Monday, July 28, 2014

And while we're going on and on about bikes, check this out

Wow.  If you're in the frame of mind that lets you see beauty in machinery, here's a feast for the eyes.  A little repetitive, but the soundtrack is cool.  Enya?

In anteprima mondiale presenta la bici originale Bianchi modello "Campione del Mondo"del 1954,appartenuta all'indimenticabile campionissimo Fausto Coppi

Reads, according to Google Translate, in English as ... presents the world premiere original Bianchi bike model "World Champion" in 1954, which belonged to the unforgettable champion Fausto Coppi

Il Grande Fausto

Everything you need to know about the Tour de France can be seen in this short clip ...


Tour de France wrap up

Perhaps I owe Vincenzo Nibali an apology for suggesting he might be doping.  He is, after all, one of only four men to win all three Grand Tours (Spain and Italy, in addition to France).  So that's not chopped liver.

"Now that I find myself on the highest step of the Champs-Élysées, it's more beautiful than I ever imagined."

Which is lovely.

When directly asked about doping, he answered: "It's a great pleasure for me to talk to you about all the sacrifices I've made to come this far.  I'm proud of what I've accomplished."

Slightly less lovely.  A simple no might have sufficed, Vinnie.

Nibali's team, Astana, was first developed to support Kazakh rider Alexander Vinokourov, who, it should be said, was the genuine bomb.  A great rider, an important teammate in the mountains for Armstrong, he was suspended from the '07 Tour for doping.  What's interesting about Vinokourov is that he's a member of the school of thought that goes something like:  "If literally everybody was doping than I'm not about to apologize for doing it too."

Vino, as he's called, served his suspension without apology and is now the manager of the Astana team.

This has always been the difference between baseball doping and cycling doping.  In baseball, lots and lots of players weren't using performance enhancing drugs.  So those that were actually were cheating.  In cycling, everybody was doing it.  Okay -- not absolutely everyone.  But of the 21 podium slots (1st, 2nd and 3rd times 7) of the Tours that my boy Lance won, only one slot is held by someone who has never been caught doping.  Not accused.  Caught.  So the ethical high ground becomes a bit murkier.

All that said, I'm just enough of a sap to believe that cycling, with it's state-of-the-art biological passport detection technology, has moved past doping to a significant degree.

So let's think positive thoughts.  Congratulations Vincenzo.  Magnifico!

That said, Fausto Coppi remains my favorite Italian cyclist ...

Favorite performance enhancing drug?  Espresso!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Anatomy is a funny thing

Let's say you're walking the dog.  One of those big thin ones, like a redbone coonhound or, even more fun, a weimeraner.

Preferably one who's not running for office.

Anyway, you look down and you watch the dogs spine undulate in a kind of s-shaped pattern.  That's how dogs walk.

Likewise, if you're looking at the spine of a Tour de France cyclist doing the individual time trial.  Same thing.  Same s-shaped pattern.  Proof that we're really all dogs, I suppose.  If not actually then certainly metaphorically.

Anatomy is a funny thing.

My boy Tejay van Garderen couldn't quite reel in the 4th place I predicted.  He did pop up one spot, though, and will finish the Tour in 5th.  Which is not chopped liver, I can tell you.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Jesus, Take The Wheel

This being, of course, the only Carrie Underwood song I can think of.  Which is fine, because who gives a shit about Carrie Underwood and besides, it's really all by way of asking if you saw Lewis Hamilton's brake failure and resultant 110 mph shunt at Hockenheim last week.

Not much of a video.  But I have to ask, do you think that voice is computer-generated?  I've never heard a flatter voice-over in my life.  Makes HAL 9000 sound like Morgan Freeman ...

I love the way that spaceship looks.  Like a friendly puppy or something.

Anyway, if you were watching the crash from Lewis' on-board camera you could see him fighting with the car and then, when he knew impact was unavoidable, release the wheel and gently cradle his head in his hands.  Just like Ms. Underwood sings it.

