Friday 10 November 2023

laterne, laterne, sonne, mond und sterne (11. 107)

In anticipation of the Feast of Saint Martin and the tradition of a lamp-lit procession, welcoming rather than ushering out the darkness and gloam of autumn formerly having roughly corresponded to the first of the month and a continuation of Halloween celebrations prior to calendar reform, we enjoyed this small sampling from a catalogue of chromolithographs of paper lantern designs from 1880 from the Tรผbingen booksellers Riethmรผller—which still sells paperware and party favours. More at the links above.


one year ago: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) plus Radiation Baby

two years ago: sinking nations plus Chaka Khan (1984)

three years ago: Toot, Whistle, Pluck and Boom, the US election, the Friends theme song, expecting more from America, voting irregularities plus an early edition

four years ago: an Art Nouveau printmaker, more Inktober maps, film composer Carlo Savina, a racing bar chart of the biggest musicians plus the debut of Sesame Street

five years ago: more unbuilt architecture, AI writes news copy, The 5000 Fingers of Doctor T plus a historical film lot consumed by wildfire

Sunday 5 November 2023

9x9 (11. 097)

falling for fall: an epic attempt to capture the Christian Girl Autumn aesthetic—via the morning news  

paradox: NASA climate group issues a bleak warning on climate change—controversially suggesting that a reduction in aerosol pollution will accelerate warming 

the hunting of the earl of rone: one individual’s quest to catalogue the folkways and traditions of the United Kingdom  

they’re all good dogs: the winners of the annual world canine photography award presented—plus a bonus vocabulary term for one who is favourably disposed to dogs—via Nag on the Lake  

ja-da, ja-da, ja-da, jing jing jing: a soothing 1918 jazz standard covered for decades after  

mechanical turk: exposing autonomous cars’ vast human support network to maintain an illusion of safety, reliability 

roll on: a clever phonophore logo for a transport and logistics company in Hong Kong 

cape canaveral: a 3D animated billboard recounts the chronology of the Kennedy Space Centre 

momiji tunnel: a stunning section of the Eizan railway showcases the turning foliage—via the ever excellent Nag on the Lake’s Sunday Links


one year ago: the Gun Powder Plot, a Commodore accordion, more McMansion Hell plus a Wikipedia list of common fallacies

two years ago: the Saint Felix Flood (1530) 

three years ago: a tri-lingual dictionary (1499), a flashpoint labour strike (1916), a sรฉance on a wet afternoon plus the Rebel Rabbit GIF

four years ago: more on Guy Fawkes, Voyager 2 leaves the Solar System, ghoulish guacamole plus Facebook’s shift to the right

five years ago: representative Shirley Chisholm, an ancient boardgame, photographer Denise Scott Brown, words for the Winter Blues plus mapping the US mid-terms

Sunday 1 October 2023

disco triceratops incident (11. 032)

Continuing an annual tradition of using the latest state-of-the-art artificial intelligence available generate sketching prompts for the Month of October, this year (see previously) proved to be a bit more challenging
for our faithful AI wrangler as the dominant large language models learning off of each other were coming up with rather tame and predictable suggestions—until dialling up the chaos factor and drawing from ideas of year’s past. Although some choice prompts emerged, most were still pedestrian and not in keeping with the weirdness of previous instalments. How would you draw “pants for salad,” “a resplendent,” “a ghost of a teapot” or “televised toast” but make them more spooky? Much more from Janelle Shane at the links above. 
one year agoThe New People (1969), discovering a devilish beach house, presenting the public face of generative text-to-image technology plus disco Star Wars
two years ago: Botober sketch prompts, assorted links to revisit, irregular verbs, CAT scans (1971), synthetic dyes plus Night of the Living Dead (1968)
three years ago: more links to enjoy plus an in depth look at Albrecht Dรผrer’s self-portrait
four years ago: Denmark recognises same-sex marriages (1989) plus Swedish sea-fortresses recommissioned

five years ago: passive cooling, Bohemian Rhapsody in the style of Gershwin, Trump lampooned in Beirut plus documenting London’s poor


Saturday 3 December 2022

phytomorphology (10. 358)

Via friend of the blog par-excellence Nag on the Lake, we are referred to a stop-motion exploration of leaf shape by Brett Foxwell, who collected, pressed and imaged over twelve thousand samples for this engaging sequence of gradual transition forms. Be sure to check out the source link to The Kid Should See This where you’ll also find their impressive holiday gift guide.

