Monday, June 30, 2014

Blog Post No. 1200: The Ukrainian Situation

"They stayed away in droves."
                                            --Samuel Goldwyn

The Attempted Bloggery header in Ukrainian

More and more my political view of the world has taken on the perspective of a blogger. A year ago, while commenting on the increasing number of visits to this blog from China, I noted the then-current all-time leaders in page views as ranked by countries. At the time only the United States, the U.K., and Russia had accumulated more than 10,000 page views of this blog. Today they remain the top three countries and the only ones now with more than 20,000 page views each. Right now more than half of this blog's page views come from the United States, which is not really a surprise. It is a bit surprising to me to have Russia placing third, but over time the strong page view rankings from this country have been consistent.
Attempted Bloggery All-Time Page Views by Countries, July 4, 2013

China itself didn't make it onto the top-ten list until September 19, 2013, when it edged out Brazil for tenth place in all-time page views of this blog. At the time, I conjectured that virtual private networks were allowing some Chinese citizens to circumvent government censorship although, admittedly, I didn't have any proof of this. To this day, though, it's really the best explanation I have.
Attempted Bloggery All-Time Page Views by Countries, September 19, 2013

Meanwhile, Poland, Ukraine, and Serbia were themselves making some headway in the monthly blog statistics, suggesting that one or all of them might be making their way eventually into the all-time page views hit parade.
Attempted Bloggery Monthly Page Views by Countries, September 19, 2013

When Attempted Bloggery attained 400,000 page views just this May, I noted that Ukraine had come seemingly out of nowhere to tie China for eighth place in all-time page views. Of course, as I've already suggested, it really wasn't out of nowhere. Nevertheless, I conjectured that the Pro-Russian conflict had led to this happy (for me) state of affairs, and I all but declared Vladimir Putin to be my new best friend.
Attempted Bloggery All-Time Page Views by Country, May 24, 2014

Today Ukraine has pulled well ahead of China in page views--in fact, China has lost some ground in the page view count since May as Google possibly may have discounted some referrer spam--but my assessment last May of what was going on in Ukraine may have been altogether incorrect. For one thing, as we have seen, page views from Ukraine were increasing last September or even earlier, suggesting that the current Pro-Russian crisis which started in February may not be the precipitate cause of my newfound Ukrainian readers. Furthermore, I have really no idea what percentage of these 3,500 or so total page views now come from the part of Ukraine under Russian control or the part under Ukrainian control. My initial belief that Russia may have loosened the reins of internet censorship in the Crimean Peninsula may be completely mistaken, as I have found no news articles reporting general censorship in Ukraine. To complicate matters further, I have written a good number of blog posts since April about Russian-born artist Constantin Alajálov and these may have been of some interest in Ukraine, particularly among those who identify themselves as Russian.
Attempted Bloggery All-Time Page Views by Country, June 29, 2014

All this leads me to conclude that I have a very incomplete understanding of what drives readers here, whether from Ukraine, Russia, China, or anywhere else. One of the more refreshingly simple ideas I've stumbled upon is that just maybe it could be my own content such as the Alajálov pieces, rather than far-off political intrigue, that is bringing people here. It's just too bad that I've already said all I have to say about Constantin Alajálov. Or have I...?
Constantin Alajálov, The New Yorker, September 26, 1942

I like the unconventional use of space in this magazine cover. It reads from left to extreme right with the triangular group of GI's pointing like an arrowhead to the true object of their attention.

Note: Go ahead, be my guest. Read Attempted Bloggery in Ukrainian. You know you want to.

Take a look once more at the classic blog posts about Constantin Alajálov. I don't think anyone's had quite so much to say about him in a long while.

Do you like nice round numbers? Well, all the previous Attempted Bloggery centennial posts are just a click away:

Blog Post No. 100

Blog Post No. 200:  A Shaggy Dog Story
Blog Post No. 300:  From the Libraries of Searle, Koren, Booth, and Saxon
Blog Post No. 400: The Attempted Bloggery Quiz
Blog Post No. 500:  The Second Attempted Bloggery Quiz
Blog Post No. 600:  What I Do When I'm Not Blogging
Blog Post No. 700:  The Many Hazards of Blogging
Blog Post No. 800:  Think Locally, Blog Globally
Blog Post No. 900:  The Blog I Was Meant to Write
Blog Post No. 1000: Happy New Year, Lurkers and All!
Blog Post No. 1100:  The Power of Google


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Botero Ballerina

A limited-edition bronze sculpture of a ballerina by Fernando Botero has her legs at right angles to each other. Perhaps this explains the title Ballerina with Square Legs.

