Crate of Curios part 77 – SANCTUARY!

It was surprisingly difficult to come up for a theme for this Crate – somehow nothing I came across for a good while clicked in my mind. And then all of a sudden there were two – a video clip on Instagram from 1969 where art critic David Sylvester (yes, the same one who interviewed Francis Bacon) is speaking about the artists’ right to do bad work and one of the many newsletters I get (that I cannot find any more) had a piece about the establishing AI-free spaces, which she called sanctuaries. Add to this the recent election results from nearer and further and there it was. SANCTUARY! A sacred place, but also a safe place, a place of comfort.

  1. Surely the first thought, when hearing ‘Sanctuary!’ turns to classic Disney – ‘The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”.
  2. Here is the clip by David Sylvester – “Artists must be allowed to go through bad periods”
  3. Speaking about sanctuary as a sacred place, let’s not forget maestro Umberto Eco and his ‘Name of the Rose’ (‘Το όνομα του ρόδου’ in Greek edition).
  4. In the 90’s, there was a brief period where tribal and medieval music trended (remember Enya?). Among those was Karl Jenkins’ symphonic ‘Adiemus’ from the very suitably named album ‘Songs of Sanctuary’.
  5. Sanctuaries are not only for people – as for instance this animal shelter in Ierapetra, Crete.
  6. Speaking of which, let’s not forget Gerald Durrell (here introduced by young David Attenborough) and the wonderful ‘The Durrells in Corfu‘ series based on his book ‘My Family and Other Animals’ (“Η οικογένειά μου και άλλα ζώα” in Greek edition).
  7. And saving the best for the last – ‘Mamma Mia!’ and ‘Bride and Prejudice‘ (Yes, Jane Austen but in Bollywood version’ and yes, I have seen it at last 5 times).
  8. St. Francis of Assisi and the blue bird by Frank C. Gaylord in Chicago.

So long and until the next Crate!

Crate of Curios part 76 – a shirt of violent green

Time has passed by surprisingly fast and it’s just about time for a new Crate of Curios. The theme ‘a shirt of violent green’ comes from the R.E.M. song that my brother sent me some time ago – it made an impression as you can see, and sparked the brain into gear.

  1. First of all the theme song itself – R.E.M. “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?”
  2. Violent green apparently does exist as a particular colour and so do many other greens.
  3. “The Green Lady of Brooklyn”
  4. Noone did green like Tom Ford when he still designed for Gucci in 2004. Speaking of Gucci – “The House of Gucci” is absolutely worth watching.
  5. As Gucci and neon green lead us to the 90’s, ‘Dirty Lines‘ miniseries brings it all back.
  6. Why is the green room actually called the green room?
  7. An unbelievably steampunk computer powered by algae (unfortunately not in production yet).
  8. In northeastern India, some bridges are not built but grown.
  9. Book with only 50 words? No problem – want some ‘Green Eggs and Ham?’ (plus Dr. Seuss’ amazing illustrations)
  10. Nobody loved green like the postimpressionists and expressionists – from the left: Cezanne ‘In the woods’ (1885), Matisse ‘Montalban landscape’ (1918), Pissarro ‘Landscape at Pontoise’ (1882), Kirchner ‘Five women on the street’ (1913), Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso ‘Green landscape’ (1915)

So long and until the next Crate!

Crate of Curios part 75 – piano, piano

As I can see from the publishing date of the last Crate – part 74 – one year and one month have passed since then. It’s Easter Sunday, warm, the fat blackbird is back in my little yard and beeping with all its might. It’s so confident that the cat is intimidated by it and even refuses to go and sit on the windowsill as long as the blackbird is shuffling through the crumpled leaves on the ground.

Why did I stop writing Crate of Curios last year? Good question, I think deep down it was very simple – the weekly schedule had become a bit of a burden and didn’t leave me enough time to actually enjoy composing the Crates. So, when life intervened with a busy period of time, I let it go. Now, however, I feel it’s time to return with season 2. However, this season is going to have a lighter touch, a more permissive schedule (which I haven’t even decided yet) and the Crates are going to have themes this time around.

This, the 75th Crate is called “piano, piano” – not after the musical instrument, but the Italian expression that means ‘gently’, ‘softly, softly’ or ‘slowly, slowly’ – I do think that the Greek ‘σιγά-σιγά’ is quite closely related to it. In any case, it will offer some reading and watching for a calm quiet Sunday.

