Monday, September 30, 2013

Do You Buy Barilla Pasta? Don't.

Back on an anti-discrimination roll (see recent post here about former president George H. W. Bush--kudos--being a witness at the wedding of a long-time gay friend couple).

According to this Reuter's article, the chairman of Barilla's pasta is homophobic, despite later efforts to backpedal.

ROME, Sept 26 (Reuters) - Guido Barilla, chairman of the world's leading pasta manufacturer, prompted calls for a consumer boycott on Thursday after telling Italian radio his company would never use a gay family in its advertising.
"I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don't agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role," Barilla, 55, said in an interview with Radio 24 on Wednesday.

You know what to do.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cats in Art: The Jaguar (Audubon)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. Currently I'm turning for a few weeks to John James Audubon.

Image credit The Philadelphia Print Shop here, The Jaguar, John James Audubon.
If you recall from the post 2 weeks ago, here, Audubon is much better known for his stunningly beautiful paintings of birds. Per Wikipedia, "His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed."
What many folks don't know is that Audubon also set out to depict all North American quadrupeds (primarily four-footed mammals). His three-volume The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, published in 1845, contained this illustration.
Jaguars have always held a special fascination for the bride and I.  We once spent a couple of days in Belize at a jaguar sanctuary called Cockscomb Basin, where we hiked some distance during different times of the day (morning, mid-day, late day, dusk, and at night) but without catching a glimpse of a live cat.  We had hoped to get lucky, although only about 5% of guests do see a live jaguar.
We did, however, see some very fresh prints:
Image credit Gary
But back to Audubon...again in this image, as I have posted on his other cats, he really captures three key elements of any wild cat: grace, power, and stealth.  This particular one especially emphasizes the power aspect of a jaguar.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Jack In The Pulpit...and Ultrarunning

Continuing yesterday's flowery post, this photo comes from my yard, where we have a plethora of Jack-In-The-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) plants, all native and naturally-occurring on the property:

[image credit Gary]
This is the fruit as seen in late September here in southern PA.  It's a stunning unmistakable red, about 3-4 inches in height.
The plant and flower are pretty plain green, nothing showy, so the plant is obviously saving up all its goodies for the fruit.  Here's the plant, which illustrates the "pulpit" arrangement from whence the plant derives its name:

I lied--there's no special connection to Ultrarunning.  This plant likes open, moist woodlands; it definitely does not favor dry uplands or ridegtop trails.  So while, say, on the Appalachian or Tuscarora Trail you might encounter it when you drop off the ridges to the hollows and valleys.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Reese Hollow Flowers...and Ultrarunning

Over at "my" trail and shelter (I am the volunteer overseer of the Reese Hollow Shelter and the Reese Hollow Trail off the Tuscarora Trail near Mercersburg, PA) there are a number of wildflowers.

Right now there's a particularly perplexing yellow flower that when keyed out seems either to be Rattlesnake Weed (Hieracium venosum) or Two-Flowered Cynthia (Krigia biflora):

[image credit Gary, sorry it's a bit fuzzy]
The flower is a better fit with being Rattlesnake Weed, but the leaves don't quite synch up; the leaves match up better with Two-Flowered Cynthia but the flowers are off.
Both plants are likely to inhabit Reese Hollow.  So, I must be content with just admiring the beauty of these flowers; after all, as one of my Bio profs once said, in a remark that obviously stuck, "The name is the least important piece of information about a plant."
Oh, and the link to Ultrarunning is that spotting flowers is one of my favorite incidental activities while running.  I often stop dead in my tracks to admire some posie that happens to be within eyeshot of the trail.  And while I may wonder about its name, I (usually) don't get obsessed about it and instead just enjoy the sight.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

This is How the Revolution Advances.... step at a time, by relative, by friend, by friends of friends, by ordinary people, by famous people, until at last the majority of us will finally realize that gay marriage is no threat to the so-called "sacred union of one man and one woman."

Major kudos to former president George H. W. Bush (link here):

Former President George H.W. Bush was an official witness at the same-sex wedding of two longtime friends, his spokesman said Wednesday.
Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush, attended the ceremony joining Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen as private citizens and friends on Saturday, spokesman Jim McGrath said.
Thorgalsen posted a photo on her Facebook page showing Bush signing the marriage license as a witness. She captioned the photo: "Getting our marriage license witnessed!"

