Sunday, March 30, 2008


If Beethoven had gone deaf all at once, he might not have developed into Beethoven. He might simply have adapted to the loss, as many others have.

But Beethoven's hearing gradually slipped away over 25 years, coming and going unpredictably. It faded tantalizingly in and out of reach as he was trying to realize his artistic visions. This slow torture caused him daily anguish. He could never be certain whether he would be capable of conducting a concert. Worse, he never knew which precious sound would be his last.

Beethoven didn't dare tell the world about his disability but he wrote of his despair in a private testament, agonizing that when other people heard a sound,

I heard nothing... such incidents brought me to the verge of despair.... I would have put an end to my life -- only... it seemed impossible to leave the world until I had produced all that I felt called upon me to produce, and so I endured this wretched existence.
Historians such as Robert Greenberg and Maynard Solomon believe Beethoven was able to reach new heights because of the spiritual and physical isolation he suffered during his prolonged struggle with his hearing. Perhaps his seclusion from the sounds of the world freed him from convention and allowed him to create new musical forms.

Beethoven's tragic burden is an example of what Peter Viereck calls "the weight that tortures diamonds out of coal."

Which brings us to the artist Degas.

Degas started out as a meticulous craftsman, carefully trained in traditional drawing and painting methods.

However, he suffered from increasingly poor vision his entire adult life. As John Updike reported, "by his forties he was virtually blind in his right eye; and by the 1890s he periodically donned corrective spectacles blacked out except for a small slit in the left lens."

Over the years as his eyesight dimmed, Degas developed a looser, more energetic style:

He lived in dread of his oncoming blindness, but as the artist David Levine noted,

It didn’t stop Degas.... He went on to change his way of seeing. He just moved into a rhythm of color and bigger generalities in the way he saw things like hands or faces.
Just as with Beethoven, some of Degas' most beautiful work resulted from his enormous talent twisting and turning to escape being smothered by the artist's physical disability:

Green Landscape

Wooded Landscape

Tantalus was the character from Greek mythology who stole ambrosia from Zeus' table and brought it back to his people, revealing the secrets of the gods.

His punishment was terrible: he spent eternity in a pool of water beneath a bountiful fruit tree. But whenever he reached for the fruit, the branches raised above his grasp. Whenever he bent down to try to drink, the water receded. (We get the word "tantalize" from poor Tantalus.) And while all that food and drink hovered beyond his reach, the gods placed a threatening boulder over his head.

The price of ambrosia comes high.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Colourful Figment"- A short poem wtitten by me

An average boy, named Chetan tries to write a poem, no creative thought is coming to his mind. This is how he feels:-

I lay still, like a carnivore,
Waiting for my thoughts of prey,
My mind remains blank,
And does not elicit even the slightest thought,
I try harder, but the brick wall refuses to break,
Clamping my nerves, and fracturing my brains,
I cry "Why the juice of creativity lack within me";
I cry "Why have I been made a fool amongst the Master of Creators";

Then suddenly, out of nowhere he gets a creative thought. The thought is simple yet good enough to make him happy. There is a change in his feeling; his feelings are portrayed below.:-

And in a flash of lighting,
Rose a phoenix,
Fluttering its beautiful wings,
It fills me with joy,
I see a million colours hovering in the air,
Constructing a pattern which is my own,
I fall asleep awaking in my dream,
In a land, where I am the Master.

by Chetan M

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gates McFadden returns with Get Out The Tape

Joel Schrauben, aka Gates McFadden, has wasted no time in filling out his compositional niche by releasing his second album for 2008 within three months of his first. Get Out The Tape re-emphasizes the G.McFad tendency towards patterned construction of songs, approaching a minimalist idm but not quite. If anything, Gates' voice is becoming more mature as Schrauben's techniques become more sophisticated. Get Out The Tape employs repetition and subtlety in variation to beautiful effect so that each moment is a pleasant stasis of sound without becoming disengaging. These eight new songs are written and performed on laptop with some sampling of Schrauben's old band Bear Mountain Picnic thrown in for good measure. Think of mashing Stars of the Lid's heavenly swells with the stylized electronic adolescence of Cornelius. It's up on now, or you can get it here.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Many people say that the illustrator Willy Pogany (1882-1955) reached the pinnacle of his career with a series of lavish, ornate books including The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1910), Tannhauser (1911), Parsifal (1912) and Lohengrin (1913). These books feature spectacular gilt designs on sumptuous leather bindings, elaborate borders on each page, and illuminated initials with hand calligraphed text.