  1. A bear hibernating under a cabin in Lake Tahoe area (in the Sierra Nevada on the border between California and Nevada). Apparently it’s quite an issue for cabin owners in that area.
  2. Giorgio Morandi, the Italian magic realist and still-life painter in his own words from 1928.
  3. Vilhelm Hammershøi, the taciturn Danish painter in the words of Michael Palin.
  4. This incredibly smooth mashup from Pomplamoose.
  5. This 26-min drive on Swedish island of Fårö.
  6. Emily St. John Mandel’s “Station Eleven” (“Σταθμός Έντεκα” in Greek edition), both as book and series. The most poetic dystopia I’ve ever encountered.
  7. The South Korean movie “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring“.
  8. This little comic by Grant Snider

So long and until the next Crate!

Crate of Curios part 74

Again a few glimpses of spring in between cold spells, sore throat, runny nose, sleep, sleep, sleep, and suddenly the virus is gone and I feel ready for spring and sun. Until the sun reclaims its steady spot in the sky, let’s get to opening this (rather late) Crate without further ado.

  1. “I would like to blur the firm borders that we human beings, cocksure as we are, are inclined to erect around everything that is accessible to us.” Hannah Höch, one of the inventors of photomontage (or collage as we now call it), was one of the few women in the Berlin Dada movement and the only woman artist to exhibit her works at the First International Dada Fair in 1920.

2. Our time worships speed… but slowing down can have considerable benefits.

3. Which are the innocent debates dividing the European countries? This map will enlighten you.

4. We know the New York brownstone buildings from countless series and other pop culture images. However, you might not have known their timeline of styles until now.

5. A short poem by the Ukrainian-American poet Ilya Kaminsky from his “Deaf republic” published in 2019.

6. And to finish off for this week – a cinematic painting (that looks very much like a comic) on how to make a perfect Martini by Guy Buffet.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 73

The sun is starting to appear more and more often and the mornings, instead of being dark leftovers of the night are becoming lighter and lighter. Today is the Clean Monday, the first day of the Orthodox Lent fast and the asceticism of the 40-day denial of earthly pleasures seems to fit well with the current bleakness of our time. Should one choose distraction or immersion? Is there some kind of balance between the two? Erring on the side of distraction, let’s start with opening this week’s Crate.

  1. “The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings, and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless, I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brush stroke.” Hilma af Klint is still a somewhat controversial artistic figure. Was she the first abstract artist or an eccentric outsider?

2. The mythological harpies are half-human half-birds – and they inspired the name of the harpy eagle.

3. If you didn’t know what’s the most popular book of all European countries, it’s time to find out.

4. Why do we have a tendency to trust authority?

5. The most beautiful quote about rain comes from Ray Bradbury.

6. And to finish off for this week, a little comic on the use of OK by Tommy Siegel.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 72 – Ukraine special

It is odd to imagine that just a week ago the world was a rather different place – living in interesting times really doesn’t live up to the hype. It’s only the fourth special edition Crate and with the exception of Siblings, the other two – Isolation and Afghanistan – were inspired by the external events, the second lockdown and the Taliban takeover. Which means that for obvious reasons, now it’s time for a special edition Crate about Ukraine. Let’s get to it with no further ado.

  1.  “Once, as a young girl, I was tending a gaggle of geese. When I got with them to a sandy beach, on the bank of the river, after crossing a field dotted with wild flowers, I began to draw real and imaginary flowers with a stick on the sand… Later, I decided to paint the walls of my house using natural pigments. After that I’ve never stopped drawing and painting.” – Maria Pryimachenko (Ukrainian: Приймаченко Марія Оксентіївна), a peasant woman and self-taught painter is considered to be one of the most outstanding representatives of naive art.

2. Not sure about Ukrainian geography? The Visual Capitalist has got you covered.

3. The founder of Suprematism, Kazimir Malevich, also counts Kyiv as his birthplace.

4. If instead of dry geographical data, we look at the local dishes – the map of Ukraine gets considerably more colourful.

5. Before Christianity, the Kievan Rus are thought to have worshipped the primordial Slavic gods, one of whom was Mokosh – the Mother Moist Earth.

6. Considering the effort of the Ukrainian national dance hopak demands, Sergei Polunin’s ballet moves start looking very natural.

7. And to finish off this special edition, a little comic by Itchy Feet.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 71

The sun is heating up the air during noon these days, birds are chirping at the top of their tiny lungs, street cats are lounging on the warm sunny spots of pavement… could it finally be spring? Tourists are already sporting shorts and T-shirts in the streets, whereas the locals are carefully replacing the winter jacket to a slightly thinner one. The trees have been pruned and for a while the streets are full of light – just until the heat picks up and the new leaves will be providing a welcome shadow… But enough of the spring dreams for now – it’s time to open this week’s Crate.

