Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Dark Cometh --- Day 4/275

Walk: Fillmore
Distance: 1 mile

Halloween Plus End of Daylight Savings.....Be Well...

Friday, October 30, 2015

Tension on the Mantle --- Day 4/274

Walk: Union Square, Best Buy
Distance: 2.8 miles and home yoga

On your right, Indian cat ready to pounce...

On your left, French bird ready to fly away*

*More on African carved figure soon...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pet Tree Babies --- Day 4/273

Walk: Sequoias
Distance: 3 miles

Nothing looks much deader than a dormant Japanese Maple, so Ciwt is always thrilled and relieved
when she sees signs of new growth from her pet tree.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Masters of the Desert --- Day 4/272

Walk: Yoga Works, Fillmore
Distance: 2.5 miles and yoga class

Ciwt returns today to the Bedouin tent and a few facts about Bedouin culture.  Why?  Because hopefully her readers will see Theeb, the movie Ciwt saw Sunday, be as deeply impressed as her Cinema Club audience was, and curious to know more about these people.

Theeb revolves around the Bedouin male honor code of  courage, courtesy, hospitality, protection, and justice which is so admirable it is said the Knights of the Crusades brought it back to their lands as the basis of Chivalry.

The women too have strong social roles, one of which is using ancient and highly skilled techniques to weave the sturdy utilitarian fabrics that make the mobile Bedouin desert life possible.  For centuries they have woven tent fabric from black goat hair sometimes combined with camel hair. In wet weather the wool expands and becomes water tight, its thickness is a wind guard even in the frequent powerful sandstorms, and in heat the sides can be rolled up allowing breeze.  The fabric and poles are packable within an hour and their light weight allows them to be easily portable.

Equally ingenious in its simple functionality is the loose flowing cloth the women weave for Bedouin clothing. It both covers the skin and allows air to flow around the body thus preventing sunburn and heat stroke. It also makes up into the iconic symbol of the Bedouin, the Keffiyah, large folded cloth secured on the head with a cord or Agal. This simple garment shades the face from the sun, allows air to flow freely around the head and can be wrapped around the nose and mouth in case of a sand or dust storm.  (Also notice the saddle blanket and other gorgeous woven tack on the camel). Who can forget Peter O'Toole striding proudly in his Keffiyah or those penetrating clear blue eyes beneath his Agal in Lawrence of Arabia?

Not shown in Lawrence or in Theeb are women, who raise the children, herd the sheep, milk the animals, make the clothes, and are fiercely protected according to the codes - both male and female - surrounding them.  Also not in either movie were falcons and Saluki greyhound dogs which the Bedouins are credited with breeding.  Image result for saluki and falcon In Lawrence but not Theeb were the magnificent Arabian horses the Bedouins were the first to breed.   Image result for bedouin arabian horses

Theeb introduces the viewer to the importance of story telling, poetry and music to the Bedouins Image result for bedouin music, their refined and many uses of pottery,gems, coins and metalwork for household objects Image result for bedouin metalwork, coffee pots,,  trading Related image  and decorationRelated image.  It is clearly a strong, deep and rich ancient culture.

No, Theeb is not a documentary.  It's a powerful, assured, Kurosawa-type adventure set in 1916 Bedouin/Lawrence of Arabia country by an Oxford born, Jordan and UK-educated, Sundance-trained Arab filmmaker Naji Abu Nowar. And lest you think Ciwt is a bit over the top, Nowar has taken home Best Director awards from several prestigious film festivals, and Theeb is being predicted to win Oscar for Best Foreign Film. (official trailer) 

PS - If you don't go to Theeb, or you do and don't like it, you will still be Ciwt's friend.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tent City (For A While) --- Day 4/271

Walk: Union Square
Distance: 1 mile

Ancient bedouin tents

Being a city girl, when Ciwt encounters Bedouin tribal textiles it is usually in a museum or art gallery or antiques store.  So, she really enjoyed seeing utilitarian crafts as they were actually used in Theeb, yesterday's movie based on the male Bedouin honor code*.

The nomadic life in the desert made it necessary for ancient Bedouins to evolve homes that were simple, transportable and effective against the extremely harsh weather conditions.  Their solution, the bedouin tent, though ancient, is ingenious enough to still be utilized today.  More on it and other Bedouin crafts, culture and arts soon....

