Stolen Dali Painting Returned

A few weeks back, this guy walks into a new New York gallery, snatches a Dali off the wall, puts it into a shopping bag and walks out in full view of cameras.  A few weeks letter, the gallery gets an e-mail from someone in Europe saying that the painting is on its way back to the gallery.  Indeed, the painting arrived, neatly packed and unscathed. That it was returned, in my view, is a bit of an insult.

Strange, but given that the painting in question is a Dali original, the original Surrealist, whose paintings are bizarre, yet soothingly familiar to us all, strange is what we would expect and want.  Ok, I’m speaking for myself, but when I see some of his paintings, I think – that’s it, that captures what I feel inside.  Not all of his paintings resonate with me.  The stolen work in question, Cartel des Don Juan Tenorio is surely one of his lesser works that could have been by Panbanisha, the painting bonobo.  There’s speculation that the painting didn’t sell because of all the news surrounding the theft; that no one in their right mind would purchase a recently lifted Dali.  But I don’t think that’s the reason.  I think the reason no art dealer bought the painting  was that it sucks.  It does.  The work is not up to the Dali standard.  People want the melting clocks, or something colorfully bizarre.  Cartel des Don Juan Tenorio is neither colorful nor bizarre; it’s just boring.  It looks like something Cro-Magnon man might have carved onto a cave wall with the blood of a man he had just clubbed.  It’s that bad.

Names – First Last Nick

Why do composers go by their last names?  Beethoven, Chopin, Prokofiev, Copeland, Gershwin, Bach, Mahler.  Who even knows their first names?  Ok, I do, for most of them anyway but I do get the Gershwins mixed up – was it Ira or George?

Rock Stars go by nicknames.  Sting.  I keep forgetting his real name – Gordon something. And the Edge, the quiet U2 guitarist with a big rolling melodic sound has an actual name but for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what it is without googling it and who has time for that?  And then there’s U2’s band leader Bono Vox, who goes by Bono which might actually be his name.    Hootie from Hootie and the Blowfish is another one off the top of my head. That can’t possibly be his real name.  And of course there’s Iggy Pop, whose real name is Jim I believe.

Like the composers, some do go by their last names – Morrissey and Daughtry, not Roger, but Chris, former American Idol contestant, (a show I’ve never watched) who goes by his band’s name, Daughtry. John Coltrane was generally known as Coltrane.

Brazilian Soccer or futbol players often go by one name, first, last or nick – Pele, Ronaldo, Kaka, Marta and the like.  In jazz, Miles Davis was simply Miles.  Duke Ellington the Duke and Count Basie the Count.  In folk music, Dylan and Donovan come to mind. The old guys in American football players had nicknames, but those didn’t end up on their jerseys – Mean Joe Greene, LT, Broadway Joe, Johnny U and so on.  Rappers are famous for this too: Jay Z, LL Cool J, 2Pac, Biggie, 50 cent.  And some folks have the same first and last name.  Jose Jose.  Victor Victor.  And others have first and last names that are interchangeable – Dean Martin, George Harrison, or two first names – Steven Tyler and Ricky Martin.

When I was in fourth grade, this kid, Hank Lee, gave everybody nicknames.  Mine was Robbie del Hobbie.  I was intrigued by the word play and took it upon myself to be the giver of nicknames when Hank Lee moved away in the 5th grade.  I was kind of small and easy prey for bullies so giving nicknames and running fast were my weapons that earned me respect and quite a few nicknames of my own.  Rib, Hib, Ribbie, Wribbie (British spelling), Orb – I won a spot on my high school student council with a campaign of brightly colored sticker dots.   Nicknames do have their advantages, though I have yet to land a multi-billion dollar record deal.

Constitutional Mustard

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) A/K/A Obamacare was upheld by the Supreme Court in a rare 5-4 decision that did not involve Justice Kennedy in the majority. Surprisingly, Chief Justice Roberts, who generally votes with the reactionary activists on the court, sided with the more liberal justices in a decision that now has Republicans fired up.  The SCOTUS ruling upheld the individual mandate, which requires people to buy health insurance or pay a fee, that the court called a tax. This reference to a  tax particularly delights Republicans.  They plan to use the word tax to instill fear and loathing among the electorate to get Romney elected, who vows to repeal the ACA on day 1 of his Presidency.  Romney has not said what he would would replace it with were he elected.  The irony is that Obamacare is essentially Mitt’s Romneycare which is now law in Massachusetts.

