Muhammad Ali, larger than life

June 4, 2016 § Leave a comment

An unsurpassed legacy has reached its temporal  conclusion.  The greatest sports figure and celebrity of the 20th century has passed.  Rather than mourn his death, we continue to celebrate his life and its many facets.   Rather than poorly retelling a complex life story, I chose some amusing images that touch on the breadth of his celebrity.  You know you’re famous when: Andy Warhol comes to your home to snap a pic, you spar with Elvis…

Muhammad Ali, one of the world’s greatest boxers, died on Friday, June 3, at the age of 74.

Born Cassius Marcellus Clay on January 17, 1942, in Louisville, Kentucky, Ali started boxing at age 12 — and ultimately became known for much more than just his successful boxing career.

Ali converted to Islam in 1964, changing his name from Cassius Clay — what he called his “slave name” — to Muhammed Ali after becoming affiliated with the Nation of Islam. His political activism and charity inspired millions throughout his life.

Please visit his site at!  It is a rare, exceptional, site worthy of its namesake.

Fame started with the 1960 Olympics…

Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, represented the United States in the 1960 Olympics in Rome. He defeated Soviet boxer Gennady Schatkov as part of his gold-medal performance. Bettmann/Getty Images


Young heavyweight fighter Ali, then Clay, is seen training at City Parks Gym in New York on Feb. 8, 1962. Dan Grossi/AP Photo



1967, with Wilt Chamberlain. AP
1967, with Johnny Carson, star of NBC-TV’s ‘Tonight’ show, in New York City. AP


with Bob Dylan


1971, having his photo taken by Andy Warhol in Deer Lake, Pennsylvania. AP


1971, taunting Joe Frazier at Frazier’s training headquarters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Getty John Shearer/The LIFE Picture Collection


1985, with Liberace and Hulk Hogan in New York City. AP Marty Lederhandler


1997, with Prince in Washington, D.C. AP Karen Cooper


with President Ronald Regan

with Malcom X


with The King


with part of The Jackson Five, Micheal Jackson claims victory


Muhammad Ali, larger than life was originally published on Field Grass


WTF? My Web Host Disappeared!

February 12, 2017 § Leave a comment

WTF?!  The posts to this blog come from my web site  As do the images.  With that site, I have 4 other sites connected to it.  THEY ARE GONE.  Along with my web host’s site.  The servers have been down, likely catastrophic crash, unreachable for days now.  Not even by email.

I had problems with backups using WordPress plugins.  They told me not to user them, use their backups.  I’m an idiot, for the first time in years – I didn’t keep my own back-ups.  It gets worse, I won’t go into it.

The most recent back-up I have is 2 years old.  I didn’t do much in 2016, maybe it’s not a big loss for at least one of my 5 sites.   I kept blogs for each site, so I should have something.

So for now, I’ve got broken posts from my blogs.  We’ll see what I can do.



Frida Kahlo, Animated Portrait

April 24, 2016 § Leave a comment

An inspired animation of Frida Kahlo’s famous portrait that was taken by her father, Guillermo Kahlo, in 1932 .  The animation incorporates key images from her works that also defined her life as she depicted it on canvas.  I had to have it.

Frida Kahlo, animated portrait
Frida Kahlo, animated portrait



Frida Kahlo Bio as Artist

“Mexican fantasy painter known as much for her turbulent personal life as her fanciful self-portraits. Kahlo learned to paint in 1925 after recovering from a debilitating bus accident that left her unable to bear children. The tragedy was often the subject of her paintings and was an integral part of her personal imagery. Her work can be seen as the product of a kind of exorcism by which she projected her anguish on to another Frida, in order to free herself from pain and at the same time maintain a hold of reality. Small in scale, primitive in style, and bold in color, the artist is sometimes shown as an animal, such a deer, which have lead artists and critics alike to label her work Surrealist. The artist eschewed this, maintaining that she painted images from her own life, not dreams. Also the subject of several works was her tumultuous marriage to artist Diego Rivera. One portrait shows the artist as a tiny figure in traditional Mexican dress, dwarfed in size by the large, brooding Rivera. In 1953, Kahlo’s leg was amputated at the knee due to gangrene. She subsequently turned to drugs and alcohol to relieve her suffering. She died almost certainly by suicide in 1954. Her work received notoriety in the 1970’s, becoming popular with feminist art historians and Latin Americans living in the United States” – via MoMA



Frida Kahlo spent the majority of her life confined to a bed and in physical pain.  She painted her small world in graphic and sometimes gruesome detail.  Her work was and still is labeled as Surrealism, which she strongly rejected.  So, I applied another label I found, Magic Realism.  The first painting, below, is her first of many future self-portraits.  The bottom 3 paintings represent some of her greatest works.  All of the images are Courtesy of

Self-Portrait in a Velvet Dress, 1926 by Frida Kahlo. Her first self-portrait. Courtesy of


Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird, 1940 by Frida Kahlo. Courtesy of


Roots, 1943 by Frida Kahlo. Courtesy of


The Broken Column, 1944 by Frida Kahlo. Courtesy of



Frida Kahlo, Animated Portrait was originally published on Field Grass

Mobile Theater | by Gordon Parks

April 18, 2016 Comments Off on Mobile Theater | by Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was an outstanding, black, photographer who captured the dark side of American society in technically brilliant photos in an essay for Life Magazine.  This is a great photo for various reasons.  Taken 2 years after the historic Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court  ruling that segregation is unconstitutional.  It is beautiful, charming, and hateful.  It captures the era of ugliness, clearly marked, through which many like these two innocents navigated daily.  Technically incredible.  What should be a nice outing is marred by hate, spelled out in cheerful neon light.


