Tuesday, April 30, 2013

With Laurel and Hardy's Best Wishes

The boys are looking dapper in this 1931 publicity photo inscribed to Jack Ogilvie of the Hal Roach Studios. It will be sold on May 5 at Bonhams in Los Angeles.

Stax Graves, Laurel and Hardy, Hal Roach Studios, 1931
Inscribed to Jack Ogilvie
Bonhams Los Angeles, May 5, 2013

Stax Graves, Laurel and Hardy, Hal Roach Studios, 1931
Inscribed to Jack Ogilvie
Bonhams Los Angeles, May 5, 2013
May 5, 2013 Update:  Sold for US$1,375 including premium.

Stax Graves, Laurel and Hardy, Hal Roach Studios, 1931
Inscribed to Jack Ogilvie
Bonhams Los Angeles, May 5, 2013
Laurel and Hardy in
"Chickens Come Home" (1931)
Directed by James W. Horne


Monday, April 29, 2013

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #378

Ahoy, landlubbers! This is my entry in The New Yorker's Cartoon Caption Contest #378 for April 29, 2013. The drawing is by Michael Maslin.
"She was my second choice. The only parrot in the shop called me a damn buffoon."

May 6, 2013 Update:  The Finalists

May 20, 2013 Update:  The Winning Caption

Note:  You can see my entry from last week here.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spam I Am

Last Wednesday evening, Facebook decided to warn my friends that my own links to my own blog might very well be directing them to an unsafe site. The links are generated by my Twitter account and are automatically posted to my Facebook page where they serve more or less as status updates and blog publicity. Facebook has since relented, but I've preserved their alarming warning for posterity:

A Spam Alert from Facebook Regarding Attempted Bloggery, April 24, 2013

Note:  You can follow me on Twitter @doc_nad.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Just Another Spring Day in Central Park

Four years ago, I went for a walk in Central Park and did a little people-watching. There may have been some unusual goings on, but I didn't really know what to make of it at the time and I still don't. These photographs document two separate events that I witnessed as I walked around the Reservoir. This was on or around May 1, 2009. I believe one event was meant to be humorous, and the other was meant to be artistic, or perhaps promotional. Even here I'm far from certain.

Note that in each instance, you can see someone else photographing the same subject. The people in the park wanted to be seen and photographed! The group wearing sadomasochistic dress and playacting the provision of transportation services attracted the attention of another photographer in my third and fourth photos. In the case of the woman wearing almost nothing but body paint, there were actually about a dozen other photographers standing next to me, all of them men. Go figure. Some of their camera equipment looked professional, so this may have been a publicity event. That would explain it, I suppose. I have some advice for the model, by the way: don't wear fall colors in the spring.

Note:  If you know more than I do about what transpired one fine spring day in Central Park four years ago and the uninhibited people I photographed, please feel free to leave an informative comment.


Fortune Cookie Genius

The secret to genius came to me in last month's fortune cookie. So now I have the secret but just I don't have the time for it.

"Genius is eternal patience."


Friday, April 26, 2013

Kenneth Mahood: Playing Both Sides of the Pond

Cartoonist Kenneth Mahood produced magazine covers inspired by Vincent Van Gogh for Punch in England and for The New Yorker in the U.S. They were separated by thirteen years and a large ocean. Both are informed by Van Gogh's vibrant artistic style, yet each also reflects the distinct sensibilities of the magazine it was designed for. Mr. Mahood knows a good idea when he has one.

Kenneth Mahood, Danger:  You are Now Entering Van Gogh Country
Punch Summer Number 1976

Kenneth Mahood, The New Yorker, July 31, 1989

Note:  Kenneth Mahood didn't know it, but he taught me a real life cartooning lesson back in 1990. See how thoroughly I was out-drawn by him here.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

China Advances

Last month I noted that China had suddenly appeared in my blog statistics as the country with the eighth greatest number of Attempted Bloggery page views. Prior to February of this year, it scarcely appeared at all. Now this month it has moved up in rank to seventh among all nations.

Attempted Bloggery Monthly Page Views by Country, April 23, 2013

This raises an interesting question, one which I don't think has an answer: Where would China rank in my blog statistics if there were absolutely no restrictions there on internet access? This is not an easy question. It could very well be that linguistic and cultural differences might serve to keep my blog unpopular, at least on a per capita basis. To some degree, though, technology like Google Translator could make this blog very accessible even to someone with no knowledge of English. I don't know if the Chinese would have much cultural affinity with this blog's typical subject matter, which is often humorous artwork of American or European origin. On the other hand, though, the sheer number of Chinese could potentially push this nation to the top of my statistics. How would all of this balance out?

