Wednesday, June 30, 2021

When Cars Had Tits Redux

This is a FITK re-post from June, 2011

The automobile is a highly designed object, with a visual language that has evolved over decades to illustrate the consistent progression of contemporary aesthetic concerns and priorities. ~ The Culture Engine
Usually referred to less vulgarly as Dagmar Bumpers, these conical protuberances were featured on a variety of makes and models of cars in the 1950s. Perhaps they were a post-war collective subconscious fertility symbol: a mix of destruction (bombs) and nurturing (boobs). Woe be to the pedestrian who ran afoul of these lethal weapons and the power of iconography made manifest. With the dawning of the sixties the era of anthropomorphic cars was over.

In the seventies, the “Car Bra” became popular. It’s probably a good thing that these two eras didn’t overlap.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Monday, June 28, 2021

Lakefront Property

This summer Flippist World Headquarters has been suffering under two afflictions: a drought and street repair. The drought was broken yesterday; copius rainfall turned 6th Avenue into a small lake:
The rainfall provided much-needed water for the flowers:
The road repair equipment parked in front of our house has given us this new vista:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Friday, June 25, 2021

Planned Unobsolescence

This Blogger has finally upgraded his equipment.

I have been using a MacBook Pro, the de facto standard for non-techie creatives, since 2013. It has served me well, but is starting to show its age: the keyboard is wearing out, all of the ports are getting loose, and it is near the end of its upgradability with newer operating systems. Its convenience and versatility was commendable, but when I heard of the new Apple M1 silicon chip processor and its performance gains, and that it would be compatible with MacOS for the foreseeable future, and it was in a sleek iMac form, I had to spring for one. It lives up to the hype. With the addition of a hub and a SSD I won’t have to keep plugging and unplugging my peripheral devices, and my photo editing is a breeze.

At the risk of coming across as an Apple fan-boy, and I’m not enamored of every Apple device (anyone want to buy an iPad mini?), but I will state that Apple has come a long way since the 10" Macbook laptop (with a dial-up modem!) I was using when I started this Flippist Nonsense scholarly endeavor.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 2 




Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Woody in Exile

Café Society
A film by Woody Allen, 2016

A Rainy Day in New York
A film by Woody Allen, 2019

These two movies and the rest of his recent work has been denied U.S. distribution because of child molestation allegations by Mia Farrow, her daughter Dylan and their son Ronan. No court will address these charges therefore I won’t comment on them either, they have effectively established Woody Allen as a persona non grata and exiled his releases to overseas markets and streaming.

All that aside, these cinematic misfires stand on their own, although Allen’s  duds are better (or at least more interesting) than most of the other dreck that passes for entertainment today. It is often said that a successful author only writes one book in their lifetime–the rest are re-writes. In defense of Woody he has explored numerous tropes in his career: New York City, sexual mores, neurotic behavior, and a nostalgic yearning for the past. These two films contain all of these; both use New York City as a central character, express nostalgia for the 1930s, and have older men ineptly romancing beautiful young women.

Café Society concerns Bobby (Jessie Eisenberg) a Bronx native, who moves to Hollywood in the late 1930s and falls in love with Vonnie, a young woman (Kristen Stewart) who is seeing Phil (Steve Carell), Bobby’s uncle, who is a Hollywood agent and also a married man. A romantic triangle grows out of this situation, although there are no real sparks seen on screen. Vonnie is something of a cold fish, and neither Bobby nor Phil are very appealing either. There was a time (the late 1930s?) when movies had stars in them: actors who were not only capable of delivering a convincing performance, but actually had a charisma that showed on the screen. The love scenes between Vonnie and the much older Phil are not only dead, they are squirm-inducing. Stewart’s Vonnie gives the impression that she is about to throw up at the thought of Carell’s Phil touching her:
Bobby moves back to New York and becomes successful running a nightclub with his hoodlum brother. There are some unappealing family dynamics at work and when Phil and Vonnie (now married) visit, things get complicated and the story sort of peters out at the end.