All the fuss, all the uproar, it just again reminds me of the quote I've used here before, attributed to Clint Eastwood:

The more insecure a man is, the more likely he is to have extreme prejudices.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Another Golf Ball, This One Ominous

Another in my continuing insightful reporting on the phenomenon of golf balls found while running.  If you recall my post from last March, here, I speculated that these might actually be disguised alien eggs awaiting the master signal to hatch...and humankind may be no more.

Found last Friday, only a mile from my house as the crow flies.  Again, no homes or habitation nearby, certainly no golf courses within 10 miles:

[image credit Gary]

Why do I use the term ominous in my subject line?

Well, either Chuck Norris has been golfing again...or this "golf ball"--really an egg--has in fact hatched.  I fear for the children.


Monday, September 23, 2013

"We Consider War a Weakness"

Last Wed, NBC News aired a piece (link here) in which Ann Curry interviewed Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.  Rouhani struck a very moderate, reasoned, and conciliatory tone, and I came away thinking, "Here's a guy who gets it."

I had exactly the same thoughts as blogger Marcy Wheeler did when Rouhani talked about Syria (link here), only she is much more articulate than I am:

[from the interview] Asked whether he thought Obama looked weak when he backed off the air-strike threat, Rouhani replied, “We consider war a weakness. Any government or administration that decides to wage a war, we consider a weakness. And any government that decides on peace, we look on it with respect to peace.”
[Wheeler comments] What a different viewpoint than we see inside the DC beltway. Throughout the entire Syria episode, we have been bombarded with the refrain that Obama simply had to attack Syria because if he didn’t, he would lose his credibility and look weak. Rouhani, on the other hand, states that it is resorting to war that is the real weakness.

Let me again highlight what a remarkable thing it was that Rouhani said:

“We consider war a weakness. Any government or administration that decides to wage a war, we consider a weakness. And any government that decides on peace, we look on it with respect to peace.”

Well done, President Rouhani.

Now, I am certain that The Very Serious People in DC will pooh-pooh this as yet another Iranian leader trying to bullshit the U.S., and, dammit, we gotta show we won't get fooled again** by acting tough.

You know, almost swaggering in our superpower costume, kinda acting like George Zimmerman, only we act on the international stage and our actions can have planet-threatening consequnces.

**you know, that might make a decent protest song.  I won't bother to embed it, but here's a rousing live version if you need a fix of The Who.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cats in Art: Cat Sleeping on a Bed (Monet)


From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. Routinely I've been using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.'s special edition is in honor of new granddaughter, Cecilia Monet, born this week.  So, naturally, I must use a Monet painting with a cat in it...which, despite a thorough search of the web, seems to total exactly one single painting:

Image credit The Athenaeum, hereCat Sleeping on a Bed, Claude Monet, circa 1865-1870, 4.4" x 8.3", pastel drawing, held in a private collection.
Just like young Cecilia, you gotta note the TINY size of this painting: just over 4" x 8".  That's quite small, yet the detail rendered is quite astonishing.  You get the feeling that Monet knew and/or had cats, since he captures so well the essence of a sleeping kitty: curled up, conserving heat, head cocked.
I'd like to be able to say that the parents chose this name out of a love for the painter Monet.  However, I think they just liked how it sounded.  Regardless, thanks to Monet for the use of his image and name.

"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see." --John W. Whitehead, quoted in Ann Geddes' book, Cherished Thoughts With Love (a coffee table book in the maternity waiting room)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

More Flower Beds, Rock Walls...and Ultrarunning

I just posted a couple weeks ago, here, about a major new landscaping effort in our yard.

Well, I'm nearly done with another, and am proud of the dry stone wall I used to terrace the bed to mitigate the slope of our front yard:

[image credit Gary]

The wall is about 2' high at its highest.  The stones are all local limestone (Franklin County, PA is almost inundated with the stuff) that I snag from farmers' fields, their rock piles, wooded areas, etc. 

