Thursday, February 28, 2013

Light as a Feather

Rooster today, feather duster tomorrow.
~Russian proverb

by Adolphe Millot dans Larousse pour tous [1907-1910]

Cutting the Feather
by Adriaen van Ostade (1610–1685)

Chinese Kingfisher Feather Tiara, late 19th century
In this art form, kingfisher feathers are painstakingly cut and glued onto gilt silver.

The Milliners
by Johann Hamza, 1902

by Simon Benetton

Battle of Waterloo piper (wearing a feather bonnet)
A Cameron urging on the Highland Line, 1815, playing the Piobearchd "War or Peace."

Wing of a Roller, 1512
by Albrecht Dürer
watercolor and gouache on vellum

Fine Feathers make Fine Birds, etching for "The Yellow Book," 1897
by Amalie Bauerle

Portrait of Princess Galitzin (1763-1842)
by Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun

Feather experiment by Robert Krampf
Lots of feather-related stories and lessons from
Feather Drawings idea (white chalk on black paper)
Making Fabric Feathers
Peacock Feather paper craft
Amazing feather art by Chris Maynard
My friend Laura Shovan just posted a poem about singer Bessie Smith and her feathered hat

Monday, February 25, 2013

100 Words You Could Say Instead of Swag

For Music Monday, a George Watsky song inspired by Justin Bieber's liberal use of the word "swag":

100 Words You Could Say Instead of Swag
by George Watsky

I thought Swag was dead way before this
I thought Swag had been buried in the forest
But then Bieber said Swag in a chorus
And I went and bought a big fat thesaurus

Verse 1
You're a Boss hog, you're a top dog
You're so slamming, that I would say you've got pogs
You're suave, swell, sick
In the sense of being ill, chill, slick

You're hip, You're a hit, You're legit, You're it
If I were being rude then I would say you're the SSHSHHHHS--
Shimmy shimmy cocopuffs, You're so loco
You're so dope it's nuts. you're raw as an open cut

You're bold, you're golden, You're Funner
A stone cold stunner, A real mean mugger
You're colder than the other side of my pillow
Or hot as the underside of the cover in a Los Angeles summer

You're not dumb and dumber, You're smart and smarter
You're hard and harder You're Peter Parker
Right after the spider bite You're so dynamite
Brightest light A hypest hype

You're so zen, you're a ten, you're gem
Creme de la creme de la creme de la creme

In 1860 Walt Whitman wrote "I cock my hat as I please" in his famous poem Leaves of Grass
In 2012 Just Bieber said "Swag swag swag swag, on you
Chillin by the fire while we eatin fondue
I don't know about me, but I know about you
So say hello to falsetto in three, two, swag


Verse 2 (Doubletime)
Presence, essence, pizzazz, panache, dashing, flashy, brazen and brash
The verve, the nerve, the truth, the proof, the cash , the passion and class
Better than ever, cool as a cucumber, smoother than butter, a little bit smug
Hotter than a mug, eye of the Tiger, the heart of a lion, the look of thug;

Pick of the litter, the attitude, the cleanup hitter, the baddest dude;
Totally sure, full of allure, a raconteur, the poison and cure;
Gravitas, glamour, you're droppin' the hammer, a swashbuckling debonaire
A lister, with an X Factor, a capital G with the best hair

Dragon slayer, the franchise player, The king, the president, governor, mayor
You're rare, the opposite of square and pompous, You're shaped with flair like a rhombus
Confident, jaunty, awesomely saucy, You got more props than Ghandi
You got it on lock, rocks and moxie, you're rocking some brand new socksies

From city to city the grittiest kid, and he could be little bit cocky
But saying Swag is obnoxious
And if you be looking capture the confident way that I'm walking and talking there's options!
Just say he's got 'Watsky"

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Poetry Reading

Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery.
~Dr. Joyce Brothers

Tom Hiddleston, Ray Fearon, Imogen Stubbs, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Tennant, and Alan Rickman!

If you'd like to be part of my celebration of National Poetry Month, check out the info on the side-bar and send me something! You can also find info in the side-bar about winning a copy of The Holocaust Survivors.

