I'm Too Sexy for My Cheese,
Too Sexy for My Cheese:
More Wensleydale, Please

Academy Award winning fool favorites Wallace & Gromit provide proof positive that just about anyone looks pretty darned good in Armani

The Daily Mail's related story -- "It’s Wallace and Gromit in ... The RIGHT Trousers" -- has video of the shoot.

[Initial link via C-MONSTER.net.  (Caution: link includes tasteful 1910 vintage Catalonian nudity.)  Daily Mail link via Google.]


Of related interest (if you missed it in Harper's Bazaar last summer):

Dr. Seuss and the Wisdom of Popovers


Dr. Seuss was already comfortably established as a children's author when I was in short pants*, so comfortably that it was and is easy to forget that he was an inveterate upsetter of apple carts and skeptic of received wisdom.

The National Association of Scholars has been running a series of articles on higher education reform, somehow built around themes from the Good Doctor's If I Ran the Zoo.  On her weblog, Critical Mass, Erin O'Connor has reproduced her contribution (with Maurice Black) to the discussion: an essay built around Dr. Seuss' graduation speech to the class of 1977 at Lake Forest College, the entire text of which speech is here reproduced:

My Uncle Terwilliger on the Art of Eating Popovers

My uncle ordered popovers
from the restaurant’s bill of fare.
And, when they were served,
he regarded them
with a penetrating stare…
Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom
as he sat there on that chair:
'To eat these things,'
said my uncle,
'you must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what’s solid…
you must spit out the air!'

as you partake of the world’s bill of fare,
that’s darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow.

Theodore Geisel became "Dr. Seuss," as Erin explains, while attending Dartmouth in the 1920s, in response to "Geisel" being banned by collegiate authorities from contributing to the school's humor magazine.  Variants on "Terwilliger" or "Terwilliker" had a recurring importance in Seuss World, including the authoritarian appearance of the latter, in the person of Hans Conried, as the titular "T" in The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, the very "embodiment of the worst sorts of pedagogical abuse."  The young narrator of If I Ran the Zoo, she suggests, in his utopian glee is not necessarily an improvement, as "he sounds a great deal like that generation of academic reformers, now reaching retirement, that has worked so hard to do away with traditional ideas of what is worth knowing largely because they are traditional ideas of what is worth knowing."

When he reemerges at Lake Forest many years later, the now-avuncular Terwilliger achieves his most benevolent form:

Having mellowed over time, Uncle Terwilliger appears at the Lake Forest graduation not in the capacity of a teacher, but in the special incapacity of an uncle -- who by definition has no real authority over his nieces and nephews.  His graduation advice reflects his comfortably powerless position.  When he tells students to be wary of hot air, he is telling them to think for themselves.  When he points out that popovers contain hot air, he is urging his audience to recognize that the good and the bad come jumbled together, and that in order to get at the one you have to be able to identify and reject the other.  He is, in other words, going to the heart of what education ideally enables one to do: to think independently, and to come to one's own conclusions about what to do, be, and believe.

As Thomas Mendip mused, "What a wonderful thing is metaphor." 

Read the complete O'Connor/Black/Seuss essay at Critical Mass or (with illustrations) at NAS.


Photo: "Popover with Ocean Backdrop" (at the Cliff House, San Francisco), by Flickr user Cameron Maddux, used under Creative Commons license.


*  Yes, I actually was in short pants.  There exists a photo, which I'll not reproduce here because it's not been scanned in to digital form, showing me in my bow-tied and short-pantsed Sunday Best in the company of my long-suffering Bear.  We were both of us much younger, and much closer to the same height, in those days.

Music for Money, Symphonic Division
[with special guest: Leopold!]

Gimme a country where I can be free;
Don't need the unions buryin' me.
Keep me in exile the rest of my days,
Burn me in hell, but as long as it pays:

Art for art's sake;
Money for God's sake . . . .

-- 10cc, "Art For Art's Sake" (1975)

Tim Cavanaugh, writing on the Opinion L.A. weblog earlier this week, posted an odd little item drawing on a 2005 survey that purported to identify the ten most financially successful orchestral composers.