Monday 3 October 2022

tree talk (10. 192)

Via Waxy, artist Kelton Sears, employing a vertical scroll going upwards presents a GIF-driven, happy comic–reminiscent of Cordell Barker’s “The Cat Came Back”–to reflect on our aboreal friends and the way we experience the passage of time—with humour and insight. 


Saturday 24 September 2022

8x8 (10. 162)

herbst: vintage Eastern Bloc matchboxes welcoming Fall  

ฮฑฯฮฝฮฌฮบฮน: comedian Shari Lewis delivers One Minute Mythologies—via r/Obscure Media  

wie ist dein name, mann: adapting Hamilton in German for the Hamburg stage—possibly a bit rough for those who committed the original lyrics to heart but Lin-Manuel Miranda is deeply involved 

tl;dr: an AI powered tool that provides a summary of long videos—via Web Curios  

wolf hall: RIP historical fiction author Hilary Mantel  

not in my backyard: good luck getting anything built in Sim Nimby (see also)—again from Web Curios

voting integrity: Russian soldiers in occupied regions of Ukraine undertake door-to-door balloting in the referenda to ensure citizens choose wisely  

kirie: celebrating the onset of autumn with more of the Japanese art of leave carving

Friday 12 November 2021



Thursday 11 November 2021


Saturday 16 October 2021

atlas des champignons: comestibles, suspects et vรฉnรฉneux

Unsuccessful in our foraging this year (and usually coming up with the suspect varieties, if not outright poisonous ones), we appreciated pouring over the detail and descriptions from physician, botanist and accidental chronicler of the Haitian Revolution Michel ร‰tienne Descourtilz’ 1827 guide, lusciously illustrated with the lithographs of Auguste Cornillon. More from Public Domain Review at the link above.

Friday 1 October 2021


For this latest instalment of the annual tradition of using machine learning to generate Halloween and autumnal themed sketching—or decorating prompts—we really enjoyed some of the curated favourites from Janelle Shane (previously) and gamely humans take to these suggestions. In order of model dataset size—Moustaches creep creepily; the unseen graveyard stretches for miles; mist-sheep chew on tombstones. A slightly less experienced, exposed artificial intelligence recommends: the question mark from a box; half a cup of milk; a flappy spider; a flappy tea; Ghost traitors and A zombl. Much more, including submissions and unrelated prompts for animals (Bearllionaire) and landscapes (Library of Lava) at AI Weirdness at the link above.

Friday 23 October 2020

woad and madder

Courtesy of The Morning News and having only dared to ventured out to where the freshly-turned fields begin to remark on these colour-coordinated trees and their turning leaves, we quite appreciated this reflection on russet—the colour of peasants, foxes pelts and penance. 

In addition to the earthy and autumnal hues, in this thorough-going essay that explores the emergent colour—where the reds of blood, fire and ochre of the Caves of Lascaux and here in the dark ruddy-orange tinge of it—through fashion, poetry and sentiment—Biron from Love’s Labour’s Lost yearning for expression “in russet yeas and honest kersey [course woollen cloth] noes” and even Oliver Cromwell preferring a “plain, russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for, and loves what he knows over that which you call a gentleman and is nothing else.” And if the author’s column rings familiar in hue and cry—it’s the happy continuation of these previous instalments of colour stories.

Sunday 18 October 2020


H and I wandered a bit in the woods foraging for mushrooms, and while we didn’t really encounter anything that we were reasonably certain was edible and warranted collecting and later research, we found that the forest was ripening with all sorts of fungi, including Wood’s Ear (Auricularia auricula-judaesee previously and which we forgot again was safe for consumption and is widely used in China—I just don’t know about the texture and the prospect of picking one up) that was pretty widespread along the path and some more nice examples of fly agaric (Amanita muscaria, Fliegenpilz, see above). 

A new variety that we had not encountered beforehand, however, were these colourful ones in the same family—sometimes referred to “verdigris agaric” called blue roundhead (Stropharia caerulea, der Grรผnblaue Trรคuschling)—the specific epithet caerulea being Latin for blue while for contemporary speakers it generally indicates a shade between azure and teal. Host trees are usually beeches (Buchen) and thrive in alkaline soils.

Monday 12 October 2020


Rather taken with the idea of capturing fall leaves in transition ourselves, we were pleased to learn that artist Josef Albers (see previously) also—circa 1940—conducted his own foliage studies and in part out of necessity, since leaves and trees were in abundance but paper less so, encouraged his students at Black Mountain College and Yale to appreciate the beauty of the changing palette and constant rhythm of the seasons.  We ought to mount some samples on construction paper and see what sort patterns emerge.

