Beyond Vincent, There Is Nothing

Beyond Vincent, There Is Nothing

Why attend?

I want to be impressed,
be proven wrong.

I want to know that art
can cross the divide,
be projected on a scale
that does not shadow its own beauty.

Instead, a meretricious display
leaves a foul taste and fails
to honor the work of a master.

This past weekend, we went to St. Louis to attend Beyond van Gogh, The Immersive Experience. I understand that presentations differ from venue to venue, and I have seen images from other cities that did not appear in St. Louis. Video shorts in the banners of sites for the event in various cities have a quality that I found to be nonexistent in the presentation we attended. I considered this one to be underwhelming.  It says something when the highlight of the weekend was visiting a couple of craft breweries in St. Louis.  (And, of course, a visit to the Gateway Arch, even on a cloudy day.)

The presentation was a projection of some of the works of Vincent van Gogh on a thirty minute loop in a room with a lofty ceiling, but with four walls that were 20 feet high in an area that might have been 100 feet by 50 feet. Two large, four-sided pillars stood down the center-line of the room. The projection from the ceiling onto adjacent long and short walls and one pillar was repeated on the other two walls and pillar. Both of the long walls had a “seam” where projections overlapped, creating blurriness and, in some instances, a double image. At times, there seemed to be too much light in the room.

Our tickets were for a 60 minute period, but we were advised to stay as long as we wished. We stayed through four cycles so that we could see all of the presentation, and at no time was the room crowded.

I recognize the importance of accessibility for people who may not have an understanding of van Gogh, but people standing directly against the wall, casting shadows on the projection while they posed for selfies, or parents who paid the price of admission so that their children could stand by the wall talking about who-knows-what as they blocked the view of others, added nothing to the experience.

As for the production, in some instances, the high resolution offered details, such as brushstrokes present in paintings that I likely will never see in person. Of course, the relief/texture of those brushstrokes could not be reproduced, but that was to be expected. One key, touted aspect of the event was a form of animation, such as moving stars in The Starry Night, or a glimmering night sky and a shimmer on the water of Starry Night Over the Rhône, which actually did produce a tantalizing effect. Another effect was the layering of branches and blossoms, unrelated to the art they covered, that spread and grew until they consumed the original projection. This effect was impressive, albeit tacky.

Instrumental music, some of it incongruous, played throughout the presentation. What America (as an instrumental), by Simon and Garfunkel, has to do with van Gogh, I don’t know. As Don McLean’s Vincent (instrumental) played, none of the song references matched scenes as they were presented and when they would have been most effective, including The Starry Night. As for The Starry Night, the focus was on the stars in the sky (until replaced by an animation of swirling lines), with no emphasis on the village. If the cedar, a prominent feature in the foreground of the painting, was present, I missed it entirely.

As I said earlier, I considered the presentation to be underwhelming. This brief interview regarding a viewing of the original in Paris, at L’Atelier des Lumiéres, may be more objective.

This video of the original in Paris is pretty impressive.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons – The Starry Night, by Vincent van Gogh (cropped here)

Photo: The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, Missouri (click image for larger view in new tab)

Shared with Go LIVE with dVerse!

Post Na/GloPoWriMo 2021

NaPoWriMo 2014-2021

The start of this blog goes back to 2014 and National Poetry Writing Month. 2021 marks the eighth time I’ve met the challenge of writing a poem for every day of April.

I wrote 39 poems for the month. 21 of those met the prompts from Maureen Thorsen at napowrimo.net. (I also met the early bird prompt on March 31.) 12 were in response to other prompts, including those for dVerse ~ Poets Pub, earthweal, Colleen Chesebro’s #Tanka Tuesday, and a haiku sequence for Frank Tassone’s #Haikai Challenge. Six of my poems followed no prompt at all. Four of the poems included audio, and one was a magnetic poem.

