Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Cool design by Diogo Hornburg and Lucas Alcantara on this Threadless shirt. It's called Sol:

Last year, I drew/painted a card with a similar theme for Christmas.

Hornburg and Alcantara also designed these:
The Trojan
The Band

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sargeant Shakespeare

Maybe some time I should post various versions of Shakespeare. For now, here's Sgt Shakespeare by Robert Carter. I like the "Once More/Into the Breach" patches.

All my Shakespeare-related posts

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rebellion in Her Bones

A couple of poems today from Adelaide Crapsey (1878 - 1914) and Laurence Alma-Tadema (1864–1940). Laurence was the daughter of the artist Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Adelaide was the inventor of the cinquain.

If No One Ever Marries Me
by Laurence Alma-Tadema
published in 'Realms of Unknown Kings', 1897

If no-one ever marries me--
And I don't see why they should,
For nurse says I am not pretty
And I'm seldom very good--

If no one ever marries me
I shan't mind very much;
I shall buy a squirrel in a cage,
And a little rabbit-hutch;

I shall have a cottage near a wood,
And a pony all my own,
And a little lamb, quite clean and tame,
That I can take to town;

And when I'm getting really old,
At twenty-eight or nine--
I shall buy a little orphan girl
And bring her up as mine.


An excerpt from
To The Dead in the Graveyard Underneath My Window
by Adelaide Crapsey

Written in A Moment of Exasperation

How can you lie so still? All day I watch
And never a blade of all the green sod moves
To show where restlessly you toss and turn,
And fling a desperate arm or draw up knees
Stiffened and aching from their long disuse;
I watch all night and not one ghost comes forth
To take its freedom of the midnight hour.
Oh, have you no rebellion in your bones?

You can read the rest here.

MsMac is hosting the Poetry Round-up at Check It Out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Making Eye Contact

Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent.
~ William Shakespeare

Setting for Puccini's Tosca
Bregenz, Austria

Zlaté oči
by Radomir Dvorak

Charles V at Mühlberg, Detail
by Titian

by José de Ribera

Saint Maximilian Church
in Bischofshofen (Salzburg)

Memento Mori IX
by Giulia Ciappa

Oculus Memoriae, Munich
by Anne and Patrick Poirier

A whole passel of eye lesson plan links

Monday, November 22, 2010

Enter Stage Left

I already have Kristin Cashore's blog in my list of Links I Like, but I want to point you to her latest entry. Ever thought about writing a play? Well, I'm not sure this post will help you, but it is entertaining. Kristin wrote about J.M. Barrie (of Peter Pan fame)'s stage directions.

* If you would actually like help with learning how to write a play, visit Jon Dorf's Playwriting 101.
* This Stage Writing site also looks good.
* A Theater Dictionary for Kids (or anybody who needs one)
* An article about the usefulness of stage directions
* As I mentioned before, there's a write-a-script-in-April group, similar to NaNoWriMo.
* Children's Creative Theater (history, terms, games, resources)
* The BBC's How to Write a Radio Play

Poster art by Brian Coldrick

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Grooving with the Balloon

I heard Maximum Balloon's Apartment Wrestling on NPR's Song of the Day. If you like David Byrne, check it out.

Maximum Balloon also does this song (not with David Byrne), which has a pretty cool video:

More daily music:

Rhapsody has Album of the Day. Here's one featuring Louis Armstrong: Disney Songs the Satchmo Way.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Poetry City

Last month, I told you about Dr. Alphabet's Poetry City Marathon Anthology. He's still collecting poems, btw. Here's the one I gave him:

Where poems peacefully co-exist

When Sonnet is missing
some of his iambs,
the whole street goes out to look,
pass out flyers,
comb the woods.
They bring him tea
and give him words of comfort.

Mr. and Mrs. Haiku
sometimes wonder
whether the scrappy little Limericks
are bad influences
on their children.

Villanelle would like to go outside,
leave her jigsaw puzzle
for just a moment,
to yell at Free Verse,
tell him to stop making a racket
with his skateboard
on the sidewalk right in front of her house.
But she doesn't want to break
her focus.

Couplet and Ballad
spend sweet-weathered evenings
walking hand in hand,
Ode used to follow them,
watching longingly,
until Narrative stepped in
and ended it.

loves Mayor Metaphor.
Rhyme almost got elected one year --
He ran a strong campaign:
"It's time
for Rhyme!"
But when it came time to vote,
Poetry Citizens found themselves
electing Mayor Metaphor
one more time.


Metaphor and its history

You know what crossed my mind? It would be fun to have a Poetry Friday Secret Santa exchange. Not sure what we would exchange -- poems, cards, gifts for $10 or less? Share your thoughts?

