Wednesday, March 30, 2016


More aggravation from my overlords at Google/Blogspot.

They think I should change the formatting of all 2778 FITK posts so they would be more 'mobile-friendly.' My robots evidently don't play well with others either.

After plowing through multiple pages of gobbledy-gook, I know less than when I started.

Knowing how easy it to corrupt my template, I let it be.  If someone using a mobile phone is too lazy to take a split-second to resize Flippism is the Key, they would be to lazy to read what I wrote or to appreciate the highly cultivated aesthetic of my illustrations.  From time to time, I'll stop in at the Apple store to make sure my blogs look OK on a variety of devices. I've had no complaints. I'm not going to go back to the old days of dial-up with its tiny images and limited fonts. I spend a lot of time making FITK look the way it does, if someone doesn't appreciate it, that’s fine with me.

Flippism is the Key shall remain as it is, in all its 900 pixel-width glory, at least until May 1st, when my image hosting service, Picasa, is converted to the optimized-for-mobile Google Photos.

Just for fun, I'll re-enter the previous paragraph in a 'mobile-friendly' font:

Flippism is the Key shall remain as it is, in all its 900 pixel-width glory, at least until May 1st, when my image hosting service, Picasa, is converted to the optimized-for-mobile Google Photos


Just for fun, here's a 'mobile-friendly' picture of my camera:


I did add some recommended code (set within <> ) to my template:

meta name=viewport content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1"

and it made it worse!


By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - #55

Morning Commute

The morning trip  from the airport to Reykjavík involves an immersion in Iceland’s version of rush hour traffic.

It's not much different from other rush hours, although it is more relaxing to experience it in a WiFi-equipped bus.

Good things come to those who wait… in traffic.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Deathless Prose Revisited


The mad professor has been burning his midnight oil, revamping Window Weather, his first serial "novel." At about 32,000 words it really belongs in the novella category, but who’s counting? It has been thoroughly scoured for typos and punctuation errors, he even ran it through a grammar checker!

If you haven’t yet read it, the link is in the sidebar under “novel.” If you have already read and enjoyed it, recommend it to your friends. If you have read it and hated it, tell your enemies. You can Google "window weather complete novel" if you don’t have the link handy.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Recently, I've been catching weekday matinees at a nearby cineplex (rewatching! Hail Caesar! four times!) One unfortunate side effect of this indulgence is being forced to endure the same trailers over and over. In one of them, a ghastly summer comedy, a person with red hair is disparagingly referred to as a "ginger." Switch the first 'g' with the 'n' and you'll get the full import of the way the word was used in context.

I had first become aware of this peculiar prejudice many years ago. The otherwise intelligent and enlightened individual I was living with at the time was trying to explain why she thought The Pickwick Papers was funny. In one of the episodes, a character cast a slur on a red-haired person. I thought that Dickens was using the incident to show the ignorance and meanness of a social stratum. My companion found it to be hilarious and she judged my sense of humor to be somewhat retarded. To denigrate someone for their hair color was cruel and dumb then, I am even more disturbed by its usage now.

BTW, Hail Caesar! did feature a red-haired person. But not as a slur:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 4 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - #54

Keflavík, October, 2015

Sooner or later, you have to go home.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Polyvore Revisited

It's been nearly seven years since I uploaded this picture of my bay window on FITK:

Since then, it has taken on a life of its own, it has been used as a backdrop for numerous images on the photo collage/fashion site Polyvore. I recently checked in with them again and found that the Polyvore redecorating elves have been busy:

Aww… isn't she cute?

The model below is cute in a different way, (although I don't care for the chain-link fence or the moldy dresser):

Here's a classier approach (although still pretty cluttered):

Flippist World Headquarters never looked so decadent!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


I first saw John Beach perform in 1971. A group he was in had played on Bonnie Raitt’s first album, John had done some of the arrangements. The band he was in, Willie and the Bees, was also the opening act at her ‘debut’ concert in Minneapolis' old Marigold Ballroom.  His performance that night left an indelible impression on me. John was already older than most of the guys who were playing in the bands I would go see; he was a true veteran, having been in the Army in the early 60s (where he played with a variety of groups.)

I met Paul Scher about six years later when I was working with a group named The Explodo Boys. He was five years younger than me. After one rehearsal he was invited to join the band. Ultimately, we ended up living in (and part-owning) the same house. After a few years, John ended up in the Explodos as well. When that group disbanded, John and Paul did a duo act for several months.