I enjoyed reading the many wonderful prompt responses from other poets at napowrimo.net, and it was nice to see that recognition was given to many of the poets I’ve come to know over the years. Thank you to all who read my poetry this past month and especially to all who commented.

Ken G.

 

Five and Counting

Five and Counting

Yesterday’s internet outage was brief – less than two hours after the snowplow broke the “temporary” cable lying in the street near my house, the cable was replaced. With all of our calls about lost service in the last month, it appears we have been made a priority for repair.

A phone call to the city’s Streets Department was met with sympathy, but, “That’s between you and the cable company. The streets need to be plowed.”

And the snowplow struck again this morning.

January 15th – 3 days
February 8th – 1 day
February 14th – 2 days
February 17th – 2 hours
February 18th – ?? –– update – 2 hours

My new SIM card, which will allow me to switch to T-Mobile with unlimited data (at a savings) will arrive today. Just in time. Verizon has notified me that, with two days left in my billing cycle, I’m about to go over my data allowance, which is no surprise since this snowplow/cable situation has forced me to burn data on my phone.

And yes, this blog was uploaded from my phone.

Cutting the Cord
Three for Three
Four for Four

Four for Four – the abridged version

No — this was not composed on my phone
                         ~ Edited for profanity ~

  • My internet service was restored yesterday, after a two day outage
  • At 9:30 this morning a snowplow came down our street
    – breaking the temporary cable that has been in the street since summer
    – disrupting our service for the 4th time since January 15th
  • My wife was working from home
    – so I took her to her office so she could continue working
  • I continued on, grocery shopping before heading home
  • Arriving home at noon, I saw a new cable, connected and lying in the street
  • Internet service was restored
  • Our morning call to customer support bypassed all voice menus
    – something unheard of
    – apparently our account has been flagged as a priority
         ~ a perk for suffering four snowplow-induced outages?
  • Two work orders were placed
    – a repair to restore our service — Surprise! Completed this morning!
    – an order to bury the cable under the street
  • That cable has been there since last summer
  • There’s now a foot of snow — That cable ain’t goin’ nowhere
  • We anticipate more outages before spring weather arrives
  • And probably after

Three for Three

Monday, February 15, 2021

Once again, I’m an internet orphan.  For the third time in the past month, a snow plow has taken out the temporary cable my internet provider has had lying in the street (a block from my home) since last summer.  This outage occurred at 9:30, Sunday evening.  A call to customer support gave us a scheduled repair date, February 22nd.  A call in the morning asking support how my wife can work from home as a state employee gave us a new, expedited repair date, February 16th. Meanwhile, continued snowfall on the steep hills of my neighborhood means we’re pretty much stuck at home.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Our internet outage continues. Snowfall since Sunday has been about nine inches of powder, falling in intervals that have required plowing on at least three different occasions – still pretty slippery on these hills. With three inches of new snow predicted for tomorrow, and with subsequent plowing, will a repair this afternoon mean a damn thing? Single digit, and sometimes negative, temperatures (Fahrenheit) means the salt laid on the side streets each morning is marginally effective until noon. There are steep hills entering, and within, my neighborhood, and trying to get out to the main thoroughfare proved futile this morning.

Lacking typical internet access has given me an opportunity to assess my phone usage. As popular as web use on phones is to the current generation, I’m not big on phone surfing. I find absolutely no convenience in reading web pages on my phone. Other than actual phone usage (what little there is), I’ve narrowed my phone use to a few categories: text, clock, calendar, camera, calculator, and banking. Currently, I can’t cast my phone – stream any shows or videos – because both the Chromecast and Amazon Firestick attached to my TV want to communicate with the web. I can’t cast Spotify from my phone to my stereo for the same reason. I even find using the reader in the WordPress phone app to be annoying. I use that mostly for notifications. Yeah, I’m an old man, although I guess that composing this on my phone says something about my dedication to my blog.