The ACA passed the constitutional mustard, which I find most amusing because mustard is a condiment typically reserved for the unhealthiest of foods, like hotdogs, which Ralph Nader once called “pink missles”, unsafe for human consumption…at any speed.  Mustard goes well with anything super salty – pretzels, sandwiches, even french, I mean, freedom fries.  French’s by the way makes a mean mustard.  If I were a condiment maker, I would launch a new product simply called Constitutional Mustard.  It would be a more upscale mustard, a little like Grey Poupon, only sold in a big syringe, or one of those hospital drip bags, to remind consumers to mind their health, lest they wind up on a gurney.  Hey, constitutional mustard could even be a new crayon color, a shade between burnt sienna and neon carrot.

Swarming Homeless Honeybees Hunt Hives and Higher Education

A  swarm of homeless bees attacked a Volvo station wagon as a horrified family of three looked on helplessly from the comfort of the cabin.  One theory for the attack (mine) is that the safe and roomy Volvo provides the perfect home for a swarm of upwardly mobile bees, SUMBs for short.  I imagine this ambitious family of honeybees have their sites on college in upstate New York and may very well have noticed the Bard College sticker on the back glass of the car.  I suspect that these are the same progressive swarm of bees that have taken to the streets to protest the lack of environmental regulations that have given rise to climate change.  These bees, though not aggressive by nature, do intimidate by swarming science deniers and plan to disrupt the GOP convention this summer.  Actually, Bard College is the perfect school for them – progressive with a campus full of smokers, which would help calm the bees at night.  And Bard has a wonderful new science facility where the bees might lend their expertise on pollination, hive making and honey production.  Should Bard move to admit bees, I would think they would soon follow with a Bee Keeping major.

Another Frank Gehry masterpiece

Olympic Cliff Diving Trials

Diving for Gold

Diving is a pretty crazy sport; it is.   I watched some of the Olympic Trials this afternoon and wondered what would possess someone to jump off a platform and do four and half flips.  That’s complete lunacy.  And the handstand into a four twisting double reverse inward triple in the pike position – come on, the name for these stunts, and they are stunts, are difficult enough.  The divers who don’t make the Olympic team I think could make a good living in the circus, the best of these might even get a gig with Cirque du Soleil some day.

Photo by Bjorn Christian Torrissen

I want to know what happened to the cliff divers?  I was hoping to watch the Olympic Cliff Diving Trials, but was deeply disturbed to find out there are none.  Now that’s a sport, both entertaining and dangerous – Close to the Edge – I guess you’d have to be a little edgy to jump off one too.  Not sure where the event will be at the London Olympics, maybe the Cliffs of Moher; careful on those jaggedy rocks, Eugene.  Though the Irish might have the home cliff advantage in the Olympics, I think the flying Dutchmen might just have the edge.

Rugby, One Odd Sport

Rugby.  Have you ever seen or played the sport?  I have.  When I was 8, me and my buddies gathered in Geoff Samuels front yard and played full contact American football.  No pads, no helmets, no flags, no touch or tag.  Our games were full contact tackle. Please don’t tell my mother because if she knew, she’d have a fit.   This was smash mouth football.  Only we didn’t wear short shorts or prison striped shirts or men’s bathing suits from the 20’s. We wore jeans, cleats and NFL football jerseys – mostly the Dolphins, Cowboys and Steelers.  I had a Mean Joe Green sweatshirt.

Rugby.  The name sounds manly, derived from the adjective rugid, I suppose.  And from what I know, the game inspired American football.  Rugby started off as a gentlemanly country club like sport in England I think.  As such, it comes as no surprise that the sport is favored by the elite Ivy League schools, whose players are the size of jockeys.  I was watching one of the championship matches between Arizona and Dartmouth, I think it was; Dartmouth, the bastion of conservative country club elitism.  The star player and Olympic hopeful Peter Tiberio from Arizona who on TV looked to be 5’2″ and 126 pounds, with just minutes into the match against Dartmouth,  snapped his arm in two trying to make a tackle.  I’ll say this – he’s a tough guy.  He continued to play with a broken arm for a while.  Ultimately, Dartmouth, known more nationally for their debate squad, than for their sporting teams, won the NCAA championship.  And as a sports fan, I have to give them props for the accomplishment.

The game of rugby is a bit bizarre in my opinion.  It is a cross between croquet, another English creation, and grappling as guys bunch up in a scrum, wrestle a bit and pass the rugby ball between their legs.  Then they toss the thing underhanded to a teammate who tries to run to the goal line.  The underhanded toss may have influenced cricket, that game between dueling teams of tiny insects, and also may have been the inspiration for those underhanded free throws in basketball that the old guys used to launch at the free throw line in the early days of the game.

Rugby Polo anyone?

