, flat areas, the dried result was often blotchy. Thanks to our general lack of instruction about painting of any kind, it's possible that I never figured out how to properly utilize caseins. I suppose I could give them another try, but I don't think I want to spend the time or money. If I ever do decide to fiddle around with opaque water-based paints, I think I'm most likely to give gouache a whirl. Later, Donald... posted by Donald at September 7, 2009 | perma-link | (3) comments