Last week Paul, who has lived in Brooklyn for many years, returned (for a wedding in his family) and he managed to land a gig with John. The show was great, a few missteps here and there,  overall it was a gas. John is well into his seventies now and is still performing in his unique jazz, soul, and blues styles. Paul is now a youthful sixty and remains active in the New York music scene. He has finally managed to acquire a few wrinkles of his own!

To be able to see them perform together again after over thirty years was musically and, in light of their history together, extremely emotionally satisfying for me—as well as for the other fans who crowded into the tiny, stuffy, and hot backroom of the Minneapolis Eagles lodge.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - #53

Viðey, October 9, 2015

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Wanda Gág Day!

Wanda’s Vices

“I think it is necessary for me to be bad for awhile—the aesthetic value of sin is not to be sneezed at.” 
Wanda Gág in her diary, May 18, 1922

Today is the 123rd anniversary of the birth of Wanda Gág. This year my focus is on Wanda‘s ‘vices’—those things which Wanda enjoyed immensely but a less open-minded person might find objection to.

Wanda was a sun worshiper. After a summer spent outdoors she would become, in the word of one of her lovers, “tawny.” Tanning then wasn’t quite the craze it would later become although a ‘healthy’ tan was thought  to be good for you. A fashionista might consider her love of polka dots a vice, but Wanda enjoyed festive clothes and made many of her outfits herself.

A subject not usually covered in most of Wanda’s biographies is her political sympathies. She contributed artwork to several leftist magazines and even had a representative of The New Masses come out to her ‘Tumble Timbers’ rental house to deliver an impromptu performance:

After she had become successful one of the things she treated herself to was a bed in her hilltop studio. It minimized awkwardness with the rest of her family when one of her lovers would come by for a little spirited ‘tree-topping’—the euphemism she employed for sexual intercourse:

After prohibition was repealed (and perhaps even before), there was never a shortage of another type of ‘spirit’ at her farm All Creation:


But Wanda's biggest vice was, by far, smoking:

It would ultimately kill her.

More on Wanda…

Photographs: Robert Janssen and/or Carl Zigrosser, the Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Teen-Age Queen

Mora, Minnesota 1980

There's a story in our town
Of the prettiest girl around
Golden hair and eyes of blue
How those eyes could flash at you
Boys hung 'round her by the score
But she loved the boy next door
Who worked at the candy store
Dream on, dream on teenage queen
Prettiest girl we've ever seen

"Ballad Of A Teenage Queen" ~ Johnny Cash

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, March 07, 2016

Mondays in Iceland - #52

Insufficient Processing Time

This weekend was so full of activity that I don’t think it has caught up with my mind yet. It was full of colors, massive amounts of Icelandic input, and the gritty Icelandic landscape.

Yesterday we spent the day on Snæfellsnes with a friend (S) whose family has been in the area for generations. His grandfather (the oldest man alive in Iceland, over a hundred years old) bought the land in the 1920s and it has been part of the family since then. The land lies on the edge of Breiðafjörður, a hammer-shaped fjord that separates Snæfellsnes from the lower portion of the West Fjords. It is dotted with islands of various sizes and was apparently a pretty great place to live hundreds of years ago since it was one of the few places you could always find something to eat and didn’t starve.

The intention of our mission was to catch fish, but this late in the year we weren’t sure there were going to be any. This plot of land is well-suited for it, with two rivers of different temperatures joining together before flowing into the fjord. We suited up in all the warm clothes we had, plus some borrowed shin-high rubber boots, and set out across the hummocky grass to the sheep fence. S said, “here is your first obstacle” as we toed our way over the barbed wire.

The second obstacle came soon after as we started wading across various bends in the river, the mud sucking at our boots. At one point the water was too deep for our boots, so S, fully suited in waders, had to piggy-back both of us across. Our destination was a bend in the river where apparently the fish like to sleep behind the rocks. We baited with mackerel and gave it a try, but no success was to be had. The point of the trip seemed mostly about the location though, as we stood below the snow-covered spine of Snæfellsnes with the sun filtering through the clouds. I realized that it was the first time in months, if not years, that I had been somewhere that it was impossible to hear a single car. We were far enough from the road that the once-hourly (if that) car was inaudible, and there are no distant highways in Iceland that can be heard from miles away. The most amazing thing about this is that it is only 2 hours away from where J and I live.