Well, I just don't know. I would expect India, with 1.22 billion people and widespread use of English to be high on my list, but it isn't. On the other hand, I'm continually surprised by Russia's very strong showing here. It's only a guess, but I'd like to think a China with complete freedom from internet censorship would be ranked around third or fourth in page views.

For reference, here are the page view rankings by country since the inception of the blog. Note the prominence of English-speaking countries and of Europe:
Attempted Bloggery All-Time Page Views by Country, April 23, 2013

June 8, 2013 Update:  Despite constant internet censorship by the Chinese authorities, readership of this blog continues to increase in that country. Over the six weeks since this post was first published, China has advanced in the standings and is now tied for sixth place among all nations of the globe in monthly page views. The Chinese have caught up with the Canadians in the number of monthly page views emanating from the country, and indeed China was even a bit ahead of Canada yesterday. To be honest, I'm more surprised to see Turkey and Ukraine among the top ten countries, nudging out India (only recently active here), Spain, and Brazil.
Attempted Bloggery Monthly Page Views by Country, June 8, 2013

Note:  Last month's post on China's unanticipated increase in activity on this blog can be found here. To see my comments on Google Translator's French version of this blog, take a look here. If you'd like to see what Attempted Bloggery looks like in Chinese, by all means check it out here.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Revere F. Wistehuff: Cheerleader

From Illustration House's June 2007 auction comes this original illustration art by Revere F. Wistehuffe. A glamorous cheerleader is shown cheering into a megaphone.

Revere F. Wistehuff, Cheerleader
Illustration House, Lot 89, June 2, 2007

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blog Post No. 700: The Many Hazards of Blogging

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I throw myself upon the mercy of the Court! Oops, wrong speech. Let me start over...

Welcome to my 700th blog post! My musings have been appearing here more or less daily for almost two years now. How long I can keep this up is anybody's guess. My early fear that I would run out of topics has not been borne out. Quite the opposite, in fact. There are far more things I want to write about than I possibly can get to.

Attempted Bloggery was founded on the premise that each of us has something interesting to contribute to the general discourse. My own inclination has been to write about subjects on the basis of my enthusiasm for them, rather than any of particular expertise. I bring the qualifications of a decent visual sense and a fair ability to write, both of which are essential for the type of blog I aim to produce. Oh, like just about everyone else, I can also do a mean Google search. Nevertheless, I'm always grateful when others can add their own personal insights, particularly those things that come from life's accumulated knowledge and experience rather than from mere search results.

I've found along the way that there are many hazards of blogging. The first is the high-profile visibility of one's mistakes. There is always that concern that one simply won't be intellectually up to the task at hand. A blog is a very public place. When one fails to do one's homework, the resulting errors or inconsistencies are apparent to all. I try to use my fallibility as an asset, often asking readers to help out with what they themselves may know that I don't. I frequently amend my posts to reflect information I did not have at the time they were originally written. Such updates at the end of a given post allow me to maintain the original flow of content without having to rewrite it all from scratch. These can also provide a chronology of how information has been added. The downside of this is that what you get wrong is on display for all to see.

A blog can showcase one's weaknesses as well as one's strengths. For example, I have started a new series of posts chronicling my entries in The New Yorker's Cartoon Caption Contest. This is something that the late Roger Ebert did exceedingly well, producing one actual winning caption and a number of excellent entries besides. I expect no such stellar accomplishments myself. Rather, now it is not only possible for readers to discern my ignorance, they can also glean just how unfunny I may be as well. So be it.

But criticism is rare. The overwhelming response to anything I post is silence. With a bit over 200,000 page views, this blog has received a bit over 200 comments, not counting my own responses. That's about one comment per thousand page views, hardly sufficient to provide the active interchange of ideas I'd love to see here. One of the challenges, then, is keeping the posts coming at times when there's little or no feedback of any sort from readers.

Of course, there are those who prefer to communicate with me privately via email rather than publicly on the blog, and that's great. There are also those who leave public comments on social media such as my Facebook page rather than on the blog itself, sometimes apparently without clicking through to the blog post. Fine. On the blog, there are a few regular contributors to the comments section. I would place the number in the high single digits. These are the people who constitute my most consistent contact with my readership, and I treasure them.