Some of the largest stones came from the foundation of a particular nearby barn that was destroyed by fire.  I made a number of trips gleaning rocks from that source, and some of them still bear the whitewash that was used on the inside walls of the barn.  In my wall I made sure to place those stones prominently and not to cover up the whitewash, so I will remember that these stones were once part of a barn and now have a second life in my wall rather than being bulldozed for fill.

The link to Ultrarunning is that whenever I run I am on the lookout for wall stones.  When I find a decent rock, meaning having at least one flat side and say up to the size of a microwave, I pull it to the edge of the road and go back for it later in my pickup.  When I use the example of a microwave, a stone much beyond that in size I simply cannot lift because this particular geologic formation, the Chambersburg Limestone, is quite dense, checking in at approx 166 lbs per cubic foot.

I've done a bunch of dry stone walls in my life, and the two main "secrets" I've learned:

  • Stagger the joints (for strength and better appearance)
  • Lean the wall inward 10-15 degrees to compensate for the outward hydraulic pressure of wet soil

Bear with me for some simple physics.  Since dry topsoil weighs approx 2000-2500 lbs per cubic yard--that's better than a ton, people--imagine its weight when it gets wet.  There is enormous pressure against the inside of your wall, trying to force it out.  You equalize the game in two ways: by the sheer volume, bulk and weight of your wall stones (the bigger, the better) and by the inwards lean.

Oh, and one other tip that I forget to include in my previous post, but it's relevant here: when you mulch, go deep.  I use shredded bark that I get by the truckload, and I go at least 4" deep.  The mistake many people make is to scrimp on the mulch, going only an inch or two deep...then wonder why they get weeds. 

The tradeoff is more upfront costs versus ineffective coverage.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Communication...and Ultrarunning

Despite me being a blogger--whose ostensible goal is to further the dissemination of information--I truly dislike verbal confrontation. 
I can carry on a social conversation, and most people, I think, find me fairly interesting to talk to, but should the conversation turn adversarial I would prefer to literally turn tail and run.

I do not think well on my feet and afterwards I always rehash what I woulda/coulda/shoulda said, but didn't.  The written word is my preferred medium, for here I can draft and revise and polish and try to get my nuance of intent exactly right.

That said, over at Boing Boing (which if you do not read at least a couple times a week, you are deprived), I found a link to a great article by John Scalzi that vindicates my desires in conversation: "Speech, Conversation, Debate, Engagement, Communication."  It's 10 points to consider; here are the first couple to tantalize you:

1. As a general concept, freedom of speech includes the right to decide how and when to speak, and to whom.

2.  This freedom of speech also includes the right to choose not to speak, and not to speak to whomever, including to you.

Better go read the rest.

Oh, and the link to Ultrarunning?  I've blogged about this phenomenon before, but out in the backcountry I have had the most intense and marvelous conversations with perfect strangers.  Most often this occurs during a race when I fall in with someone else running at the same pace.  Or, rarely, during a training run when I encounter another person running on the same trail.

Somehow the natural boundaries of ordinary conversation are breached; deep and meaningful subjects are discussed openly and almost without preamble.  Here's what I wrote a year ago about a chance encounter on the hills above Honolulu, "Sharing Secrets With Strangers on the Trail."


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

National Park Rescues...and Ultrarunning

My local paper ran a decent story in its outdoors section entitled National Parks: They get rescued, we get the bill (15 Sep 2013).

I'd link to the online version, but it seems not to be there.  Also, the original source for the feed came from reporter Gary A. Warner at the Orange County Register, but they have a paywall up so I cannot excerpt easily from the article.  For what it's worth, here's the link.

OK, attribution aside, the article pointed out that National Park Service rescues cost money and follow a pattern of causation:

  1. People are not in good enough physical condition to do what they try to do.
  2. Errors in judgement (failing to turn back, choosing wrong route, underestimating time till dark, etc.).
  3. Not having proper clothing or gear.

We all could learn from that list, right, when we run in the backcountry?

Oh, and the article goes on to discuss the notion of having the rescuees pay for the search and rescue efforts on their behalf.  I get the sentiment, but I see a slippery slope: just how dumb or careless do you have to be to trip the payment threshold? 