Saturday 3 October 2020


Visiting a small harvest festival nearby held on Germany Unity Day, H and I looked for some autumn accents for the house and found several stalls selling traditional onion braids (Zwiebelzรถpfe). 

Sometimes also incorporating garlic bulbs, the braids adorned craftily with dried wild flowers were not customarily only for decorative and storage, preservative purposes but moreover for the notion that the power of the talisman would stave off illness and harm from hearth and home. Right now we can all use all the help we can muster. Singly, onions were worn as amulets in medieval times to ward off the plague, and a New Year’s Eve custom (divination from onions is called cromniomancysee also) in various regions, especially in the Erzgebirge, called for the dicing of an onion into twelve sections and sprinkling each bowl with salt to forecast the precipitation for each month of the year to come as the moisture drawn out of each section by the next morning would predict that month’s rainfall.

Tuesday 29 September 2020


patim, patam, patum: font specimens of Patufet, a typeface inspired by the Catalonian Tom Thumb 

ace of cups: Summer of Love all-female band that played the Avalon Ballroom and appeared with Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix and the Grateful Dead release a new double-album 

leaf-peeping: Swiss fall foliage map 

franking privileges: Finnish studio mints climate change stamps with heat-reactive ink 

backyard safari: highly detailed journal documenting encounters with wildlife—via Nag on the Lake 

space 1999: scenes from the sets of the iconic British scifi series that ran from 1975 to 1977—via Messy Nessy Chic 

pacomobile: a modified VW snail camper—via Things magazine  

sฤƒlaj county: a brilliant assortment of flag redesigns for Romania’s forty-two regions to celebrate the country’s diversity 

 cannonball aderley: jazz record sleeves from Reagan Ray (see previously) feature the typography of the artists’ names—via Kottke

1q or the feast of the archangels

Venerating Saint Michael and companions, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel in honour of their victory of Lucifer and the rebel angels in the angelomachy, Michaelmas (previously) is observed on the penultimate day of September—in some traditions, the feast extending into the next day—and has also come to one of the four quarter dates of the financial year, kept since at least medieval times to mark when school and court terms were to commence and the accounting was due to ensure that debts and unresolved cases didn’t linger (see also) into the next season.

Though the customary hiring fairs and local elections do not necessarily adhere (the tradition is retained for the election of London’s lord mayor, just as peasants during the Middle Ages would appoint a reeve from among their peers to represent their interests to the manor) to the same calendars, this time of year—still referred to as the Michaelmas term for matriculating students in England, Scotland and Ireland and for the US Supreme Court’s and the English bar’s Inns of the Court’s fall sessions and of course it marks the end and beginning of the fiscal year for budget purposes. Asters or the Michaelmas daisy are one of the few flowering plants left at the beginning of autumn, and thus inspiring the rhyme and invocation: “Michaelmas daisies among dead weeds, bloom for Saint Michael’s valorous deeds.”

Tuesday 22 September 2020


blocking: Ella Slack has been the Queen’s stand-in and body-double for the past three decades 

grizzly ii: a previously unreleased 80s horror flick starring Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen is making its debut forty years later, via Messy Nessy Chic  

life, the universe and everything: fun facts about the number forty-two, via Boing Boing  

welcoming autumn: it’s decorative gourd season 

the long now: hiding a ten-thousand-year clock inside a mountain (see also)

framing: Twitter issues apologies for its biased image cropping algorithm

Sunday 21 October 2018


I took a stroll through the fields to the forest’s edge above our village watch the slow transition of the leaves to their autumn colour palette.  The sunshine was not as forthcoming as yesterday that bathed everything with a blushing golden hue in the mid-afternoon but the woods still put on a spectacular show for this opening act that is to be followed by several encores. 

Sunday 23 September 2018

welcoming autumn

Wednesday 7 February 2018

stick insect

We enjoyed seeing this collection of moths, butterflies, mantises and beetles created by Montreal-based fashion designer Raku Inoue out of seasonal foliage. This series was inspired from studying ikebana or kadล (่ฏ้“, the way of flowers)—the art of floral arrangement considered one of the three classical Japanese arts of refinement along with kลdล (้ฆ™้“, the Way of Fragrance) or incense appreciation and chadล (่Œถ้“), the ritual of the tea ceremony, and taught the artist to respect and work with Nature, selecting bounty over beauty.