“The Seven Sleepers of Ephesus Discovered by Alexander the Great”, Folio from a Falnama (Book of Omens)

from the Met.  If you don’t know about the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus then fool there’s no helping you.

The Met claims it came from Qazvin, Iran.  What does Qazvin look like, I wonder?  In 1921 it looked like this:



from the Life Magazine set of photos entitled “A Squirrel’s Guide To Fashion”

Life’s website explains:

In the early 1940s, LIFE magazine reported that a woman named Mrs. Mark Bullis of Washington, D.C., had adopted a squirrel “before his eyes were open, when his mother died and left him in a tree” in the Bullis’ back yard.

“Most squirrels,” LIFE noted (with a striking lack of evidence), “are lively and inquisitive animals who like to do tricks when they have an audience.”

They do? At any rate, LIFE went on to observe that the squirrel, dubbed Tommy Tucker by the Bullis family, “is a very subdued little animal who has never had a chance to jump around in a big tree.”

“Mrs. Bullis’ main interest in Tommy,” LIFE continued, “is in dressing him up in 30 specially made costumes. Tommy has a coat and hat for going to market, a silk pleated dress for company, a Red Cross uniform for visiting the hospital.”

And so it begins … a series of at-once touching and creepy photographs by LIFE’s Nina Leen, chronicling the quiet adventures and sartorial splendor of Tommy Tucker the squirrel.

Pick your motto!

Wikipedia helpfully provides a list of London’s livery companies and their mottos:

The Livery Companies are listed in alphabetical order, rather than by precedence. Note that most are double entendres or puns about their Company’s purpose.

h/t our Chestnut Hill office, which got us started with an article about Doggett’s Badge & Coat.   Good detail:

While anything remotely related to sports is being smothered with news coverage these days in Olympics-saturated London, there were very few here in the way of news media and spectators. This was just as well, as the young victor of the six-man rowing race, a 23-year-old named Merlin Dwan, was a bit far along in his celebration.

“You’re way too late,” a friend warned a reporter, as the sole camera crew on site attempted fruitlessly to conduct an interview.

Picture above is of Fishmongers’ Hall.

Finis Mitchell

One thing led to another and I got to reading about Finis Mitchell:

In 1906, as a young boy, Finis came to the Wind River Range [in Wyoming] with his father in a boxcar along with the rest of his family… Not bowing down to the fierce obstacles wielded by a stark and barren land with winters lasting 9 months a year, Finis spent the next 7 years carefully carrying five-gallon cans of water and wild trout on horseback over steep rugged trails to more than 300 remote Wyoming lakes. Due to the glacial topography of the upper mountains, these lakes had no native populations of fish. These isolated lakes, which had never seen a trout before, began to team with these newcomers. Miraculously, as though knowing the way, these fish migrated to over 700 more lakes in the upper mountains. With his life-long friend and wife Emma, he carved a life in this unknown wilderness.

Here’s a photo, from this Forest Service website, of Finis and Emma:

During the Depression, he and his wife stocked lakes in the Wind River Range with over 2.5 million trout. He served in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1955 to 1958. At the age of 67 he retired from his job as a railroad foreman and dedicated himself full-time to exploring and writing about the Wind River Range of mountains…

…At the age of 73, while on a glacier, he twisted his knee in a snow-covered crevasse. He hacked crude crutches out of pine wood and hobbled 18 miles to find a doctor, and was able to resume climbing until the age of 84, when further injury to the knee from a fall put an end to his solo climbing career.

Here’s a quote from Finis:

A mountain is the best medicine for a troubled mind. Seldom does man ponder his own insignificance. He thinks he is master of all things. He thinks the world is his without bonds. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Only when he tramps the mountains alone, communing with nature, observing other insignificant creatures about him, to come and go as he will, does he awaken to his own short-lived presence on earth.

The Wind River Range:

Finis Mitchell is of course not to be confused with Finesse Mitchell:

David Milch quote of the day

“Recur, now, to Kierkegaard’s formulation and think of the Super Bowl as an expression of the self resting transparently in the spirit which gave it rise.  Not impossible, right?”


Now that my readership has doubled 10,000, I would like to ask for everyone’s help.  Summer before last, in the legendary harsh Twelve Bens wilderness of western Ireland I met these people, and took this lovely picture.  I would like the Internet’s help in sending the picture to the photographed heroes.  Their names are Rob and Lou, and they live in Belfast.  Lou at one time worked in the schools of Kankakee, Illinois.  Those are all the clues I can provide.

Early Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders

“Early color illustration of psychiatric treatment disorders,” says wikipedia, re:

Another thing I remembered about Larry McMurtry

during the Q&A after the “Brokeback Mountain” screening, someone mentioned that the movie risked being labelled “the gay cowboy movie.” McMurtry, with a tone of baffled wonderment at the world’s foolishness, said “they’re not cowboys!  They’re itinerant ranch hands!”