Personally, I find them exhausting.

I don't think Pogany started getting interesting as an artist until he shed all the regal trappings and learned to simplify.

Left alone with just a line and a blank page, Pogany began to produce work of enduring value. Each line becomes more important when you don't have fancy textured paper and intricate borders to rescue (or obscure) the quality of your work.

Here are a few scans of Pogany's original drawings so you can see his line up close:

Even his small, "simple" drawings weren't that simple.

Surrounding a picture with fancy borders can enhance its appearance, but only to a limited extent. Ultimately, the picture pays a heavy price for that boost; it is harder for a picture to achieve greatness when encumbered with ornamentation. One of the most important things for an artist is knowing when to stop.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


William Oberhardt (1882 -1958) was like a 20th century version of Hans Holbein the Younger. Just like Holbein, Oberhardt had an astonishing gift for rendering the human head. "Heads are my preoccupation," he said. "To me the world is full of heads." Both Holbein and Oberhardt were summoned to draw the most famous people of their day. Holbein drew portraits for the court of Henry VIII while Oberhardt drew portraits for Time magazine.

Cover of the first issue of Time magazine, by Oberhardt

Portrait by Holbein

Both artists could paint, but both found their highest expression in the medium of charcoal drawing, which enabled them to display great freedom and sensitivity.

Oberhardt was a very traditional, almost old fashioned artist. He was appalled at his fellow illustrators who used photographs, emphasizing that an artist's job was not to "copy form" but to "strive for interpretation of personality through form."

He advised young artists:

Avoid haste, and don't take pride in hectic activity...Technique evolves gradually. It is the blossoming forth of years of intelligent study, not surface imitation of accepted mannerisms or formulas. Do not waste time on cleverness which might develop into mere facility.
Despite his traditional approach, you can find great, almost abstract designs in Oberhardt's portraits. Once he gets beyond the subtle nuances of the face, he allows himself to go wild with bold surrounding marks that play an important role completing the design:

In discussing "the distribution of blacks in the background," Oberhardt the traditionalist sounded surprisingly modern: "I follow only my feeling of harmony."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


For fifty years, cartoonist Don Trachte made an excellent living doing uninspired, simple minded drawings.

Nothing about these drawings hinted that behind closed doors, Trachte was so talented he could paint a major Rockwell oil painting well enough to fool all the experts:

Similarly, the cartoonist James Swinnerton had a long, successful career making mediocre drawings that revealed no particular artistic ability:

Yet, in his spare time Swinnerton painted powerful, sensitive landscapes:

Rose O'Neill was another artist who made a small fortune with bland, inferior drawings. The public just loved her cute little imps, called Kewpies:

Nobody guessed that behind the scenes, O'Neil drew intense, erotic drawings and wrote steamy poetry. Her real drawings look like the work of Brad Holland, who came along 50 years later.

When a reporter asked O'Neill about the striking contrast between her professional work and her personal drawings, O'Neill refused to comment, saying "these things were made for the maker's own delight."

I'm not suggesting that every one of these private pictures is a work of genius. However, it is interesting to me that so many artists could not find a market for quality art, and survived only after they dumbed down their work.

I would never have guessed from their public work that these artists were capable of creating such pictures. I think their best work, the work they did for their "own delight," deserves some exposure.

Arts vs Entertainment Ensemble - self-titled

A delayed notice that the self-titled Arts vs Entertainment Ensemble album is available for free download in full here. Joshua produced and compiled this from incidental recordings made from Jan.-Dec. 2007, mashed into a collage of 6 untitled tracks. Lots of droney, ambient and freely improvised stuff. I think about a dozen people contributed to this, willingly or not.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Next to the last, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I personally congrats the writter J.K. Rowling for finishing all of Harry Potter's series. The very first Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the second Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the third Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the fourth Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fifth Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Also this and the last series.

Free Image Hosting At ImageCows.NetLord Voldemort and his followers is begin to act directly. The Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge also get impuls, he must hand over his position because think don't competence in take care of Voldemort case, and replacing by Rufus Scrimgeour. Hogwarts School of Wizardry, place where Harry belong in sixth year, also can't away from scary environment, and security raised. As usuall, this year Hogwarts get a new teacher, named Horace Slughorn who replacing Professor Severus Snape finally get position what he dreamed. The other surprize come from Harry, this time He get a champion in potion, also he can beat Hermione because the book borrow from Professor Slughorn to him, owned by "Half-Blood Prince". Whenever, Professor Dumbledore and Harry has important work, that is find and destroy a couple of Horcrux belong to Lord Voldemort. But, how Evil Eater still succeed come in to Hogwarts? And who is Half-Blood Prince?

