Colorful Kandinsky

Today’s post spotlights Russian painter Wassily Wassilyevich Kandinsky (1866-1944). Born in Moscow to Lidia Ticheeva and Vasily Silvestrovich Kandinsky, he recalled being fascinated and stimulated by color as a child. He attended the University of Moscow, studying law and economics, as far from painting as the east is from the west. His interest in art began at the mature age of 30, at which point he settled in Munich, studying at Anton Ažbe‘s private school.

Kandinsky compared painting to composing music, writing, “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.” Check out these good vibrations.


Munich Schwabing with the Church of St. Ursula

He focused on landscapes and towns, rather than human figures, except for Sunday, Old Russia (1904). Kandinsky spent the years from 1906 to 1908 travelling across Europe as an associate of the Blue Rose symbolist group of Moscow, settling in the Bavarian town of Murnau. During this time, The Blue Mountain (1908–1909) was painted, demonstrating his trend toward abstraction. I’m not keen on abstract art, so I’m delighted that we can make out horses and riders, as well as said blue mountain.

blue mountain

But Kandinsky was not a one-trick pony. In addition to painting, he was an art theorist. He helped found the Neue Künstlervereinigung München (Munich New Artists’ Association). When the group dissolved two years later, he then formed a new group, the Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter). At the onset of WWI in 1914, he returned to Russia. In 1917, at the age of FIFTY-ONE , he finally broke down and got married to a woman named Nina Andreievskaya. Again, he compared music to art. Imagine this being said in a Russian accent:

The sun melts all of Moscow down to a single spot that, like a mad tuba, starts all of the heart and all of the soul vibrating. But no, this uniformity of red is not the most beautiful hour. It is only the final chord of a symphony that takes every colour to the zenith of life that, like the fortissimo of a great orchestra, is both compelled and allowed by Moscow to ring out.

Nice as that sounds, it was time to get going. In 1921, he was invited back to Germany to attend the Bauhaus (no, not Peter Murphy’s goth-rock band) school of art, where he began teaching until the Nazis closed it in 1933. Not crazy about Nazis, he left Germany for France, where he spent the remainder of his life.

In 2012, Christie’s auctioned Kandinsky’s Studie für Improvisation 8 (Study for Improvisation 8), a 1909 view of a man wielding a broadsword in a rainbow-hued village, for $23 million. I bet that would have been music to his ears.

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Greg Bear

Greg Bear. Photo by Geoffrey A. Landis

Greg Bear wrote a book, more than one. (Photo by Geoffrey A. Landis)

Polish up your geek glasses people, I’ve just spent a month driving close to 9,000 miles with my husband and we’re rolling it into high gear.

Fortunately for me, jocks need nerds and my husband understands my need to geek. He helped me check off an item on the bucket list—jumping over the continental divide . . . feel free to join me. And 5, 6, 7, 8: East, west, east, west. (Shades of lumbago, I needed the exercise after being in the car that long.)

In 2013, we ended the BoFN year with Gary Gygax, founder of Gen Con, the gaming convention. Now Halloween approaches, and costumes will be in full force, let’s segue to our latest installment of geekitude: Author, artist and founding member of Comic-Con San Diego—Greg Bear. Not to be confused with black bears, which I saw plenty of during my trip.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Greg shared the same home town as our esteemed colleagues, Dave and Arto—San Diego, California. Is it something in the water or the sunshine down in San Diego?

Somewhere in the late 1960’s a group of high school friend, including but not limited to Greg Bear, Shel Dorf, Ken Krueger and Richard Alf founded San Diego Comic-Con.

Greg and his friends were Ray Bradbury groupies. They followed him to every one of his local author readings. They followed that by hanging out at his home when they were teenagers. They followed that with Ray mentoring them.

Ray became one of their first guest speaker when the event kicked-off (not the dying kind) from August 1st through 3rd, 1970 in the U.S. Grant Hotel. The event hosted 300 attendees in the basement. Now Comic-Con hosts in excess of 130,000 yearly at the San Diego Convention Center plus additional venues.

