Back In The U.S.A.

I’m pleased to report that Russell has returned to the United States from his trip to Vietnam, safe and sound and no doubt enriched — personally, culturally, and artistically — by the experience.  For now, however, he may be mostly glad to get back to the land of serious air conditioning.  In recognition of that likely fact, I offer Russell the following amazing performance of Back In The U.S.A. by Chuck Berry and Linda Ronstadt, with a wicked guitar solo from Keith Richards tossed in:

If The Mona Lisa Could Speak . . .

she might be able to explain how Leonardo da Vinci was able to produce such a richly shaded depiction of her human face, without apparent brushstrokes, thumbprints, or other evidence of human creation.  Until she speaks, however, we will leave it to science to gather evidence — which is what happened when a form of x-ray technology was applied to the world’s most famous painting and other creations of Leonardo.  The study suggests that the great master painstakingly and repeatedly applied amazingly thin coats of glaze to his paintings to achieve the effect.

Leonardo’s technique, called sfumato, apparently has been lost to the mists of time.  It is hard to believe that a method capable of producing such effects would not have been carefully handed down, from master to student, through the centuries.  It makes you wonder that what other techniques that produced artistic masterpieces, astonishing architectural triumphs, or other ancient wonders have unfortunately been lost to the ready universe of human knowledge.

The Sounds Of A Summer Night

Cousin Jeff is in town, and last night after dinner he, Kish and I sat out on our patio in the darkness, talking.  As we chatted, I was struck by how loud the background sounds of a summer evening can be.  There was a steady, discernible buzz of different insect noises, led by the high-pitched, crackling chirping of crickets.  That symphony was then punctuated by an occasional dog bark, a happy shout from one of the neighborhood kids, or the distant drone of a passing car.

To me, at least, the thrum and throb of a summer night is incredibly soothing — and it also makes me realize how many unseen bugs call our backyard home.