Monday, June 17, 2024

Leaving Las Vegas…

… Las Vegas, New Mexico, that is. Pictures from 2023:

By Professor Batty

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Friday, June 14, 2024

Victory Lap

Helena Hernmarck in her studio, circa 1975

I got a triple dose of Scandinavian culture last weekend at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

The main exhibit was centered on Karin Larssen, wife and muse of the Swedish artist Carl Larssen, noted for his idyllic watercolors of family life—a world largely defined by Karin. Her textile work was featured, both original and reproductions of work seen in vintage photographs.

There was also a ‘grazing table’ in the courtyard, laden with yummy Scandinavian treats, as well as a cash bar (with Scandinavian prices to match!)

But the real star of the show was Helena Hernmarck, a Swedish-born weaver/textile artist and a pioneer in modern photo-realistic tapestry technique. After we were shown a film about her work she gave a talk featuring highlights of her 60+ year career. The ASI has one of her major pieces, as do numerous museums, businesses and institutions around the world. Helena’s vivid descriptions of the art scene in the 1960s and humorous asides (when asked if being married had affected her work she said that it was true ‘for some of my husbands’) was a complete delight.

This appearance is a ‘victory lap’ of sorts for Helena, her assistants have all retired and she no longer does the large-scale work that made her famous. Her work does come up for sale from time to time, $$$,$$$.

By Professor Batty

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

20 Years Ago on FITK

I saw his picture in the paper.

He is now about sixty and looks about ninety. But he is still playing that poly-rhythmic piano, with Monk and Professor Longhair threads interwoven into his own unique style. The occasion was a premiere of a documentary about him, and he was to play beforehand. I went, and as it was, so it remained. A lot of long nights in smoke-filled rooms were etched into his craggy visage, and an atlas of musical back roads was outlined in his playing.

And the voice. A wail from the prehistoric past, with all the cares of the modern world overlaid upon it. As I left, one of his older songs crept into my consciousness, and it seemed to be a warning, not of a tragic love affair, but of a difficult yet rewarding life as a troubadour with a keyboard:
… I thought I was the king of thieves,
but you touched me so softly
you picked my pockets clean
I need a watch dog
to keep you from
stealing my heart

~John Beach
, Watchdog

By Professor Batty

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Monday, June 10, 2024

Tale of Burning Love

Living near a middle school, I often discover trash left behind by the young scholars.

Recently, I found a partially charred note was left on the sidewalk. Much of it had been consumed by fire but what remained was the chronicle of the end of an affair, but evidently not the end of passion’s fire:

I miss how he used to treat (me)
To the kisses the flowers …
We just sat there an(d) …
All night. When you le(ft) …
I lost a part of me id l(ost) …
memories and I wish we were on a …
more. But yeen* love me no more.
Yu cheated on me and when I
found out you said you did it to
not stress out. nigga go to the gym.
… … … … I wish I could
… … … … I just stood
… … … … walked
… … … … (an)ything
… … … … (ca)lled me
… … … … he
… … … … doing
… … … … …ed.
* slang for “you ain’t”

By Professor Batty

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Friday, June 07, 2024


Charles Locke Eastlake was a 19th century English architect and designer.

His seminal and influential book Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery and Other Details led to the ‘Eastlake Movement’ in the United States where this style furniture was mass produced for the middle-class. It even became a style in architecture, most notably in San Francisco, where dozens of Eastlake-inspired ‘painted ladies’ are still enjoyed by tourists.

Because the furniture made in this style was quite sturdy, even after 140 years it remains fairly common; there are almost endless versions. Some pieces are quite coarse but most are competent. Some, like the graceful table shown above that I found at a garage sale ($25!) are very fine. The top of this example was stained (and had split), but those flaws were easily repaired and it now graces the bay window of Flippist World Headquarters. Made of walnut with burl veneer accents it made for an elegant addition to my domicile:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, June 05, 2024

20 Years Ago on FITK

I Ain’t Blue

What is the opposite of passion? Dispassion? When affairs of the heart are raging, aren’t the highs and lows in opposition? Or is it that the middle state, calm, is actually the flip slide. Maybe some peace and quiet is just as important as emotional fireworks, perhaps it is the shifts between the states that make life whole.

Still, the promise of passion is a driving force. Serenity is a state of grace to be accepted, not to strive for.
I ain't blue…
I'm just a little bit lonesome
for some lover gal.
Everything is fine…
I just don't want to be
All by my self.”
~ John Koerner, 1938-2024

By Professor Batty

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Monday, June 03, 2024

Cosmic Apple

One of my ‘Bubbleworld’ series, not to be confused with the ‘Cosmic Crisp’ varietal.

This is a ‘straight’ photograph, shot with a modified lens and with the saturation tweaked a bit in post.

By Professor Batty

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Sunday, June 02, 2024

20 Years of FITK!

On June 2nd, 2004, the very first entry of Flippism is the Key was posted.

FITK began as a vehicle for my literary efforts but has evolved since then with novels, memoirs, reviews, poetry, and even travelogs.

Each Wednesday I’ll be publishing a post from those early efforts. Few of my current readers* will remember them but I think they still have value. My hope is that those of you who have recently arrived here will find these vintage posts timeless, if not priceless**. There will even be a smattering of posts from early collaborators (Little Miss Loopy, Comica, Reshma.)

While some may say it is impossible to revisit the past, reliving the ‘glorious’ early years of the ‘blog explosion’ of the early aughts gives me some strange feeling of satisfaction.

*For some unknown reason I have been getting a lot of Facebook™ referrals in my sitemeter.

**Just joking!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, May 31, 2024

Obscure Reykjavík #8

Hótel Borg
No, this isn’t a really obscure spot in Reykjavík. For many year this hotel was the premiere traveler’s accommodation in Reykjavík: for diplomats; for celebrities; for high-rollers. It was  the crème de la crème until Marriot’s ultra-chic Edition opened in 2023.

It holds a special place in my memories because it was where the Weaver and I first slept in Iceland—25 years ago! Then it was a $75 upgrade to a $299 3-night package deal and worth every krona:
It has been redone since we were there and is now part of the Keahotel chain. No more FLW art prints on the walls, now the rooms are all done up in greige. Rooms are still pricey though (about $300 a night and up) but are somewhat less today than they were a few years ago—before there were so many new hotels downtown. While it may not be the greatest anymore, it still overlooks Aüsturvollur square, the Alþingishúsið, and the high church Dómkirkjan:
Image: Wikipedia

You could do worse.

By Professor Batty

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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Obscure Reykjavík #7

Reykjavík University
Far from the beaten tourist trails (unless you are headed for a swim in the North Atlantic at Nauthólsvík) is the relatively new campus of Reykjavík University.

I had lunch there once with a dear blog-pal where she was a student, still learnng (at 52) and so was I (at 72) The lunch area where we sat had a window that over-looked a café where I had my initial immersion in Icelandic Culture 101. My feelings during that lunch were not of Deja Vu—things have changed a lot in the last 20 years—but this area, south of Öskhulíd and Perlan, holds a warm place in my heart and remains a worthy destination for the ambitious pedestrian:

By Professor Batty

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                                                                                     All original Flippism is the Key content copyright Stephen Charles Cowdery, 2004-2024