A Mediacom service truck just turned around in my cul de sac. Relief in sight? I guess we’ll see.

Cutting the Cord

I’m taking this opportunity to write a blog on my phone. Fat fingers, and all. I’ve always enjoyed wrestling with auto-correct. NOT! 😜

Mediacom is our internet provider. Internet only. We cut the cable, so to speak, for “television” a while ago, switched to DISH, and ditched that a year ago, switching to YouTube TV to save money. YT TV has its quirks, but there’s unlimited storage with the cloud acting as our DVR. That can be pretty handy. Say, for instance, there’s a film noir on Turner Classic Movies. Once I’ve saved it, it’s available to watch any number of times.

The downside is that it’s the Evil Google, but I just bought a Google phone, so what can I say? I’m a slave.

But back to the internet…

As you drive through our neighborhood, you’ll see green boxes near the curb, spaced every few houses. These are access points to deliver cable to customers at each of the nearby houses. There’s one at my curb, which is in the circle of a cul de sac, and another one halfway to the corner of our street. Since our street is a cul de sac, it’s a “T-intersection.” Another green box sits at the curb across the street at the intersection. There must have been a cable break underground sometime in the past year, because there has been a cable lying in the street since last summer, connecting that box to the one half-way down my street – a span of about 200 feet. It has a small black cover over it to create a mini-bump in the street section so cars can drive over it, and it has not been an issue. Until winter arrived.

Now, snowfall here is not frequent. But snow does fall. Three weeks ago, we lost our internet. In a phone call to tech support we were told we could expect a repair in 3 to 10 days! While driving down the street a little later, I saw that the cable crossing the street was broken. We’d had our first snowfall that required a snow plow. I called Mediacom right away, dealt with the frustration of their voice menu and talked to an actual person. I explained the situation, expecting that a crew could fix it in no time. Of course I didn’t expect them to tunnel under the street and bury the cable during the winter, but it should have been a simple connection.

Two days later, I received a text telling me my internet service was reconnected and that I would be scheduled to have the new cable buried. What?! Glancing out the window, I saw that an orange cable was stretched from the green box at my curb to the side of my house – done without a visit to my door. And, of course, I had no internet. I went down the street to see that the broken cable was still lying in the street. It wasn’t repaired until the next day – after I called Mediacom once again. I also asked them to send someone out to remove the cable on my lawn and reconnect my original buried cable.

A week later, my lawn had paint marks and flags marking underground utilities, and a crew showed up to bury the cable two days later. I asked them to just reconnect my old cable on the side of the house. They pointed out that it was cut two inches below the box, and that it could not be spliced due to weather exposure and possible signal loss. So, they buried the new cable.

Now…

Snowfall the past two days, and – you guessed it – last night the snow plow took out that cable down the street. A phone call to tech support put us on the calendar for repair. A technician will come to our house, sometime today – procedure. So, I have to keep an eye out to make sure he doesn’t cut our cable, since COVID policy keeps them from coming to the door. Hopefully, I can then send him down the street to correct the real problem.

Oh! I also received a text from Mediacom saying my repair will be completed in 10 days. It’s time to shop for a new internet provider.

thicker than water, by Jane Dougherty

thicker than water, by Jane Dougherty

Receiving “thicker than water,” the new chapbook from Jane Dougherty, I read. And I read on. With each new poem I thought I had found my favorite. When I came to the end I looked back and thought it should be “She says,” with these lines:

“you will still have my hand’s touch,
the depth of my eyes, the falling into step
that will never fail, while there is still a star
pinned to the vault of the heavens.”

But perhaps because of certain events, situations that make me realize that even the best plans are subject to forces beyond our control, I decided on two favorites, “The storm is coming” and “Grieving.”

From “The storm is coming,” these lines speak to me:

“Will we stay in this skin-warmed dimness
Or walk separate paths
Strewn with roses and thorns,
To a still trout pool, a cove of the sea?”