Isn't this the point where you typically cut and paste the lyrics to the song here?
Yes it is.
Country music isn't my thing, really.
I hear you, brother.

FYI, one releases the steering wheel of a racing car because there is considerable risk, if you don't, of having your thumbs ripped off when the wheel reacts to the huge force of impact by twisting violently.  Or something just as unpleasant, although I'm having a hard time thinking of anything more unpleasant than having your thumbs ripped off.

Dude.  Something worse than that happens in almost every episode of Game of Thrones.
Good point.  That Ramsey Snow's a walking freak show, isn't he?
Yes he is.

Hamilton was ostensibly unhurt, went on to drive a race spectacular enough to make me start liking him except for the fact that that will totally never happen (because he's a whinger and there's no place for whinging in racing), and came in third.  Which was annoying.  Word now comes forth from Hungary, site of this week's race, that he has undergone significant physical therapy this past week.

Me?  I certainly don't wish the man ill health.  But if an ache or two, here or there slows him down a bit that would be lovely.  Perhaps he could miss a race or two.

And this as a closing thought:  How prescient was my boy Fernando Alonso when, a couple of years ago, he was asked how good a driver Sebastian Vettel is.  His response was something along the lines of "Let's see how well he handles a non-competitive car."  And now we know the answer to that.  Badly, as it turns out.  His teammate is handing him his hat!  And, some rumors suggest, shitting in it prior to doing so.

Vettel, it should be noted, won his four consecutive Drivers' Championships driving a car that was so vastly superior to its competition that I, were I able to fit my fat ass into the thing, could probably have placed in the mid-field points positions on a regular basis.  Once I learned how to operate the steering wheel.

The Tour Winds Down

Tomorrow the time trial.

It's a long one.  So long, in fact, that they've set a feeding station up in the middle, just so you can have a snack en route.  Hilly too.

All of which favors a strong showing by my boy Tejay van Garderen.  Currently sitting in sixth, there's a real chance that he can take several minutes away from most of the guys above him.  The bad news is that he lost about four minutes in the first day in the Pyrenees, and no matter how fast he pedals he's going to have a tough time grabbing that third spot on the final podium.  I'm feeling my oats, so I'm going to predict that he finishes fourth.

This, one of my Chuck Close fromage paintings, is titled Close, But No Cigar...

I always liked this painting.  Particularly the little red dots (presaging my Maps of Troy dots perhaps) that defined the intersections of the grid lines.

Back to the Tour, more specifically Vinnie Nibs:  Did you see him pull away from the field yesterday?  Dude, it was like he had a motor on his bicycle.  The last time we saw a rider destroy the field like that was Floyd Landis' famous break-away.  The one that won him the Tour that year.  The one that seemed almost superhuman.

And we all know how that turned out.

We do?
You don't?
Drugs, baby.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

17 Years Ago Today

Seventeen years ago, at nine in the morning, on this very day, Johnny Versace was gunned down in front of his South Beach mansion.  What a sad waste.

His name wasn't Johnny.
Yes it was.
No it wasn't.  It was Gianni.  He was Italian.
No way.
Look at the ad, man.
Hmmm.  Perhaps so.

Anyway, at some point in the 90s Versace produced a series of dresses made out of leather straps and belts.  I remember doing a cartoon about them in which the copy had something to do with something.

I wish I could be more specific.  Perhaps a pretty girl saying something about needing a few belts before something happened?  The joke having something to do with the idea of the belt dresses and the use of the word belt to mean cocktail.

I wish I could be more specific, but it made me laugh at the time.

Anyway, attention should be paid.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Old Friends

Facebook's a strange thing.  I was recently sent a friend request from someone I painted maybe ten years ago.  She worked at Elmo at the time I painted her, but has since come up in the world since this picture is taken in the Pool Room of the Four Seasons Restaurant late last year.

Which isn't chopped liver.  Say hello to Julian for me.

