Compared to yesterday, this is January. Compared to January, this is October. Well, the warmth will return - either in a few weeks, or in May. So we're covered no matter what. Let's begin:
CURRENT AFFAIRS Not really. Not current in the least bit. Today I’m starting a series of Minneapolis Tribune editorial cartoons from 1900. The first in the book:
He really went out on a limb, didn’t he. And why did Russia get to be Santa Claus?
The speech is here, and it’s dull. But I don’t think he read it; he just sent it off for congressmen and Senators to read at their leisure over port and cigars. Tomorrow it gets into the current events of the day. You might be surprised to learn that the passions of the moment seem remote and indistinct from a distance of 112 years.
ANCIENT AFFAIRS What’s the fascination with the mystery of King Tut’s death? He was a sickly little dude in an era when “medicine” consisted of rubbing mouse spit on a sucking chest would. Well, there’s a new theory, based on something no one ever thought significant. Tut’s Moobs.
ART Saw this in a list of Thing You Didn’t Know about Movies that will Blow Your Mind:
Not exactly. first Of all, fellow, Learn To capitalize. Second, From the Guardian, a few years back:
In a letter uncovered this week, we learn of the Clockwork Orange conceived back before Stanley Kubrick came on board and made his film with Malcolm McDowell. It reveals that Mick Jagger wanted to play the psychotic thug Alex, while the Beatles were interested in providing the soundtrack.
In the letter, executive producer Si Litvinoff tells John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man), who was considering directing the movie: "After you've read the script and novel I'm sure you will see the incredible potential we all see in this project.
"This film should break ground in its language, cinematic style and soundtrack. [And] the Beatles love the project."
Sure. You can imagine “I Want to Tochock Your Gulliver” bouncing merrily along in the soundtrack. So Jagger wanted to do it. Was this Burgess’ request? Let’s go to Rolling Stone. Here’s Burgess in 1972.
WHEN IT WAS first proposed about eight years ago, that a film be made of A Clockwork Orange, it was the Rolling Stones who were intended to appear in it, with Mick Jagger playing the role that Malcolm McDowell eventually filled. Indeed, it was somebody with the physical appearance and mercurial temperament of Jagger that I had in mind when writing the book, although pop groups as we know them had not yet come on the scene. The book was written in 1961, when England was full of skiffle. If I’d thought of giving Alex, the hero, a surname at all (Kubrick gives him two, one of them mine), Jagger would have been as good a name as any: it means “hunter,” a person who goes on jags, a person who doesn’t keep in line, a person who inflicts jagged rips on the face of society. I did use the name eventually, but it was in a very different novel—Tremor of Intent—and meant solely a hunter, and a rather holy one.
”Tremor of Intent” - an awful title, but I suppose as adequate as “Quantum of Solace” - was Burgess’ secret-agent book, and like most of his stuff outside of “Clockwork,” it’s forgotten. Time for them to come back on Kindle. All of them.
Anyway, my point is this: SOMEONE WAS WRONG ON THE INTERNET and I had to do something about it.
ARCHITECTURE The Most Beautiful College Dorms in the World! Well, that’s a matter of opinion. Some are quite interesting, although the Netherlands structure with a nine-story climbing wall seems to be asking for trouble. There’s an example in Texas that was apparently too beautiful to show; the photographer made certain a tree blocked the view, lest anyone be permanently blinded by its awesomeness.
If you're wondering how the U of M dorms stack up. Answer: poorly. The East Bank block has a few classical details, and it looks nice when it has the right amount of collegiate ivy. Comstock is utterly devoid of any ornamentation, as befits the spartan style of 1940. Sanford Hall is plagued by that brilliant design motif of the 60s and 70s, the Useless Narrow Window.
It’s been years since they build a dorm at the U. This is the new one:
Opens next Fall. It’s okay. It’s stylistically identical to everything else that’s gone up in the area - which makes it safe and bland, but also means that the architectural vocabulary of the area isn't interrupted with a Cylon base ship.
The number of gargantuan apartment complexes at the U is extraordinary; every time I go there I discover a block of flats with 5000 frosh crammed together in seething misery. And by “misery” I mean “pool, cable, exercise room, fireplace included in rent.”
VIDEO Finally, the work of Wendy Vainity, who this article calls the Henry Darger of the Internet. Really? That’s quite an assertion. Also, who is Henry Darger? This fellow. From Wikipedia:
Henry Joseph Darger, Jr. was a reclusive American writer and artist who worked as a custodian in Chicago, Illinois. He has become famous for his posthumously-discovered 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript called The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, along with several hundred drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating the story. Darger's work has become one of the most celebrated examples of outsider art.
Oh, right, that guy. Well. Not sure this is close; the article which introduced me to Vainity wonders what she’s up to - she seems to be serious about this.
Your nightmares will now include Viral Vacuum. Ready? Here you go.
The YouTube page says “No description available.” That’s putting it mildly. The entire channel is here. You can’t say you didn’t know what you were getting into.