What if there was a 10% chance of thunderstorms, you didn't pack the right rain protection, and the storm came anyway, sending you into hypothermia and rescue?  Were you negligent?

Also factor in the idea that if people know they might get hit with a hefty rescue bill, wouldn't there be a great incentive to delay calling for help...possibly waiting until it was too late?

Plus the parallel with other public safety entities: we don't seem willing to charge, say, homeowners for fire department responses to fire caused by careless smoking, do we?  Or police response to getting mugged when you chose to walk through a bad neighborhood?

Slippery slopes, indeed.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Why Do Cats Purr?

Cartoon below ent to me by daughter, who simply used the SUBJECT line "Mana."

Mana (short for Amanda, due to the 3-year-old granddaughter who could not pronounce the full name) came to us via daughter, who then worked at the Humane Society. 

Mana was allegedly a foster cat, but as many of us come to find out, "foster" actually means "adopt."

She was found in a garbage bag with 2 live siblings and a dead mother, and was so young as to need to be bottle-fed.  One would think that a bottle-fed kitten would grow up to be kind and gentle and love human touch...and one would be wrong. 

Mana is, in fact, the kitty from hell (I once remarked that she had not bitten me in the face for a long time).  That said, I love her, and she loves us as much as she can.  Mana helped me get through a rough patch when a loved one was desperately, life-threateningly lost.

[image credit here]
I've previously posted about Mana here.  So here is a shot of the real Mana, looking none too formidable:


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cats in Art: Ocelot or Leopard-Cat (Audubon)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. Currently I'm turning for a few weeks to John James Audubon. 

Image credit The Philadelphia Print Shop, here, Ocelot or Leopard-Cat. John James Audubon.

If you recall from last week's post, here, Audubon is much better known for his stunningly beautiful paintings of birds.  Per Wikipedia, "His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed."

What many folks don't know is that Audubon also set out to depict all North American quadrupeds (primarily four-footed mammals). His three-volume The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, published in 1845, contained this illustration.

In contrast to last week's painting of an almost freaky-looking bobcat, this ocelot looks normal and lifelike.  Audubon really captures three key elements of any wild cat: grace, power, and stealth.

Quick primer on ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), courtesy of National Geographic:

Twice the size of the average house cat, the ocelot is a sleek animal with a gorgeous dappled coat. These largely nocturnal cats use keen sight and hearing to hunt rabbits, rodents, iguanas, fish, and frogs. They also take to the trees and stalk monkeys or birds. Unlike many cats, they do not avoid water and can swim well.

The  range of the ocelot is south and central America, just barely extending up to the U.S. in Texas.  So there is hope--however slight--for Ultrarunners here in the U.S. to encounter one in the backcountry.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Beethoven's 9th...and Ultrarunning

One of my running buddies--who seems about average in musicality and artzyness--sent me a link to a YouTube video.  I usually don't watch YouTubes if they are much over a minute or so, but I clicked it anyway and sat mesmerized for 5+ minutes.
Must be my retirement mentality, of not rushing, of now having time....

I'll let my buddy introduce it:

What a special experience this would be.  Out for a stroll in Sabadella near Barcelona in Spain and a symphony orchestra, accompanied by a popular choir, appears out of nowhere and begins playing Beethoven's 9th Symphony. 
Watch the children's reactions.
It will lift your spirits! 

Here's the link in case the embedded video below does not play.


You really should click it and enjoy.

The link, of course, to Ultrarunning, is music.  While I never use any musical device when I run, I always have music playing right here in my head. 

And I am sure that this symphony will be front and center during my next run.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Biology...and Ultrarunning

I once read that humans and canids (wolves, foxes, dogs) are the only trotting carnivores ever evolved on the planet.