Movie Theater, Mobile Alabama 1956, Gordon Parks

Movie Theater, Mobile Alabama, 1956, by Gordon Parks


Mobile teacher Joanne Thornton Wilson and her niece, Shirley Kirksey, were photographed by Gordon Parks outside the Mobile Saenger Theatre in 1956. Parks was on assignment for Life magazine, which did not publish the photo at the time. (Courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation)

Personal note:  I will share this image, and others, with my ESL class.  They, as foreigners to the US and our history, are shocked and bewildered.

Animated Short by Salvador Dali and Walt Disney

February 20, 2016 § Leave a comment



An animated collaboration between Salvador Dali and  Walt Disney.  1946.



Animated Short by Salvador Dali and Walt Disney was originally published on Field Grass

Free! Download 19th Century Japanese Master Woodprints

February 19, 2016 § Leave a comment



Ukiyo-e, or ukiyo-ye (浮世絵, Japanese: [], “pictures of the floating world”), is a genre of art that flourished in Japan from the 17th through 19th centuries. Its artists produced woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as female beauties; kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; flora and fauna; and erotica. Source: wiki

Exquisite and free. The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has digitized their collection of 19th Century Japanese woodblock prints.  The artists in the collection were masters in the ukiyo-e tradition during the 19th century in Japan.  Make space on your hard drive!  The images are in high resolution, there are more than 500, and they available for free to download.  Big thanks to Open Culture for the tip.


The prints in this collection specifically represent Japanese art contemporary to period in which Van Gogh worked.  The tradition originated several hundred years earlier as monochromatic text, heavily used for diseminating Buddhist scriptures.  Once color techiques were developed, the genre expanded in subject and flourished as prized decorative art for prosperous individuals – not just for the wealthy and powerful.  I imagine the numbers of pieces produced were countless.  By the late 19th century, prints were reproduced from a woodblock until the woodblock wore down.



19th Century Art, Ukiyo-e, and Japonism

We are very familiar with the style and visually reference it as “Japanese Art”.   The ukiyo-e genre was introduced to the west in the 19th century. Classical and contemporary Japanese art was well-known among artists in salons of Paris and influenced western art movements of the period, especially Art Nouveau.  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec reflected the ukiyo-e genre heavily in his work, from subjects to composition.  By the turn of the 20th century it was wildly popular in the West, visual aethetics of anything possible incorpoated aspects of ukiyo-e.  Influence of Japanese aesthetics in the 19th century on the West was known as Japonism.

gogh…artists such as Manet, Pierre Bonnard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Mary Cassatt, Degas, Renoir, James McNeill Whistler, Monet, van Gogh, Camille Pissarro, Paul Gaugin, Aubrey Beardsley and Klimt were all influenced by Japanese art [of the Edo period].”

“Ukiyo-e with it’s lack of perspective, clean lines and flat areas of colour influenced many Western artists. Impressionism, Art Nouveau and Modernism all drew inspiration from traditional Japanese art. The work of artists such as Hokusai and Utamaro were to have a profound and lasting affect upon Western art.”   – Katsushika Hokusai, Ukiyo-e & Edo Period Japan  – hokusaionline

  • Artist: Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
  • Title: La Courtisane
  • Date: 1887
  • Media: Oil paint on canvas
  • Notes: van Gogh produced ‘copies’ of works by Hiroshige and Kesai Eisen.
  • Artist: Mary Cassat (1844-1926)
  • Title: Maternal Caress
  • Date: 1891
  • Media: Drypoint and soft-ground etching
  • Notes: Mary Cassat was influenced by Japanese prints she saw in Paris in 1890. Her work clearly shows her interpretation of the line and form so indicative of ukiyo-e prints by artists such as Utamaro
  • Artist: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
  • Title: Divan Japonais
  • Date: 1893
  • Media: Lithographed poster
  • Notes: Toulouse-Lautrec’s appreciation for Japanese prints can clearly be seen in his famous images of the Parisian nightlife. Flat areas of colour and asymmetrical compositions featured strongly in his work.

