Country Scribe : Eric Bergeson's Weblog

June 24, 2006

Shocking news

Iconoclastic evangelical writer Randall Ballmer pens an article which deserves close reading, particularly by those who probably won't read it.


Fresh fawn



Leo and I were watching the Twins and the Cubs on WGN when this fawn and its mother appeared out the front window. The fawn was curious and kept moving towards the window--until it spooked and scurried away.


June 23, 2006

Grass



Went outside in the rain to photograph the egret and a blue heron which settled in nearby. Had to walk through a lot of tall, wet grass. Got soaked. The reed canary grass was about head-high. The two birds spooked and fled. So, I took some pics of the grass.

JUST SAW A HEADLINE which proclaimed that some researcher has pronounced June 23rd the "happiest day of the year." Well, with weather like this, I would have to agree with him wholeheartedly. What a great day. Some rain, but mostly sun. Moderate temperatures. Nothing to do but work outside for me. I cut wood, and that always makes for a good day.


More MoMA



While listening to an explanation of the rock on a pedestal on a tape player, this woman couldn't resist looking out the window at more interesting things--like the buildings across the street.


Great White Egret

Spotted this beauty on the swamp this evening.



Egrets walk slowly, poised to attack minnows, frogs, or other life in the shallows of swamps and ponds.



Above, after the sun went behind a thundercloud, giving the whole swamp an eerie cast, the egret posed like some sort of swamp thing.



Then an unexpected breeze came along and ruffled the swamp thing.


June 22, 2006

Cygnets

Weblog readers Irv and Margaret rightly pointed out that baby swans are "cygnets," not "signets." Either way, they are fun to watch. Here is a grainy photo taken with the telephoto from the crow's nest at dusk.



Clemens vs. Liriano

Tonight is the much-hyped comeback of pitcher Roger Clemens. He is one of the greats of all-time, but is intolerably egotistical. I pull for him to lose every time. And I am pulling for him to lose tonight, of course, because he is facing the Twins.

So far so good. Third inning. Twins 1, Astros 0. Liriano looks great. So does Clemens, but he's not at his best. Yet. He gets stronger as the game progresses.

Reasons to dislike Roger Clemens:

1) He has a special contract which allows him to show up at the ballpark only on days he is scheduled to pitch. If the Astros go on a road trip during which he isn't scheduled to pitch, he stays home.

2) This is his third return from retirement. Each time, he has milked his retirement for all it was worth. Standing ovations. Tributes. Doffs of the hat. Then he comes back to much fanfare. I think he enjoys the attention.

3) Underneath all the admiring, "he's a great competitor" quotes is an undercurrent: Clemens is a jerk. Remember when Mike Piazza's bat broke and went bouncing out to the mound? Though a broken bat is no fault of the batter, Clemens inexplicably picked up the bat and threw it at Piazza. Then, he refused to apologize for the incident. Such an irrational temper only fueled speculation that Clemens had some extra hormones in his system.

REASONS TO LIKE OZZIE GUILLEN: The manager of the White Sox is in trouble again, this time for calling a sportswriter a fag. Now he is being ordered to go to sensitivity training. And he is going to be fined. The incident as it is related in the media has a Pravda air about it.

I say let Ozzie be Ozzie. He can be sensitive, too, when the situation calls for it.


Hopper



Just around the corner from the blue thing below was this beauty by Edward Hopper--a favorite picture by a favorite artist. From the absurd to the sublime.


Minimally interesting



For your information, here is the explanatory blurb for the above profound work of art:
Monochrome abstraction--the use of one color over an entire canvas--has been a strategy used by many painters who wish to challenge our expectations of what an image can and should represent. This ultra-marine blue, named International Klein Blue, is inextricably linked with Yves Klein. Preoccupied with spirituality, Klein adopted this heavenly hue as a means of evoking immateriality and boundlessness.


Got it?