  1. “I think Richard Dadd was very much of his time, right up until he killed his father,” Marc Demarest, who maintains a popular web page about Dadd, the ‘fairy painter’, told Artsy.

2. Pools can be exquisite things of beauty – especially if they are designed by Julia Morgan.

3. How common is your birthday? This chart will tell you.

4. Roeselien Raimond is a portrait photographer who portraits… foxes.

5. After the everyday politics of anger, Ece Temelkuran is proposing politics of gentleness.

6. And to finish off for this week, a little comic about life from The Awkward Yeti.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 70

Two days late this week, due to my having other things to do, today under the full moon it will be done. The new Crate of Curios. Carried by the hot noon sun and days that are progressively getting milder, let’s get to opening it without any further ado.

  1. “Those damn Moomins,” Tove Jansson wrote in her notes. “I don’t want to hear about them any more. I could vomit on the Moomintrolls.” – Tove Jansson was frustrated, feeling that the Moomin – literally her scribbles – were obscuring and taking necessary time from her painting.

2. Madeleine Dore, the author of Extraordinary Routines newsletter and podcast, has gathered a charming list of life lessons for her 32nd birthday.

3. How does disagreement actually work? Here’s a chart for it.

4. We already knew that crows are smart. Turns out… they are even smarter than that.

5. This week’s book (and series) recommendation is Elena Ferrante’s ‘My Brilliant Friend’, the first book of the Neapolitan Quartet.

6. And to finish off for this week, a completely absurd little comic by Joan Cornella.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 69

And finally the Halcyon days seem to have arrived. The afternoon sunshine felt positively hot and the local feline population at the workplace inner yard were enjoying in full scale, occupying all the seats. It’s about time… This winter, which in all honesty hasn’t even been particularly long, feels as if it’s been dragging on for months instead of weeks. So, in order to celebrate the warmer days, let’s make haste and open this week’s Crate.

  1. “Although Miss Anderson’s limbs are not as regular from the artistic viewpoint…her general health is better,” proclaimed one article in the St. Louis Republic in 1897. “From a comparative feebleness she has grown into robust strength. From head to foot she is a mass of muscles.” – Tilly Anderson, the Swedish seamstress in Chicago found her calling in bicycle racing and helped to popularize the sports across the U.S.

2. We’ve all heard at some point that joy is contagious – unfortunately so is arrogance.

3. Whether you like or dislike precipitation – this map will help to to pick the most befitting country in Europe.

4. Rest is not always literal rest. For the brain, rest is often just doing something different, such as having unrelated hobbies.

5. A little poetry spamming from the pen of Sylvia Plath from 1962. (It’s a part of the longer poem that can be found here.)

6. And to finish off this week – a 9gag meme that feels very familiar.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.

Crate of Curios part 68

Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s snowfall has left a few lingering drifts here and there, half-dirtied by the muddy melting water. Some parts in Athens are still without electricity, but mostly life seems to be back to normal, although the limits to ‘normal’ seem to be continuously stretching wider and wider. Nevertheless, let’s forget about pocket philosophy for now and open this week’s Crate.

  1. “‘If you only knew, my dear Uncle Shura’ Zinaida Serebriakova wrote in a letter to Alexander Benois on 17 December 1923, ‘how often I dream of leaving and somehow finding a way to turn my life around, a life without that single overriding daily worry about food (of which there is never enough and is always bad anyway), a life where my earnings are not so hopeless that we can’t even afford essentials. Commissions for my portraits are very infrequent indeed and hardly pay. The pennies I earn from them are normally spent on food even before the pictures are finished. If only something would sell at the American exhibition…’ Her later life in Paris brought a slightly greater financial stability at the price of forced separation from her family.

2. Monopoly, a game we mostly connect with the idea of getting rich, was in fact designed to teach about income inequality.

3. These two places have a roughly equal population. Think about it for a moment.

4. Want to be more mindful of your spending? These Japanese concepts might prove helpful.

5. Bill Bryson has a knack of writing about… more or less everything. This week’s book recommendation is his overview of a history of a home, introduced to the reader one room at a time.

6. And to finish off for this week, some alien problems by XKCD.

And that’s it for this time. Happy reading and until next week!

If you want to receive the Crate to your mailbox, you can subscribe here at Substack.