I don't know enough evolutionary biology to evaluate that statement, but I did just read this recently, about why humans can run long--long enough and steady enough to outrun horses--but can't outjump a cat:

At first glance the annual Man vs. Horse Marathon, set for June 9 in Wales, seems like a joke sport brought to us by the same brilliant minds behind dwarf tossing and gravy wrestling. It was, after all, the product of a pints-fueled debate in a Welsh pub, and for years its official starter was rock musician Screaming Lord Sutch, founder of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party. But the jokiness is misleading: When viewed through science’s clarifying lens, the funny marathon is one of the few sports that isn’t a joke.
The oddsmakers would have known better if they'd been following the work of Harvard anthropologist Daniel Lieberman and University of Utah biologist Dennis Bramble. They jointly proposed in a 2004 paper that we're superlatively endowed by evolution to go long. Our long-striding legs are packed with springlike tendons, muscles, and ligaments that enable us to briefly store elastic energy as we come down on a foot and then recoil to help propel us forward. Tellingly, the most important of these springs, our big, strong Achilles tendons, aren’t found in early human precursors such as Australopithecus—it seems that the high-end tendons evolved along with other adaptations for distance running in the genus Homo when it appeared on the African savanna about 2 million years ago.

So there you have it: we are actually designed for long-distance running.  It's not just a sport we pick up for the hell of it.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Worst Person in the World...and Ultrarunning

I know that at the blog Eschaton, blog owner Duncan Black runs a regular feature called "The Worst Person in the World."  Keith Olbermann used to do the same on his MSNBC show as well.
My list?  Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi rises to the top of the heap with this one (link here). 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) postponed an execution originally scheduled to take place Tuesday night because it conflicted with a fundraiser for a member of his cabinet, The Tampa Bay Times reported.  
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) requested that the execution of Marshall Lee Gore, 50, be pushed back to avoid being held the same night as her re-election kickoff event at her South Tampa, Fla. home. Gore was convicted of killing two women in South Florida in 1988.

Although Bondi did apologize later, the Worst Person in the World label still sticks.  Just another example of elected (or high level appointed) officials being so far removed from "the people" that the rarefied air they breathe must somehow alter their consciences.

Oh, and the link to Ultrarunning?  I've harped on this theme before, but it bears repeating: I am convinced that we are kinder, gentler, more laid-back, whatever, compared with the rest of the world.  Now whether we gravitate to Ultrarunning because of those traits or the sport gradually instills those traits in us, I can't say.  It's just powerful anecdotal evidence.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Flower Beds and Ultrarunning

No politics today--I do have a gardening and landscaping hobby as well.

The bride and I are largely finished with a major new flower bed, approximately 120' long by 20' wide.  Here's a view of the last portion still needing to be mulched (all in all I used some 15 cubic yards):


Steps of the process:
  • Sink landscape timbers at ground level to delineate edge with neighbor and to create mowing strip (on left above)
  • Spray Roundup to kill the grass in place
  • Build decorative rock wall (top center of photo)
  • Dig holes and place bedding plants
  • Snake soaker hoses around for dry times
  • Mulch 4" deep
  • Enjoy!

The connection to Ultrarunning?  After several days of labor I am pretty beat and sore from the unaccustomed physical activity.  That tells me I'm out of shape and need to get back on my BowFlex machine. 

Although my legs are in great shape, being toned all over will definitely help me run better.

UPDATE 20 Sep:

Oh, and one other tip that I forget to include: when you mulch, go deep. I use shredded bark that I get by the truckload, and I go at least 4" deep. The mistake many people make is to scrimp on the mulch, going only an inch or two deep...then wonder why they get weeds. 


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cats in Art: Common American Wild-Cat (Audubon)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. Currently I'm turning for a couple weeks to John James Audubon. 

Image credit The Philadelphia Print Shop, here, Common American Wild-Cat, John James Audubon.

Why is Audubon important?  Per Wikipedia:

John James Audubon (Jean-Jacques Audubon) (April 26, 1785 – January 27, 1851) was a French-American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. He was notable for his expansive studies to document all types of American birds and for his detailed illustrations that depicted the birds in their natural habitats. His major work, a color-plate book entitled The Birds of America (1827–1839), is considered one of the finest ornithological works ever completed.

What many folks don't know is that Audubon also set out to depict all North American quadrupeds (primarily four-footed mammals). His three-volume The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, published in 1845, contained this illustration.

Although much more famous for his bird art, Audubon managed to do a couple of kitties as well.  The cat above (assumed to be what we call today the Bobcat) looks almost psychotic in its face, and the remainder of the animal seems to be covered with curious scripts and faces.  All in all, it's an odd painting.

