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PAM1975005W00028-34ASummer has arrived in our part of the world–long days, heat on your back, first morning coffee on the front step, dinner out on the back deck–so let’s talk about rain, lest we forget.  Where we live, no one complains when the sky suddenly turns bright and fills with sunlight, but being surprised by a splash of rain, caught unexpectedly, under-equipped, predictably brings a cry of “no fair!”. This photo by Martin Parr from Bad Weather.

When it rains on your parade, some of us handle it better than others.

caught in th rain_glastonbury-85-ely-wet The music may have stopped, but the beer is just as tasty and mud between the toes can be quite lovely.. sometimes.

Caught in the Rain flower standThe flowers are still lovely too, and these two know that although the rain may keep some customers away, in the big picture, it’s fundamental to life, isn’t it luv?  Eau de vie as they say.

If flower sellers and festival goers tolerate rain, some photographers seem to absolutely adore it–a gift from the sky every bit as precious as light.

caught in the Rain ruipalha11 This Rui Palha photo above is an ode to geometry and rainfall.

caught in the rain Z_DWagner_Rolleiflex_64Beautiful image by Z D Wagner depends for much of its eloquence on the presence of rain (and wind)

 

caught in th rain New York Museum of MN117383-2 New Yorkers, of course, find ways to not just persevere in the rain, but to make something memorable of it, such as this wet-footed pas de deux.

caught in the rain james dean boweryAnd if you are James Dean, a rainy day gives you another part to play, another iconic image you’ll leave behind.

On the other hand…

caught in the rain_LOndon_voting day100180103_People_are_caught_out_in_a_heavy_rain_shower_in_Westminster_London_PRESS_ASSOCIATION_P_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqvzJnqpVGpnfyf5cbbtTpCfeont4dPw4tRGY Unexpected rain isn’t just a photo op, is it?

caught in rain HK 2012 typhoon 600_qpyxyat2jcj1nznmtmwptmdgoka6yhaxSome of us caught in it will face nasty and possibly dangerous conditions.

Caught in the Rain Medicine HatFlood is more than an inconvenience.  It can bring daily life to a stand still. Immobilized. The very water that gives life to us all can take it away.  Without much warning.

We are the water planet in a thousand different ways.  Try as we might, we cannot (yet) control when or how much water will fall from the sky.  What we can control is how we react to rain.  If the warnings go out to take cover, then by all means run for shelter and batten down the hatches.  But otherwise, look up, be grateful, we are born water babies.

caught in the rain downpour Katherine Australia r1073_788_2991_2630_w1200_h678_fmax

FRANCE. Paris. 1989.Joie de vivre/eau de vie caught by Elliot Erwitt, Paris.  Salut!

 

 

 

 

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Pieter Bruegel, Flemish, born almost 500 years ago, was a miracle of a painter who gave us images we can still understand and delight in without a thick book or an expert.

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Most of his pictures have their origin in the Christian Bible, but if you never saw a Bible in your life you would see and feel the humanity of what is staring you in the eye.

And you would see the children, somewhere in the frame.

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You need to look, sometimes, for the children.  But they are almost always there, busy, preoccupied, stocky/stubby, lovely.

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This is a detail of the Census of Bethlehem

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Wherever you find them, these, Bruegel’s children are identifiable as today’s children, even if so much around them is bizarre.

Bruegel children

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Above, The Hunters in the Snow also known as The Return of the Hunters, is a 1565 oil-on-wood painting.

It is a quiet cold wonder in the palace of great art–thanks in part to those small boys and girls.

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Our heroes are by definition magnificently far above us in what they do and how they do it. If you take a moment to look at the heroes of baseball, it seems not so impossible that you too might someday do what they do.

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The costumes (simple, soft, comfy) and the main actions of baseball (swing, run, throw, catch, run, slide)  tell you how sweetly uncomplicated it all is.

For a kid looking on, enthralled, obsessed, it almost looks possible.  I can wear  a uniform like that. I can swing like that. I can feel it.

 

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At least that’s how it seemed in 1959, and we can hope that it is not far from the truth today.

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Of the many who played the simple game at the highest level, these two Eddie Mathews and Hank Aaron, twin gods of the Milwaukee Braves in 1959, represented to the kid just about everything that was worth being if you were human–including approachability.  Yes, you could imagine them coming to your house and throwing the ball around.  Yes you did imagine it, over and over.

HOF Weekend 1967 Robinson w Aparicio 3530.2000_NBLAnd those Milwaukee heroes didn’t seem to mind that you also worshipped others, like these two Baltimore Orioles, Brooks Robimson and Luis Aparicio (1967).  Real heroes understand that.  They know it is not betrayal, it does not diminish them.

mickey-mantle-si2Mickey Mantle (the Marilyn Monroe of baseball ?(without the tragedy), seemed to understand that as well as anyone.  There seemed to be no envy in his rivalry with other players, no bitterness in his blazing competitiveness.