And from “Grieving,” these words:

“the rain, and the land forever disappeared

in an ocean of mist. Silence.
I called out to bring you back,
my white-breasted gull,

but only the moon replied,
tossing her horns, and strewed the
empty waves with silver feathers.”

With each of the twenty-six poems in this chapbook you will come to understand how rain and waves, and yes even cold seas, are woven through our thoughts and emotions as we navigate events in our lives.

As she says in “The wise woman in the shell”:

“True songs are in the water,
strung and plucked by the wind’s flight
through the chords of the wild air.”

Each of these poems is a song.

“thicker than water,” the new chapbook from Jane Dougherty, is available in the US in both paperback and Kindle format at Amazon.com. It’s also available at these Amazon links:

UK: https://tinyurl.com/y2et7dcr
Australia: https://tinyurl.com/yykla7nm
Canada: https://tinyurl.com/yxu5azlk
India: https://tinyurl.com/yy6qvle5

Order your copy today. You’ll be glad you did.

Hiking with Mark Twain

Hiking with Mark Twain

I’ve always enjoyed taking photos of fall colors, especially when I lived in New York, with its colorful sugar maples. Although Missouri has fewer maples, in the eight years I’ve lived here I’ve taken the opportunity to hike in a few of the state parks and conservation areas in the fall. This year I decided to try something different.  (Click any image for a larger view in a new tab.)

The Mark Twain National Forest covers 3 million acres (1.5 million acres of that is public land), with nine tracts of forests in the southern half of Missouri. On Thursday, I hiked one of the loop trails in the 16,500 acre Cedar Creek Ranger District, which is the one district north of the Missouri River and has 34 miles of trails. Before 1940, private landowners intensively cultivated the land, resulting in depleted and eroded soils. In the 1940s, the Soil Conservation Service began purchasing and rebuilding it, stabilizing gullies and planting trees and grasses. It’s been managed by the U.S. Forest Service since 1953. The Smith Creek Loop covers 5 miles, but I hiked 5.7 miles to cover a couple of side trails for photo opportunities.

It was a sunny day, and the temperature reached 87ºF by late afternoon (a near record). While I could have chosen a cooler day for hiking (Friday’s high was 49º), Thursday was a dry day in the middle of a rainy spell. I started at the southeast corner of the loop, traveling “counterclockwise,” which worked out well as I appreciated the mostly-level stretch of the final mile. This image, with the trail map layered over a Google terrain map, shows how much the elevation changes on the trail.

As I hiked the trail, it was obvious that some of it follows former roads. Any trace of gravel or dirt roadway is long gone, and if it wasn’t overgrown it would look like a lane winding through the forest. The width of the loop trail varies from 15-20 feet down to a mere footpath crowded by trees. This area is known for hills and bluffs, so much of the trail includes slopes that climb and descend the numerous ridges leading to the bluffs. We can get some pretty heavy rain here, and those old paths offer the perfect course for runoff, so the trail often winds around or parallels those sections. In fact, we had a heavy rain the day before, so there were a few spots that had slick areas that were hidden beneath fallen leaves. Even on some of the narrow, steep sections, hoof prints were evident, as the trail is open to horseback.

The trail crosses Smith Creek, which is about 25 feet wide, but there was no water running in the creek. One side trail took me to Cedar Creek, which is 30 feet wide with a very mild current. The trail led to an old iron bridge that served the road that once ran through there.

I never had to actually cross Cedar Creek, but the trail loop approaches it at two other points. The overlooks there gave some nice views looking down and across the water. The first was about 100 feet above the creek. The second, at roughly 150 feet above the creek, had some impressive formations, with cedars clinging to the edge of the bluff.

Cedar Creek, 100 feet below a limestone bluff

This tract of land is primarily oak, hickory and cedar, but I saw a dead tree that could have been an ash, and I did get some maple photos.

I had the trail pretty much to myself, encountering one pair of hikers, and these two that crossed my path.