The other odd thing is that one of her dining partners is also somebody I painted around the same time.  I remember her being impressed when I told her she had a face like the front of a Ferrari.  Which is not something I typically say to people, if for no other reason than most people have faces like old Buicks, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

It must have worked since she agreed to sit for me.   Both paintings are among my favorite early works.  Early works is the wrong phrase, since I've been painting my whole life.  Maybe early late works.  Early drip portraits might be even better.

Anyway, one is hanging in my house as we speak.  Every six months or a year, I take the other one out and replace the first one with the second.  If that makes sense.

This one's up ...

I may just unroll this one (which suffers from being poorly photographed) and switch it out.
It should be noted that I immediately clicked the yes button.

Pardon me?
On the friend request.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Would it kill you to take a moment ...

... as July flirts with August, to look over at the right hand column of the blog, the one with all the months, beginning with July 2006?

You think this shit is easy?  This much fucking blogging?  Where are the financial contributions from the readers?  After all these years of free shit of the highest quality imaginable?  Is this rant like Pete Wells' NYTimes zero-stars review of Guy Fieri's Times Square restaurant in which every sentence is in the form of a question?

Have you seen the review?

Did you laugh?

p.s.  You don't really have to contribute.  It's my gift to you.

More Boris

We close, gently, to the finish line, with this being the current state of Big Boris ...

My original vision was of a lighter, pinker, more Teutonic (one of his middle names is, after all, de Pfeffel) complexion, but I am so fond of the way his eyes are turning out in this version that I'm loathe to mess around with it too much.  Besides, he's upside down and all the blood is rushing to his head, rendering him a darker color.

Like blood sausage.
Nicely said.

It should be noted that all the people Rembrandt painted were pasty-faced northern Europeans, and they all looked as brown as nuts.  That's a slight exaggeration, but dude, the man loved his brown.

As regards Big Boris, additional work certainly remains.  The hair remains a work in progress.  The neck is wanting.  But those things will work themselves out.  The title remains, in my mind at least, a bit of a question.  I leave now to consult with the client.

Quick note:  Nutritional profile of three and a half ounces of typical blood sausage ...

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy1,586 kJ (379 kcal)
1 g
Sugars1 g
35 g
15 g
Trace metals
6.4 mg
680 mg

Good to know.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Death of a Salesman

Here's something ...

And here's the same thing, cleaned up ...

Do the tighten-up.  James Brown.
I can't wait for that movie.
Me neither.  Owwwww!

Anyway, what I didn't photo-document, because I'd done all the painting before I remembered to go upstairs and get the camera, was Boris' transition from a really dark blue face to a really whitish-pink one.  Now we've come back to a sort of a middle ground.

What was lost in all the backing and forthing was the man's features.  Lost as in obliterated.  So now the features are starting to emerge again.  This time to stay.  And the cleaning up meant removing the grid lines from the canvas.  Obviously.

He's a nice looking man, upside down.
Thank you.  Nice of you to say.
Attention must be paid.  Willie Loman's wife.
I can't wait for that play.
Too late.  Somebody already wrote it.

Speaking of writing, I am reading something with the word salt in the title.  It's a fictional memoir of Gertrude Stein's Vietnamese cook in Paris in the 30s, with flashbacks to Saigon and vicinity as frequently as the author deems prudent.  Quite lovely, really.  I'd certainly recommend it if you're in the right mood.

Update:  The Book of Salt: A Novel, by Monique Truong.

What I'd also recommend is turning to FX on Sunday nights and watching The Strain, which is unique among vampire sagas in that nobody in the viewing audience (or the cast for that matter) wants to go to bed with either the handsome vampire or his beautiful victims (see: The Vampire Diaries and/or the Twilight series), since neither of those things exist.  The vampire appears to be about ten feet tall and looks more like a lizard than anything else.  And the victims appear to be pretty much run-of-the-mill folks who wander by at the wrong time.

Plus there are these extremely disturbing, blood-sucking worms that, honestly, you do not want to get one on you.

Next time we speak of The Strain, remind me to broach what I call the The Following Paradox.  Although it might not actually be a paradox.