Sheri Doyle is our Poetry Friday round-up host this week.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Everything that we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

This Art Thursday, the spotlight is on shadows:

Shadow Line
photo by Sebastien Ernest

Shadow Boxing
photo by Justin Liew

Running Down the Shadows
photo by Vinoth Chandar

Stavropoleos Monastery, Bucharest, Romania
photo by Fusion of Horizons

Dirty White Trash (With Gulls)
by Tim Noble and Sue Webster

by Jenny Downing

Anonymous Walking Shadows
photo by Feliciano Guimaraes

Vodable - Cave
photo by Panoramas

* Shadows in Science and Art
* Origami Shadow Art by Kumi Yamashita (Also, Kumi's site)
* Shadow Art by Rashad Alakbarov
* Shadow Art by Norhisham Shafie
* A Short History of the Shadow
* Hand Shadows To Be Thrown Upon The Wall by Henry Bursill on Project Gutenberg
* Shadows: The Depiction of Cast Shadows in Western Art by E.H. Gombrich

Monday, February 18, 2013

Maya Beiser

Music is the divine way to tell beautiful, poetic things to the heart.
~ cellist Pablo Casals

For Music Monday, a song by innovative cellist Maya Beiser. Her site says she was "raised on a kibbutz in Israel by her French mother and Argentinean father. [She] is a graduate of Yale University."

Want more info? Ms. Beiser did a TED talk. For something a bit shorter, read or listen to her NPR interview.

Here Ms. Beiser performs Led Zeppelin's Kashmir from her Provenance album:

* Time Loops, her latest album (this takes you to Arkiv Music)
* Albums by Maya Beiser on Amazon

Friday, February 15, 2013

Elizabeth Smither

Poetry, because it is so compressed, so undiluted, lacks the facility to conceal or postpone that prose has. Every part of a poem is visible, like one of those ornate clocks in a glass dome: pendulum, springs and weights open to view.  
~Elizabeth Smither

New Zealand poet Elizabeth Smither today, plus a little celebration of the Oxford comma. 

Margo and Sir Walter
by Elizabeth Smither
for Margo Buchanan-Oliver
She lives among others but loves Sir Walter
best of all men, presuming she could choose
from all history's pages, up to today
the interpretive and the hazy, equally-weighed.
She loves him in his Tower rooms, writing,
and his evening stroll upon the battlements
his pipe smoke escaping in the London air.
She loves him for going to death over a marriage
an English and a Spanish king arranged
with him as the prize gift. She loves
his request for a knife to stir his wine
and then his abandonment of it for his quill.
She loves—there is no end to the catalogue—
his profile, his beard, his great foxiness
his manliness on his scaffold walk and speech
so if a drop of his divine blood flew
and landed on her dress she would
cut it out in a square and place it
behind glass and in a gilded frame
and draw a heart with Ralegh and her name.


The nurses are coming
by Elizabeth Smither

2.55 p.m. and a swing door opens
and five nurses in dark blue
mid-calf-length slacks and V-necked
tops adorned with silver watches
each with a sheet in her hand
detailing the last vital recordings
the progression of signs which they read
in a glance. In Room 5
all but one line is being taken out
and the morphine is two-hourly.
A head sinks into a little folded towel
deep in a pillow, like a snow angel
and the nurses walk, bunched together
down the polished linoleum, past
the open doors of the dire, not looking
yet, just walking, just coming on
the way stars come out, flicker
and gleam: We are here, we are arriving.


The Oxford comma
by Elizabeth Smither

A little knot of writers at a
prize-giving ceremony, standing
uncertainly, looking at the stage

and the side table with scrolls and envelopes
containing magical cheques, we discuss
to show erudition and hide fear

the Oxford comma and the use of it.
'Unnecessary,' someone offers. 'An extra
fence where no animal was escaping.'

'But perhaps a breath,' another suggests.
'A large egalitarian family being given pocket money
or sharing beds, a demarcation with bolsters.'

Victory, loss, effusions, and stoicism
someone thinks but doesn't say
as the crowd files in and takes their seats.