Monday, October 26, 2015

Cogitating --- Day 4/270

Walk: Monday Errands
Distance: 3.5 miles and yoga class

Ciwt is reflecting in loveliness.  Back tomorrow.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bedouin Western Plus --- Day 4/269

Walk: Cinema Club (Theeb), Dosa 
Distance: 2 miles and flower work

Image result for jordanian art 1916

Absolutely Outstanding movie about to come from Jordan to a theater near you.  THEEB.  You won't want to miss it. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

GrandPop of Pop --- Day 4/268

Walk: House Puttering
Distance: Unknown

La femme au chat
Fernand Leger (1881-1955), La Femme Au Chat, 1955, o/c, 25 1/2 x 36 1/4"   

Ciwt's recent romp through a few new tech gadgets put her in mind of the French artist Fernand Leger.  The Impressionists flirted with statements about technology, but Leger was one of, perhaps the first to directly address the human and social effects as well as the scientific understandings that accompanied it.  Along with several other French artists and painting colleagues at the 1910 Salon d' Automne Leger was definitely the first to introduce Cubism to the public eye.  A painting of a woman in blue 2

Over the years Leger's conical and tubular forms with patches of primary colors became more streamlined and figurative with (often playful and humourous) populist images.  So much so that he is now seen as the forerunner of Pop Art.

1  Sold at Christie's London, 18 June, 2007 fetching $2,702,084.
La Femme en Bleu(Woman in Blue), 1912, oil on canvas, 193 x 129.9 cm, Kunstmuseum Basel. Exhibited at the 1912Salon d'Automne, Paris

Friday, October 23, 2015

All By Herself --- Day 4/267

Walk: Sundance Kabuki (Room)
Distance: 2 miles and home yoga

A major techie transition here at Ciwt's home, and she's happy to report she disassembled the old, assembled the new and carried a big bag of used gadgets to recycling -  all by herself.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Annual Dinner Time Again --- Day 4/266

Walk: Sausalito, Broadway (Pacific Heights Residents Association Dinner)
Distance: 2 miles

Image result for pacific heights residents association

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Serendipity with Flowers --- Day 4/265

Walk: Presidio
Distance: 3.5 miles and small home yoga

Reminder: Sometimes you don't have to try too hard.  These just arrived one by one for various reasons into Ciwt's life.  Looking pretty together, n'est pas?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Little Things/Fall Light --- Day 4/264

Walk: JCC, Laurel Village, Goodwill, Town School Clothes Closet
Distance: 2.5 miles and yoga class

Monday, October 19, 2015

Smooth Bridge --- 4/263

Walk: Hayes Auto, Trader Joe's, Sundance Kabuki (Bridge of Spies)
Distance: 3 miles and small home yoga

The man in the middle (Mark Rylance) is the one to watch for Best Supporting Actor candidate in Bridge of Spies.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Well, Ciwt Likes It... --- Day 4/262

Walk: Cost Plus
Distance: 6 blocks, (Still lugging heavy things in and out of here), home yoga

We live in a relentlessly extroverted society with constant promotion of family, festivals, togetherness, backyard barbecues, fetching looks, desirability to others, keeping up and being with the Joneses.  If you're a loner and not drawn these things, well....

In case her readers haven't noticed, let Ciwt say out loud that she Loves living alone (with Callie).
Some day maybe she'll write a post - or many - counting the ways.  The downside is constantly having to combat near universal fear-mongering about the hazards of being a loner: being socially awkward/completely undesirable/maybe even mentally ill, not having your affairs in order, having no friends or interesting activities, eating badly and living on alcohol or drugs, despairing in the utter bleak silence, hoarding, and, of course, dying and not being found for weeks until the smell finally gets some stranger's attention. No wonder most people are terrified of being alone, haunted by the fear of dying alone.

So, why is Ciwt talking about this today?  Because The New York Times is running a multi-day front page spread about (here's the headline)

The Lonely Death of George Bell

leading with such words as 'alone and unseen,' 'forlorn, 'puffy body,' 'decomposed and unrecognizable' -  and, in a decision Ciwt finds reprehensibly invasive, running huge color pictures of his messy, dirty apartment. 

Maybe the story has some merit, but Ciwt cannot go on with it after such an introduction. The assumption she's left with is that George Bell will be portrayed - like most loners are - as miserably, helplessly lonely, abjectly desperate or worse.  But maybe George Bell was just fine with his own company, chose to live in solitude, savored the freedom of doing as he wished with his life. Maybe for George Bell the circumstances of his death was unpredictable but living alone was the most suitable lifestyle choice.  Who knows?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Tsk, Tsk. Really? --- Day 2/261

Walk: Opera Plaza Cinema (Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine)
Distance: 4 miles and hauling tech stuff around the home

Image result for steve jobs: the man in the machine

Ciwt thinks it must be difficult making a movie about Steve Jobs.  He was such a cipher; people may have spent time with him, but no one knew him.  Possibly, on the mortal coil, least of all himself.