Rugby might catch on in the states if the games were more exciting.  One suggestion I have is to add horses to the mix.  Each team gets one to use for 5 minutes during the game.  It’d be a little like rugby polo. The idea would be to get the ball to the jockey on the horse who would then charge the players with a snort while heading for the goal.  And the halftime entertainment could be tweaked with a barbershop quartet and wine and cheese tasting.

Rugby; a rugid and potentially festive sport.

Horses Prefer Money Laundering

When I first read the headline about a  drug trafficking operation that laundered money with horses, I couldn’t believe it.  I can understand laundering money – it gets dirty – no telling how many people have handled all those bills.  I would imagine they’d use the delicate cycle for large bills, maybe permanent press for smaller bills and the bulky cycle for cash bundles. My guess is that All, Bold, Fresh Start and Gain are popular brands for the money launderer.  Of course, dry cleaning would be another option, though a slightly more expensive one.   But the horses.  I want to know the role of the horses in the laundering process.  The article is not so clear on that, so…

I was thinking that horses are strong animals, and could be used to crank a giant agitator.  A rope would be tied to the saddle and the agitator which would spin as the horse trots around in a circle at say a Circle Ranch.  After a good spin and drain, the horses tail could dry the bills.

I think horses might actually prefer money laundering to herding cows, which I’ve heard they don’t like doing because cows moo continual equine insults.  And laundering is infinitely preferable and easier on the horse than racing with no painful whips involved.


The Real Swing States

A report in the New York Times suggests that there are 9 swing states in play in the U.S. Presidential election – that’s a lot of swinging!  The states are as follows: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virgina.  As a result, these swinging states have gotten a lot of political action lately.  But are they really swing states?

The answer is technically, no. Benny Goodman, the King of Swing was from Chicago.  One could argue that Chicago was the birthplace of swing, although its roots are New Orleans, where all of American music originated. And Count Basie, one of the great Big Band leaders, grew up in New Jersey, paid his dues in Harlem and formed his Count Basie Orchestra in Kansas City.  Therefore, the real swing states are Missouri and Illinois, linked to New Orleans via the mighty Mississippi River.

Of the 9 states, only Nevada could qualify as a true swing state, because it really is the place where all the swingers end up.  Just ask Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.

The Collision of Random Thoughts

Here are some random thoughts, probably in isolation, insufficiently substantial as a post, but together could yield something profoundly interesting and thought provoking…or not.

Random thought 1:  To deter speeders, why don’t cops park disabled squad cars in strategic locations on the highway or busy roads with uniformed dummies pointing radar guns (made of clay) out the windows.   That’d slow me down.

Random thought 2:  A student driver car should have one of those messages on the back with a phone number that says: How am I driving?

Random thought 3: Why is it necessary for a city bus to have a message on the back that says – Caution: This bus makes frequent stops.  

Random thought 4.  What about a city bus with a message that says: Student dummy driver makes frequent stops.  How am I driving?

Random thought 5.  What about a bus at a bus stop with a student dummy driver pointing a radar gun out the window with a message that says – Bus makes frequent stops and is frequently stopped.  Without thinking, you get on, flash your bus pass  and are greeted by a recording that says, “take a seat mister” or “lady” as the case may be.

Random thought 6.  What if the bus does not move and the dummy refuses to let you off.  You place an emergency call and a uniformed dummy shows up and tells you to surrender.  You say, “what?”  The next thing you know, you’re in a jail full of animated characters who speak with a Brooklyn accent from the 50’s.  One says to you, “What’s the frequency bub?”  And you say, “I’m not bub, my name is Kenneth”. And then you notice Gumby and Pokey doppelgangers whimpering on a bench.  Something catches your eye.  You can just barely make it out.  As your eyes focus, behind a glass wall, you see two crash test dummies smoking Winston cigarettes grilling a frightened Mr. Bill like character (his third uncle I was later told) mouthing what looked to be the word, “hootenanny”.


The Essence of Herbal Essences

The essences of Herbal Essences Hydralicious shampoo are water and a foaming soapy chemical called sodium lauryl sulfate.  The shampoo has this going for it – it smells great because the maker Clairol squirted in a little perfume and passiflora incarnata fruit extract. The stuff should really be called Herbal Traces.

As a shampoo for featherweights, I was wondering why there’s no boxer on the bottle, but maybe the bodyless reference would be too graphic of a connection, you know a boxer getting his or her head knocked off.  Yet, Clairol made Hydralicious shampoo specifically for hair that needs body so in addition to boxing, it conjures up images of Harry Potter’s Nearly Headless Nick. Clairol should team up with JK Rowling and put out a line of Harry Potter hair products.  I have a bunch of ideas should either of the parties be interested.