American Gods — First Reviews

The first reviews for American Gods are in, and they’re raves. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 94%. and this review from Deadline Hollywood is pretty typical:

The first eight episodes of American Gods will play on Starz, beginning on 30 April 2017.


With my 80s obsession, you don’t really think I’d pass up a chance to post the great 80s song that’s referenced in that review, do you?

As if.

Here’s “Under The Milky Way”, by The Church:

Suspect I might have posted the review simply as an excuse to boost a great 80s song?

Maybe.

Artomatic 2017, and the Joy of Discovery

Artomatic, the free-floating exhibition space that pops up in Washington every two or three years, has made a welcome return. This year, more than 600 artists and performers are taking part in the seven-week-long show.

Artomatic is non-juried. With no gatekeepers to evaluate quality, pretty much anything goes.* As a result, you can find yourself wading thought some truly horrendous amateur art. But every once in a while, you’ll stumble over something beautiful and inspired. The joy of unexpectedly finding something that gives you pleasure is what makes Artomatic so much fun.

The location of Artomatic changes with each show, moving to a different building “in transition”. This year, it fills seven floors of a currently unoccupied office building in Crystal City. I was able to tour four of the floors before museum fatigue kicked in, and I plan to return to see the rest of this year’s show before it ends on 6 May 2017.

Here are some of the things that caught my eye during yesterday’s visit:

 


There’s more to Artomatic than the visual arts. The event also features music, video, film, poetry, performance art, dance parties, and the occasional magician.

Here’s today’s events schedule:


*I’ve never seen the artists’ agreement documents, so I don’t know whether there are restrictions on content. The show stipulates that it’s designed for adults, but there were plenty of families with children touring the exhibition yesterday.

2017 Cookery Project — Steak and Cottage Fries

Steak and Cottage Fries

Steak and Cottage Fries

Because I was mentally and physically exhausted from doing my taxes last night—All those numbers to key into the H&R Block screens! All those NEXT buttons to click!—I felt like staying in and cooking instead of going out today, so I reviewed what I had on hand, and came up with this simple lunch.

I took some top round, seared it, and then braised it in beef stock and red wine, something I could probably do with my eyes closed. (I decided to keep them open, though, because there was no one around to impress with my daring, kitchen skills, and savoir faire, so there was no point in risking major injury. I still have bad memories, and a few second degree burn scars, from the last time I tried it….)

My basic rule for the 2017 Cookery Project is that each dish must include a new-to-me technique or ingredient. This time, that requirement was met when I used a method for cooking potatoes that I learned from a recipe called Chef John’s Cottage Fries from allrecipes.com. I’ll let Chef John himself describe it:

I like it spicy, so I went a bit overboard with the cayenne pepper. I’ll reduce it next time.

I crumbled some bleu cheese over the beef, and garnished the dish with parsley, because why not?

Another success in the kitchen!

“The More You Look at This Picture, the More Anxious It Becomes.”

This Lovecraftian image showed up everywhere today, without any attribution that I’ve been able to locate. It was posted to Reddit under the above title,* and, Reddit being Reddit, the posting has already acquired enough analysis, speculation, and snarky commentary to keep you occupied all day.

The creepiness is in the details, and you really have to magnify the image to catch much of the weirdness. If you want to delve deeper, download the image and enbiggen it with your photo manager app, unless, of course, your computer has one of those magical “Enhance” keys that seem to exist only on TV police procedurals.


*Warning: When visiting an art gallery, don’t stare at the paintings. According to the Redditor who posted the image, it makes them nervous.

Paradiso, and the Chamber of the Great Council

I didn’t take this photograph. I’m using it because it there was no way for me to come close to capturing the texture and detail of the massive painting behind the Doge’s throne in the Chamber of the Great Council. It’s titled Paradiso, and it was painted by Jacopo Tintoretto and the members of his workshop.

Click the image to enbiggen.

I first saw a picture of Paradiso in Venice: Art and Architecture, a two-volume, slip-cased entry in the superb series of art books that the Konemann publishing house released around the turn of the century. The picture took up two full pages of the oversized book.

I was thoroughly enraptured. Venice had always been near the top of my list of cities I dreamed of visiting, and that picture cinched the deal.

And now I was here.

Paradiso is the world’s longest painting on canvas, and the Chamber of the Great Council itself is one of the largest rooms in Europe. It was here that the Great Council of Venice, made up of all patrician males over 25, regularly met to determine the fate of Venice.

I spent more than an hour in this room, moving from place to place, trying to absorb as much of the emotional atmosphere of the room as I could.

Like Schloss Neuschwanstein, like Sainte-Chapelle, like Château de Chenonceau.

A peak experience.