George Gershwin, the sole American, heads up the list -- which is unsurprising but seems slightly unfair, given that his financial success was much more dependent on his masterful popular songs than on, say, the Concerto in F.  Italians are well represented (Verdi, Rossini, Puccini and Paganini all make it) as are Germans/Austrians (Johann Strauss, Handel, Haydn) and Russians (Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff).  The French are shut out.

Cavanaugh notes the survey not for aesthetic reasons but for the light it may shed on relations between free markets and classical music:

Why is this interesting (to me at any rate)?  Because longhair music is pretty much universally recognized as an art form that can't compete in an open market and must be supported through royal or (these days) public patronage.  Yet this list is remarkable for the lack of patronage its members enjoyed.  All but two of the composers on the list date to the industrial revolution or afterward, and the two who came earlier than that — Haydn and Handel — did plenty of lucrative for-profit work in Britain, which boasted the most liberal economy in Europe.  Verdi, Rossini and Puccini were all piece-work producers who were less interested in pleasing the royal ear than in filling up the house with paying customers.  Paganini and 'Waltz King' Strauss were expert self-promoters and brand builders, Rachmaninoff made much of his fortune on recordings and performances, and Gershwin made it to the top of the list strictly by producing music for a large popular audience.  I'm not sure he ever got a dime of public support.

More interesting to me than the libertarian economics is Cavanaugh's use of "longhair" to refer to Western classical music.  That was formerly a settled usage -- hifalutin' intellectuals had a reputation for flowing locks by the mid-19th century, and the term's specifically American use in connection with classical music seems to have originated in the 1930s -- but it fell out of fashion by the 1960's when long hair on men became a token of being one of Those Dirty Hippies who didn't much care for the classics but have since grown up and taken over the government.

So, harking back to that older usage, do I need any further excuse to offer up "Long-Haired Hare," a short documentary that takes us behind the scenes of Bugs Bunny's famous appearance with the Los Angeles Philharmonic during the 1948 Hollywood Bowl season?  No, indeed I do not:

Why Save Face When You Can Sleeveface?

[slēvˈ fās] (verb) --
one or more persons obscuring or augmenting any part of their body or bodies with record sleeve(s) causing an illusion;
in French: "pochettes de disques à face humaine"


Illustrative Examples of the Genre

Here's one my lady wife may appreciate:


She may also enjoy this appropriation of Mr. B. Manilow.

Here's one for Rick:


You can see that this technique works somewhat better with real 12" LP covers than with CD packaging.

And here's one that may tickle the fancy of Miz Cowtown Pattie and others of the Texan persuasion:


The pigtails are a particularly nice touch.

Many many many more examples can be seen via the flickr Sleeveface Pool.   

Sleeveface weblog link via Stereogum, which helpfully observes that

. . . sleeveface is really difficult to do with illegal MP3s.  Legal ones too, actually.


Photo credits:
Olivia Newton John, Physical, by flickr user jeanieforever;
King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King, by flickr user
Leo Reynolds;
Willie Nelson, Greatest Hits, by flickr user unsure shot
All photos used under Creative Commons license.


UPDATE [030608]
: A fine French selection of sleeveface, via escapegrace.

From the Annals of Unfortunate Headlines


From the front page of yesterday's Glendale News Press:

Schools suspend beef from menu

Concerned Citizen's Thought Number 1

  • Is this safe?  Wouldn't metal hooks be more reliable?

Concerned Citizen's Thought Number 2

  • So now our precious art education dollars are being squandered on Damien Hirst knockoffs?

Still, as unfortunate headlines go, it doesn't really compare to this one.


Illustration: "The Locomotive" by noodleoodle, via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license.

Jeu du Vivre

Those horrid, horrid Europeans, blithely playing games with human life!


TETRIS video found while search Dailymotion for something altogether different.

My lady wife has been heard to complain that I post too many videos to this weblog.   As an old Tetris fan herself, I hope she will make allowances for this one.

"The true object of all human life is play. "
    --G. K. Chesterton