Today's documentary, Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, is very good when it just shows archival footage and leaves the viewer free to have their own thoughts.  Not so good when it tries to moralize or scold Jobs.  Yes, he was difficult, cruel, lawless when it served him.  But then there are those world-changing, economy-strengthening, love- and creativity-inducing products that obsessively drove him.  So who really cares to hold his contradictory feet to the fire?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Gilded Age with Fine Woodwork -- Day 4/260

Walk: A little (finished the lion's share of home tech update)
Distance: 8 blocks and home yoga



A childhood friend of Ciwt's just sent pictures of her great-grandfather's Chicago house.  Oh dear,
and Ciwt thought the Town House* was swell!  (Acutally it was; Georgian and very tasteful)

Some one bought it, had a lot of the details restored, and opened it as a museum.  Maybe if Ciwt gets to Chicago she'll go - with her friend.

*  See CIWT  The Town House   ---  Day 355 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Many Wires, No Signal --- Day 4/258

Walk: Driving Day and Stuck at Home with Devices and Tech Support
Distance: A few blocks

Following up on yesterday's entry: Installing all her new technology, Ciwt is wishing for the next generation's brain.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Changing Lightbulbs --- Day 4/257

Walk: Target, Vogue Theater (17th Annual Festival of Animation)
Distance: 2 miles

Image result for the changing brain

(From yesterday): Dogfight, the play, was Good!  At dinner before it, Ciwt was talking to friends about their grandchildren and relevant to something one of them said "Don't assume that today's grandchildren are like us."  Meaning they are probably a slightly different species, having been brought up since infancy with technology among other central changes.

Then driving home from Dogfight, the radio was airing a Ted Talk type broadcast about the plasticity of the brain and how it adapts and changes to meet life circumstances and demands.  And how it evolves into a different 'machine.'

It's called neuroplasticity and there are likely reams of literature available on it.  But, while she'd heard speculative talk about it here and there, she hadn't realized it - brain change - is an actual certainty.  And this thought actually makes her happy.

There are times when so many core level changes have happened in her lifetime (technology, babies with technology, social media, relationships between the (several) sexes, the nature of work, travel/world connectivity, scientific discoveries, the earth, the atmosphere....) that she gets totally overwhelmed.  And she projects that thinking out into something like those poor kids coming along; how are they going to handle all these things?  

Now the neuroplasticity concept has her thinking They'll be just fine; they have different brains, more equipped to handle life in their time. Plus, new brain or not, everything that is 'too much' for Ciwt is already part of their young lives and factored in from the beginning.  They will have different challenges.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Down Dog --- Day 4/256

Walk: JCC, Union Square, The Playhouse (Dogfight)
Distance: 2+ miles and yoga class


Ciwt is a little apprehensive about the play she will see tonight.  Maybe sad, a downer.  (Defintely a downer if they don't have air conditioning/fans in our mini heat wave).  Stay tuned..

Monday, October 12, 2015

Hunkering Down SF Style --- Day 4/255

Walk: JCC, Best Buy
Distance: 3 miles and yoga class

With fingers crossed Ciwt prepares for El Nino.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Ahhhh --- Day 4/254

Walk: Cinema Club (The Experimenter), Japantown
Distance: 3.5 miles 

Lots of input today.  Letting things sink in.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Respite --- Day 252

Walk: Union Square, Fillmore Street, Best Buy, ATT
Distance: 5 miles

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881, o/c, 4/ 3" x 5' 8"

Respite time. When she lived in Washington, DC, Ciwt used to visit Luncheon at least once a week on her walk home from work on Capitol Hill.  The painting never failed to provide that respite.

At least for Ciwt.  A friend recently reminded her there are others who don't respond as Ciwt does to (in her words) 'Poor Rennie.'   More on that another day.  Meanwhile, enjoy the festivities if they relax your heart.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Miss Ciwt Regrets She's Unable to Lunch.... Day 4/251

Walk: JCC, Corte Madera
Distance: 2 miles and yoga class

Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga - Francisco Goya
Francisco Goya, Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga, c. 1787, oil on canvas, 50" x 40"

Ciwt is no scholar of Goya.  She respects some of his beautifully executed art, but from what she has seen, she doesn't think she would have liked him as a person.