June 21, 2006

Cubism

One thing which helped me appreciate the art of Picasso was to challenge myself to guess the name of the picture before I looked at the placard of to the side of the painting. A few times, I actually succeeded. So, when Lance and I came upon the Cubists at the MoMA, we decided to try the same thing. This is not a Picasso, but it is in the same spirit. It is by the artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff and was painted in 1912. Schmidt-Rottluff has been described as an Expressionist painter, whatever that is, but this painting looks Cubist to me.

See if you can guess the title before you read on.



This sort of painting makes sense to me. It takes obvious talent. It breaks down elements of a scene and recombines them. It grabbed me more than the horse painting did, to be sure.

Lance took one look at the picture and said, "the three Wise Men!" I said that sounded good.

We were wrong, but not by much. The painting is entitled "The Pharisees."


Correction

I wrote a column two weeks ago bemoaning the failure of the swan pair to reproduce. Then, this evening, I looked out from the crow's nest to see this scene:



Very exciting! There was absolutely no indication that the swans had a successful hatch until I saw this. After sampling the swamp scum near the house, the family lined up in a row and headed back towards the muskrat house. I look forward to a summer of taking pictures of the five signets!



MoMA

Lance and I headed for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on Monday. As an art student, it was de rigeur for Lance to attend. (Inserting French into one's conversation is, well, de rigeur if you want to seem intelligent, and after going to New York, I feel the need.) I had never been at the MoMA (which is what cool people call it), so I figured it would be a good experience. To save all you weblog readers the $20 per person admission fee, I took pictures which I will torture you with over the next few days.

The first painting I saw was of this horse.



The explanatory card off to the side helped me understand this work of art:

Early in her career, Susan Rothenberg made several paintings featuring a single horse, which, although plainly representational, served as opportunities for the artist to experiment with abstraction. Of her horse motif, Rothenberg has said, "I think it was a surrogate for dealing with a human being, but at the same time it was neutral enough and I had no emotional relationship to horses...I needed something alive, I guess. I couldn't use an object. I'm not a still life painter. The horse was just a quiet image. I was able to stick to the philosophy of the day--keeping the painting flat and anti-illusionist--but I also got to use this big, soft, heavy, strong, powerful form.

It seems, at the end, like Rothenberg is developing the emotional relationship with the horse she lacked earlier in the paragraph.


June 19, 2006

Manhattan



Lance and I took the train from New Jersey into Manhattan today. That meant we were with the commuters on packed train. We stood for over an hour. Then, we took the subway from Penn Station up to 110th Street to see the largest cathedral in the world, St. John the Divine.

I will post pictures from the cathedral later. I took over 280 pictures today. Most were worthless, but there were enough interesting ones to keep this weblog busy for a while. Above is an apartment building on 110th Street that I thought looked intriguing.

After the Cathedral, we took a trek through Central Park, which is particularly beautiful this time of year.



This is one of the drivers of the many horse-drawn carriages which carry tourists through the park.



Can you imagine dressing up to go out in New York only to discover your eyewear on a horse?

The trees in Central Park were planted in the 1860s and are beautifully mature. Yet, the skyscrapers tower above them. You can get far enough into the park so the city noises are barely audible, yet you can suddenly look up and see evidence that you are in the middle of one of the world's great cities.



I focused the camera on this beautiful poster of the statue of liberty for a long time before it started to move and I realized it was on the side of a bus.



This gargoyle is guarding an apartment building on 110th St.


June 18, 2006

Jersey shore



With the temperatures reaching the mid-nineties in central New Jersey, we headed out to the shore like the people of New York and New Jersey have for a couple of hundred years.



We weren't the only ones with the idea. On the shore, the temperature was 80 degrees. For as far as the eye could see north and south, the shore was packed with people. It cost seven dollars to get a bracelet which allowed you on the beach. Parking was a bit of a trick.

Above are Lance, Teresa and Annika as we waited for Mark to park the car. A little while after this photo was taken, a seagull pooped in Teresa's hair.



The waves were up. Young kids were surfing. Lance, Mark and Annika played in the waves. Teresa stayed on shore and guarded the wallets. I finally got rid of my camera and played in the waves a little, although the Atlantic was 61 degrees today.



Lance falls into the cold water when hit by a big wave.