Friday, February 29, 2008

Golden Period for Golden Guide Cover Design

I have a lot more to say about Golden Guides both inside and outside but that will have to wait. I have a Flickr set of selected book covers from my collection here.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Celebrity Height

If you are like me then you have spent a lot of time debating how tall celebrities actually are. The best site for getting at the truth is It is exhaustive (Gil Scott-Heron is 6ft 2.5 inches) and totally committed to finding out how tall Tom Cruise actually is. A lot of the heights are revealed by using the site's main contributer (Glenn, a New York autograph dealer), as a 5' 8" yardstick. There are also articles about elevator shoes and other celebrity tricks.

Installing at the Albright-Knox Collectors Gallery

I have a show at the Albright-Knox Collectors Gallery that opens tomorrow night. I am showing work from the Stray Shopping Cart Project and the Insect Drawings series. Luckily I only had to do a tiny fraction of the installation myself (that is a professional pictured above). For the first time I am showing the insect paper cuts that are source material for my prints. I have been hesitant to show them in the past because I felt that they conflicted with the prints. For some reason I no longer feel that way. This feeling could be temporary. I will post images of the finished installation tomorrow.

Woody Allen 1967

This is a really cool profile of Woody Allen made by the Canadian Broadcasting Company in 1967. At the time he was famous as a writer, stand-up comedian and television personality. The first movie he directed (What's Up, Tiger Lily? 1966 doesn't count) was Take the Money and Run two years later in 1969. There is an interesting part in the middle where he describes how he develops a comedy bit.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Penguin Book Covers

There is a nice Flickr set of Penguin (which includes Pelican) book covers here.

Bird Photography

I just picked up a print of the top image from the printer. The title (which appears as part of the piece) is White-breasted Nuthatch / Attempt 3 of 7. I am donating it to CEPA's (a venerable Buffalo non-profit photography gallery), bi-annual fundraising auction. It measures 14.5x20" this is the first actual print made from a project that I have been working on for years. Here is the statement I am currently using for the project, I am not entirely comfortable with it but it describes the main idea.
The Bird Photography (Attempts) series began five years ago when I noticed a high number of failed photographs of birds among the casual snap shots I had taken as a teenager. The impulse to capture the natural encounter had overridden the knowledge that the bird would most likely appear only as a speck in the frame of the photograph. I decided to continue this accidental project and start photographing birds without a telephoto lens or any other specialist equipment. The series has become both an attempt to document the fleeting quality of wildlife encounters and an exploration of the persistent desire (in myself and others) to take possession of animals through documentation and species identification.
I have some of the images here, but I need to overhaul that page soon and reorganize the project.

Paris in South Beach

This is the kind of thing I would have posted a couple of months ago if I had had a blog. Colette and I were in Miami for the art fairs in December and this was our big celebrity sighting. Photo credit: Colette

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Odd Reign Will Soon Come to an End

The new nominees for the Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year were announced last Friday. My book The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification won last year. Winning the prize turned out to be a good thing in terms of a certain kind of publicity. There was an AP story that was picked up by hundreds of papers and websites which included my address. I ended up having 13,000 unique visitors over a three day period in April. I was interviewed on the BBC World Service (the hosts could hardly have been more dismissive of the idea that someone might buy my book, although they might have been right, the book sales bump from my win was pretty small) and three different radio stations in Australia. I was also an answer on the somewhat irritating public radio show Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me. There were a couple of good articles (The Independent UK) but most were pretty silly. The long term benefit seems to be increased traffic to my website.

Here are this year's nominees:
  • 'I Was Tortured by the Pygmy Love Queen' by Jasper McCutcheon
  • 'How to Write a How to Write Book' by Brian Paddock
  • 'Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues' by Catharine A. MacKinnon
  • 'Cheese Problems Solved" by P.L.H McSweeney
  • 'If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs' by Big Boom;
  • 'People who Mattered in Southend and Beyond: From King Canute to Doctor Feelgood' by Dee Gordon.

The problem with this contest is that there is no effort to differentiate between titles that are intentionally odd/funny and those that are unintentionally odd/funny.

Found Under the Floorboards

The above image was scanned from a 35mm slide that I found in a hole in the floorboards of my house. Judging from the car, the picture appears to have been taken in the early 50's. Our house was built in 1890 so this picture comes from around the midpoint of the house's history. I have no idea who took the picture or where it was taken. Found photographs are all about obscured identity and death. I wonder if this moment is still alive in anyone's memory.

Massive amounts of found photos here and here

Monday, February 25, 2008

Trouble in the world of Swedish military heraldry

It seems that the Nordic Battle group has omitted the lion's penis on a newer version of their emblem.
...heraldic artist Vladimir A Sagerlund was dismayed at what he viewed as an alarming lack of historical awareness. In former times, he said, coats of arms containing lions without genitalia were given to those who betrayed the Swedish Crown.
I wonder exactly how they would give you that dickless coat of arms. If you had already betrayed the Swedish Crown you would think that would be on your way to the gallows, or headed for Denmark. Maybe your surviving relatives had to wear the emasculated lion.

Whole story here

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Plume Moth

I found this Plume Moth on my front door last August. There are 154 species in North America, I don't know which one this is. I suppose I should wade through and figure it out.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Science for Better Living

I really can't afford to be in the habit of buying books just for the cover but sometimes I can't resist. Unfortunately, the interior of this book, Science for Better Living: The Yearbook of Agriculture 1968 is very dull. There are no graphics that resemble the style of the cover, but there are some slightly weird pictures of scientists doing agricultural science stuff, which is good.

Seiche/Dead Salamander

In January we had a wind storm that caused a seiche event. The sustained winds from the west pushed the water levels at the Buffalo end of the lake 10.5 feet above normal (the max is 12). The most spectacular results of the seiche took place on the Nowak Pier, a walkway that runs along the top of a seawall that divides the Niagara river from a canal that runs along side it for over a mile. When the water receded tons of ice was dropped on the walkway causing significant damage to the railing posts and cables. Some of the iceberg-like ice chunks that were lifted onto the walkway way were over 8 ft high. There are more images on my Flickr page.

I found a dead mudpuppy salamander(which I mistook for a Hellbender, I had never seen either in real life before) frozen solid on top of ten feet of ice. It looked to be about 10 inches long. The storm must have disturbed its hibernation(?).

Friday, February 22, 2008

Insect/Fashion Comparisons

These amazing insect/fashion comparisons come from the blog Trendinista. More beetles here, Lepidopterans here

Wednesday, February 20, 2008