A Rainy Day in New York is sent in current times, but could just as well have been set in the 30s. A young college couple, Gatsby (Timothée Chalamet) and Ashleigh (Elle Fanning) arrive in New York for a weekend where they endure bad weather and suffer a series of misadventures. Gatsby is mentally stuck in NYC’s 1930s Café Society (he is an accomplished pianist who frequents jazz clubs), while Ashleigh is a film/journalism grad student (with a thing for old movies) who has an appointment to interview a famous film director. While she is conducting her interview, Gatsby wanders off, finding an old friend who happens to be making a student film and needs an actor to play a love scene with Chan (Selena Gomez), a woman who turns out to be the younger sister of Gatsby’s ex. At the interview Ashleigh is hit on by the director then his screenwriter and, finally, a famous and sexy actor. Meanwhile Gatsby has “issues” with Chan, and a prostitute, and his mother. This is a better plot than Café Society, but the dialog is stilted, often hilariously bad at times. All the men are creepy and Chan’s vocal fry is so thick it sounds as if she is a 70 year-old chain smoker. The redeeming grace is the performance of Elle Fanning. Her role of virgin/seductress is played to the hilt; while the camera is on her the film comes alive. She has been the best thing in a wide variety of off-beat movies, this might be her last role as an ingenue:
Woody Allen is in his mid-80s, these scripts are so out of touch with modern reality it is as if they had been written by someone in their mid-120s! His last great film may have been Midnight in Paris, which examined the false allure of nostalgia rather than wallowing in it the way he has in these two films.  The cinematography by Vittorio Storaro is first-rate, although he does go overboard on the color saturation at times—making these films seem even more like a cartoon than they already are, although they aren’t funny.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 5 




Monday, June 21, 2021

Mondays in Iceland -#119

Nornabúðin

This is an updated FITK re-post from May 31, 2011


Image: DV

Nornabúðin was a "witch shop" in Reykjavík from 2005 to 2008, specializing in items associated with witchcraft, pagan religion, and natural healing. Amulets, tea, herbs, and various witchcraft related items were sold there. The shop was decorated with gnarled, twisted branches, animal hides and antlers, as well as other artifacts from around the world:



It was owned and operated by Eva Hauksdóttir, a practicing witch (Norn, in Old Norse), social critic and conceptual artist. She offered rune-reading, dispensing practical wisdom along with her wares. The shop had tables for tea and social gatherings:



The outside of the shop had two large windows, which had displays of her goods:



These dolls were especially cute, in their witchy way:



The shop closed in wake of the Icelandic financial meltdown in 2008. Eva was an instrumental figure in leading protests against the standing government, which ultimately resulted in a change of the national leadership.

She was featured in the documentary Guð Blessi Ísland.

UPDATE: Eva is still blogging, albeit in a different form. With Google Translate you can get the gist of what she’s writing about; there’s always something new and provocative.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, June 18, 2021

House Party - Part IV

Friday Fiction

Fat Cats and Kitties
The party was in full swing now, with guests arriving every few minutes. The sound of conversation filled the house and wafted over the yard.

Then it stopped—Ann had arrived.

Ann was Eddy’s girlfriend when the band was at its peak. She had become a persona non grata when she broke up with Eddy; that void was quickly filled by Iris, one of the other ‘girls’ who had been following the band. Ann and Eddy brought out the worst in each other, especially when they were drinking. Once they did split, however, the drinking or both of them stopped—a chicken or egg paradox, perhaps. Norm, the tenor sax player, come over to Tommy when he saw her come in.

“Fat Cats,” said Norm, “One of the high points of my musical career.”

“The Metropolitan gig,” said Tommy, “How did we end up playing for a bunch of bankers and managers and their wives (and girlfriends) in the city’s oldest businessmen club?”

“Her sociopolitical analysis was pretty accurate, though.”

Seeing Ann again triggered Tommy’s reminiscences of the most notable partner of any of the band members.
It had been a very odd gig for a rag-tag group of musical anarchists. The Metropolitain was, to put it mildly, stuffy, but whoever was in charge of booking the entertainment must have had a sense of humor. Or just liked to dance. The crowd was reserved at first, but after some suitable lubrication did manage to get into the groove. That was short-lived, and by the start of the third set only a handful of club members remained. One of them zeroed in on Ann, who was pretty lubricated herself. Their conversation did not go well and the masher couldn’t get the hint that his presence was not wanted. The band ended their performance, and the creep finally left Ann alone, returning to his buddies.

“Yaall just a bunch of Fat Cats, that’s what yar.”

Ann was beyond tipsy, but what she lacked in diction she made up for in stridency. Her tirade silenced the conversation in the room for a moment before Eddy came over and tried to talk her down. While this little psychodrama played out Ricky and Jaylene kept busy stuffing ashtrays, napkins and other serving items into Ricky’s gig bag.

But the topper of all of Ann’s shenanigans, no contest, was the wet t-shirt contest.