The best in baseball, at least in those days, always had time for the kid who worshipped them.

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Brooks Robinson, sitting down, taking time.  The kid is the batboy for the team.  The BATBOY! Baseball even has a JOB for a kid, a JOB among the gods, a job in heaven itself.

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What a game.

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This batboy became a Chief Justice in the Court of Queens Bench in Canada, but we bet he never felt more glad to be alive than right there, the boy in charge of the bats.

Found here

If you are lucky, there is a game going on soon near you, and if you are super lucky, it unfolds in a place like this bit of heaven.

nat baileyNat Baily Stadium, Vancouver, BC

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Puppets have been with us for a very long time.  Amusing us, sometimes scaring us or making us mad–and by “us”, we mean people of just about any age in any country. Small figures made of simple materials become actors in a play.  This is theatre the way we all like it. We laugh, we cry.   Applause applause.

The above 200-year-old puppet troupe, supporting cast to the beloved character Guignol, is from Lyon, France, found here.

But happily, puppets are as much a part of the present as they are a reminder of the past. Today, right now, puppet making and puppet theatre are as widely appealing and inventive as ever.

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This is one (of dozens) of small figures imagined and made by Canadian artist Geoffrey Farmer for a show called The Surgeon and the Photographer. Each is made of cloth and paper cut out of magazines and books.  Are they “puppets”?  They are to us, and the room full of them was, by a long shot, the best thing we saw in an art gallery in 2015.

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Above, Mr Farmer’s puppets on parade at the Barbicon in London in 2013. Happily, all these little people have been gathered in a book.

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Whatever their actual age, puppets seem to belong to a time all their own.  This lad, who is Italian and just waiting for the show to go on, is about 300 years ago.

This past August, many of the fine performances at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe Festival featured puppets and puppetry of the highest and most hilarious order, the most absurd, unsettling, laugh-in-spite-of- yourself kind of stuff you’ll find in any theatre anywhere…

puppet Bruce

Like Bruce, a sponge puppet, with quite a story to tell. Created by Australian company The Last Great Hunt

Puppet Foxy Charlie Tuesday Gates. Sing For Your Life.Foxy

And Foxy, one of the stars of Sing for your Life, a “Hideously hilarious taxidermy puppet cabaret”written by taxidermy performance artist (!) Charlie Tuesday Gates. Don’t look toooo close.

Puppet festivals thrive today in many cities–like Istanbul, below

The 18th International Istanbul Puppet Fest comes to town!

Chicago

Tehran

German, Spanish for Tehran puppet festival

France

Montreal   Festival Casteliers   Afternoon of a Foehn. 

So we encourage you to get off your hands and head out to a puppet show near you or way over there in Istanbul.  Near or far, the delight remains supreme.  We love these little creatures, don’t we?

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G. Farmer.  Mlle Puppette.  Enchantee. Merci.

 

 

 

outsider photo nhung dang badger

The world is (still) full of wild things, plenty of them pretty weird in appearance and habits.  Yet we humans have never been satisfied with nature’s menagerie.  Since way back when, we have imagined things even more wild and more weird. Like this unnerving critter photographed by Nhung Dang (spotted here).

 

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No surprise the Japanese have been heavily into conjuring up unusual creatures from the imagination.  There was a whole show of them in London.

 

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The USA can claim many  producers of eye-poppng imaginary animalia, sometimes under the banner of Folk Art, sometimes Outsider Art, sometime…Art.  This wild dog was here.

 

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And in the USA, there is no shortage of well produced, well attended shows featuring objects and  drawings of creatures who have never actually roamed the earth, but which are very much alive in the minds of some artist.

 

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And then there is England, which might hold the all time record for the number of its citizens who have turned their imagination and their natural skills to the rendition of new life forms.  The above drawing is a collaboration of two sisters born in the 1840’s with time on their hands and wonderful, playful minds.  Here’s the story.

 

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Kate Bradbury, a current artist from England, emerged late, blossomed quickly, makes things no one else could never dream of.  This is her  Angel.  More

 

 

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Let’s give the last word and image to the Asians. Eunmi Chun is Korean, and she makes animal figures out of dried intestinal skin and human hair (sometimes gold-leafed), beautiful forms sewn together, see here.

Wild.  Thing.  You make my heart sing.

Nature is the crucible, churning out an infinite variety of living things.  And still, some of us turn our heads and minds to the invention of things that, so far, never were.

Wild.

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