Back to Mr. Bear, his dad joined the navy, so they moved a lot: Japan, the Philippines, Alaska, and various other parts of the United States. While living in Alaska in 1961, Greg completed his first short story at the age of ten.

Later he attended San Diego State University receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree. While there, he was a teaching assistant to Elizabeth Chater in her course on science fiction writing. Shades of foreshadowing . . .

His art work appeared on the cover of his books. He and his wife, Astrid Anderson Bear (daughter of Sci Fi author, Poul Anderson)—founding members of ASFA, the Association of Science Fiction Artists. He no longer produces commercial artwork, directing his attention to writing full time.

He’s completed over 44 science fiction novels, multiple short stories, consults for Microsoft, Google and other software companies, and, in addition, numerous governmental agencies . He even appeared as himself in the Sunday funnies in the comic Funky Winkerbean.

On September 23rd, he suffered a major heart attack at his home outside Seattle, Washington, He underwent emergency valve replacement surgery. We want to wish him a speedy recovery.

Tracy — Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

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Special NFL Series : The Five Funniest Names on the San Diego Chargers

Hello Funny Names Fans! We meet again!

Today marks the beginning of a new special feature here on the Blog of Funny Names, the 32-part, probably never to be completed, but earnestly begun Funniest Names in the NFL Project. Or FNITNFLP. Which co-incidentally is the second most common last name in the Czech Republic. Live and learn, blog readers!

We begin this magnificent* project with the home town team of this blog’s founders. Or adopted hometown for 1/3 of them. That would be the championship hogging powerhouse that is the San Diego Chargers. Check out the five greatest names currently on the roster.

Tenny Palepoi

Tenny is a Salt Lake City- born defensive end who just joined the Chargers this year. Utah isn’t the only thing verifying the “pale” part of his name, as he also attended Snow College in the Beehive State, playing for the Snow College Badgers during his time there.

Danny Woodhead

This hard-headed running back is from North Platte, Nebraska. He grew up relishing competitiveness in a tight rivalry with South Platte, NE (I’m sure). Woodhead joined the Chargers last season after stints with the New York Jets and the New England Patriots, but he’s unfortunately likely out for the season this time around with a broken fibula. Ouch.

Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe means business.

Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe means business.

Ricky Tjong-a-Tjoe

Undoubtedly the best name currently on the roster, Tjong-a-Tjoe is another Charger currently out of action due to injury. Born in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where another type of football is a bit more popular, Tjong-a-Tjoe attended high school in Boise, Idaho and after graduating elected to stay in Idaho to attend college at Boise State. He is now inspiring wonderful Tjong-a-Tjoe inspired rhymes in San Diego beat poetry clubs.

Kwame Geathers

The finely named Kwame Geathers comes from genuine football stock. His uncle Jumpy Geathers also played in the NFL as did his father and cousin. This will be his second season in San Diego, where he hopes to impress not just with his 6’6 frame and his bloodline, but also with some interpretive dance material he has been working on for half time entertainment. That last part is something we’re hoping is true, but can offer no guarantees.

D.J Fluker

The offensive tackle Daniel Lee Jesus “D.J” Fluker has anything but fluked his way into the San Diego team. A first round pick in 2013 out of the University of Alabama, Fluker is an all-round athlete who in high school also recorded stand-out scores in shot put.

Honorary mention to Johnnie Troutman, as we love fish-related names (and hairstyles) around here.

Did we miss your favorite? Add one below the line! And vote here for your favorite Charger name!

*Disclaimer : project may be in no way magnificent, but allow us some hyperbole, this is sports coverage after all.

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Rodney Cocks – Hardman

Have you ever felt like bad things keep happening to you? You know, you pour the morning coffee and as you try to get your little splash of milk in it comes out in clumps of gross stuff rather than the expected merry stream of white happiness. And then you stub your toe on that stupid favorite chair of yours. And then Netflix has dropped Matlock just as you were about to finish season seven without even warning you.

I know, right, the worst things! Just the worst.

Well, tell that to Rodney Cocks. He’ll feel your pain. He’s also a big Matlock fan. Probably. I mean, who isn’t?