Diane has today's Poetry Friday round-up at Random Noodling.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Poor Beasties

The clever cat eats cheese and breathes down rat holes with baited breath.
~ W. C. Fields

Mice in Council
by Katsushika Hokusai

Guardians of Day and Night
from the Han Dynasty

Paper Rat
by Eric Joisel

Mouse Reading the Newspaper
by Beatrix Potter

Golden Rat of Hamelin (Germany)

Ratty and Mole
from The Wind in the Willows

In The Abbey Library
by David Elliot, an illustrator for the Redwall series (these rodents like to cook!)

From Real Nature Stories
illustrated by Vera E. Stone and Milo Winter

* I'm not sure who did the Ratty and Mole illustration. The Wikipedia list of Wind in the Willows illustrators is pretty long!
* The post title is from Robert Burns' To a Mouse
* Large Mouse in a Fashionable Coat
* Poor dormouse (which I think is from this book)
* Rat meets Koi, part of the MacRatGhost series
* A favorite mouse: Sorcerer's Apprentice lesson plans
* Ratku (rat + haiku)
* The Science of Fairy Tales - Hamelin's Rat Problem Then & Now
* An art nouveau The Pied Piper Pour Femme

Monday, November 15, 2010


A quote from The King's Swift Rider (A Novel on Robert the Bruce) by Mollie Hunter:
My mother has other good qualities, however, apart from being a woman of sense. She is a good cook who can make much of little...but above all, my mother is a poet -- the best of her time; and after we had eaten, she let us hear some of her love songs, softly playing as she did so on her clarsach, her little harp.

I should have slept as soundly then as I always did after hearing her sing these. Yet still I had nightmare after nightmare -- beginning, I suppose, with thoughts of how it is said among us that the love songs of women poets have so much of power and beauty that the sound of them survives even beyond death. Because of this, too, it is also said a woman poet must always be buried facedown, or else her songs arising from the grave will too much disturb the hearts of those still living.
I wondered about this tradition. The Edinburgh History of Scottish literature by Ian Brown, Thomas Owen Clancy, Susan Manning, and Murray Pittock says that Gaelic society viewed women poets with suspicion and two of the most famous women poets were buried face down to "keep the lying mouth down." They say it was by the women's own orders. Why do you suppose that would have been?

Meadowsweet by poet Kathleen Jamie is about a woman poet being buried face down. Meadowsweet has rich, spooky imagery, and I know I'll want to read it again. Like a SPARK, Brigid Collins created a mixed media work prompted by the poem.


By Blanca Gomez

At Feed Your Soul: The Free Art Project, you can download free artwork pdfs by a variety of (generous) contemporary artists.

Some of my favorites are here, here, here, and here.

Plus this, for people who like typography.

Friday, November 12, 2010

(Your Name Here) Genius Awards

Have you heard of the MacArthur Fellows Program, a.k.a. Genius Awards? The awards give $500,000 to the recipients with no strings attached. The geniuses (genii?) can do anything they want with the money. The winners, who are surprised by the award because they did not apply for it, are people who "show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work." Their awards are "not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential."

Our theoretical question of the day is...if you could give Genius Awards to contemporary poets, artists, musicians, scientists, historians, playwrights, mathematicians, etc., who would your picks be? I'm still thinking about mine.

Updated to add:
* Here are Popular Mechanics' Backyard Genius Awards
* Seattle, WA and Tucson, AZ offer local genius awards

Yo Di

Yo Di
By Suze Baron

They say

human blood

If that were true
If that were true
my friends

how rice
and corn

would thrive


The Kojo Nnamdi show covers a variety of topics about Haiti
Geography of the Caribbean lesson plan
A cultural agony in a nation where art is life
Haitian recipes

Today's Poetry Friday round-up is at Scrub-A-Dub-Tub.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Copper, Bronze, and Brass

Today, we've got copper, bronze (copper + tin) and brass (copper + zinc).

Conch shell trumpet
From Tibet, 18th-19th century AD
"In Buddhist temples in Tibet and China, the conch was used to call the monks to services, and were usually decorated with textile streamers. This conch trumpet is a very fine example of the brilliant colours and intricate workmanship of Tibet. The shell is mounted with a gilt copper mouthpiece." ~The British Museum

The Blacas Ewer
"The Blacas ewer is an exceptionally fine example of medieval inlaid brass. Metalworkers in Mosul, northern Iraq, inlaid brass vessels with intricate courtly scenes in silver and copper to create glittering objects that were very popular with the local élite. They were often given as diplomatic gifts to neighbouring rulers. The ewer is signed by Shujac ibn Manca, one of the best inlayers in the city, and dated Rajab AH 629 (April AD 1232)." ~The British MuseumIn the World But Don't Know the World
By El Anatsui
born in Ghana, lives in Nigeria.
El Anatsui flattens discarded metal objects and weaves them together with aluminium and copper wire to make tapestries. (click on the pic to see it bigger!)