Note:  See an earlier blog post with another sculpture by Fernando Botero.


My Entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #432

Here is my entry in the New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest #432 for June 23, 2014. The drawing is by Danny Shanahan.

"Did you really expect complimentary Wi-Fi?"

June 30, 2014 Update:  The Finalists

July 21, 2014 Update:  Winning Caption

Note:  For last week's New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, a man wears a GoPro camera to a gallery opening. Hilarious captions ensue. See Contest #431.

Danny Shanahan's work figures in a few of my earlier blog posts. Take a look.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

George Booth: Devilled in the Details

Original published artwork by the inimitable George Booth was sold on eBay this past December. The eBay seller's father worked at the New Yorker where he obtained this drawing. Good move. It is one of the artist's classic auto repair shop cartoons. Independent mechanics, of course, are not so common today. Eccentrically straightforward mechanics such as the one depicted here are even less common, and may have existed only in the mind of the cartoonist. Today Mr. Booth celebrates his 88th birthday.

George Booth, "We'll have to keep your car another day. There's a devilled egg in the carburetor." Original artwork, The New Yorker, January 13, 1973, page 33

George Booth, "We'll have to keep your car another day. There's a devilled egg in the carburetor."
Original artwork, The New Yorker, January 13, 1973, page 33

George Booth, "We'll have to keep your car another day.
There's a devilled egg in the carburetor."
Original artwork, The New Yorker, January 13, 1973, page 33

EBay Bid History

George Booth, "We'll have to keep your car another day. There's a devilled egg in the carburetor."
The New Yorker, January 13, 1973, page 33

George Booth, "We'll have to keep your car another day.
There's a devilled egg in the carburetor."
The New Yorker, January 13, 1973, page 33

Note:  Why not join in the celebration of his birthday by checking out my previous blog posts about George Booth?

Last year The Comics Journal published a noteworthy George Booth interview.


Friday, June 27, 2014

John Held, Jr.: We Can Only Be Young Once

John Held, Jr. illustrated a swinging college graduation celebration for Cosmopolitan in the mid-1920's. Diplomas are tossed aside by a stunned college president and parents look on in quiet befuddlement as the graduating class succumbs en masse to the unrestrained rhythms of the Jazz Age. What on earth is the world coming to?

Illustration House
John Held, Jr., Original illustration for "We Can Only Be Young Once," Cosmopolitan, c. 1925-1926

Note:  Going somewhere? Don't miss my previous blog post about the rail travel poster art of John Held, Jr.


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Noodling Around with Ed Koren

Reader and contributor David from Manhattan writes of his latest discovery pertaining to Edward Koren, now Vermont's Cartoonist Laureate:
I've never figured out what some bookstores mean by describing a book as merely "Good" but when it includes a completely sound dust jacket and the book itself appears unread, I'm pleasantly surprised. But when I open it, and find an original Koren drawing on the front free endpaper, I'm stunned. I'm keeping the computer printout for the listing at $7.50 as a souvenir. By the way, I wonder if the tiny face in the noodle is supposed to be Koren.

Merry White. Edward Koren, illustrator. Noodles Galore, 1977

Edward Koren, Monster in a pot,
inscribed "For J. M./from E. K./with/love"
in Merry White. Edward Koren, illustrator. Noodles Galore, 1977

Note:  Enjoy my other blog posts featuring the art of Edward Koren.