I once had the great fortune on a trail run near Monterey, CA, of encountering a juvenile bobcat, and it was one of the most memorable wildlife experiences of my life: grace, power, stealth.  So for me, Audubon's print above is a pretty disquieting rendering of a bobcat.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Weird, Weirder, Weirdest...and Ultrarunning

In the world of endurance sports, I fully admit that runners are weird.  But bikers are weirder.  And swimmers are the weirdest of all.

Yet I have a grudging respect for the accomplishment early this week of Diana Nyad in swimming from Cuba to Florida.

This feat took some 53 hours.  My longest Ultrarunning effort (Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run) took me 35 hours, and I was pretty much played out when I finished. 

Nyad was awake and swimming for an additional 18 hours.   Oh, and she's 64 years old.  These facts absolutely boggle my mind.  Her mantra? "Never, ever, give up."

Which is good advice for me right now.  See, my motivation levels for running, much less for committing to and training for a specific event, have been at near-record lows over the summer.

However...this morning's 5 mile run on my beloved Harshman Road route may have been a watershed event.  The temps were cool, the humidity low, the sky a perfect deep blue.  My mind wandered to possible Ultra events that I could yet enter this fall.  I fully admit that part of my thought process was triggered by Nyad's effort.

I felt full of the possible. 

Which is about the best feeling a person can have.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Real Soution for the Sticky Syria Issue

Looks like we're going to war in Syria.

The Very Serious People will tell us in solemn tones how we have to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and how since there will be no American boots on the grounds it would not really be a war anyway.

But footwear aside, it would be a war, and we'd just be following through on our death threats, with no good outcome really expected other than saving face.

Before I get to my solution, better read this.  It's from The Onion, a satirical web site, but it tells you better than the conventional media everything you need to know about the state of current affairs with respect to the whole Syrian issue.  Go ahead and click over, I'll wait.

Done?  Well, President Obama seems caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, with no good options on the table.

But there is one option, in fact a very good one, so here's my advice to President Obama, in the form of the short address he should use to the world when he announces his course of action:

Pressident Bashar al-Assad is batshit crazy.  So crazy, in fact, that sending him any sort of military message would probably be futile.  It might make some of us feel better--you know, that whole eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth Old Testament stuff--but in point of fact any leader who would use weapons of mass destruction on his own people is already around the bend and immune to ordinary lesson-teaching.

Plus, no matter how well we'd target our weapons there would be more dead civilians.

So, we are not going to make a military response.  The hawks here in this country and around the world will get their panties all in a bunch, but what I've decided the United States will do instead is this. 

Our military strategists have figured out their recommended "proper response."  That is, just enough blown-up stuff to try to teach a lesson to al-Assad and for us to save face with the world, but not enough blown-up stuff to upset the balance in the ongoing Syrian civil war.

But rather than launch those munitions, we will instead take the $_____ billion that would have been expended on bombs and missiles and use it for humanitarian aid for the millions of Syrian civilians displaced or affected by this war.  We will fund doctors, nurses, medical supplies, food, safe drinking water, schools, and rebuild homes, villages, and infrastructure.  We invite our allies and others to join us in that effort.

That will send the correct message to al-Assad and the rest of the world, better than any missile could: that of beating our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Cats in Art: Marcella (Kirchner)

From my continuing weekly Sunday series of cats in art. I'm using some ideas from the coffee table book, The Cat in Art, by Stefano Zuffi.

Image credit hereMarcella, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, 1910, oil on canvas, 39" x 30", held by Brucke Museum, Berlin, Germany.

Zuffi tells us:

Marcella is huddled on a divan, in a solitude that is emphasized by the liquor bottles on the table; her wide eyes gaze into the distance..  Almost in the same pose, and on the same divan, is a white cat; but unlike the girl, the cat is sleeping soundly.  In the apparent similarity between the poses, Kirchner appears to want to stress their opposing attitudes: the pensive anxiety of Marcella, and the peaceful, almost philosophical abandon of the cat.

Me, I just know that cats like to be with you while pretending they are not actually with you.