The band had struggled for years to get a regular booking at The Music Room, one of the showcase clubs in town. They had played there a half-dozen times, good gigs, Thursday through Saturday. The management of the bar had a wavering sense of what the place should be and the Thursday ‘special nights’ would change from week to week. Usually Thursdays, the offerings were the usual bar fare… Taco and Tequila Night, Two-for-one, and the old standard: Ladies’ Night. That last one didn’t work too well, it was really just a blue-collar drinking man’s place that had jerry-rigged a makeshift stage. The women who went there were generally following the bands. One week, however, the manager replaced Ladies’ night with a wet t-shirt contest. That brought in a different kind of crowd, both men and the ‘ladies’. The men weren’t really interested in music, and became more belligerent as the night went on. The T-shirt contest was at the start of the third set, about 11 o’clock, and the band was instructed to play background music as a sleazy MC cajoled the ladies (who evidently did this as a regular ‘job’. Unbeknownst to Eddy and the rest of the band, Ann had gathered a different group of women who were outside the bar, picketing with signs denouncing the exploitation of females in general and at this bar in particular. When the manager found out, and realized it was led by a girlfriend of one of the band members, he was livid. The ‘contest’ went on and the winner was the one who flashed the crowd. The band didn’t play there again for a year. The owner of the bar went on to make one of his servers pregnant and, when the drinking age was raised, turned the place into a rehab center, primarily as a tax dodge, servicing the many of the same alkies that he had nurtured in his establishment.

A real classy guy.

After Ann had sobered up (and left Eddy), she went on to earn her MBA and became a ‘Fat Kitty.’

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Dead Man’s Clothes

Over the years about half my wardrobe has been purchased from various second-hand stores.

“Still wearing dead men’s clothes?” is a taunt I’ve heard more than once. Of course the odds are that it must be true. A few years ago I picked up a very nice linen shirt at a Goodwill store. A name brand, made in Hong Kong. Geopolitics aside, I wondered if, ecologically, it was better if I bought a used shirt or should I have bought one new? The shirt’s provenance, however, didn’t concern me.

I was out for a walk yesterday wearing the linen shirt. It was sitting a little askew so I ruffled the hem and in doing so felt a smooth tag that had been glued flat to the inside. It had the name of the shirt’s owner—no doubt a laundry tag for a nursing home—used to reunite the clothes with their proper owner after washing. When I got home, a quick internet search found the obit of a man with that name, in my area, at about the same time I bought the shirt.

Well.

The obituary said that the man was 93, and there were testimonies mentioning what a great guy he was. I felt better about my shirt then, that it had been donated, that a charity made some money from it after his passing. It is a great shirt, cool in the summer and linen wears like iron.

Perhaps, someday, it will have a new tag.

With my name on it.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 3 




Monday, June 14, 2021

Mondays in Iceland -#118

Nótt í hverfinu  
Reykjavík, 2004

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, June 11, 2021

Matchbook Masterpieces - III

Another visit to these marvels in miniature.

I wonder if the actual Lauer sisters posed for the cover?
Here is a restaurant with a truly atmospheric location (coal smoke and acetic acid?) for those looking for a ‘special’ night out:
A non-restaurant cover, this is a jazz-age symphony in black and white:
And, finally, a true masterwork:

And it’s still there (now a distillery/restaurant):

By Professor Batty


Comments: 4 




Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Matchbook Masterpieces - II

More ‘fine art’ from  forties and fifties restaurant matchbook covers.

Picking up where we left off on Monday, this unintentional juxtaposition appears as if it is a salacious invitation (her heart belongs to ‘Daddy’?):
Who am I to argue with health and happiness and fun? The young lady on the right holds the key:
Debonair dining, Shangri-la indeed:
But this Japanese cover (front/back) is true matchbook art:
More on Friday…

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Monday, June 07, 2021

Matchbook Masterpieces - I

I've been scouring eBay ads for old matchbook covers. Not that I have any great desire to amass a collection (or to start a fire) but, rather, I savor the little masterworks of design art contained on them. First up is this trio, each displaying a nice usage of line:
One of this next pair has some personal resonance with me, The Anglesey has been discussed here before. The right one is for the legendary Minneapolis restaurant. Charlie’s ego was truly exceptionale; he was the only owner portrayed on any of the matchbooks:
Not all of the art is elegant, some is downright crude, but these kitschy kuties possess a certain perverse charm:
It is impossible to miss the charms of these ladies of the evening. It makes me wonder what was on the menu of those restaurants:
More on Wednesday…

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Friday, June 04, 2021

My Old School

Recently I’ve been contributing some images to my high school FB page.

A lot of mixed emotions went into the process but no regrets, excepting that I wish I had been kinder and had engaged with more people then. I had my own problems, of course, but those people whom I did make a connection with were almost always good to me.

Enough of wallowing in my existential sty of self-pity; here is a mini-album with a few of those images:

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0 




Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Long Hot

Two images under consideration for entry in the 2021 Fine Arts Exhibition at the Minnesota State Fair:
Which would you choose?

By Professor Batty


Comments: 0