Historical Context

Edo (modern Tokyo) became the seat of government for the military dictatorship in the early 17th century. The merchant class at the bottom of the social order found themselves the greatest beneficiaries of the city’s rapid economic growth. Many indulged in the entertainments of kabuki theatre, courtesans, and geisha of the pleasure districts. The term ukiyo(“floating world”) came to describe this hedonistic lifestyle. Printed or painted “ukiyo-e” images of this environment emerged in the late 17th century and were popular with the merchant class, who had become wealthy enough to afford to decorate their homes with them.” Source: wiki

Social Context

“During the Edo Period (1615-1868), a uniquely Japanese art from developed known as ukiyo-e, or “pictures of the floating world.”  A Buddhist concept, ukiyo originally suggested the sadness (uki) of life (yo). But during the peace and prosperity of the 17th century, another ideograph, also pronounced uki but meaning “to float,” emerged. Instead of connoting sadness, ukiyo came to be associated with the momentary, worldly pleasures of Japan’s rising middle class. Unable to alter their social standing and regulated in nearly every aspect of their lives, from behavior and dress to the sizes of their houses, wealthy commoners found escape in licensed pleasure quarters and Kabuki theaters. There, they could watch handsome actors performing the latest plays or spend time with beautiful courtesans known for their sparkling wit, musical accomplishments, and poetry.”

“Paintings of people from this world became a specialized type of genre painting in the 17th century. For the first time in Japan’s history, commoners had enough money to commission works that reflected their own interests and activities. They patronized artists who created a new style based on sinuous lines and bright colors that featured subjects wearing the most up-to-date fashions.”

The Prints

“The realization of any print, however, depended on a collaboration: of a publisher, who funded the project; an artist, who designed the image; and block carvers and printers, who produced it. This division of labor, in fact, led to a high degree of technical perfection. While demand for images of beautiful women and dashing Kabuki actors remained strong throughout the 18th century, artists in the 19th century expanded the ukiyo-e repertoire to include landscapes, birds-and-flowers, legendary heroes, [historic scenes] and even ghoulish themes.”

Source: The Art of Asia |MIA

Source of 19th century western art images and captions: hokusaionline

Free! Download 19th Century Japanese Master Woodprints was originally published on Field Grass

Stellar Bits, Best of Opera

February 18, 2016 § Leave a comment

Moving, famous, opera arias performed by equally well-known legends.  The second video below, “the best of opera”, is a great opportunity to experience the truly exceptional.  Do try a few pieces.  They are single songs, not entire operas.  You will recognize a few.  Sit back and listen on a quiet day, distraction free.  Consider it meditation.  Until it gets loud.

But first…I prefer Placido Domingo’s “Nessun Dorma” much more than Pavarotti’s, and in general.  I am not a big Lucianno Pavarotti fan.  His voice is too piercing to my ear.  I prefer a full, warmer, voice – the first video below, I love Placido Domingo:

Per gli amanti dell’Opera Turandot, ascoltiamo questa imperdibile uscita Live del grandissimo Tenore Placido Domingo


1. Norma: “Casta Diva” – Antonino Votto, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Maria
2. Il trovatore: “Condotta ell’era in ceppi” – Opole Philharmonic Orchestra, Silvano Frontalini, Patrizia Chiti
3. Turandot: “Nessun dorma” – Orchestre de Paris, Leone Magiera, Luciano Pavarotti
4. Don Carlos: “O’ Don Fatal” – Opole Philharmonic Orchestra, Silvano Frontalini, Patrizia Chiti
5. Il trovatore: “Tacea la notte placida” – Orchestra del Teatro Alla Scala di Milano, Maria Callas, Antonino Votto
6. Gianni Schicchi: “O mio babbino caro” – Rai Symphonic Orchestra, Tullio Serafin, Maria Callas
7. La traviata: “Ah, forse è lui. Sempre libera” – Orchestra del Teatro Alla Scala di Milano, Maria Callas, Carlo Maria Giulini
8. Tosca: “E lucevan le stelle” – Orchestre de Paris, Leone Magiera, Luciano Pavarotti
9. Pagliacci: “Vesti la giubba” – Orchestre de Paris, Leone Magiera, Luciano Pavarotti
10. La favorita: “O mio Fernando” – Opole Philharmonic Orchestra, Silvano Frontalini, Patrizia Chiti
11. Rigoletto: “Caro nome” – Tullio Serafin, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Maria Callas
12. Lucia di Lammermoor: “Spargi d’amaro pianto” – Berlin Rias Symphonic Orchestra, Herbert Von Karajan, Maria Callas
13. La Pace di Mercurio: “La Pace di Mercurio” – Opole Philharmonic Orchestra, Silvano Frontalini, Patrizia Chiti
14. Maruzza: “Ei viene” – Dnepropetrovsk Philharmonic Orchestra, Silvano Frontalini, Natalia Margarit
15. Luisa Miller: “Quando le sere al placido” – Orchestre de Paris, Leone Magiera, Luciano Pavarotti
16. Tosca: “Vissi d’arte” – Victor De Sabata, Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Maria Callas

  • Category

    • Music
  • License

    • Standard YouTube License
  • Music

    • “Norma: “Casta Diva”” by Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala di Milano, Maria Callas Listen ad-free with YouTube Red

Stellar Bits, Best of Opera was originally published on Field Grass

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