Perhaps the greatest hazard of blogging is the ever-expanding time commitment. As the blog gets bigger, it becomes more difficult to keep all the older posts updated while providing a steady stream of new material. Using time for blogging means it is not used for other worthwhile things. For example, I would have been far better off these two years using my blogging time for, say, exercising, although in reality there's no way I would have done anything like that. The truth is, the time I now spend blogging was previously spent playing Mafia Wars and not playing tennis. Mafia Wars was a game where I had to work harder and harder all the time just to stay in the game. It was very much like running in place. When I stopped playing, my previous achievements soon became essentially worthless. At least with the blog I have a public record of my efforts, one that I'm fairly proud of, in fact. Even if I weren't blogging, I would probably not be using the time to study or write or get enough sleep. That, after all, would be sensible.

Finally, there is also a monetary expense to blogging. This hazard is mostly one of my own making, so I'll accept full responsibility. If I decide to attend an event so I can write about it, for example, then that is a personal choice I have freely made. Similarly, I don't think I have any right to complain about it when I start writing about something offered on, say, eBay and then decide to buy it myself. You see, in many ways, the hazards of blogging are integral to the very process of blogging.


Monday, April 22, 2013

My Entry in The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #377 for April 22, 2013

This makes the third time I've entered The New Yorker's Cartoon Caption Contest, which is Contest #377 for April 22, 2013. After this, I should probably stop counting my entries. The drawing is by Tom Cheney. The caption is by yours truly.

"I don't care how comfortable he is here, Sherlock, you are
sending him back to Sumatra this instant!"

I had considered going with an alternative caption, one perhaps with a less obscure reference, but I decided against it. The R.O.U.S.'s were suggested by my daughter.

"Rodents of Unusual Size were funny in 'The Princess Bride.'
They are not funny in Teaneck."

April 29, 2013 Update:  The Finalists

May 13, 2013 Update:  The Winning Caption

Note:  My previous entry in the caption contest can be found here. If my submitted caption makes absolutely no sense to you, you might check out this earlier blog post.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day falls on April 22. Last year, I'm sorry to say, my celebration of Earth Day was marred by the unsolicited appearance of Marvin Martian. Or is it Marvin the Martian? Either way, I'm certainly not going to let that happen again this year. Happy Earth Day, earthlings!

Virgil Ross, Bugs Bunny and Marvin Martian
Profiles in History, July 29, 2012


Virgil Ross, Bugs Bunny and Marvin Martian
Profiles in History, July 29, 2012


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rooms of Wonder: From Wunderkammer to Museum, 1599-1899

"Rooms of Wonder:  From Wunderkammer to Museum, 1599-1899"
The Grolier Club
December 5, 2012 to February 2, 2013

In the days before large public museums, private collectors gathered interesting specimens from nature. These were displayed in Wunderkammern or "Cabinets of Curiosities." Collectors included physicians, apothecaries, naturalists, and the wealthy. Many collections were recorded in prints, drawings, and paintings. Collections of Wunderkammer books such as that of Peter the Great went on to become the basis of major library collections. Some of the oddities recorded--for example, babies and adults with anatomical deformities--later inspired showmen such as P. T. Barnum to create carnival freak shows. Various books and other scarce objects collected between the 17th and 19th centuries were recently exhibited in New York at the Grolier Club.

In my more fanciful moods, I can almost imagine myself as a 17th century collector of exquisite biological specimens, cataloguing a scholarly and beautiful Wunderkammer that could one day form the basis of a natural history museum. Then I remember I most likely would have been an impoverished peasant unable to afford even a stuffed crocodile to suspend from the ceiling.

The show "Rooms of Wonder, from Wunderkammer to Museum, 1599-1899" ran from December 5, 2012 to February 2, 2013. Let's look at a few choice objects from the display in honor of National Library Week, as if we needed an excuse.

Albert Seba, Crocodile (hand colored)
 Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata description, 
Vols. I and II (Amsterdam 1734 and 1758)
Collection of the George Peabody Library of the Sheridan Library Special Collections,
Johns Hopkins University.