For one thing he seems self-involved, perhaps arrogant and certainly demanding of attention. In the portrait of the Count and Countess of Altamira's young son Goya has placed his own calling card in the pet magpie's beak.  And, even more overtly in another work, he placed himself visibly in the midst of the Spanish Royal Family 
                                                               The Family of Charles IV, 1800, oil on canvas, ca 9' x 11'
(That's him over in the left corner).

But then over a century earlier, in 1685, Velasquez painted himself into an earlier Spanish royal family in the much more charming 1685 La Meninas .
So the deeper reason why Ciwt would not have wanted his company was that she finds him untrustworthy, subversive.

What are those cats doing in that child's portrait?  And look at their eyes, riveted menacingly on the 'little red boy's' pet bird.  Under the guise of capturing the purity and youthfulness of this young royal Goya has put the bird he loves (and by extension his innocence and protection) close to mortal danger. Clearly Goya is referencing the fleetingness of life.   Some scholars have speculated that the portrait was painted after the child's death, but why he included this line of thought is only known to Goya.

Even more subversive it seems to Ciwt is his portrayal of the royal family - for whom he is the Court Painter.  In other words, King Charles IV was his employer.  Traditionally royals are commemorated as ideally as possible - in many cases essentially falsifying their real looks in favor of more beauty, more height, more gracefulness, fairer skin.  But not Goya in this painting which includes a large mole on the face of one royal Image result for goya royal family, shows another's head turned away from the canvas, positions the Queen more prominently than the King Image result for goya royal familyand gives the finery and glitter of the royal jewels, silks and adornments more artistic attention than the very ordinarily painted humans.

The wonder to Ciwt is that Goya got away with these things which makes her think he must have had great personal charm and charisma.  So, maybe she would have enjoyed meeting him after all...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Here It Begins (?) --- Day 4/250

Walk: No, Fall Closet Caper Day
Distance: 0 and day of rest from yoga 

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (Spanish 1746-1828), The Shooting of the Third of May, 1808 in Madrid,* 1814, 
Oil on Canvas, 8' 4 3/8" x 11' 3.7/8", Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain

Ciwt has not personally seen this famous painting by the equally famous Spanish artist, Goya, nor was she aware until recently of the historical circumstances it depicts*.  But The Third of May** (it goes by several titles) transcends its circumstances and is extremely moving even in pictures.  She can only imagine how she would feel if she stood face to face in its nearly 8.5' by 11.5' presence.

(Probably like she felt after writing her Sr. thesis on Picasso's Guernica (1937)from hundreds of images in art history books.  She had 'seen' and written about nearly every inch of the canvas and thought she 'knew' it until she encountered it in all its emotional enormity and outrage at MoMA.  She'd forgotten it was there, and nearly lost her breath when she looked up at its prominent position immediately upon entering MoMA)***

Guernica is absolutely related to The Third of May, 1808 - as an impassioned statement by a great Spanish artist about the abject bestial cruelty of war.  A Modern statement.  Like Guernica, The Third of May is acclaimed as one of the great paintings of all time.  But it stands alone as what many art experts have deemed the first modern painting.

The Third of May toppled many traditional art pillars.  One wonders if Guernica could have been received without The Third of May already being in the world. Goya's painting was not welcomed - might have even been hidden by the King of Spain rather than display a painting that fearlessly depicted the brutality and human suffering of war.  Up until this painting, it was traditional in Spanish painting to depict war as a bloodless affair with little emotional impact.  But here was a painting that, not only displayed blood but dared to mix Christian iconography with 'mere mortals' - common laborers at that.  (The lantern that is the sole source of light in the painting was traditionally associated with Jesus and the removed powers of the Church, and certainly the main figure is a crucifixion symbol - even including a nail hole in his right hand Image result for detail of hand in goya's third of may painting).

Just contemplating this groundbreaking artwork is a lot for Ciwt. So, more soon The Third of May, 1808  and the complex artist who painted it.

*Napoleon had tricked his way into Spain on the pretense of passing throug hin order to engage Portugal.  When he got his French troops across the border, he executed his original plan of occupying Spain and installing his older brother, Joseph, as King of Spain.  On May 2, 21.000 Spaniardsr ose up against the French military, but faced brutal and merciless retaliation the next day.  Goya painted both events within a six month period in 1814.