Noah and the Flood
Gilded bronze, 79 x 79 cm
Baptistry, Florence

Bird, 1952
By Elisabeth Frink

Warriors from Benin, Nigeria, 16th century

Did you know that the alchemical symbol of copper is also the astronomical and astrological symbol of planet Venus, and the gender symbol for female?

And that lobsters and other large crustaceans with blue blood have hemocyanin, which is similar to our hemoglobin but contains a copper atom instead of iron? (Info from here)

* What is Bronze? from Kidipede
* Reproductions of the Gallehus Horns. The originals were Germanic, early 5th century AD.
* Kingdom of Benin Royal Court Art
* An etching copper or brass lesson plan for middle school and up
* Recreating Chinese Bronze Vessels lesson plan (high school)
* (Copper) wire sculpture lesson plan (upper elementary and up?)
* A copper mask lesson plan (middle and up)
* A place where you can buy copper sheet sampler packs to experiment with.
* A site about Bronze Art Fraud

Take A Vet

Thank you, vets!

* Take a Veteran to School
Take a Veteran to School Day is a national program developed by HISTORY to link veterans with students. Schools and communities invite veterans of all backgrounds to share their stories and receive thanks for their years of service.

* I love working dogs. This video is about vet dogs.

* Colleges that take part in the Yellow Ribbon program agree to fund veterans' tuition expenses that go over the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition rate.
"The Post-9/11 GI Bill pays up to the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition and fees. You may have tuition and fees that exceed that amount if you are attending a private institution, graduate school or attending in an out-of-state status. If you are enrolled at a Yellow Ribbon participating institution and the tuition and fees exceed the highest public in-state undergraduate tuition or fees, additional funds may be available for your education program without an additional charge to your entitlement."

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Lost River

Movie fans, history buffs, take note. The Lost River, which tells the story of Civil War political operative, military strategist and spy Anna Ella Carroll, premieres on November 20th in Cambridge, Maryland.

Here's some info about Ms. Carroll from the Maryland Women's Heritage Center:
Anna Ella Carroll is credited with helping to prevent Maryland’s secession from the Union, however, her involvement in the war was kept a secret from the public and the military for fear that Union generals and soldiers would not follow a plan devised by a woman civilian.

In fact, the 1864 painting of the First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln by Francis Carpenter depicting Lincoln and his cabinet prominently displays an empty chair filled with notes and maps, similar to the ones Carroll often carried. Many historians now feel it was Carpenter’s way of acknowledging Carroll, the unrecognized member of the cabinet.

Friends of Anna Carroll
A Military Genius: The Life of Anna Ella Carroll of Maryland by Sarah Ellen Blackwell, 1891.
Moses, The Monster, and Miss Anne (about Harriet Tubman, Patty Cannon, and Anna Ella Carroll)
The Anna Carroll historical marker
Who Planned the Tennessee Campaign of 1862?

* Note: The YouTube video above includes two scenes from “Lost River” and a third clip, starting about three minutes in, from “Lincoln’s Last Night.”

I'm sorry to say that I don't know where it will be showing beyond its premiere!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gifts of Books/Art All Year

Is it too early in the season for me to be talking about gifts? I know sometimes people like to think ahead, and this is a gift you might want time for -- either to buy or make yourself, or to order.

The idea is a "Book (or Art) of the Month Club" for your recipient. You can buy twelve books/prints and wrap them yourself, with a tag on each one that marks the month when they should be opened. You can write poems for your loved one, put them in envelopes labeled with the month. You can make ATCs, also in marked envelopes. Or what about an Art Supply of the Month Club as a gift? That could be both fun and practical. (You could also mail them their gift at the beginning of each month, or just leave it on their doorstep.)

Some starting points for book recommendations:

Favorite books for boys, girls, First Graders, Fourth Graders.
Graphic novels, Latino and Spanish-language (for kids ages 0-9), children's poetry books from 2010, and middle grade fiction.
Some recommendations from a children's bookseller
Children's Books that feature other books as main characters (OK, this is random, but I thought it was interesting)


An ACEO of the Month Club (ACEOs are the same size as ATCs, btw)

Politics and Prose bookstore offers a custom Book of the Month club.

If you'd like to give them a magazine instead (they'll still get it all year!), here's a list of magazines for book lovers.