I am Team Oxford Comma myself, so I thought I'd go ahead and share some OC links:

In Defense of the Oxford Comma: A Love Poem
Rob D Young is an Oxford comma enthusiast. (If you don't know what the Oxford comma is, visit here.)
My True Love Will Use...
Team Oxford Comma t-shirt
Oxford Comma for Life t-shirt
The Nerd Goddess's Etsy shop has jewelry to meet all your punctuation needs.


Margo and Sir Walter and The nurses are coming can be found in the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection. The Oxford comma is from the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre.

More by Elizabeth Smither:

Music withholding its theme
Ms. Smither's books for sale at the Auckland University Press
Elizabeth Smither on


Linda at TeacherDance has the Poetry Friday round-up. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stories on Cards

Tarot is just stories on cards.
~Erin Morgenstern

I don't know the first thing about the meaning of tarot cards, but they are fascinating to look at:

Jean Dodal, circa 1701-1715

Death, 1909
illustrator Pamela Coleman Smith

Tarot Garden, Lazio, Italy
photo by Gabriele Margapoti

The Emperor, 1909
Illustrator Pamela Coleman Smith

Detail from The Emperor
Tarot Garden, Lazio, Italy
photo by Gabriele Margapoti

Deltoidal icositetrahedron
photo by fdecomite

The Popess, circa 1450
Illustrator Bonifacio Bembo

Hitler's house of cards
by John Heartfield
scanned by Smabs Sputzer

Tarot Deck Card Back, Daniel Martin Diaz, Los Angeles Tarot Show
photo by John Mosbaugh

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite
Death, a contemporary fine art print
The Rabbit Tarot by Blue Dog Rose

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mad About Books

“I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing.”
~ Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

For Music Monday, a book-loving video that is close to home. This was made by some students at my older daughter's school and features one of her favorite teachers. It's a parody of Captain Jack Sparrow, where Michael Bolton incongruously sings about Pirates of the Caribbean during a song about a nightclub. In this case, though, Mr. Hitchens (Captain Ahab) extolls the virtues of literature in the middle of a calculus study session. In addition to Moby Dick, he sings about Of Mice and Men and Lord of the Flies. There's even a mention of Shakespeare:

From another local school: math videos with 2 Pi, the rapping teacher.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Poet Stamps

Stamps celebrating poets today. You might not think there would be very many poet stamps, but this is just a sampling...

Maya Angelou, Ghana

William Blake, Romania

Robert Burns, Russia

Lord Byron, Greece

Paul Laurence Dunbar, U.S.A.

T.S. Eliot, Nicaragua

Langston Hughes, U.S.A.

John Keats, U.K.

Rudyard Kipling, DRC

Edgar Lee Masters, U.S.A.

Pablo Neruda, Poland

Alexander Pushkin, Russia

Carl Sandburg, U.S.A.

Dr. Seuss, U.S.A.

Rabindranath Tagore, Uruguay

20th century poets, U.S.A.

Derek Walcott, Saint Lucia

Walt Whitman, Czechoslovakia

John Greenleaf Whittier, U.S.A.

Oscar Wilde, San Marino

William Wordsworth, U.K.

William Butler Yeats, Ireland
* Literary Stamps
* Poetry in Stamps at Bob's Home for Writing.
* William Shakespeare on Stamps at The British Postal Museum & Archive
* Shakespeare on Stamps at the Philatelic Database
* Emily Dickinson stamp

And a poem by a stamp-poet inspired by another stamp-poet:

On the Sale by Auction of Keat's Love-Letters
by Oscar Wilde

These are the letters which Endymion wrote
To one he loved in secret and apart,
And now the brawlers of the auction-mart
Bargain and bid for each poor blotted note,
Aye! for each separate pulse of passion quote
The merchant's price! I think they love not art
Who break the crystal of a poet's heart,
That small and sickly eyes may glare or gloat.
Is it not said, that many years ago,
In a far Eastern town some soldiers ran
With torches through the midnight, and began
To wrangle for mean raiment, and to throw
Dice for the garments of a wretched man,
Not knowing the God's wonder, or his woe?

Tara at A Teaching Life has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Dog Sighs

My Dog Sighs creates art from tin cans. He supports Free Art Friday and leaves art in public places for whomever finds it. All of the following works were created by My Dog Sighs:

My Dog Sighs on Twitter
Free Art Friday on Facebook