Thursday, March 13, 2008


There are millions of drawings out there with a claim on our attention, but that doesn't mean we can't pause for a moment over one lovely example.

When you stand in a meadow full of daffodils, your eye may settle by chance upon just one. Not the Best flower, not the worst, but by looking at it and smelling it up close you learn something about every other flower in the meadow.

Today's flower is from the great Ronald Searle. Here he does what he does best-- dips his pen in his DNA and comes up with a brilliant, caustic, insightful drawing.

Searle's line is a joy to behold.

In the following detail, note how Searle applies his trademarked approach to three completely different surfaces; the hard geometry of architecture, the soft folds of a curtain, and the natural lines of flowers have all been humanized by Searle. This is what great artists do.

Searle's editorializing is as sharp and wise as his line. Look at the marvelous way he conveys these gelatinous corporate "yes" men:

It's hard to overstate Searle's influence on generations of artists that followed him. (Obvious examples include Pat Oliphant, Jeff MacNelly and Mort Drucker).

His drawings are always worth revisiting.

(PS: for more about Searle, check out this great tribute blog dedicated to Searle.)

Mike He

Free Image Hosting At ImageCows.NetName: Mike He Jun Xiang (Mike Ho)
Chinese name: 贺军翔 (賀軍翔)
Nickname: Xiao Mei 小美, Xiang Xiang 翔翔
Birth date: December 28, 1983
Birth place: Taipei, Taiwan
Height: 180cm
Blood type: B
Religion: None
Family members: Parents, a younger brother and a younger sister
Profession: Actor and model

Mike He Jun Xiang started his career modeling for magazines and TV commercials, and become popular with his attractive figure, handsome looking and charming smile.

Mike He then appeared in a few music videos with Valen Hsu and Angelica Lee before making his debut in acting.

Mike He is still active in modeling and posed for a few classic advertisement as well as TV commercials, and continues to feature with some other MVs, the more popular include his appearance in MVs of Ariel Lin, Rainie Yang and Tanya Chuah.

Free Image Hosting At ImageCows.Net
Mike’s first TV drama was “7th Grade” in 2003/2004 starring alongside Ariel Lin. He did not play the main role, but he later reunited with Ariel again in 2004 TV drama “Love Contract” where he played as the leading actor.

In 2004 Mike He also had a short but catchy appearance in the highly rated TV drama “Say Yes Enterprise.”

2005 is a breakthrough year for Mike He, his TV dramas “Devil Beside You” with Rainie Yang and Express Boy with Xu Wei Lun were 2 of the best rated TV series in Taiwan that year.

Mike’s TV dramas are popular overseas, he has lots of fans in Japan, Korea, China and South East Asia as well as Western countries like Australia and USA.

Mike’s 2006 drama “Marry Me” (我們結婚吧) has just finished showing in Taiwan and will air in other countries soon.

Mike He has just finished filming TV drama “Exchange Love” with Rainie. The drama is highly anticipated as it features the same cast and production team of Devil Beside You.


Monday, March 10, 2008


sweetsVocals: Kashiwagi Akiko (Aki)
Vocals: Yoshimura Ayaka (Aya)
Vocals: Iwasaki Mai
Vocals: Takewa Haruna
Vocals: Takimoto Miori

Started: 2002
Status: Active


Avex held an audition in 2002 to form a group called SweetS. They were looking for 5 girls ages 12-13. Once chosen, they would be trained for a year to improve their singing and dancing and then they will hopefully debut.

The winners were Kashiwagi Akiko (also called Aki), Yoshimura Ayaka (also called Aya), Iwasaki Mai, Takewa Haruna, and Takimoto Miori, all born around 1990-91.

They debuted in 2003 with "LolitA*Strawberry" and are gaining popularity even being voted as the best band in "CD-DATA", a popular J-Music magazine, in 2004. They mostly do pop but are testing out new waters with a techno-ish feel to their music.

Aya and Aki took a 6 month break from the group to prepare for the high school entrance exams and will rejoin the group to release their tenth single in March.



SweetS is a cute band. All of the girls are so young, that its kinda ridiculous. If you listen to them, their vocals are just as good as Morning Musume and other idol pop groups. They also have some cute, catchy songs too. I think as they get more experienced, they will get even better.