As long as we're at it, here's a Tea of the Month club. (Making your own as a gift would be wonderful, too!)

One last thing, and you can't make this yourself: The Astronaut Autograph Club.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


I painted the image below and used it to make return address labels. The font for the address was in red and black (red for the name, black for the address). I was pleased with how they turned out.

Want to try a little project like that? In addition to paintings and drawings, you could also use a photo. Just keep in mind how very small it will be on the label! Details won't be visible.

* How to Print Address Labels in Microsoft Word
* Another description of how to print your own.
* If you'd prefer for someone to print them for you, there's Vistaprint.
* Printable labels from Giver's Log and Vale Design (these are solely for your personal use).

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Finest Hour

Previously, I've experimented with making a poem out of fiction prose. This time, I'm using nonfiction. By Winston Churchill, to be precise. The point of this, really, is to spend some time with his language. To listen to him, differently, intently.

The Finest Hour
by Winston Churchill

Of this I am quite sure,
that if we open a quarrel
between the past
and the present,
we shall find that we have lost the future...

The whole fury and might
of the enemy
must very soon
be turned on us.

Hitler knows
that he will have to break us
in this Island
or lose the war.

If we can stand up to him,
all Europe may be free
and the life of the world may move forward
into broad, sunlit uplands.

But if we fail,
then the whole world,
including the United States,
including all that we have known and cared for,
will sink into the abyss
of a new Dark Age
made more sinister,
and perhaps more protracted,
by the lights of perverted science.

Let us therefore
brace ourselves to our duties,
and so bear ourselves
that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth
last for a thousand years,
men will still say,
'This was their finest hour.'

June 18, 1940


* Hear an excerpt of Churchill's Finest Hour speech (You have to listen a while to get to the part I used)
* More speeches with a lesson plan
* Previous prose-poems I've done include Not the End of the World, Rose, and Dandelion Fire.
* A "delicious" poetry post from earlier this week

Usually I start with a quote, but this time I will end with one:

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
~ Winston Churchill

The Poetry Friday round-up today is at Teaching Authors.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Statesman and Artist

"I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat."
~ Winston Churchill, speech in the House of Commons, after taking office as Prime Minister (13 May 1940)

Did you know that Winston Churchill loved to paint? It helped him to relax. As a man who fought in numerous wars and battles, not to mention led his country during WWII, and also struggled with depression, Churchill certainly needed something peaceful in his life.

Long Gallery at Sutton Place, near Guildford
By Winston Churchill, born November 30, 1874

Marlborough Tapestries at Blenheim
By Winston Churchill

Mary's First Speech
By Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill statue in London, Parliament Square.
Sculptor: Ivor Roberts-Jones

Allies (FDR and Churchill)
Sculptor: Lawrence Holofcener
Photo by Loz Flowers

Eating Words – Winston Churchill ("Eating words has never given me indigestion." ~ Winston Churchill)
By Richard Kegler, 2009
made of wafer board, chocolate, Twizzlers
from the Edible Books Gallery

* Lesson plans regarding Winston Churchill
* I have this Churchill shirt. It's on sale now, but there's only one left!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mime the Birds

I can't remember how old I was when I first read Tuck Everlasting, but Natalie Babbitt totally made a fan of me. I read everything by her that I could get my hands on. Last weekend found me re-reading Babbitt's The Search for Delicious. It's been so long since I first read it that it was like a new book to me.

In The Search for Delicious, the king has asked his prime minister to write a dictionary. Trouble begins when the king disagrees with the prime minister's definition of "delicious" -- "Delicious is fried fish." The king wants delicious to be apples, but the queen thinks delicious is a Christmas pudding. After everyone in court starts arguing for their own favorites, the prime minister winds up sending his son, Gaylen, to ask each person in the kingdom what "delicious" is. The food that gets the most votes will win.

Along the way, Gaylen meets a minstrel who sings this song:

The way is long and high and hot.
Be gay and sing! You may as well
Be feeling light of heart as not.
The way is long and high and hot,
But mime the birds and praise your lot.
Sweet freedom is the tale to tell.
The way is long and high and hot.
Be gay and sing! You may as well.

I'm not sure what that poetic form is, if it does follow one. (I like unusual forms, but I can't remember their names very well.) Anyone know?

I thought about what I would suggest for a definition of delicious. Mine might change from day to day -- one day "honeycrisp apples," the next "soup." My overall winner might be "chocolate croissants fresh out of the oven."

Then again, I have to agree with what they decide at the end of the book.

Do you have a definition of "delicious"?

P.S. Did you know that Natalie Babbitt illustrated a lot of Valerie Worth's excellent poetry books? How fabulous is that?