The Second of May, 1808, o/c, 105" x 132"

** The painting is also known as The Shootings of May 3, The Executions, The Third of May, 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid.

***Guernica was exhibited in the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris International Exposition and in 1939 was sent to New York on tour for the benefit of the Spanish Refugee Committee.  When World War II broke out later that year, Picaso requested that it and a number of his other works be held at MoMA on extended loan.  When the war ended, most of the works were returned to Europe, but Picasso asked that Guernica and its preliminary studies be kept by MoMA until 'reestablishment of public liberties.'  It was returned to Spain in 1982 under heavy guard; there is ongoing agitation about where its permanent exhibition home should be.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Revolutionary? --- Day 4/249

Walk: JCC, Trader Joe's, Hi-Tech Nails
Distance: 2.8 miles, yoga class

Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Marat, 1793, 0il on canvas, 65"x52.5" (Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels)

Ciwt has four more episodes of Season Two left in her Ray Donovan binge, so she still has a mind for crime.  Or, in the case of The Death of Marat, murder.

The painting (or its image) is well-known and respected in art circles and beyond for many reasons: its size    Image result for the death of marat original, the quality of the brushwork in the softly painted but indeterminate background.  In contrast the foreground with its striking, horrendous and historically accurate details is deeply dramatic.  The details are all there, painted sparely, rationally.  Painted exceedingly rationally,  we see Marat in his tub, the wounds, the blood, the fatal knife, the letter sent by Charlotte Corday which gained her entry in order to murder him.  The tragedy of the death of this important leader of the French Revolution is made even more poignant by the simple spareness of his homely furnishings and body language that likens him to Michelangelo's Jesus in Pieta Image result for pieta . David clearly makes of Marat a secular martyr at the highest level.

Much more could be said of Death of Marat's technical triumphs; it is a truly great painting by a highly talented artist.  But what interests Ciwt today is its political aspects; first and foremost an image of propaganda promoting the democratic, secular and rational ideals of the Jacobean revolutionaries.  David was a major force in this most zealous and violent overthrowing party. He came to act as its minister of propaganda and was commissioned by the new French Republic to commemorate Marat as a hero of the people's revolution.  As painted it is instantly obvious that Marat was a good, innocent, noble victim of a duplicitous, scheming woman. By extension noble too was all that Marat stood for: the New Republic, publishing, moving power into the rational hands of the democracy and away from the brutal and heedless aristocracy as well as the superstitious Church.

Clearly David, the artist, shows himself in this painting to be deeply engaged in the principles and ideals of the Revolutionary party. But was he?  This is the question that interests some art historians and Ciwt.  It arises because nearly as soon as the New Republic failed and Napoleon became Emperor of France, David became Napoleon's court painter.  That is, within a matter of a couple of years, David went from being essentially Minister of Propaganda for the Revolutionaries to having that exact same position within Napoleon's Empire.  This is a truly shocking reversal and causes many to question whether David was at heart an artistic and political mercenary aligning himself with whoever was in control at the moment.

Ciwt thinks it is more probable that David was a survivor, and siding with Napoleon was the only way to ensure his life.

Jacques-Louis David, The Death of Marat, 1793, oil on canvas, 65 x 50-1/2 inches (Royal Museums of Fin

e Arts of Belgium, Brussels)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Never Open Your Mouth** --- Day 4/248

Walk: Presidio, Clement Street Farmer's Market, Sloat Garden Center
Distance: 4 miles and home yoga

As luck - and movie distribution - would have it, Ciwt has been keeping some pretty rough company these days.  Here are a few of her screen 'pals' along with quotes from some actual Mafia men.

Johnny Depp/Whitey Bulger/Black Mass
“This life of ours, this is a wonderful life. If you can get through life like this and get away with it, hey, that’s great. But its very, very unpredictable. There’s so many ways you can screw it up.” ~ Paul Castellano

Benecio del Toro/Alexjandro/Sicario
“The United States of America versus Anthony Spilotro.’Now what kind of odds are those?” ~ Anthony Spilotro

Liev Schreiber/Ray Donovan/Ray Donovan
“It takes many steppingstones, you know, for a man to rise. None can do it unaided” ~ Joe Bonanno

Jon Voight/Mickey Donovan/Ray Donovan
“There are three sides to every story. Mine, yours and the truth.” ~ Joe Massino

**“Never open your mouth,unless you’re in the dentist chair” ~ Sammy “The Bull” Gravano