The crododile is displayed on the exhibition poster and on the catalogue. The catalogue is available for $25.
Rooms of Wonder Catalogue
The Grolier Club

Here is the Grolier Club's press release:
"Rooms of Wonder From Wunderkammer to Museum, 1599-1899," Press Release, Page 1

"Rooms of Wonder From Wunderkammer to Museum, 1599-1899," Press Release, Page 2

"Rooms of Wonder:  From Wunderkammer to Museum, 1599-1899,"
Introductory Wall Text

Albert Seba
Snakes (hand colored)
Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata description, 
Vols. I and II (Amsterdam 1734 and 1758)
Collection of the George Peabody Library of the Sheridan Library Special Collections,
Johns Hopkins University.

Albert Seba
Crocodile (hand colored)
 Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata description, 
Vols. I and II (Amsterdam 1734 and 1758)
Collection of the George Peabody Library of the Sheridan Library Special Collections,
Johns Hopkins University.

Albert Seba
Blowfish, Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio
[A collection of natural history objects, accurately and richly described] Volume 1 (Amsterdam, 1734)

Albert Seba
Engraved Portrait, (Amsterdam, 1731)

Martin Frobenius Ledermüller, Subscription Prospectus with Hand-Colored Engraved Plate of Two Flying Squirrels (Nuremberg, 1762)

Pedro Francisco Dávila, Catalogue Systématique et raisonné  des Curiosités (Paris, 1767)

George Bennet, 4th Earl of Tankerville, A Catalogue of the Shells Contained in the Collection of the Late Earl of Tankerville (London, 1825)

Johann Daniel Schumacher, Palaty Sanktpeterburgskoi imperatorskoi Akademii nauyk Biblioteki i Kunstkamery kotorykh predstavleny plany
[Chambers of the St. Petersburg Imperial Academy of Sciences Library and Gallery] (St. Petersburg, 1741)
Lent by the Houghton Library, Harvard University 

Johann Samuel Schröter, Musei Gottwaldiani (Nuremberg, 1782)
Johann Samuel Schröter, Musei Gottwaldiani (Nuremberg, 1782), Bowl Made from a Cut and Incised Nautilus Shell

Jacob de Wilde
Signa antiqua e musaeo Jacobi de Wilde, Copy 1 (Amsterdam, 1700)

Jan van Rymsdyk
Museum Britannicum (London, 1791)

Ferrante Imperato
Frontispiece to Dell'Historia Naturale (Naples, 1599)

Basilius Besler
Continuatio rariorum et aspectu dignorum varii generis,
 Engraved title page (Nuremberg, 1622)
Collection of Florence Fearrington.

Nehemiah Grew
Musaeum Regalis Societatis (London, 1681)

Mauro Soldo
Exercise Machine, 1766

Tower of London:  A New History and Description of the Tower of London (London, 1810)

George Shaw
Museum Leverianum (London, 1792)
The museum of Sir Ashton Lever (1729-1788)

George Shaw
Museum Leverianum (London, 1792)
The museum of Sir Ashton Lever (1729-1788)

William Bullock
Print of Bullock's London Museum

Thomas Joseph Pettigrew
History of Egyptian Mummies (London, 1834)
after George Cruikshank

Paulinus a Sancto Bartholomaeo
Mumiographia Musei Obiciani (Padua, 1799)

John Collins Warren
A Description of an Egyptian Mummy (Boston, 1824)

Frederik Ruysch
Opera Omnia, Volumes II and III (Amsterdam, 1739)

Michael Bernhard Valentini
Museum Museorum (1714)

Frederik Ruysch
Observationum anatomico-chirurgicarum (Amsterdam. 1691)

Frederik Ruysch
Thesaurus Anatomicus Primus

Frederik Ruysch
Thesaurus Anatomicus Primus

John Barnard Swett Jackson, M.D.
A Descriptive Catalogue of the Anatomical Museum (Boston, 1847)

Madame Tussaud
The Napoleon Museum (London, c. 1843)

New York Tribune, July 14, 1865, "Great Conflagration. Barnum's Museum in Ashes."
P. T. Barnum's Fiji Cannibals
The Rhinoceros, Advertising Card for P. T. Barnum's Travelling [sic] World's Fair (New York, 1874)

The Rhinoceros, Advertising Card for P. T. Barnum's Travelling [sic] World's Fair (New York, 1874)

Emil Seitz after Thomas Benecke
Sleighing in New York (New York, 1855)
Depicting P. T. Barnum and Jenny Lind
Lent by the American Antiquarian Society

May 4, 2013 Update:  An album of thirteen photos from the show at the Grolier Club taken by Gregor J. Rothfuss is posted here.