Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Storm in art and music

In the foreground, a bar of sunlight retreats from the coming storm. A relative of mine said of the man isolated in a pool of light: 'That must be the loneliest man in the world.' Despite being monochromatic, gray skies can be as artistic as the most colorful sunset.

In 'The Storm', Michael Stearns captures the essence of aftermath with fading thunder, and a sound like raindrops falling on the guitar strings. Other mood masters are Steve Roach and Mychael Dana.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Botticelli's La Primavera


Botticelli's La Primavera (Spring) is read from right to left. Zephyr, the blue figure, god of the west wind and of spring, catches the Greek nymph Chloris, and impregnates her, and she becomes her equivalent, the Roman Flora. At the center is Venus, with Cupid, above. Following this are the three Graces and Mercury standing alone and holding a caduceus with which he seems to ward off clouds. 

The artwork was commissioned by a member of the Medici family. The painting has been analyzed textually—the literary sources of the composition studied, including Ovid and Lucretius. Critics have studied the grouping of figures. They have studied the colors. the figures' posture and action, the background; but there is no accepted interpretation. My reading of the work follows: 

In Primavera, Botticelli employed Ovid, in part, to create a tableau of charming symmetry. Chloris, the Greek goddess of spring and flowers, is seized by Zepherus; and she turns into her Roman counterpart, Flora, who scatters flowers. In the center of the painting is the pregnant Venus, symbolizing regeneration. On the opposite side of the tableau, Mercury appears to protect the peaceful environment of Primavera. He is armed against intrusion and dispels the clouds, not turning his eyes to gaze at the idyllic scene; but one of the Graces catches sight of him just as Cupid lets fly his arrow at her. The aftermath is played out in the viewer's mind. In love, the Grace approaches Mercury; and he, too, falling in love, abandons his labor. The clouds roll in, the season advances, and Primavera, which cannot last forever anyway, is lost. 

Monday, January 6, 2020


Tonight's tale of unexpected charity proves that old maxim: a little kindness goes a long way. A waitress named Cheryl is about to face that truism by going to bat for a troublesome customer. Mr Briley seems intent on getting in the way, and he's leading a number of folks on a brief tour. . . . of The Twilight Zone.

Another morning dawned at the Sunrise Diner. Cheryl, its only waitress, cleaned the six center tables in preparation for the breakfast crowd, such that it was. The place was a converted two-story Victorian off the main drag, bordered by other old houses, treed gullies, and a railroad crossing. Its clients tended toward old timers who went out of their way for the slower pace and retro charm of this suburban oasis.

One of these was Briley, whose old van was a fixture in the gravel parking lot. His big frame sauntered in, sporting glasses and a hunting cap. With laser focus he aimed for the coffee station and outrageously chatted up a construction type, who didn't seem to mind.

At the deli counter, C M Funk served up a double cheeseburger for one of the stool sitters. He wore limp blond hair and a wispy goatee as a badge of generation Y cool. As such, people like Briley struck him as fossils. He said as much to Cheryl when things slowed down. She was after all a fellow gen Y-er with red pony tail, and crazy zebra glasses with red lens frames.

"Mr Wonderful," C M quipped, "like clockwork. He makes a production out of it: a little sugar, then stir and taste; a little cream, then stir and taste. He oughta have it down to a science by now."

Cheryl made a half grin. "Give the poor guy a break. This is the high point of his day, and he isn't going to rush it."

Briley usually waited until the sunny corner booth became available.

"There he goes," C M said. "Don't tell me you're gonna spend your break with him again."

Cheryl waved that off. "He's a funny man to talk with. I can play with my ipad anytime. Maybe I won't tell him C M stands for Caroll Milton." That drew a sour face from C M.

As usual, Briley played down his own story in favor of Cheryl's. She didn't mind admitting to seeing less of her man than she'd like; he was gong to night school, trying for safer work that eliminated heights and fumes. No, they hadn't started a family yet, though Cheryl wanted to. Briley got a kick out of her theory as to why the owner had built here: when cars got blocked by the train, many would pull into the diner to wait it out. A captive--and paying--audience.

After Cheryl went back to work, Briley made a call to his lawyer."Bret? I done made up my mind. Let's make sure it's air tight."

"Okay, Mr Briley, if you're sure. One and a half million is quite a life savings, and your kin are not going to be happy."

"The hell with 'em. They knowed for a whole year I'm runnin' outta time. The doctor ain't even givin' me two months. Has the first one of  'em even called me? Hell naw. I'd rather for this girl to have it than them vultures."

With that taken care of, Briley headed out, turning to wave to Cheryl.

She returned the gesture. "See you tomorrow, Mr Briley!"

He grinned. "Hope so, dahlin', hope so."