We then adjourned for lunch in the family summerhouse that had been built a few decades ago from the wood used to build car shipping crates. After lunch, we tried a different location for the fish, and I decided to go for a hike out to the waterfall S had said was nearby. I had to first climb the hill up to the sheep pasture, through the wild blueberries, the red berries S said were called “mouseberries” and the waist-high grass the color of wheat. I climbed a few more fences and happened upon a pair of surprised sheep as I wallowed through the hummocks. The land oozed with water, so between some of the mounds of land I could hear the gurgling of narrow brooks (sprækur eins og lækur) that came straight from the ground.

I followed the sound of the waterfall across more pasture, before I came to the edge of the gorge. There was a separate fish-ladder on one side, and the cliffs were covered with more red blueberry bushes and tiny birches whose leaves were turning orange. Birds swooped across the gap and in the distance I could see the snow-covered mountains and the sprinkled islands in the fjord. When I returned from my walk, S and J had still caught no fish, so we walked down along the river to where the rocks were covered in seaweed and mussel shells and the high-tide mark was visible on the rocks.

The tide was fully out, so the three of us set out across the muddy tidal flats, strewn with kelp and snail trails. S told us stories of the islands in the fjord, but his words were snatched from his mouth by the fierce wind that had been blowing straight from the north all day. We skirted one island and caught a glimpse of our goal, a haphazardly tilted shipwreck the next island over. It had been abandoned there some decades ago by the owner since the boat was worthless even as scrap metal by then. The ravages of the saltwater were evident on the hull, which must have once been as tidy as some of the ships I’ve been seeing in the shipyard in Reykjavík. Now it was deep rust-red, and flaking apart in sheets off the surface of the boat.

A rope was hung over the side so we hoisted ourselves up onto the deck, which was pitched at more than a 45-degree angle. By this time the sun was below the horizon so the wind felt even more chill as we leaned on this abandoned boat, unprotected in the middle of an enormous fjord. As we walked back across the tide-drained landscape, I had a newfound respect for the people that had lived here for so many centuries before. I had spent a whole day out fighting the wind, and I had had the benefit of modern clothing technology with my Goretex, my polypropylene, my (borrowed) well-sealed rubber boots. I also could look forward to a well-sealed, well-heated, bright house, plentiful food, and a hot shower. How must it have been to be out in this weather wearing clothing that probably never dried fully in the unpredictable weather of this land? What was it like to spend the whole day outside fighting to find food, only to look forward to a dark sod house at night? It’s no wonder people here are so unfazed by the weather and strangely proud of the peculiar national delicacies like hákarl. I have to also say that in a field test (yesterday) I also have concluded that the Icelandic wool was one of the other secrets of their success. The hat I made last year in Boston (from wool I had bought here) served me proudly.

By ECS.  First posted October 10, 2005, used by permission.

Reposted by

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, March 04, 2016

Spring Training

Target Field, Minneapolis, 2011

It’s barely March and my thoughts are already turning to spring.

A mild winter has made the longing even worse. When it is 60 degrees one naturally thinks that it will soon be shirtsleeve weather. We’re at least two months away from doing any planting and three months away from the real warm stuff. I’ll just put up a picture of an outdoor baseball game: looking at the “boys of summer” in action is always a good way to escape the winter doldrums.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Depth of Focus

"Roy", Waverly, Minnesota, 1975

Working up the images for a potential photo exhibit has, at times, been an emotionally overwhelming experience. It is one thing to have fond memories of an earlier era in one's life but quite another to experience it again via high-resolution images. The pictures were shot at various places: parties, picnics, day trips, and hours spent just "hanging out."

When I took these pictures I was in my mid to late 20s. The subjects of this project were a group of women about five years younger than me who graciously allowed me into their inner circle. In my own (self-centered) way, I had thought that my circle of male friends (with whom I would work with in various musical capacities) were the locus of an extended tribe—an overlapping collection of young people with ties to each other. This "tribe" was never rigidly defined and its members came and went over time. But the real unifying force was embodied in these women. It continues to this day. The women I took pictures of then continued as a force; slowly, almost imperceptibly, "civilizing" the raucous man-boys they loved. As we grew older, commitments to children, careers, divorce and death began to disperse the "tribe" but the group still resides at its center. Not as tightly knit, to be sure, but with a wider reach.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

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