You won't want to miss these numerous other examples of signed books with original drawings here on the blog.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ronald Searle: The Joys of Housework

"Searle is surely one of the finest (if not indeed the very best) of all-around cartoonists and illustrators in our day. Searle's work continues to be the despair of all black-and-white men everywhere, and I say this without fear of being called a segregationist."
--Walt Kelly, as quoted on the dust jacket of From Frozen North to Filthy Lucre (1964)
The great Walt Kelly himself, easily one of the very best "black-and-white men" ever in the comic pages, recognized Ronald Searle's singular gift with pen and ink. While Searle's watercolor technique was absolutely formidable, his black-and-white work showed if anything an even greater level of mastery. Searle came to use more and more color for magazine illustrations in the course of his career, but newspaper illustrations, with a few exceptions for new color presses, remained black-and-white and were always exceptional work.

The illustration for Mary Blume's "Action Menagere" ["Action Housewife"] is inscribed "Superwoman" by the artist, according to the Chris Beetles Gallery. It depicts a frenetic homemaker terrorizing her daughter and house pets with a vacuum cleaner. The illustration appeared in the International Herald Tribune, Paris on October 11, 1997. An English translation of the essay appeared on that same date in the New York Times with the title "Joys of Housework: The Way We Clean." The original artwork was sold by Chris Beetles no later than March of 2014 for 3,500 GBP.

Ronald Searle, Superwoman,
International Herald Tribune, Paris, October 11, 1997

Note:  The blog archives are replete with posts about Ronald Searle. Would I steer you wrong?

You can never get enough Searle, right? Check out Perpetua, the Ronald Searle Tribute Blog.

There are many posts here about the great Walt Kelly as well. Try a few. Not only is he quotable, he handles a mean brush.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Three Years of Blogging

If you want to learn a little something about yourself, go and write a blog. I, for one, have been surprised to learn that I am quite comfortable writing about cultural phenomena that occurred well before I was born, more so perhaps than I am in writing about more baffling contemporary trends. It seems a number of posts relating to the 1940's, for example, have come up in recent months and they've been a pleasure to compose, allowing me to dwell in the ephemera of a bygone era I never knew.

Today is this blog's third anniversary. While Attempted Bloggery has covered a lot of ground these three years, until now it hasn't adopted a proper theme song. Imagine that! I think it's high time to correct this oversight.

Living in the past is what I do so much of around here, so it seems only natural that "Living in the Past" should be the blog's official theme song. To be sure, the Jethro Tull tune is about a society that's seen better days rather than about a blogger with an inexplicable cultural affinity for old times, but I'm not going to quibble with Ian Anderson's lyrics if you won't. I also won't raise any objections to the unusual 5/4 time signature.

Jethro Tull, "Living in the Past" (1969)

Note:  Say, let's go living in the past right now with my second anniversary post.

OK, if you're serious about this, you may even wish to check out my very first anniversary post.

Heck, why not fire up the DeLorean and see the very first Attempted Bloggery post that started it all three years ago?

You may also want to read my previous posts with Jethro Tull music or, at the very least, turn up the volume and listen to them.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

An Extra Nizzard from Dr. Seuss

Earlier this month, Bonhams sold this copy of The King's Stilts (1939) with an original drawing by Dr. Seuss. The Nizzard in question is a troublesome bird which appears in the story. Flocks of Nizzards threaten to peck away at the Dike Trees that protect the island kingdom of Binn from inundation by the surrounding waters. This extra Nizzard, on the other hand, should be no trouble.

Dr. Seuss, Drawing of a Nizzard inscibed "EXTRA NIZZARD FOR WOODY [Woodward Dike] from Dr. Seuss" in The King's Stilts (New York: Random House, 1939).

Dr. Seuss, Drawing of a Nizzard inscibed "EXTRA NIZZARD FOR WOODY [Woodward Dike] from Dr. Seuss" in The King's Stilts (New York: Random House, 1939).
July 29, 2013 Update:  The drawing has been purchased by a Connecticut bookseller who duly removed it from the book and had it framed. It is offered for sale once again, this time on eBay. Whatever the cost of framing, the markup is likely still above 100%. A cursory examination of the Meier and Sons Rare Books website reveals it is their common practice to dismantle books in order to frame original drawings within them. I suspect this is not all that unusual in the industry.

EBay Listing

Note:  Don't miss my other posts on the good Dr. Seuss. Don't forget that he also furnished that quotation up on the header.

Other signed books with original drawings are featured on this blog as well. Got any to share?