Western Black Snake – 4 ft. long

Its been about a year since I’ve taken a hike of three or more miles. This one was was a reminder that I’ve had a couple of health issues since then. My back and legs were feeling it before I was done, but I recovered with no problems. Early this year I learned of a heart condition I’ve had all my life, one that now leaves me briefly winded when I climb a flight of stairs. The downhill slopes were a breeze, but let me tell you, my heart knew when I was climbing, even on gentle and moderate inclines.

Occasional stops on the frequent uphill climbs were the order of the day. I’m only 67 and have a few years ahead of me, but I’m learning that I need to modify my activity, something I’ll have to keep in mind on future hikes. My favorite part of this hike was the overlooks, so the next time I walk this trail I’ll start at the bridge near the northwest corner of the loop and hike up to the overlooks. There and back.

Ideal Inspiration

Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for the Ideal Inspiration Blogger Award by Bacardi Gold.

The award includes five questions, which I’ll answer here.

  1. Is it important to be inspired when you write an article ? Why? and Why not?
  2. Why do you think you deserve to be nominated for this award?
  3. Do you need music to be on the background when you write? If so, what type of music do you listen to?
  4. Is it proper to nominate a friend-on-line for this award? Give a reason.
  5. Are you happy to be on the list of nominees? Why?

~~~~~

    1. The majority of my blog is poetry, and all of it is inspired in some way. Most often, that poetry is my response to something I’ve known or experienced, or a response to something in the news. I’ll have frequent dry spells, so I often reply to prompts from other bloggers. I’m also inspired by the poetry of other bloggers.
    2. I shy away from rewards, so I’m not the best one to answer that.
    3. I need quiet. Music can be too much of a distraction for me. Anything with lyrics definitely is a distraction. So, if I listen at all when I’m writing, it’s instrumental jazz.
    4. I don’t always respond to blog awards, and, when I do I don’t usually forward them. I guess you could say this is a “reward-free blog.” I just haven’t posted any kind of badge.
    5. It’s nice to know that I’ve inspired another blogger. That’s reward enough.

~~~~~

There are “Rules” for the award that include adding nominations with new questions, but as I indicated above, I won’t be forwarding this. I do appreciate the recognition I’ve received from Bacardi Gold, so, thank you.

I’m headed out to go kayaking. Hopefully, that will provide inspiration to write.

Minty Update

Minty Update

It’s been nearly four months since I changed my laptop’s operating system from Windows 7 to Linux Mint (due to the end of Microsoft support for Windows 7). Other than a few hiccups, the transition has gone fairly smoothly. Mint’s utilities are very useful, and there are many programs that are available in a Linux version. As in the past, I use LibreOffice as my word processor, and I have started using KdenLive to process videos. In fact, I find KdenLive to be more flexible than my previous software, Magix Movie Edit Pro.

One major flaw involves my Epson scanner/printer. I’m able to use the printer without any issues, but I’m not having any luck with a driver for the scanner. Fortunately, I installed Linux as a dual boot, so I can restart in Windows and use the scanner from there. I only do that when Wi-Fi is turned off (and with a direct connection to the scanner), since security updates are no longer provided for Windows 7.

As for hiccups, there is one in particular. Lately I’ve noticed (on any browser) that when I Like a WordPress post the Like is gone when I reload the page. I have WordPress designated as a trusted site with my ad blocker, but I think it has to do with the Like button being an app. But… if I turn off Ghostery my Like will register with the post, so I do that when at WordPress

I’m learning my way around the software. In fact, I receive notifications when there’s an available update for routines within the programs I’ve installed, say GIMP or Audacity, so that’s a nice feature. Unlike Windows, none of the updates are force, even those that are a direct modification to Linux, so I don’t have to worry about the laptop restarting when I’m in the middle of something. Everything considered, the switch to Linux Mint has been a good move.

Ken