Cocks is an Australian man, and if his name didn’t already tell you this, he’s kind of a manly, badass type of fellow. You don’t mess with Rodney.

Mr. Cocks graduated with a law degree while serving part time in the infantry of the Australian army. He eventually became, according to Wikipedia, “an admitted lawyer in the state of South Wales”. In certain places, admitting you’re a lawyer will earn you a lot of sniping jokes about your colleagues in the bottom of the ocean, a sneer or two, and requests for free legal advice for suckers who’ve just had second thoughts about that $7000 vacuum cleaner they bought over the phone the other day. On 29% interest. With $92 on their bank account.

Rodney Cocks, naturally posing next to an exploded thing.

Rodney Cocks, naturally posing next to an exploded thing.

But I digress. Heavily. I’ll get to the milk in a minute.

Mr. Cocks is perhaps best known for having survived two massive terrorist bombings within a relatively short time. First, in Bali, Indonesia, where more than 200 people died in a massive explosion in 2002. Rodney was among the injured, but survived and helped other injured victims and performed trauma aid on the scene. Just ten months later he was at work in the UN headquarters in Baghdad when it exploded, killing fifteen. Once again, Cocks shrugged off the explosion jumped to the aid of others.

Now that’s bad luck. Although I suppose hanging out in Baghdad will increase the risk of explosions by some amount. Also, it’s hot there so milk will go bad really quickly.

Cocks was named among the eight finalists for the Australian of the Year Award in 2005, and unsuccessfully ran for office two years after that. He has since authored four books and works as an expert on international affairs, and as the man you can’t blow up.

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Tahmoh Penikett and the cast of “Dollhouse”

Hello, kittens! I’ve missed you!

I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to visit. I took a hiatus from blogging – a blogatus? – this summer, and then, just as I was feeling refreshed and my creative batteries were feeling recharged  … a ginormous bunch of stuff happened all at once.

“Ginormous bunch”, in case you’re wondering, is in fact the scientific term for the precise number of events that need to converge on amb’s universe simultaneously for her to stay away from WordPress for a while. And while I missed being here with you, kittens, I have to say: some of those events were pretty spectacular. I got to spend lots of time with friends and family! One of my best friends got married !!!

And I went to Fan Expo !!!

Clearly, I have my priorities in order.

The short explanation is that Fan Expo is the Canadian version of Comic-Con. The long explanation is that Fan Expo is four amazing non-stop days where I got to hang out with  some of the most passionate, witty and creative people I’ve ever met. Oh, and my Imaginary Boyfriends were there, too.

Yes, I got to see Matt Smith. Yes, I got to see Nathan Fillion. And yes, that sound you heard over the internet just now was my little geek heart exploding.

There's a reason my Captain is here, I swear. We'll get to it.

There’s a reason my Captain is in today’s post, I swear. We’ll get to it. I just need a second.

Thanks to my time with Nathan (we’re totally on a first name basis now) I have fallen all the way down the Joss Whedon rabbit hole. And let me tell you, it is a good place to be. True, Joss doesn’t hire Nathan to be in every one of his projects, but if Nathan’s not there, he makes up for it by giving me a television cast made up of names like this:

Eliza Dushku
Fran Kranz
Tahmoh Penikett
Enver Gjokaj
Dichen Lachman
Miracle Laurie
Amy Acker

Hi everyone!

Hi everyone!

I promise I didn’t fall asleep on my keyboard; those glorious collections of letters really are together in the same opening credits sequence of a real television show. Oh, and did I mention that the show is a set in a terrifying future that engages a sense of existential unease and post-modern paranoia in its viewers?!?  And we all know how I feel about that kind of television.

Dollhouse credits

See? Twisty!

“Dollhouse” isn’t for everyone – it’s dark and twisty and doesn’t exactly paint humanity in a warm and cozy light. But all of those amazing names belong to amazingly talented actors, so if you’re in the mood for some science fiction that explores the boundaries of how far human

Tamoh Penikett

Or we could just talk about Tahmoh.

morals can be pushed in the name of progress, then head over to Netflix and I’ll meet you there! I’ll bring the popcorn and the socio-political analysis.

love amb

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