Le Bal des Ardents

Wikipedia recently had an incredibly interesting article of the day, about a disastrous court entertainment that occurred in Paris in 1383.  I recommend this article, and the related article on the “glass delusion“, but if you’re short on time this picture pretty much tells the whole story:

Larry McMurtry, Walter Benjamin At The Dairy Queen

I hate having to say the title of this book when I recommend it.  But it is a good read.  Larry McMurtry says he was drinking a lime Dr. Pepper (“easily obtainable by anyone willing to buy a lime and a Dr. Pepper”) and reading Walter Benjamin’s essay “The Storyteller,” and then he decided to write this book to work out his subsequent thoughts.

The subtitle is “Reflections At Sixty And Beyond.”  It is sort of about the idea of storytelling and oral history, but mostly it seems to be McMurty’s meandering but fascinating musings and memories centered around this fact:

[I] am one of the few writers who can still claim to have had prolonged and intimate contact with first-generation American pioneers, men and women who came to a nearly absolute emptiness and began the filling of it themselves

Here is a good part:

In a tent (later a shack) not far south of our ranch house, in post oak scrub near the West Fork of the Trinity River, lived a woman who had (reportedly) been traded for a whole winter’s catch of skunk hides, the exchange occurring when she was about thirteen.  The man who had her (by what right I don’t know) stopped to spend the night in the camp of a skunk trapper, who immediately took a fancy to the girl – such a fancy, indeed, that he offered his winter’s catch for her.  The traveler took the hides and left the girl, who lived to bear the trapper many children; she stayed down near West Fork for the rest of her life.  When, as an old woman, she would occasionally need to go to town for some reason, she simply walked out to the nearest dirt road and stood, in silence, until some passerby picked her up and took her where she was going.  This passerby was often my father, though sometimes it was the school but I rode in.  I rode to town with the old woman – once worth more than fifty skunk hides- many times but I never heard her speak a single word.

I saw McMurtry speak once at a screening of “Brokeback Mountain,” which he co-wrote.  Someone asked him his writing process.  He said that he wakes up in the morning and goes to the typewriter and writes three pages.  As soon as he gets to the bottom of page three, even if he’s in the middle of a sentence, he stops.  Usually, he said, he’s done by about 8am, and then he spends the day doing whatever – I remember him mentioning he might take a walk in the desert.  He also said that found it very important to work every single day, and that the build-up of “momentum” was essential to finishing a book.

Anyway, this walk-in-the-desert lifestyle appealed to me.  In another book (Film Flam) McMurtry says he only writes for two hours a day, and suggests that the idea of writers struggling really hard with their work may be a misguided one.

Stamps are amazing

Amazing moment

recounted in this Will Leitch interview with Spike Lee:

What do you think of Romney?
You know what’s funny? I met him in an airport, Reagan National Airport, and we said hello. It was, like, two, three years ago. I was just in D.C. and he was there and he said, “What’s up, Spike?” and I said, “What’s happening, Mitt?” We were in line getting something to eat. So I said what’s up and shook hands. I think it is going to be very, very, very close.

Readers, are you as surprised as I am that Mitt could recognize Spike Lee?

This Is Our Youth, by Kenneth Lonergan

This is how the character Jessica is described in the stage directions:

She is a fairly cheerful but very nervous girl, whose self-taught method of coping with her nervousness consists of seeking out the nearest available oasis of self-assurance and entrenching herself there with a watchful defensiveness that sweeps away anything that might threaten to dislodge her, including her own chances at happiness and the opportunity of gaining a wider perspective on the world that might eventually make her less nervous to begin with.

Wonderful sentence

from wikipedia’s article about British radio personality C. E. M. Joad:

He involved himself in psychical research, traveling to the Harz Mountains to help [Harry] Price to test whether the ‘Bloksberg Tryst’ would turn a male goat into a handsome prince at the behest of a maiden pure in heart (it did not)

I mean, even just this summary of Joad is pretty great:

Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad (August 12, 1891 – April 9, 1953) was an English philosopher and broadcasting personality. He is most famous for his appearance on The Brains Trust, an extremely popular BBC Radio wartime discussion programme. He managed to popularise philosophy and became a celebrity, before his downfall in the Train Ticket Scandal of 1948.

Let’s learn about Joad’s romantic life, while we’re at it:

He described sexual desire as “a buzzing bluebottle that needed to be swatted promptly before it distracted a man of intellect from higher things.” He believed that female minds lacked objectivity, and he had no interest in talking to women who would not go to bed with him. By now Joad was “short and rotund, with bright little eyes, round, rosy cheeks, and a stiff, bristly beard.” He dressed in shabby clothing as a test: if people sneered at this they were too petty to merit acquaintance.

I dunno, you tell me if you think he’s looker enough to pull that off, ladies:

Now, the sad part of the story is that I can find out nothing else about the cartoonist “Griff” who apparently drew this cartoon.  It is from Courier Magazine, Vol 5 No 1, 1945.  That’s all I got!

A good one from the Library of Congress / Flickr

Seems decent to link to original.

You can’t tell me

That my hometown doesn’t hold its own in Fourth of July parading:

Of course, the highlight is always the local car dealer, astride his horse, honoring the first Americans:

Albert Bierstadt

Bierstadt sometimes changed details of the landscape to inspire awe. The colors he used are also not always true. He painted what he believed was the way things should be: water is ultramarine, vegetation is lush and green, etc.

 Now me, I just show what I saw:
But that’s just because I haven’t bothered getting into Lightbox yet.